The Mockery Of Purple

They called Him “King.”  They tried to make Him look like one.  They even gave Him a crown.

What they called Him was a bad joke that was not funny.  They were playing and pretending with the purple robe, and the crowning was not only painful, it was humiliating.

By choice He was at their mercy.  The exhilaration of their own power gave them poor judgement of their attitude and actions.  Would it not have been enough to simply carry out the orders to get rid of Him?  Why taunt Him, teasing and humiliating?  A beating and an old coat to send Him on His way to rejection would have been enough.  Oh, but, no . . . they called Him something they didn’t mean, attempted to make Him appear more than what they really felt HE was, and they hurt Him. Continue reading “The Mockery Of Purple”

A Place In the Sun

I first noticed it as I hurriedly turned a corner, making my way on down the walk.  A tiny little plan t had sprouted in a very unlikely place.  Cradles in a crevice, shaded by the corner of the building and a small shrub, it had crowned itself with a frail little bloom.

“How did you get there?” I mused out loud, noticing the strange bend of its spindly stem.

Almost daily I watched as it struggled in its shady spot.  It strenuously pushed itself around the corner at an odd and difficult angle as it reached upward, ever seeking the sun. Continue reading “A Place In the Sun”

A Commitment To Excellence

Several years ago I read an interview with Mary Crowley, the highly successful developer and owner of the Home Interiors enterprise.  The question was asked, “What are some of the basic principles of how you approach your work and how you approach your life that have made you more and more successfully.”  Her answer was simple: “I have a commitment to excellence, and never give up.  Whatever the job is, do it the best you can, and make it shine.”  With this she also imparts her deep feeling that everyone is on the team, and everyone is serving others, not just doing a job.  Over a period of 25 years, her initial investment of $5,000.00 had grown to over $400 million that year. Continue reading “A Commitment To Excellence”

The Confusion Of Christmas

Man’s mind is a significant skirmish field for the emotions.  The constant tug-o-war between what we ought to do and what we do, how we ought to feel and how we feel interjects confusion compounded with guilt into the maze of life.  Those who are trained in the science of the mind and emotions tell us that the Christmas holiday season is one of the peak times for upset emotions.  Many reasons make up the basis for this.  The contrast of memories of carefree childhood holidays versus the pressure of the adult world of holidays can cause confusion by the paradox of how we would like to feel and how we feel.  Peaceful and happy holiday scenes and melodious strains of “sleep in heavenly peace” contrast drastically with the hectic holiday pace, late hours, pressure and frayed nerves.  However, a real look at the first Christmas reveals a great similarity between their day and ours. Continue reading “The Confusion Of Christmas”

A New Year

There is something about the ending of one year and the beginning of a new one that causes a pause in life’s machinery for most of us.  It provides us with just enough time for a little introspection.  This affects us in various ways – from a sigh of relief that the old year is passed, hope at the promise of a new year, a creeping dread that this year may not be much different than last, or it may be a time of anticipation and hope as exciting plans are made for the future.  Some of us may end up with just a good case of the “I’m so tired” blahs as we slide from one year to the next.

However, through the years, I have become increasingly aware of the fact that if I will approach this final holiday of the holiday season with faith and hope, it can truly make all the difference in the world.  If my evaluation of the previous year – and my anticipation for the coming year – are both filled with thanksgiving I become more and more aware of the gifts God has given me. Continue reading “A New Year”

The Priority of Prayer

As Apostolics, we are firmly rooted in the Book of Acts where, in every chapter, prayer is either mentioned or alluded to.  For Apostolics, there is no priority preceding prayer.  Without the modern marvels of communication and travel, the book of Acts church made a global impact.  This impact traveled on the wings of prayer around the corner and to the four corners of the then know world.  Prayer continues to be the prerequisite for global impact in the twenty-first century.  All of our extensive plans and expanded efforts will require extreme prayer to impact our world.

 Without Acts 1, there would be no Acts 2.  Prayer was the priority of the apostolic church.  It was born in a prayer meeting and it will thrive only in an atmosphere of prayer.  The back door of the prayer room will become the front door of evangelism.  Evangelism without prayer is like an explosive that has no detonator.  Prayer without evangelism is like a detonator that has no explosive.  Together the church can blow the gates of hell off their hinges.  It was said of the early church that they turned the world upside down.  That is global impact.

