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Sitting still, standing up, running hard

Lent day 17

Sitting still, standing up, running hard

I have heard pastors speak on not bringing your lists to God. If you come with an agenda then you aren’t giving God room to move. Okay, so let’s go from there. Is it truly wrong to bring a list of things you need to pray about to God? No. God wants us to talk with Him about what’s going on. If a list, even a written helps you focus on things that you want to speak with God about, go for it. I would call that a standing up prayer. You’re standing in the gap about things that trouble you, you are thanking God for answering or moving in these things, and if you are writing them down then you can look back on them to recall what God has done- all of this is good.
Does this way of praying block the moving of God’s Spirit because your time has a specific focus? Sometimes. We should always be willing throughout our day to stop for a moment and pray or worship when God taps our shoulder and wants a moment. Not having a list every single day but also having days where instead you wait silently, or in praise and listen for God’s voice or His moving you to a specific prayer or maybe action, or even a thought or problem that you hadn’t considered talking to Him about. This is what I would call a sitting still prayer. Taking a cup of tea and a cookie and spending some quality time with the person of Jesus.
Then you have the desperate needs, the times when you bang on the doors of Heaven and weep on Jesus’s feet because the need is so great. Begging God, calling out in the Spirit, crying, hoping, leaving it all at the altar. This is what I would call a running hard prayer. You knew what’s at stake and you know only God can fix it, so you run with everything in you to the foot of the Cross and claw into the wood as you seek God’s face.
All that lead you closer to the real Jesus who is God, is right in it’s own way. Prayer and Bible reading, serving and giving, kneeling, standing, sitting. As long as you are seeking Him, you’re on the right track. Your relationship with God and someone else’s may look different, that doesn’t mean they are right and you are wrong. Are you seeking God’s face? Are you searching the Bible and trying your best to be a deciple? Then why would you question yourself? You are God’s chosen child. He loves you. Don’t measure yourself by others, measure yourself by you. You always stand in your own court and only you know how much you have or haven’t grown. God loves every moment you spend trying to serve Him, no matter what other people say about how you seek, serve and love God.

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For such a time

Lent day 13

For such a time

In the movie The Fellowship of the Ring, it is not until the oppressive dark of the mines of Moria that Frodo regrets having the ring. (Why ot deviated from the book here I will never understand.) In the book however, it is in his safe and happy home in the Shire where he first feels this dread. I find this important. As soon as he knew that the Ring was evil he wanted rid of it, he wanted to have no part in it, he wished it had never come to him, while safe in his home and fire blazing in the harth and a full stocked cupboard.
If only we as Christians would have the sense of Frodo. If only we would hate evil long before we ever truly saw it’s face. To find a device of it in our hearts and throw it away quickly. Instead we feel like we are part of something by keeping bits of evil around, by supporting things that are clearly sins or groups that disclaim the Bible and destort scripture to serve their own purpose. We let these things in and feel like we are smart, powerful, or even accepting by drawing close to sin. Then when the darkness is so great that we finally see it for what it is, it is too late. We need to flee from sin while we are still safe in our houses, not wait until we are face to face with the true evil, the puppetmaster if you will. Because in the end, all sin is of the devil, no matter how pretty the package. Letting even a little in and thinking well of yourself because of it will lead to greater sin until you are consumed, and all sin leads to hell, unless you bring it before Jesus and repent. Ask Him to deliver you and forgive you. He can do it even after the sin has grown and the bare face of evil stands before you, or within you, yet it’s easier on you if you turn to Him while the sin is still small and you are still safe at home, with a blazing fire and a full cupboard, long before you wander into the cold and dark.

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Only traveling through

Lent day 10

Like it or not, we are part of the world around us. -Pat Terry

I like the world around us less and less. There is so much evil and sin. Today I saw that a kid’s show meant for six year olds and up has had adults, with clearly nothing else to do with their time, going on the internet and discussing how the two little boys that are the main cheracters are probably gay and if they aren’t, should be. Little kids. Forced by adults to be something they are not. Friendship has been killed by this way of thinking. When I was a kid, not very long ago, two little boys walking down the street holding hands meant nothing, now it is forced to mean something. Caring about your friends is seen as a sexual desire and pure innocence is left hanging for the vultures to pick at. On an add for another show meant for children I saw covens, people being possessed and animal sacrifices used to increase dark magic. This show was intended for eight years old and up.
It’s hearbreaking if not simply outrageous to see what is happening to our minds and the minds of those around us. Sometimes it feels like there is no hope or escape for or from thos darkness as it gains ground over the world. But God. God told us to be not conformed to this world but to be transformed by the renewing of our spirits. Our bodies may be stuck in this world, but our souls are from another world, our souls are Heaven bound and belong to Jesus who died for them. The battleground between carnal body and eternal soul is in the mind. The mind can convince you that evil is good and that there is no such thing as sin. That’s not true. The mind can be a safe haven from the darkness if we give it to Jesus and let Him have dominion. It can also be a place of desolation if we let it be beaten down by what goes on around us. Like it or not we are part of the world around us. But we don’t have to be sold out to that world. We are supposed to be strangers to this evil planet and to help show others the way out, the way to Jesus. Thank God that, as Larry Norman once said, we are only visiting this planet. Our home is in Heaven and we aren’t supposed to be comfortable here, we are supposed to long for our eternal home.
Gaurd your mind and fight for it’s sanctity, because it is the final ground to fight on and too many of us forgo that front and let it be taken by the enemy. Take heart and have hope, Jesus has a plan, He has a future, He has not forgotten or forsaken you and someday, if you hold true, you will be with Him in paradise.

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Oil on my head

Lent day 9

Let a righteous man strike me- that is a kindness; let him rebuke me- that is oil on my head- Psalm 141:8

David was a man after God’s heart. That doesn’t mean he never screwed up, it means that he repented when he did. He was human and made human mistakes, however he truly loved God and wanted to make things right with Him as fast as he could when he sinned. Few true followers of God commit sins on purpose, and when we do sin we try to repent quickly. I like the second half of that verse the best: let him rebuke me-that is oil on my head.
David was a shepherd, so he would have known that oil on the head of the sheep was there to fend off flies. We do this on the bellies of our horses on the farm too. To him being rebuked by a righteous man was the same as having insect repellent placed on his head. It warded off the attacks of evil emotions and desires. He didn’t take being rebuked by someone closer to God than himself as an offense, rather as a kindness. David didn’t shy from a corrective word from the pulpit, he knew that being close to God was greater than his feeling of self importance.
May we all have a spirit that thirsts after righteousness, because we long to know God’s face.

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My precious treasure

Lent day 8

I rejoice in your word, like one who discovers a great treasure.

I saw this today on facebook. I didn’t look at which passage it was and now can’t find it so forgive me for that.
Treasure. What a strange thing it is. We covet treasure and search for it and cling to it. Treasure is something greatly cared for and longed for. We treasure our family. We treasure our spouse. But do we treasure God? Do we treasure His word? When you think of who you could not live without, where does God fall on that list? We played a game once as a family. If you could only keep three books that you owned which three would they be? My mom immidiately said the Bible, she knew that she needed the word of God above all else. Now imagine a world where the Bible meant death if you carried it, so you hid it under your clothes and shared it with great caution, but you kept it despite it’s dangers because you cherish it. Some people in other countries are forced to do this. People who will have the biggest mansions in Heaven, because they have loved God the most. I don’t know if that’s true, God probably gives the same mansion size to everyone, but I think it would be fair if God gave them more. We are so used to freedom that we don’t cherish it, but I fear a day is coming when we will have to hide our Bibles too. Will we? Do we treasure the word of God? Do we seek after it like a precious Jewel and write it on our hearts? Is God precious to you?

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Lent day 2

Even the little concerns

Lent day 2
Today needed a photo, and if I’m honest I’m not sure everyone will get is being said in this one because this understanding of God is something we all struggle with.
God cares. Hang on, don’t roll your eyes, I know we have all heard this term missused and misrepresented. Just (as my new yoga teacher would say) breathe into it for a moment. God cares about you. Every tiny, crazy, dumb problem; every monumental catastrophe, He cares.
My example may sound odd but give me a chance.
You see that guy in the photo below? That’s my horse. He’s been my horse for over a decade. We have had big crazy dreams, big crazy failures and many learning moments. I’ve been worried about him lately. It’s been really cold (though he usually prefers that) and he has been acting odd. Distant. Even a little aggressive. I checked him over and he’s physically fine, so I chalked it up to the cold air and waited. Then it warmed up and nothing changed. Now I’m concerned and on with horse behaivior experts trying to see if something is wrong on the inside. With a little work on a few bad habbits his aggressive attitude faded away, but he was still playing shy with me. It felt like something I should deal with myself, I have trained horses for several years, I should be able to solve this on my own. Yet I was worried about him, and a little sad to see him acting that way toward me who loves him so much. So I prayed. I’ll admit my prayer began along the lines of “sorry to bother you with this God,” because like I said, it didn’t seem like a big thing, just something that was bothering me. Skip to today. I’m out in my yard, my horse comes right up to me, which he hasn’t done for the past several weeks, his ears are pricked but I give him some space and let him do his own thing. His own thing turned out to be following me around the yard, wanting to be close to me even though I had no treats, nuzzling my hair and being his normal self. It was so nice to realize that God wasn’t bothered by my odd, seemingly unimportant request. I know this story was long, and most people probably can’t relate to it, my point here is that no matter how silly your request seems, even if you feel like you should be able to deal with the problem yourself, even if you’re worried that God will see it as too small for his power, He still cares, it’s never too small of a problem for God. We get it into our heads that God likes big flashy miracles, but don’t forget that God was not in the Wind, He was in the whisper. Ask Him. No matter how silly small or unimportant it seems, bring it to God and watch for him to make things better. Like a loving father He’s never ashamed to kiss and  bandage our scrapes.

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The wicked lies of the devil lead to death

The devil has been lying since the beggining. It’s one of the things he’s good at. He lies about your value, he lies about your identity, he lies about God, but he most often lies about himself. He pretends to be good, kind and loving. He pretends to be cool and exciting. He uses words like equality and acceptance, and shared power and universal unity, but he doesn’t mean it. In the end, those who follow him will never feel equal, accepted, powerful or unified. Because he is the ordinator of lowlyness, seperation, weakness and devision. He uses words from people that make it sound like if you follow his path you will be going down a good and kind route, but you aren’t. He makes God sound like He is judgemental, inconsiderate and unaccepting. So what does he do to replace God? he replicates Him, he makes a new version that is labeled with acceptance and understanding and equality, yet this false god lacks everything the original had. For starters it’s fake and God is real. Second, it has no authority, no power, it’s just there incase you need someone to pray to. Third, it has no rules, hence the accepting and understanding part. And of course it isn’t higher or greater than anyone, hence the equality part, because we as people can never be equal with the true God. And people come to this puppet god, they believe in it and worship it and call themselves Christians, thinking they have a found an easier to follow version of Jesus. Yet they have found the devil in disguise. The devil’s biggest lie is that he cares about you. He doesn’t. You will never rule in hell, you will never have authority in the devil’s realm, why? Because he wants to be the ruler, the king, he wants equality with God and that’s why he was thrown out of Heaven. You will never gain all the devil has promised you, he will only give you enough to keep you coming back, never more. God is not unaccepting. He accepts us as we are, then His love changes us. We don’t change first and then find Jesus, we can’t change without Him. Yes, He does not accept our sins -any of our sins- but He died so that we can come to him sins and all, and he will purify us and set us free from them. Yes God is intollerant to sin. He wouldn’t be God if He wasn’t, but He loves us enough to take us as we are and to help us change. God considers us everyday. He is so considerate of us that He forgives us. He knew we would sin, so He always made a way out, first with sacrifices, then with the sacrifice of His son, because of that we can now sacrifice our old selves and become new creations in Christ. All of this was possible because God was and is thinking about us.
God judges our sin. Yes. But He gave us a solution in Jesus. We sin everyday, but God looks at the heart and mind and knows when we are trying to do better and knows when we are truly sorry.
The devil is conniving with his lies and makes them easy to accept and easy to follow. God is just and righteous in His truth, sometimes that is hard to accept and hard to follow. But one way leads to hell and the other to Heaven. Don’t follow the easy path. Seek after the true God. Pray and seek His heart, then you will be truly free and accepted by the one who loves you.

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Have you ever been so hungry you felt like you were starving? I’ve seen animals get to the place where they eat plastic containers, because they once held food and still smelled like something you could eat. That’s starving. Our guest speaker last Sunday spoke on hunger. She asked: Are we hungry for God? Good question. We look around and see a world that is so hungry for God, but they don’t realize it, so they settle for anything that seems like it might satisfy that knotting and aching. Yet all they are eating is plastic that smells like food, it’ not real food. The only satisfaction for our pangs of hunger, is God. It may sound like a cliche, but reading your Bible and praying is truly the only way to satisfy the need. As the English say, we need to strap on the ole’ feed bag. We pick and nibble at God’s word and prayer, but do we get so into being with Him that we are willing to strap ourselves to Him? Do we set aside time and dedicate to reading the Bible and praying? Or do we just treat the filling of our hunger like a child with a bag of snacks, picking out some of what we like and then hiding the rest under the couch so we don’t have to eat it?
We are in a starving world, yet we don’t reach out and take from the only one who can satisfy us. His hand is open and ready to give to us, yet we play shy. Like my horse last night. I brought him out extra oats. But did he come and take them from me? Of course not. He tossed his head around and acted like I had nothing to offer him. Why? Because he was being a brat, he did take his feed eventually because he did want it, but he had to pretend like he didn’t, just for the sake of it. We know God has what we need, yet we refuse to take it from Him, we shake our heads and act like He has nothing to offer. The difference between God offering to us and us offering to someone, is that eventually we will give up and move on, but God will keep reaching out no matter how many times you reject him. I am so grateful for that character in him. So? As our guest speaker asked last week, are you hungry?

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Finding Jesus

Where is Jesus?

His knees ached as he prayed, he swung back and forth in agony as his soul searched for something, anything. Around him others prayed to their gods and the pain was clear in their mumbled as they searched for the same thing. A woman was kneeling beside him, a book clasped in her hands as she prayed silently, a dim smile spread across her face. He leaned over to her. ‘What god do you pray to?’
She whispered back, ‘I pray to Jesus.’
‘Oh, what is Jesus the god of?’
The woman thought a moment, ‘well, He’s the God of everything. There isn’t anything that He isn’t God over.’
‘Really? Who is He?’
‘He’s the one who died for you. He came to earth from Heaven and was sacrificed for our sins. Then He rose again and took deminion over death. Now we who love Him can join Him in Heaven.’
‘Interesting. How did you get to know Him?’
She began to answer but a rod came down with a crack between them, ‘no talking!’ The guard bellowed, ‘just do your worship and leave.’
The woman went back to her praying, the book clutched against her heart. The man looked around him, some people beat their heads and chests in anguish, some had knives and drew blood from their palms, some merely mumbled to themselves the same things the man had heard them say every time they had come, he looked at the statue of the god he was praying to, it seemed so indiferent to him to his needs, it never died for him, it didn’t care about him. Then he glanced at the woman again, she was smiling, then she laughed softly, she cried but it seemed like a happy cry. He glanced at the guard, the person had moved on. He leaned forward, ‘how do I contact her god? Do I need a sacrifice? She seems to have just come here. He whispered again to the woman.
‘How do I get to know your God?’
She grinned, ‘just talk to Him. Call Him by His name, Jesus, God, even Father.’
‘That’s it?’
She nodded. He began to pray, ‘um…Jesus. Are you there?’ Suddenly a wave sweapt over him. Peace. Fear of the power that surrounded him seized his soul, but the peace chased it away. Then he began to cry as another wave hit him. Love. It was sufficating and beautiful.
The guard rang the bell that said free time to worship was over. The man got up and saw the guard take the book from the woman as he collected all the religious items from the worshipers. He saw her stop herself from reaching after the book. She left. He left. But the feeling of her God didn’t leave him. It followed him as he went to his house. On the road he saw the woman again, he rushed over to her and she startled back from him.
‘Don’t be afraid. But I have to know. Why does it feel like your God is following me?’
She smirked, almost laughed and then said gently, ‘because He loves you.’
‘Yes. He wants you and is with you wherever you go. I don’t have to attend the worship hour in the chamber to be near my God, He is always with me, I go because they keep the Bibles and I love holding His book in my hands.’
The man didn’t know what to say, the woman suddenly whispered, ‘guards coming.’ And dissapeared.
The man returned to his home, sat on his bed and said ‘Jesus. Are you here?’ The peace and love swept over him again and he decided that day that he would aim to get a Bible too during the allotted worship hour, then he could learn more about this God who clearly loved him. Now when he prayed he knew someone was listening and cared about what he had to say, now when he cried he knew someone was there to comfort him. Now he was loved. And had purpose, if that purpose was simply to worship the god called Jesus.
He never saw the woman again, but as he learned about Jesus and gave his life to Him he knew that some day he would meet the woman again in Heaven, and then he would thank her.

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Counting on you

Counting on you

We as Christians count on God for so much. We count on Him to be good to us, to forgive us, to love us, to heal us, to help us. But can God count on us for…well…anything?
We don’t think about God counting on us. In fact, we don’t really think that God needs us, do we? We realize that He is God and He can make His plan work no matter what we do or don’t do. But that’s not the point. God doesn’t rely on us, He doesn’t have to, but He does count on us. He counts on us to do His will, to obey His commands, to care for our fellow Christians, to show His love to the lost and broken, He may even have appointed you a position in which you can do these things. He counts on us doing our part. If we never step out our front door, if we never take the chance, if we squelch the voice of God inside of us, aren’t we letting God down. We like to dance around the circle of ‘it’s a partnership, God and I are working together,’ because it makes us think that God is helping us in fulfilling our goals and our dreams, and that is what the outer ring of the circle sometimes looks like- but what about the inner circle, the inner Sanctum if you like, that’s where God is, the place where it’s not our will but His. The place where the fire burns so hot that it hurts sometimes, the place of surrender, are any of us willing to enter that circle? Or do we prefer the edge where it’s safe?
Can God count on us?
Can God say, “I can always count on Lauren to do the right thing?” Or I can always count on Larry, or Lynne, or Tanya, or Carole, or Mark, or Matthew, or whatever your name is, fill in the blank, can God say “him or her, I can always count on”?
I hope so. I hope that we all aim to live within the fire, near the heart of God, so He can count on us.