Tag Archives: prayer

Trying to Read God’s Mind

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This morning, as part of my devotional time, I was reading from a book, When God Says “Wait”, by Elizabeth Laing Thompson (sidebar:  I got this as a free Kindle book from Book Bub).  This morning’s chapter discussed some of the unpleasant thoughts we have when we’re waiting;  often we come to the conclusion that God is angry and is punishing us.  Then the author makes a very good point:  WE CAN’T READ GOD’S MIND!  The Bible makes this very clear in the book of Isaiah:

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways, my ways, declares the Lord.  As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”  Isaiah 55:8-9

If you read closely, you’ll see that we’re not only incapable of reading God’s mind, when we try we’re almost certain to get it wrong — He just doesn’t think the way we do.  So, what do we do when we want to know God’s will?  When we want to know why some dreadful thing is happening to us?  When we have questions about the purpose of our life?

I think we have to go back to a previous blog post I did, “Agree in the Lord, Example #1.”  In that post, I talked about the fact that we can’t read the mind of other people — if we’re upset about something they said or did, the best course is to go and talk to them directly.  The same holds true with God — when I don’t understand or don’t like something that’s going on in my life, I need to go and talk to Him about it.  The most important way to do this is prayer:  pray, pray, pray and then pray some more.  It also means studying His word, because often that is how God speaks to me.  It means attending worship — another opportunity to listen to His word through the readings, sermon and hymns.

Does this mean I’ll always get a quick and clear answer?  Well, no.  It does mean I’ll have a relationship with God.  I’ll come to a better knowledge and understanding of His character.  I’ll mature in wisdom and discernment.  I’ll trust Him, even when I don’t know all the answers.

Have questions?  Go to the primary source;  go to God.

God Moments in Ecclesiastes

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God Moments in Ecclesiastes

As I sit here in the wee hours of the morning, the sun just starting to rise above the tree line, I can’t help but to chuckle and stand in awestruck wonder. I know God has a sense of humor. He shows it to me all the time and right now is one of those moments.

I am not a morning person, far from it by any sense of the phrase and yet I sit here @ 5:45 am writing today’s next blog post in the Ecclesiastes study we have been going through. I have just gotten back from a trip to the E.R. with my 7 month pregnant daughter, Kimberly. (If you have been reading our blog, I talked about her a few posts ago) She has had very severe heartburn with this pregnancy, severe anemia, and started swelling recently so when she woke me up @ 3 in the morning in severe pain, I followed the doctors orders and took her in, worried that she might be developing pre-eclampsia because it runs in my family. As we were running out the door, something told me to grab a book off of my bookshelf and bring it with us.

You see, this was not just any book. It was my second copy of Erma Bombeck’s book Forever Erma. I have two copies of this book for a special reason. The first copy I have was given to me by my mother-in-law, Mary. (Who became my mom when I was 17, when my husband and I started dating a year after my own mother had passed away of cancer) When I went into preterm labor with our younger daughter Kirsten, she had brought the book with her to the hospital and read it to me from my bedside to help take the focus off of the pain and direct it in a positive way. I went into preterm labor a total of 9 times during my third trimester, and each time she would bring the book and read it. We would laugh, we would cry, and she would tell me stories of experiences she had with being a mother, just like the journal entries Erma Bombeck wrote down and recorded for the world to read in this book. Inside the back cover are written all the important phone numbers and notes Mom needed just in case, scribbled in her handwriting. I will never part with this book. It means the world to me, I cherish it. So when I came across a copy at Half Price Books one day for $2, I bought it, for such a time as this.

So, in keeping with tradition, I took it along with us to the hospital tonight and read it to my daughter, to help take her mind off of the pain she was experiencing and turn it into something positive. As I sped up to the emergency room, got her into the nurse’s hands, who just so happened to be outside the door bringing a wheelchair in, I quickly parked the car. As I got out, I paused for a moment and the tears started to flow. I stood there, in the silence of night, and prayed to God that my child and my unborn grandchild would be alright. I quickly wiped away my tears and headed in to join her. As we sat in the labor and delivery room, I read to her. We laughed, she shared her worry, we talked about motherhood, and when the nurse came in and heard me reading to her, she couldn’t help but smile. I was reading Erma’s journal entry from May 12, 1974 (which was written 1 month after I was born). It was titled When God Created Mothers. (If you haven’t read this book I highly recommend it) When Kimberly noticed the smile on the nurse’s face she immediately said, “It’s a tradition in our family.” and I explained why.

