RSS Feed
Up for a Bible challenge this month? Want to participate then share your reports of what God is doing? Then click HERE!

Prayer Is The Beginning

"For my love they are my adversaries: but I give myself unto prayer." Psalm 109:4

"America will come to the place where we will either learn to concentrate in prayer or we'll pray in concentration camps " Leonard Ravenhill

 John Knox was a Scottish Reformer who lived from 1514-1572. He learned that the secret to enduring trials was prayer. The secret to needed grace, strength, wisdom and power to perform the duties to which he was called was prayer. On the shoulders of men like this do we stand today and on their backs was Prostestantism built.

Before John Knox began his Preaching ministry, he was arrested in 1547 and spent 19 months as a slave in a French gallery ship. They would chain slaves in the lowest bowels of the ship to row. He was eventually released and taken to London in 1549 where he became a Chaplain. Because of the harsh circumstances that Knox lived for 19 months, he learned about prayer. As a slave in the lower parts of that ship where he was forgotten and chained, Knox was torn down and rebuilt by God as a man of prayer.

Knox lived and breathed prayer. He constantly had an attitude of prayer. He learned well in that ship what prayer does and can do. Mary the Queen of Scots is recorded as saying "I fear more the prayers of John Knox than all the assembled armies of Europe."

Robert Bruce came after John Knox and he's described as being the Gospel wielding William Wallace. Like Knox, Bruce was a habitual man of prayer. King James would, at times, go to hear Bruce preach. Anytime king James would become uncomfortable in the conviction of sin during Bruce's sermon, he would begin talking to those around him. In one instance, Bruce said to king James "It is said to have been an expression of the wisest of kings 'when the lion roars all the beasts of the field are quiet.' Well, the Lion of the tribe of Judah is now roaring in His Gospel and it becomes all kings of the earth to be silent!" This king could have taken off Bruce's head for that rebuke, but it doesn't seem that Bruce was concerned. He spent much time in the presence of an all powerful King therefore no earthly king frightened him.

All men, like Bruce, had was God. They didn't own expensive cars and several homes or take expensive vacations. They didn't plead for money from their hearers or preach about prosperity and loving yourself. They didn't offer DVDs and self help material. They preached the Gospel only and would do it after hours of prayer. They were only concerned about the work God called them to do and nothing else. Because they gave themselves over to prayer they preached with power.

Imagine where we'd be as a people if we spent as much time in prayer and in studying scripture that we give to TV, movies, computer and chasing after worldly things. In such evil times, in times when everything around you is falling apart and discourages you, it's prayer and spending time with God that makes you bold, full of faith and gives much needed strength. It comes no other way. You would have no fear when trials come, but would rest in God. Instead of worrying about trials and tribulations and desperately looking for ways out of them, you would be steadfast in your faith, in His sovereignty and ability. There wouldn't be room for fear and shrinking away.

Robert Bruce often had to hide and run from persecution. On those occasions he saw them as opportunities of more prayer. He didn't look for support groups or circle time with groups of other men. He got alone with God and was on his knees. The key to his life was prayer. The first time Bruce was thrown into prison for preaching he didn't pray, "Why are you doing this to me God! Where are You?! What did I do? Why do I have to suffer! God please get me out of this!" Bruce prayed this...

"God, if it be Your good pleasure to exercise me with a new trial and pull both the ministry and people from me, if it would please Thee, instead of the king's favor and the priests favor being toward me, please triple Thy Spirit upon me and let me see in my heart Thy face brighter and brighter."

God will often use pain, heartache, extreme trials and pressure to drive us to prayer. The preacher Thomas Boston buried six of his children. His wife was on a continuous spiral into insanity and she was confined to their home for years. These things drove Boston to prayer and made him a man of prayer. In every situation Boston learned to run to God. Boston let nothing interfere with his time alone with the Creator, but how often do we? Not even the death of six of his children or his wife's constant needs and spiral into madness kept Boston from prayer. Even things that seem necessary to deal often do they interfere with our prayers?

