Friday, February 26, 2010

Praying For Your Spouse

"Now I beseech you, brethren, for the Lord Jesus Christ's sake, and for the love of the Spirit, that ye strive together with me in your prayers to God for me..." Romans 15:30 (KJV)

The most precious and meaningful changes that come in our hearts are done through the work of the Holy Spirit. The most valuable offering of love we can give to our spouse is to pray for him or her. Keeping our own hearts humble and moldable before the Lord, we must pray for our spouse. In Romans 15:30, Paul is begging fellow believers to "strive together with me in your prayers to God for me". Praying daily for your spouse can be laborious, a "striving" so to speak, but seeing and tasting the fruit of your prayers to a faithful and loving God is an abundant and satisfying benefit.

"I call on You, O God, for You will answer me; give ear to me and hear my prayer." Psalm 17:6

I keep a Family Prayer Journal, which is filled with scriptures I pray for my husband and children regularly. Since we know that all scripture is God-breathed, I pray with confidence and peace when I pray according to scripture. "All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work." 2 Timothy 3:16

Here are just a few of the scriptures I pray for my husband, Jim.

"For surely, O LORD, You bless the righteous; You surround them with Your favor as with a shield." Psalm 5:12

"May the favor of the Lord our God rest upon us; establish the work of our hands for us— yes, establish the work of our hands." Psalm 90:17

"How can a young man keep his way pure? By living according to Your word." Psalm 119:9

"But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it." Matthew 7:14

"Righteousness guards the man of integrity..." Proverbs 13:6

"I will bow down toward Your holy temple and will praise Your name for Your love and Your faithfulness, for You have exalted above all things Your name and Your word." Psalm 138:2

"These are the things that ye shall do; Speak ye every man the truth to his neighbour; execute the judgment of truth and peace in your gates..." Zechariah 8:16

"Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us." Hebrews 12:1

"His master replied, 'Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master's happiness!' " Matthew 25:21

Healthy marriages and hurting marriages all need prayer. God will honor your humble prayers for your spouse. Healthy marriages can be prevented from turning into hurting marriages by covering them laboriously in prayer. Hurting marriages can be revived and become healthy marriages by the Giver of New Life when they are surrounded by prayer. Plain and simple: Pray faithfully and unceasingly for your husband or wife. "Pray without ceasing." 1 Thess. 5:17

"For this is what the high and lofty One says—He who lives forever, whose name is holy: 'I live in a high and holy place, but also with him who is contrite and lowly in spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly and to revive the heart of the contrite." (Isaiah 57:15 NIV)


Congratulations to "myboys_grr" who is the winner of the Valentine's Serendipity! Dear GRR: Please let me know your e-mail so I can contact you for your mailing address! Thanks!


Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The Power of Prayer

Many of us have heard stories of miraculous healings as a result of feverent prayers. Just as many of us, however, have known or heard of someone who was not healed, who had seemingly just as much prayer support. What then, is the power of prayer? Why should we pray?

Jesus is the perfect Son of God. The Bible gives us examples of Jesus praying.

Matthew 19:13 - Then little children were brought to Jesus for him to place his hands on them and pray for them.

Matthew 26:36 - Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, "Sit here while I go over there and pray."

Mark 1:35 - Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.

Luke 5:16 - But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.

Luke 6:12 - One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God.

Jesus was God incarnate, God as man. Because He prayed, we should follow his example. But what could He have been praying about? Jesus could perform miracles himself, so why did He need the power of prayer?

I believe the most important power of prayer is relationship. The God and creator of the universe allows us, lowly sinners, to not only approach him, but to talk with him, to tell him our feelings, our wants, and our needs. He is the perfect parent. Just as we sometimes tell our children no for things they ask for, He too sometimes tells us no.

When God answers no, it doesn’t denote a lack of power or caring, just that God is God. He has wisdom and knowledge of things we don’t know. We must simply just believe the Bible when it says “we know that in all things God work for the good of those who love him." (Romans 8:28)
God loves us so much he allows us to be called his children. He allows us a relationship where we call Him our father. What happens when we enter this relationship sewn in prayer?

I love the answer found in Philippians 4:6-7 in the Message paraphrase of the Bible: “Don't fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God's wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It's wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.”

