The God Who is Love

    Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. ~ 1 John 4:8

    Although God is holy and dreadful, He is also very benevolent and kind. He is gracious, understanding, and compassionate. It is because of His love He looks upon us with compassion; provided the Savior to pay the debt of our sins; and pities us when we falter and fail. God delights in mercy and reconciliation. When you approach God, put off all hypocrisy and excuses. When you do, know that you come before the one who loves you more deeply than you can even begin to comprehend.

How do your prayers reflect the love of God? Do you believe God genuinely desires to hear from you or do you think He has more pressing concerns? Why does this matter?

~ from Our Father in Heaven: Christian Reflections on Prayer, Geno Pyse

The Church’s Need to Press Into God

This is not intended to slam the church, but the time has come for Christians to stop “playing” church and start being the church. It’s time to jettison the numbers game and to start getting serious about authentic discipleship. It’s far past time for treating churches like businesses and trend-setters, and to start getting serious about Jesus Christ and His Great Commission—adhering to Jesus’ instructions instead of sinful men’s ingenuity.

For the past several decades the church has pressed more into the world, learning from its practices, ways, and examples to try to woo persons to Jesus, instead of pressing into God in prayer, proclaiming the true gospel, and trusting the work of the Holy Spirit to convict people of sin and drawing them to Christ in truth. However, what has happened instead is the church has become, by and large, impotent, ineffective, and irrelevant. In the meantime, the world is rapidly changing—and not for the better. Spiritual deception is running rampant, the world’s powerful elitists (including the Pope—who is not an ambassador of Christ) are pushing for a one world governance, which the Bible says will be demonically orchestrated and will give rise to the evil-to-the-core Antichrist. A secular, godless world is already being conditioned to embrace such a horrific leader to be its pseudo-savior.

Sadly, many preachers are more concerned with building megachurches, and many who profess to be Christians are more interested in feeling warm fuzzies, playing religious games, and slithering in and out of services without any commitment, rather than becoming genuine disciples and ambassadors of Christ, and being ready at any time for His return.

It’s high time for Christians to get serious about sin and repentance, and for so-called “backsliders” to stop feigning an empty faith and get right with God. We are entering a time when we can’t afford to play and mess around. Governments around the world are becoming increasingly corrupt, and it seems godless Marxism is is increasingly taking root. These, and the globalist elites do view Christianity with hostility. There is a strong storm brewing, and those who are not truly building their faith on the solid foundation of Christ and His teachings are in for a terribly rude awakening.

It’s timed or the church to press into the holy God, and to stop trying to appease the world. It’s time to return to proclaiming the true gospel and to warn of the wrath to come (1 Thes. 2:16). Indeed, we must speak the truth in love, but it’s high time to stop cuddling people in their sins. It’s true, they might choose to walk away forever from the grace offered them, but it’s their choice to make (Matt. 19:21-22). But this is better than cradling them in their sins and lying to them, giving them a false hope—which is exactly what it is when we try to say God accepts us and our sins or to simply deny something is sin that the Bible does call sin.

I wonder, when the storm comes, how many persons have genuine faith in Christ and His gospel that they’re not going to be swept away by the tides of deception and persecution? I’m both saddened and angered by how many are called pastors, but who are nothing but mongrels who have no business being behind the pulpit. They do not preach the whole counsel of God, they do not truly disciple and equip believers for kingdom living, but simply spin sermon lullabies, keeping persons lackadaisical. Many of them offer “gospels” which are not gospels at all, worthless teachings of temporal prosperity and a sense of belonging, but void of the true Spirit of Christ.

I’m not simply being unnecessarily critical. The Bible warns that in the last days deception and lawlessness will abound, and there will be a great apostasy (i.e., a falling away from the faith). Furthermore, we are warned: “But woe to you, O earth and sea, for the devil has come down to you in great wrath, because he knows that his time is short!” (Rev. 12:12). This dragon’s rage against the people of God is going to intensify, and he is going to give his authority to a man someday who is going to deceive many. This time might be closer than we think, if our world succumbs to a global governance. Eventually this is going to happen, but church, must it be now? Are we really to be like drunken or sleeping sentries who are oblivious to the forces of evil standing at the gates and ready for battle? Are the faithful to be left defenseless simply because so-called pastors are afraid of people leaving their churches because of truth or simply trying to make a name for themselves, rather than exalting them name of Jesus? Understand, every one of us will one day give account, and not everyone who says of Jesus, “Lord, Lord,” will enter the kingdom of heaven (Matt. 7:21-23).

