Wednesday, March 31, 2004

Praying for Our Troops

Sandra Higley has a nice article in Pray! News Online this week.

A lot of prayer for the situation in Iraq has gone up over the past year. And it certainly has had an impact in the heavenlies! But now, as it appears most of the fighting is over, there might be a tendency to let our prayer efforts wane as well. We want to challenge you to continue storming heaven on behalf of our troops.

Whether your focus is on our soldiers in Iraq or those in Afghanistan or Haiti, here are some Scripture-based prayers to give direction to your intercession. Use them as a starting point to fuel your own kingdom prayers for the needs of those serving our country under difficult circumstances.

Lord of Hosts, our Commander in Chief has made it clear that he fears You. As he seeks You, Lord, grant him complete success. Vindicate him by delivering coalition forces from the hand of the enemy. Then all the ends of the earth will remember and turn to You. Families from all nations will bow down before You (2 Chron. 26:5; 1 Sam. 24:15; Ps. 22:27).

Even though Satan intended this for harm, use this conflict to accomplish the saving of many lives. Grant understanding to soldiers as they make eleventh hour decisions for You. We stand against Satan and his attempts to snatch the Word away from them. Send chaplains into this harvest who are well equipped with Your word of truth (Gen. 50:20; Mk. 4:15; Lk. 10:2; Ro. 10:14).

Sovereign Lord Almighty, we recognize that you have work to do in the land of Babylon. Open Your arsenal and bring out Your weapons. We recognize our battle is not against flesh and blood. We ask for legions of angels to come a longside our military to do battle with principalities, powers, rulers of darkness, and spiritual forces of evil (Jer. 50:25; Eph. 6:12).

Father, send dreams and visions to the Iraqi people before our troops arrive at their doors. Convince them to disregard the lies of the evil one. As our soldiers search from house to house and village to village, give them wisdom, knowledge, and understanding that will save them from any ambushes set by wicked men. Watch their backs as they enter unknown and dangerous situations (Jn. 8:44; Prov.. 2:6,12; Is. 52:12).

Our soldiers have laid down their weapons and dropped to their knees to diffuse a hostile situation. God of love and peace, show them when to use other weapons of righteousness such as truthful speech and love as they attempt to show a biblical worldview of peace to people who are used to deceit (2 Cor. 13:11, 6:7).

Save our troops from every trap and snare, and from every deadly chemical or biological pestilence, Lord. Teach them not to put their trust in gas masks or other protective gear, but to trust in Your name, Lord God (Ps. 91:3, 20:7).

God of peace, guard the hearts and minds of our soldiers in Christ Jesus. Supply all their needs, emotionally, spiritually, and physically as they face the horrors of war: the death and injuries, the loneliness, the tiredness, and the mistakes of friendly fire. Protect them from discouragement as they hear media reports of those who protest the war (Phil. 4:7,19).

8. Father, protect the families left at home by our military. Help them to cast all their anxiety and concerns for their loved ones on You. Thank You for caring for them (Jer. 49:11; 1 Pet. 5:7).

Jesus, we ask You to rise up and redeem every act of oppression, unkindness, or brutality perpetrated by any of our coalition forces. Send others who represent You to minister deep love to any victims of such tragic circumstances. Help our troops not to boast arrogantly or to be high-minded (Ps. 44:26, 119:134; 1 Pet. 4:8; 1 Sam. 2:3).

O Lord God, You are with our troops and You are mighty to save. May they listen to You so that they will live in safety without fear of harm. Bring them home to us (Zeph. 3:17a; Prov. 1:33; Zeph. 3:20a).

Baby Instructions

Have you seen the ad from the National Fatherhood Initiative? It has a beautiful sleeping baby, wrapped in a blanket with an instruction tag that reads:

"Instructions: Dads, please read carefully before raising.

This is a baby. It needs you. It needs your love, your touch, and your time. Spend lots of time with it. Build a bird house. Read a book. Go for a walk. Do homework. Play. The more time you spend, the better chance it has of growing up happy and healthy. It grows very quickly. Pay attention. Never underestimate the difference you make.

It takes a man to be a dad."

Good words to read and reread periodically.

Bible reading plans

Discipleship Journal has some of the best reading plans available online. Free. If you aren't reading Scripture systematically, check them out.
What Makes America Distinct?

Make time to read Dennis Prager's great column, What Does Judeo-Christian Mean? He makes an excellent argument that it means (1) the founders identified themselves with the Old Testament and the Jews, and (2) a belief in a universal (not relative) morality -- a moral accountability to the God of the Bible.

