Tag Archives: Prayer

Joy as a Dad

I have been a dad for 20 years now.  Over half my life.  I became a dad when I was 19 years old, when Amber and I welcomed our first born, Shawn, into the world.  We were on the early parenthood plan.  By the grace of God, we’ve made it over 20 years as parents and nearly 21 as husband and wife now with 3 children.  I had someone ask me recently about want to take parenting classes.  It was serious, but I couldn’t help but laugh a little.  Not at them, but at the idea.  I’m sure there are good classes out there, but bottom line is, you learn this thing as a you go.

So these last many days and weeks, I’ve been reflecting a lot on our years as parents and on the role I’ve played as dad, or as my daughter calls me, padre.  There’s been a lot of cool and fun things that have happened over the years.  Watching these kids grow up has had me filled with so much joy.  Have there been struggles, ummmm, yeah there have, but we’ve made it through all of them.

Now some of the coolest things are really starting to come out.  Maybe it has a lot to do with them growing older and really beginning to find their own identities, but I can honestly say that I could not have fully imagined what they would have been like once they began to really allow God to work in them and through them.

Okay, by way of background, if you don’t know us personally, we have been a very closed off and introverted family.  Amber and I marrying so young and starting a family, drifted into a life of solitude.  It was us against the world, proving we could make it starting so young.  So that led to habits of being reserved and quiet when outside of our element, our home.  This was a lot of how I operated in the work place as well, even having a colleague years back tell me that I was difficult to read because of how quiet and reserved I was.  I lived as a lone ranger and I was raising a family of lone rangers, so to speak.  Of course, the kids picked up our habits along the way.  Our sons seemed to a great deal more.

After coming to faith in Christ 3 years ago, I knew something had to change.  Amber followed over the next year as did the the kids.  I began to make new connections and grow from being apathetic, to becoming curious, to finally confessing Christ in January 2015, to becoming a disciple and apprentice of Jesus, and now to equipping others.  Amber has since followed that and seeing this beautiful woman freed up as well and seeing her come alive has been so wonderful.

With that, one of our biggest prayers and concerns was now, what about our kids?  We continued to pray for them to open up and and urging them to do so.  It was not a habit easily broken.  I’ll admit, we got fairly frustrated at times.  We wondered at times, will they ever get out of their shells.  In looking back though, I realize, we were in ours for way longer.

I don’t know what that actual pivotal moment was, or even it was just a series of circumstances, but something has clicked this year.  To seem them building real, Christ centered relationships, to see them doing life, to see them getting involved in ministry and even a desire for some missions opportunities, has been phenomenal.  All 3 of our kids, in their own unique way, are starting to get freed up and see some real God style things happening in their lives.  It fills me with so much joy as it does Amber.

I have learned previously that one of the most beautiful things that God does is take time.  Nothing is instant. I just was not patient enough for that to be the case for my own kids.  So now, and I see God, with a smile on his face, saying, “You want to see something? Watch this,” and then suddenly a fire is lit under each of them in way I never fully expected.  I think if Bruce Almighty when he says, “Now you’re just showing off.”

I share this to tell all of you and I know many who worry about their own kids futures.  Yes, our kids have to step into life and figure things out through trial and error just as we all did.  But know that God is not holding out on you.  Be faithful in prayer over them and in encouragement that God can take a hold of their heart.  The outcome is not up to us and we have no control over that.  Trust in the God that made them each uniquely and wonderfully and had each of them in mind since before the foundations of the earth.  It’s never too late.

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Realigning Yourself With Christ

We are bombarded daily.  That’s just something we cannot ignore.  There is so much going on day after day and it is so easy to feel so overwhelmed.  You ever feel that way?  Feeling like the world is just trying to take you out?  I know I feel it from time to time.  This past week, I felt simply overloaded.  So much so, that I could not even focus my mind to even write at all.  The mind was all over the place from school, to my regular work, and my family.  It can get very difficult to manage life’s demands and then it can be so easy to simply throw in the towel and give up.

I was reminded of something last week though while the mind was racing.  Something that for a couple of days that I lost sight of because of the chaos.  That is realigning my life with Jesus.  Realigning every aspect and dimension of me with Him.  This starts from the moment I get out of bed every morning.  Before the day begins, just stopping and bring consecrate your life, bringing every part of your life under the authority of Jesus Christ.  This sounds so simple, but wow, it is so important to do every day.

pour-out-your-heart-to-godWhen this is remembered, it brings so much more clarity to the day to come.  I have found myself more capable to deal with the difficulties that may come and stand strong in any warfare I may face.  Psalm 62:8 says “Pour out your heart before Him.  God is a refuge for us.”  He is there for every part of all we face.  We have to call out to Him though.  We have to bring our lives under Him.  Realizing that we are powerless to face all of the struggles of life by ourselves.  When we start our day before God, we lay it all out there for Him.  Let it come under Christ’s authority to see you through.

As we begin this week I wanted to write out this reminder for not only myself but for all of you too.  It’s not about just whining about our troubles, but realizing that God is over all of it and aligning ourselves under the authority of Christ, we bring us into better focus and bring clarity on what matters.  Oswald Chambers said, “We have to pray with our eyes on God, not on the difficulties.”   This is taking the focus off the troubles and keeping our eyes on Him.

So as you start each day.  Think about this.  Before anything begins, look to the Lord.  Fix your heart to Him first before anything in the day comes in.  Christ overcame, so we can overcome what this world throws at us.  We need to be restored and renewed daily in Christ.

The Warfare Intensifies

I’ve become a firm believer in the existence of spiritual warfare.  I’ve experienced first hand and the evidence of it is all through Scripture.  It’s been around since time began.  Jesus encountered this warfare in the wilderness when He was tempted by Satan.  Jesus warns us about this war by.  In John 10:10 we are told that, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy…”  Peter puts out the warning in 1 Peter 5:8 to believers that our, “Adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.”  Paul wrote in Ephesians 6:11 to “Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil.”

These are just a few examples in Scripture, but it’s been going on from the very beginning.  There is a war in the spiritual realm and we are right in the midst of that war.  We have gained victory through Christ, but I don’t think we would warned about it time and in Scripture if the war weren’t still going on.  Jesus has been given authority, but this world is still fallen and the enemy still prowls this earth with his armies with one goal in mind.  To destroy the human heart and pull us further away from God by taking us out through warfare.  He knows he stands no chance against God, so instead he attacks that which is nearest to God’s heart, which is the human race.  Imago dei.  God’s image bearers.

As I mentioned, I’ve experienced this warfare first hand in many ways.  There are many that believe if you come to faith in Christ, you should be without problems.  The fact is, often times, the believer, is the one who has to battle the most.  The enemy currently has the non-believers already, which are the lost we need to fight for.  The enemy will next try to take out those which do believe through various ways.  The closer to you come to God, many times, the harder the battle will become.  I’ve experienced it and I’ve seen it in people I love that have been surrendered to Christ for years.  The enemy will continually try to get you to fall back.

I’ll give a couple of examples that have happened to me and to my family in the last year.  One, I wrote about recently, which happened before leaving for Wild At Heart.  I spent most of January 2015 suffering continuous headaches.  Had never had them like that before, but they were relentless.  Almost to the point of my cancelling the trip.  When arriving and John Eldredge says after prayer, “Great job men…You’ve made it,” the headaches left.  I knew after that, this was warfare.  The last week, before getting to baptize my family this past Sunday, we came under attack again.  It was disruptive to the point that we were under such distress.  We regrouped as a family, prayed over it and were freed from that leading to a wonderful and unforgettable day.  Being stronger in the faith, we recognized the attack for what it was and took the steps to fight back though the power of Jesus Christ.

