Archive for March, 2011

A Practical Description of “The Fear of the Lord”

When you fear something, it is the first thing for which you look. The change is powerful, but often unnoticed, because we don’t see what we don’t see.

If you fear snakes and you are walking in the woods, you could almost walk into a tree because you are so snake-vigilant.

If you are a young boy who fears the rhyme, “Step on a crack and you’ll break your mama’s back,” then you scan every new room for tiles. A dozen people may be knocked down, but mama’s back is safe.

If you have a fear of rejection, then you look for and reinterpret every verbal exchange (and even the absence of exchanges) for possibility of not fitting in. Many compliments are deemed “only polite” in the name of avoiding rejection.

The point is, fear is more than an emotion. Fear changes how we think and what we see. Fear makes some things super-relevant and because of our limited cognitive capacity, forces other things (we’re never sure what) to relative irrelevance.

It is with this perspective that we can better understand how “the fear of the Lord is the beginning or wisdom (Job 28:28; Psalm 111:10; Proverbs 1:7).” When we fear God we will look for Him in all situations and consider His will.

To help you personalize this, make a list of your most prevalent fears. From that list consider how you have organized your life to ease (please) those fears. Do you begin to see how innately fear brings practical change into our lives? We do not have to make plans, seek accountability, or find ways to remind ourselves when fear is involved.

The question becomes, “How do we grow in the fear of the Lord?” The answer begins with, “We must want to.” That may sound odd, but we entertain ourselves with fear all the time – movies, amusement park rides, novels, or the suspense of sporting events. Each of these are major industries of our culture that feed off fear (and its cousin emotions).

Isaiah 11:3 says, “And his delight shall be in the fear of the Lord. He shall not judge by what his eyes see, or decide disputes by what his ears hear.” Notice that the fear of the Lord is said to be a delight. Also, notice that this fear changed what was seen and heard.

The answer continues with, “We must listen to our rival fears.” These fears (by definition) have a strong tendency to push us into folly. The problem is often not that our fears are wrong or misguided, but that we view our fears as more real, powerful, and present than our God. It is not that our fears completely lie; they just neglect the most important Fact in the universe.

The answer continues with, “We must allow our fears to point us back to God.” God is often not nearly so rough on us in our fear as we are on ourselves. The prayer that God gives us to pray is, “When I am afraid, I put my trust in you (Psalm 56:3).” While fear does reveal a diminished view of God, God is more concerned (even elated) with the return of His children than He is offended by their departure (Luke 15:11-32).

The answer concludes with, “We must express our renewed view of God in practical faith.” This is where we often fear not being creative enough to figure out what to do. But this is also where our introduction provides great relief. When fear is present, the corresponding life changes are natural.

Once you have taken the journey of the first three steps, then you can trust this final step will be clear (although clear should not be mistaken for easy). This assurance can be particularly strong when you take this journey with mature Christian friends that you involve in the process.

Remember, you serve a God who delights in making Himself known; not playing hard to get.

If this post was beneficial for you, then considering reading other blogs from my “Favorite Posts on Counseling Theory” post which address other facets of this subject.

If this post was beneficial for you, then considering reading other blogs from my “Favorite Posts on Theology and Counseling” post which address other facets of this subject.

Why Doesn’t God Make Himself More Known?

A Counselor Reflects on Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis

“But I wonder whether people who ask God to interfere openly and directly in our world quite realize what it will be like when He does. When that happens, it is the end of the world. When the author walks on the stage the play is over… That will not be the time for choosing; it will be the time when we discover which side we really have chosen, whether we realized it before or not (p. 65).” Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis

This quote reminds me a bit of the reality television show “Secret Millionaire.” An immensely rich person moves into a new community. He/she interacts with the people and gets to know them. All the conversation and interaction are authentic. This millionaire wants to know who people really are; not be courted for a donation.

At the end of the show the millionaire reveals his/her identity. There is no name change or personality shift on the part of the millionaire. But once the millionaire reveals their identity, the show is over (except for a few tears of joy).

God has made Himself known except for displaying His overwhelming majesty. God came and walked among us, inspired a book full of His will and character, and left a community of believers to continue His kingdom. The spread, impact, and longevity of His book and community in the face of much oppression testify to their supernatural origin.

