Things That Make You Go Hmmmmm or You Don’t Need To Pray? Seriously? Well, cool.

A couple of weeks ago I posted the following message on Facebook:

How many married couples and seriously dating couples can I get to take the Oneness Prayer Challenge
together, 30 days, 3-5 minutes a day,starting October 1? Let’s flood heaven’s gates with men and
women praying together.

Be bold and put your name below then put a reminder in your calendar to either get a text prompt
or an email. It couldn’t be easier.

OCTOBER 1, 2015. LET’S PRAY.

I also included a short video from Familylife.com that explained the challenge and the benefits.

Oneness Prayer Challenge

man and wife prayingNOT ONE person agreed to join me in praying with his/her spouse for 3 minutes a day for 30 days.  There was not one like or share. This completely fascinates me.

Now, it is quite possible that everyone on my friends lists is already praying wholeheartedly with their spouses and do not need to take the challenge. It’s possible but it’s certainly not probable. For one thing, I coach/counsel people who tell me they don’t. For another, take a look at the world, at our families, the struggles we have – seriously, we could all use a bit more active prayer.

Praying with our spouses more than doubles the power we have to stand against the wiles of the enemy. God is a God of multiplication and not by single digits. In Deuteronomy, we discover that, with God,  one can chase a 1000 and two can chase 10,000.  The footsteps of two lepers convinced an entire army they were about to be massacred. Gideon’s 300 routed more than 100,000. Over and over in scripture we discover the power of two who are centered in God. Nearly everyone knows or has at least heard of Matthew 18:19-20 (NLT)

“I also tell you this: If two of you agree here on earth concerning anything you ask, my
Father in heaven will do it for you. For where two or three gather together as my followers,
I am there among them.”

This is why I’m perplexed. Thirty days of praying for 3-5 minutes with your spouse, is it too much? Are people skerd?  What are the issues that keep us from committing to praying with our spouses?  Are people already ‘prayed up?’  Do we know the possibilities if we take the challenge?

The Matthew passage quoted above gives some idea about the promises available to married folk, seriously dating folk, siblilngs, bffs who ‘touch and agree.’

If two         – that would be the spouses or seriously dating folk, in this particular cases

agree          – (maybe this is the issue??? – I’m asking)

concerning ANYTHING YOU ASK          – That’s a big window of opportunity. Jesus does not put qualifiers on it other than the two agree. Imagine the healing, restoration, strengthened financial situations, wayward children returning to their senses,  kingdom advances, romance restored, depression lifted, anxiety settled,

My Father in Heaven           – that would be Jesus talking about God (since believers were adopted into the family and have been given the right to call God, Abba, that means YOUR Father, MY Father in heaven)

WILL DO IT FOR YOU         – can’t be any clearer than that. Whatever we ask, when we agree, God will do!

Joel Osteen tells of an image his father once had. In a huge room in heaven, shelves were lined with boxes upon boxes upon boxes. When asked what they were, he was told they contained blessings God had already laid up for people who never even asked! I do not want any box in heaven to have my name, Gerald’s name, any of my children’s, grand/great-grandchildren’s, nieces’, nephews,’ cousins’, sisters’, brothers’ names on boxes of blessings they do not believe they can have and therefore do not claim.

We could start by being families who pray together. Husbands and wives model this to our children. I’m not saying it is an easy thing to do but Day 30 will be different than day 1 – and there just may be some boxes being opened in Heaven.

Where two or three gather in my name     – spouses, maybe a child or two at some point??

I am there!    Jesus, our big brother, our intercessor, the lover of our souls, the sacrificial lamb, the one whose shed blood paid for every sin we’d ever commit, promises to BE PRESENT. So, even if your spouse is getting on your nerves, for 3-5 minutes a day, Jesus will stand between the two, strengthen and encourage as you seek agreement on the prayer before God at that time.

This sounds like a pretty good deal to me.

Welp, tomorrow starts the Challenge. It’s not too late to join me.  Just for the record, Family Life did the actual challenge in September. I did not know about it in time to get on board with that challenge.

Advertisements

Who Will Take A Stand?

Friends, it is time to do what we all should have done before now: pray. Ferguson, Sanford, Beavercreek – all of the places where ‘shoot first, ask questions later’ has been the rule of the day – is not a white or black issue, this is an issue of the soul. The cancer in our nation that continually raises it’s head through racism has to be healed! The judicial system can’t fix it because it is broken. And the church is SILENT! And while the church avoids the issue or contributes to it, satan smiles. I’m reminded of Abraham negotiating with God about the people of Sodom. When the church is silent over the brokenness of our nation, when believers spend more time talking about the issues than they do pleading with God for healing, there is a serious problem. The answer is available.

