Friday, December 18, 2009

Holiday Chaos

Tonight is the Christmas party at the Bible college where I am taking classes. I have volunteered to get the ham for the dinner. Yes, me - the only person I know who can have a toaster oven catch fire without even trying to cook something; she whose insurance company requires a fire hydrant in the front yard before underwriting a homeowner's policy - is cooking. I have the day off, and am happy to do so. I've planned my strategy, have the timing set in my mind, even canceled a lunch date with my mom to cook this hunk of pig. No problem.

Until last night. The kitchen sink wouldn't drain. Mr. from-the-Prairie tries Drain-O. Doesn't do anything (duh). OK, I'll get up early to take care of it - as if I know what I'm doing. So, this morning I end up taking the drain apart. The sink drains - all over the floor. Well, at least there's no standing water in the basin ... it's now all over the floor ... "Daddeeeee ... can you come over and fix my sink?"

In the mean time, when taking out the garbage, an empty wine bottle falls ***SHATTER*** all over the patio. The sad thing about it is I didn't even drink any of the wine from that bottle. As I'm trying to shoo my two dogs from the glass while I clean up the mess, I can't help but wonder ...

Can today get any more interesting?

In the midst of all of what's going on in the chaotic kitchen I think back to that night long ago in Bethlehem. Things were chaotic there as well. People from all over the known world, converging on this quiet little town. People were sleeping in the streets because there was simply not enough lodging for such a population boom. Everyone was tired and cranky. Children were whiny -
Benjamin: "Stop touching me! Mom, Simon won't stop touching me!"
Mom: "Simon, don't touch Benjamin."
Simon: (Slowly moving his hand toward Benjamin) "I'm not touching you..."
Benjamin: "MOM!!!"
Wives were berating their husbands:
"I told you that we should have left at sun-up. But NOOOoo ... You wanted to buy some extra barley. If we had left at sun-up we'd be sleeping in a real room, and not on the street listening to that Simon kid 'not' touching Benjamin!"
"Yes, dear...."
And on and on it went, all throughout this city. Even in the filth of a stable, where no one would go out of their way to choose to sleep, a woman wails in the pain of childbirth. Soon the chaos turns to joy, when two parents hear the very first cry of their newborn son. Joy so uncontainable that the angels breach the veil of heaven itself to gaze in adoration at this baby. Their announcement says it all:
 "Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger."
News of great joy! But the ones who received the news were not the townies. The ones who received it were not the visitors. The ones who did witness this announcement were shepherds, tending sheep, in the quiet of a field, away from the chaos. The angels invited them to see this child for themselves, giving an ancient sort of Mapquest, if you will - "in the town of David ... you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger."

When God sends a message, He wants his people to hear. In the midst of the chaos of preparing for the holidays, God wants us to be still, and know that He is still God (and we are not!). Jesus is in the midst of your chaos. Look for Him ... you'll find Him.
Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Tuesday, December 15, 2009


When I received my copy of PRIMAL: A Quest for the Lost Soul of Christianity by Mark Batterson, I felt like a child on Christmas morning! I had read his previous book Wild Goose Chase and remember hanging on every word he wrote. Primal did not disappoint. 

In his newest book, Batterson takes a fresh look at the Greatest Commandment that Jesus gives us --  Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength -- and dares you and me to start a 21st century reformation by becoming great at living out the Greatest Commandment.

What did I like about this book? Batterson breaks down the four parts of the Greatest Commandment - heart, soul, mind, and strength - and challenges us to take action when our hearts break for the same things that God's heart breaks for, to rediscover the wonder of the intricacies of creation and the world around us, to be life-long learners, and to break a sweat for our God-given visions. Because this book was provided for review by WaterbrookMultnomah, I had a "due date" to finish reading and posting my review. There are several sections of the book where I felt I could ponder for hours on the points he was bringing out. I will definitely be re-reading this book.

Would I recommend this book to others? Absolutely. I would tell others to make Primal: A Quest for the Lost Soul of Christianity the first book you read in 2010, and allow time to take in the treasures within the front and back covers. This is not a book that should be rushed through.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Sunday, December 06, 2009

How are you?

Every Sunday morning at our church we have a custom of spending a couple of minutes at a particular point in the service to get out of our pews and greet each other, to shake hands or hug (depending on your level of familiarity). For the most part, everyone you encounter has a smile on their face, is glad to see you this morning, and may even take a moment to give a word of blessing or encouragement.  This morning the custom went not much differently than most weeks. Except ...

I lied to almost everyone there.  I only pretended to be "fine."  Probably only one or two people could tell something was amiss.  The rest of the people I encountered probably didn't have a clue. And I'm sure I wasn't the only liar in God's house this morning either.

Church isn't the only place where we blindly ask the "How are you?" question. We use that greeting literally everywhere we go. But when people answer, it seems no one really likes to admit to others that they are not alright. There can be many reasons for that:  They don't want to be the drama queen; They don't want to make a scene or draw attention to themselves; They don't want to talk; People who ask are doing so only to be polite - they really don't want to know, because they're hiding their own troubles.

Isn't it OK to be honest? Especially in church, with the people of God, people who can share your burdens, cry with you, pray with you? I'm not saying we should unload all of what is on our mind with everybody we encounter. There is a time and place for it, not necessarily during the greeting time. But why all the phoniness? God wants us to come as we are - He knows what we are going through even better than we do.

Maybe we are asking the wrong question when we greet each other. Maybe we should change it to something that doesn't have such a conditioned response. Since we are called to pray for one another, maybe a greeting such as "What's your prayer today?" or "How can I pray for you?" would elicit a more honest answer when God's people greet one another.  After all, isn't it better to be real than to pretend you have it all together?

What do you think?

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Monday, November 16, 2009

Faith and Fangs - Touched by a Vampire

There will always be rivalry between brothers and sisters. It does not stop, even when they are in their late teens. The latest debate between my sister's 20 year-old son and 18 year-old daughter has to do with which book series is more popular: Harry Potter (my nephew Tom's choice) or the Twilight saga (my niece Anna's latest passion. I am not particularly a fan of either one. Not because of the witchcraft oging on at Hogwarts in the Potter series, or the forbidden love between a young girl and a vampire in Twilight. I am not a fan because the stories don't hold my interest. They were not necessarily written with Tom and Anna's gray-haired aunt Mary as their target audience. 