There is no way to deny that this warfare exists.  It’s apparent throughout this world.  The enemy is using so many different things in this enlightened and post-modern world to take us out and draw us away from the heart of God.  The answer in this is Jesus Christ.  Stand firm in our faith in Christ and we can be victorious through Him against the warfare we face.  Billy Graham is quoted as stating, “Whenever I am conscious of Satan’s presence, I try to follow the formula once offered by a little girl: “When Satan knocks, I just send Christ to the door.”  The answer lies in Christ.  Bringing the blood, life, and authority of Jesus against every evil power we face.

Armor yourself everyday with the full Armor of God.  Pray for it every day.  The belt of Truth, breastplate of Righteousness, shoes of the Gospel, helmet of Salvation, shield of Faith, and sword of the Spirit.  Do this in prayer and by staying in God’s Word.  This is your armor.  Hebrews 4:12, “For the Word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword…”  

037512John Eldredge writes in his newest book, Moving Mountains, “Resist, Fight back. Take your stand. The Scripture is very clear on this point. First, Jesus models it; the the disciples do it; the Paul and the early church. To make it all perfectly clear, the command to fight is also written down in black and white.  This is part of what it means to be a Christian.”  

James 4:7, “Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.”  We must submit the Lordship of Jesus Christ and stand firm resisting the attacks of the enemy.  The closer to press to God, the harder the battle will become.  The attacks will persist as the enemy wants nothing more than to take you out and pull you away from the heart of God.  He knows he already lost the war and he wants to take as many of us with him as he can in each individual battle.  Don’t let him claim victory in the battle over you and over those you love.  Resist and stand strong

Trust Him Through The Distractions

You ever feel like life is overtaking you?  Like there is just so much going on that you can’t tell if you’re coming or going.  If you say no, then I don’t think you’re honest with yourself.  I think at one time or another we have so many things piled on that it gets difficult to stay afloat.  I certainly had one of those weeks this week as I began a new semester of school on top of increasing work demands.  I found myself at a point where I was just spent.  I stared at my computer screen last night to finish some work that was due for one of my classes and the mind was racing.  When you get to that point, it definitely gets difficult to focus and get anything accomplished effectively.  I was sitting in prayer this morning and called out to Jesus. I needed to reset myself.  To get my life…my body, soul, and spirit realigned.  I left the gym and came home and stopped again.

I share this because it helped me to remember that through all of life’s demands we need to trust in the Lord, knowing that Jesus is enough. I’m reminded of something I heard recently, which is that life is filled with a thousand distractions.  Things that will try to pull you away from the heart of God and His call on your life.  It can be so easy to let all of that just consume you and take you out.  If you let it, the world will devour you and spit you back out into a heap of nothing with no sense of direction or purpose.

Bruce Larson stated that “On days when life is difficult and I feel overwhelmed, as I do fairly often, it helps to remember in my prayers that all God requires of me is to trust Him and be His friend. I find I can do that.”  When we find that all just need to trust in God and follow His lead, there is a greater sense of peace to be found in that.  Does that mean we will be able to get rid of all of these troubles?  Absolutely not.  While we live in this fallen world, we will continue to have these kinds of things happen.

GraceIsSufficientPaul writes in 2 Corinthians 12 that to keep from exalting himself he “was given a thorn in the flesh, a messenger from Satan to torment me and keep me from becoming proud” (Vs7).  In verse 9 he reminds that Jesus says “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.”  He goes on to say that “I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.”  

This is important to remember.  The grace we are given because of Jesus Christ is sufficient.  We need to learn to let go of those moments of weakness.  Those times when we just feel completely overwhelmed and unsure of our direction.  Come back to the Lord and remember that Jesus + Nothing = Completion.  He is enough.  Troubles will come.  It’s a part of this world.

