We Are God’s Ambassadors

Leave a comment

The following devotion comes from my email subscription to

Connection! Devotions for Every Day Life“.

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦          ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦          ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

Prayer Burdens

In an amazing statement, Jesus said to His Father: “And the glory which You gave Me, I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as you have loved Me” (John. 17:22, 23).

God’s pattern for saving the world is His own! In the Old Testament, when God purposed in His heart to save Nineveh, He called Jonah to go and preach to them. When Jonah finally obeyed, after God severely disciplined him, all Nineveh repented (Jon. 3:5-10). Down through history when God wanted nations to hear of His love, He chose, called, and sent prophets.

It is no different in our day. God’s people still hold the key to reaching a lost world. So, the biblical pattern in praying for a lost world is to pray for God’s people, as Jesus did. How do we practically implement this? When God places a burden on our heart for a nation, we need to pray for:
• The missionaries in that nation, using Jesus’ prayer for His disciples in John 17 as our guide
• The national believers and the churches in that nation
• Mission ministry groups
• Denominations
• For God’s people

The salvation of the nations rests with God’s people. Missionaries have shared the testimony that when they preached the gospel in some villages who had never heard before, these same villagers upon believing asked the missionaries: “How long have you known this good news? Why have you taken so long to come to us? Why did you not come before now? Our parents and others are in an eternity without God and without hope! If only you had come earlier!”

It has been mathematically calculated that if one person discipled another, and they in turn witnessed and discipled one each, and if this continued to multiply and each one hearing remained faithful to sharing with one other each week, it would take a short number of years for all 6.25 billion people in the world to hear the gospel and to be saved. We must pray for the world, by praying as Jesus did, for God’s own people.

–Adapted from Chapter 61 of Giving Ourselves to Prayer (The Bible and Global Prayer by Henry Blackaby).

Lord Jesus, each day, thousands of people you love die without hope…many without ever hearing Your lovely name! Give me, and the rest of Your people, a sense of urgency for finishing the task You gave us so long ago! I repent of my complacency and discomfort! Please fill me with renewed earnestness and determination to witness and to teach others how to live godly, holy lives.

Posted: 10 Oct 2011

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦          ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦          ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

This same kind of prayer burden is becoming the model within our mission, Pioneer Bible Translators.  Not only do we pray for the people to whom we have been called by God to serve, but we are gathering to pray for each other.  Don’t get me wrong, we are not offering up naval-gazing prayers, you know, the ones that are only me-focused and look at life from a perspective of “What do I want, and when I pray in Jesus’ name, I will get that, right?”

No, I am talking about deep soul-searching and soul-wrenching prayer for all of us to be renewed spiritually within, so that the heart will be a fertile ground of exhibiting the genuine love of Christ for those who are perishing without the knowledge of God.  And especially, we pray for those people groups where they still as of today do not have any Scriptures yet published in their own mother-tongue language.

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

It is not hard to see that PBT is a praying organization.  Most field Branches have a regular weekly prayer bulletin put together which is sent out to thousands of people who uphold our work in prayer.  There has been a drive to fill a 24/7 prayer schedule of the names of people who are solidly committed to offering up the “sacrifices of praise” and the prayers for the saints and the work of ministry of PBT.

This plan to have someone praying every hour throughout every week is not that many months old, and already there is about 47% of the prayer time slots that are filled.  Just imagine when the entire chart is filled.  We have seen some amazing things happen in PBT these past few years.  But once we have round-the-clock prayers, watch out, because God will do even more great and wonderful things.

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

Even here in Dallas in the small circle of people I am with we are “breaking out in prayer”.  For the first time in a long time, we have a large number of people in the Dallas area who are interested in serving PBT over in Papua New Guinea.  And one of the first things we did (after going out for ice cream of course), was to form a prayer group that met each Tuesday at lunch hour so we could pray for each other and the work being done in PNG.

And then finally, let me mention an evening I spent with a family a few nights ago.  They invited me over for supper and to visit.  We had a great time eating and sharing with one another.  But it wasn’t long after we had finished the meal, and as we kept talking around the table, that we all felt that the appropriate way to close our evening together was to spend time praying together.

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

Dear Readers:  I hope you too are catching the Spirit blowing and are hearing the call to prayer.  Do that, and you too will see God do great and marvelous things.

The Joy of Reading God’s Word

Leave a comment

The following devotion comes from my email subscription to

Connection! Devotions for Every Day Life.

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦          ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦          ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

Passion For The Word Of God

And we also thank God continually because, when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men, but as it actually is, the word of God, which is at work in you who believe. (1 Thessalonians 2:13).

Reading God’s Word is one of the simplest and the most common spiritual disciplines for connecting with God’s heart. I choose to expose myself to every verse in the Bible at least once a year. Sometimes I read an inordinate amount of God’s Word in December, but I will finish reading all of it by the end of the year. This is not my study time, nor lesson preparation time, but simply an attempt to understand the broad scope of God’s written Word.

We can have different motives for reading the Bible. One motive is to read through the Bible to accomplish something. A better motive is to read through the Bible to learn something that can glorify our incredible God. Self-glorification comes from focusing on my accomplishing a spiritual activity.

