spiritual discipline…prayer

As we live out the Christian life there are things that we ought to do if we want to live in the victory that has been won for us. We call those activities “Spiritual Disciplines”. These are not things that we just check off like a to do list, rather they are habits that we include in our life as a matter of course.

Let’s examine these disciplines together over the next few posts.

Prayer is one of the most foundational and powerful spiritual disciplines that we can engage in as Christians. At its core, prayer is simply a conversation with God, and it provides us with an opportunity to connect with Him, express our needs and desires, and seek His guidance and wisdom. Let’s explore the spiritual discipline of prayer in greater depth, and examine some of the ways that we can cultivate a deeper and more meaningful prayer life.

First we must understand how important this discipline is. Jesus Himself often withdrew to pray, and He taught His disciples to pray as well. In fact, Jesus provided us with a model prayer, known as the Lord’s Prayer, which has been recited by Christians for centuries. Throughout the Bible, we see numerous examples of people praying to God, from the psalmists who poured out their hearts to God in praise and lament, to the prophets who interceded on behalf of the people, to the apostles who prayed for strength and guidance as they spread the gospel.

Prayer is important for several reasons. First and foremost, it helps us to deepen our relationship with God. Through prayer, we can express our love and gratitude to Him, seek His forgiveness and guidance, and ask for His blessings and provision. Prayer also helps us to develop a greater sense of dependence on God, as we acknowledge our need for His help and guidance in every aspect of our lives. Additionally, prayer can provide us with a sense of peace and comfort, as we entrust our worries and fears to God and trust in His goodness and faithfulness.

Certainly, prayer is a simple and accessible spiritual discipline, but it can also be challenging at times. There are practical steps that we can take to cultivate a deeper and more meaningful prayer life. These include making prayer a priority. Be sure to set aside time each day to pray even if it’s just a few minutes. Having a consistent routine will also help you establish the habit of prayer. Try to pray at the same time and in the same place every day.

You might also find it helpful to journal your prayers. Writing them down can help you to stay focused and will also help you know when and how God answers your prayers. This will help you build a testimony to share with others.

Reading a devotional can also aid in your prayer life. Devotional reading can guide your prayers into a place you may not have thought of on your own. It could also help you stay focused and engaged or minimize distractions.

Don’t be afraid to be honest with God. God already knows what is on our hearts, so there is no need to hold back in our prayers. Be honest and vulnerable with God, and trust that He will meet you where you are.

As we cultivate a deeper and more meaningful prayer life, we can experience a range of benefits. Prayer can provide us with a greater sense of peace and joy, as we trust in God’s provision and guidance. It can also help us to develop greater empathy and compassion for others, as we intercede on their behalf and seek to understand their needs. Additionally, prayer can help us to discern God’s will for our lives, and to walk in obedience to His calling.

Prayer is an essential spiritual discipline that along with Bible study and worship can help us to deepen our relationship with God and grow in spiritual maturity.

Father help us today to dedicate ourselves to prayer. Your son Jesus taught us how important prayer is to the victorious Christian life. Align us today with your will and move us to a position that puts in accord with you and with each other. Amen

want a friend? be friendly

The Bible has a lot to say about friendship. It tells us how to be a good friend;

1 Thessalonians 5:11

11 Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.

Why having the right friends is important:

1 Corinthians 15:33

33 Do not be misled: “Bad company corrupts good character.”

It tells us about the many benefits of friendship:

Ecclesiastes 4:9-10

Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: 10 If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up.

Friendship is a vital part of human existence. It is a bond that connects us to others, enriches our lives, and helps us navigate through the ups and downs of life. The importance of friendship is often overlooked, but it is a fundamental part of our well-being and happiness.

One of the greatest benefits of friendship is the sense of belonging and connection it brings. Having a friend means that we have someone who understands us, accepts us for who we are, and is there for us in both good times and bad. Friendships provide a sense of security and comfort, knowing that we have someone to turn to in times of need.

Friendship also helps us to grow and learn. Through our interactions with friends, we learn new perspectives, develop empathy, and expand our understanding of the world around us. A good friend will challenge us to be our best selves and push us to reach our goals. They will also be there to celebrate our successes and support us when we fall short.

