growth (15)

Weekly Prayer - May 6, 2020
Yemen is one of the poorest countries in the Middle East and has faced decades of instability. Civil war has gripped the country and left the people in desperate need of humanitarian aid. More than 9,000 Yemenis have been killed, over 50,000 injured and 3 million people have fled their homes. Millions of people face shortages of food and water, and less than half the country's health facilities are operational. Approximately 16.4 million people currently have no access to healthcare.

Cities are continuing to be bombed and the infrastructure is collapsing. There is severe famine in parts of the country. Its few oil fields are not producing. Cholera is epidemic, the currency is collapsing, prices are soaring, and many in the public sector haven't been paid in over a year. There is also fear that school age boys will be recruited to fight for the Houthis who control large areas of the country. The humanitarian crisis in Yemen is severe as many are starving or on the verge of having nothing to eat. Malnutrition and infant mortality is becoming normal.
Prayer Request
Pray that the UN and the Saudi-led coalition will work together to reopen ports and resume the delivery of food, medicine and humanitarian aid 
Pray that God will protect the Yemeni people, bring an end to the conflict, and establish His peace in their land 
Pray that Christian brothers and sisters in Yemen will stay firm and make strong ties with other believers to bring many to Christ 
(praying with Window International Network)

PTAP's Vision
"To see the global church praying for the Arabian Peninsula so that the gospel and churches will be planted for every indigenous people in the Arabian Peninsula"
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PTAP: Pray for Yemen.

Prayer Requests - November 19, 2019
Below is an overview of the situation in Yemen. This is not a Christian report. But it is a good overview of the problems in Yemen. This video is 7 mins. Please take time today to pray for Yemen.  
Prayer Points: 
1. Pray for an end to the war in Yemen. There have been small steps in the south to end fighting there, but that is only a small part of the overall picture. 

2. Pray for 24 million people of the total population of 27 million who need food aid and other aid. There is great suffering and this suffering is all man-made. 

3. Pray for families that have lost so much--homes, livelihoods, family members, loved ones...Some reports have stated that over 100,000 people have died in Yemen. 

4. Pray for the gospel to spread in Yemen. Despite all the suffering and pain, more Yemeni are walking with the Lord Jesus today than since Islam took control of this country. Pray that more people will come to know Jesus and find hope in Him. 
on Facebook, you may visit Pray4Yemen for more information on the land.

PTAP's Vision
"To see the global church praying for the Arabian Peninsula so that the gospel and churches will be planted for every indigenous people in the Arabian Peninsula"
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PTAP: New Believers

Dave learned that his national friend, Adam, had become a believer about two years ago. Adam was disillusioned with Islam while still a teenager and started investigating religions. He found Jesus and the Bible to be historically valid, unlike the others. Dave heard him tell of faith in Jesus alone for salvation, and of several others in his prominent bedouin tribe who had also believed in Jesus. Pray for their growth both individually, and that their faith would spread to others.

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How do you measure the church? Do you measure it by the beauty and size of the building? Do you measure it by the number of programs and activities? Do you measure it by the number of people who attend or the size of the offerings gathered?

In Revelation 11 John was told to do some measuring. And I think his measurements tell us something about measuring the church.

“Then I was given a measuring rod like a staff, and I was told, ‘Rise and measure the temple of God and the altar and those who worship there.’”


I do not believe that the temple which John was told to measure was just the temple of God in heaven. I believe it is also the temple of God where he dwells in His church. Ephesians 2:21 says we are being built together as a dwelling for God. You measure the church partly by how its members are bonded together like bricks in a wall. This comes from fellowship, from working together, from facing trials together, from believing together, and most of all from praying together. God’s presence blesses a church whose members are bound together in Him. Is your’s a gathering where God dwells? You can sense the presence of God in a church.


The altar is the place of worship. How important is worship to your church? Do people worship sacrificially, giving everything in their lives to God? Does your church worship joyfully, praising God with all of your hearts? Does service and sacrifice spring up out of love for God?


I think it is telling that John was told to measure the temple and the altar and those who worship there. You do not measure a church simply by the number of people who attend. A church must be measured by the spiritual growth in the lives that God has trusted to it. Are people becoming more Christ-like. Are people becoming more and more faithful, more and more devoted, more and more loving from the ministry of your church?



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New Season

As Ramadan has come to a close, pray for freedom from a religious spirit that keeps people in bondage to faith in their own works. Pray that believers will live out their faith in front of their neighbors and co-workers in a way that will attract them to Jesus Christ. Continue to pray that locals will have dreams and visions of Jesus Christ. Pray that they will hunger to know Him for who is truly is and connect with believers who can help disciple them.

Be in prayer for university students who are seeking Jesus Christ and reading the Word. Pray that they will read with hunger and understanding and that they will come to be saved by faith in Him. 

Pray for a new believer who is standing alone. Pray for strength, sweet time in the Word, opportunities for discipleship, rapid growth in intimacy with the Lord, and a deep and enduring faith that will carry through no matter the circumstances.

Please pray for a small neighborhood where much Good Seed has been sown, and there has been a lot of interest and response. After some years of friendship and spiritual discussion, local families were interrogated about their western Christian friends. About the same time, there were several accidental deaths in the same small neighborhood. Although the western Christians stopped visiting for the sake of their friends, some local believers remain. Please pray for them and for the growth of the Church in that place.
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Convicted by the Holy Spirit

Two Thai women came to our study group after having gone through almost the entire process of converting to Islam. They stated that when they got to the final step of conversion they could not follow through. They shared that something inside told them this was wrong and not for them. They returned to our bible study group more certain than ever that Jesus is the way. Praise God that He is moving by his spirit; convicting, protecting, and drawing people to himself. Pray that many will hear God's voice and follow the prompting of the Holy Spirit's leading.

A Prayer for Hope
With peace talks in Kuwait and fighting in the Hadramaut; news about Yemen continues to swing between hope and despair. Please pray for the people who are caught in the middle. Pray that their basic needs will be met. Pray that God will meet them in their suffering.
Pray also that the church of Jesus Christ would continue to grow among more peoples and in more places throughout the Arabian Peninsula as more and more have access to the Word of God, living & active.
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Abiding but not Thriving


There are two questions every believer must deal with in their Christian life. The first is: "Why aren't I bearing more fruit for the Kingdom of God?" The second is more troublesome: "Why does a good God allow evil and suffering in the world?" 

As He sits by the sea one day, Jesus answers both questions. In the parable of the sower, He reveals the believer's four-step growth progression towards fruitfulness. We know the first two: "wayside" hearers who do not understand the Word, and "stony" believers, or those who love the Word but have no root in themselves to persevere. It is the third type of believer we can learn from. 

Please click here to read article

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PTAP: God is Building His Church.

Praise God for the handfuls of known believers in this country. Every person who is given faith is a miracle of God's washing and regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit (Titus 3:5)! Praise him for his grace that has appeared, bringing salvation for all people (Titus 2:11).
Pray for these believers, that they would renounce ungodliness and worldly passions and live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age as they wait for the blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ (Titus 2:11). Praise Jesus that he will continue to purify a people for himself for his own possession who are zealous for good works (Titus 2:13-14). So pray that these believers would continue to grow in their knowledge of God and who they are in Christ and as a result, be very zealous to do good works, to practice love, and to meet the needs of others before their own (Phil 2:1-11).
Pray for unity among the believers. The evil one plants distrust and fear among them and it is difficult at times to be united as one community for Christ. Pray that they know how much God loves them so that love would reign among them so that fear is cast out (1 John 4:18, 19). Pray for unity (Psalm 133, 1 Cor 12:12-26). Pray that they would attain the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God to mature manhood to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ (Eph 4:13).
Pray for a zeal for outreach as well. Part of growing in the knowledge of the Son of God is to reach out and make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:18-20). Pray that they would be filled with the Holy Spirit and thus be bold in their witness (Acts 4:29-31).
Most of the believers come from the same areas of the country. The other regions are totally unreached. Pray that God would bring in his sheep from these unengaged regions, that they would hear the Shepherd's voice, and that they would unite with other members of Christ's body here so that there will be one flock under one Shepherd (John 10:16).
Pray for the people of this country who study abroad as international students and become believers there. Praise God that this is happening. Pray for continued outreach to all people from the Middle East who study abroad and who are exposed to the knowledge of the Son of God for the first time in their lives. Pray that God would continue to build his church among "aliens", "immigrants", and "sojourners" because He loves them as He loves orphans and widows (Deut 10:18-19).
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Certainly the most disturbing words in the Lord's Prayer are found in verse 12.

"Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors."

We sometimes flit like a butterfly over these words without letting them shock us to the core of our relationship with God. Jesus calls us to surrender all of our resentments, all unforgiveness, as we ask for His forgiveness.

As with all of the Lord's Prayer, these words can be expanded. You understand calling on God as Father better when you tell Him all that calling Him Father means to you. Your praise will be more exhilarating when you take time to hallow His name in every way you can think of. And you will receive a far greater blessing from this prayer when you let its seriousness wash over you, struggling to forgive people who are hard to forgive.  

Let me show you two steps of spiritual growth that this part of The Lord's Prayer helps us take. By spending time praying this facet of the model prayer (1)we come to accept the mindset of forgiveness and (2)we surrender our hearts to God in the struggle of forgiveness.

In Matthew 18 beginning with verse 23 Jesus taught something crucial to the kingdom of heaven. He told the story of a king who decided to settle his accounts. He was reminded that one of his servants owed him ten thousand talents. A talent represented a fortune in those days. Ten thousand talents would be like a billion dollars today. It would have been impossible for a servant ever to repay such a sum. So the king arranged to sell the servant along with his wife and children and simply call the debt lost. But the servant came before him and pleaded for time to pay the impossible debt. The king showed him compassion and forgave the entire amount. The servant went away with great relief. But a fellow servant owed him a hundred denari. He went to him and demanded payment. When the other man pleaded with him for more time he grabbed him by the throat and began to choke him. He had him thrown into prison until he paid the full amount. The other servants were upset and told their master. The king summoned his servant and rebuked him. "You wicked servant, I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. Should you not have had mercy on your fellow servant as I had mercy on you?" In anger the king commanded that he be turned over to the tormentors until he paid all his debt. Jesus then concluded, "So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart."

Does that mean God will resend your salvation if you will not forgive someone? I do not believe it does. In John 10:28 Jesus clearly said about those who are His sheep, "No one will snatch them out of my hand." But this parable, The Lord's Prayer and other passages like Ephesians 4:32, teach that God's forgiveness is inextricably connected to our forgiving others. Forgiving others should be the natural and supernatural overflow of a forgiven heart. When we pour ourselves into this prayer we immerse ourselves in the mindset of forgiveness. I will be honest there are times that I have had to ask God to forgive someone, still confessing that I was not yet forgiving from my heart. And I had to ask God to do the painful work in my inner being that would bring me to forgive as He so painfully purchased my forgiveness on the cross.

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What Intercessors Can Learn from Jabez' Prayer

We all go through painful experiences of one kind or another, and how we handle life’s adversities will have a lot to do in determining our character and our destiny. The intriguing story of Jabez reveals how our pain can be transformed as we lay hold of God’s promises:


Jabez was more honorable than his brothers; and his mother called his name Jabez, saying, “Because I bore him in pain.” Jabez called upon the God of Israel, saying, “Oh that you would bless me and enlarge my border, and that your hand might be with me, and that you would keep me from harm so that it might not bring me pain!” And God granted what he asked (1 Chronicles 4:9-10 ESV).


Too often, people assume that their upbringing inevitably determines their destiny. But Jabez knew otherwise. Right from the beginning, we see that he stood out from the crowd, and he was “more honorable” even than his own brothers.


However, as we read about Jabez’ life, we realize his life got off to a rough start. It seemed like the cards were stacked against him. His birth was so painful that his mother called his name Jabez”—derived from the Hebrew word for pain.


Perhaps you can relate to Jabez’ story at this point. Your parents probably didn’t name you “a Pain”—at least not formally! But let’s be honest: Sometimes parents, siblings, peers, pastors, or employers send us negative messages about our identity…who we are. Or maybe there was a bully in your neighborhood who said you were too skinny…too fat…too ugly…too short…or too stupid.


There’s an old saying that is totally false. I’m sure you’ve heard it: “Sticks and stones can break my bones, but words can never hurt me.” That truth is just the opposite: We can recover from sticks and stones and even broken bones—but people’s words often cause us a lifetime of hurt.


That’s how Jabez’ story begins: with pain…with rejection from the very people who should have shown him the most love and acceptance. But the good news is that Jabez wasn’t content to wallow in his situation. He rejected the labels put on him by his detractors, choosing instead to seek God for a new identity…a new purpose…and a new destiny.


How did your story begin in its early chapters? Perhaps you had a wonderful, loving family that cared for you and nurtured you all along the way. But I meet so many people today who have had an experience more like Jabez.


So what did Jabez do to break free from the negative labels that threatened to bind him to a life of failure or mediocrity? The text says, Jabez called upon the God of Israel.” If you are going to break free from people’s opinions about you, you must cry out for HIGHER opinion—the opinion of Almighty God. In the end, it’s really just HIS opinion that maters, isn’t it? When you stand before Him in eternity, the bullies and naysayers won’t be there to tear you down. The only thing that will matter will be hear His beautiful words of affirmation, “Well done, good and faithful servant” (Matthew 25:21).


We’re specifically told that he called upon “the God of Israel.” This doesn’t just mean he was calling upon the God of the nation of Israel. No, Jabez was calling upon the God of JACOB—the patriarch whose name was changed by God to ISRAEL.


Do you see why this is significant? Jacob had a pretty dysfunctional childhood, and his own brother seemed intent on killing him. And just like Jabez, Jacob had been given a rather negative name—Jacob, the “supplanter” or “usurper.” And up until the point when Jacob’s name was changed, he had lived up to his negative name, becoming an opportunistic scoundrel and deceiver.


But after Jacob wrestled all night with God in Genesis 32:22-29, the Lord changed his name to Israel, which meant “Triumphant with God” or “Prince with God.”


You see, Jabez knew the story of Jacob well. He saw how God had transformed Jacob from being a PAIN to being a PRINCE. And Jabez called on the “God of Israel (Jacob)” to do the same for him.


Perhaps you need a name change today…a new identity. God can take your PAIN and make you a PRINCE or PRINCESS. He can take your FAILURES and give you a glorious FUTURE. But you have a role to play. You must cry out to Him, like Jabez did. You may even need to wrestle with Him, as Jacob did. But don’t let go until you have a new name…a fresh start…a new beginning.


And I want you to notice that Jabez asked God to give him several specific things. This is an important lesson for us, because sometimes our prayers and our plans are too vague and undefined. I encourage you today to be specific about what you are asking God for. Specific prayer requests will bring specific answers!


Jabez first requested of the Lord, “Oh that you would bless me.” God wants to bless YOU, my friend! So go ahead, like Jabez, and ASK Him to bless you.


The second thing Jabez asked is that God would “enlarge his border.” In the same way, God wants to enlarge you today. He wants to give you bigger dreams…higher vision…more audacious plans.


