Praying for those who are Single – The Effective Prayer 6.29.15

This post is part of the weekly series on effective prayer.

singleness

About ten and a half years ago, I was single. I had no prospects in sight and was just about beyond caring.

Singleness had it’s good points. I was free to come and go as I pleased. I could do whatever I wanted (within reason). Mostly, I went to church, work and the gym. It was restful, but it had it’s drawbacks. At the end of the day, I’d be back at my place, alone.

I had read books about singleness and what a “blessing” it was, but I hated being alone. In fact, those books were often written by married people, and all I could think was, “easy for you to say!” It is not an easy season of life for many. It definitely wasn’t easy for me.

Looking back, (and yes, I am one of those married people writing about singleness…sorry!) I wish I had done more with my single time. What I mean is, I wish I had done more for others, for the cause of Christ, and for my family.

Contrary to how it may feel, singleness is not a curse.

When I was growing up, I had very special single adults in my life who mentored and befriended me—something that wouldn’t have been as likely if they’d had children of their own. They took me to symphonies and camping trips, constructed ginger bread houses and castles with me, allowed me to go hang out with the young adults and twenty-somethings, and taught me that being a Christian is a way of life—in the both the fun and the serious.

One of my very dear friends, Ida, has not ceased to serve others with her time. She teaches bible classes, helps people learn about and prepare whole foods, makes broth and soup for people who are sick and whatever else she can. She is a great blessing.

The Apostle Paul was a big proponent of being single. He himself lived unmarried until the end of his life. He wrote to the Corinthian church:

I want you to be free from anxieties.

The unmarried man is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to please the Lord.

But the married man is anxious about worldly things, how to please his wife, and his interests are divided.

And the unmarried or betrothed woman is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to be holy in body and spirit.

But the married woman is anxious about worldly things, how to please her husband.

I say this for your own benefit, not to lay any restraint upon you, but to promote good order and to secure your undivided devotion to the Lord.

~1 Corinthians 7.32-35, ESV

Paul wasn’t against marriage. He says as much in the surrounding context, but he was making a point. When a Christian enters into marriage, he or she has additional concerns. They now have someone counting on them. They have become part of a team, pulling together (hopefully) in the same direction, but this includes meeting the needs your teammate regularly. It includes setting aside time that could be devoted to other things in order to serve the needs of your spouse and your family. None of it is bad. It has a place and a purpose. We need married people and single people.

Paul wanted the Corinthians to devote themselves wholly to the Lord. Serving the Lord is to be desired more than the “ideal” or “expected” status.

I know, I know… it’s easy for me to say… now

I think that the quote in the above picture hits the target on this issue: “Let not our longing slay the appetite of our living.”

Who are we supposed to be living for? To what are we supposed to be devoted? We should not allow our wishes for tomorrow rob us of our joy for today. (That goes for us old married couples too!)

In our prayers this week, let’s take some time each day to pray for the single Christians in our congregations.

  • Pray for them to fill their days with purpose, serving the Lord as they have opportunity.
  • Pray that they will be filled with God’s presence to quench any loneliness that may plague them from time to time.
  • If you think that they would like to be married, pray for the Lord to bring into their life a godly, loving spouse who will team up with them to work for the Lord. Along those same lines, pray that they will patiently wait for what God has planned.

Let’s pray for those who are single this week to great effect!

Coffee Chat 3 – Obeying God Rather Than Men

coffee chat

I love a good discussion with a friend over a steaming cup of chai, but since I can’t gather all of you at a comfortable cafe, I’ll have to be content with this little corner of the Internet.

You can thank the Supreme Court for the topic of this third symposia. I want to talk with you about obeying or disobeying government.

As many of you are surely aware, 5 Supreme Court justices decided that they had the right to mandate for the rest of us what defines marriage. 5 people think their opinion trumps Almighty God who set up the institution in the first place.

