Take Ten (My Challenge For You in 2014)

701529845a07b5c91e07a84ae0063ea3I have heard that the average Christian spends less than thirty seconds a day in prayer and the average pastor less than three minutes. Shocked? Don’t be. Stop and think about how much time you spent in prayer today – apart from blessing your food or a superficial nod to God. We do not pray as we ought – I don’t think any of us would argue that. Sadly, it shows up in our lives, families, churches, and ministries. As a whole, we are a powerless people, having drifted far from our God.

Here is my challenge to you for 2014: Take ten minutes, three times a day, and pray. That’s not much, but probably significantly more than what you are presently doing. We are busy with a thousand other things that together won’t amount to what might be accomplished in prayer. Regular and fervent prayer was the pattern of Christ and the New Testament Church (Mark 1:35, Acts 2:42). This needs to be revived.

David, the man after God’s own heart, said, “Evening and morning and at noon will I pray and cry aloud, and he will hear my voice” (Psalm 55:17). David purposed in his heart and set a pattern in his life for prayer. Daniel did the same, “…he went to his house where he had windows in his upper chamber open toward Jerusalem. He got down on his knees three times a day and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as he had done previously” (Daniel 6:10).

Ten minutes, alone with God, three times a day. Friend, that is my challenge to you for 2014. Think what God might do in us, and in his church.

Finding God’s Will?

“Finding God’s will,” or “getting an answer.” Is that really your pursuit? For many of us prayer becomes our means to an end and the end is only selfishly getting something from God, not communing with Him. Prayer should be the constant, intimate communion with God. “Asking” is a natural part of that communion—but only a part. Where is the praise, the worship, the confession, the enjoyment of living in His presence and communing with Him? Quit spending so much time seeking the “thing” from God and seek Him alone—the joy of constant communion and fellowship with Him. Day by day you will find yourself full of joy, in His will, and with every need supplied.

“One thing I ask from the Lord, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the Lord and to seek him in his temple.” (Psalm 27:4 NIV)

“You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.” (Psalm 16:11 NIV)

I would love to connect with you! If you have any questions or would like to connect please use the contact page.

Heading to the Middle East

On Friday Diane and I will be heading to the Middle East. Over the past many months we have prayed for one particular city and for God to ignite a gospel movement there. We have visited before. A dark place. A city where oppression hovers. Workers are few. In such places that have no light we quickly realize that unless God does something supernatural nothing is going to take place. Well, God does answer prayer. Recently, there have been a number of university students coming to Jesus. It seems to have taken so long, yet now we look forward to meeting our new brothers and sisters in Christ. We will be able to see their faces, and join them in prayer for others. It has been a humbling thing to have had such a small part in this—praying from the other side of the world. It has been the only thing we could do. Yet, it has also been one of the most rewarding and joyful experiences we have ever had. All God.

We will also try to meet up with a few Northland alumni in that part of the world before heading back home and to the final weeks of this semester. Thanks for your prayers.


Why do you do what you do? Answering that question will reveal something very important about you. In a world where we make much of how we look, what we do, and what we don’t do—God looks beyond all of that to the motives of the heart. These are the true revealers of who we really are.

I have been sharing a five-fold request I began praying in in 2008 (see previous post). My final request has been, “may you (Lord) receive all glory, honor, and praise in everything, and may I be hidden in the cross of Christ.”

The glory of God should be the motive and end of all we do. Only when we live for His glory do we really ever succeed. And living for His glory can only come as we find our identity in the cross of Christ.

I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. (Galatians 2:20, 6:14.)

But beware; living for God’s glory and not your own is not something you decide one day and never have to address again. It is a daily decision you must make. Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.”

Look deep into your heart and ask yourself; “Why do I do what I do?”

Our Need

Whatever God’s will is for your life, it will be impossible. That is the way He works. That is the way He leads—in a path of impossibilities. These drive us to the God-dependance we need to succeed.

The Lord has promised to meet our needs as we follow Him. It is this promise that we have, not a visible stockpile of resources to calm our anxieties. To be honest, my flesh would rather see something stockpiled than have to believe something I can’t see. But, that is not the way it works. The Christian life works by faith. God Himself is our assurance. We need to believe that.

The fourth of my daily requests (see original post) is for God to “provide for my needs—for they are great.” The longer I live the more needy I become. Funny how that works. You might think that over time we need God less, but the opposite is true. Though we may gain knowledge, experience, and gather earthly goods, we only become more painfully aware of our weakness and inability. These words mean more to us now than ever before, “Give us this day our daily bread…” (Matthew 6:11).

