Tag Archives: prayer

Prayer Warrior

Water of the WordSomething I’m not. But I’m always drawn to it, despite my recalcitrance. 

Here are some resources I’ve found very helpful. They are by Andrew Case, a musician who really does good things. Here is his website: His Magnificence

The .pdf documents below are books for husbands, wives and parents, respectively.

They are primarily scriptural. Meaning they are right out of God’s Word, crafted into prayers.

water-of-the-word-2nd

prayers-of-an-excellent-wife

setting-their-hope-in-god

 


Home Again – Not Enough Showers to Get Off All the Dirt

Three months seemed more like six or more. But it ended. Gotta say it was far more than I expected, and quite different from the last time I got underway with a ship. I’ve never been to sea with so many people on such a big vessel. Frankly, I don’t think I could’ve predicted the different dynamics. And they were certainly different. I spent most of the time doing everything but the usual things in my job description. Which should illuminate how the whole thing works. The job description is more like a guideline from Pirates of the Caribbean.

Something broke – in me, not the ship – on this trip. I’m still unable to pin down just what goes on. Maybe it’s an early mid-life thingy or just the entirely new environment after several years of being on land. At least those might contribute.

The barrage of humanity – close, heavy, overwhelming and incessant was quick to become a problem. My last experience on a ship did not include the perspective I have of life, the universe and everything that I have now. And I took much of the sailorese, tradition and general dirt of people rather hard. It is difficult like nothing else I can think of to maintain peace and patience in the midst of the world when the world is condensed into a couple of thousand people living in a giant shoe-box on the sea.

To really explain all this out is more than I can put into a single post. That is why several of the previous entries are more poetic attempts to capture some of what I was feeling at the time.

Suffice to say, it was a shock nearly every day to hear the crassness, the dark thoughts and misery of regular people again after so long. I’ve been sheltered for a long time. I don’t like it, but I got the point rather late that there really is a real world and I’m part of it. I got my sailorese – the cussin’ and foulness back fairly quickly and then spent the duration fighting against it.

I lost a lot of faith, in a way, but I gained some insight into the mechanics of The Faith as well. There is something to be said about ivory tower Christianity, but in all, the isolation from Real World may be more of a loss. Though I find it distasteful or distressing (depending on the particulars), I think it’s better to be “in the mix” rather than in a monastery. We forget the complexity of depravity and corruption (our own!)  when we stay in our houses, our little support circles and home-schools. Apart doesn’t mean out-of, though every time I’ve been in there, I’ve wanted to run. A few times should have seen me running but I didn’t, and I hate that.

I also learned that to compare me to those great trials in the Scriptures (or anywhere else), in light of this common world is a difficult and often not-so-profitable exercise. Yes, my difficulties may well pale in comparison to those of the greats – David and Joseph, Paul and Christ – but I am not them – just a shadow of their massive weights on our lives. They set a standard for righteousness and suffering all at once, but I think we forget that they are (especially Jesus) more than we are. They are first things, the Formers and the Designers – hand-picked by God Almighty for essential elements of His plan of redemption and we are not co-actors on that level. We are recipients of their gifts of suffering, goodness, faith and all that entails.

Though I take up my cross daily, in emulation of Christ, I do not take up His Cross. That one I cannot take up; only He could. So I am not safely comparable to Him in my own trials. I am small and weak (made manifestly obvious during the last three months), and need Him for my support. I cannot endure what the greats endured for I am not in that select crew. I am not downplaying the Christian position; rather I am thinking that we over-rate our individual status in suffering and trials in some way that makes us equal to the task.

And we’re not. At least I’m not.

To accept this (provided I’m thinking rightly) may be a key to a right standing before the benevolent Father and His interceding Son. Broken and needy is far greater than safely cushioned in a fall. Fall far enough, fast enough and no amount of pious cushion can save. The impact reveals the lie.

Crying out to the Father-Son-Spirit for help sometimes ends up best when I don’t feel safe. Pleading for my life may end best with that uncertainty that comes from a desolate echo in my heart, reminding me that there’s still more to bear, more to fear, more trudging and sweating and groaning.

Remind me, o Spirit,
of my smallness, my weak estate.
for I depend, every second
on thy provision to make
my breath upon my lips
my gaze upon God’s grace
my feet fast on the earth
my trust truly trusting
And not upon my own work
Which fails as it stands.

