Recap of PLM Conference: Fix your eyes on Jesus

I just returned home from the Pure Life Ministries annual conference which was such an amazing experience and encounter with God.    Some 480 men and women gathered in Florence, KY to worship the God who has the power – and the desire – to set each of us free from the chains that ensnare us.    It’s an amazing thing to be in the presence of such testimonies and witnesses to God’s redeeming love.

I wanted to take a moment while it’s fresh on my mind to write down a few of the things I took away from the great speakers who shared over the last few days.   I hope this helps me to better apply what I’ve learned and to edify you.

Steve Gallagher referenced the proclivity within each of us to gravitate towards either law bending or law keeping.   He stressed that when both are right with the Lord and walking in the Spirit both are a blessing to the Church.   We need the law benders to upset our status-quo and breath fresh wind into our sails and we need the law keepers to remind us of God’s holiness and demands upon the Christian to obey him.

Steve then did a beautiful job referencing each of the seven churches in Revelation 2 &3, showing what happens when these natural tendencies of ours (law bending or law keeping) cease being surrendered to God.   One thing in particular that stood out to me was pointed towards law keepers, or those of us who can easily become satisfied with having a form of godliness but none of it’s power.    How easy it is to play church and appear to be doing all the right things while our heart is far from God.     I know all too well how easy it is to do this, and how easy it is to fall into a delusion that all is well in doing it.

Dave Leopold built upon this foundation laid by Steve (unbeknownst to either while preparing their messages).  He spoke of how we toil in our own way rather than God’s way.  Building a ministry isn’t always the same, he said, as building God’s kingdom.

Dave’s longing for himself, and his prayer for us, is that we may all prove that we have been with Jesus.  May our very lives – both inner and outer – be evidence that we have spent much time at Jesus’ feet.   Jesus does not desire us to be mere messengers of his message, but desires each of us to become the message.   When he has conquered us, he will send us out to conquer the world in Jesus’ name.

I loved the illustration he shared of the sun.   When we lay out in the sun, we are changed.  Our face let’s the world know that we have been out in the sun.   Likewise, as we spend intimate time with the Son of God, the world will know it.

Dustin Renz shared a powerful message on suffering.   I think he is exactly right that we do not teach or understand suffering within the church.   And yet, the life of Jesus himself as well as all of scripture is full of calls to suffer, even promises that we will.   Dustin shared the following points:

  1. We need to learn to expect suffering.   Jesus promised that we would know trouble in this world.   In fact, the very call to follow Jesus is an invitation to lay down our lives and die.
  2. Suffering shapes us and fits us for service.    James reminds us to consider it all joy when we meet trials of various kinds.   These are preparing us for service.
  3. Learn to endure suffering.   Imagine if Paul had given up after being ship wrecked, stoned, beaten, imprisoned, starved, left to die?   The loss to Christianity would be extraordinary!    We must endure to the end.  Far too often we give up too easily and we have not even come close to experiencing the sort of suffering Paul and countless other Christians have endured.    How many potential testimonies, not to mention our own, are lost because we give up too soon and run back to our sin?

Glen Meldrum shared three snares of the soul which will trip us up time and time again if we are not mindful of them.

  1. We don’t treat sin like sin.   Numbers 33:50-56, God insists that Moses and the people, when they get to the promised land, must drive out the wicked inhabitants and all their idols.    If they do not, they will be “barbs in your eyes and thorns in your sides” and trouble you all the days you dwell you there.   Jesus was serious about sin, warning to cut out the eye of the hand that causes you to sin.    Whatever is keeping you from Jesus, get rid of it!   Even if it’s something “good.”
  2. Not being very careful to love the Lord (Joshua 23:11-13).    We must be very careful to love God!   Make it your purposeful pursuit in life to spend time with God and nurture this relationship.  No one follows Jesus by accident.  None of us default towards loving God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength.   Our sinful hearts are easily distracted and get caught up in so many other things that we lose sight of our walk with God.    Be careful!
  3. Idolatry rises up in our hearts.   Things like bitterness, unforgiveness, anger, sexual sin, pleasure, and more become the gods we cling to to.  We become what we worship.   The destruction happening in marriages is from hell.   Satan hates God, and his work is to destroy the image of God in us by replacing it with his own image.  How does he do this?  By causing us to have other gods.

