The Old Lady and the Bazooka

I want to show you something. Look over there. Yes, that little old lady hobbling into the church for the prayer meeting. There she is. Modestly dressed and slightly hunched.

But, look again! Suddenly you get a “flash of insight” and she looks like Rambo: a hunting knife clenched between her teeth, a bandoleer of bullets strapped diagonally across her chest, an automatic rifle at the ready in her hands, a bazooka strapped over one shoulder, a string of grenades encircles her waist.

You know what? That may well be how God sees a lot of obscure prayer warriors. Hang on to that thought.

The other day I read, “Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’” Now this he said about the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were to receive …”(John 7:37-39 ESV)

Rivers of living water flowing out of us when the Spirit resides within! What does it look like when those rivers really flow?

Do we agitate our arms and shout in the name of Jesus at the limits of our voice? Do we take on a preacher tone of voice and pray until the back rows tremble and hearts say, “A great man has prayed!”

Do we walk to the offering plate and, like a wide receiver spiking the ball in the end zone, put in enough money to make the King of Siam jealous?

Rivers Or Trickles?

I’ve got two feelings about these “rivers” that flow out of me.

The Spirit really is within me but I often have the feeling that these rivers are more of a trickle from my heart. How can I get the mighty rivers flowing? –Clean out the blockages from the stream. –Get a better connection with the Source. –Flow has to go somewhere. Win the lost. Serve you brother and sister. Be there for others when they need a rock. Let God work through you in a greater way.

But maybe the water is flowing more powerfully than we think. Remember the dangerous little old lady from the first paragraph? When she prays, heaven trembles and things change. God may see you differently than you see yourself.

You prayed for that neighbor.

You listened to that friend.

You showed up to church when you were tired and also irritated about something. The others needed to see you. They draw strength from your presence.

You praised God in the morning, noon and evening.

You gave to meet that need.

You forgave when you wanted to take revenge.

You prayed with your children. And for them.

You were there for that needy person. You listened to that endless tale when you wanted to scream.

You resisted the overpowering urge to contribute that juicy morsel to the gossipy conversation about an absent person.

What a River Looks Like

You see, our world doesn’t always SEE what goes on in invisible, heavenly places. What seems like a bare trickle to our senses may be a crashing Niagara from God’s vantage point.

We think that when we preach in another country, or give our body to be burned or give away all our money, or manifest powerful spiritual gifts, rivers are flowing. They are. But that’s not the only time.

Here’s what the Lord says those rivers look like when they pour out of our heart:

“Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. 6 It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. 7 Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.” 1 Cor. 13:4-7, NLT)

I suspect the fact that it’s “rivers of living water” flowing out of our inmost being means that the Spirit flows from each of us in a different way, some more exciting than others. But, when we’re full of Jesus, flow He does!


Hmmm … “New research from pastor and Christian researcher Ryan Burge finds that the number of people who identify themselves as evangelicals who attend church regularly continues to drop, with 26.7 percent saying they seldom or never go to church. About 13.5 percent of self-identified evangelicals say they go to church “yearly,” bringing the number of evangelicals who go to church once a year or less to about 40.2 percent.” Hmmm …

Too Old? Too Young? Too Scared?

Two things are necessary: God’s call on our life and the will to move forward in that call by faith and in obedience.

When we’re young we often figure we need to get a bit older before we do God’s will. When we’re old we figure it’s too late. We’ve done our part. Let the young people do it. 

Someone forgot to tell God about the ‘truth’ of those statements.

Lois Prater felt God’s call to missions when she was 15 years old. She went to Bible college to prepare and was already preaching but then she met this fellow and well, you know the story. He didn’t have the same commitment to the Lord as she did. But, she was going to change him. Yeah.

So, for most of her life she was a stay-at-home mom, still loving the Lord. But missions…? 

Then in 1988, her husband died. And those old missionary stirrings began to rumble in her heart. Now, well into her seventies, she went on a short organized missions trip to China, then on two other trips to the Philippines. This last journey lasted a year as she preached in the churches and served where she could.

One day a desperate man came to her and offered to sell his baby for the equivalent of $40. Lois’s heart reacted. She gave the man some money to help feed his family and helped him find a job. But she knew she had to do more.

“Lord, I’m too old to go now,” she thought. 

Still, in the Spring of 1991, she went home to Washington state in the U.S. and sold her house, car, and furniture with the idea of building an orphanage in the Philippines. It wasn’t easy. “I struggled, but I knew that what I was trying to do was something much more important than hanging onto [my] faded couch,” Prater said.

By 1994 land had been purchased and a building erected. At the age of 80, she became mama to what was eventually hundreds of Filipino children. She tackled all kinds of administrative problems, cultural problems, and some major health problems before finally turning the now well-established ministry over to another director when she was nearly 90.

Though she returned to the U.S. to live with her daughter she still made periodic visits to the orphanage.

Too old? Well …

Let someone younger do it? No one younger stepped up.

“I didn’t know anything about business, about building an orphanage,” Prater observed. “All along, I’ve just trusted in God, and He’s answered my prayers. I did what I could do, and God did the rest.”

Too Young?

But, how about those who are too young?

Well, David was probably a teenager when he cut Goliath down to size. Jeremiah surely wasn’t ready to speak to the nation at his age. At least, he didn’t think so. God thought so, though.

“Before I shaped you in the womb,
I knew all about you.
Before you saw the light of day,
I had holy plans for you:
A prophet to the nations—
that’s what I had in mind for you.”

But I said, “Hold it, Master God! Look at me.
I don’t know anything. I’m only a boy!”

God told me, “Don’t say, ‘I’m only a boy.’
I’ll tell you where to go and you’ll go there.
I’ll tell you what to say and you’ll say it.
Don’t be afraid of a soul.
I’ll be right there, looking after you.”
God’s Decree.

God reached out, touched my mouth, and said,
“Look! I’ve just put my words in your mouth—hand-delivered!
See what I’ve done? I’ve given you a job to do.”
(Jeremiah 1:5-10, Message version)

Old? Young? We serve a God who dwells outside of time. He’s not nearly as concerned about how many candles you will blow out this year as you are.

Two things are necessary: God’s call on our life and the will to move forward in that call by faith. In obedience. In obedience!

Too old? Too young? No education? 

Eighty-year-old Moses heard God’s call to deliver His people. You may feel like Him. “Oh, Master, please! Send somebody else!” (Exodus 4:13, the Message). His buddy Caleb wasn’t so hesitant 45 years later, “Here I am this day, eighty-five years old. As yet I am as strong this day as on the day that Moses sent me; just as my strength was then, so now is my strength for war, both for going out and for coming in. Now therefore, give me this mountain of which the Lord spoke in that day…” (Joshua 14:10-12, NKJV)

When God speaks, He’s not asking your age or your qualifications. He just wants to hear, “Yes, Lord.” He’ll take care of the rest as you go in faith.

Consulted: Herald.net Everett, Washington; Charisma magazine; Christian Science Monitor
Photo by Cristian Newman on Unsplash

________________________

Hmmm

Someone said that at the age of 20 we have the face that nature gave us. At 50 we have the face we deserve. 

Tapping Into God’s Power

I’ve always been a sucker for super heroes. The kid version of me used to wonder if I could invent a pill to make me strong like the flying cartoon hero, Mighty Mouse.

And Superman! You can have your Batmen, Spidermen, Aquamen, and the whole kit and caboodle. For my money, Superman was the man. To fly! To have muscles like that! To be the ultimate good guy. That’s who I wanted to be.

Of course, I knew the Super guy didn’t exist. And to be honest I get very nervous when I fly without an airplane, which I’ve done a few times in my dreams. When something seems too good to be true, there’s a little alarm that goes off inside me.

That’s why I do a double-take when I read things like, “…to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us…” (Ephesians 3:20, NIV).

More Than You Can Ask?

More than I can ask? Or IMAGINE! C’mon now. My imagination conjures up all kinds of wonderful things. And “according to his power that is at work within us,”? Now, I know that God dwells in me by His Spirit so theoretically His power should work in me.

But practically?

