Showing posts from April, 2020

Don't Stop at "No" In Prayer

In prayer, don't stop at God's "No." Press on toward His "Yes." Have you ever asked God for something over and over again, but get no answer? At what point do you stop asking? If your momma was like my momma, she used this phrase, "I'm only going to say this once, and I'm not going to say it again, . . . ." That mentality works well for mommas, but it doesn't work for prayer. Jesus taught us that we should be persistent in prayer. Keep on asking, seeking, and knocking (Matthew 7:7).  Despite the importance of persistence in prayer , it is discouraging when it seems we repeatedly get God's "No." But that's a mistake. Don't stop at God's "No." Press on in prayer until you get God's "Yes." In 2 Corinthians 12:7-10 Paul shares that God's "No" in prayer became Paul's greatest "Yes." Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he sai

Yesterday's "Yes", Today's "No"

Prayer is about trusting the "No" and finding God's "Yes." How transformative would it be for your prayer life if you could always get a "Yes?" It seems like there are times when prayer works and times when it doesn't. Prayer can feel so random and hard to figure out that many people give up. Don't give up on prayer. God always gives a "Yes." In 2 Corinthians 12, the Apostle Paul shares the most significant "Yes" God had ever given him in prayer. But that big "Yes" came after 3 "No's." Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 2 Cor. 12:8-9 When God says, "No," there's always a "Yes."  One of the reasons you can't get through the &quo

The Inconvenient Commitment of Following Christ

Jesus makes some attractive offers to those who will believe in Him. He offers to forgive their sins, answer their prayers, and give them eternal life. From a life-management standpoint, Christianity has a lot of upside. The Bible shows us ways to have a more loving marriage, financial stability, and deliverance from personal vices and addictions.  The church is a compelling community of loving people that can become as close as family.  With these considerations, one would think that church attendance would be booming. But it isn't. Church attendance is declining in every conceivable way. Why? There are  lots of studies  and  various reasons , so take your pick.  Long before the studies, Jesus predicted this downward trend. In fact, Jesus experienced it. In John 6, Jesus begins with a massive crowd, but the more he talks, the more people walk away. Jesus' sermon dwindled the multitude down to twelve. It got so awkward that he turned to his own disciples and asked them, "

Coming Out of Crazy

Because of sin, we have broken bodies. Don't forget that we also have broken brains. I suffer from a severe case of Misophonia. Pray for me. Because of misophonia, I cannot go to movies.  I have a difficult time in restaurants.  I require a restriction on hard candy. Why? Not because I'm contagious or because any of those things are dangerous. It's because misophonia  "describes the unreasonable emotions that well up inside some of us when we hear certain repetitive noises being produced by those around us." We all have at least a little crazy. In Daniel 4, the most powerful man in the ancient world went crazy but returned to reason.  At the end of the days I, Nebuchadnezzar, lifted my eyes to heaven, and my reason returned to me, and I blessed the Most High, and praised and honored him who lives forever, Nebuchadnezzar's story demonstrates the power of God's Word, God's people, and godly counsel to help us with our broken brains. God's Word Nebuch

We Can't Save Anyone But We Can Share the Gospel

The truth is that you and I can't save anyone, but we are to share the gospel. I was about ten years old, and we were enjoying a summer beach vacation. I happened to look up and see a man far from the shore, beyond the break of the surf, waving his hands in desperation. He was barely noticeable and too far away audible. No one could hear his cry for help, but I could see that he was in trouble. I ran to the lifeguard station and pointed to the man. The lifeguard rushed into action and brought the man safely to shore. I was glad the lifeguard rescued the man, and after all of the commotion died down, I went back to playing in the sand. A few weeks later, I was at a scout meeting, and I shared the story. The following week, our scoutmaster presented me with a special award for saving a life. I was confused and thought he had misunderstood the story so I tried to clarify it. "I didn't save the man's life; the lifeguard did." My scoutmaster shared with me that I did s

Don't Present the Gospel, Share It

Sharing the gospel is a conversation, not a presentation. "If you were standing before God and he were to ask, 'Why should I let you into my kingdom, what would you say?" That is one of the two questions used to turn conversations into gospel presentations in a witness program called Evangelism Explosion.  I challenge you to rewind your mind and work that question into any conversation you had yesterday. "So you're getting $20 in gas, would you like anything else?"  "Yes mam. I know Betty over here is dying to grab some Lotto tickets, but I would like to ask you a question. . . ." How about working that question into lunch? "Can I take your order?" "I'd like a meat and three with a sweet tea and I'd like to know that if you were standing before God . . ." How about after practice with the little league coach. "So I've got you guys down to bring snacks to the game on Saturday." "No problem coach, but if

The Danger of Celebrity Witness

Most of the people you see today will die and go to Hell if you are waiting on Tim Tebow to lead them to Jesus. There is a danger of celebrity witness. Christian concerts and conferences are powerful experiences. Many of these events usually offer a parade of incredible testimonies and polished speakers sharing with what God has done. And while those stories may encourage us, it is dangerous if we think that they replace our witness. In Acts 1:8, Jesus didn't say that the Holy Spirit would empower you to invite your friend to a conference. He said that the Holy Spirit would empower you to be a witness. Acts 3 ends with a notable miracle in the healing of the lame man at the Temple gate. But don't misread the setting of the story. And a man lame from birth was being carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple that is called the Beautiful Gate to ask alms of those entering the temple. Seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple, he asked to receive alms. And Pe

Go Where You Go to Share the Gospel

The Great Commission doesn't tell us as to where to go; Jesus just commands us to get going (Matthew 28:18-20). An incredible miracle takes place in Acts 3. Peter and John meet a lame man at one of the Temple gates. At the end of the story, the lame man walks away! Miraculous stories start on mundane days. The story begins with Peter and John doing what they would be doing on any other day. Now Peter and John were going up to the Temple at the hour of prayer, the ninth hour. Acts 3:1 While that sentence sounds incredibly religious, you have to understand that in the cultural context, it was normal. Peter and John were going to a daily 3 pm prayer service at the Temple. It's much like saying that you're meeting a friend for lunch at 12. It's something you do every day. Our Great Mistake with The Great Commission We make a mistake with the Great Commission. We believe that when Jesus says, "Go" that He's calling us to go somewhere else. But notice in the Gre

You Are God's Plan A, There is No Plan B

You are God's plan A; there is no plan B. God has sent His beloved Son to be the sacrifice for our sins. Jesus died for us, but three days later, he rose victorious over death, Hell, and the grave. His story has been changing lives for 2,000 years! And if anyone would repent of sin and receive Jesus as Lord and Savior, God would give them the gift of eternal life. In Matthew 28:18-20, Jesus commands us to go and share this message. And Jesus came and said to them, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age." Matthew 28:18-20 And it is that aspect, the personal witness part, that I find to be the singularly most intimidating part of following Christ. I get nervous. The conversation gets awkward. I would gladly delegate t

Disrupted and Disturbed

One of these days, we will tell the story of games we didn't play, graduations delayed, weddings with no guests, cafe's serving curbside, and an Easter where it was illegal to gather in a church. The coronavirus has disrupted our lives. Joel spoke to a generation much like our own. It was a time of disrupted weddings , worship, and work. (Disrupted weddings)  Lament like a virgin wearing sackcloth for the bridegroom of her youth. Joel 1:8 (Disrupted worship)  The grain offering and the drink offering are cut off from the house of the Lord. The priests mourn, the ministers of the Lord. Joel 1:9 (Disrupted work)  Be ashamed, O tillers of the soil; wail, O vinedressers, for the wheat and the barley, because the harvest of the field has perished. Joel 1:11 And there are a lot of people, though saddened by these circumstances, who would tell our graduates, brides, and ballplayers to toughen up and get over it. Never Get Over It Joel didn't tell the people to get over it, but to

Anxiety With God

God may not give you the answer you want, but He will provide the strength you need. My favorite family vacation was a road trip from Birmingham, AL to San Diego, CA. We drove from BBQ to Jamba Juice. It's the only vacation I've ever taken where I had to change the oil. It was an awesome trip, except for one stop along the way. I wanted to see the Hoover Dam. To make that happen logistically, that meant we could either stay the night in a roadside motel you've seen in a horror movie or stay the night in Vegas. We chose Vegas. Big mistake. Please understand, I went to seminary in New Orleans . I imagined Vegas to be sort of like New Orleans. In NOLA you can navigate the French Quarter without going down Bourbon Street. But I was wrong. In Vegas, there's just no way around Hell. Please remember, this was a family vacation. So here I am, a preacher, leading my wife and daughters down a street lined with porn and casinos. When a guy dressed as the devil jumped out onto the

