A Prayer for this Memorial Day

A Memorial Day Prayer

 

Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. 

John 15:13, KJV

Father, thank you for all our armed service men and women. Thank you for the scores of men and women who have served on our country’s behalf. For those who have stood guard, charged ahead, and kept the peace in turbulent times. Today, we honor their sacrifice and that of their families.

Thank you for bravery in the face of fear, for fortitude when retreat seems logical, and for sacrifice of self for the good of fellow man and soldiers. No one can fathom the face of war unless they have looked into its dark eyes themselves. Likewise, none know the pain of heroism like the widows, children, and parents of the fallen.

Thank you for our freedom in America and for those who served and are serving. May we not give up what they fought so hard to provide and maintain.

Please forgive us our sins as a country and as the Body of Christ. Help us to turn from the bondage of sinful living and turn to the freedom found in obedience to your life-giving commands.  May we remember and spread the good news of your Son, Jesus, who also laid down His sinless life so that we might live in your presence in total forgiveness of sin.

In Jesus name we pray. Amen.

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7 Things to Pray for Right Now

Prayer

In this life, I most often feel like I am not measuring up. Like I have not given enough to the poor, have not kept first things first, I’ve said something I shouldn’t have,  or misused my time. Do you feel that way too?

This leads me to the topic of prayer.  Have I prayed about everything? The answer is a decisive no. I have prayed about many things, but everything is certainly not many things.

Most of the bad choices that I have made, or tend to make regularly, could be prevented with a right attitude which accompanies time spent in prayer.

Praise, confession, and petition are integral to righting my attitude between myself, God, and man.

Below are seven things that you can pray about right now that will refocus our worries, doubts, misappropriated attentions, and energies to God and His will. 

  1. Pray for wisdom.
  2. One home-front need.
  3. One news related story.
  4. One mission, pastor, or person in your church.
  5. One goal or dream.
  6. One friend.
  7. The lost and poor in your community, state, nation, or world.

When the disciples saw it, they marveled, saying, “How did the fig tree wither at once?” And Jesus answered them. “Truly, I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what has been done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ it will happen. And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith.”

Matthew 21:20-22, ESV

Today, let’s right our attitude when it begins to stray by taking every little thing to God in prayer. Use this list of seven areas to help you structure your prayer time with God. Also, consider reading through  these three other posts on prayer:

  • To Kneel or to Break (here)
  • Enter Here (here)
  • Of Our Crosses and Christ (here)

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A Memorial Day Prayer

 Memorial Day

Father, thank you for all our armed service men and women. Thank you for the scores of men and women who have served on our country’s behalf. For those who have stood guard, charged ahead, and kept the peace in turbulent times. Today, we honor their sacrifice and that of their families.

Thank you for bravery in the face of fear, for fortitude when retreat seems logical, and for sacrifice of self for the good of fellow man and soldiers. No one can fathom the face of war unless they have looked into its dark eyes themselves. Likewise, none know the pain of heroism like the widows, children, and parents of the fallen.

Thank you for our freedom in America and for those who served and are serving. May we not give up what they fought so hard to provide and maintain.

Please forgive us our sins as a country and as the Body of Christ. Help us to turn from the bondage of sinful living and turn to the freedom found in obedience to your life-giving commands.  May we remember and spread the good news of your Son, Jesus, who also laid down His sinless life so that we might live in your presence in total forgiveness of sin.

In Jesus name we pray. Amen.

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Love Thy Neighbor

Love thy neighbor

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” (Luke 10:27, ESV)

You might assume that all pastors’ neighbors have heard the gospel. I should hope that you are right. However, evangelization doesn’t mean salvation.

My pastor-husband and I have lived in the same house for twelve years. In that time span we have witnessed to all of our neighbors in our court with the exception of two – one who moved in within the past year and one set who only scurry to the mailbox, their door, and their car.

