Q & A with Pastor Mark Haines

A place for heartfelt, honest answers to your questions from a caring pastor

Tag Archives: trust

The Amazing Truth about God’s Address

Where can we go to find God?  What’s his address?

'Broken Egg' photo (c) 2008, Tal Atlas - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/God is much closer than you might think.

The high and lofty one who lives in eternity,
    the Holy One, says this:
“I live in the high and holy place
    with those whose spirits are contrite and humble.
I restore the crushed spirit of the humble
    and revive the courage of those with repentant hearts. (Isaiah 57:15)

Because he is not limited by time and space Read more of this post

Does God change his mind in response to prayer?

A friend sent me the following question. “I read once that prayers change the mind of God sometimes. Do you think God’s will is altered at times with persistent prayers?”

My short answer is yes sometimes God changes his mind in response to our prayers. 

Still pointing eyes toward heaven

There are instances in the Bible that demonstrate that. When the people of Israel worshiped a golden calf, the Lord declared he planned to wipe them out. However, Moses prayed for them and God repented or changed his mind about the judgment. (Exodus 32:1-14) When King David prayed for the people of Israel, God changed his mind and stopped the angel of death as it approached Jerusalem. (2 Samuel 24) The Bible proclaims we often don’t have what we want simply because we did not ask for it. (James 4:1-2) Read more of this post

How can I overcome discouragement?

This King of the Jungle was once a tiny cub

Unless what you’re attempting is as easy as falling off a bike, starting a new project leads to frustration and discouragement.  A good friend of mine started a new church several years ago.  For a while it seemed to be stuck but finally began to grow after a difficult relocation.  Another friend designs websites and paints, as well as working a full-time job and being a husband and father.  He does excellent work but is frustrated because the fruit of his labors is slow in coming.

I feel their pain. I started writing this daily blog (Monday through Friday each week) on January 1st of this year.  I currently have about 30 followers.  I know that’ s a good start but I read recently you need over 1000 followers if you want to publish a book.  I do want to write a book sometime so I guess I have a long way to go.

What can we do to keep on trying when we are discouraged?  How can I overcome and persevere?

I have determined to memorize and meditate on a powerful statement by the ancient Jewish prophet, Zechariah.

“Who dares despise the day of small things, since the seven eyes of the LORD that range throughout the earth will rejoice when they see the chosen capstone in the hand of Zerubbabel?” (Zechariah 4:10)

Another translation makes it a command: “Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin….” (Zechariah 4:10)

“Do not despise small beginnings.”  The Jewish people were rebuilding the Temple to worship the Lord correctly. The Babylonians destroyed Solomon’s awe-inspiring building about a century before.  The new Temple began when Zerubbabel picked up his tools.  That was enough for the Lord to call his people to join him in rejoicing.

Our tools may vary from knowing grammar to paint brushes; from an entrepreneurial spirit to writing programming code. No matter what the Lord asks us to do, he rejoices to see the tools in our hands.  Will you join me in picking up your tools for one more day?  Will you believe we can and will complete the work he gives us to do?  Then let’s do it!

Prayer for the Sick

My loved one has been sick for quite a while.  I know the Bible tells us to pray and care for those who are ill.  Can you share some guidelines for a prayer for a sick person?

Sometimes we tend to think if we simply say the right words or phrase our requests in the correct way God will give us what we long to receive.  However, that’s a subtle desire to control God.  When we pray for a sick loved one this is an even stronger temptation.  I trust these suggestions will help you maintain a balance of humble submission and confident faith as you pray.

Remember God is in control.

Request God’s wisdom:

  • About how to pray for this condition.
  • For the doctors’ accurate diagnosis & treatment.

Ask God for:

  • His will to be done.
  • His name to be glorified.
  • Healing of the condition.  (Psalm 103:1-3)
  • Those who are sick to be sustained and for their health to be restored.  (Psalm 41:3)
  • Faith enough to endure a prolonged condition, if he allows it.  (2 Corinthians 12:7-10)

Involve others in praying by faith for restoration.  (James 5:14-15)

Trust God for the results of:

QUESTION OF THE DAY:

Do you have a guideline to add to the list?

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I know I shouldn’t, but doesn’t God want me to be happy?

Rural AmericaFor a long time, humans have used this God-wants-me-to-be-happy line to explain why they can do something God clearly prohibits.  It reminds me of a member of the first church I served as pastor.  She told me she had an understanding with the previous pastor that made what she wanted to do all right. The rules that applied to everyone else did not apply to her.  We all act as though God owes us special treatment and we say things like:

  • I know I shouldn’t leave my husband, but he doesn’t make me happy and God wants me to be happy.
  • I know I shouldn’t steal from the company, but I want a new car.  Surely God wants me to be happy.
  • I know I shouldn’t go out with her but she makes me laugh like my wife used to do.  Doesn’t God want me to be happy?

These lines may sound good to you when you say them, but how would you feel if your spouse or employee said them to you.  When someone else uses that argument to leave you or to take your hard-earned cash, you will see them for what they are — an excuse to seek immediate pleasure no matter what the long-term consequences.

Let’s get back to your question.  Yes, God wants you to be happy.  However, he knows better than you do what will give you true happiness.  He knows the pain you will experience if you insist on transgressing one of his laws.  God gave us the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:1-21) and the Great Love Commandments (Mark 12:28-34) to protect us from pain and to provide real happiness for us.

So I guess the real question is this.  Do you want to be truly happy or do you simply want to have your way?

How can I teach my kids to respect God?

One day a man came to Jesus and asked him to declare which of Moses’ commandments is the greatest.  Jesus answered, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.”  (Matthew 22:35-40)  Since he did not say “respect God” but “love God” I think that’s the most important thing to teach our children.  However, the process of teaching both love and respect have many things in common.

In the Christian family, more is caught than taught, so:

  1. Make sure you love and respect God. If you do not love and respect God, then it will be hard for your children to love and respect him.
  2. Make sure you love and respect your children’s other parent. If you are part of a blended family formed by divorce and remarriage this will be difficult.  Nevertheless, God can give you the grace to speak well of the other parent.  He will also help you to treat him/her with respect.
  3. Make sure you love and respect your children. When (not if) you make a mistake, admit it and apologize to your child.  Encourage them and cheer for them.
  4. Make sure you pray for your children often. Ask God to reveal himself to them.  Pray that they will love Jesus because of his awesome glory, grace and love.
  5. Make sure you explain what loving and respectful behavior does and why. We all need to know how to act and why we should act that way.  Talk about what it means to love and respect the Lord.
Hinton Family Reunion

Train up a child...

My parents and my wife’s parents taught us to love and respect God in this way.  It is the way we have raised our three daughters.  It’s worked well in our family.  Do your best to live without regrets as you raise your children.  Trust God to take care of the rest.

How can I invest time reading the Bible so my life is changed?

At the Cross Where I First Saw the Light

Yesterday I wrote about the benefits of reading the Bible.  The primary benefit of reading and understanding the Bible is that it has the power to change your life.  Let me give you several guidelines for investing your time in reading the Bible.

  • Read the Bible reverently, thanking God for it.
  • Read the Bible prayerfully, asking God to help you understand it.
  • Read the Bible calmly, knowing God wants to spend time with you.
  • Read the Bible attentively, listening for God’s quiet whispers.
  • Read the Bible systematically, endeavoring to discover all of God’s revelation.
  • Read the Bible intentionally, seeking God’s help to change your thinking and acting.

Here is a series of questions to help you read the Bible for transformation and not simply information.  They are based on an ancient pattern for reading the Bible called Lectio Divina (divine reading).  Start by asking the Holy Spirit to show you what he wants you to learn from your Bible text.  Read slowly through a passage that’s long enough to reveal a complete thought (for example, a chapter or a story).  Read the text at least three times before you begin to work with the following questions.

  1. What word or phrase in the Bible passage stands out to you?
  2. What is it about this word or phrase that grabs your attention?
  3. What connection does this word or phrase have to your life?  To your relationship with Jesus?  To your relationships with others?
  4. Which of your ideas about God, self or others does this word or phrase challenge?  How?  Why?
  5. Based on your meditations on this word or phrase, how does God want to reorient you?
  6. What change in thinking, acting or relating will you need to make?
  7. Do you trust God enough to make this change?

How do I pray for healing?

Kind words are like honey—sweet to the soul and healthy for the body. (Proverbs 16:24)

There is no magic formula that guarantees God will answer with a miraculous healing.  I am sharing the results of my research and experience.

