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Endangered Prayer Species: Lost People  

Cue the music: Pulsating rhythm in a minor key

Cue the announcer: Serious...impassioned. 

Now the script:


Their numbers are legion.

Their plight...beyond pathetic.

Yet to many, they are all but invisible: lost people.  People living their lives on a trajectory toward the flames of Hell.

The horror of what awaits them—apart from God's intervention—ought to grip us and cause us to fall on our knees begging the Almighty to spare them.

Instead...the names of these people rarely make our prayer lists...our prayer meetings... our prayer chains.   That is why I make the bold, if not uncomfortable claim, that for many of us who claim to be followers of Jesus, lost people are an endangered prayer species.


The fact that we are not sufficiently troubled about lost people to really pray for them says they are not really on our radar screen.  What this actually reveals is that we don't, as a whole, have a lot of meaningful interaction with them.  We tend to care about the people we spend time with.  Since we don't spend much time with lost people, we don't have much care for them.

Not praying for lost people reveals a dual wickedness in our hearts. It says we are entirely comfortable enjoying the everlasting delights of heaven for ourselves--and equally comfortable with those outside heaven's gates experience the everlasting torment of Hell.

“We're in...they're out...and that's okay.”   Except it's NOT okay.

It's never been okay to have found the life raft...but not care for others still thrashing about in the waters.

It's never been okay to hear Christ's command to make disciples and relegate that to mere good intentions.

It's never been okay to hear Jesus say, “The Son of man came to seek and to save that which was lost”...and then hardly bother Him to seek and to save the lost people in our own lives.

It's time you and I moved lost people off the endangered prayer species list.

It's time we prayed to the one who said, He is “not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.”

It's time to pray for lost people.

Endangered Prayer Species: Revival  

If there's such a thing as a list of endangered prayer species, revival must surely be on it.

Time was when folks actually talked about revival—what it looks like, feels like.  What they’d heard from others who's seen at least a glimpse of it.  We honestly prayed for revival.  Even expected revival to actually happen.    Seems like 20 or 30 years ago, revival was a much hotter subject.  Not today.

Now I'm not here to suggest absolutely nobody cares about revival any more.  But interest in the subject definitely seems to have waned.  Nancy DeMoss of “Revive Our Hearts Ministries” agrees.  In a recent interview, I asked her point blank, “Is it just my impression, or do you think people are talking less about revival these days?”

Nancy's reply was direct: “Yes.  We are talking and praying less about revival.   No question about it. “

These days, we talk about the worshipping church.  We talk about the emerging church...the missional church.  But—oddly--we don't talk about the revived church.  Or revival itself. 


Personally, I think it's because we've become accustomed—even comfortable—doing church without much help from the Holy Spirit.  He doesn't seem to show up much, so we don't think to ask Him for much.  As for the supernatural outpouring of conviction that leads to confession that leads to revival...well, we're just not interested, thank you very much. 

Why should we be?  Our worship bands sound great, our HD video and widescreen PowerPoint have never looked snappier, and Pastor's messages are—quote-- “culturally relevant.”   What more could we want?

Revival, that's what.

We need revival. Desperately.

We need to talk about revival, pray about revival, preach about revival, anticipate revival.

So let’s get it off the list of endangered prayer species.  Let's remember to simply and humbly ask God to do a work of personal revival in our own hearts...and begin looking for Him to do it on a much grander scale throughout His Church.


Disappointment With the Shepherd  

This week I met a real shepherd in a real field near the real Bible town of Bethlehem.

But I must admit the experience was off-putting—even a bit disappointing.

Climbing the hillside (camera, tripod, audio recorder in hand), I expected to peer into the face of a weather beaten wrinkled old soul.  I envisioned my shepherd wearing thread bare robes hanging off his frame as his deep furrowed brow expressed concern for wandering sheep in the field.

But instead of a wrinkled old man, my shepherd was middle aged—good looking, to boot.   And while he wore a sort of robe, underneath was the clearly visible collar of his blue polo shirt!  Instead of a deep furrowed brow, I saw constant smiles.

Having read that sheep were stubborn, I asked him to elaborate on the animals' strong will.  He told me that the sheep were usually quite responsive to the shepherd's voice.   Regardless of my questioning, the shepherd simply had nothing negative to say about the sheep.    Frankly, this shepherd encounter was a bit of a disappointment.

