Ever Feel Like Your Prayers Are Useless?

Photo Credit: Udeyismall via CC Flickr

Photo Credit: Udeyismall via CC Flickr

“Another angel, who had a golden censer, came and stood at the altar. He was given much incense to offer, with the prayers of all God’s people, on the golden altar before the throne. The smoke of the incense, together with the prayers of God’s people, went up before God from the angel’s hand.” Revelation 8:3–4

There are many times that I feel like my prayers are useless. I repeat the same thing, day after day, and see no answer from God, no results.

Other times, I treat prayer like the least and last thing, when there’s nothing else I can do: “I’ll pray for you.” I say it when I’m feeling helpless and hopeless.

When did prayer become like this for me?

Jesus prayed constantly. He would sometimes stay up all night to pray. He went away to lonely places to pray. He experienced everything we do, so I’m sure there were times He felt like God wasn’t hearing Him. In the Garden of Gethsemane, He prayed for the cup of suffering to pass from Him, and His prayer wasn’t answered.

In Revelation, the prayers of God’s people are offered with incense on the altar. Our prayers are like incense—an aroma before God, pleasing Him, moving Him. The aroma becomes stronger the more we pray or the more intensely we pray. Our prayers rise before God’s throne. Our prayers reach Him.

So even if I feel like my prayers are worthless, or I’ve become repetitive, I have to remember that they’re valuable; they can please God and move Him.

Faith step: Is your prayer life stagnant? Give it a new jolt of energy. Remember that your prayers are treasured, that they rise to God where He sits on His throne. Devote yourself to a certain amount of prayer every day this week, and make your prayers incense before God.

By Camy Tang

This devotion is excerpted from Mornings with Jesus.

Standing in the End

Photo Credit: Kalyan Chakravarthy via CC Flickr

Photo Credit: Kalyan Chakravarthy via CC Flickr

“A faithful man will be richly blessed…” Proverbs 28:20

In a world where things seem to be moving faster and faster, there’s one other move we must make: slowing down and dropping anchor around faithfulness. Faithfulness holds relationships together and allows teams to really mesh and products to perfect. Faithfulness keeps so much together when Circumstances try to pull everything apart. Faithfulness demands devotion. Faithfulness lifts, holds, endures. Coupled with love, it forms an unbeatable duo. It’s what leaves a man standing in the end.

Faithfulness has its reward too. While promotion often seems to run faster in other directions, faithfulness wins far more in the end. God says so. Longevity and fidelity to both cause and people is the hidden, high virtue. Rich blessings follow the faithful man. He’s the one left standing in the end.

Faithful men:
• play out every possession, on both sides of the ball.
• hang in there.
• love unconditionally and forgive well.
• live by commitment, never feelings or circumstance.
• never run from responsibility or duck duty.
• sacrifice much and don’t cash in early.
• expect the greater reward, God’s reward.

How are you sizing up to this faithfulness profile? Running short or richly blessed? Left standing or left behind.

LORD, help us to place high premium on faithfulness and hang in there. We know the Marines do; help us to place more. Let us be known for our faithfulness to You, to others, to our mission and purpose. Don’t let us run from commitment. Like your Son, let us be found faithful, standing with Him in the end. Richly bless our faithfulness journey, just as You promise. Through Christ the Faithful One. Amen.

Semper Fidelis (‘always faithful’),
Coach Mo

Belonging

Photo Credit: Gregg Knapp via CC Flickr

Photo Credit: Gregg Knapp via CC Flickr

“…giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light. For He has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son He loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” Colossians 1:12–14

I was thinking about the careers of Derek Jeter (NY Yankees), Kevin Durant (OKC Thunder), Tim Duncan and David Robinson (SA Spurs), Bill Russell (Boston Celtics), Stephen Curry (GS Warriors) today. All men found a home away from home, dove in, fit in, settled in. They joined a great ‘kingdom’. And a great kingdom settled into them too. All prospered. I’m sure you can think of some great belonging examples too.

One of the best things about being a member of a good team is the sense of belonging, not just the sense of accomplishment. His people find fit. Being connected to something special, bigger than yourself, a place where you truly have rights and privileges, where strong acceptance vibes flow, among those who really care…All this means the world. And that’s what God brings to people who join His Kingdom.

