There’s No Such Thing as a Little Prayer

It was my turn tonight. You see, last year I was put on a list with several other pastors and clergymen. It’s a list of people who will offer a prayer of invocation at the beginning of one of the monthly meetings of the Kingsport Board of Mayor and Aldermen.

Honestly, I was not looking for something else to do. I routinely have plenty of things on my plate from day to day. Many days, I’ve got enough things for several days. I agreed, however, when I was invited to be a part of the rotation. After all, it’s just a prayer, right? Ten minute drive to City Hall, ten minute wait while exchanging pleasantries with different folks, two minute prayer and then the option of staying for the meeting or heading to the next function. Surely a man can make time for a simple, little prayer.

I arrived tonight at about ten minutes before the hour, just making it inside before the skies opened up and the deluge began. Walking through the door, I took note of the larger-than-normal crowd gathered in the courtroom that had been staged in the official monthly BMA meeting design. Four beauty queens, representing several entities in upper East Tennessee, were on hand to lead the Pledge of Allegiance just before my prayer. There were several others on hand for one of the four acknowledgements and proclamations.

Most of the partnership of the law firm of Hunter, Smith and Davis were on hand. They were being honored as they celebrated their 100th year doing business in Kingsport. I learned that HS&D played an integral part in the establishment of Kingsport as an incorporated city. It was good to see many folks I had not seen in years, old friends of the family and former colleagues of my cousin/brother, Jeff.

“Five minutes!” cried the student assigned to run the audio/video internet stream for the meeting. As folks began to settle down and find a seat, my spirit began to be captured by the moment. The elected city officials of my fair city have invited me — an evangelical, Southern Baptist, Christ-following, Bible-believing, pastor, to open this meeting with a prayer. This is not a schedule busting imposition! This is an opportunity for me to take these people on a journey to take hold of the throne of the Most High God. To invite the King of Kings and Lord of Lords to inhabit our gathering and to bless our leaders and our city. I mean this is 2016. How many city governments still allow prayer to take place in such proceedings? What a true honor and blessing I have been afforded!

Here is the prayer I offered:

Heavenly Father, even as we have gathered together in this place, the seat of power in the city of Kingsport, we readily acknowledge your sovereignty over us, our city, our state, our nation and our world. We remember your admonitions to be submissive to the those who have authority over us and we pray that those in positions of authority would be submissive to You, as well.

Father, we are thankful for the ways in which You have blessed our fair city. Kingsport is a special place and we who have lived here our whole lives know this to be true. You have seen fit to give us unique gifts and grace us with quality people who use the talents you have given them to benefit our community. Father, help us to capitalize on those unique qualities and in the areas of disagreement, we pray for your continued grace to help us become “OneKingsport” just as we are one in You.

We are grateful, Father, for these men and women who sacrifice time from career,  family, and their own private interests, to run for and serve in the offices of mayor and aldermen. Grant them wisdom to make the decisions You would have them make. 

We are grateful for all those who make our city run from the city offices and departments, to the police, fire and emergency services personnel, every cog in the wheel vital to our well-being as a city.

Bless this meeting tonight, Father, and may you be glorified in all that is said and done.

For it is in the name of Jesus we pray, Amen!

Yes, tonight I was reminded of a very important truth — there’s no such thing as a little prayer. Prayer is the conduit of communication with the King! We must take advantage of EVERY opportunity to speak to Him.

Thank you to the Kingsport Board of Mayor and Aldermen for still recognizing the importance and the power of prayer. It simply serves as further evidence that Kingsport is and always will be a special place.

Vance Havner: “If Any Man Will…”

Today, in my devotion time, I read today’s reading from Day by Day by Vance Havner. I have quoted him many times and I enjoy his intellect and his theological thought process. Today’s devotion met me right where I am. It was exactly what I needed. I have highlighted the portions that were especially meaningful to me.

Again, I make no claims to the rights to this material, nor am I benefitting, in any way, by sharing it. These are Havner’s thoughts and I am glad for them.

If you would like to learn more about him, please click HERE.

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If Any Man Will…

If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself.
John 7:17

The battle is fought in the citadel of the will. We have intelligence, emotions, and will. We may not be able to understand with the intelligence or feel with the emotions as we would like, but we can take a stand in the will and be true to God, however all else may clamor.

