Monthly Archives: June 2016

He is the Light

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I used to post what I call ScripturePictures every Wednesday.  This is where I take my photography and lay God’s glorious Scripture over it.  If you don’t mind, I’d like to get back to that practice every once in a while.  It’s a nice respite during the week and will help us to dwell on whatever is true, honorable, just, pure, and lovely …

Today’s ScripturePicture is John 12:46.  The subject is the Jupiter (FL) lighthouse.  Enjoy!

John 12-46 (617x800)

 

Jesus is the light that came into this world to remove the darkness.

As we begin to see evidence all around us of attitudes intolerable of the Christian, remember that the world likes the darkness and shuns the light because it illuminates their wrong doings.  We are in a war, my friends, but our enemies are not our neighbors. Our enemy is not flesh and blood at all.

Earlier in Chapter 12 John records Jesus saying, “While you have the light, believe in the light so that you may become sons of light.” ~ John 12:36

Stand strong, my fellow sons and daughters of light, because we will live with our Lord forever, in pure and glorious light. (See Rev. 21:23 and 22:5)

 

The Right to Ask Why

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The Right to Ask Why

Our Lord is love and grace … and justice and mercy and wrath … He is All … and thank God He is, because I need Him now and nothing less will do.

I’d texted Paula last night to see how everything was going in Atlanta (where she goes for her cancer treatments).  She was going for scans and we’d been praying for no new activity in her lung or leg – the places where cancer has settled it’s nastiness into her body.  We prayed … asking for healing, perhaps searching for remission, or any positive news that we could hold on to.

I think about something I’ve read over and over again this past week:

Do you cling to the crisis or do you cling to Christ?

In retrospect, I think, how silly we are.  Why don’t we just hold on to Jesus?  Oh He is with us, definitely.  He always goes where he’s wanted.  How nice that no matter how ‘mature’ we are in our Christian walk, He allows us to behave all human-like and attempt to grasp the reins of our situation rather than just slip our hand into His and walk with Him through it.  He never shakes His head in disgust or tsk-tsk’s us when we manage to move around Him, like we never saw Him standing there, and look everywhere else before we come back to Him.  I guess that’s grace, hmmm?

Paula’s reply text comes the following morning.  “We got bad news,” her text read.  “The cancer has spread to my brain.”

I sit there in shock and devastation, my phone slipping from my hand.  Tears immediately well up and spill down my cheeks.  “Why?” I ask God.

It’s such a human thing to ask but I still immediately ask God’s forgiveness for asking it.  Do you think that’s weird?  I don’t.  It’s never weird to talk to God about anything that is on your heart.  But I know He’s not going to tell me why.  It’s a futile question that won’t be answered because His ways are not my ways.  I still feel badly for asking but then I just talk to Him – a river of words gushing out of my soul: Lord, I’m gonna ask why and I’m probably gonna ask why for a long time today, so please just listen. I take a breath and chuckle to myself.  Sometimes I envision Jesus sitting in the chair next to me listening to me prattle.  I imagine He shakes His head silently – even though I know He would never do that.

“Why?” I ask again wiping my eyes. “Oh Lord, why Paula?

“Why not Paula?” I hear in my mind. “Why not you? Or the guy down the block? Or a lady in California? Or a kid in Germany?”

I sit quietly.  Those questions don’t seem very constructive or comforting, but I see God’s point.  Asking ‘why’ doesn’t help move the situation forward.  Asking ‘why’ allows me to sit transfixed by grief without making any progress.

I do one thing that I can right now – get Paula and her husband on the church’s prayer chain and on every prayer warrior’s lips I can think of – and then I pray.  It’s fitting that part one of the post about Ephesians 3:20 had just dropped that morning and so I pray Ephesians 3:20 over Paula.  We definitely need more than I can ask for or imagine.

Then I remember reading a post from one of my favorite bible teachers, Margaret Feinberg.  In her post “How to Cling to God When Everything Falls Apart” Margaret talks about replacing the ‘Why’ question with a ‘Who’ question:

Who is God in this?  This is a daring question to ask.  But such a brave question will not just lead to a deeper connection to God, but to answers that transform us—making us look just a little bit more like Jesus along the way.  You see, God listens to our stinging words, embraces our frail hearts, and meets us where we are.  Nothing is too much for the Holy Who.

