Archive for the ‘Prayer’ Category

I sit typing this blog entry while watching this amazing and historical day online. I am filled with a sense of excitement as I await the innaugural address to the nation. Now, for those of you who know me wel, know that I am no fan of American politics. In fact, while I did vote, my vote did not count as Jesus Christ was not on the ticket OR the write in candidates (can you believe it?). But deep down I was excited about the wind of change that has come in the form of a black family being brought into the oval office. This is amazing because just over 142 years ago the 13th Ammendment was ratified and ended legal slavery in the United States. While this may seem a long time ago, the effects of slavery and oppression of blacks in America has yet to see its end.

Today, God is seemingly making great strides in our world. Merely, 55 years since Rosa Parks sat her ground on that bus in Montgomery, AL, 44 years since Civil Rights leader, Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated, 28 years after the “last lynching” (though many would argue this), just 17 years after the brutal treatment of Rodney King by those protectors of our streets, today, marks the fruits of progress that so many have died for, lost fathers and mothers for. Today, we find ourselves hopeful. Today, as you watch the innaggural address, notice how the color of one’s skin is lost in the zooming out of camera’s and how together we stand in unity. It is a glimpse into what the kingdom of heaven may be like. While God and Christ will be mentioned today I look forward to the day when Christ draws a crowd larger than what we see this historical day.

May we all, find this unifying moment a glimpse into what is to come when Christ our true President of presidents, our King of kings and the true and only Prince of Peace. Oh Lord, bless the Bush’s as they move into a new chapter of their lives, bless the Obama’s as they begin to lead this country as you have ordained, bless our government as they seek to guide our country in these tough financial and spiritual times, bless our citizens with humility and contentment in times of great distress, bless our world in this time of war and lack of peace. Lord we truly desire that Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Lord come! Amen.

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Well I meant to write about a recent trip I had to the Carmelite Retreat Center. However, it’s been a long while since I took that retreat. But even so, the effects are still evident and this time with my new friends at the retreat center and found myself engulfed in a Catholic world that felt so familiar. It was like visiting a family member that you have been out of touch with for sometime. You come together and remember all the wonderful things we have in common as family. I know, many in the church of Christ heritage might disagree with me for even going on a retreat let alone consorting with the “enemy.” I must say, I could not disagree more. God was present and working in powerful ways through two friars, my brothers in Christ, Father Stephen and Father Jerome. I have NEVER come to discern the Way more fully than during my time with these brothers of mine. Late nights with Father Stephen, talking theology and life, turned into one of the most meaningful moments and transitionary times of my life. It reminds me of Peter’s proclamation of Christ as Lord, Son of the Living God. The awareness was evident and yet, even now, I am only partially able to understand the full magnitude of the mission of Jesus. There are many days where I imagine Jesus looking at my struggle with the Way and saying, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; for you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things.”

Yet, it cannot be taken away from me that Jesus, the Son of the Living God is more predominantly the Lord of my Life. Father’s love stand as the precipice of my delight and joy. His love, daily reaches deep into my unworthy heart and touches the core of my life. Often, I find myself joyfully tearful and unable to speak. Yes, for me that is quite the feat.

The truth is, I am not wanting to share the deepest moments of my journey with the Carmelite order. Rather, what I hope is that someon reading this might be encouraged to begin seeking this love and joy that I speak of mor fully. To remember that life is not about serving the system of religiosity and doctrinal demands. For God loves us the same no matter what path we choose and Christ’s blood is still spilled for all who claim him as their Lord and Savior. The point is seeking God. It is to see David’s quest as our own.

Psalms 27
Of David.

The LORD is my light and my salvation—
whom shall I fear?
The LORD is the stronghold of my life—
of whom shall I be afraid?
When evil men advance against me
to devour my flesh,
when my enemies and my foes attack me,
they will stumble and fall.
Though an army besiege me,
my heart will not fear;
though war break out against me,
even then will I be confident.

One thing I ask of the LORD,
this is what I seek:
that I may dwell in the house of the LORD
all the days of my life,
to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD
and to seek him in his temple.
For in the day of trouble
he will keep me safe in his dwelling;
he will hide me in the shelter of his tabernacle
and set me high upon a rock.
Then my head will be exalted
above the enemies who surround me;
at his tabernacle will I sacrifice with shouts of joy;
I will sing and make music to the LORD.

Hear my voice when I call, O LORD;
be merciful to me and answer me.
My heart says of you, “Seek his face!”
Your face, LORD, I will seek.
Do not hide your face from me,
do not turn your servant away in anger;
you have been my helper.
Do not reject me or forsake me,
O God my Savior.
Though my father and mother forsake me,
the LORD will receive me.
Teach me your way, O LORD;
lead me in a straight path
because of my oppressors.
Do not turn me over to the desire of my foes,
for false witnesses rise up against me,
breathing out violence.

