Thursday, March 24, 2011

The Privilege of Prayer

In the South, where I am from, saying - "I will pray for you" is a common way to escape a conversation that may have gotten too personal or too intense for our liking. Often when someone shares a problem to which we have no answer that little phrase "I will pray for you" is all we have to offer. Then, unfortunately, we often say a flippant prayer in passing so that our conscious doesn't get the best of us if we forget to pray for the person and there we go our deed is done. The problem is that we forget what a privilege it is to pray for someone and what a power prayer can be.

As people we tend to put up barriers around our personal lives. We would prefer to try to solve our own problems without involving others. I actually think this is counter to what God wants. I think he desires us to be as little kids, relying on Him like a child relies on his or her parents. That being said, I am the world's worst at doing just that, ie, trying to control everything, even though I really control nothing. So when a person lets his or her barriers down and asks us for a prayer it is a big deal. It often means that the person is so desperate and so broken that they have given up all earthly hope of an answer and are seeking a supernatural one instead. It is that very desperation that makes us uncomfortable in those types of conversations and the reason we often try to escape them any way we can, even if it means uttering that phrase "I will pray for you."

It would be a wonderful phrase if we would take their prayer request as seriously as they do. You see there is no greater privilege than prayer. There are several things a person needs to understand about praying for someone. The first thing to understand is just who we are praying to.

I haven't spoken with Barack O'Bama recently. Honestly, I couldn't if I wanted to. I doubt somehow that many kings or queens would return my call either. Donald Trump is not on my speed dial and Oprah Winfrey doesn't return my emails. For some reason it doesn't bother me though, because I have a direct line to the KING of KINGS. Romans 14:11 tells me that "Every knee will bow and every tongue confess" to my King. That means Barack, Donald, and Oprah too. It is all too easy for me to say a prayer from my bed, instead of kneeling, or to say a flippant prayer that falls off my tongue with such little sincerity and emotion that it disgusts me as soon as I say it. You see, the problem is that is it is GOD that I am praying to. He made the world I live on, He says "be still" and the waves are silenced, He says "arise" and the dead breath. That is an awesome contact for my contact list. It is an amazing awe-inspiring honor to be able to take my problems, and the problems of others before such majesty.

The second thing to remember about prayer is the power of prayer. I recently had been praying for a lady at the church I attend who had been diagnosed with cancer. She had a tumor in her stomach. She met the diagnosis with faith inspiring courage and didn't miss a day of church, not even the day she was diagnosed. So this past Sunday when she didn't make it to church it as alarming. The explanation that she was sicker than normal made its way to me through the grapevine. Prayers continued to go up for the lady and on Wednesday the most amazing thing happened - news that at her doctor's visit this week the tumor had "vanished." The doctor said he didn't understand what had happened. I do - its called a miracle. Prayer gives us a direct line to He who makes miracles happen. It wasn't me that made the miracle, I just had the privilege of witnessing it.

So let us all take our prayer life seriously. Let us remember who we are praying to. Let us remember the power of prayer. Let us understand the privilege of prayer. Let us take that little phrase "I will pray for you" seriously. God does.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

A one word rebuttal to atheism - Israel.

It’s not easy being God’s chosen people. If you don’t believe me, just look at history. Israel is quite simply a one word answer to anyone who doesn’t believe that there is a God. Come with me and let’s examine one of God’s greatest miracles – the Jewish people, and their home country of Israel. I ask only one thing from you, leave your preconceived prejudices and disbeliefs behind and examine this from a purely logical standpoint.

Over the past 10 years two countries have dominated the headlines in worldwide media like no other. The country most often mentioned in the media is the United States of America. With her economic, military, and geographic prowess this seems quite logical. The United States has an estimated 310 million people as of 2011. The U.S. also has 3.79 million square miles of land. This means that the United States ranks as the third largest country in both land and population.

However, the second most mentioned country in the media was Israel. Israel seems a bit out of place when listed beside the United States for top billing in the media. With only 7.7 million people and only 5.8 million Jews, Israel is far from a match for the United States in population. In fact, Israel is only the 95th largest country by population in the world behind such unknown countries as Azerbaijan, Benin, and Burundi (no offense if you are from one of these). In fact, Israel doesn’t even have half of the population of Burkina Faso or Malawi. If you are looking for Israel to be a large country in land mass think again. It is only the 151st largest country in the world with 8,522 square miles of land. To put that in perspective, it is just a little smaller than Vermont the 6th smallest state in the United States of America. So why is Israel so out of place in the media? It certainly isn’t logical for it to be such.

The truth of the matter is that Israel and the Jewish people in general have done more with less than any people group in the world. Having won almost 25% of the world’s Nobel Prizes over the past 100 years, Jewish people have had a huge impact on the world around them despite being only 0.70% of the world’s population. Albert Einstein, Sigmund Freud, Karl Marx, Niels Bohr, Paul Ehrlich, George Gershwin, Franz Kafka, Jonas Salk – the names roll off one’s tongue like a “who’s who” list of historical figures certainly not belying the small size of the people group from whence they came. In fact one could make a straight faced argument that the Jewish people have had an almost supernatural influence in the world around them in order to so outperform their size.

