Friday, October 29, 2010

Heaven-isms


Heaven.  It's a hot topic you know.  It's especially a hot topic around my house these days.  Baby A has been a deep thinker lately.  

She has been asking me a lot of when, where, why questions in relation to Heaven and God.  As we were driving to my mom's the other night she said:
"Hey mom, when Jesus brings the new Heaven down to the New Earth he's going to bring people with him.  I think Aunt G's dog Abbey, your rabbit Jack (yes I did have a rabbit in elementary school that died tragically the night before our garage sale from some kind of virus- he threw up all night. I cried), and Pops daddy will all come back with Jesus to the new Earth."  Then, she went into a 10 minute explanation of how "dog's go to the dog heaven and people go to the people heaven."  I guess all dogs really do go to heaven.
Baby C is a lip licker.  

We have been using every method of coercive speech in the book to persuade him to "Quit licking his lips."  He has the chapped ring around the mouth that you often see kids with who can't seem to quit licking them.  We've tried chap stick - he just thinks that tastes good and subsequently licks it off.  Baby C prayed:  
"Dear God thank you for making Grandmother healed in the hospital and thank you that you healed mommy's belly so she got a new one, and please just touch my chapped lips so that they don't burn my mouth anymore and I can stop licking them. Amen."  Needless to say, the ring around his lips was gone the next morning.  I said, "Hey! You're lips aren't chapped anymore!"  He jumped high in the air and said "Yippee!  God just touched 'em!" Today, we almost had a wreck driving to Wal-Mart for dog food.  Baby C said, "Whew! That scared me!  I guess God just touched our car so we didn't have to crash and go to heaven."
Baby B has been quietly, yet intently, listening to all the Heaven chatter around the house.  

He asked me the other night "how we get to go to Heaven."  So, I explained.  He and Baby C prayed their 4 year old version of the sinners prayer with me.  I know it's not the last time they will pray that, since they are still a bit young, but it's definitely a seed planted.  Tonight, we were saying our thank you prayers, when they decided to tell me a story.  C told me some jumbled cross between Jonah and the Whale and the Veggie Tale version with Pirates, singing, and spaghetti. :)  B told me some jumbled cross that ended with the question of the night: 
"Hey!  When we get to go to heaven is there gonna be a Quiznos there?"  

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Walls of Water

This post has everything to do with water. 

It has everything to do with preparedness.  

It has nothing to do with fly-fishing. 

Sorry to disappoint.  
Today I was saddened to hear all the reports from Indonesia concerning the earthquake, volcano eruption, and tsunami that have pounded them over the last 48 hours.  A triple tragedy. The death toll was nearly 300 last time I checked with hundred's more missing.  
My heart hurts for those people tonight.  

Tragedy is a hard pill to swallow and in my opinion can be one of the biggest obstacles to our prayer lives.  When we experience personal heartache, it is human nature to question God's involvement.  Consequently, my inability to understand a situation can cause me to pray without boldness.  Sometimes, it's like I start to ask God to intervene in a situation and the devil reminds me of my disappointment.  
I take the bait.
I think that God can take our questions. He made us. He knows us better than we know ourselves. Last post, I shared about my desire to be more "effective" in my prayer life.  I don't think any of us want our prayer requests to return void. 
 
At Bible study, on Monday, we talked about praying in "clauses." I read a devotional by Lysa Terkeurst the other day on this topic.  I could very much relate.  Do you pray like that ever?  "Dear God please heal so-and-so, but if not, then please just...XYZ."  I thought long and hard about her devotional.  It's like I need to soften the blow for myself, by giving God an out.  If God chooses to answer me in a different way than I want Him to, well, I'm already expecting the disappointment.  Do you do that or is it just me?  I realized that personal heartache and tragedy can derail a BOLD request.  The truth is, I don't understand some things in life.  It's hard to watch people in pain. It's hard to be the one suffering as well.   
 I shared Monday night at our bible study about a dream I had had last week.  Don't ask me why, but in the dream I was in North Carolina.  Apparently I was enjoying a nice vacation at the beach.  I was standing on the porch gazing out over the water. 
 The waves were crashing, teenagers were surfing, and children were building sandcastles along the water's edge.  I watched the tide come in and suddenly it was sucked back far into the ocean.  My heart dropped into my stomach.  As I realized what was happening, a tsunami, I saw a 10-15 foot wave racing toward myself and others on the beach.  I barely reached the second floor of the house when the first wave hit.  It pummeled the house and rattled the beams of the frame house.  I held on and prayed that the wave would not be strong enough to carry the house away with it and subsequently me.  Relief filled my heart as I realized I had escaped without harm.  However, when I looked out the second story window, I watched the water recede again far into the distance.  The unthinkable happened.  It was a second wave.  

Unlike the first, this wave towered over the height of my vacation home.  I froze. Fear surged through my body as I stood awestruck by the ominous wave.  As the wave approached, it grew taller.  There was no way that I could escape this time.  Before the wave completely engulfed me, I looked up to the sky and said, 
"Well, God, I guess my time is through.  Jesus take me home."  
The truth is that we all have a proverbial wall of water headed for us at some point in our lives.  Those walls can be in the form of cancer, humiliation, death, divorce, or financial hardship.  We live in the devil's domain.  When the wave hits, there are only two things that really matter.  Have you given your life to Jesus?  This affects your eternity. How much time have you spent getting to know Him through His word and prayer?  This affects your ability to combat your wall of water, to deal with the aftermath. 

