Jeremiah 18, Part 2

“Go down to the shop where clay pots and jars are made. I will speak to you while you are there.” Jeremiah 18:2 NLT

In order to hear a word from God we have to meet God on His terms. God will go to extreme measures to reach one of His children, but to hear from God requires us to be in a listening position with God. In the life of a believer, for example, sin can hinder our relationship with God, as other relationships are hindered by infractions in the relationship, and that broken fellowship can keep us from hearing God when He speaks. Our own busyness and the normal distractions of life can also keep us from hearing God.

God wanted to speak to Jeremiah and He was going to use pottery as a part of His discussion. Sometimes God will use situations in our life to gain our attention and illustrate for us His agenda. You and I, if we want to hear from God, must continually rid our lives of distractions, strive to walk in obedience with Him daily, free our life of unneeded clutter, slow down long enough to listen for the voice of God, and watch and listen for God’s voice in the midst of the normal routine and places of life.

God is not trying to hide His voice from you or me. In fact, if we aren’t hearing when God speaks, it’s most likely because we aren’t listening. Let’s do whatever it takes to hear the voice of God. He has great things for us to know. He sees the path before us and He wants to lead us down it within His will. Let’s listen!

What’s the biggest distraction in your life from spending time alone with God?

Who Is Praying for You?

So we fasted and petitioned our God about this, and he answered our prayer. Ezra 8:23

There is something special about knowing people are praying for you. Cheryl received a text from someone recently wanting to know if we were okay. This sweet prayer warrior had been woken at 4:30 AM that morning with an overwhelming sense that we needed prayer. It was the same morning we received the news that my father had passed away unexpectedly. What an awesome encouragement!

I’m curious:

Do you appreciate knowing people are praying for you?

Who do you know that you are certain is consistently praying for you?

Whom are you remembering in your prayers today?

Share your prayer concerns here and then some of you who are prayer warriors may want to write out a quick prayer in reply to their concerns.

Thanks for praying with us!

How to Be in Continual Prayer, Without Babbling

I have been asked numerous times about a seeming contradiction in the Bible. Paul, who wrote much of the New Testament, wrote that we are to “pray about everything” (Philippians 4:6), “pray continually”, (1 Thessalonians 5:17), and “be in constant prayer” (Romans 12:12).  Paul seems to have believed that something in us could live in a state of continual prayer and that we should keep talking repeatedly to God.

Here’s where the seeming contradiction comes in the Bible to some people.  In Matthew 6:7-8 Jesus says, “When you pray, don’t babble on and on as people of other religions do. They think their prayers are answered only by repeating their words again and again. Don’t be like them, because your Father knows exactly what you need even before you ask him!” Jesus almost appears to be telling the reader NOT to pray continually.

The verses do not contradict each other.  We must consider these verses in the context of the entirety of Scripture. Throughout the Bible we realize that God is always more concerned about the heart of a matter than He is actions we take (1 Samuel 16:7), so it helps if we examine this subject with that understanding.

When Jesus said not to babble in prayer, because God already knows our needs, He was speaking to people who tried to impress others with their flowery words.  That is not what Paul is suggesting to us in his writings.

Paul’s encouragement for continual prayer, in action at least, is obviously not even possible. Some people have a hard time walking and chewing gum at the same time.  Expecting people to pray while they do anything else is a challenge. Paul is not referring to an action as much as he is an attitude. He’s encouraging our heart to be in a continual spirit of prayer; a constant journey of seeking our Father’s will and communing with our Heavenly Daddy.

This is made possible with the help of God’s Spirit, who “intercedes for us”. If our heart is firmly set on Christ, we can be “continually praying”.   If we go to the marketplace, Christ goes with us in prayer. If we are driving a car, Christ is with us in prayer. If we read a book to our children, if Christ is in our heart, we can be in an attitude of prayer, because God’s Spirit intercedes for our spirit.

Put your heart and mind firmly on Christ today and you will continue to live in a spirit of prayer.

Do you have any specific prayer requests? Leave them here.  I’m finding my readers really do pray for others.

Struggling With What To Say In Prayer?

I received a great email of concern this week on an issue I think others may have as a concern as well.  I know I have asked questions like this personally at times.

The email said, “I believe in prayer, but I never know what to say.  What if I say the wrong thing?  Does that make sense?”

