Prayer


A relatively new marvel of modern technology is a device called a Fitbit. I received one as a gift for Christmas, and it continues to amaze me. A small watch-like apparatus strapped around the wrist is able to understand and interpret human motion (or activity). By analyzing acceleration data, the details about frequency, duration, intensity, patterns of movement, number of steps, stairs, distance traveled, calories burned, and sleep patterns are all made available for wearers to review. Mine revealed the quality of my sleep habits as if I had been to a polysomnography clinic. I continue to be literally blown away!

With all of that, this small gadget would show me something more. In a matter of days, an email message came to my inbox from the Fitbit monitoring system alerting me of a matter I had actually neglected to notice. The message read: “Your Charge battery level is low. Charge your battery as soon as possible.” I looked at the device and as sure as the message was real, the battery indeed needed to be charged. The Fitbit is only designed to run for about a week before it needs to be recharged.

Technology is incredible. In all actuality, these advances are really not new. And to the surprise of many, Bill Gates and Steve Jobs are not the creators of such brilliance. Since the beginning of creation, God made us with an even more advanced kind of genius. The Psalter noted that humanity is “…fearfully and wonderfully made…” (Psalm 139:14) Perhaps one might consider ours a “Faithbit”—a parallel kind of technology (namely, spirituality) designed to help us with a variety of daily motions and maneuvers no matter what we face in life. By faith, we can get up when we fall; overcome great difficulties; traverse great distances amidst the darkest nights, and so much more.

Faith is so amazing that along with it comes an alert system that apprises every believer whenever the battery—that essential power—is low and needs recharging. One might ask, how does one know? Great question! Here are a few hints! A bad attitude or quick temper is an alert that signals your battery is low. A negative spirit or some unhealthy (bad) habits surely indicate your battery is low. Weakness and ungodliness are certain notices that your battery is low. The paralysis of fear and exaggerated worry are no doubt tell-tell signs your batter is low.

If any of these or other similar indicators are the case with you, it could be that your faith-bit battery is low and needs to be recharged immediately. Simply plug it in—that is, pray, fast, spend quality private time with God, read your Bible, worship), and allow God to give you the strength you need to make it a little while longer. In case you don’t have one (a “faith-bit”), it only requires you to take the time to sign up. The only way any of the Fitbit data would be at my disposal obliged me to register online to allow the advocates to keep me informed. You can sign up, too; and you don’t even need a computer. Simply approach the Father in prayer, and confess your sins, and accept the terms (Jesus) for your salvation and justification. He is faithful still to cleanse and forgive you of all your sins if you’ll only ask Him.

While attending the Hampton’s Ministers Conference recently, a colleague and I were conversing about the NBA playoffs and he asked at what time the game would start that evening. Motioning to pick up the TV remote, he objected and said, “Let me get it!” Curiously, he took his Smartphone and began speaking into it. Effortlessly, he simply verbalized the question, “What time does Miami and Dallas play tonight?” In a matter of seconds, the phone executed a search and revealed the game would begin at 8:00 p.m. I was literally blown away. Quickly, I asked him what in the world did he just do! He told me about this downloadable application for Smartphones that would allow such an option to anyone who wanted to use it. Not wanting to be left out, I located the software on my phone and downloaded it with ease. I have been using it ever since.

Don’t miss this! Technology has now come to a point that without ever typing a key, one can simply via voice recognition ask your phone just about any question you want, and in almost no time the phone will reveal the answer. Well, the creators of Google aren’t that smart. In fact, they simply have been trying to mimic an application designed by God since the beginning of time. Similar to Google Search, God’s search engine is called prayer. It’s free and only takes a little, and it is available to anyone who would access it. Our Creator has already designed us to employ it; and is only waiting an opportunity to resolve and answer all of our issues and questions. He is only a prayer away.

If you’ve got a problem, just ask God. I am a witness He will answer you!

Having lived in the Midwest over twenty years, something completely unexpected happened to me a couple of Wednesdays ago that I will never forget. I was exiting my office door onto the wrought iron stair case that leads down to our church’s parking. Wednesday night’s Bible study had just ended and I was collecting my gear—my brief case, clutch, keys, a bottle of distilled water, etc.—and had donned my coat to enter into the smoky gray dusk of the night.