Some of the religious people in Jesus’ day had an issue of spiritual pride. They had an immense knowledge of the Bible, but not a passion for God. Their passion was for accomplishment and self-righteousness. Their Bible knowledge led to more pride in their great accomplishment. When we read the Bible with a desire to develop passion for God, our Bible knowledge will nurture that passion and not lead to pride.

–Taken from The Path toward Passion (Nine Disciplines that Connect Your Heart to God’s) by Dean Trune. (Click on the blue title for more information about this resource).

Holy Spirit, teach me as I read Your word and convict me when I read it only to accomplish rather than to know You better. May I learn how to pray through Your living word, seeking wisdom and knowledge from Your heart.

Posted 30 Aug 2011

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦          ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦          ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

Reading God’s Word is a great thing to do.  Not because we “have to” but because we want to do it.  Reading God’s Word has become a natural part of my daily life.  Or if not daily, certainly it is a regular part of my week.

I heard recently a powerful preacher say that if we can spend some good devotional time in the Bible at least four times a week, then we will see our personal life grow in a positive direction, which includes our marriage, our business life, and our interpersonal relationships with others.

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

Now you may have heard about the many “plans” that are out there that are meant to help you with your Bible devotional readings.  And all of them are great, in their own ways.  Having a plan for reading Scripture is a good thing for many of us who like or need to have structure to guide us in our daily lives.

The main thing, as the devotional says above, is not to get so caught up in the “plan” that we forget to worship the One who is to be found in the Scriptures.  As I reflect on Scripture passages that speak about the benefits that come from regularly reading God’s Word, the following verses come to mind, each which teach an important truth:

2 Peter 1:20-21  The Bible’s origin comes from God, not man.

Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation of things.  For prophecy never had its origin in the human will, but prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.

Romans 10:14, 17  Salvation and Faith come from hearing Scripture.

How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher?…. So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

2 Timothy 3:16-17  Every part of Scripture is beneficial for us.

All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching the truth, rebuking error, correcting faults, and giving instruction for right living, so that the person who serves God may be fully qualified and equipped to do every kind of good deed.

Psalm 119:11, 105  God’s Word guides us and helps us to not sin.

Your word I have treasured in my heart,
That I may not sin against You.

Your word is a lamp to guide me
and a light for my path.

Joshua 1:8  God’s Word helps steer us to be successful in life.

Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

These are just a few of the rich promises that lay within the pages of the Bible.  And there are many ways in which we can read and learn the messages that God’s Word contains: using devotional guides, studying themes, following Bible reading plans, etc.

The main message here is not to worry so much about “how” to read the Bible, but rather that we are reading God’s Word.  This is how we learn about who God is and what He has done for us.  That is how we build our relationship with God.  And that is what the Christian faith is all about.

God And His Word Will Guide Us

Leave a comment

The following devotion comes from my email subscription to

Connection! Devotions for Every Day Life“.

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦          ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦          ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

Trusting God for the Future

God will reveal what we need to know for the future when the time is right. We know that, for some reason beyond our understanding, some things must wait in a trusting relationship with God.

Other texts make some things clear:

  • It is always the will of God to pray for sexual purity and to ask God for that to be true within family, friends, and society. This means celibacy in singleness and faithfulness in the “one man/one woman” marriage bond. “For this is the will of God, your sanctification; that is, that you abstain from sexual immorality” (1 Thessalonians 4:3, NASB).
  • It is always the will of God to pray that others hear about Jesus Christ and His salvation. “For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him will have eternal life, and I Myself will raise him up on the last day”(John 6:40, NASB).
  • It is always the will that we baptize and coach those who take that step: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you” (Matthew 28:19-20).
  • It is always the will of God that we become a people of God with other believers together as the power of the Holy Spirit flows through us, and that everything in heaven and on earth be “summed up,” joined together under the Lordship of Christ. “He made known to us the mystery of His will . . . the summing up of all things in Christ, things in the heavens and things on the earth” (Ephesians 1:9-10, NASB).

–Adapted from Power Praying (Hearing Jesus’ Spirit by Praying Jesus’ Prayer) by David Chotka

Lord, thank You for what You have revealed to me in Your word, so that I am able to pray with clarity about what is on Your heart and mind for my life. May I be obedient in these things as You teach me to hear the voice of the Spirit.

Posted 19 Nov 2011

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦          ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦          ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

Perhaps the most frequently asked question by Christian young people is, “What is God’s will for me?”  Now this could mean they are wanting to know what God’s overarching plan is for their life.  Or, the person may simply want to know which decision they ought to make as they consider more than one option of what they could do in the realm of day-to-day living.

What’s interesting these days, is that these questions are being asked by Christians of all ages.  There is certainly more options available to most people living in the developed western culture.  Along with that is greater freedom to make important life-changing decisions.  Then add into this the current instability of our society, where job security is no longer guaranteed, and the economic downturn is causing many people to have to rethink their options and their lifestyle.

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

It is good to know then that in the midst of the turbulent world in which we live, that we can be sure that there are still some absolutes upon which we can stand and which can help to guide us in how to live.  I am thinking of the Bible, which provides us with tangible and realistic ethical principles which can guide us in how to live our lives, just as the North Star has been a point of reference for sailors over the centuries which helped them to navigate the seas.

