The Power of Prayer and Accepting Responsibility for an Answered Prayer

I ran into this  story online:

Texas beer joint sues church…

2009-10-29 / Editorial
Laugh A Little

In a small Texas town, ( Mt. Vernon ) Drummond’s bar began construction on a new building to increase their business.. The local Baptist church started a campaign to block the bar from opening with petitions and prayers. Work progressed right up till the week before opening when lightning struck the bar and it burned to the ground.
The church folks were rather smug in their outlook after that, until the bar owner sued the church on the grounds that the church was ultimately responsible for the demise of his building, either through direct or indirect actions or means.
The church vehemently denied all responsibility or any connection to the building’s demise in its reply to the court.
As the case made its way into court, the judge looked over the paperwork. At the hearing he commented, “I don’t know how I’m going to decide this, but as it appears from the paperwork, we have a bar owner who believes in the power of prayer, and an entire church congregation that does not.”

An e-mail sent bya former Grove Hill resident

Source: Clark Country Democrat


What an illustrative story. Here we have a congregation that sees their prayers answered, and perhaps also their own smugness. In any even it reminded me of the story of Peter, and how he denied the name of Christ.

We pray for certain things and we expect our prayers to be answered. And how miraculous: the prayers of this congregation were answered. At that point our human fallen nature hits in again. They get smug about the works of God.  What a lesson is in there:

In faith we ask God for certain matters and expect (as promised) that our prayers will be answered. The trap we should not fall for however is to be proud for the wrong reasons (and the use of the word smug indicates they were). If your prayers are answered so directly and you feel a need to boast, than at least acknowledge the source of your success: God, the one you have been praying to. The Bible is clear on the subject matter. In John 5:19 we read:

Jesus gave them this answer: “Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does.

But of course there is the temptation to be proud about not God’s work but our own amazing prayer skills. And that’s where we go wrong. Paul understood and explained this to the Corinthians in his first letter (1 Corinthians 1:31):

31 Therefore, as it is written: “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.”[a]


  1. 1 Corinthians 1:31 Jer. 9:24
Having said all that what was really striking is the denial when the risk of being sued became apparent. Again what a lesson is in here. If we see our prayers answered are we willing to take the associated consequences of that. Personally I would say all of a sudden it becomes a faith question: IN FAITH YOU PRAY RESULT, and by the looks of it that got answered, DOES IT NOT MAKE SENSE TO EXTEND THAT FAITH TO A POSITIVE OUTCOME OF THE COURT CASE? If it was God’s will that was done here, how likely would it be that the court case would lead to an adverse outcome for the church?
And even if they would have been found on the receiving end of a successful court case for the bar owner; what is more important, God’s will or your wallet? It reminds me a bit of the story of the young rich man that wants to follow Jesus in Matthew 19
The Rich and the Kingdom of God

16 Just then a man came up to Jesus and asked, “Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?”
17 “Why do you ask me about what is good?” Jesus replied. “There is only One who is good. If you want to enter life, keep the commandments.”
18 “Which ones?” he inquired.Jesus replied, “‘You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, 19 honor your father and mother,’[c] and ‘love your neighbor as yourself.’[d]
20 “All these I have kept,” the young man said. “What do I still lack?”
21 Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
22 When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth.
23 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly I tell you, it is hard for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of heaven. 24 Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”
25 When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished and asked, “Who then can be saved?”
26 Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”
27 Peter answered him, “We have left everything to follow you! What then will there be for us?”
28 Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. 29 And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife[e] or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life. 30 But many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first.

I guess the church in the US showed us again an example of how we may be claiming to be following Jesus, to live a Christian life yet when it threatens our earthly existence, even just the financial side of it, how ready and willing are we for real. There are many out there that end up facing severe consequences, even death, as a result of their faith. Look at the early Christians look at those areas where Christians are persecuted. What would you do if you were convinced that your prayers were answered and find yourself faced with a POTENTIAL liability? WOULD YOU DENY HIM, HIS NAME, OR WOULD YOU FACE UP TO THE CONSEQUENCES EVEN IF THE MAY BE FINANCIALLY SEVERE?

What do you say?

Love is: 1 Corinthians 13: Am I?

I am currently reading through several books amongst others Alpha Questions for Life by Nicky Gumbel.

In this book Gumbel tells the story of a woman that promised herself to read 1 Corinthians 13 everyday, in which Paul explains so beautifully what love and what the importance of love is.


1If I speak in the tongues[a] of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames,[b] but have not love, I gain nothing.

4Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

8Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. 9For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears. 11When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. 12Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

13And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

Time and time I am captured amazed by the beauty of these writings.

Now the lady Nicky Gumbel speaks about decides that she would replace ‘love’ by ‘I’ and stop as soon as she came across a description she did not make. Hopefully she would one day be able to tick off all the descriptions.

I have found on many occasions that replacing the Bible really starts to speak to me when I make things personal. As an example,read the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20 v1-17) and see how they provide you with a clear picture on what you will become or aim to become if you replace the “you” with “I”.