As the day wears on I’ve stopped asking why and set my sights firmly on God.  God knows how much my heart aches.  He knows the pain and sadness and frustration that Paula must be feeling.  He knows the heart of her amazing husband, Bob, who has been such a rock throughout this ordeal.  He is within us, between us, going before us, and covering us.  Jesus in our midst.

I wonder if He is crying.

Dear Lord, our almighty Father in Heaven, how grand are your plans and purposes. You are the Alpha and the Omega, without whom we would not be. Let your healing hand of mercy and grace fall gently on my friend and all of your children who suffer from this dreadful disease.  Help us to be constantly touched by Your magnificence, recognize Your wonder, and abide in Your truth. We may ask why, Lord, even though our soul knows that the answer remains with you. Thank you for allowing us the freedom to ask. Propel us to a better future by helping us to not wallow in misery over our present. We love you, Lord. Amen.

Thank you to all who prayed with us this past week.

My heart is full of joy for you.

She Lied

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She Lied

This is part six of a series on prayer asked and answered however, this post is the finale of the second act which began last Monday and continued Wednesday, if you need to return and catch up.

Over the next few months Lisa and I found each other on Facebook and I got to be a part of her life watching her son flourish and listening to tales from her job.  At some point I started seeing pictures of her and her son with her family, her son playing with his grandfather, trips together to exotic places.  I thought to myself, wait a minute, I thought these were the brutally, abusive grandparents?  There were spa trips with her mom while dad watched her child and professions of love for him on his birthday and father’s day.  The crux of all our prayer and concern was because she was a single mom with no family to turn to.  Now it seemed we had a very happy and well-to-do family that didn’t seem at all to be as she originally painted them.  I’m all for people changing but …

Should I be praising the Lord for a remarkable turnaround?

I started to wonder, could the whole thing have been a lie?  Did she just play us to get situated in a new apartment with money, food, and possessions?  We’d even fed her out of the women’s ministry emergency pantry – had she taken food that could have helped someone truly needy?  I asked God these questions, never receiving a clear answer, and continued to watch her life unfold on Facebook and at church.

Over the course of the following year I discovered that she actually had run from a bad situation in her previous marriage.  The ex-husband had committed adultery and was still attempting to get full custody of their child and other friends had been involved in transporting her to court.  Yet there was still no sign of an abusive relationship with her parents.  Lisa willingly and often put herself and her son in their home and continually posted pictures of her happy family.  I wondered if I should confront her and prayed, asking God that same question.  Still, no answer.

Sometime later we ended up at the same table for a function at church.  She sat next to me and we began to reminisce about when we’d met.  I pulled up my phone and retrieved the original blog post I’d written about her (essentially what you read on Monday and Wednesday of this week) and watched as she silently moved through the blog, reading.  At the end she gave me back my phone.  “That was a different time,” she said quietly, her head down.  I nodded and waited for more, kinda hoping for some inkling of regret or modicum of remorse and got nothing.

You, dear reader, are the first to hear the rest of the story.  Well … except for Paula.  I told her the rest of the story last week and it’s because of her that you’re hearing about it now.  Why?  Because as I was telling her the story I was thinking to myself ‘We may have been sucked into her tale of woe, but God doesn’t get duped.’

Why would God have provided all that He did for a liar and a cheat?

I’d asked Paula if she had an answer to that question and that’s when it hit me – to grow our faith.  The faith of everyone involved in God’s miraculous answer to prayer.

He grew Lisa’s faith by showing her how He works in the real world.  How she may have come out of a hopeless and loveless situation (and she did) but here were people who actually cared about her.  Godly women who didn’t know one iota about her dropped everything over the course of four days and with the help of the Lord, took care of her and her son.  The amount of love she felt had to have been overwhelming.  Other than the fact she was a young Christian, I had no idea where she was in her Christian walk at the time of our meeting.  Now I can see that she might have been having severe issues with her faith as her marriage had broken down.  I do know that she became a stronger woman of faith over the past few years.  Perhaps she had to witness the selfless love of others to get her started on that journey.