Many of us though desire to know more clearly and specifically what exactly it is that God would have us do.  I looked at this issue briefly in a recent article as I tried to encourage people to go forward when we sense that God is leading us to make important decisions.  (You can read that article here.)  Take a good look at the three questions near the end of the article.

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

What is important to realize is that Christianity is not just a religion with a book full of rituals which we must perform to be in good standing with God.  No, Christianity is a relationship with a Living God.  And He is intimately concerned about us and desires that we seek His help and His guidance in our lives.  1 Peter says, “Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.”

We also know from Scripture that God is ready to guide us in our daily decision making, as long as we are prepared to fully trust Him as to what He is telling us to do.  Proverbs 3:5-6 say, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding.  Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.”

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

And knowing that God cares so much just about me and about my wife, Jill, helps me to relax and not worry too much about how things will turn out for us in 2012.  Sure, there are some big questions in front of us.  Do we maintain a home in Canada?  Do we consider living long-term in Papua New Guinea again?  Is that even an option?  How does living and working in Dallas fit in, like I did this year?  Do we let my muscle condition dictate where we live, or not?

Yet in the midst of all these questions, I have a sense of peace knowing that my God will walk before me and show me that way.  As we head into the New Year, do you have this sense of peace?  Let God’s Spirit and His Word, the Bible, provide you with this security, and give you hope for a good new year.

Pray For Your “Enemies”

1 Comment

The following devotion comes from my email subscription to

Connection! Devotions for Every Day Life“.

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦          ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦          ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

  Loving Enemies Through Prayer

“You’re familiar with the old written law, ‘Love your friend,’ and its unwritten companion, ‘Hate your enemy.’ I’m challenging that. I’m telling you to love your enemies. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst. When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the energies of prayer, for then you are working out of your true selves, your God-created selves” (Matthew 5:43-45 Message).

Ask any unbeliever unacquainted with the Bible to summarize the basic principles that Jesus taught and “love your enemies” is sure to make the short list. Everybody knows that this is something that Christ followers are supposed to do. And most of us feel like we do do it. That’s because we’ve reduced Jesus’ words to mean: tolerate your enemies, or ignore your enemies, or don’t do anything bad to your enemies. We respond to Jesus’ command with passivity.

But when we look at this command in its context, we see that Jesus will not settle for a passive response. He expects us to take action. What action? Let’s read it for ourselves: “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you” (Luke 6:27-28).

Loving our enemies includes doing good to them, blessing them, and praying for them…including the guy who cut you off in traffic, the teacher who crushed your child’s self-esteem, the mechanic who “fixed” your brakes three times in the last week – and they still squeak, the politician who got elected on a platform that you oppose…and the list could go on.

As soon as we redefine enemies as “those who get under our skin,” we have a lot more people to pray for. And every time that someone does something that really makes us angry the prayer-prompter bell ought to go off in or heads.

–Adapted from Prayer Coach by James L. Nicodem.

Loving Father, You have commanded us to love our enemies…even those who simply aggravate us and “get under our skin.” Help me to lovingly respond to these people in my life by praying for them. Give me Your grace to do what doesn’t always come naturally to me. Change my heart so that I can offer this powerful gift of love rather than getting angry or upset.

Posted 7 Nov 2011

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦          ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦          ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

Wow!  This devotional gives us a whole new light on the concept of our “enemies”.  In fact, for us who live in North America, there are very few of us who would be able to say that we have encountered “the enemy” in our daily lives.  When we say the word “enemy”, we have some idea in our minds of the people whom we fought against in World War 1 and World War 2.  Or bring it more up to date, we think of the terrorists who brought about the terrible disaster of 9-11, and their associates whom we call the Taliban in Afghanistan.

There is no doubt that we would consider them our enemies.  But if they are the only ones we label as “enemies”, then the Scriptures above found in Matthew 5:43-45 and Luke 6:27-28 would appear to have very little relevance to our lives today.  So that got me thinking, and I looked at some of my translator’s resources to see what it said about who, or what kind of people we could really consider to be our “enemies”.

I found that one of them was quite helpful, called Translator’s Handbook, which gave this suggestion when trying to translate Matthew 5:43.  It says, “If there is no word for enemy in a language, then translators use a phrase such as ‘the person who hates you’ or ‘who opposes you.’ “  Now Matthew does go on in the next verse to tell us to pray for “those who persecute you.”  Again, I dare say that few of us have suffered much for being a Christian in North America.  Though I think the day is coming when we actually might have to.

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

So let’s just stay with this idea presented from the Translator’s Handbook.  We are to show Christ’s love and to pray for people whom we know just can’t stand us, for whatever reason, and who display hostile emotions towards us.  I think all of us can probably picture at least one person in our minds who would fit this description.  Then we know what we are supposed to do when the next time comes around that they show this animosity towards us. We are to respond with kindness and not harshness, and we are to pray for them.

I remember a girl on one of my summer mission trips when I was just 18 years old myself who seemed to almost enjoy being nasty to me and to others.  I talked to one of my leaders and they gave me this very same answer: “You still be kind, and you pray for her every time she is mean to you.”

