Because You Have Been a Warrior

Thank you veteran…
for leaving home and enduring hardships;
for serving a cause greater than yourself;
for seeking the welfare of the weak;
for risking your life for the sake of others;
for standing up for the freedom of all citizens
(no matter whether they value the sacrifice you made for them).
Because you have been a warrior,
I want you to know my Jesus…
who left His home (bankrupting heaven);
who charged into the battle for your soul;
who never hesitated, reconsidered, or flinched;
who came to rescue you from every terror;
who threw himself on top of your sins
(no matter whether you considered him a friend or a foe);
who fought for you;
who endured it all and sacrificed his life…
because he loves you…
who welcomes all soldiers
who give their full allegiance to him
(the best battlefield decision you will ever make)
as the invincible warrior,
as the only savior, and
as the absolute commander of their lives.


Originally written on Veterans Day 2016.

My Father (a consuming fire)

The sight of the glory of the LORD was like a consuming fire on the top of the mountain in the eyes of the children of Israel. Exodus 24:17

…when he was still a great way off, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him. Luke 15:20

Lord, You are my Father (and a consuming fire).

To draw near to You is to encounter the warmth of Your love, and the intense heat of Your wrath towards sin. I cannot draw near to You without retreating from sin in my heart. This is the delightful and deadly journey into Your presence, and any personal purity I experience is only a consequence of that journey… a continual casting away of the worthless and temporal in exchange for that timeless place before You.

It is an illusion and a lie to believe that intimacy with You is costly, when nothing compares to the unspeakable joy of being lost and found by my Father the King (who is also a consuming fire).

Thank you for rejoicing and running… towards me.

– a grateful son

Through Christ I Can

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” ~ Philippians 4:13

the abundant life is a constant internal supply
flowing from the One who said He came to give it
to the ones who would abandon their overloaded lives
in order to walk with Him daily
through a joyful union and a lingering submission
eyes on Him and cares fading
finding rest then fully resting
as He steps ahead of me into every moment
with me, through me, in me
He is enough

(John 10:10, Matthew 10:38-39, Matthew 11:28-30, 2 Corinthians 3:18)

What to Do When Someone Has a Meltdown

One evening during the summer of 2012, I was making a nine-hour drive home after a difficult visit with my father. Lying unconscious for days in a hospital room, he was not expected to live. No one knew when death would come, and I couldn’t wait any longer. I needed to go. Two hours after I left, I got the call that he had died. I could not control my grief. I had to pull over and stop repeatedly because the tears clouded my vision. I prayed aloud and struggled to process what I was experiencing with the Lord, but my heart was broken and the sense of loss was unbearable. I was having a meltdown.

I spoke with family members and friends during that long evening in the car. Each conversation was like a lifeline in an ocean of emotional chaos. Then I got a call from a friend that God used to help me. I began to regain a sense of God’s presence and His peace. My grieving process had just begun, but my meltdown ended during that phone conversation. Why?

What is a Meltdown?

A meltdown occurs when someone is overwhelmed mentally and emotionally. Confronted with a situation beyond their control, persons in crisis can quickly become helpless or hopeless (or both). The crisis can arrive as a single catastrophic event, or it can form though a gradual series of separate events, building in pressure and intensity until a person “melts down.” Normal reasoning and coping skills are suspended. Decision-making becomes extremely difficult. The crisis “rocks the world” for the affected person, dominating every waking thought and provoking powerful emotions.

Meltdowns happen because of unbearable and unexpected life situations. A wife discovers her husband has been having an affair. A man receives a pink slip after thirty‑three years with the same employer. A friend receives a terminal cancer diagnosis. A neighbor’s son shoots and kills his father. A teenage daughter tells her parents she is pregnant. A man dies on the way home in a traffic accident, leaving a widow and three children. Although the causes of the crises may be very different, the initial ministry needs of the hurting are often the same.

Four Needs You Can Meet

When the call comes for you to come to the side of someone having a meltdown, you may not feel qualified to help. Turn first to the Lord who is the “God of all comfort” (2 Corinthians 3:3-4). He has promised to supply you with everything you need to serve Him (2 Peter 1:3). He is sufficient! Trust Him to work through you to meet the needs you will encounter. During a meltdown, people need support, stability, truth, and prayer.

Support. Overwhelmed by a crisis, many people struggle to express themselves and to make decisions. They need a compassionate person who will “listen” to their story or their silence, assuring them that it’s okay to share (or not share). After the initial impact of the crisis, affected persons may need help navigating their next steps. Protect them from being forced or rushed to make a decision that can wait, while affirming their ability to make those decisions that cannot wait. Practical ministry – like providing cooked meals or mowing the yard – reduces the stress on someone who is already overloaded by a crisis.

