My daughter Rachel is somewhat of an introvert, so sometimes she and I will go out for coffee and share we what call “companionable silence.” Sometimes we talk, mostly we don’t, but we enjoy each other’s company either way. My relationship with God is like that. Prayer is not a one-sided conversation, it’s a relationship, and He’s with me even when we are silent. I love His company!

I’m reading Philip Yancey’s book, Prayer, and always like to learn more about prayer. As much as I love to see you pray, what I want for you more than anything is that you would have a relationship with the One that created you for that very reason: to be in relationship with Him. Sometimes you will talk, and more often you should listen. Sometimes just enjoy companionable silence. That’s my prayer for you today.


My job can be crazy sometimes. I work in the garden department at Home Depot, and this time of year, there are people everywhere! People who need help finding something, people who need guidance on plant care, people who are “just looking,” and people who just look lost. Sometimes I feel like I’m alone on the sales floor, although I’m not. There just isn’t enough of me to go around!

I think pastors feel the same way. People look to the pastor for guidance, answers to problems, and interpretation of Bible passages. They look to him for everything. Now that’s okay if you’re new, and don’t know who else to approach, but if you are a mature believer, that’s not okay. Why? Not just because it can be draining on the pastor, but the biggest reason is…as mature believers, we grow when we work together. We need to meet each other’s needs. We need to study the Bible together. There are elders and church leaders who can help, but if you have to have the pastor, and only the pastor, that’s a problem, because he’s only human and there’s not enough of him to go around. Will your faith be strong enough to handle it if your expectations are not met, when he fails you at some point? Most importantly, we all serve together, and the task of “ministry” does not fall to the pastor. Instead, ministry is the responsibility of the church. The pastor’s job is to equip the church for ministry (Ephesians 4).

“God, I pray that we as a church would grow to be dependent only on you, because you are all we need. Thank you so much for our pastors who have been called to serve you, and serve us in the process. Don’t let us become demanding of their time and emotions.”

A few weeks ago Suncrest had a day set aside for prayer. We were asked to commit to half an hour of prayer, and over the course of the day, all time slots were filled. Great idea! I encourage you to pray for your church every day. Pray for your church, and for every parachurch organization that comes alongside it, doing the work of the church. Every day.

My favorite pastor (my son Tim) wrote this, and it prompts my prayer many days. “The church must motivate Christians through regular teaching and preaching on prayer. It should also be modeled in every ministry of the church. Prayer is necessary for pastoral care, fellowship, evangelism, worship, and all other areas of ministry. Prayer should not be considered a sub-ministry in the church; prayer is the ministry of the church. The church of Jesus Christ must be passionately devoted to developing an ongoing relationship with God through prayer.”

Pray. Pray for others to pray. In The Cry for the Kingdom Stanley Grenz said, “The greatest challenge facing the church of Jesus Christ today, and therefore every local congregation, is motivating the people of God to engage in sincere, honest, fervent prayer.” Stop right now and pray.


Since I attend Suncrest’s Thursday night service, it allows me to worship with friends on Sunday mornings, and I love it! Sunday morning worship is a habit I don’t ever want to get out of, and I enjoy worshiping with friends. Recently I visited a new church on the block, and saw friends I used to worship with elsewhere. What a nice surprise! It was nice to see them and reconnect.

Why do people leave one church to worship at another, though? There’s always a story behind it. The services are at a better time, they moved too far from the old church, or they don’t like the new preacher. Maybe it’s not so easy; they were hurt by someone, staff or church member, or had a disagreement with someone there. I have always felt that once you find a church home, that’s family, and unless there is a theological issue in an essential matter of faith, I’m staying put. Apparently, it’s not that black and white.

Whatever the reason, here’s my prayer. First I pray for the people who have found a reason to leave. I pray that if they had a problem with a brother or sister, it would be resolved or at least they would agree to disagree. I pray that if they are part of the problem, they would recognize it and make changes, before spreading the disease of discontent in their new location.

I pray for the church that these people now call home. It could be that they will thrive there, and grow more quickly, given a new environment. (Time for a plant analogy? “Right plant in the right place?”) A plant that is planted in the right place will thrive, and grow and produce fruit, so let’s pray for that.

In the meantime, whatever the reason, pray that your church will pastor its flock well. WE are the church. Let’s look out for one another.

Psalm 51Greg preached a great sermon tonight, as usual. I can’t remember the last time I thought about confession, though. Along with fasting, it’s a forgotten discipline. Greg talked about the origin of it, and what it meant in the context of New Testament culture.  I have to admit (confess?) that I don’t do it often enough. Sure, I regret things I’ve done wrong, but dare we call it sin??? And I try to do better. Dare we call that confession? Now I’m no scholar, but my reading of the Bible tells me that God wants a relationship with me, and sin gets in the way. If I’m in a relationship with another person, and don’t apologize when something is wrong, the relationship suffers. I certainly don’t want that with my Father! Today my prayer is for more of Him in my life. Maybe I better start with confession…

Trust and Obey

Charissa waterSometimes God asks us to do things that are bigger than we are. It’s only in doing them that we show our faith, and our trust in God who is bigger yet. I think of Abraham, when God asked him to sacrifice Isaac, his beloved son. Abraham trusted God the entire time, even to the point of putting Isaac on the altar. That’s all God wants from us, trust and obedience. He doesn’t require that we succeed; just that we trust and obey.

