Friday, June 11, 2004

My New Prayer

“Lord, make yourself known…”  That is my new prayer, both for myself and everyone else.  I pray this for myself:  “Lord, make yourself known to me.”  I pray this for others:  “Lord, make yourself known to my wife.”  “Lord, make yourself known to my son.”  You get the point.  When I think of someone who needs prayer, this is my new prayer for them, “Lord, make yourself known to them.”

Lord, Make Yourself Known

My new prayer stems from a thought I had while reading in Isaiah chapter 19.  A prophecy is spoken concerning Egypt, that the time would come when “the Lord will make himself known to the Egyptians…”  I thought, “Man, I don’t want to wait for some prophetic or even apocalyptic point in time.  I want the Lord to make himself known to me now.”  

Wouldn’t we all be better off if the Lord revealed himself to us in greater and clearer ways?  Perhaps all that’s lacking is our desire.  Perhaps if we simply asked him to, he would, indeed, make himself increasingly more known to us.

I have been applying this prayer to everyone lately.  “Lord, make yourself known to our President.”  “Lord, make yourself known to the husbands and fathers around the world.”  Again, you get the point.

Worship the Lord

“They will worship…”  Isaiah writes that as the Lord would make himself known to the Egyptians, they would be drawn to worship him.  What other response might there be, anyway?  When God reveals himself - when we see him more for who he really is – our core being wants to bow before him and worship him.  This is one powerful result of praying this simple prayer, “Lord, make yourself known to me.”

Make Vows to the Lord, and Keep Them

The prophet saw this in the Egyptians’ future, that they would make vows to the Lord, and keep them.  It doesn’t say what those specific vows would be, just that they would make them, and keep them.  

As I ponder this, I think that we are not prone to make vows unless we must.  When was the last time you voluntarily promised something without being pressed or even asked?  When was the last time you made a vow to the Lord?  

To be honest, I’m a bit scared to make vows to the Lord.  It’s not something I want to mess around with, for fear of not fulfilling my commitment.  And yet I loathe making room for my weakness.  What I want to do is make a giant vow to the Lord, then do whatever it takes to fulfill it.  

But for now, my vow is simple.  I commit to keep praying, “Lord, make yourself known to us.”

Thursday, June 03, 2004

What Does God Want?

“What does God want?”

The Bible reveals the heart of God, and I found some key points in the opening chapter of the book of Isaiah.

“Stop bringing meaningless offerings.”

The people were bringing their appropriate offerings to God, but they were fooling themselves into thinking this pleased God.  It did not.  Why not?  Doesn’t He desire, and even command us to bring offerings?  Yes.  But our offerings must flow out of our righteousness, out of our growing walk with the Lord.  Their offerings did not.  So this is the heart of God:  Offerings are meaningless to Him if we give them alone, without giving Him our own heart first.

What does God want?  Our hearts.  Our lives.  The complete surrender of our being to His Lordship.

“Stop doing wrong.”

This sounds simple enough, but what is “wrong”?  Right and wrong are defined by God and God alone.  If He says something is wrong, we must not do it.  We sometimes think of wrong as illegal, which means that if it’s legal, it’s O.K.  Not necessarily.  We need to define wrong exactly the way God does.

What does God want?  He wants us to stop doing what He says is wrong to do.

“Learn to do right.”

I like the point that we must “learn” to do right.  How do we learn something like golf?  We practice it.  We read about it.  We talk about it with others.  We even go to a teacher for help.  Likewise, how do we “learn to do right”?  We practice it.  We read about it.  We talk about it with others.  We even go to a teacher for help.  A lot of times, doing right just doesn’t seem to come naturally for us.  So we must work at learning to do right.

What does God want?  He wants us to go out of our way to educate ourselves in the art of doing what is right.

“Encourage the Oppressed”

How much do we go out of our way to encourage people?  I hear too much about people in depression and people on medication.  I think a better cure would be for us to encourage one another more.  One preacher said, “This is not a bump in the road, this is a bumpy road.”  With all the blows life has a way of dealing, we need to be there for each other.  We all know that trials are much simpler if someone is going through it with you.  

What does God want?  He wants us to find someone that’s in a rough spot and bring them some encouragement.

I’ll stop here, but I recommend you continue this study on your own by reading Isaiah chapters one through five and look for the heart of God.  

Monday, March 22, 2004

Take Your Turn on the Wall

“Take Your Turn on the Wall”

He rises early, before sunrise.  No need to bathe.  Where he’s going it doesn’t matter.  But there are other preparations necessary.  Guns.  Ammo.  Various other weapons and electronic wizardry to get the job done.  He’s packed.  He’s ready.  He heads out…for The Wall.


As he approaches the wall, he doesn’t see the one whom he will soon relieve.  No words will be spoken.  There is no “clocking in” or “clocking out”.  Just a simple, silent transfer of responsibility.  He takes his place on the wall.  When he’s done, another will replace him, though silent and unseen.  Someone must always be on The Wall.


This is how I feel as I take my turn in the church’s Watchmen prayer schedule.  I take it very seriously.  It’s my time on The Wall.  So what is the wall?  For me it symbolizes the higher location, the clearer view, the place between God and people.  This is where I purposely come to pray for many things, and most purposefully, God’s will to be done in our church.  The higher location means I’m drawing closer to the Heavenly Father. 


The wall is always designed to offer the clearest view possible.  I find this to be true when I am praying on “the wall”.  My view of the world, my life, my family, my finances, my work – my view of everything becomes clearer when I am praying, drawing near to God, on the wall.


At the back of the church is a sign-up sheet for the Watchmen prayer schedule.  Our goal is to maintain a constant prayer watch.  Will you join us?  Will you take your turn on the wall?  It’s not as difficult as you might imagine.  All we ask is that on the day you sign up for, you spend at least 15 minutes in prayer.  That’s 15 minutes of drawing near to your Heavenly Father.  So, what are you waiting for?  The view is fantastic!

Monday, February 09, 2004

Go to the Grammys or Keep Your Word?

I write this the day after our church youth group went to a concert in the St. Louis area.  Several major artists were to appear, including two that were nominated for a Grammy award.  

The Grammys are the most prestigious music awards in America.  To win a Grammy means that you have reached the pinnacle of your craft as a music artist.  To be nominated alone is quite an honor, and it also gives you the opportunity to attend the awards show with all of the other top singers and musicians in the world.

So what do you do if you are nominated for a Grammy, but on the night of the awards show, you have already booked a concert?  Do you cancel your concert appearance in order to attend what may be a once in a lifetime chance?  Or do you keep your commitment, even though it was made before you knew about your possible Grammy opportunity?

For some this is a no-brainer.  You go to the Grammys!  It would be like passing up a free trip on the space shuttle, it’s something you just don’t miss.  

But what about that earlier commitment?  Well, surely everyone will understand…

Now let me rewind to our Sunday School lesson that same day.  Philippians 2:5 says, “Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus.”  What was His attitude?  “He humbled himself.”

And how!  Look at the amazing descent of His humility – from God to a man, to a servant, to a servant who died, not just any death, but the kind reserved for the worst people on the planet, capital punishment.

Our attitude should be like His.  He did not claim all of His rights.  Instead He gave them up in order to serve others.  

Yes, you could choose to go to the Grammys.  It’s logical and understandable.  But it’s not noble.

Of the two groups nominated, one chose to attend the Grammys, and the other chose to keep their commitment in St. Louis.  I smile as I report to you that the group that kept their commitment is now the proud owner of a Grammy Award!

Now what about us?  The lesson is easy to hear and challenging to put into practice.  Humble ourselves, in order to serve others.  Don’t claim all of our rights, but instead give them up.  I know there is at least one group of singers today that will attest to the truth of James 4:10, “Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up.”

Sunday, February 01, 2004

The X-Man of Ephesians

The X-Man of Ephesians

As a child, a boy to be exact, I was always interested in comic book heroes and their special powers.  The Hulk.  The Thing.  Spider Man.  Thor.  Iron Man (Dave Calhoun’s hero!)  You get the picture.  

One comic book character that has been made more popular in the movies lately is Wolverine.  This man has two superhuman capabilities:  his body heals itself of all wounds, and when he is angry large claws come out as weapons.  Actually these claws are very long razor-sharp knives that extend from his knuckles.

I want to use Wolverine’s special powers to illustrate two principles.  First let’s look at his “claws”.  You know, we all have claws like this that can cause great harm to others.  They are our words, and they tend to inflict more pain when we are angry.

My goal is to eliminate all the claws from my words.  It’s a very difficult task, but I think God is for it and will help accomplish it.

Watch your words, and how often there are claws in them meant to do harm.  Look for little sharp comments that give a little “dig” at someone.  

