I’m convinced that prayerlessness is a major factor when I give into temptation. If I’m tempted and I run to the Lord in prayer immediately my will is altered and I’m fortified to do what I know I ought to do. When I neglect seeking His help every fiendish aspect of rationalization works to my detriment. But even in praying for God’s help to resist evil there is a responsibility on my part to be committed to God’s truth and will. Jerry Bridges notes in The Discipline of Grace, “There’s no point in praying for God’s help in the face of temptation if we haven’t made a commitment to obedience without exception.”
Navy Petty Officer First Class Marcus Luttrell was the sole survivor of a US Navy SEAL team ambushed by Taliban fighters. Severely wounded, Luttrell somehow managed through great courage to evade an enemy zealous to kill him. Fortunately, members of the Afghan Sabray tribe found him and whisked him into their village. Despite incredible danger, the tribal chief protected him, fending off Taliban attacks until word reached nearby American forces who then came and rescued him.
On December 30, 2007, President Kibaki, of the Kikuyu tribe, was again sworn in as the winner of the Kenyan Presidential election. According to most reports and the opposition candidate Raila Odinga, of the Luos tribe, the election was rigged and the incumbent should have lost. Immediate fighting broke out across the country. In Eldoret, gangs of youth set fire to an Assembly of God church killing fifty Kikuyus seeking refuge there. This was the first reported attack of a church in Kenyan history.
Before I go to bed I let the dogs out to do their thing. A most amusing pattern has developed. Dusty, our Labrador Retriever runs around the perimeter of the back yard and grunts—a well refined canine message! He knows if he barks I’ll get mad at him for waking our great neighbors. So he’s modified his approach to accomplish his objective—scare the whiskers off the cats next store and forewarn the raccoons that it’s a good time to vacate. It doesn’t matter if an active heartbeat is anywhere near, every night he’s going to run down the fence line with his hair at attention while his lungs expel a guttural warning. I happen to know it’s all show—but to the surrounding creatures he is their nemesis. If it were not for the fence they would be in trouble.
O Lord! The smell of smoke, unending pressure, ferocious jaws of confusion and fear, ear-splitting cries of others wounded . . . adrenaline rushes like some careening jet. A quick glance around reveals that this battle is extensive and the combatants as diverse as one could imagine:
Caleb’s head sunk in agony. On the splintered beams of a weathered deck stood the only life left that really mattered—his daughter. And now she was to be sold into slavery—auctioned off like some four-legged beast of burden.
There are moments in life we never forget—life-changing encounters. One of mine came as a “firstie”, a senior at West Point. I asked an older friend known for his wisdom to meet with me to discuss the topic of serving. On the day we met, he looked me in the eye and said, “Danny, we don’t need to talk about serving, we need to talk about pride.” He then lovingly shared three specific examples of pride he observed in my life from one dinner conversation in his home.
Malachi 2:1-2—“Therefore, this decree is for you priests: If you don’t listen, and if you don’t take it to heart to honor My name,” says Yahweh of Hosts, “I will send a curse among you, and I will curse your blessings. In fact, I have already begun to curse them because you are not taking it to heart.”
Titus 2:11,12--For the grace of God has appeared with salvation for all people, instructing us to deny godlessness and worldly lusts and to live in a sensible, righteous, and godly way in the present age.
The trail to heaven is littered with casualties—victims of misguided priorities or the worship of need-driven agendas. These wounded souls once burned bright in their zeal to serve God. They played clarion songs for the poor and engaged in rescuing the oppressed with fervor capable of melting granite skeptics into milky wax. They gave sacrificially with glad hearts. So what happened that they should be reduced to bitter herbs and poured out ashes?
Luke 23:44-46--It was now about noon, and darkness came over the whole land until three, because the sun’s light failed. The curtain of the sanctuary was split down the middle. And Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Father, into Your hands I entrust My spirit.” Saying this, He breathed His last.