Tag Archives: prayer

How much faith do you need?

enough faithDon’t agonize over whether you have enough faith to receive an answer from God.  Just keep praying because all you need is a tiny amount of faith. Just enough to go to prayer.

As praise goes up, grace flows down

waterfall

from Godinterest

Worship contains a paradox: When you lift up God, He lifts you up. If you’re down in the dumps, rise to praise, and God will raise you up.

We felt your prayers pushing us forward

prayer powerFour guys from LA, young guys, rebels who have turned to God, went to Guatemala believing they could possibly be used. What happened at the Door Church in Guatemala was extraordinary: people were healed, faith was restored, forgiveness came back between brethren.

And I’m happy. That was the church God used me to raise up. I was troubled by some negative trends happening there now in my absence. God used Arti Cedillo, a former Satanist, to preach. Pastor Steven Fernandez, a former street thug, was their guide and body guard. Junior Cervantez, a former graffiti artist, and Johnny Huerta, a former partier, went along for the fun of it and wound up making a great spiritual impact also.

Junior was skate-boarding the the marijuana-smokers who frequent the church’s street in front. Johnny bought McDonald’s for all the kids one night, a treat so rare because of poverty it’s usually reserved for only for a kid’s birthday.

Arti said when he got back: We felt your prayers literally pushing us forward. And that’s how I was reminded of the power of prayer.

Ping

ping…from God.

All day long every day. Are you reachable?

As soon as you ping God, you’ll get a quick and strong response. He’s waiting for you to cry out to him. You think nobody sees, no one knows. He has been stretching His arms out to you all day long. You have not known. Ask Him if He’s real, if He’s there. He’ll wrap you up in His arms.

Rejoice always

rejoiceRejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! — Phil 4:4 NIV.

Rebekah’s first Halloween

Now she’s 18.

We were missionaries in Guatemala where they don’t really celebrate Halloween. One year our annual Bible conference coincided with Halloween, so Rebekah, then 10, got to go door-to-door trick-or-treating for the first time. It happened to be immediately upon arrival. She was young enough to not remember the previous years.

The next day, she asked, “Can we go door-to-door again and get more candy?”

Rebekah thought that everyday in the United States, kids go door-to-door and gather candy. It’s just a normal part of everyday American life. Because she couldn’t remember the previous year’s experiences, she didn’t realize we didn’t do that the year before.

We ought to come to church expecting candy every time. God has a treat for us if we want it. If you come to church miserable, you’ll probably go home empty-handed. God wants to delight you every time.

Gratitude

gratitude

Pic from gratitude-alittlegoesalongway.blogspot.com. I don’t own the rights to this image, nor am I making any money on it.

No sooner was the cupbearer freed from jail than he forgot his promise to help Joseph, who had interpreted his dream. Joseph had been imprisoned under false accusation. God was with nevertheless, even though the cupbearer forgot his debt for Joseph’s interpretation of the dream that Pharaoh would free him.

TWO YEARS LATER, Pharaoh has a dream that none of his sorcerers can interpret. Only then does the cupbearer remember his faults and tells Pharaoh about Joseph, who is promptly freed, washed, shaved and ushered into Pharaoh’s presence. He interprets Pharaoh’s dream, and his fortunes are changed.

Sadly, most of us fall in with the cupbearer. God has given us so many good things, and we don’t want to remember or acknowledge our debt of gratitude to Him.

Asking God for too little

asklittlegetmuchHe asked for a handout. Peter gave him a healing.

Expecting to get some money, the crippled temple beggar directed his attention to Peter and John. Silver or gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk, Peter said in Acts 3:6 NIV.

He jumped to his feet and began to walk. Then he went with them into the temple courts, walking and jumping, and praising God — Acts 3:8 NIV.

He got MUCH more from God than he expected.

Why do we downsize our prayers? Why down scale down our faith?

God is NOT:

  • offended if we ask big.
  • unable to give.
  • displeased by too much faith.
  • upset by our audacity.
  • budgeting his company.
  • on a diet Himself.
  • scrimping to make ends meet.
  • requiring coupons.

To the contrary, we are ordered to move mountains, not molehills.

The importance of moon shots

from Wired.com

from Wired.com

Larry Page, the leader of Google, tells his employees that every product they make must be 10X better than the competition. Next on the list of things for Google: self-driving cars, wearable computers, mapping the human race’s DNA code. He’s eternally dissatisfied, and that drives him to pursue greater heights. Mediocrity and modest gains be damned. Shoot for the moon.

