Monthly Archives: May 2013

Harpoon missile prayers

  • How to pray?
  • Prayers from the Bible

IMG_2862Recommissioned by President Ronald Reagan in 1984, the USS Iowa saw action in the Persian Gulf War. Her frontward deck turrets make for impressive pictures, but their storied blasting power ceded to superior weapons: the Harpoon missiles.

IMG_2906When I visited the Iowa with my family on Memorial Day in the Los Angeles Harbor, a sailor told how he launched harpoon missiles to simultaneously strike from three different directions an Iranian oil rig where they were mining waters. The poor Iranian Guardsmen had no idea where the attack was coming from when three harpoon missiles all struck from different directions at the same time. It was that easy. Just program the computer and push the button.

LOVE the mustache of this guy!

LOVE the mustache of this guy!

That sounds like prayer to me. 1) Program the computer = praying. 2) Push the button = God acts. And KABLOOM! The devil and his minions are annihilated.

The war goes on. So there is a continued need for prayer. In the Old Testament, Biblical authors used the imagery at hand to describe God: “He is a strong tower.” Well, in the age of technology, a tower is not very strong anymore. Maybe we should sing about God being our Harpoon missile system.

IMG_2858You don’t neutralize threats by sending Hallmark cards. You must pray:

  • for your children
  • for your parents
  • for your relatives
  • for your pastor
  • for your church
  • for your friends and neighbors
  • for finances
  • for health
  • for the advance of the gospel worldwide
warfare prayer

The LA Fire Department’s firefighting tug for ship fires in the harbor put on a show for the Memorial Day tourists.

It would be ideal to live in world without war. But since terrorists fly planes into building to kill civilians for Allah-knows-what reason, there is war. Similarly, the devil is raging war, and we can only counteract his threat with spiritual action. He’s not interested in signing peace. He’ll sign peace only to get us to unilaterally lay down our weapons (prayer). He has no intention of ceasing from his hostile opposition to God’s kingdom.

 

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.

Mimi’s miracles

Mimi, always so vibrant and full of life, at left, with her mother and older sister.

Mimi, always so vibrant and full of life, at left, with her mother and older sister.

Because Mimi was born with two spinal cords, her parents came from the countryside to Guatemala City for successive surgeries. First doctors saved her life. Then they helped her to walk. Eventually she gained control of her bladder. She would have been identical twins but the zygote only partially split.

Pastor Ludving leads the church and school heroically, at great personal sacrifice.

Pastor Ludving leads the church and school heroically, at great personal sacrifice.

Ludving and Nelly wound up attending my church. Ludving was about to buy some alcohol to drown sorrows when he heard the praise music and came in. He didn’t get saved. He had already accepted Jesus. The worship exhilarated and lifted him out of despair. They came to the church.

The Door Church in Guatemala City

The Door Church in Guatemala City

When he decided to do something, Ludving never did it half-way. Right decision after right decision led the couple to hosting, then pastoring, a pioneer church. When thugs chased me off, the Holy Spirit pointed to him as the man to take over.

Pastor Ludving with Mario Artiga

Pastor Ludving with Mario Artiga

To my way of thinking, Mimi should be gloriously and completely healed by now. She is not. On Thursday, she is submitting to her umpteenth surgery, this time to correct kidney failure (she has four kidneys, but only one completely developed and only one works). Urine backflow from her bladder is poisoning her one good kidney.

Faith is not always a snap-of-the-fingers miracle. Faith is grinding out the healing over the long haul. I like the instantaneous variety. But not everything is quick like a fire-cracker. Mimi’s miracles have drawn out inexorably for 16 years, her age. The battle is raging dragging on, and the faithful keep mustering faith.

Ludving and Nelly

Ludving and Nelly

It’s pointless to ask why. Blaming God like an atheist solves nothing (although I suppose he feels high and mightily justified in his bitterness). That’s not what we want. We want final and complete healing for this precious girl.

Mimi is a spunky girl. Despondency affects her parents, her sister, me — but not her. Thanks for helping us pray for her. Let me know how I can help you pray for your needs.

 

High risk = high return

With my daughter, Rebekah, another would-be actor. Here she's in her Jewish peasant girl garb. In another scene she seconds as a Moabite.

With my daughter, Rebekah, another would-be actor. Here she’s in her Jewish peasant girl garb. In another scene she seconds as a Moabite.

