Tag Archives: Prayer

Reverence: A Lost Concept

The word reverence is rarely used in everyday conversation. In fact, I would guess that many young people don’t know the definition. To be honest, if you would have asked me two months ago for a word that means respect and awe, I wouldn’t have been able to identify the word. It was just off my radar for too long.

Since hearing the word at a prayer meeting or small group discussion a couple months back, the concept has been on my mind, but in my pride I didn’t act on it.

More recently, within the last week, I recognized that I had not been hearing God in the way I had even a year ago. A heart shift had happened. I had unmet expectations of God, and therefore lost some of that respect and awe in His presence. He became someone I expected to disappoint or fall short, and while I still have areas where I struggle to trust Him with my life, I find a little physical expression of reverence goes a long way…even if my heart isn’t there yet.

The term “fake ’til you make it”, I think it applies to faith. You’ve heard it said that love is a decision, and a decision is a conscious choice. I just woke up one day and thought, I’m going to choose to kneel down at my bedside the moment I open my eyes. And when my knees hit the floor I’m going to praise God for all that He is and all that He’s done. After I praise Him I’m going to confess even though my respect for Him is waning at times. Then I’m going to pour out my heart, my deepest hurts, concerns, requests, and cries for help. I’m going to be honest, but I’m also going to remember my place in this relationship by bowing my head, closing my eyes, and kneeling before the King.

While I am still not hearing God clearly, I know that I am doing nearly everything I can think of to open my ears and my eyes to see Him. If you have suggestions for drawing nearer to God in reverence, please leave a comment. I read them!

 

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Uncertainty and a Call for Action

Some people thrive on uncertainty. People like me, planners, call those people daredevils. What do you mean unplanned events, pending results, or even undecided outfits don’t keep you up at night?

Oh, how it seems life would be so leisurely if only I would be more comfortable with uncertainty, but I am my mother’s (and father’s) daughter and therefore I am destined to be tortured by the pending, the “to be continued”, and the dreaded “what ifs”. But do I really have to accept that I will forever obsess over the uncertain? Or is it my “hidden” distrust in God, my worry that keeps my mind reeling with the risk of what’s around the corner?

This morning, on my way to work, I listened to a worship song playlist on my smart phone. The song “Oceans” by Hillsong came on as I prayed silently to God. It’s amazing how many ways this song has spoken into different situations in my life. As I was driving along, the lyric “my soul will rest in your embrace” drew tears to my eyes. It was in that moment I realized it’s not that God isn’t embracing me. It’s that I’m not resting in his embrace. All this fretting, it’s not allowing him to embrace me. I’m just shrugging him off by trying to carry a burden I’m not meant to carry.

As I sang along with the rest of the song, God revealed to me exactly what he wanted me to do about the uncertain situation for which I was obsessing. It’s as if he said, “You think because you care, but what is care without action?” Thinking is not enough, caring is not enough. When God calls you into action and you respond, that’s when your soul can rest in his embrace. It can rest because God stirred it up for action, not for obessing over what might be, not for worrying.

More than a Christmas Greeting

Don’t get me wrong, I love sending Christmas cards, but I’m often fatigued by the time I get to the last one. I don’t like to just sign my name and be done with it. To me the whole point of writing a letter or sending a card is to make someone feel loved and important.

In order to avoid greeting card burn out, I am starting my letters a bit early with the intention to not only mail a message, but to send up a prayer. Especially in a time when destruction and terror seem to be spreading globally, it is important to lift up our loved ones in prayer, not only for protection and peace but for salvation.

Whether you send cards, buy gifts or just make a phone call to those you love, send up a prayer before you do. As you bless them spiritually, you will find yourself blessed by peace rather than stress during this season of celebration. Gift giving, family gatherings and sending cards will become a response to your prayer and a labor of love.

This year lay down your burden and lift up a prayer for each and every loved one you encounter. You will see a difference when you do.

Whose Open Tomb?

With two upcoming baptisms just around the corner, I think it’s only appropriate to reflect on what it means to be baptized. What does it symbolize? And why should baptism be celebrated?

