Examine Me

Psalm 26:2 Examine me, O LORD, and prove me; try my reins and my heart.

According to the CDC, 20-40% of the 900,000 premature deaths in the United States could have been prevented. One Dr. wrote: “As a doctor, it is heartbreaking to lose just one patient to a preventable disease or injury – and it is that much more poignant as the director of the nation’s public health agency to know that far more than a hundred thousand deaths each year are preventable,”

In the medical field, more than ever, we are reminded of the benefits of preventative care and screening. And yet yearly, up to 360,000 people die unnecessarily by causes that could have (and should have) been prevented. Why is this the case? Many times, we aren’t willing to take the time for a simple screening, a simple doctor’s visit, or a simple examination that can prevent tragedy.

Every year, there are scores of spiritual casualties for the same reason. I wonder the number of spiritual fatalities that are a result of conditions that could have been rooted out early. But because they went undetected or unaddressed, they led to tragedy.

David wasn’t going to chance it. David was a man after God’s heart for a reason. Time and time again, David prayed what he prayed in the Scripture above: “Examine me.” Many times he prayed, “Search me.” “Try me.” “Know my heart.” “Prove me.” David wanted the Great Physician to do a heart check. He wanted the Lord to check his spiritual head (Ps 139:23). If there was something wrong, he wanted to know, so he could fix it!

Nobody I know likes to visit the doctor’s examination room. But it’s necessary for physical longevity. If we want to experience spiritual longevity, then often, we need to go to the Great Doctor and ask what David asked, “examine me.” As a doctor will be up front and say, “your cholesterol is high”, or “you need to shed a few pounds”, so is the Great Physician.

Let’s open the examination tool of His Word, and meet with Him in the examination room of prayer. Ask, and sure enough, He’ll bring our condition to the light. He may say, “your heart condition isn’t good”, or, “your thought life needs some work”, or, “you need more spiritual exercise.” And when He does, let’s work on it!

Let’s not be casualties of preventable spiritual conditions. Let’s get into His Word. Let’s go to Him in prayer. Let’s live lives of spiritual longevity for our good, the good of our families, and for God’s glory.

Motive for Mercy

Psalm 6:2-5 “Have mercy upon me, O LORD; for I am weak: O LORD, heal me; for my bones are vexed… oh save me for thy mercies’ sake. For in death there is no remembrance of thee: in the grave who shall give thee thanks?”

I recently read these words: “let’s answer the question of why Esau failed to find repentance for simply selling his birthright even though he sought it desperately with tears. Esau’s repentance was faulty because he did not understand true repentance. He was a profane fornicator (see Hebrews 12:16-17), and he simply wanted to regain the blessings that he had lost (see Genesis 25:33-34). However, when David was confronted with his sin, he repented for the right reason. He wanted to restore fellowship with God. If we repent for any other reason than this we are not experiencing true repentance (See Psalm 51).”

On multiple occasions, men in the Bible prayed words like those in the passage above in their plea for mercy. They reveal an important principle in going to the Lord to seek His mercy: our motives. The Lord is gracious, full of mercy, and ready to forgive. But why are we going to Him? Is it because we were caught? Or afraid we may be? Is it to regain lost blessings, or stop the spiritual bleeding?

We see David’s motives in his prayer here when he said, “have mercy… for (because, this is why I’m asking) in death there is no remembrance of thee: in the grave who shall give thee thanks.” What was David saying? In essence, “Lord please extend to me your mercy that I might live to thank you, and fellowship with you once again.”

We have all sinned. We will sin. We will be at God’s mercy again. When we come before Him, let us come with the right motives. What were our past motives in pleading for mercy? What will our motives be when we seek it again? Might our motives be to regain lost fellowship with Him, to once again be led by His Spirit, and to know to do His will. That is where we find mercy, grace and blessing once again.


2 Samuel 9:1-3 And David said, Is there yet any that is left of the house of Saul, that I may shew him kindness for Jonathan’s sake… And the king said, Is there not yet any of the house of Saul, that I may shew the kindness of God unto him? And Ziba said unto the king, Jonathan hath yet a son, which is lame on his feet.