I am still confident of this:
I will see the goodness of the LORD
in the land of the living.
Wait for the LORD;
be strong and take heart
and wait for the LORD.

(emphasis mine)

For more information about the Carmelite Order I highly recommend checking out these sites…

New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia:  Carmelite Order

Carmelite Website

Mount Carmel Retreat Center

How long…(Revised)

Posted: Jul 28, 2008 in Prayer

Today, I sit, struggling to find words. Feelings of sorrow for a family that is experiencing loss beyond understanding. Yesterday, the neighborhood was a buzz as Care Flight landed at our soccer fields in Savannah, TX to take Markus Lewis, beloved son, taken from them by a tragic accident. Due to some confusion as they got out of their car after coming home from lunch, his parents sadly left him in the car for around an hour. He passed away yesterday. I am terribly concerned for this family. I am terribly concerned with this community. I am frustrated by the self-righteous way in which the news always reports things from their mountain tops, disconnected, uncaring, hungry for the next savage evidence of our worlds terrible brokenness. It’s easy for us to sit with them isn’t it, looking down from on high, elevated and lifted up until…

I have already heard some of the most horrible and thoughtless things said, this frustrates me to no end (Father forgive me, as I forgive others), though I have also heard genuine concern for this family and their loss. You see this could have happened to anyone of us. Oh sure, we look at this tragedy and cannot believe that parents could forget about their child and yet, one can walk the streets of Savannah at all hours and see children of all ages running around, walking in groups, cloaked in the darkest corners of our community. We see parents who let their kids fill their minds with destructive messages from every form of media available, they teach their children to party like there is no tomorrow. While it may not be a hot car but instead it is an even more painful and slow death of one’s spirit down the path of addiction, depression and sin. Many parents don’t even have time to notice the incredible struggles that their children face. These once beautiful babies now demand too much of our time, we don’t talk, we don’t actively encourage, we treat them as mere annoyances that we live our lives through when they hit the home run but talk bad about when they get caught smoking pot or having sex at school.

How is it that we cannot compassionately relate our failings, mistakes and miscalculations, small as they may be, to the reality of the big ones. We all screw up, the question is not will we but how and to what cost. Maybe its a wrong turn, maybe its your speeding car that kills an innocent family on their way home from church (true story that just happened in Frisco a few weeks back). Who are we to judge the mistakes based upon the consequence? How dare we care so little about life that we wish harm upon those who have in their own right an emptiness that none can imagine?

I am saddened by the insensitivity of a broken world that masks its pain with medications, reality shows that promote the celebration of similar tragedies and crisis and/or the flavor of the month in alcohol, drugs, violence and pornography. Oh how we sit mightily upon our grand thrones judging the world that does not fit into our false realities, only to find our throne little more than a place to puke when we ourselves wake up from the hangover of life. For no person that has the breath of life is prone to perfection let alone exempt from a single, or many, costly mistake that could take a life. So please, remember your place among the rest of us fallen ones. Let us look upon the world as Christ looked upon his murders and with one last breath declared, “Father forgive them for they know not what they do.”

How long oh Lord? Please come quickly. Please be with the Lewis family. Help them to find comfort in you. Console them, help them to forgive themselves. Oh the pain and guilt they must feel. Protect their marriage. Protect their children. Help us to step back and remember how you have delivered us from our own crap and may that bring forth compassion. May the weapon of joy destroy the powers of judgment and anger at the loss of this precious boy. Yet, we thank you for your protection of little babies. For we know that today Markus Lewis is now awaiting the glory of your new creation. Even now he may be resting in the cool breeze of heaven. May he be laying beside quiet waters, may the Lord Jesus himself be one with this baby. God move powerfully, use your people to comfort and support this family in their time of need. Forgive my own self-righteousness, for I do not intend to judge, just to uncover our nature so we may be delivered from ourselves. Help us, Oh Lord, HELP US!

Amen

On complaining.

Why complain? More importantly how do you deal with complaining without complaining? Moreover, what is complaining?

I have just begun a 40 day fast from unnecessary talk, which I have failed miserably at already. But tomorrow is a new day and the next minute is a new minute so we will see how God works powerfully in our lives. I look forward to it.

So here is MY answer to these questions. It seems to me that complaining is nothing more than an expression of our inability to control things that were never in our control to begin with. Complaining is nothing more than another form of GOSSIP because in complaining about anything people are often attached to such complaints and it serves to raise self up over the situation without having the need to take any responsible action toward a solution. It easily tosses the responsibility off on someone else. Now mind you I am not talking about true issues that need resolving. I am speaking of the types of complaints that restate the obvious time and time again without any productive solution to offer. I am speaking of the possibility that perhaps I, with God’s help, can tame the tongue with thanksgiving and move to a life where I am less concerned about having things in the way I think I should get them or believe I am owed.