The church can no longer afford to “do business as usual.” We must begin pressing into God. First, we need to confess and repent of our religious games, idolatry, and apathy. Second, we need to plead for God’s protection from the storm to come, which might be closer than we think. Third, we need to plead for  divine discernment in these times, for lies and deception are all around us and are growing increasingly worse. Our nation and world have entered a downward spiral of which there is no recovering from except for the mercy of God in response to the prayers of His people. But the question remains, will we cast off our obstinance and pride to press into God for healing and restoration?

The Necessity of Prayer

Do we believe in the absolute importance of prayer, and do we truly desire revival in the lives of Christians and for great awakening in the lives of unbelievers? No we don’t, for these will not come apart from fervent prayer. Yet, by and large, most churches no longer have regular prayer meetings. Many churches no longer have altar calls. And hardly will you hear the stressing of prayer or the need for revival from pulpits. There was a time when, in many Baptist, Methodist, and Pentecostal churches, altar calls were filled with persons crying out to God for lost family members and friends. But that is now a bygone era. Advertise that Chris Tomlin will be playing at a certain time of the week and you’d have people coming from miles around. Have a prayer meeting any time of the week and the average church would be lucky to have even a tenth of its members attend.

Do we believe in the vitality of prayer? No, we put more stock in formal theological education, good preaching, conferences, and good ol’ know-how, despite the fact Jesus tells us plainly, “Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). 

So important is prayer to the very One we call our Sovereign Savior and Lord, He says, “Is it not written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations’?” (Luke 19:46)

Greg Frizzell rightly notes, “If a restaurant is called a ‘House of Fish,’ that implies … that the prominent practice of that establishment is the cooking and eating of fish. When you call a place a ‘house of something,’ you certainly expect that ‘something’ to be the predominant practice of the establishment. In the exact same way, if the church is to be the ‘house of prayer,’ God expects prayer to be its predominant ongoing practice. When a church chooses to become a house of prayer, the practice of prayer literally saturates all it does.”

Are churches today known as “houses of prayer”? No, they’re called either houses of God or houses of worship. An average church service will have about 20 minutes of worship time, 30-45 minutes of preaching, and maybe five minutes of prayer. We like to think God is honored by all of this because we do it all in His name, but is He honored when we deliberately disregard what He has told us what He desires for the emphasis of His house to be? And is it any wonder why churches and denominations are in such poor shape? Understand, sound biblical teaching and genuine worship are, indeed, important as well. But it is through prayer and the moving of God which fuels these with power. A pastor is not a savior. If churches are not being the church, and a house of prayer filled with the Holy Spirit, a pastor will not be able to fix what’s broken, regardless how talented he might be. He might preach well, and organize well, but he is completely helpless in doing what only God can do in response to the prayers of His people. 

Furthermore, (and I believe this wholeheartedly) a church will only value and emphasize prayer as much as the leadership will. If leadership puts stock in various credentials, those are what the church will put stock in. If the leadership will not stress prayer, neither will the church. The emphases on prayer and its necessity must be a priority of those in leadership, for only then will the church begin to recognize its importance. Only as God’s people humbly and sincerely cry out to Him in faith, will we witness mighty moves of God. I’m not talking about ridiculous sensationalism, as one might see on TBN, but genuine moves of God when people are convicted of sin, the chains of vices and addictions are broken, and people becoming genuinely inflamed with passion for Christ. 

We are told in Matthew 9:36-38, “When [Jesus] saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.’”

Why does Jesus command us to pray earnestly on this matter? If God is sovereign and has no need of us, then why must we pray? Yet, although God is sovereign, the Scriptures teach us that many things either happen or not—depending on whether God’s people pray. But let me ask, does Jesus contradict His own sovereignty? He certainly does not, yet He commands us to pray earnestly for laborers in God’s harvest. And by laborers, does he simply mean those who are formally trained in a theological institution? This is highly doubtful, since in Acts 4, we are told of two of Jesus’s disciples who stood before the Jewish Council, “Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished. And they recognized that they had been with Jesus” (v. 13). Then later, when a controversy arose between the Jewish and Greek believers, the apostles commanded, “Brothers, pick out from among you seven men of good repute, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we will appoint to this duty. But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.” Notice the lack of worldly credentials in both accounts. Instead, the emphases are company with Jesus, good reputation, fullness of the Spirit and of wisdom, and prayer. 