As Christians, we should have vision and dream big. What is keeping us from bigger things? Many times our own scaled-down vision. Read more about Larry Page. It inspired me.

Truly I tell you, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in their heart but believes that what they say will happen, it will be done for them. — Mark 11:23 NIV.

Prayer to Prevail

pray prevail

To prevail, pray.

Out of dirt comes gold

goldNo one wishes for dirt, but out of the mire of life comes gold.

Your soul is gold. Joy is gold. Treasure comes from troubles. Don’t bewail the travails your currently passing. You can’t get gold unless you get into the dirt.

Shame for the Name

shameThey departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name. – Acts 5:41 KJV

Peter and disciples had just been arrested for preaching Jesus. The Sanhedrin whipped them and warned them to stop. Threats and beatings are what made them rejoice.

Are you suffering for Christ? Take heart. That is what the disciples did. They didn’t get discouraged. They didn’t ask, “Why, God?” They praised God for the difficulties and dug in. They prayed for strength to continue.

Don’t give up, if you are fighting the good fight. Rejoice for the opposition, for the reverses, for the trials. Things appear to be spiraling out of control. In reality, God has everything under control and will work it all out in ways you can’t imagine.

No one listens to me

Does God listenWhat do you mean no one wants to listen to you?

I have been waiting for years for you to talk to Me.

What are YOU doing with the ball? Pass it to…

luis suarez 2

Defeating England, Luis Suarez hammers a ball in. I don’t own the rights to this photo, and I’m not making any money on it.

Give him a ball in front of the net, and Luis Suarez makes the goal.

Actually, two of them. The Uruguayan ace headed one goal and slammed home a second to oust England, the vaunted authors of modern soccer, out of the World Cup this past week. The highest goal-scorer in the English Premier League this season, seemingly doesn’t fail.

suarez

What a smile! I don’t own the rights to this photo, and I’m not making any money on it.

Not every forward is a sharp-shooter of this caliber. Most are about 50%. Suarez does it all. He’s fast. He possesses a potent kick. He’s physical. He utilizes creative play. He maintains possession. He’s got my vote for best striker worldwide. Get a ball to him anywhere near the area, and it’s an assured goal.

If you like winning, you’ll want to have Suarez Jesus on your team. In fact, many Christians are losing the game. Why? Because they have possession of the ball.

WHAT ARE YOU DOING WITH THE BALL? PASS IT TO JESUS.

Passing the ball to Jesus is called prayer.

Prayer is leveraging

prayer

 

 

 

At the California Science Center in Los Angeles, you can pick up a pickup truck. A small child can pull on a rope many yards out pulling a lever down. At the other end of the fulcrum, hanging on a shorter side of the lever, is the truck. It’s a thrill for kids to feel like Superman.

Prayer works like leveraging.

toyota-tundra-giant-leverIn finances, if you can manage to invest loaned money to make more money than you own on the interest, you can be fabulously wealthy. You don’t have any $. You take others’ $, invest it with brains, and then you get loads of $$$.

Prayer works like that. It multiplies your meager efforts and magnifies your impact. Prayer accomplishes what is humanly impossible.

When I was a pastor/missionary in Guatemala, we went from the ghetto to the Historic Center, four blocks away from the National Palace. We went from preaching on the bus to housing a thriving school and church. God did it. I prayed.

Be a bee seeking flowers

bees flowers

flies dung

I’m off to Guatemala. Please pray for revival and miracles!

photo(9)

At the Lighthouse, even such hardened rivals as UCLA-USC love each other and live in harmony.

We are heading to Guatemala and expect to see miracles in the healing crusade. So please put your mustard seed faith into a prayer for the Door Church in Guatemala and your servant.

Much love, Mike

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You want what?

God's sovereignty

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Pray Like You Mean It

Pray Like You Mean It

Pray for my trip to Africa.

Africa Medical missionDr. Bob Hamilton has done medical missions in Africa for years, and finally I’m going. If the mustardseedbudget.wordpress.com has ever blessed you, then please pray God raises up $3,000 for air fare, hotel, food, visas, immunizations, etc. The trip is March 27 to April 6.

I have written in the capacity as a journalist about these medical missions before (a 3-part series that starts here), and now I want to report firsthand in support of this awesome ministry. Thanks for your prayers!

Oh yeah, you can read about the Lighthouse medical missions on its website here.

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Prayer is best in the morning

prayer getting dressed

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Keep praying

keep praying

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Listen2God

Listen2God

Prayer: Moses ‘rocked’ until he threw stones

frustration and prayer

Stop striking out in anger and calling people “rebels.” It won’t bring any good. Instead, pray.

