Month: August 2015

Lord I’m grateful for coconut cream pie pt II

On the subject of polishing your prayer skills


Prayer is simply talking to God. You are worshipping Him in praise, endearing yourself by humbling yourself, and blessing yourself and others. Plus, you are building your faith. I bet you didn’t realize that part. The below is a snippet from one of Pastor Chad Keeteman’s (of The Gathering Place) messages from earlier this summer, and I expounded a bit. Below are some guidelines, but speak from your heart. Don’t copy what I have written, but use it as a guideline until you are comfortable in your prayer time. 


This is what to pray. 

A great prayer application acronym is ACTS: 

  1. Acknowledge God’s righteousness – this could fill 20 mins…just for the record, it is not proper to thank God for coconut creme pie here. Lets focus on his righteousness, his grace, his mercy, his loyalty, and his redemption given so freely given to us. 
  2. Confess our sin – uh huh…we need to do this often. It’s good for us and reminds us it’s not by our own works. Not only are we dorks, but we are sinning dorks. “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) 
  3. Thank God for all He has done – This is where you can acknowledge the abundant blessings in your life 
  4. Specify needs – ask for your friends needs, your family’s needs, and your own needs. It’s okay to ask. He wants us to ask for spiritual health, physical health, emotional health, and even financial well-being.

This is how to pray.

  • Speak to God like you would speak to a friend. He is your greatest friend and ally.
  • Address him. “Dear Lord” or “Precious Father” or “Jesus Christ” whatever is in your heart. There are 60-ish names for God in the bible. Pick one or two. It’s all good.
  • If you are asked to pray in a group, it’s okay to say that you’re going to keep it short because you are not very comfortable yet. No one was born praying…so if someone gives you attitude, pray for their attitude problem in your prayer. 🙂
  • Sincerity is really about the only thing that is going to matter to God. Fake, pretentious, superficial (coconut creme pie gratitude) dramatic…none of that is what God wants. Think of it this way; what do you want from your friendships? Honesty, integrity, depth, loyalty, and genuine authenticity. Those are the same things that God wants from us because he wants a relationship with EACH of us. (how cool is that?) According to Acts, we are his offspring and he wants us to seek after him. 

That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us: For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring.  Acts 17:27-28 (KJV).

 

I hope that you are encouraged if this is a scary area of your spiritual walk. I pray that you are blessed and not embarrassed if you are just learning this skill. Be yourself and you’ll be okay. Just remember everyone starts off at the beginning. 

Blessings. Also, I truly am grateful for coconut cream pie. 
Heidi

Lord I’m thankful for coconut creme pie pt 1

Shake it up baby

Are you a little shaky when it comes to your prayer life – maybe even terrified that someone will ask you to pray…out LOUD, in front of humans and everything? Yikes!! NO way Jose! Maybe no one has taken the time to show you how to pray, and it seems too scary. It’s okay. It’s not something everyone picks up just from listening to others pray. Everyone learns differently. And don’t worry…it’s really okay. 