For one reason or another, none of our neighbors have repented and put their faith and trust in Jesus. Each of the neighbors have their own reasons and excuses. Some attend mass and feel that the combination of going to church, being a good person, and committing no unpardonable(venial) sins is enough to get them into heaven and rescue them from hell. Others take the pragmatic position of “that’s good for you.” Finally, one adheres to a self-made form of religion that mostly resembles the modern thought of coexistence—every path leads to god.

For me this begs the question, what are we doing wrong?  

Hop over to iBelieve to read this post. (Click here)

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Prayers for Ukraine

 Prayers for Ukraine

Between my husband and I, we have traveled to Ukraine eleven times. Even now, six years since my last visit, places, sights, and smells will take me back to the beautiful countryside or the bustling brick streets in my mind within seconds.

The people of Ukraine have many lessons to teach: how to share, the enjoyment of creation, laughter, creativity, and simplicity. This was at least my experience in the more rural areas and with the children and younger generation of Christ-followers that we interacted with. On the opposite end of the spectrum were the hardened, worn faces we encountered of people who had lived under the iron curtain for longer than they had been free of it. They bore the marks of distrust and fear.

Communism leaves a mark long after its iron grip is loosened.

It pains me, as it does the souls of many, to see the powers that be straining to make the country of Ukraine once more wear the yolk of communistic slavery. As Putin seeks to take back all that the countries freed in the eighties, for I am convinced that is one of his highest aims,  he, akin to others in Ukraine’s past, will want to strip this beautiful country and her people of their language, freedoms, and identity. He wants to squelch the liberty in their lives for the end goals of his own dreams for Mother Russia.

I am no expert in foreign policy nor current affairs. I am simply a Christian-praying-thinking-woman who desires to see liberty and justice for the people and the orphans of Ukraine, Russia, and all the former Soviet countries.

Today, I ask you to join me in praying for this country that has made an everlasting impression on my life. For this region of Europe full of people who love the Lord Jesus as well as people needing to hear and receive the message of the gospel. I am asking you to make a difference in the history of the world. Will you join me? I know my God answers prayers and He is concerned with every facet of life. With God there is no split in the secular and the sacred; it is all a matter of sacred to Him.

  • Pray for the government leaders of Ukraine to act with wisdom and justice for all her people.
  • Pray for the leaders of NATO and the USA as they attend to the needs of Ukraine and the surrounding countries of the former Soviet Union. Pray that the powers that be will cut the rhetoric and act with reason and a sound mind.
  • Pray for the gospel to go forth in the land of Ukraine and for the people’s hearts to be receptive to the message of salvation and a Christian worldview.
  • Pray for the Ukrainian believers for wisdom to understand the signs of the times and to act in accordance with God’s will. Pray they will know how to respond to this face of adversity on a daily basis and for the long term.
  • Pray for daily needs to be met for the poor and the orphaned.
  • Pray that steps will be taken towards energy independence and/or other options for energy apart from Russia.

 You can do more than pray, after you have prayed, but you cannot do more than pray until you have prayed.

~John Bunyan

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The Changing of Seasons

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The fall, a time of tailgating, football, pumpkin treats, and the fading smell of freshly sharpened pencils. This fall finds our family at more soccer games than football because our Emily is playing Upward Soccer with her good Coach Dad.

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This fall also finds us saying goodbye to Little E for four days a week as he goes off to visit his biological parents respectively. I am fighting this one however as any sane person will admit that a two and a half year old boy needs a steady home…not a rotation of three. The joys and struggles of foster care are abundant this harvest season. However, this little boy is abundantly worth both the joys and struggles we sow in hopes of an eternal harvest of joy.

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From the acorn caps scattered under our feet to the delicious caramel apples gathered in the grocery store, signs of fall are everywhere.

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Finally, as the fall season approaches on the 22nd of September, the fall of man also is on full display… everywhere. Diagnosis after diagnosis, declaration of judges in federal and local courts, and a call to weapons of war resound in our ears constantly reminding us that this earth is in a state of decay.

As we face the decay of life, season after fleeting season, we must remember the hope to which we are called. Ponder the hope of a new heaven and a new earth. We are to seek the changing of the eternal seasons from finite time to the infinite realization of relationship between God and man. We long for the return of God’s created order to earth. We long to see the miraculous a midst the fall.

We modern people think of miracles as the suspension of the natural order, but Jesus meant them to be the restoration of the natural order. The Bible tells us that God did not originally make the world to have disease, hunger, and death in it. Jesus has come to redeem where it is wrong and heal the world where it is broken. His miracles are not just proofs that he has power but also wonderful foretastes of what he is going to do with that power. Jesus’s miracles are not just a challenge to our minds, but a promise to our hearts, that the world we all want is coming. (Timothy Keller, The Reason for God, p. 99, emphasis mine)

This season as we tromp crunch, crunch, crunch through the dead and decaying leaves, let’s also look up and admire the blazing colors of the glorious changing of seasons and pray for the changing of the eternal season to come.

As we hear the acorns falling plunk, plunk, plunk on the rooftops and the hoods of cars, let’s pray in turn for the miraculous falling of the Holy Spirit over the multitude of hurting people in our spheres.

May this change in season tune our souls to seek the eternal season to come.

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven. ~Ecclesiastes 3

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Of Our Crosses and Christ

Along the way, they came across a man named Simon, who was from Cyrene, and the soldiers forced him to carry Jesus’ cross. (Matthew 27:32, NLT)

It is beautiful that in the body of Christ we no longer are forced to carry another’s cross, but it is our privilege to do so as a member of the family of God.

Because Jesus bore the cross of Crucifixion for our sins, we are free to bear one another’s  daily burdens in prayer.  Richard Foster said this of intercessory prayer:

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Who needs help carrying their cross today in your sphere? Be a willing Simon for them.

O soul, are you weary and troubled?
No light in the darkness you see?
There’s a light for a look at the Savior,
And life more abundant and free!~ Helen H. Lemmel

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Enter Here…With Eyes Wide Open

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Flower by Hannah

And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed. (Mark 1:34-35)

Following Jesus’ time in prayer, the disciples told him, “Everyone is looking for you.”  And he said to them, “Let us go on to the next towns, that I may preach there also, for that is why I came out.” (Mark 1:37-38)

Jesus designated time alone in prayer and as a result, it could be conjectured, that Jesus’ vision for his day’s work or even so much as his life’s purpose was sharpened and redefined.

Prayer can sharpen our vision for the purpose of life, in general, and our day specifically.

I want that kind of prayer discipline. The setting aside of time and space to draw closer to His kingdom and converse with Him as face to face. In order for me to experience this type of prayer life I must purpose a few things:

  • To go to bed on time so that I can wake up on time.
  • To make preparations in advance to draw away with God to a desolate place. This could be the quiet of the dinning room before the children are awake or  the still of the earth at dawn. Either way, preparations must be made so that responsibilities are not neglected.
  • I must quiet my soul and have His word on hand to meditate on. Bringing along cards or the Bible to read aloud Scripture to  meditate on God’s truth will provide another source for the Holy Spirit to speak to me as I aim to commune with Him  in prayer.

This week our son, Joshua, has been praying aloud more with our family. The interesting thing about Joshy’s prayers is that he will pray with his eyes open as he thanks God for all that he sees, but then close his eyes as he makes his requests known to God. “Thank you God for rocking chairs, curtains, toys, this John Deer, trucks, and shirts. I pray God you give me more toys and make more shirts for Ernie because he doesn’t have anymore. In Jesus Name, Amen.”

How God must delight in the heart-felt thanksgiving of a little child!

This weekend, I want to slip away to a quite place alone and pray with eyes wide-open to all of God’s blessings before me. Then, in heart-felt petition make my requests known to God. Perhaps you will purpose and do the same?

Enjoy your weekend friends…giving thanks with eyes wide open.

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*All photographs courtesy of my friend, Hannah F. What a blessing to receive these in my e-mail inbox this week! Thank you, Hannah!

 

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Enter Here

Pictures of doors from around the globe often captivate me on Pinterest. Vivid colors, adorning flowers, and unique shapes of doorways stand out among the mirage of images to pin.

Prayer opens the door to communication with God. God speaks to us in a variety of ways: the Bible, His people, our circumstances, etc….as directed by the Holy Spirit. However, we initiate communication with God through prayer uttered with our minds and mouths. When we pray, we invite the ever-present God to join in the conversation of our very lives moment by moment.

The goal of prayer is to live all of my life and speak all of my words in the joyful awareness of the presence of God. ~John Ortberg, The Me I Want to Be

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Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation, Jesus instructed his disciples (Mark 14:38). Watch and pray. Seek wisdom with your whole heart (Proverbs 2). Whether you turn to the right or to the left you will hear a voice behind you saying, “This is the way, walk in it (Isaiah 30:21).”

God actively instructs, watches, and listens to us. We determine if we go about our whole day without a God-ward thought, or if we open our eyes and lift our thoughts in continual communion with the One who never leaves or forsakes us.

To make prayer a continual conversation is to truly take every thought captive and make it obedient to God. At the gym, in the car, at the job or while correcting our children, we take captive our thoughts and purpose them to prayer. It is a matter of our will and a matter of restoring our redeemed minds to the mind of Christ-likeness– the one in whose image we are made.

Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. (Matthew 7:7, NLT)

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Often we might want to shut the door on certain thought patterns. God knows the needed areas of change. He will not stagger in astonishment at our repentant confessions and pleas for help. He delights in humble, contrite hearts– not the hearts of the religious pharisees whose cups are clean on the outside only (Psalms 51:17, Matthew 23:25-26).

In our day, most people close their eyes when they pray. But praying with one’s eyes open was common for Jewish people in that day. Among other things, it reminded them, God is right here, right now, in my real world. ~John Ortberg, The Me I Want to Be

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How often do you open the door to communication and communion with the Spirit of the Living God?

Today, may we pray with eyes wide open. May we look for opportunities to speak with the Spoken Word made flesh (John 1:14) that His  presence may be manifested to us as He dwells within us (John 14:26).

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Lord Give Me Eyes to See

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In life, when  looking at something from a distance we often cannot make out what we see with exact clarity.

 “Circle, hand, flag, stable, cross…” Emily stated as she labeled each picture for the nurse administering the vision screening. The stable, really a cup, was discussed more closely and even revealed to Emily, but as she covered the other eye and read the symbols from right to left this time, she continued with, “cross, stable, flag, hand, circle.”

Perhaps it is the same with us adults? We see a situation looming in our near future or planted square in front of our noses and we have this ominous presence of anxiety about that which may happen.

Uncertainty can be a ferocious devourer of peace.

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For five months we have welcomed Little E into our family and hearts. We love and understand him more and more with each passing day, as he us. Recent progress made on the part of his family lead us to believe we will have him for only two months more. Right now we have many questions and concerns for him, for our children, and for ourselves:

How will the transition back to his own home and family affect him? How will it affect our children? What amount of time will we need a break before we invite another child into our home through foster care? How do I cope with the guilt of looking forward to some relief as a parent of three back to two and yet handle my own mixed emotions about losing the little one I have come to love? What if we need several months “off” before we are ready to again become the orphan’s advocate that foster care requires?

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These questions only target this one facet of our lives…we know many more people and situations that require constant prayer.

The anxiety levels can build as we look at the mess and needs around us. Its presence can pervade our days without our expressed knowledge but rather a feeling, a heaviness, that we desire to be freed from.

Thankfully, as both the nurse and I clearly saw the stable was a cup, God sees the struggles in our view as whatever cup they may turn out to be: cups of grace and mercy, deliverance from or deliverance through, or cups of pain and purification for His glory and our ultimate good.

He who was born in the household stable came to drink the cup of God’s wrath on our sin so we wouldn’t have to. Lord, please give us eyes to see, as your Son, the cup poured before us and let us say as He did:

My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.

My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, your will be done.

~Matthew 26:39, 42 (emphasis mine)

As we pray the Father’s will let us also claim His promises found in Philippians 4:6-7:

do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be make known to God. And the peace of God will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

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