They did so much with so little and we do so little with so much. If we are use to being in the presence of a great God then we won't be afraid to be in the presence of little men and anything they can throw at us. The dependence on the Holy Spirit through prayer was the nucleus in the lives of these men just as it was for Christ, the Apostles and Prophets. Everything God did through ordinary men, He began it in the prayer closet.

When we look at some of the giants in the Bible, no ministry, no power came to anyone without a deep prayer life. Being a good speaker or some gift we think we've identified in ourselves is not a prerequisite for  any type of ministry. The prerequisite is prayer. John the Baptist spent his entire life in the desert to preach for six months. Jesus spent thirty years in preparation to preach for three years. All of it began in prayer, continued in prayer and ended in prayer.

God made many promises in the Bible to His people that He would put His words in their mouths and would teach them what to say in the moment they needed it. What all these men had in common was a habitual prayer life. This isn't something only they had access too. We are all commanded to be a people of prayer. God doesn't expect to hear our feet running to His throne, He expects them to be rooted before His throne.

Christians look at Muslims and are amazed that they pray five times a day. Five times a day they stop whatever they're doing and where ever they are for prayer and I did this too. This baffles Christians. Why? Have they never read 1 Thessalonians 5:17 "pray continually"?

God doesn't want to see us and hear our prayers five times a day. He demands Christians pray constantly. That we live and move and breathe in a state of constant prayer, in total dependence on Him. He expects us to be looking to Him for every moment, every need and every situation. He commands we live every moment of our lives in continuous communion with Him.

We wonder why we feel so stagnant. We wonder why nothing ever seems to work out. We wonder why God seems to constantly be blocking us and frustrating our efforts. We wonder why we are continuously facing the same battles with sin in our lives without any victory. We wonder why our lives are the way they are. We're constantly looking for some easy fix and looking to others who claim to have secrets to fix our circumstances, but nothing ever works because what we're missing is one crucial component....prayer. We don't pray. We don't wrestle.

"Listen to me, you who pursue righteousness and who seek the LORD: Look to the rock from which you were cut and to the quarry from which you were hewn;" Isaiah 51:1

Recommended Reading 50,000 Prayers Answered

We Have Forgotten That The Way Is Narrow

Lane's Channel

The Retirement Crown

"For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time has come for my departure. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day--and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing." 2 Timothy 4:8

In this Scripture, I hardly think Paul was alluding to retirement, shuffleboard in Florida, golfing, cooking as a hobby and traveling the country in an RV when he wrote this. Paul was near death. He knew his time was almost up and he would be leaving this earth.

There's nothing wrong with retirement from a long time job and collecting a the world. Most people save most of their lives for the moment they retire and think they're really going to enjoy the few years they have left. Maybe get a dog, go fishing, wander around the house, plant some flowers, take trips. That's the world. What blows my mind is to read about so many ministers doing this. They even pump their congregations in their remaining years to add to their retirement.

I know of a man who ministered in his church for 50 years and he refused to retire because he wasn't dead therefore was still charged with administering the Gospel. He was eventually forced out of his own church and into retirement. Despite his years of service, despite teaching the unadulterated Word of God for 50 years, most of his congregation believed he was too old, too tired and should retire to enjoy what few years remained for him.

I have yet to find anywhere in Scripture anything concerning God's servants retiring from His work while they still have breath left in their bodies. God's retirement plan doesn't kick in until we're dead. Our pension and other retirement funds is the crown of righteousness. Our rest won't come until we stand before God Himself.

The church so emulates the world in almost every aspect that it's hard to tell them apart anymore. When Believers are given the administering of the Gospel as Pastors there is no cut off date until death. God doesn't call anyone in for a retirement meeting and hand out RVs and golf clubs. The Prophets and Apostles never looked forward too a pension, social security and retirement to wander around the country side sight seeing and playing shuffle board. They looked forward to standing before Christ unashamed as loyal, faithful servants.