Just as a wedding is a ceremony representing a commitment between husband and wife, so is a baptism a ceremony representing a covenant between God and man. Baptism is such an important public declaration of commitment to Christ that Jesus commands it in the scripture many refer to as the Great Commission. In Matthew 28:18-20, Jesus says:

All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.

If Jesus commanded his disciples to baptize, he wants the same for you and me. He wants us to proudly proclaim that he is our Lord and Savior.

The act of baptism symbolizes Jesus’ death for our sins and burial in the tomb, and his miraculous resurrection on the third day. This is why so many prefer to be immersed in water versus the “sprinkle” baptism. The symbolism is perhaps better experienced in the immersion baptism.

So if the idea is that we die to our old lives of sin, and experience a “spiritual resurrection” when we emerge from the water, then is Jesus’ tomb the only empty grave? If we are truly made new, no longer spiritually dead in our sin, and alive through the cleansing/forgiveness of our sins, then aren’t our graves just as empty as Jesus’?

Visualize this, on the day that you take your last breath on earth, after that breath, you are in a garden, your body has never felt more alive, your skin is flawless, your conscience clear, all you concern yourself with is praising the Father for who he is, not just what he’s done. You look up from your prayer and praise and see your friends approaching a grave. As you look closer, you notice that your name is engraved in the headstone, the date is today. How can you be seeing your own grave, covered in fresh soil, flowers tossed on top? How can it be?

Then you remember that day you decided to give your life to God. You remember the day you were baptized, the symbolism the pastor described. You are taken back to his words, “When she emerges from the water, it symbolizes Christ’s resurrection. Like Him she is made new, alive again, born again, adopted into Christ’s family, a child of God.” You immediately know why you are looking at your grave. There may be a body inside, but your spirit was resurrected the day you accepted Jesus as the forgiver of your sin. You proclaimed it through your baptism, and now you have a first class seat to seeing it completed. You realize how faithful the Father is, how you had taken this step of faith for granted all those years ago, but now you see the reality of your decision to make that covenant with Christ. Do you think you’d have any regrets?

Whose tomb is empty? Is it yours? If it isn’t, do you want to invite Jesus into your life, accept him as your Lord and Savior, forgiver of your sins? You can make that decision now. Just talk to Jesus. Tell him you want to make a covenant with him for eternal, forgiven life as a child of God.

Putting Your Mask on First

When flying, before take off, you will always hear the flight attendant remind parents and caregivers to put their oxygen mask on first before helping their child or dependent with their mask. The reason they do this is to remind parents and caregivers that without their life source of oxygen they cannot help those that depend on them.

In the same way, we must first make ourselves pure and blameless before God before going to him with prayer requests. One way to do this is through the ACTS prayer technique that someone taught me years ago. “A” is for adoration, telling God what you adore about him, his characteristics, what makes him your heavenly Father. “C” is for confession, the admission of sin and turning away from sin. “T” is for thanks, the expression of gratitude to God for all the blessings he provides, including some of the seemingly yucky stuff. Lastly, “S” is for supplication, the requests we ask of God, for ourselves and others.

Notice supplication comes last. Why is that? Everything leading up to “S” is to make us pure and blameless and to give glory where glory is due.

After we have prayed through ACTS our hearts will feel more ready and prepared to touch the lives of others and to be God’s instrument. So, the next time you try to help someone back on their feet, get on your knees and put on the oxygen mask of adoration, confession, thanks, and supplication.

When the Hungry Cry Out

Last Friday while preparing my lunch I saw that I had way more fruit than I could possibly eat, so I packed it into a bag with some other unwanted snacks and set off for work. I thought about giving it to my coworkers, but then I remembered the group of homeless people that sleep outside the work parking lot. Perhaps they would want some fruit and crackers.

When I arrived to work I was surprised to see that the group I normally see was gone. That’s unusual, I thought. After work I gathered my purse and the bag of food and wondered if the group would be back that evening. I wandered out another entrance and immediately came to a couple of disheveled men chatting. Not sure of whether they would be offended by my offering, I started unpacking my bag a few feet away. They looked up with hopeful eyes, as if wondering if I would share with them. When I saw their glances I explained that I had bought in bulk and had too much food to eat myself. In their gratitude they offered me a newspaper, the kind that the city provides for the homeless to earn money for meals.

As they handed me the paper, they began explaining to me why things are the way they are for the homeless, basically covering the topic of the paper. To my surprise, the older man revealed that he was recently diagnosed with cancer and that he is afraid of what will happen if he needs chemo or radiation. How will he care for himself as someone without a home. His resources are so limited. I listened quietly until he said, “But I believe my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ can heal me!” I think my eyes widened. I didn’t expect to hear that through the cloud of pot smoke that was forming around us. You see, the other man had been smoking the whole time. Then he, the guy who was smoking, started telling us about a prayer ministry he was a part of in L.A.

It goes to show God’s children come in all shapes and sizes. After they were done sharing I offered to pray and the older man grabbed my hands and said, “You pray first.” I prayed a short and simple prayer asking God to be with them and keep them safe and for the older man to be healed. By this time we were on a first name basis. When I finished praying the older man looked up, eyes wide and said, “Wow! That was a powerful prayer.” Then the other man started praying, and boy did I feel the Holy Spirit…or maybe it was a contact high (just kidding). At the end we all said Amen, and the older man exclaimed, “I am healed! I believe I am.” The other man kept proclaiming, “You are healed in Jesus’ name.”

A few minutes later the younger man asked the older man, “Are you sick?” Through a frown the older man said, “Yes…” to which the younger man responded, “But you just said you were healed?” The older man laughed, “Well, I forgot. I smoked two bowls before we prayed!” We all burst into laughter, and I truly believe the joy they felt was not just the influence of marijuana but the joy of the Lord upon them.

God is good, and He does not discriminate. He blesses those He wants to bless whether they are stoned or sober. I praise God for putting those two in my path that day. Who knew that on the streets of Berkeley in a cloud of smoke I would meet two of my Brothers?

The things that have grown my faith more than anything else are those instance just stumbled upon, interactions with strangers on the street. God uses all kinds to teach our busy minds and hearts to love.

Realistic Goals

First, I would like to say that any goal is realistic if it is God’s will and you humble yourself to depend on Him even when things don’t seem to be going right. Lately there has been a lot of talk about goals, especially in my career and blog and other more personal areas of my life. Over the years I have learned one of the major keys to setting goals is a willingness to keep trying even after you have not met one of your stepping stone goals.

In 2014 I successfully became debt-free. I’m ecstatic about that! But I haven’t been so successful at other financial goals after becoming debt-free. Despite the little hiccups along the way I have still kept trying, and become a little more successful every month. Here are a few little reminders that have helped me along in goal setting.

  1. Avoid piling on too many goals. People have a tendency to pile them on during the New Year or around their birthday. Make one goal, and when you start to find success in that goal start considering implementing new goals.
  2. Find an accountability partner, someone that will check in with you on your goal. For me, my mom made a good accountability partner, but for others it could be a mentor, pastor, or close friend.
  3. Pray constantly. When I was working on my goal to be debt-free, I continually thanked God for His gifts and prayed that God was in control of my finances, that I would use His gifts wisely and be mindful of my spending.
  4. Make stepping stone, shorter term goals that will ultimately lead to your big goal. Becoming debt-free is a big goal for most people. Setting smaller goals really helped me achieve my big goal. I set timeframes for when I wanted each debt paid off.
  5. Do your research. Read up on how other people have achieved their goals. Make sure that your goal is the right goal for you. Perhaps you are aiming for a degree in a field you are really not that interested in or isn’t a best fit for you. It’s okay to adjust your goal even after you have made it.
  6. Don’t give up. Keep at it even when you stumble, and look for the opportunities to learn from those stumbling blocks.
  7. Thank God and your accountability partner every step of the way. Giving gratitude encourages, not only the person you are thanking, but also the thanker.

Remember even the best fail, but it is the transformation that happens with the failure that really pushes you to succeed.

Happy New Year!