Autopilot Prayer


The highest identity of the church is to function as a house of prayer.

Jesus felt strongly about this. On two occasions, one early on in His ministry (John 2:16) and the other just a few days before His crucifixion (Mark 11:17), He forcefully cleared out the temple. What He observed was that everything but prayer was happening in the house of God. Turning over tables in righteous anger, He drove the people out, saying “Do not make my Father’s house a house of merchandise.” The Message paraphrase reads “Stop turning my Father’s house into a shopping mall.” Far from being a prohibition on selling books and CD’s in the church lobby, this is a plumb-line for the heart.

Am I coming into God’s house with a heart of worship and devotion or am I coming with a consumer mentality? (“I’m here to check things out and see what might appeal to me.”) As the disciples watched Jesus cleanse the temple, they remarked to one another that what they were seeing was a fulfillment of Psalm sixty-nine, verse nine: “Zeal for your house has consumed me.” Yes, Jesus does feel strongly about what the focal point of our gatherings should be when we meet in His house.

On the second clearing of the temple Jesus quotes the prophet Isaiah, “Even them I will bring to My holy mountain, and make them joyful in My house of prayer. Their burnt offerings and their sacrifices will be accepted on My altar; for My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations.” (Isaiah 56:7) In between these two public events, Jesus spent many private hours imparting to His followers, by modeling and teaching, what it means to live a life of prayer.

Spending time in God’s Presence is the source of joy and the fountainhead of zeal for our journey. The impact extends to the nations. 

We were created to interact deeply with God’s heart. One angle of view is simply this: God speaks and moves our heart; then we speak and move His heart. That’s why relationship is a critical factor. My heart needs to be tenderized and interactive with Father’s heart.  Much of this takes place through meditation on God’s Word. He makes His purpose known; it stirs my heart and mind; then I speak it back to Him in the form of prayer. In the end, He gets all the glory for our prayer lives because we can’t effectively pray without the Spirit inspiring us.

One person expressed it this way: “Holy Spirit, pray in me the Father’s will. Father, what the Spirit in me is praying, that is my prayer, in Jesus name.”  There is however, no “autopilot” in this process. God takes pleasure in collaborating with us. In addition, our staying connected is equivalent to our staying safe.

Adam and Eve learned a hard lesson of what can happen when we fail to be vigilant in this regard. In a perfect world, with no sin, the absence of consulting God proved devastating. Perhaps Adam and Eve proved to us that autopilot doesn’t work so well.



A King and a Servant


It takes at least two people to create this duo, or can one person fulfill both roles? In the natural realm, kings are not servants; they have servants. Servants are not kings; they serve kings.

Upon entering the supernatural realm of God’s kingdom it becomes apparent that the culture operates on a completely different grid. For example, when Jesus was building a leadership team he contrasted the existing overseers (scribes & Pharisees) against his new model: “The greatest among you will be your servant.  For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” (Mt.23:11-12)

As a Forerunner, Jesus perfectly demonstrates the humility He calls His disciples to walk in. 

“Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow…” (Phil.2:6-10)

Centuries earlier God spoke about this through the prophet Isaiah: “Behold My Servant whom I have chosen, My Beloved in whom My soul is well pleased. I will put My Spirit upon Him, and He will declare justice to the Gentiles.” (Mt.12:18, Isa.42:1)

God chose a servant to do a kings’ job. Or did He choose a king to do a servants’ job?

Jesus was God and King from eternity past. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made.” (John 1:1-3) He chose to descend from the majestic realms and become the “Word made flesh.” His next appearing will be as “the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings and Lord of lords.” (1 Tim.6:15) 

In God’s domain, kings serve and servants rule. Jesus the Servant-King has gone before us. A humble King and a kingly Servant – all in the one Man.

In the Book of Revelation, Jesus the Lamb takes the scroll, while the living creatures and twenty-four elders sing a new song: “You are worthy to take the scroll, and to open its seals; for You were slain, and have redeemed us to God by Your blood out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation, and have made us kings and priests to our God; and we shall reign on the earth.” (5:8-10)  Redemption is our launch into leadership training. We serve with Him; we rule with Him. 

Let us humble ourselves and be intentional in our pursuit of meekness, while we confidently step up into our gifts and callings – to fulfill our kingly roles in Christ’s government.