The Apostle John eventually became so old and so weak that he had to be carried into the synagogues, but he never stopped teaching. His voice was barely audible, but he would teach and instruct the Believers until the day he died. No one forced him out because he was getting too old. Paul never stopped, James never retired, Peter continued to preach even as he was being put to death and so on. Why do we have so many Pastors retiring from leading and teaching flocks? Why do we have so many ministers setting up retirement funds early on and eventually leaving the pulpit to collect money and "enjoy life".

There are ministers today so worried over health insurance that they're forming a sort of union to pool funds in case someone gets sick. They scoffed at one minister who said quite frankly "If I get sick I'll put my faith in God. I'm not going to worry about it."

When we have leaders that do as the world does how can we not expect the flock to follow? When a lone leader steps out and says "Wait. This isn't how those who came before us lived", they're scoffed at. I'm not against relaxation or enjoyment, but leaders and sheep have made it the focal point of our lives and we plan heavily and live for it.

I had a minister on my facebook who knew my parents before he was a minister so we became friends. He leads a large congregation. All he talked about is retiring and all his happy plans, his Beatles memorabilia collection and things he did as a kid. Most of his congregation is on his facebook page and they think he's the coolest Pastor ever. The frivolity infects the people and they follow. I've never learned so much about a band in my entire life. I never put that much effort into my favorite bands when I was an unbeliever.

This is how he leads his congregation and he's not anomaly. This is what his flock learns from him. A short sermon on Sundays that he brags about writing several times during the week and a whole lot about the Beatles, his plans for retirement and what he was like as a kid. This world is going down like the Hindenburg right before our eyes, millions are dangling over hell and already have the stench of smoke on them and we're looking forward to retirement, a pension and all our happy relaxing plans.

“Listen to me, you who pursue righteousness
   and who seek the LORD:
Look to the rock from which you were cut
   and to the quarry from which you were hewn;" Isaiah 51:1 

We have to return to the foundation. We have to go back to the quarry which is the Bible and live by our faith, serving God continuously as He demands and expects until we have no more breath. Leaders need to take their flocks back to the quarries. If you've found yourself surrounded by this worldly mentality in your church and in your leaders then for you as the individual I give you this...

"This is what the LORD says:
   'Stand at the crossroads and look;
   ask for the ancient paths,
ask where the good way is, and walk in it,
   and you will find rest for your souls.'" Jeremiah 6:16

"The West is crumbling before us and we still choose to be trite, frivolous and happy. The fact of the matter is man is twisted and broken and dead. The fact of the matter is judgment is coming. The fact of the matter is all that we can see will be melted as with fire." - Paul Washer from The Reality of Judgment

Renewing Our Minds

"Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is--his good, pleasing and perfect will." Romans 12:2

This is a scripture I've read many times, but I remember the day it jumped out at me as if it slapped me across the face with a brick. Ever have those "A ha!" moments? You've read a scripture so much, but you never really got it until...BAM! That's the illuminating work of the Holy Spirit. He teaches us, gives understanding of Scripture and how it applies to our lives.

We really don't need false teachers keeping us stuck in the old man to sell books, DVDs and conference seats. We do it just fine on our own. Our own minds are our worst enemies and it's true our minds are a battle ground. Everything begins with a thought. Behaviors, depression, sadness, sin, etc., all have their beginnings in the mind. Action is a manifestation of what's been sitting there.

In Ephesians 5:25-26, husbands are told to love their wives just as Christ loved the church and cleansed her by the washing of the water with the Word. Renewing our minds daily with Bible study is a constant cleansing and changing of our minds. Behaviors, sins and patterns of sin can't survive when they're being washed over and transformed into the image of Christ. When we buy workbooks written by others and DVDs, go to their conferences, pray the prayers they've written for us in their books, they're keeping us locked into our old ways of thinking. Nothing they do, say, promise or sell us can renew our minds and change those patterns. Only Scripture can. The Holy Spirit never operates outside of God's Word or independently of it. He only speaks what He hears (John 16:13) and it's always right in line with Scripture, thus being in the Word daily can't be neglected or replaced.