First, allow me to define healing.

  1. Healing means to mend something that’s broken.
  2. Healing is to make whole again.
  3. Healing means to overcome an unhealthy condition in the physical, emotional, mental, spiritual, and relational areas of our lives.

Second, there are four actions involved in healing prayer.

  1. Celebrate Jesus. Worship Him. Rejoice in the victory He won with the Cross and the Empty Tomb.
  2. Clarify your need. Ask specifically. “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God” (Philippians 4:6).
  3. Commit your life to God. “Trust in the LORD and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the LORD (Psalm 37:3-5). Develop the attitude that declares, “If we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord” (Romans 14:8).
  4. Confess your sins, needs, fears, hopes, and faith.

Third, look for God’s healing in one or more of the following ways.

  1. People in the helping professions ( for example: social workers, addiction counselors) are a part of God’s healing team.
  2. Medical treatments are a part of the miraculous healing God provides.
  3. God created the healing health maintaining processes in our bodies.
  4. God’s direct healing touch may bring instantaneous healing or he may use a series of touches over time.
  5. Obedience to the Bible’s teachings can bring healing and health as well.

What would you add to these suggestions on how to pray for healing?

How can I comfort someone who is grieving?

I’ve been with many grieving persons since I became a pastor.  I’ve been a grieving person at times, especially when my mother died a few years ago.  There are still days when grief over her passing blindsides me and leaves me reeling.  The following are guidelines I’ve collected through these various experiences.

Some well-meaning Christians try to comfort a grieving person with verses of Scripture that often do the exact opposite.  A favorite passage is Romans 8:28.  While this promise is true, hurting people have a very hard time feeling its truth in their situations.

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28)

The key is to be with them not necessarily to talk to him/her.  Do not push a grieving person to talk and don’t feel like you need to fill the silence with your words.  There are some things that are best communicated in silence.

Allow the grieving person  to share whatever he/she is feeling or thinking without passing judgement.  Grief can be many emotions – anger, sadness, loneliness, numbness, shock, and more.

Refrain from trying to hurry the process along.   It takes a long time to adjust to a new “normal” once a friend or family member passes away.  Give your grieving loved one time to mourn and adjust.

Don’t simply say, “Call me if you need something.”  The grieving person will not call you. He/she doesn’t want to be a burden. Offer to do something specific.  For example, “Could I pick something up at the store for you?”  Or, “May I mow your lawn?”  You may need to offer two or three ways of helping before he/she agrees to let you do something.

Offer signs of affection like a hug if he/she is open to it.  This may feel like you’re walking a tight rope without a net but do your best to read the grieving person’s needs.  If you make a mistake, apologize quickly and sincerely.

Offer to read a comforting passage from the Bible and to pray with the grieving person before you leave.  He/she may not remember what you read however he/she will remember that you made God’s presence real.  Trust God to help you know what to say or do and he will.

What words of advice would you add?  What have you seen done well in comforting a grieving person?

How do I know if I am praying effectively?

Effective prayer is not…

  • intense feelings.  We can weep and agonize as we pray.  We can work up powerful desires for the answer to prayer we seek.  We can pray until a sense of relief and peace fills our hearts.  We can experience all of these and still not pray effectively.
  • tone of voice.  We can shout or whisper.  We can kneel in silence or pace while screaming.  We can address God as a friend or an uncaring king.  We can use any tone of voice or posture and still not pray effectively.
  • a religious formula.  We can repeat the words of the Bible several times a day.  We can end every prayer with the words “in Jesus’ name” and “Amen.”  We can recite the Lord’s Prayer or a prayer taught by the church.  We can follow any number of prayer rituals and never pray effectively.
  • even receiving what we asked for in prayer.

Effective prayer is…

  • focused on Jesus.  Effective prayers center on who Jesus is and what he would pray for.
  • led by the Holy Spirit.  He is the one who can help us pray effectively.
  • seeking to know and to submit to God’s will.  We often come to prayer with our agendas expecting God to bless them.  Effective prayer leads us to discover God’s agenda and line up with it.
  • connecting with God.  Effective prayer unites our spirits with the Spirit of God.  It builds a stronger relationship with him.

What would you add to this description of effective prayer?  Please share your comments.

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