Ruth is a story about high returns. By going to Israel with her ex-mother-in-law, Ruth faced racial abuse, sexual predators and 15-hour days stooping over under the blistering sun only to pick up enough grains for one meal (that’s the mechanics of “gleaning;” talk about “abject poverty.”)

With my son, Hosea, an 11-year-old "old judge of Israel." LOL!

With my son, Hosea, an 11-year-old “old judge of Israel.” LOL!

Instead, she hedge-funded her way to vast fame and fortune.

Why are so many people willing to risk on finances or with sexual indiscretions but not for God? Just because you can’t see God, Heaven or an immediate return, you are unwilling to go to church, spend time in prayer, serve His kingdom. Just like Ruth couldn’t visualize any realistic benefit when she abandoned her native Moab: Your God will be by God, and your people will be my people, she pledged to Naomi.

Our church, the Lighthouse in Santa Monica, is staging the story of Ruth.

With Pastor Ralph Bowen, missionary extraordinare, church-planter in three African nations. He played Elimilech.

With Pastor Ralph Bowen, missionary extraordinaire, church-planter in three African nations. He played Elimelech.

I’ve dreamed of being an actor about as much as I’ve dreamed of being a Gold’s Gym poster child. (Wild fantasies tend to proliferate in LA!) For the previous plays, I waited faithfully for Sister Pam, the director, to call me up. With this play, I broke down with despair and begged her to let me have a part! I’m Jobab, the money grubber who wants Ruth’s property without Ruth. (Co-Director Eric Photenhauer says I look like a Dr. Seuss version of an Old Testament Jew).

Come Sunday night 7:00 p.m. at 1220 20th Street, Santa Monica, California. It’s free!

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.

If it’s over, where’s the elation?

  • How do I pray?
  • Faith in prayer
  • Prayers of the Bible

imagesBarcelona won the 2012-13 Spanish league when it wasn’t even playing. It’s nearest competitor, Real Madrid, tied, and, with only  a few games left in the season, no one can reach Barca’s points.

images-1Winning by NOT playing (when your rival ties) is a very undramatic way to seize a crown. But that’s the way the European leagues work: no flourish of playoffs. It’s boring mathematics: whoever has the most points, wins. Now whatever FCB does — even it loses every game 0-20 — it cannot lose the league.

images-2Despite being an avid fan, I’m disappointed. Where’s the flush of excitement of a memorable finale? Where’s the high fives in front of the big screen with pizza with my buddy Adan? In the essence of anti-climax, I read it on Yahoo soccer news. It was over, and I wasn’t even watching the game to relish it (why would I? It wasn’t even my team’s game).

images-3Instead of seeming happy, it’s a let-down. No more tension as a rival threatens a comeback. No more discussing injuries and speculating who will cover what position. No more guessing outcomes, despairing over setbacks.

images-4Christianity is like this: it’s over. Christ won — a long time ago, at the cross. What remains is an unavoidable and boring march towards victory. We can lose the excitement of God’s crushing championship, but we should never forget that He has won. The fact that secularists appear to be winning our nation is much like Iran’s president denying the Holocaust: ludicrous brouhaha.

Go to prayer today with:

  • the sensation of the thrill of victory
  • certainty of the positive outcome for your petitions
  • persistence in securing wins (Barca still wins games, even though they can’t lose the championship losing games). Show our stuff!

American Idol Smasher

  • How do I pray?
  • Bible prayers
Formerly a drug abuser, Edgar Cervantes raps and preaches on Santa Monica's Third Street Promenade.

Formerly a drug abuser, Edgar Cervantes raps and preaches on Santa Monica’s Third Street Promenade.

While some erect idols, we tear them down. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God — 2 Cor. 10:5 NIV.

L.A.'s skyline

L.A.’s skyline

In Gideon’s day, it was Baal and Ashtoreth that needed to be booted from national psyche. Today it is greed, materialism, pleasure-seeking, alcohol, etc. People resonate with American Idol because its the rags-to-riches, discovered-by-Hollywood storyline.

In all honesty, I’ve never seen an episode of this show that buzzes with our zeitgeist. Nor do I want to. I think, though, I would enthusiastically watch a spoof titled “American Idol Smasher.” But as it stands, no such is likely to materialize outside of your prayer closet.

