Archives For Prayer
I was listening to a LifeChurch TV podcast by Craig Groeschel and he said something that has bothered me for 5 days now…
“Good intentions are not God intentions.”
I don’t know what to do with that but pray. It is not, “Am I doing the right thing?” it is “Am I doing the God-thing.”
Have you ever thought about how ridiculous it is to pray to God about the daily minutia of our lives? Why would God care about the deadlines I have for classes or why would God be concerned about my tires that need to be replaced? I had a discussion with the youth group on Sunday in class and I told them that a misconception about God is that he is not concerned with the small things of our lives. I said that God cares about their algebra test just as much as he cares about their worship, bible reading, etc. I believe strongly that God is concerned about the big picture but also the little things of our lives that seemed to not matter. I realized this last night in a conversation I had with my son. In the 10+ years of analyzing, studying and dissecting Scripture I did not realize the power of God’s love for me like I did last night. Here is the conversation verbatim:
Kaleb: Hey daddy.
Me: Yes son.
Kaleb: What kind of birthday party are you having?
Me: Well son…when you get my age birthday parties are really not that special so I am not going to have one.
Kaleb: It’s special to me.
I felt like crying at that very moment. I finally got it and from a 5 year-old nonetheless. God wants us on our terms in our unique posture. He doesn’t want us to approach him with rote memorization of Scripture or well-versed prayers but God wants us on our own terms. John summed it up perfectly when he said, “We love because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19). God wants to hear about your daily struggles just like he wants to hear your confessions, your sins and your requests. Why? Because he loves you. Kaleb knows how much effort we put into celebrating his birthday and he thinks it is just as important for me to celebrate as well. It’s special to him.
Me: Ok son…what kind of birthday party should I have?
Kaleb: Well you like softball so I think you should have a softball party.
Me (laughing hysterically): Ok son…a softball party it is.
Father in heaven there is a lot going on in my life that needs cleansing and healing. First of all, allow me to accept those things which are new and embrace them with open arms. It is difficult to think about what lies ahead but I understand that there is no guarantee for any of us. Health is a blessing and I am always one heart attack, stroke or accident away from meeting you and so I am blessed to be where I am at right now. Protect my kids and give me the knowledge to train them in loving you not by word only but in a relationship that interacts with you. Father please be with the college students and help them to grow closer to you but allow them to do so in a way that is genuine. Many of them are meeting potential spouses or are looking for potential spouses and I ask that you give them the knowledge to choose wisely. Father the youth group needs your help as Satan is excellent at what he does. There is too much temptation out there and I am afraid much of our youth are succumbing to this so please help them with the power of your Son. Father help Main Street to have new life in 2011 and allow us to grow spiritually but even numerically. We do not need to settle for second best as too much is at stake for us to simply be content and ride off in the sunset. Father help us in this year to be ready for the deaths, the injuries, the accidents, the sins, the mistakes, the broken relationships and the foolish decisions we inevitably will make. Also, Father, through your Spirit, allow us/me to accept the new possibilities and fully embrace them regardless of the consequences. Deliver us O Lord, according to your ceaseless love. Amen.
Yesterday I had the privilege of visiting with the Rushing/Jenkins family as little Ellie Rushing (10 week old) had reconstructive surgery on her head to correct formation problems. The surgery went well and she is doing fine but I wanted to recount some of the events so that you could see through a window of what it was like.
Anytime a child is in the PICU or the NICU and has operations, procedures or treatments we look inward and think, “That’s not normal.” I get an older person (as bad as it is) in the ICU struggling for life or even someone my age who comes down with cancer I can accept but when we start talking about children and infants there is something abnormal about it that does not settle well. That’s the feeling Daniel and Keri Beth felt going in to the surgery as it just did not feel right but, like many other things, you move with the cards your dealt with and try to find the best possible outcome. That is why they put their trust in God and in two capable surgeons.
