Tag Archives: Hope

Our Thoughts and Prayers …

As we rush to push God, Christ, and references to the Ten Commandments and nativity scenes out of our public visibility, schools, and politically correct conversation, when tragedy strikes we are quick to offer our thoughts and prayers for the people impacted by tragic events. A question might be asked about to whom the prayers are being offered and what exactly we’re thinking about. It all seems to beg the question about the value of thoughts and prayers.

First let’s talk about offering our thoughts. I can sit on the Ponderosa and think about a lot of things and perhaps some might argue that that karma is oozing out of the windows as I post pictures and thoughts on social media. The net result is negligible because other than having the other person “feeling good” that their friends are thinking about them, there is no outside power or support brought about through our thinking about a situation. One might argue that thinking of your loss or pain might give me additional empathy for you, but I’m not aware of any healings or changes of circumstance that have been brought about through the thoughts of friends and neighbors. Because of this, my friends will need to excuse me for not offering my thoughts. I have found them to be ineffectual.

The book of James chapter 5 tells us a couple of things in verse 16, “Therefore confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” Many would like to lean on this passage for the power of prayer, but we have to remember that this is prayer by one and for another person who have submitted themselves to a truth system and faith proposition that believes in God, the Father, and the redeeming work of Jesus Christ. So this is not a one-size fits all kind of prayer.

In Matthew 21, Christ talks about His Father’s house being a house of prayer. How many have darkened the door of a house of God honoring prayer recently? Later in verses 18 – 22, Christ again talks about what is required for effectual prayer. In the closing sentence of that section He tells His disciples, “And, whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith.” He talks here about moving mountains. I’m here to tell you that this really works and that I’ve seen mountains moved just in the past few months. God has responded to some BHAG requests (Big Hairy Audacious Goal to borrow a term from Jim Collins’ “Good to Great”) in ways that leave little doubt as to the effectiveness of prayer! God has moved mountains!

There has been a lot of bad news of late in our world. So bad, in fact, that the New York Daily News published a headline boldly stating that “GOD ISN’T FIXING THIS.” The front page went on to pronounce the futility of “thoughts and prayers.” This is the world’s view. In scripture we see that Christ regularly retreated to a solitary place to pray. If prayer was of no effect, why would Christ go away to pray? Why would He tell us to pray without ceasing? Why would He say that He hears our prayers from afar?

If we look again at the James 5 and Matthew 21 passages, both (and many others) talk of prayers being offered by men and women of faith and in faith. By “in faith” I mean that we who have placed our faith in the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and know that “without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God, must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.” (Heb 11:6) We’re talking about prayer and relationship here, folks. We can’t deny God’s existence or relevance and expect him to respond to our foxhole cries for help.

When Noah built the ark, he was scorned until the day it started raining. Only 8 people from all of earth’s population were spared by getting into the ark. God promised that He would never do that again and from that promise, we have rainbows that color our skies. There was a time when the prophet Elijah despaired of life itself, sensing that he alone was left to serve and honor God among all the people of Israel. God took him to a quiet place and when Elijah had calmed down, God assured him in a quiet whisper that He had preserved some 7,000 people who were faithful. Elijah was not alone. Neither are we alone nor will we be wiped out!

So, where do we go from here? Those of us who are faithful need to be praying for those who lead government in our country and all over the world, that God will provide wisdom as they carry out their duties. God has said that He has established the authorities. Also that He would preserve a people faithful to Him. Since the beginning of the story of mankind, there have been nations bent on evil and destroying what God has made. Yet, through it all, God has preserved a people who are faithful. Some would say that until recently, the U.S.A. was that city on a hill that was a beacon and whose laws represented biblical values. I think it is safe to say that those days are quickly fading into history as our courts banish the name of God from public mention.

Still, as the mores of our country sliding away from biblical values, His church remains as the bearer of eternal hope in our communities and true believers shine light in their arenas of influence and within our society. Some will be those who have huge audiences and some will be those who touch one life at a time. Let’s not cower in a dark corner. Let’s have our lights shine and let our prayers impact our world as never before. May your prayers be among those that are powerful and effective.

Peace on earth, good will toward men!

Finding Your Way Back to God

Over the course of the past six weeks Judy and I have been hosting a Life Image result for Road to GodGroup in our home. We’ve been following a series being led from our church entitled “Finding Your Way Back to God.” The series has been intended to help us focus from any starting point on our pursuit of and relationship with God. The biblical context for the series is the story of the prodigal son as found in Luke 15.

For most people, finding our way back to God is not a six week study or exercise. Even the stories shared in the accompanying videos talked about a lifetime of searching for something more. We have a tendency to get stuck in our day-to-day lives, but we were made for so much more. God tells us that “I know the plans that I have for you ..” (Jer 29:11). These plans have been in place before the foundations of the earth were laid. Psalm 139 tells us that God knit us together in our mother’s womb, and that this work was being done with the knowledge of each of our days.

So even before we were being formed, He was making plans for us. God had written in His book every one of our days that were made for us. Is it any wonder then, that we have this longing for more? He formed us with intentionality to meet the needs of the days that were made for us! Ephesians 2:10 tells us that we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do!

