Prayer Warriors

Most will never see their faces; Never know their name
What they do they do alone; They don’t need the fame
On their knees they touch the Lord; Knowing He will care
And change the things that man can’t change; With a simple prayer

They are prayer warriors fighting on their knees
True soldiers in the Lord’s army
Front liners ready every hour
Doing battle constantly with supernatural power

The preceding lyrics are from the song, Prayer Warriors, which was recorded on the Change the World album in 1985. The album was really the result of a conversation I had with a fellow Christian artist, Sheila Walsh. Sheila and I, as well as several other Christian artists, were in “The Green Room” at an artist retreat in Colorado. As we were waiting for our cue to take the stage and present our music, we engaged in conversation about spiritual warfare. Sheila was very passionate about the topic so she shared and I listened. Soon, one of the program directors called for Sheila to take the stage. I remained in the Green Room for another 20-30 minutes, reflecting on our conversation.

I had certainly heard the term “spiritual warfare” before, but I don’t think up until that point I had seriously considered what that meant and what implications it held for me and the Christian community as a whole.

From that rather brief conversation, ongoing study of God’s Word, and much prayer, I gained a clear and challenging understanding of the reality of spiritual warfare. I was also motivated to write the songs for the Change the World album, which would address the spiritual warfare issue.

“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12 NASB).

This verse, perhaps more clearly and specifically than any other (and there are many others), highlights and articulates the spiritual battle that rages continually. This is a battle we’re each engaged in. There is no sitting this one out!

The question is, are you a prayer warrior? Are you a frontliner? As the song’s imagery asks; are you a true soldier in His army, fighting in prayer on your knees? Are you ready every hour to do battle?

I recently had the privilege to lead a men’s bible study on this very topic. I asked the men if they had been involved in sports while growing up. Most raised their hand and said they had. Some played football, baseball, basketball, hockey, soccer, and other sports. I questioned them about the different kinds of training and preparation they’d endured to prepare themselves to succeed on game day. Wind sprints seemed to win out as perhaps the least liked and most grueling exercise.
I then asked the men what percentage of their efforts were spent in preparation for their sport of choice compared to the percentage of time actually realized competing in the sport on game day. We all agreed that probably somewhere around 90% (perhaps more) of our time was spent practicing, conditioning, and preparing for the 10% (maybe less) of time we actually
played the sport in competition.

Did you know that in the average NFL game, which usually lasts 3-3.5 hours, there are only 11-12 minutes of actual playing time? If you total up all the plays from the time the ball is snapped till the play is whistled dead, the actual cumulative total time actually played is 11-12 minutes. But to compete at that highest level, one must train off-season, during the season, hours, days, weeks, and months to succeed in that gridiron battle.

Now, what does all this have to do with prayer and spiritual warfare? I think we can all agree that if one didn’t train, prepare, and practice in sports, there should be no expectation to succeed.

Yet, too often we treat prayer as some minimal exercise and burdensome obligation. We take a hit-and-miss approach to the absolute necessity of the discipline and privilege of prayer and then wonder why we don’t succeed more in our spiritual life. The world, the flesh, and the devil are always and ever conspiring to defeat us. The devil seeks to steal, kill, and destroy. Prayer is a most powerful weapon against that which seeks to defeat us.

An old saint was once asked, “Which is more important: reading God’s Word or praying?” To which he replied, “Which is more important to a bird: the right wing or the left?”

I’ve often said, “We talk to God through prayer, He talks to us through His Word.”

They are both equally important, but for our purposes here, I want to establish the absolute necessity of a consistent and fruitful prayer life. We could discuss many purposes for prayer, but let’s focus on four that I think merit consideration: Adoration, Thanksgiving, Repentance, and Petition.

Adoration: Take time always in prayer to just glorify and adore our Holy God. Extol His divine nature and marvelous attributes. Proclaim His eternal power, His love, His mercy, and His grace. Examples: Psalm 18:1-3, Psalm 145:1-6

Thanksgiving: Be thankful for who He is and what He has done. Recall His many benefits. Even in difficulty, we are more blessed than distressed. Examples: Psalm 7:17, Psalm 95:1-3

Repentance: Always pray with a repentant heart. Confess your sins, apologize for your offenses, and receive His cleansing and forgiveness by grace through faith. Move forward. Don’t remember against yourself that which He has promised to forget. Examples: 2 Chronicles 7:14, 1 John 1:9

Petition: Never be afraid to itemize your requests. We often are too vague in our prayers; we can never be too specific. David Wilkerson once said, “Get specific with God and He’ll get specific with you.” Examples: Philippians 4:6, Hebrews 4:16

These scriptural examples of prayers of adoration, thanksgiving, repentance, and petition are only the “tip of the iceberg.” Let me encourage you to search the scriptures and find many other verses relating to these topics. It will encourage your faith.

Search out scriptures, especially in the Psalms, and pray these verses. The joining of prayer to scripture and scripture to prayer is a powerful thing!

Finally, let me offer a few practical helps to praying: Start with Thanksgiving and Praise.

Consider the greater needs first, such as the Persecuted Church, nations, missionaries, and others first before your own needs.

Imagine the Lord standing next to you or sitting by you at the table or in your car. Talk to Him as a friend.

Pray in the Spirit. Trust in His Spirit to intercede when your vocabulary is exhausted. “Groanings which cannot be uttered are often prayers which cannot be refused.” (Spurgeon)

All these which I’ve offered in this letter are really so brief and basic compared to what could be discussed in the realm of prayer. I hope and pray these simple thoughts help and encourage you to “go deeper” in prayer.

In the solitude of prayer; Victories are won
With the help of Heaven’s power; They will overcome
As one chorus fighting now; Warriors press on
Bringing strongholds to the ground; With a prayerful song

We are Prayer Warriors!

Be Holy

“Therefore, gird your minds for action, keep sober in spirit, fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance, but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; because it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy”

-I Peter 1:13-16

In this edition of the Praiseletter, I want to point our attention to a most powerful and relevant portion of scripture.

I also want to update you in regard to Linda’s and my health. So many have written and emailed with concerns for our health and assurance of their prayers. This has been a blessing beyond words.

Lastly, I want to share information about something new that will be available to you this month. I’m personally extremely excited about this new project I’ve just completed. I think it will be a tremendous blessing to you and hopefully many others.

But first, let us examine this rich portion of scripture from I Peter. I’ve read and studied God’s Word for many years now. You know how it is; you read and re-read the scriptures but then all of a sudden one day, a portion of scripture you’ve read many times before seems to jump off the page and challenge your thinking anew. This was the case with me as I once again read this verse. I was challenged by the absolute necessity to be holy, and not just holy in some sort of quantifiable behavioral sense, but holy as He is holy!

Scripture teaches us to, “Pursue peace with all people, and the holiness without which no one will see the Lord” (Hebrews 12:14). No one will see the Lord without holiness. That’s an arresting statement!

A.W. Tozer writes: “This is the true divine order: first, reconciliation, then holiness…it is required of those who have been redeemed at such a cost and brought into this place of privilege, that they should be holy, even as He is holy.”

Tozer goes on to say: “There are serious, honest persons who have turned away from the whole idea of holiness because of those who have claimed it and then lived selfish and conceited lives.”

So holiness should be the natural response of gratitude toward the God who saved us. It also should be the evidence of a life that’s growing in grace, obeying the scriptures, and being conformed daily to the image of Christ. Additionally, holiness, aside from defining the privileges we’ve secured by the grace of God, is also a responsibility.

There is, in some corners, at this present time (and has been since the advent of the covenant of grace) a perverted understanding and expression of grace.

Separation from the “world” and “worldly” ideas and behaviors have for many Christians become relativistic notions, not biblical mandates. Scripture is crystal clear about life, eternity, sin, obedience, truth, and the list goes on and on. Quite frankly, there are no issues to which scripture does not speak. We are without excuse when it comes to understanding God’s opinion on the aforementioned issues and many more.

Grace was never meant to be used as some sort of excuse to rationalize questionable, ungodly, or unholy behavior. Grace is the means whereby ungodly, unholy sinners may be saved and empowered to be able to live the holy life that God clearly defines and mandates in scripture.

A holy life is a most powerful testimony, speaking more clearly than a host of words!

So, let’s break down, in a very simple way, the aspects of I Peter 1:13-16.

Gird your minds for action… As Michael Buffer used to announce before some of the greatest boxing matches; “Let’s get ready to rumble!” We’re in the battle of the ages. Let’s put on the whole armor of God and act like we mean business. Fight the good fight!

Keep sober in spirit… There is nothing more important than the issue of the eternal souls of men. God demonstrated the importance and priority of His saving grace through the substitutionary atoning death of His Son. We need to be serious about the things God is serious about. Live your faith, share your faith, and invest your faith in the truth of the gospel. Get serious!

Fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ… As Christ is being revealed in you from “glory to glory” let His grace, by faith, be the substance and “evidence of things hoped for.” As the old hymn says: “My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.” Fix your hope!

As obedient children, do not be conformed to your former lusts which were yours in your ignorance… Sin is the ultimate stupidity. Sin leads to death. Obedience to God leads to life. Wise up!

But like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior…” As a man thinks in his heart, so is he” (Proverbs 23:7). Think holy and you’ll live holy!

Because it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” “For it is written” is God’s way of saying, “I’ve told you this before, I’m telling you again.” No, we can’t be holy in essence as He is holy. But, because of the cross, the truth of His Word, and His indwelling Holy Spirit, we can bear His image, evidence His presence, and manifest the fruit of the Spirit. All these things define and denote the holiness of God.


Now, to answer so many questions regarding Linda’s and my health.

As I write this letter (on May 10), Linda is struggling with a severe case of pneumonia. Just moments ago, she said she was feeling a little better, but she still has a way to go. Hopefully, by the time you read this, she’ll be doing much better. She continues on treatment every three weeks for the breast cancer she has now battled for thirty-six years. She does well, all things considered, but life moves at a slower and more careful pace. Yet, in the midst of these challenges, we proclaim joyfully: God is good, and we are blessed!

I’m doing well, now almost a year out from surgery for prostate cancer. I’m thankful we caught it early and all follow-up consults have been good news.

I had a Pacemaker installed in the middle of April. I thought those were for old guys! My heart has had some irregular heartbeats for many years, but in recent months it has gotten a little more pronounced. Anyway, I’m doing fine. (I just keep a set of jumper cables handy!)

We live in corruptible bodies, don’t we? Won’t Heaven be great?! No sickness, no pain, no death. Joy everlasting in perfect bodies in a perfect place!

Finally, we’re releasing the audiobook of Words of Hope and Comfort this month. There will be beautiful lyric music videos to accompany the seventeen chapters of the book. Even if you’ve already read the book, I think this Audio/Visual version will bring a whole new level of blessing and encouragement. I hope you’ve enjoyed what I’ve written, but I think you’ll enjoy me reading it to you even more. And then you’ll be able to also watch and listen to the beautiful lyric videos.

At this time I don’t know the exact release date but visit our website at and it will be announced when available.

Thank you for your prayers, your friendship, and your support. We read the letters and emails that you send. We feel we know you as close friends, and we pray for you as well. “In our weaknesses His strength is perfected” (II Corinthians 12:8).

We’re still going strong!


In the last Praiseletter entitled Today, I mentioned that I may have more to say on that topic in this present letter. I think, in a sense, I shall, but perhaps not in the same way I had anticipated.

My wife and I recently went to see the movie, Jesus Revolution. The same day we went to see that movie, the news media (or at least some of the media) were continuing to carry a story about a revival that was occurring on the campus of Asbury University in Wilmore, Kentucky.

Today, in this Praiseletter, we are going to attempt to get some clarity, perspective, and guidance concerning these kinds of events that have happened historically and are happening presently.

Even as I say that, it’s very possible that some of you are already choosing up sides (which always happens when these events occur) as to whether or not these revivals, awakenings, or so-called outpourings, are genuine, God-ordained, Spirit-empowered “happenings” or just emotionally charged and manipulated (by men) anomalies.

The best answer I can give is, I believe they can be both. This, of course, is where discernment comes in. But unfortunately, even discernment can be “muddied” by dogmatic opinions that have oftentimes been grounded in faulty doctrine, which inevitably leads to prejudiced or biased actions or reactions.

Our only hope of sorting these issues out is to go to God’s Word. So, first let’s consider the word revival in light of God’s revealed truth, as it relates to the aforementioned topics.

Revival definition: “restoration to life, consciousness, vigor, strength, an awakening, in a church or community, of interest in and care for matters relating to personal religion.”

