Recently a dear friend of mine who happens to be a king and a bishop sent me an announcement about a supreme Council of Bishops. I was about to go off in my thinking in a negative direction about all the titles that were listed in this announcement, when the Spirit reminded me of the following passage from the book of Revelation:

“And round about the throne …. I saw four and twenty elders sitting, clothed in white raiment; and they had on their heads crowns of gold. (Revelation 4:4)
The four and twenty elders fall down before him that sat on the throne, and worship him that liveth for ever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying, (Revelation 4:10)
Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created. “(Revelation 4:11)

So, the Spirit asked me, “How could the elders cast their crowns, if they did not first have crowns to cast?”

This is what followed in my reflections:

In the course of our lives we are given crowns by people. Yesterday I was given beautiful crowns (wonderful comments) for my Facebook post on a broken cup.

This morning I was “casting the crowns” that were put on me, before the Lord because it was really an inspiration from him and He deserves the crowns.

So I guess if I would stay in spiritual shape, I must continually exercise by casting crowns before Him. If I’m given a crown, I’m always casting it before Him. So that one day when I’m in His ultimate presence I will know what to do.

Because I have continually practiced casting the crowns, that men have placed on my head, at His feet, then I will know that even the crown that He places on my head needs to be cast at His feet because it was of Him that we have righteousness and glory and honor.

All glory to His mighty name!

(Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing. ) (2 Timothy 4:8)

Check out this song “Who am I” by the group: Casting Crowns

Grandpa 30

Lessons from the Dark

This morning I was sitting in the dark praying, when as I reached for my coffee cup on a nearby stand I bumped the cup causing it to teeter. The thought flashed through my mind, “This cup is about to fall off the stand and break.” I reached through the dark again to steady the cup, only to knock it off the stand to the floor where it shattered.

I quickly collected the pieces trying to minimize the distraction and get everything to the trash in one step. But in my hurry, I dropped the broken pieces, further shattering them.

As I laughed to myself at the incongruity of the whole thing, the Lord spoke three things to my spirit.
1. Do not try to correct things in the dark. Turn on the light of my Spirit and I will show you what needs to be done.
2. Do not insist on cleaning up a mess in one step. Be willing to take several steps to deal with an issue. The Spirit is not exhausted after one step.
3. Do not conclude that unexpected problems are necessarily distractions from my purposes. They may be opportunities I am providing for learning and healing and growth.

Grandpa 29


I was speaking recently with a Christian woman of great prayer and faith and she confided in me the struggle she was having in praying for her child. She said:

“Would you pray with me about this issue. It can make me feel hopeless and defeated almost everyday. And I just keep holding on to the Lord for an answer but hope gets crushed by the seemingly unanswered prayer.”

I thought ‘Wow, if a devout Christian who is experienced in prayer and faith is getting discouraged in prayer, how much more likely is the person who is casual in their faith and prayers to become discouraged.’

Suddenly the Holy Spirit spoke to me and said, “This is what grandparents are for.!”

I immediately saw the Spirit’s point. Grandparents usually have downsized, at least somewhat, from their usual busyness and have a bit more time for prayer. If this journey of prayer and intercession is perceived to be a relay, then the grandparents can step in and take a period of that relay and give relief to their children or to the person or persons for whom they are serving as surrogate grandparents.

So I said to this Christian sister:

I want you to take a one month break from praying and interceding for your child. I want you to spend your time praising God for his goodness, for his Majesty and for all the prayers He has answered. Don’t ask Him to do anything for you, but just spend time praising him and thanking him.

During that month Ruth and I will take on the intercession for your child and for you. If there’s a burden to be carried, we will carry it; if there’s anguish in prayer we will be anguished. We will persevere; we will persist; we will prevail. You rejoice that the burden is lifted.

In a month we will get together to thank God for what He he’s done for all of us in this relay month.

I think this Grandparents Relay Month (GRM) is something God wants to spread. So if you are a grandparent or are willing to serve as a ‘grandparent intercessor’, make it known that you are willing to take on the burden of intercession for a loved one for a month. And if you are facing discouragement in your prayer life, find a grandparent or person willing to be a surrogate grandparent, to give you a break so that you can praise and believe and get out from under the burden of discouraged praying.

V.I.P’s to God

Ruth and I are flying home tonight from Baja, Mexico. We are leaving a part of our hearts here with new friends we made in San Felipe. We attended a church Sunday which reminded us of our home church at LifeGate. Each of us was given a sticker which said we were V.I. P.’s to God. And then, although we were total strangers, they invited us to a home for a fun time of fellowship and feasting.

