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Archive for the category “Prayer”

What Does It Mean To Be Saved?

The song that we sing quite often in church goes like this…

What does it mean to be saved?
Is it more than just a prayer to pray?
More than just a way to heaven?
What does it mean to be his?
To be formed in his likeness
Know that we have a purpose

To be the salt and light in the world
To be the salt and light in the world

Chorus:
Let the redeemed of the Lord say so
Let the redeemed of the Lord say so
Let the redeemed of the Lord say so
Say so

This song asks some questions that makes me reflect after the recent trial that I went through.  The very fact that I am in this particular church singing that song is a miracle in itself.  Just before Christmas I got a real health scare.  I had discovered that there was blood where there wasn’t supposed to be blood.  Instead of seeing a doctor right off of the bat I tried home remedies.  I increased my water intake drastically.  Finally when that didn’t work I reluctantly went to a doctor.  I was expecting some kind of antibiotic and I did get that, but with a warning that he was pretty sure that wasn’t the problem.  When I pressed him on what the problem might be he mentioned cancer.  I was recommended to a specialist and put through two different scans. The medical procedures were spaced out in such a way that I had a lot of time to think.

Before the first scan I really felt the need to be prayed for.  Being able to call on my twitter friends helped but I also wanted some hands on prayer.  We have been between churches for a few years now and I didn’t have any group to call.  So I did the desperate act of calling churches.  It was a Saturday and the churches that I called were not answering their phone.  Finally I called one that seemed like a smaller congregation.  The phone started ringing and I said a silent prayer..”Lord, if this is the church that you want to pray for me please have them answer the phone.”

When Jeremy answered the phone saying hello, I thought that I possibly had dialed the wrong number.  I asked if this was the Four Square Church and he said it was.  I told him that I needed prayer and asked if his church would pray for me?  I also asked if they believed in miracles and what their general beliefs were?  He mentioned that they would be happy to pray for me and indeed he did believe in miracles and in fact he had miracles happen in his own life.  They didn’t have a church building I was told.  They were meeting at an elementary school.  The next morning we went to the church, which took place in the elementary schools cafeteria.  Jeremy told me that he would be the one with long dark hair.

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The next morning we arrived early for the 11 am service and there was Jeremy greeting us at the door.  When Jeremy mentioned his long hair on the phone I didn’t expect it to be so long.  His church was not the traditional church that I was accustomed to.  Yet as he talked to us I could feel that his spirit was very sweet and his compassion was right there.  He talked to us as a long lost friend and not the strangers that we were.  He mentioned that we would pray after the service.  The church number wasn’t big by any means, but I felt the spirit there as the singing began.  Jeremy is a musician who has recorded numerous CD’s and there was a wide variety of ages in his congregation but mostly young people 30 and under.  What was impressive was the number of young people that were helping with the music.  Jeremy led with his lead guitar and vocals but there was a piano player and many other guitars.  His father also chimed in with his horn in the back.

Jeremy has a style of sharing his messages quietly but hitting home.  His goal is not to condemn as much as it is to show the way.  He talked about the sower and the seeds that morning and things that keep us from growing spiritually.  After the service he called some of the church including his mother and father to pray for me.  After the prayer he told me what he felt in his heart.  He felt that everything was going to be alright and he quoted a scripture in Psalms 91:16 which states that “With long life I will satisfy him, and show him my salvation.”  I think it was the following week I told Jeremy after the service that I was healed!  As each week followed and through my medical tests I found comfort and fellowship with this new group of believers.

The morning I went for the scan something ironic happened.  Many times on my website I’ll look at the number of views.  I’ve found that the Lord speaks to me by those numbers whether it be the words in a story or the number of total views.  When I checked the number before we left it was sitting at 39.  The Bible specifically reads that by his stripes we are healed.  39 times he was flogged with a whip.  It was another sign to me that everything would be alright and I was feeling the peace of the Holy Spirit telling me the same.

Between Christmas and New years I had the first scan.  The actual scan was easy but the questions that I was asked were kind of scary.  Especially the one that went “Have you ever had cancer before?”  It left no doubt in my mind what they were looking for.  Patiently I waited for results.  The Universities Health Center was closed until after the new year and I didn’t get an answer until that first day.  A doctor filling in for the original doctor called on my lunch hour.  He was very positive when I talked to him.  Right away he said that my scan looked clean.  I debated whether I should go to the specialist they had set an appointment with and he thought I should.  With their equipment they could make sure nothing weird was going on.