But think of how incredible this prayer request must have been for Jabez, the man who was labeled a pain and a loser. He could have curled up in a ball and wallowed in his victimhood, but instead he did just the opposite. He called on God to enlarge his territory and give him greater responsibilities and impact.


So what about YOU? Is there some area of your life that you need God to enlarge? Your career…your finances…your health…your relationships…your ministry…your vision? Today can be your first step in asking God for an INCREASE that will change your entire trajectory in life.


Jabez’ next request was that “God’s hand” would be upon his life. This expressed Jabez’ recognition that he needed GOD’S FAVOR in order to accomplish his life’s PURPOSE. This is so important for you to see: In order to escape from any painful experiences that would hold you back from your destiny, you need God’s favor.


Jabez’ final request was that God would keep from harm—from the things that would cause pain, either to himself or the people around him. Jabez was a man of great faith, but he also was a realist. He understood that he had received a legacy of pain and dysfunction, and the natural thing would be to continue that legacy in his own life. It’s no secret that people in pain tend to cause pain to others. People who have been abused often become abusers. Children of alcoholics and addicts too often follow in their parents footsteps.


But Jabez knew the negative patterns must STOP! He had been called a pain, but that’s not how he wanted to treat others.


This passage about Jabez ends with a beautiful conclusion: “And God granted what he asked.” I love happy endings, don’t you? Just as God did in the life of Jabez, He has planned a happy ending for YOU!


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Grandma's Theory on Church Growth

Grandma Buchan was a very wise woman, and she had a fascinating theory on church growth. Well, actually, her theory had to do with restaurants, but many of the same principles apply to churches.


      “Jimmy, I never go to a restaurant if the parking lot isn’t full,” she told me firmly one day.


      I had never thought about restaurants that way. In fact, it seemed to me that there should be other considerations.


      “But, Grandma, I don’t always like busy restaurants, because you have to wait longer for your food.”


      Granny couldn’t be dissuaded, though. “No, Jimmy, if a restaurant has a lot of customers, I know the food must be good.”


      At the time of our conversation, it never occurred to me to ask Grandma about her thoughts on church growth. But as a pastor, I later adapted her theorem: Churches tend to grown when they serve good spiritual food.


      There’s a lot to be said for this axiom. I remember when our college fellowship group was attracting members away from the very boring and very liberal chapel program on campus. The college chaplain wasn’t very happy about this, of course, but I told him that people were simply gravitating to where their needs were being met.


      I’ve been on the other end of this principle, too. What if you’re a pastor whose members are leaving to attend a church down the street? It’s particularly painful when you’ve poured your heart and soul into someone who then departs for greener pastures or a better show.


      If Granny were still alive, I would love to bring up some questions about how her theory applies to churches. For example, the McDonald’s drive-thru is almost always busy. But I surely can’t say the food is good, at least not nutritionally. Aren’t there churches just like that—serving food that’s high in sugar and fat, making people obese and clogging their spiritual arteries as the years go by?


      Yes, people tend to gravitate to what meet their needs, but they also can gravitate to junk food.


      How does this apply to your church? Is it just a feel-good congregation, or is it truly offering good spiritual nutrition? Is it a place of genuine relationship and accountability, or is it more akin to a McDonald’s drive-thru?


      As we can see in John chapter six, Jesus’ earthly ministry demonstrated both sides of Granny’s principle. On the one hand, huge multitudes were following Him, because He was serving good food, healing people, and meeting their needs.


      But toward the end of the chapter, the crowd was reduced down to the original 12 disciples. Why? Because Jesus wasn’t going to let His ministry become like a McDonald’s drive-thru. Rather than being content to entertain people or feed them junk food, He gave them some “hard sayings” that day: “Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you” (v. 53).


      So we need to allow God to deal with us on both sides of this issue. If few people are being attracted by our ministry, we must ask ourselves whether we’re truly serving good food.


      However, if huge crowds are coming, we may need to preach some “hard sayings” and see who the real disciples are. Let’s make sure our congregations aren’t just filled with drive-by Christians, coming for the junk food. Instead of just providing a momentary spiritual high, may our “worship experiences” promote long-term spiritual growth.


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Draw Near To God, and He Will Draw Near To You

Let’s start thinking about this simple, but profound promise (Draw Near To God, and He Will Draw Near To You) by going back to square one, and moving forward with ideas on actual ways to do this.

In either your experience or your understanding, who approached whom first, you or God? You may have searched or studied about God, feeling that you were the driving force. However, most of us who now know God by faith and experience have come to understand from His Word that He is the One who took the initiative in our relationship, and even our own efforts were guided by Him. This does not in any way devalue the FREE WILL He provided us, based on His love for us. God will never force Himself on us, and the love He shows us in giving us free will has a lot to do with Him wanting us to CHOOSE to know Him and love Him back. He could have made us ROBOTS, but that would have killed the essence of us choosing to respond to His love and thereby experience a growing, vital, dynamic love relationship with Him.

So, what is the bedrock way to see and experience His love initiative toward us? Jesus’ whole brief life on earth focused on His mission as Emmanuel (God with us) to show us God in flesh-action on His way to offer us salvation via the cross and the empty tomb. All forces of human and evil spiritual authorities tried to kill or sidetrack Jesus from His mission to become our savior by paying full price for all our sins. Perhaps the strongest potential deterrent from His mission was the foreknowledge of the pending physical, spiritual, and emotional pain He faced in his mock trials and crucifixion. For example He sweat drops of blood as he wrestled to seek any alternative to making full payment by taking ALL our sins upon Himself on the cross. Since none was to be found if we were to be given the invitation of heaven in God’s holy presence, dressed in Christ’s robe of righteousness, the third time Jesus agonized alone in prayer, he yielded, “Not my will, but Thine be done.” Psalm 22 predicted His cries from the cross, as well as the answer to His grueling WHY question. “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me? Why are you so far away when I groan for help?...3 Yet you are holy”

So God the Father, Son, and Spirit planned before our known world began, to provide man a way that would satisfy God’s holiness, to live in their holy presence forever. They took love initiative way beyond our comprehension to invite us to love and worship them back. Only those who are impacted by the magnitude of such love, and respond with a decisive RSVP act of their will and commitment, will experience that extended transforming love, and be allowed into the holy presence of God forever.

So for those only, who have RSVP’d for heaven, God now offers us the opportunity to respond to His love initiative, in kind, with our initiative to draw near to Him. It is no surprise that some of these “methods” include: prayer, worship, adoration, sharing His worthiness and glory with others, and cooperating daily with the Holy Spirit to allow Him to produce and refine His fruit in us (which includes love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and Spirit-control). As we see God at work in this world and join Him as partners (ambassadors), we experience His enablement, filling, equipping, and transforming power at work in, through, and around us. As we mostly listen and worship in prayer we see Him High and lifted up. In King David’s impactful Psalm 51 prayer of brokenness and repentance, he prays, “Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and make me willing to obey you.13 Then I will teach your ways to rebels, and they will return to you. There are many such ways to respond to God’s love and experience Him drawing near to us, but the first step is to accept His love initiative to us on the cross where the dearest and best died for us.

For more, please see: How to Draw Nearer to God; John Hoelzel Sr; 2011;

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Ever-Increasing Glory

“How are you doing today?” That’s the question I’ve often asked people over the years.


But I’ve concluded that this is probably the wrong question. I’m thinking of trying out a new query for the people I encounter:


“How’s your TRAJECTORY today?”


This is a much better question, isn’t it? Although I hope you’re having a good day, it’s much more important that the overall trajectory of your life is upward.


Perhaps your finances aren’t great today, but hopefully they are better than they used to be. You may not be in perfect health, but I pray you’re keeping those New Year’s Resolutions to make your health better than last year.


