Meanderings of a Minister


Cry Out America

This coming Monday, we will remember the horrific terror attack on our nation.  Terrorists flew hijacked airplanes into the World Trade Center towers, the Pentagon, and presumably wanted to fly one into the White House, but were prevented by heroic passengers who gave their lives to save countless others.  Cottonwood Elementary School will host their annual Patriot Day Celebration at 9:30 AM to thank veterans, servicemen and women, law enforcement officials, firefighters, and emergency services personnel.

Another event that will happen is a corporate prayer time at the County Courthouse at Noon.  18 churches from the Liberal area will join together to pray for our nation.  All are invited to take an hour out of their lives to pray for our nation.

As I think about this gathering, I am mindful of how Paul prayed for those with whom he worked.  Read the following list and see if some of these prayers might be appropriate for us to pray over our churches and over our nation.

Paul’s prayer for the Corinthians was (2 Cor 13:7-10): they would do no wrong, they would do right, they would be made complete in their faith in Christ.
Paul’s prayer for the Ephesians was (Ephesians 1:15-19): God would give them a Spirit of wisdom, God would reveal Himself to them, God would reveal to them how to live for Him, God would enlighten their eyes to see all He is doing, they would know the hope that comes with being called His kids, they would know the riches of the glory of their future inheritance, they would know and experience the surpassing greatness of God’s power towards them.
Paul’s prayer for the Philippians was (Phil 1:9-11): that their love would abound more and more, that their love would be based in knowledge of God and discernment of what is right and wrong, that they would approve what is excellent, that they would be sincere and blameless until Christ’s return, they would be filled with the fruit of righteousness, they would live to the glory and praise of God.
Paul’s prayer for the Colossians was (Col 1:9-12): they would be filled with the knowledge of God’s will, they would have all spiritual wisdom and understanding, they would walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, they would please the Lord in all aspects of their lives, they would bear fruit in every good work, they would increase in the knowledge of God, they would be strengthened by God, they would attain steadfastness and patience
Paul’s prayer for the Thessalonians (2 Thess 1:11, 3:5): That God would count them worthy of His calling, that God would fulfill their desire for goodness, God would fulfill their desire for the work of faith, with power, that Jesus’ Name would be glorified in them, that the would be glorified in Him, God would lead them into greater love for God, God would lead them into the steadfastness of Christ.

In addition, Paul asked the Thessalonians to pray for him (2 Thess 3:1-2): that the word of God would spread rapidly, that the word of God would be glorified in them, that they would be rescued from evil and perverse men, in the church.

How many situations and people in your life could benefit from these prayers?

As you pray for others, keep these things in mind and plan to join us the Liberal Ministerial Alliance for a prayer time on Monday, September 11th, at noon, at the County Courthouse.

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What Stirs Your Heart?
March 10, 2016, 5:20 pm
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16780a_Heart-Bowl-Engraved-Ladle

Earlier this week, we listened as our very own Liberal High School Redskins played in the state basketball tournament.  They played a great game and came just a mere few points from winning the contest to make it to the medal rounds of the tournament.  As I listened to the game on the radio, I heard as the crowd seemed really into the game.  Our Liberal crowd outnumbered the home team.  I am pretty sure we out-cheered them as well.

This morning, I was reading my Bible and came across the following verse:

Everyone whose heart stirred him and everyone whose spirit moved him came and brought the Lord’s contribution for the work of the tent of meeting and for all its service and for the holy garments.” (Exodus 35:21, NASB95)

As I read this verse, I noticed what this had to say about Moses and the Israelites in the wilderness.  It says that their hearts stirred to be able to participate with God and contribute to the building of the Tabernacle, also called the Tent of Meeting.

As I thought about this reality, the following thoughts came to mind.  First, this incident happened after the incident with the Golden Calf.  God had told them they had sinned by worshipping another “god”.  The people had struggled with not being able to see the God they worshipped and so they built a “god” they could look at, touch, and handle.  God told them that they should worship no other “god” before the One, True, Living God.  On top of that, God allowed them to build a Tabernacle so that they would have a place to visit Him, worship, offer sacrifices, come to hear from God, etc.