So here is my hope for myself. It is my goal to come to the table with solutions, a willingness to be a part of the solution and a tongue that is bit not loose. It is my intention to realize that sometimes constructive criticism is beneficial but it is not constructive beyond a single mention, especially where I have no alternative to offer. Yes, I do want my concerns to be heard but dwelling on them seems to only create within me a very American mentality of I am owed something.

That said, I also understand that, I will fail miserably in this regard. IN such a case, it is good to remember that our complaints are a reflection of our estrangement from our true home. In the kingdom we will have no need to complain for we will have more than we could ever imagine. God’s rule will be all sufficient and our lives will be sustained by his glory. So in the discontentment of our present circumstance, may we realize that God is using our estrangement as a way to keep us longing for vaster things. Lord come quickly for I am weak and a wretch of a man.

Well it has been a long while since I posted. I truly want to but I feel as though in some ways I have been hindered by the Spirit (felt it unnecessary). I am sure I will catch flack for such a statement but I don’t know how else to describe it. Anyway, below is a blog entry from the Jesus Manifesto it is quite convicting and it is definitely a prayer that needs to be prayed. I know that at VineLife we have a huge struggle with giving, not because we don’t want to give but because we have been slaves to credit and the almighty interest rate. Lord, help us.

Subvert this society of spiritual insincerity! These pseudo-saints
wear masks of metaphysical maturity
veiling their vulgar visage and voluminous villainy
Prattling proudly, they publicly proclaim their piety. It’s pathetic!

Don’t buy it, brother.
Don’t get snared, sister.
They’ll get their due.
But as for you,
Do the prayers you do…
In the quiet place.
With simple words.
And an open heart.

Like little kids call for papa
Call out to your Heaven-Father.
Yes, he is Huge and Holy,
But still closer to you
than you are to yourself.

Reach up to him and say:

“We need a regime change,
From Bush or Obama or McCain
To a divine administration.

We don’t need laptops and lattes,
Macbooks or machiattos
We don’t need Red Robbin
Or Little Debbie
Or Colonel Sanders
Or Ronald McDonald
Or Famous Dave.

All we need is
what we need
right now.
And that’s you.

We’re beggin’ you, papa
For debt forgiveness.
Our bedrooms are wallpapered with past due notices
Our cars run off violent oil
Our homes built upon a mountain of bones.
So we declare bankruptcy!

But we can’t point a finger of judgment at others.
We pass along the debt relief that you’ve given to us
And forgive everyone for what they owe us…

…at least in theory, papa.

‘Cuz we are cracked people.
Greedy, lusty, and grumpy by nature.
Always willing to secure ourselves
At the expense of the other
Even if it makes you look bad, papa.

So help us not to be tempted
To secure ourselves with dark dealings…

Deliver from this damned depraved design
of the despicable deceiver who devours divinity!

written by: Mark Van Steenwyk is the editor of JesusManifesto.com. He is a Mennonite pastor (Missio Dei in Minneapolis), writer, speaker, and grassroots educator. He lives in South Minneapolis with his wife (Amy), son (Jonas) and some of their friends.

I must say, this is tough to hear. In fact, many do not have ears to hear this message. They chalk it up to Tree Hugger mentality or extremism. Truth is, I struggle with Green friendly stuff because it seem too hard to embrace, so radical so unnecessary for me in my life. But I wonder is it really about me OR is that exactly why we can’t hear it? Beyond that is this cycle one that can truly be overcome with faith and self sacrifice?

Of course I have my opinions but I want to know what you think… SO? What do you think? Be prayerful, let yourself be questioned, be open to the Spirit’s leading. Here are some scriptures for consideration.

Micah 3; Romans 13:8ff

4. Supplication

Posted: Feb 2, 2008 in Prayer

While self-centered materialistic requests are often our focus in the supplication (i.e. God please help me make more money, help me win the big game, help me…) seek to make these requests oriented towards the benefit of others. With this in mind you can make a request to God to empower you to overcome impatience with your children or one could ask God to protect ones family from the evil one.

Helpful starter questions for this type of prayer:

1) How do you desire God to transform your life?
2) In what areas, do you desire him to overcome and conquer?
3) Who is in need of God’s guidance, comfort or love?
4) Who might I share the light of Christ with?

3. Thanksgiving

Posted: Jan 22, 2008 in Prayer

This is an area that is perhaps so often neglected. I have heard it said many times by many people. We are so often quick to blame God when airliners crash or bridges collapse and thousands die but how often do we stop to thank him for the thousands of other bridges that stay up and airplanes that land safely. This is our opportunity to thank him for everything from large to the smallest of small.

Questions to help you get started:

1) Did you wake up this morning? Praise God!
2) Was there a roof over your head? Praise God!
3) Could you breathe deeply? Praise God!
4) Could you barely breathe at all? Praise God!
5) Were you awaken by little whispers or grand leaps? Praise God!
6) Did you go to work? Praise God!
7) Did you eat even one meal today? Praise God!

God bless you this day!