Living Wholehearted

climbing mountain

I have dubbed him a “geriatric hero.” Caleb is the Biblical character I most often hear the older saints aspire to be like. Now that I have reached my current “mature” age of sixty-one, I am “all in” with wanting to like him too.

We know he and Joshua famously as the two spies who were part of the twelve man reconnaissance team for Israel, returning with confidence that they could take the land. Caleb (our hero) is also noted for having the zeal and desire to take another mountain of conquest at the age of eighty, while also leaving an inheritance for his offspring.

More than just the kind of person we should aspire to be like in our later years, I believe Caleb is a great example for believers of every age.  Six times in the Word of God there is a quality attributed to him: “He followed the Lord wholeheartedly.” (Num. 14: 24; 32: 11-12; Deut. 1: 36; Josh. 14: 8, 9 and 14.) I believe that Caleb followed with his whole heart for his whole life. The manner in which I carry out my current mission for God reflects the manner with which I’ve carried my heart before Him all along. 

I am impressed with the staying power of this man. With the Promised Land mission on delay, he was forced to wait another generation before taking possession of Canaan. Keeping heart levels up when destiny is on delay – this requires full devotion. 

Author Alicia Britt Chole gives this insight: “We find God’s pauses perplexing. They seem to be a waste of our potential. When those pauses extend beyond what we can comprehend or explain (say, for instance, three days), we often spiral into self-doubt or second-guessing. But in anonymous seasons we must hold tightly to the truth that no doubt strengthened Jesus throughout His hidden years: Father God is neither care-less nor cause-less with how He spends our lives.” 1

The issue for Israel was the actual giants in Canaan, plus the giants within themselves, that made them shrink back. I’ve been tumbled from the inside before. I know how it goes down.

The Promised Land as I see it, has an internal and an external dimension. God desires that we enter into our mission, our assignment, (career, parenting, ministry labors) while also desiring that we become like Him. (transformation of character, renewing the mind, healing the heart)

“But because my servant Caleb has a different spirit and follows me wholeheartedly, (internal dimension)  I will bring him into the land he went to, and his descendants will inherit it.” (external dimension) Numbers 14:24

Are there ups an downs in the journey? Of course. But there is also grace available, enabling us to be consistent.

“No matter how many times you trip them up, God-loyal people don’t stay down long; Soon they’re up on their feet…” (Prov.24:16 MSG) (italics mine; emphasis added)

And, I might add,  following wholeheartedly.


1 Alicia Britt Chole, Anonymous: Jesus’ Hidden Years and Yours (Nashville, Thomas Nelson, 2006) 27

Being Brave in Being You


Reality struck me like a lightning bolt when the gospel message pierced my soul forty years ago. I was in the dregs of misery, a life without Christ, searching for meaning. I hardly knew who I was and what I did know, I didn’t like very much.  Jesus embraced me “as is” and the knowledge that He had been pursuing me all along, was overwhelmingly fantastic.

We have a built-in desire for love and belonging. The key to fulfillment is found in discovering our authentic and real selves. All my life I was coming up empty from self-management until I surrendered my hollow attempts at being somebody and became for the first time, the real me. I became, and am still in the process of becoming, a new man in Christ.

Our common arch-enemy is “shame” – who I am is unworthy of belonging. I am flawed. If others really knew who I was deep inside they would surmise that I have a deficiency. This dark, embedded lie was extracted from me when I was spiritually raised up from death, but I’ve been privy to this from the get-go: the forces of darkness will never give up in trying to reclaim you. Pharaoh released Moses and the people of Israel. They were delivered, but the enemy followed in hot pursuit. Actually I’m okay with this. It decidedly affirms our value and sets up another opportunity to see God’s glory displayed in victory!

I mentioned a couple of months back in Coming to a Life Near You , that there is an expectancy in the heart of God as He oversees the epic storyline of our lives.  I am so vested in my belief that God has an ongoing, never ending glorious plan for my life, that being a wholehearted disciple of Jesus Christ must be my benchmark. My partnership with Him is too good to ever forsake. Don’t get me wrong; it’s not always easy. But make no mistake; it’s always worth it!

