Choose Your Influence

There are some weird names in the Old Testament: Eber,
Peleg, Joktan, Hazarmaveth. . . .

But the other day, I found one that really caught my attention:
Evil-Merodach. I thought, Who would name their son Evil? So I did
some research and discovered the word “evil” in his name has
nothing to do with the English word evil. OK, that’s a relief.

His name only appears twice in the Bible. Here’s the one that
caught my attention:

“King Jehoiachin was released from prison on the twenty-
seventh day of the last month of the thirty-seventh year of his
“This occurred during the first year of the reign of King
Evil-merodach of Babylon. He treated Jehoiachin kindly and
gave him preferential treatment over all the other kings who
were being held as prisoners in Babylon.
“Jehoiachin was given civilian clothing to replace his
prison garb, and for as long as he lived, he ate regularly at the
king’s table. The king also gave him a daily cash allowance for
the rest of his life” (2 Kings 25:27-30 The Living Bible).

Question: Why did Ecvil-merodach show such kindness to King
Jehoiachin— one of the Babylonian prisoners?
Answer: Because Evil-merodach had been influenced by

Years earlier, Daniel had been taken captive to Babylon from
Jerusalem. Because he lived with such commitment to God and had
a lifestyle that literally screamed integrity, he was quickly promoted to
a position of prominence in King Nebuchadnezzar’s Babylonian

Evil-merodach was the son of King Nebuchadnezzar—the king
who was responsible for throwing Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego
into the fire. I imagine while Evil-merodach was growing up in his
dad’s heathen palace, he closely watched Daniel’s life. He was there
when Daniel released Jehoiachin from prison. He saw how Daniel
treated others, how he prayed consistently, how he was kind and
generous to those around him.

Years later, Jehoiachin was imprisoned again. But when Evil-
merodach took the throne, he reached out to him and repeated the
kindness Daniel had demonstrated.

Though he had grown up in an ungodly palace, Evil-merodach
made the conscious decision to be influenced by the good (Daniel)
instead of evil (his father, Nebuchadnezzar). We have to choose
DAILY by whom and what we will allow to influence us!
We will not only be influenced; we’ll also be influencers. And we
never know how far our influence will spread.

Because Evil-merodach made the wise choice to allow a godly
man to influence him, his decision affected the lives of many others.
Who are what are you allowing to influence you?


I’m speaking in Collinsville, Okla. this weekend. It’s only two
hours away, so I’ll be driving. Please pray for our services. I’ve held
two other revivals at this church. Wonderful place.

Come Home!

My two mini-Schnauzers Obie and Amos
(Obie is short for Obadiah—I call them my Old Testament prophets,
Ha!), are precious to me. They make me laugh, help me unwind and
always make me want to come home when I’m away.

A few weeks ago, however, the guy who has been mowing my lawn
for five years, accidentally left my backyard gate open. About 8:30
a.m., my two “prophets” went through their doggie door to the
backyard . . . and as I was working on the computer, didn’t realize
they hadn’t come back inside.

At 10:30 I called them, and they didn’t come running to me. I went to
the backyard and saw the open gate, and my heart sank. They’d
been missing for two hours. They could be anywhere. Because they
had been in the house, they weren’t wearing their collars.

I immediately began praying and texting friends as I got in the car to
search for them. The lawn guy felt terrible. He’d always been
meticulous about shutting the gate. He asked his wife to join the
search. Three neighborhood girls jumped on their bikes and little
scooter to look for the missing prophets.

Friends came over and joined the driving search. My mailman began
looking. The animal welfare office was contacted. People I didn’t even
know stopped me on the street and said, “I’m looking for your dogs,”
and drove off.

I was amazed at how quickly the family of God came together for lost
dogs. After a few hours, I spotted little Amos about a half mile from
my house. I immediately scooped him into the car and we continued
to drive and yell for Obie.

Hours passed. Would I ever see Obie again?
Amos was distraught. Where was his brother?
Would I never again reach out during the night to feel Obie’s soft little

back next to me in bed?

More prayers. More folks joining the search.
My favorite postal worker showed up saying, “It’s my day off.
I’ve come to search for Obie.”
My former real estate agent came to the house saying,
“I have time before my next appointment to drive around
and look for Obie.”

As I continued to pray, I couldn’t help but think of the one lost sheep.
The one prodigal son.
Only one was gone.
But how much attention, focus and energy were poured into that

I prayed, “Lord, I don’t know what else to do.
I’ve driven for hours. Friends and others have also driven for hours.

Someone may have taken Obie inside. I don’t know what else to do.”
Don’t give up.
I grabbed a quick sandwich and Amos and I continued to drive.
I decided to turn into a neighborhood a mile or more away from my
house. I kept yelling out the window and continued to pray.

Suddenly . . . with immediacy . . . I saw Obie running toward my car!
I looked at my watch.
He had been gone for eight hours!
I scooped him into the car.

Instead of jumping on me with glee, his demeanor seemed to say,
What took you so long? I’m ready for lunch!
If I’d had a fattened calf to welcome home the prodigal,
I would’ve used it.

Imagine my gratitude,

peace of mind,
(any positive adjective will work here)
at having my two babies in my arms once again.

You know where I’m going with this, don’t you?
How much more—than we can even imagine—
does our heavenly Father
rejoice when we run into His arms.
He loves to show His goodness to us.
Not because we deserve it.
Not because we put money in the offering plate at church.
Not because we were kind to a neighbor.
But because He just loves us!

And nothing I do . . . can make Him love me less.
As well as nothing I do . . .can make Him love me more.
He just loves me.

The overriding message of the entire Bible—
is simply COME.
“Come let us reason together,” says the Lord.
“Come, let’s talk about this.”
“Come home.”
Just COME.

I’m wondering if I should change their names to Jonah—
the Old Testament prophet who ran away. . . .


I’m speaking in Little Rock, AR this weekend.
Will you pray for our services?