Tag Archives: jesus

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Prayer for Forgiveness

(a one-minute read)

One acronym for how to pray is ACTS (Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, Supplication). Here’s a prayer using that model. You’ll see that there is extra Thanksgiving tacked on the end, because God is good. All the time!

Heavenly Father, I thank you that I am your adopted child. You are a loving God and You know each of us better than we know ourselves, because You created us and sustain us.

I admit my sin and ask Your forgiveness, and know full well that You will grant it because You are a loving God and do forgive. It is Your nature. Thank You, in the name of Jesus.

Please surround me with Your love, Your care, and Your protection. If there is any pain in my life, or disease in my body, I declare it healed completely in the name of Jesus. Jesus, You healed spirit and mind as well as the body when You forgave sin. I receive it all.

Thank You that you will continue to bring me Godly men and women to help and encourage me, in the name of Jesus.

Thank you that your angels surround and protect me, in the name of Jesus.

Thank you that I am blessed as a child of God,2 in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

1. Matthew 6:9-13
2. 1 John 3:1a

Image by Lukas via Pexels

don't doubt - do

WWJD Moments

(A three-minute read)

When I face a dilemma, it’s too easy to become impaled on its horns. I don’t need an answer then. I need wisdom.

The dilemma is the choice of fears: Fear God? Or fear man? It’s age-old, universal and can be petrifying.

Here in the West, it’s been too easy for too long to give lip service to the fear of God and trundle along pretending I’m not afraid of what you think. But the day of complacency is about over. The day of decision is about to dawn, not just for me, but for every Christian believer.

The days are darkening. Christians in the global West are beginning to realize that the persecution and martyrdom long faced by our brothers and sisters in the global East and the global South is headed our way.

The signs aren’t subtle to those who can see them.

For example, here in the UK it is now illegal for me to pray silently within 150 metres of an abortion provider.

Yes, silent Christian prayer is now considered a crime. What I think in the privacy of my own being can now be ruled a violation of the law. How is one to answer an absurdity like that? It will take great wisdom. Fortunately, there is an answer.

Jesus promised that if I pray for wisdom I should expect to get it. That’s what I need most: Godly wisdom. If I’m to step out in faith fearing God and not the world’s venal immoralities, how to best respond? These are definitely WWJD moments, aren’t they? 1

Instead of ‘We Wait, Jesus Does,’ I’m always tempted to respond to difficult situations by preparing a defence. Defending myself is that mental thing I do, and I mean ‘mental’ in both senses of the word. Ha ha. It means having imaginary conversations with people who aren’t here, to be ready in case they are.

Have you ever done that and actually had the conversation go the way you imagined? I sure haven’t. But I sometimes do it anyway. It’s probably one definition of insanity. It’s a sign my faith is weak and I’m afraid of man, instead of trusting in God.

Jesus makes it clear2 that I should not prepare any defence in advance. For anything. Ever. In fact, I think He used the Aramaic word for fugeddaboudit. He promises He Himself will step in and give me the wisdom I need in dire circumstances.

That would be a really cool superpower if I’m stopped by police, but I suspect that’s not what Jesus meant. He meant ‘listen to Holy Spirit’ (who lives in me).

It’s gotten better over time. I used to greatly struggle with this defending-myself thing, and what’s worse, I’d make it conditional: ‘Hey God – you do this, and I’ll do that.’ God doesn’t do conditional, at least not when I try to initiate the deal.

Not any more. Instead of stupidly speaking with invisible persons, I have to take the advice of Jesus’ half-brother James.3 His catch is that I have to ask in a certain way, or it doesn’t work. I have to ask in faith, James wrote, or I get nothing in return.

Here then, is the deal: I have to focus. I can’t be double-minded to get through whatever is coming. I must avoid arguing cases with myself. It’s past time to waver, and past time to go it alone without wisdom from above.

Why? Because the day of judgment is coming. First will come the day of man’s judgment, judgment of me and my faith, and then, at last, will come the Lord’s day for the judgment of all.

May I not be found wanting on either day.

Yet I am not disheartened, despite it all. You shouldn’t be either. Take heart, Christian. Don’t celebrate the darkening of the world. Be encouraged by the sure knowledge of Christ’s victory. And take a stand.

I’m not called to pray about any of this silently 151 metres from an abortion clinic, either. I’m called to shout it from the housetops.5

So here ya go.

1. We Wait. Jesus Does.
2. Luke 21:14-15 ‘Therefore resolve in your hearts beforehand not to practice your defense. For I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which all your opponents will be able to neither refute nor resist.’
3. James 1:5 ‘If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all men liberally and without criticism, and it will be given to him.’
4. James 1:6-8 ‘But let him ask in faith, without wavering. For he who wavers is like a wave of the sea, driven and tossed with the wind. Let not that man think that he will receive anything from the Lord. A double-minded man is unstable in all his ways.’
5. Matthew 10:26-28 ‘Therefore do not fear them. For nothing is covered that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. What I tell you in darkness, speak in the light. And what you hear in the ear, preach on the housetops. Do not fear those who kill the body but are not able to kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.’

