OUR OLD, DEAD SELF

(Post by: Michelle Hobbs)

Well, I am back at it, wrestling with the teachings of Watchman Nee. At the beginning of the year, I picked back up on my reading of The Normal Christian Life and began slowly working my way through the Scofield Bible Correspondence Course. (A gem of a six-volume course that was published in the 1950s and used by missionaries who were out in the mission field. We ran across a set in a used bookstore last year. I love finding treasures like that!) But I digress.

Anyway, prompted by a New Year’s Resolution, I was devoting some of my morning hours to Bible study and the Lord did one of my favorite things that He sometimes does. He coordinated the subject matter I was reading in The Normal Christian Life with the subject matter of the Scofield lesson I was completing that day. He does those kinds of things to let us know He is with each and every one of us; providing just what we need. But friends, when He does do that, you had better be paying attention. He is definitely trying to tell you something!

So, what was He trying to tell me, that I now want to share with you?

He was answering a question that I have wrestled with for several years. Why do Christians continue to accept sin as a normal part of our lives after we have been saved, forgiven, and transformed by the Lord?

I have to be honest; I cringe a little inside when I hear my brothers and sisters in Christ declare that they are sinners. You have all heard someone say, “We are all sinners saved by grace. We are still human and will always make mistakes. That’s just the way it is.” Just yesterday, I read a post on social media that said, “The one thing I am really good at is sinning… so praise the Lord I’m in Christ and when I do sin, I can go to Jesus and He forgives me.”

While I, regrettably, do still make mistakes and sin, I make considerably less mistakes and sin much less than I did before my salvation, and I pray that with each passing year, I look more and more like Christ, whose image I bear. I refuse to accept that I am stuck in my sin.

I believe that continuing to see ourselves as sinners after we are saved is wrong, and that wrong view of ourselves has a hugely negative impact on our growth as Christians. It keeps us right where the enemy wants us; not living in the fullness of Christ!

I pray that the Lord will grant us a fresh knowledge, a deep understanding, that what is true of the forgiveness of our sins is also true of our deliverance from sin.

In Romans 4:25 we see, “Jesus our Lord…was delivered up for our trespasses, and was raised for our justification.” Our “justification” is talking about our standing before God. God looks upon the precious blood of Christ and sees that Jesus has paid the price for the sins of us who believe in Jesus as our personal Savior. The blood deals with what we have done. We need the blood for forgiveness. The blood shed by Jesus, as our substitute, secures for us forgiveness, justification, and reconciliation with God.

Most Christians have no trouble believing that fact, but we tend to stop there. We, rather flippantly, continue on in our sin when Jesus tells us to “Be holy, as I am holy” (1 Peter 1:16). We fail to understand the greatness of the Cross of Christ! While we need the blood for forgiveness, we also need the cross for deliverance!

Nee asks, “How could a holy God be satisfied to have unholy, sin-fettered children?” If He has provided a way to be forgiven of sin, surely He has provided a way for His children to be delivered from sin. The cross, precisely our death on the cross, is that provision.

You see, humans are born with a sin nature. Romans 5:19 says, “Through the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners…” Because of the fall of Adam and Eve, all who have come after them have been born sinners. It is our constitution. We are not sinners because of our behavior. Our behavior, or sin, is merely evidence of the fact that we are born sinners.

Thankfully, God knew this about His creation and had a plan to deal with it (even before the beginning of time). That plan can be found in the conclusion of Romans 5:19, “For as through the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, even so through the obedience of the One shall the many be made righteous.”

Christians must understand this and grow in their faith past being only concerned with our behavior, on to accepting the crucifixion of our old, dead self. The blood cannot take away our sin nature. “There is only one way. Since we came in by birth, we must go out by death. Bondage to sin came by birth; deliverance from sin comes by death” (Nee, 1957).

“All we who are baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death” (Romans 6:3). The blood deals with what we have done. The cross deals with what we are. We must have the cross to crucify our old selves. The cross provides our deliverance from what we used to be. “The cross is thus the mighty act of God which translates us from Adam to Christ” (Nee, 1957).