Let’s talk about what isn’t required for prayer, specifically in gatherings

  • singing the prayer in a booming voice (Oh LORD…we have COMMMMMME here and gathereeeeeddd in your ho-ly and presssssh-us name) you get the idea. There’s nothing wrong with it as long as it’s sincere and from the heart. It’s just the style that some people choose and are comfortable with. But it isn’t necessary.
  • speaking four and five syllable words to impress others. Forget about impressing others. We’re all a bunch of dorks on this earth anyway. And we sure aren’t going to finesse the socks off of God. He created coconut creme pie…my attempts at properly pronouncing words I rarely use is not going to top coconut creme pie.
  • lengthy prayers. Hey..if you have a lot to pray about, that is excellent. But time and place counts. 20 minute prayers are not for the thanksgiving table while the gravy is coagulating into concrete. Plus it won’t sweeten the hearts of those not in the family of Christ. They’ll just be annoyed and pushed further from God. Keep it short at the right times and places.
  • closing your eyes isn’t always necessary. It’s a sign of reverence but I never close my eyes when I’m driving and praying. I don’t have that much faith. 🙂
  • praying for a certain length of time and at a certain time daily – some cultures and religions have this practice. There is nothing wrong with it if it’s sincere and from the heart. But God does not require it in any guidelines that I know of. If there are scriptures saying otherwise, I will be happy to recant. 
  • head bowed? No…not necessary. Again, it’s a sincere sign of reverence, but not required if the situation merits otherwise.
  • prayers about private matters. Church or the dinner table; these aren’t the places to blast out confidential things you have been praying about for others. We have to respect our loved ones, right? Christ is loyal to us…we need to reflect that behavior.  Confidential matters should be prayed about in your prayer closet (that means when you are alone)
  • since we are talking about the prayer closet, that is a figurative term. You don’t have to go into an actual closet to pray. God just didn’t want us to take the actions that are supposed to honor Him, and go about trying to seen by men and make a big spectacle. (Heyyy Look what I’m doing)

But when you pray, go away by yourself, shut the door behind you, and pray to your Father in private. Then your Father, who sees everything, will reward you. Matt 6:6 (NLT)

But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly. Matt 6:6 (KJV)


 

Blessings. 
Heidi

 

A new and better way ~~ by Meggon McKinley

I’ve been following along with our church’s yearly Bible reading plan, and we are rounding the corner out of Jeremiah and Lamentations, into Ezekiel. What a painful stretch! The reading is full of God’s warnings of what will happen if the Israelites do not turn from their wicked ways and repent from all the abhorrent things we read about them doing. Yet the pattern is clear; long stretches of warnings (which sound as bad, or worse, than the sins) followed by bright promises of mercy and hope. What’s so beautiful is that we see promises not just of mercy for those who repent, but promises of a new and better way indicating a time coming when the wrath of God against sin will be satisfied, and judgement will be held back from his children.

This gem, found in Ekeziel 16:60 & 63b, is a great example: “’Nevertheless, I will remember My covenant with you in the days of your youth, and I will establish an everlasting covenant with you…when I provide you an atonement for all you have done,’ says the Lord God.”

My heart literally cries out…

Trudging through the long passages detailing the horrors of sin and judgement, I come to these little rays of hope and my heart literally cries out “Thank you for letting me live AFTER you sent Jesus to us!” Can you imagine having to walk this earth without Jesus Christ’s work on the cross and His very Spirit dwelling in us and never leaving us? It is so easy to forget that every single sin requires a blood sacrifice to cover it and restore communion with God. I often judge the Israelites for being so rebellious but then I think about the fact that in those days, the only ones who had the Holy Spirit with them were God’s chosen prophets, priests, and kings.  How dark it must have felt to be the ones without God’s Spirit. They were left to just follow the rules, and like us, they didn’t do so well in this area.

It is only because of the sacrifice Jesus made on the cross for my sins that I do not have to live in fear of the judgements of God when my heart strays towards the shiny things vying for my heart. God hasn’t changed, but unfortunately we humans haven’t either.  It’s only the blood of Jesus covering my sins that allows me to dwell on this side of heaven in sweet communion with my Father. Even when I sin, my Heavenly Father sees me through the lens of the blood Christ shed for me and gently, lovingly disciplines and guides me to keep me in the place of sweet communion with Him. There is no wrath. There is no fear.

Could there be anything better?

Meggon McKinley

The Thief

Secret doors and hidden rooms

In our lives, we go to great measures to be safe. We’re trying to be safe from harmful accidents, natural disasters, and of course, from being harmed by others. We implement these protective measures by wearing seatbelts, obeying laws, purchasing insurance, putting locks on our doors, and keeping valuables in the hidden safe that is found in the hidden room that is tucked behind the secret door in the bookcase. Thank goodness for secret doors in bookcases, and Scooby Doo revolving walls. I know everyone has one or the other, right? The point is…we prepare a protective barrier between us and harm. 