Far from the crowds, far from the voting, far from the excitement, in your prayer closet and mine history is REALLY made.

 

Prevailing prayer

  • How to pray?
  • Prayers of the Bible
my family, 3 years ago

my family, 3 years ago

A mother prays for her Muslim son-in-law, and he gets saved. A man prays and gets healed of cancer. A church grows in membership and finances and becomes a church-planting church. Why do some people seem to have prevailing prayers?

keystoprayerJPGI don’t believe God has favorites. Nor do I think they’re holier than the rest of us humble folk. God is moved — the New Testament says emphatically — by faith. No one is righteous, it also says emphatically. So what up?

Here’s the scoop. YOU can up your answer percentage — just like them. People who pray successfully — we call them prevailing prayers — all tend to find their success in certain factors:

  • Quality (and to some extent, quantity) time with God.
  • Growing faith through:
  1. Tracking track record of positive results.
  2. Fortifying your heart with ongoing Bible reading, church attendance, praise and testimonies.
  • Persistence. People who prevail in prayer persevere because they believe more in God than in “reality.” They don’t give up ever. When things take a turn for the worst, they don’t hang the prayer shawl; they dig in and intensify the attack.
My daughter on our marching band outreach team more than 3 years ago

My daughter on our marching band outreach team more than 3 years ago

That’s about it. You can massage and adjust certain factors, BUT THERE’S NO MAGIC to it, there’s no “spiritual secret.” You don’t have to buy a best seller written by some slick preacher hyping elusive “keys” to prayer.

No one bats 1000

  • How do I pray?
  • Prayers from the Bible

No one bats 1000

The best sluggers only get 450. That means more often than not, they get out.

No one bats 1000With prayer, no one bats 1000. Not every prayer gets the answer you want. Sometimes the terminally ill patient dies. And because a prayer-warrior doesn’t bat 1000, the atheists don’t believe in God. (Do they believe in baseball?)

Well, I think that if you’re batting 350, you’re doing well. If only a small fraction of your requests get answered, you’re doing well. Let faith arise in your heart in your heart for just 1 0f 10 answered requests! Because as faith arises, so will your batting average.

And just because you strike out on a majority of your prayers requests, don’t get discouraged. Only God knows why He sometimes says no. We can trust that in His economy, we’re batting 1000.

You should always be encouraged to pray and never be discouraged from it. Ignore the faith-slayers who (wrongly) say that prayer doesn’t work unless you bat 1000.

Believe in the guy who’s in a slump

b70f797787e9e3cee502ad5cd0077454Better than throwing salt on his wounds, better than mocking him, better than washing your hands of him, better than saying “He had it coming,” express confidence to the person who’s floundering. It will lift him out of his funk.

Believe in someoneSir Alex Ferguson believed in Wayne Rooney. The Manchester United forward had gone 9 months without a goal. Pundits were sharpening their knives: wash-out, has-been, flash-in-the-pan. Coach Ferguson, who’s had an extraordinary knack for winning teams, kept believing in Rooney until the mercurial players found his winning ways again — with a overhead backwards kick that left the world gaping and shut up critics.

Believe in Someone

from Ben Rogers blog

Believe in someone.

You may “win” the rat race, but you’re still only a rat. You may get to the top of the crab pile, but you’re still only a crab. If you help someone out, you’ve made a friend for life. And that is worth more than pounding your chest and shouting the tired I’m-the-best rant.

It’s what Jesus did. While everybody hated the odious, turncoat tax-collector Zacheus, Jesus dressed him with dignity, sharing a cappuccino with him. While accusers had stones in hand ready to hurl at the adulterous woman, Jesus defended her and didn’t accuse her. He touched the leper, ate with prostitutes, hung out with drunkards. Jesus was really into the business of accepting people.

261892_520929111299325_1611898260_nGive love freely. Expect nothing in return.

Give and don’t stop giving. And though you may be the most unloved person on the planet, if you give love freely, you will find 10,000 people at your funeral wanting to honor your memory.

Complainers are louder than complimenters

Complainers

Ignore the barking dogs.

I had a funeral — without dying. It was a good experience.

When I had to leave Guatemala, all the church members gushed about my good qualities. My defects, which previously had dominated evaluations, got forgotten. Now I know what it’s like to die.