Another important aspect of friendship is the sense of fun and enjoyment it brings. Friendships are built on shared experiences and memories, and these memories can be some of the most cherished moments of our lives. Whether it’s a spontaneous road trip, a day of laughter playing games, friends create memories that last a lifetime.

Friendship is also a powerful tool for self-discovery. Through our interactions with friends, we learn more about ourselves and what we value. We can explore our interests, passions and goals with friends, and they can often provide valuable insights and advice. Friendships also give us the opportunity to try new things and step out of our comfort zones.

However, friendships are not always easy. Conflicts and disagreements are a natural part of any relationship, and it is important to learn how to navigate these challenges. A good friend will be able to communicate openly and honestly, and will be willing to work through any issues that may arise.

The beauty of friendship is that it can come in many forms. It can be a bond between two people, a group of friends, or even a community. The key is to find people who share your values, interests, and goals. It is also important to remember that friendships can develop at any stage of life, and it’s never too late to make new friends.

In conclusion, friendship is an essential part of life. It brings a sense of belonging, connection, growth, and joy. Friendships help us navigate the complexities of life and provide us with valuable support and guidance. It is important to cherish and nurture our friendships, and to be open to making new friends. Remember, a true friend is a treasure and a gift, and it is a privilege to have them in our lives.

Lord I thank you for the many friends that you have given me during my life. Each of them was a unique blessing to me. Please bless them today as they blessed me. Continue to provide me with the friends that I need. Friends that will encourage me, help me, and add something vital to my experience on this earth.

Help me to be a good friend as well. Let me be an encouragement to some. Help me to bear the burdens of others. Make me into the good friend that someone needs today. Amen

a flaw by any other name

That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Corinthians 12:10

As I study the Bible I find it is filled with flawed, broken people. There are liars and thieves, cowards and cheats. It has those that are angry, some that are bigots. Really the Bible covers the whole range of character flaws one can find throughout humanity. Yet God has chosen people like that to use for His purposes over and over.

Moses was an angry man. He proved during his life. God used him to deliver His people from Egyptian slavery and give them the Law. David was a murderer and adulterer that God used many times during his life. He wrote many of the Psalms. Matthew was a thief that wrote one of the four Gospels. Peter was impulsive and coarse, but he preached the first message of salvation and saw thousands receive Christ, be saved and be baptized.

Maybe we are too quick to decide that someone is disqualified for ministry because of some perceived flaw. Maybe we ought to take a lesson from scripture and realize that God sees things differently than we do.

Flaws, or what we perceive as negative traits or characteristics, can often be seen as strengths when viewed from another perspective. For example, being overly critical of oneself may be viewed as a flaw, but it can also be a strength in terms of setting high standards and striving for excellence. Similarly, being too sensitive may be seen as a weakness, but it can also be a strength in terms of being compassionate and empathetic towards others.

One way to reframe flaws as strengths is to think about the positive intentions behind them. For example, someone who is overly critical may simply be trying to improve themselves or others, while someone who is sensitive may be trying to be understanding and supportive. By recognizing the positive intentions behind our flaws, we can begin to see them as strengths rather than weaknesses.

Another way to reframe flaws as strengths is to think about the unique perspectives and skills they bring. For example, someone who is shy may be seen as weak, but they may also have a great ability to listen and observe, which can be valuable in certain situations. Similarly, someone who is impulsive may be seen as reckless, but they may also be able to make quick decisions and take risks, which can be beneficial in certain circumstances.

When we recognize and embrace our flaws we are much more apt to turn to God for help in those areas of our lives. When David’s sin was revealed it was then that he turned to God for forgiveness and deliverance. Paul’s overzealous nature was put to good use once he stopped pursuing believers and began to preach the gospel instead.

It’s also important to remember that flaws are not always negative. They can be the things that make us unique and different from others. Embracing our flaws can help us to be more authentic and true to ourselves, which can lead to greater self-acceptance and usefulness to the Kingdom of God.

Furthermore, sometimes flaws are simply a matter of perspective. For example, someone who is described as “lazy” may simply have a different approach to time management, or they may have a different set of priorities. On the other hand, someone who is described as “overly ambitious” may simply be highly motivated and focused on their goals.

