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March 30, 2010

HIS WORD FOR TODAY:

Mark 9. 2

“After six days Jesus took Peter, James and John with Him and led them up a high mountain,
where they were all alone.”

REFLECTING IN HIS WORD:

I was led back to this scripture during a conversation with my friend Richard who was given the opportunity to see Matthew 18. 20 in action during the men’s retreat he attended last weekend. For those who do not immediately remember that scripture, Jesus taught “Where two or three are gathered in My Name there am I with them.” He watched was sharing with a fellow Christ-follower about this passage and looked down from an elevation where men gathered around a bonfire. They saw groups of two or three men gathered together talking about Jesus. There were no groups greater and no single person present at that moment. They were talking about Jesus. It wasn’t a miracle but it certainly was miraculous, inspiring (a witness was born from it) and effective. In the midst of his conversation he mentioned the transfiguration where three disciples and Jesus had gathered together on a mountaintop alone albeit momentary. In that moment Jesus was joined by two others, Moses and Elijah, who were not only talking about Jesus but they were talking with Jesus. Literally, where two and three had gathered in Jesus’ name there He was with them.

Meanwhile, down below, nine disciples were gathered about a fire without Jesus. A crowd of people had gathered seeking the Master and settling in the moment for those left behind. One man had a son so possessed that he would convulse, foam at the mouth, throw himself into fire or water for the purpose of doing himself injury. The disciples were helpless to effect change. It was not without effort to be sure because they asked Jesus later, “Why couldn’t we drive it out?”
He did not answer “Because you were in a group of nine instead of two or three.” That teaching was heard only in Matthew and only following his sharing of the Transfiguration event. But, there is a connection I believe between the two stories that is significant. Jesus answered the disciples “This kind [of demon] can come out only by prayer.” Jesus had taught “Whatever you ask in My Name shall be given to you.” James would teach “If anyone among you is sick, call the elders to pray over him.” While I do not think there is a “magic” number being promoted for this kind of prayer, it might bear consideration that where two or three men are gathered for prayer in Jesus’ name there can be an effective witness. It has the power of a witness (the testimony of two) and the impact of holiness (three as one). This would not be one of those times where two is company and three is a crowd. Instead, God’s mighty men will be celebrating the Word and the Presence of Jesus as He taught His disciples who found strength in numbers of two (as they were sent out to bear witness) and three (as He commanded.) Do you know of someone who needs help? Do you have one or two men to go with you and pray?

PRAYER CONCERNS (share your needs and others in the comment section so that God’s Mighty Men can join prayer forces as intercessors of faith, hope and love)

* The march through Holy Week and remembering the earthly last days of His Life are the
spiritual first days of the rest of our lives
* For the resolution of the conflict in the Congo
* For the 152 workers trapped in a mine in China
* For victory over the drug war in Mexico and protection of innocent life; ten children and
young adults ages 8-21 were murdered yesterday
* For the resolution of unrest in the Middle East, Iraq, Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan ; especially as
Israel presses the issue of the settlement of the West Bank
* For the support and encouragement of those who are seeking employment and the peace of
mind that comes from trusting the process of God’s creation of a new opportunity with the
promise of vocational resurrection in its season
* For Mack’s liberation from all fears

PRAYER CELEBRATIONS (where we see Him at work in the world):

* Mack will be healed and set free

ABIDING IN HIS PRESENCE THROUGH PRAYER:

Father, we know there is nothing we should be doing that cannot be prayed over for approval and empowerment. If there is we shouldn’t be doing it. Thank You for the testimony of Your Word that approves and empowers us in the works You ask us to do in Jesus’ name. AMEN.

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March 29, 2010

HIS WORD FOR TODAY:

1 Corinthians 15. 50

“I declare to you, brothers, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the
perishable inherit the imperishable.”

REFLECTING IN HIS WORD:

In the early Church there were theological conflicts about the nature of Christ. It was difficult for many to wrap their heads around the God who put on flesh and dwelt among His people. They could believe in their mythical gods and heroes who made their presence known in and through fleshly beings but they could not accept Jesus as the Christ and Christ as Jesus. Maybe there is a difference between fantasy and reality after all. Okay, for many people even today, probably not. Look at the popularity of comic book heroes and computer games. The fantasy grows that somehow human beings can become super heroes and change the world, defeat the enemies and have lives never before possible to them. Somewhere they have put on mute the “fact” that some change happened in their lives to move them above mere mortal status into super-mortal beings. They did not do it on their own. They operated from a changed nature.
It is the same for Christ-followers, God’s mighty men, too.

Paul picks up the theme of becoming a new creation. People are empowered with a nature not of this world. It is a nature of the One who created the world. By the presence of God’s Holy Spirit they are given the powerful abilities to change their world, defeat the enemies and live life as never before possible to them even in the face of incredible odds. The difference is that Christ is neither fantasy nor myth. The promise is neither fiction nor a lie. The reality is defined by faith, hope and love. These are the imperishable aspects Paul was describing when he urged those in the Church to embrace Christ and His promise for life. Nothing that man can do on His own shall open the door to blessing of the Kingdom of God on earth as it is in Heaven. All the things that can be had which come from earth are perishable and will one day disappear. But, those things which are created and recreated by the Spirit of God are imperishable and will survive earthquake, wind, fire and final judgment.

