Thursday, December 23, 2010

Road to Chaplainhood

To start off this entry and journey, I lay down at the cross of Jesus, any notion, that the projected long-term desire to serve Him is to be accomplished with my own strength and cleverness. Let me repent of all self-doubt and self-confidence. I have learned that to give of oneself to the point of emptiness and one's salvation is the just opposite self...the self is doffed and literally and virtuously non-existent. Humility - Serving others because of/for the glory of God. Marriage and parenthood, the military and even friendship, has taught me the pungency of this God-esteeming attitude.

The proper tools the Lord has filled me with have been procured by way of marriage to my dear wife and best friend, Thelma; my sweet son, Noah; and my employer, The Military - the Army to be specific. Two years ago, I switched military branches, transferring from the Air Force to the Army in search of a better career prospect. Part of this decision involved the helpful counsel of Charles Spurgeon who suggested the following:

"“Yes, I see; you have failed in everything else, and therefore you think the Lord has especially endowed you for His service; but I fear you have forgotten that the ministry needs the very best of men, and not those who cannot do anything else.” A man who would succeed as a preacher would probably do right well either as a grocer, or a lawyer, or anything else. A really valuable minister would have excelled at anything. "

Not that I have failed in everything (I have failed in plenty), but that I would be actively engaged with the Lord to thoroughly ensure that I am to become and remain a valuable minister.

So begins mine and my family's journey to chaplaincy. In the military, my spirit is especially burdened with Jude 22 & 23's exhortation to "...have mercy on those who doubt." Not only do we show mercy as ministers and believers, but we also "save others by snatching them out of the fire." Showing mercy to and snatching serving men and women who daily and willingly go into combat and other dangerously necessary endeavors.

This is my calling and so begins the process to training and becoming a military chaplain.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

The Exemplary Husband (1)

If the husband will be the kind of leader he should be, most problems within the family can ultimately be resolved. But if the husband defaults of his biblical and spiritual responsibilities, the problems invariably grow worse - and sometimes even destroy the family.

The husband's role is not simple, and it requires expertise that, frankly, doesn't come naturally to most men. The husband's various duties involve priestly elements, organizational and administrative tasks, and numerous responsibilities related to spiritual and practical leadership of all kinds. Being a godly husband requires the skill of a gifted manager, the heart of a loving counselor, and the ability to lead while gaining a follower's respect - chiefly by being a consistent example. The godly husband is a loving soul-mate, a mentor, a friend, a protector, an encourager, and a devoted listener. This is by no means a part-time calling.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

How may a young man know...(Finale)

...whether he is called or not? (Finale)

We must try whether we can endure brow-beating, weariness, slander, jeering, and hardship; and whether we can be made the off-scouring of all things, and be treated as nothing for Christ's sake. If we can endure all these, we have some of those points which indicate the possession of the rare qualities which should meet in a true servant of the Lord Jesus Christ.

I gravely question whether some of us will find our vessels, when far out at sea, to be quite so seaworthy as we think them. O my brethren, make sure work of it while you are yet in this retreat; and diligently labor to fit yourselves for your high calling. (40)

Charles Spurgeon
Lectures to My Students

Saturday, June 5, 2010

How may a young man know...(Part 7)

…whether he is called or not? (Part 7)

“I heard in conversation a plan adopted by Matthew Wilks, for examining a young man who wanted to be a missionary; the drift, if not the detail of the test, commends itself to my judgment though not to my taste. The young man desired to go to India as a missionary in connection with the London Missionary Society.

Mr. Wilks was appointed to consider his fitness for such a post. He wrote to the young man, and told him to call upon him at six o’clock the next morning. The brother lived many miles off, but he was at the house at six o’clock punctually. Mr. Wilks did not, however, enter the room till hours after. The brother waited wonderingly, but patiently. At last, Mr. Wilks arrived, and addressed the candidate thus, in his usual nasal tones:

“Well, young man, so you want to be a missionary?”“Yes, Sir.”“Do you love the Lord Jesus Christ?”“Yes, Sir, I hope I do.”“And have you had any education?”“Yes, Sir, a little.”“Well, now, we’ll try you: can you spell ‘cat’?”

The young man looked confused, and hardly knew how to answer so preposterous a question. His mind evidently halted between indignation and submission, but in a moment he replied steadily, “C, a, t, cat.” “Very good,” said Mr. Wilks; “now can you spell ‘dog’?” Our young martyr hesitated, but Mr. Wilks said in his coolest manner, “Oh, never mind; don’t be bashful; you spelt the other word so well that I should think you will be able to spell this: high as the attainment is, it is not so elevated but might you do it without blushing.”

The youthful Job replied, “D, o, g, dog.” “Well, that is right; I see you will do in your spelling, and now for your arithmetic; how many are twice tow?” It is a wonder that Mr. Wilks did not receive “twice two” after the fashion of muscular Christianity, but the patient youth gave the right reply and was dismissed.