The entire situation also strengthened the faith of nine other women (and untold others on our periphery)  who got to be used by God to help the miracle play out.  From the moment that we prayed Ephesians 3:20 in the Spirit on Wednesday night until the last $20 bill came to me on Sunday morning, God continued to amaze and confound and astound.

Could it have been that all along?  That we all needed a big dose of faith-building?

Oh yeah … and I never did miss any of the money I spent on Lisa.  God has a marvelous way of altering what matters in your life.

So, what’s going on in your life where you need to pray the Ephesians 3:20 prayer?  Let me know so I can pray for you!

Have a wonderful weekend!

Bolder Prayer Answered

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Bolder Prayer Answered

This part of the current series began Monday, so if you’re lost, please feel free to go HERE to catch up.

Reminder: Events detailed in the last post happened on a Wednesday evening.

My phone rang Thursday afternoon and Lisa was at the other end.  Not only had she secured the full-time job and was due to start on Monday, she also happened to meet a man that morning who happened to have a 2-bed apartment for rent at a decent price.  On top of it – the apartment was within walking distance of her new job.  Additionally, the landlord waived the application fee (which normally runs $65 – $75) and asked only for first month’s rent and a security deposit.  On top of all of that generosity, the landlord decreased the price of the security deposit asking only 1/3 of what he would normally ask.  Yet, even with all these breaks she was still $20 short.  I agreed to meet her the following day to assist with the $20.

Hanging up the phone I was overcome with excitement.  I praised God so hard my cheeks hurt!  GOD IS ABLE!  We asked and He immediately delivered!  An apartment and a job within 24 hours!  I instantly called the ladies at my table and informed them of the good news.  But we also had more work to do.  Lisa literally had nothing except for some clothes and her car.  She was going to need everything to start a household and food for at least two weeks before she got paid.  We prayed and once again God came through.

The ladies from my women’s ministry table responded with a variety of furniture ~ a bureau and mirror here, a bookcase there, a table and two chairs over here, and someone got two brand new beds donated by a neighborhood shop!  It was amazing.  It was incredible!  The love poured out of us and the community just for this one girl and her son.

This.  Was.  God.

The next day I met Lisa and her son at the local Chik-fil-A and pressed $40 that I could ill afford into her hands.  I told her I’d see her on Saturday because once she got into her apartment we’d be by with food and the furniture we’d managed to locate.  One of the ladies had also gotten a men’s group from the church to help load and unload the furniture and perform any other manly chores that needed to be done.

Later that day, as I was finishing up an emergency counseling session; I told my counselee that I was off to visit some yard sales to see if I could find dishes or pots and pans.  She looked at me quizzically and I filled her in on my young friend’s plight.  The woman sitting on the other side of the table just stared at me.  She told me she was preparing for a garage sale in a few weeks and I could come over tomorrow morning and see if the girl could use anything she was getting rid of.  What a godsend!  I jumped at the chance and arranged to drop by her place on Saturday morning.

I didn’t really know what to expect from what she was gathering for her garage sale, but I had my mental checklist – a couple of plates, bowls, and maybe some silverware and other cooking utensils.  When I arrived at her house it was obviously she’d worked putting together what she thought Lisa might need.  She’d already boxed up an entire set of dishware, an full set of utensils, silverware, 2 skillets, 2 pots, several pieces of bakeware, some platters, a creamer and sugar, plus – plus – plus.  I pulled out my wallet and asked what she wanted for the lot and she waved her hand at me.  She wanted to give them to Lisa and her son.  Her generosity was overwhelming and I couldn’t thank her enough.

I left my counselee’s home and headed toward Wal-Mart for food and other essentials like linens and basic kitchen implements.  I was thinking specifically of a coffee pot. I wanted to ensure she could feed herself and her son for the next two weeks.  On my way there I received a call from one of the ladies at our table who couldn’t participate in shopping but wanted me to have some cash to get what we needed and she met me at the entrance to Wal-Mart.  God is so good!