My father was playing basketball with some men at the church a while back, when a young man went began to curse him out, and then storm off. My dad had many options. He was the pastor. No one should speak to him like that, at “his” church. My dad chose this option: he noticed that this young man could use some new shoes, and bought him some nice, new Nike’s, and set them on the seat of his car. Further, my father learned that this young man’s dad had just passed away, and it must have been a difficult time in his life.

How can we respond with kindness toward those who need it most? How can we love even those that seem unlovable? Not long before this event in David’s life, it seems that he despised the lame and the blind. Further, David was at variance (even war) with the house of Saul. How then did David have desire spring up within him to show kindness to the house of Saul?

David gives us the answer in 2 Samuel 9:3. It was not David’s own kindness that he desired to show, but the kindness of God working through him. The same is true for us. If we’re going to make a difference in the lives of those God has called us to serve, we need to allow God’s kindness to work through us, and show His kindness to them.

How will we love the cursing bus kid with a broken home, or the single mom whose life is a mess, or the broken marriage that seems hopeless, or the teenage punk in the youth group? How can we make a difference in their lives? Most likely, it will not be by following our natural intuition or inclinations. We will make a difference when we endeavor to allow God’s kindness to flow through us, and show it to them.

Two questions to consider: Has God been kind to us, despite us? To whom can we show the kindness of God today?

Who Am I?

2 Samuel 7:18 Then went king David in, and sat before the LORD, and he said, Who am I, O Lord GOD? and what is my house, that thou hast brought me hitherto?

Recently I read this story: “One day the president of a successful real estate company stood before his sales staff of about one hundred. After presenting several new properties, he stated, “My success story has been written up in a national business magazine. If you would like a copy, just see my secretary.” A lightning bolt of dismay and tension struck the staff. Angry looks were exchanged, and murmuring began: “Who does he think he is?! We are the ones that made this company successful! It is our success story, not his.” That very afternoon, several of his top salesmen quit and formed their own company. Soon there was not enough money to close contracts, so the president used money from other escrow accounts, which is a federal offense. Within six months, the once-successful company was dissolved, and the president began serving a prison sentence, all because of the lack of one character quality—humility.”

There are not many things more distasteful than pride. There are not many things as refreshing as a humble spirit. Here, David had just become established in his kingdom. His enemies had been subdued. He had taken strong holds that men thought he could not take. Wherever he turned, and whatever he did, he found success. Yet David’s statement at a pinnacle of success was, “who am I?”

I want to be used by the Lord. But I must be usable. I want to experience His grace. But I cannot resist His grace. A common character trait of men who God used greatly was their “who am I” spirit. Moses said “who am I”. Paul said “I am the least”. And here, David said, “who am I?”.

God is looking for people to use today. But God resists the proud. Let’s remember who we are, that it is God’s grace that has brought us where we are, and let’s humble ourselves under the mighty hand of God. For it’s then, that he can use and exalt us for His greater purposes in our lives. Today, let us remember this spirit: “who am I?”

Revive (Me) Again

Most Christians would agree with this statement: we need revival. But if I ask, “where do we need revival most?”, there will be a plurality of answers. Many would say, “we need revival in our country!” Others would say, “in our schools!” Some would think, “on Capitol Hill.” Yet others might say, “in our churches.”

Psalm 85 tells us where revival must happen first. The Psalmist says,Wilt thou not revive us again: that thy people may rejoice in thee? If revival is to happen, it will not start in our country. It will not in our government, and certainly not in our places of education. The writer understood that a prayer for revival is a personal prayer, and the plea for revival is a personal plea. It isn’t for someone else to be revived. It isn’t for another institution. It isn’t at another location. It’s right here, where I am standing. It’s me, it’s me, it’s me O Lord, standing in the need of prayer for revival.

Do you long to see revival in our country? I do. Do you long to see revival in our community, and in our churches? I do as well. Revival will happen when it begins within you and me, as a child of God. How then, can I begin to see revival in my heart? We find further insight in this chapter. Moses gives us principles for personal revival.