Matthew Wilks at the committee meeting said, “I cordially recommend that young man; his testimonials and character I have duly examined, and besides that, I have given him a rare personal trial such as few could bear. I tried his self-denial, he was up in the morning early; I tried his temper, and I tried his humility; he can spell ‘cat’ and ‘dog,’ and can tell that ‘twice two make four,’ and he will do for a missionary exceedingly well.”

Friday, May 28, 2010

Counterfeit Pleasure

40 Consequences of Adultery

by Dave Boehi

We were praying for someone who was cheating on his wife. And I was struck by what one person said in his prayer: "Lord, work in his heart so that he will think less about the pleasure he is experiencing and more about the pain he is causing."That seemed quite appropriate to me.

A spouse who is caught up in adultery is living only for the moment, caught up in a fantasy of excitement and desire, and ignoring the very real consequences. Recently a seminary paper came across my desk titled "100 Consequences of Adultery," written by Philip Jay, a student at Phoenix Seminary. The list provides a stark wake-up call about the ways infidelity can destroy a life and marriage.

Here's a selection from Jay's list:

1. If I committed adultery...My relationship with God would suffer from a break in fellowship.

2. I would need to seek forgiveness from my Lord.

3. I would suffer from the emotional consequences of guilt.

4. I would spend countless hours replaying the failure.

5. My wife would suffer the scars of this abuse more deeply than I could begin to describe.

6. My wife would spend countless hours in counseling.

7. My wife's recovery would be long and painful.

8. Her pain would grieve me deeply and compound my own suffering and shame.

9. Our relationship would suffer a break in trust, fellowship, and intimacy.

10. We would be together, yet feel great loneliness.

11. The reputation of my family would suffer loss.

12. My sons would be deeply disappointed and bewildered.

13. My grandchildren would not understand.

14. My friends would be disappointed and would question my integrity.

15. I would lose my job at church.

16. My witness among neighbors would become worthless.

17. My witness to my brother would be worthless.

18. My testimony among my wife's family would be damaged.

19. I might never be employed by a church again.

20. I might never be in men's ministry leadership.

21. I would suffer God's discipline.

22. Satan would be thrilled at my failure.

23. Satan would work overtime to be sure my shame never departed.

24. My wife might divorce me.

25. My children might never speak to me.

26. Our mutual friends would shy away from us and break fellowship.

27. I would bring emotional pain to the woman.

28. I would bring reproach upon the woman.

29. If the woman is married, her husband might attempt to bring harm.

30. He might divorce her.

31. An unwanted child could be produced.

32. My part in conception might trigger an abortion, the killing of an innocent child.

33. Disease might result.

34. Some might conclude that all Christians are hypocrites.

35. My business could fail because I couldn't be trusted.

36. My leadership among those I have led in the past might also be diminished in impact.

37. My zeal for ministry would suffer and possibly result in others not continuing in ministry.

38. My health would suffer.

39. I might have to start life over again.

40. This same sin might be visited upon my family for four generations.

It's a pretty sobering list, isn't it? What's even more sobering is that many people will consider these consequences and still proceed in their sin. The fantasy is more important to them than the reality.

Also note that, though the list reflects a man's perspective, nearly all the consequences would also apply to a wife committing adultery. The biggest benefit of this list may be in helping all of us realize the need to set up strict safeguards to ensure that we are faithful in our marriage commitment. If I am convinced of what adultery would do to me and to my family, I will watch my wandering eyes, guard my thought life, and avoid any situations that could put me in harm's way.

The fantasy is just not worth it.

Monday, May 24, 2010

How may a young man know...(Part 6)

...whether he is called or not? (Part 6)

Gentlemen, we shall have to prove our call by the practical proof of our ministry in life, and it will be a lamentable thing for us to start in our course without due examination, for if so, we may have to leave it in disgrace. On the whole, experience is our surest test, and if God upholds us from year to year, and gives us His blessing, we need make no other trial of our vocation. Our moral and spiritual fitnesses will be tried by the labor of our ministry, and this is the most trustworthy of all tests. (39)

Saturday, May 8, 2010

How may a young man know...(Part 5)

...whether he is called or not? (Part 5)

One brother I have encountered–one did I say? I have met ten, twenty, a hundred brethren, who have pleaded that they were sure, quite sure that they were called to the ministry–they were quite certain of it, because they had failed in everything else. This is a sort of model story: “Sir, I was put into a lawyer’s office, but I never could bear the confinement, and I could not feel at home studying law; Providence clearly stopped up my road, for I lost my situation.”

“And what did you do then?”

“Why sir, I was induced to open a grocer’s shop.”

“And did you prosper?”

“Well, I do not think, Sir, I was ever meant for trade, and the Lord seemed quite to shut my way up there, for I failed and was in great difficulties. Since then I have done a little in life-assurance agency, and tried to get up a school, besides selling tea; but my path is hedged up, and something within me makes me feel that I ought to be a minister.”

My answer generally is, “Yes, I see; you have failed in everything else, and therefore you think the Lord has especially endowed you for His service; but I fear you have forgotten that the ministry needs the very best of men, and not those who cannot do anything else.” A man who would succeed as a preacher would probably do right well either as a grocer, or a lawyer, or anything else. A really valuable minister would have excelled at anything. There is scarcely anything impossible to a man who can keep a congregation together for years, and be the means of edifying them for hundreds of consecutive Sabbaths; he must be possessed of some abilities, and be by no means a fool or ne’er-do-well. Jesus Christ deserves the best men to preach His cross, and not the empty-headed and the shiftless. (37-38)

Rubber Meets the Road

Friday, April 30, 2010

How may a young man know...(Part 4)

...whether he is called or not (Part 4)?

Another exceedingly large class of men seek[s] the pulpit [yet] they know not why. They cannot teach and will not learn, and yet must fain be ministers. Like the man who slept on Parnassus, and ever after imagined himself a poet, they have had impudence enough once to thrust a sermon upon an audience, and now nothing will do but preaching. They are so hasty to leave off sewing garments, that they will make a rent in the church of which they are members to accomplish their design. The encounter is distasteful, and a pulpit cushion is coveted; the scales and weights they are weary of, and must needs try their hands at the balances of the sanctuary. Such men, like raging waves of the sea usually foam forth their own shame, and we are happy when we bid them adieu.

How may a young man know...(Part 3)

…whether he is called or not? (Part 3)

Men who since conversion have betrayed great feebleness of mind and are readily led to embrace strange doctrines or to fall into evil company and gross sin, I never can find it in my heart to encourage to enter the ministry, let their professions be what they may. Let them, if truly penitent, keep in the rear ranks. Unstable as water they will not excel.

So, too, those who cannot endure harness, but are of the kid-gloved order, I refer elsewhere. We want soldiers, not fops, earnest laborers, not genteel loiterers. Men who have done nothing up to their time of application to the college are told to earn their spurs before they are publicly dubbed as knights. Fervent lovers of souls do not wait till they are trained; they serve their Lord at once.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

How may a young man know...(Part 2)

...whether he is called or not?

How diligently the Calvary officer keeps his sabre clean and sharp; every stain he rubs off with the greatest care. Remember you are God's sword, His instrument - I trust, a chosen vessel unto Him to bear His name.

It is not great talents God blesses so much as likeness to Jesus. A holy minister is an awful weapon in the hand of God. For the herald of the gospel to be spiritually out of order in his own proper person is, both to himself and to his work, a most serious calamity; and yet my brethren, how easily is such an evil produced, and with what watchfulness must it be guarded against!

Travelling one day by express from Perth to Edinburgh, on a sudden we came to a dead stop, because a very small screw in one of the engines - every railway locomotive consisting virtually of two engines - had been broken, and when we started again we were obliged to crawl along with one piston-rod at work instead of two. Only a small screw was gone. If that had been right the train would have rushed along its iron road, but the absence of that insignificant piece of iron disarranged the whole. A train is said to have stopped on one of the United States' railways by flies in the grease-boxes of the carriage wheels.

The analogy is perfect; a man in all other respects fitted to be useful, may by some small defect be exceedingly hindered, or even rendered utterly useless. Such a result is all the more grievous, because it is associated with the gospel, which in the highest sense is adapted to effect the grandest results. It is a terrible thing when the healing balm loses its efficacy through the blunderer who administers it.

You know the injurious effects frequently produced upon water through flowing along leaded pipes; even so the gospel itself, in flowing through men who are spiritually unhealthy, may be debased until it grows injurious to the hearers. (8)

Source: Lectures to My Students by Charles Spurgeon

Saturday, April 10, 2010

How may a young man know... (Pt 1)

...whether he is called or not?

An intensely helpful and contemplative allocution by Charles Spurgeon regarding the call to Pastoral Ministry. The following excerpts and series is taken from his book, Lectures to My Students.

1 Timothy 4:16
"Pay close attention to yourself and to your teaching; persevere in these things, for as you do this you will ensure salvation both for yourself and for those who hear you."

Every workman knows the necessity of keeping his tools in a good state of repair, for "if the iron be blunt, and he do not whet the edge, then must he put to more strength. Though Michael Angelo, the elect of fine arts, understood the importance of his tools, that he always made his own brushes with his own hands, and in this he gives us an illustration of the God of grace, who with special care fashions for Himself all true ministers.

It is true that the Lord...can work with the the faultiest kind of instrumentality, as He does when He occasionally makes very foolish preaching to be useful in conversion; and He can even work without agents, as He does when He saves men without a preacher at all, applying the word directly by His Holy Spirit; but we cannot regard God's absolutely sovereign acts as a rule for our action. He may, in His own absoluteness, do as pleases Him best, but we must act as His plainer dispensations instruct us.