Now, consider what some of the great saints have said about prayer:

Oswald Chambers observes, “Prayer seems like such a small thing to do—next to nothing at all in fact. But that’s not what Jesus said. To Him, prayer is everything…. We tend to use prayer as a last resort, but Jesus wants it to be our first line of defense. We pray when there’s nothing else we can do, but Jesus wants us to pray before we do anything at all…. He wants us to talk to Him, not aboutHim. He wants us to talk to Him about unbelievers before we talk to unbelievers about Him. Prayer is not just an exercise routine God has us on; it’s our business, our only business. Prayer is our holy occupation. Plain and simple.”

John Calvin rocognizes our desperate need for prayer, as he notes, “we are plagued with such poverty and destitution that even the best of us must sigh and groan continually, and call on the Lord with all humility.”

Charles Spurgeon, the prince of preachers, declared, “I would rather teach one man to pray than ten men to preach.”

Thomas Watson, the great Puritan, notes, “The angel fetched Peter out of prison, but it was prayer that fetched the angel.” Watson also notes, “That prayer is most likely to pierce heaven which first pierces one’s own heart.”  

The Puritan, William Gurnall, says of the importance of corporate prayer, “There is a wonderful prevalency in the joint prayers of [God’s] people. When Peter was in prison, the church met and prayed him out of his enemies’ hands. A prince will grant a petition subscribed by the hands of the whole city, which, may be, he would not at the request of a private subject, and yet love him well too. There is an especial promise to public prayer: “Where two or three are gathered together in My name, there am I in the midst of them.” 

Jonathan Edwards says, “Prayer is as natural an expression of faith as breathing is to life.” He also notes, “When God is about to do a mighty new thing He always sets His people praying.”

And lastly, Henry Blackaby observes, “Studying revivals throughout history will reveal that they are not identical. Revivals in Wales, New England, Kentucky, Korea, India, Ruanda, and South Africa had characteristics unique to the people and the social environment in which they occurred. However, in every revival the consistent common denominator is fervent, faithful, persistent, righteous prayer.”

So, I ask again, do we believe in the utmost vitality of prayer? Is it not strange that in churches one is more prone to hear quotes on Calvin’s teachings on God’s sovereignty, Billy Graham’s thoughts on evangelism, or even some hogwash from persons of questionable theology and character, rather than on the very words of the incarnate Son of God when He stresses the importance of prayer? And why are many of us negligent in prayer? Does it not boil down to a mixture of pride (thinking we can accomplish great things—which is very contrary to the Scriptures, as well as to reformed theology), lack of fervor for Christ and His glory, laziness, unbelief, and really, straight-up apathy for the lost? Men, we give so many lousy excuses for our lack of praying, but these five reasons are truly why we do not give more attention to prayer. Yet, if one reads some of the Puritan prayers in books like, The Valley of Vision or Piercing Heaven, he will read passionate prayers exemplifying genuine humility and the awareness of personal sinfulness, a burning passion for the glory of Christ and the furtherance of His kingdom, confidence in the mercies, providence, and wisdom of God, and pleadings for God to pour out His mercies on others as He has done so to them.

Charles Spurgeon, who was a staunch Calvinist, understood the dual, non-contradictory truths of God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility better than any preacher I know of. In one of his sermons on these very things, in the first part of his message he stresses the biblical teaching of God’s sovereignty in salvation. Later, he argues against the hyper-Calvinists of his day, saying, “When God sent the prophets to Israel and stretched forth His hands, what was it for? What did He wish them to come to Him for? Why, to be saved. 

            ‘No,’ says one, ‘it was for temporal mercies.’ Not so, my friend; the verse before is concerning spiritual mercies, and so is this one, for they refer to the same thing. Now, was God sincere in His offer? God forgive the man that dares to say He was not.”

It is true, God is sovereign over our salvation. Not a single one of us, comes to God apart from Him making the first move toward us. Yet, let not our lofty views of Calvinism blind our minds and hearts to the equal truth of God’s love and desire for the lost to come to know Him and so be saved. Just as definite God will one day thoroughly judge the wicked in His wrath, so just as definite are His tender mercies for them, as He told the angry prophet, Jonah, concerning the ruthless, idolatrous Ninevites, “Should I not pity Nineveh, that great city, in which there are 120,000 persons who do not know their right hand from their left, and also much cattle?” Just as surely as God’s sovereignty over our salvation are His words spoken through Ezekiel, “As I live, declares the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live” (33:11). Just as certain as the apostle who stressed in Romans that God “has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills” (9:18), is also the same apostle who emphasized to his protégé, “First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all” (1 Tim. 2:1-6).