"...Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are Mine! When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they will not overflow you."  
Isaiah 43: 1,2


Monday, October 18, 2010

Hello? Is anyone there?



This post has nothing to do with water.  Or rocks.  Or feet.  Or fly-fishing for that matter.  You know what I absolutely cannot quit thinking about lately?  
-Effective prayer-


I use the word "effective" because James tells us that "the effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much."  
I cannot get off this scripture. 
 The Bible says in Romans 3:22 that "righteousness from God comes through 
faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe."  
So, we then can know how to take care of 
the "righteous" part in James 5:16 - give our lives to Christ. 
 So, once we are right with God, how then do we become "effective" 
prayer warriors? 
 Obviously, anytime I stop to pray, I want God to hear me.  I want Him to know my heart. To hear my cry.  To heal.  So, the question that has been swirling through my brain for about 8 months now is "Why are some people's prayers more effective than others?"  
Why do some of my prayers seem to hit an invisible ceiling?  Whereas, other times, it seems that the heavens literally part and the answer floats down miraculously, quickly, and sometimes just in the nick of time.  Then, James goes on to talk about Elijah.  He makes it perfectly clear that "Elijah was a man with a nature like ours..."  I read that first line and think - "Okay James - you want me to know that Elijah was nothing special. Elijah was human, sinful, and with the same nature as you and I. "...and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain; and it did not rain on Earth for 3 years and 6 months.  And he prayed again, and the sky poured rain, and the earth produced its fruit."
Wow.  I stand in awe of that story. 

  It is obvious that through Elijah, God showed his power and judgement to the prophets of Baal.  Elijah was bold.  His prayers were effective.  Yet, Elijah had a relationship with God first and foremost. Because of this relationship, there was a Holy God on the receiving end of his prayers.  Elijah believed in God.  He was obedient and willing to be used by God.  We just began a study at church called "Lord Teach Me to Pray" by Kay Arthur.  I don't know all the answers.  I often wrestle with questions about hearing God's voice, praying God's will, and work to understand God's involvement in my circumstances.  What I do know is that if the effectiveness of my prayers ever DOES depend on what I am doing or not doing, then I want to be confident that I can apply the truth of God's word to my prayer life.  I want to know how to take care of business in intercession for my family, friends, and circumstances.
I'll be hashing out these questions/answers on my blog for the next few weeks.  
Yet, I believe this is a good place to begin:

What are you praying for today?  The first thing we must do in order for our prayers to be "effective" is to give our lives to Christ.  It says there is "no way to the Father except through Christ Jesus" in John 14:6. Jesus bridges the gap.  He stands in the gap between heaven and hell, and it is through Him that we can communicate with the Father.  Lots of people pray, but is the God of the universe on the receiving end of your prayer?  If you have not accepted Christ consider this today.  

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Chasing balls and dreams

It's soccer season. While the boys learn the rules of soccer, the do's and don'ts of the field, and chase balls from one end to the other, baby A and I cheer them on from the sidelines.  Soccer is a new one for me.  I grew up playing just about every sport except soccer.  I'll be honest.  Soccer practice is two times a week plus a Saturday game.  It seems like everything goes wrong on soccer days.  There are never enough seconds in a minute or minutes in an hour.  I literally stay in a sprint all day.
Get up. 
Cook breakfast.
Go to work.
Work for 4 hours.
Cook lunch at office.
Eat.
Run home.
Pick up kids for school.
Sprint back to work.
Work for 2.5 hours.
 Pick up kids from school.
Drop them back off to the babysitter.
Change out of work clothes.
Change into work-out clothes.
Go to track to walk.
Run from track back home.
Pick up kids for soccer.
Drive to soccer still sweating from the walk.
Wait. Sit. Watch. Wait. Rest.
whew!


Ecclesiastes 3:1 says "There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven."
I don't love waiting.  Soccer practice is just about the only time in life that I can say I enjoy the cold concrete beneath me.  I love to watch my boys laughing, kicking, and moving the ball up and down the field.  It's fun to watch them grow and learn.  
In life, however, I don't like sitting on the bench.  Yet, bench-warming is sometimes necessary.  I am in a "waiting season."  Did I mention that I don't like waiting?  I like end results, but that is the fleshly, run ahead of God side of me.  Sometimes it is God Himself that demands we sit out for a season.  He sends me us to the bench, for reflection and growth.  Sometimes, when we are in the game, it's hard to listen to the coach from the field.  When I played basketball in high school, I never wanted to come out of the game.  I got comfortable playing 4 full quarters.  I usually came out once a half.  There were usually two reasons that the coach would sit me down. 1) Rest or 2) Instruction.  I could catch my breath on the bench.  Grab some water.  Re-group.  Most importantly, I could sit down next to the coach for instruction.  Despite the fact that I disliked being pulled out of the game; bench-warming is necessary in certain seasons of life.  
My boys are on the field.  I am on the bench.  Just remember, what you learn from the bench might very well determine how effective you are in the game.  For now you can find me sitting on cold concrete, learning and growing according to the One who wills and acts according to His own good purposes. So, here's to chasing balls and dreams from the bench