6/24/09

Power and Might, in His Hands

I write each month for a prophecy newsletter, and I have to admit that sometimes the news of End Times circumstances gets overwhelming. There’s war, terrorism, pestilence, economic crisis, cultural breakdown, torture, sexual trafficking, divorce, and every sort of evil everywhere in the world. When I read the Bible, I know where it’s all headed, and my hope is in God alone, but I have to admit that it is only my strong belief in the sovereignty of God that keeps me from being overcome by fear and worry.

The other day, I found myself singing an old spiritual that made the pop charts back in 1958, introduced by Laurie London and later made popular by Mahalia Jackson—"He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands." The different stanzas remind us that God has my brothers and my sisters, the sun and the rain, the moon and the stars, the wind and the clouds, the rivers and the mountains, the oceans and the seas, you and me and everybody here in His powerful hands.


In 2 Chronicles 20:6, King Jehoshaphat—leading the people of Judah at the brink of war—said, "O Lord, God of our fathers, are you not the God who is in heaven? You rule over all the kingdoms of the nations. Power and might are in your hand, and no one can withstand you." In 1 Chronicles 29:11-12, King David also spoke of God’s unlimited power. "Yours, O Lord," David said, “is the greatness and the power and the glory and the majesty and the splendor, for everything in heaven and earth is yours. Yours, O Lord, is the kingdom; you are exalted as head over all … you are the ruler of all things. In your hands are strength and power ... ."


God is involved in our everyday events, and we must never forget that. I love artist Rex Babin’s rendering of the miracle landing of US Airways flight 1549 on the Hudson River. Entitled "Miracle" (Sacramento Bee, 1-18-09), the drawing shows the passengers of the flight standing on the wings of the plane, with God’s hands reaching down to hold the plane up until help came. Pilot Sullenberger is to be praised, but we must not forget that God was there, too, just as He is with planes that do not get a hoped-for miracle. He is present in each trial, and when the time comes, walks with us in the valley of the shadow of death.


The God of Jehoshaphat and David is still on the throne. You can rest in perfect peace with your thoughts focused on Him instead of frightening circumstances (Isaiah 26:3), and it will be your joy to “speak of the glory of His kingdom, and talk of His power” (Psalm 145:11).

What is your tough circumstance today? What is the evidence that God is working? What do you do when you don’t feel like God is working?

Related posts: "Cradled in Thorns" will help you remember God's protection. For help in combating fear, see: "Hey You, Fear Not!" and "Kick Out Fear!"

6/17/09

Ten Things to Pray for 'Better' Men

Although it has been said, "Anyone can be a father; it takes a real man to be a dad," most feminists and some cultural sophisticates have declared the role of fatherhood unnecessary. Men are relegated to the function of sperm donor. But look around at the shamble of broken homes and the resultant "broken children" in our society, and you’ll quickly see the value of paternal care. While I agree little with our new President’s positions on public policy, I do appreciate Barack Obama’s strong example of fatherhood. Our nation desperately needs to see courageous, morally pure, tender dads.

I met Crawford W. Loritts, Jr., at a Life Action Ministries revival training meeting, but it was a tract he wrote in 1998, "Ten Ways to Be a Better Father," that got my attention, because Crawford (a godly African-American pastor) purposed to lead men to be more involved, positive role models in their homes. Leadership U picked up the tract and published it on their website, but let me list Crawford’s ten points here. They are wise words that I have, incidentally, seen in my husband’s life, which he learned from his own wise father’s life—and they are principles that I have prayed concerning my two sons as they father their own children.

Ten ways to be a better father: (1) Passionately love your wife. (2) Be a man of integrity—or your words will fall on deaf ears. (3) Your children’s importance to you can be measured by how much time you spend with them. (4) You, more than anyone else, can give your children lifelong self-worth. (5) Communicate as a family. (6) Understand your mission. (7) Be vulnerable and admit your weaknesses. (8) Discipline means character development, not venting anger. (9) Don’t overprotect—let children learn the law of reaping what they sow. (10) Don’t be afraid to show your tender side.

Why have I included this list in a blog that will be read, perhaps, mostly by women? Women are influential, especially in the home, and we need to pray these things into our husbands’, sons’, pastors’, and other male leaders’ lives. Take time to thank God this week for the men who have taken up the charge God has entrusted to them—men who are wonderful examples of faithfulness.

What other things are you praying for, for your father, husband, son, pastor, or male leaders?

I'm praying that my Father-in-Love ("My Other Dad") lives a long, long life so he can continue to show us all what a godly man looks like!

6/10/09

Better Ways to Connect with Your BFF

I woke up, checked my e-mail, logged on to Facebook, and then answered a Google chat message. Before noon, I’d checked email three more times; and by dinner, another four or five. Before I went to bed, I checked the emails and Facebook again; and then I went to bed. Then I woke up, ready to start all over again. Ready to "connect" with my friends, I heard an unmistakable voice. "When are you going to connect with Me?"

