Sunday, January 2, 2011

Faithful

Isn't it interesting how God uses the unexpected to truly impact your life?

There have been events in the last 3 months of my life that I do not understand.  Things I have struggled with greatly.  Things that have brought worry to my heart.  I am usually one of those people that go to sleep the minute my head hits the pillow.  No thinking, no worrying, no concerns...just sleep.  In the last few months, this has not been the case.  It's been harder for me to sleep as things are running around in my head. 

But I've found encouragement and the strength to carry on each week.  The strange thing is where I've found this push to continue.  It's been in the material I'm teaching for Sunday School.  It's been in the curriculum I teach in Bible class to my kindergarteners.  It's been in the lessons I study for for AWANA.  Usually, I'll find it in my Bible study, my devotions, my pastor's sermons.  Some "grown-up" place.  This time it's been in all the little places of my life.

In Sunday School, we are going through Desiring God's curriculum entitled "A Study for Children on the Promises of God."  Each week the  promise we study has been such an encouragement.  We looked at the promise that "God hears our prayers" when, even though I've been walking with Him for a very long time, I was struggling with that fact.  When I was wondering how I was going to make it financially, the promise we studied was "God will provide for your needs."  I've been really struggling with the fact that I am still single over the past weeks and months, but we studied the promise that "God will not  withhold any good thing" and I was encouraged, convicted and blessed.  When looking at the sin in my life and the battles with the flesh I have daily, God spoke to me when studying his promise that "He is slow to anger."  This coming week is going to be hectic, busy, and crazy.  I will be tired and weak.  But the lesson I am teaching this morning is "God will give you strength."  How appropriate.  How sweet God is to give me nuggets of encouragement each Sunday morning that will not just help the kids in my class, but also help me as I begin a new week for Him.

He is faithful.  He shows His faithfulness to each person in a different way.  A way that will resonate with them individually.  He formed us.  He loves us.  He died for us.  He doesn't just promise these good things I've mentioned here.  He promises life abundant; He promises life eternal.  He is good.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Praying the Lord's Prayer

I know it's almost been a month since I blogged last.  Sad times!  It's been a crazy and busy and fun and interesting month.  I'll blog about that next.  I've been meaning to get back to prayer though.  It's fallen off my radar a bit in the midst of a hectic December.  Sad, since that means I have not even been taking my own advice.  Always room for improvement.

Like I wrote before, Martin Luther prayed through the Lord's Prayer regularly.  As I read the prayers he had written for each section, certain parts stood out to me.  Since it was not my book, I copied them down and would like to share a few with you.

Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors
Luther broke this into two parts.
-Asking for God's mercy in this
"Do not look upon how good or how wicked we have been but only upon the infinite compassion, which You have bestowed upon us in Christ, Your dear Son."
We definitely do not deserve God's forgiveness.  We deserve His wrath and hell.  But in His mercy, He has bestowed righteousness on me through His Son, Jesus Christ if we ask for it.  He has freely given compassion.  It reminds me of Ps. 103:13.  "As a father shows compassion on His children, so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear Him."
-For our enemies
"We are not helped by (our enemies) ruin; we would much rather that they be saved with us.  Amen"
God has forgiven me much.  In light of that, how can I wish for and pray for my enemy's destruction.  I can pray that God confuse my enemy and stop his plans, but at the same time, I must long for his salvation. 


You shall not take the name of the Lord in vain
"I have not only failed to invoke, extol and honor His holy name, but have also been ungrateful for such gifts and have, by swearing, lying and betraying, misused them in the pursuit of shame and sin."
 God has given me gifts to be used for His glory.  However, it is so easy to be ungrateful and in that attitude pursue shame and sin with those very gifts.  Instead of honoring and extoling His holy name, we bring shame to His name. 


On the Amen
"Finally, mark this, that you must always speak the amen firmly.  Never doubt that God in His mercy will surely hear you and say yes to your prayers.  Never think that you are kneeling or standing  alone, rather think that the whole of Christendom, all devout Christians, are standing there beside you and you are standing among them in a common, united petition, that God cannot disdain.  Do not leave your prayer without having said or thought, 'Very well, God has heard my prayer; this I know as a certainty and a truth.' That is what amen means."
How encouraging is that!  Especially if we are praying through the Lord's prayer.  We know for certain that all points in the Lords prayer line up with God's will for us.  Of course He will say yes to them.  Many times I feel that God couldn't possibly be listening to me.  I'm so insignificant.  However, He is listening.  He does care.  He wants to give me the desires of my heart when I'm delighting in Him.  He is a good God and I need to firmly trust and not doubt my Lord.




So there are some thoughts and quotes on praying the Lord's Prayer from Luther's perspective.  I hope they are encouraging to you.  He also talks about praying through the Ten Commandments, the Apostle's Creed and the Psalms.  Next time, I will share my notes from those. 

Saturday, November 27, 2010

A Simple Way to Pray

Continuing on the theme of prayer... 

One of the friends that I had a conversation with about prayer lent me a book he thought I might find helpful.  It is entitled A Simple Way to Pray by Dr. Archie Parrish.  It is written on a letter that Martin Luther originally wrote to his barber who asked him for a simple way to pray that the average person could use.  Luther shows him how to pray by using The Lord's Prayer, the Ten Commandments and the Apostle's Creed.  As I read it, I am finding so many good and useful things that I'd like to remember.  However, this book does not belong to me, so I'm writing them down in a little notebook.  I thought, though, that I would share them here as well, as they might be an encouragement to anyone who might happen along in this little corner of cyberspace. 

