Praying Psalm 23 over Ukraine and All of Us!

Praying Psalm 23 over Ukraine and All of Us!

Ukraine?  How do we respond to the Russian invasion that has gone on for almost two weeks now? By this, I do not mean governmental, political, or economic responses. Instead, the question has to do with our own hearts. Maybe it depends on the generation or location. Since the war began, I’ve not heard too much from younger adults in their early 20s. Perhaps this is because it is occurring on the other side of the globe. Out of sight, out of mind to our present context some would say.

For me though, I grew up in the latter part of the Cold War, so my connection is a bit heightened. I remember being in college when the Berlin wall fell, and the Soviet Union dissolved. So, the knowledge of an aggressive Russia triggers emotions.

More importantly, during a ten-week foreign internship in 1993, I spent just over a week in Ukraine, so I have personal connections there. In addition, through other ministry contacts, I am aware of Christian leaders in the country. On the other end of the storyline, I lived in Moscow, Russia, from 1994 to 1996, helping establish a Bible college, and have many beautiful memories from that time and know people in Russia who do not support the actions of Putin and other Soviet-era leaders who want to take over Ukraine.

But across the world, the public chatter is growing much more vocal. Maybe it’s the constant media. One of the differences between the Viet Nam war and all previous wars is the amount of continuous media coverage that comes into American homes on the nightly news with more graphic images than ever before. Today, with our media technology, anyone with a cell phone can record and shoot to the world at any time. So, these videos and reports from Ukraine are sometimes happening in real-time, which conveys raw information and sometimes very intense emotions.

So, for us, who are not actually on the ground there, how can we respond? There are some great and growing options to send humanitarian aid. Two of those are with Impact Ministry Group and Marked Men For Christ in which you can go to the site and click to designate for Ukraine.  Physically, though, there is little more. On the other hand, as a child of God, there is indeed so much more we can and must do. In truth, for those who call themselves followers of Christ, there is the essential thing that can and must be done, we must pray.

When I think of prayers in the Bible, one of the first appeals that come to my mind is a prayer we know as the 23rd Psalm. Psalm 23 is one of the most widely referenced and partially quoted prayers within and without the church. With a bolt, it flies out of the shoot with the opening line of, “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want . . .” and is further carried with the powerful image of walking through the “valley of the shadow of death.”

The text is a recording of prayer deep within the soul of King David as he acknowledged that despite everything, God will bring deliverance. We don’t know if the context was one of him fleeing the mad King Saul, or possibly, this was even more personal as some believe that David offered up this praise and plea when his son, Absalom, tried to usurp the Kingdom from David and take his life. Whatever the historical specifics may be, we see in this prayer David reaching up to God and finding hope despite what was quaking around him in the present.

Yes, we can still today reach back some three thousand years and find hope for today. But the real and ultimate fulfillment of this Psalm is found in John 10:11 where Jesus addresses all our tensions with the proclamation that he indeed is the one and only Good Shepherd. It was Jesus who faced the final and greatest enemy, death, and triumphed over it and Satan on the cross and his resurrection on the third day. His resurrection demands proof of his divinity and thus we have assurance of His future return with the final judgment, and reward. As David trusted in the God of all creation, we too, lift our voices with praise and prayer today knowing that Jesus, the Divine Son of God, will hear us.

 

-Like so many occasions in so many places of the past, I recite in faith, David’s prayer of Psalm 23.

The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. 2 He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. 3 He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. 4 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. 5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. 6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD forever.

 

-From David’s prayer, I offer up my brief personal and present additions . . .

“Lord, I declare before all creation that you, and you alone, are the true shepherd. Putin, Zelensky, Biden, Trump, and other governmental leaders are not the true shepherd and the power they wield is only given by you. To you, and you alone, I ask that you bring divine help to the suffering not only in Ukraine but to all who call out to you.

Jesus, the valley of the shadow of death is very real in Ukraine today. I ask that you use your rod and staff to confuse and confront those who are set against you and set toward evil and violence. As David prayed for the confusing of the enemy in 2 Samuel 15:31, we pray that you will bring to nothing those who are bent on violence. I ask that you bring miracles and wisdom to those standing against evil.

Lord, David spoke of hope, of dwelling in the house of the Lord forever. He spoke that even though he was separated from the tabernacle, from the Arc of the Covenant, which was still in Jerusalem. David spoke of hope because his hope was in you.