Just as I opened the door to walk out, I stepped onto the landing—an approximate four-foot square iron bottom deck—and recognized something soft (rather spongy) as I stepped out. In my mind, I curiously wondered if it was a sponge, a carelessly discarded food item, or something else I needed to remove. As I looked down in the darkness, I was alarmed to find an 18-inch garter snake uncoiling from under my foot. I jumped back into my office and screamed, “It’s a snake!” Our associate minister was behind me and he was equally surprised at the discovery. Others in the inner office heard the commotion and yelled in disbelief saying, “You’re lying?” Incredibly, I had to report to them it was true. We were all startled and amazed!

The small visitor has negotiated the rail adjacent to the 10 wrought iron steps that rise upward to my private entrance. When I took my weight off of it, it quickly moved away to escape and instinctively curled its tail around one of the rails on the stair case floor. It soon dropped in fear down onto the asphalt parking lot floor. My associate minister and I ran down the steps to the ground and made certain we carefully disposed of it. It was a most harrowing experience.

Upon leaving the church and reflecting over the night’s surprise turn-of-events, I heard (in my spirit) a clear message from God He wanted me to gain. I considered it so critical (and especially at this juncture in Christian history with all that’s going on), that I wanted to share it with others (even you). The message is this: “That old serpent (the devil) is not just trying to gain access into the church through any ordinary door. No, he is especially seeking to get in through the office of the pastor.”

My word of warning to every pastor, every teacher, and every servant in every capacity in the church of our Lord Jesus Christ is this: “Beware! Watch out! Do not be ignorant of his schemes (see 2 Corinthians 2:11), and take heed. Whatever else you do, don’t let him in!”

My prayers are with you all!

Here we go again! It should be no surprise that another Christian scandal has made it to the headlines and piqued the interest of believers everywhere, the viewing world, and especially the media. Although the truth is yet to be discovered, rumors continue to mount and many have already drawn conclusions on the innocence and guilt of the accused. The devil just doesn’t play fair, does he? It is most sad!

Let me be clear! Christ’s church is no stranger to controversy; and Christians and Christian leaders are never exempt from these routine and riotous hazards of the faith. Regrettably, some of these are self-imposed and the results of ones’ own undoing. Many are not! Throughout history God’s people have been under the microscope of constant judgment and incessant criticism. In fact, Jesus said, “…the kingdom suffers violence and violent men take it by force.” (See Matthew 11:12, NASB). As believers we will never escape satanic attack and the inequitable demonic strategies employed to destroy God’s work and our witness. What, then, are Christians supposed to do? How are we to respond when these tragic and unavoidable black-eyes occur? And believe me, this is undeniably a huge “black-eye!” Let’s see!

First of all, whenever a brother or a sister has been charged or is accused of a thing—a crime, an offense (a sin), an indiscretion, a fault, etc.,—as sad as it may be, don’t be surprised. In Revelation 12:10, our adversary is called “the accuser of the brethren.” Satan is still the “father of lies, the master of disguise, and the author of confusion.” These are the indisputable facts, and there’s no way around them!

Secondly, don’t judge. Any rash conclusions reached or quick judgments made about anyone who is accused is both premature as well as immature. “All the facts” need to be weighed! And even further, it is not our right or responsibility to ever reach a hasty “verdict” without giving those facts due consideration. Yes, believers will eventually judge angels (1 Corinthians 6:3), but these will surely be based on facts!

Thirdly, remember grace. Were it not for the grace (goodness) of God, any of us could be under attack (under seize, or even under fire) at any given moment. That means while you may not be on the witness stand or public display (today), you don’t have to be guilty of anything for the enemy to accuse you of something. We are ALL guilty of something(s), and it is only God’s grace that keeps ALL of us out of the lime-light and the public line-of-fire. Thank God for His grace and always be sure to extend the same to others who may be struggling or are presently under attack!