I know it is obvious but it’s different when something is happening to you.  It’s easy to pray for someone else but when it is you there is a sense of urgency.  Also I found that I did think about life here without me.  I have always dreaded getting old and medical procedures.  However, I found that backbone that said I would be willing to go through whatever it took to be well.  I also decided that whatever happened I would give God the glory for it was for my good.

The specialist was the next person I had to see two or three weeks later.  These appointments have to be in their schedule so there is plenty of time to think and doubt.  Because of the scan results I was pretty positive everything was OK.  Yet in meeting with the specialist doubt came into play.  The original scan was somewhat discounted because it was done without dye.  The dye actually illuminates any problem that might be there.  The tests with the specialist seemed normal but the next scan and blood work would tell the story.   Once again more waiting and more time.  The day after the dye scan the specialist called.  I wasn’t expecting any results until the next week as we had an appointment scheduled.  The specialist reported that nothing was found and my blood was perfectly normal.  Two months of fearing for the worst was now over.

I met with a young student friend who has a passion for writing.  He liked my writing and wanted to have lunch sometime.  Before this entire ordeal we met and had a good talk.  I saw him right after I was given the good news and he wanted to have lunch again.  I shared this whole story with him in greater details and invited him to visit our church!  He couldn’t that week but promised he would make it the following Sunday.  When that Sunday came I was surprised that when I walked in the door there he was!  Jeremy had a good message that he shared with us and afterwards I introduced my young student friend to him.  I left Jeremy alone with him as they were getting to know each other.  The next day I got an email from Jeremy saying that my young friend had given his heart to Jesus by praying the prayer of salvation.  I thought about this unusual scenario about a young man coming to the Lord and the circumstances that made it happen.  If I didn’t have medical issues I never would have called Jeremy to pray for me.  I never would have been in such great fellowship with the church and it’s people.  I never would have invited my young friend to church.  He wouldn’t have met Jeremy and prayed the prayer of salvation.  Romans 8:28 states that all things work together for the good for those who love him, and are called for his purpose.

So, what does it mean to be saved?  Is it more than just a prayer to pray and more than just a way to heaven?  After my journey the last two months I believe that Heaven is a happy byproduct of our faith, but being saved means so much more.  It means following a path where we walk by faith.  It’s a path that if we hold on to his hand God will lead us where we need to go.  That path is not always comfortable and not always painless but like he states “All things work for our good!”  If I knew beforehand that I would have to go through trials but out of it would come finding  fellowship with believers to worship with and a friend getting saved I would have made that trade off!  The song states “Let the redeemed of the Lord say so!”  Sometimes we say so in words but more often than not we say so in our actions.  We say so in our walk of faith when we don’t know where he is leading but we follow anyway.

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Sweet Surrender For 2016!

This is the time of year when many will set goals.  The list might include losing weight, making investments, getting promoted, eating better and the list goes on.  A close friend asked me about my goals for this year the other day.  “I just want to be closer to God”, I told him.  I want to only write what the Holy Spirit puts on my heart.  I want him to be the motor behind the writing and me just the vessel he works through.  The only way that this can happen is a complete surrender.  I want God to have say in every part of my life.

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If you are like me it’s far easier to sputter the words than to actually put it into practice.  If we are honest with ourselves there are things that we may not have given to God.  We might think that God wouldn’t be interested in this little detail in our lives.  Sometimes we think that God is only interested in the big problems that we have.  That is the big lie the devil uses to keep us from total fellowship with God.  He is interested in every detail of your and my life!

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So what does it mean to surrender to God?  Well the number one thing we have to do is confess any sins that are in our lives and turn away from them.  God cannot have fellowship with you or I if there is sin in the way.  It cuts off the connection to his power.  It’s like cutting the connecting cord of the light from the power switch.  The other thing we need to do is spend quality time in praying and reading the word.  It is something we need to make a part of our lives more than anything.  There is power in the verse “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added onto you” Matthew 6:33.

When we get into that mode of taking quality time to pray God will honor that.  He has sent his Holy Spirit to comfort us and give us wisdom.  Most of all the Holy Spirit wants to fellowship with us and live through us!  Benny Hinn made a parallel in his book “Good Morning Holy Spirit.”  Now I’ve never been on a sailboat but I can still relate to this.  In order for the sails to work to full force there can’t be any holes or tears.  Before sailing those need to be mended.  Now the Holy Spirit is like the wind.  Those mended sails will catch that wind and the boat will move forward!  That is how it is with us and God!  God will move in our lives when we surrender, use quality time to talk to him daily , read his word and think about what he is saying to us in it.

