Just Do It

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I haven’t written in forever. I hate that I don’t have time to write because sharing on this blog has been truly therapeutic. You hear people say that all of the time, but it seems writing about the things God does bring new life to the soul. So what have I been doing?

Over the last several months, God has tapped me on the shoulder more than once to simply pray. This has happened to me before. I believe with my whole heart, God sees us when we struggle. He not only sees and feels our pain; He calls someone (or maybe many) to walk this road with us in prayer. And so, He has prompted me, awakened me at night and impressed on my heart to pray. Normally, this would be easy. I love to pray. But this time is different. He’s asking me to pray for someone I hardly know. Needless to say, it’s been a faith walk for sure. But I have learned some things about myself in the process.

I am reminded the problem is not really God’s concern. It seems He is more focused on the walk to the solution. You see, no problem is too big for God. He can do anything. But ultimately, it’s the journey He cares about. Along the way we learn to trust Him in ways we never would have before. We learn that He actually has a plan and all is worked out. My problem is that I think I will mess up His plan. But no, nothing I can do will ever change what God intends.

I also learned how fearful I am. It seems God has had to drag me along on this ride. He has had to persuade me. I have tried to walk away, but He simply won’t let me. He wants me to stay the course. I keep asking Him, “Why me?” I have absolutely no idea what I am doing. I don’t know how this person feels. I have no words of wisdom. I guess that’s precisely the point. It’s not about me. And how arrogant of me to think otherwise.

My scripture for this year is:

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:1-2)

I never realized how much fear hinders our lives. The reason we can’t seem to move forward with God is because of fear. It literally cripples us. It seems God is showing me this over and over. He’s making me do the things I fear the most.

This morning I had a special time in prayer. I have been agreeing in prayer with someone different for a few weeks and it seems God has answered our prayers. I was so thankful to pray with her. And I am praising God for His protection over her. But even more so, I sobbed because I felt so privileged to pray and encourage a sister in the Lord. I felt so honored to be chosen, really.

I don’t know where you find yourself today. Perhaps you are someone in need of prayer. God will send the perfect person to pray with you. Or maybe, He’s tapped you on the shoulder and invited you to walk the road with someone who desperately needs prayer. Whatever the case, know that He is in complete control and He really has a plan.

What Comforts You?

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May your unfailing love be my comfort, according to your promise to your servant. (Psalm 119:76 NIV)

When Jonah was a baby, he used a pacifier. When it was time to take it away, the doctor suggested I cut the tip off. Every couple of days, cut a little more until Jonah decided it wasn’t comforting him anymore. This was a great tip for Karoline. After one snip, she looked at it and threw it away. But Jonah sucked on that thing until he couldn’t hold on to it anymore. It took him longer than his sister, but eventually he gave it up. It never occurred to me he had found another form of comfort.

Last night Jonah didn’t want to sleep in his room. I thought this was odd. When we asked him, he said he misses his brother’s breathing. Nathan and Jonah have separate rooms joined by a common window. They talk to each other through it and apparently, Jonah can hear Nathan breathing while he sleeps. Nathan is away at camp this week leaving Jonah with nothing to comfort him.

It’s funny how we look for things, other than God to comfort us. It can be any number of things. Some people look for comfort in another person. They want someone to love them, care for them and be there for them. Others use food as a source for comfort. It just feels good to eat food that produces a calming effect on the body. For me, I find myself most comfortable when there’s money in the bank. I like to have money there, just in case something happens. Certainly, there’s nothing wrong with having a savings account. We should be saving money for a rainy day or unexpected expense. But what I’ve found is my contentment comes from being able to handle any situation with what I already have.

Our prayers can reveal a lot about what we hold dear. We should always be open with God. We should ask. But I think we should be honest about our motives for those requests. Dig deep. Ask God to reveal the true purpose for that prayer. Are we seeking something to draw closer to God or take the place of Him? Are we seeking comfort from something other than Him? If life were to remain as it is today, are we content?

Lord, may we find comfort in you alone!