  • The requirement for revival: Ask for mercy. The verse following the Psalmist’s request for revival says, “shew us thy mercy, O Lord”. Has there been a time where my walk was sweeter than it was this morning? Have I allowed sensual thoughts to take up residence in my soul? Do my entertainment choices (like t.v. music, social media, internet) grieve the Holy Spirit? Have I allowed pride to creep in and make me judgmental and condescending? Am I the witness and testimony the Lord wants me to be? Is it something else? If so, I need God’s mercy for personal revival. This kind of repentance- turning toward God’s mercy and away from my sin, always foreshadows revival.
  • The resource for revival: Hear the Word. Verse seven says, “I will hear what God the Lord will speak.” Hearing the Word of God always precedes revival. If we want to see personal revival, we must get back to the book. We must hear it. We must read it. We must meditate on it. And we must be willing to obey when it speaks to us.
  • The result of revival: Righteous living. How will I know that revival has begun? Is it shown in a two-hour alter call at the end of a camp meeting? Is it testimonies of those who have been “revived?” According to this chapter, revival is evidenced in righteous living. Three times in four verses, righteousness, fear of God, peace, holiness is a result. I will know that revival has begun when I begin to live more like Christ- righteously.
  • The reason for revival: The glory of God. Yes, we were created for God’s glory and pleasure, and this is the ultimate purpose for revival. But this chapter shows us that when God’s glory is known, good things happen to us as well! There’s blessing when revival happens. There’s guidance from the Lord when revival happens. God’s goodness is given when revival happens.

Do you want to see revival? I do. Revival must start with “us”. Ask the Lord to search us and reveal where we need His mercy. Get into the Book and allow it to convict our soul, and produce righteous living in us. Then, God’s glory will be evident through us, and it can’t help but make a difference in our realm of influence- our family, our church, our community, our country. Revival is personal. And it starts with me.

Training Mighty Men

1 Chronicles 12:8 And of the Gadites there separated themselves unto David into the hold to the wilderness men of might, and men of war fit for the battle, that could handle shield and buckler, whose faces were like the faces of lions, and were as swift as the roes upon the mountains;

This morning’s reading continued with a commentary of David’s mighty men. These were some amazing guys! They made a difference. They were notable. Their stories are forever etched in Scripture for our learning.

This chapter shows the incredible potential of training mighty men within a family. Whereas chapter eleven speaks of the mighties as individuals, here, we see their strengths and qualities as families. This didn’t happen by accident. Within that family, there was a culture. There was training. There was intentionality in the process which resulted in a certain product across multiple generations. The notable qualities that they possessed are challenging and noteworthy as we attempt to train mighty men in our generation.

1. The Gadites: Strong, Fit, Skilled, Courageous, Able to Lead

1 Chronicles 12:8 And of the Gadites there separated themselves unto David into the hold to the wilderness men of might, and men of war fit for the battle, that could handle shield and buckler, whose faces were like the faces of lions, and were as swift as the roes upon the mountains; 14 These were of the sons of Gad, captains of the host: one of the least was over an hundred, and the greatest over a thousand.

You didn’t mess with this family. Just their faces and presence instilled fear in the hearts of the enemy. The passage above is speaking of eleven sons of one man, of the tribe of Gad. In what ways were they trained?

  • All the boys in this family were strong (“men of might”). If we’re going to train mighty men, we need to train our children to be strong. Children naturally gravitate to the path of least resistance, to the easiest choice. It is our responsibility to train them to be strong in the Lord. Don’t take away the pressure every time they whine. Let’s train strong children.
  • The men in this family were fit for battle. This family didn’t wait for the battle to rage to prepare for it. They prepared from their youth. If we want our children to make a difference in the Lord’s army, we need to work to see that they are “fit” (Suitable, Qualified, Adapted, Prepared, Furnished), for the battle. Do they have a walk with God? Can they withstand temptations? Do they have control over their spirit? Are they orderly?
  • This family was skilled. This family created a culture that produced skilled warriors. They could handle the shield and buckler well. What skills are we helping our children to produce? Reading? Musical instrument? Critical thinking? Soul winning? Scripture understanding and interpretation? Communication? Mighty men are skilled men. This doesn’t happen by osmosis.
  • These men were courageous! The Scripture literally says that their faces were like lions. These men knew how to put their game face on. When it was time to fight, they set their faces toward the battle like a flint, and the enemy knew that they meant business, and wouldn’t back down. Are we training courageous children? There is an unintended consequence in our “safety-first” culture with our children. They don’t need knee pads when they ride their scooter. A “strawberry” (and praise after they get one) will do them well. They don’t need a helmet to ride a balance bike (seriously? Their head is two feet from the ground!). We have parents who are afraid to allow their children to go on a missions trip. If we train them like this, don’t expect them to end up on the mission field. Let’s allow our children to be bold, and encourage boldness and courage.
  • These brothers had leadership ability. The LEAST of these brothers was captain of 100 men. Let’s help our children to learn leadership skills. One of my children wants me to make every decision for them. But I will not. I want them to learn to be decisive, and other skills that will help them to one day lead a family, a ministry, or whatever the Lord gives them to lead.

2. The Children of Issachar: Understanding of the Times

  • These men understood the state of God’s people, culture, politics, even astrology it seems. Their heads were not stuck in the past or in the sand. They knew what was going on around them, and what the people ought to do live successfully in the current day. This may seem a difficult skill to train into children. But with skill in the unchanging truth of God’s word, and consistent teaching, it can be done. Our children should be trained to use ever-changing technology safely, and well. They should be aware of the state of the nation in which they live- of it’s opportunities and dangers. They should be aware of the state of the church, and of the lost. I tell my children often, “look up. Pay attention.” We’d be light years ahead if we lived “looking up” and “paying attention”, and praying for wisdom to discern the times.

3. The Children of Zebulun: Keep Rank, Not of a double heart

  • The men from this family new how to keep rank. Of course, this is a military term used in a military context. It meant that these men knew how to position themselves for the battle, but also keep that rank when the battle raged. We can learn two aspects of training from this. First, is that of order. My dad would say, “don’t let things get ‘cattywhompus.'” He’d also say “don’t live like a druggie” when it came to our schedules. And he didn’t allow a messy, disorderly house. What was he saying? Live a life of order! A messy schedule leads to sloppy living. A messy house leads to a careless life. A consistently care-free attitude will lead to disaster in marriage, children, work, on the road, and in life. Learn to put things in order, and keep things in order. Second, is that of tenacity. It’s one thing to get in rank. It’s another to keep it when the battle rages. Let’s train our children not just to get into rank, but to keep it too.
  • These mighty men were not of a double heart. These men were all in on the battle and the vision. This may be the most important culture we can garner in our family. There are also two training principles here. First, the culture of the family was to be “all-in”. It starts with the parents, folks. If I want to train my children to be single-hearted, as a parent, I must be of a single heart. The way I live in the public eye and the way I live in my home must line up. If not, I am not training mighty men of a single heart. Secondly, these men had no plan B. They had left living under Saul’s house and his leadership, and there was no plan to return, regardless of the outcome. If we want to train mighty children, we cannot teach them to have a plan B to doing the will of God. I see it on social media. I see it in our Sunday school classes. The result of parents who teach their children to have a plan B to God’s will is disastrous. Because when it gets tough (and it WILL), they turn to plan B. When it’s not what they thought it would be, they turn to plan B. When discouragement, or fatigue, or slander, comes, they turn to plan B. There was a culture in this home of Plan A (God’s will), and no other.

There are other families given in this chapter. I encourage those with a desire to train mighty men to study it further. But these are some key elements to seek to apply if we want to train mighty men to make a difference in the Lord’s army for generations to come.

Mighty Men (what every leader needs)

1 Chronicles 11:10-19 These also are the chief of the mighty men whom David had, who strengthened themselves with him in his kingdom, and with all Israel, to make him king, according to the word of the LORD concerning Israel.

There is one thing that successful churches, movements, and even companies have in common: mighty men who help the leader carry out the vision. In our context, mighty men help the God-given leader carry our the God-given vision. Much of King David’s success can be attributed to the men that stood by him from his time in the cave to his time in the castle.

