Ministry Moment: Thanksgiving

Just a note to say today how grateful I am to all of you for reading along, studying the Word diligently, and seeking more of Christ, alongside me. There is so much joy in every piece of life’s journey, as messy as it can be, and I’m thankful to be in this adventure together!

When you recount how thankful you are today, add “Dear Lord…” to the beginning of your phrase and make it a prayer raised up to Him in authenticity.

Dear Lord…I’m so thankful for my family.”

Dear Lord…I’m so thankful for friends and turkey and green bean casserole and board games.”

Dear Lord…I’m so thankful for the freedom of speech and worship and the testimony of you in those around me.”

Dear Lord…I’m so thankful for people who came to work today and sold my forgetful self gluten-free flour cheerfully.”

Dear Lord…for Jesus, and Your Spirit, alive in our hearts, our lives, our homes, our children, our churches, and our futures…just thank you.”

Blessed day, friends at home and friends abroad. Today, where ever you are, may thanksgiving brake forth with your whole heart.

Mama said there’d be days like this – when awake just isn’t working…

Ever had the day when you’d like to just go back upstairs, put on your pajamas, crawl back into bed, and hide from the world around you? Yes? So this was my day last Tuesday. It took everything I had to leave my clothes on and walk around out where the people live.

These are the kind of days that we are reminded of a hard truth – we are sinners, living in a sinful world. Life isn’t always sunshine and roses, but it certainly is worthwhile. As much as I want to slip on my pajamas and hide under my covers, He calls me out for more.

Israel in the Old Testament had plenty of pajama-and-under-the-covers kind of days. Some were their own fault. They chased other gods, let lust have its way, and set aside the opportunities to worship for whatever seemed good at the moment. Sin creeps into our lives in ways we least expect as well.

We think we’re pretty good people, we go to church, we do alright. The Truth: Not one of us is without sin. We have blunt and obvious sin – hurtful words and anger, ignoring our neighbor, the chitter chatter of gossip, and more. We also have the secret sins – hate in our heart, lust, discontentment, thinking highly of ourselves.

Look at Isaiah 26:16-19

O Lord, in distress they sought you;
    they poured out a whispered prayer
    when your discipline was upon them.
17 Like a pregnant woman
    who writhes and cries out in her pangs
    when she is near to giving birth,
so were we because of you, O Lord;
18     we were pregnant, we writhed,
    but we have given birth to wind.
We have accomplished no deliverance in the earth,
    and the inhabitants of the world have not fallen.
19 Your dead shall live; their bodies shall rise.
    You who dwell in the dust, awake and sing for joy!
For your dew is a dew of light,
    and the earth will give birth to the dead.

As we read, we hear the Israelites proclaim their allegiance to the Lord and the Lord alone. They recognize their sin and the mess they’ve made, while looking around and seeing the sin and mess of the nations around them. They recognize the goodness and necessity of the Lord’s discipline. Consequences happen, but in this instance, instead of sneaking away, they cling tightly to the promise that only the resurrection can offer – life eternal and an eternal life perspective.

Sometimes God not only gives me grace, He also gives me excessively practical advice for these exact situations in my own life. Isn’t it nice when it works out like that? What can we learn for life from Isaiah 26?

They pray:

…they poured out whispered prayer…

He wants to hear our sin. He knows it, why say it? Why confess it aloud?

Hearing it from our lips and poured out from our hearts, gives Him the opportunity to pour in.

He pours into us forgiveness and life. He pours tenderness and healing. Do you have past sins that sit on your heart like a boulder? Do you ever feel like if people found out your real story, they would never look at you the same way again? God says, No. I heal. I restore. This sin, let me use it for my testimony. I have a plan.

“pray without ceasing…” 1 Thessalonians 5:17

Pray unceasingly also means pray about all of it, even the ugly. God invites us to pour out every last sin and temptation to Him.

Pour it out to Him. Let Him pour in.


They rise:

(v.19 ) Your dead shall live; their bodies shall rise.
    You who dwell in the dust, awake and sing for joy!

God invites us to confess, not to make us sit in the dust, but to pick us up out of our shame and pour Himself into us.

“…my cup overflows…” Psalm 23:5

This exchange of pouring is part of the overflowing cup – Him filling and filling and filling some more, releasing us from the burden of our own incapabilities and inadequacies. “Let me take that,” He says, “I already carried that cross.”