Christ displaces the worry in your life. Imagine a life not fraught with worries, but with peace, peace that passes human understanding. This is what the power of prayer can bring.

I remember when my seven-year-old daughter had the flu. As she woke up crying with body aches she called out “Pray for me, mommy!” As I prayed out loud for her pain to go away, she let out a deep sigh, and fell back asleep. Whether the power of the prayer came as a swift answer from God or the peace of a child that knew a relationship with God, either way my prayer was answered.

My friend Julie shared the story of when her son went to serve in Iraq. Julie was understandable overcome with fear. After several weeks consumed with fear and unable to eat, she decided to give it over to God, and praise Him. Her fear was removed, and she said she didn’t have fear anymore for the entire time her son was gone. Her precious son is home now and safe, but God answered her prayer not only by bringing her son home safely, but by giving her the peace of His presence in relationship with her while her son was gone.

Friends in my prayer group often say, “Just knowing you were praying for me gave me peace.” They too know the value of the relationship with God. Even when God says no to our prayers, we are still blessed by the relationship.

The power of prayer is not found in the answer to a particular prayer, but the fact that we may enter the presence of God at all. The power is the relationship. God hears our prayers. He uses them as opportunities to grow our faith in Him.

Spend some time in prayer today, and watch your relationship with God grow, then you’ll feel the power of prayer.


Monday, February 22, 2010

Praying in the Night

As a Parent, praying for my children is a daily ritual. If you are also a Parent, than you know what I'm referring to. Have you ever wondered what the Bible says about praying for our kids?

Arise, cry out in the night, as the watches of the night begin; pour out your heart like water in the presence of the Lord. Lift up your hands to him for the lives of your children. Lamentations 2:19 (NIV)

Most of the verses I've found regarding prayer talk about rising up early to pray. This time, when it is referring to our children, it says to pray at night. Perhaps this is because teenagers go out at night, or maybe it's because when we are worried about a child we can't find rest in sleeping.

One thing is clear - we are supposed to pray FERVENTLY! Pouring out our hearts like water in the presence of the Lord. That means He wants us to tell it all to Him - every little detail.

Isn't it precious that God knows us so well. You see, as parents, when something is wrong (I mean really wrong) with one of our children, it consumes our every thought. We can cry out to God even when everyone else is sleeping because He promises to never leave us in our time of need.


Friday, February 19, 2010

God's Economy:A Sabbath Heart

In my last post, I spent some time digging into John 5, where Jesus heals the lame man at the Pool of Bethesda. When it comes to Jesus performing miracles of healing, we tend to examine the obvious common denominators. Often the recipients of such miracles had to personally exercise a degree of faith and obey some sort of command.

“Pick up your mat and walk,” (John 5:11)

“Stand up in front of everyone,” (Mark 3:3) “

“Go…Wash in the Pool of Siloam.” (john 9:7)

“Go and show yourselves to the priests.” (Luke 17:14)

However, another commonality can be found in that 7 of Jesus’ healings were performed on the Sabbath. This of course, was something that infuriated the Pharisees of Jesus’ day, who were more interested in religious legalism and personal position than their relationship with God and helping other people. So much so, that their hearts were so hard that they ignored the acts of God being done among them, and instead focused on the Jewish law, by which they maintained their superiority.

The fact that Jesus’ 7 different healings occurring on the Sabbath are recorded in scripture (John 5, Mark 1:21-28, Mark 1:29-31, Mark 3:1-6, John 9:1-16, Luke 13:10-7, and Luke 14: 1-6) is not some random coincidence I am sure. Throughout the entire scripture, the number 7 is the number of spiritual perfection or completeness.

So why did Jesus choose to heal people on the Sabbath when he knew it went against Jewish law? I think that Jesus was making a statement about the kingdom and about living in His economy, compared to living in man’s economy. He was showing a contrast of the different hearts involved. The Pharisees prided themselves on how well they kept the Law. Jesus was unimpressed, because Jesus is more interested in our hearts. He himself told the Pharisees that the greatest commandment in the law was,

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments"

(Matthew 22:37-40 NIV).