But how will people come to this saving knowledge of Christ? Simply by God’s sovereignty? We are not granted any more authority than the liberal to pick and choose what Scriptures we like or prefer. As Spurgeon notes, ‘The system of truth is not one straight line but two. No man will ever get a right view of the gospel until he knows how to look at the two lines at once.” What he is talking about is the truth of God’s sovereignty as being one line, and God’s sincere invitation to all people to repent. But how will men come to saving faith in Christ? Simply by solid biblical preaching? Someone might say, “Yes, for so Paul says in Romans 10.” But does one think, really, that the power comes from a preacher apart from prayer?

But what does Jesus say? He tells us to pray. He tells us to pray that God will send laborers into His harvest. He tells us to ask, seek, and knock. And what does Paul say? Does he say to simply preach and let the chips fall wherever they are sovereignly destined? No, he tells us to pray.

How can the fire of revival sweep through our churches or a great awakening resound throughout the nations? Indeed, these must come by God’s sovereign power, there’s no doubt about that. But does not God invite us to ask and plead for these? James tells us we have not because we ask not. Is it not true that we do not earnestly pray for these? When was the last time you pleaded for revival in private prayer? Or when has the church gathered to plead for revival? Churches will only do so when they truly recognize they need revival. How many of us genuinely believe we ourselves need to be revived? Those of us who are fathers, do we just give everything to our children, or do we not often give things only when they sincerely ask?

Did the Holy Spirit fall on His disciples during Pentecost sovereignly, while they were sleeping, or when they were together in the upper room praying, utterly dependent on God’s direction and moving? Was Peter released from prison simply by the sovereign hand of God or was it in connection with a gathering of believers pleading fervently on his behalf? When Moses was on top of a hill with Aaron and Hur, watching Joshua and his army fighting the Amalekites, did God simply help Joshua prevail or was it only as Moses raised His hands to God? Prayer was vital in each of these events.

We often view Paul as some spiritual powerhouse, but when we read his letters, we see he was a man devoted to prayer, as well as dependent on the fervent prayers of God’s people. In the thirteen letters of Paul, he mentions prayer in some form nearly fifty times. To the Ephesians, he asks that they pray for him, “that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel” (6:19). To the Colossian believers, he writes, “Pray also for us, that God may open to us a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ” (4:3). He says in his letter to Philemon, “I pray that the sharing of your faith may become effective” (1:6).

And as I was preparing for this study, I was reminded of a dear brother’s message recently, from the prophet Ezekiel, when God said, “And I sought for a man among them who should build up the wall and stand in the breach before me for the land, that I should not destroy it, but I found none” (22:30). As this brother pointed out, is God not looking for men to stand in the breach today, when our country and world are standing on the brink of destruction? Are we to be content with God’s judgment on the wicked? Such an attitude reveals the wickedness of our own hearts and is no reflection of the tender heart of God. God wants us to pray.

As Southern Baptists, we might pride ourselves for our dedication to the Great Commission, but what are we that we can accomplish anything? Can we truly fulfill it by our own strength and ingenuity? The common underlying attitude is that we can. No, of course we don’t say this outrightly, but our lack of prayer declares this as much. But how’s this going for us so far? The Great Commission was never intended to be fulfilled apart from true commitment to Christ’s teachings, an absolute dependence on Him through prayer, and the filling of His Holy Spirit.

Men, should we not feel ashamed when the ladies of many of our churches have taken it upon themselves to make time to get together for times of prayer, when God has called us to be the spiritual leaders? This is not a criticism of the women, but of us, for it is we who should have taken the lead.

Leaders, whether you are pastors, deacons, or on committees, don’t expect great things for our churches if prayer is not of utmost priority. Jesus states plainly that apart from Him, we can do nothing. This fact remains true whether we accept it or not. 

If we genuinely desire to see revival take place in our churches, and to see people experience true life in Christ as they are delivered from the bondage of sin and the devil, then we must become a people and houses of prayer. Otherwise we will simply remain a people who do churchystuff. If we truly desire revival, then we must actively plead for it. We might blame the lack of revival or awakening on men’s wickedness or God’s just sovereignty, but we are just as much to blame when we are unwilling to acknowledge our own sins and stand in the gap on behalf of the people.

I think I have made it clear that we do not truly see prayer as being absolutely vital, despite what we might say with our mouths. However, what are we going to do with the charge presented here? Like the church in Ephesus, we might have impeccably sound theology, but this does not guarantee fervency of spirit and passionate love for Christ. May churches truly become a houses of prayer to the nations and devoted to our first love. To not do so means to both remain powerless and to dwell in sin because of choosing to not become a house of prayer. Brethren, we must repent. Let us not think that God shares in our apathy for a lost and dying world around us, nor think that somehow our concern and burden for them is greater than His. Our hills of love in which He creates within us will never compare to the mountains of love which are an eternal part of Him.

