Will You Do a Holy Strut?

Our last years in France I had the privilege of ministering in churches where the majority of the members were from Africa, or of African origin or they were from the French-speaking Caribbean.

In the African and French-Caribbean culture, the dance is part of the way Christians worship the Lord.

So, the kids in the Creteil church tried to teach me to dance. The key word here is “tried.” They would crack up laughing as soon as I started. I had to face the fact that I dance like an old white man.

And that ain’t pretty.

But, in heaven I hope to do a “holy strut.”

“Strutting Before the Lord”

“For what is our hope or joy or crown of boasting before our Lord Jesus at his coming? Is it not you? For you are our glory and joy.” 1 Thessa. 2:19, 20, ESV

“Boasting” before the Lord Jesus?

Will we be able to boast before the Lord at His coming at the works we did for the Lord? Yes, but it will be a holy boasting. That seems an oxymoron if ever there was one, but it’s the kind of boasting a kid does before his parent when he does something right.

Hey, the Lord is giving out rewards when He comes. I don’t know if there are any participation trophies or not, but you need to work in a way that you can strut a little on the Day that Jesus returns. “So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.” (2 Corinthians 5:9-11, ESV)

My junior year of high school we wiped out our fierce enemies, the Rattlers. They had annihilated us the year before, and we got them back. You want to talk about strutting and exulting. We did it.

I say this knowing that we need to walk lightly before Him. We can do nothing without Him and His blessing. We’re going to spend a lot more time on our knees and our faces before Him, than bragging.

But, It’s like a four-year old bragging to mama about what “we” did, when it was daddy who did 99.9% of the work. Honestly, when my kids were honored, I enjoyed hearing them brag about it. “Tell me more!” That way I could crow to others about what my kids had done.

I think the Lord enjoys it when we do well. He may have to calm us down a bit but it makes Him rejoice, too.

Once Jesus sent 72 of his disciples out to preach His Word. They came strutting back, over the moon with joy at what they had seen God do through them.

“The seventy came back triumphant. ‘Master, even the demons danced to your tune!’

“Jesus said, ‘I know. I saw Satan fall, a bolt of lightning out of the sky. See what I’ve given you? Safe passage as you walk on snakes and scorpions, and protection from every assault of the Enemy. No one can put a hand on you. All the same, the great triumph is not in your authority over evil, but in God’s authority over you and presence with you. Not what you do for God but what God does for you—that’s the agenda for rejoicing.’”

And Jesus got excited (I don’t dare say He started strutting.)

“At that, Jesus rejoiced, exuberant in the Holy Spirit. ‘I thank you, Father, Master of heaven and earth, that you hid these things from the know-it-alls and showed them to these innocent newcomers. Yes, Father, it pleased you to do it this way.’” (Luke 10:16-21, The Message)

Ah Lord, help me to be able to do a “holy strut.” Help my work for you to be acceptable and solid. Eternal.

Hey folks. What are you going to do today to give Jesus something to shout about?

A Healing To See God’s Glory

Here’s a guest post from a friend, Melanie Clark. She tells us how God intervened in a special way by healing her eye.

I am thankful that I could see the beauty in the places we went. (During a recent family vacation).

Nearly 8 years ago, I woke up to a red spot in the middle of my vision of my right eye. It got bigger, and everything started turning black. My eye doctor got me in immediately, and took a 3D scan of my eyeball, which showed bleeding into the retina. He immediately was able to get me an emergency appointment with a retinal specialist at Mercy (hospital), and I had hours of testing, an angiogram, all kinds of fun things. They determined macular hemorrhage – a blood vessel in the macula of my eyeball had burst.

While I was there, an older lady was told she was permanently losing her vision, and there was no cure. Her cries were heart-rendering, and I kept getting teary-eyed thinking about the possibility that I would no longer see my kids’ faces. How I cried out to God desperately to let me have sight, so I could watch my kids grow up.

My life group prayed earnestly with us, and God provided the miracle. The bleeding stopped, and the only damage was a slight squiggle in the center of my vision when I am looking at a computer screen.

A year after that, at my annual eye appointment, my doctor told me how lucky I was to have my vision. He told me another patient had the same exact thing, and permanently lost her vision, and the bleeding was starting in the other eye, too. Since then, I have heard of others who also lost vision.