In the scripture, the thief can be exchanged with the enemy or the devil. He is called the thief because he wants to steal away our relationship with God, by putting distance between us and God by any means possible. Let me repeat that…the enemy will wedge us away from God by any method that he can. For example, he can help us build a jaded heart towards God. He can also help fill our life with all sorts of sin.

How about some dark chocolate covered sin?    

Sin is like a candy in a candy store…we walk in and there displayed in pretty containers is sin in 200 different forms. It comes in every color, every texture, and every flavor. It looks delicious, appealing, and did I say delicious?? And we won’t even mention how good it smells in there. If one candy (sin) doesn’t appeal to us, don’t worry…try the next one. Take some free samples so we know what flavors we like best. Maybe we’ll buy several different kinds of sin; some chewy sin, some sour gummy sin, and maybe some dark chocolate covered sin. What about the coffee flavored sin?? Yes! That one is to die for. The clerk will put it in a pretty bag for us to boot.

Alright, I’ve entertained you with a simple comparison of sin and the visual, textural, and flavorful nature of a candy shoppe. Let’s face it; we’re all human and we’re all going to sin. As we grow in our spiritual lives and mature in general, the nature of the sin and how we may be tempted (attacked) by sin changes. So we have to keep paying attention to how sin sneaks into our life because it will sneak into our life, and it will wedge us further away from God. I Peter 5 sums it up nicely. 

I Peter 5:7 Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you. 8 Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. 9 Stand firm against him, and be strong in your faith. Remember that your Christian brothers and sisters all over the world are going through the same kind of suffering you are. (NLT)

Remember at the beginning, I said that the enemy will wedge us away from God by any method that he can? We need to know our own weaknesses, recognize them, and firm up our barriers. We can have a close friend be our spiritual accountability partner if needed. Did I say we’re all human? It’s okay to have weaknesses. God made us that way. But we need to guard ourselves from harm and keep ourselves safe. The harm from sin could result in physical and/or spiritual death. 

John 10:10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. (NIV)

I want to remind you about the nature of a thief. A thief:

  • does not let you know he is prowling around your home
  • does not let you know he found an unlocked door or window
  • does not let you know that a door is slightly open
  • does not let you know he has been stalking you for months
  • does not announce when he is coming in
  • does not let you know what he is stealing
  • does not let you know what kind of weapon he has
  • does not come when your house is full of family but when you are alone

All the scriptures warning us about the thief were not written in vain or for the obvious things in our lives, but to warn us to watch for the sneaky things that will press us away from a glorious relationship with our creator. 

Blessings

Heidi

Foggy Days

Foggy Days

Most of us think of fog as the early morning magical mist that makes the earth feel isolated and quiet; or we identify fog with the 1980 John Carpenter horror film about ghosts that emerge out of a mysterious fog to claim retribution on a town. I think there may have even been a remake of the Fog a few years back. Personally, I want to know when the musical is coming out. I’d see that for certain.

A few days ago, I was driving to work on a rather foggy morning. I have a simple commute that involves two straight stretches of highway. I always know exactly where I am, and how long I still have to go, based on the land markers I pass. But this morning, I didn’t quite know where I was. I couldn’t see anything except the road, and white brume.  I usually have an internal compass, and can tell north from south, blindfolded. Okay, not really, but I do know my directions very well.  So, I’m trudging on down the highway, paying much closer attention to the houses that I pass, so I have a CLUE to my current location. For the record, I didn’t see any ghosts in the fog, which is rather disappointing.

Details in the fog – but no zombies

But I did notice far more detail about the houses that I passed than I usually notice. I tried to catalog the information for the next fog encounter. But I want you to know that I didn’t really need to know exactly where I was. I was on the right road, I was going the right direction, and it was a straight highway. You may already see where I am going with this. No zombies in the fog this time.

