We probably shouldn’t use prayer manuals with pre-written jargon that we can mindlessly recite. Not even the Lord’s prayer should be considered a magical formula that works even though we pronounce it while the mind wanders elsewhere.
If anything, the Lord’s prayer — or other prayers that we may admire for their theology, their poetry and their balance — should be an inspiration or a teaching. It should not be considered a mathematical formula that if re-employed with exactitude will wrest from Heaven miracles. What matters is your sincerity. And maybe focus.
I don’t think I’ve ever prayed a “perfect” prayer. And I have prayed many prayers. My ever-tenacious sin always bleeds in.
God is merciful. He has answered more prayers than I deserve. He has seen through my vile carnality to some glimmer of anguish, some desperate plea for Him to do what I cannot do, and He has responded.
Don’t look for perfect prayers. Try to have a perfect heart.
Posted in How do I pray?, how to pray?, prayer
Tagged Christian lifestyle, Christianity, church, devotion, God, inspiration, Jesus, joy, life, lifestyle, pray, vain repetitions
I got stuck at Isaiah 40 and following. The prophet shifts gears and focuses on the future when Israel is exiled and comes back to the promised land. They have punished for more than 70 years of captivity for idolatry and rebellion. The consequences of sin is enough to drive them to despair. They are ready to obey God now. And God speaks tenderly to them.
He offers them comfort.
In verse 4 God says barriers are going to be removed: Every valley shall be exalted and every mountain and hill shall be made low.
The nations, which have served as God’s instrument of discipline over Israel, are no longer to be feared. The nations are as a drop of a bucket, as the small dust of the balance. (verse 15).
The grande finale comes at the end of the chapter — verses that just about every Christian has memorized: He gives power to the faint, and to them that have no might, He increases strength. Even the youths shall faint and grow weary. But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength. They shall rise up with wings as eagles; they shall run and not grow weary; they shall walk and not faint. (verses 29-31)
Part of the good news? The disappointing time may be God testing you like Job or may be the result of your own sin. But when you get to the end, He brings refreshing, so hang in there.
I was arrested, meditating on what I had stumbled upon.
Posted in Christianity, God's discipline, times of refreshing
Tagged Faith, future, God, hope, inspiration, Jesus, joy, love, punishment, relief, sin
Be exceptionally cute. And poor. Living in a dangerous part of the world. Murtaza Ahmadi’s brother took this picture of him and posted it on the internet. While death via the Taliban has hit most families around them, it still has not struck them directly, the brother says.
He was just a 5-year-old who loves soccer. The family, which subsists on farming, watches soccer as a distraction from the horrors that surround them. And Murtaza decided his favorite player was the Argentinian star who plays for Barcelona. So he wanted a jersey. He even cried.
But those jersey are too expensive for the poor (heck, they’re even too expensive for me). So his brother hooked him up with a plastic bag hand painted with colored sharpies. The kid was content. The kid was cute. His brother took the picture and posted it.
The internet went crazy, reposting and proliferating. People were asking: Who is this kid? Even Messi saw it and wanted to give the kid a real one. As a spokesman for Unicef, Messi through the charitable organization tracked him down and handed over the jersey (not personally).
Now my heart is warmed. I love Messi all the more for his kind gesture. I love this kid. The only bummer is that I still don’t have a Messi jersey myself.
Posted in football, Messi, soccer
Tagged Afghanistan, Ahghan kid, Argentina, Faith, hope, humanity, Jesus, joy, Lionel Messi, love, soccer jersey
It had been a frustrating day — criticisms of my efforts to get people saved and discipled. (It seems like the church is full of people who don’t save or disciple others, but they are experts to let others know what they’re doing wrong.)
As I prayed, God reminded me that I’m not working for the critics. I’m working for the kids.
I teach at the Lighthouse Christian Academy in Santa Monica and I coach for the middle school soccer team. We took some bruising losses this week, but I love the kids, and they seem to appreciate me. We have fun — all in Jesus’ name.
These are the powerful Saints! We have won only one game. But their enthusiasm, their joy, their love of Jesus, their positive energy makes them powerful in my book (quite a few players missed practice this day)!
The worst crime is the one done against children because they are defenseless. They are born to innocence and play. They believe in the good nature of everyone and cannot understand evil. To deprive them of love, warmth and goodness, to destroy their innocence is the worst of evils.
Pip has been wronged. Miss Havisham set him up to fall in love with Estella, and she did this only to delight in seeing him be heart-broken. This evil design she perpetrated since his childhood in Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations.
At the end of her life, she begs forgiveness. Her usually air of superiority gets dashed. She abandons all noblewoman’s dignity and shockingly falls to her knees to cry in repentance. Her money, her family, her nobility mean nothing. The only thing now is to be granted forgiveness. She feels the full horror of what she did too late. Pip does not withhold the forgiveness for a second.
We have all be wronged as children. Born with sin in our nature for Adam’s fault, we all wake up eventually to the attractions of temptation and become sinners. Jesus has come to restore the innocence, the beauty, the joy of life.
Psalm 22:3 says God inhabits the praises of His people. There is nothing to take away pain better in our lives than a loving embrace from God. Losing yourself in worship is an exhilarating, restorative experience. The next time you are in worship service, forget about the person who’s judging you. Forget about the argument you had with your husband coming into church. Lose yourself in praise.
*I don’t own the original image, and I’m not making $ on it.
Christianity is not a list of rules. It’s a wonderful relationship with your Savior. It’s freedom from sin. The Holy Spirit fills you with peace and joy. If you don’t know the good life, this year you should get to know the Good Savior.
I got this picture from Facebook or Google+. I’m not making any money on it. I don’t own the rights to it.
Most stress has to do with materialism. Or things that are out of our control anyhow. So worry does nothing to improve situations or avoid disaster.
Of course, an impending deadline helps me to focus my work and intensify my energies. I’m not talking about that.
Even Jesus recognized how anxiety enters the human heart:
Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? — Matt. 6:25 NIV.
Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? — Matt. 6:27 NIV.
Pic from Beautiful Pictures on Google+
Surprisingly, courage is NOT the opposite of fear. Rather, fear is the journey towards courage.
When we read the Christmas story, the opposite of fear proves to be joy. Angels visit Zachariah, Mary and Joseph. Each time they say: Do not fear. They explain their news, and then they say that it is cause for great joy.
So you can either be joyful or fearful, but not both.
Why is Christmas so joyful? It’s more than just a feel-good, help-the-less-fortunate time of year. It’s the time that Christ lifted off our shoulders an impossible burden. Christ paid an unpayable price. The separation from God that initiated in the Garden of Eden was finally ended. Humanity can now enjoy relationship with the Heavenly Father.
In the gif, Tim Cocker gives what he calls “terrible” Christmas gifts to his kids in 2011: a banana and an onion (she thinks it’s a tiny pumpkin). But the kids are joyful.
Will be joyful or fearful this Christmas?
Why is Christmas joyous? Because Christ came to forgive us our sins, to die carrying out own death sentence so that we might be freed from it. The problem of sin, which dogged humanity from the beginning of time, was finally solved.
Picture source: animationguildblog at blogspot
Jesus says plainly: Unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven — Matt. 18:3 NIV.
US researcher Robert Provine has found that kids laugh 300 times a day. It sounds to me like Jesus wants us to have more joy (I confess I myself am overly serious).
What’s surprising is that 1 Peter 2:2 exhorts Christians to “grow up” in their salvation. So it’s clear that Christian maturity involves becoming like children: they don’t harbor grudges, they love freely, they laugh.
Turning off your emotions, just because you’ve been disillusioned, solves nothing. We are emotional beings. To try to NOT feel is probably not going to work. There are those who grow bitter, who grow cynical, who numb the pain with drugs, alcohol or another form of hedonism.
Only Jesus will heal your heart.
Joy: when I think of others’ blessings.
I get discouraged by my own circumstances.
But when I think about other rising disciples in the church, I rejoice to see God blessing and using them.
Lesson learned: think about others.
Posted in Christianity
Tagged Bible, Faith, God, inspiraton, Jesus, joy, ministry, motivation, others, pain, self-centeredness
It’s not just a matter of surviving but surviving well.
They didn’t even smell of smoke. Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego had been thrown into the fire by the despot. While inside, they walked around with Jesus and suffered no harm. King Nebuchadnezzar beckoned them out. Astonished, he forgot all about their disobedience in not bowing to his idol. He recognized that Jehovah was the only true God.
They not only survived, but they survived well. No smell of smoke on them.
Joseph survived prison well. He didn’t execute bitter revenge on his brothers who sold him into slavery.
As the years pile up, we pass through evil, wrongs perpetrated by family or friends. The challenge is not go cynical. The challenge is have the light-hearted delight for life of a child still.
These are this year’s students.
Not this year, but last, I had a class in which no one had ever been to the library. Everything is on Internet, right?
They assured me I was wasting their time. Nonetheless, to the library I took them, and the poor librarian had the devil’s day trying to persuade them that more information is actually in books. (You’d think she were describing cave paintings from the reaction of those kids.)
Add some color to your drab life!
So here’s the college-preparatory secret: to do real research, you’ll have go to the library. Good ol’ wiki doesn’t cut it. There actually is stuff worth learning that requires you to get off your bu** — um, bottom — and pay a buck for the bus. You’d be surprised what you’ll find when you break out of your comfort zone.
You’ll be surprised what you find in the depths!
You might discover there’s worthwhile stuff in the Bible. Yeah, like how to reach maximum happiness (have a successful marriage, for example!) in what they used to call the “Good Book.” Nowadays, they call it the “Hate Book,” I think.
Don’t hate the Bible! It’s still good and got great stuff useful for your life here on Earth! And, yes, it also talks about life after Earth, in case you’re interested! Break out of your comfort zone and crack the Bible today! Read a bit. Ask God to give you the revelation as to what it means. Start with Mark; it’s the story of the Main Dude in the whole Bible.
Posted in books, inspiration
Tagged Bible, Christianity, God, happiness, Jesus, joy, Libraries, Library, Mark, marriage, research
All the miracles in Bible have one thing in common. They first were problems.
Big, small, horrible, terrifying – all kinds of problems led to all kinds of miracles. The bigger the problem, the bigger the miracle. The worse the problem, the better the miracle. The more desperate the problem, the more glorious the miracle.
Are you going through tough financial stuff? Start by praising God for the shortage. That is faith. Praise Him for the problem because a BIG miracle is coming. Today you are anguished, tomorrow you will laugh with joy. Start laughing today, rejoicing in what God will do tomorrow.
You can’t see how God will answer. If you could it wouldn’t require faith. And the people of the Bible couldn’t foresee answers either.