I pray for those in Ukraine suffering in ways I cannot imagine. I pray for those in Russia who do not agree with the aggressive actions of Putin. I pray for those who live near the DMZ in North and South Korea, for those in Cuba, for those in China and Taiwan. I pray for the people of Honduras who are now under communist rule. I pray for the poor in Mexico, Central America, Africa, and in the lower reaches of rural America and the slums of US and international cities.

I pray that you will bring the final and ultimate victory. As we wait for your complete judgment and renewal of all things, give us strength to carry on in trust. Above all, I pray for open hearts and that they will see your grace and power. I pray that through the chaos right now, you might be glorified, and people might come to know you.

Yes, Jesus, I pray that you would be the shepherd to those who call upon your name.

In Your Holy Name, Amen”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

That Whoever Believes!

That Whoever Believes!

I love these videos of Matt Harding dancing around the globe.  The videos from 2008 and 2012 are probably my favorites.  Below is the clip from 2016 and while I’m not stoked on the tune, I’m still enthralled by the beautiful folks from all over the world.  Each video is a reminder of how big God’s creation is and how huge HIS love is for that creation. It is also a clear picture of the ultimate Kingdom of Heaven which is not about geography but people in whose hearts God rules.  They are an ever present reminder of Revelation 7 that speaks of not only the present, but the future fulfilled Kingdom where a “great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, was standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb.”  Also, they are an additional reminder of one of the most famous verse in the Bible; John 3:16 in which Jesus proclaims that “God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that WHOEVER believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”  That statement by Christ is such a great proclamation of God’s grace and also the diversity of HIS love.  All of mankind is included in the offer to respond this amazing grace.  And that, along with Matt’s videos, just makes me smile.

What about God’s creation makes you smile?

 

God’s Creation and The Future Kingdom.

God’s Creation and The Future Kingdom.

A HUGE thanks goes out to the anonymous folks at C4 who gave us a cruise for our 25th wedding anniversary.  I told Ronda, our admin, that I was probably more relaxed after a few days into the sail than I’ve been in 10 years or so. It was a good time to decompress and just celebrate our marriage commitment and also God’s creation.  For those who live in the Houston area; the ocean water really does turn blue once you get a few miles out from Galveston.  It was incredible to see and experience the colors of the sea, sky, greenery and animals of Cozumel and Progreso.

But beyond that, it was amazing to see the international makeup of the crew on the ship that carried us on our anniversary adventure.  I had heard of cruises like this before.  The complement of the crew was comprised of people from all over the world. Western and Eastern European nations.  Russia and Slavic nations.  People from the UK, Australia, and South Africa.  Countries from Asia, South America, and other were all represented. (more…)

Engaging a Flat World!

Engaging a Flat World!

SNDWhat does it mean to live Glocally?  Like me, pastor and author, Bob Roberts Jr. has a way of creating new words and Glocalization is one of his best.  I love that  word and what it represents.  Thinking glocally is that healthy neighborhood between touching those locally around us and those who live on the other side of the globe.  What was once a near impossibility is now a present reality in our modern early 21st century world. Yes, it really is possible to engage the world no matter where we are.

What is God doing in the world today? How can we engage a globe that has gone flat with modern technology? What is the vision of Christ for his disciples in our modern times?

Join us as we look at these and other questions for the Discussions Sunday night at 8p Central.  Our special guest, Bob Roberts, will be with us to answer your questions and talk about living the life of a Glocal Christian.  Bob has written a number of books and we will be giving away a copy of one of them to someone listening or watching our live webcast.  The show can be viewed here or on our Google + Sunday Night Discussions page.  Questions can be sent in live via Google + of through email here.

So make plans to join us then and feel free to send in early questions.

Touching the World.

Touching the World.

SNDWorld Evangelism, Global Outreach. I love those words.  The truth is that I have been transformed by Jesus Christ and I have the privilege of being part of His team which makes the message of God known to the world. The truth is; we all have that same privilege and that’s exactly what we’re going to be talking about in the discussions this Sunday night. What is the real need in the world? What kind of opportunities do we have for global outreach in the early 21st century? What is the actual responsibility of Christ followers to convey that message to others? How can we see that mission carried out in our time and in the lives of those who follow us?  Join us live Sunday night at 8p central as we welcome one of the big mentors in my life, Max Goins, who has served as a local pastor and foreign missionary around the world for almost 50 years.  World Evangelism – Global Outreach is the ministry that Max formed in 1991 with the purpose of reaching the lost and training disciples and I can’t wait for you to meet him.

Join us here or on our Sunday Night Discussions Google + page and be sure to send in questions early. As always we will be giving away a free recourse toward the end of the show.