Yesterday we drove across the desert into the mountains west of San Felipe. I never knew there were so many varieties of cacti. I was especially taken by the Cardan cactus which can grow 30-60 feet high and weigh 25 tons and live for hundreds of years.

We also hiked into an isolated canyon to a waterfall, feeling slightly courageous in the process. All of this took me back to my boyhood fantasy life where Westerns were my favorite diversion.

In spite of a fairly busy schedule of sightseeing, I had significant time for prayer and reflection. God did speak and we were refreshed.

We are so grateful to Robin and Jeremy Pickens for hosting us and arranging for this wonderful trip.

So tonight we take the red eye flight to Baltimore. We are thankful for this trip and we are thankful for the people and challenges and possibilities we will face tomorrow.

Many Are Called Few Are Chosen

I did not know till today that I may have a desire to race in the Baja 1000. This 4 day, 800 mile off road race across the desert in Baja, Mexico, is considered the world’s most difficult and dangerous off road race. Yet it draws teams from around the world.

“Baja California, Mexico, is a legendary peninsula that has some of the most beautiful coastline, mountains, valleys, and vistas of anyplace on Earth. It is also a playground for some of the most wealthy and adventurous people in the world who love to test their physical endurance and technical ability in the Baja 1000.”

Ruth and I are taking a week of vacation exploring the Baja peninsula with friends, Jeremy and Robin Pickens and son Elijah age 5. The Pickens who are living with us temporarily are now hosting us in their home on the peninsula.

This morning at our hotel In the desert I unexpectedly learned about the Baja 1000 from a fellow guest who will race the grey vehicle in the background of this picture. He will be racing the night section of the 800 mile race.

He and his partner will race at 80 to 100 miles an hour or more through the desert night. There are 45 people on his team who will man the pit stops and other associated tasks to assist the racers. This gentleman came down from California four days ago. He has driven his 200 mile section of the course every day of the past four days in preparation for his big race tonight. Now he is ready.

He expects to do his section in 3 1/2 hours. ( The winning team will likely complete the entire race in around 25 hours.) His vehicle will be connected with a satellite and a team of people communicating with him and his navigator driving partner as they drive furiously through the night with 300 fellow contestants, everyone determined to finish first.

The truck in the foreground is the one he used for the four-day pre-run. The gray truck in the background is the one he will use for the race. This state of the art racing vehicle ( likely costing 100s of thousands of dollars) gets two miles per gallon from its 900 horsepower engine. It has amazing shock absorbers to take the off-road beating it will receive tonight.

But in spite of all I have said above I am still pondering my own unexpected fascination with the Baja 1000.

Yes, I guess it has something to do with the spiritual parallels to the Christian race in which we are engaged:

Many are called but few are chosen. Many are interested but few are willing to pay the price to enter and complete the race.

Those who win must prepare themselves.

No one wins alone; it is a team effort.

Running the race requires staying in continual satellite contact with those who can see the big picture as well as the road ahead.

Running the race requires expecting the unexpected. The race course is not fenced in. It goes through the living space of man and animals which can provide intentional and unintentional hazards.

Winning requires continually analyzing and dealing with your weaknesses.

Winning requires never giving up. If we fail this year we will win next year.

Running the race becomes a lifestyle. All of life becomes centered around the race.

No, in case you were wondering, I do not plan to enter the Baja 1000. For I am consumed by a greater race.

“Don’t you realize that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize? So run to win!

All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize.

So I run with purpose in every step. I am not just shadowboxing. I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should.

Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified.”
‭‭1 Corinthians‬ ‭9:24-27‬ ‭NLT‬‬

What Do You Do When You Find A Great Treasure?

She was young, intelligent, attractive, mother of 4 children; the oldest delivered when she was 13 years old; none with her now. She loved Jesus; she prayed; she read the Bible; she talked to others about Jesus; she actually led a young man to the Lord within the past six months; she went to church within the past two weeks with her new fiancee with whom she lived and whom she had just met two months previously. And a little over a week ago she had gotten a new tattoo on her forearm: “Jesus Christ- John 3:16.”

And yesterday I preached her memorial service.

