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!

NavClassics: Born to Reproduce

This chapter, also by Mr. Trotman, focuses on spiritual reproduction.  Once we have come to Christ, it is our duty to reproduce spiritually.  Just like God calls us to reproduce physically, we are to have spiritual children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and so on.  This can easily happen within weeks or months of conversion.  He referred to a secretary at Navs who had only been a christian for a few months, but had spiritual great-grandchildren.  She had shared with some friends who had come to faith, and they in turn had shared with others who had also gotten saved.  Trotman points out that we need to produce reproducers.  We need to feed and nurture these new converts so they can go out and share their risen Savior as well. 

"Soul-winners are not soul-winners because of what they know, but because of the Person they know, how well they know Him, and how much they long for others to know Him."

Saturday, July 17, 2010

NavClassics: The Need of the Hour

The Navigators was started by a man named Dawson Trotman.  He was in the military and began a ministry that focuses on evangelism, bringing people to the Lord and then discipling them so they can go out and bring the gospel to those around them.  He wrote a series of little articles and those, along with some articles by other men in Navs, have been published by NavPress.  I just finished the first article, so I thought I'd blog about each one as I finish them.

The Need of the Hour points out the fact that many people say they would evangelize if they had the right materials...or more time...or better transportation.  Trotman points out that the disciples were commanded to bring the gospel to the world, and they didn't have any of this.  They just had to go out and do it.  Many people today say that these earthly things are the need of the hour.  However, Trotman states that the true need of the hour is to believe that God is reigning on high (Is. 52:7), and that He will not be hindered by what we do not have.  Jeremiah 33:3 says, "Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and show thee great and mighty things, which though knowest not."  Trotman and his buddies started praying for the LA area, then expanded it to the west coast, to the nation and finally to the world, asking the Lord to give them souls in these places.  As a result, Trotman was able to start The Navigators, which has missionaries in all 50 states and numerous countries around the world.

Is my vision for what God can do that big?  I don't even pray that God would give me souls in Lomita.   I'm so confined to my immediate circle.  I need to start to expand my horizons and begin to desire that God save souls all over the world.  But I also need to pray that the Lord would send me opportunities right were I am.  In another book I'm reading, Personal Evangelism and the Gospel, Mark Dever points out that many times we don't even ask God to give us souls right where we are.  If we can't have an impact for Christ where He placed us, how can we have an impact for Him in other areas?  I need to be faithful to what He has given me now.

What about you?  Are you sharing Christ with those around you?  Do you believe in the great God you serve?  That He can show you great and mighty things?

Thursday, July 8, 2010

The Liberty of Obedience by Elisabeth Elliot

This book is one of my prized possessions. I was named after Elisabeth Elliot.  She's always been a hero of mine.  About 10 years ago, my mom saw her at a convention.  Mom bought me this book and asked her to autograph it.  So it's pretty special in that regard.  However, I never actually read it until now...sad, I know.  It really blessed me.

Elisabeth was a missionary to the Auca tribe, the people who had killed her husband Jim not too long before.  The Lord called her to go with her young daughter into that tribe, learn the language and begin to share the gospel with them.  Because of this many of them came to know Christ, even those who killed her husband.

As she sat in the tribe, learning the language, there were some things that she began to wrestle with.  What would Christianity look like in the life of one of these natives?  The more she got to know them, the less barbaric they became.  They were normal people who lived extremely simple lives out in the middle of this jungle.  What would holiness look like for them?  In her culture back home, Christianity many times took on the form of "Don't drink, don't smoke, be modest, follow the rules!"  But how would one be modest when one doesn't wear clothes in the first place?   Elisabeth came to the conclusion that it has to do with obedience.  It has to do with obeying what God has put before us. Christ dined with prostitutes and tax collectors.  To the Pharisees, it was horribly offensive! But the appearance of evil is not always evil.  The Bible says to abstain from the appearance of evil, but an act that may appear wrong to some may actually be right.
"Decisions must be made in the integrity of the heart before God--with an unselfish attention to our brother's good and the glory of God."
 The Bible does not give us a simple formula for every issue.  But we need to be mature and able to discern what God would have us do.  His Word is the authority. It's not about tradition or pleasing men.

"For the Love of God is broader,
Than the measure of man's mind';
And the heart of the Eternal
Is most wonderfully kind.

But we make His love too narrow,
By false limits of our own
And we magnify it's strictness
With a zeal He will not own."

by Frederick W.  Faber

Friday, July 2, 2010

De Vez en Cuando: From Time to Time by Rick Johnson

I finished my first book this morning.  Yay!  Here are some quotes that blessed me.

"When Jesus said, "Follow Me,"  he was inviting the multitude to start a life of faith, to walk by faith, to live by faith and to finish by faith."