Or were they? I noticed that many of the women at my office have been reading the Twilight series. Maybe there is more to this mortal/vampire love story than what meets the eye. So when I was given the opportunity to review Touched by a Vampire: Discovering the hidden messages in the Twilight Saga by Beth Felker Jones, I saw an opportunity to be able to do more than roll my eyes when I see one of the novels on the table in the employee lunch room.

I'll admit that my first impression before opening Touched by a Vampire was that I had my hands on a "what's right and what's wrong about Twilight," similar to some books that came out in response to The DaVinci Code. But that was not the case. I knew absolutely nothing about Twilight's two main characters Bella and Edward, and here I was, about to read a book exploring the "hidden messages of the Twilight Saga." To the benefit of out-of-touch mortals such as myself, Beth Felker Jones did a very good job of condensing the four volumes of the saga into a six page overview in the introduction of her book. (She also gives a very plain warning before the overview that if you have not read the books and do not want her to ruin any surprises to read no further. If that describes you, heed that warning! Secrets will be revealed throughout this book!)

Most people love to sink their teeth into a good story; Jones goes beyond the story. She takes a candid look at some of Twilight's themes such as romance, gender roles, abstinence and sex, the perfect family, children, the search for purpose in life, and other topics. She compares the way that Edward and Bella love each other to the ways that God expresses His love for us, without condemning the reader or the Twilight characters.

The insights brought out in Touched by a Vampire are not intended to be kept within the confines of the front and back covers of the book. Each chapter has discussion questions to help the reader to process how these themes can be applied to her life (or his life - I know some men who have read the Twilight books). Additionally, at the end of the book there is a discussion guide for those who have read the saga to help them view particular events of the series in the light of their Christian walk.

Did I gain anything of value from this book? Yes, I did. I saw myself and some mistakes that I have made in my own relationships through Jones' exploration of some of the themes, and was reminded of how those mistakes were not necessarily consistent with the way God yearns for us to respond to His love, or how we should love one another.

Would I recommend this book? That depends on who's asking. If you don't want any plot secrets of the Twilight series revealed, then do not read this book until after you have finished reading Breaking Dawn. If you have read the entire saga, or don't care to read it but want to be able to open up discussions with those who have, then this book would be beneficial for you. Either way, when you do read this book, it is likely that you may even learn something about your own relationships in the process.

(This book was provided for review by the WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group.)
Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Waiting is not easy

Life is full of times of waiting. Sometimes it can be fun - waiting in line for a midnight showing of a movie; waiting for Christmas; waiting to give a special gift to a special someone. Sometimes it can be full of anxious excitement - waiting to walk down the aisle to say "I Do"; waiting for the birth of a child. And sometimes waiting can be torturous, such as waiting for your husband's reaction when you tell him you wrecked his new Lexus (just an example, honey - the car is fine!).

But I think the most difficult wait is when we are waiting for God to answer our prayers when we are at the end of our rope and feel as though we can hold on no longer; when our prayers are nothing more than sighs and sobs. How can we continue to pray if we can't even put words to our despair? Does God even hear us any more?

Yes, He does!

We serve a God who is faithful to those who love him. If God hears even one of our prayers, he hears all of them. Like any good father, though, He will not grant all of our requests immediately. There are reasons we must wait, and not because God likes to watch us squirm. Even though at times no one can explain why, or for reasons we do not understand, the wait may be uncomfortable, but God has our own good in mind by not answering us right away.

So what are we to do during these long periods of waiting for our prayers to be answered?
  • Be real.  Be real before God. He knows your heart and what  your thoughts are anyway (Psalm 139:2). It is when we come to God openly and honestly, admitting the depths of our weakness and helplessness, that we can experience the greatness of His compassion, the power of His strength, and the unending faithfulness of His promises.
  • Persist in prayer. In the gospel of Luke there is a parable about a widow who persisted in appearing before a local judge, pleading for justice against her adversary. Jesus explains the parable in this way: "Don’t you think God will surely give justice to his chosen people who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I tell you, he will grant justice to them quickly!"
  • Remain in God. God wants us to bear fruit for Him. During our worst of times we may not see any evidence of fruitfulness. Do not mistake these times as being cut-off from God! In the wintertime even the healthiest of vines have appear dead. Remain in God through His word, fellowship with other Christians, by prayer, worship, and obedience. Believe in His promises. When the season of waiting is over you will see evidence that God has remained with you. You will see evidence of the fruit He intends for you to bear. And we can rejoice in His abundant grace!
Where are you waiting for God's answer to your prayer? Is it in waiting for healing? For a turning point in a relationship? In answers to financial stress? Have you been so beaten down that you feel you can't get up just one more time? Do you feel discouraged, with no courage left to face another day of waiting? Even if all you can muster is a groan or a sigh or a cry, pray these words from Psalm 5:1-3

O LORD, hear me as I pray;
pay attention to my groaning.
Listen to my cry for help, my King and my God,
for I pray to no one but you.
Listen to my voice in the morning, LORD.
Each morning I bring my requests to you
and wait expectantly.

Be persistent. Wait expectantly. God will answer.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Joy and Disappointment

I have to admit, I've been lax about moderating the Topical Blog group over the past couple of weeks. We take turns choosing topics, and all write based on that. So, to get back on track, at least for myself, I'm using this week's topic from Logan's Blog:

How am I doing today?

That question is so ... I don't know ... begging for honesty. So, I'll answer with honesty.

Today, I am filled with joy BECAUSE I am filled with disappointment.

Over the past ten days or so, life has been happening. I wrote in my journal about a specific desire that I have in my heart of hearts, having to do with a situation at home having to do with a conflict between his values and mine. Psalm 37:4 tells us, "Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart." Well, this desire, which is something very, very important to me, is something that Jim really wants no part of. Not in the past, not now, and not in the future. (No, it has nothing to do with children!)  I got so caught up in the disappointment of not having a "complete" relationship with my husband because there may never ever be a resolution to this particular rift. The disappointment was so great that I'm sure the "d" word entered our imaginations, even though neither of us wanted to admit it.

Today things changed. Today I was reading a book that takes a look at the themes of the Twilight series of books, from a Biblical perspective. (More on this book in a later post.) The section I read today had to do with chasing after your desires. You see, we are imperfect people, living in an imperfect world. Whether your desire is a car, a new job, money, love, or a closet full of shoes, eventually you will be disappointed. The only thing that will truly give you fulfillment and not disappoint you is a relationship with God through Jesus Christ.

