The Power of Pink XVII

Teaching Men How to Fight Like a Girl

What a difference a year makes. In December of 2009 Dana and I were making plans for a trip to Fayetteville, Arkansas. She was scheduled for surgery on the 10th, and we were trying to get everything in order to make the journey north and prepare for the recovery that would follow. Her surgery had been postponed month after month since May, and to say the least we were ready to "Gitter dun."

Thanks to Facebook, I was able to reconnect with hundreds of people and enlist them to P.U.S.H. (Pray Until Something Happened). After months of delays, the stone began to roll up hill. Within 72 hours of contacting people we have not seen in years, God began to answer their prayers. We had a fine surgeon become available to us, Dr. Michael Cross of Fayetteville. We were surprise to discover that his head nurse was a delightful young lady that we had known since she was a teenager. We had a hospital surgical room open up and a date for surgery. We had a place to stay that was five minutes from the doctor's office, and seven minutes from the hospital. Bob and Sharna Arthur made their home and hearts available to us and provided incredible hospitality to us for a week. They remain two very special people in our lives.

A year later I am seated in our new home in Fort Worth, Texas, listening to Christmas music and watching Dana unpack Christmas decorations. She has always been the reigning czarina of Christmas, and watching her turn Thanksgiving into Christmas is a modern marvel. She has a touch that few people have for making this season a special time of year for her family and friends.

December holds so much meaning for us on more than one level. Our first child, Ashley, was born on December 6th while we were serving as Student Pastors at First Baptist Church of Broken Arrow, Oklahoma. Any parent will understand what I mean when I say, Christmas has never been the same since she arrived. Dana always has the tree up and the halls decked by Ashley's birthday. My assignment is hauling Thanksgiving boxes out and trading spaces in the garage with the Christmas decorations that Dana will need to make the transition complete.

I have always enjoyed Christmas, but this year, I am so pleased to be heading into this season with a quick glance in the rear view mirror at the events of a year ago. The oncologist and her surgeon have seen her in recent days and given her a clean bill of health. The reports could not be any more encouraging. As you can imagine, we paused at Thanksgiving to say a heart felt, "Thank you Lord!" We are also grateful to God for giving us a future and a hope.

In the past five months we have resigned from thirty years in the pastorate, sold our home, moved to another city, set up a non-profit ministry, applied for 501c3 status from the IRS, hired a CPA, driven 4,500 miles to seven states to lead prayer conferences that equip people to utilize prayer as the foundation for family worship. We have a few weeks here at home during December to regroup before we head into a very aggressive schedule for January through March. We will soon be on the road to Nebraska, Mississippi, Ohio, Maine, Georgia, and Texas. In between these stateside ministry opportunities will be our first trip to Israel January 30th to February 9th. Our host will be Gov. Mike Huckabee. We are very excited!

These next four weeks remind me of the lull before the storm. I probably should be asking for prayer for my strength to complete a half marathon in Dallas on December 5th. My daughters talked me into this one. Even though I am 71 pounds lighter than I was a year ago, I am not ready to run this race, but I am going to do it anyway. Ready or not here I come. That seems to be our family motto. If I knew how to write it in Latin, I would put it on our family crest. This would be appropriately emblazoned over the face of a calf looking at a new gate.

Don't get me wrong. Dana and I love our lives. After three years of the fight with breast cancer, I am beginning to see why she has called this battle her "Great Adventure." We wouldn't have it any other way. God has proven Himself faithful in so many ways in the past five months of this new journey of faith. We have seen him open doors of service, and provide for our needs in the most unusual ways.

I have found the meaning of the words, "Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am." (Philippians 4:11) The old King James Version used the language, "Whatsoever state" in place of "circumstances." As we have traveled from state to state throughout this great nation, I have been comforted by the old English interpretation of Paul's words. I know he did not mean to say he has learned to be content in the states of Maine, Vermont, Massachusetts, Virginia, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, Alabama, Louisiana, Georgia, Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Nevada, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Kansas, Iowa, Minnesota and Ohio. However, we have still learned to be content traveling and trusting God to be at work long before we arrive on the scene in a new place of ministry. We have also had the joy of seeing him provide the means to minister even when there is no visible sign of support in front of us.

As we approach this season of Christmas, we are more encouraged than we have been in years. As we have interacted with believers all over the United States, we have been impressed with the length and breadth of the work that God is doing. His Holy Spirit is not confined to the limits of what Southern Baptists will allow Him to do in their lives, churches and denominational machinery. He is touching lives of people and bypassing stagnant pulpits, impotent hierarchies and gridlocked bureaucracies of all kinds of established denominations. God is stirring in the hearts of people across denominational lines and heritages who are hungry for a movement of God. I am thrilled to be a part of something that only He can get credit for. Join with me as we pray for a Spiritual Awakening that will bring about genuine repentance and transformed lives through the power of the Holy Spirit.

"The blessing of Pentecost may be lost, and it is always lost when obedience fails. The Spirit-filled must be Spirit-ruled. We are the ministers of the Spirit through Whom the supply is conveyed. Those who are greatly used of God have no monopoly on the Holy Ghost; they are mighty through God because the Spirit has a monopoly of them." Samuel Chadwick

The Power of Pink XVI

Teaching Men How to Fight Like a Girl

"Pray for all the saints, and for me, that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly to make known the mystery of the gospel." Ephesians 6:18-19

When Dana began her "Great Adventure" I felt compelled to pray for her. In March of 2008, I was preaching at First Baptist Church, Sylvester, Georgia for a series of meetings on prayer. I received a call from Dana that she had discovered a suspicious lump under her arm. She made an appointment to get it tested, and I made plans to return home to be with her when this took place. I immediately bombarded God with requests to have this lump go away. When the lump remained, I prayed that is would be benign. When tissue taken from her body looked suspicious, I called on God to keep it from spreading to other parts of her body. When it appeared to be in her breast, I prayed that the cancer would be contained, and removed with the simplest procedure possible. When the results indicated that it was in more than one place, I prayed that she would not have to have both breasts removed. When she had both breasts removed, I prayed that she would have some degree of normalcy restored. When reconstructive surgery was delayed for almost a year, I began to realize my prayers were not achieving my desired results. I had a terrible track record. I had my prayers answered. but I did not receive the answers I wanted.

When Dana and I had met with her oncologist he told us that he believed the first thing that we needed to bring to this fight was prayer. We both couldn't have agreed more. The problem was not about praying for help. The problem I was having with God is that I was not getting the help I needed. This "Great Adventure" was moving down the wrong road. I was praying for healing for Dana, and my answers were getting us nowhere fast. This adventure was turning into a disaster. My prayers began to more accusatory than intercessory, and I am so glad that I did not write them down for others to read. God heard some things from me that I would not want others to overhear.