Moses brought 40 years of ministry to a depressing demise because he acted out of frustration instead of faith. “Speak to the Rock!” God had told him. “And the waters will gush out for their thirst in this dry desert.”

Instead, Moses struck the Rock with his staff. And he called the people “rebels.” He upbraided them and appropriated the miracle to himself instead of giving God the credit.

As a result, waters came out and the people quenched their thirst. But Moses wasn’t allowed to to into the Promised Land. He was deprived of the crown jewel to complete his ministry. He was cut off from the flourish finish. In short, he was cut short, and 40 years of effective ministry became ineffective.

moses and prayerSuch a disappointing denouement is a high-pitched warning to those of us who want to persevere in ministry. Did he just burn out? Did he stop believing in prayer?

The New Testament identifies the “Rock” as Jesus. Did Moses lash out at God because “one more trial” was a critical mass for him? It is sobering to think. Let’s stick with prayer and faith and avoid frustration.

Jesus is enough

I needed to remember this.

Finances for your ministry: a Vacation Bible School boon

finances for your ministryI don’t like expensive church activities, so when Brenda Bowen announced a $10/week vacation Bible school, I was overjoyed.

Brenda Bowen

Trained in utter poverty of African missions, Brenda Bowen delivered ministry that excluded no one from the salvation message.

There would be hardly any money for the snacks, the crafts and all the activities that were to be done. I was drafted for a couple of skits, one of which was clowns with my son and another boy. What fun!

But since God is great, the project finished with $80 extra — not the shortage I imagined impossible to avoid. This is God’s provision for His ministry.

If you are working to save souls, you can expect God to take care of you. Like Peter who hauled in a net-wrenching haul of fish when there were none in the lake, so God will multiply and make something out of nothing. When you pray for finances, believe and wait expectantly.

Little prayers: how to pray

a cheap padlock

A $1 padlock like this one saved us!

 

My brother made fun of us when he visited our mission church in Guatemala. Too many padlocks, he moaned.

But one extra little padlock saved us from getting completely robbed.

The thieves sawed through an iron bar to enter at the window probably at 2 a.m. They served themselves leftover coffee and ate breads. They were in no hurry. Guatemalan police are overrun with crime and work fewer shifts at night. No neighbors would interfer; they could get shot for that.

How to pray

Sweet reunion with the much-loved Pastor Alex

They took our keyboard and a few other things. But one small padlock on the outside of the door kept them from walking off with our school’s computers. I

Faith, Pastor Steven's daughter.

Faith, Pastor Steven’s daughter.

guess they ran out of time because the $1 Chinese padlock was no formidable security. What they took had to fit out the upstairs window.

Sometimes, it’s the itty bitty things that save you. That little prayer — unaccompanied by fasting, with no fancy language — will make the difference. Don’t skip it thinking it’s a mere nothing. However short it may be, however unadorned, speak it to God with sincerity. That small “cheapo” prayer may be the single factor preventing the thief (the devil) from running off with everything.

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Why do we exist?

LivetoServe

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But what about eternity?

manmade wonders

Your Defender

lifesmash

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo courtesy of Imprezzme.blogspot.com

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Hardship

hardship

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How to pray? Feel the power behind you

How to pray?

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Imprison negative thoughts

PositiveThinking

How to pray? Optimize

  • How to pray?
  • Prayers from the Bible
  • Prayer optimization
How to pray? Optimize

from Christianity Matters blog

Recently, a close friend was broken. His ex was possibly dying from cancer, and even though she was an ex, heart strings were tugged. He came with me to prayer and poured out his heart to God asking for her healing. She’s better now. God answered from grace. Even though God answered, my friend still is not coming to church for gratitude, for commitment, for anything.

from cloud lounge blog

from cloud lounge blog

God’s grace is the greatest thing. You don’t earn salvation, and He doesn’t deny your prayer request just because you’re not attending church. You cannot earn a positive response from God.

But it seems to me like we’re not optimizing our prayer life when we treat God only as 911. We call Him only in emergency. It seems to me that we actually optimize our prayers when we serve Him faithfully. It’s an insult to God when we treat Him as unimportant 364 days out of the year and only remember Him on the one day we have a crisis. Still, He answers out of His grace, not out of our merits (because even when we’re somewhat faithful, we have not merits).

from blue pueblo blog

from blue pueblo blog

I don’t pretend to fully understand this. I’m only describing a tension that deserves to be rectified. There’s no mathematical formula for when you will get an answer and when not. God’s grace overrides any formula.