And the real question about your marriage or your relationships with your kids is not how they’re doing right now. Instead, the question is whether you are sowing positive seeds today for a better trajectory tomorrow


How long has it been since you’ve applied the trajectory question to the various facets of your life? Maybe it’s time to ask whether your employer’s cash flow is on a sustainable path. Or perhaps you have to face the question of whether your church is on an upward trajectory, stuck on a plateau, or declining—with everyone just getting old and dying off.


Trajectory is a Biblical concept, after all. The pathway of a righteous person is supposed to shine “ever brighter” (Proverbs 4:18). As we grow in our relationship with the Lord, our spiritual trajectory should be a transformation from one degree of glory to another (2 Corinthians 3:18). And since our destiny is to become like Jesus, we should show evidence of becoming more like Him every day (Romans 8:29, 1 John 3:2-3, 2 Peter 1:5-8).


Perhaps you’ve experienced times of failure in the past, but you can’t allow that to determine your trajectory today. And no matter how things are going at the moment, remember that you are called “UPWARD” (Philippians 3:13-14).


If you’re not happy with your life’s trajectory today, there’s good news. We serve the God of resurrection and new beginnings. He can take a tailspin and turn it around.


But the trajectory question is a reality check. You can’t keep doing the same things and expect different results. 

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The Old Man in the Mirror

"Since hardening of the attitudes typically sets in long before hardening of the arteries,

I must pursue those calisthenics of spiritual consecration that make me vibrant within."

"The Old Man in the Mirror"

Yesterday, I turned 54.  It is truly hard to believe I am one year away from that golden age where AARP torments me with their recruitment tactics and restaurants give me the old-wrinkled-guy special. 



How did this happen? Just yesterday I was playing baseball with my buddies in the neighborhood park, enjoying dodge ball on the playground, running the mile relay in junior high, and catching touchdowns in high school.  Just moments ago I was traveling on a singing team for my college, inspiring my peers as their Student Body President, and cramming for a theology exam in seminary.

Was it really almost 30 years ago that Rosemary and I exchanged vows? Can all our children really be in their 20s? Where did all those years escape when I was the young pastor, performing weddings for the children of those “mature” parents? 

Alas, reality prevails.  I have become that decrepit dude who has reached the age of balding, bifocals, bulging, and bunions.  I thought only geriatric white-hairs in wheelchairs were grandfathers.  Yet, I am one... twice.


The Old Man in the Mirror

If mirrors did not exist, I would be 35.  It was Satchel Paige who asked, “How old would you be if you did not know how old you were?”  My answer is still 35.  

Paige also said, “Age is a case of mind over matter.  If you don’t mind, it don’t matter.”  I am working on that part.  Just last week I was talking to a guy who looked pretty old.  As we conversed, I noticed how worn his face was.  His eyes had bags underneath.  He looked like he had logged a good number of miles on his body.  I felt a little sorry for him until he made some comment about his age, which happened to be five years less than mine.  At my next opportunity, I looked at my face in the mirror.  Let’s just say, it’s been on my mind ever since.


Grace to Choose

So, now I have a choice.  I can become a grumpy old “prayer man” or I can trust God for the grace to make the rest of my life the best of my life.  Thank God for the grace to choose door number two.

Of course, there are many other choices that accompany that one.  I must choose to regulate my diet and reduce my portions.  I can get serious again for the 100th time about exercise.  I can even scrub the moon-crater-like pores on my nose and put some kind of magic lotion on my face to wage my losing war on these obstinate wrinkles. 

Most importantly, I must make some spiritual choices.  Paul, who really knew how to finish the race, said, “Exercise yourself toward godliness.  For bodily exercise profits a little, but godliness is profitable for all things, having promise of the life that now is and of that which is to come” (1 Timothy 4:7-8).  Since hardening of the attitudes typically sets in long before hardening of the arteries, I must pursue those calisthenics of spiritual consecration that make me vibrant within.