I recently read a rather lengthy opinion piece by a highly regarded and well-respected theologian, dismissing any validity or credibility to the Asbury revival. In short, his opinion was that because revival is not a term found anywhere in the New Testament, we err in supposing that “these kinds of things” are to be anticipated or embraced today.

This line of thinking is rather like a particular denomination that allows no instruments to be used in the act of corporate worship in the church. Their reasoning is that nowhere in the New Testament are instruments mentioned, even though there are numerous mentions of varied instruments throughout the Old Testament.

There is music to be sure in this particular denomination, by way of acapella choirs, ensembles, and soloists. Beautiful music, I might add. The choirs and ensembles get their correct beginning note from a pitch pipe. A pitch pipe is akin to a harmonica but with fewer available notes. It is, by any definition, an instrument (though they’ll argue that) but that’s a topic for another time, not today. But you get the argument. If the word that defines the event is not mentioned, then the event itself cannot be credible or viable.

Many, it seems, who are the quickest to speak out against the possibility that God, in His sovereignty, might again do what scripture verifies He has done historically, say: “Such outpourings, awakenings, revivings, and the miraculous have all ended at the conclusion of the Apostolic Age.” Oh well, that settles it! But wait a minute…I’ve read my Bible from cover to cover many times and I don’t recall coming across the term “Apostolic Age” anywhere…not once!

Now relax, I believe the term Apostolic Age is most appropriate in defining that period of time from the Day of Pentecost (c. A.D. 30-33, Acts 2 to the death of John c. A.D. 100). There are some nuanced opinions on this, but I am comfortable with the previous definition. There are no more apostles! By the defined qualifications found in scripture, apostles were those who:

1) Were an eyewitness to the resurrected Christ.
2) Were directly called by Christ.
3) Demonstrated “Signs of a true apostle” (performed signs and wonders).

There are some who may have an apostolic-type ministry as it relates to “being sent out.” But, I do not believe there are apostles today who can meet the same criteria as those of the Apostolic Age. However, the point in all this is to be careful not to “throw the baby out with the bathwater,” as the saying goes.

Though the Apostolic Age has ended, we must be careful not to automatically suppose that all that the Holy Spirit was doing during that time has ended as well. The Holy Spirit is not still inspiring men to write words that are equal to or in addition to the Canon of Scripture. Of this we can be sure! However, I find it interesting that many who are so adamant about the sovereignty of God (I believe He is absolutely sovereign) are often among the first to say what He can or can’t, will or won’t, do anymore.

Has God ever revived? (Remember Nineveh?)
Has He ever poured out His Spirit? (Remember Pentecost and subsequent scriptural references.)
Has He ever awakened a church, a city, or a region? (Ask Johnathan Edwards and many others in both biblical and present times.)

If God has a history of reviving, pouring out His Spirit, and awakening people, all in accordance with the truth of His Word and the power of His Spirit, why couldn’t He or wouldn’t He do it now?

Many are quick to point out that all these revivals, awakenings, or outpourings are nothing more than emotionalism. There are (and unfortunately will continue to be) false revivals. There have been so-called “outpourings” that lacked little if any biblical precedent and should be avoided completely. However, any true move of God upon us by the truth of His Word and the power of His Spirit, will and should involve our emotions. That’s a good thing. A dear pastor friend of mine wrote recently: “Emotion. It’s an essential part of motivation. It’s also an essential part of spirituality. Without emotions spirituality is reduced to empty ritual and formality. It’s when the soul is stirred that authentic godliness becomes a reality.” (Dr. Richard Dressellhaus)

Let’s revisit the definition of Revival:

• Restoration to life (Rom. 6:10-11, Jeremiah 30:17)
• Consciousness (Acts 17:28, Isaiah 30:21)
• Vigor/strength (Philippians 4:13, Isaiah 40:31)

There are many, many other verses throughout Scripture that fit and support these defining words as well. It seems as though revival is a biblical concept. Revival also seems a most appropriate term to recount the lives and ministries of Zwingli, Luther, Calvin, and others of those centuries long ago. Wesley, Whitfield, Edwards, Finney, and Moody all gave testimony to the reviving, awakening, and transforming power of the preached Word of God, presented under the anointing of His Holy Spirit.

I think I would offer here a word of advice, and hopefully wisdom, on how we should consider the validity of some present-day revival or awakening. First of all, the Word must be the first and only means whereby we determine the authenticity of any revival, awakening, or movement. I don’t believe, however, that this means revival can begin only if the Word is preached. Some great revivals in history began because people sought God desperately in prayer. In the beginning process of people, churches, and communities, even nations being revived, there was by necessity, a need for the “revived” to be fed. A person being physically revived will soon and always need nourishment. No matter how a revival starts, it must soon and always be nourished by the preaching of the Word or it will become anemic and fade away, as many have.

On the other hand, Jonathan Edwards preached a sermon entitled, “Sinners In the Hands of an Angry God” to his congregation in Northampton, Massachusetts, and again on July 8, 1741, in Enfield, Connecticut, and what has come to be known as “The First Great Awakening” ensued.

When assessing revivals, awakenings, or movements, I think we would be wise to apply the wisdom of Gamaliel to the situation. When the high priest and his council wanted to punish some disciples, Gamaliel intervened and said: “Other movements have started and fizzled out. If this is not of God, it will fizzle also. However, if it is of God, you can’t stop it, and may even be found fighting against God.” (My paraphrase)

Good advice. Sound wisdom!

I mentioned earlier that Linda and I went to see the movie, Jesus Revolution. We enjoyed seeing a depiction of what was happening in those days, though I believe the movie got some things wrong. I have never really liked the term revolution to describe what God was doing amongst the Hippies and youth in the late 60s and early 70s. I prefer the term “Jesus Movement” because of the definition of revolution, as we know it. However, whether called a revolution, movement, or revival; I believe God was at work (even in the midst of much chaos, confusion, and counterfeit) targeting wayward, disillusioned youth, with the claims of the gospel. Linda and I lived in So. California in 1970 and 71, only a few miles from where so many new converts were being baptized in the Pacific Ocean. Most of my ministry at that time was with David Wilkerson. We ministered nightly in arenas, auditoriums, on the beaches in California, and across the country, preaching and singing the gospel, and always seeing many come to faith in Christ. Many didn’t.