All of these messages, though unplanned to be so, beautifully weaved together this overarching theme for me:  Keep your eyes fixed on Jesus.  Pursue Jesus with all my heart, soul, mind and strength.   Submit to the love – and the rule – of God in my life.  And pray.   Pray like my life and the lives of others depends on it, because it does!

I’m so grateful for this time of refreshment and revival.   It has inspired me towards a deeper repentance and desire to be of service to God and others in ways that for quite some time I have felt unworthy to pursue because of my past failings.    God reminded me this weekend that he has not altered his feelings towards me nor his call.   I’m grateful that my wife was able to join me on this trip and for work he is doing in her life and ours as a couple.   We are both excited to see what God has in store for us in the weeks, months and years ahead.

 

Four things we lack

In my copy of John Owen’s Mortification of Sin, J.I. Packer writes a stirring introduction.  He suggests four things which today are insufficiently emphasized, causing modern readers to “suffer from the short-comings of much present-day Christian nurture” and therefore missing much of the significance in Owen’s work.   These four things lacking in today’s writings and preaching are the holiness of God, the significance of motivating desire, the need for self-scrutiny, and the life-changing power of God.    I believe Packer is right.   I want to take a look at each of these in turn and relate them to my own experience with recovery.

The Holiness of God 

Packer reminds us that the Puritans believed that holiness is the attribute of all God’s attributes.  It is what distinguishes God from all of creation “making him different from us in our weakness, awesome and adorable to us in his strength, and a visitant to our consciences whose presence exposes and condemns sin within us.”   When we down-play this, Packer reasons, we sentimentalize love and mercy, making God seem more like a kindly uncle than the One whom, when seen, caused Isaiah and John to come undone.

At the tail end of a relapse last year there was a seismic shift in my spirit that occurred while reading a commentary on Acts 5, the story of Ananias and Sapphira.   You’ll recall these are the husband and wife who died after they lied to Peter about their profits from a piece of land they sold.   The commentary was simple enough, stating the obvious from the text:  When we lie to others, we lie to God.   This is an affront to a holy God.   The Holy Spirit used this simple truth to help me see (again) just what sort of God it is I am dealing with.   If a lie to another person provoked such righteous judgment from God upon Ananias and Sapphira, how much more so would my habitual sexual sin?   Who was I to assume that my sins, which were many, were not shutting me out of God’s presence and courting death at every turn?    God is holy and calls his people to be holy.   We will not and cannot see him if we do not agree with him in this.   Our lack of emphasis on this today is to our detriment.

The Significance of Motivating Desire

Packer, and the Puritans before him, and Jesus before them, would remind us that it is not the outside of the cup that makes us clean but what is inside.   Jesus cares about the desires we nurture within us, not just our actions.   “Too often today,” Packer writes, “the moral life is reduced to role-play, in which prescribed and expected performance is everything and no attention is paid to the cravings, ragings, and hostilities of the heart so long as people do what is thought they should.”   Owen takes us deeper than this externalism, insisting that it’s not just the bad habits that must be broken, but the sinful desires driving them.

I liken this to to the difference between sobriety and recovery.  We have all heard the expressions “dry drunk,” meaning a person who is sober from drinking alcohol but still exhibits all the character defects that come with alcoholism.   It is so easy to get caught up in doing the right thing – putting on a performance – that we overlook the most important part: the heart.    Jesus promises to make us born again.   As I’ve said elsewhere on this site, Jesus didn’t die to make us better; he died to make us new.    This is good news!  Our lack of emphasis on this today is to our detriment.

The Need for Self-Scrutiny

In both Scripture and Owen, much is said about the deceitfulness of one’s own heart.   And yet, Christians today are slow to suspect themselves or each other of self-deception.  Our self-ignorance leads us to “think well of one’s heart and life when God, the searcher of hearts, is displeased with both.”    Owen would remind us to remain vigilant, always examining ourselves in light of what Scripture has to say in order that we might know which desires of ours need to be mortified.