My wife and many others got up well before the sun canvassed the landscape and made their way down to Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital. The surgery was set to start at 7:30am but I had to take Kaleb to school so I did not make it down there until close to 9. When I arrived I saw a waiting room full of siblings, elders, friends and loved ones all there to support the family. It was, as I told one person, a circus…but a good one. People were enjoying conversation anticipating updates from the operating room all the while looking at a screen with Ellie’s name on it notifying us of her progress. The surgery did not actually start until 10:15am. Daniel told me when I first got there: “Man, it was the hardest thing for me to do…giving Ellie over to the doctor and placing her in his hands.” I thought of the spiritual ramifications of that statement in how it is hard for us to give up a lot of what we love and do and place it in the hands of the living God. What a lot of us do metaphorically Daniel and Keri Beth had to do literally.
We had two formal prayers, one by Jim Willhite an elder and the other by myself after the surgery but I imagine most were in a continuous state of prayer much like Paul told us to in 1 Thessalonians 5:17. When the surgery was over they called the family to meet with the doctors in a briefing room and there was this nervous tension from many of us. We did not talk much for we wanted to hear some good news and when we saw people coming out with tears of joy it was confirmed. The facial expressions from Daniel and Keri Beth let me know how much of a relief it was for them. Prayers were answered, one person relayed, and I thought to myself, regardless of the outcome prayers were answered.
We ate a meal in the lunch room and then it was shortly after that Ellie was transferred to her room in the PICU. One by one we got to see her as the minutes and hours rolled by. In the waiting room there was a woman who had a 15-year-old son who was hit by a truck on his skateboard and he will have to be there a month as they reconstruct and fuse his spinal column. Going to Ellie’s room was like walking down a hall of pain and suffering. Children hooked up to every wire imaginable suffering enormous amounts of pain made me break down and realize how much hurt is out there. These families who spend weeks and months wondering if their child will ever live the same again (or even live) often are left by themselves with nobody to feel with them. While we rejoice over Ellie and thank God for His gracious care may we remind ourselves of those who are still struggling and are in need of His loving guidance and calming consolation.
Father, we thank you for the work of your hand and the presence of your almighty power among us. You have given us discernment with your work yesterday knowing that you are there for those who love you. There are many experiencing pain and torment right now and I am reminded of the 15-year-old who has such a long road ahead of him as well as his parents. They need you right now! God you showered your grace on Daniel and Keri Beth and for that I am eternally thankful. Guide Ellie’s spirit all the days of her life and establish your presence among her as one of your own. We love you Father and are mindful of your work in the kingdom and in creation. Amen.
No one said parenting was an easy task and today was one of those difficult days in Heather and I’s parenting career. Our oldest son Kaleb attended pre-k at Krisle Elementary today and it was one of the most difficult things I have had to do as a parent. Kaleb has been such a sweet child and has always been so respectful, kindhearted and compassionate and I will miss going home at lunch and seeing him. When I woke him up this morning I told him, “It’s time to go to school,” and he was so excited and ready. Heather fixed his breakfast (see picture above) and then we got him ready for school. He got in the truck and I turned off the radio and gave him some last-minute instructions for class: be respectful, listen to Mrs. Jill, help others and be a good boy. We pulled up close to Krisle and Kaleb shouted, “That’s my school!” We got out and he started walking and was not paying attention and went smack into a side-view mirror with his head. He started bawling and I got on my knees (like I always do) and held him close…and I laughed a little bit and thought how appropriate it is for my son to start school this way.
We walked down the hall to his classroom and I walked in and saw (Mrs.) Jill and her presence comforted me knowing my son is with the best teacher in Robertson County. I didn’t hug him (I wanted to) and I didn’t give him a kiss (had to resist) as I wanted him to do this on his own. He is brave and a leader in his own right so I snapped this picture below of my last opportunity with Kaleb…
That is Kaleb going to his desk. I turned around and walked out of his classroom, down the hall, and thanked God for His protection, for Heather’s amazing parenting, for Jill Reeves but mostly I thanked God for Kaleb. This world is better with him in it…
And I cried.
