Remember What You Have

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November 10, 2016.

3:43 p.m.

My phone notifies me that my wife has texted me. I am finishing up an appointment with a client and think to myself, “Ok. I’ll call when we’re done.”

3:44 p.m.

My wife calls me on my phone. I decline the call. Whatever she needs is obviously urgent. I begin to hurry my session to a close.

3:45 p.m.

She calls back a second time. This is our signal for 911. I excuse myself from my meeting and answer the call.

“Hello.”

“Mark! You need to leave. Right.  Now. Luke and his friends were crossing the street near the bus stop and have been hit by a pickup. The police say they need a parent on the scene.”

Images of a lifeless, bloody body laying on the ground cloud my mind, making it hard to catch my breath.

“Mark?”

“I’m on it,” I exclaim, rushing out the door with only a brief explanation to my client and our receptionists.

Twenty minutes later I arrive at the scene. The police have gone. The paramedics have left, and a call to my son tells me that he is now at home.

When I walk into the house, I find him sitting at his computer, eating a Pop-Tart.

“Why are you home early,” he asks.

I raise my eyebrows. “Uhhh. Because you were hit by a truck?”

“I’m okay, Dad,” he says. “Really. It’s not that big a deal.” He points to a small abrasion on his wrist that is about an inch in length.

He tells me that he and two of his friends decided to go to the park near our house after getting off of the bus. As they were crossing the street, they noticed a pickup truck stopped at the stop sign facing them. Initially, they waited for him to go, but when he remained stopped, they decided it was safe to cross. However, once they were halfway into the street, the truck began to make his right-hand turn and hit all three of them. My son saw the truck coming and jumped back enough to only be clipped by the vehicle’s side mirror. One of his friends, though, suffered a bruised rib, and the other had two fractured wrists.

I hug my son and breathe a sigh of relief.

Later that night I tell my wife, “You never realize how quickly your life can take a left turn into hell.”

She nuzzles herself into me on the couch and begins a refrain that we will take turns repeating for the rest of the evening: “I’m just so thankful. It could have been much, much worse.”

A week and a half later I am still chilled at the idea of what could have happened, and I find myself randomly thanking God for His protection and grace.

It is a gift I do not deserve. No amount of good deeds could have been exchanged for the life of my son. He is of infinite value and I am a man of limited resources. If God were to weigh me on the scales of justice, I would always be found wanting. And I am acutely aware that there are others in the world who have not been as fortunate as I, so I cannot claim that some cosmic “fairness” is owed to me.  I can only express appreciation and gratitude for being allowed to have my boy, first as a life loaned to me from God and now as a life spared.

But that is the nature of thankfulness, I suppose. One cannot appreciate what he has unless he juxtaposes it against the tragedy of its potential loss. And it is this juxtaposition that lays the foundation for the joy in whatever we have. This is as true for children as it is for jobs, marriages, finances, health, or lessons learned through life.

Too often we forget to measure the breadth and depth of our blessings and falsely presume that they will endure continually. But everything we love, everyone we treasure, every possession we hold dear can vanish in an instant. Everything in life, even life itself, melts away like the morning dew, and if we do not acutely attune ourselves to the transient nature of all our blessings, we will fail to be thankful for what we have been given. Nor will we recognize how God abundantly displays His goodness in our lives.

This holiday season, before you carve the turkey and watch the football game, take time to walk around the house. Reflect on how far you have come over the years. Enjoy how the crisp autumn air has gradually wrapped each tree in thin brown paper. Have a conversation with each person who is at your home. Revisit your favorite memories. Tell a story or two. Laugh with each other.

What is here today can be gone tomorrow.

Remember what you have. And be thankful.

 

 

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Have Faith in God


When I awoke yesterday for work, an old hymn began playing through my head. I could only remember the chorus, but it was a good reminder to put my hope in God, not any one man or woman. Remember this truth, whether you are pleased with the election results or not. Our prayers are to be for God and His will, not for a person and their politics. Red or Blue, all of us should pray for our leaders and for God’s will be done. All of us should Have Faith in God. Therefore, I offer the following hymn. The lyrics are below.

Have faith in God when your pathway is lonely; 
He sees and knows all the way you have trod. 
Never alone are the least of His children; 
Have faith in God, have faith in God. 

Chorus:
Have faith in God, He’s on His throne; 
Have faith in God, He watches o’er His own. 
He cannot fail, He must prevail; 
Have faith in God, have faith in God.

2 Have faith in God when your prayers are unanswered; 
Your earnest plea He will never forget. 
Wait on the Lord trust His Word and be patient; 
Have faith in God, He’ll answer yet. [Chorus] 

3 Have faith in God in your pain and your sorrow; 
His heart is touched with your grief and despair. 
Cast all your cares and your burdens upon Him; 
And leave them there, oh, leave them there. [Chorus]

4 Have faith in God though all else fail about you; 
Have faith in God, He provides for His own. 
He cannot fail though all kingdoms shall perish; 
He rules, He reigns, upon His throne. [Chorus]

Psalms for the Election – Day 7

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As we conclude this 7-day journey for praying for the election, I hope you hold on to God’s call to recalibrate our lives around Him and not our political parties or dogmas. May we live with strength and courage; without fear or discouragement, because we know that the Lord will be us wherever we go.

Have the courage to stand up among the assembly, to be that one person who refuses to bow to the pressures of tyranny, regardless of the threat to your life, wealth, or family. Rest in the truth that your victory does not come in the votes of an electoral college but in God. It is He who pushes back your enemies and gives you victory. Put your faith in Him. He is our only hope.


