Praying for Friends and Family

I have many friends who serve in the medical field and in ministry in one capacity or another.  They have all been on my heart this past week.  I know the last 18 months or so have not been easy for them.  And I know that just saying that these times “have not been easy” does not do proper justice to the burdens, frustrations, and myriad of other challenges which have had to be dealt with and conquered.  As I have been praying for my friends, I have been using the Bible verse from Isaiah 41:10 as a template for my prayer.  I have been inserting names and occupations into the verse.

Do not fear nurses, doctors, EMTs, pastors and chaplains, for the Lord is with you.  Do not be dismayed teachers, coaches, and daycare workers, for He is your God. He will strengthen you and help you; He will uphold you with His righteous right hand.  Isaiah 41:10

I know this prayer has not served to remind the Lord about anyone’s situation that He had forgotten about.  That does not happen; nothing escapes His notice.  But this prayer has served to remind me to pray in a specific way for my friends and family.  And I pray that each of you will have a good and blessed day.

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I spent the past week preparing for a couple of memorial services.  Please pray for the families of these individuals.  In preparation for the services, I looked over some old songs and poems I had written.  Here is one that really speaks to me this week:

The Touch

He’s the King of kings
and the Lord of lords,
He upholds all things
By His word.
He speaks with grace
And He moves with power,
Seek His face
in your darkest hour.
He’ll hold you close
He won’t let you go,
His is the touch
That you need to know.

For those who are hurting this week, I pray that the Lord will ease your pain.  I pray that He will touch you with His hand of healing, mercy and grace.  I pray that you will be strengthened by His presence and comforted by His touch.

Posted in A prayer for Peace, Christianity, Church, Don't give up, Faith during hard times, God Cares for You, God's Peace, God's Strength | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

My First Haiku

The triple degree temperatures in Central Texas have inspired me to write my first haiku:

Summer sun shining
Scorching more than just the lawn
Autumn needs to fall.

 

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Transformed and Renewed

I have lots of favorite Bible verses.  And I even have some favorite Bible chapters.  Romans chapter 12 is one of those chapters.  The chapter begins with an exhortation to believers to dedicate ourselves to God and allow Him to transform our lives and renew our thoughts, and our behaviors.  Throughout the chapter we are reminded that a saving relationship with Christ should impact all of our other relationships.   Grace and goodness, cheerfulness and charity should characterize all of our interactions with others – not just those we serve and not just those we love, but even those with whom we disagree, even those we may consider enemies.  That’s a tall order.  And it will never happen unless you give yourself to Christ and allow Him to transform you and renew your mind.

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Who’s Walking Who?

I saw somebody walking the dog last Saturday morning and the dog was tugging on the leash pulling them down the road.  At first, I couldn’t tell if they were walking the dog or if the dog was walking them.  That dog was straining and pulling on that leash like he was trying to pull a busload of people.  Every so often, the dog’s master would calmly tug on the leash a few times and command him to sit.  I think the master was trying to get the dog to be still, regain his focus and remember that the Master was in charge of the walk.  The master is the one to set the pace, choose the direction and lead the walk.  After a brief rest, the two would begin to walk again.  For a short while it would go well, but then the dog would become distracted by a bird, a cat or an Amazon truck.  The dog would start straining, pulling and tugging on the leash again until his patient Master could get him to sit, be still and regain his focus and remember that the Master was in charge of the walk.  This happened several times before they went the length of the block.

As I watched this unfold, I reflected on the patience the Lord has shown with me on my spiritual walk.  Too often, I get distracted, lose focus and start to tug and pull on the leash.  Instead of staying close to the Master’s side and letting Him guide me, I strain to set the pace, the direction and the duration of the walk.  More often than I care to admit, my patient Master has to remind me to be still, regain my focus and remember that He is in charge of the walk.  And I have found that when I remember those things, when I walk with Him instead of in front of Him, the walk is much more pleasant.

Posted in a good day, Christianity, Church, faith, God will lead you, growing in faith, Psalm 46:10 | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Nice Reminder

I try to practice playing the guitar almost every day.  I even have an inexpensive one I keep at work so that I can squeeze in some practice time during lunch.  Several years ago, my wife Marta left me a note inside the case that says, “I love you.”  She even put a smiley face on it.  I love seeing that note every time I open that guitar case.  That note was written so I would always have a good and sweet reminder of the love she has for me.  When I saw that note the other day, I was also reminded of a Bible verse in John’s gospel.  In John 20:31, the Apostle John writes:

These things have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that by believing that you may have life in His name.  John 20:31

I love that verse.  It reminds me that God’s word was written so that we would know Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, our Savior.  It reminds me of the amazing grace, the mercy and compassion of our Lord.  Every time I open my Bible, I am reminded of God’s love for us.