Steps 4 and 10 are helpful guides in addressing this need (taking a moral inventory and continuing to take a daily, personal inventory).   As such, people in recovery may have a leg up in this endeavor, as we are generally more aware than most of the deceitfulness of our own hearts and the lure of disordered loves within us.    This flies in the face of the culture around us, though, even within much of the church.   We are more likely to be encouraged to go after whatever our heart desires rather than be encouraged to search the Scriptures to see how that desire aligns with God’s word.   Whether you have been walking with Christ for decades or are just getting started, we need to always remember that the enemy of our souls uses our desires to tempt us (James 1:4).   Our lack of emphasis on this today is to our detriment.

The Life-Changing Power of God

Both Scripture and Owen taught that at the heart of salvation is a change of heart.  There is a moral change that occurs by which the Holy Spirit induces Christlike attitudes and actions in us.  There is an “expectation that Christians through prayer to Jesus would know deliverances from sinful passions in the heart,” and it is sad, Packer writes, “that today so little is heard about this.”

I’m am writing this just following Resurrection Sunday.   As with every Easter, there are scores of articles written de-emphasizing (if not denying) the literal bodily resurrection of Jesus.   With even this fundamental truth – the one of which without there would be no Christianity! – being cast aside as non-essential, is it any wonder that we fail to believe in a power able to overturn the kingdoms of our heart and make us new creations with new desires?    The scriptures proclaim that the same power that raised Christ from the dead is at work within us.   And yet, far too often in recovery we give more power to our addiction than we do the power of the blood.   Our lack of emphasis on this today is to our detriment.

To conclude, my experience has been that where one or more of these elements are lacking in my life I am more susceptible to my hurts, habits, and hang-ups.   But when I begin each day in awe of God’s holiness, aware of my motivating desires, become willing to scrutinize myself, and rely on the power of God to transform me inside-out, than I am far less likely to fall into sin and far more likely to grow in my desire to be like Christ.

 

Praying for Faith (Resurrection is real, or all this is in vain)

Every Easter this tired trope gets trotted out that it’s not necessary to believe Jesus literally was raised from the dead. It’s fine, these progressive skeptics tell us, to embrace Easter as a beautiful metaphor describing the indestructible qualities of things like hope and love.

One example of many is found in the opinion piece linked above.  Serene Jones, president of Union Theological Seminary, says,

For me, the message of Easter is that love is stronger than life or death. That’s a much more awesome claim than that they put Jesus in the tomb and three days later he wasn’t there. For Christians for whom the physical resurrection becomes a sort of obsession, that seems to me to be a pretty wobbly faith. What if tomorrow someone found the body of Jesus still in the tomb? Would that then mean that Christianity was a lie? No, faith is stronger than that.

Yes, Ms. Jones.   It would mean that it’s all a lie.   For if Christ is not risen from the dead, all of your preaching and mine is in vain (1 Cor. 15:14).   The faith proclaimed in Scripture is not one of sentimentality, it’s object being the stuff that makes up inspirational Hallmark cards.   No.  The faith found in Scripture of which we are compelled to receive is a gift whose object is the living God, through whom we only know what love is because of the life, death and resurrection of his incarnate Son.   It is a faith far stronger than sentimentality and cute slogans.

And it’s a faith that must be contended for.  Within myself, perhaps in each of us, is a wandering heart which all too easily falls prey to cultural accommodation. This is why scripture is replete with commands to guard our heart (and our doctrine) closely.

And so it is that this Easter I found myself praying for faith. Perhaps you, too, would like to join me.

Father, you promised that those who seek you will find you. Open the eyes of my heart today so that I can see you in all your glory. Give me the faith of a child so that I am never outside your Kingdom.

Jesus, I want to believe the improbable and impossible because in you everything exists, and nothing exists apart from you. I want to believe that you were there when all that exists came into being. I want to believe that in the beginning you walked with Adam and Eve. I want to believe that you saved Noah through an ark. I want to believe that you parted a sea to save your people. I want to believe that you caused the sun to stand still, rained bread down from heaven, made water come from rocks, spared faithful men from a burning furnace, and toppled a giant with a sling and a stone.

Jesus, I want to believe that you were born miraculously of a virgin, fed 5000 with meager means, walked on water, healed the sick, gave sight to the blind, made the lame to walk, calmed the storm and raised the dead with your word.

Jesus, I want to believe that you laid down your life willingly to save me from my sins. I want to believe that your Father in Heaven raised you bodily from the grave, defeating sin and death. I want to believe that you now sit beside him in glory, interceding on my behalf and empowering me with your Spirit to destroy the works of the devil in my mind, body and soul and throughout your creation.

Spirit, where there is any doubt in me I pray you would guide me into truth. Give me life not according to my words but Yours. Make me to believe that the desires of God’s heart are to be mine, and that I will never know true joy unless my heart is beating with yours.

Give me childlike faith, Father, and surround me with your true followers who will sharpen me and encourage me to press on till the day we are brought into the eternal home you have prepared for us. Grant me to live each day emboldened by a robust faith that does not fear death because I know I am the child of the Creator of the universe who literally came to earth to give me the opportunity to become his child.

I ask all of this in the powerful, holy name of Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you now and forever. Amen.

Jesus descended into hell

The Apostle’s Creed, drawing from 1 Peter 3 and 4, teaches us that Jesus descended into hell to preach to the dead, liberating them from their captivity.   It should not be lost on us here the simple yet profound fact that Jesus has been to hell.

Today, on Holy Saturday, it’s good to meditate on this great truth.  Jesus descended into hell.

I have heard a pastor friend of mine say often,

You need to allow Jesus to take you by the hand and lead you back to the dark, hellish places of your life, sit with you there, heal you there, and walk you out of there.

My friend Mark, in saying that during his weekly recovery sermons, is providing you and I with practical ways we can meditate on the great truth that  Jesus descended into hell.

Far too often I want to gloss over the hellish pieces of my story.   I want to live in the land of Easter where we talk only of victory and possibility and new birth.  These are good things, to be sure, but none of them precede Jesus descending into hell.  The journey to those dark places in my life is an absolute must.   It’s imperative that we, with the aid of the Holy Spirit, walk back to those areas in our lives with Jesus by our side so that he can preach the gospel to us there.    We need to hear his words of life wash over us in the hells of our past.    My friend Mark says something else here that is useful:

If we don’t allow Jesus to attend to our past, our past will attend to us.

The fact that Jesus has seen hell gives me comfort that he won’t be surprised by anything in my past (or future).    Nothing is going to shock him.  Nothing will cause him to shy away or change how he thinks and feels about me.   I can trust him to do with me in my hell what he did with them in theirs some 2000 years ago:   Preach the good news, release the captives, set people free and rise again on the other side victorious and new.   

Allow Jesus to descend into your hell.  Only he has the power to walk you out of there as a new person.

Blessed Holy Saturday to you and yours.

 

Jesus had to die to save a wretch like me

I wrote these words a few years ago.   They are as true today as they ever were.   God is good!

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You won’t be free until you see the cross of Jesus Christ for what it truly is.   This is why St. Paul said that he desired to know and preach nothing else besides Jesus Christ and him crucified (1 Cor. 2:2).  The words of that wonderful hymn are true:

Would you be free from your burden of sin?
There’s power in the blood, power in the blood
Would you o’er evil the victory win?
There’s wonderful power in the blood

The writer of Hebrews says this about Jesus, our sacrifice:  “He entered once for all in the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption…how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscious from dead works to serve the living God” (Heb. 9:12-14).

Would you be free?  Would you be purified in your mind and heart and enabled to serve the living God with a clean heart?   You must know the power of the blood shed on the tree of Calvary.

cross

One of the biggest obstacles to our freedom is our tendency to minimize our sin, thereby minimizing the cross.   After many years of theological education which taught me all the many theories about why Jesus died on the cross none of it had any power to change my life like the simple truth:

Jesus had to die to save a wretch like me.   

Sin is a serious thing to God and the cross is proof of this.  Sin is not just inconvenient, or messy, or harmful, or depressing, or selfish.  Sin is deadly.  Sin destroys.  Sin is of such seriousness that it required God’s own Son to die in order to deal with it.   If you have any doubts about how serious God takes our sexual immorality or other habitual sins just look at the cross and see his bloody Son.   

I remember the day I first saw Jesus on the cross as though for the first time after nearly 36 years of being a Christian.   I had just completed a strongly recommended assignment while at Pure Life where I locked myself away in a chapel for about 6 hours and wrote out everything that came to mind in Charles Finney’s Breaking Up the Fallow Ground exercise.   When done, I gazed at the 20-some pages of offenses I’ve committed against this God I claimed to love and my heart was crushed like never before.    As I wept over the utter wretchedness of my life I looked up at the cross on the chapel wall and cried out,

HOW???  HOW COULD YOU DIE FOR SUCH A MESS LIKE ME???  HOW COULD YOU DO IT!!?? WHAT SORT OF LOVE IS THIS??!!