We shall usually do our Lord's work best when our gifts and graces are in good order, and we shall do worst when our gifts and graces are out of trim.

We are, in a certain sense, our own tools, and therefore must keep ourselves in order. If I want to preach the gospel, I can only use my own voice; therefore I must rain my vocal powers. (7)

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Discerning the Lord's Guidance for Your Life

Proverbs 2
...For the Lord gives wisdom; From His mouth come knowledge and understanding...(6)

1. Does it agree with Scripture or contradict it?
2. Are doors opening or are they hammering shut?
3. Does it make good common sense or are you rationalizing?
4. Have I taken the time to pray and think or am I rushing through this? (Ask God for His input)
5. Do my Christian friends agree with what I'm doing or do they think it's foolish?

Sunday, March 21, 2010

The Catholic Gospel - FALSE

By Sandy Nafziger

Raphael was painting his famous Vatican frescoes when a couple of cardinals stopped by to watch and to criticize. “The face of the apostle is too red,” said one. Raphael replied, “He blushes to see into whose hands the church has fallen” (quoted in Warren Wiersbe’s The Integrity Crisis).

You no doubt noticed in the news this week many reports on the widening Catholic sex abuse scandal. More than 170 students across Germany have claimed they were sexually abused along with 60 others recently announced in Switzerland—a pattern which can be traced across the entire globe.

As John MacArthur says, “False doctrine cannot restrain the flesh, so false prophets manifest wickedness.” Catholic theology abounds with false doctrine! We should always be aware of this fact—good doctrine produces good fruit, not bad fruit and bad doctrine produces bad fruit (Matt 7:17-20). False doctrine can lead to depraved moral behavior resulting in severe consequences as seen consistently in the Catholic church. This is why we do our best to teach “sound doctrine” (1 Tim 4:16) at the Hospitality House—yes, doctrine does divide (as it should) but it also unites those who stand firm on God’s Word.

I am not here to bash Catholic’s…we love them, but…there was a Reformation for a reason—the false teaching has not changed in 500 years and Christians must know truth so they can reach Catholic’s with the true Gospel—it’s part of my responsibility to warn (Phil. 3:1-2).

Catholic false doctrine—here are just a few examples. The Bible quotes are from the Roman Catholic Bible proving their own teaching contradicts their own Bible. The paragraph numbers at the end of the RCC (Roman Catholic Church) statements are quotes from the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

The Roman Catholic Bible says, “He saved us, not because of any righteous deeds we have done, but because of His mercy” (Titus 3:5).
The Catechism of the Catholic Church (RCC) says that each person attains His own salvation by grace and good works (1477)

Bible: “For you know it was not with perishable things…that you are redeemed…but with the precious blood of Christ” (1 Pet 1:18-19)
RCC teaches that Mary is the sinless co-Redeemer. “Without a single sin to restrain her, she gave herself entirely to the person and work of her son; she did so in order to serve the mystery of redemption with Him…being obedient she became the cause of salvation for herself and for the whole human race” (494)

Bible: “God is one, one also is the mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” (1 Tim 2:5; 1 Jn 2:1)
RCC teaches that Mary “did not lay aside [her] saving office but by her manifold intercession continues to bring us the gifts of eternal salvation.” She “is…Advocate…and Mediatrix” (969)

Bible: “Through his blood, God made him the means of expiation for all who believe” (Rom 3:25).
RCC teaches that sins are expiated in purgatory through “a cleansing fire” and that we “must strive to accept this temporal punishment of sin as a grace” (1030, 31, 1472-75)

Bible: “There is no salvation in anyone else, for there is no other name in the whole world given to men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).
RCC denies this by claiming the Catholic Church “is necessary for salvation” (846) and claiming “the plan of salvation also includes those who acknowledge the Creator, in the first place amongst who are Muslims” (841).

Bible: “When you heard the glad tidings of salvation, the word of truth, and believed in it, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit” (Eph 1:13). Those “who believe in His name were begotten not by …man’s willing it, but by God” (Jn 1:13).
RCC teaches “Baptism is the sacrament of regeneration…without which no one can enter the kingdom of God” (1213, 1215).

The RCC and the Bible can’t both be right since they oppose each other in many critical areas. It’s not a matter of semantics, interpretation or context. There is very clear disagreement—you can’t have two different truths about the same thing!

Monday, February 15, 2010

How I Almost Quit by John Piper

February 16, 2010 | By: John Piper | Category: Commentary

Are you so discouraged you don’t know what to do next? I want to help you get through this. Maybe this will help.

The following quote is from my journal dated November 6, 1986. I had been at Bethlehem 6 years. If you have ever felt like this, remember this is 24 years ago and I am still here.

The point is: Beware of giving up too soon. Our emotions are not reliable guides.