When God reveals who He is, the show will be over. God wants to receive genuine worship, not overpower our senses. It is quite prideful on our part to think that we could see God and still choose. In effect we are asking God to impress us.

We are like people revolting against a benevolent king. We dare the king to show his power if he truly wants us to submit to his authority. Yet if he unleashed his military against the people, he knows they would be destroyed and their perspective of him would be tainted forever.

Both of these metaphors break down if pressed too far, but both highlight aspects of the folly and pride in asking God to make Himself more known. If God went beyond revealing his character, will, and incarnation to revealing his majesty and glory, it would be the end of humanity as we know it. It would be the end of freedom and the end of choosing.

The freedom would not be stolen. It would be irrelevant. After God reveals Himself, asking “Do you choose God?” would be like asking “What time is it?” in Heaven. Heaven exists outside the temporal reality we measure as time. Heaven is eternal. God exists outside the competitive reality we know as comparison. God is good. Words like better and best are irrelevant to One who has no peers.

God has made Himself known perfectly. If He were more known, we would lose freedom and the ability to genuinely worship. A dignity of choice has been bestowed upon us that is far beyond our deserving (as we prove daily). We see God’s love and mercy even in how He restrains the unleashing of His glory for our good and in His patience.

Bold Honesty

This post is meant to offer guidance to common “what now” questions that could emerge from pastor J.D.’s sermon on Luke 8:40-56 preached at The Summit Church Saturday/Sunday March 26-27, 2011.

We watch as this nameless lady with a “discharge of blood” comes to Jesus. The crowd was thick enough that she had to “contaminate” many people with her own “uncleanness” as she struggled to get close enough to touch him.

In effect, she came as a thief, wanting something she did not believe to be rightfully hers and wanting to attain it without being noticed.

Unfortunately (at least from her initial perspective), she got caught. She had to be more amazed than anyone else when Jesus asked, “Who touched me?” She was the only one who was trying to hide her touching; not only from Jesus but from everyone else as well. What if everyone learned how she had contaminated them?

Yet, she does something amazing. She “declared in the presence of all the people why she had touched him (v. 47).” Wow! She didn’t shush Jesus and ask him to talk privately. She didn’t force Jesus to press her about why. She spoke. She spoke publicly. She spoke in complete honesty.

It was then that she realized she was a “daughter (v. 48).” Her faith to come to Jesus had already sealed this reality (i.e., “your faith has made you well”). However, her honesty allowed her to rest in what was true but unknown. Her honesty allowed her to hear words of affirmation and encouragement where, otherwise, there would have only been the repetition of messages of shame and condemnation.

Two miracles occurred: healing and salvation. Even if she had not been honest, her faith had already made her well, but she would have remained unaware of the second miracle. She would have seen the “sign” but would not have known where it was pointing. Self-protective deceit would have allowed her to have a whole body and a distorted identity.

It is easier to believe you’re a thief when you already know you’re a liar. Shame becomes lodged in your sense of identity. You are separated from God’s grace even while you are surrounded by and benefiting from it, because you will not acknowledge the truth. One part of you is healed while the rest of you whither.

This brings the question to us, “What are we refusing to be honest about that leaves us with a sin-based identity even though we are truly children of God?” In this case, the lady feared being honest about an act of faith. She had done nothing wrong. The answer to this question might not be a sin.

The principle is: we will not know God’s full restoration until we are fully honest. Honesty is itself an act of faith. It declares, “God I believe you are trustworthy with this information. I believe Your grace is greater than my shame. I believe You will act with compassion towards my honesty.”

For us, we need to realize that what hinders our spiritual growth is often not the need for more information, but the need to be honest. Once we are honest about the things we have hidden, then we can experience the more complete transformation available from the Gospel we already know.

The “Mr. Fix It” Communication Remedy

Stop me if you’ve heard (or lived) this one. A wife comes to her husband to tell him about her rough day. Let’s assume she is a teacher who has a student that is giving her fits. She describes him as a young hellion who hisses at correction and his eyes roll back in his head when punishment is suggested.

The husband replies (I’ll let you project the tone), “The boy sounds possessed. You oughta strike him on the forehead with the palm of your hand and exclaim, ‘Demons out!’ I’m sure it’ll either cure him or get his attention. Either way, that would be a story worth listening to.”