Critics in the church

Where flowers grow, weeds want to go.

This is the Yelp predicament. A disgruntled customer is highly motivated to post a comment. A satisfied one, not at all. Businesses have been sunk by this psychological phenomenon.

If you are given to criticizing others in the church, realize that:

  • criticism is not a calling, not a charge, not a gifting from God. It lines up more with what the accuser of the brethren (Satan) does.
  • you excuse and justify your own faults.
  • you blow out of proportion your own merits.
  • you probably are unaware of all kinds of services and sacrifices made by the very person you’re criticizing.
  • the effects of your criticism will not advance the kingdom of God.
  • an ounce of compliment would do more good than a ton of criticism.
  • your criticism is probably motivated by envy and jealousy.
outreach San Diego

On outreach in San Diego, at one house they gave me bread. It was a nice little way for God to say, “Well done.”

If you take a lot of criticism, realize that:

  • Satan’s strategy is get you to stop your labors.
  • people throw stones at a tree with fruit (Spanish expression — to knock down fruit to eat, they throw stones. If the fruit tree is barren, no one throws stones at it.)
  • compliments mostly go unvoiced.
  • your life and ministry is in the hands of God, not of your critics.

Compulsive compilers of lists

how to pray?

Rebekah, the compulsive compiler of lists

My teenage daughter gave me the grocery list yesterday — with just one item.

Rebekah and my wife are passionate about lists. I am passionate about losing lists.

how do I pray?

Rebekah’s discipler in list compiling, my wife, Dianna

My wife grew up in a household where her mother put up stickies on cabinet doors, on walls, on regular doors, on the refrigerator. There were reminders to leave your shoes outside, turn off lights, take vitamins. When we got married, I threw these out when Dianna started posting them up. Tacky stickies.

Don’t get me wrong. I have my agenda with lists of things to do. But the loose papers? I lose them. Usually I go to the store (yes, I buy the groceries) reciting the 8 – 9 essential items and buy the things that strike my fancy. Haha! What a strategy! More often than not, I forget 5 – 6 of the essential items. Nevertheless, I’m stubbornly opposed to lists.

Michael Ashcraft

Me, the list-hater. I guess you could say I’m often listless. No, I’m not a cowboy, but I do steal people’s hats for pictures when I can.

Which is why I looked at the list yesterday and asked Rebekah, “Why?” Why a list with only one item. Seriously?

I lost the list and remembered to buy the item: canned refried beans. Hooray!

There is only one important list: my prayer journal. (Chances are, you’re in it because I pray for my followers by name — though I need to update it! If you want me to pray for you, just comment at the end of this post, and I’ll make sure you enter the list.)

Forgetting groceries is annoying. But forgetting to pray is a question of Heaven and Hell. So I don’t want to miss anyone or anything.

Which demonstrates a point: Do we pay more attention to our grocery lists or our prayer lists?

Crossing borders

Crossing bordersWe hit the Honduran-Nicaraguan border at 5:30 a.m. We had been warned: the Nicaragua border officials would try to exact a bribe.

Crossing BordersSure enough. Our marching band instruments weren’t listed on a document stating their purpose was performance. Thus, the officials said, it was assumed they were merchandise and would have to pay tax. At this time I had been a Central American missionary for 14 years and was familiar enough with political corruption to not get outraged. I also knew how to game it.

Crossing bordersPlaying dumb, I pretended that the officials weren’t sincerely sure that we constituted a marching band heading to Managua to outreach. I gave the order for band members to grab their instruments and assemble in formation “for a demonstration.” Border officials hadn’t expected this. But at 5:30 a.m., neighbors weren’t going to want to wake up to banging bass drums and blaring trumpet.

Lighthouse Christian Academy marching band

Since returning to the States in 2011, we have formed a marching band for local July 4th parades. Unfortunately, kids have too much Nintendo, and not many want to get involved.

It took just one song for red-faced border officers to growl at me (still playing dumb) about some law prohibiting trumpet blowing on the border. “Get out of here!” they muttered through their teeth. I was later told that people who don’t want to capitulate to bribe-seekers usually have to wait hours to wear down the bordermen’s patience. It hadn’t taken us but minutes to slide through like a duck into water.

The pastors who were with us on the evangelistic team were impressed. But the key was to NOT panic, to have a quiet confidence that we WILL get over the border without any hitch, and that I could find the right words and actions to help the process.

