The Power of Prayer…in a Brain Scan?

Powerful testimony here, and a scientific glimpse into the effects of prayer and meditation.

Love, Faith, and Tons of Grace

A few years ago I had gone through quite a rough patch. I was living a life I never thought I would live, a life that, to be honest, was never supposed to be mine. I was pretty into prescription drugs, living with emotional/physical abuse, and waking up in a new world every single day. I stopped going to church. I stopped thinking about my decisions. I stopped trying.

When I made the decision to step out of my old lifestyle and habits, I had so many emotions to unpack. I had built these unhealthy coping skills to manage all the chaos and uncertainty of my life. I dealt with so much shame and regret. I suffered from nightmares and anxiety directly related to some of the trauma I had experienced. I had mentally and emotionally reached rock bottom.

I began really leaning on God, because to be honest, He…

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Was Your Mind Made Up?

stormWe were expecting life to be pretty simple.

High school graduation, maybe a college degree, maybe the family route instead, but all of it falling into place in our early twenties without all that many bumps.

And when heartache started calling instead, when our plans for life folded like a cheap suit and God was nowhere to be seen, some of us just shrugged and walked away.

“If God won’t be there for me, why should I be there for him?”

It wasn’t quite that blase. We still love him…kinda. We certainly believe. We know he exists. We get riled up on his behalf when some atheist or Democrat starts talking.

But we’re not really on fire for him otherwise.

I don’t mean this as a guilt trip. Please hear me out.

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After You Betray Him

Doctor: “You betrayed my trust, you betrayed our friendship, you betrayed everything I’ve ever stood for. You let me down!”

Clara: “Then why are you helping me?”

(long pause)

Doctor: “Do you think I care for you so little that betraying me would make a difference?”

fireSuch a simple, powerful moment. Such a cosmic overturning of the most solid, fearful expectations, without even a blink.

Every once in a while, we regrettably grow numb to the Scriptures. We let a certain detached glaze develop between us and it. Then God invokes a moment from a drama or from real life – something we’re actually paying attention to – to get us back to his holy Word.

 

When they had eaten breakfast, Jesus asked Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me more than these?”

“Yes, Lord,” he said to Him, “You know that I love You.”

“Feed My lambs,” He told him.

A second time He asked him, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me?”

“Yes, Lord,” he said to Him, “You know that I love You.”

“Shepherd My sheep,” He told him.

He asked him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me?”

Peter was grieved that He asked him the third time, “Do you love Me?”He said, “Lord, You know everything! You know that I love You.”

“Feed My sheep,” Jesus said. “I assure you: When you were young, you would tie your belt and walk wherever you wanted. But when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands and someone else will tie you and carry you where you don’t want to go.” He said this to signify by what kind of death he would glorify God. After saying this, He told him, “Follow Me!”

(John 21:15-19)

It is by a fire that the shivering Peter betrayed Christ; it is by a fire that Peter is restored. Three times Peter denied him; three times Jesus restored him. The intention is unmistakable.

Nobody has ever failed to betray Christ. Even those who love him, do so every day. In our actions, our words, our looks, our fears and mistrusts and doubts, our daily sins.

Yet for those who truly love God, he knows who you are. We can come right back to him, seeking his help, his love. That is exactly where he wants the repentant, even if we just sinned. Especially if we just sinned.

We can still follow him.

Jesus Paid It All and the Payment Was Permanent (Part Seven)

“As with works based salvation, works maintained salvation becomes about men rather than God.”

Truth in Palmyra

The Doctrine of conditional salvation, or that one can lose their salvation, is a product of Satan himself. I am not saying that those who believe it are of Satan; I am saying the thought is from him. Why would I say such a thing? Allow me to briefly explain. First, let’s take a look at the following passage:

Ephesians 6:17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:

In that passage, Paul was speaking to saved believers. What he was passing along from God was that we are to put on our helmet, and that helmet is the helmet of Salvation. He simply meant that Satan desperately wants us to be in a constant state of doubting our salvation. Paul was teaching us not to be distracted by those doubts, but to live secure in the assurance of our…

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Debt-Free

Showing the strainThree years ago, having returned home from a four-year tour spent teaching in other towns, I sat down and realized a frustration: I wasn’t any closer to paying off my college debts than when I left.

There were a number of reasons. Teaching doesn’t pay squat, of course (though I wouldn’t want it to become a six-figure profession lest it start attracting gold diggers). But it was also the endless parade of car troubles, time and money spent driving back home to keep in touch with people, and mission trips to attend. It was a situation where I couldn’t spot any flagrantly bad choices with my money (and I’m hard on myself, so if there had been, I’d have acknowledged it). Yet I was no nearer to being debt-free.

It became clear that my debts wouldn’t be recouped unless I chose to make it a top priority. Hard experience had taught that if I put it off to buy an entertainment center or a furniture set or what have you, the next stupid car problem would get me (can you see my paranoia?) and I’d remain in an endless treadmill. Freedom would just never happen.

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A Selfish Praying Church: Breaks the Heart of God

The light breaks through

lightstock_105322_medium_byrene_haney

Prayerlessness (James 4: 2b–3)

“You don’t have because you don’t ask. 3 You ask and don’t have because you ask with evil intentions, to waste it on your own cravings.”

I love this quote from John Piper on prayer. “God has established prayer as the means by which we receive his supernatural help. And without supernatural help, we cannot live a life worthy of the gospel. Everything that distinguishes Christians from the world in a Christ-exalting way is a work of God’s supernatural grace. And God has ordained that this grace flows to us through prayer. That’s why prayer must be central, not peripheral, in our lives and families and ministries.”

James points out this is lacking in the church in Jerusalem. It’s not an issue of no prayers, it is an issue with the nature and content of their request to the Almighty.

Warren Wiersbe describes their prayer life and sadly…

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Daylight Savings Messed Up My Unbelief Clock

daylightWith daylight savings coming up on us again in a few weeks, I thought I’d update this story from last spring.

This weekend, I served as a counselor at a youth retreat, out of cell service.

I woke up Sunday morning at 8:30am feeling most refreshed. I’d initially worried that I wouldn’t get enough winky-winky because I’d gone to bed late (12:30am), but nope…8 hours of sleep. It felt good and I was happy. (You know you’re coming up on middle age when these are the things you think about.)

Until a little while later, when I overheard that Daylight Savings Time had started that night. I hadn’t heard about it during the prior week, and didn’t see the usual Facebook memes the previous day because we were out of cell service.

So I’d actually slept only 7 hours.

The moment I realized this, I kid you not, I started feeling tired. Over one hour.

And it got me thinking: Our reality determines our thoughts and feelings to a great degree.

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