She died a week ago of her eighth heroin overdose, which occurred a little over a week after getting out of prison where she had been multiple times over the past ten years for drug related offenses. It was in prison that I met her. I saw in her, at times, a hunger for a different life. I saw in her the natural giftedness to be a leader; but I also saw the unwillingness to completely abandon the old life. She wanted both worlds.

Over 100 people, family and friends, crowded into a beautiful church building for an hour and a half memorial service followed by a meal provided by the church that her mother had previously attended.

The grief in the gathered assembly was palpable, with open sobbing and quiet weeping for the one who was deeply loved for her energy, her feistiness, and her humor. Friends and family shared their recollections.

And then it was time for me to preach. ( Before the service I had sensed God saying that He was setting before me “an open door”. And I had requested a team of people to be praying for me that I would clearly and powerfully deliver God’s word in this service.)

But, what do I say to this grieving crowd? Do I echo the themes of the open sharing time?

Do I say “God loves everybody, no matter what, so rejoice; everything is okay”?

Do I say “Heaven needed a hero; so God called her to Himself”?

Do I say “Everything happens for a reason; even though we are not quite sure what the reason is”?

But in the midst of this spiritually confusing atmosphere, the mother of another addict stood up and boldly proclaimed, “Listen, people, this death was not God’s will and plan. This was the devil’s work. Do not put this on God!”

And, because I was the moderator, I took this as the Holy Spirit’s cue to begin to preach.

“Yes, you are right! This is not God’s plan; this is the devil’s work. Things do happen for a reason and the reason is that we have rebelled against God’s call to totally reject the world, the flesh and the devil through the power of the Holy Spirit. And we have said ‘Yes’ to Jesus but not ‘No’ to the devil. As a result, we have not been set free from the devil’s lies and bondages.

“The Lord gave me this passage in Matthew 13:44 for today’s word.

“Matthew 13:44 ‘The Kingdom of Heaven is like a treasure that a man discovered hidden in a field. In his excitement, he hid it again and sold everything he owned to get enough money to buy the field.’

“I want to look at this passage in two ways.

“First, let us look at it from God’s perspective. God looks down on the field of the world which is under the control of Satan, the ‘prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the children of disobedience. And God sees us in this field: sinful, broken, purposeless, addicted, violent, and perverted people. And He loves us. He says, “They are worth the greatest sacrifice in the universe” and so Christ died on the cross to redeem us from this lost estate.

In our house we have a junk drawer. No matter how many times we organize this drawer, it ends up with useless items; items that we don’t know where to put anywhere else so we toss them in the junk drawer. The table and counter tops are neat and clear of everything, but the junk drawer is chaotic. We don’t know for sure what’s there, or what purpose or value it may have. Sometimes we think, it’s not worth the effort to organize this drawer one more time. Let’s just throw everything away and start over with a clean drawer.

Let’s imagine that Jesus comes to our house to spend a day or two in person. And the first thing He does is go to our junk drawer. He peers at it for a moment and then the tears start running down His cheeks. He turns to us and says, “You see junk in this drawer; but I see treasures. How much do you want for this junk?”

We set an incredibly high price; thinking to unexpectedly be able to pay off our mortgage.

But He responds. “I am giving you incredibly more than you ask. I do not want there to ever be a question about my ownership. I give my very life for your ‘junk drawer’. I do this so the whole universe will know that this was no shady back alley deal, rather I gave the highest price anyone could ever give. I laid down my life for this treasure.”
And so we give Him a clear title to our junk drawer. And the universe erupts with joy.

When asked by an interviewer for World News why He would pay so much, He responded, “I recognize this ‘junk’; it was mine from the beginning. Even though it is perverted, lost, doomed devastated, addicted, I could perceive the image of God in each one and I determined to redeem and restore each one to the original purpose designed by the creator God. Yes, there are treasures in this drawer.”

It is great news that while we were yet sinners, while we were yet junk, Christ loved us and died for us so that we could be redeemed from the control of the enemy and could be restored to the purposes God has for us.

I said in the beginning we would look at this parable in two ways. First we looked at it from God’s perspective, now we look at it from our earthly perspective.

A man is going about his work in the field of life and in the course of plowing a field he discovers a buried treasure. He becomes very excited about the value of this treasure. He perceives that nothing he has is as valuable as this treasure. He’s willing to get rid of everything he has in order to posess this treasure.

So he goes home and joyfully sells everything he has and converts it into cash and goes and buys the field so he can fully posess and enjoy the treasure.