There is a lesson for prayer here. When it SEEMS like we’re getting a “no” from God, keep patiently praying with CONFIDENCE. That is faith. Of course, God is not a corrupt border official (neither is He the unjust judge of Luke 18:6, but He compares Himself to such to make a point).

  1. Don’t panic. Don’t start thinking God doesn’t want to give you the desired answer.
  2. Keep your cool.
  3. Remain believing, confident of the answer, expecting His goodness.
  4. Don’t use vain repetitions but seek new expressions of your love for Him and your desire to see such-and-such an answer given.
  5. Keep at it until you’ve gotten the answer.

You’ll probably think less of my “spirituality” for saying this, but it’s hard not to chuckle at those border officials. I joined their poker game and laid out the winning hand.

It’s hard not to enjoy the wonderous miracles granted by God to His patient servant who prevails in prayer.

Maybe you need to cross a “border” in your life. Remain confident and pray calmly.

Brighten your worldview

  • How to pray?
  • Bible prayers
Guatemala mission

The church I left behind and now is being worked by Pastor Steven Fernandez

Sometimes Christians adhere to Elijah’s perspective: I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too — 1 Kings 19:10 NIV. Our outlook is bleak, and we whine annoyingly at “sinners.”

So what is God’s worldview? God saw all that he had made, and it was very good — Gen. 1:31 NIV. Now, sinners are bad because they’re sinners. But why are Christians downers? Honestly, I don’t blame a lot of sinners for not wanting to convert to Christianity based on what I see in my brothers and sisters. If that’s joy, then who needs it?

church in Guatemala

People are true riches

If we truly believe God wins in the end, then we should have a victorious, joyous attitude always. We should pray with confidence, not with woe.

He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty — Psm 91:1 KJV. We need to dwell on God and NOT dwell on the bad things that drag us down.

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things — Phl. 4:8 NIV.

When you go to prayer, don’t bring your rants. Knowing God will convert the sinner, heal the sick, provide for the needy, turn the tide of evil, pray with this mindset.

I left my heart in Guatemala

Guatemala church

Irene, born at the same time as my son Hosea, got baptized.

Can a missionary ever return? Can he integrate into professional life after he has tasted the glories of God’s kingdom in the foreign field? Nothing is as wonderful in life as living the adventure.

I rejoice at having handed off the baton to a zealous young pastor, Steven Fernandez. I poured out almost 16 years of my life into Guatemala. Now it’s Pastor Steven’s turn to be a hero and do heroics. He is injecting the spirit of fun in the church, and it is growing again! It is becoming a dominion-establishing church.

guatemala missionIt is my joy to support him with prayer and with finances and with everything I can. He is on the front lines. I wish I could be on the frontlines, but for now, God has me here on the supply line, praying, teaching, learning new things, supporting the work.

If you have even the faintest notion that you should go, GO! If you are called to be a support for those who have gone, then PRAY and DON’T HOLD BACK ANY SUPPORT you can give.

Pray for pastors

  • How to pray?
  • Prayers of the Bible
Pastor Steven Fernandez

At left, Pastor Steven Fernandez. His first pastor, George Neos, at right, when he went to visit him.

Pastor Steven Fernandez had just broken the hinge on his car door. He was driving home with it roped up, and the cable for the clutch snapped, leaving him stalled in traffic — late at night, on the dangerous streets of Guatemala City. With some natives helping, he managed to get the Fiat home only to find a screw in one of his tires. Sigh!

Iglesia La Puerta

This is what we live for — and what we go through so much for. Pray for pastors!

Pastor Steven took over the Guatemalan work after I left the country. Unaccustomed to such Third World ailments common on the mission field, he is grappling with things he never experienced in America. Alas, poverty.

Missionaries

Cars are always breaking down for missionaries and pastors.

I remember passing through  these kinds of nightmares. Roofs drip like a waterfall during thunderstorms. Water doesn’t come out of the faucet for weeks at a time. Power outages mean you keep candles handy (I preached through a power outage once holding a candle close to my notes!) Ah! The adventures of being a missionary! All this reminiscing is making me yearn to go back!

Missionaries

Pastor Steven says — correctly — that when the devil’s attacks intensifies, revival is just around the corner.