I followed that advice from that leader.  And by the end of the summer, I found that she and I were getting along pretty good.  Now did she change for the better?  Or did I see her more through the lens of Christian love?   Or maybe it was both.  In any case, I had found that pushing back against someone who was opposed to me was not the answer.  The answer back then, and still today, is that our best response to a negative person is to pray for them, give the situation over to God, and let Him bring about the needed transformation.

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

The Blessing of Sharing

2 Comments

The following devotion comes from my email subscription to

Connection! Devotions for Every Day Life“.

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦          ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦          ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

Active in Sharing Your Faith

Paul prayed for Philemon: “I pray that you may be active in sharing your faith, so that you will have a full understanding of every good thing we have in Christ” (Philemon 1:6).

What in the world was the connection between being active in sharing his faith (the context of this passage is sharing faith with believers—not witnessing to unbelievers) and Philemon understanding all he had in Christ? When we share with others what Christ is doing in our lives (or when we hear others share the same with us) three things happen:

1. Our faith grows. We gain a deeper desire to love and serve the One who is doing all these powerful things. We gain more faith and experience more of Jesus Christ’s reality. We also keep our eyes open for things to share.

2. We discover more about who God is. The more we share or hear others share, the more we learn about God’s attributes. We come to know Him as our Provider, our Rock, our Comforter, our Peace-Giver, our Protector, our Strong Tower, our Deliverer. We learn exactly what Paul wanted Philemon to learn—what he had in Christ.

3. God’s blessings continue to flow. When we regularly share, thus giving glory to Jesus Christ, I believe that God works overtime in our lives. He wants to give us more to share, so we give more glory and fame to His Son. So it is a cycle. See God work; learn something about God; share it; see God work more; understand more of God’s nature.

[In light of what we have just read from this devotional thought above, take the prayer offered below and think of a fellow Christian whom you would want to be bold in their faith and so share the same knowledge and blessings that Paul wanted Philemon to experience.]

Father, please work mightily in ____________________’s situation. Reveal more of Your nature and character to her (or him). Father, I pray that ____________________ would understand all she has in Jesus Christ: the depth of His love; the comfort, power, and enablement of Your Holy Spirit. Let Your Spirit bubble up in her so it would overflow into others. I pray this in Jesus’ name, Amen.

–Taken from Praying like Paul (Learning to Pray the Kingdom for Those You Love) by Jonathan Graf

Posted 22 Aug 2011

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦          ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦          ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

One of the wonderful paradoxes of the Christian faith is that the more you give it away, the more you have to give away.  Just talk to the person who prepares a Sunday sermon, or a Bible study, or a special song to be sung at church, and you will often hear them say, “I got so much more out of that myself as I studied/prepared to share what God had given to me.”  The simple fact is that when we seek to bless others, we in turn are also blessed by God, and in an abundant measure.

The Scriptures say this in Luke 6:38:

“Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”

Let me put this in a way that I’m sure all of us can identify.  You know how when you buy popcorn at the theater, you bounce the bag on the counter to make it settle into the bag and there is room to put more in the bag?  Well, that is what “pressed down, shaken together and running over is all about.  God will put more back into our “generosity bag” every time we give from the heart to bless someone else.

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

I know that I can testify to this biblical principle.  Perhaps one of the best examples I can think of was when I offered to hold a kind of “Bible School” in our village.  There is a long story behind this and I will share that on another post one day.  But suffice it to say that there was a spiritual crisis in our village after one of their leaders from the local Catholic Church died.

I had just been blessed in the previous summer to lead a 6-week Bible survey course in the highlands of Papua New Guinea.  So while I was saddened at the loss of a friend, I was eager to share the Bible knowledge I had with the people.  They enthusiastically agreed to let me hold a Bible training week once each month for six months to teach them what the Bible was all about.

It is hard to express in words the joy I experienced in sharing my knowledge of Scripture with the local people there.  And I was so blessed to see the spiritual vitality in so many of them come alive.  The translation work got a real boost as my national co-translators really dug into getting some Scriptures translated.  And I believe that the foundation for the current church revival that is happening may have come out of our Bible school program.

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

So as we enter December and approach the Christmas season, let me ask you this question: is sharing your faith in some form a part of the presents you will be giving away this year?  But let’s not limit this just to Christmas.  Have you considered ways that you might be able to share of the blessings you have by being in Christ to be part of what you do in 2012?  For your sake, as well as for others, I hope that it will be so.

Filling The Gap For God

Leave a comment

The following devotion comes from my email subscription to

Connection! Devotions for Every Day Life“.

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦          ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦          ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

God Looks for Those Who Will Intercede

One of the areas that I believe is least understood by Christians is the partnership that God has called us to with Himself in the area of prayer. God, in His wisdom and sovereign power, has chosen to accomplish His will on this planet through the prayers of His people. God has decided not to arbitrarily move in and out of situations on earth, even though He is able to do just that.

Instead, He waits on His people to pray and then pours out His power in response to those prayers.

Ezekiel 22:30 is a passage of Scripture that illustrates this principle of how the Lord works. “I looked for a man among them who would build up the wall and stand before me in the gap on behalf of the land so I would not have to destroy it, but I found none.” God uses the illustration of a walled city to demonstrate His commitment to prayer.