Yes, there was craziness, bad theology in many corners, commercialism, and excess of various kinds. But what did you think…that Satan was going to stand on the sidelines and cheer? Whenever God moves, either on an individual or a culture, He’s never inactive, disinterested, or uninvolved. He’s always committed to mess things up!

But there are ministers in the pulpit today, missionaries around the world, and musicians still writing and singing the praises of God and the truth of the gospel because of the Jesus Movement. We still have many dear friends in Christian music, and elsewhere, who were brought from darkness to light and from sinners to saints during the Jesus Movement. Let’s be careful to never judge what God may be doing by any personal, biased, and prejudiced opinions.

When considering how God may be” moving” in an individual, a church, a community, or even a nation, let us always look to the “cover-to-cover” evidence in His Word, and believe in the present and unchanged power of His Holy Spirit. Let us pray that He would sovereignly move again in our churches, our cities, our country, and throughout the world. If ever there was a need for true spiritual revival, it’s now!

We praise Thee, Oh God
For the Son of Thy love
For Jesus Who died
And is now gone above

All glory and praise
To the Lamb that was slain
Who hath borne all our sins
And hath cleansed every stain

Revive us again
Fill each heart with Thy Love
May each soul be rekindled
With fire from above

Hallelujah Thine the glory
Hallelujah Amen
Hallelujah Thine the glory
Revive us again

(William P. Mackay 1835-1885)


“Be untethered to the remembrance of past attainments. Once, they were the unknown future; now they are the unimportant past. “Today is the day of salvation.” Live in the opportunity of today and the hope of tomorrow’s potential.” (Holm)

The preceding quote was formulated on the second day of January 2021, as I embarked on a project to write some devotional thoughts each day of that year. By year’s end, there were 365 quotes, poems, song lyrics, and scripture verses, all culminating in a devotional book entitled, “Mile Markers Through the Desert.”

Yes, that’s a promo for the book (which you’ve probably already been made aware of). But, more importantly, I want us to examine what I believe is a profound and greatly beneficial truth contained in that simple January 2nd quote.

“Today is the day of salvation,” is a familiar portion of text from scripture (2 Corinthians 6:2). It really has a “two-edged sword” application. Salvation is both a one-time gift and also a gift that keeps on giving, if you will.

When we are saved (justified) we are saved from the penalty of sin. This is a past act, a once-for-all transaction. A person who has been saved has been justified, and conversely, a person who has been justified is one who has been saved.

Jesus’ substitutionary, atoning work on the cross, paid the penalty for our sin and when a person trusts in Him for salvation, that person is forgiven and justified before God.

“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith, and that, not of yourselves, it is the gift of God, not by works, so that no one can boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9).

“Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:1).

However, though justified, Christians still struggle with the power of sin in their lives. We have been completely saved and thus, completely forgiven but we continue to struggle, as did Paul, with the war that rages between our flesh and our spirit. (Read Romans 7)

Salvation has set us apart unto God and at the same time continues to keep us set apart unto Him. It is both an act and a process. Oswald Chambers puts it this way: “We work out that which He has worked in.” Scripture agrees with this premise: “Work out your salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure” (Philippians 2:12-13).

This is not a verse suggesting that salvation is by works (as some suggest). The context of the verse is about humility, obedience, and submission to the lordship of Christ. It does, however, in the very nature of its wording; “work out”, suggest an ongoing cooperative effort, if you will, of having been saved but also being saved daily. You may say, “I think you’re speaking more of sanctification, not salvation.”

I think perhaps we have made too broad a distinction between salvation and sanctification. Salvation is a gift, to be sure, given at a precise moment in time, but inherent in that gift is the setting apart unto God through His sanctifying power.

I believe that the very God who can save us is also willing and able to keep us. However, growth in grace, maturity in Christ, and being conformed to His image have much to do with our perseverance, our obedience, and our effort and desire to work out (“with fear and trembling”) that which He has worked in.

I know there are differing opinions on this doctrinal area, but I offer here my best understanding of what scripture teaches on this.

It really was not my intention to spend so much time and type on this area as it was to explore and challenge us in our understanding of living for Jesus “today”.

My mom had a little plaque that read as follows:

“I have no yesterdays, time took them away. I may not have tomorrow, but I have today.” Toward the end of my mom’s life, spending her days in a nursing facility and with dementia winning a slow battle for her memory, she would quote that poem, repeatedly, not remembering she had just quoted it minutes before.

Her delivery of the poem was often presented with a note of sadness and resignation. I understand then as I do now, that her natural inclination amidst her circumstances and foggy memory was to highlight the yesterdays and tomorrow. However, the real meat and punch of the poem are affirmative, “But I have today!”

We’re probably familiar with a term that speaks of “being in the moment.” Some athlete who just performed some incredible feat, some actor who delivered the “performance of a lifetime,” or perhaps some student who suddenly had a major “breakthrough” in an area of academic pursuit might say, “I was just in the moment!”

I used to not be quite sure what was meant by that, but I suspect it has something to do with blocking out all distractions, past and future, focusing intently on the “right now,” and achieving the full purpose and potential of the moment at hand. This may sound like some sort of New Age Zen practice, but actually, it’s straight from scripture, whether “they” know it or not.

“Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever You had formed the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God” (Psalm 90:2).

Every yesterday is under the sovereign lordship of our eternal God. As Christians, our sins are cleansed by the blood of Jesus, cast away as far as the East is from the West, to be remembered against us no more.

We remember our failures and regrets, but grace transforms even those to become steps upon which we trod to “higher ground.”

So, what of tomorrow? Jesus asks a penetrating question and gives a most succinct response to both the crowd gathered at the famous “sermon on the mount” and to us today.

Q: “And which of you by being anxious can add a single cubit to his life’s span” (Matthew 6:27)?

A: “Therefore, do not be anxious for tomorrow; for tomorrow will take care of itself ” (Matthew 6:34).

We cannot change our yesterdays. We have no guarantee of tomorrow, though I do believe we can have a hope for tomorrow’s potential, should God graciously grant us another day.

It’s kind of like my little Norwegian grandmother used to say: “Plan like you’re going to live forever but live like you’re going to die tomorrow.” (She had a million of em!)

I’m challenging myself this year to put away the past and all its nagging reminders. I’m committing to not project into tomorrow’s frightening world of “what ifs.” I invite you to join me in this challenge, this discipline, and this freeing exercise.

I think, perhaps, there will be more on this in the next Praiseletter, but as for now, that’s all for TODAY.