Maybe the best way to describe this is to say, treating God only as an Emergency Service in Heaven, is not cool. How to pray? Don’t be uncool.

Holy Cannoli! Prayer’s good!

  • How do I pray?
  • Prayer of faith
  • Bible prayers
purple berries

Cousin Dave with freshly picked raspberries and purple berries, not as tart at the black, rasp or boysenberries. They’re official unscientific name is Royalty Purple Raspberries.

I discovered relatives are wonderful.

Disconnected from my East Rochester relatives by 16 years of missionary work and lack of funds, I haven’t seen them essentially since 1988. Now I have children. I wanted to take my kids to see Niagara Falls.

Genesee Country Village and Museum Civil War reenactmentThey saw much more than just that. They saw a Civil War reenactment battle. They boated down the Erie Canal. They munched purple berries and raspberries fresh from the garden. They drove a John Deere lawn mower. They ate cannolies, Abbot’s frozen custards, and red hots. The list goes on.

Abbott's

Mmm! Abbott’s habit-forming custard ice cream cones

My definition of relative: someone who loves you for no apparent reason and showers blessings down on you. S/he hugs you without having met you before and includes you a wonderful thing called family.

Holy cannoli! Prayer's good!

In front of the American Falls at Niagara

God is our Father, or in New Testament lingo, abba, daddy. When we look up to Him, we are not addressing a bot which indexes unfeelingly our merits and flaws to rank us to see if we deserve an answer. We are not before the stern judge, the contract lawyer, the boss who’s trying to exploit us and intimidate us. We are not before the school teacher who humiliates us publicly, the fake Facebook friend who’s always happy but ultimately uninterested in us.

How do I pray?We are in front of a father. Recently, I found out about a dad who spent $2 million trying to clean up his daughter’s past so she can go on to a bright future. The job’s not done, and he’s still spending. No limits to what he will do for his girl.

God does even more than that for us. Much confusion about prayer can be dismissed simply if we remember that Jesus begins the model prayer: Our Father. The marrow of prayer is love — God’s love. When he doesn’t answer immediately, it’s because He loves us and the delay is better. How do I pray? Know to Whom you’re talking: a loving dad.

Power of prayer: Niagara’s waters

  • Power of prayer
  • How to pray?
Power of prayer: Niagara's waters

My son Robert, on the precipice of power on the Canadian Falls.

Emerald water look like thick glass, inviting tourists to dip a toe — or even take a swim. The alluring beauty of Niagara Falls belies its power — 6 million cubic feet flows in an irresistible current every minute over the crest. One-hundred-and-sixty-five feet below, as it pounds into the whirling pool, it raises a relentless thunder and mists that bathes people for 100 yards away.

Niagara Falls

Water leaping from the heights pounds the poor below, raising mists over 200 feet into the air, drenching tourists. Note the boat at the bottom that fits 200 passengers.

Behind the beauty lies true power.

Many look at prayer as a beautiful thing. They fail to perceive its weight of crushing power. Nations have been overturned. Darkness has ceded to radiant light. The onward rush of worldliness has been diverted, the press of sin blunted. Why? Because of prayer.

Horseshoe FallsOh look! How beautiful! She prays!

To the contrary, look, how powerful: she prays.

In a material world where we are taught to measure scientifically with our five senses, we can forget entirely the unmeasurable life-changing power of prayer. Just because a prayer experiment would be impossible (with one group that receives prayer and the other that does not), we tend to dismiss it.

Where science leaves off, faith picks up and continue to describe the reality of our multi-faceted existence. Pray today! Effect change. Don’t miss the power behind the beauty of prayer.

How do I pray? Zach’s fall

How do I pray?

how do I pray?

Zach, staying off the left cheek, with his wife, Hillary

Zach plummeted 30-40 feet and missed the deepest part of the Malibu Creek Rock Pool, where only the manliest most insane dare to dive from the top rocks. He thought he broke his tail bone, but it only turned out to be muscle damage.

His freakishly swollen left buttock has been quite a novelty for teasing friends and family. Apparently Zach unembarrassedly bares butt for all interested gawkers to see and even photograph. I demurred.

no fear

On Thursday, Zach daredevil-dove at the Malibu Creek Rock Pool

We thanked God today for the miracle. He could have broken his back and been paralyzed.