Stability. Most of us live in a world that is “safe” and that can be understood. During a crisis, an individual’s perception of the world around them can collapse. It is no longer a safe place. The trajectory of life has changed and the future becomes unclear and uncertain. However, your physical presence will often be an “anchor” in the storm. How long should you stay? The answer depends on whether the crisis is still unfolding, and whether the person has someone else who helps provide a stable environment. I have stayed overnight in hospital waiting rooms knowing family members were facing an end‑of‑life decision, unwilling to leave them alone. On other occasions, I have waited in someone’s home for hours until a relative or special friend arrived who provided a sense of safety and stability for the person in crisis.

Truth. Meltdowns cause people to become extremely vulnerable to deception and manipulation. We are engaged in a spiritual war, and we have an enemy that lies and attempts to blind us to the truth. Doubts and questions can form that undermine faith. You may be asked, “Why did God allow this to happen to me?” Don’t argue or try to defend God. I often reply, “I don’t know that I can adequately answer your question, but I do know this: He loves you and He is here and He has sent me to help you get through this time.” Christians are exposed to the same kind of troubles in this world as everyone else, with a major difference: He has not left us alone in our trouble (John 14:18)! Read verses from the Bible that assure God’s presence and activity during times of crisis (e.g., Psalm 34:18).

Prayer. A. W. Tozer is credited with saying, “Sometimes when we get overwhelmed we forget how big God is.” Prayer is a way of regaining our perspective during a crisis. During a meltdown, all we can see is our problem, but when we pray that can change! By gently leading overwhelmed people to pray, we put them in touch with the One who is greater than any problem.

On that dark night in 2012, what did my friend do that made a difference? He met needs I had for support, stability, truth, and prayer! When I answered his call, I could hear the deep concern in his voice. He listened. He assured me I was going to get through this. He gently pointed me to the Lord and reminded me of His care for me. He prayed with me. Although I would grieve for months to come, my friend’s act of compassion that night on the road helped me get through the initial tsunami of emotions associated with a meltdown.

For further reading:

Wright, H. Norman. The Complete Guide to Crisis & Trauma Counseling: What to Do and Say When It Matters Most! Rev. ed. Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House, 2014.

Wright, H. Norman. What to Say When You Don’t Know What to Say. Eugene, OR: Harvest House Publishers, 2014.


(Written to encourage deacons, this article was originally published as What to Do When Someone Has a Meltdownin the Summer 2018 issue of Deacon Magazine, a publication of LifeWay Christian Resources.)

5 Ways to Pray Today

Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. (Romans 12:12)

Your daily prayer life is the greatest privilege you have as a child of God. One of the reasons Jesus died for you is so that you would have unhindered access and unfiltered fellowship with the Father! He wants you to be with Him… but what do you do when you finally get “there” — alone with Him?

Enjoy Him first… He is your first love.

My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.” (John 10:27) Prayer is so much more than presenting a “want list” or reciting religious phrases: prayer is first a relationship. Prayer involves interaction between the heart of a believer and the greatest love in his or her life: Jesus Christ. When we are in love, we want to spend all of our time involved with the object of our love. Prayer is like that. Application: Take a moment and speak to the Lord, silently expressing your love to Jesus!

Ask Him for “open doors” as you walk in the world today.

And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message.” (Col. 4:3) Paul uses the analogy of an “open door” to describe an opportunity to tell others about Jesus Christ. The “open door” would be a set of circumstances arranged by God allowing Paul to share the gospel. Notice too that when Paul asked his readers to pray for an “open door” he was in prison. Imagine that! He could have asked for his freedom, yet he asked instead for the opportunity to share Christ. Application: In all of your relationships (co-workers, family and friends), where do you encounter firmly closed “doors” when it comes to talking about Christ? Perhaps the person will not listen, does not have the time, or lives too far away. Ask God to open one of those doors.

Ask Him to bless other believers with dramatic spiritual successes.

Pray for us that the message of the Lord may spread rapidly and be honored, just as it was with you.” (2 Thess. 3:1) Paul is using a military word picture that escapes a casual reading of this verse. The message should run swiftly (like a warrior into battle) with great success (like a great military victory). Throughout the history of the church, there have been dramatic outpourings of God’s saving power. Paul is implying that happens as God’s people pray for a mighty work of God in their day. Application: List the most dramatic news events taking place today around the world. Can you imagine the kind of spiritual event that would cause mass media to place a mighty move of God on that list? Ask God to move powerfully in your community!

Ask Him to send compassionate workers to minister to a broken generation.