"When Jesus called individuals after Himself, to follow Him, they walked with Him, not so much after Him.  We would do well to draw a bit closer to the Lord, to not be so given to the insignificant values and pursuits of this life at the expense of the greater things."

It was a good book.  Great insights into the life of a missionary.  I recommend it. :)

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Resolved Challenges

I just got back from the annual highlight of my year. Resolved! It was on Jesus Christ this year and boy, was it good! I am ashamed to say that I was not excited about that topic because in my arrogance, it didn't seem like there was much more to learn on that subject. How wrong I was! And how awful it is that I thought that! My desire for the coming year is to KNOW Christ. I want to try to understand as much as I can about Him and His amazing life, His amazing love and His amazing grace. I am excited about what God will show me as I study Him.

Another challenge that was issued at this conference was to read more. Now I love to read, but it's usually the fluff that does not matter. I looked through my book case and here are the books that I have bought and never finished.
Books to Read

1. De Vez e Cuando: From Time to Time
2. Idols of the Heart
3. The patterns of God's Truth
4. Reclaiming the Future of Christian Education
5. Foundations of Christian School Education
6. Standing Strong
7. Teaching Redemptively
8. Love Your God with All Your Mind
9. Right Thinking in a World Gone Wrong
10. Darwin on Trial
11. The Vanishing Conscience
12. The Rich Single Life
13. I'm Torn Between Two Masters
14. Worldliness
15. Desiring God
16. Spectacular Sins
17. Culture Shift
18. Seeing and Savoring Jesus Christ
19. The Hour that Changes the World
20. Respectable Sins
21. The Liberty of Obedience
22. NavClassics
23. The Gospel and Personal Evangelism

Yep, 23 books here in my bookcase that I have either never finished or never read at all. And that is just the books here with me at the apartment. How many more do I have at my parent's house that have a similar story. How shameful! A bunch of us were talking about it during one of the breaks and my pastor pointed out that it all has to do with discipline. And how true that is! It is all about discipline in my life and oh how I lack that. May the Lord help me to be more disciplined as I seek to grow in Him.

The other thing that I am trying to do this summer is memorize Psalm 103. A few friends and I get together and pray each week, and my friend read this Psalm as we were preparing to come before Christ with our requests. It struck me in a new way when he read it. Then we were singing at Resolved and we sang a song based on this Psalm. John Martin, who was leading the song service, also read Psalm 103 before we sang it and I decided I wanted to commit that to memory.

So these are my personal challenges that I have brought away from Resolved this year. Would you keep me accountable? I know I cannot do these things on my own, and so I come to you for encouragement and help. If you went to Resolved, what did you learn? What are your personal challenges? If not, what are you learning right now in your walk with Christ?

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Last night

Last night, I was at my friend Amy's house celebrating life. Life? Yes, life. The life of a man named Mike that we all loved and dearly miss now. It was good to get together and see how we have all grown and where we are now 3 years after he went to be with Jesus. A lot has gone down with this special group, but as I was telling my mom today, we are a family. We are a special family that have a few things in common--we were all influence greatly by this man, and we are all passionate about serving Jesus. We were truly blessed to know Mike and I can't wait to join him up with our dear sweet Savior.

And the funny story--Mike's nieces and nephew were there also. They are 8, 6, 4 and 2. Soooo fun! Well the 6 year old was running around and she kept saying that she wished she had her magic meatball. Oh her magic meatball is soooo much fun. She wished she had it. So I asked what her magic meatball did. Why was it so fun? "Well," she said, "you ask it questions and it gives you answers." hahaha tooooo funny!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

I'm back!

Ok, so since I last blogged, lots and lots of things have occurred.

1. My best friend Joni is getting married!!! And I get to be a bridesmaid once again! Yeah! The kinda sad part...she's moving to Hawaii. I will miss her tons, but I get to have a great place to visit! I'm way excited to see how God answered so many prayers in her life. It's a great encouragement.

2. I moved! I moved out of my house and into an apartment with my two roomies! I have my own room and it's way exciting. God has been so good and faithful to provide in these times.

3. I went to Seattle to quilt with my two tantes (aunts) and my grandma that I love. We had a wonderful day of shopping at the big quilt expo and then got a whole quilt pieced and sandwiched in one day. It was great!!! So fun! It was a great time of making memories and bonding with my familia.

4. Did I mention that I moved??? Oh my! I can't wait to have people over! It's gonna be so fun!

So that is the major part of what has happened. So some it may seem like little, but to me, it is a lot. Moving out of my parents house for the first time and sleeping in a different room after 21 years in the same room is a huge change. It's been disorienting and confusing at times. But I'm getting used to it and learning to lean on the Lord in so many new and different ways. I'm thankful for the opportunity.

Ok, I'd better go now. I'll be posting more about my grand adventure sooooonnnn!!!!