As I roamed the aisles I marveled at how God provided for His children within the small space of three days.  Each of my steps was filled with praise.  Each item I put into the basket was accompanied by words of gratitude.  People were looking at me oddly but I didn’t care.  I knew I was beaming with joy!  Sure, I was praising and worshiping God for His favor on Lisa and her son, but I was also praying for my bank account which had little to nothing in it.  There were a couple of times when I felt a pesky twinge to stop shopping, to stop giving, but I beat those thoughts back believing them to be from the enemy and let God know that I was looking for His provision as well.  I knew that He would either replace the money I was spending or that I wouldn’t miss it.

But God didn’t stop there.  He was going to give Lisa and her son immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine (Eph. 3:20) whether we liked it or not!  On Sunday (day 4) another woman from our table who hadn’t been present on Wednesday and wouldn’t be with us the next week stopped me in the hallway before church with a donation for Lisa.

Then after one of the services that Sunday I prayed at the altar with an older woman.  As we finished up I watched her eyes flitter back and forth to my name tag.  I smiled and pronounced my name for her.  She smiled and shaking her head, asked me if I knew of a family who needed help.  I’m sure the look on my face was priceless and I briefly explained what was happening with Lisa and her son.  She then took a 20 dollar bill out of her Bible and gave it to me saying that God had told her to give it to me for the young family.

To this day, I cannot adequately explain my delight at being part of God’s blessing on Lisa and her son.  I remember walking out of the sanctuary that day like I was in some sort of dream.

Or maybe I was in heaven.

I could genuinely feel God’s pleasure in my bewilderment at what had transpired over the last four days.  If God were walking next to me at that moment I believe He would have poked me in the ribs and guffawed, “Aha! Gotcha!”

The following Wednesday our table met together and I filled the ladies in on the Sunday’s happenings.  Lisa had appeared to thank everyone for everything they’d done.  But we just laughed knowing it wasn’t us, but God who had performed miracles.

We asked Him for the impossible, trusted Him to provide, and He did.  AND HE DID!!!

When I mentioned the sensation of God being so pleased that He could stun us all into awestruck wonder, I was met by nods.  Seems I wasn’t the only one who’d gotten that feeling.

How great is our God?

Greater then we can ever imagine.

And join me on Friday for the rest of story.  Yes, believe it or not, there is more.

May His love fill you beyond measure.

Stronger in Prayer ~ Praying Boldly

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Stronger in Prayer ~ Praying Boldly

We’re still talking about answered prayer and I wanted to relate this story specifically because even though God did mighty things at the time (2012) in hind sight (natch!) I can see immeasurably more purpose to His answering one simple prayer of a few women.  If you missed …   Monday, Wednesday, and/or Friday.

I looked up to find the women’s ministry director leading a young girl I’d never seen before to my table.  We’d finished our Priscilla Shirer program the week before and were set to see a new, stand-alone Priscilla video this evening.  Deb introduced me to the young woman (whom I’ll call Lisa) telling me that she had just wandered in, was given the option of our program or the Beth Moore study happening in the other room, and had chosen Priscilla.  I welcomed Lisa and pulled out the chair next to me.  Before the rest of my ladies arrived at the table, I discovered that she was a single mom of a 2 ½ year old boy and although she hadn’t quite said as much, she seemed to be in a bad place.

We watched the video which focused on the principles found in Ephesians 3:20-21 (NIV):

20Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, 21to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever!  Amen. 

Priscilla’s main point was that God is able to do – for you – immeasurably more than you can imagine.  How many times do we squander our time with God asking for the easy?  The video had affected all of us at the table as several women, and Lisa sniffed and wiped away an errant tear or two.  I thought about my own expectations of God.  I realized I was tired of asking God for the minimum because I felt some sort of embarrassment regarding my need.

At the end of the video Priscilla had us turn to each other and speak truth into each other’s lives.  I turned immediately to Lisa and am not really sure what I said (evidence that the Holy Spirit had taken over) I just knew that by the time I was done she and I and half the table were crying.  I laughed as I wiped away the tears that were coursing down my cheeks saying, “Sorry, it’s the Holy Spirit.”  Lisa was smiling brightly and her eyes shown as if lit by some inner light.  It was clear that whatever the Holy Spirit had spoken to her, it was as if some sort of weight had been lifted from her soul.  That was when she told us her story.