God has not always answered all of my prayers. I have not always seen miracles. But this one is so precious to me. I thank God for my sight, to stare at my kids until they tell me to quit, to see the beauty of creation, and to give glory to God that something that we often take for granted, like being able to see, is something I can rejoice over on a daily basis.

Pray Like This?

Ministries morph and shift as the years go by. One which has taken a big part of my time recently has been responding to people who write the French ministry of Network 211, Reponses pour ta vie.com

We get all sorts of requests. Sometimes men will write, saying, “I want a woman.” Women might search for the perfect man. I’m tempted to write back to inform them that God doesn’t make perfect men anymore. My wife got the last one.

Most of the emails touch my heart. Here is a small sample of what I’ve been answering lately.

From France, “I would like Jesus to be with me. I only have bad things happening to me at the moment and I would like someone to be with me. I need to pray and someone to hear it. I am baptized but I have never participated in a mass, I would like to believe in God.

Also from France, “Hello, I am baptized and I never really asked myself questions about religion, but I want to know more, and why not? Practice it 🙂

A lady from Ukraine chimes in, “ I feel far from God. I want to be forgiven. I have sinned a lot. I also want to repent. I don’t know how. Help me, please.”

This from Congo, “For some time I have had a strong desire to be in a personal relationship with Jesus, to experience happiness with Him. But I haven’t succeeded yet. Through you, I hope to discover a very sure way (orientations).

From France—“Hello, I need to regain my intimacy with God. I let a lot of things destroy everything I started with God. Today I just want to come back to him and have that peace of heart that I had before times. I need help!”

These are a joy to answer.

Repeated Question

One question I get over and over concerns prayer. “How do you pray? Can you send me some model prayers? Etc.” Honestly, I struggle like many others in my prayer life. I pray daily, but I often feel that I’m a man who prays more than a man of prayer.

Sometimes, I feel like I need to get my time in so God won’t be mad. And it’s tough. Just being honest. Happily, it’s not always like that. Occasionally it’s like heaven on earth. And frankly, the results are often marvelous even if I didn’t have overwhelming emotions when I prayed.

Recently, I’ve found a prayer rhythm that really builds me up. I thought I would share it with you.

I usually start with singing. I’ve got an old songbook I use, but I’ve also made my own songbook. I go online and find the lyrics of worship songs that really speak to me at the moment. I copy them into a file on my phone. So I might sing to the Lord, “Shout To the Lord,” or “I Speak Jesus,” or “Waymaker,” or whatever song helps me lift my praise to God that morning.

It doesn’t matter if my voice is angel-like or crow-like. As it passes into heavenly places, God’s Spirit changes it into audio-gold to the ears of God.

I also use the Psalms and read from one of them as a prayer to the Lord.

I’ve got a journal where I often write a prayer to the Lord expressing my praise, my needs or the cry of my heart.

And usually, during my praying, I’ll raise my voice and pray in the Spirit for a while. He knows how to praise God and He knows what to pray for when I don’t.

Freewheeling

I still “freewheel,” praying extemporaneously, simply telling God what my needs are and asking Him to respond. Yes, and sometimes I ask for the same things over and over and over. I pester the Lord like the little widow pestered the uncaring judge.

The Amplified translation of Matthew 7:7 says, “Ask and keep on asking and it will be given to you; seek and keep on seeking and you will find; knock and keep on knocking and the door will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who keeps on asking receives, and he who keeps on seeking finds, and to him who keeps on knocking, it will be opened.”

This version includes a note that says, “Here the use of Greek present imperatives (asking, seeking, knocking; vv 7, 8) emphasizes persistent, constant prayer.”

Asking more than once isn’t unbelief. It’s the prayer of someone who is sure that he or she is asking at the right place and they insist because they know the source of the answer is in God.

Kind of like your kids when they want something.

You may have your own prayer secrets or fruitful habits. If you want to share, I’d love for you to write and tell me your keys to fulfilling prayer.

Defuse the Time Bomb In Your Life

It’s time for healing.

Phyllis and I had a memorable experience about eight years ago when her heart, like the children of Israel, began to murmur.