But make no mistake about it, Israel and the Jewish people in general have not only made the headlines due to their terrific accomplishments, the Jewish people have made headlines because of the intense hatred with which the world looks upon them. Indeed Israeli Jews live in constant fear of terrorism and outside attacks. Jews are constantly persecuted in foreign countries and were annihilated like no other people group in history during the Holocaust. Indeed 2 out of every 3 European Jews were murdered during the Holocaust. Persecuted globally, the Jews cannot even feel secure within their own borders. For such a small country of only 5.8 million Jews to be able to maintain its national sovereignty among an estimated 356 million Arab peoples who largely hate them is an amazing almost supernatural feat in and of itself. Yet maintain their sovereignty they have, and even flourished.

I write this article not as a Jew myself, but as a Christian who stands in awe of God and his ability to honor his covenant with Israel and the Jewish people. While I believe that God will save anyone who calls on the name of Jesus, I realize that the Jewish people are God’s chosen people and will always be God’s chosen people. With that delineation has come a terrific promise and an amazing protection, but also a horrendous price for disobedience. I stand as a critical thinker who uses logic as a tool to make decisions. I can see no logical way to interpret Israel’s importance and even mere existence in the world today other than to say it is beyond logic and is eerily supernatural.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

"Heaven is for Real" Reviewed

Heaven is for Real is a terrifically entertaining story about a young 4 year old boy's venture to Heaven and back again. I would advise this book as a read for most anyone seeking encouragement, wondering about Heaven, or just seeking an interesting story written in a different perspective. I would strongly suggest this book for anyone that has lost a small child, a child in the womb, or who has recently lost a loved one in general.

The story centers around 4 year old Colton Burpo, an "all boy" youngster from Iowa, who loves swords, super heroes, and his dad. A misdiagnosis leaves Colton hanging on to life by a thread and sends his dad, a preacher, on a journey that will cause him to question God's love only to see that love confirmed in the most amazing way.

The Burpo family begins to understand what a great blessing God has given them when Colton begins to relate his memories from a trip that no one could fathom - a trip to Heaven. Colton often relates these events in a very 4 year old fashion which adds legitimacy to the story that is told through the eyes of the father.

While any near death experience literature is only as believable as the person recounting the story, there is something very sincere and reassuring about hearing the story told through the eyes of a 4 year old. I would invite you to read Heaven is for Real with an open mind, a believing heart, and a childlike awe of just how amazing God's love for his people really is.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Christians Should Be Ashamed!

Christians should be ashamed. As a Christian myself, I believe I am entitled to say that. I also believe I am just as guilty as anyone. For years America has been sliding down the slippery slope of immorality. At the very center of this decline is the media. Enough is enough. ABC has went too far. I for one, will not go quietly into that good night. ABC has a new pilot television show named "Good Christian Bitches." Seriously? Why not - "Good Muslim Bitches?" or "Good Hebrew Bitches?" Oh, I forgot...the ACLU would slap a restraining order on ABC so quickly their heads would spin. But, for some reason its OK to go after Christians.

Is it just me or does this seem to be a very risky strategy by ABC and parent company Disney? Are ABC execs really saying "come on let's poke Christians with a stick. Let's see how far we can push them. After all, they only make up 80% of our viewing audience."

What it is in all reality is an indictment on Christians in this country. ABC believes that Christians will not stand up for their faith, for their families, and for their values. Why would they believe differently, we have compromised our morality to such an extent that we have reached this cliff. So what do we do now? Nothing - Like usual? Will we sit around and do nothing because doing something requires effort? Or will we finally take a stand? I say enough is enough. Contact ABC. Contact Disney. Even more so contact the sponsors of ABC and Disney and let them know that if this show is on ABC that your money will not go to the sponsors and that your viewership will not go to ABC and that your vacations will not go to Disney. It is about time we stood up for ourselves. Every other religion would, but we are either too lazy, too apethetic, or too disingenuine to do so.

Contact ABC

Also - if anyone has a list of ABC sponsors - please post that in the comments section. Thanks.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

The Prince of Screw Ups.

Man have I screwed up in my life. In fact, I have screwed up a lot. I continually do no matter how hard I try to do better. I certainly do not deserve to be a Prince, but yet that is exactly what I am. In fact, the kingdom to which I am an heir is the wealthiest in the entire world. The streets are made of gold. My Father, well, He is the King of Kings. All will one day bow to Him. How bout you? Are you a Prince or Princess? Well, you can be. In fact, my Father is looking for children to adopt. The adoption process isn't hard - consider it a gift. All you have to do is accept it. You see, most people do not understand Christianity for what it is. It is so simple, people make it hard. We think that we are not good enough to have a relationship with the Almighty God. We think He could never love us. We think we are just screw ups. How could we ever measure up to the mighty heroes of the Bible?

