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Showing posts from 2021

Speak, Lord; I'm listening

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The Lord came and stood there, calling as at the other times, "Samuel! Samuel!" Then Samuel said, "Speak, for your servant is listening." And the Lord said to Samuel, "See, I am about to do something in Israel that will make the ears of everyone who hears of it tingle." (1 Samuel 3:10-11) Lord of Heaven, You are standing here, right next to me,  waiting for me to recognize you. Speak, Lord, I'm listening now. I won't argue with you. I will obey whatever you tell me to do, no matter how frightening or impossible it seems. I'm listening . You are about to do something new that will make everyone stop and take notice . And for some reason,  you've invited me into the process. You want to use me. How can I say 'no' to that? You have all power and authority in my life. So tell me what you want from me. I'll do it. In Jesus' name, Amen. How is God speaking to you? What is he saying?

Lament and confession over gun violence

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Oh. Lord, There's been another mass shooting. I can't imagine how your heart hurts to see your creation turn on itself. End the violence in our country. I intercede, Lord, for the victims and the victimizers that live in this country and call themselves Americans. I am sick of the violence, shamed by it, grieved by it, astonished by the normalization of mass shootings. We have blood on our hands. We may not have personally committed these atrocities, but many times we have shaken our heads, cast judgment, and gone about our day anyway. Lord, show each of us how we can help change this problem. Massage our hearts toward compassion, justice, and care. Give us discernment about the gun-violence problem, the sin-problem, and the mental-health problem that must be addressed and corrected. We are a country--and a world--filled with desperate people  who cannot find a way to solve their own heart and mind issues except to lash out against one another. We gossip, we malign, we injure,

20 things you should pray for

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  On March 17, I posted a blog " What you should pray against ." This is a response to that blog: 20 Things you should pray FOR.  1. For believers . "Be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people." ( Ephesians 6:18) 2. For salvation . "Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved." ( Romans 10:13) 3. For wisdom . "For  any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God,  who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. ( James 1:5 ) 4. For humility. " Seek righteousness, seek  humility ; perhaps you will be sheltered on the day of the  Lord ’s anger." ( Zephaniah 2:3 ) 5. For grace. " The  grace  of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, brothers and sisters." ( Galatians 6:18) 6. For love. " And now these three remain: faith, hope and love.  But the greatest of these is love." ( 1 Corinthians 13:13) 7.  For bold and truthful words . "Pr ay also for me, that

I messed up again

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                       Dear Lord, I messed up again . I let someone's words and attitude anger me, make me defensive, and feel upset. I didn't lose my temper or act rudely-- but I wasn't gracious, either. I  said things  that were unnecessary--and who's to say that I wasn't offensive? I wasn't kind because I didn't put myself in their shoes. I didn't  empathize . I didn't ask questions. I just challenged, argued my point, and decided to view them as  arrogant, stubborn, or at best, difficult. But I was all those things. I see that now, and I regret it. Sin is so subtle and tricky-- it seeps in through insecurity and pain  and defends my right to feel offended by another person's words or actions. Sin makes me guard myself and defend myself even when I'm not in danger. It makes me feel misunderstood, alone,  abandoned, and discouraged. Probably like this person felt. Being  wounded  in the past makes me feel wounded all the time. That's wh

Lord, make me new

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  Lord God, Creator and Regenerator of all things new , Bring newness and freshness into my life through the power of your Holy Spirit. Keep me from looking for a new fix through new relationships, new church , new causes, new addictions, new distractions, or new indignations. This is not the newness you want growing in my life. May I pursue righteousness because you are doing something new in my life. You want to change me-- to make me new , each and every day -- by offering up my pride and my insecurities to you and letting you change anything you want, introduce anything you want, tear down any idols you want. That's how you make me new. You save me, then you keep redeeming my carnal mind and heart every day if I stop fighting you. If I stop protecting all the things I don't want to change, all the comfort, all the traditions, all the safety nets, all the presuppositions. As long as I hold on to these things, I will never be made new. I will just change what I want to an

A Holy Saturday lament: While Jesus lay in the tomb

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Oh, Lord Jesus, This is a Holy Saturday prayer-- remembering the silent Saturday that your body lay in a tomb, guarded by soldiers, celebrated by your enemies. While your friends and followers mourned, shocked and sickened with grief that somehow your enemies killed you . And you let them. You let them  betray you, lie about you, taunt you, torture you, and kill you. How often I am like your disciples from long ago-- I sit  grieving,   despairing, questioning, pleading, raging , shaking in fear , sobbing in solitude, hiding in shame because I think you've left me because you're silent. What a tangle of complex emotions we feel when we think you can't hear us-- when you're not here-- when we act like you're as shocked and traumatized by the world as we are. How agonizing was it to feel the sins of the whole world? To succumb to death, when you have always existed? To offer yourself to every single human being, whom you created in your image, knowing each of us, even

Jesus, will you carry me?