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So what does it mean to surrender?  If someone has a gun on us the common thing to do is to lift our hands.  We are saying that we surrender to the power that they have.  We are also saying that we are not going to fight against that power.  This is a forced surrender.  We really don’t want to surrender but for our own good we do.  This is not how God wants us to surrender.  He wants us to surrender like those sails that are waiting for the wind to direct them and move the boat. For our own good we need to surrender to his power even though God will never force us.  It needs to be a volunteer effort as we see how insignificant we are without him.  When we surrender to him with a clean heart and spend quality time in fellowship great things start happening in our lives!

A former pastor of mine used to conclude his sermons many times with this phrase “Go with God and he will go with you!”  It’s a simple phrase but so true.  I suppose the opposite is true also.  Don’t go with God and he won’t go with you.  Now that doesn’t mean that he doesn’t love us.  The Holy Spirit works both as a comforter to the saved and to convict the lost of their sins.  So when we get into that fellowship he literally goes with us instead of chasing us.

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Now what am I talking about by the phrase “quality time?”  I’m reminded of something from another story where David Wilkerson felt in his spirit to sell his TV and use that time to pray.  He would usually spend a couple of hours a day watching and justified it by staying up on current interests.  Giving the Lord a fleece of having to sell the TV within a half an hour or it wasn’t God’s will the TV sold in 29 minutes!  It was in one of those prayer sessions that he was in instead of watching his TV that Wilkerson saw a picture in Life Magazine.  Now he was praying but every time he opened his eyes that magazine was in view.  Finally he asked the Lord if he was supposed to look at it?  When he opened it he saw 8 desperate Gang led kids who had murdered a crippled boy just for kicks.  Wilkerson’s heart broke and through a series of unusual events he was used by God to start a very successful ministry for the lost teenagers in New York City!  It all started when he surrendered his TV time to God!

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I realize that this is not the usual entertaining story that you usually read on here, but it might be the most important message I have written.  I say that because if you read this or any of the stories and tell me it was good and that is the end of it, the message would have failed.  We see so many things in this world that entertains us.  After awhile we look for everything to have entertainment value.  It’s like a fireworks display.  After the fireworks which were gorgeous we are left with a bunch of ugly smoke.  It won’t be easy (at least at first) but if we will make a commitment to God this year to put him first in everything and spend quality time with him we will not lack anything that we need!  We will feel victory in our lives no matter the circumstances!

The song we sometimes sing “More of you” is technically wrong.  God cannot give us more of him unless we have less of us in there.  The goal is all of him and none of me.  I don’t know what will be created on this website in the year ahead.  Whatever is written I pray that it will stir your heart and life and penetrate deep into your soul.  I pray that you will not be the same because of the messages you read.  I know that I won’t be.  As the Spirit helps me write a story I invariably re-read it and it speaks to me!  I’m the one who gets the most out of the messages and stories that God gives me to share!  I urge you to put God first this new year.  Don’t only say it but spend the time doing it.  Remember that how we spend our precious time that we are given is how we prioritize things.  Remember the verse in Galatians 2:20 that says “I have been crucified with Christ, it is no longer I who live but Christ who lives in me.  And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loves me and gave himself for me.”

You have now read what is on my heart going forward this year.  The choice is now up to you.  Did the message penetrate your heart?  Dear God, I pray that all who read this will take a new look at their lives and surrender all to you!  I thank you for this message and as I sit here with tears in my eyes I realize that you are speaking to me through this!  I pray that my readers will surrender all of their lives to you so that you can use them for your glory throughout the year!

In Jesus’ lovely name

Amen

Surrender

By Lewis Hamilton from the book “The Gardener and My Garden” c1997

It’s not just a one-time thing
or even by the week
It’s more than a daily time
his Spirit I must seek

There’s a battle against the flesh,
no time to drop my guard
Instead of going easier
my battle’s getting hard

A weekly or a daily time
is not enough to win it
I must surrender all the time,
sometimes minute by minute

When decision time is on me
I need an open mind
The Spirit will tell me what to do,
and I’ll do it in God’s time

It’s a choice I have to make,
my spirit I must render,
every minute of every day
to him I must surrender.

 

 

Teach me to do your will,
for you are my God, may
your good Spirit lead me
on level ground.