I am not a prophet, I cannot predict how this will play out, but I would not be shocked if more people lose their jobs, face lawsuits or get thrown in prison for “hate speech” because they refuse to recognize or support the union of two men or two women as “marriage.” I would not be shocked if religious freedom is only granted to those who concur with this ruling.

When the apostles preached the gospel in Jerusalem shortly after Pentecost, the Jewish leaders beat them and charged them not continue preaching these things. When the apostles disobeyed, the leaders were furious.

And when they had brought them, they set them before the council. And the high priest asked them, saying, “Did we not strictly command you not to teach in this name? And look, you have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine, and intend to bring this Man’s blood on us!”

But Peter and the other apostles answered and said: “We ought to obey God rather than men.”

~Acts‬ ‭5‬:‭27-29‬ NKJV

So, now that I’ve said more than I usually do in a coffee chat, I’d like to know your thoughts. How will you prepare yourself to respond when challenged? If you are at work and your co-worker invites you to her wedding to her female partner; if you are a preacher and you are asked to officiate a same-sex wedding; if you are a chaplain in the military… How are you going to respond?

Let me be clear on something: All people have souls, and it is God’s will that all should repent. We have to balance our righteous anger over those calling good evil and evil good with the love that God wants us to have for those who are living apart from Him. I do not advocate hate. Hateful comments will be deleted. But I do advocate standing for what is right.

Please leave a comment below while you sip on your favorite cup of tea or coffee!

Paul’s Real Thorn in the Flesh

we all need humor from time to time…

Reading Acts

Paul’s real “thorn in the flesh” identified at last….

Paul's Real Thorn...

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Do you really know your captain?

Saving Private Ryan, Photo by Amblin Entertainment - © 1998
Saving Private Ryan, Photo by Amblin Entertainment – © 1998

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.

Ephesians 6.10-13

Many of you may remember seeing the movie Saving Private Ryan. The movie is not for the faint of heart, particularly the opening scene. All the ugliness and brutality of war is graphically portrayed so that the viewers would understand the depth of sacrifice the dead and the survivors made for freedom. (There is also a TON of foul language in the movie, so if you should decided to watch it, keep that in mind. It’s a bit hard to listen to.)

I come from a long line of veterans. Both of my grandfathers served in World War 2. My mother’s dad didn’t give his proper age and joined up at 17. My father’s dad was a Navy chief who also served in Korea and Vietnam. My own father joined the Army Rangers (voluntarily) to serve in Vietnam because he believed that if America was at war, it was his duty to serve. They all survived, for which I am truly thankful. They each carried the scars of war—friends lost, horrors witnessed and nightmares to live with.

The survivors of combat possess a view of man, life and death that the rest of us cannot grasp with the same intensity. They have learned, first-hand, the cost of obedience. They have learned what makes a good leader and a rotten one. They know what it is to face death, and what they owe to those who gave up life.

I don’t know much about what my forbears did in the war. It wasn’t something they talked about much. It was a very private facet of their lives. I know my Father was a medic, that he ate some pretty nasty food in Vietnam, that he helped an amputee survive, and that he has earned several medals including the Silver Star. I don’t ask him for details because I know that the memories stir up nightmares and deeply painful memories, but I know and appreciate that his time as a soldier is part of who he is, and I am thankful for the sacrifices he made for us. I know only a part, but I respect him. I respected him when I lived under his roof and the more I get to know him, the deeper the respect.

In Saving Private Ryan, the men under Captain Miller’s command had a running bet on what Miller did prior to being in the military. They trusted their commander, they knew his bravery, they had confidence in his decision-making and they knew that he would obey orders—even the orders that seemed crazy. In spite of all they did know, they were completely in the dark about his pre-war life.

There is a critical moment in the movie, when Captain Miller decides not to shoot a captured German soldier after taking a machine-gun bunker. One of the soldiers loses his head. They had lost two soldiers and the captain had decided not to execute one of the enemy soldiers responsible. He rants and screams at the captain about his poor decisions.

