Are You a Thief?

“Discipleship is a tricky business sometimes,” began the man introduced one Sunday morning as the head of the prison ministry. “You don’t always know how new believers are internalizing Scriptural truths, or some aspect of Christianity that you are explaining. They can parrot the right words back, but they might misunderstand those words – significantly sometimes.”

Such was the case with one prisoner — Jim let’s say. Jim was convicted of bank robbery and sent to the Monroe Correctional Complex in Monroe, WA (USA).

Bank_Robber_Prayer

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“Smack up against God’s grace”

“Pastor Rob, a man arrived requesting to talk with a minister,” my secretary announced one early Monday afternoon.

I met Ted (not his real name) in the waiting room. He was clean cut and in his mid-thirties. I had just spent two hours helping sixteen people with food and other types of assistance. “This shouldn’t take long,” I thought as we walked back to my office.

Ted sat down and came right to the point, “My wife threw me out of the house. I’ve been living in my truck for the past three days, and it’s all my fault.”

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“God, help me save my daughter!”

We can never know when a Goliath will suddenly appear. At any moment, we can be confronted with a life threatening situation and must call upon the Lord to act, or someone will die. Moments like these are not the time to start developing a strong relationship with God, when they arise we must already have one.

My wife and I are beach bums from Cape Cod, Massachusetts. Summer days on the Cape are typically hazy, hot, and humid. The three H’s, as the weathermen would say, are what we associated with beaches. That is, until we moved to the Pacific Northwest.

Summer

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Can A Mafioso Be Saved?

There’s no question of God’s love for us. He created us. He died and rose from the dead in the person of Jesus Christ so that we can have eternal life with Him. The question is: do we genuinely love God? God sees deep into our hearts. He knows the answer to that question. We can’t fool, outwit, or manipulate Him. Many have tried. The one person that I knew who tried the most was a man we will simply call Mr. T.

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Healing Prayer at 8,100 feet

A few years ago, I attended a Christian men’s retreat at a beautiful, rugged lodge nestled in the thin air of the Colorado Rockies. It was a well-organized and spiritually meaty retreat. A few years prior, I attended one at the same location. Both retreats aimed right for the heart: no hype, no fluff. I like that.

RansomedHeart_2009

Healing prayer was the topic of the Saturday morning session. I was familiar with it. I had been practicing and teaching healing prayer for twelve years. The leader and his team did an excellent job demonstrating it to all 430 men in attendance. The follow-up assignment was for the group of men in each cabin to duplicate the leaders’ example. I was curious how this would go since most attendees had not done this before, but I also knew that healing prayer was a work of God, not of men. I looked forward to what He would do. Usually, if we cooperate with God a little, He’ll do a lot.

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Prayer, Armor, and Spiritual Warfare

Prayer, Armor, and Spiritual Warfare – Ephesians 6:10-20

What is the nature of spiritual warfare? What is the armor of God? Where does prayer fit in? Bereans carefully studied the Scriptures before believing that something taught was true (Acts 17:11). Let’s be good Bereans and look at Eph 6:10-20 to answer these important questions. There are too many people shadowboxing with Satan these days. Let’s focus our efforts where they belong.

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Prayer is not a Weapon II

A reader responded to my previous post asking: Isn’t prayer a weapon against the evil one, who we are battling?

That’s a good question. We can determine the answer by studying the New Testament verses containing the word “pray.” The word is used 151 times. D.A. Carson’s book “Praying with Paul: A Call to Spiritual Reformation,” for example, in particular discusses the following passages: Rom 15:14-33, Eph 1:15-23; 3:14-21; Phil 1:9-11; Col 1:9-14; 1 Thess 3:9-13; 2 Thess 1:3-12. The focus of prayer in the New Testament was predominately on knowing God better, being more like Christ, God providing for the needs of others, being filled with the Holy Spirit, and for success in ministry.

Prayer_300_high

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Prayer is not a Weapon I

A Facebook post about prayer as a weapon grabbed my attention this week. It led me to listen to the corresponding radio interview. It was a good interview and much of what was discussed effectively encouraged Christians to pray. I liked it. However, identifying prayer as a “weapon,” while well-intentioned, could give people the impression that prayer was about God doing our will, instead of us doing His. The verses mentioned in the interview rightly encouraged prayer, but they did not support the point of prayer as a weapon. Such a point is logical, not biblical. We need to discern the difference.

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Intimacy with God: Give Thanks

Fantasy is popular today.  There are fantasy movies, fantasy games, fantasy books, and of course fantasy football. We love it because anything goes. It’s all just made up. Worlds are created where anyone can do, or be, anything. The only rule is that there are no rules. And just when we assume there is a rule or two, something impossible happens to break them. It’s why I’m not a big fan of the fantasy category – no tension.

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The Heart’s Longing for God

Billy Joel’s song “The River of Dreams”[1] vocalizes his heart’s deep longing for something. Something he thought he would never lose. Something undefined . . . but sacred. Something taken from his soul. “In the middle of the night” while he slept, says the singer, his heart went searching through fear, doubt, and truth. His mind was tired, but his heart pressed on . . . searching for that undefined, sacred, something.

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