Men and Their Spiritual Battle

The spiritual battle for the hearts and lives of men is very real.  Our struggle as men, is not against flesh and blood (though is all too often where we put our focus) but is against the powers and principalities of the dark world and the spiritual forces of evil.

I have spent much of my life learning how to be the right kind of man, husband, and father.  I am thankful to have had the opportunity to watch other men attempt to live a godly life.  Of course, as I look back, I can see times when I really fell short of what I was called to be as a man, a husband, and a father.

Most men I know would do anything to protect their families against harm.  Most would do anything to protect their families against someone who might be physically threatening to their spouse or their children.

Yet, the greater threat that our families face is the threat initiated by the devil’s schemes.

When Your Child Cries in the Middle of the Night


It was the middle of the night.

Our girls were very young.  We lived in North Alabama.  One of them was crying.   She wasn’t feeling well and she cried out. Charlotte heard the cry first and within moments, she got up and made her way down the hall to our little girl’s room.  A few minutes later, I went to her room as well.  Charlotte held our sweet daughter close and began to rock her.

  • No one ignored her cries.
  • No one screamed at her for crying.
  • No one was rough with this little girl.

Why did her mother get out of bed?

Why did her father get out of bed?

Mom and dad get out of bed because this is what parents do!  The cry of their children is more important than their sleep, their comfort, and their preference.  Yes, they work the next day.  Yes, they might be tired.  However, when mom or dad hears the cry of a sick child, all of that is pushed aside.  What matters is their little child.

Parents who serve, who give, and who sacrifice are more concerned with their children than themselves.  This is who they are.

When God hears you, as his child, cry out to him, he listens.  Your cries do not get old.  He doesn’t snap at you.  He isn’t rough with you.  He doesn’t ignore your cries.  Rather, like a loving mother and father, he leans in to hear you.

Why does God hear our cries?  Why does he turn his head and lean in when we pray to him?

God hears our cries because this is who he is.  This is his nature.

“Hear my prayer, Lord, listen to my cry for help; do not be deaf to my weeping. I dwell with you as a foreigner, a stranger, as all my ancestors were.” (Psalm 39:12)

Have you cried out to God in the middle of the night?  In the middle of the night, I’ve prayed for our children.  In the middle of the night, I’ve cried out to God about a seemingly impossible problem at church.  In the middle of the night, I’ve cried out to God during times of my own discouragement.

God will hear your cry, even in the middle of the night.


Why This Picture Makes Me Melt

BrodyPrayerYesterday, I spoke in chapel at Harding University (Searcy, Arkansas).

My daughter, Christine, told her son that his “Poppy” was going to speak in chapel and they could watch the live streaming.  She set up her iPad and set the link to the live streaming of chapel.  She left the room.  When she returned, someone was leading prayer on the screen and four year old Brody had his head bowed and eyes closed.

I look at this picture and I melt.

Why?  I think part of the reason lies in who we are.  That picture reminds me that we are God’s children in desperate need of our Father.  We may act as if we are self-sufficient.  We may speak with confidence.  We may even believe we are smarter and brighter than others.  We can become quite cocky and self-assured.

Yet, the truth is that are children in desperate need of our Father.

Maybe this picture moves me because this four year old, with his head bowed and eyes closed, reminds me of how vulnerable and fragile we all are.

Maybe the best we can do today is to simply say, “Our Father who art in Heaven. . . .”



If You Are Not Praying for Your Children

(I am away on a vacation/study break during the month of July. The posts that appear during the month are from the archives.)

If you as a parent are not praying for your children, then who is?

This occurred to me a few years ago as I thought about my prayer life and my own children. If I am not praying for my own children, then who is? Perhaps one of the greatest gifts that I can give to my children is faithful prayer.

Our children, whether small children or adults, live in a very difficult world. How important and encouraging for mom and dad to lift them up in prayer every single day of their lives.


My two children are now adults. Both are married. They each live a great distance from Charlotte and me. In some ways, we have little influence over what they do each day.

Yet, we lift them up in prayer each day, believing God will work intimately and powerfully in their lives wherever they are. We believe that God loves them, cares for them, and calls them to live under his rule. It is important that we pray for them.

Book Review: The God Box

I just ordered a copy of this book for both of my daughters.God_Box_book_cover.JPG

No, I don’t do this on a regular basis.  However, after reading this book, I wanted them to each be able to hear this story.