When faced with our sin, we can look to Jesus, or we can look away. We can crawl back into our jammies and hide under the covers, or we can let Him give us a New Day.

Pour it out to Him. Let Him pour in.

My cup overflows with mercy and grace. I pray you know the truth of this today. Forgiveness and grace, poured on you for every last sin, every last fail, for pajama days and rockstar days and every day in between.


When was the last time you wanted to crawl back into your pajamas and hide under the covers? How did God tend to your heart?

Read John 17:1-5 Identify the following:

Who is praying?


What does he identify as eternal life and how does this perspective change each of our days?


This post is a sample reading from He Calls Me Loved: A Study of Isaiah, coming Summer 2018. Find more information on this study on the Studies Available page.

*I Love My Shepherd graphics are always sharable 😉



Men Who Pray (and the Women Who Love Them) Ministry Edition

Prayer in marriage is an important piece of intimacy, but it often goes unnoticed or set aside. We can desire it fervently in our relationship, but it can still seem elusive.

I recently wrote an article for Concordia Publishing House that addressed prayer in marriage. You can find the article here.

Men Who Pray (and the Women Who Love Them)

Prayer really is one of the most important ways to build intimacy in your marriage. Key points included:

   many women desire deeply for their husbands to pray with them
   prayer creates connection between us and God and us and one another, according to the Word
   That doesn’t mean we are always great at making it happen.
–   There’s grace  with the Spirit and Jesus interceding for us, but we also don’t want to miss the invitation either

You would think the church work marriage would be different. I feel a little bad for ratting pastors and other church workers out, but the reality is that we are not praying with our families more than the general population. In fact, some statistics show that we may be praying with our families LESS than our lay members around us. Ouch.

Now, this doesn’t mean we don’t pray. It doesn’t mean we aren’t beseeching the Lord on behalf of the flock daily, or that we aren’t praying earnestly with the member dying of cancer or hurting from divorce. It does mean that we aren’t necessarily praying around our tables or at our bedsides with our wives and husbands and children in a way that allows us to share our heart, our struggles, and the myriad of joys God gives us in any given day.

I hear the following phrase all the time, and ladies and gentlemen, it’s more than a bit real, so hold on to your hats:

“My husband prays with everyone else. How can I get him to pray with me?”

Double ouch.

Pastors, youth ministry people, missionaries, church workers near and far, hear my words knowing that I get it. I get the busyness of life. I get the draining of your heart and energy for a world in need and having only drops left when you arrive home. I get that our spouses and children could just as easily be the ones “responsible” for starting the prayer. I’m letting you know today, though, that there is a huge opportunity for you to share Jesus with the people who matter most in your life…pray with them.

Intimately pray with them.

You can choose a prayer book or another resource, but we get really blocked up in finding a perfect resource, that I think its a hindrance at some point.

So here are my suggestions for church workers who pray….

  • Just start. It doesn’t have to be regular or epic or fancy. Grab your wife’s hand and start praying. Pray for her, pray for your children and your parents, and pray for your church. Pray for the aching world, and stop whenever you feel like it. Try it again the next day. It may feel weird and awkward; someone may even get a little bent out of shape because they are trying to make dinner. Not that that has happened in our house. 😉 But forge ahead, friend!

  • Be creative. Add petitions to the family meal prayer, pray on the way to school or over the rushed breakfast table, leave post it note prayers to your wife or husband on the bathroom mirror. Text a prayer in the middle of the day when you are praying for or with someone else. Everyone has a communication love language, feel free to utilize it.


  • Start a prayer journal. List prayers and leave it on your spouse’s nightstand or Bible. Ask them to list some prayer of their own and return it. Pray, give thanks, confess together. Its like a secret prayer spot just for the two of you.  Every once and a while look at the journal together and pray the items out loud.
  • Use the Psalms as a jumping point, or any other favorite Scripture. Read it aloud together and see what prayers come to mind.

Prayer is a major work of the Church. Reformer Martin Luther shared his own wisdom,

“Prayer is a strong wall and fortress of the church; it is a goodly Christian weapon.”

Let us build strong walls in our homes.

Let us build strong reinforcements for our marriages. This, friends, is no less ministry than preaching and teaching and sharing the faith.

His mercies are new every morning. Let’s start this one recalling them together. God be with you as you tend and feed and care for your beautiful marriage.