Intercessor/Advocate (Part 2)

“My little children, I am writing these things to you that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ, the righteous; and He Himself is the propitiation for our sins” (I John 2:1-2).

In the last Praiseletter, we looked at Christ as our intercessor. We considered the security we have in Christ because “He ever lives to make intercession for us.”

Not only are we assured of our standing in Christ because of His continual intercession on our behalf, but we possess a great hope in knowing that even when we’re not praying, He is. When we say our “amens,” He continues on, ever and always interceding for us.

So, one might ask, “What then is the difference between Intercessor and Advocate?”

I’m glad you asked.

In his book, Gentle and Lowly, Dane Ortlund writes as follows: “When we talk about Christ’s intercession, we are talking about what Jesus is doing now, and the present manifestation of His heart for His people. In general terms, it means that a third party comes between two others and makes a case to one on behalf of the other. Intercession applies what the atonement accomplished.”

All that was needed to accomplish God’s plan of salvation was realized and completed at the cross. However, as we continue through life on this fallen planet, and in these corruptible bodies, we need help, daily, for each step of the journey. Thus, He intercedes on our behalf.

Let’s now look at Christ’s ministry as Advocate. Again, Ortlund writes: “Intercession has the idea of mediating between two parties, bringing them together. Advocacy is similar but has the idea of aligning oneself with another. An intercessor stands between two parties; an advocate doesn’t simply stand in between the two parties but steps over and joins the one party as he approaches the other. Jesus is not only an intercessor but an advocate.”

The Greek word (parakletos) is difficult to define by one English word. Some translations use Helper, Counselor, Comforter, and even Companion, but Advocate perhaps best describes the unique aspect of one aligning with another to represent them, in a legal sense.

Ortlund gives further clarity when he writes: “Intercession is something Christ is always doing, while advocacy is something He does as occasion calls for it.”

John Bunyon wrote: “Christ, as Priest, goes before, and Christ, as an Advocate, comes after. Christ, as Priest, continually intercedes; Christ, as Advocate, in case of great transgressions, pleads. Christ, as Priest, has need to act always, but Christ, as Advocate, sometimes only.”

Let us remember always that Satan is, “the accuser of the brethren” (Revelation 12:10). Scripture also tells us, “He is a liar and the father of lies” (John 8:44).

Here’s an interesting question: does Satan still come into the presence of God, as he did in regard to Job, and bring accusations against God’s elect? Or is he going to show up in a kind of heavenly “court of appeals” and make his accusations, in some last-ditch attempt to convince God, that perhaps His elect weren’t as secure as they thought?

Here’s where the word propitiation “wins the day,” as recorded in I John 2:1-2. This word assures us that God’s wrath towards sin was fully satisfied through the substitutionary, atoning work of Christ’s blood, shed on the cross. So, whether Satan still comes before God, as with Job, and accuses us from time to time, or whether he’s saving up for some final “courtroom showdown,” or both – as Erwin Lutzer writes in his powerful book, The Serpent of Paradise: “When Satan accuses us, we must show him our canceled certificate and read aloud, Paid in full. We must say to him, Begone! For it is written, ‘Who will bring a charge against God’s elect? God is the one who justifies; who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us’” (Romans 8:33-34). Our attorney (advocate), Christ, has pleaded our case, and God has accepted His plea. And when God speaks, the universe listens!”

There’s much more that could be said about Christ, as both Intercessor and Advocate, but I hope these letters have served to point out some distinctions and, in the process, given some clarity as to Christ’s ever-present and ongoing ministry in our lives. We, who are saved, have a confident and secure standing in Christ because He is always and ever, to us, both Intercessor and Advocate.

Now, I would like to take just a moment, on behalf of Linda and myself to wish you a most Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! Amidst life’s challenges and surprises, may you know, “The peace that passes understanding.” Even in sorrow. “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in Hope.” You remain in our prayers.

Coming Soon In Print – Mile Markers through the Desert.
An inspiring book of 365 daily devotions to offer guidance and wisdom for life’s journey.

Intercessor/Advocate (Part 1)

“He is able to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.” (Hebrews 7:25)

This is a most powerful and encouraging scripture. It reveals at least three important theological truths that should give us great assurance of His saving power, the means by which we come to possess such saving grace, and also the means by which He sustains His saving grace throughout our lives.

“He is able to save forever.” What if the writer of Hebrews, by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, had written, “He is unable to save forever?” This, of course, would destroy all hope that we could ever possess any assurance of our standing in Christ.

Notice the scripture doesn’t say, or even hint at the notion, that He is able to mostly save, or to save, but not necessarily forever.

No – He is able to save forever. Period!

Who then is He able to save in such a way as this? “Those who draw near to God through Him.”

“I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me.” (John 14:6).

Here, John tells us that we cannot come to, or know the Father, except through Christ. Earlier in John’s gospel account, He writes: “No one can come to Me (Jesus) unless the Father who sent Me draws him.” (John 6:44).

So we are drawn to the Father through Christ, and we are drawn to Jesus by the Father. The person of the Holy Spirit is the one who does the drawing. “When the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, that is the Spirit of Truth, who proceeds from the Father, He will bear witness of Me…” (John 15:26).

“And He, when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin, and righteousness, and judgment…” (John 16:8).

The wooing, drawing, and convicting are all the work of the Holy Spirit. The Father and the Son both draw us, but it is by the means of the Holy Spirit, the Helper.

We then are saved forever (some translations say, “to the uttermost”), if we have been drawn near to God, through Christ Jesus, by the Holy Spirit.

“But wait, there’s more,” as the TV ads so often proclaim!

We must accept the fact that “He is able to save forever,” for scripture says it is so. We surely must know whether or not the Holy Spirit has drawn us to God and accomplished His regenerative work in our lives. (If you don’t know this, or have any doubts about His transformative, saving power being realized within you; stop right now, humble yourself, confess your sin, believe in your heart that Jesus Christ is Lord, and surrender your life and your will to Him.)

So then, how can we be assured that we will be kept in right standing in Christ from now on?

Because: “He always lives to make intercession for them (us).”

Do you remember some months ago, when we were discussing various aspects of the Holy Spirit? In one letter I asked: “Where is Jesus?” Scripture showed us in Acts 2:32-33, Acts 7:56, and Hebrews 8:1, that Jesus is now, literally, geographically, and physically at the right hand of the Father.