Jesus is certainly interested in our obedience. He tells us in John 14:23, “"If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching.” However, he wants our obedience to be motivated by the right things. The Pharisees were motivated by their desire to glorify themselves. Their obedience was not out of love for God. They couldn’t even recognize God standing right before them!

Jesus performed miracles of healing on the Sabbath to show us what really honoring the Lord on the Sabbath, or any day for that matter, is all about. Doing that which glorifies God by showing love and compassion for others.

So how does this all fit in to a post that’s supposed to be about finances? Well, here’s what I think...

The Pharisees worshipped their money and position. They did what they felt made them look good in the sight of men, but in God’s economy, they were spiritually bankrupt. In our culture today, I think many people, whether they recognize it or not worship money and position as well. We may give to help others, but do we have the appropriate motivation?

Is it rooted in love for God or in “being seen by men?”

Are we good stewards of “our money” or God’s money?

Are we living for today, or are we living for THE day. (When we stand before the Judgment Seat of Christ. (2 Cor, 5:10) )

In the throws of a “crippling” economy, Jesus stands ready to heal. Will we trust God and do what he instructs or will we allow the pride and self centeredness that exists in a materialistic society keep us from recognizing our greatest treasure?

Jesus’ work of healing was complete (remember the number 7?), when he freed us from the Law once and for all and made it possible for us to live in the Spirit.

He reminds us that honoring the Sabbath is about doing that which reminds us of and restores to us to our true identity as heirs of the kingdom of God.

For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Matthew 6:21


Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Handling the Word of God

When my daughter was growing up she believed most anything she heard on commercials. She was always telling me which were the best products to buy and why they were the best, When I would ask her how she knew, she would say because they said so on the commercial. It's sad to realize that you must expect an element of deception in advertising and be on your guard for it.

While most of us have wised up about the reliability of commercials, many adults are still quick to believe something simply because another person says (or writes) it's so. Countless emails get passed around cyberspace claiming to be a warning of some sort that will protect you from harm and urging you to pass it along to everyone you know. There are places on the internet where you can verify if that information is correct or not but few people either know where to verify it, how to verify it, or take the time to verify it.

When it comes to scripture we should not simply take another person's word (or written work), for what the Bible says or means, and we should be teaching our children not to either. We should be in the habit of verifying scripture ourselves, and teaching our children how to do the same, prayerfully researching it out. A concordance and bible dictionary are very useful tools for helping to understand scripture as well. We gain more insight into and understanding of God's Word when we look at the original text and it's meaning.

And the people of Berea were more open-minded than those in Thessalonica, and they listened eagerly to Paul’s message. They searched the Scriptures day after day to see if Paul and Silas were teaching the truth. Acts 17:11 (emphasis mine)

Why is it important to know scripture for ourselves? First and formost is that studying God's Word for ourselves is the best way to develop a deep, intimate relationship with Jesus.

Another reason is that there are those who would deliberately teach wrong doctrine to draw us and/or our children into their "religion" or cult. The best way to spot a counterfeit is to know the original.

Even with people we can trust, our friends, parents, pastors, reputable authors, etc, we need to remember that they can make mistakes. We are imperfect humans and we all make mistakes. As teachers of God's Word, we are held to a high standard to teach it accurately. So it is important that we use reliable references, research out what we are being taught, and teach our children to do the same. We need to keep in mind that popularity and opinion are not proper guages for reliablity, accuracy is.

One way to teach children to develop the habit of verifying scripture is to have them verify the scriptures and meanings you are teaching them. Who knows, they might come back and teach you something you didn't know.

Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. 2 Timothy 2:15 (emphasis mine)

Let not many of you become teachers, my brethren, knowing that as such we will incur a stricter judgment. James 3:1

Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. 2 Timothy 4:2 (emphasis mine)

You must teach what is in accord with sound doctrine. Titus 2:1 (emphasis mine)

Rich Gifts Blog Designs and Graphics for Christian Ministry

Monday, February 15, 2010

Surprised and Honored


My dad was surprised this weekend when his four kids from four different states gave him an unexpected 75th birthday party. We rented the Hardeman House on the campus of Freed-Hardeman University where dad used to work (this was the home of the founder and former president of the university and is rented out for occasions like this). We gathered with our families and a few close friends. One brother from Montana arrived a day earlier and let dad know he was in the area "on business" (sometimes he really is). This brother then lured him to the house where were assembled.

