Sunday Respite | Show Them Jesus

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”This is what the Lord says—he who made you, who formed you in the womb, and who will help you: Do not be afraid, Jacob, my servant, Jeshurun, whom I have chosen. For I will pour water on the thirsty land, and streams on the dry ground; I will pour out my Spirit on your offspring, and my blessing on your descendants. They will spring up like grass in a meadow, like poplar trees by flowing streams. Some will say, ‘I belong to the Lord’; another will call themselves by the name of Jacob; still others will write on their hand, ‘The Lord’s,’ and will take the name Israel.” Isaiah 44:2-5

Dear Gracious and Loving Heavenly Father,

Thank you for this amazing scripture that gives us great hope for our future generation, our children’s children. I am thankful that you formed them in their mother’s womb and you promise to be their help. I pray that you would pour out your Spirit upon them and that your name would be written on their hand. With anticipation, I long for them to say with confident assurance, “I belong to the Lord.”

Please keep them thirsty for your love, for your truth, for your word. I pray that you would make the gospel of grace compelling and irresistible in their lives.

Help us, their parents and grandparents to be faithful to pray for our next generation to spring up like grass in a meadow, like poplar trees by flowing streams. This is a beautiful portrait of a life rescued by your grace. Please pour out your blessings on our descendants and help us to remain faithful to show them Jesus.

Amen.

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When a Lonely Place Becomes the Best Place

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I wish I could say that my heart has been consistently joyful and at peace when I’m faced with an unexpected interruption, however my first inclination is to worry, fret or to be annoyed by the inconvenience. How I respond to an upset in my plans reveals the condition of my heart.

My heart needs to be turned towards caring. My soul needs to be softened and molded to show God’s peace and joy.

Unexpected events are not simply interruptions of our daily work but the way God molds our heart to be more patient, more caring, more selfless. I need a holy intervention to move gracefully through interruptions, to see the beauty of community with friends, the importance of sharing life-on-life.

It’s there right in front of me … this holy intervention. I need to be quiet, to withdraw from breathless activities. To pray. This is when a lonely place becomes the best place.

I love this photo of my daughter sitting next to her daughter, talking quietly while comforting her daughter and meeting her needs. When I realize that people are the primary cause of interruptions my perspective towards being inconvenienced changes. My prayers shift from being self-focused to people-focused … a concern for others is motivated more by their needs than my own.

In the morning, long before dawn, [Jesus} got up and left the house, and went off to a lonely place and prayed there. (Mark 1:35)

In the lonely place, Jesus finds the courage to follow God’s will and not his own; to speak God’s words and not his own; to do God’s work and not his own. It is in the lonely place, where Jesus enters into intimacy with the Father. Somewhere we know that without a lonely place our actions quickly become empty gestures. ­[1]

He wakens me morning by morning, wakens my ear to listen like one being instructed. (Isaiah 50:4)

A lonely place becomes the best place for God’s goodness and care to be displayed. It is in the lonely place that I find peace that God will answer prayer.

[Jesus and his disciples] went off in a boat to a lonely place where they could be by themselves. But people saw them going, and many recognized them; and from every town they all hurried to the place on foot and reached it before them. So as he stepped ashore he saw a large crowd; and he took pity on them because they were like sheep without a shepherd, and he set himself to teach them at some length. By now it was getting very late, and his disciples came up to him and said, “This is a lonely place and it is getting very late, so send them away, and they can go to the farms and villages round about, to buy themselves something to eat.” (Mark 6:30-44)

Jesus is in a lonely place with his disciples and five thousand other people. It is in this best place where God overwhelmingly answers Jesus’ prayer through a young boy’s simple gesture of giving away his meal of five loves and two fish.

When you are able to create a lonely place in the middle of your actions and concerns, your successes and failures slowly can lose some of their power over you. Then your concern for others can be motivated more by their needs than your own. In short: then you can care. Let us therefore live our lives to the fullest but let us not forget to once in a while get up long before dawn to leave the house and go to a lonely place. [2]

“I have always been complaining that my work was constantly interrupted, until I slowly discovered that my interruptions were my work.” Henri Nouwen

Receiving more grace in the lonely place indeed becomes the best place.

the best place[1] Out of Solitude: Three Meditations on the Christian Life, Henri J.M. Nouwen, page 18  |  [2] Out of Solitude: Three Meditations on the Christian Life, Henri J.M. Nouwen, page 30.

Sunday Respite | Needing Wisdom

James 1:5

After a year of being forced to stop running due to a physical set-back, I’m elated to be back on the road, pounding the asphalt, and tunes streaming through earbuds. My run this morning was especially wonderful with a cool temperature in the mid-60’s and the sun peeking out from behind the clouds.

As I normally begin every run, I started slow to warm up, and soon found the familiar and comfortable stride, in sync with the beat and rhythm of upbeat music. Before I realized it, I was no longer aware of the distance I had traveled as the exhilarating effect of a runner’s high resulted in a sudden increase of energy.

Once the runner’s high began to taper off, my mind wandered to daydreaming about wishful adventures, outrageous goals, and thoughts about painful, down-to-earth realities…such as the shock of learning that a good friend died and to process through some of the hard decisions my family will need to make.

I begin to pray. To talk to God about everything. The music is still playing in my ears, yet I’m not paying attention to the words of a song, only the words I am shouting silently to God, as I run. While I know I have God’s attention all the time, I particularly enjoy having his attention to hear my anxious prayers when I’m sweating and running.

Praying on this particular day, I asked God for one thing only and that was, “Lord, I need wisdom.” I’m facing a mountain of decisions and I need wisdom to discern the right choice. I need wisdom to navigate through the emotional pull from people in my life while my natural tendency is to “fix” their problems. I need wisdom to parent well, to discern when to speak up and when to shut up. I need practical, grace-filled wisdom…

And immediately there it was! I remembered this verse: “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.” (James 1:5) There is incredible peace and joy knowing that God will generously give the wisdom I need.

I’m home now, sitting on the back porch, unlacing my running shoes and drinking a bottle of cold water. It’s been a good run and a fantastic start of a new day. When I stop and ponder how it is to receive wisdom, it amazes me again that the way of the wise is earnest prayer and extended meditation on the Word of God. I’m so glad that this conversation with my Heavenly Father will continue throughout the day.

Already, there is clarity and direction.

Proverbs 9:10

A Praying Life is a Journey of a Lifetime

Skagway, Alaska A Praying Life

I’ve taken time this summer to think about the coming year. To think about the future. My soul has felt restless and busy.

There were many days when I stared at the whitespace on this blog, hoping my fingers would move swiftly to fill this space, to communicate the words locked deep inside. That didn’t happen.

While I couldn’t write here in this space, I’ve been journaling prayers in a small notebook … conversations with God. Interestingly, what I’ve noticed from going back and reading these written prayers is how God has lovingly been working on my character.

I can honestly say, for the past year, my prayer on a daily basis has been reciting the Lord’s Prayer. This summer, I have prayed the Lord’s Prayer with more persistence and intensity. Not simply saying the words, but really saying the words back to God. Praying them with conviction and hope and surrender. I found myself lingering on the second phrase of this prayer, “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done…”

The prayer journal has a punch list of items that I pray for, such as family members (yep, real people are noted on the punch-list), health needs, financial needs, and certain goals I want to accomplish. At the beginning of this prayer journal, the prayers for thy kingdom come, thy will be done were more connected to checking off the list rather than His kingdom come and His will be done in my life.

While I hope that God appreciates this punch-list of items, it’s not the key to tuning into my Father’s voice above the noise of my own heart and my surroundings. I truly believe that God is more interested in shaping my character to reflect His grace than the goals I want to accomplish. Learning to “watch and pray,” as Jesus told his disciples to do, takes perseverance. As Paul Miller says in A Praying Life: “Don’t pray in a fog. Pray with your eyes open. Look for the patterns God is weaving in your life.”

I’ve been looking for those patterns, or more specifically, I’m discovering what it means to be attentive to God. Continually asking God to make my heart soft and teachable. I read that you can’t walk with God and not begin to change. His presence allows us to take an honest, interior look. I’m thankful for that!

When life makes sense, it becomes a journey, a spiritual adventure. Writing down the adventure as it happens gives us a feel for our place in the story God is weaving in our lives. When we keep a prayer journal, we can reflect on what God is doing, on the patterns of our Father’s care instead of reacting to life. If we see our lives as a pilgrimage, then it becomes an integrated whole. It makes sense. When we understand the story, it quiets our souls. It’s okay to have a busy life. It’s crazy to have busy soul. ~Paul E. Miller, A Praying Life

I think I’ll keep writing down the adventure as it happens, chronicling prayers and discovering timeless truth in God’s word. A praying life is a journey of a lifetime.

Sunday Respite | Here I Am

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Now Moses was tending the flock … and he led the flock to the far side of the wilderness and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. There the angel of the Lord appeared to him in flames of fire from within a bush. Moses saw that though the bush was on fire it did not burn up. So Moses thought, “I will go over and see this strange sight–why the bush does not burn up.”

When the Lord saw that he had gone over to look, God called to him from within the bush, “Moses! Moses!”

And Moses said, “Here I am.”

Exodus 3:1-4

In the solitude of the wilderness, little did Moses know that today would be the beginning of a new chapter in his life. The burning bush was one of those life-altering events which happens but a few times in a person’s life.

Do we dare to ask God for a “burning bush” life-altering event?  Are you quiet enough to hear him call your name? Perhaps being in the wilderness is a good place to be … stop running away. God is here. God is with us. When you hear God’s voice, answer him, “Here I am.” Be deeply impressed with the holiness of God and live your life as a gift, an offering … embrace this time and place, choose to see what God is showing you. Open your eyes to the possible. Press on.

I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 3:12-14 (ESV)

Possibility

~Dave Harrity in Making Manifest: On Faith, Creativity, and the Kingdom at Hand

Jumping Tandem
Sandra Heska King - Still Saturday

Worthy is the Lamb: A Prayer for Maundy Thursday of Easter Week

Worthy is the Lamb

Worthy is the Lamb |A Prayer for Maundy Thursday of Easter Week | 40 Gifts of Lent | Gift 38

Today’s Reading:  Revelation 1 – 7

“Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!”  (Revelation 5:11)

Dear Gracious God,

This is my prayer today. To stand in awe of ultimate excellence—to admire Jesus Christ the Son of God—Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace, King of kings, and Lord of lords. Time is drawing near. Create in me a clean heart. Help me to believe. You were once dead but now you live forever. I would fall down dead to stand before you and gaze into your holiness, in all of your glory and brightness. Yet you welcome me to your throne and tell me, “Do not be afraid” (Revelation 1:17). I repeat those four words, do not be afraid and I am overcome with worship and praise because you hold me firmly in your tender grasp until the final moments of my life. You have robbed the grave of victory and taken away the sting of death. Please free me from fears to live more fully for the praise of your glory.  

“Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!”  (Revelation 5:11)

In your holy and powerful name, I praise and pray.

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About 40 Gifts of Lent 

I am anticipating the arrival of Easter and celebrating the most amazingly good gift I’ve ever received. I want to focus my heart on the fulfilled expectation of Christ’s first coming and the glorious expectation of His second coming. To continue reading, please go here: 40 Gifts of Lent

#LentChallenge

 

Remembering him in my prayers

Remembering him in my prayers

Remembering him in my prayers | 40 Gifts of Lent | Gift 29

Today’s Reading: Ephesians 1 – end

Remembering you in my prayers…I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened… Ephesians 1:15 – 23 (NIV)

Fast and furious, he maneuvers the skate board down the steep hill. The thrill of speed and wind and conquering the downhill ride is all that matters. He can do it! And he does this well…for days and weeks and months the adrenaline pulses with each victory. There is no fear of danger, just the triumph of victory over that hill.

And then one day, he crashes.

It’s the simple things that become the biggest thing that bends the knee. A deep cut, a nasty scrape to the head, a broken bone. The physical trauma becomes our spiritual cause to pray. And our prayers are fervent and relentless for his physical healing.

Years pass and he becomes a man baring those scars deep on his skin from the adventures that sent his parents to their knees. He is now a man, maturing through the resilience of pressing on, for he has been faced with much more than physical brokenness.

And then one day he crashes.

It’s the complex things that become the biggest thing that bend the knees to pray. His spiritual trauma becomes our cause to pray. Our prayers are fervent and relentless for a true vibrant grace-giving healing in his life.

The gift is answered through our prayers: “Father, grant him a spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of yourself. Please, don’t leave him to himself. Help him to feel awe and trembling and sense your beauty and sweetness and glory. Have mercy and by your Spirit awaken in him a spirit of wisdom and revelation so that when he reads or hears your wisdom and your words he will have ears to hear and eyes to see the wonder of it.”

This is a prayer that keeps on praying and keeps on seeing God answer. Through the storms and through the fray he is knowing the Lord Jesus Christ better and better.

For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all God’s people, I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers. I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better... Ephesians 1:15 – 23 (NIV) 

Prayers for him

[1] An adapted prayer for my family from, Desiring God |  Be Constant in Prayer for the Joy of Hope

About 40 Gifts of Lent 

I am anticipating the arrival of Easter and celebrating the most amazingly good gift I’ve ever received. I want to focus my heart on the fulfilled expectation of Christ’s first coming and the glorious expectation of His second coming. To continue reading, please go here: 40 Gifts of Lent

#LentChallenge