Watch & Pray

I appreciate watches that work & these do not. Using an unreliable watch is kind of like driving on a tire that needs air – pretty soon, stuff gets messed up! Schedules go awry, anxiety increases, appointments get missed & people get frustrated, not just a little. But all of these challenges can be avoided with a functional watch.
This goes to my point with prayer. Keeping our prayer life in tune, steady & practiced is essential for our internal stability. When my prayer life goes awry, it’s only a matter of time until life hits the fan.
Who’s up to watch & pray with me?

Goodbye

  

I’m not a grief fan, but alas I get to feel this old familiar emotion because our neighbor family whom we deeply love is moving today. It’s a great sadness for my whole family because our families are intricately connected: all of my kids with their kids, my husband totally appreciates his friendship with their dad & their mom & I are soul sisters. We can be in the same room & don’t have to say anything to know the vibe for each other. I seriously hate grief & loss. What really stinks is that there’s no way around grief except through it. 
If you’ve experienced the loss of a loved one, a divorce, a friend who moved, or a lost friendship these are all difficult grief situations & there’s not a person on the planet who gets a free pass from experiencing grief. Maybe grief is part of what it means to love from the heart. 

Jesus knew grief from His earthly existence – a man familiar with our sorrows, griefs & sufferings. While I love to celebrate the triumphant & risen King, it seems that my affection for & connection with Jesus deepens when I appreciate that He has walked the grief path before & is walking through grief with us in our various human experiences, even today. 

prayer & results

 I’ve been thinking about prayer lately & the wide spectrum of what prayer means to us.  In my mind, prayer has LOTS of applications.  Prayer is about:

  • being persistent
  • exploring God’s promises
  • confessing struggles, failures & shortcomings
  • walking in and through Genuine Love
  • expressing frustrations, uncertainties, misunderstandings
  • being vulnerable & honest
  • listening
  • asking God to help others (intercession)
  • being present with God (some call this “keeping company”)
  • learning Who God is and about God’s will, preferences & priorities
  • giving voice to our gratitude for what God does & Who God is
  • presenting requests to God
  • candid conversation
  • a quick HELP!!!!

Let’s be careful to allow prayer to have a WIDE array of expression & relevance throughout our lives 🙂

tips to help with forgiveness

 I’m a big fan of being proficient with forgiveness – after all, we get to practice almost everyday! ,)

There are LOADS of benefits that go with maintaining a lifestyle of forgiveness, but the point for this blog is to refresh a few tips & to give you an opportunity to share some effective tips you’ve learned as well.  So here’s a quickie sarah forgiveness primer:

  • be ready to forgive more than you’re ready to take an offense – sometimes it helps to have a forgiveness mindset
  • fast forgiving is easier than elongated forgiving:  anytime I’ve nursed a hurt, the forgiving process gets quagmired & almost moribund before I know it :/
  • some people require more forgiveness than others;  some of us are proned to the foot-in-mouth syndrome so please don’t make us squirm as we try to get better
  • forgiveness is about personal liberty: for those of us who are Americans, its hard for me to understand why we are so adamant about our external freedom, but we can be virtually oblivious to our internal incarceration
  • I want to be super generous with forgiveness because Lord knows He gives me more than I can comprehend;  people who are stingy with forgiveness are usually mean & lonely 🙁
What are some more suggestions?

Lord’s Prayer & forgiveness

Everyday, we get the chance to practice forgiveness in both quantity (lots of “small things”) & quantity (some really hefty, weighty & serious interactions).  Here’s the black & white truth:  all relationships remain shallow without forgiveness.  The deeper the relationship, often times, the greater the need for forgiveness.  Forgiveness, for me, is most important because I want my relationship with God  to be deep, genuine & transformational.  I find that when I’m bent out of shape with someone, it affects my walk w God.  Consequently, if I’m going to nurture, guard & be part of growing my walk with Him, I need to continually practice forgiving, even if the person doesn’t apologize for their actions or is unaware of how they hurt you.  Forgiveness isn’t based on what the other person does or doesn’t do – it comes from your heart & most of all from receiving forgiveness from your heavenly Father so you can let it flow through you. 

Something helpful I’ve found in the forgiveness adventure is to forgive quickly – the longer I wait the harder it becomes to forgive.  What helps you to be forgiving???

daily bread

Ever find yourself asking God for more time, or more money, or more energy, or more wisdom, or more abilities, . . . . . ?  At some point in all of our lives, I think we’ve all asked God for at least one of these things. 

In my Lord’s Prayer experiment, I’ve found these kinds of requests interesting in light of Jesus’ instructions to ask our Father for “daily bread” – sustenance, essentials necessary for this day, etc.  Here’s some of my thinking:  if Jesus teaches us to make this request in praying to our Father, then because of God’s character of goodness & provider, He supplies our needs.  To me, this means that He gives us what we need for each day, when we bring this request to Him. 