He gets in the Captain’s face and shouts, “I’m done with this mission!”

One of the sergeants runs after him and growls, “Don’t you dare walk away from your captain,” and points his pistol at the man. All the men begin to shout. Some try to talk the captain out of the mission.

Miller calmly looks up and says, “Sarge, what’s the pool up to on me right now?”

Everyone looks at him like he’s crazy.

He says, “I’m a school teacher. I teach English Composition… at Thomas Alva Edison High School. I was a coach on the baseball team in springtime. Back home, I tell people what I do for a living and they say, ‘well, that figures,’ but over here… it’s a big mystery.”

All the men are stunned into silence.

They realize that he is a man with a wide range of intelligence, character and bravery. He only revealed more of himself when it was necessary. This knowledge brought the men back to themselves and what they were fighting for. He wanted the war to be over as much as anyone of them, but he was willing to see the mission through to the end.

He says, “If this mission means I get to go home, then I’m going to do it.”

They continue their mission and follow him…to the very end.

Knowing their commander deepened their trust and respect. They had a greater willingness to follow him.

They were willing to die with him.

Side note: I know some of you are saying, ” what about the coward?” Well, he was just that—a coward. Knowing what he knew about his commander had no lasting effect on him. He cared more about self-preservation than the lives of his comrades. He was afraid to carry out justice. He was afraid to step into the fray to protect others. I am confident that all the men were afraid, but they did not allow their fear to control them. They trusted their commander. They pressed forward in spite of their fears. The coward did not.

I’d like to ask you: Who is your captain and how well do you know him?

We live in a battlefield. It may not be strewn with visibly dead bodies or battered by explosions and machine-gun fire; yet we have a spiritual battle waging all around us. This is the battle of right and wrong, of—dare I say it—good versus evil, of truth versus lies. God wants our hearts and minds. So does Satan.

We belong to one unit or the other.

There is no Switzerland.

No neutral ground.

So whose army are you in?

If you are a Christian, then God is your commander-in-chief and Jesus is the Captain. When we sign up to serve, we are supposed to obey orders and follow wherever He leads us.

Consider the following questions:

Do you think He is trustworthy?

Why would you follow Him into the fray?

If He calls you to Him, would you brave the flying bullets (i.e. personal attacks, loss of business/property/wealth, alienation, hate speech) to reach His position or would you cower in fear?

Are you certain that He has your best interest at heart?

Do you have confidence that he will get you home (i.e. heaven)?

Are you prepared to follow him on whatever mission, even if it means losing your life or property?

If you do not know God and do not know the expectations He has, how can you follow orders? How can you decide what to do when the commander isn’t shouting commands?

A day for unsung heroes.

I count my earthly Father among my greatest blessings.

When I was very little, my dad would tell me stories using my stuffed animals. As I was learning to write paragraphs and essays, he would edit my work, making recommendations and giving me pointers on how to better phrase my work. When I reached high school, he came to band competitions as a chaperone and all the parents were stoked to have an R.N. available for any mishaps. He encouraged me to excel and protected me from my young foolish self when I was starting to veer toward shaky ground.

He was always ready with answers about the Bible, history and lots of other subjects. If he didn’t know the answer off-hand, he would find out.

When I got accepted to Cal Poly, UCSB and UCSD, he offered to drive with me to those colleges so I could get a feel for the atmosphere, look around, ask questions and make a more informed decision. As we walked around the Cal Poly campus, surrounded by lush green hills and laid-back surfer/aggie/engineering students, he said to me, “If I were going to college, this is where I’d go.” I was already enamored with the place, but it was nice to hear that my dad approved of it too. I knew he didn’t want me to leave for college, but he was willing to let me go and sail that course in spite of his feelings.

My father was confident, present and sacrificial.

To my father—thank you for teaching me about the Lord, training me up, and showing me love. I appreciate what you have taught me and I am grateful for the sacrifices you’ve made for me and for others.