Fourthly (and most of all), PRAY! The fallout associated with these terrible misfortunes is incalculable. We should immediately begin to intercede and pray. Consider for a moment those who are directly affected:

(a) The accused—undoubtedly a human being with feelings, family, friends, some form of fortune, failures, faults, and flaws. It cannot be easy for anyone accused (whether innocent or guilty).
(b) The accusers—no doubt, there are some issues within the hearts and minds of anyone who would pursue a legal (and public) course of action to resolve an apparent personal problem or difficulty. The Bible is clear on the way believers are to resolve offenses and settle differences.
(c) The world of believers—whenever scandalous matters are aired before the world for open debate and public consumption it sadly damages the image of the church and the strength of every believer’s witness. There is absolutely no way around it!
(d) The unbelieving world—these (unsaved sinners) don’t need another excuse for failing to choose Jesus Christ as their portion. When you take a look at it, it’s a no-win situation and we all lose; and the only way to combat these kinds of heinous assaults is to engage the most formidable weapon in our arsenal and at our disposal—prayer!

Fifthly (and lastly), trust God to work it out! God alone is judge, and we should trust Him and His power to work it all out for all of our good and more especially for His glory. It is still true whatever the enemy may mean against us for evil, God can (and will) work it out for our good! Trust Him!

Be encouraged, my brothers and sisters. This certainly won’t be the last attack (or perhaps fall) of a believer or man or woman of God. When it’s all said and done, God will still be God, He is still good, He will still be great, He yet remains gracious, and He will always be greatly to be praised!

We have been negotiating a study on the subject of more effective prayer, and I recently offered a challenge to our church to join me as their days begin by kneeling (or bowing down) to pray. The challenge is to participate in this sacred engagement in advance of other conversations, the turning on of a television or radio, or any such human (even electronic) transmission of information we may normally experience. Let God be the first Person you seek, and let your conversation with Him be the first you engage every day for the rest of your life.

Some have asked, “Is kneeling really necessary?” Maybe not! But, have you ever thought about the many things for which we are so readily willing to kneel? We kneel to pick up things we have dropped, to find a coin under a table, to retrieve a shoe that’s too far under the bed, or to see if we can locate a pen or a pill. We will kneel to hook up a computer, to change a tire or the oil in our cars, to tie up our shoe laces, to rest from standing, and a host of other things. The one thing about each of these instances is when so doing, we kneel because we have to. If we don’t, we may not recover the thing we hope to find. On the other hand, even though God does not demand of us to kneel when we pray, it should be our joy to approach Him from our knees as a simple gesture of grateful humility before a great God—the Supreme Power of the Universe. There is none like Him!

I’m extending this challenge and invitation to all of my readers to encourage you to begin your day in prayer with others of us as we kneel before God in prayer. We may or may not be able to do it at the exact same point, but we can certainly start our days in the same position—and that is, on our knees before and in humble submission to our Most High God.

Many have already discovered newfound power, a different kind of acumen, and a spiritual awareness and a capacity that enables ones to be a blessing to a lot of people in a lot of different ways.

So join me (and others) in prayer each morning on your knees. You’re going to feel so much better! God does not want us to kneel before Him because we have to; God would much rather we kneel because we want to!

Let me know how it’s going! Thanks!

A rather cavalier regard for the things of God prevails in our society today. Few have distinguished themselves as even possessing the “zeal for God” that Israel had in the first century (read Romans 10:2). One would have to laud them at least for having passion—a rare commodity in the twenty-first century church. Post modern spirituality (and especially the “gosperity message”) has sadly reduced God to nothing more than a Cosmic Valet and Heavenly Paramedic or convenient EMS. As a result, many have no need for God except in an emergency.

Clearly many lack authentic spiritual passion. So called church goers are more content just to “have a good time,” than to have a transformative encounter with God that would result in active engagement of ministry. If this malady were a medical problem, some drug conglomerate would have already manufactured a remedy. How I wish it were that simple!

For today’s commentary, I have only one (rhetorical) question: Is there an impotency drug for the church? Too many believers desperately need help with impotence and dysfunctionality!

Quite honestly, there is a prescription. Solomon said God prescribed a simple remedy for this condition—being spiritually impotent and dysfunctional. In fact, the Great Physician included a sure guarantee—His promise. Here it is: “If my people who are called by my name would humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” (2 Chronicles 7:14).

Sounds like there is medicine available for our ills! All we need do is take it.