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Lord Jesus, I'm weary .  Will you carry me for awhile? Wherever you want. Just hold me tight. Amen.

Lament for a homicide: when a child kills a child

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Dear God, You understand heartbreak.  You know what it is to lose a child to senseless violence . Lord, fall on us and blanket our misery! Bring vengeance on the perpetrators of injustice. This latest act of violence against a child sickens and saddens me. No parent should lose a child because someone else's child is angry, confused, or traumatized. Or just a sinner, committing a sin. And now another child has died. Sometimes the killed child is an unborn baby. Sometimes it's a neglected child. Sometimes it's a teenager, caught up in drugs or theft  or just being at the wrong place at the wrong time. Sometimes a child's death is caused by someone's trauma , someone's desperation, someone's mental illness someone's cruelty. It's shocking what we humans are capable of doing. It's all so horrible, and I know it grieves you. You desire hope, healing, peace, love, forgiveness, restitution, belonging. May my heart always break when your heart break

How to Pray (a lesson from Jesus)

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How should you pray? What if Jesus could show you how to pray a prayer that works? Most of us have probably prayed the Lord's Prayer. We've sung it or recited it in unison in church, at a large event, at the dinner table. It's fast, simple, and maybe a little high-church in its feel. But it's not really a dinner prayer or a convocation prayer. It's not designed for cathedrals. It's merely a sample of how to communicate with God Almighty about both big and little things. Jesus formed this prayer himself, so I'd say this is a reliable template for your prayers, too. You can use this for a model. Here's little breakdown of the topics:  1) worship 2) faith 3) obedience 4) mission 5) request 6) confession 7)    praise (It's always a good idea to start and end with adoration of God--it straightens out our perspectives.)  In other words, I can't ask God for something when my heart is still hiding selfishness or pride. I can't ask for his will w

Relief for the marginalized

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Lord Jesus, Bring relief to the marginalized people in this country. Comfort the grieving families of this recent attack in Georgia. Bring awareness, empathy, and compassion to all of us-- but particularly your children-- so that we reach out to those who wander, suffer with those who hurt,  and offer belonging to everyone. I pray your special blessing on Asian-Americans, on immigrant children separated from their parents, on single parent-families living in poverty, on inner-city kids without the resources to reach their dreams. Fill each with the assurance of your love and a desire to know you. Comfort and protect them. And God, change us into your image before them! Stir our hearts to break down stereotypes, partisanship, and elitism and embrace the diverse world you created. You love us all. You offer salvation freely to everyone. You call us to reach the world. Now convict us to reach the world you've brought to us, to think of safety for all instead of safety for ourselves. H

What you should pray against

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What are you praying against? Today I read Ephesians 5-6. Although the words are very familiar--I have a lot of it memorized--one section jumped out at me. It's where I've been living and struggling. It's time to face the music. The passage introduces a reason and a strategy for defeating everything that's wrong in the world and everything that's wrong inside me. All my anxiety and stress. All my misguided competitiveness. All my pride and confusion. All my "righteous" indignation. I'm reminded who and what I fight against. What I've forgotten to fight against. Reading this liberates and challenges me in my focus. Perhaps it will help you as well... Ephesians 6:10-13 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world

Praying to the God Who Sees Me

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THE GOD WHO SEES ME.  Lahai Roi, This amazing name which Hagar used to describe you has changed me forever.  You see me. You see me when I can't see myself. You see me when I rejoice, when I despair, when I feel lonely , inadequate , afraid , angry . You see me when I'm lost. You see me when I think I'm not. When I want you and when I don't. You see me and you love me. You welcome me always. I belong to you and with you. Thank you for seeing me. In Jesus' name, Amen. Watch this incredible music video by Nicole C. Mullen and Kathie Lee Gifford. The other video is an interview of them describing the spiritual process of writing, recording, and filming this piece. The Song & Film: "The God Who Sees" The making of "The God Who Sees"