When Christians look to other methods besides God and Scripture that's exactly what the world does. That's the pattern of the world. The world goes to motivational speakers, psychiatrists, doctors, therapists, seminars and gurus. They take drugs and spend  hundreds of millions on self help material that do nothing other than keep them harping on the same issues for years and in the same corrupt patterns of thinking. Are they ever transformed? No and they never will be. If they could then Scripture wouldn't tell us to stop conforming to it. Anything the world offers is like sprinkling perfume on a decaying corpse. We're told to be be changed by renewing our minds. Put to death the deeds of the flesh (Romans 8:13) and those deeds come from a sinfully corrupt mind. In order to put them to death, the first thing struck must be the mind.

We're not changed overnight when we're saved. It's a process of conformity to Christ. Christ is the Word of God made flesh (John 1) therefore, we can't be conformed without Scripture. There can be no transformation and cleansing without a washing. If you've been looking to every other method outside of Scripture...therein lies the problem.

Renew Your Mind...

How To Make False Converts

A funny video on how to build a church with false converts. What's not funny about it is, these types of things go on every week in a majority of churches across the country.

50% Divorce Rate Due To Selfishness

We hear all the time that the divorce rate is at 50% in this country. Half of all marriages end in divorce. Celebrities are constantly jumping from spouse to spouse to spouse and people emulate them. Marriage has been given a bum rap because of divorce. People advocate not getting married because they see marriage as an institution that ruins relationships. I heard a DJ on the radio this morning advising a girl, who called in, to not get married because the relationship will last longer if they just live together. She used her own 19 year relationship as an example. Talk about the blind leading the blind.

Just recently I read in the news about Jennifer Lopez and Marc Anthony getting divorced and the main stream media was running its excuse machine at full tilt for them. I could only shake my head and say "well, that's what happens when two incredibly selfish, narcissistic people get married. They get divorced!"

That's the world though and can we really expect any differently? What becomes especially embarrassing and maligns Christ is when so many professing Christians are running to divorce court going completely against the only two allowances Christ gave for divorce.

There are several "reasons" people use as the root cause of divorce, but every single one of them has selfishness at its very core. What's worse, kids are drug through it with little regard to the effects it will have on them psychologically simply because the parents want to continue being selfish. Marriage and the family is a picture of the union God has with His people. Imagine if He deserted us so quickly and filed for divorce. Imagine if He quit on us? If we're to imitate Christ, it begins in the home. Since marriage is that picture and we're to raise children under the admonition of the Lord (Ephesians 6:4), what is that teaching them about God? How will that devastate their relationship with God later?

According to PsycNet

Among 18–22 yr olds from disrupted families, 65% had poor relationships with their fathers and 30% with their mothers, 25% had dropped out of high school, and 40% had received psychological help. Even after controlling for demographic and socioeconomic differences, youths from disrupted families were twice as likely to exhibit these problems as youths from non disrupted families. A significant effect of divorce on mother–child relationships was evident in adulthood, whereas none was found in adolescence. Youths experiencing disruption before 6 yrs of age showed poorer relationships with their fathers than those experiencing disruption later in childhood.

Those are pretty sobering statistics. We are well aware of the damage caused to kids from divorce, but the facts have neither stopped nor slowed the divorce rate. The answer is obvious as to the reason why: people are still looking out for numero uno. Does that seem harsh? Maybe it is, but it's not nearly as harsh as the lasting damage divorce causes so we can be "happy" for a little while. Yet, we never stay happy. We have this idea "If I'm not happy, my children can't be happy." Which is really just an excuse to continue in selfishness, but it sounds good and it shuts dissenters up for a while. Oddly enough, research shows that children of parents in a rocky marriage, in a rocky home are far more stable with far less psychological problems than those who should be happy because mommy and daddy are now happy being divorced. They are for a little while until being divorced no longer makes them happy and the kids are drug down the same path again while mommy and daddy continue looking for what makes them happy oblivious to the basic needs and nourishment of the kids.

Selfishness causes divorce. Selfishness is what damages kids. No matter what the reasons are,  it all goes back to one or both parties being completely self centered. Not surprisingly, the "divorce boom" beginnings have been traced to the 1970s. Free love anyone? Modern feminism anyone. Peace man! Except there is no peace and all these movements were smoke screens.