Zach is an enigma to me. He’s equal parts bravado tough guy (he played football for UCLA) and compassionate nice guy. There’s not a dare he would skip or a rebellious punk he wouldn’t empathize with. For the last six years, he’s performed the unlauded labor of church cleaning for no pay, even though it deprives him of sleep and his wife. Cleaning starts at 5 a.m. He speaks of the “cleaning greats” at the Lighthouse Church, the men who taught him how to tame the wild beast of ubiquitous dirt when our K-12 kicks in.

Malibu Creek Rock Pool

After the plunge.

I am intrigued by Zach. I want to be like him. He seems to me to be a Christian ideal. Like Zach, we must be tough. We must withstand the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune and remain faithful to God. Like Zach, we must be compassionate. Without empathy, we’re shrill Pharisees. We must feel the hurt of so many millions who have been defrauded by the promises of sin.

Prayer must be tough enough to persevere. It must come from compassion and empathy. Can we feel people’s pain as God does? How do I pray? With toughness and with compassion.

How to pray? Thrills seekers

How to pray?

thrills seekers

Whee!

All of a sudden, my friend, Zach, fell from the sky like a bolt. We were at the Malibu Creek Rock Pool where kids dive off the rocks into the waters below. But he hadn’t warned me he was going to fling himself from the highest perch — 30-40 feet up. When I saw him appear in the sky, my heart leapt.

I guess he knows what he’s doing, I said to myself. His head bobbed up in the water, and he swam to the side. It was my first time at the pond, and I watched in horror as other kids lunged from lesser heights. I’m a chicken for such thrills-seeking.

Malibu Creek Rock Pool

Ouch!

Zach, a 25-year-old former UCLA football player, hit a rock. He clambered out of the lake in pain. He had broken his tail bone in the depths of the pool. (UPDATE: Either prayer healed him or he didn’t break the bone, doctor now says! PTL! Just swollen.)

Not everyone likes this brand of fun. But as human beings, we gravitate toward excitement. Some like the thrill of a pay raise. Others, a business venture. Others, work out hard at the gym to turn eyes in the restaurant.

How to pray? Thrills seekers

Jenny flung herself from a lower perch. Still, it struck fear in my heart.

Actually a hardened prayer warrior is not a bored person. He likes thrills too! His thrills, though, derive from answers to prayer. It may takes months or years, but when you see a person change (get off drugs, improve their marriage, whatever), there’s an interior thrill of knowing you affected positively the course of human affairs. This is how to pray.

high diveMaybe you’re not interested in waiting months for an answer to prayers. Maybe you like weeks of bed rest instead.

Maybe my friend Zach will be praying a lot these days — because he won’t be doing too much else.

Praying for finances: Don’t panic

  • Praying for finances
Guatemala Christian school

Pastor Banner now teaches in our school, el Liceo Bilingue La Puerta

Money is a problem for most of us. If I had just a little bit more…

We always need just a little bit more. It seems like “just scraping by” is normal. We don’t know how we make it. Having lack of money is good because it keeps you praying.

  • George Mueller prayed for his orphans to have milk and bread daily, and the miracles came daily. He prayed for the furnace to be repaired in the dead of winter.
  • Hudson Taylor received miraculous money for the China Inland Mission time after time.
  • Elijah was fed by a raven after 3 years of drought.
  • Jesus multiplied bread and fish to feed the hungry multitude.
  • To pay a temple tax, Peter caught a fish and found a gold coin in its mouth.
Praying for finances

Miss Jeannette with her class at the private school God raised up in Guatemala. God did miracles of finances.

The list is endless, inside and outside of the Bible. We can encourage faith in our hearts by remembering what God has done.

I reversed my life. Most people do what they want when they retire after working for years. Now, after 16 years of doing what I wanted (missionary in Guatemala), I’m getting into the work scenario. Maybe that’s a good way to do it: do what you enjoy while you’re young.

Praying for finances: Don't panic

My wife, Dianna, and I at the recent July 4 parade.

And I’m praying for finances. Though I don’t have much, I have the great satisfaction that my life has counted for something. A church and a school are alive and well in Guatemala today because I answered the call to go.

Whatever your situation, don’t be depressed about finances. Keep working and praying. God will provide.

Ugly dude gets cute girl: How do I pray?

  • How do I pray?
  • Prayers from the Bible
  • Faith
Dianna Ashcraft

and these are not her brothers. They’re our sons.

My college roommates were incredulous. How did I, the nerdiest, get the hot girlfriend, while they, suave boys all, had no one to hold their hands in the movie theater?