And what is His ministry in this “right hand” positioning? “Christ Jesus is He who died, yes rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us.” (Romans 8:34). “…He ever lives to make intercession for them (us).” (Hebrews 7:25).

The following is written by Dane Ortlund, in his wonderful book, Gentle and Lowly.

“To be justified is to be declared righteous in the sight of God, fully, legally exonerated in the divine court, based entirely on what another (Jesus) has done in our place. But justification is largely a doctrine about what Christ has done in the past, rooted centrally in His death and resurrection. “Therefore, since we have been justified…” (Romans 5:1). He died and rose again, and as we place our faith in Him, we are justified, for He died the death we deserve to die.”

But what is He doing now?

We don’t have to speculate. The Bible tells us. He is interceding for us.

Justification is tied to what Christ did in the past. Intercession is what He is doing in the present.

Think of it this way, Christ’s heart is a steady reality flowing through time. It isn’t as if His heart throbbed for His people when He was on earth, but has dissipated now that He is in Heaven. His heart is as drawn to His people now as ever it was in His incarnate state. And the present manifestation of His heart for His people is His constant interceding on their behalf.”

What a rich and accurate description of Christ’s present intercessory ministry on our behalf! Ortlund later states: “Intercession applies what the atonement accomplished.”

Need we fear or have any doubts in regard to our standing in Christ or the security of our salvation when He is always, ever, and continually praying for us?

And lastly, let’s consider another wonderful aspect of His intercessory prayer ministry. Do you have pressing needs that you continually bring to the Lord in prayer? Health needs? Wayward children or grandchildren? Financial needs? The list is long, and sometimes it seems it’s getting longer.

Think of this. When you’ve prayed your prayers, offered your earnest petitions, and finally concluded with, “In Jesus’ name, Amen”… He still prays! When you lay down in bed at night and in the closing moments of the day, articulate your concerns to Him, exhausting your vocabulary… He still prays! When the sheer exhaustion, both physically and emotionally of once again coming to Him with that same request, feeling as though you’ve been trying to break a very large boulder with a very small hammer, and entertaining the idea of just laying that hammer down… He still prays!

What a Savior! What a friend! What a great high priest we have in Heaven, who: “…Holds His priesthood permanently. Hence, also, He is able to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them!”

All Things!

If Job could have known as he sat there in the ashes, bruising his heart on this problem of providence – that in the trouble that had come upon him he was doing what one man may do to work out the problem for the world, he might again have taken courage. No man lives to himself. Job’s life is but your life and mine written in larger text…So, then, though we may not know what trials wait on any of us, we can believe that, as the days in which Job wrestled with his dark maladies are the only days that make him worth remembrance, and but for which his name had never been written in the Book of Life, so the days through which we struggle, finding no way, but never losing the light, will be the most significant we are called to live. -Robert Collyer (Streams in the Desert)

What if in the midst of Job’s trials he could have read, “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose?” (Romans 8:28)

Would those words have brought him comfort, hope, and perhaps even joy, or would they have seemed a small, almost offensive quote that failed to assess the scope of his circumstances?

Remember, the book of Job is the oldest book in the Bible so he would not have had the context of understanding the history of God’s interaction with His people. The Bible stories of our youth would not have been in the library of his memory. David and Goliath, Daniel and the lion’s den, the nativity story, Calvary, and Paul’s epistles, are all yet stories to be told and lessons to be taught long after Job’s death.

You may think this a strange question to ask, but let me ask you an even stranger one: Why would we, with the account of God’s Word, the history of our own experience with God, the gift of His Son, and the revelation of His Holy Spirit ever doubt for a second the absolute integrity and unalterable truth of that verse found in Romans?

Job, this righteous man surely did wonder at his circumstances yet proclaimed, “I know my Redeemer lives” and “Though You slay me, yet will I trust You!”

Job had so much faith based on so little information! Often we have so little faith based on so much information! Can any of us testify that God ever failed us? Has God ever fallen short or not come through for the best interests of the kingdom in any situation throughout history or in our lives now?

He is always faithful! He simply cannot be unfaithful.

So we can be absolutely sure in the midst of whatever our present circumstances may be, that all things are working together for good. The only thing we have to be sure of is that we are “those who love Him” and we are “called according to His purpose.”

This is really a simple thing to determine. You either love Him or you don’t. “Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.” Proclaim your love for Him today in both the words you say and the life you live. If you truly love Him, the “called” part is automatic, because every disciple is called to His purposes.

It always comes back to love, have you noticed that? In Job’s life as in ours, the enemy of our soul seeks to discourage and damage our love relationship with Jesus. It is in that arena that the battles are always won or lost.

The story of Job’s life serves as a great testimony to God’s faithfulness and encouragement to every believer going through a struggle. In the same way, our life’s story should serve as a similar testimony and encouragement to others watching now and hearing later.

In the final analysis, we will remember more the treasures given in darkness than the blessings received in the light. We will be remembered more for how we dealt with adversity than how we dealt with blessing.

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart.” And then you will possess the assurance that in any and every situation all things are working together for good. All things!

He Will Hold Me Fast

He Will Hold Me Fast
When I fear my faith will fail
Christ will hold me fast
When the tempter would prevail
He can hold me fast

He will hold me fast
He will hold me fast
For my Savior loves me so
He will hold me fast

(Ada Habershon/Robert Harkness 1906-07)

This beautiful old hymn has become one of my favorites in recent times. It seems almost on a daily basis we are confronted by bad news, difficult prospects, and personal tragedy. The world, the flesh, and the devil conspire to attack our joy, shake our faith, and subvert our confidence in a Holy God and the sufficiency of His Word.

I could never keep my hold
He will hold me fast
For my love is often cold
He must hold me fast

We must always remember that even when our love for Him “cools,” perhaps because of the “cares of life, the lusts of the flesh and the deceitfulness of riches”; His love for us remains ever fervent. Why you may ask? Because…

I am precious in His sight
He will hold me fast
Those He saves are His delight
He will hold me fast

This hymn has its roots in three continents. American evangelist, R.A. Torrey, and his music director, Charles Alexander, were holding an evangelistic campaign in Australia in 1902. There they met a new young pianist named Robert Harkness.

Harkness was invited by the local organizing committee to play the piano for the meetings. During the campaign, Dr. Torrey asked Harkness, “Are you a Christian?” Harkness replied, “No, I’m here to play the piano!”