Did you note God’s commitment to building a sense of belonging that’s expressed in today’s passage?
• HE QUALIFIES – God does not call the qualified. He qualifies the called. He drafts us and then makes us legit. What a commitment!
• HE SHARES – God shares His glorious inheritance with us. “Mi casa, su casa” was His line first. What an owner and GM to play for!
• HE ‘SAINTS’ US – God re-titles us, dubbing us more special than we see ourselves. We get renamed, re-branded.
• HE RESCUES – God fights for us! He risks. He marches into hell for a heavenly cause.
• HE BRINGS – God doesn’t leave us on our own to figure things out and find our way. He ushers us. He prompts. He welcomes.
• HE LOVES – His whole Kingdom is defined by and filled with love. What a way to live!
• HE REDEEMS – God marches into enemy territory and reclaims His own. His Kingdom is proactive. He buys back.  He frees prisoners. He goes after big ‘road wins’ and gets them.
• HE FORGIVES – God practices and perfects the one thing that keeps all of us moving forward, together with Him. Our teams and our lives do well when we practice like this too.

What a great culture God creates! What a boss! What a King! What a Kingdom to belong to! In Him we find the best fit!

How’s your sense of belonging going? In it for the long haul with Him, building something special?

LORD, thank you for qualifying, sharing, sainting, rescuing, bringing, loving, rescuing, forgiving us. You really want us in Your Kingdom. You want us to belong. What an eternal contract offer! You are the Best!

Who you belong to makes all the difference in the world…

Thanking God for a great family fit with you,
Coach Mo

A Chance to Be Ranked

Photo credit: Wikimedia

Photo credit: Wikimedia

“For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the Kingdom of Heaven.” Matthew 5:20

Arriving at a state, national or world ranking is a pretty special moment. Have you ever been there? The climb is steep and hard. I think I’m gonna replicate that feeling a little tomorrow. I set out with family to climb a 14,000 feet-above-sea-level mountain in Colorado. Coming off total hip replacement 8 weeks ago will certainly challenge me but I’m up for it. We’ll see how it goes.

Still, there’s one ranking Jesus said we have no chance at unless we get some major outside help: reaching the Kingdom of Heaven. He said our only chance at making it is to supersede the apparently most righteous guys on earth. I don’t see myself making that happen. Do you?

Yet Jesus leads us to believe it still is possible to climb ‘Mt. Righteousness’ and get to Heaven. He says we can get moved to ‘great status’ in the Kingdom by practicing and teaching God’s commands. This is something the Pharisees and teachers of the law were doing full time but apparently still failing to get to the top (v19). How can we do something they can’t?

Jesus points us to Himself to solve this one. He invites us to climb the mountain with Him, through Him. He is the Righteous One. To have Him is to have all the righteousness I need to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. To be taught by Him, commanded by Him, empowered by Him, journey with Him, is to climb to the top, to get ultimately ranked.

What’s your spiritual rank? Gonna make it to the top, enter the Kingdom of Heaven? If not, why not? If so, what makes you think so?

LORD, show us the vanity of trying to climb to the top, to get ranked, apart from getting there through Your Son. Thank you for His provision of righteous ranking and all the celebration His righteous teachings and righteous provisions bring to all of us trust and follow Him.

The Kingdom of Heaven is ours through Christ. Hallelujah for top-ranking! Now, go out, practice and play like a champion, teach and lead others to win, to climb, to enter too.

Climbing with you,

Coach Mo

A Second Chance at Life

Photo Credit: Pixabay

Photo Credit: Pixabay

Have you ever thought to yourself how “good” your life REALLY is? What if the direction of your life suddenly changed and you found yourself in a situation that you had never thought that you would be in? One minute you think your life is great, you are healthy and everything is “smooth sailing?” then you find out that something in your body or mind wasn’t as good as you thought and that you were “very close” to experiencing a life-changing event?

Such was the case with me…

I have always enjoyed my life: talking with other people, spending time with my family and friends, enjoying the taste of delicious food, taking in the pleasures of seeing the beautiful things in the world, generally speaking, loving the life that I have been given.

But a little over a week ago, my life drastically took an unexpected turn. What was supposed to be a simple two hour screening procedure turned into a four day stay in the hospital.

It was during those four days that I discovered that my heart had been beating at an outstanding rate (150 beats per minute) and because of that high tempo, my heart had weakened to a dangerous level. Unbeknownst to me, I had had this condition for the past couple of years!

After leaving the hospital and meeting with the doctor the next day, I was told that the doctor was surprised that I hadn’t had either a stroke or a heart attack. YIKES!! What a shocking, wake up piece of news. I had NEVER KNOWN that my heart was 1) beating at such a high rate, and 2) that my heart had weakened to such a bad state.