God moves

Lou filming an event at our Christian high school

Twenty years later, my friend Lou rues botany class, where there were gaggles of giggly girls but none would go out on a date with him. Lou’s one of those classy, confidence-full, handsome Latin lovers who usually makes girls swoon. And me? I’m the kind of guy who started yammering about poetry because I’ve run out of other things to say on a date. Today, Dianna is my wife.

It wasn’t the cologne. It was prayer.

After 2-and-a-half clumsy heartbreaks, this knucklehead finally got it. Give up on my own efforts (to get a girl) and let God do the work! I prayed (fresh with breakup bitterness): God, I don’t want to have anything to do with the girls (Actually, I used a vulgar word: chicks). Just drop from Heaven the one that is for me that I one day I’ll open my door and find her. You know, stork-like. Not exactly Elijah faith-praying or Mary submitting admirably to God’s will, but I stumbled upon a key. The first time I saw Dianna, it was on my doorstep. Revenge of the prayer nerd.

How do I pray?So even with something so personal, so private, so nerve-wracking as finding your life’s soulmate, you CAN pray and wait on God. You can ease up on the duds, going to the gym and tanning salon, and rehearsing cool lines to say. Take off the shades, be yourself, and just pray.

How do I pray? What can we learn from prayers from the Bible? Don’t panic, just talk to God. Trust, relax, wait, seek. Enjoy serving God.

I love Lou. He’s a great friend. And I’m praying for him to find a godly girl who will see all the good qualities that are in him. But he needs to pray that too.

How do I pray? Confession

  • How do I pray?
  • Bible prayers
pic per anders lundin

pic per anders lundin

Your most spiritual moment is when you confess your sins to God.

When you achieve virtual sinlessness, you can fall in pride. But when you are broken with having failed God, in that moment your closer to God than ever.

How do I pray? If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness – 1 John 1:9 NIV. Notice that the verse does NOT say that WE are faithful. To the contrary, we are sometimes quite faithless. At that moment, only God is faithful. And He is faithful to His love for us. If our sin displeases him, our confession and repentance is His special delight.

pic per Andrew Doz Photography

pic per Andrew Doz Photography

This is good news for those of us who walk with our feet on the ground. The more you sin, the more grace abounds (disclaimer: no permission to sin.) But where sin increased, grace increased all the more. – Rom. 5:20 NIV. Forgiveness is not just the start of salvation; it is a continuing reality of Christianity.

How do I pray? Prayer should not be only making requests. It is also restoring relationship with God. After we renew right relationship, then we petition God.

Hearing God: How to pray?

How to pray? Bible prayers.

How to pray?People think prayer is talking. It is also listening. Don’t be surprised if God talks back to you. After all, communication, if it is to be communication, is a two-way street.

Three times, young Samuel went to the Priest Eli because the elder called. Three times, Eli told Sammy to go back to bed. He hadn’t called. Then, Eli understood: It was God calling Samuel. This was the beginning of ministry for Samuel. He hadn’t recognized the voice of God because he was unaccustomed (1 Samuel 3).

How to pray? at Bible conference

At Bible conference in Tucson.

Our church just finished a 40 day fast. We didn’t fast all food. We fasted something. Some fasted Facebook. I fasted sugar.

The incredible thing was God spoke. He told to start afresh. He told me to clean the slate. Through the 40 days, He restored relationship with some people in the church. I’m glowing with elation. I want to keep fasting sugar, and keep hearing from God. It has been a time of restoration.

how to pray? breakfast

Breakfast before the Bible conference.

How to pray? When was the last time you heard from God (or maybe never)? Believe it or not, God is actually wanting to talk to you. Can you take a break from the electronic devices long enough to listen?

How to recognize the voice of God?

  • Don’t expect a booming voice.
  • It will never contradict scripture.
  • It will never authorize your sin.
  • It will probably come straight from scripture.
  • The effect will be to align you with His will.
  • God doesn’t foretell the future. He tells you to trust and what to do.

So the next time you bend the knee, slow down the “blah blah blah” for a moment and tune in your ear. How to pray? Happy listening!

Why do people hate the good guy?

*** BESTPIX ***  Spain v Tahiti: Group B - FIFA Confederations Cup Brazil 2013El Niño Torres scored an unheard-of four goals against Tahiti in the Confederations Cup, and I was happy. Lately he’s been underperforming, and lynchmob of critics has persecuted him. They’ve even mocked him for being a nice guy, a decent human being (Maybe they Luis Suarez better, the Uruguayan racist who also bites opponents.)

imagesJames Lebron led the Heat to the NBA comeback final victory, and I was happy. He has been unjustly criticized for choking in finals, for betraying his first team, even for his skinny teams. They trash-talk him.

images-1Tim Tebow talks Christianity, and they shut him up. Collins talks homosexuality, and it´s national news. He’s a hero.