Am I under attack by Satan to abandon my post at Bethlehem? Or is this the stirring of God to cause me to consider another ministry? Or is this God's way of answering so many prayers recently that we must go a different way at BBC than building? I simply loathe the thought of leading the church through a building program. For two years I have met for hundreds of hours on committees. I have never written a poem about it. It is deadening to my soul. I am a thinker. A writer. A preacher. A poet and songwriter. At least these are the avenues of love and service where my heart flourishes. . . .

Can I be the pastor of a church moving through a building program? Yes, by dint of massive will power and some clear indications from God that this is the path of greatest joy in him long term. But now I feel very much without those indications. The last two years (the long range planning committee was started in August 1984) have left me feeling very empty.

The church is looking for a vision for the future—and I do not have it. The one vision that the staff zeroed in on during our retreat Monday and Tuesday of this week (namely, building a sanctuary) is so unattractive to me today that I do not see how I could provide the leadership and inspiration for it.

Does this mean that my time at BBC is over? Does it mean that there is a radical alternative unforeseen? Does it mean that I am simply in the pits today and unable to feel the beauty and power and joy and fruitfulness of an expanded facility and ministry?

O Lord, have mercy on me. I am so discouraged. I am so blank. I feel like there are opponents on every hand, even when I know that most of my people are for me. I am so blind to the future of the church. O Father, am I blind because it is not my future? Perhaps I shall not even live out the year, and you are sparing the church the added burden of a future I had made and could not complete? I do not doubt for a moment your goodness of power or omnipotence in my life or in the life of the church. I confess that the problem is mine. The weakness is in me. The blindness is in my eyes. The sin—O reveal to me my hidden faults!—is mine and mine the blame. Have mercy, Father. Have mercy on me. I must preach on Sunday, and I can scarcely lift my head.


Saturday, January 30, 2010

Dad! You are Important!

He will restore the hearts of the fathers to their children.
Malachi 4:6

When I gaze at the family snapshots on my desk, a lump forms in my throat. Where are the grinning little boys proudly holding stringers of fish? When did they grow up to become fathers with their own little boys? Where are the little girls in pigtails? When were they transformed into stunning brides?

Time does not stand still, nor does the life of a family.
But there is one thing that doesn't change: the importance of a dad. A boy needs the heart of his father and the fellowship of men. He needs at least one man who pays attention to him, spends time with him, admires him and teaches him how to become a man himself. A boy needs a role model.

From experience, I can tell you how easy it is for dads to be selfish. When our children were younger, I struggled with placing my children's needs above my own desires. I realized that I had a choice to make every day. If I had gone home from work and retreated into my own world, I would have squandered my responsibility to build into my kids.

It requires perseverance, not perfection, to be the father that your children need. You will not be flawless. But you can learn how to reserve energy so that you don't come home from work so emotionally exhausted that you have nothing left for our kids. You can choose not to bend to selfishness but instead to say yes to investing in the next generation.

When our children were little, it occurred to me one day that I needed to save some energy for home. On a card I wrote, "Save Some for Home." I clipped that card to the shade of my lamp on my desk and for more than a decade, it reminded me of my children's needs for a daddy.

Dads, do you have an extra paper clip?

Source: Moments With You by Dennis and Barbara Rainey. 26 January 2010

Friday, January 15, 2010

How to Pray Big for Your Child

Mariah approached the beginning of middle school as a happy, normal sixth grader. She was a good student, she would be attending her neighborhood school with her best girlfriends, and she was excited about the new adventure. But that all changed on the first day of school. Mariah basically experienced the equivalent of a panic attack. She started crying uncontrollably and inconsolably. Tragically, the scene was repeated almost every day of that school year. Her mother would drive her to school but was often unable to get Mariah out of the car. Other days, Mariah would make a brave attempt to face her school fears, only to spend most of the day in the counselor’s office or crying at her desk. Her new adventure had turned into a nightmare.

During that time, Mariah’s parents did everything they could to help her. They prayed for her and with her. She started seeing a professional Christian counselor, and her school counselor worked with her every day. She also started taking antidepressants.

The next year, as Mariah was about to enter seventh grade, she and her parents agreed that she would try a new school. It was a Christian school with a great reputation. Things started off smoothly enough for Mariah, but within just a few weeks, the panic attacks were back.

Mariah bottomed out in the late fall of her seventh grade year. Her mother, Kathleen, wrote, “It was the most gut-wrenching thing I’ve ever experienced, watching my child just try to slog through such misery. She was crying out to God. She was begging me for help. ... It’s so hard to convey how severe this was. I’m not talking about a bratty kid crying and refusing to get out of the car. I’m talking about true hysterics, rocking, making guttural sounds, etc.”

Things were so bad that Kathleen and her husband drove Mariah to a local psychiatric hospital. They basically told Mariah that if she couldn’t gain control of her fears, they would have to hospitalize her. It wasn’t a threat; these Christian parents really didn’t know how to help their daughter. The drugs, therapy, and prayers didn’t seem to be working.