The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.” (Luke 10:2) Jesus viewed the crowds that followed him as “sheep without a shepherd” — there were simply too many for Him to personally interact with each one. He knew that a “harvest” of devoted followers would result IF loving workers would go out and build relationships in the crowd. His root motivation was compassion. Where there is human need in our church, our community, or our world, then Jesus directs us to pray for workers to go and address those needs. Of course, it would be silly to pray this prayer without being willing to go ourselves! Application: Where are the specific “harvest” fields around your church today? What groups of people need ministry in and outside the church? Ask God to raise up a new generation of impassioned servants.

Ask Him to help Christians in trouble – no matter where they are in the world.

…join me in my struggle by praying to God for me.” (Rom. 15:30) Prayer enables us to join with laborers around the world as they struggle with sin and evil. Paul specifically requests prayer for several items (see Rom. 15:31-32), but he describes the act of praying as joining him “in my struggle“. When we pray with others regarding their problems and needs, we become real participants in their life and work. Application: Have you ever had to face a major crisis alone? What does it mean to you when someone prays for you when you are in trouble? Who do you need to help in prayer today?

Daily prayer is vital. Lives are at stake. Eternity is on the line. Will you set your heart to meet with God each day?


Want to go deeper? The model prayer taught by Jesus is the best outline to guide your time alone with God.

Glimpsing Revival: The Haystack Prayer Meeting – How a Campus Revival Birthed American Foreign Missions

It was on a Saturday afternoon during the month of August 1806 that five young men from Williams College in Williamstown, Massachusetts, met together to pray near a grove of maple trees north of the campus. As a thunderstorm rolled in overhead, lightning and rain forced the students to run and take shelter in a haystack. As the storm raged, the students prayed that God would send them across the seas to share the good news of Jesus Christ with a lost world. God heard their prayer.

Six years later, the first missionaries from America set sail for foreign lands.

The leader of the Haystack Prayer Meeting was Samuel J. Mills, Jr.  Born in 1783, Samuel grew up in a minister’s home in Torringford, Connecticut, the youngest of four living children born to Samuel and Esther Mills. His father, Samuel Mills, Sr., pastored the same church for 64 years.

Prayers for revival—for God to make His presence real to His people—were common throughout New England in the 1790’s. In 1798 revival broke out in Connecticut and Massachusetts, affecting over 150 churches. In the 30 village churches of northern Connecticut, over 1,700 converts were added to the membership rolls in less than 24 months. Samuel Mills witnessed the impact of that revival.

In 1806, Mills entered the all-male Williams College at the age of 23. Like many colleges in the 1790’s, the spiritual and moral conditions at the school were tough for Christians. Believers were often ridiculed and ostracized from the social life of the campus. The French Revolution and Enlightenment ideals ushered in a wave of skepticism towards God and the Bible. Several church-based colleges completely lost their theological moorings. One pastor wrote, “It seemed as if God had almost entirely withdrawn His gracious influence. We were left to mourn an absent God, barren ordinances, an unsuccessful Gospel and cold hearts.”

In 1805, revival broke out at the congregational church in Williamstown pastored by Seth Swift, deeply affecting a number of students, including a junior named Algernon Bailey. Bailey was repeatedly threatened and harassed by his fellow students for his faith, but his patient endurance only served to draw other students to Christ. The revival spread from the church to the campus.

By the summer of 1806, Mills and others were meeting twice a week for prayer and Bible study. Normally a dozen or so students would attend the meetings. But on one particularly hot Saturday in August, Mills was joined by a childhood friend, Harvey Loomis, and three others: James Richards, Francis Robbins, and Byram Green.

Years later Byram Green recalled that it was during this meeting that Mills first proposed that as students, they could be the first to carry the Gospel to Asia and the Middle East. He writes, “We first went to the grove, expecting to hold our prayer meeting there, but a dark cloud was rising in the west, and it soon began to thunder and lightning, and we left the grove and went under the haystack to protect us from the approaching storm… The subject of conversation under the stack, before and during the shower, was the moral darkness of Asia. Mills proposed to send the gospel to that dark and heathen and; and said that we could do it if we would.”

In 1810, the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions (ABCFM) was launched in response to a petition for assistance coming from Mills and his prayer partners, now students at Andover Theological Seminary. The ABCFM was the first Christian ministry in the United States devoted to sending missionaries overseas.

On February 12, 1812, the first missionaries from America set sail for India. On board that ship, the missionary roster included Adoniram Judson and Luther Rice, who would become founders of the modern missionary movement among Baptists.

Samuel Mills went on to become a missionary promoter and statesman throughout the United States. He conducted two missionary surveys of the Mississippi River, including the western territories belonging to the young United States. He helped start a training school for internationals, American Indians, free slaves, and Polynesians. He helped organize the American Bible Society in 1816. He died in 1818 on a return voyage from a mission trip to West Africa. Samuel Mills was 35 years old. He never married.