Charles Alexander shortly thereafter led Harkness to faith in Christ. Harkness then served with Torrey’s ministry team for several years.

The team traveled to Tasmania, New Zealand, India, and eventually to London where they came in contact with songstress, Ada Habershon.

In early 1906, the team was in Toronto, Canada. Harkness met a young convert there who “expressed the fear that he would not be able to hold out.”

Harkness wrote to Habershon in England to request more texts to address this sentiment. At a mission in Philadelphia later that year, Harkness pulled out some slips of paper that Ada Habershon had sent him. Among the lines written down was the phrase, “He will hold me fast.” Harkness immediately worked out the music for the verses and chorus then and there.

The following summer in 1907, the song was introduced at the Moody Bible Conference in Northfield, Mass. Later that year in an evangelistic campaign led by Dr. Charles Gordon, assisted by Charles Alexander (and probably Harkness) in Kansas City; He Will Hold Me Fast was sung and regarded by many to be the “highlight of the experience.”

“The climax of the service of song came when Mr. Alexander united choir and audience – 6,000 strong – in singing Mr. Harkness’ new hymn, He Will Hold Me Fast. The people were electrified by the vast volume of melody, such as was probably never before heard in the building, and by the thought of Christ holding us fast amid all of life’s temptations.”

May we, across the span of time, join our hearts and voices with that “audience of 6,000 strong” as well as many thousands of others who have sung these words amidst the trials and tribulations of their lives.

He’ll not let my soul be lost
Christ will hold me fast
Bought by Him at such a cost
He will hold me fast

He will hold me fast
He will hold me fast
For my savior loves me so


The Fellowship of His Sufferings

“But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ. More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom
I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish in order that I may gain Christ, and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith, that I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.” (Philippians 3:7-11)

What a rich text and grand perspective we receive from the Apostle Paul toward the end of his earthly life and ministry. As he reflects upon his life and ministry within the environment of his first imprisonment, he concludes that “all things” are regarded as “loss”; not just the lesser things, the low points we might say, but the high points as well.

Here is a highly educated man, having acquired significant standing within the Pharisaical community prior to his conversion, then rising to significant prominence within the Christian community, post-conversion. Today he is considered by most scholars to be the greatest theologian ever. We know from scripture that he “Knew how to get along with humble means, and how to live in prosperity.” (Philippians 4:12)

But now he considers it all “loss”…in what sense, we might ask, and for what reason?

 “Compared to (or in view of) the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord…” That’s the answer to “in what sense.”

So then, for what reason? “That I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings…in order that I may attain to the resurrection of the dead.”

It’s not that the experiences and blessed privileges of his life and ministry were meaningless or inconsequential to him, but compared to just truly knowing Christ, these things were “as loss” in comparison.

Paul realized very early on in his ministry that if true Christianity is anything at all, it is, first of all, a death.

“Christ and Him crucified”… “Crucified with Christ”…”For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.”

These few familiar quotes from scripture are representative of the entire theme of Paul’s ministry and Christian philosophy if you will. So now towards the end of the aged Paul’s life, he reflects, rehearses, and re-establishes that which he has believed from the beginning.

As he perceives that death may be in his near future, I believe he takes comfort in the fact and encourages his own faith in the truth that his resurrection from the dead is as sure as Christ’s resurrection because “He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who indwells you.” (Romans 8:11)

Yes, this verse encourages the believer to embrace the fact that His Spirit quickens us or makes us have life while we are alive, but it also reminds and assures us that as Christians, that same Spirit will literally make us alive from death, in our resurrection.

Paul also realizes that through his persecutions, beatings, shipwrecks, and now imprisonment, he is experiencing a greater intimacy than he has ever known through “The fellowship of His sufferings.”

It is this point I want us to especially consider at this moment in time.

I pray for the persecuted church in the world today on a daily basis. We have brothers and sisters in Christ who are being persecuted, tortured, and even killed, all around the world, because of their unwavering faith in Christ.

Do we consider ourselves to be involved with Christ and these persecuted saints, in the “Fellowship of His sufferings?”

Here in America (and elsewhere) we have so-called ministers and ministries that unashamedly proclaim that Christians should never suffer…anytime, anywhere!

Their theology (or lack thereof) is illustrative of their complete ignorance of sound biblical teaching, and their insensitivity to suffering saints. I believe it also evidences a kind of elitist spiritual arrogance that is truly breathtaking! Scripture simply calls them “false teachers.”

I would like to write more of what I am thinking and feeling right now, because suffering either has been, is, or will be part of our life’s experience. Suffering comes in all sizes and shapes, as the saying goes, but it does most certainly come.

I recently read a quote from Charles Spurgeon that I believe articulates, sums up, and authenticates what we know to be true from both scripture and experience.

God’s people have their trials. It was never designed by God, when he chose his people, that they should be an untried people. They were chosen in the furnace of affliction; they were never chosen to worldly peace and earthly joy. Freedom from sickness and the pains of mortality was never promised them; but when their Lord drew up the charter of privileges, he included chastisements amongst the things to which they should inevitably be heirs. Trials are a part of our lot; they were predestinated for us in Christ’s last legacy. So surely as the stars are fashioned by his hands, and their orbits fixed by him, so surely are our trials allotted to us: He has ordained their season and their place, their intensity and the effect they shall have upon us. Good men must never expect to escape troubles; if they do, they will be disappointed, for none of their predecessors have been without them. Mark the patience of Job; remember Abraham, for he had his trials, and by his faith under them, he became the “Father of the faithful.” Note well the biographies of all the patriarchs, prophets, apostles, and martyrs, and you shall discover none of those whom God made vessels of mercy, who were not made to pass through the fire of affliction. It is ordained of old that the cross of trouble should be engraved on every vessel of mercy, as the royal mark whereby the King’s vessels of honour are distinguished. But although tribulation is thus the path of God’s children, they have the comfort of knowing that their Master has traversed it before them; they have his presence and sympathy to cheer them, his grace to support them, and his example to teach them how to endure; and when they reach “the kingdom,” it will more than make amends for the “much tribulation” through which they passed to enter it. – (Morning and Evening-March 8, Charles Spurgeon)

These are powerful, true, and comforting words that assure us of His plans and purposes for our lives, His faithfulness to see us through (even in the midst of difficult circumstances), and His guarantee of resurrection power that transports us from death to life eternal!

