Pastor Tim responds to irreverent prayer at NASCAR event

I recently watched the video clip of Pastor Joe Nelms praying at a NASCAR race. His irreverence was initially shocking to me. I was filled with anger and indignation.

I thought of verses from scripture like Romans 1:23, which says, “For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.”

I thought of Acts chapter 8, which tells of a man named Simon who thought Christianity could be used to entertain and perhaps bring him more fame and fortune.

Pastor Nelms obviously doesn’t know the same high and holy God that I serve as pastor.

I tried connecting with Nelms on Facebook. I found his church home page on the internet and considered emailing the office. I had to respond. I had to react. I just was not sure of what to say to this one for his sacrilegious mockery of prayer.

As I prayed about it, my thoughts turned. It is not a pleasant turning. I am not comfortable with it and would not fault you if you disregarded it completely.

His open mockery of prayer is no worse than the secrets of my closet. His lack of reverence is no blacker than my lack of surrender when someone angers me. His open mockery of saying “…boogety, boogety, boogety, Amen” is no uglier than my living without urgency, as if God did not tell me to “make the best use of my time, for the days are evil (Ephesians 5:16).”

His 15 minutes of shame will cost him dearly at the judgment, which is surely coming. Although I am thankful that my moments of shame may be private or of a small audience, my comfort in the judgment will be no more assured.

It seems that every instance of indignation that I encounter ends with reflection of my fallenness, not my superiority over those who are “caught”.


Do you really desire to see God’s face?

From Soultalk, by Larry Crabb, on Augustine’s parable.

Suppose, Augustine said, God himself came to you and invited you to draw up your ultimate list, with things on it we’d all agree are OK for Jesus followers to enjoy: a good meal when you are hungry, a great family, a satisfying sense of purpose and meaning, the excitement of romance and adventure, robust health, a job that showcases your unique talents and earns you respect and lots of money, a season pass to the theater or to the ski slopes, a good nights sleep every night on your dial-a-number mattress, and, to top it off nicely, a good experience in the church Sunday morning where you gratefully worship the generous God who gave it all to you.

Suppose also that while you’re looking over your list and deciding it’s pretty complete—you might throw in a new car, maybe a boat and a vacation home—God speaks again. This time he says, “I’ll give you everything on your list and I will grant you a long life to enjoy it all. But there is a condition, only one: If you accept this offer, you will never see my face.

Augustine explained his parable this way: “The chill that you feel when you think of never seeing God’s face is your love for God.”

From me: Such a parable shows us what is really in the center of the heart of a true believer, the desire to see God’s face. That is why we live. We try to smother that passion with the stuff of this life, but never find satisfaction.

Focus in today in your desire to see God’s face. Seek that first and all else will be cool.

Praying for a long line in the shower

James 4:2b-3a: “You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly (amiss).”

Sometimes we simply pray wrongly, especially for the sick and suffering.

After a hard day of roofing on the World Changers-Waco mission trip, we would come into the campus at about 4:00 pm. We would grab our clothes, toiletries and towel and head for the gym. There, we would always find a line for the six showers for about 120 guys. The girls had their own six showers.

The problem; the gym was not air conditioned and the showers increased the humidity to almost unbearable levels. There was always a line. You tried to pick which of the two shower rooms had the shortest line.

Hot, tired and exhausted, you would have to stand in line for 20-45 minutes. Some of the kids ran back and forth across the gym looking for the shortest line. Time drug on; not anything you could possible enjoy after spending eight hours on a hot roof in 100+ temperatures, particularly when you had hardly enough energy to stand anywhere.

Finally, you would get to walk into the cool shower. The water itself seemed to send energy and life into your whole body. The difficult wait was over. Refreshing had come at last.

When someone is sick, in pain and dying, we are often praying that God extends their life, like praying they have a long wait before their shower. For the believer, what awaits them in death is life and refreshing, and we sometimes pray as if this life, no matter how painful and troublesome it is, is all they have.

I am not saying to pray for someone to have a short life. I believe the best prayer is that God will use the remainder of their life to get them ready for the “shower of His love”.

“Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is.” IJohn 3:2.