I want to see God’s vision for our church carried out! But there must be mighty men that rally around pastor and the vision if this is going to happen. Are you a mighty man? Let’s see what made David’s mighty men, mighty men that made a great difference for the vision the Lord had given to David for His people:

1. They strengthened him when he came into the kingdom.

Simply put, these men gave him confidence to be established as king. The Benjamites questioned his legitimacy. The house of Saul fought against him as king. But the mighty men rallied Israel around him. When I was in China, and since, I was told that one reason President Xi has a political chip on his shoulder is because his predecessor and their loyalists never confirmed their support to him as the new prime minister. The leader should not question our loyalty. We should give him confidence in the position that God has given to him.

2. They stood with him when others fell away.

1 Chronicles 11:12-14 (KJV) And after him was Eleazar the son of Dodo, the Ahohite, who was one of the three mighties. He was with David at Pas-dammim, and there the Philistines were gathered together to battle, where was a parcel of ground full of barley; and the people fled from before the Philistines. And they set themselves in the midst of that parcel, and delivered it, and slew the Philistines; and the LORD saved them by a great deliverance.

Whether because of fear, envy, despondency, or desire for influence, there will always be dissent. There will be those who fall away, or run away, and influence others to do the same. Jesus faced it. Paul faced it. Moses faced it. What these men did that made them mighty, was they stood with David when others did not. Mighty men stand with the leader when others do not.

3. They were attentive to his desires.

1 Chronicles 11:16-18 And David was then in the hold, and the Philistines’ garrison was then at Beth-lehem. And David longed, and said, Oh that one would give me drink of the water of the well of Beth-lehem, that is at the gate! And the three brake through the host of the Philistines, and drew water out of the well of Beth-lehem, that was by the gate, and took it, and brought it to David: but David would not drink of it, but poured it out to the LORD,

Mighty men are attentive to the desires of the leader. They don’t only do so when it’s convenient. Sometimes it involves sacrifice. But they understand that the well-being of the leader is important to the vision, and when he’s strong and taken care of, he can better take care of those God has called him to serve. My dad had men that would wait late to give him a ride home when we only had one vehicle, or that consistently bought him carrot juice when he was trying to eat healthy, or that bought him a firearm after September 11 to show they were concerned for his well-being. These things may seem small, but they mean much to the leader.

4. They kept tabs on his physical well-being.

2 Samuel 21:15-17 (KJV) Moreover the Philistines had yet war again with Israel; and David went down, and his servants with him, and fought against the Philistines: and David waxed faint. And Ishbi-benob, which was of the sons of the giant, the weight of whose spear weighed three hundred shekels of brass in weight, he being girded with a new sword, thought to have slain David. But Abishai the son of Zeruiah succoured him, and smote the Philistine, and killed him. Then the men of David sware unto him, saying, Thou shalt go no more out with us to battle, that thou quench not the light of Israel.

Most leaders- especially strong and effective ones, will not tell their followers when they’re weak, discouraged, sick, or tired. They will push on, sometimes to their own demise. Sometimes it takes a well-trained eye to see that the leader is “faint”, and to do something about it. This is what these men did. They saw that David was in a vulnerable position. They didn’t just come to his aid at that moment. They made “system changes” so that he would not be in that position again.

5. They were proactive (took initiative)

1 Chronicles 12:20-22 (KJV) As he went to Ziklag, there fell to him of Manasseh, Adnah, and Jozabad, and Jediael, and Michael, and Jozabad, and Elihu, and Zilthai, captains of the thousands that were of Manasseh. And they helped David against the band of the rovers: for they were all mighty men of valour, and were captains in the host. For at that time day by day there came to David to help him, until it was a great host, like the host of God.

Mighty men don’t sit on their hands and wait for the leader to say something before they do something. They’re proactive in the work. They’re proactive for the vision. They’re proactive for the well-being of the people. Here, these mighty men noticed that the people and the land were vulnerable, and they took initiative to do something about it. Every leader needs mighty men who see a need, and take the lead. Men that are concerned about the vision, the people, and the possessions that the Lord has given. Leaders would rather have to pull back on the reigns than have to push.

If our our church is to be successful, and the vision is to go forward, we need mighty men like these.

Technology: The Trojan Horse of the Christian home.

TROJANHORSE1Separation and technology – Most of us have heard the story written about the Greek and Trojan war. As it goes, the Greeks and Trojans had been at war for ten long years. Time and again the Greeks sought to gain victory against the Trojans, but without avail. There was a certain city, called Troy, that stood independent, and that could not be taken even by a great general (general Ulysses) with a strong force (the feared Greek army). The city was strong. It was fortified. It was built to stand the test of time, and to last against even high odds. The Greeks, realizing they could not take this city by their sheer force and power, reverted to deceptive scheming. As the legend has it, one of the Greeks came up with a plan by which they could penetrate and defeat Troy. They would build a great horse and bring it to the gates of Troy as an offering. They would paint it as a benefit to them, an offering to one of their gods. But within the horse, would be an elite force of soldiers waiting for the time the horse was wheeled within the gates of Troy. They would then wait for the cover of night, and when the inhabitants of the city least expected it, the enemy would creep out from the horse’s belly, open the entrance to the city, and by it, opening the floodgates of the enemy to storm in and destroy the city. The Greeks constructed the horse. They brought it to the gate of the city. And then, they retreated, leaving only one lone soldier to offer the gift. The Trojans came to the gates to peer at the horse from within the city. The overwhelming consensus was to bring it inside. However, there was a priest within the city who warned against bringing the horse in. He said, “Do not trust the horse, Trojans! Whatever it is, I fear the Greeks, even bringing gifts.” Then another, the princess, predicted that if they let the horse in, it would be the downfall of the city and the royal family. Both the king’s daughter and the priest were ignored, and they brought the horse in. It was not right away that the Greeks attacked. They waited until it was night, and quiet and all were off-guard. Then, in an instant, and when least expected, their carefully premeditated course of action was executed. The Greeks who had “retreated” had come back to shore under the cover of night, and were awaiting the opening of the gate, that they might storm the city. The gates were opened, and the city was destroyed.

I cannot think of anything that has torn down the barriers of separation from the world within the Christian home today more than that of technology. It’s amazing the parallels the fate of Troy has with our topic of technology, separation, and the home. Think about the striking parallels here. First, the home is one of three institutions that God Himself ordained.  Done God’s way, the home is built to last. When the home is strong and sound, what forces can defeat it? Attacks from without strengthen the home. Slander unites a home as one. Tragedy forges the strongest of bonds. Storms can even bring out the best in a home. Even against the largest of odds from without that are stacked against it, a family standing together on the right principles can prevail. Secondly, I’m reminded that the world, the flesh, and the devil are relentless and will not let up until they have conquered. When attacks from without have not worked, they will resort to deceptive scheming until they can work from within. For many years, the world and the devil have been at hard at work, conniving and conspiring how they can get into godly homes. With the advent of the internet and technology, they have found their trojan horse. They have packaged it so delicately and palatably. They have offered it so subtly. They’ve marketed it as so harmless, yet so beneficial, that the masses of Christians are peering through the gates yelling, “bring it in!” Another parallel I see is that hasn’t gone without warning. There are prudent preachers that herald wisdom, pleading with our people, “I know it seems like a gift. I know it seems beneficial, I know it seems harmless, but do not trust the horse, Christians! Whatever it is, I fear the world, even bringing gifts.” For many, it’s too late. The preacher can preach until he’s literally blue in the face, but the appeal is too strong, and we give in. We disregard the teacher that predicts that this will be the downfall of our homes and churches, because, after all, we know better. What could happen to our family? We’re stronger than that. Oh, it may not take effect immediately. Satan is patient. But the enemy is real and he is relentless. And so is the flesh that is affected. At a time where we least expect it, we will be startled to realize that we have allowed the enemy in, and the floodgates have been opened to the heart and soul of our children and our homes. Many times over, the tragedy is that by the time we awake to it, it will have been too late.

Note: this is simply an excerpt. Illustrations and statistics have not been added, but in my close to fifteen years of work with teens and college students, they are abundant.

A House of Prayer?

Excerpt from a dissertation I’m writing. The study was a challenge to me.