Since dad lives in Tennessee and his kids live in Alabama, Texas, Kansas and Montana, we don’t all get together as often as we like. Sadly, like many families today who are scattered to distant places, weddings and funerals are the primary catalysts for extended family gatherings. But, other occasions can serve this purpose as well, including birthdays.

Last summer I was surprised by my wife and church family for my 50th birthday. The surprise certainly added to the joy of the occasion, but the real joy was the sense of care I felt from everyone present.

This column is about being a father. But for this post I’d like to make it about honoring a father.

I am a father, so I can tell you some of the good and bad of dads. We can be caring, sensitive and attentive. We can also be self-absorbed, overly competitive and obtuse. Generally, we want the best for our families. We want our wives and kids to feel valued, even if we don’t always know how to function and communicate in a manner that helps them feel that way. We can sometimes feel overwhelmed by our roles as husband and father, so we withdraw. We may become silent or even critical. Frequently we rely upon humor to mask our insecurity. We try to make a joke out of any and everything, even if what we are joking about isn’t funny to anyone else (except another dad :).

Bottom line, even dads need to feel valued and honored. The sense of worth they feel when they are honored helps them feel secure in their position in the family, which encourages healthier functioning on their part. Warts and all, a dad giving any effort at all to being a decent husband and father needs that occasional day when he feels recognized for the good he has tried to do.

I received that last August 1. My dad received it this past Saturday. I hope the husband/father in your life gets a special day to revel in his role as the special guy in his family’s life.

Warren Baldwin

Friday, February 12, 2010

A Valentine's Serendipity

"How can a young man keep his way pure? By living according to Your word. I seek You with all my heart; do not let me stray from Your commands. I have hidden Your word in my heart that I might not sin against You." Psalm 119:9-11

When I was first invited to prayerfully consider being the "Contributing Author" on this terrific Titus 2 blog, my heart was humbly hushed and my initial reaction was "I am not qualified to write about marriage". As my husband and I sought the Lord together in prayer, God quieted my heart with His love and spoke gently to my heart. "I have qualified you." God's whispers just stilled my soul in silence before Him. God qualifies His children.

My husband and I have not "arrived" by any stretch. We have only been married 17 years. We certainly do not claim to be experts. We only claim to know our need for God's perfect love, truth and life. We have struggled, and it's been very painful at times. We have grown, and we taste the goodness of the Lord in our marriage regularly. We disagree and we get on each other's nerves at times, but we always come back to each other with hearts desiring to honor God and submit to Him. By His grace, may it always be so.

So what makes me think for even a second that I can share here about enjoying a healthy and vibrant Christian marriage? How God has qualified me is in the "what": My complete awareness of my moment-by-moment utter dependence on the Lord, on God's perfect and refreshing love, and on His Word. We serve a holy and gracious God. My husband is a precious gift to me from the Lord. Honestly, I don't want to mess with that. I love God and my husband. I desire to honor God and my husband.

Jim and I know the health of our marriage begins with our individual hearts yielded to God's Word and His Holy Spirit. It begins with surrender of ourselves to Him. As with anything in any of our lives, it is about LORDSHIP and LOVE. As we yield our hearts to Him, He brings beautiful fruit in our lives, marriage and family. He's the only way.

"You have exalted above all things Your name and Your word." Psalm 138:2

Pray together. Read God's Word together.

Husbands: Here's a beautiful way to "wow" your wife with love on Valentine's Day and every day -- start reading God's Word out loud with her. Perhaps open to Psalm 119 and read all about the treasure of God's Word. Or turn to 1 John and soak in the truth about God's perfect love. As you wash your wife in the water of God's Word regularly, amazing fruit will come bursting forth.

Wives: Pray for your husband. Thank him for working hard for your family. Tell him the ways you admire and respect him. Speak and act respectfully toward him always. Join him in an activity he enjoys. Make him his favorite meal as a surprise. Write him a card telling him how much you respect him. Again, pray for him.