There is nothing in the human psyche that prepares you for letting go. Whether it is tragedy in a sudden loss, dropping your kid off for elementary school, retiring or kissing your 18-year-old good-bye as he or she enters their dorm at college. There is no way to prepare for what must be done and as I share these feelings I understand why my parents acted the way they did and said what they said. It is in these moments where we must let go and let love enter our hearts. We must love even more because there is nothing else we can do. We must put our trust in the capable providence of God who knows our children better than we.
The Goo Goo Dolls in their song, “Let Love In,” bring comfort to me:
There’s nothing we can do about
The things we have to do without
The only way to feel again
Is let love in
Protect Kaleb Lord and all of those who are hurting from letting go and being let go. Pour out your love onto us and give us strength and courage to face the realities set before us. In your divine providence things make sense but for we who are confused we struggle with it. Time does heal some wounds but time is not what we have right now so I am letting your love in as I let Kaleb go. Thank you Lord for Jesus. Amen.
Would you pray with me right now?
Father, it has been a while since we have had intimate time with each other and I am afraid I have worried more about the checking account than I have my spiritual account. My tank is low at this time God and I need restoration and I need something new. I have depended so much on my own intellect, drive and effort and I have neglected you as the giver of all things. I confess this freely before you but this is not news to you as you know the deep chambers of my heart and somehow that doesn’t scare me. I should be afraid but knowing that you are aware of what is in me is liberating. I hide things from all people but to you, O God, they are known and they are evident. I am thankful for this. God, I want you to be with Main Street and the members in it. We need a renewal and we need to catch on fire and we are so close to doing it but we need some sort of spark somewhere. I can’t put this to words right and I am not sure what I am asking for but I can’t help but to think that we are not doing the best we can. That may be the result of my leadership and others and so create a spark in me as well.
Father, be with the youth group. There is so much to pray for I do not know where to start. I imagine you are tired of the activities that occurs in youth ministries that only keep people busy and do not transform lives. Sadly, I am a hypocrite when it comes to this. Father help me do better. There are people in the youth who need to commit to Christ through baptism or perhaps recommit to Christ through confession. You know these people and some even that I am not aware of…be with them. Be with the parents, Father, who have difficult responsibilities when it comes to the rearing of their children. May they realize that a half-hearted job in raising children will most likely lead to half-hearted spiritual children. Spark them Father!
Be with the Church abroad both in the U.S. and in foreign countries. The Church is so much bigger than America as it is all over the world. Help us not to be narcissistic in our thinking but to open our eyes to what you are doing all over the world.
Father, there is much more to pray about and so I leave that to you. Be with the readers of this prayer and help them to utter similar yearnings that are festering in their hearts.
I love you. Amen.
If I could have a conversation or if I could have one letter to the president this is what I would say.
Dear Mr. President,
My name is Robbie Mackenzie and I was originally born (1981) in Toronto, Canada but have lived in the U.S. since 1982. My family and I have enjoyed what America has offered us and because of the economy and the way things are set up we have prospered far beyond the world’s median income. We believe in America’s core values and support what she is trying to do in keeping people “free” and removed from terrorism and tyranny. I believe this was what my great-grandfather Cecil Climo was trying to do when he fought for the Canadian Army in WWI serving as a gunner against Kaiser and the Germany infantry. I believe this was also what my great-grandfather Mackenzie was doing when he served as a doctor for the Canadian Army. But I wonder what we are doing now when we are “preserving our freedoms.” What does it really mean to be free and does that imply that we submit to no authority at all? Are we really free? You must have a difficult job being Commander-in-Chief of an entire nation with everyone scrutinizing your every move and with a window of only four years (but a maximum of eight) to accomplish policies which you and your party believes as crucial to American democracy. I think this to be a most difficult task and so my prayers are with you each and every day you are in office. I hear talks about how the worst thing to happen to this country was to have you in office and I also hear talks that you swearing-in to accept office was the best moment in this nation’s history. I find it impeccably ironic that one moment for this country is split down the middle as to it being either great or immensely dim.