Recently I was answering a complaint letter sent to the radio station where I work.  As a professional, I take great care to word such letters in exactly the right way.  I try to make sure there is not a single claw.  After I write a letter like that I often set it aside, then read it a little later from a fresh perspective, again trying to ensure that I am not simply “snapping back”.

Unfortunately we do not have that time luxury in most conversations.  When someone is speaking to us, a response is required immediately.  In the course of normal conversation, can we remove the barbs, the claws?  Can we sand off all the rough edges?  

Why should we “de-claw” ourselves?  Because the Bible says in Ephesians 4:29-32 that we should only say things “helpful for building others up” and words that “benefit those who listen”.  It also instructs us to get rid of “every form of malice”.


I love that little phrase, and it’s so true.  When do our claws come out?  When we are hurt or threatened.  Recently someone said some less-than-kind things to me, and it caught me off guard.  As I pondered it later I think something I had done may have hurt their feelings.  When we are hurt, our claws come out and we strike back.  It’s human nature.  

But if it’s “hard-wired” into us, how can we avoid it?  Here is where Wolverine’s other super power comes in, the immediate healing.  

When a foe injured Wolverine, it was short-lived.  No matter how deep the cut, it didn’t last.  Soon the wound was completely healed, leaving no scars.

That’s the way we need to be when people wound us.  It’s called the power of forgiveness.

Back to Ephesians 4, where verse 32 says, “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”  This is the foil to the mortal coil (that wording is just for you, Pastor John!)

People will wound us and hurt us.  That is a given.  But can we be like Wolverine and heal up instantly?  Yes, we can.  Forgiving brings the healing.  The sooner we forgive, the sooner we are healed from any wounds.

I imagine it this way.  Someone claws me with their words.  I feel the pain, followed by the desire to respond out of my own hurt.  But then, like Wolverine, the wound instantly heals as I instantly forgive.  Now, instead of responding with claws out of my own anger and pain, I can respond as Christ calls me to respond, with kindness and compassion.

So there you have it.  My goal for the year:  Remove all claws and barbs from my speech, and heal instantly when claws and barbs injure me.  

Thursday, January 01, 2004

Come and See My Zeal for the Lord

“Come and see my zeal for the Lord!”

--Jehu (2 Kings 10:16)

I love that declaration by Jehu!  Then the Bible records that with Charlton Heston bravado Jehu jumped into a chariot and rode off to do the will of God.  Now that should appeal to every Alpha Male in my readership today.  I mean, it has all the ingredients we love:  1)  A bold declaration, 2) A cool word that begins with a “Z”, 3) A chariot, and 4) Action, baby!

A Bold Declaration

We like bold declarations.  Say it loud and say it proud!  And once you declare it, it’s set in stone.  “Look, I said it.  I meant it.  And if you try to make me go back on it, I’ll die first!”  Some guys have that zeal for their “team” (for crying out loud…).  How about a little zeal for the Lord God almighty?!  Make a bold declaration, loud and proud, of what you will do for the Lord, and make it big!  Then don’t back down from it.  Die for it, but don’t wimp out.

A Cool Word That Begins With “Z”

You know, like Zorro or something.  We like cool words and phrases, like “Red Zone.” Well, zeal is one of those words.  ZEAL!!!  It even looks cool.  Look your neighbor in the eye and shout “Zeal, baby!” and give them a crushing head butt (only if you are wearing your Brad-Stein-helmet).  But really, that’s a word you can rally around.  We Christians need to work together, you know, get in a huddle, work out a plan, put our hands together, and “Zeal on three.  O.K. One.  Two.  ‘Zeal!’”  (Zealous people sometimes have problems with patience…)  

A Chariot

Jehu had a chariot.  What’s your machine?  Use it to carry out your zeal for Christ.  Ride it to your destination, where you are going to do the will of God.  Let your chariot be filled with prayers and praise and intercessions.  Show your zeal in your automobile!  You call that little stick fish ZEAL?!  SHOW ME YOUR ZEAL FOR THE LORD!!!

Action, Baby!

Why are so many churches loaded with more women than men?  No action!  But show me a church making a bone-jarring impact on their community and I’ll bet it’s a church loaded with men full of zeal for the Lord!  You want men involved?  Then give them something to win.  That’s why men rhymes with win (bear with me here).  But really, men want to get out and do something.  There’s a time for talk, but then there’s a time for action, and that action needs to be in the middle of the will of God.  

Long Summary

Just do it!