By the summer of 2009 I became impressed to study the armor of God as described in Ephesians chapter six. The key word that jumped out at me me was "stand." I began to realize that I was not called to attack the enemy, but to stand in the face of an attack. Three times the soldier is called to stand or to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. There is no armor provided for a safe retreat. If a soldier turns his back, removes his helmet, lowers his shield, or drops his sword, he becomes vulnerable. If he stands next to The Champion, he is invincible.

Interceding for my wife to be healed had left me exhausted. I couldn't tell if I was tired of the fight or tired in it. All I knew was that I was tired. Prayer is hard work even when prayers are being answered the way you want them to be answered. Believing prayer is harder to do when the answers come, but are not delivered in the way that you want. I was ready to quit praying since it didn't seem to matter what I asked. The answer was not what I was looking for.

The Apostle Paul reminds the prayer warrior to always pray for others with perseverance. A quick read led me to be pretty sure that this word left no room for quit in the matter of intercessory prayer. As I studied it, I discovered that it implied steadfastness, patience, and persistence. When put into practice it means to attend constantly, continue unswervingly, adhere firmly, or to hold fast to a cause. When applied to prayer it simply means to continue, regardless. Regardless of what? Regardless of any obstacle, delay, threat, or attack a faithful prayer warrior will patiently, and continually depend on his Champion, Jesus Christ.

I wasn't happy about the answers I was getting, but I continued to pray for Dana to be healed. As I studied the armor of God, I became aware of my own need for people to pray for me. I realized Paul had a higher motive for having people pray for him. He asked that he would have boldness to make known the mystery of the gospel. This mystery is a secret that God has allowed His children to have the privilege to tell the whole world. The good news of the gospel is that God has sent us a Savior, His Son Jesus, to take our place on the cross and pay the penalty for our sin. There is a way back to God, and Jesus is The Way, The Truth, and The Life.

What a great honor to be able to tell others that God loves them, and has a wonderful plan of salvation that is found only through the person of His Son, Jesus. Dana had been asking God to give her a platform to share the gospel with hurting people. She embraced breast cancer as her "Great Adventure" and allowed God to prepare her to receive a special grace under fire. I was slow to the battle, but I followed her lead. As her husband, I wanted the firing to stop more than I wanted to stand at her side in the fight. When I saw her put her hand in the hand of Jesus, and take her stand by His side, I began to see a whole new purpose in the battle. She was being transformed into a radiant warrior who stood in the face of the worst the enemy could throw at her. Her confidence was in Christ.

Standing next to Jesus always gives a warrior a better view of the battle field. Jesus has taken the high ground, and invites us to stand next to Him where we can see the victory. Men will always become better prayer warriors when they learn how to fight like a girl. Thank you Dana for standing firm, and standing close to Jesus. You are an inspiration to me and to many others.

The Power of Pink XV

Teaching Men How to Fight Like a Girl

"...watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints." Ephesian 6:18

The purpose of the armor of God is to prepare the warrior to stand watch and pray for all the saints. All, except one, of the weapons of the spiritual warfare expected of a soldier of Christ are defensive in nature. This is the sword of the Spirit or the Word of God. This should be a gentle reminder that the person who stands next to Christ in the battle line should expect to come under attack. The enemy is not intimidated by their weapons, but they are intimidated by their Champion. He has already defeated the worst they can do to him, and they have no power to conquer Him. As long as His followers stand behind what He has provided, they are invincible.

Christ followers are pictured in Ephesians as warriors, but they are not called upon to retreat or charge, but to stand. They stand watch when they persevere in prayer "for all saints." This is a powerful reminder of a believer's reason for existence. Prayer is the order of the day, not an option or personal preference. Prayerless people are AWOL in the battle against evil. They have either refused to take their stand, or they have retreated under intense enemy attack.

The battle plan that is outlined in this passage of scripture is very simple. Put on the armor of God. Stand against the schemes of the devil. Pray always in the Spirit. Persevere in prayer for the needs of others. This final line of battle is called INTERCESSION. It means standing in the gap for someone else. It is not about personal preferences or petitions, but about perseverance.

Men are driven to take charge of a situation. When Dana was diagnosed with breast cancer, I wanted to do something. Before long it became obvious that this attack was more than I could handle, and there was very little I could do about it. The enemy had bypassed me, and the damage had been done. I had not blocked the incoming missiles from her body, and even the cure left a mark. It gave every appearance of having the capacity to kill her too. I felt impotent, and almost infantile in my efforts to provide support and encouragement to her in the fight of her life.

Praying for her became a positive way for me to bring what she needed to The Intercessor and allow Jesus to meet her needs in ways that I could not. Since Dana's childhood, her favorite verse of Scripture has always been, "But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus." (Philippians 4:19) Praying for Dana was the only way I had to take her petition to Christ, and to see Him to supply what she needed the most, the Presence of Christ in the midst of her crisis. Intercession moves the intercessor from the focus of the prayer. Intercession is another way of reminding the prayer warrior, "THIS IS NOT ABOUT YOU!" This kind of praying gets the eyes of the prayer warrior off of their own navel. There is a huge difference between picking lint out of one's navel, and putting on the armor of God. Intercession puts concern for others into action and away from the paralyzing, angst-driven handringing that usually passes for Christian compassion.

Intercession makes it clear that our purpose in life is not to get what we want, but to pray for what others need. When we realize that life is not about us getting what we want, but about consistent companionship with Jesus then our life has new meaning. Asking Jesus to meet the needs of others is how we identify with the mission of the Risen Christ. He sits at the right had of God and intercedes for others continually.

Too many followers of Christ believe intercession is for elite special ops forces to carry out on behalf of the church. They see it as a perilous option, and not a responsibility they should bear. The army of God is made up of run of the mill, reliable recruits, chosen by Christ, in spite of themselves to defeat the enemy with the power of intercession.

Edward McKendree Bounds or E.M. Bounds died in 1913, and is buried in the little town of Washington, GA. He was a great man of prayer of the past century. The final 19 years of his life were spent in prayer, writing, and itinerant ministry. His words live on through the books that he wrote then, and continue to be published today. In one of his classic works on prayer, The Weapon of Prayer, he said, "Praying saints are God's agents for carrying on his saving and providential work on earth."