Christian, stop living in your old, dead self with Adam and start living in your new identity in Christ. “Therefore, if any man is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new” (2 Cor. 5:17).

Do you see? You are supposed to be a new creation, not a spruced-up version of your old self! This new, divine nature is Christ’s own.

Romans 7 is a record of the conflict between the old self and the new creation. In verses 14-24, we read Paul’s struggle with his sin nature. He says what all of us have felt. He states that he feels like a slave to sin. That he wants to do good but ends up doing wrong. Finally, in verse 24, Paul asks the question we all must ask. “Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death?”

“Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord…And because you belong to Him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death” (Rom. 7:25-8:2). The battle now belongs to the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and will bring it about.

You must believe this and rely on this truth. Stop believing the lie that you are still a slave to sin. The old, dead self, that you should loathe, is on the cross.

“Our crucifixion can never be made effective by will or by effort, but only by accepting what the Lord Jesus did on the cross. Our eyes must be open to see the finished work of Calvary” (Nee, 1957).

SO WHAT IS YOUR RESPONSE?

= What are you going to do differently?

References

Nee, W. (1957). The Normal Christian Life. CLC Publications.

START 2022 OFF RIGHT

(Post by: Lilly Hobbs)

Hello friends! Happy New Year! I wanted to type a little something up to thank each and every one of you who read/participated in BLOGMAS here on the Blog in December! We had a few guest writers who graciously took the time to share their hearts as well, and we truly can’t thank them enough for doing so. Our family has been incredibly blessed by the opportunities God has given us to preach the Gospel here, and we are so looking forward to what 2022 will bring!

Our mission remains the same. Madie & I, and our family, want to help people just like you get serious about being serious for Jesus. We don’t believe that anyone can take Jesus and living for Him too seriously. Sadly, so many Christians in the American Church today don’t know what that looks like or what it could look like in their very own lives. If you haven’t been following along recently, BLOGMAS is a great place to start if you desire to make Christ your one and only priority! Thirty-one days of posts are available on our Blog for free. We encourage you to challenge yourself to read one a day, allow Jesus to move in your life, and be obedient to what He has for you!

If you have been a part of BLOGMAS and Jesus used it to impact you in some way, we would love to hear your story! You can email us @ thefew.blog@gmail.com!

Let’s start 2022 off right, together, with Jesus!

CAN’T YOU JUST SEE IT? (BLOGMAS DAY TWENTY-TWO)

(Post by: Barbara Reffey)

Welcome. Thanks for stopping by. I would like to have you stroll through my house with me.

Look, I have several manager scenes, (creches)… seven to be exact. Some are big; some are tiny. Some have many figures; some only 3. However, they all have one thing in common. A baby. Granted, some of the babies are glass, some are wood, some are ceramic. Can’t you just see it?

But let’s stop and sit for a minute. Just let the Holy Spirit refresh our minds. Who is the Baby… Really?

Jesus Christ. The very Son of God.

Isaiah 9:6 says, “His NAME will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”

“A Son who has been given.”

Luke 1:23 says, “Emmanuel, God with Us.”

Luke 1:11 says, “His NAME is Jesus for HE WILL save His people from their sins.”

Luke 2:11 says, “A Savior, who is Christ the Lord.”

That Baby in our managers, in our homes, reminds us that HE grew to an adult who died a wretched death on a cross for my sin and yours. 

That is who HE really is… Our Savior.

So how does that challenge you and me this Advent season?

Join me as I press on in 4 areas:

Worship – Not platitudes, but real heartfelt praise, welling from deep within us as we humbly fall on our faces, trembling with a true connection with the Holy Spirit. 

The WORD – Slow Down. Go daily to the Word of God, The Bible. Let’s pull out what I like to call our “cling to verses”.  The precious promises He has given us.