IF My people, who are called by MY name, would humble themselves and pray, and seek my face and turn from THEIR wicked ways, THEN will I hear from Heaven. I will forgive THEIR sins and HEAL THEIR LAND.

Healing starts with each if us!

I just want to throw up when I realize how polarized we have become. Well, I believe we have always been polarized and because we remain silent the enemy is no longer shy about revealing his hand. he is justified (lower case h is intentional). Now, more than ever it is time for the Church to BE the church- not the black church, not the white church, but God’s body, Jesus’ bride. We can talk history; we can talk sociology. Neither root has been nationally explored. The legacy of slavery is very REAL: both for the black folk who were taught they were nothing, who were treated like less than chattel and for white folk who were taught to fear what they didn’t understand. This is a national conversation that needs to be had. Having it may lead to understanding but it won’t necessarily lead to healing.

No, it’s time for POWER work, the prayers of the righteous that avail much. It’s time for the church to be concerned about every mother whose child is in the cold ground. It’s time to be concerned about the lack of HOPE that engenders a disdain for life. It’s time to stop seeing red and blue and start seeking the only one who can bring order to chaotic minds, hearts and spirits.

Who will join me? Who will BE the church?

Are You Looking?

I’m not sure who wrote this so I cannot give adequate credit. However, it is the kind of story of which we all need to be reminded.

As we move more fully into this holiday season, remember that not everyone is filled with joy. There are many hurting people, folk hiding their pain behind a smile. I know this full well because for many years I was that person. Please, take a few moments to look more closely at the people you know. Take an extra moment to notice those with whom you work and even those that live in your house. Ask God to allow you to see beyond the smiles and to give you a heart to respond to the needs you discover.

This is the true meaning of Christmas. God looked at a fallen humanity that could not save itself. And God gave the greatest gift of all, a savior that would be God WITH us. You may very well be the tool that God wants to use to show a discouraged, hopeless world that there is one who offers genuine hope.

Now the story……

In September 1960, I woke up one morning with six hungry babies and just 75 cents in my pocket. Their father was gone. The boys ranged from three months to seven years; their sister was two. Their Dad had never been much more than a presence they feared. Whenever they heard his tires crunch on the gravel driveway they would scramble to hide under their beds. He did manage to leave $15 a week to buy groceries. Now that he had decided to leave, there would be no more beatings, but no food either.

If there was a welfare system in effect in southern Indiana at that time, I certainly knew nothing about it. I scrubbed the kids until they looked brand new and then put on my best homemade dress, loaded them into the rusty old 51 Chevy and drove off to find a job. The seven of us went to every factory, store and restaurant in our small town.

No luck.

The kids stayed crammed into the car and tried to be quiet while I tried to convince who ever would listen that I was willing to learn or do anything. I had to have a job. Still no luck. The last place we went to, just a few miles out of town, was an old Root Beer Barrel drive-in that had been converted to a truck stop.
It was called the Big Wheel.An old lady named Granny owned the place and she peeked out of the window from time to time at all those kids. She needed someone on the graveyard shift, 11 at night until seven in the morning. She paid 65 cents an hour, and I could start that night.

I raced home and called the teenager down the street that baby-sat for people. I bargained with her to come and sleep on my sofa for a dollar a night.She could arrive with her pajamas on and the kids would already be asleep. This seemed like a good arrangement to her, so we made a deal. That night when the little ones and I knelt to say our prayers, we all thanked God for finding Mommy a job. And so I started at the Big Wheel. When I got home in the mornings I woke the baby-sitter up and sent her home with one dollar of my tip money–fully half of what I averaged every night.

As the weeks went by, heating bills added a strain to my meager wage. The tires on the old Chevy had the consistency of penny balloons and began to leak. I had to fill them with air on the way to work and again every morning before I could go home. One bleak fall morning, I dragged myself to the car to go home and found four tires in the back seat. New tires! There was no note, no nothing, just those beautiful brand new tires.

Had angels taken up residence in Indiana? I wondered.

I made a deal with the local service station. In exchange for his mounting the new tires, I would clean up his office. I remember it took me a l ot longer to scrub his floor than it did for him to do the tires. I was now working six nights instead of five and it still wasn’t enough.

Christmas was coming and I knew there would be no money for toys for the kids…
I found a can of red paint and started repairing and painting some old toys. Then I hid them in the basement so there would be something for Santa to deliver on Christmas morning. Clothes were a worry too. I was sewing patches on top of patches on the boy s pants and soon they would be too far gone to repair.

On Christmas Eve the usual customers were drinking coffee in the Big Wheel. There were the truckers, Les, Frank, and Jim, and a state trooper named Joe. A few musicians were hanging around after a gig at the Legion and were dropping nickels in the pinball machine. The regulars all just sat around and talked through the wee hours of the morning and then left to get home before the sun came up.
When it was time for me to go home at seven o’clock on Christmas morning, to my amazement, my old battered Chevy was filled full to the top with boxes of all shapes and sizes.