I felt as though I got whapped upside the head. People will eventually let me down, no matter who they are. It's not necessarily intentional, but it's gonna happen. It's supposed to happen! When it does, it will hurt - for a while. Sometimes it will hurt a lot, for a long while. It's part of this imperfect life, with imperfect people, who act imperfectly.

God in His divine providence gives us the gift of disappointment. I refer to it as a "gift" not because it is anything we particularly enjoy, but because God gives it to us to draw us closer to Him, where we can receive His abundant grace and unfailing love.

Yep, today I am filled with joy because I am filled with disappointment.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Blog Action Day 2009

blog action dayImage by sniggy via Flickr
Today is Blog Action Day 2009, also referred to as "BAD09". You're probably asking, "What the heck is Blog Action Day?" Since I just found out about  BAD09 only two days ago, I was asking that very same question. In a nutshell, BAD is a day when bloggers all over the world post a blog on the same topic.  (You can read more about it here.) The topic for BAD09 is "Climate Change." 

Just think - I get to participate in a worldwide Topical Blog!
The downside of this topic is that it is not one that I have followed with much interest. I don't know the facts concerning global warming, except that there are some scientists who say that it is a myth. I don't know if we are in a current long-term era of climate change, or what the direct causes would be, if we are. I suppose that the only "climate change" issue I can speak of would be the short-term ones, specifically the short-term one that California has seen in recent years:  drought.

I am not in any way suggesting that the current California drought is the "worst" drought that the world has ever seen. We are so spoiled here. But it has opened my eyes to some effects that long-term climate changes can have. 

One impact that our water shortage has had is in the area of farming. The Great Central Valley of California produces incredibly vast numbers of crops, both in volume and in diversity. Yet there are farmers who have had to deal with water rationing, and in some instances have not had sufficient water to grow crops. On the short-term, local level, this has hurt the local economy with higher food prices. If that same scenario were escalated to a global level over a period of many years - worldwide water shortage, with farmers unable to produce enough for their local economies - the end result could manifest itself in a worldwide famine, with dwindling hope of relief.

Another impact of a severe water shortage and dry conditions have had on our local level has been the increased risk of wildfires. Six weeks ago a wildfire started in Southern California that burned over 160,000 acres (that's 250 square miles, more than half the size of the city of Los Angeles!). While the official cause of the fire was determined to be arson, the lack of rainfall certainly contributed to the amount of dry brush on the hillsides to fuel the fires. The cost of this one fire? 89 homes, three commercial properties, 104 outbuildings and two communications sites either damaged or destroyed.

Unfortunately, fire damage is not limited to just property loss. Along with the homes being destroyed, families lost belongings, some which can never be replaced. Wildlife lost their natural habitat, forcing them to "invade" developed residential neighborhoods. In fact, in my suburban Los Angeles neighborhood about 50 miles south of the burned area, we are being warned of coyote sightings because of the wildlife migration. And this particular fire has not been the only devestating fire in Southern California in recent years. In 2007 the Southern California wildfires burned over 770 square miles, destroyed entire towns in some mountain areas, injured 85 people, killed nine, and forced over 1,000,000 people to evacuate their homes, many of whom had no home to return to when it was over.

I could go on and on about why regular rainfall is so important. Again, I have not studied the long-term global effects of the climate changes. However, being part of this Blog Action Day has brought the issue to my attention, and perhaps the attention of a reader or two.
Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Friday, October 09, 2009

Cleaning the Garage

I usually do not go into my garage, and for a couple of reasons. First, Jim and I have agreed that since on-street parking may be limited when he gets home he should have the option of parking his car in the garage. And secondly, my garage looks like this:

OK, maybe not exactly like this, but you get the idea.

There will be a day in the future when, with the help of a fairy godmother - aka FGM - (Bibbity, Bobbity Boo), my garage will be transformed to something that more resembles this:

But until my FGM answers my desperate pleas, I have some work to do on my own. Out of all the piles of boxes, books, knicknacks, games, spiders and webs, yard tools, furniture, mementos, documents, and just stuff, I must make some decisions:
  • What is worthless and, therefore, must be discarded?
  • What is of value to me?
  • What could be of more value to someone else?
  • What of this overwhelming collection of stuff is nothing more than sentimental rot?
I am aware of some of the across-the-board methods that the "experts" swear by for eliminating clutter, such as the two-year rule (If you haven't used it in two years, out it goes). But there are some things that you simply cannot apply that rule to. For example, I have a drawing of a half-beagle/half-salamander creature that a friend drew for me way back in high school. I'm sure it's tucked away between the pages of a yearbook (it's in one of these boxes ... someplace ...)  Is this drawing sentimental rot? To most people, perhaps. But to me, it is a treasure worth gold, because of the memories it represents. My eternal optimism says that since this is the only known picture of the world's only known "beaglemander" its value would be exponentially multiplied if I share it with friends who are part of that memory.

Jesus said in his Sermon on the Mount that we are the light of the world. We are given gifts to share with others. Often we allow the endless clutter in our lives, such as relationships gone bad, overwhelming commitments, unexpected circumstances, worry, sinful tendencies, fear, procrastination, etc., to bury our gifts so deep that we have difficulty finding them, let alone putting them to use. Leaving our God-given treasures buried not only insults the One who gave them to us in the first place, it also withholds the blessing from those who would benefit from our sharing them.

I have been incredibly, infinitely blessed over the past years by someone who continues to take the time to walk me through the process of cleaning out my "spiritual garage" and uncovering my gifts, and continually encourages me to make the most of them. This has not been an overnight process, to say the least, but the journey is well worth the effort.

I would like to pay this blessing forward to someone who would like help in cleaning his or her spiritual garage and uncovering gifts for the benefit of others. If that person is you, please let me know.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The end of my story

You may be wondering why I am starting my post with "The End". That's because the topic chosen for the week by Topical Blogger bvaliant4him is "The end of my story."

For many, talking about the end of their story equates to pondering when and how they might die. It's a common topic of discussion, really. No one knows for sure the hour of his or her final breath, but for many, there is a defining moment when life changed. You became a new person, so to speak, and you vowed never to return to what you used to be.

Although the event at "the end of my story" was over 20 years ago, I remember it very clearly. I won't go into detail, except that I felt much like the Eleanor in my previous post - insignificant and invisible.  But what I will share is that the course my life was on could have had some very serious repercussions, had I continued in that dirction.

But my course changed. The end of my story ushered in a new beginning in my life.