So, imagine my thoughts today, when the doctor told me that despite the condition of my heart, everything would be ok. The doctors found out what was causing my elevated heart rate, the proper medicine to take to control my heart rate, and that my condition was totally correctable and curable!

The doctor simply said, “look at it this way…you have a second chance at life.

Needless to say, I am ecstatic for a couple of reasons…1) I feel great. I feel like I did 10-20 years ago, 2) I feel excited that now that I know that the doctors diagnosed the problem, everything will be OK, and 3) I have a new lease on life and I am going to take full advantage of it and take care of myself and love life even more than I did before.

Just thinking of “what could have happened” has left me feeling very humble and aware of my mortality more than it ever was. And it has taught me a lesson. It has taught me to live my life to its fullest. I shouldn’t be afraid to fail because, many times, it is when we fail that we grow and learn lessons that will benefit us in our lives.

It has made me value and love my friends, loved ones and family more so now than ever. I has allowed me to REALLY appreciate the things around me that I have taken for granted every day. But more importantly, it has strengthened my faith and assurance that my Lord and God never once abandoned or left me. He has always been there by my side throughout my life when things were going well and He was guiding the doctors and comforting me during my stay in the hospital.

You see, that’s the beauty of true FAITH. Faith is that knowledge of believing in someone or something when you cannot see it but you KNOW it is there. When you sit on a chair, do you bend down and test it first to make sure that it will hold you? Or do you simply just sit on the chair without closely inspecting its durability and strength?  Having faith in the Lord is exactly the same thing. I KNOW that He will take care of me and I KNOW that He is there to hold me up and to strengthen me. I don’t have to question or test anything that He does for me..My life is in His hands and if my time on earth is done, He will hold me close to himself and take me home. I have total peace and total fulfillment in my life knowing that He is always there with me.

So, how has your life treated you? How much do you appreciate the ways that you have been blessed? How well do you REALLY love and appreciate your loved ones? How strong is your faith? How secure are you if things were to suddenly go in a negative direction in your life?

Take the time everyday to truly be thankful for the good things in life. Find the moments in your daily routine to be grateful for your family and friends and show them how you feel. Discover the paths that you can follow and explore to give yourself a second chance in life.

“And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”  ~ Colossians 3:17

~ Coach Muller

Sunrises

Photo Credit: Coach Rose

Photo Credit: Coach Rose

Photo Credit: Coach Rose

Photo Credit: Coach Rose

Photo Credit: Coach Rose

Photo Credit: Coach Rose

Photo Credit: Coach Rose

Photo Credit: Coach Rose

Photo Credit: Coach Rose

Photo Credit: Coach Rose

“Their words to the ends of the world. In the heavens God has pitched a tent for the sun. It is like a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, like a champion rejoicing to run his course. It rises at one end of the heavens and makes its circuit to the other; nothing is deprived of its warmth.” – Psalm 19: 4b-6

You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” – Matthew 5: 14-16

“Do everything heartily as unto The Lord, not as unto men.” – Colossians 3:23

—————————-

About 7 years ago, I had a desire to lose weight (the “pot belly” having been a constant battle and source of frustration for many years). I had a fantastic year! I started walking, then walk/running and eventually just running. I would reward myself by running on the boardwalk in Va. Beach on Sunday mornings early enough to catch the sunrise. Though we live only 20 minutes from the Va. Beach boardwalk and 10 minutes from the bay, my busy summer schedule had allowed me very little time to enjoy the beach.
I would arrive 10 minutes before the sunrise, do my run, finish with more stretching, crunches and push-ups and then have devotions on a bench on the boardwalk. Those sessions became very special and important to me. I was combining 3 things I loved: exercise, time with God and one of the most awesome sights in all of nature – the sunrise.