Now let’s go back in our thinking to the junk drawer and deal with the junk drawer from man’s perspective.

It’s as though we are in the junk drawer, living our perverted and purposeless lives. At some point we learn the amazing news that we have been loved and valued and redeemed from this purposeless, perverted state.

We are overwhelmed by the ‘treasure’ that we’ve been given. We are absolutely amazed and undone by the grace we’ve been given. We’ve been forgiven and cleansed as though we had never sinned. We are given a purpose and a direction for our lives. Our lives now mean something. Yes, we’re going to heaven but we get to live purposeful meaningful lives here, free of our addictions and habitual sins. We no longer have to stay in the junk drawer.

We are so grateful and so joyful that we embrace the One, the Treasure, who has purchased us from the junk drawer and we say, “We will give up everything else we have been holding on to and we will hold on to you alone. We want your will to be our will; we want Heaven’s will to be done on earth just like it is in Heaven. So, fill us with your Holy Spirit, so we have the power to do what you’ve called us to do. We know you chose us to be holy and blameless. We know you chose us to live outside the junk drawer.”

We die to our old desires and appetites. We say “No” to the world the flesh and the devil and we say “Yes” to the Treasure.

“We would rather die than be unfaithful to you, Jesus, because you are the great Treasure that our hearts have been longing for.”

Now here is the most painful part we have to talk about.

What if we recognize that we’ve been saved by a mighty work of God so we’re no longer headed for destruction. We are forgiven, allowed access into the Father’s presence and promised eternity in heaven.

But, what if we say that we want to stay in the junk drawer. We are glad to be saved but we enjoy the old life and do not want to give it up. We do not want any one telling us what to do with our lives. We want to do what we want to do but in the end we want to go to heaven because God loves us and saves us. It does not matter if we continue to live like junk, because ‘Jesus loves me and I am going to heaven when I die.’

To take this attitude is to miss and dishonor the Treasure. To take this attitude is to redefine the Father’s plan. To take this attitude is to yield to the deception of the devil.

Christ’s purpose is not for us to continue to live perverted and purposeless lives. He wants to take us out of the junk drawer and grow us up as sons and daughters of heaven who manifest His glory here on heaven.

Christ plans that when his sons and daughters interact with the world, the world experiences Heaven’s love, Heaven’s power and Heaven’s purpose. It is not his plan that we only say ‘yes’ to Jesus and nothing else changes in our lives but the fact that we’re going to heaven. He wants us to represent heaven here and now in all we think, do and say. He wants us to grow up.

Yes, we often fail. And his forgiveness comes to us again and again in our weaknesses and failures and sins . However our direction is to seek Him above all else, not the world. We belong to heaven, not to Satan’s junk drawer.

It is possible that the church has over emphasized the judgments of God in the past. But if that’s possible, it’s absolutely clear that many times today the church puts such emphasis on the grace of God that someone only half paying attention gets only part of the message. They respond to this partial message by saying, “Oh great, I am loved and saved by Jesus because I prayed the prayer asking Him to come into my life. Now I can keep doing what I have been doing but with the new confidence that no matter how I live, I go to heaven when I die.”

As a church we are often more ready to emphasize God‘s love for you in your present state than we are to emphasize that He wants to take you out of the junk drawer. He’s got plans for you and a purpose for you. Don’t let Satan deceive you into staying where you are, being content with where you are, being in love with where you are. No! No! God wants to take you out of the junk drawer!

We are in a spiritual battle. When Jesus rose from the dead the devil’s defeat was certified. But now the devil’s major deception is to keep us away from developing a life-changing relationship with Jesus through the power of the Holy Spirit. That power enables us to say ‘No’ to the old and ‘Yes’ to all that Christ has to offer..

In other words we want the resurrection without the cross. We want the blessing and privileges and rewards of the new life without dying to and rejecting the old life. And Jesus said, ‘You cannot have it both ways; you need to make up your mind. You cannot serve Christ and the devil.’

So today we grieve the death of a young woman who was not ‘junk’ but who was never able to get free of living in the junk drawer.

A favorite verse of this young woman was the familiar passage in Romans 8:28, “ And we know that all things work together for good for those who love God and are called according to His purpose for them.”

The last communication of her life was to her fiancé. Already having taken the drugs which set her up for her fatal overdose, she texted, “I am sorry. But God has forgiven me.”