Up until that time in my life, God was someone to be afraid of, because He made the decision whether or not to make good things happen in your life. Jesus was kind of like a cousin or uncle that I knew of and only vaguely remembered from a family gathering when I was very young. And the Holy Spirit was ... well, I'm not really sure what the Holy Spirit was.

But at that defining moment in my life, God became very real to me. Words were spoken from an audio cassette tape, by someone that I had never had the privilege of meeting. Those words changed my insignificance to value; my invisible-ness, dignity. I was told that I have something of worth to give, because I was worthy of receiving something where the giver expected nothing in return.

I realized at that moment that I had been given a new life. I wasn't sure what that meant, but I knew that it was from God. I wanted more of this new life. My story was over. This was the beginning of God's story for my life.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation;
the old has gone, the new has come!
2 Corinthians 5:17

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Saturday, September 26, 2009


What is it like to live in the absence of love? To go through life without even a glimmer of hope for anything? A life where you do nothing more than exist?

More than 40 years ago The Beatles sang of a woman who seems to have fit that profile - Eleanor Rigby. The repercussions of Eleanor's life of intensely cruel loneliness were that no one noticed her. Late in the song we hear the poignant words, "Eleanor Rigby, died in the church and was buried along with her name. Nobody came."

Funerals are nearly always sad occasions. A funeral attended by no one but the clergyman and the funeral director has its own distinct sadness about it. Imagine, a memorial service for someone who was so estranged from the world that not a single person's life was impacted. A graveside service for woman who died long before her body ceased to function. Her existence was nothing more than that - Existence.

When we think of the forgotten people of the world, we often think of the poor, the elderly, the frail. But what makes this "existence syndrome" so peculiar is that it knows no boundaries. The Eleanor Rigbys of the world can be hard-working, healthy 20-somethings, or any other class of people. Truth be told, there was once a time when I felt I could have been mistaken for Miss Eleanor.

Ahh, look at all the lonely people.

Life didn't have to end this way, Eleanor. You may have felt insignificant in life. You may have asked "Who am I that God should think of me?" Perhaps you may have thought that God didn't think you mattered at all.

If only you could have seen that God created you to do more than just exist. If only you had believed - even just a tiny bit - that God knows you, inside and out, much like the master craftsman knows even the most intricate detail of his signature masterpiece. If only you believed that the masterpiece was you!

And now, Eleanor, you stand in the presence of the One who created you. Did you know that He made you just a little lower than those magnificent heavenly beings that you see about you?

Lift your eyes, Eleanor, and look at His face. Do you recognize Him? Does your heart, your soul, your entire being dance when your gaze meets His? Are you experiencing uncontainable joy, perhaps for the very first time in your existence?

Is your joy tainted, wondering where this had been all of your life?

Eleanor, your time on earth could have been so different. I wish that you could have seen that this joy could have been yours all along, for God was with you the whole time.

If only you just believed.

You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body,
and knit me together in my mother's womb.
Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex!
Your workmanship is marvelous - how well I know it.
You watched me as I was  being formed in utter seclusion,
as I was woven together in the dark of the womb.
You saw me before I was born.
Every day of my life was recorded in your book.
Every moment was laid out
before a single day had passed.

Psalm 139:13-16, NLT

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Friday, September 18, 2009

Something Heavenly

This week our group's blog topic is "If the world was somehow sucked into a blackhole and entered an alternate universe, what would your ideal vision of that universe be?"

To me, any "ideal alternate universe" would be heaven. As Chris said in a blog post once, "This life here (on earth) is really just the starting point; a training ground for when we get to heaven."  Every now and then I can't help but wonder what heaven will be like ...

Here are some random questions on that topic. I'm sure that the answers to many of these questions will be quite serendipitous.
  • Is there an "express lane" for Christians to enter heaven?
  • When we are “clothed in our heavenly dwelling” what will we look like? (Seeds often look nothing like the mature plant ... will our "heavenly dwelling" look anything like our earthly human form?)
  • What will be along the streets of gold? Street vendors? Mansions? Will there be cars? Will the streets have gutters? Will they have "No Parking" zones?
  • Will we need the internet in heaven?
  • Will the Book of Life be online, or is it all manually written down?
  • After Jesus, who is the first person I would want to see?
  • Is fishing allowed in the River of Life? What about skinny-dipping?
  • What does an angel really look like?
  • What kind of food will be at the feast?
  • How many people can be seated at the table?
  • Will I have to wait in a line to be with Jesus?
  • Will everyone in heaven always get along?
  • Will there be people in heaven surprised to see that I was allowed in?
  • Who will I be looking for that didn't enter the Kingdom?
  • What am I doing today to be sure that my friends and loved ones still on earth will someday meet me in heaven?

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Learning from experience

This week's Topical Blog is on the subject of always learning. To learn is "to gain knowledge or skill from study, instruction or experience."

Experience - that's a good one! It's been said that experience is the best teacher. Who hasn't had an experience that he hasn't learned something from? Simple things, such as don't wear shorts going down a metal slide in the heat of summer. That you should put enough postage on the envelope when you mail your bills two days before the due date. That changing the oil in your car is important. That you should be very cautious when asking for "spicy" food at a Chinese food restaurant. That you can't get a sealed bottle of water past security at the airport, unless it is three ounces or less. Beware of the train robbers at Knott's Berry Farm (that's how I met my husband)!

Just as effective as learning from our own experience is learning from the experiences of someone else. For example, I learned that getting drunk at a party makes you do stupid things you would never do sober. I learned that important files on a computer should have a back-up copy. That adjustable rate mortgages weren't necessarily a good idea.

The Bible is full of lessons to be learned from the experiences of other people. Adam and Eve's failure to obey God's command teaches us that our sins have consequences. Abraham and Sarah learned that God is faithful in keeping His covenant. Late in Genesis, Joseph learned that there are people who try to kill our dreams, and quite often they are the people who are closest to us. We learn from Solomon in the book of Ecclesiastes that living for this world leads to emptiness.

And there are good things that we can learn from people in the Bible as well. The Samaritan woman that Jesus encountered at the well brings us the lesson that Jesus knows everything about us, but doesn't hold it against us. The lesson of the woman who is caught in the act of adultery and is about to be stoned to death by her accusers is that there is no condemnation in Christ Jesus. He doesn't scold us, asking, "Why did you go and do that, you idiot?" but rather, he tells us, "Go, and sin no more."

There are many, many more things we learn through the experiences of others that are recorded in the Bible. What are some of the lessons you have learned?

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

My husband would never say this to my face, but I make a terrible housewife. I run kicking and screaming from anything related to the field of "domestic engineering." I don't like to do housework. As for cooking? You might say that when I cook, it doesn't matter if it comes from a box or not - it's usually Old Testament cuisine. "Burnt Offerings." So much so, that when when we were buying our house ten years ago, our insurance agent would not sell us a homeowner's policy unless we had a fire hydrant in our front yard. (OK, not true. But we really do have a fire hydrant about 30 feet from my kitchen window!)

One of my most memorable creative cuisinery attempts was home made soup. As I remember, it was vegetable soup. I was reheating some leftovers, and decided to have a chat with someone on the computer. It wasn't long before my leftover soup burned and became one with the pan.

A Burnt offering. A Burnt Soup Offering.

Retelling the incident makes me ponder ... If I woke up tomorrow and I had a whole bucket full of soup, would it be right to offer it unto the Lord as a burnt offering? ...

No, probably not. I remember the aroma from just a little bit of burnt soup. It was not pleasing to me. I can be fairly certain that the aroma from a whole bucket full of burnt soup would not be pleasing to the Lord.

Besides, God doesn't want our burnt offerings - soup or anything else. He doesn't want our stuff. What thing could we offer Him anyway? After all, He's the one who created the stuff that the stuff is made of in the first place.

No, what God wants from us can be summed up in two statements. Jesus tells us to:
  1. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.
  2. Love your neighbor as yourself.
Pretty simple. Love God, and love others. All other rules come from those two basics.

I admit, it's not always easy to keep those two commandments. We fail. A lot. And sometimes those failures are disastrous, like burnt soup that is worthy of being thrown away, pan and all. But God will never throw us away. Nothing can separate us from His love, and when we confess our sins to God, He is faithful to forgive us and cleanse us from all unrighteousness!

While God loves us deeply and is involved in every part of our lives, He is not so much concerned about what we feed ourselves physically, but more that our spiritual hunger is satisfied. The best I can offer you is burnt soup. Jesus offers himself - the Bread of Life.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Wait for Me, Freddie!!

I want to be a "retreat junkie" when I grow up.

That's what I've been telling people lately. I want to go to retreats and speak to groups. Not necessarily a high-profile or highly sought-after speaker for major arena-sized confernces. And not that I have done anything profound with my life that everyone must know about. I'd be perfectly content with the smaller scale groups, sharing with them how God has impacted my life, and hopefully inspiring them to take a step or two forward in their faith journey.

And I almost had a chance to do that. I almost was invited to be a speaker at a retreat in October.

How did it come about? Well, I recently filled in for my vacationing pastor as "guest preacher" at my church. And the domino effect started from there.

A Facebook friend saw my status update that I would be preaching, and she asked me if I would consider speaking at their upcoming retreat. Knowing this person the way that I do, when she asks a question like that, she's not half kidding/half serious. She's 10% kidding/90% serious. (Actually, I think I may be underestimating her.) When I told her what I want to do when I grow up, she told me that she was talking to another retreat organizer at that moment in another conversation. She also told me that they were waiting to hear from another potential speaker before the invitation could be "officially" extended to me.

If I were invited, I would accept. After all, kids today are in such a hurry to grow up, right?

But I said earlier that I was "almost" invited. The other speaker accepted the invitation.

Was I disappointed? Yes, a bit. But God will provide the right opportunity at the right time. For now, I wait.

I guess that means I still have some growing up to do.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Dangerous Prayer

Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. 36When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, "The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field." – Matthew 9:35-38

It’s no secret that many people believe that prayer has a positive impact in their lives. After all, it's how we communicate with God, how we make our requests known to the Divine. We seem to pray for everything: for blessings over our meals, for our favorite baseball team to have a winning season, for green lights in traffic, healing of ourselves or others, for business deals to go through, even for world peace and safe return for our men and women serving in the military.

While there is nothing wrong with praying for these things, let me ask you something. If tomorrow you woke up and all the prayers you had prayed today were answered, would your life be any different?

Let me ask that again.

If tomorrow you woke up, // and all the prayers you had prayed today // were answered, //
Would your life be any different?

A while back I started a discussion in a Facebook forum on that same question. I got some “yes” answers, but I also got a thought-provoking response from a former classmate of mine named Mara:

Would my life be different? Yes, but only momentarily. I suppose I am acknowledging the fact that I don't always pray for the right things. Praying that I close a business deal and having that prayer answered might change my financial circumstances temporarily, but it doesn't really change my life. Praying that a family member be given a longer life as they battle an illness might buy me time with someone who is close, but I know that I have no control and must accept the passing of life. So my world might change when my prayers are answered, but since that world is in constant change anyway, how long will that be? I can pray for world peace. Would it change MY world? Perhaps. But will the nature of man change on a permanent basis, along with that world peace? If not, the peace is temporary. … It made me question what I'm praying for, that's for sure!

As Mara rightly expressed, we pray for healing of a loved one, but is that just for us because we do not want to lose them? What if it is time for them to move on? Praying for a successful business deal is fine, but what if you'd miss a valuable lesson if you failed at that point in your life?

Too often when we pray we do so with only one outcome in mind. We pray “safe” prayers. Safe, in that we pray that all our problems will go away. Safe, in that our lives are not inconvenienced in any way.

If these prayers are “safe,” what would a “dangerous” prayer look like?

You know what they say … “Be careful what you pray for, because God may just answer it.” A good example of this is, praying for P A T I E N C E . That sounds all nice and rosy, until God answers “Sure! Here, have!”, and it’s not long before you find yourself waiting in line at the store between the mom with the crying toddlers behind you – I wonder why they only bring the crying and restless kids to the store – and the sweet grandma trying to use expired coupons and counting out exact change in coins.

But even a prayer such as “Lord, grant me patience” might still be considered a safe prayer, because we are asking for what in the end will be something we can visualize, and doesn't necessarily result in our lives being changed or our stepping out in faith for God's kingdom.

So, what does make a prayer dangerous? A dangerous prayer is a danger // to our sinful nature. A dangerous prayer is a danger // to our comfort zone. A dangerous prayer means that we will be having a bumpy ride for a while. Most of all, a dangerous prayer opens us up to living out the adventure that our omnipotent God calls us to. This morning I will be looking at seven “dangerous prayers,” and you can follow along in your outline to fill in the blanks of these areas.

First of all, in order to enter into a life God-ordained adventure, we must humble ourselves before the Lord. We find in the gospel of John, where followers of John the Baptist were telling him that Jesus has a greater following that he does. John, of course, knew all along that Jesus would ultimately be the one to follow, and tells his disciples, “He (Jesus) must become greater; I must become less.” We too should take that same attitude. So, our first dangerous prayer is just that: “He must become greater; I must become less.” This takes our eyes off of ourselves and directs them toward Jesus.

The second prayer is “Search me.” In Psalm 139, David prays “Search me, O God, and know my heart. Test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” A “search me” prayer asks God to show you what is in you that shouldn't be there. Things such as words you shouldn’t say; hanging out with people that bring you down; hidden or unconfessed sin, or even unforgiveness. Things that you need God to work on, things where you need to partner with God to change in your heart and in your life.

Third is “Break me.” “My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; / A broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.” This prayer allows God to take you in the process of breaking the patterns that are worldly and not of Him, and then allowing Him to put you back together – as HE chooses – to shape you and re-form you to be more like Christ.

So far in this process you've humbled yourself to Christ, seeking to live more by His agenda than yours. You've had some hidden sins exposed and confessed them before God. And it probably hasn't been pleasant up to this point. I mean, some of our hidden sins are ugly ... otherwise we would have confessed them and dealt with them long ago. God has broken us and we can be assured that He has put us back together, because when we confess our sins before God, he is faithful to forgive us and restore cleanse us from unrighteousness.

But we're only at point 4 out of seven. And the fourth prayer on your outline is “Stretch me.”

Now, at this halfway point, we're still used to the safety of praying for things where we don't have to go through a lot of personal searching and changing. This whole dangerous prayer thing is starting to make us uncomfortable. We may even be wondering if it is worth it to move forward, or just go back to “praying it safe”.

In the movie “Braveheart” the rag-tag army of Scotland has assembled on a field in Stirling to face off against the English army. The Scots are afraid because they are immeasurably outnumbered by the English, and the Scottish nobles would rather negotiate a treaty to live under English rule than to fight for a free Scotland and possibly die in battle. One man, William Wallace, knows what the consequences of a surrender would mean for the future of not only Scotland, but of these men as individuals. Click here to watch.

Just as with the Battle at Stirling, there is a spiritual battle being waged all around us. Any time you and I step out in faith for God, we step onto the battlefield and face the enemy, and that enemy is Satan. We may feel afraid. We may feel “outnumbered.” We may be required to give up something. And we may want to turn back. But what are the consequences? The battle will still be there, whether or not we choose to fight. But the Good News is that as Christians, we are not entering the battlefield alone – we have Christ on our side. The “stretch me” prayer develops perseverance to withstand the battle. Without this perseverance it would be all too easy to give up and go back to playing it safe. I implore you, when God is stretching you, don't lose faith. Don't give up. Don’t live the rest of your life wondering “what if I had …”

So far in this process, God has been working on our past. Now it’s time to move forward in the ministry that God is calling us to. And the fifth “dangerous prayer” is “Lead me.” Our comfort zone has been stretched, and for many of us we are in unfamiliar territory. Our dependence on God has grown. We've passed the point of no return, and we don't want to go back to the life we had before. A “lead me” prayer asks, “Teach me your ways, O Lord.” / It's time to surrender your personal agenda and allow God to rearrange it; to become less so that Jesus can become more. In doing so, you will find that the more you are led by God and the Holy Spirit, the more you want to be obedient to His plans, and the more your agenda is in fact aligned with His.

The sixth “dangerous prayer” is one that most of us have prayed at one time or another, and that prayer is “Use me.” “Use me” prayers are powerful. They say, “God, I'm available if you'd like to do something great through me. // I'm available if you'd like to touch another life through me.” They create adventures. They might not necessarily be extreme “thrill seeking” adventures like, say, spending a year as a missionary in a country you’ve never heard of – not everyone is called by God to be such a thrill-seeker. Your “use me” prayer may be answered by simply open-mindedly listening to someone and praying for them in a way you've never prayed before. Perhaps it's by starting a new ministry or stepping out in faith to do something you thought you'd never do. In my case, I had a “use me” prayer answered in the form of filling in as guest preacher while Pastor Chris was on vacation last spring. When I was first approached with the opportunity, it was truly a “stretch me” moment. I'll be perfectly honest here - I wanted to turn around and run from it as fast and as far as I could. But if I had not prayed “Use me” and been available and willing to follow the leading of the Holy Spirit, I would have missed out on the personal, spiritual, and ministerial growth from the adventure. And the adventures that God calls you to through “use me” prayers will give you a spiritual rush like nothing else can.

The final “dangerous prayer” is “Show me the harvest.” This is where we see what God has broken us and re-shaped us for. In the gospel after Jesus had a very full day of teaching, preaching, and healing, Matthew tells us that Jesus “saw the crowds and had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. He then said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.” A “show me the harvest” prayer asks God to give us the compassion, to ache for the same things that His heart aches for, to actively engage in ministry to build up the kingdom of God.

In 2007 McKay Hatch was a junior high school student in Pasadena. Kids at his school, and some of his friends, would cuss and use swear words all the time. In fact, they did it so much that they didn’t even realize they were doing it. It bothered McKay to the point where he challenged them to stop. McKay was surprised when his peers actually accepted the challenge. But there were some students who had been using bad language so much and for so long that they didn’t know how to stop. So they started the “No Cussing Club.” The word spread, and within one month the No Cussing Club had 50 members.

When McKay entered high school he started the No Cussing Club there as well. During club rush week there were 100 students who signed up.

Within six months the No Cussing Club had 10,000 members from all 50 states and internationally that joined through the club website. McKay had no control over the club’s growth – the hand of God was definitely involved!

Was all of this easy for McKay? Not always. In fact, McKay Hatch is probably one of the most cyber-bullied students around. He’s received emails telling him that “the words don’t have any meaning” and that he’s wasting his time. He’s even received death threats!

But through his persistence in simply encouraging people to commit themselves to use polite, respectful and kind language it wasn’t long before the No Cussing Club received media attention from Dr. Phil, Jay Leno, MSNBC and CNN. And McKay Hatch’s little club that he started to help a few classmates has made a difference in thousands and thousands of lives around the globe.

What is it that you see that breaks your heart? Is it latch-key kids who are left to themselves after school? Is it people suffering from serious illnesses such as AIDS or cancer? Maybe it’s adults who struggle in life because they can’t read. Or people wandering spiritually, like lost sheep. Whatever it is, guess what – those are fields where God wants to use you to help out in the harvest, to have compassion on his people and bring the harassed and helpless to the Shepherd.