God’s mighty men are a part of that new creation. They are not superhuman beings. They will be hurt, bleed, suffer and even die in their earthly nature but not in their spiritual nature. Their spiritual nature reflects the likeness of Christ in their lives. Because it is not of this world the powers of evil can have no power over them. That includes Satan who was cast out of Heaven and confined to earth. His powers are not heavenly nor are they equal with God. That is why Jesus could so easily defeat him in spiritual battle over diseases and souls. It isn’t a comic book story that God’s mighty men are a part of but a true life story. We have the same ability as well. We have been given the keys to the Kingdom, the knowledge of the ages and the authority of Christ as His disciples and followers. It is time we practice more and more what it is we preach. I know I have a battle to engage. Do you? We cannot battle alone and find victory. Faith is the victory that overcomes the world. Faith in Christ Jesus alone is the victory that transforms the world. Put on the imperishable and celebrate the victory.

PRAYER CONCERNS (share your needs and others in the comment section so that God’s Mighty Men can join prayer forces as intercessors of faith, hope and love)

* The march through Holy Week and remembering the earthly last days of His Life are the
spiritual first days of the rest of our lives
* For the resolution of the conflict in the Congo
* For the 152 workers trapped in a mine in China
* For victory over the drug war in Mexico and protection of innocent life
* For continued support in the nations of Haiti, Chile and Turkey following strong earthquakes
* For the resolution of unrest in the Middle East, Iraq, Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan ; especially as
Israel presses the issue of the settlement of the West Bank
* For the support and encouragement of those who are seeking employment and the peace of
mind that comes from trusting the process of God’s creation of a new opportunity with the
promise of vocational resurrection in its season
* Healing for Lisa and Mack’s liberation from all fears

PRAYER CELEBRATIONS (where we see Him at work in the world):

* Mack will be healed and set free
* Positive retreat reports

ABIDING IN HIS PRESENCE THROUGH PRAYER:

Father, it seems that we are still fighting against incredible odds. In many places we have not fully grown into who You would have us become. You have placed the Word before us in Scripture, the Word in us through Your Holy Spirit and the Word around us in the body of Christ, the Church. We are not alone. We shall not be defeated. Let the blessing of faith, hope and love be mighty in these men today in Jesus’ name. AMEN.

March 28, 2010

HIS WORD FOR TODAY:

Romans 7.8

“But sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, produced in me every kind of
covetous desire. For apart from the law, sin is dead.”

REFLECTING IN HIS WORD:

It is one thing to give a prohibition. It is a totally different thing to teach why the prohibition exists. How many times have we as God’s mighty men, or even just regular Joes, thought that a simple “don’t” would suffice as an instruction? We recognize from the benefits of experience that others should just take us at our word and live lives that are better off. I wonder, however, how we ever got that experience? Didn’t someone tell us at some point, “Don’t do that?” Even God used that tactic in the Garden of Eden when He told Adam, “Don’t eat of that tree right there in the middle of the garden with the big juicy red apples that seem to shine better than any other fruit in the garden. If you eat of that fruit and disobey me you will surely die.” Okay, I embellished the edict a little but you get the picture, don’t you? As God certainly highlighted the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil it had to have captured the imagination of Adam who then, in turn, passed the curiosity to Eve. The seed of wonder and wander was planted.

Okay, so you say that the threat of harm or serious consequence should be an effective deterrent. God said, “You will surely die.” We say, “Trust me it will be really bad if you do that.” Or better yet we warn ominously, “I will beat you if you even think about it.” My grandson was being warned by his grandmother when he had that eye bent for doing something he shouldn’t. She told him “You better not even think about it.” He looked at her and thought for a moment before replying “I’m thinking about it.” Once the thought is planted it will germinate in the fertileness of the mind which God created to be fertile. His children are the extension of His creativity where necessity is the mother of invention- for better, for worse. Think about it for a moment. God said to Adam who then said to Eve and obviously within earshot of the serpent who repeated the words back to them as a means of engaging them in the dialogue of temptation, “You will die.” Of course, we have just the biblical storyline and not all the details of the conversation but if we took it just as it is to be the limit of the conversation do we read that Adam and Eve even knew what death was? In the Garden of Eden where things were perfect and what happened in their world was limited to the “wonder” stage and “take it for what it is” did they really understand what “death” was? It was this lack of information that Satan counted on in leading Eve astray so that he could get to Adam in hopes of defeating God. Maybe God knew some things are better off learned by experience. Is this all a part of God’s Master Plan?

As God’s mighty men, we cannot rely merely upon the word of warning or admonition, the voice of historical authority and experience or the threat of imminent danger to be enough to help others avoid the dangers in life that create the vortices of storms whose purpose is to destroy us and those we love. There may not be enough words or voices or warnings to stop others, perhaps even ourselves, from venturing into that unknown which the “law” opened our eyes to. But, it is with good teaching that we can better prepare others and ourselves for those moments when the fine line between good and evil is crossed. Good teaching? We have more tools at our disposal that show the benefits and liabilities of our decisions. We have real examples of the consequences of those decisions that can be shared. I wish I had been told more in my past about such things and my life today may have turned out differently. Of course, in the end, we must all come to the truth on our own. Hopefully we come with an overflowing resource that will make sense when we need to use it because we pushed ourselves or someone we know pushed themselves between the limit of reason. As they say “Curiosity killed the cat.” Someone once told me “Yes, but satisfaction brought it back.” Satisfaction only leads one further down the road and many times to no good end. The only thing that can bring us back is Jesus Christ our Lord who truly satisfies our needs in the way, the truth and the life that does it best.