Take the medication, my dear friends, and be blessed today!

The other day the control panel in my car sounded and revealed the specific (visual) message, “Check Brake Linings.” Right on cue, my technician discovered it was time for the front rotors and pads to be replaced. I must say I yet marvel at the miracle of technology. Daily we are blown away with newer advances and even more modern measures designed to enhance the quality of our lives. With the creation of telematics—the transmission of data communications between systems and devices—manufacturers can monitor safety, security, and provide information services for consumers where ever they may be via remote control. From a centralized location these observe speed, tire pressure, oil life, brake systems, fluid levels, plus engine and transmission performance. Too, they offer remote access, crash assistance, and can provide turn-by-turn navigation when one needs directions, among other things. Without question, these advances are simply ingenious!

One should not ignore the great possibility that God has allowed humans to make such remarkable technological advances to reveal as well the “High” tech Genius with which we—human beings—have been similarly made (by God). Some continue to complain about knowing God’s will and finding life’s purpose, and without ever realizing a unique monitoring system which allows for the transmission of critical information between us and God. This spiritual system is called faith. It enables proper communication between humanity and God so we can readily experience His safety, security, and the information services He readily provides. Once the faith journey begins, God is appreciably more able to monitor speed and direction, give valuable insight and information, and provide His safety and security no matter what circumstances in life we face. In fact, God mysteriously employs distinct spiritual alarms—like an inner disturb or the absence of peace, restlessness, sleeplessness, uneasiness about decisions, adamant burdens, and more, to let us know something may be wrong or also the best course of action in a given dilemma. These given sacred signals alert at God-directed moments to apprise us of things to which we otherwise may not respond.

What’s the point? By faith, you should enter into a more meaningful relationship with God and begin to pay closer attention to your control panel (your spirit). Learn to recognize the spiritual prompts that alert when things are not right or may be headed contrary to the divine will. If you will keep looking, listening, and learning, God will plainly show you areas where crucial changes need to be made and what you can do to enjoy a better quality of life. Discover how God’s system is far more advanced than humankind’s. Human systems are located miles away from their consumers; but God is “…a very present help in the time of trouble.” (Psalm 46:1) Human-made systems afford access from a remote location; but God is only a prayer away; and He said if you will come near Him (get close), He will in turn come near to you (see James 4:8). Don’t ever think God would allow a human-made system to exceed the genius with which He has already created us. The Psalmist has clearly stated we have been “…fearfully and wonderfully made…” (139:14)

Become more spiritual today! Do it now? It will surely enhance the quality of your life! I promise you!

My daughter called to check on me and to fill me in on her upcoming summer plans which will include summer school. As our conversation neared an end, I thought I was about to get away when the inevitable topic surfaced. She said kindly, “I need some money, daddy.” I smiled and told her I would take care of it, and we hung up the phone. That was Friday. On Monday, she called to see if I had taken care of it. I reassured her I had. She called a day later because the money hadn’t hit. It arrived the next day. My baby needed a blessing from her daddy and called to make her request known. Notice how I handled it! Several hundred miles away, I never even left my office, nor moved from my desk. I did not go to the bank. I did not write a check. I would not later on go to the post office, nor did I mail to her a package. I simply continued to sit at my computer and executed an electronic transaction that deposited the necessary funds into her account. It only took me a matter of minutes. I did what she asked!

Did you get it? If I—sinful me—as an earthen father, have the capacity to respond to the needs of my children by long distance (and thereby keep my word), how much more do you think our Heavenly Father is likewise able to meet the needs of His children; and also keep His word? His word says, “They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength. They shall mount up on wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.” (Isaiah 40:31) His word says, “…God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:19)

Yes, at times it feels like we are being neglected or somehow overlooked when it comes to our prayer requests to God. The apparent delays are unnerving and can frustrate us to no end. Rest assured, dear friends, God heard you when first you asked; and is already doing (and maybe even has already done) something about it. The angel of the Lord came to reassure Daniel of this truth (read Daniel 10: 12). In essence, the angel said, “I was on my way, but unfortunately I got held up…” (paraphrase, mine) What great comfort Daniel must have received to learn that God was faithfully working on his behalf (sending help to see about him) even though the manifestation had not been revealed!

