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Poptarts
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What’s in Your Prayer?
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Ends and Beginnings
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Bless Her Heart
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You can’t tread water forever

Poptarts

You probably don’t know this about me, but I have Poptart magic. Or, at least, that’s what I called it a couple Sundays ago, and the phrase stuck. Because when all the Poptarts seem to have been eaten, I can make a couple appear as if from thin air.

Let me tell the story of this past Sunday in reverse chronological order. Sunday night, I attended the Beth Moore study of the book of James. Verse 15 and 16 of chapter 2 hit me with a new intensity:

If a brother or sister is without clothes and lacks daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, keep warm, and eat well,” but you don’t give them what the body needs, what good is it?

Sunday morning I realized that our church is a place for hungry people to come be filled – spiritually AND physically, depending on the need.

In Sunday School, there was a physical need that I could meet with Poptarts. Not for a kid who didn’t take the time to open up their fully stocked pantry. But for a kid who had next to nothing in their kitchen.

What good is our faith if we shovel the Gospel down a kid’s throat without realizing that they are starving? Even Jesus fed the multitude fish and loaves of bread before he taught. Father, give us faith, armed with actions, for the glory of Your kingdom.

What’s in Your Prayer?

During prayer request time in our Sunday School class, the girls get so excited and eager to share that we occasionally have to revert to the “raise your hand” rule. One day, we had to go so far as to institute the “talking frisbee” (only the girl holding the frisbee could talk).

But as soon as we ask someone to pray, they clam up.

Do they not want to talk to our Heavenly Father?

Do they not want to bear each other’s burdens?

No. Our girls want to pray. But they don’t know what to say or how to start or even how to end. They are intimidated by the fancy, well-worded prayers that preachers and parents rattle off, even at mealtimes. I believe the problem is stage fright.

Who hasn’t had this same fear? There are times in my own personal quiet time that I don’t know what to pray or even that my prayers sound stale. I started asking myself, “What am I praying?”

One beauty of Scripture is that we can read the prayers of saints who have gone before us. And, for all intensive purposes, we can “steal” their prayers.

I am memorizing passages like Colossians 1:9-14 and adapting them into my own prayer:

I am asking that she may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding,  so that she may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to You, bearing fruit in every good work and growing in the knowledge of God  Please strengthen her with all power, according to Your glorious might, for all endurance and patience, with joy  giving thanks to the Father, who has enabled her to share in the saints’ inheritance in the light.  You have rescued us from the domain of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of the Son You love. We have redemption, the forgiveness of sins, in Him.

The Scripture is full of prayers to our Father. Let me know if you find one that you are going to start using.

Ends and Beginnings

Today, I turned in my key to Union University as well as to Shelter Insurance. The days following my two weeks notice have been filled with joyous celebrations as well as scattered tears for the relationships I must leave behind. But in the words of my wise husband, “Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.” (Sometimes I forget he loves 90’s music because apparently this is a quote from a Semisonic song).

As I did my best to prep my emotional stamina last night, I was reminded of Paul’s words about running a race in such a way that you may win (1 Corinthians 9:24).

My finish line is not at Union right now. It was just a stop along to race route. In fact, my two part-time jobs were not really the race at all. My obedience in walking with Christ is the good race.

When Christ calls us to end a beginning, it’s so that He can start a new beginning in us. And during the transition, we have the opportunity to cling to Christ and trust that He will work all things together for our good and for His glory.

Bless Her Heart

“My friend Jane, bless her heart, wears boy shorts; she refuses to wear dresses or skirts.”

How is it that sentences like the one above get shared during prayer request time? Galations chapter six tells us to “carry one another’s burdens.”  We’ve all got a lot of stuff happening in our lives. We have situations where we need wisdom and guidance as well as moments of praising God for working in our lives. And yet, it’s a constant battle to keep prayer request time free from gossip.
Actually, it’s a war to keep our everyday chit-chat free from gossip.

The tongue is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men who are made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things should not be this way. – James 3:7-10

Since the line between truth and gossip can be tricky to navigate, here are three questions to decide whether or not to share that piece of information you just learned.

  1. Is it true? The answer to this question is usually yes. After all, the juiciest gossip is always at least based on truth. Just because something is true, does not mean it is right, or in this case, righteous.
  2. Is it kind? This question is harder to answer. Maybe ask yourself, would I say this to her face? Or How will other people knowing this information affect the person it is about? We have all messed up, but not everything needs to be public knowledge.
  3. Is it necessary? Our words should not be background noise that go on and on without anyone paying attention to them. Rather, we strive to add valuable insight to conversations without attacking or insulting other people.

If you can honestly answer “yes” to all three questions, then most likely you are safe to share your story. However, if you answered no to even just one question, then you should keep it to yourself. Above all, ask the Holy Spirit to convict you before you even open your mouth.

You can’t tread water forever

 

Goggles from Walmart. Check.

One-piece swimsuit from Marshall’s. Check.

Two weeks ago I began my career as an Olympic swimmer. Forget the fact that I haven’t swum laps since I was eight and taking swimming lessons. And the fact that I barely passed the “Goldfish” class even then.

I jumped feet first into the shallow end and shuttered as my swimsuit absorbed the cool water. I pushed my goggles against my eyes and tested their suction to my face.

Gold medal time. I pushed off the wall and let my arms go into auto pilot with the freestyle stroke. As my feet propelled me through the water, I was feeling confident. My feet kicked a rhythmic splutter behind me while my arms counted left, right, left, breathe; left, right, left, breathe.

Suddenly, my left foot cramped, pulling my foot at an unnatural angle. The rhythm fell apart. I couldn’t straighten my foot, couldn’t kick, couldn’t get my arms under me enough to tread water. Sputtering chlorine-filled water from my mouth, I doggy paddled myself to the edge while the seventy-year old man in the next lane swam smoothly along. Fail.

Life lesson: swimming is awesome. Drowning is awful.

When we talk about our walk with God, we use the phrase that we are drowning in our sin. I remember the pain of basing my self worth on good grades, only to realize that no one liked me any better with A’s than with C’s. I even remember the helplessness of trying to get out of big problems by my own power. There are some situations in life that are too big for us to handle by ourselves.

I recently reread the story of Jesus with the woman at the well in the gospel of John. The conclusion of the story occurs in John 4:39-42. Without the woman admitting it, Jesus knew that she had five husbands and that she was currently living with a man who was not her husband. She was drowning in her sin. Yet she came to believe that this man, Jesus, was the Messiah.

She could have kept it all to herself. But she didn’t. Rather, she testified to the Samaritans that this man, Jesus, had told her everything she had done. What was the result of this confession?

Verse 39 says many believed based on her testimony. After that, Jesus Himself went to those people. Verse 41 says that many more believed. They came to understand and accept Jesus as the Messiah! Did Jesus act in their lives? Absolutely! But this woman’s testimony sparked people’s interest. They were perhaps even more willing to listen to what Jesus said because they had heard her tell her own story.

I’m wondering; how many times have I told my swimming story? But who is in my life that may need to hear my testimony about how God has rescued me?

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