Our wife gives some indication of being less than enthused about his response: a sigh, shaking her head, a response of, “be serious,” or, “I’ve should have known better than to talk to you.”

On a good day our husband blows her off with, “I was just joking. My goodness, I didn’t know listening came with a scoring system.” On a bad day he retorts, “Well, if you didn’t want to know what I thought, why’d you ask me? I get tired of being set up by your bad days.”

Sound familiar?

While the scenario is a bit comically infused (at least attempted), the tendency of men to offer solutions when talking with their wives is prevalent. It’s common enough to be a stereo-type. The strange thing is that even though it’s predictable it is still not corrected (some men just avoid conversation, but that’s not a solution).

Let me offer a solution. Husbands, let’s regularly ask our wives, “How can I pray you? What stresses or burdens are you facing?”

You might be thinking, “That’s nice and spiritual, but how would it help?” I’m glad you asked. When you ask someone how you can pray for them, it takes you out of fix-it-mode. You are gathering information that you want to be able to communicate effectively to Another.

If we, as husbands, are a conduit of our wives’ burdens to the Father, then it becomes more natural to ask follow up questions like, “What is most challenging or disheartening about that situation? What fears are you bracing against? What outcome are you hoping to see? Who else is affected by that situation?”

That’s the kind of thing guys say in romance novels. (Guys, pay attention. “Romance” is a word that has its benefits.) But I believe there is a good reason those things show up in romance novels (I’m purely guessing on that, unless you count The Great Divorce by C.S. Lewis a “romance novel”).

This kind of interaction is an example of how Jesus relates to the church. Our Savior says, “Cast your burdens upon me, because I care for you (I Pet. 5:7)” and keeps our tears in a bottle while counting how many times we toss in bed (Ps. 56:8). Christ cares for his bride. Men, we need to “Jesus-Up!”

I believe there are other benefits. These kinds of questions will help us fulfill the command to pray without ceasing (I Thes. 5:17). It will also keep our wife on our mind more regularly. We will see her as someone to be known and cared for tenderly (I Pet 3:7). This God-centered, wife-awareness should serve to protect us from temptation and help us grow in being servant-leaders as “better listening skills” becomes a side benefit.

If this post was beneficial for you, then considering reading other blogs from my “Favorite Posts on Communication” post which address other facets of this subject.

What Is a Live Body?

A Counselor Reflects on Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis

“A live body is not one that never gets hurt, but one that can to some extent repair itself. In the same way a Christian is not a man who never goes wrong, but a man who is enabled to repent and pick himself up and begin over again after each stumble – because the Christ-life is inside him, repairing him all the time, enabling him to repeat (in some degree) the kind of voluntary death which Christ Himself carried out (p. 63).” Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis

This is an interesting definition of life – the ability to self-repair. Non-living matter only decays. Rocks do not mend their own cracks. Skin does. Water does not pull back from the heat that would cause evaporation. Hands do.

This gives a useful way to think about what it means for every person to begin life dead in their sin (Eph 2:1). Sin was an injury and our soul had no ability to repair itself. Our soul was like a cracked rock or boiling water. It could do nothing to change its condition. We were dead.

Sorrow does not bring life. Trying harder does not heal the wound of sin. There was nothing that we could do. When an injury is beyond a body’s ability to repair it dies. Like a body that has lost too much blood, sin is a condition that leaves us lifeless.

But in the words of C.S. Lewis, Christians have been infused with “the Christ-life.” The living blood of Jesus that has already passed through death bearing our sin is the antidote we receive to resurrect our soul.

The influence of this transfusion is not just resuscitating, but truly life giving. It allows our soul to begin to function as a living soul because of His presence in us. We can begin to recover (“repair”) from the pain, power, and presence of sin.

This is what it means to be born again and made alive. Jesus’ presence becomes like a cure for AIDS. He gives our soul the ability to recover again by His grace. Whereas before, every infection of sin was fatal. Now the antidote of Christ’s blood enables our soul to resist sin both in terms of becoming increasingly less prone to contagion and in the ability to recover.

Beyond the actual influence of a physical heart transplant, we begin to take on the character of our Donor. His life in us changes our life; not just by example, but also by presence.