“Keep holding on, my brothers and sisters!” Help is on the way!

In December 2008, I drove home in some very challenging conditions. The roads were slick and it was quite dark as I started out in the early morning hours. Snow fell along the way and it was difficult to see the highway in front of me. In spite of the obvious dangers, I maintained my course and stuck with it. A few highway travelers became disabled in the median and some were even stranded in ditches. Thankfully, I was able to press-my-way-through, and worked diligently to keep my vehicle between-the-lines.

A bit nervous, I wondered what the conditions were like in Kansas City. Temperatures were in the single digits when first I began in Omaha. It occurred to me as I drove there was no need to wonder. So I reached up and pushed a button on my console and engaged my global positioning system—a navigation feature designed to offer travel aid (among other things) to customers via satellite. An operator readily responded and inquired regarding any need for assistance. I told her where I was heading and indicated my concerns about the weather down the road. She related the current conditions and reassured me of a favorable change as daybreak neared. Comforted, I continued on and at last made it to my destination.

I am convinced we could fare much better in these turbulent world and national times if we would simply take advantage of God’s GPS—prayer. Just think about it! Incredibly (and through darkness), the advisor was able to locate my vehicle (even in the bad weather), and actually could see what I could not see along the path I was taking. To a greater extent, God is likewise monitoring our movements. He knows precisely each of our coordinates, and has a much better view of the road than do any of us.

In case you, too, are wondering about the conditions in these difficult times, remember you have at your disposal a remarkable feature called prayer. It was designed (by God) for us to better make it through the bad weather and the darkness, and to carefully (and cautiously) make our way. When we maintain this connection, it allows us to continue the journey with confidence knowing we’re in touch with a Power that can monitor our movements, order our steps, and ensure us safe passage until we get home.

If you need Him, call on Him!

All across America people of every persuasion have begun patiently waiting in long lines to exercise a hard-earned and basic constitutional right and privilege. Already the 2008 presidential election has stirred interest and energy from a wide variety of constituents. It seems more young adults are acutely aware of the crucial issues in this election than at any other time in history. There is an obvious hint of progress in the air. God is clearly at work!

As I awakened this morning my phone rang from a dear friend calling me from Atlanta. She reported the atmosphere was equally as charged in Georgia. She related how she stood in line for over two hours, and when she finally reached the booth to officially indicate her preferences, she was so full with tears it was difficult to fill out the ballot. We talked about how for many this opportunity would never arrive. It is difficult to imagine the many deaths, the amount of shed blood, and the unimaginable abuses they took for us to be at this point. I heard God say, “…The voice of your brother’s blood cries out to Me from the ground.” (Genesis 4:9). Even still, the blood of many cries out today. I can hear blood saying, “I know I can’t be there; but you should go vote in my stead.” Countless fathers and mothers, grandparents and relatives, were the victims of senseless hate crimes. Dogs were unleashed on them; they were jailed on trumped-up charges, beaten mercilessly, and even hung or just plain shot, for the simple right to have their voices heard and their votes counted. We mustn’t let their suffering be in vain.

If you are not a registered voter (and can still do it), GO DO IT TODAY! If you are able to vote early, GO DO THAT, TOO! Don’t even gamble with your being well enough to get out to vote on November 4th. Get it out of the way now!

I wish to formally challenge every person reading this article to encourage your pastor and your entire church (or spiritual community) to JOIN YOU—that means you’re going to be there—in a post-election prayer meeting on Wednesday, November 5th, to corporately “Thank God” for the distinct developments in this year’s election, and all He has done. Who would have ever thought a person of color would represent a major party in a bid for President of the United States of America? Our God deserves ALL the glory, the honor, and the praise! It would be interesting to see how many persons are willing to come pray, and praise, and thank God, as opposed to attending a party someone else was hosting.

What a great witness it would be if God’s people would gather to celebrate His goodness and pray for this nation and our world! Every pastor, bishop, and minister, every deacon or elder, trustee or steward, ministry leader, musician, and choir member; every man, woman, boy, and girl, should gather on Wednesday, November 5th, with other people of God to say in a united way across America, “To God be the glory, for great things He has done!” Let’s see if we can make it happen!

Next Page »