“We are saved by grace through faith.”

Heaven is already our home and soon we will go there to dwell eternally!

But in the in-between called “life”’ we struggle and often suffer.

It is however in the midst of adversity, trial, and tribulation, that we who are “In Christ” actually draw upon a greater richness, fullness and dare I say beauty, from the ever increasing intimacy with our Lord and Savior resulting from “The Fellowship of His Sufferings.”

Are You An Influencer?

Everyone is an influencer. We have influence by what we do or don’t do, by what we say or don’t say, and most certainly as Christians, indwelt by the Holy Spirit of God, we should have spiritual influence always.

But as is the case with many things in our present culture, some words now denote different meanings and ideas than what has been understood heretofore.

The word influencer is a good example of this. The social media landscape is full of “influencers”. In the world of marketing an influencer is defined as, “Someone in your niche or industry with sway over your target audience, possessing the power to affect the purchasing decisions of others.”

However, the word influencer now, in the realm of social media, might also define someone, anyone who for whatever reason can get large numbers of people to pay attention to them.

There are people and/or entities that are actually willing to offer significant and lucrative contracts to individuals for no other reason than the fact that lots of people follow them on social media.

Even though these influencers may have no skills, talents, or ideas that are of any intellectual, cultural, or spiritual value to society in general; just the fact that they can (for whatever reason) draw a crowd, makes them valuable to someone seeking to exploit the influencer’s “drawing power” for their own personal gain. Crazy? Yes, but this is the world in which we now live.

In this letter, however, I want to challenge you with the idea that God has uniquely positioned you; and in your sphere of influence, you are the most qualified, competent person to influence someone for Christ.

Some years ago I recorded a song entitled, Chain of Grace. One lyric reads as follows:

Oh to be a link in this line of faith
To help steer somebody to see His face
Then watch them turn around
And do the same thing
In this chain of grace

(Billy Simon, Jeff Silvey Chain of Grace/Dallas Holm 1992)

Have you ever heard of Mordecai Ham? Very possibly you have because he’s the evangelist who in 1934, while preaching in an extended evangelistic campaign in Charlotte, NC, offered an invitation to a crowd to repent of their sin, come forward and receive Christ as their savior. Among those who stepped out of the crowd that night was a young sixteen-year-old boy who had previously wanted nothing to do with ministers of this sort. That young man was gloriously saved and went on to be a great evangelist himself; some would say, “The greatest.” The young man’s name was Billy Graham. That is such a wonderful story, is it not? I think however what’s truly wonderful is the “chain of grace” that precedes that night in Charlotte so many years ago.

It all started with a Sunday School teacher….

A Sunday School teacher named Edward Kimball won a shoe store clerk to Jesus – his name was D.L. Moody.

D.L. Moody traveled to England and awakened the heart of a young pastor – F.B. Meyer.

F.B. Meyer became one of the great Bible expositors, came to the U.S.A. and preached on college campuses, and was used to convert a student to Christ – Wilbur Chapman.

Wilbur Chapman attended one of Moody’s meetings in Chicago and became D.L. Moody’s co-worker.

Wilbur Chapman employed an ex-baseball player as his assistant – Billy Sunday.

Billy Sunday became a great evangelist and preached in Charlotte, NC, at a meeting organized by the Billy Sunday Layman’s Evangelistic Club (renamed Christian Business Men’s Committee or CBMC).

CBMC invited an evangelist to Charlotte, his name was Mordecai Ham.

Mordecai Ham preached in the tent meeting where Billy Graham was saved.

Billy Graham has proclaimed the Gospel to millions across the globe, and many lives have been changed forever. Perhaps you are one of them. All because a Sunday School teacher took the time to talk to a co-worker about Jesus.

On the 17th of October in 1965, a young pastor took the time to share his concern for the soul of a teenager in his congregation, who was heading down the wrong path with his life and his music.

As a result of the genuine concern of this pastor (and the conviction of the Holy Spirit), the teenager committed his life to Christ and also made a commitment to use his musical abilities only for the Lord from that day forward.

This new, young Christian singer began to go out many a weekend and sing of his newfound life in Christ. He would also share his testimony of God’s saving grace in any and every setting, whether in jails or rest homes, street corners, or little churches.

One Sunday morning, Pastor Dick (as we all called him) approached me (yes, I was that teenager) and said, “Dallas, may I give you some loving advice? Right now, at this point in your life, let me encourage you to stay home here in church on Sundays. Let me disciple you and build a foundation of the Word of God beneath your life and your ministry. You’ll have all your life to minister; you’ll have only this one chance to prepare.”

I look back now and realize that was one of the most valuable pieces of advice I’ve ever received! Because of his influence in my life, I became a Christian. Because of his Godly advice, I have remained committed to His call, committed to the sound presentation of the gospel, and consequently have had the privilege of touching literally millions of souls through recordings, radio, television, concerts, books, social media, and the list goes on. All this because one man cared and took the time to influence another for Christ.

We often don’t recognize where God has uniquely positioned us in someone’s life. We don’t consider ourselves as influential and thereby miss opportunities to influence others for Christ and His Kingdom. There are so many, even Christians, who don’t think that anything of great significance will come from their lives.

Let’s consider Ruth and her story found in the Old Testament. The story is a wonderful story of love, integrity, promise, and hope. Perhaps the most telling and significant verse in the entire story is the last one. “And to Obed was born Jesse, and to Jesse, David.” (Ruth 4:22)

What’s the significance of that you may ask? Think of it. This young girl from Moab, upon the death of her husband, decides to honor her mother-in-law, Naomi, and go to be with her people. Thus, she meets and marries Boaz, with whom she has a child…Obed. Obed became the father of Jesse, who became the father of David. David, of whom alone God said, “A man after my own heart.”

But wait, there’s more! Trace down through the lineage of David all the way to the Messiah, Son of God, born in a manger in Bethlehem. A young Moabite girl, surely not thought of as an “influencer” by herself or any other, falls directly inline in the genealogical records as one linked in the “chain of grace” forever to our Lord and Savior.

You, oh Christian, are a link in that same chain of grace. You, dear saint, have been strategically placed by the hand of a sovereign God. You’ve been saved by His grace, built up in the knowledge of His Word, and indwelt by His own Holy Spirit. For the sake of the gospel, for that name above all names, for the blood of the martyrs and for the King and His kingdom…. Are You an Influencer?