Spiritual churches pray. Perhaps Jesus’ most passionate act besides His sacrifice on the cross comes to us in Matthew 21:13, Mark 11:17, Luke 19:46, and John 2:14. As He walked into the church (in their context, called the temple), He saw that it had turned from a place of prayer and worship to a place of merchandise. A holy indignation welled up within Him, and He walked out. Having made a whip, He came back in a short time later and drove out those that sold, as well as their animals. He then made a statement about His house that we would do very well to note and then emulate. He said, “my house shall be called of all nations a house of prayer…” (referencing Isaiah 56:7). This was the desire of God the Father in the Old Testament. This was the longing of God the Son in the New. His desire is that His house is a spiritual house, a house of prayer.

Our churches can be called many things, especially in this day and age. But when we think of OUR church, can it honestly be called “a house of prayer”? Our church might be a house of preaching. It might be seen to be a house of Bible study. Many can be called houses of fellowship. Some are known for their Sunday School. Some for their ornate buildings (as the temple was, as we see in Jesus’ conversation with His disciples). Others are known for their programs, schools, or institutions of learning. But how many churches do you know that are known as houses of prayer? If there are churches like this, they’re probably not recognized as such because naturally, we look for the methods to their success as opposed to the means of power for success.

I’m afraid that most churches today cannot be called houses of prayer. The prayer meeting is often the least attended meeting of the week. The church gathers for a short time, shares some requests, breaks up, prays methodically- and many times not passionately, and is done for the week. And we wonder why the next generation is looking for new methods and means to reach people. Have we shown them that we rely solely on the Lord and His Holy Spirit to do His work? Or have we shown them that we rely on Sunday school, and follow up, and callbacks, and our man-made means and methods? This is NOT how the early church operated. A.W. Tozer said, “If the Holy Spirit was withdrawn from the church today, 95 percent of what we do would go on and no one would know the difference. If the Holy Spirit had been withdrawn from the New Testament church, 95 percent of what they did would stop, and everybody would know the difference.”

A book I read recently suggested this exercise. It’s a very good one, and yet can be very sobering. Pause for a moment, and imagine having been saved on a remote island by a Christian that just happened to be passing through, and your paths crossed. Though you’re very remote geographically, there is a Bible in your language, and the witness gives you one to read, being the best he can do for you. You have never seen a church. You don’t know what one looks like. You’ve never gathered for “church”. But as you open the Bible, you see that Christ gave Himself for the church. You see what the early church looks like. You see how they lived, were added, gave, continued, and prayed. You know of no other church but the one recorded in Scripture. Here’s the question- would the church you’ve seen in Scripture look like what we practice every week when we gather for “church”? I’ve been reading through the book of Acts this past week, and one of the things that convicts me the most is their reliance on prayer and the Holy Spirit and my lack thereof. From day one, they relied on one-accord prayer…

Multigenerational Excerpt

Doing some dissertation writing today, and thought I’d post an unedited excerpt. It’s so important that we buy into God’s eternal purpose (“the vision” that’s been given) for us as individuals and families, own it, and then cast that vision to the next generation.

Genesis 50:24-25 And Joseph said unto his brethren, I die: and God will surely visit you, and bring you out of this land unto the land which he sware to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob. And Joseph took an oath of the children of Israel, saying, God will surely visit you, and ye shall carry up my bones from hence.

Hebrews 11:22 By faith Joseph, when he died, made mention of the departing of the children of Israel; and gave commandment concerning his bones.

Notice the multigenerational power in these two passages:

First, I see that this multigenerational vision (given in Genesis 12) didn’t die with Abraham. It was cast from Abraham to Isaac, and Isaac bought in. Then Isaac took the vision and cast it to Jacob, and Jacob bought in. And here, four generations later, we see Joseph cite the vision by faith.

Secondly, I see that Joseph bought into the vision himself. He made it his own. It wasn’t his father’s vision and purpose. It was his. He believed in the vision. He owned the vision. He knew that he was a part of it in life and didn’t think it should stop in death- which leads us to our third thought.

Thirdly, Joseph didn’t stop with simply believing the vision himself. Joseph cast the same vision to the next generation. He said, I know God has a plan for our family. I know that God will do what He said. And some day, He’s going to visit us. Some day, he’s going to deliver us. And when He does, I don’t want my bones in left in this worldly place. When God sees fit to fulfill the promise to us years from now, carry my bones out of Egypt!