Valentine's Day Weekend is a great time for a Serendipity! I love surprises and unexpected blessings. So, to celebrate Christian marriage and to encourage you to get in God's Word together, we are having a Valentine's Serendipity this weekend! Just leave a comment to let us know that you'd like to soak in God's Word with your spouse. Here is the serendipitous gift one of you will receive:

This devotional book for couples was inspired by the move Fireproof. Looking for a movie to rent for an at-home Valentine's date? This is a great choice! Snuggle up together and shower some love on each other.

Keep your feet to the fire of God's Word. Posture your heart in humility and reverence for Him.

"This is love: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins."

(1 John 4:10 )

Happy Valentine's Day Weekend!


Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The Power of Love

Celine Dion and Huey Lewis both sang about it; the power of love. What power does love have? Can love really change anything? Or is it just a sweet notion that ebbs and flows with our mood?

Many people are familiar with the classic wedding passage:

Love it Patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil, but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails…. And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. 1 Corinthians 13:4-8, 13 NIV

There is scarcely a church wedding today without it. Yet, do we really apply these truths about love to our family?

With February comes Valentine’s Day and it is the time of red hearts and “love.” Many women’s magazines will come out with questionnaires this month to see how you rate on the “Love” quotient. But the values shared in these magazines often do not represent the Biblical view. Here is how the Message Bible translates the same verses in contemporary language:

Love never gives up.
Love cares more for others than self.
Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have.
Love doesn’t strut,
Doesn’t have a swelled head,
Doesn’t force itself on others,
Isn’t always “me first,”
Doesn’t fly off the handle.
Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others,
Doesn’t revel when others grovel,
Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
Puts up with anything.
Trusts God always
Always looks for the best,
Never looks back,
But keeps going to the end.
Love never dies…. We have three things to do to lead us….Trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, love extravagantly. And the best of the three is love.
Love doesn’t fly off the handle? Puts up with anything? Always looks for the best? How would my marriage change if I could implement these things into my life? How would yours? And our parenting, how would that change if we could always be patient and kind? How about relationships in the office, could they improve by showing them God’s example of love? The Bible paints the perfect picture of love. All we have to do is read it…and do it. All the advice from every women’s magazine in the world won’t make your life any better than the advice from God.
For God so LOVED the world, that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. John 3:16, 17 NIV

God loved us so much that he let his Son die for us. That is so powerful. Yet, even though I am a Christian I can’t even seem to love my family enough to be patient, enough to be kind, and certainly not enough to “put up with anything.”

This February I will try to reflect on God’s perfect love for me as I try to improve on my own love for my family. I challenge you to do the same. And have a happy Valentine’s Day!


Monday, February 8, 2010

Find the Pattern

Do you remember finding the patterns in math class when you were a youngster?  It looked something like this:

@+^^^*(=)@+^^^*(=)@+___*(=)  The answer of course is ^^^. 

Did you ever wonder why you needed to learn about patterns?  As parents, we need to learn how to see patterns in our children's behavior.

When my children were youngsters, the dinner hour became a stressful time for me.  Actually, it started around 5pm and lasted until 7pm.  They would quarrel amongst themselves, they would whine and they seemed to get injured more easily.  There I was, trying to fix a nice dinner for my family, all the while being distracted over and over.  It wasn't an easy time for me.  Every single night I became exasperated and then I would lose my cool.  By the time my husband would enter the house, I was done with my parenting duties for the day.  At that point, I wanted him to take over so I could regain my composure and find some peace and tranquility.

Unfortunately, noone ever told me to watch for behavioral patterns in my kids, and I missed the obvious for several months.  Finally, one morning as I cried out to God, He gave me an idea.  Make dinner during the lunch hour.  It would require a bit more planning on my part, but at this point I was willing to try anything to break this pattern.  That evening, I began to see a shift, not with their behavior but with mine.  Since I wasn't struggling to multi-task, I was far more attentive to them and far more patient in handling the situations that arose.  I also found that I was able to engage them and resolve volatile situations before they escalated to a bad level.

Over the next few weeks, making dinner at lunch time (or even in the morning thanks to buying a crock pot) broke the ugly pattern I had been seeing - both in my children and in myself.  Eventually, I began setting the stage for a quiet, peaceful dinner by lighting candles and playing classical music.  The kids even got into the dinner preparation as I started letting them take turns setting and decorating the table for a pleasant dinner.