A Vision of Vibrancy

I love the biblical vision of the best kind of aging where it says, “Those who are planted in the house of the LORD shall flourish in the courts of our God.  They shall still bear fruit in old age; they shall be fresh and flourishing, to declare that the LORD is upright; He is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in Him” (Psalm 92:13-15).  While I cannot control the creep of crow’s feet and the appearance of age spots, I can cultivate the character of a fully-alive inner man that is fresh, flourishing, and fruitful until my final breath.  


The Eternal Exercise Plan

First, I can exercise my feet, standing firm, “planted in the house of the Lord.”  I find it sad when people mature physically but shrink into spiritual pygmies because they stop choosing to plant their lives in the place of passionate worship.  I want to keep “pressing on” in my pursuit of God in my everyday practice of His presence.  Someday, I want to be that old dude who the young people laugh at (but secretly admire) because he is unrestrained and cuts loose in worship, even if he looks like a "doofus."  I don’t want to stay home and watch “senior citizens' church” as long as I can stand among the godly with my heart soaring in His presence in the courts of our God.


Second, I can exercise my tongue, “declaring that the Lord is upright.”  When this kind of praise frames the substance of my speech there is little room left to whine about the parts that don’t work and complain about my pain.  


Third, I can exercise my heart,trusting fully that “He is my rock and there is no unrighteousness in Him.” Of course, energy wanes, days get lonely, and the scoreboard of significance becomes blurred – but the Lord is still my security and there is no unrighteousness in Him.  I will trust and obey these great truths – and be happy in Jesus. 


Finally, I can exercise my eyes, focusing on the reality of eternal significance, not just the earthly vapor of this physical life.  Paul says it this way: “Therefore we do not lose heart.  Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day.  For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen.  For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:16-18).  As a child I sang, “Be careful, little eyes, what you see.”  As I approach the finish line I must sing, “Be careful, little eyes, HOW you see.”


A Birthday Resolution

Thank God that, in Christ and by His grace, every birthday can find me standing firm in worship, speaking loudly in praise, and trusting boldly in the One who is my rock and righteousness.  And every day, I can see the world through the eyeglasses of eternity, even when I look at that old man in the mirror.



Copyright © 2012 Daniel Henderson. All rights reserved.

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Embracing God Conversations All Day Long

I don't remember if anyone in particular invented it, but I do recall when something labeled Conversational Prayer became popular. It was the idea that in group prayer people would engage God in an ongoing conversation together about one topic for a time and then move to another after that topic was "covered." It was a welcome change from the boredom and distraction often experienced waiting for others to stop praying so you could join in.  It's something that many groups still do and I and many others happen to like the idea to this day.

Conversational prayer can keep prayer times from just becoming the reciting of requests to God with little extended thought or involvement by others when they are not praying. It's also a very special time when the conversation focuses only on praise for a time.

However, the older I get the more I enjoy and am enriched by my own individual conversations with God, ones that go on throughout the day rather than merely during one devotional moment or session. It's when I find Paul's admonition to pray without ceasing to really come alive.

And there are several benefits from those talks, inspirations to my growth as a person and one who prays.  First, I find that when I talk with God more informally that I am more likely to bring Him the gritty, everyday things that I'm wrestling with at the moment. I talk more readily about my pride, temptations that I may be experiencing or the disappointments that just occurred in my work or home life.

I also find myself praising Him for the small things that I often forget to thank him for other times. I praise Him more for the provision that He's given all around me, for the car I'm driving and the ministry and work that I am headed to that I love and which pays our bills. I tend to forget those things when I only pray at home or in church.

I pray more for individuals whose homes I drive by or who I see on the street. I am reminded to pray for businesses nearby and for other churches in our city.

And for some reason, I tend to listen to God more or at least I seem to hear Him better. Maybe it's the prompting of the needs around me that God speaks into, I don't know.

Nonetheless, I encourage you to consider more of your own all-day-long conversations with God as you play and work. You can't go wrong speaking with your Father on a regular basis!

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