Christ doesn't expect us to produce more than we can, but he does expect us to produce ALL 88We expect too little from God, and as a result we attempt too little for Him. God created us to live dangerous lives in faith. He desires for us to have ever expanding boundaries. When you courageously and prayerfully move out of your comfort zone your spiritual life will never be the same. I encourage you to pray these seven dangerous prayers on as part of your regular prayer life. “Lord, you must become greater; I must become less. Search me. Break me. Stretch me. Lead me. Use me. Show me the harvest. All for Your glory and Your kingdom. In Jesus' name we pray. Amen.”

Friday, August 21, 2009

When I think of beauty, I think of flowers, nature, attractive people, things that bring to mind the goodness of God. I often have nice, warm-fuzzy feelings come over me. I mean, who doesn't like to be in the presence of beauty?

But ugliness? Well, that's another story. We often react to ugliness with mockery or disgust.

Thinking of ugliness reminds me of a woman who was particularly unattractive physically. She had the frizzy hair, two or three front teeth missing, eyes that resemble a chimp's, the face that only a mother could love. Well, maybe not even mom ...

Wow! That's a sore for sighted eyes! As my granddad would say, "DAAAYNNG!! This girl was dragged through the Ugly Forest ... and her face hit every tree!!" (And he meant it, too!) Or another remark would be, "Beauty may be skin deep, but ugliness goes all the way to the bone!" Or, "She's the kind of girl that no one would share secrets with ... not even beauty secrets!"

Ugliness is not limited to physical appearance. Truth be told, deep down in places we don't talk about at parties, we all have some ugliness in us. Things we don't want to expose to others. Things we want to keep hidden from even ourselves. Things that we'd hide from God, if we could.

In Psalm 139 King David prays, "Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you..." I don't know about you, but those statements make me squirm in my seat a bit. We can't hide our inner ugliness from God. And when we pray for God to reveal the ugliness we thought we had buried from ourselves, he'll exhume it, and there it is in front of us, in all its vileness, to disgust us once again.

But the words of David that come next bring me comfort: "And lead me along the path of everlasting life."

God cannot erase our past. Yet, He does not want us to remain in the mud and miry clay of our ugliness. He wants us to be cleaned up made beautiful again. But sweeping our dirt under the rug isn't enough. And God knows that we can't clean ourselves up on our own - we need help.

This is how God showed his love for us: God sent his only Son into the world so we might live through him.

This is what Jesus did: Jesus went through the ugliness of death by crucifixion, and took on the ugliness of our sins, so that our relationship with God could be restored - so that we could be rescued from the miry clay we've been stuck in - and made clean once more.

This is how God cleans us up: if we confess our sins to God, he can always be trusted to forgive us and take our sins away. Yes, we did all those ugly things that we tried to keep covered up. But when God forgives, he's dumps our sins - our ugliness - into the depths of the sea, and puts up a sign for us that says "No Fishing."

Hey, when God gets involved, we clean up real good, don't we?

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Staying Positive

Everybody goes through hardships in life. Whether it's losing your job at the same time your spouse faces a pay reduction, or a serious illness in the family, or kids not wanting to go to school, or whatever the circumstances, life can bring us down.

But it's not a healthy thing for you or me to stay down when we get there. So I'm sharing a list that my cousin Sue forwarded to me. It's a list of 39 little things we can do or mottos to live by, to turn our frowns upside down:


1. Drink plenty of water
2. Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a beggar
3. Eat more foods that grow on trees and plants, and eat less food that is manufactured in plants
4. Live with the 3 E's -- Energy, Enthusiasm, and Empathy
5. Make time for prayer
6. Play more games
7. Read more books than you did in 2008
8. Sit in silence for at least 10 minutes each day
9. Sleep for 7 hours
10. Take a 10-30 minutes walk every day ---- and while you walk, smile


11. Don't compare your life to others'. You have no idea what their journey is all about.
12. Don't have negative thoughts or things you cannot control. Instead invest your energy in the positive present moment.
13. Don't over do; keep your limits
14. Don't take yourself so seriously; no one else does
15. Don't waste your precious energy on gossip
16. Dream more while you are awake
17. Envy is a waste of time. You already have all you need.
18. Forget issues of the past. Don't remind your partner with his/her mistakes of the past. That will ruin your present happiness.
19. Life is too short to waste time hating anyone.. Don't hate others.
20. Make peace with your past so it won't spoil the present
21. No one is in charge of your happiness except you
22. Realize that life is a school and you are here to learn. Problems are simply part of the curriculum that appear and fade away like algebra class but the lessons you learn will last a lifetime.
23. Smile and laugh more
24. You don't have to win every argument. Agree to disagree.


25. Call your family often
26. Each day give something good to others
27. Forgive everyone for everything
28. Spend time with people over the age of 70 & under the age of 6
29. Try to make at least three people smile each day
30. What other people think of you is none of your business
31. Your job won't take care of you when you are sick. Your family and friends will. Stay in touch.


32. Do the right things
33. Get rid of anything that isn't useful, beautiful or joyful
34. GOD heals everything
35. However good or bad a situation is, it will change
36. No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up
37. The best is yet to come
38. When you awake alive in the morning, thank GOD for it
39. Your Inner most is always happy. So, be happy.

And the most important thing to remember is that YOU are loved much, and loved by many. Most of all, you are loved by God!

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Do you want to be saved?

(DISCLAIMER: The subject of the week for the Topical Bloggers group is "What must I do to be saved?" The following is purely fictional. It is NOT based on my life. Any similarity to any person, real or imagined, is unintentional.)

Forty-six years old. I'm at the peak of my game, so to speak. I've done it all - kids (two daughters), marriage (times three) . Having done it all, is there anything left? Is there really nothing more to life? Am I stuck in this hell that I have created?

If I'm done living, why am I still here? Why do I still have a heartbeat? Why do I still breathe? I'm "alive," but I feel so ... ...

I don't feel. Anything. I'd pour myself a drink, but I'm not supposed to have alcohol with these antidepressants. I don't even know why I take them. They don't seem to do anything for me ...

I remember during my college days groups on campus with signs that said "Are you saved?" Saved? From what? For what? What kind of offbeat question is that? "Are you saved?"