Willingness – to daily surrender to the King of Kings, and Lord of Lords. “Not my will but Yours (Lord) be done.”  (Luke 22:42)

Witness – This Advent season, be aware of every person that comes across your path. God has put them there. God has put you there. Let’s share what this amazing baby in our managers has done, and is doing in our lives.

All for the glory of God. Amen and Amen.

AWAY IN A MANGER

Away in a manger
No crib for a bed
The little Lord Jesus
Laid down His sweet head

The stars in the bright sky
Looked down where He lay
The little Lord Jesus
Asleep on the hay

PAY ATTENTION TO THE PREPOSITIONS (BLOGMAS DAY SIXTEEN)

(Post by: Gerald Steele)

As a linguist I know that prepositions matter. As a matter of fact, they are sometimes even more complicated to master than verb tenses. 

I have been intrigued, in recent years, at Christmastime to read the words of Matthew 1:18-21, “Now the birth of Jesus Christ happened this way: After His mother Mary was engaged to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child by the Holy Spirit. Then Joseph her husband, being a just man and not willing to make her a public example, had in mind to divorce her privately. But while he thought on these things, the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, for He who is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. She will bear a Son, and you shall call His name JESUS, for He will save His people from their sins.”

The narrative is not complicated to understand, and it concludes with the angel’s affirmation, “She (Mary) will bear a Son, and you shall call His name JESUS, for He will save His people FROM (emphasis mine) their sins.”

The preposition “from” is key to our understanding of the biblical doctrines of “sin and salvation.” Unfortunately, sin and Christians have become strange bedfellows in the 21st century. Christians divorce at the same rate as non-Christians. Christians drink like non-Christians. Christians fornicate like their non-Christian counterparts. Christians engage in pornography. Christians think that occasional cussing is okay and cute. I could add to this list into infinity. 

Let me be clear, this substandard approach to genuine Christian living was never God’s intention for His people. God calls His people to holy living as evidenced in Matthew 1:21. Jesus did not arrive on planet earth with the mission of saving His people IN their sins but FROM them. 

God’s grace is not a license to sin. As a matter of fact, according to Paul it’s a deterrent. 

“For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say ‘NO’ to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are His very own, eager to do what is good.” (Titus 2:11-14)

This is the Christmas message. Jesus came to free us from the tyranny of sin. He came to save us FROM our sins and not IN them. Pay attention to the prepositions in this hymn!

O HOLY NIGHT

“Long lay the world in sin and error pining

Till he appear’d and the soul felt its worth.

A thrill of hope the weary soul rejoices

For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn!”

CHRIST, THE LOGOS (BLOGMAS DAY FIFTEEN)

(Post by: Michelle Hobbs)

For the past several years, the world has told us that we cannot know absolute truth. It tells us that we can all have our own truth. You do you, and I will do me. We were created from a big bang or evolved from goo to you. I say that is absurd!

This way of thinking has caused chaos and division versus the harmony that so many are seeking through this faulty thinking. Once again, the enemy has distorted the truth and has led us astray.

You see, Christ is the logos of our world. Logos means the reason or plan. The divine reason implicit in the cosmos, ordering it and giving it meaning.

Are you looking for order, reason, or meaning? I know I am, especially in this Advent season and looking forward to a new year.

While we may not be able to change the whole world, we can change our reaction to it. We can impact those within our small sphere of influence for the better. We can know the world as Christ intended by learning to look for Him in everything.

My homeschool hero, Andrew Kern, says, “You become what you behold.”

Isn’t that a beautiful truth? I challenge you to think about what you truly behold. What do you intentionally give your attention to, gaze upon, actively pay attention to? Too many of us have been captivated by absent minded scrolling, streaming short video clips, and reading twaddle. We are constantly striving to keep up with our neighbors in posting pictures of what looks like a happy life, when, in reality, we are miserable.

Christ commands us to “Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” (Matthew 6:33)

Friends, all the things that you are constantly chasing after in this world, peace, joy, love, etc… can only be found in Christ. They will only be truly and everlastingly achieved by living in the way He tells us to. By living as if Christ is the logos of the world, your personal logos.