I had time for every other friend who wrote, sent a funny attachment, or just wanted to say "hi" yesterday, but I missed out on some serious connection time with Jesus, my BFF (Best Friend Forever). I only whispered some words to Him on the run. Actually, there’s really not much connection with my email friends, either. It’s pretty easy to substitute electronic messages for face time.

Some Relationship Connection principles are true whether we talk about human relationships or our relationship with God.

1. Relationship Connection grows with time, not a hurried hello. Friendships aren’t developed in our zip-in, zip-out techno-culture. We need time to linger with the one we love.
2. Relationship Connection grows with honesty and transparency. Get real!
3. Relationship Connection grows with a listening ear. (We connect with earthly friends over a cup of tea, a spontaneous walk, or a phone chat… and with God in prayer and meditation in the Word.)
4. Relationship Connection grows with focused, encouraging words. We share earthly friends’ joys and burdens, and spur one another on to greater vision and ministry. We offer positive strategies for improvement and accountability. With God, we are encouraged in the scriptures, and we offer Him words of praise.

We all need heart connection—to get away from all of the technology and connect, face-to-face. It’s especially true of our relationship with God. He says, "Draw near to Me, and I’ll draw near to you" (James 4:8). God invites us to dwell in His presence (Psalm 140:13b). It’s an ongoing invitation, and if we value Him, we’ll sit quietly and connect.

What do you do to keep the connection strong with Jesus, your BFF?

For more tips on building friendships, see: "Ya Gotta Have Friends!"

6/3/09

Six Ways to Divorce Selfishness from Marriage

Marriage is meant to be the beginning of great blessing for two people in love, but two anonymous quotes present the perspective of many marriages today. (1) "I love being married. It's so great to find that one special person you want to annoy for the rest of your life." (2) "Marriage changes passion; suddenly you’re in bed with a relative!"

In reality, marriage becomes a disappointment when the foundations crumble, or the perspective is wrong. A godly marriage is a selfless expression of one person to another according to the plan of God (expressed in Ephesians 5:25-33 and I Peter 3:1-7). Is there hope for a lasting, happy, successful marriage today? Oh yes. My children have several good examples in their parents, grandparents, and other relatives who have all followed hard after God’s plan.

But the world, in general, does not have this confidence. The overwhelmingly large percent of college students (96%, according to a Louis Harris survey titled "Generation 2001") say they want a warm secure intimate relationship in marriage; but divorce statistics are scary, and even betrothed couples express fear and apprehension. As one new bride said, "I had watched my parents’ marriage fall apart, and I didn’t know if I could keep one together" (Newsweek, "Down the Aisle," July 20, 1998, p. 54). Many churches have stopped teaching about biblical marriage, and Hollywood encourages matrimonial instability through unrealistic scenarios. No wonder an increasing number of couples decide that marriage is just too much trouble.

Perhaps one of the most powerful films to address the inherent selfishness in so many marriages was the recent surprising movie, Fireproof. The script hit the number one cause of divorce squarely—selfishness. As long as emotions are warm and cozy, selfishness isn’t as obvious; but let those emotions cool a bit, and a partner’s annoying habits, lack of communication, or independent goals suddenly whittle the relationship down to the imperfect basics. Soon, a partner expresses selfishness through defensiveness, bitter words, or hurtful behaviors.

The ultimate selfishness is God-ward. When we become independent from God’s purposes in our marriage, independence and even alienation from each other in the home cannot be far behind. A godly marriage is based on following God’s outline for the home (I Corinthians 11:3, 9-11), teamwork for His purposes, and loving self-sacrifice.

Here are some practical, positive ways to divorce selfishness in marriage:
(1) Communicate clearly out of respect, and listen to your partner (Proverbs 12:18; 24:26; 28:11) (2) Don’t take your partner for granted. Express your love and encouragement every day and try to carry each other’s burdens (I John 4:7-8; Hebrews 10:24-25; I Thessalonians 5:11; Galatians 6:2). (3) Submit to one another out of reverence for the Lord (Ephesians 5:21). (4) Solve conflicts from a base of love, not retaliation. Speak the truth in love; don’t use silence as a weapon (Ephesians 4:15, 32). (5) Take responsibility for your own problems—don’t selfishly shift blame, but care for one another (I Corinthians 12:25; 13:5). (6) Develop the habit of praying with your partner every day, remembering that the Lord knows your hearts (James 5:16). When we divorce selfishness from our marriages, we can develop healthy, Godly homes.

What practical things do you do to get rid of selfishness in your relationship?

For additional help, see "Romance in Marriage" and "Intentional Ministry in Marriage".