Tag Archives: prayer

Give me Your joy

May the overflow of my heart reflect your glory
Let the fire of your love overwhelm inside of me
Like a mighty volcano that must be released

Make my soul restless for your beautiful presence
Envelop me with the embrace of the Spirit
Give me the faith to stand for your justice

Make all my desires be only from you
May I pray not merely for happiness, but for joy
For Your joy is so much greater than this world’s happiness

May the peace of Christ be so intertwined with my soul that nothing can take it away
May the love of Jesus be so completely filling
That the conflict with the flesh becomes nothing but a distant memory

My God, I ask that you would use me,  fill me and mold me
Lord, may my life, in spite of me and all my failings
Glorify your perfect, wonderful, loving Holy name

.

Waiting and Bartering – The JIBTYI Notes; part 6

Hopefully you’ve been reading all week and know what is going on here. If this is your first visit this week, welcome and thank you!

I recently read a book, twice, the experience I had reading that book was profound to say the least, the conversations I had with Jesus throughout will stay with me the rest of my life. So here is the story of my experience with reading the book “Jesus is Better Than You Imagined” by Jonathan Merritt.

In chapter six of the JIBTYI, the author broaches the subject of “encountering Jesus in waiting”. This is not usually something I do well with; waiting. God is outside of time, He is infinite, He has no clock. He can see all times at once, which incidentally confuses me because if we have free choice to do what we want, can God see all the possible outcomes of our choices at once? Or does he know what we will choose, because he is God, even though we are free to make our own choice? If He knows what we will chose is it possible for us to choose differently? Can we surprise God? The implications of predetermined destiny is something I need to look into one day, because I don’t like it, unless my destiny is awesome, maybe then I do like it.

Back on track, encountering Jesus in waiting, or as I wrote in my notes; dealing with God’s annoying patience, trying to understand His timing. My pastor at church describes God as a crock-pot God in a microwave society. I love that description because it is so accurate. So often we want things now, now, now. However God knows better, if he did everything now, then we wouldn’t appreciate it for what it is. Most of the time it is in the waiting where He is teaching us something. There is a purpose in the waiting; learning, growth, purpose, perspective. Sometimes our loving Father knows that we need to be left alone in order to receive what he is trying to teach us.

One thing that has struck me when reading the bible is how often I ignore the days, weeks and years etc between the parts of the stories. There was an awful lot of regular life lived in between huge biblical events. So why would it not be the same for us & our Godly events? Just because we live in the now age, just because I am in the now generation, this does not affect God’s timing. It is so true when they say “good things come to those who wait”. “Sometimes waiting isn’t waiting at all”

There was a time when I still lived in England, that I felt something inside of me that wanted to go back to church. This was in what I call my recovery period, I was living alone after a chaotic couple of years of living with “friends”. I felt this call, but I only went one time, on a Christmas Eve, I snuck in the back of the church and enjoyed the service before fining my Dad & step Mum afterwards. I’m not sure why I never took that step on a Sunday morning, part of me felt that it would achieve nothing, part of me felt that I had not business walking into a church and of course there was another part that just needed to sleep off the night before. It was around this time that the thought of the monastery came to me too. I also remember having a recurring dream of me coming out of water, standing up feeling alive and new, shaking my head & the water going everywhere. I always assumed it was some idea for a music video that I would one day make. However now I believe it was a vision of my baptism.

Around that time I have a clear recollection of praying to God while laying in bed. It wasn’t a great prayer, in fact I recall imitating a guy I’d seen on a soap opera once who didn’t pray but wanted to ask God for a favor for his sick wife, basically rolling the dice incase God was real. Anyway, at the time the woman who has now been my beloved wife for 12+ years, was just a friend in another country who I had met through work. Yet I knew I loved her, I knew that she was the one, I knew that somehow, my life would be better if I could just get to be with her. So I prayed, I asked God to somehow make it happen, and then being the faithless non-believer that I was, instead of asking out of love I bartered with Him. I told God that if He would just make this happen that I would go back to church, I’d go every week if He wanted me to.

Yes, we all ride cows to work ;)

Yes, we all ride cows to work 😉

At a rough guess I’d say this happened at some point in the year 2000. In March of 2002 I moved to Texas on a K1 fiancée visa, we were engaged in August of 2001 and filed our visa papers right before 9/11. We were married in a church, the faith of my youth, somewhat revived, but then again not really there at all. My conversation with Jesus that night back in 2000 was far removed from my memory. Fast forward to the spring of 2004 and I lost my job, it really wasn’t a bad thing, I hated that job, it made me so miserable that I had calculated how many days I had to go until I could retire, I was just about 27 when I left their employment. The scary thing about not having a job was paying the bills, I was pretty confident I would find work soon, but there was always that doubt.