So, flaws can be seen as strengths when viewed from a different perspective. By recognizing the positive intentions behind them, thinking about the unique perspectives and skills they bring and embracing them as a part of our unique selves, we can begin to see them as opportunities and strengths rather than weaknesses. Additionally, it’s important to remember that flaws are often a matter of perspective and that what one person sees as a flaw, God may be able to use as a strength.

Lord I pray that you will reveal to me my flaws and weaknesses. Where they are hindering me help me to overcome them. Use me as I am to further your will in my life and the lives of those around me. Where I am weak make me strong. Humble me in what strength I have so that I may rely on You and give you the glory and honor for any success I find.

I had it upside down

Wasted time equals a neglected page. Never thought I would admit something like that. It’s been said to me many times throughout my life but somehow I seem to get by. But I’ve had some time to really reflect this past week or so and I’ve learned a few things about myself that aren’t very flattering.

Toss in the topics I’ve been preaching on the last few weeks and oh boy.

Let’s start by saying that self-reflection has never been my strongest trait. I tend to find what I like and stick to it. I’m not saying that I’ve never had a wake up moment but they are pretty rare. It’s easier for me to slide into the sin of pride than I’d like.

I take a lot of things in my life for granted and if those granted things go away I have a powerful tendency to turn my back on them. New things will come right? But what if I’m wrong? My strategy seemed to work for me. What if I had done things differently?

I know it’s a waste of time to dwell on the past. But what if it’s not?

If you look over my old posts you’ll see two characters pop up a lot.



I wrote about my struggle with these two and which was winning. I think my struggle is real but my analysis flawed. Let me explain briefly as an intro.

I always thought that Worthwhile ought to win but it was my pride that made me feel Worthwhile. Getting knocked down a peg or two and suddenly I’m Worthless and fighting to regain my stubborn pride, thinking I’m winning.

Sometimes I’m a moron.

Father God, all praise to You who created me. Forgive my sin of pride. Bless my mother who bore me, bless my father too. Bless my children with my secret hope for them. Bless my wife who loves me in spite of my failures. Remove my pride even if it hurts. I yield to you. Let Worthless win. Amen

More to come

read or not, this one’s for me

It was a dark and stormy night

into my life she came

I didn’t know then

how I’d never be the same

She looked so scared and lonely

not like all the others

We knew we had to have her

no matter all the bothers

and so we brought her home

on that dark and stormy night

and we named her Chloe

Because that just seemed right

It was cold the night we brought her home

So we dressed her in a sock

She looked just like a longshoreman

working on a dock

I also her Sugar Mouse

Old Goose and My Baby

She was a tempest in a teapot

Fought her sister frequently

She was my friend for 16 years

No regrets have I

But it hurts that she is gone

it hurts I do not lie

but I knew cost when going in

I know that all dogs die

I leave you now with song and verse

the verse for you the song for her

I’ll honor her and love again

it’s worth the cost for sure

For who can prove that the human spirit goes up and the spirit of animals goes down into the earth?

Ecclesiastes 3:21

Snowy doughy Chloe

Noey doughy blowy

Bigga bigga bony nony

Digga Digga dony

Rigga rigga tony

Where’s little Chloe?

Goodbye my friend

a lesson in mercy

I was thinking today about Corrie Ten Boom, the Holocaust survivor. I used a story about her in a message that I preached recently. It was a story she told about returning to Germany for a speaking arrangement. After the speech was done she was approached by a man. To her horror she recognized him as one of the guards from Ravensbrück  concentration camp. According to Corrie this man approached her and complemented her speech. The speech she had given was about God’s mercy.

The man then confessed to her that he was a former guard from Ravensbrück , but that he had been converted to Christianity. He told her that he knew that God had forgiven him. He then stuck out his hand and asked this question:

“Fraulein , can you forgive me?”

All she could think abou.t was her sister Betsie who died a slow painful death in that place. But she then remembered Jesus words:

“But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” Matthew 6:15 NIV

She said a quick prayer telling God she could put out her hand but He was going to have to supply the feeling. As soon as she clasped his hand she felt a warm tingling start in her shoulder that quickly went down to their handshake. She burst into tears and forgave him with all her heart.