The book is The God Box. The author is Mary Lou Quinlan.

Mary Lou Quinlan has written a fine book. On one level, the book is about Quinlan’s mother, Mary Finlayson, and her relationship with her daughter, Mary Lou. Yet, on another level, the thread that runs throughout the book is the prayers of Quinlan’s mother.

Her mother regularly prayed for others. Many of these prayers came after others poured out their hearts to Mary Finlayson regarding their problems, worries, and fears. For twenty years, she would write down these concerns on random pieces of paper and slip them inside her “God box.” This was a box in her home in which she placed her petitions to God.

The book is well written and attractive.  Not only does it contain numerous pictures of the family, but there are many photocopies of her mother’s prayer requests.  To see these prayer requests handwritten on pieces of paper is very moving.

There is much to be said for the book. I especially appreciated the portrait of this mother who, in the course of her life, prayed to God regarding her husband, her children, her friends, and many other people.

“She inhaled a worry. She exhaled a prayer.”

Mary Finlayson connected with many other people in a compassionate and caring way.  Family members, friends, and people she had just met poured out their problems and difficulties to her. She in turn took these petitions to God.

When the Sharp Teeth are Pulled From Human Anxiety

Lately, I have been spending a lot of time with The Paraclete Psalter: A Book of Daily Prayer. Yesterday’s reflection on Psalm 46 was especially meaningful to me.

God is our refuge and strength.

In 1529 the church reformer and former Augustinian monk Martin Luther paraphrased Psalm 46 in a hymn that has been sung with hope-filled zeal by generations: “A mighty fortress is our God / A bulwark never failing; / Our helper he amid the flood / Of mortal ills prevailing.”


The theme running through this Psalm is the incomparable beauty and unshakable security of the city of God. The place where God makes his abode is the most glorious and the most stable place in all the earth. To live within its borders is to live without fear, for nothing in all creation–not the volatile power of nature, nor that of man, nor the destructive power of “our ancient foe”(in Luther’s words)–can do harm in “the holy place where the Most High dwells” (v. 4).

Where God is, there is no reason to fear. And, since God is “with us” (v. 7) and within us, there is no place to fear. In just a few short verses, the psalmist effectively pulls the sharp teeth from all human anxiety. What real threat exists that is able to subdue the faith of those whose “refuge and strength” is God? “Be still, and know that I am God.”

Yesterday morning, I read this meditation and this Psalm once and then I read it again. I read it another time later in the day. Today I read it again. Again and again, I need to need to hear the words of this wonderful Psalm. This Psalm (and this meditation) is a powerful reminder that God has pulled the sharp teeth from all human anxiety.

Let me encourage you to name your worries and bring these before this wonderful God who is with us.

If you are like me, you may know what it is to sleep through a part of the night only to awaken at 4 am. You lie in bed for a few moments only to feel that sense of dread again. As peaceful as your sleep has been, that heartbreaking problem has not gone away.

Read again these ancient words and know that God’s promise to be present is just as real now as it was then.


What has been particularly helpful to you in times of anxiety and worry?

One of the Most Important Roles for Christians after Tucson

Yesterday afternoon, I was in a prayer gathering with the elders of our church. Each Monday afternoon, we meet to pray for specific people in our church family as well as others for whom we have been asked to pray.

At one point, we prayed for the people involved in the Tucson tragedy.

Later, as I thought about the events of the day, it occurred to me that as we prayed we were simply doing what Christ-followers everywhere have been called to do. Many, many people throughout the country have been praying for these people.


That evening I turned on the news. There were many voices, and intense concerns were being expressed. Some spoke regarding the present day political climate. Some talked about the need to reflect on our political rhetoric. Still others addressed mental health issues in this country (as the shooter apparently had severe mental problems). There was analysis, speculation, and debate. T

here was also projecting, blaming, and defending.

Should Christian people be involved in such conversations? Of course. Christian people have opinions, perspectives, and the opportunity to communicate in a reasonable, civil, and balanced manner.

Yet those who follow Christ must never forget the call to be faithful in prayer. Think for a moment about those who were injured or killed. The following are people who we need to continue to pray for:

1. The recovery of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and all who were injured. We also need to pray for their families who have just been through a horrifying experience with their loved one.

2. The parents of 9-year-old Christina Green who must now plan a funeral for their daughter. The teachers and classmates of this same young girl who must be heartbroken as they return to school and see her empty chair.