I quickly opened the driver’s side door, crawled inside and kneeled in the front facing the back seat. Reaching back, I pulled off the lid of the top box. Inside was whole case of little blue jeans, sizes 2-10! I looked inside another box: It was full ofshirts to go with the jeans. Then I peeked inside some of the other boxes. There was candy and nuts and bananas and bags of groceries. There was an enormous ham for baking, and canned vegetables and potatoes. There was pudding and Jell-O and cookies, pie filling and flour. There was whole bag of laundry supplies and cleaning items. And there were five toy trucks and one beautiful little doll.

As I drove back through empty streets as the sun slowly rose on the most amazing Christmas Day of my life, I was sobbing with gratitude. And I will never forget the joy on the faces of my little ones that precious morning.

Yes, there were angels in Indiana that long-ago December. And they all hung out at the Big Wheel truck stop….

THE POWER OF PRAYER. I believe that God only gives three answers to prayer:

1. ‘Yes!’
2. ‘Not yet.’
3. ‘I have something better in mind..’

God still sits on the throne.

You may be going through a tough time right now but God is able to do exceedingly, abundantly above anything you can even hope or think! This is not just a promise for the privileged few. This is God’s desire for you!

Reconciliation

As God often does, topics seem to ‘fall in line.’  Today’s lesson was largely about racial reconciliation in the church. Jackson teaches that without ‘learning to walk in humility and love, lasting racial reconciliation is not really possible.’ (127) Many times believers try to force the issue of diversity and instead of true acceptance we often create tokens within the body, people who do not feel valued and loved. I liked that Jackson points out that the spiritual body of Christ is already unified. Yet, we have to be taught to recognize and celebrate this unity.

We spent a great deal of time talking about Paul’s description of himself in 1 Corinthians 9:19-23. Paul says that he adapts himself to the people he wants to win for Christ. He sized people up and worked to reach them right where they were – as equals. From Jackson’s writings we glean four ways that, like Paul, we can minister.

1. We reach out to those who think their race, job, ethnicity, material goods, position – whatever – is the real source. These folk take undue pride in who they are to the point that they devalue anyone who is not like them. It’s fine to be proud to be an African American, Caucasion, Doctor, Lawyer- yet it is not okay to take that pride to the point that you look down upon those who are not like you.

2. We reach out to those who are steeped in a legalistic faith. These are the folk that say if you weren’t baptised in the name of …. you couldn’t possibly be saved. These folk have strict rules about what to wear, where to go, who to associate with, what to eat. Like Paul, we need to reach these folk for Christ.

3. We reach out to those who are Biblically illiterate. Not everyone reads or knows the word. Therefore, we can’t use the word to beat folk upside the head. We can share Christ without ever saying ‘the Bible says…’ before the person is really ready to hear it.

4. We reach out to those that we dislike or fear. This includes those for whom we would normally have disdain.

Using Paul as an example we realize that ‘understanding the worldview of others is critical to heart communication and connection.’ (130)

Finally, Jackson teaches that there were five dimensions of training that David took men through on their journey to reconciliation with God and man. The steps are:

– Prayer (and praise) -Believers can never take a vacation from prayer and devotion to God. Prayer and praise are daily disciplines if we want to be successful.

– Protection -We live under God’s protective cover. Bishop Charles Blake, my pastor from my California days, used to say it like this – ‘God best protects where God directs.’ Living under God’s protection is a choice we make.

– Provision – Everything we have and all we are is dependent upon God. We must never lose sight of this. God is our source. Everything else is one of the vehicles God uses to meet our needs.

– Positive proclamations – We must recall the power of our words which have creative power. What we say is what we get! (135)

– Probity – I loved this word once I looked it up so I’d understand it 🙂  Probity means complete integrity, strong moral principles, PROVEN honesty/integrity. In other words, probity speaks to consistently doing the right thing, even when no one is looking and in such a way that people can trust your integrity. Most of us have integrity, fall down and have to get back on the road. That’s ok. God always allows u-turns. But there is a special anointing on the one whose integrity is so important that they are willing to go the extra mile to do what God says do and be where God says be. That’s what I’m striving for.

Be blessed!

Lesson Summary

The last two chapters of our current study, The Way of The Warrior, focused on thinking like Jesus and praying with authority. As we approach this historic election and as we look at the sad state of affairs – in our homes, communities and in the world, it is even more obvious to me that Christians need to take seriously the ‘warrior’ aspect of our Christian walk. It’s not a pretty topic. It’s not a touchy-feely subject. But it is critical that we recognize the nature of our battles and engage!