I have a confession for you Mr. President. I have been apathetic for the past three years I did not even vote when elections came. I am not sure I can explain what is wrong with this country but somewhere along the lines we have lost our gusto and our wherewithal to be a people who is set apart for something spectacular or even noble. We are consumed with republican/democracy, red/blue, rich/poor, north/south and on and on. Our greatest achievements in wealth and power might be our greatest fall. My request to you is not bi-partisanship, communism, social reform, economic stimulus or even a return to the United States Constitution. What about Jesus? Jesus is painted as broad as a prophet to a sinner, a savior to a psycho and all the while we are scared to consider his ways as a possibility for a nation who needs something. Mr. President, is it so bad to think about man, woman, Jew, Gentile, black and white actually doing unto each as they want done unto them? Mr. President, is it so bad to think about a people who, “so far as it depends on them to be at peace with all men”? Mr. President, what is wrong with the idea og “going the extra mile” for folks or practicing the “Christian graces” found in 2 Peter 1:5-8?
Scary? Of course! What about the mis-interpretations and the all-out chaos that comes from people who take things out of context? That is why we must surround ourselves with people who take Jesus and His word seriously. Accountability. Trust. The ability to recognize a higher power without trying to do so in order to get constituents to vote for us. Trust is the ability to look into our future and be scared but to realize that I know the One who can help us and I trust Him!
Mr. President…these are my words and I beg you…no…I plead with you to listen as somewhere along the way we are missing our chance to be different from the world and to do the right thing. Who cares about votes, policy, a strength in the Supreme Court or a balance of power? What happened to doing the right thing for the sake of it being the right thing to do? I believe in the United States but I trust in Jesus. Shouldn’t we try? Why have we stopped believing in things? We have educated ourselves into a total reliance on sheer intellect and not someone (Someone) else. We have raised up a generation of people who simply do not trust anymore and the only thrill in life is the next drink, the next hit from the joint or the next car we can buy. Mr. President, shouldn’t we try? Shouldn’t we try? The choice is up to you and we need people who believe in things not to make it sound good in an oration or cabinent speech but we need people who hold true to the one thing that created everything. God. So we trust you to do the right thing and to believe in something for once.
“And when you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, that your fasting may not be seen by others but by your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you” (Matt. 6:16-18).
This past week I fasted from Facebook for about 4 days. It was an uplifting experiment and one that I think many of you “addicts” should attempt to do in your own time (props to my friend Kalyn Drake for braving the fast with me…you are awesome!!!). Fasting is one of those practices that I believe we have not discussed at length in the churches of Christ. Rusty Pettus, on his blog, reviewed a book by Scot McKnight called Fasting in which I ordered a few minutes ago and I am looking forward to reading. Rusty said that, “the purpose [of fasting] is to respond to something that compels us to stop and morn [sic. actually – mourn] the situation. It could be death, sin, hurt, pain, anxiety, injustice, or any number of things. Fasting helps us internalize the moment, grieve the consequences, and seek comfort from God.” (By the way…Focus Press released a series based on the Sermon on the Mount [includes fasting] written by Rusty Pettus and Joe Wells. It’s called WORSHIP)
Fasting. A simple definition would be to do without. Jesus said it best when he said, “no man can serve two masters [lit. ‘lords’]” so I have come up with a personal project for 2010 of which I need your creativity. For 52 weeks I am going to fast. This is not an effort to show my piety nor is it designed to poke fun at ancient disciplines. This is a serious attempt to discover what consumes me and what I really value. In my experience of fasting from Facebook I discovered that I was interested more in looking at photos, status updates and comments than I was imply staying in touch. Facebook, for me, had become an addiction and I was consumed by checking it all the time so I decided I needed to fast from it. I learned that I really do not need Facebook so it helped me to understand what is most important in my life: my relationship with God Almighty!!!