When I reflect back to those early days, I am amazed at the difference. I am thankful that God showed me the unpleasant patterns, and then gave me wisdom to make changes. 

Even as my kids have grown, more patterns have emerged.  I'm on the lookout for patterns now, and I immediately go before the Lord and ask for wisdom to change them. 

Proverbs 2:6-8 (NIV) " For the LORD gives wisdom; From His mouth come knowledge and understanding; He stores up sound wisdom for the upright; He is a shield to those who walk uprightly; He guards the paths of justice, And preserves the way of His saints. "


Friday, February 5, 2010

Do You Want to Get Well?

“When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had already been there a long time in that condition, He said to him,

“Do you want to get well?”

In John 5, Jesus asks this seemingly strange question of a crippled man found lying by the pool of Bethesda. The pool was a place where those who were sick or lame would gather because it was believed that from time to time, an angel would come and stir the waters of the pool and the first one to enter the water thereafter would be healed.

I’m sure to those who were familiar with the scene “at the pool” in those days, Jesus asking the man if he wanted to be healed was, in a sense, like asking him to state the obvious. “Of course, I want to be healed, I’m here aren’t I?” But Jesus of course, has the ability to move beyond the obvious assumption and delve straight into the man’s heart. “Do you WANT to be healed?”

Jesus knew the man had been crippled for quite some time. Scripture tells us it was 38 years to be exact! We can also assume that because the man was in this condition, he did not just appear beside the pool without some sort of help to get him there in the first place. Someone had obviously helped him to get to the pool with the hope that the water there might heal him. The lame man’s answer is really quite revealing.

“Sir, I have no man to put into the pool when the water is stirred up, but while I am coming, another steps down before me.”

In my book, those are the words of someone with an attitude of defeat. It’s almost as if his being at the pool at this point in time is his just going through the motions. Due to the number of years he has been afflicted and through the actions of others and his own past failures, he has in essence deemed himself “helpless,” probably even “hopeless.”

I think there are a lot of people with the same attitude these days when it comes to money. Many have been living in a crippling financial situation for so many years that they can’t even fathom life being any different. Many see debt as part of life. They see no other choice but to live paycheck to paycheck. What other way is there?

We’ll never be able to get out of debt, what’s the point of even trying?” “I’ve tried living on a budget and it just doesn’t work for me.” “Every time I try to put a little bit of money away, something always comes up.”

The truth is, that the situation described in John 5 is very apropos to many of our situations today. We can get so used to living "crippled," and so “beaten down” by our own past failures that we become complacent. We become trapped by what we see as our own limitations.

Jesus doesn’t want us to live according to those limitations. He wants us to live HIS ECONOMY.

"With God all things are possible."

Matthew 19:26

If we are to live in HIS economy, it requires a paradigm shift on our part. “Do you want to get well?”

What Jesus is really asking is, “Are you willing to do what it takes to get well?” “Are you willing to forget what’s happened in the past and TRUST me?” “Are you ready to do things MY way?”

Jesus didn’t accept the man’s excuses. His past failed attempts were of no interest to him. He already knew about all of them. Jesus was really asking if the man was ready to be healed. I think if we could have heard the intonation of Jesus’ question that day, we would have heard him in essence saying, “Are you ready to be healed, because your life won’t be the same from this point forward.”

And scripture tells us that he just gave the crippled man a command… “Pick up your mat and walk.”

Again, the same thing applies to our financial situations today. We may feel like we have tried everything we can think of to help ourselves. We may feel like other people are the cause of our problems and we may feel like it all is just out of our control. But Jesus is the same today as yesterday. We just have to make the decision that we’re ready. We must make the decision that we will obey his instruction because we are no longer doing things in our own power, but IN HIS!

It starts with a decision.

Will we continue to do the same things expecting different results and remain crippled, or will we get in the presence of Jesus and decide to pick up our mats and walk?

To be continued…


Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Who's In The Conversation?

Have you ever been in a situation where you are with a couple of friends and they become caught up in a conversation that seems to exclude you? It wasn't intentional on their part, they were just so caught up in conversation that they seem to have forgotten that you were there.