3. The family of Judge John Roll.

4. The family of Dorwan Stoddard and the people who make up the 120 member Mountain Avenue Church of Christ as they mourn his death. Meanwhile, they seek to encourage and care for his wife, Mavy, who was injured in the incident.

5. The families of the others who died.

While many in this country debate various issues that this tragedy surfaced, I really hope we do not forget these 19 people–some who died and some who were injured. Three days after this shooting is the time to remember names, to see faces, and to remember the common humanity we share with those who were directly impacted.

“I Am No Longer My Own . . . “

Earlier this week, I heard Randy Harris speak at ACU’s Summit and was introduced to John Wesley’s Covenant Prayer. Read through this prayer slowly and savor each line. This is a tremendous prayer of trust.

I was visiting with a friend a few weeks ago and he made an interesting statement. He said, “I really believe that we are shaped by what we pray.” In other words, what I pray has the capacity to shape me into a certain kind of person.

So what do I pray?

The following is John Wesley’s Covenant Prayer:

I am no longer my own, but yours.

Put me to what you will, rank me with whom you will

put me to doing, put me to suffering.

Let me be employed for you or laid aside by you.

Let me be full, let me be empty.

Let me have all things, let me have nothing.

I freely and heartily yield all things

to your pleasure and disposal.

And now, O glorious and blessed God,

Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,

you are mine, and I am yours. So be it.

And the covenant which I have made on earth, let it be ratified in heaven.


Free Book Giveaway (Talking Back to God)

This week, I will be giving away a free copy of Lynn Anderson’s new book, Talking Back to God: Speaking Your Heart to God Through the Psalms.TalkingBack.jpg

This is a book that Lynn Anderson has been living, long before he even wrote the first page. Through the years, I have had the opportunity to catch a glimpse as to how the Psalms have impacted Lynn Anderson’s life and consequently his teaching and mentoring. The book is also a wonderful opportunity to step into the life of a man who has walked with Jesus for many years and yet who is still very intentional about his own growth.

This is a helpful book for anyone who wants to be intentional about prayer and in one’s own use of the Psalms. Lynn Anderson’s book is a guide to personal prayer. It is also a book that gives practical help in using these Psalms for one’s own spiritual formation.

The book is both practical, inspirational and can be a helpful guide. I think you will be glad you read this book.

To be eligible to win a copy of the book, simply leave a comment in one of this week’s posts, beginning today.

(The winner to be announced next week)

How Important is Prayer to You?

Many people pray regularly.    TalkingBack.jpg

Some pray rarely.

What about you?

I am reading Lynn Anderson’s new book, Talking Back to God (Speaking Your Heart to God Through the Psalms.) This is a wonderful book. I think this book can be very useful to people who pray regularly as well as those who pray rarely. The book speaks to ordinary people just like us. You may be single, married or divorced. You may be female or male. You may live in the United States or you may live in another nation.

One thing is true: God wants to hear your prayer.

In this book, Lynn Anderson is suggesting that reading from the Psalms in the Bible and then praying these words back to God can enrich a person’s prayer life. Listen to these words from Lynn:

“Once we learn to pay attention to our hunger for God, we can then acknowledge our pangs and cry out for all the answers you want in prayer and crying out for the loving presence of the living God. The former is crying out to be filled with all that we think we need: money relationships, prestige, and power. The latter is crying out to God to fill us with himself.

Are these challenges–these roadblocks to pursuing God–inevitable in our life of prayer? Maybe not. Part of the problem could be in flawed approaches to God and distorted expectations from prayer. We may be attempting quick fixes that cannot keep us out of the ditches. Do we always expect some kind of sensational experiences with God, or do we quietly pay attention to his presence?

The Psalms lead us to talk and to listen, to look and hear and feel God’s presence, his voice. The Psalms magnify the reality of God’s presence by exploring openly who god really is and what he is doing in the world. The paradox of poetry in Psalms is a cadence we need in our lives.

Evil is all around us.

God is here.

Life is falling apart.

God is here.

In this fast pace of life, we tend to ignore God as well as the significance of the this cadence of the Psalms that reminds us that the happiness we seek in so many ways is found only in God and God alone.” (pp. 21-22)


How important has prayer been to you? Have you gone through dry times where it was difficult for you to pray? What was helpful?