We become willing to die to ourselves that others might be blessed and have life. There is a draw from the life within us to give its self away. Unlike other forms of life, the Christ-life is not weakened as it is shared. It grows stronger not by eating, but by feeding. It grows larger not when it rests, but when it gives.

I have to say that I have taken the Christ-life in me for granted. This picture of what it means to have been dead in my sin and made alive in Christ has deepened my appreciation for the Gospel. I pray it will do the same for others, and that we will become more contagious with the life we have been given.

Do We Like Who Jesus Loves?

This post is meant to offer guidance to common “what now” questions that could emerge from pastor J.D.’s sermon on Luke 4-7 preached at The Summit Church Saturday/Sunday March 19-20, 2011.

Jesus loves the poor, captives, oppressed, gentiles, tax collectors, and prostitutes. Before we ask ourselves, “Do we love them too?” there is more fundamental question we must ask ourselves. Do we belong with them? Are we reaching “down” to them, or are we with them being reached “down” to by their Christ?

Jesus made people angry by loving the “least of these” because His love said something about humanity in general. The establishment (political and religious leaders) of Jesus’ day heard what He said very clearly and they were insulted. They were insulted because they did not believe themselves to be “like” who Jesus loved and, therefore, they did not “like” who Jesus loved.

We must see that we are not only one in the Gospel, but we are also one in our need for the Gospel. We stand in the same line of grace. If we are offended by this, then we will not like who Jesus loves in two senses of the word “like.”

First, we will not think we are similar to or as bad as those Jesus loves. We will begin to think that we only needed redemption-light compared with “those others” who Jesus loves.

Second, we will resent those who Jesus loves because they “discredit” the caliber of organization of which we are a part.

If we are going to love those that Jesus loves, we must rid our mind of moral classifications of humanity. There are not first class and second class people. Socio-economic status, education, talent, charisma, morality, humor, technical skill, and loyalty do not “set us a apart” (the core meaning of holiness) in the way we are prone to think they do.

These attributes may have social, financial, relational, or emotional benefits and they can contribute to the ease and enjoyment of life. However, they do not make us different kinds of people and they do not change the substance of our nature. We need the same Jesus regardless of where we fit on any of these spectrums. A Russian novelist captured it this way.

“If only it were all so simple! If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being.  And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?“  Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn in The Gulag Archipelago.

Can you say:

I see my own reflection in every person Jesus loves.

Until you can, you will not understand and wrestle with the rage that Jesus elicited in His earthly ministry. When we are gripped by this understanding we will no longer be embarrassed to reach out to someone “beneath” us and no longer be intimidated to reach out to someone “above” us.

Take a moment to consider how many of our emotions and dispositions stem from the same grading-system-mindset that infuriated Jesus’ opponents: insecurity, offense, condescension, avoidance, intimidation, prejudice, and many forms of anger. How many ways does it slip into your daily conversation (i.e., “Wow, that person really married up.”).

Use these reflections to connect with the Gospel of Luke. See yourself in those Jesus loves and those who oppose Jesus, so that you can see your world and yourself through the lens of this account of Jesus’ life.

Prayer: Powerful Weakness

What does it say about you when you have to ask for help? Take it a step further, what does it say about you when you are always having to ask for help? Those are easy questions. It means you’re weak. It also says that you are in good company.

Consider the words of the apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians 12:10.

“For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

I believe the epitome of this powerful weakness is prayer. We are told to pray without ceasing (1 Thes. 5:17); to constantly cry out for help. That expression of weakness (prayer) taps us into the greatest, most constant, and most benevolent source of strength – God Himself.

I have heard many people say that they feel like this kind of praying is whining. But then I remind them that, by that definition, most of the Bible is either whining or the response to whining (see my post “Biblical Whining”).

But that whole defense is given because we believe asking for help is weak and we should not be weak. Have you ever noticed that the most precious things are weak? Fine china dishes. Roses. Babies. We handle them with care and feel honored to have them. But for some reason we do not want to be put in the place to be like them.

We become like my 3 year old who is so committed to being big and strong that life becomes hard for him. I am there longing to help, waiting to be asked, but his refrain is, “I can do it myself. I know just what I’m doing.” His definition of “strong” causes his effectiveness to be much weaker and slower than it has to be.