How do you do this? By training your eye and your heart, to see Christ in everything. Your soul does something with everything that goes into it. We process those memes, videos, and pictures and they change us for the better or the worse. That is why it is so important for us to purposefully seek out the true, the good, and the beautiful.

“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.”  (Philippians 4:8)

Imagine how your life would change if you made an effort to seek out things that nourish your soul and glorify Christ as the logos! How would your child’s life change if you gave them great works of literature, art, and music to consider versus Facebook, YouTube, and Tik-tok.

This Christmas season, I have been thinking about the Magi. Who were these mysterious men from the East, mentioned only briefly in the second chapter of Matthew? They were not Jews, yet they were familiar with Jewish scriptures. They were men who studied widely and sought truth, goodness, and beauty. They were Pagan, but the logos of the universe revealed to them a critical piece of prophecy no one else seemed to possess. The Magi studied the stars for years, watching for something that was coming, something that was going to change the world.

When the long-awaited star appeared in the sky, they were willing to travel, possibly 1,000 miles or more to worship Jesus, the Messiah. You see, these wisemen sought the true, the good, and the beautiful. When the logos of the universe finally presented Himself to them, they were ready to accept Him as the true logos of the universe and bow down before Him.

Are you willing to accept Jesus as the true logos of the world?

Will you accept Him as your personal logos and start living in a way that glorifies Him as such? This Christmas is a great time to seek out the true, the good, and the beautiful in His Word and discover His peace, joy, and love!

WE THREE KINGS

We three kings of Orient are
Bearing gifts we traverse afar
Field and fountain, moor and mountain
Following yonder star
We three kings, we three kings

Born a king on Bethlehem’s plain
Gold I bring to crown Him again
King forever, ceasing never
Over us all to reign

Oh, star of wonder, star of night
Star with royal beauty bright
Westward leading, still proceeding
Guide us to thy perfect light
We three kings, we three kings

ADVENT INSECURITY (BLOGMAS DAY THIRTEEN)

(Post by: Pete Yost)

I was having lunch with a group of friends this past week, and one of them said something that caught my attention. Made me think. Made me reach inside of myself.

At first, I thought, where has he been all of his life? How did he miss it?

My friend Calvin asked, “What is Advent? I’ve never heard of such a thing. We are lighting an Advent candle this coming Sunday at church, and I don’t know anyone who knows what this means.”

“We’ve celebrated Advent forever, since I was a little girl”, came the reply from one of the women in the group. “But I don’t understand it either.”

The word “Advent” is derived from the Latin word adventus, meaning “coming”. During this season of preparation, Christians would spend 40 days in penance, prayer, and fasting to prepare for this celebration; originally, the celebration of waiting on the Christ child to arrive.

Calvin is a Christian. He loves Jesus. However, he was bewildered because the people in his new church only celebrated Advent because it was something they do each year.

It is a ritual.

On the other hand, there is Hunter, a young single mom with two kids, who recently told me she wants to reconnect her life with Jesus. She has made some terrible decisions in her life which has resulted in great emotional pain and suffering.

During the past week she has decided to intentionally seek God and praise Him. She is excited and joyful while sensing the Presence of Christ anew. She found this song and sent it to me…

START OVER

Chorus:

Everybody’s got a blank page

A story they’re writing today

A wall that they’re climbing

You can carry the past on your shoulders

Or you can start over.

Regrets, no matter what you goin’ through

Jesus, He gave it all to save you

He carried the cross on His shoulders

So you can start over

Advent is a time of Anticipation, not Anxiety. Advent is not a Ritual, but a Relationship. Advent is not a Ceremony, but a Celebration. Advent is not Looking Backwards, it is Looking Forward.

Calvin was confused because his church friends really did not understand the meaning of Advent. They could not explain the meaning of Advent to him. However, Hunter knows fully what Advent means because she is celebrating a new life, a new start with Jesus.