Even Paul recognized he had to deal with this thorn of the flesh, whatever that was for him, particularly.  Troubles come and troubles go.  We won’t be without troubles in our life until we enter the Kingdom.  With that as the case, it is important to remember that Jesus is enough.  Trust Him through all of our troubles and pains. Whether small or big, trust Him.  His grace is more than enough.

the-sacred-romance

I am reminded this morning from The Sacred Romance by John Eldredge and Brent Curtis that we live in a larger story that is far beyond ours where God is the central character.  He is the hero of the story that we live in and we belong to Him.  Eldredge also wrote in Waking The Dead that, “When we are in the presence of God, removed from distractions, we are able hear Him more clearly, and a secure environment has been established for the young and broken placed in our heart to surface.”  Walk in His presence and trust Him through it all.  Trust in Him through the troubles and through all of the distractions.  He is enough.  Trust in God’s heart and His endless pursuit of ours.  That’s eternal.  That’s where life is found.

Trust in Him at all times, O people. Pour out your heart before Him; God is a refuge for us. – Psalm 62:8

Army For Prayer

I tend to learn something new each day I walk with God.  Sometimes they are big revelations for my life, and other times they are smaller things that may seem like more common sense.  One thing that really came through the last few weeks and months is the real power of prayer.  Not just on your own, but especially the power of having people praying for you, with you, or over you.  For me prayer used to be one of those things that just came along when I found it convenient or for things that were often more centered on my small world and story.  It didn’t take it really serious for a long time and I certainly never took the time to really ask others to pray for me or with me.  Never felt it was important or that my own situations didn’t warrant a need for prayer from others.  Certainly had a jacked-up view of things for some time.

I’ve learned quite differently recently though.  In the last year, especially, I really made it an effort to try to bring prayer into my daily life.  I began to grown in that sense, but it was not until the last couple of months that things really changed as did most of my spiritual life.  When I was going through the issues of my own wounds and talking with God in this, two team members from Ransomed Heart came to sit with me and talk.  They then took the time to set their hands on me and pray over me.  What healing power.  Having these men intercede was so powerful and it was the first time I ever really had anyone pray over me in that sense, ever.

In the last couple of weeks, I was struggling through some things where the enemy was really trying to bring me back down from the road that God now has me on.  He was trying to take me out and I sat in prayer to try to ask God strength and armor for it.  He told me that I needed to get others involved in it.  So with that, I stepped out and reached out to my brothers from Boot Camp, gave them a run down of what was going down and asked for their prayers in.  The response was great and the renewal I felt and the added strength God gave me through it was immense.  Again, something I had never done before in reaching out for prayers into something personal in my life.

God revealed something substantial in this and in the spiritual warfare we deal with.  Sometimes, we need more than just our own prayers to deal with the warfare of the enemy.  We need a prayer army.  We need people in our corner who care enough to jump right in and pray for us to help us find breakthrough in the struggles the enemy may have us in.  It will often take an army.  The enemy is relentless in his attacks on us as he looks to destroy our hearts.

Prayer works.  Prayer is needed in our lives every single day.  I wish I had found it before now, but God brought me on a journey so that I would come to a point where I knew I had to be totally dependent on Him alone.  Paul says in Philippians 4:6, “don’t worry about anything, instead pray about everything.”  When Jesus is in the garden he asks the disciples to pray so that they will not give into temptation and Jesus prayed for God’s will to be done.  He prayed always and the Father answered.  In Luke 22:44, “an angel from heaven appeared and strengthened him.”

Prayer is needed throughout our lives and we often need that prayer army in our corner. Watchman Nee said, “Our prayers lay the track down which Gods power can come. Like a mighty locomotive, his power is irresistible, but it cannot reach us without rails.”  Sometimes where we need the prayer is deep and the tracks need extensions.  This is what your prayer army is for.  Your circles are huge.  Only wish I truly discovered this sooner. I’m grateful for the army I have in my corner now.  I’m grateful for the power of the Holy Spirit and the intercession of Christ for my life with the Father.  All of that combined with the Armies of Heaven and we can be equipped and armed up for anything.