Yes, God is able to bring life to people even out of a devil-inspired death. Blessed be the name of the Lord for his outrageous grace in the midst of our brokenness. And we leave this young woman in the hands of a just and merciful God. For He alone is judge; not you or I.

So today I give you this invitation. Jesus sees the treasure in you and He died to gain you as that treasure. He died and rose again to take you out of the junk drawer and enable you to live a life free of compelling addictions and overcoming sins. He saved you so you can be an overcomer, one who is victorious over the world, the flesh and the devil in this life.

God is able to bring beauty out of ashes, joy out of mourning, life out of death. God wants to bring life to you out of the inspiration of this young woman’s life and death.

I know this young woman is saying now, “Come to Jesus and let him save you and take you out of the junk drawer. Do not follow me into death by deception. Follow the part of me that did say ‘Yes’ to Jesus. But I urge you to say ‘Yes’ loud and I urge you to say it strong and I urge you to say it with the commitment that you will die to your own appetites and fears and addictions and I urge you to say it with the commitment that you would rather die than be unfaithful to Jesus, this amazing treasure.”

I did give an invitation. And family and friends and even her children came forward to invite Jesus both to save them and to deliver them from the junk drawer. And God met them there and it was a glorious moment.

I confess that after going through this service I felt as though I had gone through a spiritual battle. I rejoiced at the victories of the morning, but I pondered the state of our culture and I pondered the message coming from the church.

I asked the Lord, “Why, in the midst of ‘Jesus talk’ do we see so little power of Jesus to change lives, when Jesus did say, ‘I have come to set the captive free’?” Is drug addiction beyond His power to overcome?.

I offer the following discernments with the hope that they will spark a conversation in the faith community that leads to more clarity in our message, more power in our message and more fruit from our message.

I offer these discernments in the form of questions.

1. Do we celebrate His Lordship in our daily lives as well as the salvation that comes from His death?
2. Do we celebrate His holiness as being a part of His extravagant grace.
3. Do we celebrate His judgments as well as His grace?
4. Do we celebrate the opportunity to give our lives for Him because He gave His for
5. Do we celebrate that we are in a spiritual battle that requires spiritual means for
6. Do we celebrate the opportunity we have as a Church to speak and live a
transforming message?
7. Do we celebrate that “greater is He who is in us than he who is in the world”?
I Jn. 4:4

The two sides of this parable of the Hidden Treasure are the two sides of the covenant God wants to enter with each one of us. A blood covenant costs everything to the participants in that covenant. The participants are Jesus and you and me.

Jesus gave his life on the cross to secure this covenant with us. And there is also a cross for each one of us to carry. The cross we are called to carry is yielding our will to the very will of God, even to the point of death.

The treasure we find in the field is a costly treasure, a costly grace.
But the fruit of the covenant is life, life everlasting, full of freedom from death and from the junk drawer!

When you find a great Treasure, embrace it as though your life depended on it. For in fact it does!

Enos Daniel Martin

Further Reflections from “Songbirds in Cyprus”

(This comment is for busy mothers and others whose prayer time is frequently interrupted.)

Idealism. I often set up ideal standards for prayer: “I should pray for this length of time; I should pray without distractions; I should pray with this much intensity and frequency; I should pray with fasting.”

Then when my standards for prayer are not met, I discount my own prayers: “That prayer will not be answered because I was in a frazzled state of mind.”

Jesus said pagans (unbelievers in God’s ability in spite of our inabilities) think the way I think. Pagans think “they will be heard for their much speaking”. Matthew 6:7

But God sees our hearts! And God who sees the secret longings of our hearts will reward us openly.

Songbirds in Cyprus

In the early summer of 2017, I was praying and I said to God, “I usually ask you for things. Is there anything on your mind that you would like me to pray for.” I barely had this question formulated when I had the thought, “Songbirds in Cyprus.”

This meant nothing to me and I found myself saying to God, “I was being serious and I was hoping you would be serious with me but this does not appear to be serious and it has no meaning; it’s irrational.”

However I had asked God a question and that is what came to me, so I hesitatingly decided to check it out online. I typed in “Songbirds in Cyprus”.

I immediately discovered the following: Songbirds migrate from Europe down to Africa every year and they go by way of Cyprus which is their stop off point crossing the Mediterranean Sea. They don’t usually go to the lights of the city but are rather drawn to groves of trees. There is a large British military base on Cypress that has large groves of trees which are especially attractive to the songbirds.

