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Archive for April, 2015

This is a midnight rant based off a discipleship discussion that just finished under the stars, over root beer floats and potatoes. In which, I ask, please excuse the lack of resources backing up my presented theory.

Prayer.

In group prayers we often follow a script, and when there is not a presented script, it is often, “You (pointing out a specific person) open, and I’ll close.  If anyone feels led to pray please do, I will wait to close until the Spirit leads me.” Still structure.  We also depend on someone completing their prayer with “In Jesus name,” or by stating “Amen,” before the next individual lifts their voice to God.

I think of Amen as our affirming a send off of our words to God, or as the closing of our prayer.  We also say Amen when agreeing with another’s words declared before God, whether honoring His name or declaring submission to His reign.

I know God to be outside of time, and therefore consider Him as being concerned for all prayers, but am captivated by the power of spoken prayers.  Here, now, in this present moment.

So in groups, as I finish my spoken thoughts, I know that my mind does not stop.  As the next person begins to speak, my heart, my mind are captivated and continue to communicate with God.

Therefore, I challenge myself, and anyone who wants to join me.  Rather than sending my prayer off with an “amen,” I will invite the group to stop, to rest, to allow God’s Truth to soak into our innermost being before we continue to speak.  In this rest, we will give opportunity to ourselves to hear God’s voice.  When we are quiet, still before God, is when we hear His whispers.

How I long to hear His whispers.  So as I approach accountability, fellowship, discipleship, and small group this week, I will voice my requests and my praises audibly amongst those who are present with me and Christ.  When I feel prompted to quiet my voice, I will say “selah” inviting a state of peacefulness and reflection.  Then the group will continue.  One voice at a time.  One heart beat.  We will be joined in communion with Christ as we establish open communication with Him.

What do you think?  Is it a bogus thought, or are you along for the challenge to change the structure of group prayer?

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Gouge my eyes. Replace them with your eyes, so that I see as you see the people around me, LORD.

This prayer is for my sight of one person in particular, but truly can be generalized to all people–family, peers, strangers who are Family in Christ, and strangers whom don’t believe in God.  To all people, I wish to see them as God Himself sees them.

As Creator, God sees His masterpiece.  As Abba, God sees His adoring and lost children.  As Savior, Jesus died and weeps for those who do not recognize He has died for their sin.  As Shepherd, Jesus came and gathered us, brought us closer to Him and leads us. As Teacher, Jesus taught us God’s Truth by living a pure example of His grace and provision.   As Host, God calls us in communion with Him and with all His people.  As Spirit, God is near to us, guiding us with discipline and discernment as we move forward to live a life of worship.

And so, with many additional attributes and perfect characteristics of God, the Holy Spirit, and Son of Man and God, we have a perfect, triune perspective of life: surrendered and submitted to His authority.

To this “special prayer assignment” that God has given me “as a temporary prayer burden,” I vow to develop a zeal for praying.  Following the wise words of Wesley L. Duewel I will “as far as possible, go to prayer for that need immediately.  Use every free moment possible until God lifts from your heart the prayer concern to pray for this need.  Your prayer passion will be greatly increased as you obey this call from the Spirit” (Mighty Prevailing Prayer, pp. 79).

I know my biases are fatal, and are not of God.  My ears have been open and have heard the call, the Spirit has convicted me, and now, I am to increase my dedication of praying for this person, for our relationship, and for my eyes as I long to see them anew, as God sees His child.

As Jesus wept over Jerusalem, His people, and as Paul asked Christ’s followers to agonize with him (Romans 15:30), to pray on his behalf, I ask of you, please join me in this prayer.

“During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with fervent cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission” (Hebrews 5:7).  “He fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will” (Matthew 26:39,Luke 22:42).

Jesus was not answered in the way we imagine He pleased to be answered.  Death was still required, as it was the plan all along. He understood the authority of God’s prevailing will.

He prayed more fervently, and he was in such agony of spirit that his sweat fell to the ground like great drops of blood” (Luke 22:44).

I find it ironic and in great support of our misconceptions of God’s perfect attributes that the one verse that rests between the two previously mentioned verses reads, “An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him” (Luke 22:43).

An angel comes and strengthens Jesus, and then His sweat drops to the ground as blood. (In your most street-talking voice:) But, but… In modern society a drop of blood is a sign of weakness.  Why would an angel lead to Jesus bleeding?

It is this same foolish misconception that leads me to victimize this individual I previously mentioned.  My arrogance and desire to rant on about the testimony I have learned to communicate so well keeps me from speaking God’s relevant Truth.  He has overcome! It is a beautiful thing to be celebrated, so let the tambourines ring and the trumpets blow, for I believe a sheep has wandered and Jesus is leading her back into His gates!

Forget being the “only believer in my family” and having a story that allows me to empathize with the ostracized, the persecuted, the lonely, the abused, the unsupported,blah blah blah.  God is bigger than that.  My testimony may be growing to be a story of God’s redemption in a family that so desperately needs His grace, His headship.

I can only see what is permitted of me to see, and my gaze has been widened.

So today, I vow to stop shaming my family by saying I am the only believer, for truly, Scripture is accurate in saying:

“Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone,
a cornerstone chosen and precious,
and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame” (1 Peter 2:6).

We, His Creation are always transparent before God.  He sees the real us, and knows us better than we know ourselves.
We, His Creation are always transparent before God. He sees the real us, and knows us better than we know ourselves.

I want to live a life that is pleasing to God, that glorifies God, I have no intention of bringing shame into His house, or storing a corrupt heart in His temple.

For some time I have said, “I need to put on my Jesus glasses.”  But now, I look forward, with anticipation, to the day when I remove my murky goggles marked by all my predispositions and see through the pure, clean lens God initially provided.  Until that day, I will praise God for the moments of closeness with Him that allow me such a view, and ask for His guidance as I attempt to live out His word and example in my interacting with this individual, with all His people.

So with all my heart, I seek Christ, praying to Him about this matter with urgency, and I will find Him (Jeremiah 29:12-14).

What is the urgent pray need on your heart?  If you too feel it is to be shared–whether to keep you accountable or to encounter the power of ringing requests in Jesus’ ears in multitude, I commit to praying with you.

Jesus, we thank You for teaching us how to speak with You. Truly we recognize the Father’s will to be far greater than our own desires, and so with fervency we speak, we move in obedience, desiring to see Your plan Abba come into full.  Convict us of our sins.  We know our eyes fool us, often. We ask to experience Your people as You meet with them, as You teach them, and as You call them Yours.  We, Abba, are Your creation and to You we submit all that we are.  We long to be more like You, Jesus.  Teach us Your ways.  Give us the eyes to see, the hearts to feel, and might our zeal for praying to You change the reality of our today.  You are the light in the darkness that lingers outside this prayer.  I will have to go out, and You will be with me there, just as You are with me behind closed doors.  Thank you for that, for never leaving me alone.  And by Your lead, I commit to following.  Amen.

 

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I have called this the mightiest washing I have experienced since baptism.

For a week I laid in bed, fearing the return of the intestinal infection I fought for nearly two years.  My body wasn’t a temple of God, it became the physical presence of my enemy.

It has nearly been a year now, since God taught me the freedom in not fearing death.  I see persecution as a reality of being a Christian.

 Jesus warned us of the initial “birth pains” as His Truth becomes known across borders.  He said, “then you will be arrested, persecuted, and killed. You will be hated all over the world because you are my followers” (Matthew 24:9).

I know martyrdom to be a selfless sacrifice: the laying down of one’s physical life in complete devotion to honoring the name of God.  No prideful matter.  Martyrdom is not something I aspire to experience, but know that if God calls me to the front-lines, I am willing, as I have already laid my life down at the altar of Christ.

But there I was: unable to eat, canceling meetings, missing classes, letting a knocked door go unanswered, laying in bed.  I feared illness.  How is it one does not fear death, and yet fears sickness? Still unfathomable to me, but it was my reality.

On the forth day, I sent the honest truth to a friend.  “How are you feeling today?” she asked, to which I wrote, “honestly this puts me back to fearing the 2 year sickness I thought I was over.” Back to, really? I don’t want to go back to anything.  No regrets.  And yet, here I was putting myself back into one of the worst feelings I have ever felt.

The fifth day, I ate. I woke up and sat up.  God invited me to see the sun and delivered a beautiful sky.  As I sat with Him in the park, thunder clouds rolled in.

Meditating on Psalm 119, I received my first warning of the coming storm.  My adoring Father, I reach up to You as Your child.  The rain drop landed on my prayer journal, and I heard a still voice, “Stay. I will be your shelter, your calm in the storm. I will wash you clean.”

A showering, a joyous occasion, an exploration of His creation, just 2 weeks prior.

A showering, a joyous occasion, an exploration of His creation, just 2 weeks prior.

The winds shook branches loose, and I remained still.  The rain poured down on me, greater than any shower waters I’ve felt before.

I am redeemed!

Thank You for this rain.  A cleansing of my foolish steps these past days.  How joyful You are to have Your daughter captivated once more…Though the world around me may be frantic, You remain my calmness in the storm, I am clean.

And so, I continue to pray, “Keep me from lying to myself; give me the privilege of knowing your instructions.  I have chosen to be faithful… I will pursue your commands, for you expand my understanding” (Psalm 119:29-32).

May we each praise God saying, You are the complete authority over this life You have created, oh God. For each of us, I pray we remain devoted to the path which Christ continues to light before us.  May we each be the person He has created us to be, and be intentionally humble in our walks as we glorify God through everything we do.  In our waking and in our sleep, may every breath truly be His and for His glory.

Sunday, my pastor shared a testimony of a member in our church, a blind man.  He shared, with joyous laughter: I am envious at times.  This man will see the face of Jesus before any other.  The first time the lame will walk, is running to Jesus.  The first time the mute will speak, is singing praise to Jesus.

Lord, You are our Light.  God with authority over all that is, has been, and will be, we entrust our safety in You.  We know safety to be much more than physical un-harm, but rather a shelter, a lamp that won’t grow weary.  We know, Jesus, that You are with us always.  We thank You, that there is purpose in our breath, and ask for assurance as we step out.  May our lives be before You, glorifying Your name as You please. Humbly, we are on our knees.  Abba, with arms up as Your children, waiting upon Your call.  Lead us.  Discipline us, Father.  Teach us Your will.  Enlighten our path.  Walk with us, Jesus.  We thank you.  We delight in You.  Thank you for the rains, the washing of our sins.  Jesus all we are is indebted to You, and yet we have freedom.  Freely we scream praises to Your name. Amen.

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Forewarning, this is the message on my heart this morning, but it is one of personal (very female perspective) conviction: sexual immorality.

The story:

I wanted to scream at this lady.

For years I have avoided doctors to the best of my ability.  I attempted to shake off any illnesses or injuries with natural home remedies, prayer, and rest before resorting to visiting the doctor.

I now think, part of that is the “You are 18 (at the time of this event, 22), you must visit the ObGyn for your Pap Smear.”  The first time, I didn’t know what it was, so I asked. “Yuck, no thank you!” A childish answer, I understand, but valid for me at the time.

With illnesses and surgeries, I continued getting the question, then the request, and finally the heavily recommendation to go in for my annual (actually my first) check.

No thank you.

I moved again, and the doctor required it of me.  I was not looking forward to it, at all.  If ever I had feared something it was this.  I asked my roommates to pray with me, to clear my mind of worries and negative reflections I had developed towards myself due to this upcoming exam.

Some back story….

While on my tour of the Tower of London and Tower Bridge, I learned of the beheading of wives–royal brides–who did not bleed while consummating a marriage.

Muslim brides are also often executed for appearing “not virgin” on their wedding night.

And so for 6 years I have believed the value of offering virginity, in some cultures, to be life or death.

And the story continues…

My roommates knew how I valued the history I had learned and my desire to uphold the gift for my future husband.  They prayed with me and I drove to the doctors.

After an initial try, the lady went to get another (larger) tool.  My eyes were not having it, so I spoke up.  I was bewildered and unhinged by what came out of her mouth:

“Go home, make a warm bath, get comfortable…” Explicit, she was.  She advised me to masturbate.  To take my own virginity.  All for the sake of a medical exam.

No ma’am! As she went to get something, I changed and dashed out of that office as a gazelle runs from a lion.  Only here, she was not going to get me.

I was embraced.  God knew the conviction of my heart.

As I read this morning,

“So she seduced him with her pretty speech and enticed him with her flattery.  He followed her at once, like an ox going to the slaughter.  He was like a stag caught in a trap, awaiting the arrow that would pierce its heart. He was like a bird flying into a snare, little knowing it would cost him his life.  So listen to me, my sons, and pay attention to my words.  Don’t let your hearts stray away toward her. Don’t wander down her wayward path.  For she has been the ruin of many; many men have been her victims.  Her house is the road to the grave.  Her bedroom is the den of death” (Proverbs 7:21-27).

I understand this is a story of a woman’s husband who is out-of-town, an adulteress who seduces men away from their wives.  I am not that woman, and I am not that man, nor either of their spouses.  But I am convicted.

In a world where David Platt’s Counter Culture is given subtitles of “Same-Sex Marriage…Sex Slavery…Abortion,” and “Pornography,” where rights and laws are being advocated for the freedom of all peoples in a self-gratification-seeking, individualistic society, this scripture holds much more application.

I am that man, or rather one of the many men (verse 26).

Seduced by worldly possessions, pleasures, lustful thoughts and images.  They are too near to us at any given moment.  We shall not be ashamed to be as we are. FullSizeRender-1

If sexual abuse is a part of your testimony, your history, know that I am with you and am praying with you, for you.  Abba is a gracious Father, Jesus has called you His Bride and veils you with purity, with newness of life.  You are sacred to Him.

He is Righteous King, Prince of Peace, and He wore the crown of thorns.  His blood shed, so ours does not.  Our crown: He calls us daughters, princesses, gems.  We are precious.

Wear the crown.  Accept the veil, the washing, the purification.
Today is Good Friday.  Christ has suffered so that we shall have life with Him.
Whether we bleed, we endure persecution.  From family, friends, co-workers, doctors, strangers, teachers, and political extremists.
Proverbs is a book of wisdom, and I pray each of us continues through our day knowing and trusting in what Jesus has taught us, what God has inspired and written to us in His Book.
May we stand firm in the Truth, rooted deep in the compassion of Christ, serving friends and foes alike, humble to wash their feet and humble in receiving good gifts and acts of service.  May God’s blessings be richer than gold.  May the words spoken, be as sweet as honey–not for the tempting of man, but for the praising of Christ Jesus.  His name is power, and divine He is.  Forever and ever, Amen.

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