The walls protect a city from enemy attack. But through neglect (sin), the walls can begin to crumble and a gap or opening in the wall can create a dangerous situation where the enemy can come in. God said of Israel in Ezekiel’s day, that they had allowed such a situation to develop. It was going to result in the destruction of the land, unless someone stood before the Lord in the gap on behalf of the land. This is a clear picture of God’s desire for us to engage in intercessory prayer.

What is absolutely heartbreaking is that God Himself was looking for an intercessor. He was looking for someone who would stand before Him in prayer on behalf of Israel so that He would not have to destroy her because of sin and rebellion. God’s desire is made clear here. He did not want to destroy Israel. He was waiting for an intercessor so He wouldn’t have to. God had chosen to reserve His power to save the nation of Israel for those who prayed. But no intercessor was to be found. Israel was defeated by the Babylonians and her people were in exile for 70 years.

–Adapted from the article Partnering with God in Prayer by Dave Butts.

Posted 15 Nov 2011

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦          ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦          ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

I’ve heard this phrase used many times, that we need people to “stand in the gap”.  Unfortunately, I don’t think that the people who used this phrase always understood what the phrase meant.  But to be honest, I know there have been times when I have not applied this Scripture properly in my life either.

The idea presented to me when I was younger was that there are people who are lost and God is ready to pronounce His judgment upon those who are sinners, and so He is calling out for Christian workers to “stand in the gap” between Himself and those who are lost.  We are to pray for them and seek to evangelize them so that they might turn to God before judgment comes.

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

But it is not the unbelieving heathen that we need to be praying for.  Rather we are to pray for God’s own people who have lost the way of the Truth, and especially for those who have been called as leaders of God’s people.  It is bad enough when those who are God’s children start to engage in ungodly practices, but imagine how much worse it is when it is the leaders of God’s people who go astray and teach others to do so too.

Look at the first words of the four verses leading up to Ezekiel 22:30.  Verse 26, “Her priests have done violence to my Law…”; verse 27, “Her princes within her are like wolves…”; verse 28, “Her prophets have smeared whitewash…”; verse 29, “The people of the land have practiced oppression and committed robbery…”  No wonder God was going to bring punishment down upon the whole nation.

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

But what Dave Butts reminds us above, is that God is looking for truly godly people to care passionately about God’s people and to make a difference through intercessory prayer.  What I see God doing here is asking for someone from within the nation to pray for the nation.

Now if I contextualize this message for today, I take it to mean that if we find ourselves in a church or some other Christian setting and we see moral and spiritual drift and decay going on around us, then we are called first and foremost to pray on their behalf.  To intercede on their behalf.

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

But what do you think the tendency is for people to do today?  If things aren’t right, or even if it comes down to preference which can be defined as “I don’t like this church”, then the tendency is to go “church hopping”  (or should I say “church shopping”) until that person finds the church that they happen to like at that moment.

So what am I trying to say here?  Basically this: we need to honestly evaluate the spiritual health of the group we are a part of.  And if we find Scripturally that they may be lacking, then we have an important mandate given to us by God, namely to get on our knees and to seek God and to intercede on their behalf.  What an important ministry God has given us to do.  To “fill the gap” wherever He may have placed us.

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

Presenting God First

1 Comment

The following devotion comes from my email subscription to

Connection! Devotions for Every Day Life“.

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦          ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦          ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

His Mission…Our Mission

Pray for God’s kingdom to come! The disciples must have asked Jesus how to pray. After coaching them on their motives for prayer, Jesus told them to pray like this: “Father, Your name be praised and honored. Your kingdom come and Your will [Your mission] be done” (Mt. 6:9-10, italics and paraphrase mine).

Jesus, the son of God, tells us to pray for God! For His glory, His name, His fame, His kingdom, and His mission. God desires our praise. He wants us to participate in His mission of a blessing for all peoples (Gen. 12:3-4) as He establishes His kingdom today on earth and forever in heaven.

So, pray for God to call out His laborers into His harvest fields more than ours. Pray for the establishment of His Church, more than our mission organization or denomination. Pray for the reputation of His name, more than our recognition. It is no accident that the most effective missionaries are often standing in the background, not upfront in the spotlight.

Pray for the Holy Spirit to convince unbelievers through His teachings more than our clever arguments. Pray for new believers to obey His commandments more than our traditions. Pray for the new church to find answers from His Word, more than our words. When we pray like this, He inevitably will surprise us. After all, it is His mission. And He will accomplish it.

–Adapted from Chapter 66 of Giving Ourselves to Prayer (Strategic Prayer for God’s Mission and Missionaries by Mike Barnett).

Posted: 24 Oct 2011

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦          ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦          ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

I totally agree with the message presented to us in this devotional thought.  So often we get caught up in our plans, and have our own agendas to which we ask God to bless and be actively involved with.  But that really is in essence putting us first and God second.  It must be the other way around.

This reminds me of how Jill and I went about raising our financial support as we prepared to head over to Papua New Guinea in 1997.  During the three years prior to our departure to PNG, we had made contact with a number of friends and churches throughout Canada asking them to support our Bible translation ministry.