In closing, may we truly begin to understand the necessity of prayer. Jesus says this place is to be a house of prayer. And as Chambers says, prayer is to be our holy occupation. 

Let us pray.

4 Prerequisites for Spiritual Revival and Awakening

Revival, spiritual awakenings—great moves of God when God pricks the hearts and awakens their consciences, drawing people to new life through His Son Jesus Christ or rekindling embers in hearts that have grown dim. These cannot be manufactured by the gimmicks of men but are done by God alone. Although we cannot produce these, we can acknowledge our need, ask, lean into God, and confess our sins. In His great grace He might respond and do what only He can do.

  1. Acknowledge the need. A sad and tragic reality is that much of those who profess Christ are unaware of the dire need for revival and awakening. Many churches are so busy either trying to build their programs and numbers, or else just simply trying to survive. Sadly, the people of Ezekiel’s day can be descriptive of the church today: “And I sought for a man among them who should build up the wall and stand in the breach before me for the land, that I should not destroy it, but I found none” (Eze. 22:30). There are many who deny the realities of the wickedness of sin and God’s judgment of it. As a result, there is a blindness to the desperate need for revival and awakening.
  2. Be committed to prayer. Throughout history no revival or awakening has occurred apart from prayer. “First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Tim. 2:1-4). Are we willing to pray?
  3. Dependence on God. Churches today put so much stock in programs, trends, skill, and education but where has honest dependence on Christ gone? Our lack of prayer and crying out to Him betrays our unwarranted self-confidence. Jesus tells us plainly, “Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:4-5).
  4. Confess personal sins and sins of community/nation. There are numerous variables to a nation’s peril and calamity, and God’s people are not necessarily guiltless. Nehemiah’s prayer offers some  valuable insight as to how we should pray. “O Lord God of heaven, the great and awesome God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, let your ear be attentive and your eyes open, to hear the prayer of your servant that I now pray before you day and night for the people of Israel your servants, confessing the sins of the people of Israel, which we have sinned against you. Even I and my father’s house have sinned. We have acted very corruptly against you and have not kept the commandments, the statutes, and the rules that you commanded your servant Moses” (Neh. 1:5-7). The church must confess her own sins as well as society’s. “Surely there is not a righteous man on earth who does good and never sins” (Ecc. 7:20).

There should be no doubt about the church needing revival and our nation needing a great spiritual awakening. Presently there’s not much difference between the world and much of the church. God only knows what He might do if the church got serious about her own sad condition, the dreadful condition of the world, the holiness of God, and the price Jesus paid for our redemption.

7 Hindrances to Prayer

Sound theology teaches us that God is both personal and the Sovereign over the world He created. This being the case, it should come as no surprise that prayer is personal and comes with certain stipulations (as do all relationships). Furthermore, because God is the Sovereign One, He is to be approached as such. This being said, there are several hindrances to prayer to keep in mind.

  1. Sin. God is a God of holiness, purity, truth, love, and justice. Sin betrays these. Unconfessed  sin will hinder one’s prayers. “But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden his face from you so that he does not hear” (Isa. 59:2).
  2. Unbelief. One of the greatest hindrances to prayer is unbelief. Unbelief is an affront to God’s existence, character, or capabilities. We’re told that Jesus “did not do many mighty works there, because of their unbelief” (Matt. 13:58). And James writes, “But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways” (1:6-8).
  3. Selfish motives. Prayer is to be more about God’s kingdom and human intercession than self promotion and advancement. James addresses this hindrance explicitly: “You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions” (4:2-3)
  4. Outside God’s will. Sometimes one’s requests are outside of God’s will and plan. For example, Paul prayed three times for God to heal him of his “thorn in the flesh,” yet God denied his request each time, saying, “My grace is sufficient for you” (2 Cor. 12:9). God was using this “thorn” to humble and further develop the apostle.
  5. Self-righteousness. Pride has always plagued the human heart, creating the desire to one-up and trample upon others. God abhors such self-adulation and condescension of others—especially wrapped in religiosity. Jesus tells a parable about a self-righteous religious leader and a tax collector praying. The former was thankful he was not like sinners such as the tax collector. The tax collector, however, wouldn’t look up, but beat his chest, asking God to forgive him, a sinner. Jesus explains it is the tax collector who left the temple justified (Luke 18:9-14).
  6. Dishonoring your spouse. This is specifically directed to husbands. The apostle Peter writes, “Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered” (1 Pet. 3:7). Men, being disrespectful of your wives and treating them in an un-Christlike will hinder prayers.
  7. Spiritual Warfare. Some hindrances to prayer are spiritual in nature, opposition from the evil one. We get a sneak peak of such a situation in the life of the prophet Daniel (chap. 10). He was a very godly man who had taken time to pray and fast. We learn their was opposition in the spiritual realm.

