Monthly Archives: February 2013

Spiritual Sensitivity


My pastor works also as a baseball coach. He talks about drilling his players over and over so that they develop “muscle memory”. They don’t need to think about what to do in the middle of a play- their body just knows.

The same thing happens in public speaking. For years I coached homeschoolers on their public speaking skills. If they practiced over and over, they developed the “dominant response”. When they stepped to the platform and experienced a surge of stage fright, it was okay because the dominant response kicked in. Their brain and body simply made the speech happen- it knew what to do.

I think it is a similar thing in prayer. We want to pray, as often as we can, according to God’s will. BUT how do develop the spiritual sensitivity- the “knowingness” to know His will? We’re more likely to be sensitive spiritually if we know His voice.

We know His voice when we know His Word.

We know His Word when we know Scripture.

Jesus said in John 10:27: My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.

You can develop your spiritual sensitivity by learning His voice well: by learning His Words spoken in Scripture. Learn His Word by reading often, by lectio devina, by meditation on His word, by prayer that quotes His Word back to Him.

Try this:

You have something you are concerned about, right? You want to know God’s will regarding that thing. Ask God for a Scripture that you can pray. Then, as part of your prayer time, start reading your Bible. Read until you run into that verse that jumps off the page and speaks to your heart. Begin offering that Scripture up the the Lord in your prayer time. See what He shows you…

In the meantime, you can develop that spiritual muscle memory to know the Scripture as a whole VERY well. Read it prayerfully till you know the whole story!

Prayer, Doubt, and Unbelief- What’s the Difference and WHY?


Wow, THAT post title sounds encouraging, huh? What I want to talk about is the DIFFERENCE between doubt and unbelief- and WHY it matters.

I’d like to share a story about doubt and one about unbelief. Then I’d like to challenge you to a special prayer…

Read the story in Matthew 14 of Peter walking on the water (thanks to

23 And when he had sent the multitudes away, he went up into a mountain apart to pray: and when the evening was come, he was there alone.

24 But the ship was now in the midst of the sea, tossed with waves: for the wind was contrary.

25 And in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went unto them, walking on the sea.

26 And when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, It is a spirit; and they cried out for fear.

27 But straightway Jesus spake unto them, saying, Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid.

28 And Peter answered him and said, Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water.

29 And he said, Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus.

30 But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me.

31 And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?

32 And when they were come into the ship, the wind ceased.

In this story, Peter had the awesome opportunity to participate in the supernatural. I mean, how many folks get to walk on water? He was doing fine while he was going to Jesus (as in, steering himself in that direction by looking toward Jesus). Then he looked around and saw the wind boisterous- and became afraid. He doubted when he remembered how bad the weather actually was. The DOUBT came from outside him.

Doubt comes from outside. (Remember the story of Adam and Eve in the garden. The serpent sowed doubt by saying, “Hath God truly said…”. It wasn’t Adam and Eve’s idea- it came from an enemy…). The word doubt here is distazo– which literally means dividing your sight- taking your eyes off the thing you should be looking at. It is the result of an enemy from the outside trying to distract you!

When Peter doubted, Jesus fussed at him. Peter was not rejected for his doubt but he certainly was chastised.

Want to see a DIFFERENT reaction from Jesus? Let’s read the story about unbelief in Mark 9 (thanks to, again):

And they brought him unto him: and when he saw him, straightway the spirit tare him; and he fell on the ground, and wallowed foaming.

21 And he asked his father, How long is it ago since this came unto him? And he said, Of a child.

22 And ofttimes it hath cast him into the fire, and into the waters, to destroy him: but if thou canst do any thing, have compassion on us, and help us.

23 Jesus said unto him, If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth.

24 And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief.

25 When Jesus saw that the people came running together, he rebuked the foul spirit, saying unto him, Thou dumb and deaf spirit, I charge thee, come out of him, and enter no more into him.

26 And the spirit cried, and rent him sore, and came out of him: and he was as one dead; insomuch that many said, He is dead.

27 But Jesus took him by the hand, and lifted him up; and he arose.

Jesus didn’t chastise the poor father at all- He just casted out the evil spirit and healed the boy. The father was trying- he believed but his belief was apistia- incomplete faith. The father’s belief was immature.

I think most of us probably fit in the UNBELIEF category at times. In this we are compassed by a great cloud of witnesses (there’s also one of those for the times our faith is spot-on, see Hebrews 11). Take a look at  Psalms 10, 22, and 74- and the whole book of Job for examples of WHY GOD- incomplete faith. God doesn’t fuss at us in these times- it is our job to turn to Him with our honest emotions (anxiety, anger, sadness, fear) and ask for His help and mercy.

So, WHY am I bringing this up?