PRAYER CONCERNS (share your needs and others in the comment section so that God’s Mighty Men can join prayer forces as intercessors of faith, hope and love)

* For those who will lead God’s people in worship, service and praise this weekend
* For the positive results that will leave with the men at the ACF Men’s Retreat that will help
them teach others about living through life’s storms
* For the resolution of the conflict in the Congo
* For the 152 workers trapped in a mine in China
* For victory over the drug war in Mexico and protection of innocent life
* For continued support in the nations of Haiti, Chile and Turkey following strong earthquakes
* For the resolution of unrest in the Middle East, Iraq, Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan ; especially as
Israel presses the issue of the settlement of the West Bank
* For the support and encouragement of those who are seeking employment and the peace of
mind that comes from trusting the process of God’s creation of a new opportunity with the
promise of vocational resurrection in its season
* Healing for Lisa and Mack’s liberation from all fears

PRAYER CELEBRATIONS (where we see Him at work in the world):

* Mack will be healed and set free
* Continued identification of barriers to effective communication and positive relationships
* A chattering cat
* Support your local blood center and the opportunity to save lives

ABIDING IN HIS PRESENCE THROUGH PRAYER:

Father, for the lessons yet to be learned in easy and hard ways, we pray for Your protection, mercy and grace to abound through Jesus Christ our Lord who has seen it all and promised “Lo, I am with you always.” Thank you for never leaving these mighty men. May their wisdom grow and their opportunities to prepare others for the awesomeness, and sometimes for the awfulness, of Your truth. AMEN.

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March 27, 2010

HIS WORD FOR TODAY:

Acts 4. 13

“When they [the Sanhedrin] saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were
unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and took note that these men had been with
Jesus.”

REFLECTING IN HIS WORD:

Who are God’s mighty men? They come in all different shapes, sizes, colors, ethnicities and nationalities. They travel the spectrum of walks of life, economies, educatons, vocations and avocations. Their age is a concern only by the depth of wisdom they gain as they proceed through life beginning where they first “saw the light” and continuing until they are completely in the light. Is it externals that make a man one of God’s mighty men? Is there a look that grooms them to be who they are? If there is it is a look in their eyes that reveals the intentionality of their soul and the vitality of their actions. It is a character of being that rises up from the spiritual connection between the depth of man and the depth of God.

At first the depth of man may actually indicate how empty they have become in their search for meaning. Regardless of the work they do, the satisfaction and fulfillment may be missing. They could be good at what they do, highly successful as the world measures success, but the goodness they inwardly desire to attain eludes them. All the resources in the storehouse of the man is consumed with the yearning to be of ultimate and eternal purpose. Yet, in God’s eyes, the depth of a man is an indicator of the capacity to be God’s mighty man. Just as an IQ quotient is an indicator more of what a person can know and less of what they know, so is this spiritual barometer called faith the measure of what a man can become more than what he is. God is less concerned about our past because He has anointed it with grace and healing. Those whose lives have been negatively impacted by the failure of man are blessed. The sins of man are not visited eternally upon the generations in which they walk. God does is merciful and mighty in this regard because He is concerned about our future. His security is the security of all men. God never changes. His desire is to facilitate the change which comes by renewing our minds, transforming our lives and making of each man a mighty force for goodness.

Who are God’s mighty men? The Sanhedrin who struggled with a battle of realities because of Jesus Christ who walked perfectly in their midst and whose disciples were doing the same provided an insight to this description. Luke records one encounter following the healing of a crippled man who had asked for help. Peter called it an act of kindness. The Sanhedrin did not know what to call it. But, they were very aware of the courage these men had to proclaim the truth of God in Jesus Christ. They were aware that these men spoke boldly and intelligently without the benefit of schooling as those in the Sanhedrin who had been trained by great rabbis of their day. The Sanhedrin were astonished at the message and took note that they had been with Jesus. They also saw that they were effective in their mission and ministry offering acts of kindness in moral support, healing and in empowering others to follow Christ and be at peace in the world.

Who are God’s mighty men? They are Christ-followers. They are not clones and reproductions of the real thing. They are the real thing. They are incarnations of the risen Lord. The Word of God, Jesus Christ, is made in their flesh. His Spirit is their Spirit. His Courage is their Courage. His Hope is their Hope. His Destiny is their Destiny. Their success is His Success. They walk at His Command. They speak with His Authority. They work with His intentionality. They live with His Promise. Knowing that ought to make you want to be a mighty man of God and to desire that all men should be one, too. So what are you waiting for?

PRAYER CONCERNS (share your needs and others in the comment section so that God’s Mighty Men can join prayer forces as intercessors of faith, hope and love)

* For those who will lead God’s people in worship, service and praise this weekend
* For the ACF Men’s Retreat this coming weekend about living through life’s storms
* For victory over the drug war in Mexico and protection of innocent life
* For continued support in the nations of Haiti, Chile and Turkey following strong earthquakes
* For the resolution of unrest in the Middle East, Iraq, Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan
* For the support and encouragement of those who are seeking employment and the peace of
mind that comes from trusting the process of God’s creation of a new opportunity with the
promise of vocational resurrection in its season
* Healing for Lisa and Mack’s liberation from all fears

PRAYER CELEBRATIONS (where we see Him at work in the world):

* Mack will be healed and set free

ABIDING IN HIS PRESENCE THROUGH PRAYER:

Father, in Your Might, by Your Power, through Your Grace continue to make of these men a mighty force for goodness. Empower their heart, mind, spirit, soul and life with such wonder and courage that others will not be able to see anything but Christ in them. May they be effective today in seeking to do Your Will in their earth as it is in Your Heaven. AMEN.