I think people despise the nice guy because the nice guy makes them feel like bad guys — by comparison. Thus, the rant, the hate, the cackling of “good guys finish last.”

So… I love it when good guys finish first. I’m trying to be a good guy too! And, yeah, good guys DO finish first. If you don’t believe me, just show up on Heaven’s Judgment Day. (Everybody will show up, even those who don’t believe in God.)

How to pray? Surgery and Rehab

How to pray? Bible prayers

Valley Presbyterian Hospital

Rob’s teammate came to visit him.

Is there life after death? Definitely. Is there life BEFORE coffee? Hardly.

LOL! Last week I spent the night in the hospital with my son. He got operated on his torn ACL, a soccer injury. The doctor harvested from his hamstring to reconstruct the ligament. The next day, he was in pain, I was groping for coffee.

Santa Monica United

Through the pain of injury… through the pain of life… we must seek healing. Prayer heals the spiritual and emotional hurts.

Robert is facing six months of rehabilitation before jumping onto the pitch again for Santa Monica United U16 blue.

torn ACL

After the operation

Excuse the pun, but we live in a fallen world. They get injured — both physically and spiritually. Prayer is a spiritual surgery to reconstruct after the damage is done. Continued prayer is the rehabilitation that brings you back to striking strength.

And coffee? Coffee is good for morning prayer. Otherwise, I would be mumbling incoherent drowsiness instead of caffeine-invigorated, forceful, pressing prayers.

 

How to pray?

prayer-motivation

What will it take to get us to pray? Do we need a crisis to remember God?

(Thanks for the original artwork to the Pure Savagery blog!)

Instantaneous answers

  1. How do I pray?
  2. Prayers from the Bible
Unfulfilled expectations lead to frustration

Unfulfilled expectations lead to frustration

This is my wife. Do you remember you prayed for me last June to get married? We got married in August.

I wish ALL of my prayers got answered so quickly. I wish prayer were always so highly effective. This guy recognized me at Bible conference and asked me to pray. I didn’t even know him. He knew me because he had seen my picture in the testimonial reports magazine from previous years.

20120215-073644The vast majority of prayers are answered only after a looooooong time. Sometimes it takes days, sometimes weeks, sometimes months, often years, sometimes decades. Failure to understand the nature of prayer accounts for:

  • Christians not praying (they see it as a waste of time because they expect instantaneous results)
  • Backsliders turning away from God (why didn’t God answer my prayer? Maybe you gave up too soon)
  • Atheists  denying the existence of God.
Yeah, when we get bored we take the bear out to play on the trampoline, and you? (Photo thanks to Andy Duann)

Yeah, when we get bored we take the bear out to play on the trampoline, and you? (Photo thanks to Andy Duann)

Sometimes, God flatly denies our petition (and we don’t know why). Other times, we just give up too soon. Occasionally, there’s an instantaneous answer.

Why do we understand intuitively:

  • Schooling takes time and perseverance
  • Athletic training takes time and perseverance
  • Making a marriage work takes time and effort
  • Anything good and worthwhile is a long uphill battle

but when it comes to pray, we assume it must be instantaneous?

 

 

 

Pray sooner

  • How to pray?
  • Bible prayers

15dd97f58bbe4601e9444631fc7c139aJonah was appalling. He was thrown overboard into a storm-whipped sea. He was gulped down by a huge fish. You would think he’d be praying immediately. Nope, not him. What? Me worry?

Now the LORD had prepared a great fish to swallow up Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights. THEN Jonah prayed unto the LORD his God out of the fish’s belly — Jonah 1:17-2:1 KJV.

THREE DAYS IN THE BELLY OF THE FISH????? and only then it occurs to him to pray?

Raging_Sea__s_by_The_ImmortaloneSometimes people skip prayer, but this takes the grand prize of all the ages.

Do you ignore scoldings for prayer like

  • your dentist reminding you to floss?
  • your doctor telling you to get your weight down?
  • your environmentalist friend telling you to recycle?
  • your mother telling you to write your aunt thanking her for the sweater?
  • your finance-savvy buddy telling you to put more money in savings?
from Be Better Not Bitter blog

from Be Better Not Bitter blog

Yeah, you’re right. I SHOULD do that. And then we don’t. We become dulled to urgency others describe to us for the shoulds of life. I understand putting off prayer like I understand putting off organizing tax documents. It’s not the most exciting way to spend my Saturday.