The following are highlights from the discussion.

–    Jackson writes that the church has abdicated a great deal of its authority because of ignorance and fear. (85).  The Church is called to be the light of the world.  Believers must engage the culture. That means being engaged in the political arena, in our schools, and in our communities.  He teaches that in order for us to claim our authority we must think like Jesus.  Jackson teaches that Jesus had a clear and reliable foundation, maintained a laser beam focus on God’s will, evaluated all information and experiences through a filter that produced appropriate choices and acted in faith. (87)
–    We were taught three kinds of biblical, Christian meditative thought: verbally reciting God’s word, deliberately focusing inwardly on God’s word and worshipping using music.
–    When we are confronted with serious issues, often we attempt to battle the issue before we deal with the root – our fears.  Many of our problems require strategic, authoritative prayer.
–    When we are going through a major illness, problems with our children, work or spouses, we have a tendency to focus on things we cannot control. God wants us to focus on that which we can control – our attitudes, motives, restoring broken relationships, and taking personal responsibility. When we deal with those issues, we release ourselves to be more in tune with God and more able to hear God’s direction.
–    God often puts us on display for God’s ultimate purpose. None of us wants to be on display when we are hurting. Yet, it is most often those hurts, those tests, that become our greatest tool for building the kingdom. Our task is to lean into Jesus, trust God when we are on display and recognize that anything God brings us to, God will bring us through. We learn to trust God for the outcome. And we realize that those victories become the weapons we use to defeat the enemy in someone else’s life.

–    Jackson teaches three foundational points from the Lord’s prayer that will help believers pray with authority: praying for our daily bread, forgiveness of people who have hurt us and guidance away from personal temptations.

Check Mate

I’m not a chess player and beyond what my husband attempted to teach me when I was a young bride, I know little about the rules. What I do remember as a major frustration was the fact that chess required strategic vision- the ability to think beyond the next move. It occurred to me, as I prayed for a young woman who keeps getting caught in ‘drama.’ that a lot of life is much like playing chess in this regard. How many times is the battle lost because of an unwillingness to think beyond the next move? Single Moms get angry with the ‘baby-daddy’ and react in a way that accelerates instead of diffuses the drama. She doesn’t think beyond the next move!  A young man meets a girl who stirs his passion (read this lust) and starts a relationship. He ignores the fact that she is a heavy drinker, drug abuser or that she treats him like he’s dirt. He doesn’t think beyond the next move. And though my examples use young people, those of us in the summer, autumn or winter seasons of life are not exempt. Every day things happen that require us to think beyond this moment. Scripture teaches that there is a way that seems right but at the end is the way of death (Prov. 14:12). Implicit in this scripture is the admonition to think beyond the next move.

I recently wrote, ‘Nothing I do surprises God though I’m sure much of it breaks God’s heart.’ We have the ability to stop seek God’s input so that we intentionally think beyond the now. In fact, exercising this ability is absolutely critical. There is much more at stake in life than in a game. If you blow a game of chess, you lose nothing really. However, wrong decisions rarely, if ever, impact the decision-maker alone. Every decision we make – good or poorly-informed – will impact other people, innocent by-standers who become unwitting actors in our personal dramas.

So, my friends, take a moment to think and pray before you react. Move. Counter-move. Move.

Intimacy: Chapter 9

Building Intimacies

We’ve been discussing ways to create intimacy in marriage. Weiss teaches that many marriages lack the structure to encourage intimacy and are ill-equipped and often disappointed when our spouses don’t meet our needs.  The following are key points Weiss teaches.

  • Passion begins to falter when our priorities are out of alignment. “Passion is a dividend of consistent investments made into a relationship.” (153)
  • We must  “make” time to be together after we are married just like we did when we dated. During the dating process we are literally ‘selling’ each other on the idea of being married so we do whatever is necessary to make sure it happens. Somehow, after marriage, many people put their relationship at the bottom of the schedule. This is a recipe for failure.
  • You cannot get passion back into your marriage without making your relationship a priority

Weiss teaches three ways to place priorities back in marriage. I recommend that you read and plan to do them.

  • Praying with spouse daily.
  • Sharing your feelings daily (Note: This is not about sharing why your spouse is getting on your nerves or how they are hurting you. This is about helping your spouse know how you feel about things in general. For everyone who just got ‘skerd’ don’t worry- he gives examples on how to do this.)
  • Praise and nurture your spouse daily.  Because words of affirmation is my primary love language I know just how important it is to hear from your spouse daily words that nurture my soul.

This begins the 100 days to intimacy.  Weiss challenges us to commit to do these three disciplines daily for 100 days and see God work!

Happy travels!

%d bloggers like this: