Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Just Learn To Pray

Yesterday afternoon I stopped by White Point. There I have a panoramic view of the Pacific Ocean, the Palos Verdes shoreline, and Catalina Island, and nothing man-made to interrupt the scenery. Genesis 1:2 says that “the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.” Perhaps that’s why White Point is one of my favorite places to visit when I want to spend time with God.

It had been a couple of months since I had taken the time to quiet myself and listen for God’s small, still voice. I wasn’t feeling troubled, but at the same time I didn’t sense the communion with God that I enjoy. As I stood at the railing over the bluffs, I wondered why I had allowed so much time to go by? I had been so busy with work, home, and church. I felt as though I hadn’t had any deep God time in so long. I hadn’t spent much time in prayer; hadn’t journaled; my latest blog posts were taken from journal entries that were months old. My God time had been limited pretty much to church activities, and singing to what I heard on the car radio and cd player, and reading God’s Word but not meditating. I was starting to become a “look at me” Christian, wanting to do things for God, but forgetting that He wants us to do things WITH Him. How did I let things get that way? And it happened so fast!
It’s hard to explain, but God had been kind of like a wristwatch. You have it on all the time, but you don’t use it 24/7. And even though you don’t use it, you feel like something’s missing when you don’t wear it, until finally you don’t miss it at all.

“Life would be so simple if we all just learned to pray.” The statement doesn’t say “learn how to pray.” It says “learn to pray. I know how to play chess. I know that the object of the game is to put your opponent’s king in a position where it is unprotected. I know what moves the different pieces can make, that a knight moves in an “L”, the bishop moves diagonally, and the queen, well, the queen does whatever pleases her (almost). But there’s a difference between knowing how to play chess and actually playing the game. Similarly, we know how to pray. Jesus taught us with The Lord’s Prayer. We have “formulas” for prayer. For example, ACTS -- Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, Supplication. But what good is knowing how to pray if we don’t do it?

In many social circles outside of Chess Club, chess is not the game of choice. Likewise, away from church, prayer is not the “in” thing to do with our friends. Why do people shy away from praying with others? Because for some, it seems foreign to us. We don’t see it done enough to feel comfortable without someone coaching us. The tendency is to treat prayer as if it were for show… a competition of sorts.

When a baby “talks” to his parents, those unintelligible gurgles are the sweetest sounds to a mom or dad’s ears. The words don’t matter. What matters is that the baby is communicating with the parents that brought him into this world. It’s the same thing with prayer. Prayer is communicating with the God who knew us since before he created the world we live in. Our words don’t have to be fancy, educated words. Our words don’t even need to make sense -- God gave us the Holy Spirit to intercede on our behalf. What matters is that our communication with God is genuine, and from the heart.

Don’t think you can pray out loud for someone else? Next time you’re with friends, turn to one of them and say, “I thank God that you’re my friend! And I hope God is good to you today.” ….. Guess what….. You just prayed for your friend!

See, it’s not so hard, is it?

Sunday, May 20, 2007

After Good Friday - Part 2

Reflections on how it might have been after Jesus died ... from Peter's perspective:

I’m thinking I should get a new boat. Not that there’s anything wrong with this one. I’ve had some pretty awesome experiences with Jesus on this boat. But now, my Lord is … dead. I never thought it would happen. Not like this.

I remember the first time Jesus noticed me. It was about three years ago. I was on this same boat, cleaning my fishing nets. “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men!” I wasn’t sure what he meant by that, but I was ready to find out. I knew that there was something different about him, and it was something I wanted, even longed for.

He loved people, more than he loved himself, it seems. I a while back, The Twelve, as we’re sometimes called, were with Jesus by the Sea of Galilee. We spent most of that day being followed by throngs of people, many of them wanting to be healed. And Jesus healed a lot of people that day. We tried to get away to a mountainside, just to get some rest from all the activity. That didn’t last long. Next thing we know, there must have been at least 5,000 people starting to settle on the mountainside around us. So, what does Jesus do next? He asks us where we can get food for the crowd. I’m stunned. What is this? The world’s biggest picnic? I don’t say anything. Philip tells him that even if there were a market close by, it would cost eight months salary to even begin to feed them, and we just don’t have that kind of money on us. My brother Andrew points to a kid in the front. “Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?” Well, you’ve probably heard the rest of the story. It really was the World’s Biggest Picnic!

That wasn’t the only time Jesus did the “impossible.” I don’t even think the word was in his vocabulary. He did unheard of things like walking on water, and turning water into wine at a big wedding. He changed a lot of people‘s lives. And I’ll never forget the time he took John, James and me to the mountaintop, and the three of us stood and watched while Jesus actually had a conversation with Moses and Elijah! That moment was so incredible, I haven’t been able to talk to anyone about it to this day!

He had a kind of “sixth sense” about him. He kept talking about things that were to come, foretelling the future. Looking back at this past week, he seemed to be acting kind of strange. It’s as if he knew all along what would happen. Especially at dinner in the Upper Room the other night. He predicted who would betray him. He knew he would be executed. And, this one I still find hard to believe. He even knew that I would deny him -- three times -- before morning! I said I would die for him. And I turned my back on him. I feel so ashamed.

I believe that Jesus was the Son of God. I’ve seen to much to believe otherwise. I can't imagine going back to my life the way it was before I met him.

I only wish he were still alive so I could tell him how sorry I am for not taking a stand for him.

Saturday, May 19, 2007


My friend John asked for suggestions for blog topics. Knowing that he tends to have deep blog posts (with the exception of the Pirates song), I suggested "integrity" for his next topic. (Click here to go to John's blog. But finish reading mine first, ok?) Since I needed to post something on my blog as well, we agreed to blog on the same topic. And post it tonight.

I suppose I could have backed out, and chosen a different topic, or not blogged at all, but then, what would that say about my integrity?

Not quite sure where to start, I went to dictionary.com, and found out what "integrity" is, and found out that it's defined as:

1. adherence to moral and ethical principles; soundness of moral character; honesty.
2. the state of being whole, entire, or undiminished.
3. a sound, unimpaired, or perfect condition.

It came as no surprise that my picture was not next to the word ... I don't always stick to moral and ethical principles ... I'll be honest -- I'm not always honest ... If I were "undiminished" I'd have accomplished "great things" already in my life ... I sometimes don't feel "whole" ... and I am definitely am not "perfect" ... I don't always follow through with what I say I will do, or with what people expect of me. Oh, I try, but I have more failures than I can count.

If entry into heaven were based on what qualities we possess, I think Integrity would be one of the requirments. On our own, we can't live up to the perfect level of integrity that the God of the Universe requires and deserves. And since God wants us all to go to heaven, I think he'd be pretty lonely up there, all by himself.

I can only think of one person who fits that definition (sorry, Mom & Dad, not you, but you're almost at the top of the list). That person is Jesus Christ. We have a model of what integrity is supposed to look like. But we fall short of that standard. When we confess our sins and failures to live as people of integrity and accept Jesus into our hearts, and change our ways to follow his example, we also are forgiven of that shortfall. He becomes our "lifeline," making us blameless and perfect in God's sight.

"For God so loved the world (you and me) that he gave his one and only Son (Jesus) so that whoever (you and me) believes in him shall not perish, but (you and I) will have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world (you and me) but to save the world (you and me) through him."

I need my Savior so much!

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Isn't it strange?

Isn't it strange how a 20 dollar bill seems like such a large amount when you donate it to church, but such a small amount when you go shopping?

Isn't it strange how 2 hours seem so long when you're at church, and how short they seem when you're watching a good movie?

Isn't it strange that you can't find a word to say when you're praying, but you have no trouble thinking what to talk about with a friend?

Isn't it strange how difficult and boring it is to read one chapter of the Bible, but how easy it is to read 100 pages of a popular novel or ZANE GREY book?

Isn't it strange how everyone wants front-row-tickets to concerts or games, but they do whatever is possible to sit at the last row in Church?

Isn't it strange how we need to know about an event for Church 2-3 weeks before the day so we can include it in our agenda, but we can adjust it for other events at the last minute?

Isn't it strange how difficult it is to learn a fact about God to share it with others, but how easy it is to learn, understand, extend and repeat gossip?
Isn't it strange how we believe everything that magazines and newspapers say, but we question the words in the Bible?

Isn't it strange how everyone wants a place in heaven, but they don't want to believe, do, or say anything to get there?
Isn't it strange how we send jokes in e-mails and they are forwarded right away, but when we are going to send messages about God, we think about it twice before we share it with others?