To my father-in-law—Thank you for being a good example and teacher to my spouse; for being a father to many in the church and a loving grandfather to my children.

To all my adopted fathers & grandfathers in the church—thank you for your strong leadership, guidance, and protection.

To all my friends who are young fathers—May the Lord bless you with wisdom as you raise your children. Be diligent. Be present. Be strong.

Happy Father’s Day to our unsung heroes!

Praying for the Elderly – The Effective Prayer 6.19.15

This post is part of the weekly series on effective prayer.

old age

When I was a child, I remember thinking that people over 30 were… well… old.

Actually, I couldn’t envision what my life would be like past 30.

Ok, to be honest, I had a hard time with it all the way until, say, 29.

Now that I am past that 30 mark, I’ve come to realize how important it is to work with God on shaping your heart while you’re young because it will make a difference when you are old. Once you are old, it is extremely difficult to change. I have learned critical lessons such as this from very valuable elderly members of the church.

Long experience has taught me that the elderly are vital to the work of the church. They are often forgotten, but they shouldn’t be. They have so much to teach us!

I’m pretty sure that most congregations have elderly members. Some are shut-in, confined to nursing homes, barely making it to morning services, and a few are still as feisty as 20-somethings. Whatever their situation, they are a part of our work. They have jobs too. They need respect, care and… yes… prayer.

But as for you, teach what accords with sound doctrine. Older men are to be sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, in love, and in steadfastness. Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled.

Titus 2.1-5, ESV

These members have jobs, but they are faced with challenges. They are different challenges than our young teens, but they are challenges specific to their season in life.

They are dealing with strongly ingrained habits. My father has been a hospice nurse for years. As a result of his job, I have had the opportunity to observe and learn about elderly people for a good portion of my life. Once people get old, it is extremely difficult for them to change. Bitterness, irritability, depression only grow stronger with age. Likewise, a cheerful heart can grow more endearing with age.

They are faced with  more loss. Imagine if all of your friends and siblings were dying off around you right now. It’s a horrible prospect, and yet, it’s something we will face if we reach the autumn season of our lives. Death is a part of life we must accept, but it is never easy to do so. As we grow older, we deal with death far more often.

They are faced with less functionality. Great pain. Physical dysfunction. Memory trouble. Pain makes you irritable. Dysfunction makes you embarrassed. Memory problems make you insecure. The elderly deal with many, if not all of these issues.

They are faced with greater dependency. I can’t imagine going from being a successful, independent individual to one who requires assistance with the most simple tasks. It can be depressing.


So, what do we pray for on their behalf?

Pray for them to continue reading the Word. I know I say this in almost every post, but I haven’t found anything more helpful than a daily dose of God’s message to us. It has the power to ground us when we are drifting or being ripped up by the roots. The elderly often deal with shattering changes—dependency, revoked driver’s licenses, removal from their homes and the like. They need God’s strong presence to keep them from sinking into depression.

Pray for them to keep working. It’s easy when you’re in great discomfort to stop working. Paul doesn’t tell Titus to let the older men and women kick back on comfy seats and sleep the rest of their life away. No way! They have a job to do and it’s just as important as anybody else in the church. If they are shut-in or laid up, they can still send cards of encouragement. They can still use the telephone and call people. They can still work on renewing their own mind. Pray that the elderly members will keep working for the Lord. We need their wisdom and experience. You might even nudge them towards one of these activities, if they are feeling discouraged or depressed. Giving encouragement is the best cure for discouragement! One Christian who had a huge impact on my life was Cecil MacFarland, and elderly Christian man and close family friend. He had a good sense of humor and a strong love for the Lord. He taught home bible classes from Genesis through Revelation. He would come to our home every Saturday evening, have dinner with us and then teach us about the Bible. I owe a great deal of my biblical knowledge to his classes. He didn’t allow age to stop him from working for the Lord. He was faithful until the end.

Pray for the elderly to stay faithful to the end. They can make a huge impact on others.