Men have a natural tendency to want to be large and in charge, and to prove how strong they are to the woman they love. Cancer has a way of evaporating that mirage. Intercession empowers a man to get over himself, and get used to taking Jesus by the hand. Talking to Him about what His wife needs the most makes him an essential part of her fight and her recovery. When he chooses to fight like a man he will end up crying like a little girl. When a man will fight like a girl, he ends up being the kind of man a woman needs. He leads on his knees.

Father, today I am interceding for those who read these words to know the sufficiency of Christ. Grant them their petitions and restore their confidence that Jesus has already showed up in the midst of their crisis to offer them His consistent companionship. Hide them behind your mighty shield, and protect them from the lies of the enemy. Assure them that they are never alone because Jesus will never leave them or forsake them. AMEN!

The Power of Pink XIV

Teaching Men How to Fight Like a Girl

"With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit." Ephesians 6:18

When Dana and I met for the first time with her oncologist, we were already overwhelmed by the endless series of sights, sounds, smells, and the incomprehensible new list vocabulary words we were trying to learn. Hearing them spoken was just the first step to understanding their meaning. Some remain a moving target even to this day. Remission is one of my least favorite words. It doesn't mean much. It does not mean what it sounds like. It is more of an intermission in the fight rather than an end to it. But that is another story.

When the good doctor sat us down to review our options, we were looking for a battle plan to start our fight against the enemy. We had heard well meaning platitudes, received alot of pats on the back, and shed a huge amount of tears. We had felt like victims long enough, now we were ready to hit back, and we needed a way to do it that would end in victory.

As Dr. Olivares spoke, I heard him say that the enemy we faced was a relentless and evil foe. He was a seasoned veteran of the war with cancer, and had just recently walked his own wife through her fight with it. What he shared with us had the ring of authenticity of a person who had been on the front lines of the fight, and was fresh from the battle. His heart as well as his head was in the game, and we could sense that he was interested in giving us help and hope.

As we drove home from our first visit to her oncologist, Dana and I discussed what we each had heard. I described to her my own take on what he had said. The mental image that came to my mind was that of the five fingers of a hand that could be made into a fist to hit back at the enemy with everything we had. When the doctor mentioned prayer, I saw it as the thumb of this hand.

A thumb is essential in making a fist. Without this small, inconspicuous, and seemingly insignificant part of the body, the hand is relatively impotent. It can still wave, gesture, or slap at the enemy, but it does not strike fear or wield instruments of warfare that require a firm grip. Without the thumb a person literally loses their grip on life. I told Dana that I saw prayer as the thumb of the hand that would enable us to get a grip on the weapons of our warfare, and make a fist that could hit back at the enemy.

"With all prayer" is a reminder that fighting the enemy without prayer is a foolish strategy. Standing in the battle line, unwilling or unable to make a fist that can get a grip on the weapons of warfare is not bravery. It is a fool's errand. The enemy knows this. That is why prayerless people do not constitute a threat to the enemy's mission. They are pleased when the ranks of churches are filled with them. They can be turned into a retreating mob that turns on its leaders and tramples everyone around them to escape the slightest threat to their comfort.

"Petition" is an encouragement to bring what we need the most to the only one who can provide it for us. Prayer is not about getting what we want as much as it is calling out to God for what we need. Even Jesus prayed that God would let the cup of his greatest test pass Him by. The longer He prayed in the garden, the less He wanted His own way, and the more God's will for His life took over. That is called being "honest to God." Petitions are not an offense to God. Prayerlessness is. Prayer is the air a warrior breathes, and it gives him a perspective that cannot be obtained in any other climate. God's will may be known, but it is never accepted without prayer. It softens a hardened heart to receive what it needs, even while it asks what it wants.

"Pray at all times" is an invitation to call for reinforcements. Dana and I have been brought to our knees many times since we heard the words, "It's cancer." This has been the way God has brought us to the end of ourselves, and brought us to the sufficiency of Christ. When we were dating, Dana told me that her life verse was, "And my God shall supply all your needs according to His riches in glory, in Christ Jesus." (Philippians 4:19) We have had this scripture carved into a beautiful plaque and prominently displayed on the wall of our home,throughout our marriage. That does not impress the enemy at all. Living it is what strikes fear into the heart of the enemy. We have learned to pray at all times in order to get a better grip on the hand of Jesus when the enemy intimidates us. Hearing, reading, studying, memorizing, and meditating on the truth of God's word is required to get a real grip on it. When God's word says that He will never leave us or forsake us, prayer enables me to put my hand in His at any time the enemy attacks me with doubt. I have learned to pray as David did when the enemy seized hold of him, "In God I have put my trust, I shall not be afraid." (Psalms 56:11)

"Pray in the Spirit" describes the character of Christ. "The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, self control." (Galatians 5:22-23) The character of Christ purifies our motives as we pray. Praying in the Spirit is not an out of body experience that raises us above the flames and the fumes of the fight. It describes a struggle with the flesh that has been won in the life of the warrior before he takes the fight to the enemy. Again, Jesus is our prototype for prayer. He came to the point of yielding His will to God's will. Praying in the Spirit of Christ means coming as quickly as possible to the crossroads of the will, and turning our backs on "MY" and choosing to travel down the road to "THY."

Men have a tendency to believe they are large and in charge, or to at least pose as if they are. They are accustomed to having people lean on them to provide what they need. They get a great deal of their sense of purpose from the work they do, or the title they hold. Breast cancer has a way of emasculating a man. It moves him from the firing line to the sideline. It reveals his impotency to do anything to help the one he loves the most. He cannot take her place, shield her from the pain, or deliver her from the attack of cancer or the consequences of the cure. It is hard for a man to admit he is afraid, and even harder to admit that he needs help. Teaching men how to fight like a girl involves showing them that they will never stand taller in the eyes of his wife than when he is on his knees praying for her. A prayerless man may be able to slap, gesture or wave at the enemy, but he will never be able to make a fist without taking personal, believing prayer seriously. When a child is afraid, they will slip their hand into the hand of their parent for protection and assurance. When men pray they get a grip on the hand of God, and begin to sense the Presence of Jesus. Praying in the Spirit means that Jesus is not limited by time and space. The enemy cannot be everywhere at once, but Jesus can be. He offers Himself to us through means of believing prayer.

Prayer enables a warrior to get a grip on the hand of God n the middle of the battle. When the enemy sees a man praying he knows that he has lost his advantage. Enemy attacks are meant to convince a person that they are a victim. Prayer provides the means for warriors to know their victory is in Christ. When we get a grip on Jesus, there is nothing that the enemy can do to rob us of God's best for us.

