Archive | July 2013

prayer.

I’ve often heard it said, prayer changes things.

What I have found is, it changes the one praying.

Rick Warren, pastor of Saddleback Church in California, lost his son last April to suicide. His son struggled with mental illness.

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I like Rick Warren.  If evangelicals, non-denominational, charismatic, or whatever-you-identify-yourself-with dusted off the hymnals and pews of our predecessors, Warren dusted off the tendency for any of us to get boxed in with our faith.  He didn’t compromise God’s holiness by bringing him down to our level, but Warren helped us get focused on practical application and what Jesus said that looks like. I don’t know about you, but pride sneaks up on me.

Warren appeared for the first time in his church last Sunday. He said this:

“For 27 years, I prayed every day of my life for God to heal my son’s mental illness. It was the number one prayer of my life and it didn’t make sense. What was happening didn’t make sense. We had the best doctors. We had the best medicine. We went to the best therapist. We had the most people praying. We have a family of deep, deep faith. It just didn’t make sense.”

It just didn’t make sense.

I lost my oldest son to suicide in September, 2005. I was a “prayer warrior” and had deep, deep faith. I cut my Christian teeth on having mountain removing faith.

But one fall afternoon, I found myself under that mountain.  No one had prepared me. Actually, no one really helped me, either.

It just didn’t make sense.

Doesn’t the effectual, fervent prayers of a righteous man accomplish much? Was I not righteous enough?

The fact that we would say “it didn’t make sense”, tells me we are trusting in what we thought we know to be true.

Is prayer necessary? Yes. And Jesus told us how to pray.

But somewhere along the way we picked up some extra ideas and we implemented them to the model prayer. I suspect that is wrong.

Jesus said, “Your Father knows what you need before you ask him. This … is how you should pray:

“‘Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from the evil one.”

Your will be done.

If we get stuck on “it didn’t make any sense”,  I think we are grappling with our human good intentions … thinking we were right.

For Christians, the committed and devoted to our faith, aware of God leading and guiding His church, we have to humble ourselves and recognize that he indeed is doing that. It might mean .. no, it will mean .. letting go of some things we have been doing incorrectly.

I have since learned that the greatest faith isn’t “it didn’t happen” … but that “it did” … and I still love God.

~~~

Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/andycornejo/

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death.

Death will come to all of us.

The Bible calls it an enemy – an enemy that one day will be destroyed permanently.

He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.

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Years ago, I think people dealt with death better than we do today.

The Encyclopedia of Children’s Health states: In 1900, children experienced firsthand, seeing a loved one die on the farm or in the home. Then, two world wars came and children experienced death in the remote events of far off places. By the 1950s, though some children did experience the death of a loved one in the Korean War, these were few. Death became an abstraction, something children only read about or experienced in a movie or television. 

Death was expected and accepted. Were they stronger? If so, in what ways?

Don’t misunderstand. They hurt like we hurt when a loved one died. But I wonder if our world today, with all its conveniences and hurry-up-and-get-going tendencies, have created within us an inability to accept the slow and inevitable processes of life. We have been groomed to fix, forge, and no, failure is not an option.

Just food for thought.

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Photo credit:

James Jordan / Foter / CC BY-ND

careful.

Be careful you don’t stay in your pain too long.

Some people do not want to move on.  They may resent the pain and in reaction to it, stay there and sulk.

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Be careful of self-pity.

And misery … it  does like company.

You may find yourself very alone.

Doesn’t the earth teach us that a long, dark night breaks with morning sunlight?

At some point, you have to welcome the light. How about today?

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Photo Credit: Luz Adriana Villa A.

one.

Never estimate the power of one.

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A random seed, fallen out of the bird feeder this past winter, found its place in the snow.

And sank down deeply into the earth below the melting snow.

And it waited.

So small.

Seemingly, insignificant.

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Ever feel like that?

You are small and insignificant?

God is speaking to us through his creation.

For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.

-The Bible

If God designed a small seed to produce such a strong, beautiful flower, how much more does he have good things for you?

father.

Lots of people have trouble with God.

That’s because he is called Heavenly Father.  Immediately, our experiences with our earthly father (or lack of) comes into play.

Whether your experience has been good or bad, can we agree that a good father will pick up his crying child and comfort him or her? Won’t he be protective? Available to listen to you? Play with you?

Love you?

You may not have had that. But that doesn’t change who God is.

father-and-son-1-1_lBut then, the questions come.

If God is so good, if he cares, then why did he let me have a horrible father? Or no father?

We all have struggles in this world. But you have a choice to believe … or not believe.

Though my father and mother forsake me, the LORD will receive me.

– The Bible

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Photo Credit: Gilzee / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

nourish.

Have you thought that pain can nourish you?

Selective pruning involves the removal of the parts of a plant, bush, or tree – improving its look or health.

Yes, there are times that the pruning is majorly intrusive.

whats-old-is-new_lBut can you see the new growth?

Pruning helped the tree.

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Sometimes, the pruning is gentler.

God doesn’t cause the pain. Pain just exists.

He knows what will come from the pain if we trust him.

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Maybe you feel the slight but manageable pain of pruning shears.

Or maybe you have been leveled, barely able to see your worth.

Know this:  God watches over everything. And he gives you exactly what you need to survive.

It’s apparent all around us! Just look. And let the pruning nourish your soul.

How much am I worth to God? If a flower has worth to God, how much more do you?

~~~

Photo Credit:

UGArdener / Foter / CC BY-NC

jennyhsu47 / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

lenses.

We all look at life through a particular set of  lenses.

If we’re willing, sometimes we have to take off the glasses.

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And we will see things differently.

Shadowy forms come into focus. Depth perception increases. And was the sky always this blue?

Mindsets become our lens. We aren’t always right.

Are there perceptions .. thoughts .. opinions .. which you are clinging to?

Some people are easily frustrated or discouraged. Some worry or complain. Others are bitter and unforgiving.

Try taking off your glasses and tell me what you see.

Now try putting someone else’s glasses on.

There’s more to your life than meets the eye.

~~~

Photo courtesy: nicadlr / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA