God or Social Media?

social_buttonsOne morning, as I dragged my body out of bed, my wife told me the terrible news: last night a young man entered a popular gay bar in Orlando, Florida, and began shooting. The carnage left fifty men dead and fifty injured. The gunman committed suicide afterwards. I was shocked and saddened that once again people were catapulted from this life with bullets.

I immediately logged into my Facebook account. I visited various news sites. Pictures of weeping family members and friends appeared alongside the political finger pointing and accusations.

Here we go again, I thought. Why do I do this to myself?

A verse memorized decades ago popped into my mind:

Trust in the LORD with all your heart,

and do not lean on your own understanding.

In all your ways acknowledge him,

        and he will make straight your paths.[1]


At first it didn’t make sense; it seemed out of place.

After pondering about it I realized the truth: I had replaced God with social media! Instead of pouring out my grieved soul to God, I bowed to the altar of Facebook and relied on imperfect man. I trusted the ever-changing opinions of people rather than in the unchangeable truth of the Almighty. In essence, I had changed the verse to:

Trust in Facebook with all your heart,

            and lean on other people’s understanding.

In all your ways check your Twitter feed,

            and then you will know what to do.

I felt ashamed.

Facebook, Twitter, and other social media outlets are great tools, but they are not reliable sources for truth and wisdom.

So I made a determination to go to God first to find answers and to pray for justice and an end to evil.

Fast-forward a few weeks: As I dragged my body out of bed, my wife told me terrible news: two young men entered an airport in Turkey and began shooting. After being shot by the police they blew themselves up. The carnage left 42 people dead and over 200 people injured. I was shocked and saddened that once again souls were catapulted from this life with bullets.

What will I do?

What did you do?



[1] Proverbs 3:5-6 ESV

What are you drinking?

glass faucetReports have surfaced about a water crisis in Flint, Michigan. According to the Washington Post: “Since the city switched suppliers in April 2014, corrosive tap water has caused the level of lead in kids’ blood to soar and has sparked fears of permanent neurological damage. In some cases, the water has been so poisoned by lead that it qualified as ‘toxic waste.’”[1]

As a father, I was horrified at the report. The thought of my daughter having lead poisoning because of a government decision infuriated me. No child should have to suffer from drinking something that is supposed to give life!

But then I thought about my own daughter from another perspective. Am I pointing her to Christ, the source of living water? Or am I allowing her to drink the world’s poison?

There is a point in her life that she must choose – either herself or Christ. But since she is given as gift of God, my wife and I have a responsibility to teach her the truth of God and Christ. We are to filter out what is not good for her at this young age.

Please understand: I am not talking about isolation, which does not prepare her for the realities of living in a sin-soaked world. What I am talking about is inoculation, which means training her to know about the realities of this world and the answers found in Scripture.

However, we are still responsible to protect our 3-year-old from things that she cannot fend off. We are to consistently and lovingly strengthen her by teaching her God’s Word and the reason to believe in the gospel.

But what about you? Do you claim Christ and still drink from contaminated wells? Or maybe you are not a Christian but are tired of drinking from the same polluted stream and recognize that it is not satisfying as you once thought. You have been from one person to another, one new fad to another, believed that happiness was found in material wealth, or that new job position, or that new someone, and yet…you are still dry inside.

In John 4, Jesus meets a woman at a well.[2] After asking for a drink, and some conversation about racial differences and historical ancestry, Jesus tells her: “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”[3]

So come and drink. There is no cost to you, although it did cost Jesus His life. And you will find it to be the purest and most refreshing water with a surprising health benefit – eternal life!




[1] https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2016/02/10/manslaughter-charges-possible-in-flint-water-crisis-says-top-investigator/ [accessed February 10, 16]

[2] The entire account is in John 4:7-42

[3] John 4:13-14 ESV

The Enigma Called Prayer

lightstock_157088_medium_walter_Many years ago, I searched out all the Scriptures regarding prayer, using a massive concordance and reference guides (this was before the Internet was a household item).

I read numerous books about the subject from well-known authors such as Spurgeon, Moody, and Bounds; I also read books by some not-so-well-known authors.

I watched multiple You Tube clips of preachers extolling the virtues of prayer and how prayer has been answered in their own churches.

I listened to various testimonies of incredible – even miraculous – answers to prayer.

And of course, I prayed myself.

After two decades of being a praying Christian, and as an announcement for 2016, I can finally declare what I know about prayer…

It is still a complete mystery to me!

I know…major disappointment. But continue to read to understand why I came to that conclusion.

As I said, I prayed for many years – sometimes consistently, and sometimes not. A few times I had amazing breakthroughs in a very short time; other times it has been long and arduous; in most cases the answer never came or appeared as a definite “no.”

This inconsistency has been frustrating. Why haven’t my prayers worked? What am I doing wrong? What sin in my life prevents God from answering? What must I do to make prayer work?

The problem with my complaint is the complaint itself. I forgot what is prayer. Prayer is not an object and it is not a method. Prayer is the personal interaction between a redeemed soul and a holy God. He is a being with his own mind, volition and will. He is not a vending machine. He is not my genie. When I pray to God, I am praying to someone who is completely independent from me. In Psalm 50, verse 12, God declares:

If I were hungry, I would not tell you,
for the world and its fullness are mine.

Imagine if I treated my wife the way I treated God. I would communicate with my wife only a means of getting answers and having my needs fulfilled. Can you imagine what she would say to me?

One of my common complaints about prayer is why can’t God answer me the way he answer Elijah when he prayed for fire to fall down on the sacrifice (the account is mentioned in 1 Kings 18:36-40). He prayed and BOOM, it happened.

However, there was an interesting detail I had missed. Before this miraculous episode, Elijah had spent three years in communion with God as he waited for direction. Three years of daily reliance and fellowship with God.

Therefore, the first thing to remember about prayer is that we must spend a lot of time with God and to know him before the answer will come. It does take effort. Wesley Duewell says, “Prevailing prayer always involves a price, and Elijah paid that price for at least three years.”[1]

The second thing to remember is although God may have quickly answered a prayer before it does not mean that he will do so again. After Elijah had an instant answer to his prayer, he immediately prayed afterwards for God to end the drought that Israel had suffered for three years. He had to pray seven times before his servant saw a small cloud on the horizon and then the rain came.

So in the end, press on. Take the time and effort to have fellowship with God until the answer comes.

Sometimes the request will change as you seek God.

Sometimes you will change and the answer will not be necessary any more.

Other times the answer will not come.

But always remember that the reality of prayer is that you – an animated house of dirt – through the blood of Christ shed on the cross, have the privilege to commune with the Creator of the universe, and call him Father. And that should be more valuable than the answer itself.

[1] Mighty Prevailing Prayer, EPub Edition (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2013), 16.