March 26, 2010

HIS WORD FOR TODAY:

Jeremiah 21. 34b

“For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.”

REFLECTING IN HIS WORD:

Praise the Lord! Our singular hope for a long and fruitful life is knowing the Lord. How will we and all people know the Lord? God says “They will all know me from the least to the greatest for I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.” There will come a day when life, our life, all our lives, will be so overwhelmed by the burden of sin pressing in that we will no longer believe we have the means of escaping it. There will come a day when God will be so present that hardened hearts will soften and the doors flung wide open to let the King of King in. Judgment and the possibility of a death sentence will be preferred to the struggle to survive. In that moment, God’s judgment will be mercy because the plea of the guilty will be sincere. The cry of the sinner is “Have mercy.” The response of God will be “I forgive your wickedness and remember your sin no more.” No one will have to tell the forgiven sinner about God. Their heart, mind and spirit will be so full of thanksgiving, gratitude and peace that they will want to tell others about God. Forgiveness is actually how we “know” the Lord. And I am not speaking of forgiveness we receive alone. In the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus teaches “forgive as I forgive.” God will be known most completely when we take on the forgiving nature and spirit of Christ. When we forgive others of their sins, debts and trespasses then we are fully actuating the forgiveness of God shared with us. That is the moment when we truly know the power of God.

This weekend over two hundred men will gather for fellowship, prayer, worship and study. They will know God in the midst of the storms of life and how to be buoys of faith, hope and love. They will not talk about how they are or will be saved only. They will also investigate the meaning and purpose of being available of points of reference for others to know God. They will not learn to say “Here I am be saved like me.” They will learn to proclaim “Here He is. He wants you to be saved as well.” The role of prophet, priest, pastor, teacher, mentor, Christian friend is not to promote self as the one who knows. Rather their purpose is to make it possible for others to know God and Jesus Christ as personal Lord and Savior through the offering of forgiveness and mercy when the world offers none. Jesus declared, “Whatever you forgive on earth is forgiven in Heaven.” How great to know that we have the mighty strength to bind Satan and set the captives free so that they will all know God.

PRAYER CONCERNS (share your needs and others in the comment section so that God’s Mighty Men can join prayer forces as intercessors of faith, hope and love)

* For those who will lead God’s people in worship, service and praise this weekend
* For the ACF Men’s Retreat this coming weekend about living through life’s storms
* For victory over the drug war in Mexico and protection of innocent life
* For continued support in the nations of Haiti, Chile and Turkey following strong earthquakes
* For the resolution of unrest in the Middle East, Iraq, Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan
* For the support and encouragement of those who are seeking employment and the peace of
mind that comes from trusting the process of God’s creation of a new opportunity with the
promise of vocational resurrection in its season
* Healing for Lisa and Mack’s liberation from all fears

PRAYER CELEBRATIONS (where we see Him at work in the world):

* Mack will be healed and set free

ABIDING IN HIS PRESENCE THROUGH PRAYER:

Father, as You have forgiven us so that we might know You in a mighty and wonderful way as we have been fearfully and wonderfully made and remade, empower the mercy and forgiveness we show others so they will come to know the same in You for themselves. Guard those men who will be in spiritual retreat. They are not falling back but advancing forward as Your Mighty Men to bring others through the storms of life that they might enjoy the fullness of their salvation. AMEN.

March 25, 2010

HIS WORD FOR TODAY:

2 Chronicles 35. 18

“The Passover had not been observed like this in Israel since the days of the prophet Samuel;
and none of the kings of Israel had ever celebrated such a Passover as did Josiah, with the
priests, the Levites and all Judah and Israel who were there with the people of Jerusalem.”

REFLECTING IN HIS WORD:

Have you ever just gone through the motions with life, work or church? The only hope you have is just to make it from one day to the next. The semblance of normalcy is designed to connect as many parts with a path of least resistance as possible. Then the routine pacing of a journey that simply moves is developed and set upon. It reminds me of animals in a zoo. Those who are born in captivity seem to adapt more easily to the confines of their environment. Those who have known a freedom of space whether in the wild or another zoo set a course around the perimeter of their confines. They are unsuccessful in living outside the box. Neither animal actually accepts their lot in life. Both animals set out on a course of routine pacing that indicates their unfortunate circumstance and will follow it until they die. Such is the case of God’s mighty men who adopt a spiritual routine of least resistance with designed stops of ritual celebration. They give the outward appearance of being a faithful and righteous man and are counted by many as very religious. They do routine good works and remain a vessel through which God can pour blessings out to others. Yet, there comes a time when they are rutted in the routine of religiousity that they forget the heart of true religion. It is at that point that the pacing of their lives becomes a death march to the grave and thankfully to the empty tomb.