Here was my answer:

Yes, it makes perfect sense, but I wonder if you are making prayer more difficult than it is intended to be.  Consider for a moment that God is the “friend who sticks closer than a brother.”  What if God were a person, who is actually in the room with you, that knows you better than anyone has ever known you, that would never betray you, so you could trust Him with anything, that loves you unconditionally whether you do the right things or not, and that always has your best interests at heart…could you talk to that person?

That’s who He is…now talk….

Do you ever struggle with what to say in your prayers? Could it be you are treating prayer as more of a religious formality than a conversation with someone with whom you have a relationship?

What tips can you offer to help others in their prayer life?    What questions about prayer do you have?

October Is Breast Cancer Awareness Month

n39520409352_465Can I be completely honest with you about something?

I don’t understand cancer. I hate it.

I know all about sin and how this world is corrupt and broken and how everything will one day be redeemed, but there is something mysterious and scary about cancer.

I have so many friends who have been affected. It’s rampant in my own family right now. I hate it.

October is Breast Cancer Awareness month. Perhaps no other cancer has been so prevalent in our church. We have numerous breast cancer survivors at Grace Community Church. These women encourage me with their faith and resolve to not only fight the disease, but to make the world a better place in spite of their sickness. Some of the heroes of faith to me right now are these women.

This month our local Clarksville Family Magazine featured one such woman, Kelly Blevins. Kelly, and fellow Grace girl Lynne Woodson, have decided to use their experience with cancer to launch a local support group for other breast cancer patients. This type ministry fires me up, because it addresses real and practical needs. I want to be their biggest cheerleader!

Have you experienced the devastation of cancer in your life, either personally or with people you love?

Have you marveled at the faith of those with cancer?

Take some time today to pray for a cure, to pray for God’s comfort, and to pray for those families struggling with cancer.

From Pastor To Dad (Reflections on A Day)

Today my role very quickly switched from pastor to dad. I was in a meeting preparing for a potential new ministry our church is considering. We were talking about the future, with big dreams of ministry and new ways of helping people. I love thinking Kingdom-building strategy.

I received a call that went straight to my voice mail. In consideration of those I was meeting with, I decided not to be interrupted. Then there was another call; then a text; then another. I decided I needed to figure out what was the urgency. Sadly, the news was tragic. One of my son Nate’s childhood friends had been killed in an auto accident this morning. The girl’s mother was one of Nate’s favorite teachers.

Nate and his friend Kathleen had been together since kindergarten. They were like brother and sister. They had remained in touch over the last month, both attending school away from home, and even talked within the last day or two. At the point when I got the message, my only concern was getting to Nate before he heard the news in passing. At that point, I was no longer a pastor in a meeting. I was a dad hurrying to comfort a son. Nothing else seemed to matter much the rest of the day.

It’s so hard to make sense of death and tragedy. There are more questions than answers tonight in so many minds. The phrase I heard continually today from Nate and others was, “I can’t wrap my mind around this.” There are no words to say. Eighteen is not supposed to be the age of death. I do know one thing, however. The truth of God’s Word is not altered, even after the tragic news of the day. God truly is close to the broken-hearted.

Nate and a large group of friends from his class were extremely close, but recently scattered to many different colleges. They will be home this weekend, for a very sad occasion, and, in many ways, it will be a reunion. Their coming together will honor their friendship, but also be a tribute to the memory of a good friend, who tragically left this earth too soon.

Please join me in praying for this family and the friends who mourn.

Thoughts on Pastor Gary Lamb

(And addendum to this post has been added since the original.  For more click HERE.)

I am so bummed tonight to have heard the news about Pastor Gary Lamb of Revolution Church in Georgia.  I do not know Gary personally, only through Facebook, Twitter and his blog.  I would never be one to put more burdens on a man already so broken, but I cannot get some thoughts off my mind tonight and my blog is one way I express myself.  Since he addressed this in a very public way through his own blog (Read the account HERE), I thought I would share some of the things racing through my head.  They may be good for all of us to consider.