The claim is that religion is a crutch. That may be fairly accurate from time to time.
Sometime the claim falls sorely short. The Faith is sometimes a gurney.
With an IV, straps, blankets and a half-dozen people trucking along with gauze, pain-killers, sutures and other bloody tools making slow headway in just keeping the patient alive during the trip.


Today Tis Not Enough

I cannot see
How you find joy in me
With my ceaseless perils
And hiding and dying

I cannot lift me
I cannot reach your security
There is no path
To the seas of glass

Though I weep
Tears in this deep
Deep soul and cry to you
Today tis not enough

Nor any day
These days
And no enemy
Oppresses me

No enemy here
Upon which my eye may rest
Simply endless fear
And ponderous darkness

You might think
Satisfaction finds
Itself in looking back
To days more fine

That I might take heart
In all that you are
Father, Giver, Son
And all that you have done

But it rests not in me
I cannot see
My mind swallows me
In cloud and perilous black

I have read your psalms and the sweet refrains mind me of summer-land. Though I return to the shadows, trembling afresh at the weight upon me, I have read your psalms. I have believed and you have marked this humble thing of a man. I remain, crying out to you, and you have answered. The Lord has answered my cries and he has dealt mercifully with me. I only await the burden of his lovingkindness. One day there shall be no more tears.


Wednesday Prayer

Prayed tonight on Psalm 2, Acts 4:23-31, Psalm 50:23 and 1 Corinthians 10:31.

Prayed for our missionaries, our local churches, our country, pastor, elders and congregation.

Prayed for our children and for loved ones who do not know Christ.

Prayed for God’s direction in our paths of service and for His grace in wisdom and trust in Him.

Thanked the Lord for His great blessings, for His covenant and His many means of grace.

Thanked Him for our faithful preachers and the Truth they boldly proclaim to us.

Thanked Him for our baptism and His table and all that they mean.

Prayed much for many things and it was good. A quiet hour of grace.

It was a good first night with Christopher in prayer.


Moratorium on Harshness

I see a bitter thread in me. A shadow that puts a dimness on my need to be gracious. I am to be a bringer of peace and brother-love to those with whom I am in Christ. My lifelong tendency toward sarcasm and snide remarks keeps trying to rear up again and again.

And I have seen this in others too, which serves strangely enough not to encourage my own rough handling of those with whom I have differences, rather to frighten me and humble me into remorse for my own instances.

The viciousness between Dispensational and Covenantal folks makes me hurt. I pray that this is the Lord softening my heart and that I’m experiencing a true sense of Christian charity and love for brothers in Him.

No joke, I was praying this morning — more like the Spirit was groaning with mine, since I couldn’t come up with much more than “Give me grace to be wise and faithful to Your Word.” My prayer is out of a sense of need as I deal with my convictions about Covenant Theology and the arguments that Dispensationalists present. I’m studying both from as fair a middle-ground as I can manage, not focusing too much (as I can manage) on any one aspect, be it church, eschatology. And today, more than usual, the general fisticuffs appear to be magnified.

Now, I’m all for being direct and calling a spade a spade. I’m willing to, God willing, stand up for correct theology and doctrine. I hope that I’m a willing teacher and able to reprove someone who sins in my presence should it be called for. But when the great heads in this day, top theologians from both CT and DT camps can conference in peace and brotherly love, but the meta below shows a beast in the back room… That’s what’s been brewing on the Intertubes for a few weeks now.

So I pray again for wisdom and charity. Especially for patience to see the end of a fight and be of few words save those that will build up my comrades in the faith and encourage others to do the same. I hope this blog succeeds in the same.


The Hardest Part

The world is filled with darkness and pain. Like the ringing of a great bell in a close space even a beautiful tone causes pain and disorients. The hurt and emptiness claws at us, dragging us down the rooftops to the brink of night, right to the chasm that awaits with its angry maw, silent yet seething with malice.

And the world is liberally peppered with joy. Green and golden days filled with the whispers of voices that reverberate in our memories long after the conversation and the moment depart. Candles and balloons, symphonies and mad embraces that are sometimes desperate clinging or sometimes needful things that halt our very breath.

Both the evil and the blessed are deadly, for they seek to entrap us in themselves, to entrap us in ourselves and we are most often willing captives, as if every one of us suffers from Stockholm syndrome every moment of our lives.

We seek to balance the misery, or overcome it by seeking and acquiring the joy, but cannot overindulge so we season all with bittersweet roots and brambles, hoping to make kinder the pain and avoid the illusion of bliss.

There is a way, to see this whole mess, out of the maze. It is simply to read the pages of our lives in the categories of God’s benevolence and provision and His judgment and warning. He is ringing the bell and conducting the symphony. When we seek the joy that is not illusive, not limited to our short lifespans, we find the lasting rest and peace that upholds us through the pain and despair. We realize that we cannot sort the data, find the meaningful bits nor even discard the extremes without falsely lifting ourselves from sanity. We must discover that only the Creator, the Savior, the Lord of all of this can make sense of it. And then we must realize that He has made sense of it, insofar as our weakness can contain, for us.

Our misery, our depraved sensibilities, our corrupted selves are offered restoration in the form of forgiveness and promise. Our joy is translated from momentary, fleeting glimpses of heaven, into limitless revelation of glory and majesty that is incomparable.

The hardest part is that it all seems to remain the same, afterward. The days bite us, the sun sets, the cold seeks our flesh and our teeth gnash in hatred and spite. The battle over this, however, becomes a fleeting thing as we rejoin our promised forgiveness and covenants week after week, year after year among the myriad others who have turned from their futile corruption to seek Christ who took on our miserable flesh, did all that we could not, and felt the corruption and deadly penalty that all of us should have found at the end of our own rope. He gives us hope, gives us shelter, shakes out our closets and lifts us to dry ground if only we heed His call.

Lord may your good news reach bleeding ears. May your life bring life to the dead and dying. May your grace uphold your people as you bring more to yourself every day.

____________________________________

Part of following up on It’s All Messed Up, a post from October 2010.

I sure hope this hits you.


Holy, Holy, Holy

I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him stood the seraphim. Each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one called to another and said:
“Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts;
the whole earth is full of his glory!”
And the foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him who called, and the house was filled with smoke. And I said: “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!” — Isaiah 6:1-5

How can I bring my voice to raise
A single word to thy praise
When my feet I cannot conceal enough
My face I cannot seal
From thy majesty, thy searing gaze
What word of hope is there for me
To reach thy ear in praise

Undone am I beneath your throne
I know no thing to lift me up
My soles are seared upon your ground
My eyes are blind and cannot watch
E’en the shadow of your passing
What breath of hope is there for me
To whisper among your hosts

My sin has poured upon thy fame
A tarnish I cannot remove
That were it washed before my eyes
At once I must expire
Have mercy on me o Adonai
What worth have I to thee
To fall under thy holy train

Despite this dearth of any good
In me that warrants thee
May thy name resound
Throughout my soul
By grace, mercy, Lord save me
Eternity rests in thee
Without the cross my sin besets me

___________________________________
Luke 18, Romans 7, Matthew 6,


Reverence and Abomination and Ashamed

A very quick two-point-3 thoughts for today.

PART 1:

An article I read inspired a single question: Where is the reverence that should accompany any interaction with our God? Why, when we do whatever it is that we do in the world, is God at best considered a buddy with whom we share the popcorn bowl in front of the idiot-box. Of course, more usually, we don’t even acknowledge his existence when we kneel at the altar of our worldly garbage. Duh. Because he’s not on the throne, the garbage is. Even more depressingly real is that, when we are directly involved in God’s things (Church, Bible study, prayer) where is that which should accompany the Most High, the Alpha and Omega, the Author and Master?

Incredible that Tolkien could muster up such feelings in his masterpiece, the LOTR; or the Catholics in their incredible cathedrals and whatevers. But we have seemingly none of that in 99% of our daily lives.  Who’s first here?  I’m ashamed.

I mean, what’s this happy-go-huggy thing we have for God? He doesn’t do coffee with us. To my understanding, Moses didn’t pal around with the Voice in the burning bush, or do some belly dance thing as he tried on the veil before getting down the the serious business.

Genesis 3:14 – God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.” And he said, “Say this to the people of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.’”

Where is our sense of wonder?  Like when you see the Grand Canyon or Pike’s Peak?  Or out in the middle of the Pacific without land for hundreds of miles, under the stars?  God is bigger than all that, and greater.

And the seriousness of the cross.  We don’t take that up daily, do we?

I’m not getting into some sort of self-beating mood here, where it all needs to be serious all the time with a bunch of penitent station-walking, bead counting misery and humiliation.  I’m just saying that there’s a lot of that reverence and holy-silence sort of thing missing.  The clutter is really building up and the sanctuary is getting hard to find in all the swap-meet trappings.

PART 2:

The pastor unpleasantly reminded me of two things that have bothered me for a long time. I’ve slipped into a semi-comfortable oblivious state regarding them.

The abomination that we are planning to officially, openly embrace in our miltary. I am obligated to obey the commands of those appointed over me. They are becoming increasingly closer to what we should consider unbiblical. Repeal of the Don’t Ask-Don’t Tell is a clear statement, clearer than ever before, that it’s okay and we all condone homosexuality as acceptable and right. For the record: I don’t.  For the record:  the job has brought many disappointments, but this latest one? I’m ashamed.

Yep. I understand that it’s not a Christian organization. I get that in regards to citizenship we are all, regardless of etc. etc. etc. supposed to be free to whatever.

I suspect that things are going to change drastically and the clash is gonna be more than we’re ready for.  I know this is yet another attack on the integrity of the faithful.  And it’s not cool.  Even so, Lord, come quickly.

I am trying to imagine my feelings when they tack the First Servicemember to get an award for celebrating diversity or for support of LGBT efforts “reflecting great credit upon him/herself and in keeping with the highest traditions of the U.S. Navy.”

Finally, part 2 of part 2:  Prayer in the Service. Tell a representative of the One True Faith that he cannot pray in the name of the source of that One True Faith. Plain English: Why, again, can’t we pray in the Name of Jesus Christ? Once more, of this institution, I am ashamed.

I am convinced, though many insist this is a Christian Nation, we are not.

________________________________________________________________________

Originally Published on: Feb 22, 2010 @ 10:28


Oil For Sickies?

I peruse Sharper Iron frequently and though the articles are sometimes a bit outside my radar range or above my level of understanding, this one stands out.

James 5:14-15 is the source of a practice that has long struck me as somewhat odd. It doesn’t drive me nuts or linger in my mind, but I’ve heard it taught and seen it in practice occasionally. Never really jived but I didn’t give it much thought at any point, either.

Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise. Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth. Then he prayed again, and heaven gave rain, and the earth bore its fruit. — James 5:13-18

Enter a gentleman named Ted Bigelow and his article called “Weakness or Sickness?”

Instead of translating the verb in James 5:14 as “sickness,” perhaps we should translate it as “weakness.” After all, this is how this verb is translated twelve of the fifteen times it appears in the NT letters to the churches.1 That’s reason enough to make it a solid choice in translation. But the idea of sickness in James 5:14 has a long and venerable history, even if it is pretty much universally ignored!2

He works out a rather clarifying answer to the issue. It drove me to take a bigger look at James in general as well as the specific passage of James 5. Really refreshing. Reading in context, it does seem out of place to read a bit of medicine amongst a call to faithful dealing with spiritual problems, praise and forgiveness as well as in the greater context of James, including faith, various sinful states and works and all that. I sure wouldn’t say praying over sick people is out, nor even the (in my opinion) purely aesthetic application of oil. We pray for the sick and injured constantly in the church and in our private lives. But it kinda is a sore-thumb and poorly written if James just stuck that lesson on personal health at the end of his letter.

I mean, sickness is just what we should pray about, but how much more of a promise arises when we see that our weakness is saved by prayers of faith and that the Lord will raise us up? I battle with that weakness all the time. Pressures from every angle seem to wear me down and leave me feeling like a beat-up battlefield. I get tired and lose resolution all too easily. And prayer is a huge part of making the comeback as well as preventing relapses. Scripture, prayer, corporate prayer, fellowship, all those things make for strong Christians, right? It fits in so well with what James is saying throughout his letter. Just 7 verses earlier, he’s talking about patience and steadfastness. The flow is uninterrupted when sickness is translated as weakness.

Maybe this passage, properly in place as a discussion of weakness, should shine a light on those faith-healer types out there and clarify that we’re not in the business of basting spiritual turkeys and thereby causing them to walk again. Yeah, I’m sorta not interested in that movement, to the point of disrespect directed toward anti-faith-healer types. So that’s that.