Light at the end of the tunnel

Into the Light

(A six-minute read)

Lent is a time of heading into the light. But it’s the light at the end of a tunnel. A 40-day tunnel, of repentance, prayer and fasting. That’s the theory anyway, that the light is there. I can’t see it from here, but I’ll walk the tracks knowing that the light will arrive before the train.

Some years I’ve done this lenten walk better than others. This year I am wholly intent. I need to bring myself low for a while. It’s time to remove some bad spiritual habits to make room for better ones. This is all preparation for greater challenges to come.

Just to be clear: Lent is not a religious obligation. Lent is a man-made thing; it ain’t in the Bible. Nevertheless, it is a useful man-made thing because it allows me to humble myself voluntarily. The Lord is kind to me when I do that. He loves the process.

The other method, where He forces me out of my own stupid mistakes, or hard-headedness or (worse) hard-heartedness, is much more painful. Been there, done that, am wearing the scars.

But at least they are scars from pruning. God nips off the useless bits so I grow better and bear more fruit later.1

I’ll skip the details about this year’s walk because they are less important than acknowledging the process. It’s one I wrote about a couple years ago, and which is worth revisiting here.

When I came out of radiotherapy at the beginning of 2020 I began a 40-day devotional by Harold Myra based on the writings of Brother Lawrence. Brother Lawrence was a 17th century Carmelite monk featured in a now-beloved tract called ‘The Practice of the Presence of God.’ It’s a combination of conversations he had with his friend Father Joseph de Beaufort and letters Brother Lawrence wrote to others.

A seemingly impossible task

The essence of his teaching is how to align myself for an ongoing conversation with God. In those moments when I forget (and they are frequent!) I simply come back round, apologize for turning away, and start over. God’s grace is endless for this, because He greatly desires to be in a relationship with me, with you, with all of us.

In one famous passage it’s written of Brother Lawrence, ‘that he was pleased when he could take up a straw from the ground for the love of God, seeking Him only, and nothing else, not even His gifts.’

How can I come to such a simple and unassuming place in life?

Brother Lawrence taught me how: go forward by going backward. Define the goal and then step backward to where I stand. Then I retrace those steps back to the goal. I have a lifetime to arrive.

When I first approach God I’m in an unregenerate state (that’s a fancy theological word meaning I’m not born again in Christ). I’m stubborn and sinful, and stand obstinately in opposition, refusing to accept His love.

Then, for some reason, perhaps a personal crisis, perhaps an ‘aha’ moment, perhaps the silent inward working of the Holy Spirit, I decide to respond to God’s invitation and pursue Him.

That pursuit can only come after a long sequence of changes in me, as I retrace the steps toward the goal. Here’s how it works.

A process for pursuing God

I can’t pursue God until I desire Him.

However, I can’t desire Him until my desire for other things lessens.2

My desire for other things doesn’t diminish until I recognize who I truly am (in Christ).3

That true identity doesn’t become clear until I understand why I was created.4

An understanding of my purpose in life only appears when I decide my way isn’t working, and I humble myself to receive God’s grace.5

It’s a not-so-vicious circle. It began on my knees, and it actually took me somewhere. The Bible instructs us to do things ‘heartily as for the Lord’ and not for men.6 So even if I’m doing work for someone else, I pursue it as though I’m serving Christ directly. Even if I am merely picking up a piece of straw.

The phrase ‘as for the Lord’ in the Modern English Version is rendered ‘as to the Lord’ in the New King James and ‘as though you were working for the Lord’ in the New Living Translation. The Passion Translation suggests ‘as though you were doing it for the Lord Himself.’ The Message Bible reveals that I should ‘work from the heart for my real Master.’

Through it all, I must remain conscious of my imperfection. God can only use me if I’m aware of how inadequate I am. I stand best when I stand on my knees.

1. John 15:1-22 – ‘I am the true vine and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that bears no fruit, He takes away. And every branch that bears fruit, he prunes, that it may bear more fruit.’
2. 1 John 2:15 – ‘Do not love the world of the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.’
3. Romans 8:5-6 – ‘For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. To be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.’
4. Proverbs 19:21 – ‘There are many plans in a man’s heart, nevertheless the counsel of the Lord will stand.’
5. Psalm 38:17:18 – ‘For I am ready to stumble, and my pain is continually before me. For I will declare my iniquity; I am anxious because of my sin.’
6. Colossians 3:23-24 – ‘And whatever you do, do it heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. For you serve the Lord Christ.’