I since have had knee and hip joint issues and can no longer run or walk distances. However, last year I decided the solitude and beauty of watching the sunrise was still needed in my life. Three or four times a week I would drive up to the bay, set up my beach chair, enjoy each unique sunrise and take pictures of them. I would have my devotions from my Bible app prior to it, then watch and photograph the sunrise, and have my prayer time immediately after. (Let me suggest finding a spot occasionally (or regularly) outside where you can behold the beauty of God’s creation to have your quiet time.) I was so into this routine that one of my daughters started to call me “Zen dad”! :).
Think of the sunrise… There is SO MUCH spiritual significance to them. As is Christ the son, nature’s sun is ALWAYS THERE. It NEVER takes a day off. It shines above us day after day after day and lights our way. And though sometimes clouds cover it, (similar to our lives falling away from God or having troubles where we lose sight of Him),  He is still there behind those clouds waiting for us to seek Him again. In John 8: 12 Christ refers to himself as the “Light of the world”. And says for us to “let our light so shine before men” (Matthew 5:16) and that we are to be “the light on a hill” to others. Just as the sun shines its brilliance over our entire world, so does Christ have that power to be that light for you AND you are to be that light for others!
Have you received “the light of the world” in your life? And if yes, are you a beacon of light reflecting that light of Christ inside you to others?? My prayer for you is that if not, you will reach up through the clouds blocking that light and grab the “Light of the world” and let him into your life!  (Rev. 3:20 – “Behold I stand at the door, and knock: if any man opens the door and hear my voice, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me”.)
Coach Rose

Step Away and Nearer

Photo Credit: Coach ROse

Photo Credit: Coach ROse

Photo Credit: Coach Rose

Photo Credit: Coach Rose

“Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it.” – Matthew 7:13

“But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.” – 2 Corinthians 3:18

One our favorite vacation spots is a family home in Christmas Cove, Maine. We get up there every other year or so. The outside of the house (the rocks, island across the way and the whole surrounding) area has not changed since I first went there in the 60’s!

Sitting in the Adirondack chairs on the side lawn looking out at the ocean and the neighboring island, one can’t help but notice the trees on the island. On the right are hundreds of trees all clumped together, appearing more as a big green blob than individual trees. On the left, is a taller tree all by itself – separated from the hundreds of others. The tree on the left is easily the most distinguishable.

That tree could be symbolic of someone not allowed in the group or ostracized enough to not try to enter the group or, someone who chose to stand alone or is the leader of the group.

The tree does seem to stand taller and flourish more than the others. During the past two visits to Maine, I have been “into” sunrise pictures. Almost all my sunrise pictures have had that tree standing there – glowing in the early morning brightness and the CLOSEST of all those island trees to the sun! Is there significance in this picture? Absolutely!

Being part of God’s family and seeking to stay as close as possible to Him, will mean that we may choose a different path outside of what the societal norms are or what’s expected of us in this world. It is hard – VERY hard  often to do this. We may be ridiculed for our beliefs or “spiritual ferver” and set apart from the group. But the rewards for following Christ closely and seeking to be more like him, are fulfilling and eternal. Blending in with others is often easier (the wide road/gate) but taking a stand for Christ and seeking to be more like him may set us apart from the others (the narrow road/gate).

Teaching in a Christian school all my working years, I have noticed that even many of these young people choose to blend in to that environment rather than sacrifice the  statuses that are desirable in this “world”. DL Moody was famous for saying, “The world has yet to see what one man totally committed to Christ can do”.      Though comfort may be “hanging with the crowd”, Godliness requires us to move away from the crowd (as is this tree) and “seek first the Kingdom of God”. In doing so, we will be moving closer to the son (sun).

Are you a Christian who is content with his mediocre spiritual life? Claiming to love God, but desiring all the worlds pleasures more? Is risking losing that and/or your job or friends (or even family) really more important than totally committing to Christ? Jesus said, “whoever finds their life, will lose it.  And whoever loses their life for my sake will find it.” Being closer to the sun seems to have given that tree a more stable environment and a greater chance to enjoy all of natures benefits and resources – away from the cluttered mass of the other trees. The sun cannot shine through that tree group but surrounds that solo tree with its brightness and presence daily.

Step away from the crowd and fully behold and let the son envelop you in all His fullness and glory and bathe you in His love and perfect design for your life. The time is now. Have faith, make that commitment. Take that step “away and nearer” today!

Colossians 3:23 –  “Do everything heartily as unto The Lord, not as unto men.”

Coach Rose

How To Improve Our Self Talk

Photo Credit: Ahmed Sinan via CC Flickr

Photo Credit: Ahmed Sinan via CC Flickr

“Pay attention to My wisdom. Apply your heart to what I teach you. Treasure its sweetness deep within and have all of this ready on your lips. Believe me—these are truths that work.” Proverbs 22:17-18, 21

Many of us struggle with our self talk. We either don’t know what to say or say  way too much that’s negative. Either way, it ends up detrimental.