So what ideas do you have? Each week (Monday-Friday) I am going to fast from something. What are your ideas? I will give you the ones I have so far and I want you to add to them in the comment section.
- Saying/Thinking Negative Things
- Driving a Vehicle
- Watching Sports
- Using a Cell-Phone
- Eating meat
- Eating fried foods
- Drinking anything except water
- Spending money
There are so much more but I want to know your ideas. Please understand that this is not a cute, “Lessons-Learned,” blog for me to write about. I am looking to make changes in my life and help others do the same. A major component of fasting is to prepare oneself for mourning and difficult circumstances. Much of next year will be for that as it will prepare me for a new phase in my ministry. A new dedication and a new focus. Please help me out!
Each morning it is always a delight for me to go to my computer and open Internet Explorer and go to the Hotmail website. As I enter my password there is anticipation in hopes that maybe someone sent me an e-mail or a word of encouragement. Most of the time I open up only to see that my inbox is empty but my junk mail box has at least 15 messages. One time, when I had not checked my e-mail in a week, I had over 100 junk e-mail requests. Here is a sample of some of them I had today:
- University of Phoenix – Earn your degree at the University of Phoenix
- CreditReport.com – What’s your credit score? Find out for free!
- Photography Schools – Looking for a reputable photography school?
Then there are the scary ones that I am worried if people do not have the right accountability set up they will fall prey to:
- True Latin – View photos of Latin singles in your areas
- Mr.Yi Kwan – (No subject)…turns out he wants me to handle his $18,500,000.00 for him as if I am some expert. All I have to do is e-mail him back which is most likely a virus or an invitation to get burned.
We have all encountered junk mail before and know how much of a hassle it is to try to filter. I thought about the spiritual aspects of junk mail and could not help but to try to frame it within the mindset of God being the recipient of all of the mail. Have you ever thought about how many requests God receives in a day (using finite terms)? I wonder how much of those requests are junk. What do you do with your junk mail? Do you erase it all before you even look at the folder or do you go through carefully to see if perhaps maybe something slipped in there that should not have? One time I was expecting an important e-mail but never received it and upon careful through I checked my junk mail and there it was. How many of our prayers could be considered “junk mail”? I have authored a few of them because these prayers were out of purely narcissistic. But…I would still hope that God listened to these prayers even though (in hindsight) they were prideful.
But what about God’s Word do we consider as junk mail? I am amazed at all of the proof-texting (theological gymnastics) that people do (I have done myself) when they pick and choose what they want and what they do not want. Is that not deleting junk mail? For example, when we meet to talk about issues like marriage, divorce and remarriage, premillenialism and calvinism (serious inbox mail) but forget to consider the social injustices of our society and societies abroad then are we not considering some of God’s mail, junk mail?
What about you teenagers? What part of God’s plan have you discarded as junk? I could care less what the God’s story says about purity because I want to live a sexually free life (that part is junk mail). I don’t have to listen to what my parents tell me…I mean they do not even attend worship services themselves (that part is junk mail). I don’t have time to immerse myself in Scripture, I have too much to do (that part is junk mail).
You see friends…it works both ways doesn’t it. My prayer for you this morning is that you open the junk mail folder and consider that there may be something in there that you need to pay attention to. Also, do not discredit prayer as junk and “God does not want to listen to my junk.” Such is simply not true. “For a people shall dwell in Zion, in Jerusalem; you shall weep no more. He will surely be gracious to you at the sound of your cry. As soon as he hears it, he answers you” (Isa. 30:19). “Evening and morning and at noon I utter my complaint and moan,and he hears my voice” (Psa. 55:17). Have a good weekend!