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

We were very pleased that so many people took an active interest in our work, and God did raise up a good number of financial partners to help us.  But it was quite clear by the Spring of ’95 that we would not have enough support from just our Canadian contacts.  So we wondered if we might be able to present the message of our work and our need of financial support to some American churches.

The problem was that we did not have any real leads on who to contact, except for three men I had become friends with while in Seminary in Illinois and who were then ministering in different churches in Illinois.  I called them up, and they were quite happy to have me come and preach in their churches, and to talk about the ministry of Bible translation.

That was great!  We now had three opportunities placed in front of us in Illinois to present our desire to work as missionaries in PNG.  We took that as an indication from God that we should look to God for more open doors to be presented to us in Illinois.  But how?  I didn’t know anyone else in Illinois to ask.

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

So this is what Jill and I did.  We took the “Directory of Ministry” book of our church’s background and found there were over 500 churches of our movement in Illinois alone.  So we prayed and asked wisdom from the Lord as to which churches to be contacting.  And God impressed upon me to look to the small churches, ones with 150 members and less.

That led to a list of about 130 churches still.  But we were trusting God that He was in control of all this.  And I prayed then to ask what message I should write in the letter, since none of these churches knew anything about me.  But then I realized, the message was not to be about me, but about God, and His Kingdom, and His mission work.

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

And that is exactly how I wrote the letters I sent to the churches.  I presented God first, reminding the pastors and elders that God is a Missionary God as we see Him reaching out to lost mankind by His grace.  Then I explained about this key strategy of Bible translation, a means by which we could reach lost people with God’s Word in a language they could understand.

Then finally, I talked in my letters about the desire that Jill and I had to become missionaries with Pioneer Bible Translators so that we could be active in a mission in PNG that helped to bring people back to God through translated Scriptures.

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

So then I sent off the letters to those 130 or so churches, putting God first and ourselves last.  And I asked if we could come to present this message to the congregation on a Sunday morning.  And you know what happened?  Out of the 130 churches, 28 of them said, “Yes, come and preach in our church.”

And from those 28 churches, about a dozen of them helped support us financially to send us to PNG in 1997.  And 15 years later, there are still half of these churches who still support the work we do in this Bible translation ministry.  And do you know why I think they still support us?  Because we continue to present God and His work first, and ourselves last.  And I believe that is how it ought to be.

Satan’s Attack On New Believers

1 Comment

The following devotion comes from my email subscription to

Connection! Devotions for Every Day Life“.

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦          ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦          ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

  Blinded Unbelievers

“Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective” (James 5:16).

Maybe your story is like mine. I became a believer as a teenager, but nobody taught me to be a disciple of Christ. My church told me what I needed to do (like read the Bible, pray, and witness), but it did not show me how. Nobody told me how to walk in truth, righteousness, and faith (see Eph. 6:11-17). As a result, I lived a defeated Christian life for far too many years.

The enemy aims his arrows at young believers who have not been discipled. He strikes them with doubt and discouragement. Sometimes he hits them with loneliness, as they move away from their non-Christian friends and try to fit into a church that is unfamiliar to them. At other times, he lures them with the same temptations they faced as non-believers. Whatever his strategy may be, he wants to strike at new believers before they are solidly planted in the Church.

This issue is related to prayer in at least two ways. First, many new believers are never taught how to pray. What they are told to do, they are not taught to do—and the result is a frustrated believer who longs to pray but does not know how. The enemy thus wins when the new believer gives up trying. This failure to disciple is, in my estimation, a primary cause of prayerlessness in the Church today.

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

Second, undiscipled believers often live defeated, sinful lives that hinder praying in the first place. Both Isaiah and the psalmist (Isa. 59:1-2, Ps. 66:18) knew that God chooses not to respond to the prayers of those who live in sin. It is the fervent prayer of a righteous man that makes a difference (Jas. 5:16), not the prayers of one living in unrighteousness.

How, though, does a new believer know how to stand for righteousness and fight against temptation unless the Church teaches him? An undiscipled believer may realize that his praying is ineffective, yet not know enough to understand why—and he gives up on the power of prayer. The enemy again wins.

A brief summary is in order here. The enemy seeks to keep unbelievers blinded to the gospel, thus holding them in bondage. He further schemes against believers, striving to discourage and defeat them so their faith is weakened and their prayers are ineffective. Powerless, prayerless believers make little difference in the war inherent in evangelism.

–Adapted from Chapter 69 of Giving Ourselves to Prayer (Strategic Prayer for God’s Mission and Missionaries by Mike Barnett).

Posted 30 Oct 2011

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦          ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦          ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

This devotional thought strikes home and pierces me more than I would like for it to do.  It is true what was said above that many of us have been told what it is we are to do as Christians, but I dare say that few of us have had vibrant Christianity lived out in front of us so that we learn by modeling our lives after those who have and exude this kind of living faith.

As I was being drawn to God as a teenager, I was attending a church where there were excellent sermons preached every Sunday.  I still remember vividly how I would go to the preacher each Sunday after the sermon and ask plenty of questions as I sought out to know if the Bible was true or not.  It took over six months of dialoguing with different preachers before I came to fully believe and accept the Gospel message as truth, and was baptized into Christ.