 Apostolic doctrine must be accompanied by the apostolic agenda and priority of prayer.  This will produce the power for effective impact.  Acts 6:4 clearly sets the apostolic agenda:  “But we will give ourselves continually to prayer; and to the ministry of the word:” and please note that prayer precedes the Word.  How would Acts 10 read if the apostle Peter had been too busy with plans and programs to pray in the middle of that notable day when Cornelius turned the handle on the door of the Gentile world, opening it for the gospel?  The door of evangelism for the continent of Europe swung open on three hinges of prayer:  Lydia’s prayer meeting by the riverside, the deliverance of the demonized girl as Paul and Silas were on their way to a prayer meeting, and the prayer meeting in the jail.

Prayer meetings were the pivotal points of the early church.  It was while Peter and John were on their way to a prayer meeting that the lame man was healed, which produced a ready audience to receive the message, resulting in multitudes believing.  After an earth-shaking prayer meeting, the words “multitude” and “believers” appear again.  The impact of preaching is absolutely dependent on the priority of prayer.

 A praying disciple by the name of Ananias was led in a vision to a praying religious leader by the name of Saul, and by praying and going, the religious system was cracked, and the greatest persecutor of the name of Jesus was turned into its greatest proponent.

 The apostolic agenda of prayer (first) and the word made the early church effectively impacting:

  • They affected the religious world of their day with the conversion of Saul and a great number of priests.
  • They affected the business world of their day as noted by the conversion of Cornelius.
  • They affected the ethnic structure of their day as noted by the conversion of Grecians, Romans, and others.
  • They impacted individuals, people groups, cities, villages, nations, and continents.

 They kept the priority of prayer.

 Apostolic doctrine must be accompanied by the apostolic agenda of the priority of prayer.  It has been said that you can do more than pray after you have prayed, but you cannot do more than pray until you have prayed.

 The fire of revival will never fall on empty altars.  A sacrifice at the altar has always been required before the fire falls.  It has always been so and remains so even in the twenty-first century.

 Real global impact is not dependent on our preaching, singing, planning, organizing, or working.  All of these will contribute, but prayer is the first essential.

 Let it be said of us as it was of the early church, “…they continued . . . in prayers” (Acts 2:42).

Don’t Miss Christmas!


“All went to be taxed…”

How many times I have read this with sober concern, but today I smiled at the practical interpretation that came to my mind.  I have special insight into what makes the holidays special to so many.  It is women.  They bake, they cook, they shop, they sew, they clean.  They work hard on the dramas and the music.  They write notes and cards to distant relatives and friends.  They pack baskets of food and gifts of goodies to share with those they love.  And, of course, this is all in addition to their usual 24-hour-a-day job.  How taxing the holidays can be!

Disrupted schedules, stringing lights, standing a tree, extra dress up occasions, extra company and extra expense can make the holiday taxing for men, too.

With all this added tax . . . Don’t miss Christmas!

The pots and pans will soon be empty. The wrapping paper will be crumpled and cast aside. Decorations will be packed away for another year. Friends and relatives will all go home.  Bills will eventually be paid. Holidays come and go. Christmas is eternal.

Christmas is the greatest gift ever given. For the stress of the season to dull our joy for this gift would be much like a child who prefers to play with the wrapping paper and ribbon, ignoring the gift  it brought.

At the first Christmas season those who were sensitive to the event worshiped and were blessed. Mary’s soul magnified the Lord.  The shepherds returned glorifying and praising God. Wise men fell down and worshiped Him. Old Simeon held the infant Jesus and worshiped God. Anna, the wise widow, gave thanks unto the Lord.

Too busy with the seasonal stress to be sensitive, the innkeeper missed the opportunity to be among the first worshiper. Could Herod have been the fourth king if he had not been so troubled and too busy with his own plans and affairs? Don’t miss the marvel of Christmas in its profound simplicity.

Relieve the strain of the holidays. Sing with joy at any moment. Look at the stars and pause to wonder. Snuggle a baby in your arms and give thanks. Comfort a stranger. Give a gift of expressed appreciation. Surprise someone with words of affirmation. Capture again a child-like heart.

It’s Christmas! Emmanuel – God with us.

That’s what really matters.

–Thetus Tenney

When Faith and Fear Collide

Sitting in the little prayer chapel near my house, slowly I surveyed the furnishings.  Among them were the altars, a few cushions, some chairs, a Bible and a little leather bound book of God’s promises.  All of them had been carefully put there to make this a place of welcoming comfort.

On this day, however, comfort eluded me.  My spirit felt overwhelmed; my heart was heavy and my mind was clouded.  My day was  filled with frustrations and plagued by problems.  Sickness swirled around me.  There was  friction between me and the people who mattered to me.  Even my hand felt heavy with the cluster of urgent requests that had brought me to this place of prayer.

What was I to do?  Discipline and duty had brought me here, but how was I to rise above the despair and desperation I felt?  Faith seemed far-fetched in that moment.  The conflict of my mind and heart told me that fretting and faith did not flow well together.

The story of Hannah’s plight helped me in my quandary. When her adversary “provoked her sore for to make her fret”…”in bitterness of soul she prayed unto the Lord and wept sore” (See I Samuel 1).  She poured out her sorrowful spirit and the abundance of complaints and grief before God, weeping the words, “Look on my affliction!”  All the daily annoyance, the grief of family worries, and the torments of life seemed to fuel the thrust of her prayer.  Her voice was not heard–only her sorrow, grief and pain spoke for her.  Where was faith in this sad situation?

It is not spoken.  Hannah’s faith is evident only in her willful decision, what she did and where she went when fretting besieged her faith.  Can I fret and have faith, too?

The frantic father of the demonized boy cried to Jesus with tears, “I do believe; help thou mine unbelief” (See Mark 9:14-29).  Belief and unbelief, faith and fear, praying and fretting all rolled together–such a mess, but so human.

Again, on that day in the prayer chapel, the Word brought life to me, separating my troubled thoughts from the good intent of my heart.  Reflecting on Hannah’s fretting and the father’s fear gave me a fresh understanding of faith.  Hope for help was there, and that hope took all three of us to the right place–to Him who can be touched with the feelings of our weakness.

There are times when we do not know how to pray as we ought, but our groanings are understood by the Spirit (Romans 8:26).  In these troublesome and worrisome times, fear and fretting may weaken my faith, but it does not necessarily negate it. The strength of my faith is never the object, it is only the means by which I reach Him.  He  is the object of my faith, and He is able!

David’s prayer in Psalm 56 expresses it so well.  In verse 3, he said, “what time I am afraid, I will trust in thee.”  In verse 11, he said, “In God have I put my trust, I will not be afraid…”  When my fears seem to overwhelm my faith, I still trust in God’s faithfulness.  Then my fears are quieted and faith moves me on.  The important thing is not my paralyzing fear nor my powerful faith, but I know in whom I have believed and He is able;  He is faithful (II Timothy 1:12).

When fear and faith collide, trust holds me secure!

Why Pray?

Why should we pray?  Does God need help?  Is He not able to do anything He desires?  Is He not self-sufficient?

Careful reading of Ezekiel 22:30-31 can help answer these questions.

“And I sought for a man among them, that should make up the hedge, and stand in the gap before me for the land, that I should not destroy it: but I found none. Therefore have I poured out mine indignation upon them; I have consumed them with the fire of my wrath: their own way have I recompensed upon their heads, saith the Lord GOD.” Ezekiel 22:30-31

It is very apparent from this reading that God desired to avoid exercising just and deserved judgment. He actually sought for someone to ask, to intercede, that judgment be diverted.  Finding no one, God, bound by His own justice, meted out deserved judgment.  If no one intercedes, God must exercise judgment when He does not want to.  Why is this?  His justice demands judgment.  His love seeks an intercessor to intervene.

God does nothing in the realm of human redemption outside of the plan of prayer and intercession. This is underscored by many Biblical references to prayer and multiple entreaties, urgings and invitations for us to pray.  A translation of Matthew 7:7 says, “Ask, I ask you to ask—seek, I entreat you to seek, knock, I urge you to knock.”  The importance of prayer is made evident as there are 667 references to prayer found in the Bible. God invites us, urges us, and commands us to pray.

Furthermore, the importance of prayer is underscored by God’s binding Himself to unequivocally answer.  “And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it” (John 14:13-14).  “If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you” (John 15:7).  “Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you.  Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name: ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full” (John 16:23-24).  “…ye have not, because ye ask not” (James 4:2b).

In light of this, the entire responsibility for prayerlessness or ineffective prayer must rest on us.  His promises to answer are always circumscribed by His will, but any truly yielded child of God would never will anything outside of God’s will.  So, there is no “small print” on God’s part in the plan of prayer.

The plan of prayer is God inviting man into partnership with Him to implement His word and will in the affairs of men.  Man does have a will.  God tells us that whatever we bind or loose on earth, the same will be done in heaven (see Matthew 16:19).  In Luke 10:19, we are told that He has given us power (authority) over things on earth.  We are the “deputies” with full authority.

The scheme of prayer also encompasses God’s plan to fulfill His purpose for a bride that will rule and reign with Him.  Prayer becomes the training arena.  It is the apprenticeship for the eternal position of ruling and reigning.  We practice enforcing the will of God on earth as it is in heaven.  We bind, loose, agree on earth and reign in life!  God will not act without our exercising our will in prayer to intercede for His will to be done.  He will not sabotage His training program to bring us into full stature, into our inheritance of the ruling, eternal partnership with Him.  His part is complete and He gives us the opportunity, through prayer, to enter into this partnership as joint heirs with God.