At some point while I was working my notice my wife told me over the phone that she had been praying for me and the situation. At that moment I was grief stricken, this woman that I loved with all my heart was a good strong Christian woman, she has the most steadfast belief in Jesus of anyone I know, there is no hot and cold like you find with me, she is unwavering & I love that about her. Anyway, we had not been to church since we got married, because I had no interest in going to a church. Yet at that moment I was struck with grief, I told her that maybe we could go to church that weekend.

So we went to church, I wasn’t struck by lightning, the service wasn’t terrible & the building wasn’t miserable. We went back the next week and I think the following week was Easter, so we went again, 3 weeks in a row seemed a bit much to me but we went one more week anyway. I had intended that to be the last time we went until Christmas, I figured that we could start going at Easter and Christmas, that should be enough to pacify my wife right?

The internet tells me that the date was April 18th 2004. The sermon that day spoke to me in a way that is difficult to describe. It was a message on having a heart for God and guarding that heart, but the content is not really relevant here. What happened that day was Jesus spoke to me through one of His messengers. God caught my attention that day in a way that you can only understand if it has happened to you. The weeks that followed I was gripped by the sermons; God seemed to be speaking directly to me, specifically about me, with every word. You could listen to the message and not get that at all, yet that is what happened to me. Throughout that summer I wrestled with what was happening, as we got more involved, joining a small group, making friends. Was this something I wanted to do? Was this something I could do? If I were to make the decision to accept Christ into my life I knew I was making a rest of my life decision, one that I didn’t want to take lightly, although with hindsight it was inevitable.

Around Labor Day of that year we took a trip to England, spent a great time visiting family

Never before and never again have I looked more like an American tourist - 55 miles from where I was raised

Never before and never again have I looked more like an American tourist – 55 miles from where I was raised

and friends and enjoying being tourists in the beautiful county of Yorkshire. It was while I was there that I realized that my old life didn’t make sense to me anymore, it was while I was there that I knew that this new life was the one for me. I had made my decision, not in a moment, not in some great salvation moment, not even in church specifically, if anything it was in a pub and a football stadium and in traffic and in conversations with someone complaining.

The important thing is that the decision was made. I was baptized on October 31st of that Ludbrook, Chris 10-31-04 1 - 1200year. The date didn’t trigger at the time, but the sense of humor of God was clear for me to see later, He baptized one of His hell raisers on Halloween.

So that is the very much abbreviated tail of how I began to keep my part of the bargain I made with God. All that time, He just patiently waited and loved me. Maybe it is not us who are waiting on God at all, maybe it is God who is waiting on us.

If that is the tale of how I returned to God, what the bigger picture is, is that over a period of many years, one incident at a time the devil was attacking me and moving me slowly further and further away from Jesus. The innocent young boy that loved Jesus, but didn’t really understand Him or what it meant to be in a relationship with Him, was moved away from Him.

The thing I learned more than anything while reading this book, the thing that God finally got into my thick skull, is that throughout it all, no matter what happened, what I did or where I went, He was still there. Jesus is better than I imagined, because He never gave up on me, even when I had given up on Him, even when I denied His existence, He always knew better. For years I have struggled with the notion that because God has done all this for me, brought me out of such darkness and pain into such an amazing life with such an amazing family, that He must have some really big plan for me. That I must have some great mission to accomplish in order to justify what He has done for me. I felt Jesus smile when I finally realized that He did not do this under condition, that I do not have some holy bar tab to pay off. He did this because He loves me, that is the only reason, He loves me, just like He loves you! Now that is not to say that God will not use me for a big mission or whatever, He can do all things, even through me, that is just not why He saved me, He saved me because of love & I will be eternally grateful for that,

 

Prayers for OKC, I am numb

Thinking about what vacation writing to post today seems a little redundant. How can I celebrate a good time when such awful news is coming south from our neighbors and friends in Oklahoma? I pray for all those affected.

My mind cannot, maybe will not, comprehend the pain this tragedy has caused. Parents without children and vice versa. Families and friendships forever changed, relationships lost. It is desperately heart breaking. Sometimes, in these moments, it is easy to question where is God in this, why are such things allowed to happen? Sometimes I have the answers for that, sometimes I don’t. I am sure the tornadoes were here before people were, we chose to live in their paths. I do know that somehow, someway, God will work this tragedy for His good, He will change lives positively through the worst of situations, He always does, because He will never give up on us, He will never allow even the darkest of happenings, to claim victory. Even in the worst of times, even in the most painful of moments, He is there & He is working for your good, especially when it feels like he is not there.