It so happens that songbirds are considered a delicacy to many of the people of Cyprus. They call the songbird delicacy, ambelopoulia. Even though it is illegal, many people enjoy eating the songbirds. A songbird can cost five dollars a bird. Criminal gangs have learned that they can make a large amount of money by capturing and selling the songbirds to restaurants. So they set up traps in these groves of trees: nets and glue sticks. (If you go on YouTube and type in Songbirds in Cypress”, you will see videos of helpless songbirds trapped on glue sticks placed on the trees on the British base.)

The criminal gangs make millions of dollars, and hundreds of thousands of songbirds are killed each year. The authorities in Cyprus have been halfhearted in enforcing the laws because there is such a cultural appetite for the ambelopoulia. One authority bragged that he had sent his child to Harvard with the money he gained through this illegal trade.

Activists have been concerned that certain species of songbirds could be eliminated because of this massive slaughter. But in spite of protesting and activism they have been helpless to significantly change the practice. As of the time of my call to prayer in early summer 2017, nothing had worked and there was a a sense of hopelessness and helplessness in the air.

I took all this as a real indication that God was calling me to to pray for the songbirds in Cyprus. So I began to pray for the song birds in Cyprus. I prayed dutifully and occasionally and without a lot of passion. I sometimes tried to visualize what an answer to my prayer would look like, but I did not see how the culture could change or how the authorities would really tighten the legal system. So I simply had to pray in faith that God would somehow intervene and make a difference to save the songbirds.

I actually spent more time pondering why God would have given me such an assignment. I had the following thoughts:
1. God does care for the birds which He created and called “good”. And He cares even more for us humans.
2. If he cares for birds trapped on glue sticks, he cares even more for human beings trapped on the glue sticks of addiction, chronic despair and dysfunctional and sinful living.
3. Asking me to pray for songbirds in Cyprus was such an unexpected, even irrational request, that maybe He’s saying to me, “If I can ask you to do that, I can ask you to do other things that seem irrational such as starting a missionary training school in Paraguay. “
4. But maybe the meaning of the “songbirds in Cyprus” assignment is very simple and straightforward. Maybe God is saying, “Can I trust you with a simple task or will you take it lightly. If I can trust you with simple things, then I will give you more difficult things to pray for.”
A year later

In July 2018, a year after my initial prayer assignment, it again came to my mind to pray for the songbirds in Cyprus. As I was praying, I thought, “Maybe I should check to see whether my prayers have been answered.”
So I went online and discovered an article just published in a nature magazine at the end of June 2018. This article reported that a new commander had been installed at the British military base in Cyprus. When he first took his job, he was impressed with the amount of mail in his inbox imploring him to do something about the slaughter of the songbirds in Cyprus. He decided to mount a strategic campaign to deal with the issue.

He systematically began to dismantle the equipment and systems used by the criminals to lure and capture the songbirds including the glue sticks and netting. This involved giving a show of force in that the criminals were armed and on several occasions there was potential violence but no one was killed or seriously injured.

This campaign of the commander would have started around the time that I began to pray for the songbirds in Cyprus. The commander was now reporting at the end of his first year of office on the results of his strategic campaign. He reported that there was a reduction of 72% in the slaughter of songbirds in the preceding year. What a successful outcome!

My reflections:

1. Wow, God does respond to
intercessory prayer. Praise God, my
prayers were answered!
2. Someone could say that I am being presumptuous to think that my prayers caused this outcome. All I know is that I sensed a call to pray for songbirds in Cyprus. I prayed and a year later events had dramatically changed. My faith was strengthened to believe that God answers prayer.
3. It continues to stagger my imagination
that the sovereign Lord of the universe
would invite us to participate
in His rule on this earth through our
intercessory prayers.
4. God must’ve meant it when he said, “I’m giving you authority on the earth.” He then respects us and that authority and waits for us to invite him to participate in actions on earth. Psalm 8 says he placed animals and birds and fish of the sea under our authority. What an amazing responsibility we have!
5. As we show ourselves faithful in small intercessory assignments, He gives us larger assignments.
6. Do not despise the small assignment that was given to you by an all wise creator who delights to hear our invitation for Him to participate with us in small things and large things.
7. If God responded to my occasional, dutiful intercession for songbirds in Cyprus, how much more will he respond to our passionate, persevering prayers? Yes, “The effectual, fervent prayer of the righteous availeth much.” James 5:16
8. We are often focused on the apparent centers of power in our earth such as the White House or the media or the wealthy. But God is focused on what is happening in the centers of power in our intercessory prayer closet for that is the “center of power” which most has His attention.
9. Lord, forgive me for worrying about problems in my personal life and problems among the nations. You have invited us to bring all problems great and small before you. And you promised to answer beyond what we can ask or imagine! Blessed be your name!
10. I renew my commitment to make prayer the first option even before worry, gossip, handwringing and well-intended activism.