As we came home, and I helped get her settled, I told her I loved her, and off to bed she went. I felt the Holy Spirit nudging to me to just stay up and write my blog post now. Because I am not a morning person, I hesitated, but obediently came back to sit down at my computer. (along with a cup of coffee!) As I read the verse I had planned to do for today’s blog post, I started to cry and laugh all at the same time. Ecclesiastes 3:4 says this…

A time to cry and a time to laugh, a time to grieve and a time to dance.

Tonight, God showed me that this verse is certainly true. We can even go through it all in a short time frame, even in the span of a few hours, sitting in hospital room.

God loves you and so do I,

Leslie

 

photo courtesy of umcrp.org

 

Remembering the Wrong Things

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Sometimes we remember the wrong things. The same destructive thoughts go round and round in our heads, driving out God’s peace and presence.  This is not God’s will for us.

When we can’t forget our own sins, and think we have done what can never be forgiven, we are forgetting God’s promise to remove those transgressions from us.  We need to remember His grace.

When we can’t forget the wrongs we have suffered in the past, we are forgetting God’s command to forgive others as He has forgiven us.  We need to remember His mercy.

When we can’t forget that thing we wanted so badly and never got, we are forgetting God’s provision.  We need to remember to give thanks to God for all that we have.

When we can’t forget our failures, we are forgetting God’s omnipotence and His plan.  We need to remember we can trust Him.

When we can’t forget our worries and fears, we are forgetting God’s love.  We need to remember to pour out all our concerns in prayer.

What do you need to stop remembering?

What Stands Out–Jude

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“But you, dear friends, build yourselves up in your most holy faith and pray in the Holy Spirit.  Keep yourselves in God’s love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life.”  Jude 2:20-21

I love it when Michele does one of her study blogs, because it encourages me to go to the same scripture and see what stands out for me.  It’s always great to have a friend to sharpen us in our Christian study.

So, I read Jude over several times (it’s a short book) and the verse above stands out for me.  As Michele said, Jude is cautioning us against false teachers.  This verse gives us what I like to call -YBH –Yes, but how.  It tells us how to avoid falling prey to lies about the faith.

First of all, we must pray in the Holy Spirit.  The Lutheran catechism says the Spirt “calls, gathers, enlightens and sanctifies” us.  That means we can pray for the Spirit to open our minds to the truth, to give us  the wisdom and discernment to rightly divide truth from error.

Then we are told to “keep yourself in God’s love.”  In other words, stay close to God and God’s people.  Avoid what pulls you away from the Scripture and what you have been taught by godly pastors and leaders.  Attend worship and Bible study.  Learn and grow in the proper environment.

As I said, Jude is a short book, but it has a powerful and important message.  Will you read it this week?  What questions does it raise in your mind?  What stands out for you?

 

Interactive Study Blog – Book of Jude

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Okay, so I know it has been some time since I posted a study blog, no excuses from me – just did not set aside time to get it done.

I have chosen to review the Book of Jude. Although it is only one chapter, there is a wealth of information that I feel needs to be covered.

Let us start with a bit of background on the book itself. The book was written by Jude, Jesus’ brother. There is no indication to whom the letter was written, but the contents are as applicable today as they were when it was originally written.

The book seems to focus primarily on false teachings and reckless sinning. I feel this is an extremely important subject today. I see and hear a lot of “Pastors” talking about how God wants us to be happy and successful. This seriously concerns me. In the scripture we are clearly told that we are not to store up treasures on Earth and that all our treasures are in heaven (Matthew 6:19) Now I am paraphrasing this scripture here, but that it was it says. We are not to long for material things on this world but we are to strive for a spiritual fulfillment that only comes from the Word of God. We must also show concern when we are told that we have God’s grace and can sin with immunity. NO we cannot. We are to; again, strive to be better each and every day and to not sin. Now we will always sin, but there are those sins which we do have control over and yet continue to do that concerns me. Now I have to admit, I have those types of sins myself, and cannot seem to stop doing them, but everyday I try and so one day I am certain I will stop.

I guess what I am trying to tell you, is that No one can sin without there being repercussions, either on Earth or in Heaven – we will all be held accountable on judgment day. Also, we must also stand up for the word of God. If you know that the person that is preaching is not using the correct scriptures or using only the parts that suit them – You need to stand up and say something. Do not be afraid of standing up for the word of God, God will smile down upon you for doing so.

We are also called to witness to all, even those we think may not need it – they probably need it the most- our family, whether it be our blood or church, our friends our co-workers. Now I know that it is politically incorrect to spread the Good News in most social settings, but remember that we spread the news not only through words but also in the was we live our lives. So keep that in mind the next time someone makes you angry. You may be the only face of Jesus they see, make sure it is a good one they see.

In closing, when in doubt, ask your Father (god), your Brother (Jesus) and the Holy Spirit for guidance through prayer. They are always listening and ready to give a hand.

God Loves You And So Do I

Michele

What I see.

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When it comes to witnessing, I’m thinking some wise, much-older-than-me person passionately and articulately explaining to those who don’t know, just what Jesus Christ is all about. And almost magically channeling God Himself as a crowd gathers round’ in awe. Over to the side in a dark corner, I watch, and I just know I could never be that guy, (Or girl). But witnessing can be evangelizing in the literal sense of the word. I’m begging to learn that I don’t have to be a savant genius christian that knows everything all the time to share God’s love.

“ . . . for My strength is made perfect in weakness,”

Literally through watching, observing, learning, and growing in faith, then sharing my experiences, and adhering to God’s word in action, I can be evangelizing without knowing it. Not that I don’t mess up. I do. A LOT. Still, I know that the same God that created the universe in six days can certainly use me if that’s what he wishes to do.

Now in full disclosure, I’m an adult who’s led a fairly ‘sheltered’ life and not had it all that hard; relatively. My parents loved and provided for me and my siblings to the best of their ability, and I cannot rightly complain about them.

At the same time, I have seen things that have shaped me as human being. I have heard stories and testimonies of others that, sometime later on, I may share with all of you. Terrible things. And I remind my children (in part because of these experiences) that they need to guard against what they see and hear. Those things cannot be unseen and unheard.

One of the things that I’ve seen I think I need to share now. It’s glued itself to my psyche. Bonded with my soul and vividly shows itself like a brightly preserved image painfully reminding me that this world needs good people and simultaneously echoing the anguish of a child that deserved better.  I see a child staring at his adult authoritative figure, as innocent looking as a Norman Rockwell painting. Yet, he had just caused a huge ruckus on my bus which was now parked on the side of a dirt road.

He had just lashed out violently at anyone unlucky enough to be in his path. Pushing, hitting, kicking his way around. I had managed to keep him away from the others now that I was parked. I didn’t hurt him. I didn’t yell at him. I simply put my body between his and the others. I let him climb over the top of the bus seat a couple of times. I even let him hit me. I told him he could hit me all he wanted, but no one else. (He was small it didn’t hurt.) Soon, the school security guard arrived. Who was quite stern. And then my boss, also stern. And my boss is the taller-than-I female he was guiltily staring at. She told him she’d be taking him off the bus. And then I believe God guided me to inform him of something. “She’s not going to hurt you.” I said.

Here is where yet another image was burned into me leaving a permanent mark. I saw a frustrated, broken child break into tears, and put his small arms around my boss’s neck as if he was simply giving her a hug because he was glad to see her. His face now buried into her shoulder, she carried him off and drove him away.

I drove him to school one more time. This time in a suburban with no other passengers. We spoke as if nothing happened. And something I remember him saying, that I can’t unhear, was that, I wasn’t as angry as his mom. I didn’t understand, so wanting to encourage a relationship I told him that all moms got angry sometimes. After that he was silent. And I’ll never forget his thoughtful little face looking out the window.

I went back to his house one other time. They said he had an appointment so I didn’t get to drive him to school. Then, when asking my boss about picking him up again, I learned that I would not be doing that anymore. His parents were now in jail, and he and his brother were now in his grandmother’s custody. He and his brother were victims of physical abuse. I think about him almost daily. And he is the only student I’ve ever shed a tear for.

Yet here this memory stands, as a witness to me, and now you. And I believe my boss and I gave that boy a glimpse of what it meant to be loved. For a moment in time he saw kindness when my boss carried him like mother would. And he was witness to our patience and gentle examples. I pray that those things are what sticks with him. And even though I can’t tell you his name, I think sharing his story may cause someone else to have just a little more patience with that ‘difficult’ child in their life.