That’s a really great story, but it’s what she said afterwards that has really got me thinking. She says she still struggled to forgive as time went on. She learned that good feelings and behavior can’t be stored up, but only drawn fresh from God each day.

That is such a great lesson. I find myself so often feeling discouraged by my lack of the ability to remain in a state of forgiveness. Then I beat myself for backsliding into unforgiveness. What Corrie’s story helped me realize is that’s ok. I don’t have to remain in that state because I can draw on God’s mercies every day. That’s why they are there. God has need to be merciful to Himself. The new daily mercies are there for me and for you.

Great is his faithfulness;
    his mercies begin afresh each morning.

Lamentations 3:23 NLT

Father God you are my Lord and God. I worship you alone. Forgive me the times I put things between You and me. I know that you love me to much to leave me the way I am. Thank you for giving fresh mercies everyday. Remind me of this continually so I can draw on You when I need to forgive, when I need to show mercy. Send to me a revival of mercies to give to all those around me. In Jesus name Amen.

just a prayer

Dear Heavenly Father You are the only one worthy of my praise, worthy of my worship. I honor You and believe in You. I believe that You created me for a purpose, and I count on You to guide my life such that that purpose will be revealed and accomplished.

I believe that you sent Your son, Jesus, to live among us perfectly, to bring us the Good News, to die on a cross and to rise again three days later to fully conquer sin and death. He is the Lord of my life.

I am sorry for all the times I’ve let you down. But I know that all my sin and iniquity are covered by His precious blood. Please continue to point out the error in my life so that my life will continually grow more pleasing to You.

Father God I am so troubled by the way events are going right now. We are more divided than we have been in America than at any time during my life. So many people are falling away from the faith or never even coming to it at all. Our leaders bicker and backstab. They are cowardly and lazy. There is corruption all around. We need You now more than ever yet You seem so far away.

Your Word says that all authority on Earth belongs to You. So take it away from those that use it for evil and harm. Deliver it instead to men and women that will use it in wisdom. Deliver to us justice and hope.

I am asking You to send revival to Your church. We are in dire need and only Your Holy Spirit can bring us back to life. Deliver to us the boldness and courage that we have lost. Prune any sin and error that You find.

For myself Father guide me in the way You would have me go. Bless the ministry that You have called me to. Stir up the Spirit that lives in me. Give to me good ideas and the courage to implement them. Let Your love shine through me so that all can see it. Mold me into a leader that You can use. Send revival and let it start with me.


Tribute to an old friend

When I came home from the army in 1986 I was 23 years old. I took a job at the family business and went back to school. My grandfather was the boss at work. Most every day he would arrive just before opening time with a box of doughnuts and the first thing he’d do once he got in was turn on the radio so he could hear the news.

He would grumble a little bit about it cause you know Reagan and then move on with the day. But at 9am the station format changed away from the news to a local talk show. And boy did grandpa hate that guy.

I couldn’t figure out why. To me he was smart and funny. He was a little bit over the top sometimes but I thought he was mean or hateful. That never even crossed my mind. I’m talking about Rush Limbaugh.

By 1986 I’d been able to vote twice in presidential elections. I’d happily cast my votes for Ronald Reagan. First time because I thought Carter had been a poor president and second because I thought Reagan had been a good one. If you had asked me I would have told you I was a conservative but I probably wouldn’t have been able to give you concise reasons why.

Rush changed all that for me. As I listened I began to be interested in what he was saying. His brand of conservatism made a lot of sense to me. His breakdown of liberal or socialist ideas and his refutation of the same spoke eloquently to my inner conservative. And of course he was funny.

I remember one time he was doing a bit about backwards satanic messages on records. He was playing Slim Whitman “backwards” and he revealed a hidden message. Well a man called in to the show and told Rush that he had the same album but he couldn’t get the backwards message to play.

Well Rush couldn’t let that one go. He sent the caller on a wild goose chase for a “disgronificator”. Because that was the piece of equipment needed to hear the messages hidden on the albums. The poor fellow believed him and went in search of said equipment.