The question for each of us, is, are we able to confidently explain what Jesus did to save us from our sin, or are we insecure and unsure of the meaning behind Advent/Christmas?

WHAT IF? (BLOGMAS DAY SEVEN)

(Post by: Trent Claybaker)

Shortly after our Thanksgiving dinner, my family and I made plans for a shopping trip to wrap up the loose ends for those who we still wanted to get presents for. If I’m honest, I was pretty excited about the trip.

To the best of my recollection, this was the first year that we were nearly finished with all the purchasing well before Christmas Day. (Not sure how your home’s work, but typically mine is hustling at the very last minute for something forgotten, or someone just wants to get just one more thing). We planned to start down South and work our way back to the house. There were only two planned stops, with the understanding that there was the small potential for a possible third.

We hit our first destination relatively quick but unfortunately, it didn’t take long for my excitement to dissipate. Several of the more popular stores at the outlet mall were extremely busy, so much so, that customers had to wait in line outside since the occupancy level had to be maintained.

If you’re thinking to yourself, oh no… you’d be right! What if the lady in line with the three children had a better understanding of Ephesians 4:29, “do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it would benefit those who listen”, and chose to use better language when speaking to the teenage boy at the door just trying to do his job?

We wrapped things up there and headed North to our second stop. The shopping there was easy. Not because it wasn’t busy, but simply because we each knew what we were in search of, and our lists were getting smaller. We decided to split up and meet back up at the front of the store where the registers were.

I got there first, and a short time later the girls arrived. The lines were long, and everyone had full carts. I’m a people watcher, and I noticed a husband and wife a few spots ahead. The line was moving but it wasn’t as quick as this couple would have liked. I could almost tell what was coming. What if this couple had been in the Word and had a solid grasp of Proverbs 14:29, “Whoever is patient has great understanding, but one who is quick tempered displays folly”, rather than let the cashier know how they would run the checkout process.

By this time, I was ready to just be done, and by the silence in the car I could tell that was the sentiment of the rest of my family as well. While I was driving, I was asked if I thought that, on either occasion, those people knew Jesus? We hadn’t talked about either situation at the time, but apparently, I was not the only one to notice what was happening. My reply was vague, at best, because even if I thought that they did know Jesus, they certainly didn’t act as if they did.

It’s somewhat cliché but, what if we really understood the “reason for the season”? What if we chose to live life as we are called to? What if the people on that day knew how to love as Jesus loves? What if we took looking different seriously?

I’m boldly asking… What’s your “What if” for His Kingdom?

BEHOLD THE SAVIOR

Here is the promise we had waited for
He will not leave us in the dark
He will bear our weight
He will wear our shame
Come lift Him high
Behold the Savior
Jesus Christ law of love and light
Come lift Him high
Behold the Savior!
Behold the Savior!

OUR LONGED-FOR GUEST (BLOGMAS DAY TWO)

(Post by: Michelle Hobbs)

Hello friends, and welcome to Advent!

Advent, literally “arrival”. The coming or arrival of something or someone that is important or worthy of note.

Though Advent has been observed since the earliest days of the Church, most people today do not so much as acknowledge it. We are ushered into Thanksgiving and December by a flurry of worldly activities we call “the holiday season”. For most of us it turns out to be the most stressful, lonely, overwhelming time of the year. We Christians like to say, “Jesus is the reason for the season”, but do our actions, our wallets, our hearts really prove that out?

How many of us, who genuinely love Jesus, still lose sight of the incarnation, the dank stable on a cold night, the closed door at the inn? Do you take time to contemplate God’s great plan to reconcile Himself to man? Do you share the longing of the ancient prophets who ached for the Messiah to come? Do you watch the heavens, as the Magi did, for a sign that God is near?

Advent is a chance for us to prepare for the coming or arrival of the most important person into our midst. Friend, is Jesus your longed-for guest today and every day? Do you desire the arrival of the kingdom in your home and in your heart this Advent season?