Stickers in children’s feet…

A devotional thought by Tim WhiteThe little girl hopped away screaming. Obviously, the fear of living forever with a sticker in her foot was not as terrifying as the thought of me pulling it out. But a five-year-old could not out-run the preacher. Not hopping on one foot, anyway.

After I wrestled her into position and swiftly pulled the sticker from her foot, her eyes filled with joy. She danced away, laughing, free, thankful. She dance, and danced, and danced.

It wasn’t long ago that I realized that any real encounter with God was somewhat confrontational. There was always something that needed to be removed from my life so that His joy could be added.

So many times, I hopped away from God, fearing the removal, settling for the pain and damage that God longed to eliminate. Just like Adam, trying to hide where shadows lie about privacy from our Father.

But unlike Adam, I have been here before. I know the routine. Kick, scream, fight, and protest until God maneuvers me into position to remove the sin and free me from further damage. But I never learn. It is the same with my rebellious heart again and again.

Every time, I try to negotiate with God. “God, I can live with this one. Watch me! I have even developed this special hobble that you will find endearing. Father, can’t we pretend this once that I am already OK? Can’t I hop a little longer? Why do we have to worry about this now?”

His Spirit reminds me, “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” Philippians 1:6 ESV.

Why do I forget the joy of dancing, laughing, freedom and thankfulness that comes after God pulls my stickers? But I again dread His loving hand.

Why do I pretend I meet with Him, when I can walk away from such encounters without the stickers being challenged? I call it worship, or Church, but I forget to meet with Him.

Why can’t I show my love and trust to Him by yielding my feet (so to speak), stickers and all, for Him to wash and clean?

Father, forgive me for my lack of trust and love for you. Thank you for not letting my attitude interfere with your “sticker-pulling” agenda for my life. Thanks for planning a way that I can dance away singing on (eventually) good spiritual feet.

Entertaining Angels

I went to the mailbox, grabbed the bundle of mail and started back to the house. I notice that I had dropped a letter, so I stooped to pick it up. As I did, another fell from the stack. As I retrieved it, yet another one fell. I looked around to see if anyone was watching this unrehearsed comedy. Then it dawned on me that I may have just discovered a new application to Hebrews 13:2, which says, “…some have entertained angels unawares.”

I fear…..

I fear not the cruelty of mankind that may befall me for my faith and trust in Jesus Christ. I fear not the cross. I fear not the sword, nor the rack, nor the flame. I worry not for the hatred, screamed by mobs, for me to silence my testimony. The spear carries not power over my lips to be silent, nor does the arrow, flaming or cold with death.

But there is something I fear, something that gives my mouth to pause. Something awakens me in the night when the thought of it simply trickles over the edges of my mind. Something causes me to sweat and shudder, doubt my courage, question my faith, trust not in my strength and sends me to retreat in silence when perhaps I should speak the name of Christ.

That horrible thought, that unimaginable terror, that nonnegotiable fear stands over me like a giant, casting its ugly shadow over my quivering self.

It is but this, that others will find me simple. That I would lose respect. That I would be rejected by those I admire. That I would look like a fool to a world who neither understands, nor cares to understands.

For this cause, not the arrow, nor the spear, nor the fire, do I be silent. For this reason, I remain a poor ambassador.

Father, give me the courage to even appear foolish before men so I can be wise in you.

“Let no one deceive himself. If anyone among you thinks that he is wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise.”

1 Corinthians 3:18.


Remind me, Lord… and friends…

When I reach a point in my Christian life where I am ready to love God with more passion and respond to others in my life with love and grace, there is a joy of surrender. So easily that joy drifts right into pride.

That’s when my loving God and Savior sends someone or something into my life to show me it’s not as easy as a one-time resolution. The bar goes up a little higher. Quickly, I am short with someone, aggravated at life and frustrated at God.

I resist the temptation of saying that nothing is good enough for God. He keeps telling me it’s for my good. He is removing the poison that lives in my soul.

I know He is right. By faith, I must always remember His purpose for me is “…that Christ may dwell in (my heart) through faith–that (I), being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that (I) may be filled with all the fullness of God.” Ephesians 3:17-19.

I hope I can remember this. I hope you remind me. I hope I can remind you.


Tim White My edits in parenthesis. (ESV).