Argue with God

When we don't agree with God, we argue with God. My firstborn daughter inherited my hard head. I don't mean hard as in "skull quality" but in reference to the stubbornness of the brain within. When she was in the first grade, her teacher gave her a list of spelling words. Her mother took the list and asked the beautiful blonde-haired child to spell some of the words. Blondie failed miserably. Her mother then gave the list back to the beautiful child and said, "You need to study." The princess then turned into a monster. Red-faced and in tears, she ran into a bathroom and locked the door. Her mother then began to try to reason with the blonde monster behind the door. "What's wrong? "You said I needed to study!" "Well, yes. But baby, it's because I want you to do well on the test." At this point, we realized that she might have locked the door for our protection. The blonde monster was now furious. And this conversation went o

Angry at God

We would not choose what God may use. "He's an on-time God" works well on a coffee cup until you have to drink it. "God has a plan" looks nice on a T-shirt until you have to trust it. You bought a bumper sticker that said, "God is my pilot" and then totaled that car. There are lots of things Christians like to say but do not like to do. When someone smashes our bumper sticker faith, we become angry at God . Habakkuk was an angry prophet. His prayers were unanswered, his life was unfair, and God's promises seemed untrue. And so the prophet does not begin his book with preaching, but by pitching a fit. O Lord, how long shall I cry for help, and you will not hear? Or cry to you "Violence!" and you will not save? Why do you make me see iniquity, and why do you idly look at wrong? Destruction and violence are before me; strife and contention arise. So the law is paralyzed, and justice never goes forth. For the wicked surround the righteous; s

Our False Escapes Into Addiction, The Traps of Crisis

Our addictions are not escapes from crisis; they are the traps that keep us there. The week that most states began shelter-in-place as a response to the coronavirus pandemic,  alcohol sales increased by 55% . It's not surprising. The prospects of being a victim of a rapidly spreading disease are frightening. The potential loss of income is depressing. We are in a drought of good news . When it becomes too much to take, we look for a way of escape. The Prophet Joel is speaking into a situation similar to our own. Their economy was wrecked by an insect (Joel 1:4). Something you can only see with a microscope disrupted ours. But in both situations, people turn to alcohol as a way of escape. Joel addresses it. Awake, you drunkards, and weep, and wail, all you drinkers of wine, because of the sweet wine, for it is cut off from your mouth. Joel 1:5 Alcohol is not our only way of escape. Our addictions come in all shapes and sizes. Science shows that our brain activity and chemical reacti

Thank God It's Friday

For most working people, Friday is their favorite day of the week. It's the end of business and the beginning of fun. It's not hard to be happy on Friday. But there is one Friday in history that was particularly bad, yet we call it good. It's a Friday that capped a week that began with the triumphal entry of a Messianic King and ended with the crucifixion of the righteous Son of God. It was a Friday of torture and blood. On this Friday, the one who breathed into man's nostrils the first breath took his last breath. So what was so good about that bad, bloody Friday? What typically excites us about Friday are the plans we make. Maybe it's a dinner date, a concert, or a Friday night football game. Every moment of the plan is for our enjoyment. The food. The fun. Our friends. Nothing will stand in the way of having a great Friday. And that's the irony of that bad, bloody Friday we call good. A good God planned the whole awful thing. Psalm 118:24 foretold this Friday

Key Attitude in Crisis, Humility

For there to be recovery there must be humility. The prophet Joel is speaking to a people whose economy has been crippled by a bug . Wave after wave of insects stripped away the produce and profit of a growing season (Joel 1:4). At the beginning of March, our economy was roaring. In the middle of March, our economy closed. A microscopic virus isolated us. Many have been furloughed, while others wonder if they have a business to go back to. In the Book of Joel, God presents an incredible potential for His people. They can come out of crisis into a life better than its ever been before (Joel 2:18-32). The years that the locusts have eaten, God can restore (2:25). But before there is recovery from a crisis, there must be humility in the crisis. Hear this, you elders; give ear, all inhabitants of the land! Has such a thing happened in your days, or in the days of your fathers? Tell your children of it, and let your children tell their children, and their children to another generation. Joe