  • I shall have no other Gods before Him
  • I will not make or have idols
  • I will not misuse his name
  • I will remember the Sabbath by keeping it Holy and will not work on it.
  • I will honor my father and mother
  • I will not murder
  • I will not commit adultery
  • I will not steal
  • I will not give false testimony
  • I will not covet

What a beautiful promise he commandments become.

Or try this with the Lord’s prayer of Matthew 6:  9-13.

My Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name (by me)
your Kingdom come,
I will do your will as your will be done,
On earth as it is in heaven.
Give me today my daily bread.
Forgive me my debts,
as I have also forgiven my debtors.
And lead me not into temptation,
but deliver me from the evil one,
for yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory.


To me the prayer speaks differently when the generic “us” is replaced by I and all of a sudden I commit myself very personally to doing His will, all of a sudden the confession of sin becomes personal and is no longer a vague ‘us’ but a personal acknowledgment that I am a sinner that needs forgiveness, all of a sudden God‘s provision becomes very personal and all of a sudden it is very clear that “we” are not just tempted by evil and in need of deliverance in general as a humanity but personally.

And so it is with the sixteen descriptions of love in 1 Corinthians 13 when you make them personal. What a guide for life they become:

  1. I am patient
  2. I am kind
  3. I do not envy
  4. I do not boast
  5. I am not proud
  6. I am not rude
  7. I am not self-seeking
  8. I am not easily angered
  9. I keep no record of wrongs
  10. I do not delight in evil
  11. rejoice in truth
  12. I always protect
  13. I always trust
  14. I always hope
  15. I always persevere
  16. I never fail

There is only one sad things about this checklist: So far I never made it past point one: love is patient. What about you?

1 Corinthians 13

Thoughts on Finding Your Voice on Your Instrument

The other day I was watching a fellow guitarist at Harmony Church (yes Issa you). It was great! I thought to myself: even if every note would have been the wrong one I would still have enjoyed his playing. It is the conviction with which he plays every single note that makes it beautiful.

Two thoughts came up:

  • What is so great about playing Christian music is that it implies as per definition the most amazing audience you can ever have, your own creator and loving Father, who is dying to hear what you have to say, how you love Him with all your heart, spirit and mind, what you are asking of Him;
  • Therefore we should focus more on MEANING every note you play. You don’t need the ‘wow, you are so technical’ compliments, in the end a monkey can do that, I know I was one of them. You want your message to come across, to tell a story, to share.

Every now then I go out and see some music or I end up watching videos on Youtube or listen to music on soundclick. With jazz still an important preference I enjoy the discovering of new unknown players. Without a doubt on many occasions I have heard  players that play all the right notes, they display an in depth knowledge of harmony and technique yet something seems to be missing. How can it be: the play all the right notes but I am disappointed? I think I know know why.

From what I am hearing these people must have spent countless hours in their studios, their rooms or wherever, practicing, exercising, working on stuff, perfecting their skills, analyzing chord changes, work on harmonic and melodic ideas and everything else that comes with being a jazz guitarist. They seem to be having a good time with the band and by themselves but nothing seems too be coming across: they speak the musical language but not to anyone in particular it seems. It comes across as thinking out loud not directed at anyone but themselves.

They do not seem to be communicating. What they say musically may well be very clever, perhaps impressive even, but whatever it was, it never reached the audience. In fact, the audience seemed to be the last thing on their mind.

It may be me but is playing an instrument not the same as sharing stories, emotions or a particular point, perspective or message with others? Your instrument merely replaces your voice. Just as a writer has his pen and a painter his brush as part of their toolkit they use to share their sentiments and insights with us, so it is with the guitarist and other instrumentalists. And admittedly as instrumentalists we have to try much harder as we do not have words to use. At the same time we have an opportunity to express things in a way that goes beyond words.

Play with Conviction

While I do not suggest that we skip technique and theory, I do believe that we also need to work on developing our own instrumental voice, that we learn how to communicate with our audience, we need to work hard on having our instrumental voice carry further in order for our music not to become one big display of what you now or can do, of vanity. What I mean here is playing with conviction, instead of quietly and timidly looking for the right notes, meandering away almost as if sorry you are making a sound or doing it  out (very) loud but for the wrong reason: not to communicate but to showcase.
This does not translate to an audience or at least not to me.

As a musician it is very easy to fall for the trap of making things a public display of your capabilities, hey you put the time in for sure and you still are. Just imagine this: if you had to choose between a novel or autobiography or an encyclopedia so as to be touched by it, which one do you think will have the greatest potential?

So it is with our music, and that is what religious music teaches you. You want to be the best you can be on your instrument, because of the love you want to convey for your Father, and for the love of your fellows and neighbors who hopefully may share in your emotions and even better, it may serve in opening the lines of communication with heaven for yourself and the audience. And if you are ‘praying by playing’, you’d want God to understand what you are trying to tell or ask Him.

So, what I am really talking about here is playing every note with total conviction, truly meaning every note you play. Make it goal to have the person in the audience who knows nothing about music, feel you, understand you.