Mystical fog

Fog is an interesting thing. It can have a mystical effect, obscuring or changing the perception of what is normally recognizable and reducing visibility.  It can also be a state of mental confusion. I think we all encounter different forms of ‘fog’ now and then in life. But there’s no need for anxiety, or micro-analyzing exactly where you are on the road. Honestly, does it really matter? You should be on a straight path. It would be different if you were hacking out your own trail through the wilderness, or if you were on a winding treacherous path, filled with sharp cliffs and rocks. But you aren’t. You are on the straight road. You will wind up at the proper destination at a God-appointed time, fog or not. It didn’t matter if I recognized the houses. The houses weren’t my destination, nor in my path, but merely beside it.

Much like some of the circumstances in our lives that come and go, it doesn’t matter how much attention we give to what is off to the side of our road. We really need our main focus to be on what is in front of us.

And the best of the three is love

I Corinthians 13:12 We don’t yet see things clearly. We’re squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won’t be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! We’ll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us, knowing him directly just as he knows us! 13 But for right now, until that completeness, we have three things to do to lead us toward that consummation: Trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, love extravagantly. And the best of the three is love. (MSG)

The Dirty Soap Dish

Soap dishes come in all shapes and sizes

Today, most of us use liquid soap to wash our hands, but not too many years ago, we just had plain old bar soap. It was slippery and a bit slimy at times and it had it’s own little spot when you were done lathering your hands. If you weren’t overly worried about it, you set the bar of soap along side of the faucet in a little grooved place, designed just for a bar of soap. If you wanted to reign in that little slippery rascal, you had a soap dish to place it in. Soap dishes came in all shapes and sizes, from plastic to marble, and from plain to fancy. My mom had older lady friends who had pedestal soap dishes that required a raised pinky during hand washing. Snoo-tey!!

Did you ever notice what happened if you didn’t keep an eye on the soap dish? Let me tell you…it was gross. When you aren’t paying attention, soap, a centuries old cleaning agent, does it’s own thing. The dirty secret is that soap is only clean when it’s cleaning your hands. Once you place that bad boy down, it turns to slime, and mucks up your soap dish. Then you have to figure out how to scrape that out of the grooves of the soap dish. Why is one of the dirtiest places in the house the bottom of the soap dish??

Much like the soap dish, the church can harbor its own share of slime and muck if it’s left unattended after it has done the job of ‘cleaning everyone’s hands’. Now, isn’t that a bit backwards? Mmmm yep. So what’s the fix on this deal? Well, it’s hard to say in a simple blog post, but it needs to start with each one of us. We need to make sure we are cleaning out our own spiritual soap dish, and we need to do it on a regular basis. If you are asking why, I have a simple answer for you. We are human. We make messes. We need to continue to ‘wash’ with a fervent and humble heart, making a strong point to keep our eyes on our own slimy mess, and using wisdom and restraint if/when pointing out the slime in someone else’s soap dish. I lean towards keeping your eyes on your own soap dish. 🙂

I Thessalonians 4:9 But we don’t need to write to you about the importance of loving each other, for God himself has taught you to love one another. 10 Indeed, you already show your love for all the believers throughout Macedonia. Even so, dear brothers and sisters, we urge you to love them even more. 11 Make it your goal to live a quiet life, minding your own business and working with your hands, just as we instructed you before. 12 Then people who are not Christians will respect the way you live, and you will not need to depend on others (NLT).

So the first and most important steps are to act in love towards others, then love others some more, try not to be quarrelsome, work with your hands, and mind your own beeswax (slight interpretation liberty taken). Churches will never be perfect, so don’t try and hold the standard of perfection. We’ll all fail because we’re human. I heard this saying recently when dining with some girlfriends; “Church would be wonderful if it weren’t for the people”.

 Perfection isn’t the goal

We’ll never be perfect. Christ doesn’t expect us to be, but He does want us to act and behave out of deep levels of love for one another. That would take care of a huge amount of the slime and muck that keeps filling up the soap dishes of the church today. And maybe we could win back some of the respect that we’ve lost from those who keep a cynical eye on the church. Let’s win some over with love. 

I don’t have all the answers, but our heavenly father does. Seek Him in the matters of keeping your soap dish clean. Keep growing and keep loving others.

Blessings.

Heidi