There is an alternative! King Josiah began a reform of the religion practiced by Israel. He determined that holding to the fading practices of piety and faithfulness had led the nation into an environment of vulnerability to the enemy both in the flesh and in the spirit. He did not find the religious ceremonies to be ineffective and thus open to being ignored and discarded. Instead, he found the ways of participating in the spirit of celebration of those sacred events to be ineffective and powerless. For Josiah there was more to honoring God, loving God and living God than was the conventional spiritual wisdom of the day. So, what was the option? Josiah decided that if we are to hold fast to the Word of God we must do so in a mighty way. In the reading today we hear that not only did they celebrate Passover but it was celebrated as it had not been done in over 400 years. I find that timing to be of interest because 400 years is symbolic of the period of time Israel was in Egyptian captivity. They had been led into Egypt because they were hungry and God had made it possible for them to survive in a far away land. He had no intention of His people becoming captives in a containment of slavery. The people, however, began to set out on a pace of adapting to their environment that dulled their awareness of God. But, the spirit of freedom is hard to mute. God heard their cry and delivered them in a mighty way. The day of their deliverance was Passover. Incredible coincidence or prophetic word to God’s mighty men of today?

In the conventional wisdom of the evangelical church to put down “religion” there must be an awareness of embracing the spirit of righteousness which leads to being religious in a powerful and transforming way. Too often we cast out something that has become routine in the church, such as communion and the Lord’s Prayer, declaring they have lost their meaning because of routine practice. Perhaps what is lost is the heart of those celebrations and the call to become a part of these mighty events in a way that has not been known since the beginning of our captivity.

As a group of men gather this weekend in spiritual life retreat I ask you to pray for them in a mighty way. The theme is about overcoming and living through the storms of life. When our world is destroyed by the storms of life we have the opportunity to do things differently than we have done them before. Many times it is not about finding new routines but renewing the call and practice of the presence of God in our midst. Remember that God is the same yesterday, today and always. He never changes toward us. It is we, His people, who must change. Throw off the mantel of acceptance of the routines of life, even our religious lives. Put on the mighty mantel of a prophetic, priestly and Christ-like life. Let’s do today what has not been done in such a mighty way for some time. Perhaps since our last Passover? Perhaps since the Passover that was celebrated by our Lord nearly two thousand years ago. There definitely has not been one like that since!

PRAYER CONCERNS (share your needs and others in the comment section so that God’s Mighty Men can join prayer forces as intercessors of faith, hope and love)

* For the ACF Men’s Retreat this coming weekend about living through life’s storms
* For victory over the drug war in Mexico and protection of innocent life
* For continued support in the nations of Haiti, Chile and Turkey following strong earthquakes
* For the resolution of unrest in the Middle East, Iraq, Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan
* For the support and encouragement of those who are seeking employment and the peace of
mind that comes from trusting the process of God’s creation of a new opportunity with the
promise of vocational resurrection in its season
* Healing for Lisa and Mack’s liberation from all fears

PRAYER CELEBRATIONS (where we see Him at work in the world):

* Mack will be healed and set free

ABIDING IN HIS PRESENCE THROUGH PRAYER:

Father, move us out of the ordinary and make our lives extraordinary, mighty and a powerful witness to others of Your majesty and grace. AMEN.

March 24, 2010

HIS WORD FOR TODAY:

Philippians 4. 10

“I rejoice greatly in the Lord that at last you have renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you
have been concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it.”

REFLECTING IN HIS WORD:

Paul’s thank you letter to the congregation in Philippi is a good reminder of “doing for others as God has done for you.” The real blessing comes without asking. Even though the Lord knows the needs of our hearts, mind and soul before they are uttered in prayer before His altar, we have had those times when some kindness is offered we did not expect. Paul confesses that he had learned to live with meager resources. Not only had he learned to live this way but he was content to do so. His life was blessed with daily bread and not dictated by daily want. So when the gifts of the Philippians arrived with Epaphroditus, Paul was humbled and inspired. Does this not cause God’s mighty men to think about how often their concern is shown for one another? Is it only in times of need, theirs or another, that they reach out to share a blessing or seek a blessing? Is it not important to build up the body of Christ in good times as much as we do in times fraught with difficulty? The real blessing of friendship is staying in touch so that each friend never becomes isolated by their prosperity, the adversity or their apathy.

Yes, in prosperity the tendency is to forget the times of lean and lean only on one’s self.
Yes, in adversity the tendency is to be avoided as if it is a plague easily shared with others.
Yes, in apathy the tendency is to be lulled into a sense of false security where nothing too good nor too bad is happening so it must be just right.

I encourage all of God’s mighty men to maintain their relationships with one another throughout all the seasons of life. Such maintenance develops contentment and trust in the Lord. Such contentment exposes peace and joy. Such peace fosters understanding. Such understanding draws up sincerity. Such sincerity elicits thanksgiving. Such thanksgiving shares blessing. Such blessing begats life. Such life is a true gift of God for which there is no substitute. Share that gift of life with one another.