But then it hit me.  Maybe this shepherd was more like the Good Shepherd than I really knew!

Wouldn't it be just like Jesus to know all the faults of His sheep...yet still have nothing but nice things to say about us?  And rather than a furrowed brow, wouldn't it be like Jesus to have a smile on his face?

Prior to this interview, I envisioned a peaceful grassy valley dotted with dozens of sheep.  But here were only a handful—yet they commanded the shepherd's full attention.

By the way, scrap that idea of a lush green valley.  We were balanced rather precariously on a steep rocky hillside. Nearly touching one leg of my tripod: the skeletal remains of what was once a sheep.  A visceral reminder that life for a sheep—in Bible times OR our times—is an uncertain proposition.  And wolves are still out there killing.

It's enough to make one suddenly—and thoroughly—grateful for the Good Shepherd.

Does Prayer Work?  

The back cover of a new book on prayer caught my eye.  The question is asked, “Does Prayer Work?”  The more I thought about it, the more uncomfortable it made me.  “Does prayer work?”  The question seems problematic on several fronts.
First, it seems to reduce praying to an exercise for which there is an objective measurement, as if we can assign a scholastic grading scale to our praying:  This prayer gets a “C”...but this one gets an “A”--presumably because we got exactly what we asked for. 
Second, asking if prayer “works” implies that prayer itself possesses power.  But the power to help or heal or rescue is not in the spiritual discipline of prayer, but the One to whom we pray.
Finally, asking “Does prayer work?” aborts the relational aspect of communion with the Almighty and jumps right to the self-centered implied inquiry: “Does talking to the Divine Genie really get me the stuff I want?”  Don’t get me wrong—it’s biblical to ask God for help.
But God wants our friendship first and most.  And that should be the basis of our praying.
Asking “Does prayer work?” is like asking “Does your friendship work?”    Of course it works.  Friendships are good.  And a friendship with God?  Well that's the ultimate.
The fact that you and I might benefit from that relationship in some way is—and must be—secondary. 
God wants to be friends...to spend time together.  Not in the chummy way we pal around with our best buddies.  He is the Almighty, let’s not forget.   But still, it's a relationship—a friendship of a sort.
How different this is than the please-gimme-grocery-list kind of praying that so many of us are accustomed to.
The crass reduction of prayer to a list of stuff I want....and heading straight for that list without just enjoying time together....this is not really prayer.
Me? I'm trying to learn all of this.  Haven't mastered it, mind you.
But I'm just beginning to learn...
So...what about you?

New Weapon--Same Evil  

A working gun...created by a 3D printer. By now, of course, it's old news. 
Eight months ago, Cody Wilson--a 25 year old University of Texas law student--set out on a mission: to make the world's first workable hand gun using only a 3D printer—a device that creates solid objects by printing layers and layers of special plastic. Turns out, Wilson succeeded in what one columnist calls the newest “Shot heard 'round the world.” 
An article in Forbes points out there isn't a single shred of metal in the whole thing...except for the nail that fires the bullets.  The sixteen pieces that make up Wilson's gun, he calls the “Liberator,” are made from ABS plastic.  They were created on a 3D printer costing less than two thousand dollars. Those printers, by the way, can currently be had for as little as $800. 
If plans for this CAD-based design are made available on the web, who knows what could happen in a world of non-detectable plastic weaponry.  So naturally, lawmakers are anxious to...ur...pull the trigger on legislation to outlaw the plastic pistol. 
It's ironic.  3D printers have the potential to create so much good.  Everything from inexpensive parts for cars and electronics to replacements for human body parts.  Yet there stands the solid rock reality of Jeremiah 17:9: “The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked.  Who can know it?”
Something tells me we're about to encounter “desperately wicked” in a few shades darker than we've ever seen it before.  It's tempting to hurl blame at the plastic gun's designer. But how then shall we account for...

  • Jim Jones and his Kool-Aid that killed 909 back in 1978?
  • Or the box cutters that ultimately brought down 3 jetliners and 2 towers on 9-11?
  • Or the Boston bomb that murdered three and maimed dozens of others?

 A pill, a pressure cooker, a blade, a bomb…or a gun. In a world of evil, a darksome thought in the mind…is as good as a weapon in the hand.  

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Jon GaugerJon Gauger

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