Praying For and Adjusting to the Slightly Imperfect

5 03 2018

Our family often had the nations around our table as our children grew up. We loved the cultural examples each one brought to us. I remember in particular a couple from Zimbabwe who we invited from a local college for Thanksgiving. In the middle of the meal the wife told us, “You throw away the best parts of the turkey.” We all had a great laugh because we do not eat the head, liver or the feet of a turkey. But we desired our children to know and understand that every life is valuable to God and His design for them. God’s kingdom is a kingdom of nations and nations represent people.

Proverbs 12 tells us, “The words of the reckless pierce like swords, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.” What does your tongue bring to those around you, your co-workers and your acquaintances?  I am personally challenged by my thoughts (not often spoken, but still thought) that do not think the best of others or those thoughts which do not give those different from me the benefit of the doubt.  To have the privilege of traveling the world and to experience different cultures is enlightening, while at the same time difficult to not think comparatively, i.e., my culture vs. their culture.

I can remember being invited to a wedding in Central America that was to begin at 11:00 AM.  My wife and I were there and ready for the ceremony to begin at ten minutes before eleven o’clock.  The funny thing was, no one else was there other than a few people who were setting up.  I had my wife recheck the invitation and sure enough it said 11:00 AM.  The wedding actually began sometime after noon.  It was our introduction to a significant cultural difference.  It wasn’t wrong, just different.  Our North American mindsets needed to be desensitized so that we could accept the cultural norms of another nation.

How creative of God…warm cultures, cold cultures, on time cultures, fashionably late cultures, brash and bold cultures…all to His honor and glory,  All cultures representing differing characteristics and attributes of the nature of a loving Father. Did you know the word nations is found in the Bible 564 times? In the book of Revelation, chapter 21 reveals, “The glory and the honor of the nations will be brought into it [The New Jerusalem].”  The nations will be represented in that new city.

Thank you, Lord, for Your patience with us, our lack of understanding and proverbial comparisons. How You love the nations!

 

 

 

 

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Five Powerful Responses to Our Government Leaders

12 02 2018

Politicians can be an especially difficult bunch due to their near truths or outright lies, placating, patronizing, cover-ups, political correctness and bottom line desire of being reelected.  You rarely know who is telling the truth today.  You especially rarely know the full truth because of a press that now also includes “fake news.”  Further, the news outlets often only report what will support their causes and their politicians.  It is why I love inside reports from Christian leaders I am acquainted with (throughout the world) who are in the know about so much of what is truthfully happening around the world.

It is the unshakable kingdom of God we serve first and foremost, not this world’s shakable kingdom.  It is this eternal kingdom that should draw the most passion from us in order to fulfill Matthew 28 in every nation of the world.  So, yes, I care about politics, but I also know how very shallow, surface, selfish and incorrect it can be at times.  It’s a challenge to not be distracted by the shakable kingdoms of this world.

It is easy to get on a bandwagon and rant and react, especially with the access of social media today. It is harder to find the truth, pray, search the scriptures and locate a godly response to these matters.  The latter takes a lot more time, more listening, more humility and less of a desire to be right.  It is good to remind ourselves Jesus lived in troubled times with a very ungodly government and ungodly religious system.

I know I am not a perfect example of this, but I am growing and desiring more grace for such situations. I desire to be a truth giver/teller that brings life and love with it. In an attempt to share with you God’s word on the matter of government, here are five key responses toward our governmental leaders:

 

  1. I urge, then first of all that requests, prayers, intercessions and thanksgiving be made for everyone – for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.  (I Tim 2: 1-4)

 

  1. Show proper respect to everyone: Love the brotherhood of believers, fear God, honor the king.  (I Peter 2:17)

 

  1. Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. (Rom 13:1)

 

  1. The king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord; he directs it like a watercourse wherever he pleases.  (Proverbs 21:1)

 

  1. Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good, to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and to show true humility toward all men.  (Titus 3: 1 – 2)

 

As Christ followers, we have a long way to go to do more listening, considering, growing and developing.  But there are many undeniable written words from God that do not and will not change with culture.  We are called to influence culture with Biblical truth. While our opinion may be valuable to some, it will not supernaturally change a life.

We are to be known by our love.  Love is not accepting everything that comes down the pike as a, “That’s OK if it works for you,” but loving even when we disagree strongly.  There is an inordinate amount of I John 2:1-8 going on in the world today, i.e., claiming to know God and to love Him, but unwilling to obey Him and His word because of its inconvenience to personal sin or cultural belief.

Let us be reminded of the “rulers” that we are actually struggling against as Paul wrote, “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”





Remember in the Dark What You Learned in the Light

4 12 2017

Over decades of suffering from the disease of glaucoma, my 94-year-old father is now completely blind. Of course, it is a life challenge, but I have learned something through his blindness that applies to my spiritual life.

Having had sight, he was familiar with his surroundings and that’s helpful now that he is blind. He doesn’t see, but he knows where everything is in his house. He is familiar with the setting and remembers how to “see” and get around even though his world is dark. He knows where every wall is, where every chair is located and how to get to the refrigerator or use the bathroom. He knows these things from having walked in the light.

When life feels dark or prayer seems to go unanswered, remember what you learned in the light – remember where and how to walk. Don’t let the darkness you feel fool you; it’s only temporary. Keep moving and “see” in the spirit because we walk by faith and not by sight.





