A Prayer of Thanks Before The Big Day

Father,

I thank you for your church, your bride. I thank you that she can stand pure before you. She has been s encouraging to me. She has lifted me up when I am down. She has guided me to grow to love you more. She began with milk, soft food, easily broken down. Then, slowly, she gave me solids, harder to break down but more nourishing and enduring. She has prayed for me, walked with me, and guided me. And I have been a part of her.

I thank you for my siblings. I entered the scene onto turf owned by two toddlers, yet they loved me. Two more came after me, following in my footsteps. We’ve laughed together, we’ve fought together, we’ve cried together, we’ve grown together. The days of playing Nintendo games are over, the times for making movies has come to an end, the moments of trampoline jumping have been laid to rest. But, now, the long conversations have come; the nights visiting each other’s homes has arrived. We have grown to be tight-knit, they have drove me to love you more. They are your grace in my life.

I thank you for my two awesome parents. They loved me enough to correct my wrongs. They have guided me through the deserts of juvenile tomfoolery to the streams of wisdom. They taught me about the Light from an early age, so that I might not depart from it. They’ve laughed with me, they have cried with me, they have prayed for me tirelessly. I count it all grace, God. Where would I be without my parents?

I thank you, Father, for my bride. Alyssa has blessed me in ways I never dreamed. Through her, you have displayed such grace to me. She truly loves me, even amongst my failures, insecurities, and weaknesses. She loves me despite my sin. She is patient with me, she makes me laugh when I need it most, she is a woman of great strength. She walks in your ways and shines your light forth, all for you, God. She loves you first, even before me. You are her Father and she is your daughter. You have entrusted her to me, you have grown our souls closer together, until the day that they mingle into one. She is such a blessing and a gift to me that I am so unworthy of…

She is your grace displayed to me.

I thank you God for your salvation. I thank you that you first loved me and pursued me, making me pure before your sight. Even amongst my unfaithfulness you have loved me unconditionally. I sin against you hourly, but you do not depart from me.

How great is your faithfulness?!!!

I scream it into the sky, but no one has an answer. Your faithfulness is beyond my comprehension; this very question transcends human knowledge, reasoning, and emotions. It is unbelievable…

When the trials come, remind me of your faithfulness. In my darkest hour, remind me of this question. In the days of great joy, keep this question in my mind. When everything is awesome in life, remind me of your great faithfulness.

In all I do, let me worship you.

Silent Noise

This past week I had the privilege of traveling outside of the states for the first time. I drove with a couple of guys to Algonquin Park in Canada. If you are not familiar with this park, let me fill you in. It is basically a huge park made up of hundreds of small lakes. It is untouched by man. You are not allowed to drive motor boats, build buildings or docks, the water is uncontaminated and the wildlife untamed. We spent an entire week traveling the Algonquin and barely scratched the surface of the beauty there. It is vast, gorgeous, and pristine.

I left my phone behind, along with anything else that would be a distraction. Midway through the week we had a solo day. Our group of eight split up and spent the entire day alone. I brought along my Bible, journal, and a book I had been reading. I found a giant rock off the shore and set up camp for the day. I spent most of the day sitting on the rock singing, praying, reading, and thinking for the sake of thinking. It was an enriching time spiritually, a refreshing time physically, and a time of growth mentally. It wasn’t until reflecting on this time later that I came to realize the importance of silence.

Silence is grace given by God for us to grow to become like his Son. In Scripture, there is a pattern of men going out into the wilderness before important transitions or intense situations. Jesus went into the wilderness before his three years of ministry began. The Apostle Paul followed this same model (Galatians 1:17-18). Getting away from the distractions of life to focus on God is extremely important before a big life transition.

As many of you know, I am about to get married. This is going to be a really big change in my life that will come with its joys and struggles. With that being said, this trip could not have come at a better time. I was able to focus for an entire day on my Savior and what His sacrifice means for my life. It was refreshing and refocusing. I realized that a “solo day” only meant nine hours spent with the One who is always with me. I wasn’t really alone, but for aware of His presence. It was an incredible joy to sing with only Him listening. To read Scripture aloud among His creation.

I think a solo day is something I will try to recreate in my life. Many Christians harp on us if we spend time away from people. “You’re supposed to be the light,” they may say. “How are you going to accomplish that if you’re always alone?!” While I am not recommending you become a recluse living in a cave miles away from civilization. But in order for you to effectively be the light, I am convoked that you will need a day here or there spent entirely with the One you are telling others about. These moments of silence are where you will be able to experience God’s grace in ways you wouldn’t fathom.

