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man-praying[1]As I was coming to the end of my study of 1 Thessalonians last week, I read a tiny two-word phrase so small that if it were not so profound I could easily pass through without even noticing. Paul closes his letter to the Thessalonians by giving them succinct and specific instructions, most likely to supply what they are lacking in their faith. We all have room to grow, even beloved congregations. Hidden snuggly in this quick-paced list of commands are two that you can easily miss, but once you notice them you will never be the same. Who knew just five words could change a person so much? “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing” (v. 16-17).

These five words make up two whole verses. Whoever divided the Bible into chapters and verses must have realized the gravity of these words. Either that or he just randomly assigned verses and divided…

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The Chronicles of Susan

Lord and Father, our King and God, by your grace the Church was enriched by the great learning and eloquent preaching of your servant Lancelot Andrewes, but even more by his example of biblical and liturgical prayer: Conform our lives, like his, to the image of Christ, that our hearts may love you, our minds serve you, and our lips proclaim the greatness of your mercy; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

via The Book Of Common Prayer

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Ray Ortlund

September 20, 2015


1.  Get thoroughly dissatisfied with yourself.  Complacency is the deadly enemy of spiritual progress. . . . When speaking of earthly goods Paul could say, “I have learned to be content,” but when referring to his spiritual life he testified, “I press toward the mark.”  So stir up the gift of God that is in you.

2.  Set your face like a flint toward a sweeping transformation of your life.  Timid experimenters are tagged for failure before they start.  We must throw our whole soul into our desire for God. . . .

3.  Put yourself in the way of the blessing.  It is a mistake to look for grace to visit us as a kind of benign magic, or to expect God’s help to come as a windfall apart from conditions known and met.  There are plainly marked paths which lead straight to the green pastures; let us walk in them.  To desire revival, for instance, and at the same time to neglect prayer and devotion is to wish one way and walk another.

4.  Do a thorough job of repenting.  Do not hurry to get it over with.  Hasty repentance means shallow spiritual experience and lack of certainty in the whole life.  Let godly sorrow do her healing work. . . . It is our wretched habit of tolerating sin that keeps us in our half-dead condition.

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“Prayer lays hold of  God’s plan and becomes the link between His will and its accomplishment on earth. Amazing things happen, and we are given the privilege of being the channels of the Holy Spirit’s prayer.”

~ Elisabeth Elliot

Margaret Ashmore Drawing of Elisabeth Elliot

“Every great movement of God can be traced to a kneeling figure.”

~ D. L. Moody

BI - Bold Legacy - DL Moody Profile

Remembering My Parents’ Parenting

by Emily Lanphier  

Let me just begin by saying this post is such a goal for the parent I (we) aspire to be. I am praying that as I begin to compile nuggets of wisdom from Mom and Dad’s lives that it will sink in even more to my heart and character. I still remember what if feels like to hug them. I can still picture my dad’s smile and hear my mom’s voice as if she were right beside me. In blogging, I chronicle them and freeze their impact in a concrete way. 
  So that being said: In the aftermath of losing my dear parents I have been reflecting on what they instilled and taught us kids that made them such exceptional parents.  I want to remember for myself as much as share with the people whose lives they impacted. It must be a universal desire to live life well and leave one’s children at a greater advantage. I know it burns within me. My prayer has been, “heal us up… and then, raise us up.” The lives of Ty and Terri Schenzel provoke us all to not waste our time or talent, but to reach out in love and embrace everyone in our path.
  I consider it such an immense privilege to have been raised by them. I, along with you dear reader, know it is all of our prayer that our own children may someday say that of you and I…

1. Their lives gave them credibility and influence.
We valued my parents because their character and who they were behind closed doors was dynamic and provoking. They were not just instructing and teaching us how to live with their words and through discipline, but they lived passionate, adventure-filled lives that made faith look attractive- exciting even. Growing up, I never thought the Christian faith was just a set of rules or regulations, but rather, an invitation into one of the most fulfilling journeys one could live… I remember, even as a teenager, I told my dad one night that I needed to marry someone slightly dangerous because a dull, religious guy just wasn’t going to cut it. HE was the one who gave me an awareness that men like that even existed… and I’m forever grateful… It led me to my own faith-filled, slightly dangerous husband 😉