The Power of Pink XII

Teaching Men How to Fight Like a Girl

"And take THE HELMET OF SALVATION." Ephesians 6:17

A helmet protects the head when a soldier comes in contact with the enemy. It's primary purpose is to defend the wearer from the blows that an enemy intends to use to crush their skull, or rattle their brain. Having experienced several concussions over the years from car wrecks and football injuries, I am a firm believer in providing the brain with all the help it can get.

One of the side effects of a conscussion is the "deja vus" feeling. This is a strange, and yet intense belief that what is going on has somehow been dreamed about or experienced before. When a person's head has been hit, the concussion creates a climate of confusion in their mind. It is very disconcerting. Although there may be no life-threatening injury, it is still incapacitating. If the enemy cannot defeat you, the enemy will settle for disorienting you.

When the words, "HELMET OF SALVATION" are used, they are a direct quote from Isaiah 50:17. They describe the Redeemer's wardrobe as He prepares to take the field against His adversaries. The soldier of Christ is given a choice to put on the "Helmet of Salvation" or to face the enemy in his own strength. When people try to fight without the proper protection, it should come as no surprise that their inviting an invasion of their mind by the lies of the enemy.

The helmet that a believer puts on his head is a protection from the lies of the enemy. Perverted propaganda permeates the mind of believers when they forget to put on their protection. Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth and the life, no man comes unto the Father, except by Me." The world says, "It doesn't matter what you believe as long as you are sincere." God's word says. "And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved." Acts 4:13 The world says, "We all believe in the same God."

It is not politically correct to say that Jesus is the only hope of salvation. The truth remains. The enemy is fighting against Him, and the position He holds as the way of salvation. When a person invites Jesus into their lives as their Lord and Savior, they receive the victory, but they also join the fight. It may surprise them that their life does not become a bed of ease, but that they become a target for the same enemy that thought it could defeat Jesus. Staying close to Jesus will keep a person from being hit in the head by any idea or concept that sets up another system that overshadows the Savior.

Half a century ago, it was not unusual to see neon signs on prominent, traditional churches flashing the words, "Jesus Saves!" Today, the signs have been taken down and replaced with glossy brochures meant to camouflage the church as a hip, pop culture alternative to the dogmatic bigots who demanded that it was God's way or the highway. When I have attended these churches, I have been struck by their intense effort to make no offense, and to cull out of their vocabulary words that would make people uncomfortable with their separation from God. They offer a well ordered hour of coffee, connection, choruses, and communication designed to be relevant to the prevailing culture.

This seems strange to me. When I go to a mall, they do everything they can to make me feel out of touch with what they have, and create in me a hunger to shed my filthy rags and put on something new. Mirrors and huge glass windows are everywhere. What I wore looked fine when I left the house, but when it put alongside of what is in the window, it looks like trash. When I visit a car dealership, they fill their show room with what I do not have. I am made to feel very uncomfortable with what I drove on to their car lot. The pristine models on their show room floor make it very hard for me leave feeling satisfied driving home in my oil leaking, brake squealing clunker.

When Dana and I heard the word's, "It's cancer!" It was a huge hit to the head. I could not think clearly. I was rattled. She was somehow able to take hold of God's hand, and gain a perspective that I could not grasp. She immediately said, "I knew it. I am just going to have to beat it." I was reeling. She was rallying. Dana's capacity to take hold of the Savior's hand in the middle of her crisis is one of the greatest lessons a man can learn. To fight like a girl means we must let go of our confidence in our capacity to cope with a crisis, and take hold of God's hand to walk us through it.

As a rule, in Western culture, men do not like to hold hands with each other, unless it is limited to a brief, yet firm handshake. When I lived in East Africa, I experienced a different level of appreciation for this act of companionship. Every encounter with another man would involve a series of handshakes and grips. You would be invited to shake, grip, release, shake, grip, release, all the while exchanging various pleasantries. If this exercise was one of genuine friendship or intended to show honor, and respect the hands of the two men would remain clasped as they walked side by side down the road. I never got comfortable with this. Holding hands with another man has never been high on my list of things to do.

Fortunately, women are more accustomed to holding hands with men. They enjoy it. They look forward to it. They see it as a sign of affection, a symbol of identification, and a promise of protection. When Dana took the hand of Jesus, she was taking hold of the Savior's hand to prove Himself faithful to love, to stand and to protect her as she entered the fight of her life. I guess I thought I was going to have to do something. She showed me that she had things well in hands. She kept the main thing the main thing for the entire battle. She knew her salvation came from Jesus. Her eternal security came from Him, and her time on this earth was in His hands. She had a quiet confidence that she was invincible and indestructible, until her work on earth was finished. As I watched Dana walk with Jesus through her "Great Adventure" I began to take baby steps that allowed me to sense His Presence standing next to me. Thank you Jesus for standing firm and taking the hits that were meant for me, and sharing the protection of Your HELMET OF SALVATION.

When men fight like a girl, they let go of their pride and take hold of Jesus. When you are in a head on collision with life, don't be afraid to squeal like a girl and scream, "Jesus take the wheel!" It might become one of your life's greatest hits. Thanks Carrie Underwood, and thank you Dana Miller for teaching me how to fight like a girl.

The Power of Pink XI

Teaching Men How to Fight Like a Girl

"In addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one." Ephesians 6:16

The shield of faith is a powerful weapon in the battle against evil. It is defensive in nature, and requires a spirit of submission for it to be effective protection in the middle of a firefight with the enemy. When Dana and I heard the news of her cancer, it shook my faith in God to the core. We had experienced the faithfulness of God for years, but nothing had prepared me for Dana's "Great Adventure." She amazed me with her capacity to see the hand of God in this new challenge. She stepped up to the battle line with a quiet confidence, and calm to begin the fight of her life. What I felt was a great disaster, she received as a great adventure. She got behind the shield faith. She had picked up that shield as a young girl, and found it was no longer child-sized, but had grown to be just what she needed for what she faced.

The shield of faith has the capacity to be what we need it to be when the enemy starts firing at us. The real test of faith is making the right choice between fighting back in our own strength, or to getting behind the shield of faith. Trusting Jesus for our salvation is just the first baby step we take in submitting our will to God's plan for our lives. Learning to live in His will for our lives will take a life time of hiding behind the shield of faith. The enemy lives to intimidate, and irritate the children of God. Their arrows are meant to shake our faith, and cause us to react and retaliate in the flesh. At first glance, our shield always looks too small to protect us from what the enemy is sending our way. It also looks very insignificant to the enemy. That is why the forces of evil are stunned with their attacks do not have the desired effect. They cannot comprehend how such a small shield can give such great protection. Anyone receiving enemy fire will discover that their shield of faith has the capacity to grow to meet the circumstances that come their way. The person who chooses to fight in his own strength, and show his flesh rather than get behind the shield of faith is going to get burned.

