A Different Way of Praying

There are a heck of a lot of people in pain, in need, in despair these days. Can I get an amen?

That means a heck of a lot of prayer concerns.

If you’re like me, that can result in almost mantra-like repetition of “Please heal…Please guide…Please provide…Please bring…” The focus ends up being on the concern rather than on the character of the God we are talking to.

Kind of like when you’re in a conversation with someone and realize you’re focused more on what YOU want to say than on them.

So, I’m trying something a little different lately.  I’m picturing holding the person or the situation before the Lord and then meditating on the attributes that He brings to bear on the situation.

What if our prayers focused less on theI hold my brother David before the Lord and picture Jesus healing the blind and lame. I picture His power, creating the seas and stars. I envision His gentle compassion with Mary and Martha.

Come Lord Jesus

I hold my sister-in-law Susan before the Lord and picture Jesus calling the children to come to Him. I see God giving Elijah a snack and a nap when he was exhausted. I remember Him reassuring King David that He was with him in the valley.

Come Lord Jesus.

I think of Abdigani, a new friend and new to Christian faith, and as I pray for his grounding and his family who don’t yet know Jesus, I picture God sending Philip to the Ethiopian eunuch, and Jesus walking alongside the disciples on the road to Emmaus.

Come Lord Jesus.

As she prepares to speak to Young Life kids, I hold my friend Sue before the Lord and picture Him giving the prophets words to speak, picture the power of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, and the courage He gave Peter and Paul.

Come Lord Jesus.

“In this godless world you will continue to experience difficulties. But take heart! I’ve conquered the world.” John 16:33

This is the God who hears our prayers.

What if the focus of our prayer was not on OUR WORDS, but on GOD who listens and answers?

 

All the Bible People You Don’t Like

I’ve been realizing lately there are a LOT of Bible People I don’t like.

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Jacob, for example. He was just a jerk. And Gideon and Saul. I don’t like them. And I’ve never really liked Naomi.

They were SELFISH, and BITTER, and forgot all about GOD after He was always there for them! And they’re in the BIBLE for Pete’s sake!

My Bible reading plan has been MAKING me re-read about all these not-so-nice people who are just so….frustrating. I read and they’re about to do something stupid like worship a false idol or lie or whine and I’m like “No, no! Don’t do it!” but they do it anyway. Go figure.

And then it hits me. These not-so-nice-muck-ups are ME!

Maybe I cringe at the ugliness in others because deep down I recognize it as my own.

One that punched me in the face this week was Saul.

  • In 1 Samuel 13 Saul is told by God to wait, but he gets impatient and takes matters into his own hands. Yep, could be me.  Could be I wrote the book on this one.
  • In 1 Samuel 14 Saul acts and speaks foolishly. Coulda been me.
  • In 1 Samuel 15 Saul doesn’t follow God’s instructions completely, sets up a monument in his own honor, deflects blame and rationalizes when confronted. Yep, been there, done that.

Here are some of the things I’m praying as I read about these Bible hooligans I don’t like:

1. Thank you Lord, that you include the good the bad and the ugly in Your Word. If these stories are in the Bible, my story… our stories could be too.

There is plenty of room for you in my Father’s home. John 14:1

2. Thank you Lord, that you are a God who forgives and redeems and gives me infinity do-overs.

3. As I see these flaws in others, help me to see them in myself, learn from their mistakes and become a better version of myself.

4.  As You have extended grace to these Bible guys and me, help me to extend grace to others.

Who is your least favorite Bible person? Why do you think that is?

 

3 Suggestions to Maintain Sanity in the Summertime

Dear Mamas,

I know you. I’ve been you. It’s May and you are so over school.

You are over science projects that involve late-night trips to Target, and one million school permission slips, and person of the week posters, and lost binders, and room-mother cupcakes to bake, and being the Enforcer of All things Homework.

You’re ready for Summertime when the livin’ is easy. You have dreams of vacation and weekend lemonade stands, popsicles, and your kids happily making forts in the back yard or having a marathon game of Monopoly on a stormy day. There will be barbecues and lake time, sparklers,  hopscotch and baseball games that will just magically happen like at Disney World where no one ever loses a flip flop or  their temper.FullSizeRender-14

Can I offer a few suggestions before Summer is upon us and your dreams come crashing down like the Excalliber Roller Coaster at Valley Fair? Continue reading

Three Questions to Ask When You’re Dinged

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I got this scar when I was 16 years old.  You can barely see it in this picture, but it’s there. Trust me.

I wish it was a scar from a bullet I got moonlighting as a spy (cuz I do have those skills you know), but no, not this time.

I was working on a car wash in a church parking lot to raise money for a high school athletic club I was part of.  There was a metal piece of trim sticking out on the side of the car, and as I swiped, it sliced my finger open leaving a deep cut that required stitches.