Lisa had been a Christian for just a few short years, divorced her husband for adultery, received full custody of her child, and moved back to Florida to live with her parents.  She had been abused by her father when she was a child, but had some hope that he’d changed with age?  Time?  I don’t know, but she was proven wrong.  When her father continued his abuse of her and had included her child, she left.  Now it seemed she was working a part-time job, was unable to find an apartment due to her husband’s poor credit and her non-credit, and was couch hopping between a few friends – and on the days she couldn’t stay with them – was sleeping in her car.

The one bright spot in her tale of woe was that she did have an interview for a full-time position the following day.  One of the ladies at the table said, “We’ll pray for you.”  The same way we Christians always say, “I’ll pray for you,” and may or may not.  But I couldn’t get the message we’d just heard out of my mind and held out my hands to the young girl and the woman on my right and said, “With what we’ve just heard about Ephesians 3:20, let’s pray right now.”

Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us …  ~ Ephesians 3:20

I opened the prayer thanking God for bringing Lisa to our table … and then I thought about the promise of Ephesians 3:20 … and then I didn’t hold any punches.  I told God there was a reason He brought her to our table and asked Him squarely for a full-time job and an apartment for our young friend and her son.  She needed it now and not next month.  As the prayer grew and roamed around the table, the other ladies were equally as dynamic.  God had never heard such fervor from this group of women in any of our corporate prayer to this point.  We ended that that evening with my ladies pouring their hearts into this young woman and opening their wallets in aide.

The events in this post occurred on a Wednesday.  We Christians always talk about waiting on God because we’re also human and usually very impatient.  Some of my prayers take months and years to be answered (or at least for me to recognize the answer) and I often remind myself, “in God’s timing, not mine.”  But, it is absolutely refreshing when we can witness God work in an instant.  You’ll hear the rest of the story on Wednesday.

Please come back.

Just. One. Book.

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Just. One. Book.

Come on guys. You don’t even need to send a new book (or books) just take from your own over-flowing (I’m sure) bookshelf, a book in good condition, and send to enlighten and enliven these kids. (Please note the change of address if you send in July). Thanks!!!

Throwing Chanclas

Just. One. Book.

I live in a town of 1200 people in the Northern Sierra Nevada –where it meets the Cascade Range near Mt. Lassen National Park and about two hours drive northwest of Reno, NV.  Two hundred of that population is students. Over the years as the population dwindled after mines closed, then mills–nothing except tourism and retirement have emerged as ‘industries.’ Many businesses have closed down and with it many things we take for granted—like libraries.

The local junior/senior high school has not been able to purchase new books since the 90s. Some of the “check outs” for old books are in the 1980s. There are no books by people of color in the library. Hardly any books by women are in the few book cases except your standard Austen and Lee. It’s an uninviting place. There hasn’t been a librarian for nearly a decade. And volunteers weren’t allowed. The…

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Stronger in Answered Prayer

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This is the third part of a post that began on Monday and continued Wednesday. Feel free to step back in time to catch up.  We’ll be right here when you return.

How much stronger can your faith be in answered prayer?  STRONG.  Maybe even Orlando Strong or Boston Strong or NYC Strong.  We should just call it USA Strong since our strength as a people is one of the identifying characteristics of Americans (even though this administration would rather just apologize for it).  We are strong and we’re not going to let a bunch of whiney jihadists following the alleged writings of some pagan god destroy the love that we have for one another.  OK – that’s my political speech for today.  Let’s get back to answered prayer … and for all of you praying that God would destroy (or turn) the terrorists, your prayers have already been answered.  Read Revelation.

When I was in the hospital facing an operation that might uncover that the worst of the worst diseases, cancer, had invaded my body; I knew a lot of people were praying for me.  A huge group of people at church, ladies I didn’t even know yet at Bible Study Fellowship, friends and their friends, blog readers (whom I count among my friends!), family, and (I would later find out) my parents friends and fellow country club members.  That was a whole host of people.  And you know what?

I felt every prayer.

Every. Prayer.

How?  Because before and after the surgery I felt as if a blanket of love had enveloped me.  Even when I awoke in the Recovery Room with my doctor’s hand gently laying on my arm, his little face smiling at me, and his warm eyes glowing – delivering the worst possible news – I still felt awash in a blanket of love.  OK, that could have been the drugs, but I don’t think so.  Because the same feeling persisted over the next few months as I went home, recuperated from the surgery and open wounds in my belly, and then started chemotherapy to kill what my doctor’s hands couldn’t.  I was buoyed by prayer and the warmth of a lot of love.  Praise Him that He hears the prayers of His saints.

Even when I sat in a hospital for 11 days and still hadn’t received a visit from any pastors in my church I prayed that God would send me a man of the cloth to talk to and pray with and within minutes the hospital Chaplin was at my door.  Praise Him!

Even when I wound up back in the hospital when a hematoma had burst under my incision and I had to receive a wound vacuum to help close the open wound, it didn’t look like it was going to happen.  I put a call in to three mighty prayer warriors to pray quickly to right what was going wrong.  In less than 15 minutes the situation became 100% positive.  The nurses said they never saw such progress.  I said, “You must not know my God.”  Praise Him for answered prayer!

All along this journey I (and others) have prayed and we’ve received answers to our prayers.  Although not always what we’ve prayed for or wanted.  I certainly didn’t want cancer, or an open would that would persist for six months, or weird salt & pepper curly hair, or neuropathy in my feet so bad that my toes feel perpetually stubbed.

But prayers always go answered.

Remember in Daniel 10 when the angel Gabriel told Daniel that his prayers had been heard immediately but he’d been fighting against Satan to get to Daniel with the answer and even needed Michael’s intervention to make it happen.  In some cases we might still be waiting for an answer to our prayer.  In others, and probably more frequently than we care to admit, it could be that we just don’t recognize the answer because we’re so set on what we want rather than God’s will for us that we don’t see it.

I remember a counselee talking to me about needing financial assistance.  There were several things happening in her life that could be covered easily if she’d only had more money.  She (and I) had been praying for a few weeks for a new, better paying job for her.  About four weeks into our sessions she came in really distraught that another interview had gone without a job offer.  It was getting down to the wire and she was getting more and more frustrated.  After we prayed again, we spent the rest of the time discussing the good things that were happening in her life.  As she spoke I got the sensation that I should be making a detailed list.  At the end of the session I was almost laughing out loud.  All of the “little good things” that had happened had removed the need for her to get a new job.  God had answered her prayer – just not in the way she thought she needed it.  Among other things, her two grown boys had both gotten jobs and agreed to pay $100 a month each to the household, her older son had taken on his responsibility for his car insurance, her father had gifted her with new tires for her car, and a neighbor had a garage sale which netted her a couple items she so desperately needed.  God didn’t want her in a new job.  He wanted her right where she was and had met her needs – almost to the penny.  He is so amazing!  He cares so much for us.  Why do we forget that?

For now, if you don’t have one already, why don’t you start a prayer journal?  I have a little blank book and on the right page list my prayers and leave the left, facing page blank to record the praise when the prayer is answered.  Seeing the request and the answer laid out in this manner will go a long way to strengthening your faith.  I can guarantee that you will be surprised about how God answers prayer time and time again.

Now … I promised my Ephesians 3:20 story and I see I’m well over 900 words.  To tell this whole story would be another 1,000+ words.  So I regret I must leave it until next week – BUT – I don’t regret for one instant getting to talk longer about answered prayer!!

That really just thrills my heart.  Thank you, Lord!

Praying you have a wonderful weekend with answered prayer of your own!

Stronger in Prayer ~ Part Two

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Stronger in Prayer ~ Part Two

This is part two of a post that began on Monday and can be found here if you wish.

So then, if we shouldn’t pick and choose different lines out of the Bible to make one glorious prayer that will get us exactly what we want, how should we pray?

David brings up Matthew 6:5-8 where we learn we are to not be like the hypocrites (Pharisees) making sure others see us praying and go into our inner room because the Father sees what we do in private.  We are not to use meaningless repetition and remember that our Lord knows what we need before we ask.

