Strength in Prayer

“Prayer is the way that all of the things we believe in and that Christ has won for us actually become our strength.”~~Timothy Keller

Good morning. It is Saturday, September 19, 2015. Three weeks until we go to Playa del Carmen!

Today’s word of the day, from Merriam-Webster, is incandescent. This adjective has several meanings. It means, “white, glowing, or luminous with intense heat,” “marked by brilliance especially of expression,” “characterized by glowing zeal : ardent,” “of, relating to, or being light produced by incandescence,” or, “producing light by incandescence.” I’m particularly fond of the second one.

Today, of course, is Talk Like A Pirate Day. It happens every year on September 19. Arrr.

Something else that happens every year on September 19 is the anniversary of the death of Rich Mullins. It has been eighteen years since he was killed in an auto accident. My favorite song of his (or set of songs, perhaps), is “I See You,” which segues into “Step by Step” at the end of The World As Best As I Remember It, Vol. 1. Someone has made a beautiful video with those two songs as the background music. You can find it on You Tube.

I wound up working until 7:30 last night. Ugh. And a few people were still there, working, when I left. I really think I need to find a new job. But that’s not easy, these days, so I’ll have to stick it out until something better comes along.

I actually slept until after 9:00, this morning, which is unusual. According to my Fitbit Flex, I got nine hours and fifteen minutes of sleep! Today, we’ll do the grocery shopping, and our usual church activities. There are a few things on the agenda for tomorrow, one of which is Christi trimming my hair and beard. It’s long overdue, I must admit. I’m starting to resemble Santa Claus.

The Rangers lost to Seattle last night, but the Astros lost, as well, so the Rangers continue to be 2.5 games up in the AL West. At this point, the Wild Card race is still very close in the American League.

On this date in 1692, Giles Corey was pressed to death in the Salem witch trials. On this date in 1881, President James Garfield died of wounds suffered on July 2. In 1934, Bruno Hauptmann was arrested for the kidnap and murder of Charles Lindgergh, Jr. In 1952, the U.S. barred Charlie Chaplin from re-entering the country. In 1957, the first American underground nuclear bomb test occurred. In 1959, Nikita Khrushchev was barred from visiting Disneyland. In 1970, the first Glastonbury Festival was held. In 1982, the first recorded emoticons were posted by Scott Fahlman on the Carnegie Melton University Bulletin Board System. They were 🙂 and 😦 .

Today’s birthdays include Leon Jaworski (American Watergate special prosecutor), Ferry Porsche (Austrian automobile pioneer), Sir William Golding (English writer), Duke Snider (baseball player), Adam West (American actor), Brook Benton (American singer), David McCallum (Scottish actor), Brian Epstein (English music manager, The Beatles), Paul Williams (American composer), Bill Medley (American singer/songwriter, The Righteous Brothers), Mama Cass Elliot (American musician), Freda Payne (American singer/actress), Joe Morgan (American baseball player/announcer, born in Bonhom, TX), Jeremy Irons (English actor), Twiggy (English model), Lita Ford (American musician), Ken Rosenthal (American sportswriter), Cheri Oteri (American actress/comedian), Jim Abbott (American baseball player), Jimmy Fallon (American actor/comedian), and Sara and Tegan Quin (Canadian musicians).

There are a couple of favorites of mine in the list today. Mama Cass Elliot was one of The Mamas and the Papas. She was born on this date in 1941. They had quite a few hits in their heyday, but my favorite song of theirs didn’t get a lot of airplay. It’s called “I Call Your Name.” Here’s a clip of them performing that song at the Monterrey Pop Festival. I swear Mama Cass must be high as a kite.

Adam West was born on this date in 1928, making him 87 years old today. For me, he is most famous for his role in the sixties TV show, Batman, where he, of course, played Batman. Most recently, he has played himself as the Mayor in Family Guy. Here is a short clip from one of the Batman episodes where Batman dances. You can briefly see Frank Gorshin (The Riddler) stick his head up out of a trap door in the parking lot.


Today’s Psalm, from Heart Aflame, is Psalm 104:27-28.

These all look to you, to give them their food in due season.
When you give it to them, they gather it up; when you open your hand, they are filled with good things.

“Now if he supply wild and brute beasts with sustenance in due season, by which they are fed to the full, his blessings will doubtless be to us an inexhaustible source of plenty, provided we ourselves do not hinder it from flowing to us by our unbelief.” (p 263)

(From Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God)

The next touchstone under “What Prayer Gives” is “Strength–Prayer as Spiritual Union with God.”

J.I. Packer writes, “Prayer is a means to energy. Spiritual alertness, vigor, and confidence are the regular spin-offs from earnest prayer on any subject. The Puritans spoke of prayer as oiling the wheels of the soul.”

As Christians, it is said that we are united with Christ. John 15 describes us as being grafted into a vine, the vine being Christ. The result is to be that we appear to be more and more like Christ, the true Vine.

In Ephesians 6, a famous passage, we are told by Paul to be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. The metaphor that follows has been vigorously preached for hundreds of years. “The basic idea is that all the benefits of Christ’s salvation–pardon, peace, God’s love for us–that have been objectively secured for us must be personally appropriated for daily life.” These things are all abstractions “until they are inwardly received for our actual use.”

How do we do this? In Ephesians 6:18, Paul “comes out of the metaphor and says,” praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints. Many people try to list prayer as part of the “armor” that is referred to in the previous verse, but that simply doesn’t work. Each of the other items is associated in some way with a piece of armor; the helmet, the breastplate, the belt, the sword, the shoes, and so on. “When he comes to the end, he just says pray, pray, pray in the Spirit, pray with alertness, pray all kinds of ways, pray all the time.”

“Prayer is the way that all of the things we believe in and that Christ has won for us actually become our strength.”

Father, may your Spirit remind me daily that prayer is necessary to appropriate my spiritual armor each day. I so often forget to consider this, and head out the door in a state that might as well be naked. And when this happens, I eventually fail in some way, during the day. Help me to strengthen myself with prayer each day. My desire is that prayer be like breathing; something that is absolutely necessary for life, and that I do not have to struggle to remember to do. I don’t have to tell myself to breathe. In fact, I have to make myself not breathe, for example, when under water. May prayer be like this, to the point that I don’t have to remind myself to do it.

I pray for this day, Father, that our errands would be done safely and joyfully. Yes, joyfully. There are things that must be done, and they are, at times, unpleasant, but let us approach them with joy, your joy. Keep us safe as we go. May our worship and prayer gatherings today be fruitful, engaging, and glorifying to you. And give us rest for the new week that approaches.

Come, Lord Jesus.

Prayer brings strength. And it helps us put on our “armor,” which has been provided by the Lord.

Grace and peace, friends.

No “Buts!”

Good morning. It’s Thursday, September 27, 2012. Today is “Ancestor Appreciation Day.” It’s also “National Thank You Day.” So today, I say, “Thank you” to all my ancestors. Of course there are only two that can hear me. Or do you have to be “passed on” to be an ancestor? The definition I found says simply someone from whom I am descended, but especially if more remote than a grandparent. That doesn’t help much.

On this date in 1989, Zsa Zsa Gabor stormed out of the courtroom during the D.A.’s closing argument. She was on trial for slapping a policeman. Dahling.
On this date in 1959, Nikita Khrushchev ended his visit to the U.S. He was still angry about not being allowed into Disneyland.
And on this date in 1999, Placido Domingo broke Enrico Caruso’s opening night record at the Metropolitan Opera, by making his 18th opening night appearance.

Today is the day that Christi gets her steroid injection into her spine. Please pray that it has the desired effect, which is relief from the pain that she has been experiencing.
Tomorrow, we get the kitten fixed. Yes. She’s broken. 😀 Oh, and we have tickets to tomorrow night’s baseball game, Rangers v. Angels. I was really hoping that this game wouldn’t matter. After last night, it matters very much. And, in the words of Forrest Gump, that’s all I’m going to say about that. Because I’ll get accused of being a bad fan.

Father, I pray for some inspiration this morning, to keep me focused on you throughout this day.

Today, I’m beginning Psalm 119. I will not read all 176 verses this morning. I might be late for work. I will, however, use the convenient breaking points that are already in place, as the psalm is a Hebrew acrostic. Each verse in the first eight verses begins with the letter “aleph” in the Hebrew language. (Of course this does not translate out that way in English.) Each verse of the next eight verses begins with “beth,” and so on. So I’ll take this eight verses at a time until I’m finished. Today, verse 1-8.

1 Aleph. Blessed are those whose way is blameless, who walk in the law of the LORD!
2 Blessed are those who keep his testimonies, who seek him with their whole heart,
3 who also do no wrong, but walk in his ways!
4 You have commanded your precepts to be kept diligently.
5 Oh that my ways may be steadfast in keeping your statutes!
6 Then I shall not be put to shame, having my eyes fixed on all your commandments.
7 I will praise you with an upright heart, when I learn your righteous rules.
8 I will keep your statutes; do not utterly forsake me!

One interesting thing about Psalm 119 is that almost every verse mentions the law of God. Using words like “testimonies,” “precepts,” “statutes,” “righteous rules,” and so on, the psalmist shows his love and respect for the “law” of God. When I read these words, I consider them to be speaking of God’s word, or, as we know it, the Bible. I echo this psalmist’s plea in verse 5, “Oh that my ways may be steadfast in keeping your statutes!”

In today’s reading from My Utmost For His Highest, Chambers returns to the “Go” series with “The ‘Go’ of Renunciation.” The verse is Luke 9:57, which says, As they were going along the road, someone said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” In a move that would shock most modern evangelists, Jesus discouraged this person (we don’t know if it was a he or a she)! “What a wasted opportunity!” We would have immediately brought out our commitment cards and “Four Spiritual Laws” tracts and got that person SAVED! But hear this: “Our Lord’s answers are based not on caprice, but on a knowledge of what is in man. If the Spirit of God brings to your mind a word of the Lord that hurts you, you may be sure that there is something He wants to hurt to death.”

What did Jesus say to this person? “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” Talk about a cold bucket of water thrown on the fire! “These words knock the heart out of serving Jesus Christ because it is pleasing to me.” Every Saturday morning, my wife and I get up early and go up to an elementary school to help unload a trailer and setup up equipment for our Sunday morning worship services. We don’t do it because we like getting up early on Saturday morning. Trust me, I’d rather sleep in. Every two or three Sunday mornings, we have to get up even earlier to be at church by 730 to serve on the tech team for that day’s services. Hear me, please…I’m not boasting about our service. The point is, we do this because we love the Lord, and we feel compelled to do this service. Otherwise, we would be sleeping in and enjoying our weekend. I don’t care if I get recognition. Most of the people who attend the worship services have no idea that there is a small group of people who sacrifice their Saturday mornings for this. That’s fine. Because Jesus knows. It’s all about him; it’s all about my relationship to him. There is no immediate reward. After all, “the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” But there will be reward, someday. Yes, there will!

A second man came up. Jesus invited him to follow. But this man put loyalty to relatives before loyalty to Christ. We must obey Christ, even if it costs in the area of family loyalty. I have known many people in my life whose relatives did not understand what they were doing for Christ.

The third one comes and says, “I will follow you, but…” Anyone who says that, “is the one who is fiercely ready, but never goes.” This one is especially painful to me, because I believe I’ve been in that same circumstance before. Perhaps we are all guilty of that one, at various times in our lives. But what we should do is this: “When once the call of God comes, begin to go and never stop going.” I pray that God gives me the inspiration to keep going. Right now, I’m not sure where I’m going, but I’m following his lead and that’s all that matters.

Father, you have said “go” to me, and I am going. You directed me into prayer, and I intend to continue down this path until you send me to a different one. You have told us to commit to a particular body of believers, and we will commit to this body until you tell us differently. It doesn’t matter who doesn’t understand (not that there is anyone who doesn’t). Even if there were family that did not understand, we would still stay the course. What we do, we do for you, and no one else. Let us never place a “but” at the end of our agreement to serve you.

Oh, that my ways may be steadfast in keeping your statutes! I pray that the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart would be pleasing in your sight.

I pray for this day, Lord. I especially pray that Christi’s doctor visit this evening will be successful. I continue to pray that you would touch her with your healing hands and relieve the pain that she experiences. I pray that the injection will be successful. In the meantime, I pray that her work day goes smoothly, without stress. I pray also for my work day, that it will be a good day, without issue. May I reflect the mind of Christ as he lives in me throughout this day. I pray that you would draw Stephanie’s attention to you during this day, perhaps inspiring her to prayer and meditation on your word.

I pray for our lifehouse member Jennifer, who also has a doctor’s visit today, to look at some bloodwork regarding the health problems she is experiencing. Give them wisdom as they look at these results, and I pray that there will be solutions that will help her. I lift up her husband as he deals with this stress, added to his already busy life.

Your grace is sufficient, Lord. May we never fail to remember this.

If God says “Go,” we must renounce all else and go until he tells us otherwise.

Grace and peace, friends.