Category Archives: Protection

The ministry of standing

When Nazi Germany bombed London in the direst moments of WWII, Prime Minister Winston Churchill would routinely climb onto a roof (or on top of his car if he was on the ground) to stand and watch the bombs fall. His defiant silhouette—no doubt replete with his famous Churchillian cigar—was a reminder to anyone who saw him that Great Britain was not defeated yet. His ministry of standing in the face of insurmountable odds injected the citizens of the British Isles with hope and won him the nickname “Lion.”

Did you know that’s your ministry too? Ephesians 6 tells us that there are moments in our lives when we’ve done everything that we know to do and all that remains is for us to climb onto a rooftop and take our stand.

Standing isn’t the most glamorous ministry you will ever have. It’s not the most enjoyable of assignments—indeed, we usually don’t engage in this task until most other options have failed us—however, there is something in the standing that releases the power of God.

And after you have done everything…stand.”

Are you standing today? Are you holding your ground despite overwhelming circumstances? Is your rooftop silhouette a silent reminder that you haven’t lost all faith and that the outcome of your battle is far from over?

History tells us that when England was standing America was stirring. Who knows what heavenly forces are stirring on your behalf as you continue to take your stand?

 

 

Triple-kept by triune love

smile-at-the-rainShade, shelter, stronghold…buckler, shield, and bulwark. Sometimes we need to be reminded that we are triple protected by triune love.

I think you will love the following sentences from a Celtic devotional that I have recently been pondering:

God the Father is the shield beneath which we hide our fragile souls. He comes both generous and large to cover us when troubles rain down upon us.

God the Son made of His own cross a place for our hard times and the wood He chose now serves our wounds.

God the Spirit lives within us like structured steel with welded braces so the pressures from without can never crush us.

We are triple-kept by triune love, shielded by the three in one.”[1]

Know you are loved today!

 

[1] Calvin Miller, Celtic Devotions (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2008), 27.

 

What in the world is going on?

what-in-the-world-is-going-onOn the morning of September 11, 2001 I was en route to a monthly pastors’ prayer gathering at the World Prayer Center in Colorado Springs when the first tower was hit. Those events of 9/11 plunged our country into unimaginable pain and disbelief, and immediately took their place alongside other unforgettable historical tragedies such as the bombing of Pearl Harbor, the assassination of JFK, and others.

This week, in the wake of yet another tragic shooting and its resultant escalation of fear, hatred, and racism, those familiar feelings from 9/11 are resurfacing.

Bombings…shootings…racism…fury…terror…maddening presidential campaigns…the deaths of police officers…the deaths of young black men…what in the world is going on? AND what in the world can we do?

1 Chronicles 12:32 identifies a subset of King David’s mighty men, men from the tribe of Issachar, who “understood the signs of the times and knew the best course for Israel to take.” How can we be those kinds of men and women? How should we process the signs of our times, and what are the courses of action that we should be taking?

Is our country falling apart? Is there only gloom on our horizon? Should we hunker down under fear? Should we assume that our glory days are over before they ever even really began, and that things will only be grim from here on out? What should we be doing as a general cloak of fear, anger, and despair settles more fully over our country’s soul?

Perhaps we should cling to and manifest some things that are promised to remain. The Apostle Paul told us that when everything else is passing away there are three things that will endure: faith, hope, and love.

The Christian worldview gives us FAITH that the God of history is still deeply at work in the universe. It gives us confidence that there is HOPE for both today as well as tomorrow. And ultimately it give us a mission: to LOVE our God, our loved ones, our neighbors, and our world.

I don’t presume to have great wisdom or prophetic insight about this…I just wonder what might change in our world if we were people of courageous and prayer-filled faith, generous and compassionate hope, and reconciling, hate-abolishing love?

I will always need you more than ever before

the lord is nearEver since I was quite young, hot tubs have been one of my sanctuaries. It’s kind of weird, but true nonetheless. Tonight, while thinking in the hot tub, I uttered a simple prayer to the Lord, “I need you more than ever before” and then I was immediately struck by the humor in that prayer.

I have ALWAYS needed God more than ever before.

As a drifting, disillusioned young college student, I needed God more than ever before.

As a newlywed husband I realized that I would need Him more than ever before if I was going to be a husband worthy of Jessica.

When my three daughters were born, I was keenly aware that I needed His help more than ever before.