It Is Not About Me

So, it is no longer about you, but all about the other.

Whatever the style of music, I believe the difference is all about musicians that play for themselves and musicians that try to get a point or a message across or that are opening up their hearts minds and spirits to share their lives with you.

That is what I feel when  you see a giant like Joe Pass

This is what I feel when I hear Santana

And it is not any different to hearing the singers in the next video rip away on ‘Great is your Mercy’

Be in the Moment

So now I made communication and meaning, making my guitar actually speak part of the ongoing efforts I put into improving as a musician. It is all about finding ways to let my guitar really speak. It is an ongoing effort and on many an occasion I disappoint myself, but I guess that comes with development and growth.

Most of all such an approach requires you to be in the moment completely, and when I fail myself it usually is because my heart, spirit and mind are not there in the moment, that is when the fingers do the work but I am no longer communicating the way I want it to be.

What they said musically might have been very clever, even impressive, but whatever it was remained on the stage. No one in the audience was invited to experience that musical conversation. The audience was the last thing that mattered it seemed.

Is it God or my imagination? –

While reading through my Bible, I see places – many places – where God speaks to people: Adam, Moses, Abraham, Samuel, David, Paul and many more. In some cases, he was downright chatty, and there were some fascinating conversations between men and God.And as I read, I think, “What’s so special about these guys, that God talked to them? Were they better than I am?” I just can’t see a fundamental difference between us. What sets them apart was that God in most cases called them to some exceptional task for him. They were not in some way intrinsically superior.So does God speak in a similar manner to us today? Can God speak to us today? More to the point, does God speak to me today? As I read and pray and think, I can find no reason, either biblical or logical, that God would speak then but not now.So I concluded that I might be missing out on something I considered important. And I did not like it.

As a result, I began paying closer attention as I read my Bible and as I prayed, listening for the voice of God speaking to me.

Read the rest via Is it God or my imagination? –


Now that’s a story I can relate to.

Day of Pentecost, First Half Year as a Christian and Quiting the Smoking

Yesterday I celebrated the Day of the Pentecost at Harmony Church which has  really become my home church. Rapidly building a reputation as that young new church “is where it is really happening” I found myself there yesterday committing quietly to stop the smoking and this time no more “bs”. Tomorrow I am celebrating my conversion exactly 6 months ago on 25 November 2009. Looking back it has been an amazing ride which is documented here on this blog. Strange how the importance of Christian celebrations changed in only one half year. Where Christmas used to be the highpoint of the year in terms of celebrations, Easter seems to be the real important date now together with the day of the Pentecost.  And what better way to celebrate these joyful events than with quitting the very thing that I feel is holding me back in my relationship with God and my family: smoking. I tried many times to no success. In fact I’d go so aggressive that my family would beg me almost to pick up the smoking again. But now, with the help of God and the Quitline I am sure it is going to work out.

I found a helpful article on “How to stop smoking the Christian Way which basically outlined the following steps:

  1. Understand why you need to quit: your life and health are precious to your Creator (Psalms 36:9, Acts 14:16–17, John 3:16). You are responsible for treating yourself and others well (2 Corinthians 7:1, Matthew 22:39, Matthew 7:12) and you can’t do that while filling your lungs and those of others with smoke.
  2. Step 2 Set a date, write it down and make sure it remains visible for a week or more before you quit, (Proverbs 21:5, Ephesians 5:15–17). Make sure there are no cigarettes available when that day arrives (1 Corinthians 10:13) and go out of your way to avoid cigarettes and smokers from that day forward (Proverbs 13:20).
  3. Step 3 Realize that you may not succeed in quitting on the first try. If you have a setback, don’t beat yourself up (2 Corinthians 2:7–8, Romans 2:4). Simply accept the fact that you’re not perfect (Mark 14:38), recommit and move forward.
  4. Step 4 When you finally do succeed, you can trust that the joy you feel is mirrored by the joy of your Creator (Matthew 18:12–14). You couldn’t have done it without him, and he’s delighted that you cared enough to fight that battle for him!
  • Never underestimate the power of prayer! During every step in the process, prayer can make the way easier and the goal clearer (Hebrews 4:16, Psalms 55:22).
  • Be prepared for withdrawal symptoms including nausea, irritability, insomnia and a strong craving for cigarettes. Check with your doctor for possible prescriptions to help ease some of these symptoms and help you to make it through this difficult period.

So, last night I prayed, this morning again and picked up the phone and called the Quitline. The first talk went well and a prescription is on the way to the pharmacy and after writing this post it will be about ready to be picked up as opposed to the normal five days to process it: so here we go the first little miracle already happened. Now it is up to me to follow through.

Your support and prayers are welcomed and to support others as well as being supported I will open a new category SMOKE STOP.

To close off Psalm 23, more for me than for the reader probably:

Psalm 23

A psalm of David.

1 The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want.

2 He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,

3 he restores my soul.
He guides 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 love will follow me
all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the LORD