But in spite of the fact that we had excellent sermons, I can’t remember seeing many of the believers live out their faith in such ways that I could model my faith after theirs.  I went down the path that many new Christians went, which was to major in intellectual Bible knowledge and minor in practical daily Christian disciplines and habits.

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

That was when I was a child.  When I became a father, I had greater hopes of being able to be a good role model for my children.  I did have the tremendous honor of baptizing both of my sons, and I think that says a lot about how Jill and I were able to pass on our faith to the next generation.  And yet I know that there were also many lost opportunities to teach and to live out our faith in front of their eyes.

The key for me to actually believe that I had done a decent job in raising our sons in the Faith, came when I realized the meaning of the phrase, “The righteous shall live by faith.”  Translating Romans 1:17 this way hindered me as I would think “I’m not a righteous man, and in fact no one can claim to be righteous people seeing as we are all sinners.

But you can translate this as “The one who does the things that God says are right to do, that person will experience real life (eternal life) as a result of their faith.”  And I can live with this a whole lot better.  When I publicly declared that Christ was my Lord and Savior, salvation became mine, as well as the ability to discern from God and His Word what behaviors would be pleasing and have the inner strength to do all that God would want me to do.

And so as I look at the faith that both of my sons have at this time, I know in my heart that we taught them well.  But more than that, with our mission work, we lived out our faith and were constantly praying for and showing the boys how important it is to ask God what the right thing to do is.  And with our attention focusing like this on God, there was not any room for Satan to launch a successful attack against the faith of us all within our family.  And for all that, I say “Praise the Lord!”

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦          ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦          ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

Christ In Us: The Hope of Glory

Leave a comment

The following devotion comes from my email subscription to

Connection! Devotions for Every Day Life“.

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦          ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦          ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

The Hope of Glory

“Christ in us, the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:27).

We believe that Jesus is present when we gather as the Church. But we don’t act that way. That is not the way things happen on Sunday. You know why I know your church needs revival? The reason I know your church needs revival is when church services ended last Sunday, you went home. What would happen if Jesus was there? Let’s just suppose Jesus was there. Would you be looking at your watch? Would you be eager to leave?

One of the characteristics of the great revivals was extended times of worship. They never wanted to end the service. Now obviously people had to leave, they had to take care of physical things, they had jobs that they had to go to, but as soon as they were done they were back, because that was where God was. They wanted to be in on the action. They wanted to be where God was. They wanted to experience His presence.

I want to suggest to you that revival is not strange or mystical. It is simply the Church waking up to the presence of Christ in her midst. It is almost as though God reaches out and slaps us and we wake up and we realize God is there. That is what revival is. It is God shaking us. It is God waking us up. And we recognize that Jesus really is here.

Father, I long to experience Your Presence, to be where You are, and to fully know You. Deepen my desire to be still before You and to listen to Your voice so that You might speak Your truth to my heart. Wake me up to the knowledge of Jesus living in me!

–Taken from the article Praying for Revival by Dave Butts. Read more…

Prayer Points

Praise God for the mystery of the Trinity—a model of love, unity, and oneness. Give thanks that God is able to bring a spirit of oneness among you and other believers, “so that with one heart and mouth you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Rom. 15:5-6). Confess any comments, thoughts, or actions that may have led to division, rather than unity, between you and another Christian. Ask God to make you humble enough to see your own fault in strained relationships and to seek forgiveness and peace.

Ask God to put his special protection around the staff and leaders of your church, so that Satan will not be able to bring division through misunderstanding, pride, or self-interest (Phil. 2:1-3).

–Prayer Points taken from Patterns for Prayer by Alvin VanderGriend (Click on the blue title for more information about this resource).

Posted 17 Sept 2011

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦          ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦          ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

This is a powerful devotional thought, and it challenges all of us I’m sure.  We live our lives at such a rapid pace, running from event to event and trying to juggle all the myriad of responsibilities and decisions that we must face each day.  And yet where is God in all of this?  It’s true that Jesus wanted us to really experience life, but is this the life He was talking about?

Perhaps we need some direct, external challenge to our faith, maybe even some persecution in our life for us to wake up and value our faith and to be more vigilant in prayer.  We have heard over the last 60 years how the faithful Christians in China have been persecuted and killed.  And yet at the same time, we hear reports of the phenomenal growth of the Church in China, perhaps the greatest evangelistic explosion of all time.

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

How about another example of how persecution produced fervent prayer-mobilized Christians.  What I am thinking of is the Moravian Movement.  In the mid 1500’s, some early Protestant Pietists fled persecution in lower Europe and by the early 1700’s ended up being sheltered by a nobleman named Count Ludwig von Zinzendorf.  Under his protection and inspiration, the small community of believers became passionate in prayer to God, and this led to an evangelistic zeal that sent missionaries around the world.

In fact, the prayer movement that began in earnest in 1727 at their center was to be held unbroken by members of their movement for over 100 years.  The first overseas missionaries were sent to the Caribbean in 1732, and within fifteen more years, they had sent evangelists to countries as far away as China and Persia.  One source states that in 150 years from the start of their prayer revival,  over 2,150 missionaries were sent world-wide for the cause of Christ.