Prayer ~ Does it Really Matter?

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The woman walked over and asked if her name was Jane. Jane hesitantly affirmed the woman’s hunch. She proceeded to tell her she had prayed for her. A couple of years prior to this exchange, Jane had lost a child. Her teen-aged child had passed away because of cancer. Jane was still struggling with the heaviness of the sorrow she felt. But the woman, not even knowing who she was, had prayed. She had been prompted by the Holy Spirit to lift up a sister in Christ she had never met. Here they were, two years later speaking.

Recently, I ran into Jane. She was a different woman. It was obvious she had healed. She was joyful. Her once heavy heart had new life. She was living life again.

I love this story because it shows the vastness of God’s love for us. The woman had never met Jane. At the time she prayed, she had no idea their paths would ever cross and yet she was faithful. Jane, filled with excruciating grief needed the comfort of the Savior.

We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair;  persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed (2 Cor. 4:8-9 ESV)

We are surrounded by struggling people each and every day. Some have chosen their path while others have been thrust into a journey only nightmares are made of. In all of it, God is there. His work continues when He invites us to participate with Him in another life. What a privilege. We can be assured in our darkest hour, He calls upon the faithful to pray for us.

Keep praying especially when you think your prayers are meaningless. There is a battle raging and your prayer is the ammunition against the enemy!

My Confession

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My writing is so sporadic these days. It seems I have the inspiration but not the time. Or maybe I have the time but not the inspiration. I thought the “lazy” days of summer would open the opportunity for me to sit and reflect and write. Life doesn’t turn out the way we hoped. But today, I am writing and that makes my heart glad.

Several months ago, I attended a meeting for an organization I am affiliated with. The speaker for that evening approached the podium and offered her experience. She shared her testimony. She praised God for His hand. She was thankful her child had made the decision he had. Everyone applauded and I walked away angry.

My anger wasn’t against what God did in her life; it was her choice of words. I don’t know her exact words, but my ears heard condemnation for those who didn’t follow the same direction. In my mind, I heard her speak against another institution and every single person who chose to be a part of that institution. I am a part of that institution. And so, I was hurt by her comments.

Anger is a tricky emotion. It generally follows a hurt. When left unchecked, the anger can lead to bitterness. Last week, God opened my eyes about the root of bitterness growing in my heart. It was spreading causing me to have blurred vision.  Anything, or person involved with that organization became tainted. They were all misled, misguided and misinformed. The very thing I was angry at the speaker for had become my platform. Ouch!

I am always amazed at the amount of time I have wasted with anger. It accomplishes nothing. It makes it hard for me to hear and see God. It focuses on the wrong doing in the world and not God’s hand. And it causes me to lose perspective. The reality is, if the speaker for that evening knew how offended I was, she would probably have been horrified. She never intended to hurt anyone, only to encourage.

I’m moving forward these days laying my anger at the foot of my Savior. My prayers have been many but I can feel my joy returning.

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9 ESV)

Prayer ~ Freedom

The man who had died came out, his hands and feet bound with linen strips, and his face wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.” (John 11:44 ESV)

The more I think about the story of Lazarus, the more I’m inspired by it. Here was a man, an extremely ordinary man minding his own business until Jesus showed up. They were friends, especially good friends. Jesus ate with Lazarus and his sisters. They talked and enjoyed each other’s company. It’s no wonder Lazarus’ sisters became upset when Jesus didn’t come to heal their brother immediately. Instead, Jesus delayed his trip.

After his death and renewed life, Lazarus was a different man. He was no longer simply a friend of Jesus; he had become one of Jesus’ miracles. People looked at him with awe, no doubt. He thought of himself differently too. Here was a man weighed down by death only to be resurrected into life again. I think this man, more than any other, understood what it felt like to free from the binding chains of death.

So many things can weigh us down. We can be bound by feelings of insecurity or uncertainty. We can find ourselves overwhelmed by life’s demands. The entanglement of sin can keep us from feeling the peace God has for us. All of these things can hold us captive but Jesus came to set us free. I find freedom to be a great deal sweeter after a time of struggle.

Prayer is a time to talk with God. It’s a time to bring Him our hopes, dreams and fears. It’s a time to sit quietly in the presence of our Savior. Whatever we say to Him stays with Him. He never shares our secret struggles. He quietly listens. Savor the time you spend with Him. He wants you to walk in freedom. He wants you to leave behind the things that hold you back. He wants you to fearlessly trust. Spend time with Him because He loves spending time with you. Know your prayers are heard by a God who longs to set you free.

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Prayer ~ Room to Grow

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“Those who had been scattered preached the word wherever they went.” (Acts 8:4 NIV)

I started a vegetable garden again this year. I hadn’t done one in a few years because my last attempt was a failure. I did some container gardening last year and that was mildly successful, but this year I wanted to resurrect my patch in the yard. I spent a couple of weeks weeding, tilling and adding soil. It was labor intensive but the thought of fresh vegetables this summer kept me motivated.

After planting seeds as well as plants, I watered and waited. I was excited to see my little plants growing. I soon realized they were too close together, so I dug some plants up and moved them giving them more room to grow. I am pleased to announce my garden is thriving. I have been harvesting and enjoying the fruits of my labor.

In the book of Acts, Luke shares the journey of the first church. They began in Jerusalem. They were a tight-knit group gathering together for prayer. They ministered and shared the gospel among the Jews but God felt the need to scatter them. He moved them from their little cluster and spread them throughout the region. God placed them where they would grow personally and grow the church.

Our journey is a series of changes and events all weaved together for God’s purpose. Some events He ordains and others He redeems. Regardless of the event, God is in the business of growing us to be more like Him. Unfortunately for us, most of our growth comes when we are away from those things we are most familiar with. When we feel alone, we seek Him more.

Our prayer focus today is seeking God. We base so much of our relationship on the events of our lives. We do this or that in order to gain favor (or an easy life) from God. In reality, God wants us to draw closer to Him. He wants us to know Him, trust Him and recognize His hand in our lives. I urge you to spend time praising God today for His love. Spend time thanking Him for your blessings. Take one day and don’t ask for anything, just spend time with Him. Then listen.

Lord, I praise you for loving me. I thank you for your many blessings. Open my eyes to see your work in my life. I offer my life to you, show me your plan. Amen!

Prayer ~ It’s a Gift

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During Lent I took a break from my normal blogging. I wanted to spend time studying and learning about Jesus. My desire was to dig deeper into Jesus’ life here on earth.

Now that Lent is over, I plan to return to my original blogging schedule. I plan to take one verse a week use it in each blog for that week. I will go back to Prayer posts on Wednesday and Parenting posts on Thursday using the verse for the week.

This week’s verse is, “They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers.” (Acts 1:14 NIV)

As I read through the story of Jesus during Lent I watched as the disciples ate with Him and witnessed His miracles. I felt their sadness when Jesus was crucified and their joy when He returned to them. After Jesus’ death, they were afraid and hid themselves. They didn’t know what to do next. But now, reading the first chapter of Acts, they are unafraid.

They began to live the life God had for them. They went from hiding to preaching the very words that had Jesus killed. They didn’t become bold overnight. I believe their time of prayer was responsible for this change in attitude. They stuck together praying constantly.

Prayer brings us back to the throne of God. It’s safe there. It also helps us reign in our emotions, expectations and selfish desires. When we go before God, our courage is increased, our determination is strengthened and our will becomes His will. Prayer is the gift God gives us so we can communicate our every thought with Him. He also gives us friends who pray with us and for us.

The disciples came full circle. They spent a lot of time in prayer when Jesus walked with them. Then they lost their way and started looking at their circumstances. But in the end, Jesus brought them back to prayer building their bond with each other and with Him. Interestingly, this same cycle occurs in our lives as well.

Thank you Jesus, for the gift of prayer. Thank you for people who love us enough to pray with us and for us. May we be found faithful bringing our needs before you and praying constantly. Amen