Psalm 143:10

 

God’s Huddle

You would have thought that Russell Wilson the quarterback of the Seattle Seahawks would have been jumping for joy.  After all his team had just advanced to the Super Bowl with an amazing improbable come from behind win over the Green Bay Packers.  Down 19-7 with 2 minutes and nine seconds left the Seahawks scored a touchdown to make the score 19-14.  Everyone knew that their only hope was an onside kick.  Incredibly the onside kick bounced off of a Packer player and the Seahawks recovered.  Before you knew it another Seattle touchdown made it 20-19 Seattle.  Seattle went for a two point conversion and Russell Wilson was rushed and was running backwards as he tossed the ball way up in the air.  Incredibly a Seattle player jumped up and caught it for the conversion.  Trailing by three points the Packers came rallying back and kicked the game tying field goal forcing overtime.  Wilson who was having a miserable game through the first 57 minutes of play threw a 35 yard touchdown pass that ended the game and left him reacting very unexpectedly.  Tears were rolling down his face during the prayer huddle.

Wilson throwing

After NFL games Christian players get together for a prayer.  It is decided that win or lose the prayer will take place.  The TV cameras grudgingly give us a shortened view.  Both the winning and losing teams are represented.  It is a statement that we have only played a game and we are all winners because of our faith in Jesus Christ!  The huddle symbolizes that there is someone far more important in our lives than football.  Football is our job and we do our best to win the games but we represent someone who is far bigger than any game.  Most of us have seen the prayer huddle after games.  Few realize how the huddle got started.  It was a game where the New York Giants played the San Francisco 49ers in 1990 in San Francisco.  As Brent Jones the 49ers tight end stated “Guys from both teams just wanted to make a statement, it caught fire from there.”  So what is said in one of these meetings after the two teams have pounded each other into the turf for sixty minutes?  “A guy from either team will offer up a prayer of thanksgiving and for getting through the game healthy”, Jones stated.

It’s amazing how often before the interview on national TV starts a player will shun the greatness everyone is willing to place upon him with the statement “I’d like to give all of the glory to my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!”  The late Reggie White nicknamed, The Minister of Defense, took his belief one step further in the 1990’s as he and his defense led the fans in a chorus of Amazing Grace during a TV time out in the NFL championship game at Lambeau Field.  “It was incredible”, stated Pat Richie who was the evangelical chaplain for the 49ers.  “The defense was down there conducting the choir.”  Richie has a picture of the first Candlestick Park prayer huddle hanging in his Alamo office as a reminder that it all got started here.

While we see the games as spectators as fun and exciting, for the players there is a lot of stress involved.  For every player who seemingly is secure in their jobs there are so many that could be cut at any time.  When the thrills of the fast cars, big money, and fast life fade it is human nature to look for some kind of stability.  Many have found stability in Jesus Christ and on every team there are leaders that can steer them in the right direction!

Wilson prayer

Russell Wilson is going in the right direction these days.  Last year his team won the Super Bowl and this year they are back defending their title.  No matter what the outcome of the game look closely.  There will be a lot of distractions around the big game.  There will be funny commercials, a celebrated halftime performance, announcers singing praises, and dancing touchdown moves.  The game will end like all of the past Super Bowls where one team will be glorified and the other disheartened.  For all of the glory and fame that moment brings it slowly fades.  Who won the Super Bowl in 2000?  How about 2010 for that matter?  Unless you are a fan of the team that won you might have trouble remembering who won the Super Bowl two years ago.  Yet there is something that Russell Wilson said as he was about to get interviewed after his victorious touchdown pass.  “God is so good”, he stated through his tears.  There is a growing number of NFL players that feel the same way.  You will notice the prayer huddle after the big game.  The TV camera may glance over it quickly so keep your eyes peeled.  The shine from the big game will pass and the glory fade.  In a quiet circle God’s huddle will take place. Representatives from both teams will hold hands and a solidarity thankful prayer will be made.  Though their uniforms may be different their ultimate victorious team is the same!

Taking a prayer knee

 

 

A Thankful Prayer!

We have so much to be thankful to God for!  The very air that we breath and every heartbeat!  We are all just here on a string because life is so fragile.  Do we really appreciate all that we have?  Do we realize that every day, every hour, every minute and every second is a blessing from God?  God is in control of everything and he is eternal!  How easy it is to take everything we have for granted.  We sometimes live like we are going to live forever in this world.  In reality our lives are like a vapor that is here and gone so quickly.  Do we ever thank God for the sun to warm us?  How about the rain he provides to help our crops grow? We take so much for granted because we assume they will  always be there.  Instead of praising God daily for things that we have we tend to dwell on things that we don’t have.  We have lists we read to God about our desires and things we think will make our lives better.  It’s easy to seek the gift instead of the giver.