How can you and I prepare a place for His coming? We can look to John the Baptist for some wisdom. John the Baptist’s message and ministry ended four hundred years of silence. His voice, crying in the desert, “Prepare ye the way of the Lord” (Matt. 3:3), bridged the gap between a time without the presence of God and a time when God walked with His people again. He heralded the inbreaking of the Kingdom of God.

Oh friend, do you desire that the Kingdom of God would break into your “holiday season” and bridge the gap between you and the Lord? I know I do! The great news is that it is possible! It’s quite simple to realize this desire. We must again look to John the Baptist’s message and simply “Repent, for the Kingdom of heaven is near” (Matt. 3:2).

We must repent of our losing sight of Him. Repentance means that we realize we have been doing something wrong, turning away from that, and begin again in the right way. Like John the Baptist, doing Advent in the right way will look very different than the world around us.

We must root ourselves in His story. Make prayer and reflection on Jesus’ previous coming and His promised future coming our priority. As we prepare our homes with decorations of the season, let’s make sure we are first preparing our hearts, our lives, our time, as a place where He is welcome.

The beauty of Advent is in the reminding of ourselves that our ordinary lives, our small places in this world, are places where Jesus can arrive and change the atmosphere entirely. Allow Him to enter ordinary moments. The making of a meal. The washing of linens. The writing of a letter. If you invite Jesus to invade everything you do this Advent and beyond, He will change you, your family, your friends, all those you have contact with.

There is a profound quote from Wendell Berry’s book, Hannah Coulter, that sums up what I am trying to convey. “Our love of this life and our keeping of it, is where heaven joins earth.”

You have before you, this Advent season, the chance to join heaven with earth. I pray that we all repent and intentionally prepare our hearts for the arrival of our longed-for guest. That we make our lives such a comfortable place for Him that He dwells in us and we in Him for all eternity.

Come, Lord Jesus, come.  

COME, LORD JESUS

As we trust in the Lord helplessly,

Depend on Him as our love and strength,

And listen to His speaking,

Our hope is to be raptured

Through the redemption of our body.

And our prayer is –

“Come, Lord Jesus!”

And our prayer is –

“Come, Lord Jesus!”

“Come, Lord Jesus!”

“Lord Jesus, come!”

THE POWER OF PREVAILING PATERNAL PRAYER

(Guest Post by: Gerald Steele)

Yesterday my Uncle Frank was laid to rest. He was my mother’s youngest brother and he lived to be 99 years old. He was a retired pastor who lived not only a long, but a very productive life. As I reflect on Uncle Frank’s life, I think of the words of Psalm 92:14, “They will still bear fruit in old age, they shall stay fresh and green…”

Uncle Frank was a hero and mentor to me. He was a World War II veteran who was an Army medic in the historic Battle of the Bulge. He was a very gifted and successful pastor. However, Uncle Frank excelled in prayer. His day typically began at 4:30 a.m. He would pray in a disciplined way for a myriad of requests that included family, missionaries, and the lost.

He confessed to me, just several years ago, that sometimes he would awaken at 2:30 a.m. and could not get back to sleep so he would get up and start his prayer journey for the day. His entire bedroom wall was plastered with photos, missionary prayer cards, and written requests. Uncle Frank did not hastily offer “a word of prayer.” He was old school, and he knew the reality of a “sweet hour(s) of prayer.” Like the great Apostle Paul, he knew the agony and reality of suffering “labor pains” (see Galatians 4:19) on behalf of those who were not in right alignment with God.

He was an intercessor.

Fortunately, our family was the object of Uncle Frank’s prayers. He had our missionary prayer card on his wall as a reminder. When my Aunt Betty, Uncle Frank’s wife, died in 2012, he told me he just wanted to get to heaven as quickly as he could. I told him that I was not going to allow that to happen because I depended on his prayers. He enjoyed a quick little chuckle, and he knew that the Father still had work on this earth for him to do.

