From the Heart … and Mind

Do you ever get discouraged and begin wondering why you’re even here? You see others who seem to have a “Midas’ touch,” whatever they put their hands to seems to turn to gold; yet, whatever you touch seems to turn to rust. If so, you’re not alone. Believe me, I get it.

Some people might be surprised to learn that when I was a teenager I had the driving passion to be the drummer of a thrash metal band, write songs, come out with albums, and tour the world. Here I am now, an author, but there’s no “Midas’ touch.” I have two simple desires: 1) That persons come to know Jesus Christ and His love and grace, and 2) for persons to grow in Him and His Word. Anyone who blogs knows it is difficult getting persons to check out your website. And for Christian authors who publish books, it is extremely difficult getting your name out and getting persons to actually purchase your books. If you’re not a big name like David Jeremiah, R. C. Sproul, Tony Evans, etc., no one is interested. Sadly, even many who say you’re a godly person, a good teacher and communicator, etc. won’t actually take the time to read posts, let alone purchase books.

While I have always enjoyed writing, part of the reason I began writing blogs and books is because I feel many things are dismissed and ignored from many pulpits. From my perspective, it seems many preachers are more concerned about building their churches in numbers rather than depth. I know of some who will avoid certain subjects altogether, lest they offend persons and cause them to leave. The Bible has some difficult spots, and truth is going to offend at times. Neither you nor I like to be confronted with the reality of the real wickedness of our sins or to be confronted where we are wrong. But if we truly desire God and truth, then we must put our big boy/girl pants on and let God be right. Granted, a pastor must always seek to be tactful and compassionate (sometimes we’re not, let’s be honest), but we must be faithful to God and His Word if we ourselves are truly going to be found faithful to Him.

Anyway, when I wrote the devotional book, Pause, Hear His Whisper, I touch on various subjects and passages you rarely, if ever, will hear or read in churches or books. In my book, The Lost Doctrine of the Bible, I write about the doctrine of repentance. So many churches so emphasize the necessity of faith while totally disregarding the fact that repentance is a part of genuine faith. This is shown in both the Old and New Testaments repeatedly.

One of the warnings we read of repeatedly in the Scriptures has to do with false prophets. In fact, the New Testament states that false teachers and false teachings will go from bad to worse as the return of Christ draws nearer. But how often do we hear this in churches? This is why I wrote the book, BEWARE of False Prophets: Taking Seriously the Warnings of Jesus, the Prophets, & the Apostles. I know of churches that won’t touch on the end times. Granted, we need to be careful of hype and false information, but we are living in times when there is the talk of the New World Order, a one-world government the Bible prophesies of. While I have no idea when Jesus is going to return or when the antichrist is going to come onto the scene, the church must always be ready in every generation. This is why I wrote, Storm on the Horizon: Are We Approaching the End Times?

We must not ignore some of the power-grabbing and insincerity within churches. Understand, I’ve been a Christian for thirty years now. I know of some of the songs and dances some like to play. Furthermore, I’m not saying everyone is guilty of this. However, I know many persons, although qualified and beneficial, are excluded from certain ministries and cliques because of their looks, temperaments, lack of formal education, etc. Others aren’t in the right “circles” and aren’t willing to kiss other peoples’ fannies. How many of God’s servants would be wonderful blessings to their churches if truly given the attention and nurturing but are denied because of various biases? It is for these reasons I wrote the books, The Great Commission: Every Christian’s Responsibility and Misfits of Grace: Black Sheep in God’s Family.

Perhaps a bit controversial is my latest book, Metal Head Devotions: Heavy Devotionals for Those Who Like HEAVY MUSIC. It’s exactly what it says. I used to write a lot of songs and lyrics. This book was fun to write because for each devotional I wrote an accompanying lyric fitting for a heavy/thrash metal song. Yet, the book is deeply grounded in the supremacy of Christ and the trustworthiness of the Scriptures. So much in popular Christendom is fuzzy and warm, and only metal heads, in many cases, can appreciate the heavier realities discussed in the Bible. A friend of mine, who I sent a copy to, told me that this type of book was long overdue.

So, what does all this have to do with discouragement? Well, sometimes it just seems no one cares. We’re told God wants to use us, but sometimes it doesn’t feel like it. Sometimes it feels like we’re not good enough. It feels as if we’re non-verbally told to sit down, shut up, and stop rocking the boat. Sometimes, being told God wants to use us seems more as a pleasantry but not a sincere reality.

If you’re feeling discouraged, I wish I could say something truly and wonderfully encouraging to you, but I’m feeling the same way. Does God truly want to use us? Does He truly want us to use our gifts and abilities for His glory? With my head I say yes, but with my heart, I admit, it sometimes doesn’t really feel this way. I admit, I sometimes struggle with the fact that there are persons who have quite a following promoting violence, immorality, and foolishness, but the person of God is lucky to have even ten people to read a post. So, I don’t really have anything profoundly to say. But I will say this, you’re not alone. Furthermore, continue to abide in Christ and His Word, and be faithful. The prophets and the apostles were not celebrities. They were not popular or well-beloved either.

If anything in this post resonates with you, drop me a line. Blessings to you and your work for His kingdom! Our labors will be fruitful, if we faint not.

The Prayers of the Righteous 

“Prayer accomplishes nothing,” says the naysayer, “I prayed about _____, and nothing happened!” Part of the problem with such thinking has to do with the misperception of God. God is not anyone’s genie or a cosmic vending machine. God is our Creator and owes us nothing. We are to serve Him, not vice versa. 

However, there is something else to consider. James tells us, “The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working” (5:16). Earlier, he writes, 

You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions. ~ James 4:2-3

According to James, prayer is neither powerless nor the problem. He says the prayers of the righteous person has great power, and we receive not because we ask according to our own will and desires rather than according to God’s will and wisdom.

According to Noah Webster, 1828 version, righteous means, “Just; accordant to the divine law … it denotes one who is holy in heart, and observant of the divine commands in practice.” Character, integrity, and virtue all matter to God. The prayers of those who are righteous are powerful, not the prayers of those who are haughty, shrewd, deceitful, immoral, or unbelieving. Understand, this doesn’t mean God will answer prayers according to a righteous person’s desires simply because he or she is righteous. Paul the apostle notes,

Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” ~ 2 Corinthians 12:8-9

Still, when persons want to dismiss prayer as a waste of time, we must consider the issue of character. When God denies our requests, do we have the right to be angry and to accuse prayer as being meaningless? Could it be that we are both the problem and the hindrance? Can we say with complete honesty, in accordance with the truth, that we are righteous, just, and holy in heart? If our answer is “No,” then we reveal that the problem is, indeed, us and not prayer.

Both as Christians and as churches,  if our prayers seem to be ineffective and go no where, then we should examine ourselves. How might we be living unrighteously? How might we be asking according to our desires while dismissing God’s will and wisdom?

Prayer is not powerful and effective simply because it is uttered, or even because it is spoken in God’s name. Prayer is powerful when it is spoken from one who is righteous and when God’s glory is kept in view. If you see prayer as futile, know that prayer is not the problem. Rather, the real problem is the unrighteousness being harbored within your heart.