In that moment there was no longer  a question of WHY Jesus died for me.  I knew in my heart of hearts that there was no other way.  The WHY was morphed by HOW.    How could God do this for me?  I remember shouting,  I am so unlike You!  I became mesmerized by this holy, awesome, wholly-other God who would put on flesh and bones and shed His righteous blood for a wretch like myself.   Give me this Jesus!   I no longer wished to argue about nor doubt why he died for me but desired nothing more than to live for a God who showed such love for me!   There was no doubt in my mind and heart that from that moment on I would make Jesus the Lord of my life forever, and that I would one day be with Him in glory.    I knew the price with which I had been bought, and it was now a joy to honor God with all my heart, mind, and strength, including my body (1 Cor. 6:20).

My hope and prayer for you who are reading this blog is that you would see the cross this Easter season for what it truly is.    The why is simple:  He had to die to save a wretch like you and I.   The how is marvelous:  What sort of God is this who would do such a thing for you and I?   When you see the cross for what it is you will know that you know that you know that you are Christ’s and He is yours.

If you are serious about putting to death your habitual sin then I challenge you do print out the Breaking Up the Fallow Ground and read it, pray over it, and do it.   Take as many hours or days as it requires of you, and ask God to show His Son to you as though for the very first time.   He will do it!

A pastor friend of mine who came to me for help after decades of bondage took this exercise seriously and sent me the following text:

I am free! The surrender is as complete as I can do for the moment.  I have the assurance that I am Christ’s and He is mine.  There is NO more condemnation!  I am walking out of this sanctuary as a new resurrected person in Christ and filled with the Holy Spirit, desiring to walk in holiness and to do things not my way, but His.   Praise God! Thank you Jesus. I have the assurance of my personal salvation for the first time in my life!  Praise God for His mercy, His patience, and His faithfulness!

He has been free for over 2 months now, praise be to God.    Will today be the beginning of your freedom?     Run to the cross.   There is power in the blood!

Tiger Woods is but a foretaste

I, like everyone else, had tears in my eyes Sunday watching Tiger Woods win his fifth green jacket at the Masters.   Against all odds, Woods treated all of us to the beautiful, joyous story of redemption as he raised his fists in triumph on the 18th green in Augusta.

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This was Tiger’s first Master’s win since 2005 and first PGA major win since 2008.  Since that time, Tiger has been famous for things other than golf, such as his sexual addiction, divorce, DUI, and four back surgeries.    Any one of these things could understandably ruin a person.  Taken together, it’s a shipwreck.   But little by little, step by step, Tiger Woods put one foot in front of the other culminating in the resurrection you see pictured above.

I’m not crying, you’re crying!

There is a simple explanation why stories like these evoke such emotion in us.    There’s a reason anyone with a pulse gets teary eyed over stories of redemption like the one played out for us this past weekend (and the one about to be played out for us next week on Easter Sunday).     That reason is this:  You and I are like our Father in Heaven.

If you wonder why you get excited and joyous and, yes, even tearful, when someone comes back from something that should have destroyed them it’s because God is like that. 

In Luke 15, Jesus tells a few stories about what the Kingdom of Heaven is like and he does so by describing the emotions God (and all of heaven) has when someone lost is found.    In heaven, Jesus says, there is much rejoicing over the one sinner who repents – the one who is down and out and shipwrecked.    All of heaven celebrates when even one of us overcomes.

The story of Tiger Woods inspires us not because golf is great or because Tiger Woods is great.  It inspires us because God is great and has made us like himself, giving us hearts that long for and explode over resurrection.   And you want to know something even better that that?   We don’t resurrect ourselves.  God does.   It’s all a gift!

This truth is both liberating and devastating.   Liberating because, once the truth of it hits home, you realize you don’t have to do this alone.  You don’t have to be stronger, or better, or smarter, or braver, or have more will power.   Deep down you know that if that were the case, you’d be damned for sure because you’ve tried all that before and failed.  We can’t resurrect ourselves.    It’s going to require a supernatural intervention.    Which is why this is also devastating.   We are so used to being self-sufficient.  Our lower nature, the one that too often controls our thoughts, has us convinced that we are the master’s of our fate.   It is devastating to learn that only God can and must be our Master, and we have not allowed him to be such in our lives.

Tiger’s story is but a foretaste of what can be with God.   There is an even better story than Tiger’s coming to us this Sunday.  It’s the one where God became a man in order to die on a cross for my sins and yours.   It’s the one where God chose to become all that is shipwrecked in my life and yours so that the works of the shipwrecker, the devil, might be destroyed.   It’s the one where God then raised from the dead the one who takes away the sins of the world, setting us free to live as new creations, not just better ones.

And all of heaven rejoiced.   And this day, as with any other day, all of heaven is waiting on pins and needles (much like we all were as Tiger sunk his last putt), to see your redemption story.    Will you trust the one who is ready and able to write it?

May you have a blessed Holy Week.

A Prayer for Sanctuary Cities

I try to avoid politics on this blog but sometimes it is unavoidable.   News this week coming out of the White House is that our current administration is considering busing immigrants into sanctuary cities.    Trump tweeted today:

Due to the fact that Democrats are unwilling to change our very dangerous immigration laws, we are indeed, as reported, giving strong considerations to placing Illegal Immigrants in Sanctuary Cities only.   The Radical Left always seems to have an Open Borders, Open Arms policy – so this should make them very happy!

This probably amounts to little more than a childish taunt.   Setting aside the very well documented fact that Democrats are not advocating for “open borders,” the attempted dig towards a group of people or a city for having “open arms” should strike any follower of Jesus as unchristian.   Christians should be the most welcoming people on earth because we ourselves have been welcomed with grace upon grace.   Our adoption as heirs into a kingdom of which we were once alienated – based on no merit of our own – is a spiritual adoption to be sure, but one that Jesus insists should be reflected in how we welcome physical strangers both near and far.

Governments are not meant to be Christian.   They have a purpose which is different from that of the Church, but sometimes (by the grace of God) those purposes overlap.   Where the government fails to act justly – even giving preferential treatment to the poor, the marginalized, the stranger – the Church must and should be it’s conscience.    This is one of those times.

And so it is that these sanctuary cities may have in the near future an opportunity to live out in radical ways the grace of God.   Should Trump follow through with his threat, these cities will be inundated with people in need.    Often, our greatest ideals sound great on paper but in reality would overwhelm and sink us.   Who among us doesn’t give lip service to the goodness of Jesus’ command to turn the other cheek but when afforded an opportunity to practice it fall short of the glory of such an ideal?   We all have been there.   And without the power of prayer and the support of fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, we would fall often.

So it is that I want to offer up a prayer for sanctuary cities.    This prayer is really for any city or church or person who determines they will have open arms extended towards the least of these – fellow children created in the image of God, the Father of every nation and tribe and tongue.

Most merciful God, we pray today for cities across this land  – land which is not ours but Yours – which have felt called to become and remain cities of refuge.   If the plans of some – plans meant to cause confusion and strife  – come to pass, we pray that in your power these places would prosper.   We pray that you would rise up in these cities men and women of faith who trust in a God who turns meager loaves and fish into abundance to supply multitudes.   We pray that they would not succumb to a theology of scarcity but live into one of abundance.   We pray that you would fortify them with wisdom, patience, and endurance to fight the good fight and not grow weary in doing good.

Father, we pray for those families being torn between political ideologies.  These are mothers and fathers and children whom you know by name.  Grant them every good gift, Lord.  Do for them instead of us this day.    Wherever they are planted we pray you would water the soil and produce abundant fruit.  May the cities that welcome them prosper. May creativity flourish.  May your favor shine upon them.   May their fields increase.  May the spirit of peace and love, which casts out all fear, abound.   According to your word, give them every good thing.  

Holy Spirit, raise up more cities like these.  May the love and goodwill shown to your nomadic children serve as judgment against we who have closed the eyes of our hearts from seeing them as Your beloved.  Stir up in Your church a revival where we will never again be known by our political party but by our love.    May your will be done here on earth as it is in heaven.  

We ask all of this in the mighty name of Jesus.    Amen.  

Learn what this means: 'I desire mercy, not sacrifice.' ~ Jesus