Dr. Parrish begins the book by introducing Luther to the readers.  Here is a quote that stood out to me.
Luther prayed four hours a day.  Helmut Thieliche wrote, "Luther prayed this much, not despite his busy life, but because only so could he accomplish his gigantic labors...  To work without praying and without listening means only to grow and spread oneself upward without striking roots and without creating an equivalent in the earth.  A person who works this way is living unnaturally."
 After Luther is introduced, then begins the letter written to his barber.  This is what Luther has to say about putting prayer off until later.
Guard yourself carefully against those false, deluding ideas that tell you 'Wait a little while.  I will pray in an hour; first I must attend to this or that.'  Such thoughts get you away from prayer into other affairs which so hold your attention and involve you that nothing come of prayer for that day.
How often does that happen in our lives?  We think that writing that grocery list or doing the laundry needs to get done first and then we'll pray.  Or I know many times I tell myself that I'm just going to check Facebook real fast and then I'll pray.  But before I know it, 25 minutes have gone by, I know what everyone's status updates are and I've seen their new pictures, but I have not talked to my sweet Jesus.  And then I go out and face the world without that solid foundation of  prayer that is so essential.

My desire and my goal is to spend time with God--reading His Word, talking to Him in a deep and intimate way--before I go about my daily business.  I encourage you, oh reader, to do the same.  Join me in making prayer a priority in our lives.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Prayer thoughts

So in the last week I've had 3 good conversations with 2 friends about prayer.  I taught a few Sunday School lessons on prayer.  I'm doing this Bible study on The Holiness of God by R. C. Sproul and we keep touching on how we need to pray more.  Prayer is also a discipline I've been trying to work on for the last few months.  So prayer has been on my mind a lot lately.

Here's the thing, though.  I don't know why praying is so hard.  I mean, you are talking to your heavenly Father who loves and cares for you infinitely more than any human being could.  Yet we want to hash out our life problems--and the world's problems even--with every person we come in contact with.  At least I know that's how I am.  I could just come to the Lord and share with Him.  He knows even before I ask what I need, what the solution is, and how He is going to meet that need.  He is sovereign--totally in control and totally just and holy in His answers to my prayers.  I can trust Him for that.  Yet I don't go to Him as I should. 

Well, in one of those conversations that I mentioned before, I remembered a quote about prayer that I read some time ago.  It was in a book by Max Lucado called Just Like Jesus.  He was telling of a man who said that he was in constant communication with the Lord.  He just kept a running conversation with God as He went about his business.  I thought that was an interesting concept.  In looking for that quote (I wrote it down somewhere, but who knows where :P ), I found another quote for that same book.  I don't know if this is the same guy as before, but it's pretty amazing.  It fits in with this whole thing because I've also been thinking a lot about God's holiness and the fact that God in His holiness cannot accept the filth of our lives.  Even in prayer, we need to confess and make things right with Him.  Here is the quote.
I have tasted a thrill in fellowship with God which has made anything discordant with God disgusting.  This afternoon, the possession of God has caught me up with such sheer joy that I thought I never had known anything like it.  God was so close and so amazingly lovely that I felt like melting all over with a strange blissful contentment.  Having had this experience which comes to me now several times a week, the thrill of filth repels, for I know its power to drag me from God.  And after an hour of close friendship with God, my soul feels clean, as new fallen snow. (bold mine)   --from the journal of Frank Laubach as quoted in Just Like Jesus by Max Lucado
Have you "tasted a thrill in fellowship with God" lately?  Just taking the time to slow down and talk to God can be a challenge.  And then actually sitting still and quieting all other voices and thoughts is difficult and definitely takes work.  But in the last few weeks, I've found it to be rewarding.

Monday, August 9, 2010

My new space

I've been dying to personalize my room since I moved into my new apartment.  Today was that day.  I was able to put some things together that made it a little more homey. 

First there is the frame.  My bestest friend gave me this frame when she moved out of her apartment before she got married.  This is a great time to point out the difference between Joni and myself. 

This is what Joni had in the frame hanging in her apartment.  Hawaii, surfing, beach.  That is what Joni is all about.




But this is what I put in the fame.  Pretty pinks over a bridge, flower blossoms and an English cottage.  Opposites totally attract, even in friendship.  I'm so glad too!


I also built myself a bookshelf from Bed, Bath and Beyond.  In the end, here is the new space beside my bed.  I think it's so nice! :)

Friday, July 30, 2010

My Bestest Friend

She got married!

Update on my spring/summer dream list

Here is my list from a year ago...

1. The Getty Museum  Done!!  With Peter a few times and with Jen, Nancy and another sweet girl whose name escapes me right now.  Fun!
2. The Getty Museum-Malibu  Not yet
3. See the wildflowers blooming  Does spring in Seattle count?  I don't think so.  Next year...
4. Go to San Diego  Going in October!
5. Mission San Juan Capistrano/Del  Not yet
6. Nixon Library (re-visit)  Not yet
7. Reagon Library Well my wet-blanket friend Gabe went and sent me pictures.  But I still haven't made it...
8. Hearst Castle (re-visit) Maybe sometime this year
9. Santa Barbara Zoo No, not yet...
10. Pismo Beach/Carpinteria  Pismo Beach, yes!!  It was fun!
11. Santa Maria (re-visit)  Thanks to Kevin and Dini, I have a place to stay whenever I need one.  And I've taken them up on that a few times.  Love it!
12. Los Angeles Music Center  I went with students, but that doesn't count.
13. Nethercut Museum  Nope
14. San Francisco  Hopefully soon....

So it looks like I have some traveling ahead of me sometime.  Lots of it.  Gotta get going on these things.  Once again, if there is a place on this list you'd like to visit, please let me know and I'll join you!