Note about photo: A man tries to free a bird caught on a stick. Photograph: Petros Karadjias/AP

Grandpa 21

End of Life Decisions

Ruth and I recently took a weekend to experience the Ark Encounter and the Creation Museum, ( The Ark is in northern Kentucky and the Creation Museum is just north of Cincinnati, Ohio- about 40 miles apart. ).

We stayed in a rustic cabin which reminded us of our honeymoon just 53 years ago. The cabin owner directed us on Saturday night to a local restaurant where we enjoyed listening to a master of the Cherokee fiddle. On Sunday morning we went with the cabin owner to her Christian Church and enjoyed a Southern Gospel singing group called the ‘Northbound Train’. And to top it off we had breakfast with our good friends, Lloyd and Elaine Hoover, who just ‘happened’ to be visiting the area at the same time.

As we toured the Ark and the Museum on Saturday, Sunday and Monday,I had the following reflections:

The judgment of God and the mercy of God are right in your face, as you encounter the 500 feet long, full scale replica of Noah’s Ark in the hills of northern Kentucky. The Ark Encounter, constructed at a cost of over a 100 million dollars, and visited by over a million people in its first year of operation, 2016-2017, is not about a chlld’s fairy tale, rather it is a powerful presentation of the reality of God’s judgment which falls on a people who persistently reject His grace.

Recently I have been making ‘end of life’ decisions-judgments. This does not mean that I sense I’m about to die, but rather it means “no matter how long I live, I will never read this book again”; so I toss the book. “No matter how long I live I will never wear this coat again”, so I toss the coat.

God’s judgments are rather like my “end of life decisions.”

God said of the Amorites at the time of Abraham that their “iniquity is not yet full”. But hundreds of years later when Joshua was ready to enter the promised land, he was told to totally eliminate the Amorites ( Deuteronomy 7:2.. thou shalt smite them and utterly destroy them).

It was as though God were saying, “No matter how much more time I give them; they will never accept my grace. Their sins will only increase! It’s time for my judgment to fall!”

And in the times of Noah, God said, I have given them many warnings over a long period of time. No matter how much more time I give them, their immorality and violence will only increase. and they will not repent. So God made an “end of life judgment” and destroyed all humankind,( except for Noah and seven others).

The Noah’s Ark Encounter is just one of the ways God is reminding this present generation that a Door of Deliverance from the coming Judgment is still open. And that Door is Jesus Christ who chose to die on the Cross so that all who enter a relationship with Him will not perish but live eternally.

The fact that we are still living and that God’s judgment has not yet fallen on us and on the earth, indicates that God has not yet made an “end of life decision” regarding us. He has not yet said, “There is no way they will ever respond to Me, so I will make an ‘end of life decision’ and close the door.” Rather He has delayed closing the door of the ark, for it is His will that all should come to repentance and live.

The Door of the Ark is still open! Awesome!

Blessed be the name of the Lord!

Reflections on the Storm

It is easier for God to change the path and intensity of a Stage 5 hurricane, than for Him to direct the course of a rebellious people.

If I tremble in His presence, I need not tremble in fear of the hurricane, for He directs its path.

So, I pray, ‘Oh Lord of heaven’s armies, change the course of the storm, Irma, and reduce her intensity at your word, so that all the earth will know that there is a God in heaven who responds to the prayers of His people.”

‘Listen, you foolish and senseless people with eyes that do not see and ears that do not here. Have you no respect for me? Why don’t you tremble in my presence?

I the Lord define the ocean’s sandy shoreline as an everlasting boundary that the waters cannot cross. The waves may toss and roar but they can never pass the boundaries I set.

But my people have stubborn and rebellious hearts. They have turned away and abandoned me. They do not say from the heart, “Let us live in awe of the Lord our God, for he gives us rain each spring and fall, assuring us of a harvest when the time is right.”

Your wickedness has deprived you of these wonderful blessings. Your sin has robbed you of all these good things.’ Jeremiah 5:21-25.

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