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Keep Asking

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I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better.” (Ephesians 1:17, NIV)

Paul the apostle knew that we must keep asking for more in order to receive more. The once persecutor turned (profoundly wise) pillar and shepherd of the church wanted more of the Spirit, more wisdom, more revelation; he wanted the saints all throughout Ephesus to really know God better—so “I keep asking” is what he knew it would take to get there. Paul understood there was a persistence that unlocked greater depths of the limitless treasure chest that is God. He understood Him as a generous Father who would answer 50 prayers with 50 answers just like He would answer five prayers with five answers. So onward the man of God went bombarding heaven with his voice again and again.

Of course, to be clear, Paul isn’t writing about the kind of mindless repetition that Jesus described as a vain approach to prayer (Matthew 6:7). No, far from that meaningless religious charade, the apostolic prayer warrior is simply opening his heart and penning the correct approach to the things of the Spirit—a keep asking, keep seeking, keep knocking intercessory mentality in the very same spirit that our Lord taught us about (Matthew 7:7-8, Luke 11:9-10). Christ Himself is, in fact, recorded in the Scriptures as praying the same things over and over. Matthew’s gospel shows us that when Jesus was praying in the garden at Gethsemane, He “prayed the third time, saying the same words” (Matthew 26:44).

All that being said, let me encourage you today to simply heed our brother Paul’s words. Keep on asking for more so that you and those you love—your family, your church, your neighbors, your community, etc.—will come to know and love Jesus much better. Don’t give up—there are too many glorious riches and blessings in Christ to miss out on that your next prayer, and the prayer after that, and the prayer after that, just might cause to come crashing down from heaven to earth and change everything in ways far beyond your wildest imaginations.

 

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Photo by Chris Liverani on Unsplash.

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The God Who Loves Kids

lucas-favre-489526-unsplashA couple of months ago, on September 13, I posted this on Facebook (and I’d actually been thinking about posting something like it for quite some time—probably for a couple of months):

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how well God treats my kids.

The way He has answered their prayers for Lego sets, Pokémon cards and money. The way He has surrounded them with such loving family, friends and neighbors. The way He frequently moves on people’s hearts to bless them with thoughtful little gifts (usually involving sugar, haha). For example, just in the last week or so, probably four or five people have handed me cash or coupons or gift cards telling me to take the kids out for ice cream or donuts or food or some combination of the three. There are so many ways He just ridiculously blesses them (way too many to mention in this post!).

It’s honestly the greatest joy in the world having a front row seat as I watch the Maker of heaven and earth love on my little ones and draw their hearts to Himself. Seeing it all unfold over time has strengthened my faith and trust in the Lord more than I ever would have imagined it would in the pre-kiddo era. God has always been so incredibly good and kind to me, but seeing Him be such a gracious Father and Shepherd to my little ones has been, and continues to be, a whole other level of special.

Well, along these same lines, last week during my Sunday night hockey league game, my nine-year-old boy Caleb noticed a guy trying to buy a drink at the vending machine without any success. It wasn’t taking his dollar bill so Caleb asked if he could help him out by doing the ol’ dollar straightening trick I had shown him at some point (the guy was probably nice enough to act like he didn’t know what it was, haha). After Caleb got it to work, and brought the drink to the guy, the kind soul extended a handful of money to my wide-eyed boy and said, “Remember to keep doing kind things for people and also to listen to your mom!”

Later that evening, Caleb gave me the full report of what had transpired. The big grin he was wearing as he shared about how he’d become six or seven bucks richer made it obvious that his night had been made and, therefore, my night as well. I so appreciate people’s kindness toward my little guys and gal. Truth be told, though, this sort of thing happens often enough that it moves me to a place of grateful worship of the behind-the-scenes God who’s directing hearts to be gracious to my kiddos. He treats them so well and in doing so cares for my own heart.

I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again (many times more, in fact): God is reaching me by loving my children. He knows that by blessing them in small personalized ways that He’s not only developing a history and story all their own, but He’s simultaneously revealing to me that He genuinely cares for them. Not just in ethereal theological ways, but in real-life, day-to-day, “I’m thinking of you” tangible kinds of ways. And each time He does, my heart exclaims with a bit more confidence, “God, You’re a real Father—not just to me, but to them too! Jesus, You really do enjoy the kids! Lord, You’re still calling the little ones to come to You!”

Rest assured parents, we serve a God who loves kids—a good and caring Shepherd who’s kind to the littlest of lambs.

 

What are some of the ways—whether it be big or little—that God has blessed your kids? I’d love to read about it in the comments!

If you’ve been blessed by Derek’s blog, resources or ministry, would you prayerfully consider a gift for him and his family? Click here for details on how to make a donation.

Photo by Lucas Favre on Unsplash.

My Beautiful Wife

Mandy

I’m pretty sure I’ve never met anyone as selfless as Amanda Irene Kistner. Just in the last 24 hours she prepared an early dinner so that our family could be on time to our main weekly gathering at the house of prayer, at which she wrestles with four energetic kiddos for two hours plus. She then got up a few times in the middle of the night to check on one of our boys who wasn’t feeling the greatest only to then get up early this morning to take care of another little one who decided that she wanted to be first out of bed for the day (again). Mandy arranged for grandparents to come over this morning so she could see a client for her work as an in-home nurse which will involve even more selflessness to provide special care for an aging individual. Last night, she asked me to help with the dishes at about 9 p.m. and I wish I could say I was a more enthusiastic helper with all she had going on, but you know, I’m just not at her level yet.

This is not an irregular day for Mandy or our family. This is, in some way, shape or form, what nearly every 24 hours is like and I’m leaving out pretty much lots of regular stuff for the sake of space and the lack of memory. (I can’t even remember routine things past like 12 hours in order to save space in my CPU.) Things like getting kids dressed and ready to go somewhere, washing stinky boy feet, preparing bedtime snacks and milk, finding a misplaced blankie (that if unfound will cause a shift in the gravitational pull of planet earth—in other words, it’s very serious), and on and on and on—and, again, I’m forgetting things.

This is what I admire about my wife and consider a mark of true beauty—that she surrenders her life so much again and again and again because of her love for God and her family. It’s hard for me to fully appreciate everything she does because, even as her husband, I don’t see all of it (perhaps not even most of it). But of what I do see, I’m blown away and grateful—and challenged. My wife gives up her own life over and over, every 24 hours, when it’s easy and when it’s hard. Well, it’s never really easy, it’s pretty much just hard or less hard right now.

Another thing I admire about my sweet Mandy is that she takes time to frequently send me encouraging text messages, even after rough sleepless nights due to heightened nocturnal kiddo activity. She also has God dreams fairly regularly and will take the time to type them up early in the morning and send them to me so I can read what the Lord is speaking to her at some point in my day. She even volunteers frequently at a local hospital in order to minister to patients who need encouragement and prayer. Many times people will decide to give their life to Jesus because she simply visits them and asks how she can care for them.

Anywho, you probably guessed it by know. I’m a big fan of this Mandy gal. She shows me what Jesus looks like day in and day out and I’m so very grateful for it. Her continual surrender to the life God has invited her into is beautiful to me. The way she carries her heart with that vibrant attitude of selflessness puts a smile on my face, and God’s face too.

I simply wanted a few of my readers to know this about my wife today, just because. And it’s my prayer that just as the Bridegroom cherishes His bride, each of us will learn to see the good in our spouse and cherish them for it.

 

If you’ve been blessed by Derek’s blog, resources or ministry, would you prayerfully consider a gift for him and his family? Click here for details on how to make a donation.

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