Mariah reluctantly agreed to give school another try. Kathleen remembers dropping her off and watching her frightened but determined seventh grader weeping as she disappeared through the school’s doors. Kathleen wrote, “I got in my car and started sobbing, and then I prayed for her like I had done every other day. I was praying things like, ‘O God, please help Mariah. Please, please, please. God, I know you hear her crying out to you. Why won’t you help her? Please just help her put one foot in front of the other and make it through the day.’”

And then it happened. Kathleen had a breakthrough. As she sat in her car, praying for God to help Mariah survive the day, she clearly heard God say, “Is that really all you want from me?”

That’s a really good question, isn’t it? How many times have you gone to God in a moment of parental desperation and pleaded for mere survival? How often are we as Christian parents guilty of not asking for God’s best provision but simply his bare minimum? How quickly do we forget while in our foxhole praying that Jesus promised abundant life to his children? Have you ever heard the Holy Spirit say, “Is that really what you want from me?” in response to your prayers?

Kathleen felt the gentle rebuke in the Spirit’s question and decided to go for broke. She wrote, “So I just unleashed. I said, ‘No, that’s not all I want! I want Mariah to be great, not good! I want Mariah to be blessed! I want everyone who knows her to know that your hand is on her. I want everyone who meets my child to know that God has blessed her.’”

And that’s exactly what God did. Mariah didn’t just survive that day, she actually enjoyed it. She was great, not just good. And she’s been great just about every day since. Today Mariah is a happy teenager who is excelling in school. She has friends, dances on the drill team, makes good grades, and serves in her church. And she’s completely off the antidepressants. Mariah is prevailing, not just surviving, because her mother obeyed the leading of God’s Spirit and dared to ask for something big from God.

Pinpoint praying versus no-point praying:

How many times have you settled for the “Lord, just help my child to survive” kind of praying that Kathleen wrote about in the last chapter? How often have you mumbled some weak, pathetic prayer in hopes that God would help you or your child just to get by? Have you ever thought about that? Have you ever thought about how ridiculously low we set the bar when it comes to praying for our kids? One would think that we were dealing with the little man behind the curtain who pretends to be the great wizard of Oz, instead of with the holy and creating God of the universe. Why do we frequently ask so little of God when it comes to our kids?

Perhaps you’ve prayed one of the following prayers:

- God, please keep Sally from getting pregnant.
- God, please help Jake to pass math.
- God, please help Timmy not to wet his pants today.
- God, help me and Joe not to argue today about his chores.

While there’s nothing really wrong with this type of praying, it doesn’t ask or require much of God. Do you hear the “Lord, just help us to get by” mind-set of those prayers? It’s as if the parent is approaching a God who is irritated and worn-out by the parent’s constant pestering—as if God might react as we parents do when we’re tired and irritable. But God is not an irritable parent. He never grows weary of our requests to him. And while there is nothing wrong with praying for little things, we should not settle for small answers when God has promised that all of his power is available to us when we ask. And when it comes to our kids — really, they’re his kids — we shouldn’t skimp. We need to pray with focus and not toss up weak and wimpy petitions to our holy God.

I’m talking about the difference between what I call pinpoint praying and no-point praying. We can’t afford to waste our time by praying no-point prayers for our kids. No-point prayers resemble the “God be with Bill” kind of praying that doesn’t ask anything of God. More specifically, no-point praying is:

1. Too broad­ — No-point praying asks God to cure world hunger or save all the people on earth. Broad prayers sound good on the surface but rarely have any real courage or passion behind them.
2. Too vague — This is the essence of the “God bless Joe” kinds of prayers. They’re fuzzy and have no real meaning. They don’t really ask anything tangible of God.
3. Too safe — No-point prayers don’t require any faith. There’s no risk at all in praying them, because nothing that requires God to act is ever asked of him.

No-point prayers are completely inadequate when it comes to our children. They’re too broad, vague, and faithless to be offered as real prayers for our kids. You and I know our children deserve better. God also commanded us to pray better than that. What he expects of us is pinpoint praying.