Staying Together Chapter Twelve: Intimate Conversations

2 10 2017

Note: This thirteen-week blog series will share a snippet from each chapter of our new book, Staying Together, Marriage: A Lifelong Affair by Steve & Mary Prokopchak. This book is now available through House to House Publications.

Before you were married, did anyone advise you that your marriage would need room for failure, forgiveness, loss, brokenness, disagreement, or even sin? If not, a full and honest disclosure was missed, and you may have entered into marriage a bit naïve or ill-advised. Marriages fail because we fail God, each other, and ourselves. We fail to love, we fail to honor, we fail to forgive, and we fail in keeping at bay our own personal struggles with selfishness. And that’s where prayer can come in.

You can be sexually intimate with almost anyone, but you cannot pray with just anyone. In order to really open up our hearts and pray together, we must know we are in a safe place. We must know we are not being judged for our heartfelt prayer. And we must know that the one to whom we divulge our heart will maintain confidentiality and that we can trust them with our deepest, most secret sins and needs. Praying together within marriage is so intimate that if these factors are not present, we will almost always divert ourselves to a same-sex prayer partner for that level of prayer.

Can we not have a conversation with Him together about our marriage, family, business, or life questions? Would we be amiss to entertain for one moment that God has stopped caring for those He created to bear His image after Genesis 3? It is this discussion that takes us to the most intimate act of marriage—prayer.

In chapter twelve of Staying Together, we also discuss growing our friendship and a marriage evaluation retreat.

 

Other ordering options:

B&N: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/staying-together-steve-mary-prokopchak/1125534926?ean=9780768414905

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Staying-Together-Marriage-Life-Affair/dp/0768414903/ref=sr_1_2?s=beauty&ie=UTF8&qid=1499959168&sr=8-2&keywords=steve+prokopchak

CBD (Christianbooks.com): https://www.christianbook.com/staying-together-marriage-a-lifelong-affair/steve-prokopchak/9780768414905/pd/414905?event=ESRCG

 

 

 





Finding a Life Mate: The Character Traits Worth Looking For #22

30 06 2017

 

In 2011 my first twenty-one blogs were titled, “Finding a Life Mate: The Character Traits Worth Looking For.” I loved the idea of starting a blog about something I am passionate about: preparing for marriage. I recently read through all 21 of them once again and did a bit of editing. In doing that, I realized I missed a really important area. That area was spiritual formation through prayer.

In learning to place God first in our lives, my wife and I have discovered that our similar spiritual values and our longing to pray for and with one another are vital to the health of our relationship. Dating to eventually marry a fellow believer with the commonality of core spiritual values has created a oneness in our relationship that is simply unsurpassed to any and all other areas of marriage unity.

When we encounter a difficulty or a bump in the road of marital bliss, our first response is to pray together. The scripture relates that the reason we fight and argue is because we do not pray first. (James 4: 1-2) If we can discover this freedom with the one we are looking at as a life mate, we are well ahead of the game. Why? Because our relationship with Jesus and our ability to pray and look to Him is the most intimate thing we can do together. And, it is by far, the most mature act. Look for a life mate that looks to God first, it will take a lot of pressure off of you.

Start reading those first 21 blogs here.  Or, recommend them to a friend who is looking for their life mate.





Saint Patrick’s Breastplate Prayer

15 05 2017

Saint Patrick, Ireland’s beloved patron saint, has a prayer of divine protection attributed to him which was later made into a hymn. There are different versions, but one goes like this:

I armor myself today with the power of the Most Holy Trinity, in the oneness of God, Creator of the universe. I armor myself today with the baptism of Christ, his crucifixion and resurrection, his ascension and glorious second coming.

I armor myself today with God’s guidance to direct me, God’s might to sustain me, God’s wisdom to instruct me; God’s word to give me speech, God’s shield to protect me; God’s army to defend me against the snares of demons, against the lure of vices, against all who plot me harm.

I invoke all these virtues today against every hostile and merciless power that may assail me, against the incantations of false prophets, against the laws of heathenism, against the false laws of heresy, against the deceits of idolatry, against every art and spell that binds the soul to evil.

Christ guard me today against every poison, burning, drowning and fatal wounding.

Christ be with me, Christ be behind me, Christ be within me, Christ be beside me, Christ to win me. Christ to comfort and restore me, Christ to be where danger threatens, Christ be in the hearts of those around me forevermore.

Christ be with you!





How Do You Spend Your Free Time?

30 04 2017

One of my favorite New Testament verses states, “That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat by the lake.”  (Matthew 13:1) I simply love this verse because I crave what it says.  Our Lord, while on earth, with just a three-year window, took time to sit by a lake.  What was He doing?  That’s just it, He wasn’t “doing,” He was being.  He took time out to rest, to reflect, to breath in the fresh, moisture-filled air that surrounds the tranquil presence of water. I see Him in this moment as having no “to-do” list, no sermon preparation, no rushed got-to-do-it-now feelings… just rest-filled hanging out with His heavenly Father.

We live in a culture that is noisy and full of time-stealing stuff. We’re always accessible. Can we take time to “sit by the lake” and simply enjoy His presence?  Work is a gift from God, but so is rest. How do you like to rest? Remember, life is a balancing act in order to maintain our spiritual, physical and emotional health. Separating and centering ourselves every once in a while is a really spiritual thing to do, just ask Jesus.








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