I appreciate very much the scholarship of faithful brothers and sisters in Christ. I hope to one day contribute to the cloud of good words that point to glorifying God through faith, good works and love. I’m not a great thinker or writer (except maybe that I’m long-winded, which probably isn’t a good quality) but I’d like to be. Either way, I’m confident that there will always be great workmen producing lessons and insights from the Bible and I’ll never run out of such things to help me grow.


Life, Unscheduled

It’s amazing what the world (Satan) has available to make sure I can’t focus on what I think I should.

Two jobs, for instance, really puts a cramp in my time. I should spend more time with the family. Maybe go to the zoo or to the park. Instead, most days of the week I’m crunching in just enough for a quick dinner and then off to job #2. When there is a little extra, I tend to goof it and write or study online, which is good of itself, but not very family-interactive. There are days when I get home from job #1 and I’m dog tired and just want a nap. But that leaves me feeling guilty because of a 2 to 4 hour loss of precious time. There’s always another something else that comes up like Girl Scouts or whatever that invariably separates us into two or three teams spread all over town. It’s pretty discouraging.

Once in a while there’s a whole day of no commitment. And those are the worst. Those days start off with sleeping in (much desired but already cutting off part of the day). Then there’s the obligatory web crawl with a cup of coffee. I call it “starting the day off right” because my surfing is more an hour long cruise through Christian media. That’s not bad at all, save it’s a piece of the formula that usually spells disaster for quality time with my girls.

Al Mohler wrote an article this week on just the digital stuff, and the discussion on commercialization also hit home. There’s so much clamoring for our attention and time that it’s no wonder I’m unstable. I would assume only a very blessed few have managed to escape the floodwaters of our distracted, overstimulated age.

Then we have the usual groping around for purpose during the day, kids going out to play, dad maybe making it to the garage for a project that’s hugely overdue, mom trying to keep up with college or the chef business. There are conflicts to deconflict and things to keep track of. And then dinner arrives and there’s nothing left.

Thankfully, on the empty days, we do get to enjoy tuck-ins, which rarely happen during the regular week. There’s family prayer, Bible study and lots of love before the kids get deposited into the sack for the night. I love that, though it’s sometimes challenging to run smoothly.

But the holes, back to the holes. There’s so much I want to focus on and not enough focus to really get there. I’d write in a tight schedule, but those things always crash and burn. Say, one day a week per kid, a block assigned to go out or focus on just one. And another for the Wife, a date. Yeah, and then where do those happen? Boy, this is a hard one.

I have a commitment to making sure the bread is on the table. That, for now, means two jobs. And I have to make sure I get enough hours at the second one (part-time) to make it worthwhile. That kills most week-nights and often at least half of both Saturday and Sunday. There’s so little time for much else. I’ve managed to block off time for the care of the soul. We are committed to Sunday mornings being Church and Church alone. No work can interfere if at all possible. And I’ve done the same with Mondays so that I, personally, can ensure I’m getting discipleship interaction with the Body. If I were to commit just one day more to not working, where would that leave me?

Now, I’m not whining solely for my own lack of satisfaction. This concern is partially for my own good, but even more for my family. We glorify God when we are fellowshiping as a family. That’s what I believe is the bottom line. We aren’t just a phase of the work-week when we’re together. It is so hard to be homework: chores: dinner prep: showers: tuck-ins: bed during the week and then nearly the same on the weekend.

I’m most thankful that the Lord provided us with a three-week vacation this year with a drive out to Mom and Dad. That gives us no work requirements, no duty, just time together on the road, camping, visiting family along the way and hopefully some really good times loving each other.

I still have to seek some guidance, I think, on the best way to deal with this impossible schedule. I’m tempted, though with a sort of frustrated, maybe irritated attitude, to can my reserved Mondays at Church to another day for a dedicated evening with family. I’m torn on that part. I need need need the external connection that the Fellowship provides. But I don’t have dedicated family in there either.

I’m similarly tempted to quit the #2 job. Not because I don’t want to work or because I don’t like the job, but because of the toll it’s taking on family time. At the moment, there isn’t any. But if I quit, I’m not filling the gap between debt and bread. That seems to be a failure to provide for the family. And that stinks too.

So where do I go? Which one do I choose? Prayer is where I start and that’s where I’m at right now.

Father’s day is coming up and I’m not feeling very successful at fathering.


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