The Worry Behind Your Eyes

Ugly wall of worry

To some extent, we all put up a wall in our minds and hide a thought process behind it. Hopefully you don’t have many of these walls keeping your thoughts from those around you, but don’t lie — you know what I’m talking about.

I don’t want to get into the issues of shame and fear of man, though they’re common walls. What I’ve been meditating on is a big, ugly wall so many of us are hiding behind: worrying about money.

I’ve heard a lot of stories lately about how financial big wigs and missionaries alike are getting hit with the effects of the economy. Two IMs at my HOP had their phones shut off recently. It’s that bad.

So last night I was asking the Lord about His promise in Malachi:

“‘Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be food in My house, and try Me now in this,’ says the Lord of hosts, ‘If I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you such blessing that there will not be room enough to receive it.'”
Malachi 3:10

I started to cry as I told the Lord I hadn’t seen the fulfillment of that promise (I have seen blessing, but not to the point of “not enough room to receive it”). He actually said to bachan (test) Him in His faithfulness.

So maybe this is an encouragement to all of you that God promised He would provide, maybe it’s a shout out to Him that I want to see it in my own life — or recognize it if I just haven’t noticed — I don’t really know. All I know is that God keeps His promises and this is no exception. It’s just hard to see sometimes.

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So America Chose Obama

What will be our response? Will we despair and say that God doesn’t answer prayer, or that x group of people didn’t pray enough? Will we be offended and shake our fist at God, claiming He didn’t come through for us?

I was impressed with IHOP-KC’s response within minutes of Obama’s victory. They interrupted the last half of their Worship with the Word set to inform everyone of his win…and immediately called a rapid fire to pray for him. Person after person told the Lord, “Thank you.” There was no hesitance in this response, and I know from living at IHOP that they weren’t prepped to say that either. No, those people have some knowledge of God, and their first response was to acknowledge that even if they didn’t know why He would want this man in power, they were going to trust Him.

Why does God want Obama in power? Maybe it’s reaping consequences or His righteous judgment — however you like to label it. But I don’t think so. I don’t know much, and even though I grew up in a political family with two parents who graduated with Poly Sci majors and I used to breathe talk radio, I have let my politics slide (on purpose) for the past 3 years.

I think God’s giving us two things: an invitation and a sign. The invitation is for Christians to realize that they need to be praying. I want to scream Jeremiah at them:

“O my soul! My soul! I am pained in my very heart! My heart makes a noise in me; I cannot hold my peace, because you have heard, O my soul, the sound of the trumpet, the alarm of war.” Jeremiah 4:19

The second is to realize that God is orchestrating world events for Jesus’ second coming. It’s really going to happen, and soon. That’s going to seem far fetched to most of you, but I’ve been studying the end-times for almost 3 years and I can tell you this much: Matthew 24:3-9 is not far away.

Persistent Prayer

I want to continue the thought I started in my God of Secrets post about Luke 11. I don’t know how most people interpret the parable of the friend at midnight, but for me, it is one of the most significant passages in the Bible about prayer.

“And [Jesus] said to them, “Which of you shall have a friend and go to him at midnight and say to him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves; for a friend of mine has come to me on his journey and I have nothing to set before him’; and he will answer from within and say, ‘Do not trouble me; the door is now shut and my children are with me in bed; I cannot rise and give to you’? I say to you, though he will not rise and give to him because he is his friend, yet because of his persistence he will rise and give him as many as he needs.” Luke 11:5-8

Now we have to backtrack a little. In verse 1, the disciples had asked Jesus to teach them how to pray. Then we see the part we all know so well, the Lord’s prayer. But Jesus doesn’t take a breath between verses 4 and 5…He is still answering their question. (Please understand that the following is my interpretation/revelation on the chapter and is completely original.)

First of all you (the green guy) have a friend (the orange guy) who traveled from afar to visit you. You want to be hospitable and pour into him (i.e. give him food). So you think, “Hey! I have another friend who OWNS the bakery! He can give me bread for this friend!”

See, the friend didn’t ask anything of you (they represent whatever/whomever you are praying for), but you wanted to give what you knew you did not have (true humility – I am nothing outside of Christ). But, you know a guy (Jesus) who has what you need – and more.

So you go to your friend and knock on his door, even though it’s midnight. “Hey man, I’ve got this friend who needs food, can you give me some? ‘Cause I don’t have any.” And then your friend answers, “Don’t bother me, man! I can’t give you anything right now.”

When you pray, God always answers (“he will answer”). But what if His answer surprises you? See, you knew to go to Him, you knew He had what you needed, but even though you are His friend (you have some relationship with Him), He’s asking for something more from you:

“I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture…I am the good shepherd; and I know My sheep, and am known by My own.”   John 10:9,14

Jesus is asking you to come to a new level: yes, you are His friend, but when you don’t understand why He won’t give to you, will you take that as an invitation to ask again? It’s not favoritism for those who persist more: it’s the nature of God’s kingdom. It’s the same reason why Jesus spoke in parables – so that only the hungry would seek out what they meant. Jesus is the door and He wants you to persist, to keep knocking to find what you are looking for. See, once you’re in the door, you have access to fellowship with Him, to the knowledge of God.

It is because of your persistence that Jesus will give to you: and that’s always more than you asked Him for initially. Now, knowing the context, the following verse should make a lot of sense:

“So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you: seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.”   Luke 11:9

Note: I hope you don’t feel demeaned by my childish illustrations. I wanted to make this rather confusing parable as clear as possible. And feel free to give me kudos for my amazing drawing skills too – especially my camel. (Yeah, I’m joking.)

Faith Grows Exceedingly

A few weeks ago, I posted that I was asking for more faith specifically in the area of finances. God came through in many ways and I hope it’ll encourage you to hear what He’s done for me lately.

Just a couple days after I began to focus on praying for faith, I received anonymous cash in the mail. I laughed at how sneaky God is. Then a week after that, I received a generous support check from some old friends of mine who don’t even get my support letters! But the most playful thing was yet to come: I posted on my Facebook that I have been wanting a bicycle; Josiah has one and it wasn’t a need, I just wanted to be able to go riding with him. Well, the next day, we were at a party and the host came up to me and said, “So you want a bike? I have an old Schwinn that’s sitting outside; you can have it if you want it.” At the time, I didn’t even remember that I had told anyone I wanted a bike!

As we put the bike in my car I kept saying, “Oh my goodness! I can’t believe God!” It just reminds me of how much God loves to give good gifts to His children, even when it’s a want and not a need. One of my favorite sermons is Allen Hood’s Playfulness of God. I listen to that message once a year just to remind me that God has a sense of humor.

My problems or need for money didn’t decrease during that time, but my faith undoubtedly increased. I could tell you story after story of recent things that have happened to other IMs at my prayer room but instead I’ll just leave it at this: I have a God who is faithful and I have a little more faith in my own heart to believe that He’s gonna be there for me when I need Him.