Actually, it had murmured for a long time because the problem was a heart valve that was not quite right from birth. Since she’s a bit over 30, it had beat quite a few times and was wearing out.

Nice French surgeons replaced her heart valve with a valve from a calf. It has worked well. The only secondary effect she’s had is that when she burps she goes, “moo!”

Well, that’s all true but the “moo” part.

The truth is that she had a “time bomb” inside her chest and if she hadn’t had the valve replaced she might be dead now.

A hurt from the past.

Lots of us have “bombs” inside. They hurt and they change the way we live. Those pains from the past indicate something in us that must be dealt with if we’re going to live without limping.

Our pains from the past come from all kinds of sources—Secret abuse. Poverty that makes you feel less than someone else. Broken relationships. Comparison. Parent’s anger turned towards us. Parents living out their life through us. Parental clashes. Family disasters—job losses, major sicknesses. Racial prejudice.

Often it’s an inferiority complex that doesn’t seem to have a definite source. Many are born feeling this way.

And words! A friend was raised by her grandmother. She often heard, “You’re going to be just like your momma!” That wasn’t a compliment.

Nothing New

I don’t think these interior bombs are anything new. The more I study the life of King David the more I think there was something in his childhood that was painful. Some speculate that he was an illegitimate child (Ps. 51:5).

When the prophet commanded David’s dad to present his sons, he didn’t even call for David (1 Samuel 16:11). Why would he leave him out? His dad overlooked him as unimportant or maybe shameful. His oldest brother seemed to despise him. (1Sam 17:28-30). Did his birth bring shame on the family?

Some people react to rejection by living out the low opinion that others have of them. Yet David did the opposite. Shepherding wasn’t the most respected job on that society’s totem pole but David became the best shepherd he could be.

Everything he did, he did with excellence, with all his heart. God’s hand was on him and he became the “shepherd” of a nation. He led that nation to heights they had never known.

Everything David did proved those who doubted him WRONG!

Ticking Bomb

That “time bomb” within him still ticked, though. And it eventually went off. Why would a man with too many wives steal someone else’s wife? Was he still searching for that love that his family never gave him?

Was that part of why he still loved his wicked son Absalom desperately, even after the arrogant young man tried to kill him and take his throne?

David was an incredible poet, musician, warrior and statesman. When you read some of his psalms, though, you suspect he may have struggled with depression.

How about you and me? Do we ever struggle with deep-seated pain from long ago?

How do we stop the hurt? Ostentatious materialism tries to cover the shame of the self-made man who grew up dirt poor. We shower stuff on our kids so that they can have what we didn’t have, but wanted.

Depression. People-pleasing. Looking down on others. On and on the negative solutions to pain continue.

What is God’s solution/healing for this?

First, see the problem. We don’t need Dr. Phil to tell us. The Holy Spirit probes deeply in us and shows us what He finds.

The we deal with it in God. Ground zero for David was his relationship with God. That’s why he didn’t fear Goliath. That’s why he acted in faith all through his life. David fell on his nose numerous times, but he always got up and dealt with it before God. Devour the Word. Pray. Pray with a prayer partner.

We need to realize that this may be something we battle our whole life. That’s not necessarily bad. We prefer a “one zap” healing and God does that sometimes.

Often, though, He does an “over-time healing.” I’ve noticed that there are victories that I win once for all and others I must win once every day. I prefer the first ones but I probably grow more through the “once every day” victories. By these, we understand different facets of what’s hurting us and they allow us to help others who are where we’ve been. Often that hurt we felt inspires us to do something to help those who hurt like us.


Some victories I win once for all and others I must win once every day.


John Piper said, “(Jesus) turned (Peter) around and forgave him and restored him and strengthened his faith. And now it was Peter’s mission to strengthen the other ten. “And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.”

“Jesus provided for the ten by providing for Peter. The strengthened becomes the strengthener.”

Get help. Talking does help if you talk to the right people. Some are expert at defusing bombs. If you’re like me, write! My brain flutters like a batch of butterflies but writing down what’s going on inside helps me. Sometimes when I can hardly pray, I write my prayers. Sing! God doesn’t mind if your singing sounds more like braying. He comes and maybe He even sings with you.

