My favorite prayer strategy for my devotional time is an easy-to-remember acronym (especially if you are a fellow citizen of Ponca City). PC-TIP has been the five ordered steps I use for praying for years. Praise, Confession, Thanksgiving, Intercession, and Petition (you can see The Prayer Hand Illustration from which I derived my acronym here:
Today I found another great way to use Scripture in your prayer time and wanted to share it with you. Kevin DeYoung provides a simple formula for looking at nearly any Scripture and turning it into prayer. Remember, always keep Scripture in context, even (especially) when praying. Check out Kevin’s blog for a fresh approach to prayer.
Today I prayed one of the most difficult prayers I have ever offered. The wife of an elderly man called me today. She asked if I would come to their home to pray for him. He is dying of cancer. The doctors can do no more to help him. The cancer will take his life…sooner rather than later. Visible, wrenching pain contorts his body and causes tears and open weeping. And so I went to pray with him.
I believe in miracles. Salvation itself depends upon the belief in miracles. Paul tells us that “if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and BELIEVE that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” The resurrection of Christ bids us to believe in the supernatural work of God.
I even believe that God heals. I can’t always explain it. However, I am certain God periodically intervenes, in various means, to restore the health of particular individuals.
I am also certain He does not heal everyone. That led me to my prayer this morning. I held the hand of a man who was suffering. Wracked with pain. I looked at the tear-stained face of his bride of 66 years. I can’t imagine. I don’t want to. He looked at me and said “Why is it taking so long for me to leave this place. I am ready to go. But I am not ready to face more pain.” She said she was ready to let him go. A long, beautiful life together…staring the end in the face.
I stumbled through this prayer. It was awful. And it was glorious. I prayed that God would relieve his pain and take him home.
Will He? I don’t know.
I know, there is a lot more theological reflection to be done on a huge subject like this.
The end is almost always hard.
God remains good despite suffering.
It reminded me of the Scripture memory verse for our church this week – “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9
My friend will die soon. God will be with him when he does. At least in part, that is what makes God so good, don’t you think? I pray so, even though it is difficult.
For my first post of the new year I decided to re-post a great blog on how to fake your Christianity over the course of the next year. Enjoy! Oh, and I will be making another post later this afternoon!
Last night I saw the movie “October Baby” with about 700 close friends from various churches in Ponca City. The movie depicted a girl searching to find peace with having nearly been the victim of a botched abortion. The message hits close to home for many people. Some have had abortions and need healing. Some were adopted, or have adopted children.
I won’t “give away” the movie, but there was one scene which particularly struck me. Much of the movie runs through the theme of the relationship between the daughter and her father. As with any parent-child relationship, there were moments of misunderstanding, hurt, and resentment. But in the end the daughter turns and runs back to her daddy. I think something flew in my eye during that scene!
Adoption – A beautiful biblical metaphor of salvation! Paul describes God’s rescuing of us from our sin and making us His children as “adoption” in Romans 8:14-17. In Galatians 4:4-5 we receive the gift of adoption at just the right time.
This past week Pat Robertson, the high-profile Christian leader of the 700 Club, lost his mind. When answering questions sent in by viewers, he made a real fool of himself, revealed his Biblical ignorance, and showed his “prosperity gospel” hand.
Robertson suggests that a child who grew up with brain damage is “weird” and unworthy of adoption. Obviously, Robertson is the one with the faulty brain at this point.
Adoption IS the heart of the Gospel. There may be no greater visual demonstration of God’s love toward us than to see a family who “looks like the United Nations.”
I am thankful I have been adopted into the family of God through faith in Jesus Christ. I am thankful the Scriptures use the adoption metaphor. I am extremely thankful for so many friends who have adopted.
Can someone tell the “Joe Biden of Christianity” that what he described in this senile moment is actually the Gospel? Who else is thankful that God chose to bring into his family those who are horrifically damaged by sin and “weird”? Come on, Pat! Watch the movie!
Just a thought.
Many months ago our staff at FBC Ponca City had decided that we would do our camp report night (the Sunday evening service in which we talk about kids camp, youth camp, VBS, etc.) at a local park that has a huge outdoor pool. Honestly, there were selfish motives on my part. My 13 year old son, Seth, had come to faith in Christ two years ago just before I left for Afghanistan. Because Seth has autism and sensory integration disorder, we knew that baptism was going to be a difficult task. You see, once Seth gets in the water he does not want to get out! The pressure on his body helps his sensory integration – he feels like his body is “all put together”. But if I could baptize him and then…let him swim away…now, that would work!
So we planned to do a baptism service AFTER a dinner fellowship. We initially had Seth and a few other people lined up to be baptized as a public demonstration of their faith in Christ. Plans changed. We had no idea what would happen in our worship service yesterday morning.
I preach expositionally – I go verse by verse through books of the Bible to keep us in context. Periodically I take a break and preach on another subject for a series of Sundays. Yesterday I started a series on “The Healthy Church”. We had baptized a young man to begin the service. We sang our songs. I stood to preach about what it means to be a healthy church. The text was Hebrews 10:19-25. I preached for my normal 40 minutes. Nothing unordinary.
Then God showed up.
Stating the obvious, it makes a big difference when God shows up. A BIG difference!
To make a long story short, 6 people trusted Christ by faith and repentance and 14 committed their lives to our faith family in membership. Several people came for prayer and to make a commitment to more closely follow Christ. One came sensing a call to vocational ministry.
After all of that, we still had the Lord’s Supper scheduled. Frankly, I stumbled through it. It was a long service. But it didn’t feel long. Who cares anyway, right? God showed up. I don’t think that is “preacher talk” – I think God brought His glory to visit our faith family in an unusual way.
Then it happened all over again last night. Let me say I am just a man of very little faith. We had planned a dinner in an air conditioned hall near the pool. The hall holds about 125 people. At 6 PM we had about 100 people there. At 6:05, I knew we had a good problem. The place packed within minutes. People were talking about the unique experience of the morning service. Nearly 300 people showed up to eat. I am thankful that we have a group of ladies who have more faith than I do and planned for a lot more people. We had the food, but ran out of time. We never got to the camp report.
We moved down to the pool where over 300 people gathered on the big steps at Wentz pool to witness 16 people be baptized. Several kids. A few teenagers. Two married couples were baptized with their spouses. And the very last one baptized was my son Seth…and then he swam away.
I wish I could say that every Sunday is like that. Certainly not. In fact, that is my first day like THAT in 25 years. I wish I could tell you how it happened. I know it was not of human effort. Only God could have done what we saw yesterday.
Yesterday was my one year anniversary as the pastor of FBC Ponca City. That is nothing special. What happened yesterday was. When I came to the church a year ago I told several of the leaders I needed one year to see where we are as a church and where we need to go. I pray that yesterday was not the pinnacle – I pray it was the start. Let God be glorified in His church. May the glory of His Son Jesus be manifested, not only in our services, but primarily in our lives. It was a glorious day – but just a start.
I love you FBC Ponca City – I glorify you Lord Jesus.
I am so glad that you have taken time to look at our new website. We intend to utilize the website as a tool to inform you of all the happenings of our faith family at First Baptist Church Ponca City. Aaron Roberston, our Minister of Music and Media, has worked very hard to make this website user-friendly and informative. We will do our best to keep it updated so you know the very latest on how God is directing us as a church.
So check it out frequently. And come check us out frequently by attending church, participating in Sunday School, getting involved in a ministry, and committing to a discipleship relationship. There will be many more posts to come, so keep checking!
What a blessing to be a part of this wonderful faith family!