I didn't know any of those students very well. We ran in different circles. And I never asked them what the question was all about. I'd just keep walking by, chewing on a string of licorice as I'd make my way to my next class. I didn't want to get involved in their religious mumbo-jumbo. Besides, I didn't need saving. My life was going fine, thank you very much.

One of those girls from college - I'd see her around town throughout the years. She always seemed ... different. Not in a bad way. Just, I don't know, different. Like she had a handle on life, you know? Our paths would cross, but not in a way where we'd connect. We'd say hi at the grocery store, make eye-contact at the gym, that kind of thing. Our kids knew each other, but only as schoolmates. Her kids weren't in the same grade as my girls. Even as teenagers her children seemed different. They didn't dress like the other kids. Didn't party. I don't know what their grades were like, but they still managed to be popular. I don't get it. My two just seemed so out of control at times. We're about as close as Alaska and Cuba.

And her husband ... they adore each other! None of mine ever looked at me the way that he looks at her. Genuine love ... a look that looks to the soul. No man ever looked at me like that.
I just saw her and her family outside the church up the street as I was driving by. From what I can figure, they're still married ... to each other. How could they do that? I've struck out, three times, and never even came close to what they seem to have with each other.


I think I get it now.

Saved from this dead-end life I've had.

What must I do to be saved? Or is it too late for me?

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Yes, I am quietly judging you.

I recently attended an event that was hosted by a local neighborhood group. The event itself was no big deal - just some neighbors getting to know each other in an informal setting. At one point a "regular" in the group said something offensive about another member, right to his face. When I voiced my opinion about what was said, this individual dismissed me by turning to his friend and saying, "That's ----'s daughter." His friend's view of me was tainted, based on something that I could not have any control over.

I had just been judged.

It hurt to be judged harshly, especially when the one judging hardly knows me. I felt as though this man had no intention of connecting with me or learning anything about me as an individual. I was "guilty by association." Guilty of what, I don't even know.

Yes, I am quietly judging you.

Judgment based on outward appearances or isolated events can skew what you believe a person can or cannot do. A recent example of this is Britain's Got Talent runner-up singing sensation Susan Boyle. Whodathunk that this frumpy-looking 47 year old woman could become an overnight global singing sensation? Even the panelists

susan boyle's inner beautyImage by shelteringskies via Flickr - Susan Boyle's inner beauty

judging the competition admitted that their first impressions were wrong. As Boyle introduced herself to the judges, you could see Simon Cowell bracing himself for a miserable performance. In the end, the dreaded Cowell was dreadfully wrong. As GBT judge Piers Morgan told Ms. Boyle after her audition,
"Without a doubt, that was the biggest surprise I have had in three years on this show. When you stood there with that cheeky grin and said, "I want to be like Elaine Page," everyone was laughing at you. No one is laughing now."
The inner beauty, value and potential of a person has little to do with outward appearance. We are taught this in 1Samuel, when God tells Samuel to go to the house of Jesse to anoint the future king of Israel. As Jesse's sons are brought before Samuel as "candidates" for King, God cautions Samuel, "Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart." (1Samuel 16:7)

God looks at the heart. We all have outward circumstances for which we all deserve judgment. But if God didn't look at the heart, I don't think that He could love us as He does. If Jesus didn't look at our hearts he would never have gone to the cross to pay the penalty for our sins. It's that love for us that allows us to be in a relationship with God.

If only we all could look at the heart instead of judging based on outward appearances or circumstances. We might hurt each other less, and love each other more.
Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Dangerous Prayers

Most people in America believe in prayer, that prayer has a positive impact in their lives. Prayer is how we communicate with God, how we make our requests known to the Divine. We seem to pray for everything. Blessing over our meals. For our favorite baseball team to win the World Series. For green lights in traffic. For guidance of our leaders. For loved ones to be healed. For our churches to be strengthened. For our children and loved ones to be protected. For world peace and a safe return of our men and women in the military.

While these are all important prayers, they can be somewhat safe prayers. What I mean by that is that we have a specific answer in mind when we present the prayer to God. Safe, in that the prayer doesn't request a whole lot of change in ourselves.

If our prayers are too safe, then what is a "dangerous" prayer? For some people, it could be simply, "Lord, give me patience." I'm telling you, God has a good time in answering that one! I can only imagine how many people pray for patience for their kids who try to stretch their boundaries on a daily (or hourly) basis. Or praying for patience before going to the DMV on the last day of the month when the lines seem to be longest and customers the crankiest. You pray for patience, and God will put you in a place where you will know you need it! But even still "Lord, grant me patience" can be considered a "safe" prayer, because we are asking for what in the end will be something that we can visualize, and doesn't necessarily result in creating a drastic change in our lives.

Listed below are six areas that I think are "dangerous" prayers. What makes these dangerous? Because they are a danger to our comfort zone. They are a danger to our sinful nature. They open our lives to living an adventure with our omnipotent God.
  1. Search Me (Psalm 139:23-24). Asking God to show you what is in you that shouldn't be there, revealing where you need to partner with Him to change.
  2. Break Me (Psalm 51:17). This is where you go to God, sorry for what you have done wrong, as well as the right things you have done for wrong reasons, and give God permission to do the work He needs to do in you, to shape you and re-form you more like Christ.
  3. Stretch me (James 1:3,4). At this stage you are being challenged in your spiritual growth. A "Stretch me" prayer develops perseverance to make the necessary changes. Without perseverance it would be too easy to give up and go back to "playing it safe."
  4. Lead me (Psalm 27:11). "Teach me your ways..." Time to surrender your personal agenda and allow God to rearrange it. In the words of John the Baptist, "He (Jesus) must become greater; I must become less." The more you are led by God and the Holy Spirit, the more you will find that you are obedient to His plans, and the more your agenda is aligned with His.
  5. Use me (John 14:12-14). We are empowered to do the will of God, to do the work of Jesus. A "Use me" prayer places us in situations where we need to be ready and available to respond to the prompting of the Holy Spirit. To not respond means to miss out on what could lead to adventure of doing things for the glory of God.
  6. Show me the harvest (Matthew 9:35-38). This is what God has broken and re-formed you for. Your heart will ache for the same things that God's heart aches for. You will find purpose and fulfillment in working in the field that God has brought you to.
Quite often living an exhilirating life requires risk. Taking the risk of praying these Dangerous Prayers and allowing God to work on you, in you, and through you can be like riding the crest of a wave. Not just any wave - a 64 foot high wave, like in the video below (link here to see it, if it does not appear below).