  • I started reading Brennan Manning’s “The Furious Longing of God” today before I heard this news.  On the first page of Manning’s writing he quotes Song of Solomon 7:10, “I am my beloved’s and his desire is for me”.  The book is called “A love story for the brokenhearted”.  I think Gary needs this book. I do too!
  • Gary, his family and his church, along with the other woman and her family, need our prayers at this time.  Satan is smiling on this one, but Satan is a liar and a loser.  God can and will have the final word.  Let us pray He has His way in this situation for all parties concerned.
  • Whenever a pastor falls, those outside the church have another excuse to push away from truth.  Some of this comes from the way the church treats its own.  Now is not the time for judgment, now is the time for grace to abound.
  • People are going to begin dismissing everything Gary has said or will say because of this failure.  Please don’t be one of those. His failure does not diminish any truth he spoke prior to today. If anything it makes the truth he spoke even more real.  The fact is that Gary is not a perfect man.  We knew that before we knew the news of the day. If God used him to make a difference in your life or others, be thankful God uses broken people, like you and me.
  • The failure of Gary did not begin with an affair with his assistant.  Somewhere, sometime, Gary let his guard down.  We must all work harder to make sure the proper boundaries are in our life.  I have too many pastor friends who see nothing wrong with meeting with female staff members alone.  You must NEVER, EVER, EVER do this.  NEVER!  Please pastors and other leaders, build accountability and boundaries into your life now, before it is too late.  IT CAN HAPPEN TO YOU!
  • Many pastors I know need marriage counseling, but they are too proud or too afraid of what their church would think to get it. I hope this news encourages some to take that bold step.

I make this offer to pastors, I am a pastor and a former degreed Christian counselor, if I can help you talk through issues like this, if you are on a limb and need a confidential, non-judgmental friend, feel free to email me at

President Obama Absent from National Day of Prayer Celebration

President Obama has opted out of most activities in the National Day of Prayer.  While he says he intends to pray privately, as a part of his normal daily practice, he will not be active, nor will any of the executive leadership of his administration, in the organized activities of the day.  Personally I think the President should recognize the importance of this day to many and at the very least he should have sent token representation from the executive branch of government, but I am not surprised by his absence. The basic organizers of this event have not been among his greatest supporters.

Read the CNN story HERE.

What do you think?  Are you surprised by the president’s actions?  Do you agree with some who say that this year, more than most, this country needs prayer?  Should Christians make an issue of this or is this just another day and everyday is a day of prayer? How should Christians respond?

More than anything though, have you prayed today?

Try this, pray for each of these in a sentence prayer or two:

  • National Leaders
  • State Leaders
  • Local Leaders
  • Emergency Personnel
  • Military
  • School Officials
  • (If you want to really walk on the wild side, pray for your pastor and church staff!)

Things She Says To Get Me To Slow Down


Cheryl and I were driving in Nashville today and she said, “Speed limit strictly enforced” as she read a sign on the roadside.  I knew what she meant.  She thought I was driving too fast.  I Twittered this and got several comments on Twitter and Facebook from other women regarding their own tactics to subtly tell their husband they are driving too fast. 


Here are some comments Cheryl has used before:


“Wow, I didn’t know the speed limit was 35 here.” 


“They must really be strict about speeding on this road, because I’ve seen several people pulled over lately.” 


“I wonder how much speeding tickets are now.”


“I’ve noticed Jeremy (our son) sure has been driving fast lately.  I don’t know where he gets that from.” 


“We don’t ever get to just talk.   Let’s just slow down today, take it easy, and catch up.”  (Okay, she hasn’t actually used that one, but it’s only because she hasn’t thought of it yet.) 


So my question is: Why not just say, “YOU ARE DRIVING TOO FAST YOU IDIOT!”? I think I’d understand that one better.  When talking to men, it’s best to be direct.  They may get mad at first, but that’s the way we handle things.   (For more on this subject, read my post “My Right to Get Angry/Your Right to Cry”) 


Women, what tactics do you have to get your man to slow down?   (or speed up as the case may be) 

Learning to Handle the Stress of Growth as a Pastor

Our church is three and half years old. We have seen God do some amazing things in our short time and we continue to stand in awe of His grace upon us. Planting a church is hard work and not for the faint-hearted, but it’s been a joy ride at the same time. I love seeing people get excited about life, and especially gaining passion for Jesus, so these have been some of the best years of my life.

I need to be honest about something though. It all seemed to be fun when we were starting the church and had a few hundred people hanging out with us. Last Fall when we broke the 1,000 mark in average attendance (now over 1,800) some things changed. It has actually become work some days!

Please don’t misunderstand. I’m not complaining. It is still fun and I’m glad we are growing and meeting needs as a church.  I love the team I work with and we have some of the most fun people in the world at our church, but I am realizing my need to be more focused, more intentional, and more consistent in my leadership if we are going to continue at this pace of growth as a church. I certainly don’t want to quench what God is doing!

I’m spending more time learning from church leaders, trying to balance my time, encouraging our team, delegating when possible, exercising more, and spending more time in prayer and in God’s Word.

What other suggestions do you have for me?  How do you handle the stress of leadership?