Tuesday, March 30, 2004

Combating Terrorism

George Shultz, former Secretary of State, gives an excellent analysis of our war on terrorism in a recent speech. "If we put this in terms of World War II, we are now sometime around 1937. In the 1930's, the world failed to do what it needed to do to head off a world war. Appeasement never works. Today we are in action. We must not flinch."

Friday, March 19, 2004

Encouragement on the same old things

Most husbands and dads know what they should be doing, and fall short of their expectations. It's not usually a problem of knowing what to do, but doing it. It's been described as the Knowing-Doing Gap.

I believe that God supplies the gift of encouragement to His people to address this very problem.

Encouragement isn't about coaching anyone with new skills or knowledge. Encouragement is often reminding someone of priorities, purposes, and accountability before the Lord. Encouragement is rooted in the FACT that we've been given everything we need (2 Pe 1:3) and that God is for us (Rom 8:31).

I'm here to encourage you. You need to be there to encourage the next guy.

Tuesday, March 16, 2004

A tip to help you remember prayers and prayer requests

We're weak, forgetful people. (It says so in the Bible, if you can't remember your own experience.) Even if we write down a prayer request, we often forget to check our list. So we need some prayer strategies. Here's one: Build crazy sentences as mnemonics, so you can remember multiple requests easily.

When I was in elementary school we had to remember the order of the biological world – Kingdom, Phylum, Class, Order, Family, Genus, Species. My 4th grade teacher taught us “King Phillip, come out for gosh sakes!” as an easy way to remember all seven and keep the order.

So I use the same strategy with prayer requests. The key is to make the sentences or phrases outrageous, so they’re easy to remember. Here are some examples:

“Cover my jammies.” My wife and children’s names start with C, M, and J.

“Let’s take a power walk.” An accountability partner wants me to pray for him about lies, prayer, his time in the Word, temptation while he’s traveling, and his exercise program.

“Keep stomping sludge.” Three of my pastors’ names start with K, S, and S.

Goofy? Yes. Effective? Absolutely. By the way, this strategy is a lot of fun to share with others. Kids of all ages get the idea, and it works.

Eyes and Heart vs. the Bible

Dennis Prager writes clearly about the end result of a generation that makes judgments from eyes and heart rather than the truth learned from the Bible. Recommended.

Saturday, March 13, 2004

Hell's Best Kept Secret

A friend pointed me to Ray Comfort's material on evangelism.

I listened to a tape based on his book, Hell's Best Kept Secret. I appreciated Ray's analysis of how to use the law (10 Commandments) in evangelism. When Jesus interacted with hard-hearted men, he gave them Law, Law, Law.

You can listen to two of Ray's messages online. Recommended.

Tuesday, March 09, 2004

Holiday for Abortion Providers

March 10 is the official holiday for abortionists. Men, keep praying against this monstrous evil in our land!

Monday, March 08, 2004

On homosexual "marriage"

A friend pointed out yesterday that the real answer to the question of homosexual "marriage" is to ask "What did God intend?" That answer must come by revelation, not be reason. (That's difficult for politicians to do, of course, but you and I are not trying to win anyone's vote, are we?) It is not helpful to say, "Well, that's the way it's always been." Or "It hurts the children." Because there are abundant examples of kids who have been hurt by heterosexual marriages.

I also appreciated Jeff Jacoby's useful analysis of why homosexual marriage is not about civil rights. "They have not been deprived of the law's equal protection, nor of the right to marry -- only of the right to insist that a single-sex union is a "marriage." They cloak their demands in the language of civil rights because it sounds so much better than the truth: They don't want to accept or reject marriage on the same terms that it is available to everyone else. They want it on entirely new terms. They want it to be given a meaning it has never before had, and they prefer that it be done undemocratically -- by judicial fiat, for example, or by mayors flouting the law. Whatever else that may be, it isn't civil rights."
Get a Globe

Men, we need to help our families develop a world perspective. I heard a speaker recommend you get a globe. If you already have one, dust it off. Place it at the kitchen table. Before meals, spin the globe, stop it with your finger at random, and then pray for the country you're pointing to.

Sunday, March 07, 2004

Whither Joseph?

My son leaned over one Sunday morning before Christmas when he was six, as the pastor read the Christmas story from Luke ("In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree..."), and muttered, "That's the same story they told last year -- don't they have a new story this year?"

There is a lot to reflect on in the Christmas story, and our understanding of it grows and deepens through the years.

I wonder about Joseph, one of the most mysterious persons in the tale. There are many unanswered questions about the man the Lord chose to be the earthly father of the Messiah:

* How many people did he tell about the visit from the angel?
* How would explain the dreams to Mary? To others?
* What did he say if anyone whispered about Jesus being illegitimate?
* How did he explain these things to Jesus? (And what might Jesus have explained to Joseph?)