This is a scar that (almost) everyone can see. But I have “invisible” ones too.  I know you do too.

That teacher who shamed you. That boyfriend who dumped you. That parent who let you down. The friend who said “You’re too…” or “You’re not enough…” That time you were fired or betrayed or overlooked or compared and found lacking.

They may not be physically visible, but these wounds are deep and long-lasting.

What’s an invisible wound or painful memory you carry with you? Continue reading

5 Reminders For Your Heart

We’ve been in San Francisco over the weekend for Maggie’s graduation with her Masters from Berkley.  This is that time of year – one of graduations and weddings and new ventures and births of every kind. It’s a season of marking moments. Looking back and looking forward. As I was reflecting on this I thought it’s a time when maybe our heart needs reminding of some things.

So, today, a list of 5 Reminders your heart needs as you launch into whatever new things God has for you: Continue reading

It’s Not Your Story

“Then another generation grew up that didn’t know anything of God or the work He had done for Israel.” Judges 2:10

This was part of my reading the other morning, and it reminded me of some statistics I heard in a message by Craig Groeschel.

A Harvard Business Review article says only 10% of family businesses survive to the third generation. The first generation starts the business. The second generation runs the business. The third generation ruins the business.

Unfortunately we see this pattern in Scripture too. Think about Joshua. He leads the people into the Promised Land with great risk and reward. The second generation inherits the Promised Land. They haven’t fought any battles, they’re just preserving what’s been given to them and their worship of God becomes half-hearted. The 3rd generation sees the preservation and half-hearted worship without any risk or vision and they turn away from God.

Judges 21:25 says, In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes.

It’s incredibly difficult to pass anything from the first to the third generation.  What does that say to us who are parents? What does it say to those who are children of faith? Continue reading

Trick Mirrors and Other Spiritual Phenomena

I’ve always told my family and friends I have killer spy skills (as in “good”, not assassin-like).

I like to think I could be the female Jason Bourne.

I love Europe. I love the idea of running and jumping over rooftops. I like driving fast. What more do I need, right?

Well, with these spy skills, I’ve discovered a conspiracy of epic proportions. If you’re a guy reading this, it may not be your post, but if you’re a woman this will probably change your life and you’re welcome.

I’ve discovered that there is a conspiracy among shop owners of stores with women’s clothing. They are all buying TRICK MIRRORS that make you look better than you really are! I know this from first-hand experience.  I shop “virtually” with my daughters and I am not blind or unrealistic. I send pictures to both Katy and Maggie for their approval. Continue reading

The Five Hardest Words You May Ever Say

My phone pings and I look at another text update from my sister-in-law.

My brother David, who is two years younger than me, my brother who is strong and fit, my brother who is faithful and kind and always has a great sense of humor, has cancer. Stage 4.

And day and night we, his home team, in the bleachers and on the bench, pray for healing. For relief from unbearable pain and nausea, for strength and courage.

We are a family of Jesus-followers with a long heritage of belief and a sound-track of “Great is Thy Faithfulness”.  We trust in a giant of a God. We know without a shadow of a doubt that our God is powerful and loving and can heal David with both hands tied behind His back (so to speak).

In the past two years one of our closest friends was healed from Pancreatic cancer. Unheard of. A miracle. Another close friend died of Pancreatic cancer. Both were faithful, both trusted the goodness of God and the power of prayer.

So what do we do with that as we walk with David through this fiery furnace? How do we pray with total faith and hope for the kind of healing we want for David while acknowledging that, for whatever crazy reason, it may not be God’s will to show off?

I think the hardest thing we do is to join Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in being “if not” Christians.  Continue reading

Re-Writing “Mother’s Day”

Mother’s Day is tricky. Can I get an “amen”?!

We all have a mother somewhere, but not every mom is accessible. Not everyone has a relationship with their mom that they feel like celebrating. Not every child is living the life you hoped for them. And not everyone who would like to be a mom IS a mom right now. Someone reading this has lost a child. Another has been adopted.

Mother’s Day is full of land mines, often triggered by the most tentative steps. Sometimes a day meant to be about love is one of longing or loss…of pain, tears, and unmet expectations. I’ve cheered you right up, eh? Continue reading

How to be a Thirst-Quencher

“Come and see a man who knows all about the things I did, who knows me inside and out.” John 4:29 MSG

This was part of my reading this morning.  You know who says this…the loose woman who goes to draw water in the hottest time when no one else is around, so she can avoid the judgmental stares of fellow thirstys. Kind of like a morbidly obese man shopping at the 24 hour grocery store at midnight.

Instead, the woman at the well runs into Jesus who sees her, and knows her and loves her. And the story of her life is forever changed.

The woman looking for water, the morbidly obese man looking for groceries, you, me. We’re all thirsty. Continue reading

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