PRAYER CONCERNS (share your needs and others in the comment section so that God’s Mighty Men can join prayer forces as intercessors of faith, hope and love)

* For the ACF Men’s Retreat this coming weekend about living through life’s storms
* For continued support in the nations of Haiti, Chile and Turkey following strong earthquakes
* For the resolution of unrest in the Middle East, Iraq, Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan
* For the support and encouragement of those who are seeking employment and the peace of
mind that comes from trusting the process of God’s creation of a new opportunity with the
promise of vocational resurrection in its season
* Healing for Lisa and Mack’s liberation from all fears

PRAYER CELEBRATIONS (where we see Him at work in the world):

* Mack will be healed and set free

ABIDING IN HIS PRESENCE THROUGH PRAYER:

Father, we have been blessed today already. Lord, You are a good and gracious God. Now may the affections of Your spirit be renewed throughout the circle of those we call friends. May that circle expand today to include another in our daily joy. As these men are faithful in a little, let their peace extend to many others until this world is overcome by joy in Jesus’ name. AMEN.

March 22, 2010

HIS WORD FOR TODAY:

Job 2. 9-10

“His wife said to him, ‘Are you still holding on to your integrity? Curse God and die!’ He replied, ‘You are talking like a foolish woman. Shall we accept good from God and not trouble?’ In all of this, Job did not sin in what he said.”

REFLECTING IN HIS WORD:

Who’s to blame? According to the story of Job, one of the first writings of the Bible, God is not to blame nor is man. We are familiar with the story of Job whose righteousness was a test case and stumbling block for Satan. Despite the loss of property, wealth, home, barns, livestock and even his children, Job did not blame God or declare in the face of devastating and unjust circumstances “I am innocent.” When his wife, in obvious grief for the loss of her ten children, looked upon her husband who sat quietly in mourning and railed against him to seek death by turning against God, Job responds with confidence in God’s will. He declares, “Shall we accept only good from God and not trouble?” She wanted him to be the one responsible even if all this happened because he did not wrong. Something had to be wrong or else why would all these terrible tragedies have happened?

Who’s to blame? Satan is to blame. His rebellion against God is so deeply rooted in his own ego that he wanders across the face of the earth stirring up trouble. How better to defeat God than to cause His own people to rebel as Satan enticed many angels to do eons before. Satan’s greatest tool of rebellion is to incite blame against God and His people. Finger pointing is an implement of destruction. I still use the visual aid I learned that can teach about personal accountability. It is one finger pointing at someone else accusing them of wrongdoing. However, with the pointed finger forward there are three fingers pointing in reverse back at the accuser. It is no different for Satan who remains threefold cursed each time he tries to implement the blame factor as a good reason to give up God.

Three fingers of blame:

1) I have sinned. Sin is the breaking of relationship with God. It is the voice of that brokenness that digs a chasm between man and God and burns the human efforts to bridge the gulf with works and legalism. But, for the mighty man, it is one finger of accountability, confession and reconciliation.
2) I am innocent. Sin clouds the mind, muffles the conscience and pollutes the heart to the actual truth of the human condition. The denial of wrongdoing or even the possibility of wrongdoing maintains the break in communication where the gospel of grace seems to fall on deaf ears or just one step short of a connected walk with Christ. But, for the mighty man, it is one finger of acceptance, truth telling and profession of faith that without the truly innocent one, Jesus Christ, we would have no chance for eternal life.
3) I am less guilty than others. Sin plays games with the heart, mind and soul so that the lives of others are justification for one’s personal situation. God operates only under the condition of one-to-one relationships. His relationship is not made conditional as we relate good or bad to others. His relationship was made unconditional with us through His Son Jesus Christ. While weaker men seek to justify themselves by weighing their strengths, and more often their weaknesses, against others to justify themselves, the mighty man promotes the welfare of others as deserving of grace, too.

So, when we decide to point one finger I would suggest we take the tact of Job and point the one finger at God saying “He is the author of all. He can give and He can take away. Mine is to trust and obey.” In fact, to keep from blaming ourselves, others (including Satan) or God, let the hands of God’s mighty men be lifted up to God in worship and praise giving thanks for all things and the asking only for the wisdom and courage to abide with Him regardless of what we know and do not know.

PRAYER CONCERNS (share your needs and others in the comment section so that God’s Mighty Men can join prayer forces as intercessors of faith, hope and love)

* For those who will feel winter’s blast as a cold central low moves across the southeast
bringing rain to the north and snow/ice to the south
* For our legislators and our country as the national health bill set before the President to be
signed in as law: may God have mercy and bring more healing to all
* For those facing damaging floods in the Red River, North Dakota area and inclement weather
passing through the middle of the country
* For the ACF Men’s Retreat this coming weekend about living through life’s storms
* For continued support in the nations of Haiti, Chile and Turkey following strong earthquakes
* For the resolution of unrest in the Middle East, Iraq, Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan
* For the support and encouragement of those who are seeking employment and the peace of
mind that comes from trusting the process of God’s creation of a new opportunity with the
promise of vocational resurrection in its season
* Healing for Lisa and Mack’s liberation from all fears

PRAYER CELEBRATIONS (where we see Him at work in the world):

* A day for yardwork which provided a sense of accomplishment
* Mack will be healed and set free

ABIDING IN HIS PRESENCE THROUGH PRAYER:

Father, for all things which can lead us to a greater relationship and deeper understanding of Your will in and through our lives- we give You thanks. AMEN.