Paul wrote this verse. If God’s power worked for the apostle why did he spend so much time in prison? Why did he get beat up by his foes? If I was him, I would have pulled a Captain America and whapped them back to wherever they came from with my shield. Why did the apostle have periods when he was cold, hungry, or shipwrecked? Tradition says he was beheaded.

Hey Paul, your “imagination” must have been broken. Where’s that power?

He Was Powerful

Why doesn’t your mind’s eye picture a Mercedes camel, a Mediterranean villa, perfect health, and a long, happy life without a lot of complications? Isn’t that what God’s power and faith are about?

Truth is, Paul didn’t worry about the difference between a Toyota camel and a Mercedes camel. He just wanted to get there so he could preach.

He used his faith to change the world, not to pad his bank account.

The Encyclopedia Britannica asserts that Paul was, “…often considered to be the most important person after Jesus in the history of Christianity.” We remember little of what the Roman emperors said. Paul is quoted millions of times each week! He planted assemblies that fueled early Church growth.

Healings and miracles marked his ministry. Something worked within him. It was the same presence and power of God which resides within each believer. Which brings up the question: Why isn’t this power of God working within me like that?

It is to some extent, but if you’re like me, you’d like to see more evidence of God using us and changing us. Let’s dive a bit deeper into this verse and those surrounding it to see if we can discover how Paul unleashed God’s power in his life.

Keys For God’s Action In You and Me

Ephesians 3:14-21 reveals how we can tap into the power of God’s Spirit living in us.

14 For this reason I kneel before the Father, (If you want God’s strength living and working within you, you must yield to His Lordship. He’s the Boss, not us. We pray with Jesus, “Your will be done, not mine).

15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. 16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, (If you want to be strengthened with God’s power to meet every challenge in life, ask Him for it. Pray! Be constantly filled with His Spirit).

17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. (Simple childlike faith opens the door to Jesus’ presence in your life).

And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. (Root all your actions in the life-giving soil of love for God and love for others. Then you’ll have the power to see how incredibly vast Christ’s love is and all that God is will fill you. That doesn’t mean that you become God but it means that His character and His life infuse all that you are).

20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us… (Realize God’s potential to act through us goes way beyond what we can even think. At times we’ll be surprised how God uses us).

21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. (When we realize the Source of that strength and potential, our heart overflows with praise for this powerful God who loves us so. Glorify Him with your lips, your heart, and the way you live your life. Keep on doing it from the moment you come to know Him all the way to and through eternity.

That sounds like a superhero story but turn off the alarms and simply strive by faith to let God work in and through you. You’ll be surprised at what happens. Expect something unexpected.

Image by diapicard from Pixabay


Hmmm …. “If the mailman stopped to kick every dog that barked at him, he’d never deliver the mail.” Roy Williams, recently retired University of North Carolina basketball coach. “Don’t wrestle with pigs. You both get dirty and the pig likes it.” Michael Hyatt’s friend


Growth Helps

Meeting God In “Thin Places” –I like to meet the Lord at a spot where I have memories. At the moment it’s the back deck of our house (it’s really the back porch but I said “deck” so that you younger readers would know what I’m talking about). Before I get my work day gets started, I love to sit out there. The quietness soothes me. Note, “quietness,” still includes birds singing and crickets cricketing. We’ve got a couple of Robins who think they own the place and we are their renters.” CLICK to read

Stop Communicating Like a Two-Year Old!–Have you ever noticed that when a little one is not happy he has ways of letting you know? He screams, turns red, throws a fit and keeps it up until everyone else around him is wondering why that woman was allowed to give birth (except we’re patient because we’ve all been there. It’s happened to us, too). Now unhappy adults communicate their emotions more subtly. They scream, turn red, and throw a fit. Some of them anyway. We’ve got our grown-up ways of throwing tantrums that are even more uncomfortable for others, don’t we? For instance: CLICK to read the rest of the story

Talking Heads–Mama had a look that she shot at me when I was doing something I wasn’t supposed to. It was guaranteed to curdle milk at ten paces; absolutely no words were needed. The message was, “Quit that or you’re dead meat!” At least that was how I interpreted it. Young lovers seem to say whole libraries of meaningful things as they look in their sweet thing’s eyes. Wriggle through the crowd into His presence. See His face. Hear Him speak with His eyes. A lot gets said in a look. CLICK to read

Run! Stand In the Gap!

God searches for gap-standers.

Don’t you just hate bubble busters? Or is it bursters? Anyway, hang on because I’m going to pop one. You know the story about the little Dutch boy who stuck his finger in the dike to plug a leak and save the city of Haarlem in the Netherlands?

Didn’t happen.

It wasn’t even a Dutch person who wrote the story but an American lady, Mary Mapes Dodge. Most Dutch people don’t even know the tale. There. Disappointed aren’t you? Me too.

According to genealogist Yvette Hoitink, there was a brave Dutchman whose quick thinking saved many lives when a Dutch Dike gave way in 1953. “Skipper Evergroen drove the ship parallel to the hole, and then turned it to lock it in place. The gap behind the ship was quickly filled with sand bags. The torrent slowed to a trickle and three million people kept their feet dry.”

People in Zeeland and Noord-Brabant, Holland had no Captain Evergroens or even a little Dutch (figment-of-an-American-lady’s-imagination) boy. Some 1800 of them perished in the floodwaters when the dikes broke.

Standing In the Gap

Did you know that God searches desperately for gap-fillers in our generation?

“So I sought for a man among them who would make a wall, and stand in the gap before Me on behalf of the land, that I should not destroy it; but I found no one. 31 Therefore I have poured out My indignation on them …” (Ezek. 22:30, NKJV).

We’ve got lots of gripers, grumblers, and pointers-out-of-what’s-wrong. We don’t have a lot of people on their knees pleading for God to send revival and save the lost. Don’t get mad at me, but it seems there’s a lot more people excited about elections than winning the war in heavenly places on our knees.

In Ezekiel’s time, God didn’t want to pour out His wrath on that disobedient people. He looked for someone like Moses. When Moses descended from the mountain with God’s commands in his hands, he found his people in a wild orgy, cavorting around an idol.

God threatened to destroy them but Moses pleaded with God, “But now, if you will forgive their sin—but if not, please blot me out of your book that you have written.” (Exodus 32:32, ESV).

Paul’s Jewish compatriots spent quite a bit of time beating on him, threatening him, and lying about him. But, the apostle felt towards them the same way God did, “O Israel, my people! O my Jewish brothers! How I long for you to come to Christ. My heart is heavy within me, and I grieve bitterly day and night because of you. Christ knows and the Holy Spirit knows that it is no mere pretense when I say that I would be willing to be forever damned if that would save you.” (Romans 9:1-3, Living Bible)

“Standing in the gap” means you fill the breach with your body. That costs you. Maybe in fasting and time in prayer. Maybe some midnight hours of prayer. Time when you could be doing other things.

Standing in the gap means you love those behind you as much or more than yourself. Your family, your church, your friends, the lost that you don’t even know.

Standing in the gap means you’re cooperating with God’s plan and God’s love for the people. God’s mission for you is more important than your life. God didn’t want to pour out His wrath. There was war in heavenly places and He was looking for spiritual warriors to win the fight against his enemies.

It’s ironic that’s Israel’s downfall didn’t seem to only be because of the sinners in the land. It was the lack of intercessors to fill up the gaps in the wall. When there are no more gap-fillers righteous judgment falls.

How can we pray with fervor and compassion? The Holy Spirit helps us.—“ Meanwhile, the moment we get tired in the waiting, God’s Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don’t know how or what to pray, it doesn’t matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans. He knows us far better than we know ourselves, knows our pregnant condition, and keeps us present before God.” (Rom. 8:26, 27, the Message)

We Remember the things that hurt us so that we can identify with someone else’s pain.

A Changed Young Man

At the start of our ministry in Luxembourg, a young German man was invited to an evangelistic meeting in our coffee house. Albert started to come regularly but then he returned to Germany to visit his parents. They convinced him that he had fallen into a cult, so he stopped coming.

One day as I prayed for him, I felt like I was “seized” by the Holy Spirit. I found myself praying earnestly, “Lord, save him whether he wants to be saved or not.” I’m not sure that’s a good prayer, theologically speaking, but it worked.