Persons can pray but this doesn’t mean anything is happening, much like a person shadow boxing. He is beating the air but nothing more. Some have given up praying, saying, “It doesn’t work.” However, prayer is powerful if one follows the instructions and purposes as laid out in the Manual—the Bible. May we approach the living God appropriately and on His terms, and may we remember the true and deeper purposes for prayer. We just might see more incredible moves of God if we do.

Let Us Talk, Child

Find mending for the brokenness,

    That you hold inside;

Find cleansing for the guilt and shame

    That you try to hide.

Come, let us talk, child,

    Do not run in fear;

Rest in My loving arms,

    Let Me wipe away your tears.

I see you through and through,

    No need for your disguise;

Let My truth set your spirit free

    From sin and the devil’s lies.

O Come, precious child,

    I love you more than words can tell;

Let us talk and you will know

    My grace has made you well.

    Ours is a world filled with raging chaotic storms spun by fear, greed, pride, lust, dishonesty, and hate. Each of these are dangerous alone, but when these begin to mix one cannot predict the domino effect that will follow, or the damage that is going to be done. Like a butterfly effect, the activities that accompany the present and immediate can affect others elsewhere—even many years later!         

    Many of these storms we are caught in are by our own making, because each of us must deal with fear, greed, pride, lust, dishonesty, or hate in some form or capacity. And each of us are also caught in storms created by others. This is the reason there are many broken homes with alcoholism or various forms of abuse; why there are betrayals within relationships; why so many schools have become war zones; why so many of our cities experience perpetual, senseless violence and crime; etc. Indeed, our world is a tumultuous, cold, dark place.

    How many broken, wounded, and lonely persons are there who have parents or grandparents who taught them about the love and power of Jesus? How many once attended good churches where the love of Christ was displayed genuinely? Yet the glitter of the world dazzled them, and they could not resist the temptations of alcohol, drugs, immorality, etc. They mock the One they turned their backs on. As time continues to pass, they wallow in their guilt, shame, anger, pain, and sense of meaninglessness. Nevertheless, through all this, in all their hurting, Jesus calls out to them to come to Him. As He did with Jerusalem, He observes them from above, weeping, “O children, children, you who mock and mistreat my people who I send to you! How often would I have gathered each of you as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing!” (see Luke 13:34).  

    The One who has the power to bid   them to walk on the raging waters, is also the One who has the authority to calm their storm (see Matt. 14:22-33).

    Child, where are you today? Jesus is inviting you to come to Him for cleansing, rest, and healing. He bids you to come and be warmed by the flames of His love. Are you responding to Him?

~ From, In the Eye of the Calm: Reflections and Poems on Faith, Hope, Love, & Life, by Geno Pyse, (c) 2019.

When You Don’t Know What to Pray

My friends, there are many joys and blessings that are given to followers of Christ, but there are also many frustrations and heartaches experienced by individuals yielding to Him. Many know what it is like to lose friends—even within church settings—when they are serious about the Bible and their walk with Christ. Sometimes God permits dreams to be dashed into pieces or desires unfulfilled. Sometimes God allows things to happen which breaks one’s heart to the core. 

When these happen, one can find himself in a place of not knowing what to pray. After all, he has prayed many times, and he has confessed of any known sin. Why bother praying? What good is it? 

We are far more stubborn, idolatrous, and autonomous than we care to think or admit. While I am not saying every hurt which comes is a result of these, but we must take these into consideration. Jesus desires for us to desire Him above all else, but if we are honest there are often plenty of other desires and loves surpassing our desire and love for Him. It is easy to sing a song saying that He is all we want or need, but when one had persons, things, plans, hopes, and dreams taken from him, his sincerity of passionate singing is put to the test. What is one’s honest reply when God speaks to him, “Child, you still have Me”? It’s okay for the heart to break and for a person to experience grief. This comes with being human. God is not angry with a person feeling disappointed. sad, or even angry necessarily. However, will a person continue to trust God, and even love Him, despite the inner ache? Every true saint must experience this to some degree. But what does one do when they are so broken and wearied that they just don’t know what to pray?