Do not yield to confusion. Are you a man or a mob? Too many today do not have themselves in order and under command. Many a man is not a personality, he is a panic!

Of course, our poor wills, left unaided, are but cotton strings. But when we will the will of God He begins to work in us both to will and do of his good pleasure (Phil. 2:13). We submit to His will: “Thy will be done.” Then we assert His will: “Thy will be done!” It is both passive and active. “Thy will be done” is not mere resignation to the inevitable, it is affirmation of the invincible. However little the intelligence may understand or emotion feel, we take our stand in the will yielded to His will.

– Vance Havner

King University School of Nursing Pinning Ceremony – TONIGHT!

KingU_rotatorSo very honored to have been asked to speak a word at the King University School of Nursing Pinning Ceremony tonight. I have a great deal of respect for what nurses do and also what they endure as part of their job. For the nurses who have confessed Jesus Christ as Lord, they know that they have not only been called to administer medical care, but spiritual care as well.

After sharing a class in Health and Spirituality with some Master’s nursing students in my seminary work, I came to realize that we share some common experiences when it comes to attempting be a help to people. Might have to share a tale or two, so long as I don’t violate any HIPAA regulations.

Okay so this might be my first AND last. Might as well make the most of it!

The Time HAS Come (Part 3)

I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus,who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths. But you, be sober in all things, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.

–2 Timothy 4:1-5, NASB (emphasis added)

(Continued – Part 3 of 3)

When folks say the things I am saying, others call it hate. I challenge anyone to look at anything I have written and point out where I have expressed hatred toward anyone. I harbor no hatred toward any person or group of people. We have come to the place in our society where disagreement with someone’s viewpoint is tantamount to hatred. That is just plain wrongheaded.

We need to understand a very simple truth. The time has come. The time when Paul predicted folks will no longer listen to sound doctrine and will seek to gather teachings and teachers they find more palatable — that time has come! Even people who claim to be Christians will read Scripture and only utilize the parts that make them feel good. They will trumpet the fact that God is love, but forget the part where He is a Righteous Judge. They cling to the fact that Jesus is the Light of the world, but not that He is Truth. The Timothy passage I have shared is one of the marching orders given to preachers of the Gospel. I cannot preach only half the Gospel!

Make no mistake. Jesus Christ loves you. If you are struggling with gluttony, homosexuality, lust, lying, adultery or [enter your sin here] – The fact is JESUS IS LOVE and HE DIED FOR YOU. However, another thing that some people like to avoid is the very thing that helps form the gateway to salvation in Jesus Christ. It is called REPENTANCE. To repent means to turn around and turn away from your sin. Whatever your sin is, you are required to lay it down, turn away, denounce it. Stop! Does this mean you never sin again? No. We all still struggle with sin, but the big difference is it becomes the exception rather than the rule.

As far as I am concerned, the doors of my church are open wide to ANY AND ALL who are seeking answers to life’s problems. You may not even know that Christ is the missing puzzle piece that fits that emptiness in your life. You are welcome in my church. Know this though, as long as you embrace your sin, you will not serve in any leadership capacity. You cannot expect to keep one arm around Jesus and one arm around your sin of choice. Case in point, when the scribes and pharisees brought the adulterous woman before Jesus (John 8). After confounding the men by asking “he that is without sin cast the first stone,” Jesus then turned to the woman and said, Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.” Go and sin no more! That is the thing. Jesus longs for you to be free from the bondage of sin and that is only available in Him. When we repent and confess Jesus Christ as Lord we can experience that freedom.

This manifesto, if you will, will not sit well with some folks. I will no doubt receive nasty comments and I will be accused of being hateful, but I am anything but hateful. I will endure the bad vibes and nasty comments because I love you enough to share the truth. I want folks to be free in Christ. I don’t make a habit of wielding the Bible violently like an axe seeing whom I might strike down. Yet, the Bible describes itself as a two-edged sword and to those in sin it cuts pretty deep and makes folks uncomfortable. Loved or hated, a pastor must preach the Word! I will make no apologies for that.

THE END