My daughter obeyed God to the point of moving to Colorado, spending ten days in training to work at a home for victims of sex trafficking. It’s not to be. For various reasons, she’s looking for another job. Fail? No way! She’s a huge success. She hasn’t just thought about doing God’s will, she’s done it. She didn’t just stand at the edge of the boat, looking wistfully at the water; she stepped in. She was ready to walk on water, but God caught her just before she could fall, and the arms of God are where I’d prefer to be any day!!! I don’t know why things work out the way they do, but God is in control. In my lifetime I’ve experienced the freeing power of believing that. My prayer today is for all who are questioning God’s plan for their lives. And for those of whom God is asking big things. Trust and obey, for there’s no other way, right? And pray…what is God asking you to do?

Scrub Daddy

Scrub Daddy

I always smile when I pass one particular wingstack at Home Depot. The product on it is called Scrub Daddy. I joke that the marketing slogan should be, “For girls who need a father figure who does dishes.” But if it were only that easy. Girls need a father, and so do boys, but you can’t buy that anywhere. I see a great need in our world for dads to be dads. I don’t care if they ever do dishes, although that would really set a great example to the kids, and is always a plus!

“Father, thank you for being my father, my dad. This world is in such need of good fathers, and I pray for fathers to see how important they are to their kids. I pray for selflessness, so that dads would make their children a priority in their lives. Some are too busy growing up themselves, maybe because of a lack of fathering in their own lives, I don’t know. You’re our perfect loving father, and we all have a piece missing in our souls without you. I pray that dads would commit themselves to you, and to their families. I pray that the church would be effective in growing and strengthening healthy families. Kids often view you the same way they see their dads, but I pray that all will know you as the loving, caring Father you are.”

Working the Room

You know how, when you are hosting a party or some get-together, you try to mingle, and visit a little with all your guests? You want everyone to feel welcome, and you can help those who aren’t connecting get acquainted.  Recently as I arrived at church I noticed Greg making his way to the back of the room, stopping here and there along the way. Same thing, but it’s not his party. Or not his alone, anyway. Worship is a big celebration, and the party is ours. We’re celebrating  God and we want to get it right. We work together so the service will come off without a hitch, and so the coffee will be hot and ready. Now it’s time to focus on our guests.

That night, since it’s my party, too, I decided to go around the room and talk to a few people I don’t know. I  hope you do the same. Is someone visiting for the first time? Do they seem clueless? Maybe someone is sitting alone, and feels like he doesn’t belong. Maybe you see the same ones, week after week, and they come and go, alone, and never connect.

“Father, help us to be tuned in to those around us as we prepare to worship. Give us open hearts and open minds to listen to your Spirit, so we’ll know what to say and do. I ask that you to call them to you, by name, and place us in the way to minister to their needs, even if just with a friendly smile. I pray for open hearts and minds for them, too, Lord, so that they will come to know you as we do.”

yellow shirtYou know what this saying means: Back up your words with actions. I’d like to take it more literally than that.

If it bothers you to know (and it should!) that children are being used as slaves to produce the chocolate and coffee you usually buy, spend a little more to buy fair-trade products. Don’t just pray for the homeless, give them a meal or a cup of coffee. Or support a ministry to help them. (Just don’t give cash to the homeless. Nothing good can come from that.) If you’re thankful for the work your church does for the sake of your family and community, don’t just drop your loose change in the offering plate on Sunday, make a conscientious plan to give generously.

If you pray for someone, and have an opportunity to meet that need, do it. That’s the Holy Spirit nudging you, and you don’t want to get into the habit of ignoring Him! If you are passionate about a cause, that’s a God-given call to action. Move.

Ivy Tech Chancellor's DinnerChrist follower, I want you to be all in. I want you to live a life fully devoted to the One who gave all He had for you. It’s not about the money; it’s about your life’s journey with God, and the huge blessings He offers. Here’s a little bit of my story…

When I got divorced about ten years ago, one of my first thoughts was, “How am I going to make it on my own?” I had been working part-time at Home Depot for a few years already, but I got a second part-time job, hoping it’d equal one full-time job, and it did. During the first few years, God provided for me in such amazing and miraculous ways, that I can’t begin to repay, or pay forward. I felt closer to Him than I had ever experienced before, and I asked Him to never ever let me forget how much I needed Him and depended on Him. I even said, “Don’t ever let me make so much money that I forget where it comes from.” Now that I’m doing very well for myself, it’d be too easy, like the Israelites, to forget. And whenever I start to lose sight of that, and begin to wonder, I know it’s time to give more. That’s stepping out of the boat.

Suncrest, this is my prayer for you. It is my prayer for all believers. I want you to experience what I have experienced, and more!!! It’s not about the money. Really. But money is a very tangible way to test God, and in fact, the only place in the Bible where God asks you to test him. Whatever your view on the tithe, I pray that you will stretch your faith by giving more. He’ll prove himself faithful every time!