I wasn't raised in the most stable home. I was raised around incredible selfishness, but if there's any good that came out of it and if there's anything I've learned it's how destructive selfishness is. That doesn't mean I'm immune to it. Not at all! In fact, I'd say I'm more prone to it. But what I've grown up with has made me aware of it. I've seen the monster behind it and hopefully my experiences will help me avoid some of the pitfalls in my own marriage and family.

People don't want to hear about the destruction it causes because they might feel guilty or feel bad about the ruin it brings to kids and disrupt their selfish plans for happiness. So they convince themselves with petty, shallow excuses that somehow it's actually good for the kids. They don't want to hear what the Bible teaches on divorce because it doesn't give them leeway to continue in selfishness. So we search desperately for loop holes. We bend and twist looking for something, anything to give us the green light to continue to be selfish. If we still can't find any way to work around the whole God thing then we just throw God out altogether, except worldly philosophy, because it encourages and cultivates our narcissism, or surround ourselves with people that tell us exactly what we want to hear.

When we compare what the Bible teaches on Marriage and how it runs contrary to our own nature, do we begin to understand why society doesn't want God involved in any way, shape or form in marriages and homes. He contradicts and opposes our sinful, selfish nature. Get rid of God and there's no guilt and no judgment. The problem is, the world was still round and revolving around the sun even though most didn't believe it to be so. At the same token, we can delude ourselves all we want concerning God. We can twist and distort what He's said any way we want, but it doesn't stop Him from sitting on His throne and being completely opposed to our selfishness. Getting a divorce in a human court means nothing to God. To Him, the marriage hasn't been desolved and marrying someone else later has now only created adultery.

Has anyone done studies on kids raised in single parent homes? Not very many. In fact, most times this dynamic is looked into, the kids are often skipped over while it's pushed in society as being a wonderful idea and celebrated. In 20 years those kids won't be celebrating. In the rare instances when kids raised in single parent homes are compared to other kids, they're compared to those coming from divorced parents and not those raised in homes where both parents are present. Any research that's attempted and made public is quickly shot down as being "too harsh" and dismissed. The truth usually is quite harsh. The truth usually does hurt and tends to be a big monkey wrench that locks up all of our selfishness.

Most of us enter marriage for selfish reasons. People marry  for "love" and all those warm fuzzy feelings, but if that's the only reason, then what's going to happen later when we run into serious problems and those warm fuzzy feelings are gone? When we're not feeling all that "love"? If we marry because someone makes us feel good, what's going to happen when that person no longer makes us feel good? When we've wrapped up all of our self worth, validation, security, peace and happiness in another imperfect, prone to fall, human being? Feelings change. They always do, so if we marry based on feelings where will that marriage be when those feelings change? If we marry for stability, where will we be when we're no longer stable? Our narcissistic society tells us we'll be in divorce court and it's perfectly ok to be and your children will love you for it later despite clear research that shows otherwise. If the unstable emotion "love" is the what makes up the entire foundation of our marriages then the odds are stacked against us.

By nature, we are selfish creatures and we've turned our culture and society into a petri dish of raging narcissism and welcomed it into the church. We've created, in our sin, an epidemic as destructive and wide spread as AIDS and the effects will be felt and infecting generations to come. When we know the effects and we ignore them continuing anyway, what's left for us? What's left for our kids? When will such a horrendous breakdown in the family, that was created by God, be called for what it is....sin and Satanic?

Recommended reading:

"The Narcissism Epidemic: Living in the Age of Entitlement" 

"Me, me, me! America's 'Narcissism Epidemic'"

"Should You Stay Together For The Kids?"

"The Case For Marriage"

Men And The Uncomfortable Nature of Birth

The closer I came to having my baby a subject came up between my husband and I that I had taken for granted. It pertained to my husband being in the delivery room when it came time for birth. I assumed, being brought up in the American culture, he would be there during birth and never thought about it. I was surprised and even offended when he expressed serious reservations about it. Where I didn't think about it at all, he was thinking about it a lot. In my husband's culture, as well as many others, it's not customary that the husband be with his wife during delivery. The men will often stay with their wives during labor, but will wait somewhere else while she delivers. They view birth as "women's work".