Put away the phone. Get off the computer. Shut down your brain. Pick up the Book. Petition and sing praises to God. Grow in the grace of our Savior. I challenge you to find a day this month, and spend it entirely with God. You will not be disappointed.

The Day America Became Independent

 

Very recently, I have come to realize that I put too much faith in my nation. Don’t get me wrong, I love America. I love this country and many of the things she has stood for  throughout her life. But I have not agreed with many of the decisions that have been made by this country’s leadership lately. It has been scary to see religious liberty in question. This messy presidential election alone could be an example of the moral decline of this nation. Besides this, we have issues of sexual identity, immigration, abortion, Isis, gun control, mass shootings, racism… The list is almost endless.

As I have seen this list grow larger, I have become more worried. Where is this nation headed? And how bad will it get?

These are the questions I mean to address here. In 1776, the Declaration of Independence was signed, declaring that America was a nation and was no longer dependent upon Britain. What an incredibly terrifying day that must have been, those fifty-six men scratching their names upon the document that would be this country’s foundation. On that moment, America was born. Since then, we have celebrated this on the 4th of July, perhaps we have even boasted this.

Living out its 240 years (so far) as an independent nation, America has shifted to an independence from God. The Declaration of Independence was based on Biblical principles, but we have abandoned this, trying to thrive while separated from God. We have abandoned his word, we no longer come to him in prayer, we often see His church as only a building at best. We have forgotten God, relying on our own strength. Pride has slowly wrapped its claws around this country and sank them into her heart, deeper and deeper. What is wrong with this country? We no longer depend on God.

When you have the comforts we have, it can be difficult to depend on God. We have incredible medical procedures and medicines to cure most illnesses. Most American’s have decent jobs and are able to sustain a living. Most American’s have families or friend to keep company with. When we have all these things, plus so much more, we lose our dependence on God. Let’s see how David describes his dependence upon God in comparison to wealth and comfort.

Psalm 62

For God alone my soul waits in silence;
    from him comes my salvation.
  He alone is my rock and my salvation,
    my fortress; I shall not be greatly shaken.

   How long will all of you attack a man
    to batter him,
    like a leaning wall, a tottering fence?
   They only plan to thrust him down from his high position.
    They take pleasure in falsehood.
They bless with their mouths,
    but inwardly they curse. Selah

   For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence,
    for my hope is from him.
   He only is my rock and my salvation,
    my fortress; I shall not be shaken.
   On God rests my salvation and my glory;
    my mighty rock, my refuge is God.

   Trust in him at all times, O people;
    pour out your heart before him;
    God is a refuge for us. Selah

   Those of low estate are but a breath;
    those of high estate are a delusion;
in the balances they go up;
    they are together lighter than a breath.
   Put no trust in extortion;
    set no vain hopes on robbery;
    if riches increase, set not your heart on them.

  Once God has spoken;
    twice have I heard this:
that power belongs to God,
and that to you, O Lord, belongs steadfast love.
For you will render to a man
    according to his work.

 

David did not trust in riches, he did not trust in high estate, or in hard work; David trusted in one thing, in one Being. He held all of his trust in God. Power belongs to God, to Him belongs salvation, to Him belongs steadfast love. To put trust in riches and wealth is stupidity when we have such a Fortress.

This is where prayer is so important in the Christian’s life. Prayer brings us into a dependence on God. When we realize that He is in control, we suddenly loosen our grip on life. At any moment, I could collapse from a heart attack. At any moment, I could get fired. At any moment, I find myself in the middle of a mass shooting.  Each of our lives are held together by mere threads that could be ripped apart at any given moment. Prayers is when we realize this before God. We thank Him for another grace-filled day, hour, moment, or second. Prayer keeps us humble, and it keeps us dependent on God.

America is enthralled by her own strength. She is delighted by her own beauty. She is dependent on herself completely. When America slowly lost her dependence on God, she slowly became more dependent upon herself. This is why we see moral chaos in a once Biblically sound country. Today, celebrate America the beautiful. Thank God that she was founded on Scripture. Thank Him for so many good years. But pray for a dependence on God.

The best thing you can do for America, is to turn back to God. Realize that He is good and gracious. Everything we have is only by His grace. Become dependent upon Him. Hunger for His word, yearn for Him in prayer, and long for fellowship with His body. See these things as life-giving and joyous. Put more faith in a perfect God than an imperfect nation. In order to change a culture, you have to start with you.

This country is heading in the complete opposite direction of where God is. America is self-reliant. We delight in our riches. We depend only on ourselves. May we turn and run back to our roots, may we turn back to God.

May our pride fall and die before our country does.