In Luke chapter 17 starting with verse 11 Jesus is entering a certain village when ten leprous men who stood at a distance met him.  And they raised their voice and said “Jesus, Master,  have mercy on us.”  And when he saw them he told them “to go show themselves to the priests.”  “And it came about that as they were going they were cleansed.  Now one of them seeing that he was cleansed turned back, glorifying God in a loud voice, and fell down on his face at His feet, giving thanks to him.  This man was a Samaritan.  And Jesus answered and said “were not there ten who were healed?  But the other nine where are they?  But the one who gives thanks is this foreigner?”  It is noteworthy that Jesus commended the foreign man on being thankful.  It is also noteworthy that the other nine did not turn back to give thanks.  Only one that day appreciated not only the gift but more importantly the giver!  Unfortunately that is exactly how it is in our world today.  Too many times we request something from God and when he delivers it we are off to the next request.  I want to be like the thankful man who showed his true heart in being thankful for what God did for him!  How about you?  Are you seeking the blessing or the one who provides blessings to you every day?

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I’m reminded of a story I shared in another post.  It is such a good example and it moved me so much I’d like to share it again.  My former pastor had a daughter.  She was his only child and naturally he loved her dearly.  This daughter would call him often as she was in Georgia while he was serving in Michigan.  “Daddy”, she would say, “Thank you for raising me like you did, I am so thankful for all that you and mom did for me.”  “I am so thankful that both of you showed me how to live and love God not only by your words but by your actions.  I am so thankful that I was your daughter and that you raised me so well!”  When he got off of the phone he would invariably turn to his wife and ask “Is there anything that they need?”  I’m here to tell you that your Heavenly Father is the same way but even more so!  He loves us so much and he appreciates it when we are thankful!

It’s easy to say that we are thankful, but how do we put it into actions and into our prayer life?  Since God has given us so much, how do we always thank him?  I think that it starts with our attitudes.  Are we really thankful?  If we are why do we keep badgering him with prayer requests?  I realize that we do have the right as God’s children to make requests.  However, we need to realize that God knows our needs even before we ask.  We also need to realize that whatever situation we are in has been approved by God.  Satan cannot do anything to us without God’s consent!

One day Jesus’ disciples requested that he teach them to pray.  In Matthew chapter 6 verses 9-13 he taught them this prayer.

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Years ago someone shared a different prayer that made me think about this being thankful theme.  It is important in praying to pray from your heart.  Words are just words unless they come from your heart.  This is not a script but rather an attitude in our prayers!  When we come into prayer with the thankful attitude and it is coming from our heart God is always pleased!  Consider this guideline using your own words and from a thankful perspective to thank God for everything!

Our Father….Dear God I’m so thankful that you are my Heavenly Father!  I thank you that as my Heavenly Father that you love me!  I’m thankful that you watch out for me!  I’m thankful that you only want what is best for me!

Who art in Heaven….Dear God, I am thankful that there is a heaven and that you are there!  I am thankful that a place has been prepared for me and that someday I can live there too!  I am thankful that you look down on me from heaven and that our loved ones who have gone before us are not lost, but in Heaven with you!

Hallowed be thy name….Dear God…I am so thankful that your name is above all names in heaven and earth!  I am so thankful that as the song goes “In the name of Jesus we have the victory!”  I am thankful that as it states in Philippians 2: 9-11 that God has exalted Jesus name above all names and that at the name of Jesus every knee shall bow of those in heaven, on earth, and under the earth.

Thy kingdom come…Dear God…I am so thankful that you have a kingdom that is far greater than these earthly kingdoms and that some day your kingdom will rule!  I am so thankful that you are all powerful and that you love me and that I am part of your kingdom!

Thy will be done…Dear God, I am so thankful that whatever is happening in my life is your will for me.  I am thankful that whatever is happening is occurring to make me better!  I am thankful that whatever is going on in this world is your will and that ultimately we are being purified with fire so that we can be with you!

On Earth as it is in Heaven…Dear God, I am thankful for this earthly home you have given us!  I am thankful that you created the earth and all of the planets.  I am thankful that this earth sustains us by your mercy and that you have given us all that we need to live!  I am glad for your will not only here but in heaven and I trust you that everything works for my good!

Give us this day our daily bread…Dear God, I am so thankful that you sustain us.  Not only do you give us nourishment for our physical bodies but also spiritual nourishment to keep our Spirits growing in you!  Thank you for meeting all of our needs and for knowing what we need even before we ask!  Thank you for your blessings in this life and the life to come!

And forgive us our debts…..Dear God, Thank you for forgiving my sins!  I have sinned greatly against you and only by your forgiveness am I worthy to be in your presence! I am so unworthy of your love and yet you loved me even before I was born!  You gave me the opportunity to accept you into my life and I am thankful.  I am thankful that you forgave a wretch like me!