Pinpoint prayers, as opposed to no-point prayers, have clear purpose, direction, and focus. They’re the kind of prayers that honor God the most, and they’re the kind that you and I want to be praying for our children. Pinpoint prayers are:

1. Biblical — Pinpoint prayers are deeply rooted in God’s Word. They have authority because they flow right out of what God has already told us he is willing to do. There’s no guesswork in pinpoint praying. As a parent, you just take the world’s greatest prayer script (the Bible) and use it as your guide for what and how you pray for your kids.
2. Specific — There’s nothing vague about pinpoint prayers. They’re typically short, direct, and to the point. Consider Jesus’s petitions in the Lord’s Prayer. His requests for God’s name to be glorified and for God’s provision, protection, and forgiveness are all very specific and focused. There’s nothing broad or uncertain about them. Pinpoint praying requires you to think through what you want God to do, build the case for it biblically, and then say it in the most precise and deliberate way possible to God. No flowery language, no King James English, and no long or theologically loaded phrases are required with pinpoint prayers. Part of their power lies in their directness.
3. Bold—Pinpoint prayers don’t mess around. They don’t dance around an issue, hoping that God will get the hint and come through with a miracle without us really having to ask for one. Pinpoint prayers walk right up to God’s throne and plead for his best, for his kingdom, and for his favor in our lives and the lives of our children. This is not weak-willed praying. Can you think of any area where boldness, courage, and faith are more appropriate than in prayers for your kids?

Prayer is the most significant form of communication that humans, specifically parents, can engage in. When a Christian talks to God, all the power of heaven is at play, and cultures, nations, and history lay in the balance. For parents, talking to our kids is critical; talking to God about them is even more so. Ask God to equip you to believe and expect big things of him in prayer. Ask God to show you how to pray big, hairy, audacious prayers for your child.

Adapted excerpt from Pray Big for Your Child by Will Davis, Jr. © 2009

Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group. Used by Permission. All rights to this material are reserved. Material is not to be reproduced, scanned, copied, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without written permission from Baker Publishing Group.

Will Davis, Jr., is the founding and senior pastor of Austin Christian Fellowship, a nondenominational church in Austin, Texas. He is the author of Pray Big, Pray Big for Your Marriage, and Why Faith Makes Sense.

Four Days after Haiti's Earthquake

Haiti, the poorest country in the western Hemisphere was rocked by a 7.0 magnitude earthquake on Tuesday 12 January 2010. At this time there are feared to be about 100,000 people dead and almost the entire country is destroyed.

I’m reminded and comforted as well as challenged by Jesus’ prognosis of disaster according to His wisdom in Luke 13:1-9. People came to Jesus with heart-wrenching news about the slaughter of worshipers by Pilate, and by the tone of the news bearers it would make sense that somehow the Galileans had deserved to die and that those who didn’t die, did not deserve to die. But Jesus said that everyone deserves to die. And if you and I don’t repent, we too will perish and this is a startling response to the gruesome news that we’ve just heard. This response and understanding is the kind that only comes from an adopted view of reality that is oriented on God.

My initial reaction to disasters like these is ‘man, this really stinks.’ But as
I’ve been convicted and convinced through the past week since Tuesday, the true meaning is that, ‘Stanley, you are a sinner.’ Fact is that all of us have sinned against God, not just against each other. This is an outrage ten thousand times worse than any earthquake, tsunami, hurricane, or all disasters combined. Think about this: God supplies the air for all lungs on the earth to receive air; and all hearts that beat on this earth deserve the wrath of God.

What this all means IS that we need to turn from the silly preoccupations of our life and focus our mind’s attention and our heart’s affection on God and embrace Jesus Christ as our only hope for forgiveness of sins and for the hope of eternal life. I believe this is God’s message in these many surprising disasters. God is trying to get our attention!

SO here’s the merciful message: there is still time to turn from sin and unbelief and destruction for those of us who still live. We’ve seen a taste of the eternal calamity from which God is offering escape and we should feel the everlasting and realistic challenge that God’s good news is the most precious message in the world. Amen?

a. Isaiah 43:2
b. Romans 8:35-39
c. John 11:25
d. Psalm 71:20
e. Matthew 24:32-51
f. 1 Samual 2:6-8

One thing I would urge you to think about is that the blame shouldn’t go to God, rather thanks giving for lives that were saved. We really shouldn’t get angry with God because He has not done anything wrong. There is no wrongdoing we can accuse God of. For sure, if not all, most of God’s people must pass through the deadly currents of suffering and death, not just surf over them.


Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Christians and Humanitarianism

When you think about the great humanitarian efforts achieved by the advance of Christianity over the years, you possibly think of hospitals and rescue missions and hunger relief. But perhaps the power of Christianity is proven best every day in homes and families and marriages like yours--when people who are self-centered by nature put their spouse's needs before their own. It's something He only accomplishes in us when we do the following:

Put Christ first in all things. When Dennis and Barbara Rainey signed the "Title Deed" of their lives over to Christ as a young married couple, they officially gave Him everything that was theirs--all rights to their lives, dreams and possessions.

Will you ever fail to remember the One who really owns our hopes, dreams and possessions? Sure. But whenever we've been tempted to live for ourselves, we've always been able to look each other in the eye and remember a time when we submitted everything of ours into His keeping and signed that title deed.

Give up all rights and entitlements. Paul said, "For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a slave to all" (1 Corinthians 9:19). Not a slave to some, but to all. And just as a slave relinquishes all rights to personal time and desires, we as Christ's followers are commanded to put others above ourselves. It's the only way to be the kind of wife or husband God intends us to be.