The flaming arrows used by the ancient warriors were dripped in tar and then set aflame before they were launched. They were terrifying instruments of death and destruction. If the metal arrowhead did not penetrate the shield and reach the skin of the soldier on the receiving end of the attack, then the melted tar was still a danger. It could still drip down and scald the hands, and feet or blind the eyes when it splattered against the wooden and rawhide surface of the shield. The tar would insure that the fire would remain on the surface and would consume the protective layers if it was not extinguished. The flaming tar could not be wiped off without burning a hand. Any attempt to remove it or rake it off with the sword would mean lowering the shield. This would expose the attacked soldier, and leave him more vulnerable to more damage.
Wherever the tar landed it would burn all the way until it cooled off. It would leave a terribly painful wound and a deep scar if it ever made contact with the skin. The smoke of the burning tar would bring tears to the eyes, and choke the lungs of those who had to breathe it. The aroma would trigger memories in the minds of those who had experienced the scorching impact of fiery, tar drenched arrows. Often soldiers who were untouched themselves by the arrows would be terrified by the screams of the men in the line who had been victimized by them. This would often lead to panic in the ranks. Fear is one of the enemy's greatest weapons.

As Dana took her place behind her shield of faith, I began to see her shield and her faith grow. No matter what the enemy fired at her, she placed her trust in God. I would ask her what God was saying to her, and her answer was often these two words, "Trust Me!" This is a great lesson for self-made men to learn. There are some things in life that a man just can't fix. Breast cancer has a way of emasculating a man. It reveals his limitations. This should not bring resentment, but relief. When a man comes face to face with something only God can fix, it is time to give God the elbow room to get the job done. The safest place to be when the attacks of the enemy come are behind the shield of faith. Anyone who wants to be large and in charge is going to get burned because their flesh will be a perfect target for the enemy. Learning how to fight like a girl will require a man to trust in God more than he trusts in himself. Shields up!

The Power of Pink X

Teaching Men How to Fight Like a Girl

"Stand firm...having shod YOUR FEET WITH THE PREPARATION OF THE GOSPEL OF PEACE;" Ephesians 6:15

One of the ways Dana and I handled the trauma and drama of chemo was turning it into an excuse to go shopping to buy her a new pair of shoes. Chemo was never something she looked forward to having, but every step she took towards it meant that the finish line was a little bit closer. When I suggested we buy her a pair of shoes after every treatment, her eyes lit up like a little girl. Who knew that warfare had anything to do with footwear? God did, and Dana couldn't have agreed with Him more. We are still great friends with the ladies at Brighton in Southlake. This became our next stop after every chemo treatment. Men need to be reminded what women seem to know instinctively; shoes are extremely important in warfare.

Putting on armor and standing firm are two very different things indeed. It is not difficult to learn how to put on armor. It takes much training, testing, trial, terror, and tears to learn how to effectively use weapons for their proper use...warfare. They are not meant to be studied in the class room or put in museums as memorials to victories won long ago. These weapons are meant to be put on and put to use in the battle against evil that is raging today.

George Barna said, "Until the church utilizes prayer as the world class weapon in the battle against evil, there is not much hope of a turnaround." I couldn't agree more. For good or for ill, the church in America is a product of the prayers of God's people.

John Wooden, legendary basketball coach at UCLA, used to walk his players through a simple exercise before he let them touch a basketball. He had them sit barefoot on a court side bench and he taught them how to put on their socks. He had a regimen that he expected his players to follow so that they had all the wrinkles out of the sock, and the seams were straight. This process would assure that no blisters developed that would slow down the tempo of the game or take their mind off the real purpose of basketball...winning the game. He knew the greatest athlete in the world could be sidelined by the simplest and smallest thing. To this day Hall of Fame athletes who played for Coach Wooden can recite his lecture and instructions on how to put on a pair of socks. Putting on socks was not the goal of the game of basketball. They do not give trophies for excellence in putting on socks, but there would not be much winning if his players were whining about how much their feet hurt. This great coach knew that there was certain precise preparation that was necessary so that the real goal could be attained.

Ancient Roman soldiers were outfitted with shoes that could withstand what the enemy threw against them. They gave the feet support for long marches, and were equipped with studs on the soles to keep the feet of the soldiers firmly planted on the ground when being pushed by the enemy. Proper footwear was essential to standing firm on the ground that was being attacked by the enemy. It was also imperative to have protection when chasing the enemy from the battlefield. The flotsam and jetsam of war clutters a field with sharp objects that can injure the feet of those who are forced to march across fields of battle. In first century warfare, it was not unusual for a retreating army to litter their path of retreat with glass, nails, discarded armor, and any other debris to impede or injure the feet of those who were trying to finish them off. With proper footwear, the Roman soldiers could finish off the enemy because they not only could stand firm, but they could walk over the attempts of the enemy to delay their inevitable defeat.

The Gospel is good news. It is the greatest news that has ever been told. The news is PEACE.
God provided a way for the hostilities to end between Him and His rebellious children. He cannot make peace with people who remain in rebellion. His character will not allow Him to have a relationship or fellowship with those who have fallen short of what He requires of them. Sin separates, and it requires a solution. God sent His Son, Jesus, to be the bridge between the rebellion of man and His holiness. God provided a way for the war to end, and wrong to be made right. The death of Jesus on the cross paid the penalty of sin. He resurrection from the dead provides the power for new life.

My father often tells the story of when he was in California when he heard that Japan had surrendered, and World War II came to an end. He was still in the U.S. Army, and had been headed to become part of an invasion force that was being assembled to invade the Japanese home island when word came that Japan agreed to surrender unconditionally to the Allied forces. Eventually peace documents were signed on the U.S.S. Missouri that officially ended the war, and my father was discharged from the service. This was good news on so many levels. He was not on his way to invade Japan. He would not become a casualty on an enemy's beach. He was out of the army. He could return to his new wife. He could begin his college education. They could start a new life together. Peace meant so much more than the end of hostilities. It meant life.

When Dana and I heard the news that she had stage II breast cancer, there was a rush of fear and anxiety that flushed away any peace we had in our hearts. The Schemer began to flood our minds with questions about our right standing with God. He tried his best to get us to declare war on God, and develop a rebellious heart towards the only one who could bring us peace. We both heard a perverted voice raise the silent, but deadly doubts, "Was this punishment for something we had done?" "Was this punishment for something we didn't do?" "Is life over for us?" On and on the attacks came as the forces of evil used intimidating images of an angry God making cancer seem became bigger, and thereby robbing us of peace with God.