In John 16 Jesus is engrossed in a conversation with His disciples. This is the chapter where Jesus is explaining that He will be going away, but He will come back (referring to His death and Resurrection). The disciples aren't quite understanding so there are a lot of questions. Everyone is involved in the conversation. Then John 17:1 begins with like this...

Jesus spoke these words, lifted up His eyes to heaven, and said: “Father, the hour has come. Glorify Your Son, that Your Son also may glorify You." John 17:1

Do you see what Jesus did here? In the course of His conversation, He looked up and spoke to the Father. He didn't gather everyone together to pray. He didn't bow or kneel in formal ceremony. He didn't walk away from the others to quietly pray. As we read John 17, we see that the words Jesus spoke (His prayer) to the Father, were an extension of the conversation. He recognized that God the Father is always with us and He simply included God in the conversation. It was the same as if your friends in the above example would have turned to you and brought you into the conversation.

I am not saying that we should be walking around everywhere we go, engaged in an audible conversation with God. Jesus was with close friends who were believers in this situation. But how often do we forget that God is right there with us waiting to be included in the conversation? The closer our relationship with Jesus is, the more aware we are of His continual presence and the more we naturally begin to include Him in our conversations, whether silently or audibly.

We can model the closeness of our relationship with our Father to our children by looking up sometimes in the course of our conversations with them, to include God. In the midst of our conversation, and our day-to-day, there are many opportunities to look up and say "Thank you Lord.", "What should we do Lord?", "Would you help us with this Lord?", and one of my personal favorites, "Lord, would you please show me where I put my glasses again?". Your children, your grand-children, and others will see that your relationship with Jesus is real and personal, and they just might pick up on making it more personal in their own lives too.

Pray continually. 1 Thessalonians 5:17

"For where two or three gather together as my followers, I am there among them.” Matthew 18:20

"...And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:20

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Monday, February 1, 2010



This post is less of an article and more of a report. Cheryl, Kristin and I just returned from a youth rally in Cheyenne, Wyoming. Cheryl and I were the chaperones for 10 middle and high school students who went to the event.

A youth rally is a spiritually-based youth event. There are lessons, Bible classes and singing for the youth, as well as fun activities. Two dynamic speakers did keynote lessons and taught classes for the youth, and one middle-aged guy (me :) taught the adult classes (on Proverbs). On Friday night we had 287 people in attendance (youth and adult sponsors) and this morning (Sunday) we had 405 people.

The weekend was motivating. The theme was on "shame" and the speakers encouraged us to take any shame-based activity or attitude to the cross where Jesus will cover us (I’ll have a post about this later on Family Fountain). Numerous youth responded to an invitation for prayer on Sunday.

The weekend was uplifting. A dynamic young song leader from Tennessee flew in to lead the worship. He led us in songs that stirred the heart and soul. Additionally, we had a 60-member high school chorus from Denver, CO sing for about 45 minutes. I was moved to tears a couple of times by these outstanding kids.

The weekend was bonding. Cheryl and I got to see old friends that we ministered with years ago in Wyoming. But we also got to spend the weekend with our high school daughter and our son, Wes. Wes is the youth minister for the church in Cheyenne that hosted the youth rally. He organized the youth rally, chose the speakers and worship leader, and MC-ed the event. We were proud of how he did!

Dads, I would have missed out on this motivating, uplifting and bonding activity if I sent my daughter to the youth rally (with her mom and other chaperones) but didn’t attend myself. There are always numerous tasks awaiting us at home, such as cleaning the garage, replacing shingles and fixing trim. But, can any of these things compare with the benefit of attending a spiritual or family activity with our own kids?

I was glad to see dozens of dads at the youth rally with their teenagers. A lot of concerned fathers want their children to receive positive, religious instruction and influence at church and other spiritual events, but too often they leave the guidance and oversight of this spiritual training to the moms. This is certainly a mom’s responsibility, too, but ideally it should be in partnership with dad.

"Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord" (Eph. 6:4). One way to provide the training and instruction of our children is to not just send them to spiritual events, but to take them ourselves and participate with them. We’ll find that the experience enriches us every bit as much as our kids.

Warren Baldwin