Make a plan and follow through. Some get counseling and it does no good because they say, “Yes,” then continue to live the way they always have. Allow God’s Spirit to change you. Make it a priority.

Refuse a mediocre life or a life of hurting others. Believe that God is healing you.

Disarm that bomb and enter into the abundant life the Lord gives.

Hmmm —

“A transition doesn’t have to be a crisis, unless we want it to.”
Seth Godin

Worship With An Undivided Heart

How many times have you gone to do something and as you were going you remembered that you needed to do something else? So you turned away to do that thing on the way to do the first thing and as you were going to do the second thing you remembered a third thing you needed to do, which you did. By then you forgot what you were going to do at first and then, well, it’s kind of confusing, isn’t it?

That’s why Internet is such a rabbit hole. We start looking for one thing and there are so many colorful butterflies flittering off in all directions–that we’re like the cowboy who jumped on his horse and rode off in all directions chasing them.

Hang on to that thought.

A United Heart?

This morning I read something in the Bible and I thought, “What in the world does that mean?”

“… unite my heart to fear your name.” (Psalms 86:11b—ESV) “Unite my heart,” what’s that about? Is my heart broken into pieces?

I think the NIV makes it clearer: “…give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name.” When my heart is dispersed in ten different directions, like I when I can’t remember what I was going to do at first, I don’t fear the Lord like I should. I don’t respect Him.

He’s not first in my life as He should be.

A divided heart loves the Lord but loves several other things as much as it loves God.

Loving Good Things

And they’re not necessarily sin. Lots of things vie for mastery in my heart: the Lord, family, work, sports, cookies, ice cream, money, church, people’s opinion of me, politics, television, Internet, etc. You add your own. It could be a person.

None of these is sin, unless they swell and take that central place that belongs to the Lord Jesus. But when that happens or when all of these things have equal value with the Lord in the way we spend our time and resources, we begin to lose respect for the Lord Jesus.

God-respect keeps our life centered. We desperately need it.

How Do You Know?

How do you know your heart is divided? When my grandson Matthew was little we played hide and seek. He ran to his room and hid. He was afraid I wouldn’t find him so once or twice I hear a “Woo, hoo,” coming from behind the door. In verse 12, God gives us a “woo hoo” to let us know the answer to my question. “I give thanks to you, O Lord my God, with my whole heart, and I will glorify your name forever.” (Ps. 86:12 PDV 2017)

When you’re not thankful, you’re feeling entitled and you’re not getting everything you think is due you, you get mad about it. You’re probably suffering from a heart divided among lots of things. When real worship is hard for us, our heart is probably divided. Worship acknowledges that God is first and most important and that we’re not the center of the universe.

And, as I said, when you don’t respect the Lord as you should, your heart is probably divided.

How Do You Get Jesus Back At the Center?

Repent.

The Ephesus church was full of hard-working, clean-living Christians. It’s just that their fervent love for the Lord Jesus had hardened into religion and they were in danger of losing their relationship with God.

They thought they could replace tears of love and commitment with doing a bunch of stuff and judging those who didn’t live up to standard.

Put yourself before the Lord. Is your heart divided? You love the Lord Jesus but you’re not passionate about serving Him. You’re passionate about politics. You’re passionate about Bluebell Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream and good restaurants. You’re passionate about your family. A person. Or your job. Or the Green Bay Packers. (Notice I didn’t say the Dallas Cowboys.)

All that is good but anything that keeps Jesus from being first in your life is an idol. Nothing claims equal billing with Him. God says to this Ephesian church that outwardly seems to have it all together, “But you walked away from your first love—why? What’s going on with you, anyway? Do you have any idea how far you’ve fallen? A Lucifer fall!

“Turn back! Recover your dear early love. No time to waste, for I’m well on my way to removing your light from the golden circle.” (Revelation 2:4, 5 The Message).

Is your heart united or divided?


Hmmm … “Whoever defends himself will have himself for his defense, and he will have no other; but let him come defenseless before the Lord and he will have for his defender no less than God Himself.” (A. W. Tozer, the Pursuit of God)

David Porter combines 50 years of ministry in North America and Europe with a humorously serious outlook on life. His passion is a spirituality that acts in daily life. You can subscribe to this blog or make a comment by sending an e-mail to davidscoffeestains@gmail.com