His prayer ministry continued on for nearly another decade. Through the years, Uncle Frank partnered with Miriam and me in praying for the conversion of our son Joel. When Miriam (my wife) and I went to Brazil as missionaries, we had two small girls. Prior to embarking on our missionary journey, we had discussed the idea of adopting a baby boy. So, after six months of language school, the Lord opened up an opportunity to adopt our Joel David. He was only eight days old when he came to us. A few days later, at our annual missionary conference in Curitiba, Parana, Brazil we dedicated him to the Lord and his service. Joel’s boyhood and early years could be described as normal. He was an obedient and compliant child.

Joel was eleven years old when we returned to the States. During his middle school years, we began to notice some behavioral changes. However, we were not overly alarmed. But following his high school years there were some significant changes, and none were for the better. This even included some gang activity in Fort Wayne, Indiana.

By then, Miriam and I were living and working in Portugal as missionaries. Finally, when Joel was nineteen, he had an altercation with a fellow gang member and was severely beaten up. This too, was an answer to prayer. Not long after this experience he got a job and established some new friendships. But Joel still had other issues to be dealt with.

He had multiple live-in girlfriends. He fathered a child with a young lady who was not even a girlfriend, but rather just a sex partner for a few nights. Finally, in his thirties he moved into a long term, live-in relationship with a young lady. They lived together for fourteen years. Life seemed to be treating him, and her, well. However, after fourteen years the relationship ended rather abruptly. Joel was devastated. He began to experience depression and anxiety. This culminated in a phone call to me around 10:00 p.m. on a cold January night two and a half years ago. 

Miriam and I had driven up to Fort Wayne from Florida for my cousin’s funeral. In the phone conversation that I had with him that night, I sensed that he was in crisis mode, so I got up from bed and put on my clothes and drove through the freshly fallen snow to his place. He talked that night. He talked like he had never talked before. He expressed his fear and anxiety. He told me about a friend that he had reconnected with in recent weeks who had been texting Bible verses to him.  He wanted me to hear some of those verses, that basically dealt with the issues of sin and salvation. Actually, this friend was a man who was nearly 80 years old by the name of Pete. My response was, “Son, Pete is an answer to my prayers.” He responded, “I know that’s true dad.”

At that juncture, I asked Joel if he wanted me to pray for him and he indicated that yes, he did. I went over to couch and put my hand on his shoulder and began to pray. The tears were beginning to stream down my son’s face as I prayed. When I finished, I said, “Son, it’s your turn to pray.” He said, “Dad, I don’t know how.” I asked him, “Do you want me to coach you?” He said, “Yes.” At that point in time, I basically helped him pray a prayer of repentance.  And repent he did! He put his face down on the coffee table in front of him and sobbed, totally broken. After it was over, I returned to my daughter’s home where Miriam and I were staying. I told Miriam that it was one of the most “ugly/beautiful” experiences of my life. Ugly, because tears and snot were dripping everywhere. Beautiful, because I watched a gorgeous butterfly emerge from a cocoon, a life redeemed by the blood of the Lamb.

A week ago, Miriam and I had lunch with Joel and his new girlfriend. Before we ate, I called Joel’s new girlfriend by name and told her that we had a practice in our home of saying a prayer of thanksgiving for the food before we ate our meal. She said, “I know, because Joel prays with me all the time.” Wow! What an affirmation! Joel continues to climb. Recently he’s landed a real good job with Pepsi Cola. I have had the joy of discipling him from a distance. We text each other almost daily.

The moral of this story, in the words of Jesus is, “Pray and never give up.” We need praying fathers like never before. Uncle Frank, who had to prevail in prayer for some of his children, taught me this lesson.

Happy Father’s Day to all the dads out there! If you by chance have children who are not following Jesus, make prayer for them a priority.              

SO WHAT IS YOUR RESPONSE?

= What valuable lesson has your father/man in your life taught you?

= Have you experienced the power of prayer in your own life?

= What are you going to do differently?