Peace with God, and peace of God are two sides to the same coin. Unfortunately we have done a better job of taking hold of peace with God than cashing in on the priceless value of the peace of God. Peace with God is based on the promises of God. "Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ." (Romans 5:1) The peace of God comes when any accusation that comes from the enemy is taken to God in prayer. "Be anxious for nothing, but in everything in prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." (Philippians 4:6-7 )

Dana and I began to learn how to TALK LESS AND PRAY MORE! When we took our anxious doubts about God's love for us back to the One who purchased our salvation, we gained a new perspective on life. Talking about our crisis often led us to devalue what God has done for us. Praying helped us regain a true sense of our net worth. Peace comes from praying to a loving Father who has already provided us with what money can't buy and death can't take away.

Cancer can hit anyone, anytime, and anywhere. It is no respecter of persons. It is not a punishment from God, but it is often used by the enemy with an evil intent. The forces of evil that are arrayed against the child of God cannot steal away the eternal security of a true believer. God is love, and saving His children from the consequences of their sin was His idea. When we put our faith or trust in God's Son, we personally identify with the plan that and the Person who releases God to declare us right in His eyes. When we begin to doubt God's love for us, we fall prey to the schemes of the forces who cannot take away the gift of God's love that is secured by the blood of His Son. The danger comes when we begin devaluing that which is priceless...His love for us.

During your greatest moments of doubt, do not be ashamed to gain comfort from the song of your childhood. "Jesus loves me this I know. For the Bible tells me so."

The Power of Pink IX

Teaching Men How to Fight Like a Girl


Great men of God have come to the same conclusion about His purpose for their lives, but they always seem to have unique ways of expressing it. This kind of variety is fascinating to me. God speaks through the different personalities and the life experiences of people, but maintains the clarity of His purpose. Bill Stafford says, "God's plan for you life is to knock you out of you so that He can fill you with Himself." Thanks, "Wild" Bill, I needed that. If you have difficulty swallowing what is served up by this fine Tennessee revival preacher, then take a look at what Oswald Chambers, urbane, English, and a professor of psychology turned chaplain had to say. "His purpose is not the development of a man. His purpose is to make a man exactly like Himself, and the characteristic of the Son of Man was self-expenditure. If we believe in Jesus, it is not what we gain, but what He pours through us that counts." Chuck Swindoll said, "Those who have endured the stinging experiences are the choicest counselors God can every use." See what I mean? The weapons of our warfare are meant to enable us to reveal more about Jesus than to receive honor for ourselves.

So what is this breastplate of righteousness all about, and what does it have to do with standing firm in the face of an attack from the evil one. Proverbs gives us a clue. "He is a shield to those who walk in integrity, guarding the paths of justice and He preserves the way of His godly ones. Then you will discern righteousness and justice and equity and every good course for wisdom will enter your deliver you from the way of evil." Prov. 2:12

The most important element in this passage is not the breastplate, but the righteousness. Notice the portion of the reference that is in caps..."THE BREASTPLATE OF RIGHTEOUSNESS." This refers to an Old Testament prophecy about the coming Messiah in Isaiah 11:5. Jesus is the one that is prophesied about, and it is His righteousness that is the focus. The breastplate protected the vital organs of the body from destructive penetration of the weapons of the enemy. There was no hope for survival without this kind of barrier, and there is no hope of salvation without a Savior. Jesus is our righteousness. It is His substitutionary death on the cross that provided the righteousness for believers that only His blood could purchase. He paid the price for our sin. When a person comes to the end of themselves, realizes their need for a Savior, and identifies with His death as the substitution for their sin, then they are declared right in the eyes of a Holy God. The blood of Jesus was a flood of love from His Father that washed away the ultimate weapon in enemy's arsenal, death. It would no longer have the power to inflict frantic fear and ultimate, eternal separation between God and His children.

The forces of evil will always try to get the followers of God to doubt the love of God for His children. They will accuse the soldiers in the line of being posers, and weaklings that cannot withstand exposure of their lives to the light of day. The enemy will accuse the faithful of being hypocrites, failures, and losers in the eyes of the God they follow. Their accusations become laughable when the well armored soldier can pound on the breastplate of righteousness and drown out the the voice of their accusers. The follower of Christ knows that what stands between them and the enemy has been provided to him by the blood of Jesus, and the grace of God. Followers who stand firm will always place the breastplate of righteousness between themselves and the enemy's arrows. When the flaming missiles of deceit, discouragement, delusion, and disillusionment start flying towards them they refuse to turn their backs, but thrust out their chests and let their blood bought breastplate do their fighting for them. They can stand firm because they do not stand alone. They stand right in the eyes of God and in the name of His Son, Jesus.

Men come into this world looking out for themselves. They are convinced they have alot to live for, and from the moment they are born they are screaming for what they want from a woman. They have to learn how to give themselves away, but have never had to take a course in how to get what they want. From the time they are born they know how to let a woman know their needs are not being met. They just scream. The shame of it all is that some men never grow out of this. It doesn't matter if they go to church or not. It makes no difference if they have prayed a prayer to ask Jesus into their heart or have just developed a pattern of going through the liturgy set before them. They simply never get over being selfish. You can stand on the porches of most churches and see this behavior worked out in the flesh. You will observe men getting in their cars, and not one in ten will open the car door for their wives or children. They are hungry, the preacher talked too much, the ball game is about to start, and the Methodists have a head start on them at the cafeteria. People in the parking lot who get in their way are potential speed bumps, and anyone who slows them down from being conformed to the image of the couch is going to get an earful of honking horn and "Why I oughta!"

Dana and I were married on January 1, 1977. Before that time, I made an intensive personal study of what made up a Christian marriage. There were times that I was even called on to lead marriage enrichment retreats as a single guy. Now that I reflect on that part of my ministry, those poor people must have been in real trouble to come to one of those events. One of the things that I discovered was an observation made in one of the countless numbers of books I read on the subject was, "You will never know how selfish you really are until you get married." I don't know why that has stuck with such tenacity over the years, but God has never let me forget it. This short statement carries a huge lesson for me that I am still trying to learn.

Breast cancer is an invasion of privacy and personal space like no other. It attacks a lady at the very core of her femininity, and has the capacity to rob her of what makes her uniquely a woman. One of the things that I have admired most about Dana in her fight against breast cancer is her determination to maintain her sense of style and fashion. She was not going to let breast cancer stop her from being a girl. This may be why she would always refer to this journey as her "Great Adventure." As I watched her fight this battle, I was taken to a new level of appreciation for the woman I had married. I fell in love with someone that I thought I knew, but this level of conflict in our lives gave me a front row seat to a wrestling match between Dana and the enemy. I was limited in what I could do to help her. This was emasculating. Still, I was empowered by observing her capacity to pound on her chest and roar back at the enemy in the middle of the fight. When the enemy dished out its worst, she cinched up her breastplate another notch and stood firm in her resolve to see this through and trust God in the middle of it.

"Teaching Men How to Fight Like a Girl" involves learning that what God has in store for me is not about my comfort in life, but my contribution in life. Women seem to have an instinctive ability to care for others more than themselves. For most men this is a learning curve that will take a life time. I am not talking about morphing into an insipid metrosexual who denies his manhood and fops his way through life getting in touch with his femine side. I am referring to the courage to admit that you do not have the capacity to take on what scares you the most, and being willing to submit your will to God's plan for your life. This plan includes turning your eyes from your own navel, and focusing on a greater purpose in life than weaving your own lint. This starts with spending time with God in prayer and leads to investing your life in others. Wean yourself away from the mother's milk of self-gratification and follow a path of self-expenditure. Plan for the day. Get out of the cotton pickin' car and hold a door open for your wife. She will be shocked and you will have taken a mansized step to learning how to fight like a girl.

The Power of Pink VIII

Teaching Men How to Fight Like a Girl

"Put on the full armor of God that you may be able to stand firm..." Ephesians 6:11

Putting on armor and standing firm are two parts of the same order. Orders are meant to be obeyed. They are not suggestions, advice or counsel. They carry the clout of authority from above expecting compliance from soldiers down the line. To ignore orders is to invite disaster. Disobedience to orders is treated as treasonous behavior. In the case of spiritual warfare, it is crucial for the soldier to put on the armor and to stand firm in the face of the enemy. To obey one or the other is not sufficient. When a soldier in the army of God does neither they are an agent of sabotage. They become a weak link in the line, inviting criticism of their commitment and creating conflict, chaos and confusion in the lives of others.

Those who put on the full armor of God need to take a good look at what they are getting into. The weapons of this warfare are defensive in nature, and serve the wearer best when they are facing the enemy. They provide no protection for those who cut and run and turn their exposed backs to the missiles fired by their attackers. Three times the words "stand firm" are inseparably connected with the armor of God.

  1. "Stand firm against the schemes of the devil." Eph. 6:11
  2. "Resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm." Eph. 6:13
  3. "Stand firm, therefore..." Eph. 6:14

When the armor is put on, but the soldier does not stand firm, then the armor offers no protection. Roman soldiers were Paul's prototype for the weapons he mentions in this passage of scripture. The individual soldier could be defeated one on one. They were merely men, and held no personal superiority over their enemies. Their legions became invincible when these ordinary individuals conformed themselves into an extraordinary fighting unit. Roman commanders gave the order for soldiers to stand their ground. Seasoned veterans knew that their best chance of survival came from facing the enemy. Their armor was not made for retreats. When they put on their full armor it protected them only for a stand against the enemy. It gave cover to their flanks and the back of the other soldier next to them in their ranks. The Romans were known for their armor, but their armor prepared them to to take a stand. One without the other was not going to lead them to victory over the enemy.

"Stand firm, therefore, "HAVING GIRDED YOUR LOINS WITH TRUTH." (V. 14) The enemy hits below the belt. It will sucker punch or strike without warning at any time of the day or night. The enemy is a great stalker and owns the night. The person who wants to stand firm will have to strap themselves up good and tight, especially when they are in the dark. A special warning to men here. Don't ever go into battle with cancer without your cup on. Don't think it is a sign of strength to take on this enemy all by yourself. To have dust on your Bible and give yourself a pass on prayer invites the enemy to kick you a swift kick in the groin. Any man who has ever experienced this has already instinctively winced at the remembrance.

Jesus knew the enemy very well. His take on the devil should give a pause to anyone who doubts that there is a person who lives to inflict harm on those who take their stand with the Son of God. He often encountered religious people who had sold out to the lies of the enemy camp, and were no friends of His. "You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning and does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie he speaks from his own nature. for he is a liar and the truth is not in him." (John 8:44)

When Dana was diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer the first scene of battle was in the mind. The forces of evil began to flood my mind night and day with lies that would come right out of the pit of hell. As her fight with cancer required lengthy series of chemo treatments, it began to impact her body in ways that caused me to wonder if we were doing the right thing. Her energy was sapped. Her hair fell out, and her sleep patters were turned upside down. I thought I was handling all these expected consequences of chemo pretty well. It was the unexpected that caught me off guard.

Throughout the six months of chemo, and the additional six months of herceptin treatments Dana's sleep schedule was radically altered. We were like two ships passing in the night. I would try to stay up with her, but could not hang on. I would head to bed around midnight, but she would be wired with restless energy until about five in the morning, and then she would call it a day. I would get up shortly after she went to bed, and get hit with a missile from the enemy. I would be shocked at what I saw. In the pale moonlight that filtered into our bedroom she looked like a corpse. He face was drawn, her head was bald, and her skin was cold to the touch. I could not tell if she was breathing. I would stand over her bed side in a state of fear and break out in a cold sweat. I started hearing a voice in my head shouting, "She's dead!" I would start down a road that only took seconds to take, but would leave me exhausted from the journey. I found myself thinking, "So this is how it happens." "I didn't even get a chance to tell her goodbye." "So this is how I find out!" "How am I going to tell the girls." "What am I going to do now?" On and on the missiles of the enemy would come flying into my mind and leave their mark. Eventually I would get on my knees by her side and pray. I don't know what I prayed. I just fell on my knees and asked God for help. As I look over my journal notes for that period of time, I can see that I often scrawled across the page the words, "Help me!" It is a safe bet that I was probably repeating that phrase when I realized that Dana was alive, and that the fight was still on. Once again, I had been lied to by the father of lies. I had allowed him to intimidate me with the way things looked.

One of the enemy's most reliable strategies is the use of the intimidation of the immediate. This swift kick from out of the dark knocks the breath and the fight out of a solider who has forgotten to put on a very vital piece of protection...the Truth. Jesus said, "I am the Way, the Truth and the Life." (John 14:6) He was not playing name association games, but giving His followers insight into His character. Jesus personifies the truth. The devil personifies the lie.

Prayer provided me the courage to face things the way things looked with a confidence that God would give me the strength to deal with things the way they really are. F.E.A.R. has been defined as False Expectations Appearing Real. Dana only looked dead. She was very much alive, and was filled with the fight she needed to win this battle. I was taken to my knees by the way things looked. God invites us to come to Him in prayer so His Son can show us the Truth...the way things really are. Fear, when it arrives, should be in and of itself a signal that it is not of God. You don't have to take my word for it.