So what about “being real”? It’s necessary to be rightly converted; repentance requires honesty. The man who led me to Christ held the first true mirror for me. I saw reality; my true state of soul. Once cleansed I began to be redefined. After a time of guiding me through my new birth and laying in some faith foundations, my friend released me to the care of others in a church  near my home. I was discipled in an excellent manner for two years before I moved on to a ministry assignment overseas. My first foundations still serve me well, to this day.

Subsequent growth phases in the journey are almost, if not more, intense than the initial conversion to Jesus. In those times I ask, “Where’s my mirror holder”?

We need real peeps around us; authentic community that will help us keep it real, remind us who we are in Christ, and run the race alongside us.

Seeing a real and true reflection requires courage; especially when denial or cover up present themselves an easier option. The word “courage” is from the root “cor”, the Latin word for “heart.” 1 Its original meaning conveyed: a person’s bravery in sharing their heart. The meaning today is more aligned with being heroic. Heroes are to be commended for putting their lives on the line, but there is another kind of courage, ordinary and every day.  It’s about living honest and open – being brave to just be “you.”


1 Brene Brown, The Gifts of Imperfection


Eagerly and Patiently Waiting


Expectancy is a part of everyone’s life; so is “waiting.”

“We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.  Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the first-fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to son-ship, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved…we wait for it patiently.” (Romans 8:22 – 25)

We wait eagerly. We wait patiently.

How can we be so sure? How do we keep our faith strong? We have a solid down payment – a guarantee from God Himself.

God “sealed us and gave us the Spirit in our hearts as a pledge.” (2 Corinthians 1:22) We have “tasted of the heavenly gift and have been made partakers of the Holy Spirit.” (Hebrews 6:4)

“Foretaste” – a small anticipatory sample of something that will happen in the future to a greater degree.

One of the first hymns I recall singing as a new believer was “Blessed Assurance”, by that great song writer Fanny Crosby. The first verse begins with, “Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine; Oh, what a foretaste of glory divine!” The last verse ends, “Watching and waiting, looking above, filled with His goodness, lost in His love.”

Fanny Crosby was blind due to a medical error when she was being treated for an eye infection as a baby. Her grandmother and landlady were agents of God in her training. They taught her God’s Word and how to pray. The result – Her expectancy triumphed over her circumstances.

One of Fanny’s first know compositions was this poem that she wrote at the age of eight: “Oh, what a happy child I am, although I cannot see! I am resolved that in this world contented I will be! How many blessings I enjoy that other people don’t! So weep or sigh because I’m blind, I cannot – nor I won’t.”

Another one of my Crosby favorites is “To God be the Glory.” The last verse reads, “Great things He hath taught us, great things He hath done, and great our rejoicing through Jesus the Son; but purer, and higher, and greater will be our wonder, our transport when Jesus we see.” It’s all about going from something great to something greater

Eagerly and patiently waiting – “Are we there yet”? comes to mind. The key to helping our eager child to wait patiently on that road trip, is to give them something with which to occupy themselves; travel games, reading material, music. Fanny Crosby was married at the age of 38, wrote thousands of hymns, and was actively involved in ministry to the urban poor until her death at age 95.

The future gaze does not preclude present ministry but rather fuels it. 

“If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on things that are on earth.” ( Col. 3: 1,2)

A mind filled with the thoughts of God will be compelled into service. Those who wait patiently remain occupied presently in kingdom enterprise.

“For we know that if our earthly house, this tent, is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed with our habitation which is from heaven,  if indeed, having been clothed, we shall not be found naked. For we who are in this tent groan, being burdened, not because we want to be unclothed, but further clothed, that mortality may be swallowed up by life.” (2 Corinthians 5:1-4)


Coming: to a Life Near You

Coming attractions

Coming Attractions!! Ever been anticipating a new movie? Finally the trailer  is released!

Case in point: at this writing, Star Wars: Episode VII- The Force Awakens, is only seven months away! There is a buzz in the air. We know it’s going to be good. First off, because it’s just Star Wars. Secondly,  J.J. Abrams is directing and the music is by none other than John Williams.

Those who determine the script & sound of an epic story, having already proven their expertise, virtually guarantee its worth.

The coming attraction that proves to be a great film, moves its’ way into our treasured archive, most likely to be viewed again. Meanwhile, future films are created and hence more coming attractions.