Next, God told them to bring items for the building of the Tabernacle, but only if their hearts were stirred with the forgiveness they had been offered, the presence of God in their midst, and His position as their Lord.  How did the people react?  Their hearts were stirred and they gave.  And, boy, did they give!  They gave so much that Moses had to issue a directive for the people to stop giving because they had way more than they needed.

And all the skillful men who were performing all the work of the sanctuary came, each from the work which he was performing, and they said to Moses, “The people are bringing much more than enough for the construction work which the Lord commanded us to perform.” So Moses issued a command, and a proclamation was circulated throughout the camp, saying, “Let no man or woman any longer perform work for the contributions of the sanctuary.” Thus the people were restrained from bringing any more. For the material they had was sufficient and more than enough for all the work, to perform it.” (Exodus 36:4–7, NASB95)

They gave until there was too much!  That is amazing!

As I thought about this reality in light of my experience with the basketball game, I wondered, “What stirs my heart?”  What really stirs my heart?  Do I really believe that my church serves God?  Does that stir my heart enough to help, to cheer them on, to give to make sure they have what they need to do the ministry God has called them to?  Do I really believe that my church is doing the work of God’s ministry?  Is my heart stirred to join with them in doing that ministry?  Am I fanned into flame to see that I contribute to the work personally, familially, gift-wise, time-wise, or any other way?  If not, why not?  Does it mean that there is something wrong with them?  Is there something wrong with me?  What is going on?

I guess that my prayer has to be, “God, help my heart to be stirred by the things that stir Yours.  Help me to enjoy the amusements of life, but help me to more enjoy musing on the things of You.”  What stirs your heart?



Where Is the Line?
September 26, 2013, 9:42 pm
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draw_the_line_ianstevenson

This past Sunday, I preached on a passage from 1 Peter in which Peter told his hearers:

 

“Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether to a king as the one in authority, or to governors as sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and the praise of those who do right.  For such is the will of God that by doing right you may silence the ignorance of foolish men.  Act as free men, and do not use your freedom as a covering for evil, but use it as bondslaves of God.  Honor all people, love the brotherhood, fear God, honor the king.”[1]

 

It is just like God for this message to come before a week in which this would be put to the test in our community. 

 

On Monday, our school board took a stand to say that we ought to be able to be free to express ourselves through prayer in public, at football games, over the PA system, just as we had for many years until the policy was changed by one man’s decision.  They voted 7-0 to approve the prayer at schools.  They boldly stood up to say that they wanted to protect from the erosion of our religious freedoms on our nation.  They are to be admired and commended for doing so.

 

After prayer was removed from the football games a few years back, I contacted the American Center for Law and Justice and explained the situation.  They indicated that we could have continued to pray had this decision not been made, but that once the decision was made, we could not go back because any action to reverse the decision could be interpreted as endorsement of prayer by the school district and, according to the Supreme Court’s Santa Fe Independent School District v. Doe, 530 U. S. 290 (2000)[2] decision.

 

So, now we have a problem.  We have a school board that has acted admirably and expressed what many of the citizens of Liberal desire, but they will most likely have to reverse the decision at some point.  The question is how much they want to fight it and whether or not this is a “hill to die on”. 

 

So what can we do?  First, pray.  Next, pray some more.  Pray for wisdom for the school board to know that they are doing what God has called them to do.  Pray for courage to stand up for conviction.  Pray for God’s grace for them.  What else?  Let them know how much you appreciate the stand they have taken and what they have attempted to accomplish.  Tell them that you agree with their sentiment.  Affirm them in this decision.  Don’t try to blame them or condemn them if they are forced to reverse the decision.

 

Having considered this situation, the question we are left with is where is the line in the sand?  Where is the line that we are called to stand on when it comes to issues like this.  For many of us, we struggle to know the difference between what the Bible says is our responsibility and the American religious freedoms we have always enjoyed and where they intersect or diverge.  How do we know if we are fighting for religious freedom constitutionally or biblically?  How do we know if we are fighting for a preference or a biblical mandate?  How do we know if we have entered into the “We must obey God rather than men” area of Acts 5 or if we are simply fighting for the preferences we have been taught to value as Americans?  Where is the line?  Pray that God would show you the answer and then stand on His direction.

 



[1] New American Standard Bible: 1995 Update. LaHabra, CA: The Lockman Foundation, 1995.