Amid hand-wringing and nostalgia, one thing is clear: All pastors need our prayers. As church-goers, we forget that pastors are even more in Satan’s gunsights than us. It’s typical for pastors to face hardships of finances, of family and of car breakdowns. We need to sustain them with prayer!

Don’t complain about some ill-spoken word from your pastor (he’s human too!). Pray for him. Pray for revival, for his family, for his checkbook, for his car. Remember what the Bible says: And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones who is my disciple, truly I tell you, that person will certainly not lose their reward. Matt. 10:42 NIV.

If giving a cup of water nets reward, how much more so if you give him a cappuccino pray for him!

When I passed the Porsche on PCH

When I passed the PorscheI drive a give-to-the-poor-missionary-back-from-Guatemala Ford Escort dredged out of Paleolithic strata. The sun has scorched off paint in places, the lining is falling down onto my kids’ heads.

When I passed a Porsche

My son liked this car at the autoshop

So when a Porsche stalled in front of me on Pacific Coast Highway at a stoplight, something inside of me wanted to shout as I roared past: “Get a real car!”

Hmmmmmm. Where did this envy come from? I thought I was free from that.

Sin has a way to lurk in when you least suspect.

When you pray for finances, you need to be on your guard against envy. What is your motivation? To bless others or to bless yourself? To keep up with Jesus or to keep up with the Joneses?

define-necessityGod promises to provide, but many times our idea of provision falls squarely into the realm of “want,” not “need.” It became popular among Christians a number of years ago to call ourselves “children of the King.” The logical conclusion is we want to live it up like princes and princesses. The biggest problem with this reasoning is how Jesus, being much more a Prince than us, lived in poverty: The Son of Man has no place to lay His head (Matt. 8:20).

We can trust God to provide for our needs — and we ought to guard against confusing needs with wants.

National Day of Prayer

National Day of PrayerSanta Monica prides itself as being among the top three anti-Christian cities in California. The others are San Francisco and Hollywood (along with West Hollywood). It is not enough for these cities to ignore Christianity; they feel some sort of moral obligation to hostilely oppose believers.

National Day of Prayer Santa MonicaSo it was here, on Santa Monica’s Civic Auditorium patio that the Christians prayed in this materialistic, this atheistic, this hedonistic city. Christians from all denominations, from all ages prayed. There were lawyers, doctors, firemen, police officers, priests and pastors, military personnel, business owners. Even dogs came and prayed — well, maybe I’m exaggerating.

Puppy love

The praying pugs

Don’t think they were just old folks. Two high schoolers prayed for people struggling with suicide, sexual orientation and bullying. It didn’t stay with safe and dainty topics. It got real.

Mediating lawyer Harrison Sommer, a Jew converted to Christianity, prayed that we would have many National Days of Prayer. Yes. That is what this event was about: twisting the ignition key for many, many, many people to be inspired to pray.

National Day of Prayer 2013To pray for revival, to pray longingly, lovingly. To turn off the cell phone and turn on the prayer phone. To strike up a conversation with Loving Father in Heaven. To seek an answer to the ills that afflict our nation (Boston, Newtown, abortion). To avoid war with North Korea and bring peace to the terrorists. There are no limits to what prayer can affect, no walls that can contain it.

Prayer may have been kicked out of the classroom, but only you can kick it out of your heart — by simply being distracted.

Find inspiration today and every day to pray.

Why the DMV is such a great place!

Time for prayerBecause the interminable lines give you time to pray.

What you need for prayer is NOT money, nor talent, nor poetic words, nor theological profundity. What you need is time.

And that’s what the Department of Motor Vehicles gives you lots and lots and lots while you wait only to find out that you’re in the wrong line or that you don’t have some obscure piece of paper and you’ll have to come back tomorrow.

Also good for prayer:

  • bank lines
  • mechanic shop
  • dry cleaning lines
  • meetings! (Let the boss drone on about what he thinks is important. In your head, pray.)
  • airports and flights

Distractions to prayerTime-robbers include:

  • cell phone
  • TV
  • Facebook
  • Instagram
  • Pinterest
  • Twitter (Why don’t you tweet God instead?)
  • did I say “cell phone?”

These are just some of multitudinous ways of distracting yourself from what is truly important: prayer. Money is not the most precious resource; time is. God really appreciates all the time you make for Him!