If you have a little time read these words from Matthew 6:25-34:

Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

Seeing Things as God Sees Them – Praying Through Your Future: Part 2

“Lord give me eyes to see things as you see them.” This has been the first of my five requests (see previous post). If I don’t see things the way God sees them then it will be almost impossible to lead a life or ministry that is pleasing to Him.

Now, truthfully, none of us think we have a distorted view of anything. We believe we see things as they are, but that cannot be true. We are not God; eternal, perfect, omniscient, omnipresent. Our particular view will be clouded and distorted by many things; human nature, predispositions, experiences, cultural upbringing, and how we have been taught by people who are made of the same stuff. We all have prejudices and live with people that have them too.

How then do we come to see things as God sees them? First, we must see God as He is. That will take place as we see HIm in the person of His Son, revealed in His Word by His Spirit. When I have a right view of God, I will have a right view of myself and of my circumstances. Only then will be able to understand what pleases Him. Paul expressed it this way in Ephesians 5:10, “Finding out (discerning) what pleases the Lord.”

I think too many of us think we have it all figured out.  Then we pour all of our energy into “doing the will of God” – while all along God had something else in mind. Our present ministry may be good, noble, and seemingly productive…but not what God had intended. It would be an awful thing to finish your life and then realize that it looked nothing like God desired.

I am reminded of two biblical accounts:

  1. First, a blind servant and Elisha. In 2 Kings 6:15-17, we read, “When the servant of the man of God rose early in the morning and went out, behold, an army with horses and chariots was all around the city. And the servant said, ‘Alas, my master! What shall we do?’ He said, ‘Do not be afraid, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.’ Then Elisha prayed and said, ‘O Lord, please open his eyes that he may see.’ So the Lord opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw, and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.”  Reality was the same for both men, but not their ability to see it. Being able to see it makes all the difference in how we respond.
  2. Second, blind disciples and Jesus. In John 4:31-35, we read, “Meanwhile the disciples were urging him, saying, ‘Rabbi, eat.’ But he said to them, ‘I have food to eat that you do not know about.’ So the disciples said to one another “has anyone brought him something to eat?’ Jesus said to them, ‘My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to accomplish his work. Do you not say, ‘There are yet four months, then comes the harvest’? Look I tell you, lift up your eyes, and see that the fields are white for harvest.”

These disciples, as spiritual as they were, did not see what Jesus was seeing.

Are you blind too? These people were busy, active, and engaged in ministry, but they did not see things as God was seeing them. How often does that happen to us? Have you really ever stopped to think about it – or just assumed you are always right about everything?

That is why I pray a prayer like this every day:

Help me, Lord, to see things as you see them, to see you through the person of your Son, as revealed in your Word, and taught to me by your Spirit. Help me also to see people as you see them. Clear away the clouds and distortions of reality that I may have. Help me to see your will, not mine. Help me to be humble enough to admit it when I have been wrong or when I have held on to beliefs, attitudes, and opinions that are not yours. Help me to see your will. Help me to see how things should be in my life and in the ministry you have entrusted to me.

I would love to connect with you! If you have any questions or would like to connect please use the contact page.

Praying Through Your Future

About five years ago I was going through my normal process of evaluation, recalibration, and goal setting for the coming year, when it dawned on me…what if I am not getting it right? What if I am not seeing things as God sees them, and what if I am setting goals and following through with things that are not of Him?  Is that possible?

Over the next several months I began praying the following prayer:

  1. Lord give me eyes to see things as you see them.
  2. Give me wisdom to navigate from where I am to where I need to be.
  3. Give me boldness and grace to do the right things in the right way.
  4. Provide for my needs—in and according to your will.
  5. May you receive all glory, honor, and praise in everything, and may I be hidden in the cross of Christ.

I have been praying this prayer for almost five years now. I feel the passion for these things growing with a greater longing to see God answer in clear and unmistakable ways – ways that are so far beyond human imagination or strength.

As I look back over life and ministry, I have found that God’s greatest work has most often followed long seasons of desperate prayer—as if God must take me through another valley of crying out in helplessness before I see an answer. Most of the time I have focused on the need for a change in circumstances, but there is always another, more important work going on; God is changing me. I am starting to realize that this process will not be done until I stand before him.

Over the next few weeks I would like to talk about the importance of this particular prayer and how it continues to shape my life in the will of God.