 

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Jesus Comforts and Confronts Us

Each week I get to lead a Bible study with some young children.  Generally, we take turns reading some scriptures, reading a reflection on those scriptures and then sharing our thoughts on what we have read.  The theme of the lesson the other day was “Jesus Comforts Us.”  We looked at several passages of scripture which described instances of the Lord intervening and comforting various individuals during times of sadness, stress and fear.  The phrase “Jesus comforts us” was repeated multiple times in the reflection to help reinforce that concept.  As one of the youngsters was reading the reflection out loud, he kept reading it wrong.  Instead of saying, “Jesus comforts us” he kept saying, “Jesus confronts us.”  He read, “When we are scared, Jesus confronts us.  When we are sad, Jesus confronts us.  When we are hurt, Jesus confronts us.”  And while confrontation was not the intent of the reflection, I think that kid was on to something.

Jesus does confront us.  No, not in a hostile way, but in a healthy way.  When the disciples were frightened by a terrible storm that they thought would capsize their boat, they frantically woke up Jesus and He rebuked the storm and calmed the wind and the waves.  Then He turned His attention to His disciples and asked them in Luke 8:25, “Where is your faith?”  Later, in a similar situation, Peter who had been invited to walk on the water with Jesus, took his eyes off of Jesus and focused on the storm-tossed waves.  Peter became scared and started to sink.  Peter cried out to the Lord, “Help me!”  Jesus reached out His hand and helped Peter.  Then in Matthew 14:31 Jesus asked Peter, “Oh you of little faith, why did you doubt?”

I am so glad that youngster read the reflection the way he did.  When we are scared, sad or hurt, we can trust the Lord to reach out His hand, help us and comfort us.  We can also expect the Lord to confront us.  He confronts us with the truth that He will never leave us nor forsake us.  He confronts us with the truth that He is trustworthy.  He confronts us with the truth that He always cares about us.  He confronts us so that we may grow in our faith and learn to look to Him sooner and lean on Him longer.  He confronts us so that we learn to trust Him even more.

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Christian Meditation

Someone asked me the other day about meditation and what that might look like for a Christian.  I know that for some people, the concept of meditation brings up images of Eastern mysticism or perhaps chanting over and over while sitting cross-legged on the floor, trying to “empty oneself” and obtain a peaceful state of mind.  Because of those images, many people do not envision meditation as being something a Christian should engage in.  But those images do not accurately reflect the concept of mediation spoken of in the Bible.  The Bible makes several positive references to meditation which give us a picture of what it should be.   Here are just a couple:

Psalm 19:14  May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in Your sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.

Psalm 77:12  I will ponder Your work God and meditate on your mighty deeds.

The meditation spoken of in God’s word is an invitation for Christians not to empty our minds in order to achieve inner peace but rather to fill our minds and our hearts with the things of God so that we can experience His peace.  It is an invitation to contemplate God’s words and reflect on the His desires for our lives.  It is an invitation to “be still and know” that He is God (Psalm 46:10).

My prayer for you is that you would set aside some time this week to meditate on the words of the Lord and fill your heart and your mind with the things of God.  I am confident that time spent in this endeavor will be a time of blessing.

 

Posted in Christianity, Church, Draw close to God, faith, God Speaks Through His Word, God's Peace, Psalm 19:14, Psalm 77:12 | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Get Recharged

I had planned on mowing the yard the other evening but when I went to get the mower out of the garage, I noticed that the battery was not charged.  I have an electric mower and I had forgotten to plug in the battery charger after the last time I mowed.  It takes a couple of hours to get re-charged, so, I plugged it in and did some other chores instead.  The situation reminded me of the importance of recharging our spiritual batteries regularly.  In Romans 15:13 Paul prays for the church to be charged up.  Paul writes:

Roman 15:13 Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

I like that reminder from God’s word.  For us to be who we have been called to be, for us to live like we have been called to live, we have to be charged up with the hope, the joy, the peace and the power of the Lord.  Are you charged up today?  Or is your spiritual battery running low?  If it’s running low, get plugged in and spend some time in God’s word, spend some time in prayer, and sing some songs of praise.  I know that if you do, the Lord will revive and recharge you.

Posted in Christianity, Church, Don't give up, Draw close to God, faith, God's Strength, religion, Romans 15:13 | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Build Upon the Rock

In chapel this week, we looked at a passage from Matthew.  In Matthew 7:24 – 27, Jesus tells a story about two kinds of people.  He speaks of one person who built their house on the sand and another who build his house upon a solid rock.  When a storm came, the house built on the sand could not withstand the wind and the waves.  It was destroyed.  The other house, the one built on the rock, was able to withstand the storm.  When the storm was over that house was still standing.

In our lives, we will face many storms and challenges.  There will be times of trouble and seasons of struggle when it seems like the winds and the waves are relentless.  Storms will come.  Christ promises that if will build our homes, our lives upon His word, then we will be able to endure these times of trouble and seasons of struggle.  Like the person who built his home on a solid foundation, when the storm is over, we will still be standing.

My prayer for you is that this week would be a good week.  I pray that all things will go smoothly and each day would be worry free.  But in the event that storms come, I pray that you would continue to stand firmly on God’s word, knowing that He is with you and that He will bring you through the storm.

Posted in A refuge, a stronghold, Build Upon the Rock, Christianity, Church, Draw close to God, Encouragement, faith, Faith during hard times | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment