A New Year’s Prayer

A New Year’s Prayer

New Year's PrayerOver the past couple weeks your inbox has probably been filled with emails promoting goal-setting programs and ways to guarantee “your best year ever” if only you will follow this given plan. At least 100 million Americans make some kind of New Year’s resolutions – and within six weeks most have already failed to keep those resolutions. Those ways of beginning a new year are fine, but I think there’s one way to begin that trumps them all: starting the year with prayer.

The best gift I can offer you this January 1 is my New Years prayer for you:

Heavenly Father, Precious Jesus, Gracious Holy Spirit,

How great You are! You who set our world in its orbit around the sun – that marks our years – we lift our hearts to You as this year begins.

We can’t see tomorrow, but You see all our tomorrows, and every day of this New Year. Your hands are the only ones big enough to carry us through the uncertain and often frightening days ahead. I ask that each one seeing this right now will sense Your hands holding them, guiding them, strengthening them to complete the mission You have given them to do.

Without You we are nothing. And all our efforts to do things on our own prove fruitless. But with You, there is nothing more that we need or desire in heaven or on earth. (Psalm 73:25)

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Do You Know How God Works With You?

Do You Know How God Works With You?

Biblical InsightHow does God work with you? Do you know? How do you hear His voice? How do you understand what He wants you to do, what He wants to grow in your character, or what He thinks about you? What does He use to change you into who He wants you to be?

Sure, there are the Bible studies on “How to hear God’s voice.” There are plenty of people who interpret Scripture, preach theology, or tell their experience of God’s activity in their life. But what about you? How has God acted in your life? What are the characteristics of His interaction with you?

One of the core beliefs that most of us Christians share is that God has been active in human affairs throughout history, and that He is active in the world today. But He can and does show up in many different ways in our lives. How we experience Him depends on our own personality, history, life circumstances, and openness to hearing and seeing Him.

Over time I’ve come to understand some things about how God has worked in my life. Some of those things are very different from what I understood about God and His working as a young person.

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Christians, Christianity and War

Christians, Christianity and War

Hiding Eyes“Christianity and war” seems like an oxymoron. But unless you’ve been in the jungle with no means of communication with the outside world, you know that terrorism has been a bigger deal than ever in the past several days. A plane brought down by a bomb smuggled aboard in Egypt. Hundreds killed and wounded while enjoying Friday night entertainment in Paris. Nonstop news about the hunt for the remaining perpetrators in Europe. A new level of fear among many in western cultures. Extreme controversy over what should be done politically and militarily, what to do about personal rights and privacy, and how to handle the multitude of refugees involved in this war.

For most of us living in America terrorism is still something “over there.” We know 9/11 happened on our own soil. We hear occasionally about plots that have been foiled by our homeland security machinery. We voice superficial belief in the reality that terrorists are probably already living among us and that we are at risk.

But most of the time we don’t really think about it. This week, though, something about the ability of terrorists to carry out their coordinated attacks in Paris makes it all feel closer to home. The reality that we could be personally affected feels a little more real.

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How to Find Comfort When You Need It

How to Find Comfort When You Need It

Sad Girl CryingI need to be comforted this week. I “lost” a patient. Actually, two patients. Both mother and baby died, and there was nothing either I or the rest of the 10-member medical team could do to stop it. We were – and are – stunned, shaken, sobered. The loss to her family is much greater than what those of us on the medical team feel, of course. But today I need to find comfort for my own heart. When you work in the medical field you can almost get used to seeing pain, death, and tragedy. But every now and then a particular patient “gets to you.” And this one got to me.

There are moments in each of our lives when we come up against our limits. We encounter something evil, something tragic, something that makes us feel hopeless and helpless – like watching a pregnant mother and her baby die in front of me, and being powerless to stop it even with all my medical experience. Or like the pastor’s family who survived ten years in a dangerous foreign country as missionaries, only to bury their husband and father when a crazed parishioner guns him down at his nice suburban church back in the US. Or like the loss of every earthly possession some of the residents in my city experienced recently in a sudden flood. Or like the accident that leaves one of our radio guests’ husband paralyzed from the neck down.

And then there are those ongoing tragedies that seem to never end. The trauma of a violent marriage. The PTSD after returning from a war zone. The life-threatening chronic illness of a loved one. The addiction that seems permanently attached to someone you care about.

And don’t say, “It’s OK.” Because it’s NOT OK!

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4 Times that God Needs You to be Angry

4 Times that God Needs You to be Angry

FistThe only people who are never angry are dead people – either dead literally, or dead-on-the-inside kind of dead. I’m going to go so far as to say that if you’re never angry, you’re mostly useless – to the people who really need you, and even to God. God needs you to be angry!

Of course that doesn’t mean we should live in a constant state of being “worked up” over every little thing. That’s dangerous to your own mental, physical, and spiritual health. And it doesn’t mean being the kind of volatile human being that everyone fears and would rather run away from. That’s dangerous to your own wellbeing and damages the kingdom of God.

But you need some fire in your soul if you ever want to accomplish what God has put you on this Earth to do.

Just days ago I was driving in heavy traffic, and felt my throat tighten and my blood pressure rise. I was facing some significant stress at that time that I had no control over, and piles of conflicting thoughts chased each other through my mind. I was tired emotionally and physically. And if one more person tried to cut me off in traffic . . . ?!!

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