In Matthew 6:7-13 Jesus’ instructs his disciples by giving them what we commonly call “The Lord’s Prayer”.  If you break this prayer down to its bones you can easily see the directive.  We should:

  1. Begin our prayers with praise, adoration, and worship. One of the neatest things that’s come out of being a BSF group leader has been during our leader’s meeting every Saturday morning.  When we gather to pray, we break into smaller groups of 3-5 and begin with praise.  We tell God who He is.  Obviously He knows who He is, but I find it very special to bring my heart into a right relationship by telling Him I know He is faithful, the Alpha and Omega, my Healer, my Rock, my Fortress in times of trouble.  David Arthur puts it this way: “We’re telling our heavenly Father that He is God and we are not.  He is the one who gives and we are the ones who receive.  This demonstrates to both God and to our own hearts that we are dependent on Him.”
  2. Move into thanksgiving. Next we move into a period where we thank God for who He is and what He has done.  I thank Him for the gift of His Son, the indwelling of His Holy Spirit, answering previous prayer, or His handling of a particular situation.  I might thank Him for His timing (which is perfect) and for helping me to wait and submit to His timing.  I may even thank Him for what I know He will do.  All of the gratitude puts my heart in the right place.  God is bigger than me and I trust Him completely.
  3. Seek.  If you follow the prayer that Jesus laid out you will find that we are to seek His will, His guidance, His provision, His forgiveness, and His protection.  Then do just that:
    1. Lord, may your will be done and help me to accept it if I cannot understand it.
    2. Lord, please give me wisdom in (___) situation …
    3. I need … (requests for yourself and others)
    4. Please forgive me for … (or help me to forgive ___)
    5. Lord, protect me (and others) or do not let me …

There are a myriad of other “ways” to pray as well.  There is the ACTS model (adoration, confession, thanksgiving, supplication) and my tried and true model (from a 1984 version of the NIV Disciple’s Study Bible from Cornerstone) PTCPI – which of course doesn’t spell anything but stands for praise, thanksgiving, confession, petition, intercession.

Another favorite of mine is to pray actual Scripture.  If you are unfamiliar with the Psalms I want you to get in there and devour them immediately!  But, if you don’t know them very well, you can actually Google “psalm for ____” whatever you’d like to pray about … justice, mercy, comfort, love, safety, etc. and it will return a bunch that you can look up.  For our purposes, I went ahead and Googled “psalm for healing” and chose Psalm 103 out of the list that appeared.

A quick read of the psalm shows me that the best verses for what I want to pray are 1 through 5.  I find that this psalm actually begins with praise and we read (in the HCSB),

My soul, praise Yahweh, and all that is within me, praise His holy name. My soul, praise the Lord, and do not forget all His benefits.

~ Psalm 103: 1-2

It’s interesting to me that I chose this particular psalm from the list in Google.  Whenever a word in Scripture is repeated three times, in this case “praise,” it becomes emphatic or superlative.  Usually you’ll see “holy, holy, holy” meaning God’s otherness – that he is completely and unequivocally separated from sin.  In this case the thrice repeated “praise” is the highest form of worship … the utmost praise upon praise upon praise.  At the end of verse two we also read that we aren’t to forget His benefits meaning His blessings.  What a perfect example to how I started today’s post!  But I don’t mean to lecture.  What you would want to do is pray this psalm – and I mean, make it personal between you and God.

Here’s how I would do it:  My soul, praise Yahweh!  With all I am, my heart, my body, the very fiber of my being, I praise you my heavenly Father.  You are like no other.  There is no one higher than You.  You have always been and You always will be.  How comforting that is to me.  Your name is above all names now and forevermore.  Oh my soul, praise my Lord and Savior!  My Rock and my Redeemer.  You chose me from the beginning of time and have brought me to this day.  You have been with me throughout my life and know what is still to come.  I can be secure in my future Lord, because you chose me, have sanctified me, and love me with a love I can’t even fathom.  The peace I feel from that knowledge is unmeasurable.  Glory!  Thank you, Father.

I could go on but you can see how I took these two verses and made them personal.  And that’s all any good prayer is, a conversation between you and the Almighty.  If you’ve never prayed this way, I urge you to try it.  You will be amazed at how, with the opening of your heart and God’s very own words before you, your own words will just flow.  Some of my most satisfying prayers have been prayed in this manner.

On Friday we’ll wrap up prayer … aww … must we?  I so love this discipline!

Praying your hump day is full of love and laughter!

