Monthly Archives: November 2009

You Know How to Pray

Most of us know how to pray. There seem to be a few prayers that are common to all: prayer for help; prayers for mercy and healing; prayer for forgiveness; prayer on behalf of someone else; and prayers for personal riches and blessings. Everywhere in the world people pray these prayers to God or gods or the powers, or even To Whom It May Concern. We also know some of the rituals of prayer. Most of us understand that it is best to approach God in prayer with “clean hands and a clean heart.” I take that to mean that before we jump right in praying, we are supposed to take time to prepare ourselves by evaluating our spiritual condition, reflecting on our own personal sins and broken relationships, and confessing all of this to ourselves before God Almighty. Skipping lightly over this first part helps keep our prayers superficial at best.

I believe God hears the prayers of every person in the world, knows our names and is listening to our heart’s cry. God listens for the cry of confession, of repentance, and for forgiveness. God is listening for His name: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Prince of Peace, Immanuel, Jesus, Savior, Lord of Lords, and King of Kings. You know some of the other names also.

The Christmas season is about answered prayer, the names of God, the Word made flesh, and God’s love for every person in this world. As you read this, Dorothy and I are on a journey to the other side of the world to share the power of God’s great love as we teach about prayer and grace and mercy to a sister Baptist church in Brisbane, Australia. We are teaching about praying with our eyes open as we walk through the streets of our community. Seeing what God is revealing before us. Praying, as intercessors, for the heartfelt cries and needs of the people who are right in our path. And discovering the way God would have us minister with those people. Thank you for your prayers for us and the people of the Annerley Church this week.

Keep healthy. Pray mightily. Enjoy your life today. Open your eyes and heart. And let’s experience the love and power of God together.

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Prepare to be Blessed

Our family time at Thanksgiving will be warm and fulfilling, with all of our grandchildren and their parents with us for the weekend. We have gotten all of our Christmas shopping done. The packages are wrapped. The Christmas cards are almost finished. The preparations for the Christmas services are awaiting the fine tuning of the coming Sundays. The Candlelight Christmas Eve worship hour looks extraordinary this year. Next on the list will be to (1) unplug from all things electronic—computer, television, cell phone and i-pod, (2) fly to the other side of the world, (3) engage in a mission effort, and (4) relax, refresh and decompress for a while. So now all that is really needed is for us to work like crazy to make it all happen.

I believe about 80% of anything worthwhile is in the preparation, and the rest is in the actual experience. I have discovered that if I reverse the process and give say only 20% to the preparation, then I spend nearly 100% of the experience trying to keep it all from falling apart. I usually do not enjoy those times. Whether it is a project at church or a trip to the Braum’s with preschoolers, if I haven’t prepared it’s not going to be as much fun. I can have more fun eating ice-cream out with a 2-year old if I have a bag of supplies along that include some wet wipes and a clean change of clothes. (Note to myself: next time include extra shirt for me.)

Being prepared for the blessings equips us to face anything. I believe about 80% of the ability to face the challenges of any given day comes from personal, spiritual preparation. The balance of that equation comes from the wisdom, talents, and strengths within ourselves and our closest friends and loved ones. That why God has given us the Holy Spirit to empower us and the church to encourage us. How much of what you are doing today is preparation for the worthwhile things of life?

Keep healthy. Pray mightily. Enjoy your life today. Prepare to be blessed. And let’s experience the love and power of God together.

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Shine Your Light

It’s turned cold and rainy here in the midst of November. After such a mild September and October, the chill seems more biting and harsh. The call of winter is in the air. It’s time for sweaters and blankets, and cozy cups of tea and coffee. Christmas carols are now on some radio stations 24 hours each day. The advertisements of specials and bargains are coming at us like blowing snow. It’s holiday season, and the never-ending push to New Year’s Day has accelerated the pace of daily pressures. Lists and lists of things to do, and less and less of the money with which to do them.

Some of us are preparing for company to arrive; others of us are preparing to be someone’s company. Some are facing Thanksgiving day and the Christmas season very much alone away from home; others are looking through tears at that empty chair across the room. For some our lives seem up-side down; for others hearts have turned inside out. As the days grow shorter and the nights grow darker, this can become a season of depression and gloominess, underscored by the pressure to be ever “merry and bright.”

This would be a good time to shine a little light. Why not pick up the telephone and call someone you have not talked to in weeks. Maybe send a “thinking of you” card to friends or loved ones who are not sick or in deep distress. Tell them a little about how you are managing. Ask about how they are doing. Thank them for their influence on your life. Offer a prayer on their behalf.

So I give you a little word puzzle to think about tonight. Just rearrange the letters of each word to complete the sentence:


Keep healthy. Pray mightily. Enjoy your life today. Shine your light. And let’s experience the love and power of God together.

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Need a Phone Book?

All I was trying to do was get the telephone company to list my name correctly. When we moved a few years ago, we were assigned a new telephone number. The following year, my name was listed in the directory with the wrong middle initial. So I called seeking help. Apparently telephone companies only have a casual relationship to their directories. After a couple of extensive tries, I actually got through to a person who seemed sympathetic. So it was with anticipation I awaited the arrival of the directory. I was still listed the wrong way. I tried again. That next year they fixed the problem by not listing me at all!

I have not been listed in the directory for two years now. “Information” will tell you that we have a listed number—you just need to know how to spell my name and where I live to find me. I called again this past spring. So far, in the multiple kinds of telephone books that have been delivered this summer, I am nowhere to be found. Ever optimistic, I wait for this month’s edition.

Why do we even get so many different phone books? The answer has to do with the sale of classified ads and promotional coupons. And apparently some people still use a phone book a couple of times a year. The rule seems to be that you get two books for each phone line. That means we get eight directories at the church every time someone sells enough advertisements for another company to print a bunch of phone books. A phone book is inaccurate and out of date as soon as it is published. Millions of individuals and companies are moving to cell phones instead of land lines. Only wired phones are listed. In the not too distant future we may find ourselves with personal phone numbers that do not change.Today, everyone who wants to be found is listed on the internet, but it’s almost impossible for directories to make money on the internet. The telephone directory is becoming an endangered species through over population. It’s up to us to recycle these phone books–especially since I’m not in it.

Keep healthy. Pray mightily. Enjoy your life today. De-clutter and recycle. And let’s experience the love and power of God together.

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Live Your Divine Purpose

I have the first Bible that was given to me as a young boy. On the front page, I wrote out the day of my salvation: December 9, 1956. My call from God to be a minister came in March of 1964. I was licensed to preach the Gospel on May 15, 1966. Somewhere along the way, it became a life goal of mine to seek to fulfill the Great Commission by preaching, teaching or ministering on all of the continents of the world.

After graduating from seminary, I was ordained as a minister by the University Baptist Church, Ft Worth, Texas, on January 31, 1973. But it was a few years later that I intentionally began a journey to discover my divine purpose. I discerned that my purpose in this life is “to be a blessing to God today, and for generations to come.” I believe everyone has their own divine purpose for life.

Following my minor heart attack in February 2006, I began to talk with our Administrative Council about finding a time for serious rest and renewal. We have been looking for appropriate sabbatical opportunities. This past winter, while the economy was in such distress and the prices for fuel so high, I spotted a relatively low cost opportunity to go to Australia and New Zealand. By faith we placed a reservation. In late spring, I was in contact with Rev. Jim Johnston and the Annerley Baptist Church in Brisbane, exploring ways Dorothy and I might minister with the congregation. As the summer ended, it appeared that everything was coming together for a three-week trip in December—so we have committed fully to the endeavor.

Discerning your divine purpose in life takes effort. I found that time was needed to reflect on the experiences and circumstances that have shaped me. Prayer and meditation guided me to remember those spiritual moments when God’s presence filled me, blessed me and carried me through. Directly ask God all of your questions, then relax in trust that God will make things clear. It is a process that takes time and honesty with yourself and your Lord.

Keep healthy. Pray mightily. Enjoy your life today. Live out your divine purpose. And let’s experience the love and power of God together.

P.S. The seven continents are North America, South America, Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia, and Antarctica. India is counted as a sub-continent. Australia and Antarctica are my two remaining missions. Anyone up Antarctica?

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