Jeremiah 29:11: For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future."

Sunday, October 27, 2019

Prayer for John

Graphic from UI Here
I've been praying and reading the word to determine what to pray for John.

This is what I came up with:

Father I thank You that You are the giver of good things.  I thank You for marriage.  You’ve created that divine mystery of how a man charms a woman and the two make love and become one.  It is truly magnificent and is Your creation.  Marriage mirrors Your love for the church, your people throughout the earth and throughout time.   I praise You as the creative engineer, maker of good things, all powerful and holy one.

Father, I’m sorry for the ways John and I have failed in marriage.  Failed to make the other person more important than ourselves. All powerful, all mighty God, please change me. Help me to be a more generous, giving, wife.

Father I pray that You would unveil within John the unlimited riches of Your glory and favor until supernatural strength floods his innermost being with Your divine might and explosive power. Oh Holy Spirit empower John to constantly use his faith so that the life of Christ will be released deep inside him, and the resting place of Christ’s love will become the very source and root of John’s life.  Empower John to discover the astonishing love of Christ in all its dimensions. May John experience Your extravagant love pouring into him until he is filled to overflowing with Your fullness.
Father give John listening ears so that he can hear both the words and heart behind the words of those around him.  Increase his already compassionate heart to see ways he can give help, gifts, and encouragement to those around him. May Your love in John produce a generous spirit. Let giving to those around him spring up freely from the joy of giving.  May the measure John uses to give be extravagant and may You bless him in that same measure. Oh Father enrich John in every way as he gives generously on every occasion.  
Father, help John and I to live together in perfect unity by loving, honoring and respecting one another and serving each other for Your glory, honor and praise! 

Saturday, October 26, 2019

Order, Disorder and Re-order

Photo from Box City
This morning I was listening to a super interesting dialog between Richard Rohr and Rob Bell on the Alternate Orthodoxy.  There was just so much there that has got me thinking......I'm going to just pick one thing that I want to ponder on and write my way through right now.  Not that I'll totally grasp and apply the concepts in one sitting, but I just want to think on them some more.

 In life we're working our way through 3 "boxes". The 1st one is order, the 2nd one is disorder, the 3rd one is re-order.  Conservatives get stuck in the first box;  their need for order is high.  They use good, right order that's founded in reality and helpful for life and child rearing.  But then they also construct artificial order that isn't true, but they stick to it at all costs due to their extreme need for order. Liberals, progressives and academics get stuck in the second box of disorder. They just keep deconstructing everything.  This has caused so many problems for the children who are teens today because they grew up in this constant deconstructing; it's a difficult way to grow up. There's no rules or reality and nothing to hang on to. Richard Rohr emphasized that there's no "non stop flight from the first box to the third box".  People want that; they want to just get there.  He emphasized how it's only when we face disorder in ourselves, our culture, our church and experience; when we go through the falling apart of what Thomas Merton called "our salvation project",  that we can work through the process of re-order.

I'm in the process of going into that third box.  I've been a life time in getting there.

I started out in the order box.  I grew up in a fundamentalist, evangelical home. Yet I can  remember as young as 10 or 11 knowing in the depth of my heart, that some things weren't right.  The 1st thing I remember was knowing that this giving your heart to Jesus at one specific time, and being saved, wasn't really like that.  In my church you walked down the isle, gave your heart to Jesus, and became saved.  Later on when I was involved in a high school campus ministry I even learned to give a 3 minute testimony about the before and after of this experience.  The problem was, I knew at 11 - I'd never disbelieved.  As much as I knew and understood, I always loved God and Jesus and reached out for him.  I distinctly remember walking down that isle when I was in the 5th grade to make my church happy - I knew that I wasn't "unsaved" before. I'd had the extreme blessing of growing up in a house that went to church and so I got to learn about God, the Bible, and Jesus from the time I was born.  I'm extremely grateful for that.  There was so much truth there.  But there was also what Rohr refers to as a culture that needed order and attached to orderly ideas that don't have Biblical or really even experiential reality to back them up - that don't make sense. This idea that "salvation" is a one point in time event just doesn't add up for me; it never has.

I can also remember that growing up in this fundamentalist group there is a sense of those who are "in" and "out". For example, Catholics aren't considered really "saved".  I mean God forbid that you'd meet and marry one - then you'd be "yoked to an unbeliever"!  I can remember several times in high school and onward where that felt all wrong. I can specifically remember once, I think I was in high school at the time, wishing something along the lines of I wish Catholics were saved too - I really like those Catholics and want to be together with them too. I think that my heart knew what my head didn't yet; I'd experienced the love of God.  When I was in middle school and living through that angst that is specially known to the adolescent, going time and time again tot he book of Psalms.  I'd found a paraphrase of the Bible called "The Living Bible" that I could actually understand.  The intensity and heightened emotion within many Psalms drew me in and the Holy Spirit ministered love to me when I needed it most. The result of love is to want everyone to get to be part of it.

Another result of that In and Out group thinking is that I always felt apart from the people around me.  As a Christian I never felt like I was one of the kids at my school or out in the community.  I was only one of the church people.  That made there always be a touch of sadness inside me. 