2. They were careful to keep their dreams (even those from the Lord) from being too high of a cost to us as a family.
 The inception of the Hope Center dream began in my dad’s heart during my early elementary years. We lived in the West Omaha suburbs and after several years of ‘incubating’ the dream my parents moved us to mid-town. I was in 4th grade, Annie in 2nd, and my mom was probably trying to keep Tyler and Turner alive at home (kidding). I know my dad would have moved into the most gang-ridden street possible if my mom had been game, but she wasn’t and he told her that he would never make a decision that she wasn’t completely on board with
  When we did move, we lived within 10 minutes of the Hope Center, but my parents still drove us to our same Christian elementary school that we had always attended 25 minutes away. The friendships and community of our childhood were valued deeply by Mom and Dad. In this, I learned that just because you have a dream from the Lord or a mission, your family/spouse might not have the degree of grace that you do. Mom and Dad were careful to obey the Lord, but be sensitive to each other and their young children as they lived out their God-given destinies.
  Even from a ministry perspective, my siblings and I always felt that Dad’s first love was his wife and family. I never had any resentment towards my parents being in ministry because the ministry didn’t steal from what they poured into me.  We knew we were the most captivating priority of their hearts. I once read somewhere that the people whose options matter most are that of those who are closest to you- who know you best. Well, Dad, Mom, the people who knew you best give you rave reviews.
3. Their parenting focus valued heart connection and relationship over religion and performance.
 Hopefully this encourages some family out there, but: my dad gave up after a while on family devotions after dinner. There was a brief blip in history where my parents bought the “Dangerous Devotions” book and tried to have us kids do some of the ‘biblical learning activities’ around the dinner table- it failed miserably. Who knows if it was spiritual warfare, conflict of interests, or puberty, but it just didn’t impart the intended pearls of wisdom. I can remember we were always unreasonably wild, antagonistic, or uninterested with the devotional content. We have teased my dad about the “Dangerous Devotions” season as adults (don’t worry, he thought it was funny too!). Obviously, we all regret that now, but not doing consistent family devotions didn’t stop us from noticing my parent’s own unrelenting pursuit of Jesus. 
  I distinctly remember Annie and I (as little girls) would play outside the door of the basement where my dad had worship music blaring and we listened to him singing and praying. He even had a prayer room in the last two homes they lived in.
  My mom would sit in a ‘cozy chair’ in the living room reading and journaling every morning. Sometimes she would even sing (off-key) because she had headphones in… I miss the sound of her sweet voice.
  And it was not lost on us. We all saw they way they lived and their commitment to the Lord…and in the Lord’s kindness, that was the most impactful form of “quiet time” we were ever taught.   
   For the record, I’m sure Paul and I will try and implement family devotions, but it’s nice to know not every time has to be a home run…

4. They were fun.
  Anyone who has spent anytime around our dinner table knows how extremely hilarious my parents were – and they fed off each other. And then we fed off them… and pretty soon we all believed we were much funnier than we actually might be. 
  It is so important to laugh. They showed us the importance of having good, clean fun (the kind where “you can wake up with a clean conscience in the morning”). And mostly, it revolves around hearing the highs and lows of each others lives and sitting around the dinner table. 
  My parents were so enjoyable, in fact, that they were my preferred crowd to hang out with all through high school. All us kids loved being with them… They went from being just our parents to some of our favorite friends. I think knowing how to have fun as a family is a spiritual necessity.

5. They were human and humble.
  Our family is emotional. We are all feelers. So it’s no surprise that my parents worked to manage their inner emotional world all the time. They would frequently tell us “they were in funk” or processing their hearts. They worked very hard to take care of their hearts and be emotionally healthy. I know they always resolved conflict with each other as quickly as possible so that there was not a build-up of negative emotions.
  They also were extremely humble. They apologized to each other and us kids if they were short or impatient. I can remember how quick my mom especially was to notice wrong thoughts or actions and make it right. My dad frequently said mom was the most humble person he knew. I’m grateful they modeled a forgiving heart to each other and us kids.

5. They parented us according to our “bent” and were love-blinded cheerleaders.
Dog shows, basketball games, dance recitals, football games… they were there… cheering in the stands… screaming our names…. Eyes only on us. I remember my mom would miss big plays during my brothers’ basketball games growing up because she said “I never take my eyes off my boys.” She only watched them.
In this season of mothering my young son, I can remember multiple times being at a loss for how to handle the amount of physical energy Theo displayed and occasionally, his outright defiance. I called my parents. They said, “let him be a little boy, he is so normal, stay consistent… you are loving him so well. You and Paul are great parents.” And I believed them. They taught me to notice what his interests and talents are and fan them like crazy. Pour kerosene on the fires of his dreams… And I know that when I do that in the future, I will feel them cheering me on… I will feel myself walking in their legacy and hearts and they will feel close.
I said in my tribute at my parents’ funeral that they were our love-blinded cheerleaders and they truly were. While I’m quite sure that they were proud and thrilled of the adults we grew to be, I know that what/ who we decided to be/become wouldn’t really have mattered. Being loved mattered- because love always wins. Love won through the tumultuous teenage years of my brothers. Love won during my first year of college where I questioned my faith. Love won over and over because they were always there saying, “you have what it takes, you can do it, we believe in you.”
 There have been times during the course of our lives where I have observed my parents respond in love even when one of us made a life decision they were strongly against. This is who the bedrock of who they were. They faithfully spoke truth, but loved us no matter where we were in our faith or what decisions we decided to make. They maintained a deep heart connection with us through the highs and lows of our growing up.

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by Ray Ortlund

Five marks of revived churches

J. I. Packer, writing in God in our Midst (Ann Arbor, 1987), pages 24-35, proposes that, among the variety of God’s ways, five constants appear in biblical revivals:

1.  Awareness of God’s presence: “The first and fundamental feature in renewal is the sense that God has drawn awesomely near in his holiness, mercy and might.”

2.  Responsiveness to God’s Word: “The message of Scripture which previously was making only a superficial impact, if that, now searches its hearers and readers to the depth of their being.”

3.  Sensitiveness to sin: “Consciences become tender and a profound humbling takes place.”

4.  Liveliness in community: “Love and generosity, unity and joy, assurance and boldness, a spirit of praise and prayer, and a passion to reach out to win others, are recurring marks of renewed communities.”

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Three Iron Nails

Lord God, help me to look for those who are in need of help. Forgive me for my failures, and may I gather up my broken promises and try to redeem them. I ask for thy forgiveness, as I ask that thou wilt help me to forgive them who may have trespassed against me. Amen

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September 2015