Maybe it is because I am paying more attention then in years past, but 2013 seems to have been particularly devastating so far in terms of tragedies & needlessly lost lives. I grow weary of bad news, I am tired of my heart slumping in pain. Hug your families today and savor every moment you have with them. We get the great privilege of time with our loved ones, yet we have no idea or right to know how much time we will get with them.

I am going to leave you with a poem that most people are familiar with, yet seems very poignant today.

Footprints in the Sand

One night I dreamed I was walking along the beach with the Lord.

Many scenes from my life flashed across the sky.

In each scene I noticed footprints in the sand.

Sometimes there were two sets of footprints,

other times there were one set of footprints.

This bothered me because I noticed

that during the low periods of my life,

when I was suffering from

anguish, sorrow or defeat,

I could see only one set of footprints.

So I said to the Lord,

“You promised me Lord,

that if I followed you,

you would walk with me always.

But I have noticed that during

the most trying periods of my life

there have only been one

set of footprints in the sand.

Why, when I needed you most,

you have not been there for me?”

The Lord replied,

“The times when you have

seen only one set of footprints,

is when I carried you.”

Mary Stevenson

Copyright © 1984 Mary Stevenson, from original 1936 text, All rights reserved

The power of me vs the power of you

Some days it feels like

The power of me

Verses the power of you

Yet you are on my side

Always on my side

When I want to quit

When I feel too tired to carry on

You are the coach pushing me to keep going

When I feel that I can’t do it

When I tell you that I don’t have enough

You pick me up

You tell me that I am loved

That I am light

Even when I turn to my lifelong comfort

You use that to let me know that you care for me

I know that you don’t bring the suffering

But you do use it for sanctification

I pray for a break from suffering

I beg for a period of peace

I am at the end of my rope, hanging on

Yet I know, without a second of a doubt

That you are holding the rope

That I will be fine

Because you love me, I know because you told me so

Thank you Lord

As you speak faith over fear

As you seek fellowship over isolation

As you realize not only are you not alone

But you were never alone

As you come to know

That your significance is felt

In the response of those who love you

You slowly begin to win the battle

You begin to claim victory

Over the attack you have been under

All that is left is to wonder

Why does it take so long for these things to sink in?

And most of all to simply say

Thank you Lord

 

 

Not today

I have spent the last couple of days writing the next 2 pieces on my self examination series, as I seek to truly discover who I am. However today now seems like a ridiculous day to post something self serving. Instead I felt it appropriate to place on here something I posted on facebook in December. Following the senseless tragedy in Newtown, CT in my desperate sadness I got angry at God about the situation, honestly the only time I have been mad at God. I yelled at him on the way home, trying to avoid the tears. Then he answered me & I shared it, unfortunately it seems that these words are required daily now. My heart breaks & my prayers go out for all those affected by today’s tragedy & all the other ongoing tragedies in this fallen world.

 

So you ask, where is God? If there is a God, why would he allow such terrible things to happen? I can sympathise, I used to feel the same. However over the last 8 years of knowing personally the God of this universe, I understand. I don’t always like it but I understand. The greatest gift, the greatest blessing & frankly the whole point of life is love.

Without complete & utter free choice true love is impossible. As a result, in a broken world free choice can become devastatingly evil, love can be corrupted into hate & the most wonderful & pure thing in this universe, love, becomes the worst thing imaginable, hate.

Does that make it ok? Does that make it acceptable? No, but without free choice, there is no love, without love there is no point, you may as well close the universe & end it all now. I pray for everyone affected by today’s tragedy & I pray that in some small way, in some small parts, at least some small piece of good can be found to fuel the healing process.

A prayer’s prayer

Do you know that your prayers are always answered?

When you pray the same prayer a hundred or more times

When that prayer starts to become part of the ritual of your commute

When it seems like there is no response;

That prayer will be answered

Sometimes the answer is not yet

Sometimes the answer is no

There is always an answer though

Sometimes the answer is so subtle

that you don’t realize it is being answered before your eyes

If you ask God to tell you who you are, He will tell you

If you ask God to mold you, change you & make you who he wants you to be

He will do it

Sometimes it seems you should be careful what you ask for

There are many, many ways to pray

When you sing in worship are you just singing a song?

Or are you praying with all your heart?

When you say, I am forever yours

When you ask, set a fire down in my soul

That I can’t contain & I can’t control

You better mean it, because he will.

Pray your prayers my friends

Fear not the unknown, for all is known to Him