- God hears you.
- Change is hard.
- Change hurts.
- A restless spirit abounds, and you are no longer comfortable doing and living the old way.
- When you attempt to live the old way, agitation sets in and you consider, “Neither do men put new wine into old bottles: else the skins burst, and the wine is spilled, and the bottles perish: but they put new wine into fresh bottles, and both are preserved” (Matthew 9:17 ASV).
- Desires of your heart changes; what you once wanted—relationships and things— no longer seems desirable or appealing.
- Continually pray; change is hard; change hurts.
- Two steps forward, one step backwards. Change takes time.
- Change feels good.
- You can’t believe you were that person, who did those things, said those words, believed the hype.
Day 19 of 30 Days of Prayer
Dear God, I want to be part of social change, a rebel like Christ, but God you know as I walk this path folks will make me angry, annoyed, outraged, heated, vexed, and huffy. Don’t let me use anger to fuel my revenge. Don’t let me stay angry. Don’t let me go to bed angry. Don’t let foul or dirty words slip from my mouth. Help me to say what helps, to be sensitive, to forgive as quickly as you forgave me. Amen.
Day 18 of 30 Days of Prayer
Dear God, I pray that this faith we have common keeps showing up in the good things that we do, and that people recognize Christ in all of it, that Your love makes them feel good, and that faith and hope outweighs unbelief and despair. Lord, I pray all that I do reflects all that you’ve done for me — a living, walking, breathing sinner, who tripped and stumbled but did not give up trusting you. Amen.
Day 17 of 30 Days of Prayer
Lordy, Lordy, it is the third day of 2014. Praise you for all the joy and love, pain and sorrow this year will bring. As I experience the hallelujah and-oh-no-not-again moments, develop my character, give me courage, increase my faith, squash my fears, erase my worries and stay with me. Amen.
Sticks and Stones
Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt. During my youthful days, this was one of my mantras. Now that I am mature and wiser, I have learned that one can heal more easily from broken bones, than hurtful words. I am sure I have hurt others with my words, just as I have been hurt by the words of others.
And I have learned, and am learning, to forgive and use words to encourage and to heal. Just as words hurt, they can heal. Which reminds me of my fourth grade adage, “I am rubber and you are glue, whatever you say bounces off of me and sticks to you.” So, my prayer is that when we speak to people, strangers, family, co-workers, and friends; those we love and those we love not so much the words that bounce and stick are compassionate, helpful, pleasing, joyful and peaceable. Words that are not profane, malicious and evil, cause catastrophe or strife. Always remembering, if you can say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.
Are you a follower or a fan?
I’m not a fan of most things. I rarely keep up with celebrities, artists, sports teams, or popular books. I’m just now reading Ayana Mathis’s The Twelve Tribes of Hattie that debut last year, with the Oprah’s seal of approval. (I haven’t actually read it, just checked it out at the library.) Sometimes, for days on end, I stay away from Facebook and Twitter. Even though Scandal is one of my favorite nighttime dramas, I record it and watch it on Friday. Most times, I can live without the television. A fan is an enthusiastic devotee, a fervent, passionate admirer.
When I become a follower on a social media site, I’m merely just a fan, and not as devoted as I should be. Same with sports, I prefer football to basketball, basketball to golf, and tennis to baseball. (I’m only watching the Williams’s sisters. I’m a fan of them.) I simply prefer not to watch baseball on the screen. Please if I must, take me to the ballgame and give me some peanuts and crackerjacks. I can watch sports while I read a magazine, pay bills, fold laundry, or do something else. I can hang out on social media sights for one or two days, maybe a month or two, then I’m done. I’m an admirer of these things, not totally committed.
However, what I’ve discovered is I’m more than a fan for Jesus, but a follower because he’s my savior, Lord over my life. Once I was just a fan. I went to church twice a month, rarely if ever cracked opened the Bible at home. I didn’t memorize scripture or even attempt to understand God’s promises. When I sat in the pew, I heard what the preacher said, but I didn’t listen; I didn’t even search the scriptures for more meaning. But I was a fan, enthusiastic about God, an admirer of Jesus.
Along the way, my life transformed from a fan to a follower, from a spectator to a servant, from an admirer to an imitator.
Here are the signs if you’re a follower of Jesus Christ:
- Followers give Jesus the master key he wants to turn their life upside down.
- Followers give Him more than an hour a week on Sunday.
- A follower’s prayers are more than whispered prayers at night in their bed before going to sleep.
- Followers do not consider God a small box of religion.
- Followers are not defined by their religious credentials.
- Followers do not believe their good deeds get them to heaven.
- Followers have a relationship with Jesus, not simply knowledge but intimacy.
- Followers love him with all their heart.
- Followers have unconditional joy and peace that God is in charge despite the circumstances.
How many lives would change if you followed Jesus? When you stand before God will you be judged as a follower or a fan?
Really. Patience. Again.
In the blog post Watch + Wait + Pray = Patience two comments surfaced about praying for patience: “beware of the trials that may come and be careful … we usually only learn to be patient by going through trials and tribulations.”
How else can we learn to be patience without obstacles, trials and tests that help us learn? Isn’t that how Job learned patience, which is really longsuffering and perseverance. Having and learning to be patience builds and strengthens our character, our tenacity, and our faith. The psalmist says, “Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and he will strengthen your heart: wait, I say, on the Lord” (Psalm 24:14 KJV).
Patience is not a virtue I claim to possess. Yet, I am a bit more patience these days, because after reading Psalm 40:1—I waited patiently for the Lord to help me, and he turned to me and heard my cry (NLT)—I realized my faith had been wavering as I was sailing through one of the worst storms in my life. (And it’s not over.) When I read that verse, it hit me. I had not been waiting patiently for God to help me instead I became angry and bitter. I was impatience. Lord where are you, when are you going to show yourself. My faithful, spiritual warrior friends, including the pastor, could not convince me that God had not left me to drown.
Just as my blogger and Facebook friends warned: obstacles come in the face of praying for patience.
At a Tuesday night Bible Study, where this scripture presented itself, I read it six times. I was ashamed. My faith was weak. I had not been faithful to God’s promise—He would not leave or forsake me; I have never seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging bread. Instantly, I repented. I confessed openly in the prayer circle. I begged for God’s forgiveness.
Now, through the trials and the test my faith—complete trust in God— doesn’t waver. My patience has become a bit more Job-like. I’m still faithful—devoted and loyal— to watching, waiting and praying that I can and will endure those things that make me want to give up. Often I do want to give up, because sometimes my life seems like on big boxing ring, and I’m not winning. Since I haven’t been knocked out, my patience is long-lasting.
What about you?
Today’s Prayer: Thank you, God for working all things out for our good and your glory as we wait on you and seek you; for energizing and strengthening us for the task we are called to do; for giving us patience, and faith to run and not grow weary, to walk and not faint. Amen.
Next week, we’ll explore “The Waiting Period.”
Move On, So God Can Use You
I have a mantra, and it’s called “Move On.” I have a friend who despises my chant. Tells me I’m insensitive. Move on just doesn’t click with him. The way I look at it we’ve all been disappointed, hurt, abused and kicked around, but we have to move on. I’m sure my mom would agree with him, she doesn’t like my advice either. But she takes it.
For a few months, I’ve been leading a writing workshop at a women’s shelter. And most sessions are not about the prose and poetry, it’s about the pain and anger. Yet, my aim is to encourage these women to face their fears and, you guessed it, move on. I tell them, you’ve already started to move, look where you are. They chuckle.
I’m not saying it’s easy, it’s not. But we can’t hang on to stuff, let it cloud our perspective, cause us to push people away, kick us down, stop us from moving forward. We can’t get what God has for us if we stay where we are. We can’t hear him, we will not listen, and we will not obey.
Remember those Israelites who started grumbling they wanted to go back to Egypt where they ate fish at no cost. They wanted cucumbers melons, leeks onions, and garlic because they were tired of eating manna, living in the desert (Numbers 11:5). They didn’t want to move on. They stayed in that desert for a might long time, don’t you think.
I, too, can be stubborn and not move on. But I’m learning the more I hold onto a grudge, anger, bitterness I am less likely to grow with God. God sure can’t use us if we’re stuck in one place, unwilling to trust him to make our lives better. I’ve been there. I’m glad God didn’t kick me to the curb.
And I’m not the only one who says move on. Apostle Paul said to the Philippi, Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus (Philippians 3:13b-14). The Message version: I’m off and running, and I’m not turning back.
Like the runner, we too, must edge forward and move on.
Father God, help us to move on. Don’t let our hurts become festering wounds that cannot heal. Do not let us stay where we are, unable to push forward. Help us to find peace with you despite the storm, the chaos, the crazy. Amen.
Correction: Moments of Insanity
Watch + Wait + Pray = Patience
When driving in traffic, watch for drivers who are impatient and move from lane to lane even though they rarely get two car lengths ahead of the vehicles they’ve rushed around. Wait for them to pass. It’s slow moving traffic, and in reality each driver has someplace to go, and doesn’t want to sit in the jam. Pray that the speeder, darting back and forth, doesn’t cause an accident. This has been my day’s journey on a New York thruway in bumper-to-bumper traffic, with rain pouring.
One Toyota decides to whizz from the middle to the fast lane, and then straddle the lines between a truck and a car. I slow down to get three car lengths away from the crazy driver. I wonder if he will go through that small passage. I shake my head—Does the driver realize he is not riding a motorcycle? If he gets on the shoulder, that will be safest for the rest of us travelers. Other drivers distance themselves as well.
I remain alert watching and waiting for the crazy driver despite my own eagerness to get to my destination. On this Sunday, I’ve been up since six in the morning, and those well-laid plans have gone awry—GPS missing, yellow jacket stings my mother, unexpected emergency room visit, three hours late for check-in, need to eat dinner, and the road is slippery as night descends upon us. And the only, and the best, thing to do is pray. Lord, keep us safe and slow that driver down.
I understand about being impatient. Patience is not my strong point. If I’m dieting, I want to lose five pounds by the end of the week. When I exercise, I want toned muscles and a six-pack in two weeks. Ha. When I write a short story, I want it completed—revisions included—accepted, and published in six weeks. If I need to explain something, and the person doesn’t understand what I believe is a simple take, I grow impatient. Reality check.
Patience is an asset. It helps us become tolerant of others, including ourselves. It keeps us safe. It improves our ability to persevere when we’re waiting. And God calls us to have patience and to wait patiently on Him while he fights our battles, orders our steps, brings us through the storm, and tests our faith.
So, watch, wait and pray.
Prayer For Patience
God, teach me to be patient, teach me to go slow,
Teach me how to wait on You when my way I do not know.
Teach me sweet forbearance when things do not go right
So I remain unruffled when others grow uptight.
Teach me how to quiet my racing, rising heart
So I might hear the answer You are trying to impart.
Teach me to let go, dear God, and pray undisturbed until
My heart is filled with inner peace and I learn to know your will.
– Helen Steiner Rice