God wants us to have good things to say…life-giving things to utter to self and others too. He says so here in Proverbs 22. The key to having good things to say boils down to this:
1. BE ON THE ALERT FOR WISDOM. Since God has much to say all the time, give ear. Be on the lookout. Passionately pay attention to wisdom. As good outflow starts with good inflow, good self talk starts with good God talk. We can’t repeat what we haven’t heard.
2. MAKE WISDOM PERSONAL. Tuck wisdom deep within. Allow God’s wise words about who we are and how to live life get to the heart of who we are. Make space. Make time. Self talk always overflows from the bottom of our hearts.
3. MEMORIZE WISDOM WORDS. Have wise words ready to be spoken. We can’t speak wisdom (grace and truth) to ourselves without having made this a part of us first. Our self talk really improves when we memorize God’s Word and speak it back to ourselves.

On the lookout for wisdom? Applying it to self deep within? Memorizing God’s wisdom, grace and truth so well that it automatically translates into great self talk?

LORD, help us to speak the truth in love to ourselves faithfully well. Don’t let us settle for scummy self talk, devoid of Your wisdom. Help us to hide Your Word in our hearts and speak Your Word to ourselves in transformationally great ways. Amen.

Nothing detrimental.
Bring honor to Christ.
Coach Mo

Three House Keys

Keys

“By wisdom a house is built, and through understanding it is established. Through knowledge its rooms are filled with rare and beautiful treasures.” Proverbs 24:3–4

When building a house (or a team, program, church, community, movement, organization, nation), here’s three keys upon which everything rests: wisdom, understanding, and knowledge. That trio holds the keys to living a well-built life.

WISDOM. Wisdom marks the way to build a solid life. It’s transcendent truth that comes to a man saying, “Here’s what’s really needs to be done.” It’s the ‘Aha’ moments where what needs to be seen is seen. And may I remind you that the fountainhead for such wisdom is Christ, “in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” (Colossians 2:3) To find Him is to find wisdom. To imitate Him is to become wisdom. And God has endless wisdom-supply. It’s only an ask away. (James 1:5)

UNDERSTANDING. Understanding comes when we process wisdom. It comes when we listen, when we make purposeful time for God, for others, for wisdom to work its way into us. Respect for others and from others grows and relationships reach building stage when we seek to understand before being understood. It allows brick upon brick to be laid in the construct of both self and team.

KNOWLEDGE. Knowledge helps us survey a construction with accuracy and informs each move in the making of a movement. It’s the raw material that wisdom and understanding use to build something great.

As these three are well established in and through our lives, whatever is built is built well and gets filled with rich treasure. If not, the integrity of the ‘house’ sits on shaky ground and never really becomes a home for anything truly special. Remember to use the three house keys to build something special.

LORD, grade us in the areas of wisdom, understanding, and knowledge. Please show us where we need to improve our construction. Infuse us with your Son and your Spirit so that we can build something special. We really want to. These three keys are key.

Maximum effort.
Heart for others.
Glory to God!
Coach Mo

Standing in the End

Photo Credit: Aatlas via Pixabay

Photo Credit: Aatlas via Pixabay

“A faithful man will be richly blessed…” Proverbs 28:20

In a world where things seem to be moving faster and faster, there’s one other move we must make: slowing down and dropping anchor around faithfulness. Faithfulness holds relationships together and allows teams to really mesh and products to perfect. Faithfulness keeps so much together when Circumstances try to pull everything apart. Faithfulness demands devotion. Faithfulness lifts, holds, endures. Coupled with love, it forms an unbeatable duo. It’s what leaves a man standing in the end.

Faithfulness has its reward too. While promotion often seems to run faster in other directions, faithfulness wins far more in the end. God says so. Longevity and fidelity to both cause and people is the hidden, high virtue. Rich blessings follow the faithful man. He’s the one left standing in the end.

Faithful men:
• play out every possession, on both sides of the ball.
• hang in there.
• love unconditionally and forgive well.
• live by commitment, never feelings or circumstance.
• never run from responsibility or duck duty.
• sacrifice much and don’t cash in early.
• expect the greater reward, God’s reward.

How are you sizing up to this faithfulness profile? Running short or richly blessed? Left standing or left behind.

LORD, help us to place high premium on faithfulness and hang in there. We know the Marines do; help us to place more. Let us be known for our faithfulness to You, to others, to our mission and purpose. Don’t let us run from commitment. Like your Son, let us be found faithful, standing with Him in the end. Richly bless our faithfulness journey, just as You promise. Through Christ the Faithful One. Amen.

Semper Fidelis (‘always faithful’),
Coach Mo