I ran into the writings of a post-modern so-called theologian, Peter Rollins, who states it is his job to sow doubt into people’s faith. In fact, he says his “Omega Group” will help people loose their Christian faith in just 12 sessions. Ugh. Why would that be pleasing to God? (Well, what does it matter to him, if as he says in one of his stories, there is no God?)

On the other, there are honest wrestlers with faith. You could say that wrestling with faith is unbelief because it is incomplete faith that is longing for answers. That is a good thing. God gave us wrestling minds. So keep wrestling and keep seeking God’s answers. The key is the seeking God and His answers. (Here’s a blog that, in my opinion does some honest wrestling.)

Here’s the prayer project. Ask God to help you grow in your faith, to give you wisdom and understanding, to help your unbelief. Ask Him to protect you from the wiles of the evil one and to help you keep your eyes on Him at all times.

Wonder Prayer


blog pix joanna's flower pixSometimes we look at God’s wonderful works and it is easy to praise Him. Just one look at a clear, starry sky can fill us with wonder!

Sometimes God’s working is mysterious and we don’t understand. Still, in those times we can trust His wonderful work in our lives and praise Him. We can praise Him because He is with us always. We can praise Him because the story isn’t finished yet. We can praise Him simply because He is.

Prayer project:

Psalm 107 is a psalm about God’s wonderful, mysterious works. It is a psalm that helps us see that the events happening are just part of the story. The rest is yet to come- and it is wonderful. Try reading through this psalm with a thoughtful heart. Then go back and read it as a prayer to God.

Psalm 107 King James Version. Thanks to

O give thanks unto the Lord, for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever.

Let the redeemed of the Lord say so, whom he hath redeemed from the hand of the enemy;

And gathered them out of the lands, from the east, and from the west, from the north, and from the south.

They wandered in the wilderness in a solitary way; they found no city to dwell in.

Hungry and thirsty, their soul fainted in them.

Then they cried unto the Lord in their trouble, and he delivered them out of their distresses.

And he led them forth by the right way, that they might go to a city of habitation.

Oh that men would praise the Lord for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men!

For he satisfieth the longing soul, and filleth the hungry soul with goodness.

10 Such as sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, being bound in affliction and iron;

11 Because they rebelled against the words of God, and contemned the counsel of the most High:

12 Therefore he brought down their heart with labour; they fell down, and there was none to help.

13 Then they cried unto the Lord in their trouble, and he saved them out of their distresses.

14 He brought them out of darkness and the shadow of death, and brake their bands in sunder.

15 Oh that men would praise the Lord for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men!

16 For he hath broken the gates of brass, and cut the bars of iron in sunder.

17 Fools because of their transgression, and because of their iniquities, are afflicted.

18 Their soul abhorreth all manner of meat; and they draw near unto the gates of death.

19 Then they cry unto the Lord in their trouble, and he saveth them out of their distresses.

20 He sent his word, and healed them, and delivered them from their destructions.

21 Oh that men would praise the Lord for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men!

22 And let them sacrifice the sacrifices of thanksgiving, and declare his works with rejoicing.

23 They that go down to the sea in ships, that do business in great waters;

24 These see the works of the Lord, and his wonders in the deep.

25 For he commandeth, and raiseth the stormy wind, which lifteth up the waves thereof.

26 They mount up to the heaven, they go down again to the depths: their soul is melted because of trouble.

27 They reel to and fro, and stagger like a drunken man, and are at their wit’s end.

28 Then they cry unto the Lord in their trouble, and he bringeth them out of their distresses.

29 He maketh the storm a calm, so that the waves thereof are still.

30 Then are they glad because they be quiet; so he bringeth them unto their desired haven.

31 Oh that men would praise the Lord for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men!

32 Let them exalt him also in the congregation of the people, and praise him in the assembly of the elders.

33 He turneth rivers into a wilderness, and the watersprings into dry ground;

34 A fruitful land into barrenness, for the wickedness of them that dwell therein.

35 He turneth the wilderness into a standing water, and dry ground into watersprings.

36 And there he maketh the hungry to dwell, that they may prepare a city for habitation;

37 And sow the fields, and plant vineyards, which may yield fruits of increase.

38 He blesseth them also, so that they are multiplied greatly; and suffereth not their cattle to decrease.

39 Again, they are minished and brought low through oppression, affliction, and sorrow.

40 He poureth contempt upon princes, and causeth them to wander in the wilderness, where there is no way.

41 Yet setteth he the poor on high from affliction, and maketh him families like a flock.

42 The righteous shall see it, and rejoice: and all iniquity shall stop her mouth.

43 Whoso is wise, and will observe these things, even they shall understand the lovingkindness of the Lord.