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March 21, 2010

HIS WORD FOR TODAY:

Luke 6. 38

“Give and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running
over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”

REFLECTING IN HIS WORD:

Spring has sprung which in Texas means summer is not far away at all. Every summer I look forward to eating watermelon. I love watermelon. I have been to the proclaimed “Watermelon Capital of the World; Hope, Arkansas.” I knew Hope, Arkansas, for watermelon, Pete and Pat Shields and First Christian Church long before I knew there was a Bill Clinton who would become the President of the United States. It is interesting that I think about adding former President Clinton to this reflection and offer a connection to watermelon as a means to embrace being “salted with fire.” We have spent a week looking into and considering what it means to be spiritually salty. Our saltiness is created in us and maintained by the Holy Spirit of God. That promised Holy Spirit reminds us of who we have become as mighty men of God, Christ-followers. Do you remember what this is?

1). Forgiven sinners. We have all sinned and fallen short of the intended level of expectation of
God. Satan, our enemy, expects us to fail and encourages us to embrace our failure even to
the point of denial that failure is a bad option. God doesn’t expect us to fail but He knows
that we have and that we still will. However, as Christ-followers and God-fearers, our
failures are points of reference which can help us chart where not to go again as we seek to
follow the paths of righteousness for His Name’s Sake. In order to do that we must focus
less on the tragic identity of sinner and more on the truthful identity we have as “forgiven
sinners.” Unforgiven sinners have no hope of survival. Our role as the body of Christ is to
help others know they have been liberated from the bondage of sin which is death. I am
remembering a dog I saw on a farm who had been chained so long that when they released
it it never went further than the length of chain it had been bound with. It had no idea it was
free and lived in bondage until there was sufficient encouragement to believe otherwise.
Too many Christians live the same pattern of life. They had been bound to their sin and the
tragic consequences of sin in this world, including legalism, that when they heard the gospel
of their freedom they continued to live just out of rich of the abundant life eternal life gives.
Did they know they were forgiven? Were they still looked upon with the same
discriminating eye set on who they were instead of who they are becoming? Were they truly
empowered to be free by a community of faith that knew better?

What does this have to do with former President Bill Clinton? He sinned. He sinned in
office. His sin had a definite impact on the political landscape in this country and how
others perceived this country from abroad. Driving the interstate through Hope, Arkansas,
led you past signs indicating it as the birthplace of the president. Those signs had to be
replaced many times because they were filled with bullet holes. Okay, it is American and
we do have the freedom of speech but each bullet hole represented a comment against a man

with whom they disagreed and a shot at the Savior who had already forgiven him. Buck shot
or rock salt, the result was an assault on the character assassination as much as Savior
crucifixion. Do you think I am speaking too strongly? Jesus died for our sins. He who had
no sin took on the sins of the world and judge the sin not the sinner. Sin was laid to rest and
the sinner was raised before God. The sinner who knew they had been forgiven and “a-
salted” by grace, reminded by the Holy Spirit, fired with forgiveness and empowered to
renewed life and purpose in the Kingdom of God on earth as it is in Heaven.

2) Sage missionary. Do you need to go back to the first paragraph and remind yourself where
this teaching started? The question was asking if we remembered who we have become as
mighty men of God as we have been “a-salted.” We are to be spiritually salty. I am not
speaking of Jimmy Buffet’s “lost shaker of salt,” no matter how drunk the disciples might
have appeared on the day of Pentecost when they were “a-salted” with the promised Holy
Spirit of God. But, they were just like the mighty men of God are today. They were forgiven
sinners fixed with a singular purpose of preaching, teaching and baptizing for the sake of
Christ and for the welfare of those who were given the opportunity to be Christ’s brothers
and sisters in the Kingdom. They were to be sage missionaries. Yes, salty like a sailor (okay
without the verbage) who spins the yarns of great adventures circling around a truth that
should warn people of dangers in the world and safe harbor. Yes, sage like the wise man
seasoned with experience of the past so that the bright future is more attainable. Both are
pressed down, shaken together and poured out. The mighty men of God, like the disciples,
are seasoned missionaries packed together, pressed down with forgiveness, shaken over the
world like salt on a watermelon that makes the meat more mouth-waterin’ good, and poured
out with an invitation for others to come and join the party. Maybe we should eat more
watermelon at Sunday go-to-meeting (even if it is on Saturday)! It is hard to get too serious
over the sins of others when we are all covered with watermelon juice. Hmmmm, stained
with red just like the lamb that was slain for our sins and raised for lives as salty Christ-
followers bound for the best picnic ever. Life may not be a picnic here on earth from time to
time, but it is a little easier to swallow when it and we are seasoned with the salt of
forgiveness- shared, given and received through Christ our Lord and the body of Christ- His
Church.

PRAYER CONCERNS (share your needs and others in the comment section so that God’s Mighty Men can join prayer forces as intercessors of faith, hope and love)

* For those who will be leading God’s people in worship, praise and service this weekend
* For our legislators as they gather to vote on the national health bill set before them: may God
have mercy
* For the family of the 8 year old boy whose body was found washed ashore in Washington
State and the mother who is still missing
* For those facing damaging floods in the Red River, North Dakota area and inclement weather
passing through the middle of the country
* For those tragically imperiled in the sex abuse scandal at the hands of Irish priests which has
persisted for centuries
* For continued support in the nations of Haiti, Chile and Turkey following strong earthquakes
* For the resolution of unrest in the Middle East, Iraq, Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan
* For the support and encouragement of those who are seeking employment and the peace of
mind that comes from trusting the process of God’s creation of a new opportunity with the
promise of vocational resurrection in its season
* Healing for Lisa and Mack

PRAYER CELEBRATIONS (where we see Him at work in the world):

* A beautiful beginning to the second day of Spring
* Mack will be healed and set free

ABIDING IN HIS PRESENCE THROUGH PRAYER:

Father, for the salt of forgiveness and the taste of new life we give You thanks. We give it not just in words of gratefulness but in the sharing of compassion with others through the words and actions of faith, hope and love. Bless these missionaries, forgiven sinners, who are going out into the world to gather in the harvest of souls made possible by Your Son and our Savior in whose name we live, serve and pray. AMEN.

