Dear Father, Andy Savage was the teaching pastor at Highpoint Church in Memphis, TN. He was also a Christian author, podcaster, and blogger. He is a married man with a family. He is in the news because of an encounter he had with a woman twenty years ago when he was a youth minister at another church. He has admitted to a sexual act back then with a 17-year-old girl who was in the youth group. He has not denied what we all know – this act was wrong. A child should not have a sexual experience with a man whose purpose is to lead her and guide her into a closer spiritual relationship with You. It was abusive and it was about a person in power taking advantage of someone who was vulnerable. It has been reported that Andy expressed immediate remorse and asked for forgiveness. He apparently sought help from the church and his life was transformed. His last two decades of ministry have demonstrated the heart of a man who has changed his ways and dedicated his life to You. You do change the hearts and minds of people who cry out to You for spiritual deliverance. Who better understands the grace of God more than those who have experienced forgiveness after falling deeply? However, there are mistakes that we make that do haunt us for the rest of our lives. Our enemy will make sure of it. He wants to derail our ministry and destroy our witness. He loves the thousands of commenters on articles about this story speaking of the hypocrisy and evil of believers in Jesus Christ. He loves those who hate Christianity ignoring their own moral failures while they celebrate the failures of believers in Jesus Christ. He loves people believing lives cannot be changed by Christ. Once a victimizer, always a victimizer. Father, I ask that You will be victorious in this story. Change his heart where You believe it needs to be changed. Help him to grow where he needs to grow. Comfort him and deliver him. Give him Your incredible peace. Surround him with Your love. Rescue him. Restore him to a place where his ministry will all the more effectively lead others to devotion to Christ. Bless Highpoint Church. They write on their website that they are the “perfect place for imperfect people.” May the forgiveness and mercy for a truly repentant pastor prove the authenticity of that statement and may that authenticity and grace lead more to trust the ministry of the church. I ask that You will surround Andy’s family with Your protection. Protect their faith and draw their hearts even deeper into Your arms. The family certainly is in crisis. Deliver the family through this storm into a place that inspires many other families about the power of God to heal and restore. Father, I ask for Your love to pour into the life of the victim. She has scars that need to heal. Her story deserves to be heard to help us all be more committed to walk in obedience before You. Her story instructs all in ministry to protect the hearts of innocent children. I ask that she will be surrounded with the love of Your church. I pray that somehow through this renewed public emphasis on a nightmare from her past that she will be able to trust Your church more, not less. Comfort her this very hour. Amen.
Dear Father, it has been reported that Mark Anthony Conditt, 23, was the bomber in Texas who had killed two people and injured five others. He blew himself up in his car when confronted by the police early Wednesday morning. The police were able to identify him through CCTV footage during his visit to a FedEx office where he shipped a bomb that exploded in the facility. It has been reported that Mark was the oldest child and only son of a devout Christian family. In the family’s statement to the media, they expressed their horror, stating that they are a family of prayer and service to others. Typical for a Christian family, they had a family photo inscribed with the words “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” Father, the challenges the Conditt family face this day are enormous. They have to come to terms with the loss of a child and brother. They have to come to terms that someone from their immediate family was a serial killer in Texas. They have to come to terms with the infamy of their loved one across the world. They are questioning themselves and reliving the past, wondering where they went wrong and what they could have done differently. They wish they could undo what Mark has done and bring the victims back to life. They can’t. Knowing human nature, this family will be abandoned by friends and family who can’t process the need this family has for grace and compassion. The tension in the home as each member’s life has been torn apart will become unbearable. This family, especially the parents, will be judged, ridiculed, and hated. Even now anonymous commenters are condemning this family on websites. Political opportunists have already associated Mark’s actions with his anti-abortion and anti-gay marriage beliefs that he shared on the Internet. Father, this family needs the outpouring of Your love. They need hugs and helping hands from godly friends. They need the love and support of Your church. They need to talk with people who will listen with patience, understanding, compassion, kindness, and grace. Each member of this family needs the love of God 24/7. They need wisdom. Father, give them Your grace this very hour. Help them to find rest from their tears, rest for their souls, and rest for their bodies. I ask that You do the impossible as only You can – turn this nightmare into something beautiful and inspiring, an amazing testimony of Your wonderful love. Amen.
Dear Father, the cruise ship Silver Spirit has been split in two and a new 49 foot section has been added in the middle of it at a shipyard in Palermo, Sicily. The ship is scheduled to sail once more in May. Father, I ask for Your blessings on this ship. May the modifications be 100% successful. I ask that this ship will sail safely for years to come. Protect every employee and passenger from harm. May the ship be retired and scrapped at the end of its serviceable life because it has performed and aged with dignity. However, it strikes me as I pray about nightmare situations for the Savage and Conditt families that man can accomplish incredible and amazing feats of engineering but we cannot change, control, improve, modify, revise, remodel, or strengthen the human heart. No court decision, legislation, or executive decree in history has ever made the human heart more loving. No social program, protest, academic curriculum, movement, film, song, or how-to book has led to world peace. No man-created religion has made this world a less scary place to live in. Why? The human heart longs to be its own god. We long to do things our own way. We want to do whatever we want to do whenever we want to do it. We want to be who we want to be, say what we want to say, and think what we want to think. Each one of us lives for ourselves. Each one of us has rejected Your authority. We have all become hopelessly self-centered, insecure, and anxious people who fight one another for survival. There is no social engineering that can fix this. We need to surrender our hearts and minds to You. We need to all come to the place where we get it – it’s when we love You with all of our heart, soul, and mind that we will be able to love each other. Father, the solution for this world’s problems is right before us. And we will reject it till the last hour of human history. Our desire to live for ourselves is that strong. Father, have mercy on us. Amen.