Expectancy is a part of everyone’s life. Consider this psychology definition of “anticipation” – the imagining of a future event which creates an affective response. (I.E. It changes my emotional state, positive or negative.)

Anticipation can be long term or short term:

Eternity, the age to come, being a king and priest forever in God’s kingdom is a cause for excitement in my heart. You can’t get much more long term than that! Knowing this “coming attraction” in my story line fuels expectancy and releases emotional strength into my present day.

On the other hand I also look forward to date night next Wednesday, as I have for the past one hundred Wednesdays. I have the same date (hot) and generally go to the same restaurant, and same coffee shop.

“Same” is not boring by the way. I have served the same God for the past 40 years. He is consistent, invariable, unchanging, and the Provider of every good gift. (James 1:17)

I have been reading the same Bible, albeit in various translations, for the past four decades. My anticipation remains unabated. And what of God towards me?

Is there a reciprocal expectancy – a coming attraction in the epic story of “me” that stirs joy in  the heart of God?

(Who has, by the way, signed on to direct and compose YOUR story.)

Reciprocity derives from the Latin “reciprocus” – moving backward and forward. I have yet to discover all there is to know of God. I have yet to discover all there is to know of me. So my gaze is fixed on the Lord, and rightly so. This includes seasons where I must follow His eyes and the leading of the Spirit to an area marked for change in my heart. This will always be fruitful when Spirit led. It will not however always be fun.

“Change my heart O God” is not a plea for cosmetic change. It is a full on surrender to Abba, giving Him access to uproot and plant as He sees fit. This is one heart surgery where the patient remains awake. I must see my present reality in order to enter an transcendent one. Repentance and obedience are the steps of ascension. 

My Father sees the potential of conformity to Christ in my heart; the next episode of “glory” in the “From Glory to Glory” series. “But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.” (2 Cor.3:18)

Even as He extracts gold from the “same” troubled area in my soul, one that we’ve been working on for decades, He is unmoved in His vigor.

I mine the depths in God. He mines the depths in me. I love this partnership.



The Narrow Path


When I first committed my life to Christ forty years ago, my friends were shocked at my transformation. They found it hard to believe that I could live without all of the pleasurable activities that we pursued together. “How can you give up all the fun?” was a frequent question. The answer of course was quite simple: I had found true joy for the first time in my life – a deep and gratifying source of life that I didn’t need to drink, smoke, or manipulate to acquire. The exponential gain in my life reduced my former state to a negligible attraction.

“Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.” (Matthew 7:13-14)

This pattern of the narrow gate leading to life, filled with vision and the restraint needed to facilitate its fulfillment, was modeled by Christ. “You know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sake He became poor, so that you through His poverty might become rich.” (2 Cor.8:9) The human birth canal is pretty tight quarters for passage; thankfully it is designed for elasticity and the light at the end of the tunnel is a gaping four inches. Jesus literally chose the narrow gate didn’t he?

Aside from the physical process there was the dimension of leaving the realms of glory to enter the broken limitations of humanity. Jesus went from omnipresence to: being in one place at a time,  having to walk to get there, and getting tired to boot. Perhaps the angels wondered, as my old party friends did, “You’re giving up all this, for that?” In this case however, they had a point.

“For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. (First Timothy 6:10) Loving anything above God: is the root of all sorts of evil, weakens our faith, and eventually leads to sorrow.

Jesus said that “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” (Matthew 19:24) He used the camel because it was the largest animal regularly seen in Israel. Remember the context of this verse: Jesus had invited a man to follow him, with the promise of treasure in heaven. But the young man “went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.” We pierce ourselves with many griefs when we choose the lesser treasures of the wide road.

When I am navigating a passageway of growth I sometimes think of it as “eye of the needle” change. “I don’t see how we are going to do this Lord”, I gasp. The disciples asked a similar question: “Who then can be saved?” (19:25) Jesus replies: “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” (19:26)

The “wide gate” as the Bible describes it, has something for everyone. The greatest danger is in the exclusion of God or in modifying the Gospel message to make it palatable at the expense of being non-transformative. The “narrow gate” is pure and cleansing, and I might add, wonderfully rich in transition.

The narrow way is truly the most expansive.