A prayer for resilience

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Oh, Lord Jesus, I worship you. You alone are what I need,  what I depend on for life and joy. Forgive me for looking anywhere else. I need resilience. I want to recover,  rebound , overcome all the fears that attack me, from the habits that bind me, from the voices that poison my heart and my mind. Only you can do this work in me. Only you can filter the lies from the truth. Holy Spirit, reveal yourself to me. Take control of my mind. Instruct my heart with understanding and obedience to your prompting. Fill me with all the knowledge of you so I can attain the resurrection of life, the purpose for which I was born. Resurrect my faith in you and your process of completing me. Resurrect my shortcomings and my failures. Breathe life into all the dead spaces inside me. I need you. You have formed me, called me, empowered me. I am yours. Always and forever. You can do anything you want with me. You can take the dead places inside me and resurrect them. You can take the broken pieces

A prayer for power

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  Lord Jesus, I want your power . I'm in the darkness without it. I need it to live, to obey, to love. Without your power, I can't read the news or interact well with anybody. I can't view my life through an eternal lens. I can't make decisions that honor you. I can't love those who offend me. I can't forgive those who hurt me. I can't make a difference anywhere. Without your power, I'm just noise. But with your power at work in me, I am light , I am music, I am love , I am forgiveness, I am justice . I am Jesus, a little Christ. That's miraculous, and that's what I want today. I submit to your power over every aspect of my life. I hold nothing back. I won't measure the power of my light with anyone else's. That's your call because it's your power in me to do the work you have called me to do. I do not fear what you will do-- I wait for it! I choose to see you,  follow you,  obey you. All glory, honor and power be to Jesus C

8 Things God wants us to know when life is hard (A paraphrase of Psalm 66)

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  Psalm 66 tells us 8 things God wants us to know when life is hard. When my world is melting, sliding out of my control, sometimes I wonder what he's doing. So I usually go to Psalms. God always reminds me that he is busy, and he is triumphant already.  So stop panicking. Here's my paraphrase and prayer of  Psalm 66 , bullet-pointed for clarity: 1. Praise God first, regardless of what's happening Shout for joy, everyone! Give  God credit for his miraculous works! 2. God is in control because he is the Creator Oh, Lord, You fill me with awe. Your enemies cringe at your name. They rebel and slander and revolt, yet the earth itself follows your commands and bows itself in reverent obedience. The orbits rotate, the earth shakes and spews, the animal kingdom continues its circle of life, the wind and waves take their predictable paths. 3. God directs and uses the world for his glory You can alter the world's state at any moment. You can send fire, part waters, stop uprisi

Your questions are an act of faith

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  Here's a guest post (combo devotional and prayer!) from my friend Tracey Kelly. Psalm 62:8   Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before him; God is a refuge for us.   I often think that asking God hard questions is an act of unbelief in him. It feels like I don’t trust him if I admit that I don’t understand what he’s doing. But questions and trust are not opposites. I can be confused and trust him at the same time. I can bear heavy feelings, admit my doubt and fear, and still know that he is good. Bringing the ugly stuff to God is a bold act of faith . Our relationship is so authentic that it can carry the weight of hard things. If I didn’t go to God with the really hard stuff , what does that say about my relationship with him?   It matters who I run to when life is dark. It matters where I hide and where I look for light. My direction reveals the authority is in my life. What if true communion with Jesus looked like a heart poured out completely--a tota

Nothing can hinder the Lord from saving

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  I read 1 Samuel 14 today. Such a cool story.  Back story :  Jonathan and his father King Saul are the only people in the arm with swords (can you imagine!?) because the Philistines had a monopoly on blacksmithing. That's not a good strategy for winning a war. Problem : Jonathan wants to attack an entire Philistine outpost on a cliff, at night, with only his armor-bearer. They have one sword, and they have to scale a cliff to get to the enemy. Jonathan is tired of losing . He's tired of his father disobeying God's commands. He wants justice . He wants righteousness . He knows they should be ridding their land of the Philistine's godless influence.  And he's not afraid of the cost. What Jonathan says : "Come, let's go over to the outpost of those uncircumcised fellows. Perhaps the Lord will act on our behalf. Nothing can hinder the Lord from saving , whether by many or by few." (1 Sam. 14:6) What happens : They go--just the two of them--and call up

I'm praying for you!

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  I read Philippians Chapter 1 this morning, and I thought of you.   All of you.   I realized how much we need to pray Verse 9-11 for one another. So here is powerful intercessory prayer, straight from the Bible-- Philippians 1:9-11 .  I'm praying it for you! Dear Holy Spirit who intercedes for us, May we intercede for one another like this: "And this is my prayer:  that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best  and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ-- to the glory and praise of God." In Jesus' precious name, Amen.