As such, I’ve concluded that my heavenly Father does give me what I need for each day:  enough time, enough provision, enough money, enough patience, enough talent . . . . In Ps 84:11 it says,”For the LORD God is a sun and shield; The LORD will give grace and glory; No good thing  will He withhold From those who walk uprightly.  NKJV

So given this understanding, when I ask our heavenly Father to give me my daily bread, I can trust Him to give me exactly what I need for this day. 

Do you ever have trouble trusting our heavenly Father to provide what you need?  What helps you trust Him?

Lord’s Prayer – Our Father

The word, “father” evokes lots of feelings, emotions, thoughts & responses.  Unfortunately, because we’re finite & don’t have unlimited understanding, we take our experiences & project them onto other things & relationships – be that good or bad.  This can be a problem when you consider that when Jesus teaches us how to pray, He tells us to address God as our Father.  Notice that Jesus did not say to address the 1st person of the Trinity as: boss / employer, best friend, roommate, master, slave driver, etc.  Jesus tells us to address the person we pray to as our Father in heaven.

Furthermore, I believe that there are a few reasons why our relationship with our heavenly Father can get dysfunctional based on the parable of the prodigal’s son.  Consider that both sons didn’t have a very healthy relationship with their father.  The prodigal’s relationship with his father lacked intimacy because the son was selfish.  The older son’s relationship with his father was dysfunctional because he didn’t even see his father as his dad – consider how he describes his interaction with his dad in Luke 15:29;  this doesn’t sound alot like a father / son relationship. 

So when you address your heavenly Father, is there some dysfunction you could possibly be projecting onto your relationship with Him?  What might this be & could God be wanting to help you make some healthy adjustments so that your interaction with Him is more authentic?  Feel free to leave comments / thoughts.  🙂

the Lord’s Prayer

Ok, before you decide to skip this because you’ve got this prayer well memorized – let me interject some thoughts to interrupt the rote, mundane familiarity.  Consider:

  • This prayer starts with “our Father in heaven”:  wholly other to us, but Jesus uses the “Father” metaphor to give us some kind of familiar context to latch onto, a beginning point (don’t let it trip you up if the father you grew up with fell way short of a “good dad” or if he was simply absent in your life)
  • the next 3 “requests” have everything to do with emphasizing God in our lives through: reverence to His Name, obedience to His Kingship and surrender to His will.  How often is our prayer life initiated with these 3 priorities?  Hmmmmmmm
  • the next 4 “requests” ask for God’s participation in our daily living:  give me what I need for today, help me to be forgiving in my relationships, keep me away from temptation & protect me from the evil one.

Could I impose upon you to try an experiment for a week?  Would you consider making the 1st three God requests every morning when you wake up?  After this, on the way to work or school, would you then submit to God the 4 petitions that are more self focused? 

I’ve been trying this & have been pleasantly suprised – at present, I can’t find more words to bring more clarity to the experience.  its just been good!!

deliver me and the origins of evil

Rescue me, with your loving charms . . . . can’t you see that I’m lonely!  Ok, singing & blogging don’t go together very well & you’re wondering what on earth is going on?!?!

devilI was being a little cheeky with the last part of the Lord’s Prayer – deliver us from the evil one.  At the end of everything Jesus teaches us to pray, in the Lord’s Prayer, He says that we should ask our Father to deliver us from the evil one.  This petition comes after we establish God’s position in our life as our Father, Hallowed One, King, Master, Provider, Forgiver & Leader.  God is also our deliverer & He does and will deliver us from the evil one – the Devil.  I think the Devil’s fundamental job description is found in John 10:10 – the theif comes to steal, kill & destroy.  Thankfully, Jesus tells us that not only is our Father able to deliver us from the Devil’s efforts, but that we should actively make this request to our heavenly Father.

Bottom line – evil exists in the world & its origin is with the Devil.  Our job is to resist him, run to our heavenly Father & ask Him to deliver us from the Devil’s efforts in our life.  Pretty straight forward.

I pray that God would help you to recognize the Devil & his efforts in your life so that whatever he may try with you, would be thoroughly disabled & confused by your heavenly Father, as you pray for His deliverence.

lead us not into temptation

Temptation can be such an enchanting topic – we relish the allure of chocolate, ice cream, exercise endorphins, someone uber-cute of the opposite sex, a cool pair of jeans or shoes that are WAY out of the budget, an addiction we’re trying to break, . . . . .  choose your pleasure.  And Jesus teaches us that when we pray, we should ask our heavenly Father to lead us not  into temptation.

compassIn an earlier blog, I asked why Jesus would teach us to make this request considering that He, was led by the Holy Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.  Furthermore, there’s lots of New Testament verses that tell us that tests & temptations (generally the same word in the Greek) are good for us with the strength & character they build.  So given these thoughts, why does Jesus teach us to make this request of our Heavenly Father? 

Here’s my sense on this conundrum (nice word, eh?):  I think we miss the main point of what Jesus is saying when we get hung up on the temptation topic.  I think Jesus’ main point was that by teaching us to pray that God leads us, He implies that we will follow God & that He will direct our lives.  To me, Jesus’ primary objective for this request is for us ask God for His direction & guidance in our lives.  

Fundamentally, each of us need for our heavenly Father to lead us each day.  After acknowledging this need, then let us add that we’d prefer to avoid temptation – but if God should direct our paths in any given day past temptation, then let me encourage you to look to Him for the exit ramp from the temptation (1 Cor 10:13).  But let us daily request our Father’s direction – we desperately need it.

temptations – help!

Dearest friends, I’m asking for your help again – sorry to be “needy”.  Two things:

  1. can anyone tell me if I can allow someone to put a picture in a comment?  If so, how do I do this?

TWO: This one is tricky.  I’m working on the part in the Lord’s Prayer where Jesus teaches us to ask the Father to lead us not into temptation. How do you deal with this in relation to Matt 4:1, where it says that Jesus was led by the HS into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.  Furthermore, in James 1:13, it says that God doesn’t tempt anyone.  So what do you think Jesus means in the Lord’s Prayer when you consider James 1:13 & Matt 4:1?  Any help, insights, thoughts would be more than appreciated!!!!!

how to be debt free

In the Lord’s Prayer, one of the requests Jesus teaches us to make to our Father is to “forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors”.  Last week, I got heaps of amazing insights on what everyone thought Jesus meant by this request – see “debt consolidation”.  So this week, I’d like to go to the next step.

What are some tips you could share that have helped you to forgive & be debt free?

I’ll start w an idea & then please, please add your wisdom w a comment to help others & me.

a forgiveness tip:  do it FAST.  I’ve found it easier to forgive quickly than wait & do it later.  Usually by then, whatever has hurt me begins to fester & grow.

Your turn:

thoughts on God’s love

In my “Lord’s Prayer experiment” (see the 1st post on the Lord’s Prayer), this great adventure has shown me some interesting things about God & my connection with Him.  In my last post, I talked about God as our Father & about our perceptions of who God is in our lives. 

This morning God, my Father, has been talking with me about the basis of His relationship with me – He loves me, as His child.  Everything He does originates from His motivation of love for me, His motivation of love for you.  Possibly the worst trick you could fall for, is not believing that He loves you, taking His love for granted or ignoring His love for you. 

Because of God’s love for us:

  • He provides what we need for each day. 
  • He forgives us & enables us to forgive (the premise of any relationship that has depth)
  • He directs my daily path
  • He protects me

All because He loves you.  All because He loves me.  I pray that your Father’s love for you would never become common, mundane or taken for granted.

What’s the big deal about the Lord’s Prayer?

If you have some church background, chances are that you’ve at least heard the Lord’s Prayer, if you haven’t memorized it at some point.  Its a classic Christian basic.  Unfortunately, its easy to turn it into mere movements of the mouth & whip out the droned rote words without much heart connection.  I think this is a travesty & the reason I think this is because of my experiences with the Lord’s Prayer over the last few months.

Consequently, over the next couple of Wed nights, Pastor Frieda & I will be sharing about the Lord’s Prayer, its meaning & relevance in our 21st century living.  Tonight I talked about what it means to see & acknowledge God as our Father.  If you want to download the message, click the link:  Our Father

Otherwise, what are some things that help you relate to God as your Father?  Check back tomorrow for more insights on God as our Heavenly Father! 🙂

Lord’s Prayer musings

Well, I’m very much enjoying this experiment & I’m big on experiments (I used to have like 3 or 4 old chemistry sets when I was growing up & I’d mix them all together just to see what would happen – fun times!!!).  Anyways, these are some things so far that have come from the Lord’s Prayer adventure:

  • better focus – gives my mind something constructive to ruminate on during the day rather than the random clutter & general nonsense that can be useless & even harmful
  • greater respect & reverence for God = hallowed be Your Name
  • greater intimacy & understanding that God is my Father with all the elements that connect with fatherhood
  • greater submission & surrender to His authority & will (respectively) – bend to my King & bind myself to His will more than my desires
  • more emphasis on God & less on me

So, if you haven’t tried the Lord’s Prayer experiment, read the blog below & give it a shot.  If you’re doing the experiment – how’s it going & what’s been happening? 🙂