Nary a word from Joseph is recorded, only what he did. Perhaps he was a man of few words; my guess is that you would have listened carefully when he did speak.

Think about the strength in his hands and shoulders, a carpenter by trade. The carpenters I know are highly creative and disciplined -- and they're not big talkers.

Joseph was clearly dead by the time Jesus began his active ministry. What is his legacy?

Here's a question for you to ponder: How is your talk/do balance? Is it a reflection of your service to the Lord? Some of us are called to use words as tools. Some men are just plain given more words than others. But all are called to use words and deeds for the glory of God.

Friday, March 05, 2004

Getting News Summaries

For prayer warriors out there who are concerned about brothers and sisters in another country: Sign up for a Google news alert for the country. Once a day you can receive an email message with links to all the news stories about that country. I do this for Venezuela. I can stay updated on events in the country, and it's a great reminder to pray! No cost to sign up. Check it out at

OK, John Kerry it is

Now that John Kerry has wrapped up the Democratic nomination, I'm more interested in learning what he plans to do. The Democratic campaigns seem oriented to bashing the current administration, rather than having substantative ideas about what policies to pursuse.

Peggy Noonan has an excellent column about Kerry that bears reading and re-reading.

John Ellis talks about "buyer's remorse":

"It's not a clean sweep -- Dean wins Vermont! -- but it's the end of Edwards. And therefore Senator John Kerry will be the 2004 Democratic presidential nominee.

Let the buyer's remorse begin!

Let's start with Kerry the candidate, whose tendency to coast is legendary. He's been coasting since New Hampshire, in case you hadn't noticed. Now that he is the nominee, he'll start coasting with a vengeance, driving his handlers to distraction. Sometime in April, this will become a story, as people start to notice that fund-raising is lagging, organization is behind schedule and the rings of consultants start to panic.

Next, let's visit the issue of Kerry the brand. No one knows anything about him, other than the fact that he served in Vietnam and represents Massachusetts in the US Senate. His economic plan has already been dismissed by The Washington Post as a fiscal joke. His various stances on the War on Terror are impossible to fathom. He has no coherent views on cultural issues. In other words, he's an empty net. Look for the Bush campaign to start working on its slapshot.

Finally, let's visit the issue of Kerry the pol. He's the unhappy warrior. And he has very few friends outside of the "band of brothers." The Bush network was and is vast. The Clinton network was vast. The Reagan network was vast. The Nixon network was vast. The Kerry network is astonishingly slight. When things go bad, as they do, you need friends in politics. As Kaus pointed out in his ode to buyer's remorse, Kerry has the fewest friends of any national politician since Carter.

The glue that holds the Kerry campaign together is negative -- "regime change" as Kerry himself puts it. It is a collection of complaints and resentments. Kerry's contempt for President Bush isn't feigned or strategic. It's complete. That works in Boston and New York and Los Angeles. It works with the megaphone media. Whether or not it will work in Ohio and Florida and Tennessee and West Virginia and Iowa and Michigan and Wisconsin is a long bet in a short market."


So where does this leave us, men? Where we always need to be -- in prayer. I'm still with Bush as president. But we are firstly citizens of another kingdom.

Tuesday, March 02, 2004

Thoughts from The Passion

We went to see The Passion on Saturday, and I've been reflecting on it since.

Many people have written of its power. I found it true to the Gospels. There are some things which are not explicitly in the Gospel accounts (e.g., Salome wiping the face of Jesus, the flashback of Jesus playfully splashing water on his mother), but they are not inconsistent and do not change the story.

I don't want to repeat what others have written. Let me offer two observations I have not seen or heard elsewhere.

First, the films' creators get Mary right in an important way -- she clearly understands what's going on and that it must go on. She doesn't have prescience to know the full reasons for the Passion and Resurrection, but she understands that God is sovereign over this. This is her strength.

Second, consider what a shock it must have been for John and the others who witnessed the crucifixion to see the resurrected Jesus. When they last saw him he was unrecognizably battered and ravaged (fulfilling the prophecy in Isaiah). And then he is standing among them in the upper room, whole again. This is a wonderful picture of how God's power, the power of the Gospel, transforms us from sin-eaten to justified-in-Christ. The movie helps us get a visceral picture of that contrast.

Blessed be the Lord, our sovereign King, who died for us while we yet sinners.
Getting the big picture right

Men, read this one. Dennis Prager: San Francisco and Islamists: Fighting the same enemy