We are like wild stallions who must be broken if we would desire to be used for God’s good purposes, and one of His good purposes is to conform us to the image of His Son—to make us more like Jesus. This is a painful process of squeezing, molding, pruning, chipping, grinding, and purging. Are you and I willing to let Him do what only He can do? Will you and I yield trustingly to Him, knowing He is God and we are not? Still, what if we do not know what to pray? We are told,

Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. ~ Romans 8:26-27

Go ahead and groan wordlessly. Cry, mourn, and grieve. Yield to the breaking, for it serves Kingdom purposes. If you and I should desire to be like Jesus, can we be so without hurt, disappointment, or suffering? Isaiah says, “He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief,” (53:3). And just as we benefit from His suffering (see Isa. 53:4-6), so others are helped by ours. We are told elsewhere,

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too. ~ 2 Corinthians 1:3-5

When you and I go through difficult situations, bombarded by perplexity, hounded by questions, and frustrated by the agony God gives comfort in mysterious ways. Sometimes all this seems senseless, heartless, and arbitrary. Yet, God brings you and I into the lives of others experiencing these, and we are able to be ministers to them, applying the balms of both grace and empathy.

What does any of this have to do with prayer? Everything! We are utterly dependent on God, but too often we really do not believe this. But when we do, we don’t always know how or what to pray. This is okay. Just groan. The Holy Spirit will intercede through these, and conform us more into the likeness of Christ in the process.

Revive Us, O Lord

You might be familiar with the word to an old hymn:

Revive us again;
Fill each heart with Thy love.
May each soul be rekindled
With fire from above.
~ from “Revive Us Again” by William P. Mackay 

Whatever happened to the words “revive” and “revival”? These used to be spoken of more, even prayed for, in churches but have somehow fallen on the wayside. This is tragic, since we are in such desperate need of revival.

Imagine, for a moment, a cruise ship. On board are people involved in various activities. Some are working, some are in meetings concerning itinerary, and others are running to the next fun activity. Many are content with a sense of safety and security. However, look over the rails and there are literally multitudes drowning in the waters. Is this not unthinkable that those on the ship would not have a sense of urgency to help as many as they could?

I am not trying to be critical nor am I saying fun, rest, and relaxation are wrong. However, are not many churches like this ship and its passengers? We have our meetings and planners set for coming events, but often there lacks any real sense of urgency. Oh sure, we want our churches to grow numerically, but does it always have to do with “souls being saved”? While we might say, “Yes!” But does this include those who are quite different than us? The “sinners” and outcasts for whom Jesus also died? Shame on us when the gospel is more for “people like us.” Lord God, have mercy on us for our Pharisaical hypocrisies!

Our church events, like any secular entertainment, are fleeting. The persons (i.e., souls) around us are eternal. How can our hearts not be burdened for the perishing? Oh, that God would revive us again!

We’re Going to Heaven (but So Many Won’t Go)

We’re going to Heaven—O glorious day!
But still there’s so many who are lost on the way.
Will our hearts have compassion, will we be saddened so—
That we’re going to Heaven, but so many won’t go?

We’re going to Heaven, but so many to hell;
My brothers and sisters we have Great News to tell—
That on an ol’ Cross Jesus died for our sins,
Opening Heaven so that all may go in.

We’re going to Heaven, but are family and friends?
Will they know Jesus when they come to the end?
Oh, do they know how much God loves them so?
We’re going to Heaven, but will they, too, go?

We’re going to Heaven—O glorious day!
But still there’s so many who are lost on the way.
Praise God, Jesus saves! Let the redeemed say so—
We’re going to Heaven … but so many won’t go.
~ Geno Pyse

First They Came

In my previous post, “I’m A Patriot, but…,” it would seem as though I am saying the righteous are to be passive. However, just as in the days of Nehemiah, while there was certainly the need of prayer and repentance, there was also work to be done—and that work would be opposed by ungodly men.

Today, just as then, the godly are opposed by the ungodly and wicked. Still, there is much more happening behind the scenes that we do not see. The Bible reveals to us:

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

There is “nothing new under the sun” (Ecc. 1:9), and this is undoubtedly true concerning the schemes of evil. It is interesting how the wicked today accuse others as being “Nazis” (among other slanderous things), all the while it is they who use many of the very methods of Adolf Hitler to push their agendas (the use of controlling what was taught, use of the media, the stripping of rights, the use of the manipulated and brainwashed youth, etc.). Even though there were godly men such as Dietrich Bonhoeffer who saw what was happening, but those like him were viewed as the enemies. America is facing a similar situation, as wicked individuals who lust not only for power, but the advancement of a godless and evil one world government—a “New World Order.”