This was very spontaneous on Rush’s part. Because the message on the Slim Whitman record was so obviously a parody made because these types of messages were in the news. To have a caller believe it was genuine just made it more funny. But that’s what Rush did, he used parody, satire, and humor to point out the ridiculous in society and the news.

Rush you brought me in to the conservative fold and taught me how to be better at it. You made me think and you made me laugh. You can’t really for more from your favorite talk show than that. You served us well and will be missed. Rest In Peace Rush Limbaugh. You can finally give God His talent back and untie the other half of your brain.

I’ll never be a socialist

Since I have been alive on this planet there have been eleven different presidents of the United States of America. Five of them Democrats and six Republicans. Now obviously I didn’t really have thoughts or opinions bout those that served when I was a child. My first real memory of politics was from the early seventies when Nixon was running against McGovern.

I remember having arguments with the other kids on the playground. When I say arguments of course I mean taking sides based on what our dads were saying at home and shouting at each other about things we didn’t understand. My dad’s guy was Nixon and so was mine. It was great fun but in the end we all loved America and wanted the best for everyone. The teachers loved America. The students loved America. The administration loved America. We all had that in common. At least as far as I knew.

There have been people that have looked for reform as long as there has been a country. And that’s a good thing. How else are things going to get better? But does that mean that all reforms are good or necessary? I don’t believe so. The system may seem slow but it gets the job done.

America works best when individuals strive for their own betterment. That’s why I’ll never be a socialist or communist. These ideologies are not interested in individuals but rather in groups or collectives. Leftist revolutions always pit people groups against one another. That’s why socialists and communists hate God. Because God values the individual not the group or identity. When it comes time for me to meet my maker He’s not going to say to me “Well Peter since you’re a white man you get a free pass to glory”. God doesn’t care what your identity is at all except for your identity in Christ.

When you realize this, that each person matters individually, it lays to rest this idea of identifying primarily as a group. Now understand I’m not saying that having an identity group is a bad thing. We all like to hang out with those in which we have things in common and that’s ok. The problem comes when this becomes an us against them winner take all proposition. Just take a look at California today to see how that works out. Even Willie Brown says it’s a problem.

I want to remind you that God says “Love your neighbor “. It’s easy to to love or hate people as a group. It becomes much harder to take those feelings and apply them to individuals.

Is there an identity group that you have a problem with? Do dislike or even hate middle aged cis-gendered white men? That’s what I am. Let’s talk. Do you hate Republicans? That’s what I am. Let’s talk. Do you think church folk are all hypocrites? I’m church folk. Let’s talk.

I am all of those things and so much more. Yet none of those define me. I challenge each of you to lay aside your cookie cutter ideas of what people are based upon some perceived identity and get to know people as individuals. Step away from your prejudice for just a minute and give it a try. You might be surprised.

Father God, please forgive us for lumping people created as individuals uniquely in Your image into broad groups and then judging them based solely on which group we assign them to. Help us to see people the way that you do. In Jesus name. Amen

A letter to Worthless

Dear Worthless,

I’ve noticed you coming around a little bit more often lately and I don’t appreciate it at all. I thought we had finally ended our relationship for good. I see that I was mistaken.

I have to tell you that I’m really tired of how you waltz into my life at the worst possible time. Things seem to be going along just fine and them you show up looking all sweet and innocent. Your sad hungry eyes get me every time. So I give in and feed you a little bit. I say to myself “I deserve a little self pity. I’ve been working hard and no one seems to notice or care”. Next thing you know we’re having a full blown pity party.

And yeah it feels good at first releasing all that pent up stuff inside. The self doubt, the anxiety, little hurts that were easy to set aside suddenly take on a new life. We kind of settle in it together. You pretend that you care about me. That you are the sensitive one that really understands. You tell me that Worthwhile over there is just a bully. He’s always pushing me to achieve some goal or overcome some obstacle. He doesn’t care about you you tell me. He’s just in it for the attaboys.

It sounds good at first all this talk of laying down my burdens to sit amidst the garbage that you draw out of me. But I’ve started to look around and it seems to me that you’re the bully Worthless. I don’t know why I listen to you at all. You’re a liar and a thief. You want to break me down to make yourself feel better and I’ve been letting you. But no more.

Worthless I’m not feeding you anymore.