Be selfless in the little things. Sometimes I don't want to get out of my favorite chair to help Barbara carry in the groceries, sweep the kitchen or clean a toilet bowl. But it's in these minor, everyday moments that we teach our selfish selves who is boss. This is part of what the Bible means when it tells us to "learn to do good" (Isaiah 1:17)--to constantly choose death to self, to always choose sacrificial love until it becomes our first response.

Surrender, Selflessness. Sacrifice

But the one who did not know, and did what deserved a beating, will receive a light beating. Everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required, and from him to whom they entrusted much, they will demand the more.
(Luk 12:48 ESV)

When you think about the great humanitarian efforts achieved by the advance of Christianity over the years, you possibly think of hospitals and rescue missions and hunger relief. But perhaps the power of Christianity is proven best every day in homes and families and marriages like yours--when people who are self-centered by nature put their spouse's needs before their own. It's something He only accomplishes in us when we do the following:

1. Put Christ first in all things. When you sign the "Title Deed" of your life over to Christ you officially gave Him everything that was yours - all rights to your lives, dreams and possessions. Will you ever fail to remember the One who really owns your hopes, dreams and possessions? Sure. But whenever you're tempted to live for yourself, always remember a time when you submitted everything of yours into His keeping and signed that title deed.

2. Give up all rights and entitlements. Paul said, "For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a slave to all" (1 Corinthians 9:19). Not a slave to some, but to all. And just as a slave relinquishes all rights to personal time and desires, we as Christ's followers are commanded to put others above ourselves. It's the only way to be the kind of wife or husband God intends us to be.

3. Be selfless in the little things. Sometimes you may not want to get out of your favorite chair to help carry in the groceries, sweep the kitchen or clean a toilet bowl. But it's in these minor, everyday moments that we teach our selfish selves who is boss. This is part of what the Bible means when it tells us to "learn to do good" (Isaiah 1:17)--to constantly choose death to self, to always choose sacrificial love until it becomes our first response.

Source: Family Life "Moments with You" 12 January 2010

Sunday, January 10, 2010

The Duty of Christians Towards Believing Masters, as Well as Other Masters

Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.
(1Ti 4:12 ESV)

Men's youth will not be despised, if they keep from vanities and follies. Those who teach by their doctrine, must teach by their life. Their discourse must be edifying; their conversation must be holy; they must be examples of love to God and all good men, examples of spiritual-mindedness. Ministers must mind these things as their principal work and business. By this means their profiting will appear in all things, as well as to all persons; this is the way to profit in knowledge and grace, and also to profit others.

The doctrine of a minister of Christ must be Scriptural, Clear, Evangelical and Practical; Well Stated, Explained, Defended, and Applied. But these duties leave no leisure for worldly pleasures, trifling visits, or idle conversation, and but little for what is mere amusement, and only ornamental. May every believer be enabled to let his profiting appear unto all men; seeking to experience the power of the Gospel in his own soul, and to bring forth its fruits in his life.

Source: Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary on the Bible.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Happy New Year!

Reflecting on a life that is to be of godliness with help from Thomas Watson:


The soul being so precious and salvation so glorious, it is the highest point of prudence to make preparations for another world. It is beyond all dispute that there is an inheritance in light, and it is most strenuously asserted in Holy Scripture that there must be a fitness and suitability for it (Col 1:12). If anyone asks, ‘Who shall ascend into the hill of the Lord?’ (Psa 24:4). To describe such a person is the work of this ensuing treatise. Here you have the godly man’s portrait, and see him portrayed in his full lineaments. What a rare thing godliness is! It is not airy and puffed up, but solid, and such as will take up the heart and spirits. Godliness consists in an exact harmony between holy principles and practices.

So sublime is godliness that it cannot be delineated in its perfect radiance and luster, though an angel should take the pencil. Godliness is our wisdom. ‘The fear of the Lord, that is wisdom’ (Job 28:28). Policy without piety is profound madness.

Godliness is a spiritual queen, and whoever marries her is sure of a large dowry with her. Godliness has the promise of the present life and of that which is to come (1 Tim 4:8). Godliness gives assurance, yes, holy triumph in God, and how sweet that is (Isa 32:17). It was old Latimer who said, ‘When sometimes I sit alone, and have a settled assurance of the state of my soul, and know that God is my God, I can laugh at all troubles, and nothing can daunt me.’

Godliness puts a man in heaven before his time. Christian, aspire after piety; it is a lawful ambition. Look at the saints’ characteristics here, and never leave off till you have got them stamped your own soul. This is the grand business that should swallow up your time and thoughts. Other speculations and quaint notions are nothing to the soul. They are like wafers which have fine works printed upon them, and are curiously damasked to the eye, but are thin, and yield little nourishment.

That the God of grace will effectually accomplish this shall be the prayer of him who is.

Yours in all Christian affection,