As we forgive our debtors…Dear God, Thank you for forgiveness and let me be a forgiver too!  Help me to forgive just as you forgave.  You have forgiven me for so much Lord and in my earthly mind I cannot forgive.  Thank you for giving me a heavenly heart where I can also forgive others like you forgave me!

And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil…Dear God, Thank you for your watchful eye on all of us.  Thank you for guiding our path and protecting us like a father protecting his young.  Thank you for delivering us from the evil one who wants to kill and destroy us.  Thank you for your loving hand of protection shielding us from danger!

For thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever and ever…Dear God, I thank you that you are the beginning and the end, the alpha and omega!  You are everlasting and are always near!  I thank you Lord that this earthly life is only temporary, but your kingdom is eternal for ever and ever!

Dear God…I thank you for this thankful prayer that you let me share with my readers!  I pray that you will bless these words in their hearts and that they will learn to be thankful in all things!  I pray that we will take a new thankful attitude in our prayer life!  I’m thankful that you know what is best for us and that you are preparing us for heaven while we are on this earth!

In Jesus name

Amen

 

 

 

Gathering Strength After The Devastation!

It’s been over twelve years now but I can remember the day so vividly.  It was a normal work day but it would soon be very different.  The date was September 11, 2001.  I was at my computer when my boss came in with the news.  Apparently a plane hit one of the world trade center towers.  Although we thought it was a tragedy it never occurred to us that it was on purpose.  We heard that the stock market had taken a sudden dive downward.  A TV was brought into the office and we watched the building burning.  While there was still speculation as to what happened another plane hit the second tower.  Everyone was in shock around me and no more work got done that day.  President Bush made a statement in response to the terrorist attack and everyone was feeling sad and confused.  We were told officially to go home and we all left in a state of shock!  I remember the hollow feeling as I just couldn’t believe this had happened.  That night I remember watching local prayer services of all different religions.  It was as if we had been sent a message and it had stripped our human pride down to it’s bare levels.  It was like OK God you win, we have nothing else to hold on to.  We have been broken down and we desire to draw close to you.

Nine-Eleven

At first security was on high alert.  There was special efforts made to make sure nobody brought anything that could be made into a weapon onto an airplane.  I remember going to a football game the following Saturday when we played the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.  I have never seen anything like what we went through that day.  Ladies were told to empty their purses and anything not approved was kept by security.  Maybe it was an over reaction as hundreds of games were played before on that field without such measures.  Then again maybe it was viewed as a different world than what it ever was before.  I suppose the price of our freedom at that point was in fact making sure that we were not the enemy.  I am amazed that although 9/11 is a part of all that lived through those days, we have learned to move on.  We were stunned, but didn’t stay that way.  We went into action to fight terrorism.  We were hurt but not knocked out.  We were down but not out as we proved how resilient we really are!

It’s hard to measure shock but I believe that shock comes to individuals every day.  The fact that everyone isn’t effected like that September 11th day makes individual shocks fly under the radar.  Yet they are just as real as that airplane crashing into the tower.  Recently a member of my family got a bad diagnosis from the doctor.  That kind of diagnosis is just like the shock of 9/11 because it is impacting their life in such a devastating way.  Most of us are not seeing this proverbial destructive plane but it’s impact is hitting a life just the same.  Those close to our loved one are just as concerned as relatives of the 9/11 missing were.

I have a friend who used to work in my building.  After she got a different job we would still sometimes talk on face book.  I was shocked when I read a post she made stating that it was day 3 in the hospital and that her doctors were fantastic.  I asked her to write and tell me what was wrong but I heard nothing.  A couple of weeks later I found out from her sister that she was in dire straights.  Her liver wasn’t working and the doctors were frantically trying to find out why.  In the next day or two the news kept getting worse. I found out that she was not responsive for three days.  Then on a Friday it got worse if that were possible.  She was put on life support and we were praying for a miracle.  I was in contact with her sister but I prayed I wouldn’t hear anything else.  I figured that no news was good news.  Out of the total darkness a little light came in the form of a post on face book by her sister.  It said that she is being flown to a different hospital and she gave the name.  All of the sudden from total darkness a little light was shining.  If they didn’t think there was hope why would they fly her somewhere else?  It was like a candle in the darkness but it was there!  Our spirits picked up and a work  friend said words that sounded like a prophet.  In fact I believe that it was a prophesy.  You see my sick friend wants to write a book someday of her experiences.  She has had many that would glorify God not including this one.  Well my work friend stated out of the blue “she is going to live and write that book!”  The words were so powerful at that particular moment that the candle of faith seemed to glow a little brighter!

In the days after 9/11 I remember our country seemed completely together.  Usually we hear arguments on policies and decision making and all of that.  In those days following 9/11 it felt like we were all on the same team!  I guess it is like the idea that I may talk bad about our country much like a brother might get annoyed with his sibling, but it is fighting words if an outsider pushes him around.

Flag

In thinking about 9/11 and the days that followed.  I believe there are steps that we as a country took that helped us heal.  The first step was  total shock as the event happened.  There was a time of sorrow as the news got worse.  It was like getting stunned by a punch to the gut and wondering if we would ever breath again? As time passed we realized that the world did not end.  We  are still breathing and we clung to any inspiration we heard.  One of the ones that has helped me in devastating times is “If it don’t kill you it will make you better!”

Once the shock has lessened the second step comes into play.  The second step is to take the first step of action that will help you recover from the devastation.  For example if you are diagnosed with a terrible disease at first you are shocked and stunned.  After awhile the human spirit takes over.  OK so it is what it is, now what can be done?   That is the survival spirit that God puts into us!  I have a picture in my mind of a basketball player going up for a rebound and claiming it before he gets bumped a couple of times and loses his balance.  He doesn’t fall but he clearly isn’t in a position to go up with his shot.  However what usually happens is he takes some time and rights himself, regains his footing, gets his bearings, and plans his attack.  At the precise given moment with his feet now solidly planted he pushes back up with a strong jump and puts the ball in the basket!

My friend in the hospital still has up and down days but is slowly recovering!  They have moved her from Intensive Care to a regular room!  My beloved family member will get her consultation with a doctor soon.  Prayers have been made and will continue!  The dark room of not knowing will be replaced by a little light.  That light is the hope that we have and the faith that we need.  At the moment she has been stunned and shaken.  In time with Gods help she will gain her balance, get her feet together and go up strong with her eyes on the light of faith that is within her!

Listen To Your Special Friend

We all have had a special friend that calls quite often.  If they don’t call we think something is wrong so we call them.  When we first met this person and they called they probably identified who they were.  After awhile it wasn’t necessary as we  immediately recognized their voice.  As time went on and we found out more and more about this special friend it became easier to talk to them.  We recognized when they were troubled or happy just by their voice tone.  We started feeling that this special friend has so much in common with us.  The conversations were fun as we started sharing our interests with each other.  We laughed at things we both understood and got to the point where we shared in each others sorrows too.

How would we feel if this special friend called us with the same words and the same dry tone?  How would we feel if this special friend told us everything they wanted us to do and then hung up on us before we could even talk?  We would wonder what has happened to our special friend?  We might think they are sick or something is very wrong.  We would wonder why our special friend is calling us  out of ritual and obligation instead of enjoyment?

So what if you are this special friend to God?  Has your conversation hit dry spots where it has become ritualistic.  Is your conversation with God a one way street?  Do you take the time to listen for his voice?  You may ask “How can I know when he is talking to me?”  Well just as you know that  special friends voice who calls you on the phone you can learn Gods voice too!  You may not hear it audibly but you will hear it within your spirit.  You will know it is his voice because it will always lead you to righteousness.  Become a listener in your prayers.  Instead of coming to God with all of these requests and all of the one way conversation that is traditional, take the time to be quiet before the Lord.  Let him speak to you and listen to his voice.  When you hear his voice act upon what he is telling you.  You may wonder if it is just you or God?  Ask yourself, is the idea helping to promote the spread of the Gospel in some way?  If so it must be from God!  It certainly isn’t from the devil.

Many of the poems that you have read happened in just such a way!  God gave me an idea and I wrote it down.  The words came because I was in tune with the spirit and I was willing to write down what he was telling me!  So many times I cried after the poem was written.  I cried because I knew that it was far better than I could ever write.

You may not realize this but there were 40 individuals who authored the Bible.  As we all know it is very hard to get 3 or 4 people to agree on anything.  How then can 40 people be in complete unity?  Well there may have been 40 authors, but there was only one spirit that was leading them.  The spirit led each one in a special way to write what would supplement and not contradict all of the other writers!  When you put it in that light it is truly a miraculous feat!  If we have been born again that same spirit lives in us!  It is the spirit of unity within Christianity!  You and I have a special part within the whole!  There is something God wants us to do to promote the Gospel while we are here!  Develop that friendship with your God and step out in faith as the spirit leads you! Take the time to listen to his voice.  It may seem odd at first because you may not have been trained in that way.  Someone once said we were given two ears and one mouth because we are supposed to listen twice as much as we talk.  We usually laugh at that notion but in our conversation with God I think the statement is true!

Shopping Cart Christianity

The stores know what they are doing.  As I walk in I’m trained to look for a cart.  Yes, the shopping cart which will make my experience so much easier.  We are sold on the convenience.  It is so much easier to use a cart than carry the groceries ourselves.  The reasoning makes perfect sense for the customer right?  It also makes perfect sense for the marketing of products.  It has been proven over and over how much more people buy because they have a cart.  You may go in with just a few things on your list, but if they can get you to push a cart extra things end up in it!  For our convenience they make the cart nice and big too.  They wouldn’t want us running out of room in our cart.  They think of us by putting a rack down by the wheels.  So convenient when we need an extra place for the pop or the beer.  The cart also has a kids seat.  How handy is that when you have a kid along?

The extra customer

The extra customer

You hear it all of the time in the store.  It’s the voices of kids who may be riding in that little seat.  The stores know what they are doing.  By having that seat in the cart they have made a convenient way to add another customer.  Although this customer usually doesn’t have any money,  they are a big influence on extra things that get into that cart!

I’m walking through the store and I hear a familiar voice.  It’s the voice of a kid and the words are pretty much the same.  “Mom, mom”…sometimes the mom ignores them knowing from past experience what is going on.  Other times the parent is patient..”no honey, we don’t want that today”.  Other times there is a little anger “put that back now”!  It is usually the same story.  The kid has grabbed something going by or they are trying to reach it.  If they can’t reach the item they start in with the “Mommy”.  Sometimes the parents give in which is the marketers delight!  Often there is a reaction to the no answer.  That is when the tears start coming and the loud crying that echos throughout the store.  Sometimes the parents discipline their children right in the store which leads to really loud crying.

One of the favorite things that kids want is candy!  They must remember that great sweet taste from the past and hey, there it is again!  Suddenly it is in the cart until it is discovered.  Sometimes it may be a toy or any other object that catches their eye.  Smart parents know when to say no.  We have been around long enough to know what is good for them!

We could go in the opposite direction.  “Sure honey, take all of the candy you want”!  “Let me help you put it in the cart”.  When they get older we can say “stay out as late as you want, it’s okay with me”!  “Sure, you can do drugs, no problem”, “make sure you have a gun with you”.  “I won’t be around for hours when you get home, so do whatever you want”.  “Whatever you want you can have”.  You tell me, which parent loves their kids more?  Is it the one that gives them all that they want and doesn’t care what they do?

I’m sure that if you are a responsible loving parent you can see my points.  You may even wonder why I am bringing up such obvious things.  Yet, there are so many of us that beg God for things and wonder why he doesn’t give them to us.  James 4:3 says “When you ask, you do not receive because you ask with the wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your own pleasures.  Kind of sounds like that kid in the grocery store doesn’t it?

Is there someone in your life who comes around only when they need something?  Hello, Joe How are you?  It has been a long time!  What’s new?  “I was hoping you could help me out”, Joe begins.  Oh no, what now?, you think.  As Joe continues about the mess he is in and invariably asks you for money or some other favor it gets annoying.  You start thinking, this guy only wants to use me and doesn’t care about me at all, except when he needs something.

lottery-prayer

Sometimes we get into this lottery like prayer.  Lord bless me with this or that.  We need to realize that living every day is a blessing!  Do you have a roof over your head?  Do you have enough food and clothing?  I’m sure that God looks down and says like a father to his kid “No, you don’t need that today”.  Matthew Chapter 6 verse 33 states “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all of these things will be given to you as well.”

My former pastor had a beautiful story that illustrated how God thinks.  He had a daughter and she would call him.  “Daddy”, she would say, “I just called to tell you how much I love you”.  “I want you to know that I am so blessed to have you and mom for parents. I am so thankful that you have always looked out for what was best for me!  I am so blessed”.  When he got off of the phone, he would  invariably ask his wife, “Is there anything that she needs?” I can assure you that your heavenly father feels the same way.  When you come to him and tell him how much  you love him and mean it there is not a good thing he wouldn’t  give you.  He looks at the heart and the motives.  He knows when you are sincere.

So my question to you today is Who is God to you?  Is he that father in the sky who you expect to give you whatever you want?  Or is he the loving father who says no sometimes because he knows what is good for you?  Are you someone who only comes around when you need something? Or do you make it a point to enter his presence just to say I love you?

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