Archives For prayer

Change

September 18, 2012 — Leave a comment

loose-change

I’ve got a little change in my pocket. Not a lot, mind you. Just a little. Not enough to make a phone call, as if there were any pay phones anymore. I expect the ones that are not completely vandalized or uninstalled probably have forgotten how to work at this point.

Change – it’s like a four-letter word to most people, but with 2 vowels – making six letters total, but it wouldn’t look right if it was “chng.” You’d all be thinking, “ching? What’s ching?”

If you’ve ever grown up, grown hair, grown fingernails or grown a chia pet, you have experienced change in some form or another. It’s constant, necessary, sometimes beneficial, sometimes not so much. But one thing is for sure in life – change is always coming.

Some people like their change in a mason jar on the shelf, where you can pull it out every now and then and snag a few quarters for a coke. Others like change similar to what Loki did to New York in Avengers. If you think about it, there’s really no in-between. It’s either grand and sweeping, or subtle and underplayed. But most of the time there’s pain involved.

Some people like change just for the sake of change. “I’m tired of the way it is, let’s change things up!” These types of leaders irritate me. If it ain’t broke, don’t break it.

Some people like change because of the possibilities it can offer – “This is broken and needs to be fixed,” or, “this could be better if we tweak it here and here.” I like those kinds of leaders.

I have been both in the past.

One church where I was an associate pastor, well, let’s just say I thought it was broken, and the only way to fix it was to totally deconstruct everything. I did not seek approval, did not seek wise counsel, did not even pray about it much. I just outlined a 12 month plan and dove in.

Nobody knew what I was doing except I was really pissing them off. Sorry – that’s what they literally said to me.

I went from 30 in the youth group to 10, back up to 50+ pretty quick, but because my thinking was off, it was never enough – I broke it, fixed it, tweaked it, shined it up and spray painted it and when I stood back to admire my creation, there was just not much good about it. Plus that whole losing the trust and good-will of the people thing.

After that I was gun shy, and vowed not to change anything for 12 months, and it ended up pretty much the same as before. I think next time I will at least pray a bit, and ask for some help.

I think that’s what leaders are doing on a world scale these days. It’s really broken. It’s bad. Nobody has a clue what to do about it and what is being done is breaking it more. And we are at each other’s throats.

Will prayer and wise counsel even work? For our nation? For our world?

I think yes, if we have leaders who are humble, who don’t think they know everything, who know they don’t have all the answers, but are willing to listen to “we the people” and accept that they are “we the people” just like you and me.

1 Timothy 2:1-2 exhorts us to pray for our leaders, so that life can be good for us. Life is not all that bad for me. It is pretty bad for a lot of people though – I wonder if prayer really does change things? I wonder…

Whoa Whoa Whoa Feelings

September 10, 2012 — Leave a comment

notebook

Yeah, The Notebook. Get over it.

You know what? I was sound asleep 15 minutes ago. Sound asleep. Then my eyes popped open, I sat straight up in bed, my mind immediately awake and full of ideas. Two words. Holy. Spirit.

There has been an occasion in my life where I had the opportunity to have a moment like in the picture above. Imagine it for a moment. How ridiculous it actually is, I mean. Why am I standing outside in the rain kissing someone? Why am I not inside, where it’s warm and dry? Who does that?

Have you ever had a moment like that?

Well, let me try to explain the unexplainable.

Circumstances have drawn you toward this one single moment. Everything is all lined up. It doesn’t even matter what happened to draw you into this moment – all that matters is this is where you are.

You’re shivering, but not cold. Actually, you’re pretty warm inside. Your heart is pounding, you’re out of breath, your skin feels like lightning is about to strike. And it’s like there’s only two people on the entire earth. Everyone else, everything else, is outside of existence.

Have you every had a moment like that in life? I hope you have – in spite of being ridiculous, it’s actually pretty wonderful. Pretty life changing. It’s something you will never forget.

I’m married to a girl I shared a moment like that with. She’s beautiful, inside and out. Our life could be a movie! And the weird thing is, we have moments like that all the time. Except for the rain part.

We have other moments, too. Moments when things are too hard, moments when we can’t stand each other, moments when everything is too hard and we just want to give up. Moments when there’s a mountain of dirty laundry, the dishes are all sitting in the sink dirty and neither of us wants to wash them, moments when both cars are broken down and we have no idea what to do next because neither of us gets paid until Friday and it’s Tuesday and we just paid the mortgage and we only have $28 to last the week.

All of those moments are what life is. I wouldn’t trade one of them for anything. I have experienced all of those things, and maybe you have too. I cherish each and every one of those experiences, and all the others. It’s part of who I am, and they have, at least in part, made me who I am.

There’s one more moment. It’s almost unexplainable. But I’ll give it a try.

Circumstances drew me into this one single moment. It doesn’t matter what the circumstances are – here I am. Maybe I’m scared, or upset or worried about life or work or whatever. And Cheryl is there praying over me. My heart is pounding, I’m shivering, out of breath, and there’s electricity in the air. But instead of it being just the two of us, there’s someone else there. There are three people in this moment and all three of us are engaged in what is happening. Everyone else, everything else, is outside of existence.

Everything becomes completely still, the hairs on my arms stand straight up, a cool, calming breeze blows across my skin.

It’s just me and Cheryl and the Holy Spirit. He brings us together, he breathes through us, into us. He give us love and life and hope. He makes life more than the laundry and cars and home repairs, more than the sum of all the moments put together. He makes even the hard things worth it. Life – for us anyway – is not possible and maybe not even worth it without him.

Have you ever had a moment like that? I hope you have. In spite of me trying to give words to it, it’s unexplainable, wonderful, life changing. It’s something you will never forget, and something you will long to experience again and again. The awesome thing about it is, you can experience it. You can have this every single day. You can experience this moment over and over again, and it’s brand new every single time.

Romans 8:26-28 comes to mind. We often come to God with a laundry list of mundane things to pray about – health, safety, work, family. God already knows our needs! Not that we don’t need to pray for and over all of it, but there is a level of prayer that goes much deeper. God wants to know you, not just the things you’re worried about or in need of. He wants to share life with you!

Sometimes we don’t know what to pray, or how to pray. The Spirit helps us, he intercedes for us, sometimes with words we don’t even understand. He helps us to see that it’s all going to be ok, that everything is going to work out, even if we don’t think it will, even if we think there’s no chance that this will ever be ok. He helps us to understand that we are loved beyond what we can presently know, and that all things work together for good to those who love God.

Have you ever experienced anything like this? I hope you have -