Pray for them to remember God. When I was in college, there was a member of the church who had Alzheimers. She was in a very nice Alzheimer’s care facility, but her memory seemed to get worse each time I saw her. Our visits were simultaneously heartbreaking and inspiring.

It was heart-wrenching to see her mind deteriorate. She would repeat the same stories twice (or more) in a visit. Each time I came to see her, I had to reintroduce myself. And yet, I discovered the most amazing thing during those visits: she had not forgotten God.

In spite of all the tragedy that had befallen her, in spite of her memory loss, in spite of her frustration, she still talked about the faithfulness of God. She couldn’t remember who I was and she could barely remember her daughter, but she remembered the Creator.

It spoke volumes about her inner self. She had cultivated a relationship with God long before she was afflicted with Alzheimers.

Pray that the elderly in your congregation will always remember the Lord, especially His faithful and unchanging nature.

Remember also your Creator in the days of your youth, before the evil days come and the years draw near of which you will say, “I have no pleasure in them”

Ecclesiastes 12.1, ESV

While you pray for these individuals this week, take time out to reach out to at least one elderly member in your congregation. Send them a card, take them to lunch, and/or go visit them. Let them know that you have been praying for them specifically. Reach out and encourage!

Coffee Chat 2 – Combating Apathy

coffee chat

I love a good discussion with a friend over a steaming cup of chai, but since I can’t gather all of you at a comfortable cafe, I’ll have to be content with this little corner of the Internet.

For this second symposia, I’d love to hear your thoughts about combating apathy.

Apathy: indifference to someone or something.

Sometimes I have been so caught up in my own little bubble that I unthinkingly approach important things (i.e. worship, the church, prayer, my bible study) as just another box on my checklist. In fact, there are times when I have just been in check-off mode. Get it done. Check the box. Next?

We are supposed to shine as lights in the World, reflecting the glory of Christ. If we approach our faith with apathy, we are like an ember on a burnt out candle close to being snuffed out. How can we keep our lamp brightly lit?

I am interested to hear how you stay zealous for the Lord and the work He has called us to do.

Please leave a comment below while you sip on your favorite cup of tea or coffee!

Needless Pain

image

Have you ever gone through a great deal of heartache over something only to discover that you didn’t have to worry about it after all?

One night, several months ago, I was putting my kids to bed after a rather hectic day. I came to my middle daughter’s door and heard her crying. I gently pushed open the door and she looked up, startled, tears streaming down her round little face. I walked over to her and put my arms around her.

“Why are you crying?” I asked.

“B-b-because I thought you weren’t coming to say goodnight to me!” she sobbed.

I held her close to me and said, “oh honey, of course I was coming to say goodnight to you. It’s just been a very busy night and we are all out of routine.”

“Oh… I was just worried…”

I wiped the tears off her cheek and went on, “if you ever think there’s something wrong, just come and tell me about it. I might be able to help. There’s no need for you to sit and cry for nothing.”

Reassured, she gave me a watery smile and squeezed me tightly. I tucked her in, kissed her goodnight and within a short time she was asleep.

How often are we like a little child, worrying, weeping and wearing ourselves down with anxiety? God looks at us in our anxiety and thinks, “you’re worried about that little thing? Why didn’t you come and tell me? I can take care of that for you. There’s no need for you to cry.”

Last night during worship, we sang the old hymn, “What a Friend We Have in Jesus” and this phrase jumped out at me:

Oh, what peace we often forfeit, oh, what needless pain we bear,
All because we do not carry everything to God in prayer.

Needless pain.

I don’t always think of my worries as needless, yet they often are. God tells us several times in His Word not to be anxious.

Anxiety is a human condition much like discontent, anger and many other reactions to circumstance. We have to learn trust. We have to learn to let go of our anxieties and place them into God’s capable hands.

Another thing jumped out at me in that hymn. These phrases were repeated: “take it to the Lord in prayer” or “carry everything to God in prayer.”