** Image from The Bible Miniseries  – I use it because we know that Jesus liked to get away by himself to pray.

Bible Study ~ Stronger in Prayer

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Bible Study ~ Stronger in Prayer

When I got to Day 8 which is entitled “Stronger in Prayer” I kinda rolled my eyes.  Not because I didn’t want to read it, but because I’m a poster-child for the value of prayer and know I could write a month’s worth of posts about it.  In fact, I think it’s so important that we’re going to talk about prayer all this week.  But how, I thought, could David Arthur break this important issue down to one day of study?  I was not going to be disappointed.

David initially asks if we see our life as a train or a hot air balloon.  A train that is bound by tracks moving in a linear direction or a balloon – soft in shape and form and easily able to change direction.  Paula thinks she’s more like a train, I think I might be a little of both … but more balloon like.  David likens trains to doing their own thing (because they’re rigid and can’t change unless the track is rerouted) and balloons as being led by the Spirit.  I think we would all like that, wouldn’t we?  So in tune with God that you turn at a moment’s notice this way or that depending on His guidance.

My favorite line on the whole day is when David says, “To grow strong as believers, we need to be guided, moved, and shaped by the wind of the Holy Spirit.”  And how do we do that?  Through prayer – by allowing us to speak to Him and through which He can speak to us – God can mold and shape us.  Does that seem funny to you?  Are you one who oft-times finds themselves praying and trying to shape and mold God with your petitions?

Now, I’m not one who will tell someone that they’re praying incorrectly … everyone should pray as they see fit because that’s a conversation between you and God.  But once I was leading a small group and one of the members was asking the group to pray for her to find a home.  When I prompted everyone to bow their heads, she asked me to wait because she hadn’t finished telling everyone how to pray.  My curiosity was piqued and I listened as she gave everyone a little slip of paper to read while they prayed.  I looked at the slip that she shoved into my hand and noticed that she’d taken parts of certain verses and had combined them into a sentence describing what she wanted.  I surveyed the group – most looked like they were in a state of shock.  She explained that finding this in the Bible meant that it was a promise for her to hold on to and she wanted us to remind God of His promise to her.  I looked again at what she’d typed up – it read almost like some sort of incantation – an attempt to influence God to do what she wanted.

I feel quite comfortable saying, “This is not the way to pray.”

God is not a big vending machine in the sky whom you can instruct to do your bidding.

I suggested that we pray Ephesians 3:20 over her situation:

Now to Him who is able to do above and beyond all that we ask or think according to the power that works in us … (HCSB)

Praying this verse does two things:  (1) It asks God to do more than we’re asking for in a certain situation; but (2) it is also dependent on the power that works in us – meaning – the Holy Spirit.  If one prays this prayer and isn’t Spirit-filled, I’m pretty sure nothing is going to happen.  After the group had left I spoke to the woman about her needs and prayed one-on-one with her as well.  Sometimes, when we get desperate, we’ll do anything to get the results we want.  It becomes problematic when the results we want are not in God’s will.  Do I mean God didn’t want her to have a house?  No way.  God knows that shelter is a basic need of ours; but do we need our own home on an acre of land with trees and a river?  No, and yet that was what she was asking for.  We prayed that day that she would get a roof over her head, and that she did, within the week.

I’d like to tell you another story about how Ephesians 3:20 worked in my life, and the lives of about eight other ladies, but I’ll hold that until later.

Until Wednesday then … I pray you have a great week!

Respite

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A version of this poem originally ran May 20, 2013

St Pete Clouds branded

Thank you Lord, for this beautiful day.

Oh how I long to see you return on the clouds,

holding out your hand

beckoning me with a smile.

I turn my face upward

yearning to be with you

breathless in the waiting.

And then with a snap,

        an audible sound

my feet leave the ground.

As if the world had stopped holding me,

relinquishing me

knowing it could not contain.

Knowing that I was made to soar with You

into the heavenly spaces.

I breathe deeply filling my lungs with clean cold air

refreshed ~ renewed

ready to begin the rest of my life with you.

Filled to beyond measure

the joy the love the peace

that knowing You can only bring.

I open my eyes and

though I remain on solid ground,

I smile, the future secure.

Thank you Lord

for this respite …

for my coming Heaven.

~ Felecia Clarke, 2013-16