It boggles the mind that God created Adam and Eve knowing full well that they would fall into sin. It certainly was no surprise to Him and He did not have to scramble to come up with plan B. God loved us so much that He gave us a free will that would be free to sin and free to love Him. He sent His one and only son to die for our sins and failings, so that by faith in Christ we could be restored into relationship with Him. With those same global concepts and thoughts, He created each one of us, intentionally, with a purpose, knowing that He would need to draw all men to Himself so that they could make the choice to open the door to their hearts and let Him come in.

We all take different paths. I have been blessed recently to observe and encourage a couple of friends in renewing their walk of faith in Christ. Each came by a different path, but both, clearly came in response to the beckoning of the still small voice, that gentle knock on the door of their hearts and the engagement of plain folks like Judy and me. Along this journey, I have had a very real sense of fulfillment of the purpose for which I was made. That purpose began before I was being physically knit together in my mother’s womb.

Much more to talk about regarding such journeys. For now, I ask of my reader, where are you in your relationship with God? I am reminded of an old family friend whom I hadn’t seen since childhood, but a man who had been friends of my parents’ for all of my lifetime. Our paths crossed, ever so briefly, in the lobby of a multi-organizational meeting. Almost without taking a breath after our introduction and greeting, he looked me squarely in the eyes and said to me, “So, Bill, tell me how things are going with you and God.” I confess that I was a little taken aback, but at the same time I felt as though I had just been touched by God Himself. I gave our friend a response that I’m sure in retrospect might have seemed a little shallow, but I promise you that I have never forgotten that very brief interaction. That story, too, is part of my journey and part of my story.

Blessings!

Do you think you are pushing things too far with Jesus? That is the only way to know how far you can go.

Great thought expressed here. How vast is our God? How limitless are His resources. You have not because you ask not. Thanks to my friend Michael Wilson for pushing my thinking today.

Jesus Quotes and God Thoughts

Jesus Challenges Us Jesus Challenges Us

God challenges us to get radical for his blessed son Jesus, the Messiah. This is not a life for the faint of heart. Jesus has won the victory and challenges us to live that life as well.

We need more passion not less.

We need to be more radical not softer.

We need to pray to be more bold.

This is his way.

Do you think you are pushing things too far with Jesus? That is the only way to know how far you can go.

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Significant to My Faith Journey

This morning I posted three Bible verses written in my mother’s Mom's Verseshandwriting. The three verses were Luke 6:31, James 5:16 and 1 Corinthians 6:20. Obviously, the fact that these are in Mom’s handwriting brings back a lot of memories. Memories of her notes all around the house. I always admired the artistry of her handwriting. I thought is was delicately feminine and elegant at the same time. But beyond all that, the fact that she chose not to memorize from her Bible, and rather to sear these words in her mind by writing them first and then committing them to memory. This was a habit she continued until the day she went into the hospital where she transitioned into heaven two weeks later. As the years wore on, she took to memorizing chapters and then entire books of the Bible. She hid God’s word in her heart, she meditated on God’s wisdom day and night. When one of us would be feeling down, or acting up, she could draw from memory a verse that aptly applied to the situation on our minds or that would have the effect of easing the tension in our home.

She encouraged us to memorize as well. In our small town in Manitoba, there was someone who was impassioned about children’s need to learn the scriptures. So he made an offer to anyone who wanted to go to summer camp. For anyone who would memorize 100 verses, he would pay their camp fees. This prompted my parents to encourage me to take up the challenge, which I did! I remember to this day, saying the last 5 verses to the person in charge, as we were literally loading the kids onto the truck. I had made it! I had memorized 100 verses and earned a free week at camp! I jumped onto that truck feeling as high as the sky! Many, if not most, of those verses still stick with me and I can recall them when I hear the reference or am able to finish them when I hear the pastor begin to cite a verse. Thy word have I hid in my heart that I might not sin against thee. Psalm 119:11.

All this memorization was done in the King James version in those days, so quite frequently when I think of a verse that applies in a current situation, but can’t remember the reference (address), I’ll have to look in the King James version of my electronic Bible to find it. What a boon to my faith and to my grounding in the faith. The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked. Jeremiah 17:9 is one of those passages that has regularly provided a word of caution in assessing my own motives and desires.

A quick word about the truck mentioned above. In those days we didn’t have the luxury of things such as school buses. While this will horrify moms and dads today, we would get probably 30 kids up on the back of an open box 5-ton truck, and ride the 93 miles to the camp in a standing position. Great times were had in those trucks and we thought nothing of the safety aspects. This was the transportation available to go to camp! Another truck followed behind with our bags containing a couple of changes of clothes and swim suits for the week.

The teachings we had at those camps were often times evangelistic, but also instructional for spiritual growth most often. It was in the woods of that camp where I would go to reflect and think about what God wanted with me. I wasn’t worried about my friends, but I sensed from those early days that God had His hand on me. All part of the journey. God wants to have His hand on you as well, if you’ll invite Him to lead you in the way that you should go.

Just a brief reflection in the rear view mirror …