– 1 –

What a friend we have in Jesus,
all our sins and griefs to bear!
What a privilege to carry
everything to God in prayer!
O what peace we often forfeit,
O what needless pain we bear,
all because we do not carry
everything to God in prayer

– 2 –

Have we trials and temptations?
Is there trouble anywhere?
We should never be discouraged;
take it to the Lord in prayer.
Can we find a friend so faithful
who will all our sorrows share?
Jesus knows our every weakness;
take it to the Lord in prayer.

– 3 –

Are we weak and heavy laden,
cumbered with a load of care?
Precious Savior, still our refuge;
take it to the Lord in prayer.
Do thy friends despise, forsake thee?
Take it to the Lord in prayer!
In his arms he’ll take and shield thee;
thou wilt find a solace there.

~ Joseph M. Scriven

If you struggle with worry or there is some trouble weighing you down, commit this verse to memory:

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

~ Philippians‬ ‭4‬:‭6-7‬ ESV, emphasis mine

It’s a command with a promise. (Like the people of faith who were trained to trust. They were given similar commands: “Go. I will be with you.”)

Commands are not suggestions by the way. A marine Corps drill sergeant isn’t going to say, “ok, get down and try to do 20 push-ups.”

No. I can’t even visualize that.

He commands: “Drop and give me 20!”

God is commanding us: Drop [your anxieties] and give thanks!

He promises: If you drop and give thanks, the peace of God will guard your heart and your mind. God always keeps His promises, but don’t take my word for it, read His Book.

Carry your worries to God in prayer every single time they rise in your mind.

God is our Heavenly Father. He looks on us like a child. He wants to listen, longs to help, and yearns to comfort. He’s waiting for us to ask.

Anxiety and worry are like heavy stones. They weigh us down. They make us uncomfortable. They cause us to lose sleep at night. They are unnecessary weight. Needless pain.

Drop your stones.

God will carry them for you.

Pray for the Teenagers – The Effective Prayer 6.12.15

This post is part of the weekly series on effective prayer.

youth leaving

How can a young man keep his way pure? By keeping it according to Your word.

~Psalms‬ ‭119‬:‭9‬ NASB

Young adults—those between the ages of 13-25—are a critical part of our congregations. They are making more and more life-altering choices with each passing day. They are surrounded by people still trying to “figure things out” and whatever they may say to the contrary, they are heavily influenced by their peers.

According to a Barna Study, “three out of every five young Christians (59%) disconnect either permanently or for an extended period of time from church life after age 15.” (For the link to the article, click here.)

There are lots of reasons people leave the church at any age. Those reasons are best addressed in another post. The point is, we have a problem. The majority of the young people in our congregations are walking away from church.

If you have been following the blog for awhile, you know that each week I post a suggested prayer focus for that week. You may be thinking, “prayer alone won’t fix the problem, we have to do something!” I agree that prayer and action should go hand-in-hand, however, prayer should never be minimized as a do-nothing approach. When we pray, we are going to the One who is all-powerful. Prayer should never be an afterthought. Don’t pray and be unwilling to take action, but do not take action without praying.

If you have a list of the names of the young people in your congregation, that would be ideal so you can lay each person’s name before God the Father. If the number is too large, then pray for the group as a whole.

Here are some suggestions on what to pray for:

Pray that they will have mentors and friends (this could be you!) who will teach and encourage them to have a solid foundation in the Word of God.

This isn’t about quantity. It’s about quality. 

I am indebted to the people who were passionate about serving the Lord, who encouraged me to be like-minded and who befriended me as well. Those people kept me from throwing up my hands in frustration and walking away… and they were not always my age. The twenty-somethings who were the same age as my older brother allowed me—a little 13 year old sister—to tag along with them while they went bowling or had bonfires or whatever. Through this astonishing group of young people, I saw that you can have fun and still glorify God through what you talk about, how you behave and how you treat of others. You can be fun to be with and still love God. The two aren’t mutually exclusive.