Why did it happen?  What caused the explosion of American interest in global evangelism and missions after 1810? Was it the students under the haystack? Not quite.

It was a few people in the presence of God.

What happened to those students who completely sold out to God in the summer of 1806 was simply this: they experienced the presence of God. In the presence of God, the students at the haystack took personal responsibility for the lost souls of their generation.

Today, in His Presence, we too can hear the heartbeat of God for lost souls around us—and our heart will begin to beat with His heart—and we will cry out “Here am I, send me!


Editor’s Note: Would you like to view a 15-minute documentary of the 1806 Haystack Prayer Meeting and the birth of American foreign missions? Produced for Arkansas Baptist Collegiate Ministries, this video (click here) was created by a wonderful team of talented friends, and written and narrated by yours truly. Enjoy! – DP

8 Principles for Launching a Prayer Ministry

In 1979, they met in a church classroom early on Sunday mornings to pray.  A small group of older men and women would gather, encouraging a group of students to join them as they interceded for Sunday services, church leaders, and lost souls. As the church grew and lives were changed, lessons were learned. Listening to their prayers, those students learned how to pray and call on God.  I was one of those students. Those men and women had an effective prayer ministry!

How do you start an effective, life changing prayer ministry? Here are eight principles to consider:

Model. Long before Jesus taught the disciples how to pray, He modeled a lifestyle of prayer (Mark 1:35). Similarly, you want to carefully examine your own prayer life before launching a prayer ministry. Do you have a daily time alone with God? Do you pray for the needs of others as well as your own? Do you seek God’s will in your decisions? Have you experienced and worked through some of the basic difficulties of prayer (e.g., dry spells and unanswered prayers)? Your experience with God will help fuel the interest of others in a prayer ministry.

Discuss. Connect with your pastor and other church leaders to talk about your interest in launching a prayer ministry. Ask for their input and ideas. Listen carefully to their responses. If the church has a defined process for launching new ministry organizations, be sure to work as much as possible with the pastor and leaders to gain the support and approval of the new prayer ministry. If you encounter resistance from someone, exercise patience.

Learn. Go to “school” on the subject of prayer: read books, attend conferences, and listen to messages. Build relationships with the praying men and women in your own church. Contact prayer leaders in other churches to learn what they are doing. Become a student.

Strategize. A well-rounded prayer strategy will provide church members with opportunities to learn about and participate in at least three kinds of prayer:

Corporate Prayer. Is your church known as a “house of prayer” (Matthew 21:13)? It ought to be. Somewhere in the life of every church there needs to be a time set aside strictly for prayer. If Wednesday night prayer meeting is really a Bible study (that people are enjoying), don’t feel like you need to change it. Set aside another time and dedicate it for prayer: a time anyone who needs to be prayed for can come and find the support they need.

Small Group Prayer. Jesus is present when a small group prays together (Matthew 18:20). Faithful friends will pray for one another and the special needs of their church and community. Everyone in the church needs someone praying for them (Ephesians 6:18). A small group prayer strategy will make sure that no one is left out.

Individual Prayer. Many church members do not know how to spend time alone with God in a quiet time: they have never been taught. On a regular basis, offer churchwide opportunities to learn about an individual prayer life. Challenge church members to form a new daily prayer habit.

Calendar. The launch of a new prayer ministry needs to be planned and coordinated with other churchwide events. Working with the existing church calendar, identify the dates for your regular prayer meetings, special events, and training classes. Allow ample advance notice so church members can plan their participation.

Enlist. Who will join you in this effort? Identify specific men and women to help you lead and host the different parts of the new prayer ministry. Write out a brief job description for each role you are seeking to fill. Meet with each individual, sharing your passion and the specific tasks to be completed. As you assemble your team, be sure to meet with them on a regular basis for information and encouragement.

Launch. Highlight the launch of a new prayer ministry with a special churchwide event or emphasis. Communicate the new prayer opportunities with announcements, signs, flyers, and church mail. Visit Bible Study classes and other church groups to discuss the prayer ministry launch. Be brief, but enthusiastic.

Support. Working with your leaders, plan a full year of activities and emphases. Meet with your leaders regularly to hear their needs and concerns. Pray with them and for them. Be a cheerleader. As you find new resources, secure copies and share them with your leaders.

Although these eight principles represent the practical steps involved in launching a new prayer ministry, be assured that God will be working in ways you never dreamed or imagined (Ephesians 3:20). Some will be learning how to pray by witnessing the prayer life of others—that’s what happened to me. Others will form new friendships that will encourage them through dark and difficult periods in their lives. All will experience the mighty acts of God!