I would love to connect with you! If you have any questions or would like to connect please use the contact page.

Coming Under Attack

“The enemy pursues me, he crushes me to the ground; he makes me dwell in the darkness like those long dead. So my spirit grows faint within me; my heart within me is dismayed” (Psalm 143:3-4). Have you felt this way?

Over the course of time all Christian leaders and ministries will come under attack, especially when the gospel is making significant advances in this world. It is difficult and it is painful. Often these attacks can derail us or move us into a “defensive posture” severely limiting our effectiveness. I have come across many such hurting people over the last number of years. Sometimes the victim is a mature and seasoned leader in an established ministry, and other times it is a young church planter just getting off the ground.

We must not think it strange when we come under attack. We can see this all throughout the past, not only in the biblical accounts, but in church history. Sure, it’s not easy, but it’s the common reality. We can also see how people responded—good and bad. Somehow we tend to think that if we love God, obey Him, and follow Him, life will be easier for us than it has been for others. Not so!

Most often the attacks are aimed at the things we value most; our family, integrity, motives, work for the Lord, or our reputation. Satan knows what will cut the deepest and that is how he crafts his plan against us. He is also cruel in the way he uses people to carry out his work, using those who have been close to us, should be close to us, or those we have poured our lives into. If we understand this it will make it easier to respond properly.

Remember, we can’t control what people say about us or what they do to us, but we can control how we respond. The best way to expend our energy is not by fighting back but by praying for our antagonists and then looking for ways God is working. Even though an attacker may be carnally motivated, dishonest, and hurtful, God is still sovereign over all and is working in our lives and all around us. Don’t miss that!

Here are a few things I try to keep before me:

  1. See a sovereign God as He is, surrender your burden to Him, and ask for His help.
  2. Keep your focus on what you are called to do.
  3. Assume the best motive and give the benefit of doubt to those attacking you.
  4. Pray for them.
  5. Leave justice with God. He knows all the facts, we don’t.
  6. Do your best to reconcile, but also realize it may not be possible.
  7. Don’t speak negatively about anyone, speak directly to them in a spirit of humility.
  8. Look for ways that God is at work and join Him in it.
  9. Don’t lose your joy and peace. No one should have the power to take these from you.

You have probably heard the expression, “hurt people hurt people.” The next time an attack comes your way remember these words: “Remind the people…to be ready to do whatever is good, to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and always to be gentle toward everyone” (Titus 3:1-2).

I would love to connect with you! If you have any questions or would like to connect please use the contact page.

Your Greatest Contribution

Have you ever considered that your greatest contribution to the cause of Christ just might be the time you spend in intercessory prayer for your children and others we consider to be part of this “next generation”?

Diane and I are in that “empty nest” phase of life and there are a lot of things we are learning from it. Energies once given to chasing down the pitter patter of little feet and waiting up for teens to get home from an activity are now channeled in prayer. Of course we have always “known” that the “greatest work is on our knees”, but we have not known it like we do now. Things we have always known… we now more fully realize. More

Around the Web (April 22—27)

Dave Crabb | When, Where, & Why to Draw Boundries

This is an excellent, but lengthy, post on drawing boundries in the church derived from Wayne Grudem.

Trevin Wax | Adult Education Panel at T4G

One of the sessions I tried to get in on at T4G was this session on adult education. The place was so packed that I could not even get close enough to hear. Trevin has a post on it and links to the audio and video from the session.

The Gospel Coalition | Carson and Zaspel: Rest in the Gospel or Strive Unto Holiness?

Resting in the gospel versus disciplining ourselves unto godliness. Read about this as Carson and Zaspel go back and forth.

R.C. Sproul Jr. | 3 Simple Ways to Encourage Your Pastor

Pastor’s need encouraged too. This is an excellent article with some great practical advice on encouraging your pastor.

Tim Challies | Seven Ways to Pray for Your Prayer Life

Check out this great article from Tim Challies on praying for your prayer life. His list of seven includes:

  1. Pray that your prayers would be the expressions of a humble heart.
  2. Pray that God would remind you that he doesn’t want or need your eloquent prayers.
  3. Pray that you would remember what the really important requests are.
  4. Pray that you would remember biblical examples of answered prayer.
  5. Pray that God would give you confidence in his sovereign power.
  6. Pray that God would help you to persevere in your praying.
  7. Pray that God would encourage you that he is your loving Father and will give you only what is good.
I would love to connect with you! If you have any questions or would like to connect please use the contact page.