I don’t know how God is planning to use me. And I still say I’m not very good at witnessing in the traditional sense. But I do know I can type a little better than I can speak, and I can share in this way what I’ve seen as I try and set a good example.

How To Be A Christian Witness

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As Joan stated in an earlier blog, I am going to be speaking on Apostolic Action on an upcoming Via De Cristo weekend.  She asked me to post a few of the things I will be saying.  This post will be about how to witness.  I may follow up at a later date with how I witness.

To be effective in apostolic action we need to develop relationships with the people to whom we want to show Christ’s love.

We need to remember to talk to God about your friend before talking to your friend about God.

1. Pray first, last and always John 17:20 “I am praying not for these disciples but also for all who will EVER believe in me through their message” Please realize that the verse is telling us that John is praying for us in our discipleship
2. Make a friend – Show genuine interest in their lives as a whole not just their spiritual well being
3. Be a friend – Proverbs 17:17A “A friend is always loyal” Be accepting and tolerant NOT judgmental Show them the love of Christ by your loyalty
4. Bring your friend to Christ – It is only after prayer, an initial introduction of yourself, and taking the time to be a true friend that will bring to your friend the knowledge of salvation.

Apostolic Action flows from us
When we put Christ as the center of our lives – John 3:30 “He must become greater and greater and I must become less and less”
From our personal encounter with Christ – John 15:16a “You didn’t choose me I chose you. I appointed you to go and produce lasting fruit”
And our encounters with our brothers and sisters – Matthew 5:16 “In the same way let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven”
It is important that we understand that our testimony is not only in the words we speak but also our deeds. “Preach the Gospel at all times, and if necessary use words. This is a quote attributed to St. Francis of Assisi

Is being a witness of Christ easy – NO.  But think about it this way, it wasn’t easy to die on a cross but He did – So we need to face our reservations, concerns, fears, whatever you want to call them and do as commanded by the man who died for us.  It is a very small price to pay for the love He has shown us.  Wouldn’t you say??

 

As always, remember

God Loves You And So Do I

Michele

 

Be Still

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“Be still and know that I am God.” Psalm 46:10

Yesterday I got out a DVD I’ve had for a long time called “Be Still.”  It’s about contemplative prayer and features some well-known Christian authors like Beth Moore, Max Lucado, Richard Foster and Dallas Willard.  A major point in the discussion was that even when we pray we often don’t listen to God because we’re so busy talking to Him. We’ll never know God’s will for our lives if we don’t allow some space for silence, waiting and listening for His voice.

Of course the society we live in doesn’t exactly encourage quietness and rest.  “Multi-tasking” seems to be regarded as a virtue (what happened to focus or concentration on an important job?).  We live with what the DVD called “weapons of mass distraction”–smart phones, computers, ipods, net flicks.  We often don’t pay attention to one another or our surroundings, much less God.  We’re too consumed with our technology, our ability to get the answer we want, or the contact we need instantly.

I’m no better than anyone else at this.  I’m not as technologically connected as some, but I grew up in a family where working hard was expected and the biggest sin was being “lazy” (in other words, doing nothing).  I tend to fill up my days with one chore after another.  Prayer becomes just one of those chores to rush through on my way to the next thing on my list. Keeping my mind from racing is even harder than stopping my body.  I can be quiet, but I can’t be still.

God, however, invites us to rest in His presence, to be attentive to His voice.  How do you do this, ladies and readers?  I want to hear your suggestions.

 

A Prayer of Personal Dedication (Obedience)

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This prayer is from the Via de Cristo Pilgrim’s Guide, so some of you will recognize it.

Lord of my life, I know that my life is not my own.  By your death and resurrection you made me your own.  Help me to live under your direction, always ready to hear the call, “Follow Me;”  always aware of your presence;  always knowing that I have received the gift of your Spirit;  always living so that others may receive your love and mercy through me.

It is not easy to ask for these things, Lord because I know I have much to give up.  I can no longer pretend that my life is my own.  My prayer is my surrender to your care and direction.  I want to follow, Lord, but it is very hard.  I will get very tired.  I will make selfish mistakes.  I will fail time and again.  I will fall.

Show me again that there is love and mercy in your hand.  Use me in spite of my reluctance, doubt and disobedience.  Pour into me your good Spirit, so that I am not afraid to follow and fall and follow again.  Amen

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