Well, the truth is that the heroes of the Bible were screw ups too. Imagine if you will a television announcer making the introductions of the great Bible heroes.

"He had everything he could have ever wanted. He lived in Paradise with the most beautiful woman ever created and all he had to do was follow the rules - But he didn't. And as a result sin entered into the world, he was kicked out of Paradise and God had to sacrifice His only begotten son to restore His relationship to humanity. Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you Adam."

"This lucky fellow survived The Great Flood because he was found obedient to God. He built an ark, watched all the animals come two-by-two, and survived the Flood. Then he became drunk and laid naked for his children to see. This caused a family feud which resulted in him cursing his son Ham and giving his land to his son Shem. Meet Noah."

"This man is the Father of Nations. He is one of the most influential people in the Bible. Yet, he didn't trust God when God told him he would have a son with his wife. He doubted because his wife was old and he decided to try to have a son himself. So, at his wifes behest he had a son with his wife's servant. Then, when his wife had the son God had promised, he ran his wife's servant and his firstborn son off. The son he had with the servant saw his lineage create the Muslim faith while the son he was promised by God watched his heirs lead to Jesus and the Christian Faith. I give you Father Abraham and his sons Ishmael and Isaac."

"Isaac's son, he was a twin who deceived his father in order to steal his brother's birth right and become a great figure in the Bible. In fact, he became known as Israel and from him many nations were formed. Here is Jacob."

"And finally, this great king was said to be a man after God's own heart. He is famous for killing a giant with a slingshot and is likely the greatest king of the Old Testament. Yet, he lusted for another man's wife, committed adultery with her, and then sent her husband to the front lines of battle and had him killed thereby essentually murdering him. It is the Great King David."

You see, my article isn't to mock these Biblical Greats, because they truly did great things and truly had great relationships with God. My point is that everyone is human and we have ALL BLOWN IT. It doesn't matter how badly - God wants to forgive us. He wants to have a relationship with little ole us. He wants to make us Princes and Princesses and heirs to the Kingdom of Heaven. So tell me...screw up. Can you, will you, accept this free gift? Will you be a Prince or Princess today? Or just a screw up?

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Prayers for a Friend.

As I type these words today, an older friend of mine from the church is very ill. She is more than a friend, she is the one who first invited me to attend the church to which I now gratefully belong. Her simple act of obedience, in inviting my family (largely strangers to her at the time) to her church has had so many trickle-down affects that it makes me stand in awe of my creator and appreciate what a master weaver he truly is. By obediently following his will, she has brought glory upon God because I now stand truly amazed at all that has come from her simple gesture.

You see, SHE INVITED ME TO CHURCH. So what you may say. Well, SHE INVITED ME TO CHURCH...and...I brought my family - and that is just the beginning of the story. My oldest daughter was saved at this church. Her two best friends were also saved at this church. From the love of this church I have seen my mother come forth and make her salvation public. I have seen my oldest daughter and my wife baptized. And all this because SHE INVITED ME TO CHURCH. But wait, that is just the beginning of the story.

At this church my wife went on a mission trip to Haiti that changed her life. She came back and left her job in order to study medicine so that she could do medical mission work. Then my wife and I sent gifts to Haiti so that children who rarely see Christmas gifts would wake up with presents for the first time in years. My mother was so moved by the stories of the Haiti mission trip that she started a sewing ministry with my grandmother and they now send dresses to orphans in Haiti and the Dominican Republic. All of this because - SHE INVITED ME TO CHURCH. But wait, that is just the beginning of the story.

Today, as I set here typing these words I am intensely praising my God in Heaven for being so amazing as to be able to weave together this incredible tapestry. My prayers are music to his ears and they are as a result of her INVITING ME TO CHURCH.

Prayers be with you friend - your meaning on my life as well as many others you surely cannot grasp.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Tennesseans Send Pro-Prayer Message to Foreign Liberals.

"Don't tread on me" was the message that fans and football players alike sent in Rhea County, Tennessee on Friday night. Soddy Daisy High School had been warned about holding a prayer before its football games by the Freedom From Religion Group from Madison, Wisconsin. The liberal organization tread on three things that Tennesseans hold very dear - religion, football, and state sovereignty. Tennesseans have a reputation as wonderfully courteous people, but they also will circle the wagons when "outsiders" threaten their way of life.

Dr. Jim Scales, the Superintendent for Hamilton County Schools had instructed Soddy Daisy High School Principal John Maynard to honor the request of the Freedom From Religion Group to cease prayers before football games. Rhea County's stadium announcer asked if any fans would like to join the players on the field for a prayer - in light of Hamilton County's dilemma. The entire stadium emptied on to the football field for prayer with both football teams. Perhaps this was the desired goal of the liberals from up north, but as a Tennessee boy myself - I rather doubt it. Kudos for Rhea County and their stadium address announcer and Kudos to the fans at that game.