Pray that the young men will learn to be good leaders in the church and that the young ladies will learn how best to serve God and others.

They are watching.

They are watching you. And me. And that guy across the aisle. Are you excited to be there? Are you concerned for others?

They need good examples. Be that example. The more of us that can set an example worth following, the better!

Pray that the current leaders will help the young adults become invested in the church.

I am not referring to a monetary investment here.

Too often we want are kids to do activities or be “ministered to.” What we really need is to teach them how to minister to others. Train them to serve. Have them come alongside and work with you. The more involved they are in helping, the less eager they will be to jump ship.

I have some very dear friends who are close to my mom’s age who took me camping, to symphonies, to movies and also asked me to teach little kids’ classes with them. They invested in me outside of church activities and also brought me alongside for important church activities. I am thankful to those individuals. We need to become those individuals.

Pray that their parents will have wisdom to guide them through this difficult period of life.

If you are the parent of a teenager, you know that it is challenging to deal with the emotional swings and the peer pressure that come along with that age. (I have little children, so I am no expert here!)

The Bible tells fathers not to provoke their children to anger. The teen years—with all the hormones and new responsibilities—provide lots of opportunities for a clash of wills. Anger flares up from time to time, but a good parent knows what is a reasonable anger, and what is unreasonable. It takes heaps of wisdom to discern this. Pray that the parents will have godly wisdom to  train their kids in such a way as not to provoke unhealthy anger. I highly recommend Kevin Leman’s Have a New Kid By Friday. The title sounds gimmicky, but it’s full of sensible parenting tips that are useful at any age… but especially in the teen years.

Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.

~Ephesians 6:4 ESV

Pray for them to stand strong against temptation.

This has been and always will be a struggle, especially during this stage of life. The temptations they face can be the difference between life and death. Drugs, teen pregnancy, premarital sex, habitual laziness, eating disorders, addictions… scary! Those were all around when I was a teenager. Pray for them to stand strong against temptation and maybe look into having some classes in your home focused around dealing with these temptations in a godly way. Focus on the Family has great resources. Home classes are good because they are less formal and can be smaller in size.

Pray that they will not get discouraged.

The church is comprised of fallible people. Nobody is perfect. Sometimes the apathy or arguing in a church can drive a young person (or an old person) straight out the door. Pray that the teenagers in your congregation stay rooted in the Word and rooted in their faith.

Pray for them to understand the Word of God.

It all comes down to this: they need to know and understand the Word of God. Ultimately, they need to see the Word of God as relevant to their own lives. How can a young man keep his way pure? By keeping it according to God’s Word.

Knowing isn’t enough. I’ve seen plenty of peers who had a dizzying knowledge of Bible facts, but they had no desire to apply it. It was solely academic to them. They left the church.

Teenagers need to understand God’s Word. It isn’t simply an interesting history lesson. This is essential for their very LIFE. They need to be grounded in it. Nothing has more sustaining power than the Word of the Lord.

This week, please pray diligently for the teenagers in your congregation. Pray, and look for opportunities to be there for them. Each of them will make the choice to serve God or to walk away. We cannot force a person to choose to follow God, but we can invest our time into helping them. Pray for them and find ways to encourage them.

Coffee chat 1 – Daily Bible Reading

coffee chat

I love a good discussion with a friend over a steaming cup of chai…

Unfortunately, I can’t gather all of you at a comfortable cafe, so, I’ll have to be content with this little corner of the Internet.

For this first symposia, I’d love to hear your thoughts on how you incorporate Bible reading into your daily life. (I’ve also posed this question on our Facebook page.)

Life gets busy. Schedules change. Accidents happen. The alarm doesn’t ring. Dogs destroy furniture. Kids color on the wood floors in permanent marker… (not that it has ever happened to me…)

All too often, the immediate supplants the important.

How do you discipline yourself to get time with God’s Word?

Please leave a comment below while you sip on your favorite cup of tea or coffee!