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Senate Chaplain of the Week

It was a privilege to serve as Chaplain of the Week for the Oklahoma State Senate. Thanks to Senator Rick Brinkley for the invitation and your incredible hospitality. I’m proud to call you my Senator, more than that, my friend.

Everyday these men and women within our government, both elected and non-elected, are faced with choices that affect the lives of everyone in our state. Because their work is public and ‘for the people’ it’s the kind of job many mistakenly think they could do. Every decision they make, both public and private, is open for discussion. Daily they are challenged by people who may not have all the facts, but who are convinced they do have all the answers. Right or wrong, selfish or selfless, people are never shy about sharing their opinion.

They struggle to balance family, friends, and the work they do in order to serve the people of our state. They are people – just like you and me – making the best decisions they can based on who they are and the information available at the time.

I hope you will continue to pray with me for them. The Bible teaches that the hearts of our leaders are in the hands of God. Let’s ask God to move on their behalf. When these leaders are weak He can give strength. When they are right He can empower them with words that convict and convince and shape a healthy debate that leads to a remarkable, God-inspired, future. When they are wrong He can correct and move them to where they should be. Interestingly enough, God does the same thing for you and me.

When I think about Jesus and what he might think about politics I’m always reminded that Jesus didn’t come to win arguments. He came to win you. Once he has your heart the politics have a way of working themselves out for our good and his glory.

As we debate and argue about the issues of the day let’s fight for one another instead of with one another. Stop trying to win the argument and start trying to win the heart.

This week I used the words of Paul from Philippians 1:9-11 to guide my prayers for our Senators and their staff – would you pray this with me for them?

“And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment, that you may approve the things that are excellent, that you may be sincere and without offense, till the day of Christ, being filled with the fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ, to the glory of God.”

This was a remarkable experience. I’m honored to have the privilege to serve.

A Prayer for My Family

My daughter was born with respiratory problems. She spent the first 4 days of her life in the EOPC at St. Francis Hospital in Tulsa, OK. There was an IV in her foot, breathing mask on her face and they kept her in a well lit pod you had to reach into in order touch her. It was scary. Thankfully, she recovered relatively quickly.

She came home with an IV in her head. We had to administer antibiotics daily. There I was, a first-time father, with a beautiful baby girl, completely powerless to take away the hurt, fix the problem and make her healthy. At one point, as I held her and she received another round of medicine, I realized, no matter how much I may want to, I will never be able to protect this girl from all the hurts this world can inflict on her.

It was an overwhelming thought.

When I’m overwhelmed I pray. While I’ll never be able to protect my daughter from a broken heart, or save her from the bad choices of stupid people, I know the One who can. So I turned my thoughts toward God and began to poor out my heart to Him. It’s a simple prayer I continue to pray for my family and myself to this day. It goes like this:

“Father, protect my family from sin, temptation & harm.”

Short, sweet, to the point – but there’s a depth of meaning just beneath the surface of every word.

Protect my family from SIN.

I’ll be honest. I’m a knucklehead. I’m going to make mistakes. Sometimes I’ll just step it in it. Others, I’ll deliberately run headlong the wrong direction simply because I want to. Either way, my sin has consequences. God forgives my sin. Even through His forgiveness sin often comes with consequences. I may deserve these consequences, but God, please rescue my wife and my kids from the consequences of my bad choices. Do what you want with me, but don’t make them pay the price for my bad choices.

Protect my family from TEMPTATION.

Let’s face it. We sin because we like it. If it were ugly, nasty or gross it wouldn’t be tempting. But it’s not those things. Sin is always attractive. It usually looks like a good idea at the time. We choose it. We stumble, not because we’re stupid, but we have an appetite for sin. In the Lord’s Prayer Jesus prayed, “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” What if we asked God to change our appetite for sin? What if we asked Him to give us a hunger and thirst for righteousness? What if sin became repulsive and righteousness became our driving thirst?

Protect my family from HARM.

Our world is a dangerous place. We’re going to face problems caused by other people, circumstances or simply because life happens. God can protect us from harm. Matthew 28:18, Jesus says, “…all authority has been given to me on heaven and earth.” Jesus has all authority over all things. He can use his power on your behalf. He can do this to fix things. He can do this to protect. He can do this to save. Sometimes, when we face the potential for harm Jesus will use His power on our behalf.

Matthew 28:20 says, “…and lo, I am with you always…” Sometimes Jesus doesn’t fix the problem. Sometimes He allows the hurt to happen. When He doesn’t use His power on your behalf He promises to walk through the situation with you. We may not understand, we may not agree, we may not like it, but sometimes the hurt is necessary. The Bible says, “Faithful are the wounds of a friend.” When Jesus doesn’t use His authority on your behalf to protect or to fix He will walk through the situation with you and produce in you a story that will ultimately benefit you and others. It becomes the epic tales we tell of battles won, insurmountable odds overcome and the glory of our God at work in us, through us and sometimes even in spite of us.

How will you pray for yourself and your family today? Perhaps this simple prayer is a good place to start.

“God, protect my family from sin, temptation & harm. In Jesus name I pray. AMEN.”

 

Stopping Jesus

Matthew 20:29-34

Have you ever prayed with such passion and persistence that you stopped God in His tracks? (Matthew 20:32)

That’s what these two blind guys did on the road from Jericho to Jerusalem. People tried to silence them. But the resistance of the crowd only increased the resolve of the blind men. I don’t know what’s more remarkable, that they cried so loudly that Jesus stopped or the question Jesus asked when he turned to speak with them.

“What do you want me to do for you?”

Seems obvious. You are the Son of God, right? Yet these men don’t hesitate. “We want to see.” Jesus makes it so, and their lives are never the same again.

What are you praying today? Will you pray with passion and persistence? When the time comes what will you ask Jesus to do for you?

Will your request open your eyes or the eyes of others?

People may try to silence you. Disappointment may discourage you. Let the resistance you face increase your resolve. God’s not afraid of your questions. He welcomes them. But get ready. When the answer comes, the way you see the world will never be the same.