Paul understood what it meant to be strong as a child of God; it meant relying upon our Father for those things we were never meant to do without Him. That is where the illustration of my son breaks down. He is meant to grow up and be independent and even take care of me in my old age.

We were never meant to be independent of God. Even if the Fall had never happened, God created us a finite beings meant to draw delight and purpose from interaction with His infinite being. We never can outgrow God.

The call of the Christian life is to embrace weakness to find strength. This is seen and experienced most practically in prayer.

If this post was beneficial for you, then considering reading other blogs from my “Favorite Posts on Spiritual Disciplines” post which address other facets of this subject.

Deity: An Unfair Advantage

A Counselor Reflects on Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis

“I have heard some people complain that if Jesus was God as well as man, then His suffering and death lose all value in their eyes, ‘because it must have been so easy for him’… In one sense of course, those who make it are right. They have even understated their own case. The perfect submission, the perfect suffering, the perfect death were not only easier to Jesus because He was God, but were possible only because He was God. But surely that is a very odd reason for not accepting them?… That advantage—call it ‘unfair’ if you like—is the only reason why he can be of any use to me. To what will you look for help if you will not look to that which is stronger than yourself? (p. 58-9).” Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis

That final question cuts. It reveals the human tendency to vilify anyone that could be of assistance to them. Students resent teachers. Athletes complain about coaches. Employees think bosses expect too much and pay too little. Vice presidents dream of how much better things will run when they’re president. The person up the totem poll is rarely viewed as “on my team.”

The main reason for this is not abuse of power (although that definitely exists) but because we are competing to be them. You cannot be on the same team as the person with whom you are competing. Therefore, because we want to be our own god (deciding on our own what is best, right, and good), we critique God rather than trust Him.

The question becomes, “Do we really want to serve someone stronger than ourselves or would we rather drown in our own perceived self-sufficiency?” That is the kind of question that initially sparks either anger or guilt. But if we allow the initial wave of emotion to distract us from thoughtful consideration, then we miss the watershed truth that caused the reaction.

I want my accountant to be better at math than I am. I want my surgeon to be smarter and have a steadier hand than I have. I want my mentor to have more experience and wisdom than I have. I want my bodyguard (if I had one) to be stronger than I am (which wouldn’t be hard).

Why then, would I hesitate to embrace a Savior morally superior to me because I feel judged or like His deity gave him a leg up in the competition? Answer: Because I view it as a competition. We are not, nor have we ever been, competing with God for character, peace, hope, or love. God is all of those things and He freely gives Himself to us. We only lose them, when we interpret life as a competition with their source.

That is why the first response to the Gospel is repentance – a willingness to surrender our efforts and embrace what Jesus has already done. We wear ourselves out competing with God (trying to make our definitions of right, good, and satisfying work). We see that God is not wearied by our relentless effort and we grow to resent God as if His lack of fatigue were taunting us.

In reality, God’s lack of fatigue in the face of our sin, rebellion, and efforts at self-atonement is the only hope we have. If we did weary God by the magnitude of our sin, then hope would be in jeopardy. God’s restfulness is an invitation. Will you accept it as a gift of grace or will you resent it because it is His to give?

Temptation and Identity

This post is meant to offer guidance to common “what now” questions that could emerge from pastor J.D.’s sermon “The Inauguration: Luke 3-4,” preached at The Summit Church Saturday/Sunday March 12-13, 2011.

Was there something about Jesus’ baptism in Luke 3 that helped him resist the temptation He faced in Luke 4? I believe the answer is yes. But I do not believe the answer is found in the ceremony or experience. Rather, I think it was the expression of the Father, “You are my beloved Son, with You I am well pleased (3:22).”

Hold onto that thought and go with me to Narnia for a moment. In The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe Edmund wrestles with a large amount of insecurity – due to his parents being in harm’s way because of war, being displaced from his home, and rivalry with his stronger, older brother Peter. From the moment he steps foot on Narnian soil, he is a king. But he doesn’t know it.

When he meets the White Witch, she offers to make him a prince if he will do her bidding. As an insecure boy far from home, that sounded like a great offer. As one of the four ancient kings prophesied and appointed by Aslan, that should have sounded like a really lousy offer. But Edmund did not know who he was, so he took it.

Most temptation boils down to Satan offering us what we already have in Christ. Satan is always willing to sell us what we already possess at a “steal of price.” If we do not know who we really are, we’ll take the deal.

Return to the temptation account of Luke 4 now. Notice that Jesus does not doubt who He is and, therefore, does not accept the short cuts (which are actually radical redefinitions) to attain what is already His.

As you seek to allow your identity as a child of God (Eph. 5:1) to serve as a protection in temptation, use these four questions to guide you.

Question #1: How do you define who you are? Do you define yourself by a certain relationship, ability, failure, event, dream, or occupation?

Question #2: How does your relationship with God, as His adopted and loved child, change your sense of identity? Did you view your baptism as a watershed moment in your life that forever changed who you are?

Question #3: What insecurities or areas of pride does Satan use to tempt you or create a context of temptation for you?

Question #4: In those times of temptation, how is Satan offering you something you already have in Christ?

Allow these questions to enable you to approach moments of temptation with greater confidence; not in yourself but in the superior provision of God for anything you will face. When faced with these questions, temptation leads us to worship rather than sin.

When we see this, the fear/shame that we often feel at the moment of temptation (which is not sin) dissipates, because we now have a map to move from failure to worship. As we compare the best of what Satan has to offer with who we already are and what we already have in Christ, the response should be laughter. In which case, Satan is the one who slinks away in shame and embarrassment, not the child of God.

If this post was beneficial for you, then considering reading other blogs from my “Favorite Posts on Personality” post which address other facets of this subject.

Reflections on the First Wednesday of Our Month of Prayer

It started with conviction when I heard JD say, “Prayerlessness is the inevitable result of pride or a lack of faith, usually both. You fail to pray, instinctively, because you are too proud to realize you need God or too unbelieving to grasp God’s willingness to help,” in staff meeting. I could no longer chalk up inconsistent prayer to a lack of discipline.

Choosing to follow the church-wide prayer guide, I read Luke 1:8-17 and found myself identifying with Zechariah more than I expected. Zechariah was in his routine of serving God (v. 8-9) while surrounded by people who were praying (v. 10). His occupation and religious duty caused him to miss the worship for the service.

Working in ministry can sometimes make prayer seem redundant, after all, “I already know what God wants me to do today – it’s in my job description and on my calendar.” It can become a mindset of, “Why talk to God when I already know the assignment. When I get stuck, I’ll check back in for clarification and direction.” I have a tendency to view myself as God’s servant more than God’s son (adopted child, little “s”).

But it’s more than that. I also grow comfortable (a nicer word for “pride” per JD’s quote above). I treat God like a mentor more than my Savior. The more I learn about what God wants me to do, the more independent I feel like I can be.

With much of this kind of thinking I quickly reach the point that, like Zechariah, I am surprised and questioning of God’s “interference” in “my” assignment (v. 18-20). Honestly, Zechariah had much better reason than I do. He was struggling with decades of unanswered prayer about the desire for a child (v. 7). I just tend to make second things first.

It struck me how the description of John the Baptist is a part of ministry to which I rarely pay attention. John was to “prepare the way” for Jesus. So much of the impact of teaching and counseling is what happens before the conversation begins. John proclaimed the sinfulness of humanity so that the grace of Jesus would be the answer to the question people were asking. Without the right question, Jesus’ message would have been thought-provoking not life-changing.

This made my subtle pride less subtle. The tasks God gives to us are not side jobs over which we take dominion but cooperation with His moving in the life of people. It is humbling to remember that what I can’t control is so much bigger than what I can. When I grow comfortable with “my assignment” it is because I have shrunk the scope of God’s activity to my life. I merely want to check off that “I did it right, so nobody can get on to me.”

From these points of conviction my prayers centered on:

  • Asking God to reverse the way I shrink life and ministry to make it manageable.
  • Praying for the events prior to the prayer meeting that God would prepare His people.
  • Praying that God would use the events before each ministry task a Summit pastor engages in.
  • Reflecting on and thanking God for the number of “coincidences” that made ministry more effective in recent weeks.
  • Praying that God would “prepare the way” for the Gospel in places that are hostile to Christianity.

I hope these reflections serve as an encouragement for you to pray and to share with others how God uses prayer to change you and change the world around you.