King Solomon would say, "Do not be afraid of sudden fear nor the onslaught of the wicked when it comes, For the Lord will be your confidence, and will keep your fought from being caught." Prov. 3:25

Paul would tell his readers, "For God has not given us a spirit fear, but of power and love and discipline." 2 Timothy 1:17

The Power of Pink VI

Teaching Men How to Fight Like a Girl

"For our struggle is not against flesh and blood..." Ephesians 6:12

The biggest mistake any person makes is to try to fight cancer in their own strength. Cancer patients and their family need to know they are up against an enemy that cannot be seen with the naked eye. Cancer has the capacity to disguise and camouflage itself from being located even by the most sophisticated imaging systems. As I have stated before, it does not fight fair. The unseen enemy I refer to is not microscopic cancer cells. This enemy is real, and yet invisible. These forces of darkness are organized into a massive army of evil and guided by a person whose mission in life is to steal, kill and destroy. Just when the fight seems to be going well, or life begins to settle down, the enemy emerges from hiding and hits with the fury, and the fear of a sneak attack. Prayers for healing that appeared to be answered can evaporate in the midst of an unexpected firestorm of spiritual doubt and depression.

When Dr. Olivares shared with us that he believed cancer was generated by an evil source, this struck a common chord in our hearts. We left his office, and discussed what he had told us, and shared it with our two daughters. We decided that this was the man we could trust us to walk with us down this long road through the maze of new vocabulary words, powerful drugs, endless paperwork, and possible surgery. Dana and I both felt relieved that this highly skilled medical professional had sized up our opposition with pin point accuracy. He would not be the last person in the field of medicine that would point us to prayer as our only hope of defeating the enemy.

Jesus says a great deal about prayer, but He makes a clear distinction between meaningless repetition and believing prayer. "When you are praying, do not use meaningless repetition as the Gentiles do for they suppose they will be heard for their many words. So do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask Him." Matthew 7:7-8

Our hope in prayer is not based on how well we pray or how much we pray. Those who knew Jesus best remind us in God's Word that our confidence is in Who we pray to, not what we pray for. "And whatever we ask we receive from Him." I John 3:22

The Apostle John went on to clarify the call to prayer as a process of placing confidence in the Father's best for our lives. "This is the confidence which we have before Him that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests which we have asked from Him." I John 5: 14-15

As I write these words the summer is ending, and September will soon be here. I met Dana on September 9, 1974. It was love at first sight for me. I was convinced of God's will for my life in an instant. For her it would be a more prolonged process of clarification. This delay often seemed like a denial of God's plan for my life. It caused me a great deal of concern. I would ask Him often, "Did I misunderstand?" Through that two year waiting period, God taught me to focus my prayers on what was best for Dana, and not on what I wanted for myself. It was hard to do, but I began to pray, "Father, I want what is best for Dana, and if I am not that person that will be a part of Your best for her, please bring that person into her life, and give me the grace to accept Your will for both of our lives." This was a very hard prayer to pray at first. As I was faithful to pray it, I could begin to hear God's response, "Trust Me." The process of praying this prayer began to purify my motives. I began to understand that the kind of love God intended for me to express to my wife would always need to be focused on what was best for her, and not what I wanted from her.

Praying for Dana's healing from cancer seemed to me at first glance to be an unselfish prayer. The more I prayed for her healing, God began to reveal to me that my motives for praying for her were not altogether unselfish. The fear of losing the woman I love with all my heart was a great motivator to pray. It confused God's best for me with God's best for Dana. I am still learning how to process what God taught me through this.

Birth and death are two extremes of the human experience. People all over the world respond with great joy at the news of the birth of a child. Announcements are sent out, gifts are given, parties are hosted, and a general feeling of good will is generated in the hearts of people who witness the occasion. When death comes it receives a different kind of reception. It is held at arms length, and fought off to the bitter end as people hold on with a white-knuckled grip and clinched teeth to the last breath they or a loved one can take. It is not pretty, and it is not a party. Tears flow, grief remains, and a hole in the heart is left behind where a loved one once lived.

I am well grounded in the scriptural teaching of life after death. I believe in the promise that to be absent from this world is to be present with the Lord. I know heaven is my home. I am aware that I am just passing through on a pilgrimage to my final destination. Still, I am not in a hurry to go, and I want those I love the most to stay with me here as long as possible. If I could get my mind and heart around this, I would rejoice as much as when a saint goes to heaven as when a baby is born. As a matter of fact, if I had a proper perspective on life, I should probably weep when a baby is born knowing that they are facing the prospect of middle school. This world can be a tough place to live and it is often a fight for survival in a very hostile environment.

As I began to pray for Dana's healing, and for her to receive relief from the attack of an unseen enemy, God began to take me back to my first prayers I ever prayed for her. I had to face that I wanted her here with me, more than I wanted her to be with God in heaven. I knew God would eventually provide Dana with healing; giving her a new body in a new home with Him. I just didn't want Him to do it now. I was praying for what I wanted, and not interested in conforming my will to His. If His best for her involved taking her from me, then God and I had a real disagreement about His will for my life.

This was not an easy road to walk down, but I would be less than honest if I did not admit that it took me a good long while to release Dana into His hands for whatever His best for her would bring. I did not write my prayers to God down in black and white. I did not have the courage of King David to leave a recorded legacy of this struggle between God's will and mine. I did draw comfort from what I read in the Psalms. It helped me to know that I was not the first man to question whether God knew what He was doing.

There is a long way between MY and THY. When Jesus prayed in the Garden before His crucifixion, "NOT MY, BUT THY WILL BE DONE." It was a template for every prayer that we will ever pray in a crisis. Jesus was honest to God. He asked to be relieved from drinking from the cup coming his way. Through personal, prolonged, private prayer He yielded His will to that of the Father. A greater good came from what God had in mind for the life and death of His Son. Thank you Jesus for taking my place on the cross. You had a choice and You chose God's best for me rather than demanding personal preference for Yourself.

Scripture makes it clear that our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but this fight will reveal to us that there is still a huge part of our own flesh, and personal preferences that must be yielded to God's will. Praying for the crisis to pass or for the healing to come are not signs of weakness. Neither are they flags of rebellion. Prayer is an honest response to an overwhelming attack from the enemy. As a person prays they seek marching orders from their commander in chief. The order of the day comes from God's word, "Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, stand firm." Ephesians 6: 13

"It is amazing what God can do with a broken heart, if you give Him all the pieces." Samuel Chadwick