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

Wouldn’t that be something if we saw this kind of revival again?  And yet, even as I ask this question, it makes it sound like those “good old days” will never come back again.  The real truth is that there are plenty of signs that there is a renewed sense of an awakening to fervent prayer, here in the United States, and also in many of the developing countries where Christianity is flourishing quite well.

And as I mentioned in a previous article (Giant Step For Bible Translation), Pioneer Bible Translators is going through a growth spurt that is nothing short of a miracle.  In five years we have grown from being a mission with 182 missionaries to 322 members.  We expect to be doubled (380+) by next year, and then doubled again to about 800 missionaries in the next following six years.

And what has made the difference?  Prayer.  No doubt about it.  And Scripture promises to us, that when two or three are gathered in His name, that He is there in their midst.  So just imagine how powerful the Spirit can move when the 400 missionaries and supporting Christians who stand behind PBT keep up the current prayer focus.  WOW!!  Watch out world – Christ is on the move.

Shipwrecked Faith

1 Comment

The following devotion comes from my email subscription to

Connection! Devotions for Every Day Life“.

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦          ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦          ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

Shipwrecked Faith

Why, O LORD, do you make us wander from your ways and harden our hearts so we do not revere you? Return for the sake of your servants, the tribes that are your inheritance. Isaiah 63:17 

“Wander from your ways” is powerfully descriptive as we consider how easy it is to move away from a right relationship to God. It doesn’t take effort to drift. You just quit trying. You lose focus. Staying close to God requires effort. We’re not talking about earning our salvation…that is not dependent upon our effort, but upon God’s grace. Maintaining and nurturing the relationship will mean giving ourselves to prayer, the Word, fellowship, and worship.

How many have shipwrecked their faith, not by deliberate rebellion, but by drifting away through inattention? Wandering aimlessly through life, we miss the Lord’s presence and His power to transform. Might that even be a picture of the 21st century church today as we wander away from the firm commitment to daily seek His face?

Oh God, forgive my tendency to wander away from You. I get so caught up in daily activities, that I find myself off doing my own thing and not paying attention to You. Like the hymnist I find myself saying, “prone to wander, Lord I feel it, prone to leave the God I love. Here’s my heart Lord, take and seal it, seal it for thy courts above.”

–By David Butts, author of The Devil Goes to Church (Combating the Everyday Attacks of Satan)

Posted 3 Oct 2011

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦          ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦          ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

This recent devotional thought from “Connections” has come at a very timely moment.  Yesterday, my younger boy, Glen, began the first day of his Army Boot Camp training.  Over the next four months, Glen will be subjected to all the brutal rigors, intense discipline and strict authoritarianism that goes with entering into the life of being a soldier.  He will need to be strong and also well-disciplined to keep his spiritual life maintained and healthy.

So am I concerned or worried about Glen?  Naturally!  That is, as a father, I will of course be concerned about his physical well-being and safety as he trains to be a soldier.  But I have committed my son into the hands of the Almighty God.  And I will be sure to pray for him every day, even as I also pray for my older son Eric, and his young bride Esther, every day.  As a Christian man, praying for my wife and all my children each day is as normal and natural as breathing air is, and is just as important.

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

What is of greater concern to me is Glen’s emotional / psychological and spiritual health as he starts to enter into this world of the military.  In a number of conversations in the past with Glen, it became clear to me that God had placed this desire within him to walk this path.  I’m sure there will be some trying moments for him in the coming months and years ahead of him, but I do believe that Glen has a solid faith in God and a strong will to hold his ground if and when he is challenged.

But it is not so much the blatant and obvious challenges to his faith that I worry about for Glen.  No, it is more the quiet, subtle, slow drifting away from one’s “first love” for Jesus (as Revelation 2:4-5 puts it) that concerns me and has the possibility of causing a shipwreck to his faith.  But not just to Glen, to any of us who do not choose to place a high priority on our commitment to maintain a regular and healthy relationship with God.

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

Let me restate one sentence from the devotional above that I think is the most important one:

“Maintaining and nurturing the relationship [with God] will mean giving ourselves to prayer, the Word, fellowship [with other Christians] and worship.”

This points to the importance of having an inner motivation to be proactive and disciplined about maintaining our relationship with God.  It will not be easy for Glen in some ways, since the Army will in many ways control every aspect of his life at first.  but he will get weekends off at some point, and he will have some personal time he can use to focus on his prayer life and devotional readings once he finishes Boot Camp.

I can say all this, because I once was where Glen is now.  The differences now are that I was a Reservist in the Canadian Navy for a year, while he will be in the Regular Army for the next four years.  But we have an agreement that I can phone him up or email him at any time and ask him if his faith is still “strong” and still “secure”.  (You can read my words to Glen in the article “Strong and Secure For God.”)

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

This brings me to a natural concluding point and question here.  It is great when a person publicly declares that he is a Christian.  But is that person’s faith truly grounded well in God and in His Words, so that no external force would have the strength to knock them down in their faith? Or are they hiding in the crowds of people who appear to make them strong but are empty and brittle like the bamboo stalks can get to be.

And now it comes down to you, the reader of this article.  How would you say that your faith is doing?  Is your faith strong;  is it really secure?  Please, please do not drift slowly away from God, and risk the danger that you may experience having your Faith shipwrecked.  Amen!

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

Older Entries