Many might be familiar with the poem I spun the following words from, but the truth remains. This is not about a political party, but a darkness rising to strip the rights, voices, and very personhood of a people. 

First they came after bakers and they did not speak out because they’re not bakers. 

Then they came after gun owners and they did not speak out because they don’t have or like guns. 

Then they came after pro-lifers and they did not speak out (although a percentage claim to be pro-lifers).

Then they came after conservatives and they did not speak out because they are not conservatives.

Then they came after Trump supporters (such deplorables!) and they did not speak out because they are not Trump supporters.

Then they came for Christians and Jews whom they have increasingly, brazenly mocked and they did not speak out because they are not Christians or Jews.

Eventually they will trample and rob them of their voice and freedoms and there will be no one left to speak out, and they will be greatly perplexed as they wonder, “What happened? We supported the very ones who trampled upon us!”

The nature of evil is not only that it is corrupt but it also corrupts, poisons, distorts, steals, and destroys (see John 8:44; 10:10). We are witnessing the rise of evil as it seeks to destroy the family structure, freedom, the Constitution, and personhood. It rages against Christ and all who would oppose, scoffs at whatever is holy and right, and tramples on whatever is sacred. This evil transcends political parties, and is not only being applauded but also assisted by many. Understand, evil hides beneath a cloak of deception until it gains the upper hand.

While the battle belongs to the Lord (see 1 Sam. 17:47), the godly and righteous are not to sit idly and do nothing. We must pray for God’s intervention, and we must repent of our own wicked ways (see Neh. 1). We must engage in this spiritual battle being waged and decry the deception, hypocrisy, greed, violence, and blasphemies taking place. My friends, if the plans of the wicked come to fruition, mark my words, misery will be afflicted on many. No, now is not the time to be slothful or passive. We must pray urgently, “Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven,” and stand to fight. To do nothing is not only wicked in itself, but it is to passively join the ranks of the spreading evil. We are caught between a rock and a hard place, and whatever choice we make will have consequences. But know this, we stand not only for ourselves, but for our children and grandchildren. If we do not challenge the evil that is rising, then we will deserve the misery inflicted on us. Let me be clear, finally, that this is not a call for violence; rather, the battle we wage is fought on our knees in prayer.

Where Do We Go from Here?

Our country is experiencing wounds I never anticipated, and these are inflicted by her own citizens. I do not think our country has ever been more divided as it is now. What did President Lincoln say, quoting the Scriptures? “A house divided against itself cannot stand.” President Trump cannot heal America’s vexations; however, mark my words, neither can—nor will—Biden or Harris. For how can politicians (both Democrats and Republicans) do so when they are a major part of the problem? How can any of us turn a blind eye to the lies, corruption, and hypocrisy of our so-called leaders?

While “progressives” edit and “re-write” the history books, denying the Christian foundation, and indoctrinate our children with anti-Christian and anti-American teachings, all individuals need to do is research and find unedited writings of our forefathers. Granted, not every father was a Christian, but  they certainly not the immoral monsters many of our university professors teach. But I digress. 

We are living in such tumultuous times. We might be living in an era when God shakes everything that can be shaken. Where do we go from here? Corrupt and deceptive Washington cannot save us, and drunken, immoral Hollywood most certainly cannot. I have been saying this for a long time now, but the only way our nation can be healed is if we turn our eyes unto Jesus Christ in prayer.

Is it not tragic that the very One who taught and modeled perfect love and truth is expelled from the rooms of government, schools, media, and even many churches. The very One who provides the antidote is accused of being the venom? Be not deceived, friends, the corruption in Washington, the growing degradation in schools, the violence in our streets, and the filth propagated through entertainment and media do NOT have Jesus Christ as their source. 

We are told that Jesus wept over Jerusalem, as He cried,

O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing! ~ Matthew 23:37

The people of Jerusalem would cry out for Jesus to be put to death, preferring a murderer to be set free rather than Him. America is making the same mistake, as many would prefer to be impaled and destroyed by their own lusts and passions, than be saved by the One who can heal them. 

If we truly desire genuine unity, justice, and healing of our nation, then we must turn to Jesus. He, alone, is the Savior. The words of the “progressives” are nothing but shovels and excavators digging our graves and that of our nation. Jesus would gather us too. Can we truly afford to resist Him? What has this rebellion produced so far? Nothing good.