Initially I took that to be the equivalent of laundry, cooking and cleaning to be "women's work". Actually, it's not the same idea. There's a couple of different scenarios that come into play for men when they're faced with the delivery of their child....

1. A lot of men feel it's women's work because it's viewed as an almost sacred experience they may clumsily profane by their presence like a bull in a China shop. They're so outside the whole experience and depth of emotional understanding of pregnancy and birth that women have that it's uncomfortable and intrusive for them. Men don't bond with an unborn child like women do. There is a level of a certain bonding they do have as being the father of that child and the anticipation of it, but they don't do their natural bonding with the baby until after it's born. They're not carrying the baby like we are so that concept is foreign to them.

The birthing process of being exclusively women is actually more common than men being involved and always has been. Even in the west, up until recent times, men waited in a waiting room while their wives gave birth. Only with the onslaught of feminism were men, often times bullied and forced, to witness it.

2. The second scenario is men are by nature visual creatures. Every experience for them begins with the eyes whereas women are emotional creatures and every experience with us begins with the emotions. The bonding men do with the baby, once it's born, is based on visuals. They can see and handle the baby thus deep bonding begins. Despite what nature dictates, men who choose to wait it out somewhere else are often labeled sissies, selfish, unloving, unsupportive, insensitive and cheuvinistic when the truth is, by nature, it's not something a lot of men want to be exposed to. They know going in it could have a severe negative impact on how they visualize their wives later, but feel forced. The impact it could have on them will negatively affect us females as well.

This may be offensive to some women because they can't understand it and figure he should be there for the birth. Society tells us men should be there. If anything, he should at least be there to offer support and encouragement. This idea ingrained is us comes from a feminist ideology in a quest to "sensitize" men and make them emotional creatures like females when this is entirely unnatural for them. The truth is men can be supportive and encouraging before the birth and immediately after. If men choose not to be a part of the birth process then their character is attacked by society.

I don't think us females understand, or maybe even care to understand, the "visual" aspect for men that affects everything else for them. They love their wives, are attracted to their wives, desire their wives based on visuals. For men to be put into a situation where they're exposed to a visual of their wife in a way they never dreamed of seeing can really play havoc on men. It affects how they picture their wife later and the sex drive they have for them. By nature, this is how men are, it's how they're wired and can't be changed.

Women are polar opposites. I had a friend and a family member (in-law side) in delivery as well and they, like most women, see birth completely differently. They were excited to be a part of it and even grateful. For us it's beautiful, miraculous and deeply emotional. For a lot of men it can be weird, scary, foreign, dare I say "gross" and at the extreme end on the spectrum of how they visualize their wives sexually.

In the end, I left the verdict to my husband and he ultimately decided to be there and even cut the umbilical cord, but he stayed by my head the entire time. He was afraid of getting in the way and it also protected his field of vision. He encouraged, supported and helped me in the process, but his eyes never left my face until he had to cut the cord, but even then he admits he was careful to keep his eyes on what he was doing.

I was glad he was there and so was he. It was his encouragement that helped me muster up every last bit of energy I had after 43 hours to give birth. The look on his face when he saw his son for the first time was absolutely priceless, but had he chosen not to take part in the delivery I had to be alright with that. Some men want to witness it and aren't bothered. Some men may go in excited and come out disturbed, while others choose to sit that one out.

In the end, maybe us females could give a little room and allow our men to decide if they want to be a part of the birth or not despite how we may feel. Whether they want to witness it or not says nothing good or bad about him. In reality, it has nothing to do with selfishness, being uncaring or a wonder-man because he chose to witness birth, but rather it has everything to do with nature. After all, the impact it has on them directly impacts us as well.
Disclaimer: I do not condone the teaching of men by women nor am I trying to exercise authority over men by using this blog as a method of teaching men. All posts are for the edification of women. For more on what I believe concerning this issue please see: Women - No Dominion Over Men
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...