But only one of these things affects eternity. People get passionate about whatever procrasti-nationmoves their heart and mind. But as a Christian, hopefully God’s cause moves our hearts and minds.

Jonah was a prophet, for crying out loud. He more than anybody should’ve known to pray. Why did he take so long to “get it?” How long will we take to “get it?”

Overcoming downers: the first American Bolshoi ballerina

pic from Joy's Facebook

pic from Joy’s Facebook

Joy Womack could have resigned herself to failure when she was kicked out of the renowned Kirov Academy at age 13. They cited her inflexibility and predicted failure for her.

Joy's hand is raised

Joy’s hand is raised

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But Joy didn’t give up. Today the 19-year-old is the first American ever to graduate from the Bolshoi Ballet Academy — and the first American to be contracted by the Bolshoi professionally. (Ok, so she wasn’t good enough for Kirov? Now, she’s winning roles traditionally reserved for Russians at the world’s preeminent ballet company, a reign of unquestioned dominance that has lasted for 200 years.)

Joy, a vibrant, Spirit-filled Christian, embodies her name. She got saved as a child and attended our church before her family moved to Texas. Her Twitter account says “I dance for Jesus.” She evangelizes everyone she meets.

with her dad, Clay Womack

with her dad, Clay Womack

I had scant conversation with her when she was a kid because I was a missionary in Guatemala when she was growing up in the church. But as I think about her overcoming failure, of her rejecting rejection, I’m inspired myself.

“She worked really, really hard,” her mom, Dr. Eleanor Womack, said. “She sought coaches and other techniques to improve her flexibility.” From the looks of the photo above, she’s not lacking flexibility anymore.

The video below was produced by the New York Times when they broke the story of Joy.

Thank you, Joy! (All photos are from Joy’s Facebook page)

A fatal flaw for the Phalanx

  • How to pray?
  • Bible prayers.
  • Use of prayer.

300px-Phalanx_CIWS_test_fire_-_081107-N-5416W-003Perched on a warship’s side, the U.S. Navy’s potent anti-missile Gatling gun Phalanx CIWS spews out 3,000 armor-piercing tungsten 20mm rounds per minute that down rockets flying at Mach 3 straight towards a ship. Guided by radar and computerized systems, the Phalanx bullets blunt incoming attacks.

DownloadedFileBut when an Argentine warplane fired an Exocet missile against a British warship in the 1982 Falkland War, the powerful Phalanx failed, and the HMS Sheffield was struck and sunk.

What was the “design flaw” of the Phalanx?

In order to work, it had to be turned on.

DownloadedFile-1The Brits, staging a reconquest of the disputed Southern Hemisphere island, had failed to turn on the Phalanx, and consequently the Phalanx failed to defend the ship. It was left on “standby.”

So too, prayer, in order to work effectively, must be turned on. It must be used. We must pray for it to work. Too many Christians leave prayer on “standby” only. And when incoming missiles head towards us at Mach 3, we don’t have time to react.

Prayer is meant to be used, not ignored.

If a spring stops springing…

Students from the Lighthouse Christian Academy

Students from the Lighthouse Christian Academy

The Dead Sea is its name because it has no outlet. All minerals and salt remain. Water evaporates, but there is drain off. The resulting salt content kills virtually all life — no fish.

My awesome colleague, Tawnie Black, who gave up a high-paying, prestigious teaching job to help kids at the Lighthouse.

My awesome colleague, Tawnie Black, who gave up a high-paying, prestigious teaching job to help kids at the Lighthouse.

As a Christian, you are not designed to retain only. You must have an outflow of all you have learned in Christ, the love, the forgiveness, the good news. You can’t clam up. You must serve and give to others the blessings God has lavished on you.

More LCA students. Don't think Wyatt, at right, is mean. He just likes to make funny faces.

More LCA students. Don’t think Wyatt, at right, is mean. He just likes to make funny faces.

If you bottle up the blessing, it will go rank (and I’m not talking about ranking with Google). It will spoil, sour, self-corrupt, go bad. Enjoy the blessings, but pass on the blessings. There can be no such thing as a selfish Christian. It simply does not exist.

A spring is known for what it gives. So too a Christian is only a Christian if he is like Christ, who gave the utmost. We must give finances for His work, time for service, and prayer for advancing the kingdom.

It is thought that Sodom and Gomorrah are buried under the Dead Sea. Not a good fate for a Christian. Our lifeblood is to share, give, and be unselfish.