John Wesley said, “God will do nothing but in answer to prayer.”  S. D. Gordon said, “The greatest thing anyone can do for God and for man is to pray” and “You can do more than pray after you have prayed, but you cannot do more than pray until you have prayed.

Prayer is—should be—the main business of the church.

Prayer is not overcoming God’s reluctance; it is entering into partnership, “joint heirs,” with God.  What He has willed in the heavens can be done on the earth.  His word that is settled in heaven completes its circuit on earth as we declare in prayer, with faith believing, that His word is true.

God had declared His intentions, His will in Jeremiah 25, “…Because ye have not heard my words…land shall be a desolation…shall serve the King of Babylon seventy years.  I will recompense them according to their deeds….” Years later, Daniel reads the prophecy of Jeremiah and realizes the time for deliverance from Babylon is near and sets himself to seek the Lord by prayer and fasting for the fulfillment of the prophecy.  The prophetic promise had to be prayed into fulfillment.  God declared His will from His eternal perspective.  Man prayed it into earthly reality!

In Exodus 25, after the incident of the children of Israel worshiping the golden calf, God’s intentions were to consume them in the fury of His anger.  Moses interceded on the basis of the covenant promise made to Abraham and God spared the people.

God’s law and justice dictate judgment and consequences.  God’s love and mercy wait patiently for an intercessor to plead the case.  God’s word is settled in heaven.  Our prayers bring them to reality in the earth.  As we pray, “Thy Kingdom come,” our prayers become the discipline training of our future ruling and reigning with Him.

Why pray?  God waits for our will to bring His will to earth.

What If She Had Not Been Faithful

My salvation, my whole life as I have known it, probably depended on a simple saint who was faithfully committed to prayer meeting.

It was in the early ’30’s when walking was more common than driving.  Port Arthur, Texas was the place. A young couple from central Texas had moved there to work in the oil refinery. They called a small apartment home for themselves and their three young children.

Church attendance was not on their weekly agenda.  In fact, it was not on their agenda at all. But a faithful prayer warrior changed that.

Every morning a little before nine o’clock, a little lady passed in front of their little apartment with her Bible under her arm.  To the young mother inside the little apartment it soon became a part of her morning routine to watch for the little lady who always passed her door a little before nine o’clock.

Where is she going every day?  Why does she always have a Bible under her arm?  Who is she? What is this about?

Then one morning, some would say as fate would have it, she stopped and knocked on the door.  (From my vantage point, I know it wasn’t fate, but unspoken faith from a fertile heart.)  When the young mother stood face to face with the lady from the sidewalk, she received an invitation to an old-fashioned tent revival.  Few words were spoken, but the simple invitation seemed to speak to the young mother all day from its resting place on the dresser. By five-thirty in the evening the children were bathed and dressed for going out and supper was on the table.  A little bewildered, the hardworking young man looked at his lovely dressed-up wife, wondering.

“We are going to church tonight,” she explained.

Willingly, he agreed.

It was a strange experience–the tent, the people, the praying, the preaching.  But at the close of the service the young father said to his wife, “You go and pray.  I’ll stay with the children.”

Kneeling at an altar, she was totally transformed by the baptism of the Holy Ghost!

Among those gathering around was the little lady from the sidewalk with the Bible under her arm.

“Where do you go every morning?”

“We have nine o’clock prayer meeting every day.”

“Could we come?” asked the young couple.

“Well, we normally don’t have prayer meeting on Saturday morning,” the Pastor interjected, “but we will if you want to come.”

Saturday morning, nine o’clock prayer meeting found the young couple joining the faithful saints.  Prayer was made.  Baptism was explained.  Both agreed to baptism in the name of Jesus Christ.  Now, it was the young man’s turn for transformation as he broke the waters of baptism, speaking in tongues, filled with the Holy Ghost.

The young couple were my mother and father, E. W. and Johnnie Ruth Caughron.  These events transpired before my birth.  Consequently, I was born into a Sprit-filled home. My parents’ dedicated ministry carried them in soul-winning revivals and building of churches from Texas to Alaska.  Dozens and dozens of preachers were called and hundreds and hundreds of saints were impacted by their ministry.

What if the little lady on the sidewalk with the Bible under her arm had not been faithful to prayer meeting? I shudder at the thought–I probably wouldn’t be writing this now.