In other seasons of success, failure, victory, and trauma I uttered those same words. And then tonight I prayed it again. I guess I’m just always going to need Him more than ever before.

I think that’s a good thing. King David felt that way. So did Paul. I can relate to a little bit of their stories. I’ve had moments of such exhilaration in the Lord’s presence that I was certain that heaven had come to earth, and I’ve had other moments where I didn’t know if I could go on living. The one constant has been Him. Jesus has been, is, and ever will be faithful.

If you’re on a mountaintop tonight, enjoy it. If you’re crawling through a valley, keep crawling. You’re not alone, and the Lord will meet you there.

“The Lord is near to all who call on Him…” (King David, Psalm 145:18).

The Gift Nobody Wants

painSeveral years ago a doctor wrote a small book entitled Pain: The Gift Nobody Wants. Understandably, the publishing company balked at the title, asserting that no one would purchase a book that hailed pain as a gift. Consequently, after a brief run, the word “pain” was dropped and the book was simply published as The Gift Nobody Wants.

The doctor, Paul Brand, had worked extensively with leprosy patients and was among the first to realize that leprosy did not specifically cause the sufferer’s extremities to rot away, but rather the disease caused the sufferer to lose the ability to sense pain.

This inability to discern pain caused men and women with leprosy to live boundary-less lives, wherein they routinely hurt themselves and didn’t even realize it. The essence of Dr. Brand’s message (along with his co-author Philip Yancey) was that pain is actually a gift that protects us.

Rather than an unpleasant sensation to despise at all costs, pain is a gift that lets us know when we’ve crossed certain boundaries. It allows us to discern when we’re at the end of our limits, and when we need to retract or regroup.

I hate pain. I wish that I and my loved ones would never have to touch another moment of it as long as we live, but I also know that it is indeed a gift. It’s a boundary former and a protector that forces us to live within healthier limits than we might otherwise choose.

If you’re hurting I pray that you would heal. But I also pray that the pain would draw you ever closer to God’s ultimate good will for your life, and reposition you for a lifetime of greater fruitfulness.

Knight’s Code of Honor

knight in armor

In our recent men’s retreat there was much talk of honor, gallantry, and living as noble, courageous men of God. It got me thinking of the literal knights’ code of honor from the Middle Ages. This code continues to stir my own soul so I wanted to pass it on to all of you. Enjoy!

  • To never do outrage or murder
  • Always to flee treason
  • To by no means be cruel but to give mercy unto him who asks for mercy
  • To always do ladies, gentlewomen, and widows succor
  • To never force ladies, gentlewomen, or widows
  • Not to take up battles in wrongful quarrels or for love of worldly goods
  • To never lay down arms
  • To seek after wonders
  • When called upon, to defend the rights of the weak with all of one’s strength
  • To injure no one
  • Not to attack on another
  • To fight for the safety of one’s country
  • To give one’s life for one’s country
  • To seek nothing before honor
  • Never to lose faith for any reason
  • To practice religion most diligently
  • To grant hospitality to anyone, each according to his ability

Don’t Forget Pastor Saeed

pastor saeedToday’s constant barrage of crisis-fueled news reports combined with the mind-numbing effects that statistics can have on the human brain can sometimes make us forget some things that need to be remembered. Pastor Saeed Abedini is one of them.

It is likely that you’re familiar with the story of this Iranian-American Christian pastor who was arrested for planting Christian house churches in Iran. He was arrested for propagating the Christian religion, not for being involved in any other sort of criminal activities, and he has been held in prison for approximately eighteen months, separated from his wife and children.

His mistreatment has been significant and his physical condition has deteriorated accordingly. Please be praying for a divine intervention on his behalf.

The annual Bible reading schedule that we follow here at Grace Church currently has us in the book of Acts, which contains multiple stories of angel-led jail breaks. Both Peter and Paul were the beneficiaries of this angelic activity and were miraculously rescued from their bonds. (Acts 5:17-20; 12:5-7; 16:25-27)

Whether Saeed’s angel takes the form of Iranian government officials, prayerful Christians, or literal angels from heaven, let’s remember him and his family and stake ourselves to their need in prayer.

“So Peter was kept in prison, but the church was earnestly praying to God for him” (Acts 12:5).

“Resist him (Satan), standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings” (1 Peter 5:9b).