He went through a difficult period in his life. A lady from our church saw him in town, told him the Lord about the Lord, and encouraged him to resist the work of the devil. He returned to church and God did a wonderful work in his life.

He testified on the day of his return: “I feel like I’m reborn! “

Jesus was the ultimate gap-filler. “The Lord saw it, and it displeased him that there was no justice. 16 He saw that there was no man, and wondered that there was no one to intercede; then his own arm brought him salvation, and his righteousness upheld him. 17 He put on righteousness as a breastplate, and a helmet of salvation on his head; he put on garments of vengeance for clothing, and wrapped himself in zeal as a cloak.” (Isa. 59, ESV)

Let’s have the heart of Jesus. Stand up… on our knees. Seek the heart of God for lost people, lost situations, and a real move of God in our world. God is looking for gap-standers. Will you be one?

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How Do You Grab God’s Joy?


For he remembered his holy promise,
and Abraham, his servant.

43 So he brought his people out with joy,
his chosen ones with singing.
44 And he gave them the lands of the nations,
Psalms 105: 42-44
(All scriptures from the ESV unless noted otherwise)

14 practical keys for those who want more joy in their lives

  1. Be filled with the Spirit-Galatians 5:22–But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
  2. Get into God’s presence–Ps. 16:11 (1 Chron. 16:27; Ps. 4:7, 5:11; Ps. 21:6; Ps. 43:4; –You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.
  3. Be thankful for what God has given you-Deuteronomy 28:47 (+1 Ki. 8:66) “Because you did not serve the Lord your God with joyfulness and gladness of heart, because of the abundance of all things.” Quit griping. Count God’s blessing to you.
    Sing joyfully because of your THANKFULLNESS for what He has done for you. “Psalm 92:4–For you, O Lord, have made me glad by your work; at the works of your hands I sing for joy.” And, “Psalm 95:2 Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise!”
    Sing, even when it’s a sacrifice, sing songs that remember His faithfulness and give you joy. Enter His presence with joy and thanksgiving. Psalms 100:1, 4)
  4. Joy arrives when we obey the Lord (1 Chron. 12:39, 40; 1 Chron. 29:17; 2 Chron. 20:36)
  5. Sometimes we just raise a joyful sound before the actual feeling of joy comes–“…the singers who should play loudly on musical instruments, on harps and lyres and cymbals, to raise sounds of joy.” (1 Chron. 15:16; Ps. 32:11!) It’s easier to act yourself into feelings than to feel your way into acting.
  6. We rejoice over victories that God gives (2 Chron. 20:27; Neh. 12:43)
  7. We can be God’s instrument to give His joy in others (Job 29:12, 13. And because “give and it shall be given to you” is a bedrock spiritual principle, joy rebounds on us from giving joy to others in the Lord’s name.
  8. We may weep for a time but joy inevitably comes if we trust Him— “For his anger is but for a moment, and his favor is for a lifetime. Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning.” (Psalm 30:5)
  9. Shout! We shout for joy because we know that He delights in our welfare!!!–
    “Let those who delight in my righteousness shout for joy and be glad and say evermore, “Great is the Lord, who delights in the welfare of his servant!” Psalm 35:27; (Ps. 66:1 also)
  10. Sing if you want joy! (Psalms 63:7. 67:4; 81:1) Even when we don’t feel like it we sing and shout our way into God’s presence. “My soul longs, yes, faints for the courts of the Lord; my heart and flesh sing for joy to the living God.” Psalm 84:2
  11. Remember that you are saved to eternal life in Christ, life that begins now. “My lips will shout for joy, when I sing praises to you; my soul also, which you have redeemed.” (Psalm 71:23 , Ps. 98:8)
  12. Clap your hands! Obey the Lord. Do what is right. “Light is sown for the righteous, and joy for the upright in heart.” (Psalm 97:11)
  1. If you know how, play a musical instrument for the Lord. (Ps. 98:6)
  2. Learn to intercede in prayer which leads to results which lead to great joy. “Those who sow in tears shall reap with shouts of joy! He who goes out weeping, bearing the seed for sowing, shall come home with shouts of joy, bringing his sheaves with him.” (Psalm 126:5)