March 20, 2010

HIS WORD FOR TODAY:

Mark 9. 50b

“Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with each other.”

REFLECTING IN HIS WORD:

One way to not be at peace with someone else is to covet what they have believing you can’t have it for yourself. Of course, you should never want what someone else has so much that you take it for yourself. Many times what someone else has may not serve your purpose and actually help to disable you instead of empower you. One thing I believe we all yearn for, especially when we see it in others, is happiness. The Apostle Paul sometimes uses the word “contentment” to assimilate the balance of happiness one feels when all is right with the world. How many times, however, are things not right in our world and the burden of wrongness so influences the content and outlook of life that personal happiness not only seems impossible but isn’t even on the radar? So, we see others who are happy and we might assume it is because of the things they have. If we had their big house, big car, big boat, nice clothes, great job and the list varies for each person then we would be happy. Strange how God then walks someone through our lives who appears content, happy, well-adjusted without any of those things. If happiness is not contingent upon externals, possessions and conditional relationships, then what is it dependent on?

I heard a story out of Haiti of a volunteer visiting a hospital where many of the patients were amputees; a sad consequence for many injured in the earthquake. Their lives appear to be disabled in so many ways. This volunteer was encouraged to meet a young lady who had the most wonderful voice. As they approached the young lady’s bed, the volunteer noticed she was missing a right arm and left leg. It only took a simple encouragement, however, to get her to sing. As she raised her left arm and right leg to heaven, she praised God in the voice of angels. Everyone in the hospital within earshot was silenced as her song filled them with awe and wonder. They were silenced not in amazement that this now handicapped girl could sing so well. It was the peace of her song of thanksgiving that transformed hopelessness into hope and pain into joy. She praised God for an arm and a leg to offer still to God. She did not complain that someone else had two arms and two legs. She didn’t even ask for that. Neither did she ask for the injuries suffered at the hands of a shifting and shaken world. Her peace came from having salt in herself knowing that God was still God, mighty in His kingdom and that all will be right with the world in spite of tragedy and trial.

I believe this goes hand in hand, or in the young lady’s situation- foot in hand, with Jesus teaching which in Mark precedes today’s scripture lesson. It says “Salt is good but if it loses its saltiness, how can you get it back?” You certainly can’t make salt salty. You can’t, but God can. You cannot take someone else’s spiritual saltiness for your own. You cannot make someone else happy nor can they make you because happiness and true saltiness comes from within. So Jesus taught those who would listen, “Have salt in yourselves.” It doesn’t come from externals, things or conditioned relationships. It comes from the indwelling of God in the midst of us- Jesus Christ our Lord, His mightiest man. It can be found in each mighty man of God, too, who believes and trusts in God with all things. Others may see that happiness and contentment. They may aspire to acquire that peace. But, you cannot give them that peace as it is not yours to give. You must live in that peace and direct them to the Master of the Salt who alone can give them the peace they desire and deserve. Be well in your salted soul. Live well in your salted spirit. Serve well with your salted gifts. Think well with your salted mind. Love well with your salted heart. Glorify God well with the salted body of Christ. It may well be handicapped in this world but what remains is preserved in the salt of God’s love for us until it is restored in the fullness of His coming kingdom. If you have this salt in yourself there is no need for anything else. Many things may come to you because you are at peace with yourself, others and God. If things do not come to you in this world then the peace that surpasses all understanding will be known in a mighty way without them.

I look forward to concluding this study on saltiness tomorrow with Luke 6.38. See you then and may your salt remain good.

PRAYER CONCERNS (share your needs and others in the comment section so that God’s Mighty Men can join prayer forces as intercessors of faith, hope and love)

* For those who will be leading God’s people in worship, praise and service this weekend
* For the family of the 8 year old boy whose body was found washed ashore in Washington
State and the mother who is still missing
* For those in the path of the cyclone approaching Australia
* For those facing damaging floods in the Red River, North Dakota area and inclement weather
passing through the middle of the country
* For those tragically imperiled in the sex abuse scandal at the hands of Irish priests
* For continued support in the nations of Haiti, Chile and Turkey following strong earthquakes
* For the resolution of unrest in the Middle East, Iraq, Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan
* For the support and encouragement of those who are seeking employment and the peace of
mind that comes from trusting the process of God’s creation of a new opportunity with the
promise of vocational resurrection in its season
* Healing of illnesses for myself and Lisa

PRAYER CELEBRATIONS (where we see Him at work in the world):

* Our healing continues to make itself known
* Mack will be healed and set free

ABIDING IN HIS PRESENCE THROUGH PRAYER:

Father, thank You for making these mighty men treasures of great worth. You have packed them in the salt of Your Holy Spirit to be useful each day. May the peace of their lives and the contentment which arises from the trust in You inspire others to seek the spiritually salted life of a Christ follower. May Your salt be abundant this weekend in Jesus’ name. AMEN.

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