Read Psalm 46

Identify what God is saying about Himself in this passage. Boil it down into a one or two-word summary (e.g., God is ____ ) and confess that truth back to God, asking Him to reveal Himself in this way through your day and this election cycle.

v. 1 Look at the election. If it has not taken place yet, pray this verse as a declaration of trust that God will protect His people and will not abandon us when trouble occurs. If it has ended, pray this verse as a declaration of faith for the future, regardless of who has been elected President.

v.2-3 State how your security does not depend on the circumstances that have played out in this election. Rather, your security is in God alone. Therefore, you will not fear.

Even if you feel like this election has produced results in which “the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters foam and the mountains quake with their surging,” declare your faith and your trust in God.

v.4-6 Confess that you were not created for this nation that we call America. Rather, you were created for the holy city of God where the Most High dwells. Your residence is within a kingdom that will not fall and where God will always help her survive and thrive. Other nations will come and go. Other kingdoms will fall, because God rules not with a scepter or a sword, but with the power of His spoken word. He is the One who spoke and the earth was created. He is the One who wrapped Himself in flesh to pay the penalty for our sins. He is the One who lifts his voice and the earth melts; who reigns forever and ever and invites the one who wishes to take the free gift of the water of life.

v.7-9 Declare the wonders and the works of the LORD Almighty. Ask God to reveal to you what He has done. In this passage, the Psalmist writes that God has “made wars cease … He breaks the bow and shatters the spears; He burns the shields with fire.”  Take a moment and ask yourself: What

Take a moment and consider the symbolism for our country: What are the “wars” that God has stopped in our country? What “bows and spears” has He broken? What “shields” of the enemy has He “burned with fire?”

v.10 Take a minute. Be still before God and know that He is the Lord. Confess the mighty works of His hands. Declare His greatness among the nations. Exalt Him in all the earth.

v. 11 Reaffirm this truth, regardless of who won the election: “The LORD Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.”

In Jesus’ name, Amen.

 

Thank each of you who have prayed with me over these last 7 days for the condition and future of our country. May our hearts be continually turned towards God as we seek His face and declare that our trust rests not in man, but in Him.

Blessings on you all.

Psalms for the Election – Day 6

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This year has brought us one of the most divisive elective cycles in recent memory. Many people that I speak to, regardless of political affiliation, are not excited about the choices they have for President. Both candidates have characteristics that could be defined as “unfit,” whether it is in temperament, decision making, morality, unpredictability, criminal behavior, experience, judgment, health, or political vision.  It is in this season that we need to pray for our country more than we do for our political parties. We are a nation off-course and the choice of our leader will make irrevocable changes to the intellectual, emotional, spiritual, and moral direction we take as Americans.

Therefore, I would like to invite you to pray with me for our country. Over the next 7 days, I will be making a new post each day. Each post will include a link to a reading from the Psalms and a brief instruction on how to use this reading as a guide for prayer. Let us put aside our desire to see a specific person win the election and have the courage to pray boldly for God to stay his judgment and place in office the man or woman who will lead us to be the country that God desires (and designed) us to be. 

Will you please pray with me?


Read Psalm 43

Identify what God is saying about Himself in this passage. Boil it down into a one or two-word summary (e.g., God is ____ ) and confess that truth back to God, asking Him to reveal Himself in this way through your day and this election cycle.

v.1 Confess how our nation has been unfaithful. What have we called gods that are not gods at all? How have we exchanged our glorious God for worthless cultural, political, and social idols? (Jer. 2:11-12) Who or what are they? Ask the Holy Spirit to show you how we use the Name of God to excuse the sins of man? Name them by name. If it helps, revisit the prayer guide for Day 3.

Ask the Holy Spirit to show you how we use the Name of God to excuse the sins of man? Name them by name. If it helps, revisit the prayer guide for Day 3.

Ask God to raise up the remnant within our country who have not bowed their knees to these false idols. Ask that they stand boldly before the wicked and the oppressors. Ask that God vindicate us and plead our cause against an unfaithful nation. That He rescue us from those who are deceitful and wicked. Ask that God will both hinder and destroy the plans of the wicked. That He will not allow them to flourish. May this be the time for the holy to prosper because God is our stronghold.

v.2  Confess that God alone is our stronghold. Confess that you have felt alone and grieving this week. Confess how you have felt like mourning because you have been oppressed by the enemy. Ask God to intervene on behalf of His Name and not our own. Ask Him to demonstrate through our election how He alone is our stronghold and how He has not rejected us.

v.3 Ask God to send our nation His light and His faithful care. Ask that He open the hearts and minds of all Americans during this election. May we be humbled and as a result pray and seek His face and turn from our wicked ways so that God’s light and faithful care may lead our nation in the paths that we may go.

Ask that God bring us to His holy mountain, to the place where He dwells.

v. 4 Respond to God by going to Him and surrendering at His altar everything that you have used as a substitute  for joy and delight, instead of God.

Sing praise to God. Let His name and His works be proclaimed through the song that pours out from your lips.

v. 5 Do not let your soul harken back to the worries of this world or the fears of what will happen if the “wrong person” is elected. Put your hope in God. Praise Him alone. Make Him alone your Savior and your God.

If you are finding this difficult, pray boldly for a vision of what a life and a country looks like whose hope is not in God. Ask God to reveal to us that our fears come from trusting in unreliable people or things to sustain or save us, not from Him. Ask that God

Wait. Close your eyes if you have to.

Listen.Ask God to reveal to us that our fears come from trusting in unreliable people or things to sustain or save us, not from Him. Ask that God

What is the image He is giving you? Hold that image in your minds eye? Let yourself feel the depth of the pain that comes from such extreme separation from God. Pray that He will keep our country from such ruin.

Ask God to reveal to us that our fears come from trusting in unreliable people or things to sustain or save us, not from Him. Ask that God break us of our tendency to drift away in fear. May we be a people who will yet praise Him, who trusts only in Him.

In Jesus’ name, Amen.