When I was pregnant with my first son (who BTW is now 31 years old) I read a book that opened up a whole new world for me: Celebration of Discipline by Richard J. Foster.  Through that I began an acquaintance with Christian writers through the ages.  I realized that there was a big world out there of real Christians who'd come before and who didn't think identically to my church.  I caught a glimpse of the wide stream of orthodox Christianity. Writers like Thomas a Kempis, Brother Lawrence, Meister Eckhart, and many others.  I was drawn to the Christian Mystics.  I found it amusing that so many of these authors were Catholic.

Several years later I read The Ragamuffin Gospel by Brennan Manning.  That book helped me see, and experience, the grace of God as I'd never done before.  It helped open doors in my mind that made me able to see things in a different way.  It was interesting because I have a wonderful Christian friend, a true woman of God, that I know from my local, fundamentalist church.  I'd talked about how wonderful that book was and given her a copy as a gift.  She and I both adore reading and studying alone and in groups. When she finished reading the book she said something to me about where was the accountability, the recognition of sin?  She missed it!  She missed that God's love and grace are so great, and the more we experience it, the less we want sin any more.  It's right there in Romans 2:4 that it's the love of God that brings us to repentance.  True repentance is turning away from our sin.  It's love that draws us there, not condemnation or fear of hell.

A couple of years after that I remember being at the library and seeing a book title: "What if everyone gets saved?"  I will never forget what happened in that instant - something leaped for joy within my spirit! I checked out the book and it ended up not being what I'd wanted; it took away from what Jesus had done and that hurt more than even thinking some people might not be saved.  But that experience, that connection to the idea of everyone being saved, stuck with me.

Then about 5 years ago I read Rob Bell's famous book Love Wins.  My heart exploded and I've never been the same again.  All around me everyone called it heresy.  But for me, I'd finally found the path where I could experience resonance. There was finally a thought process on which I could embark that allowed me to love everyone like my soul desired.  There didn't have to be outsiders and insiders anymore - Paul's words from Galatians 3:28 about there no longer being Jews, Gentile, slave, free, male, female - us all being one in Christ - they made sense now!

I am still a sojourner in the life of faith-still trying to figure it out while accepting and embracing that there truly is a mystery of faith.  But through these past few years I've been able to connect with "unbelievers" in ways I never could previously.  I've held more genuine conversations about God, His love, and the impact it can have on the individual than I ever had before. It seems like I'm having more of a positive impact than before.  I feel more comfortable with myself and other people - I can allow them to be whomever they are.  I'm more open about my own faith.

Church is more about being in right relationships than about believing the right thing

Photo from GraceChurch 
This morning I was listening to a super interesting dialog between Richard Rohr and Rob Bell on the Alternate Orthodoxy.  There was so much there that has got me thinking......I'm going to pick
one thing that I want to ponder on and write my way through right now.  Not that I'll totally grasp and apply the concepts in one sitting, but I just want to think on them some more.

The idea that got me to thinking was this concept that we've got it wrong that church is all about believing the right things.  It's so much more about being in the right relationships within the local body.

We need each other; 1 Corinthians 12:21 talks about how various parts of our physical body can't say they don't need one another to function and so it is with the spiritual body. This brings up a few things for me. I've felt a bit daunted that I couldn't find a church that believed just like I do.  I'd decided that as long as the main, big stuff, was the same I'd just go with it. Listening to this dialogue today affirmed that decision.

Because of my current, unique, life style/situation it's a bit difficult.  I live in a small resort town of around 6,000 people - that is where John and I own a home together.  This is my real home.  I work in a suburb of Los Angels that is a 55 minute drive from my home if there weren't traffic issues.  On week days that drive would be between 1.5 to 3 hours.  I can't live that way, doing that kind of commute.  John owns a home that is 9.1 miles from my work and it a 20 - 30 minute commute.  John's adult daughter and her boyfriend and his divorced oldest son live in that house; the oldest son gets his children to be with him in this home every Wednesday and every other weekend.  I have one room that I use in that house during the week and am home on weekends.  I've found a church that I really enjoy the pastors and so much of what they do near that house - but I'm not there on weekends.  Our town is so small that there are very limited choices.  There's a church I was part of for years; but at one point several years back a new pastor came.  I don't have anything against the guy it's just that there's not passion; it doesn't feel like he has a vital, growing relationship with God from which he's producing his sermons.  His sermons are pretty much a difficulty to sit through - not because they are "wrong", it's just there's so very little there.  When I was living in our town full time I solved this problem by participating in a small group with women from the church - I loved that group.  They were really my local body of Christ.  One friend had a gift of playing the guitar and leading simple, sweet, worship and she does that each week.  Another friend has a gift of administration and she'd organize everything and make sure we kept to a schedule, did ice breakers at the beginning of new Bible studies, had some ground rules, etc.  My gift was facilitating discussion, just helping others to be able to speak out and share together and pray. Only now I'm not around during the week.

My career skills are very specific and I'm grateful to have my current job.  I make a good living, do something for which I've studied to obtain my Master's, get to utilize leadership and creativity, am challenged to the hilt, and help other people.  It's also extremely stressful and unpredictable. Some days it will work out so that I have to work long hours because things come up.  I'm on call 24/7 and sometimes nothing happens, but sometimes a lot happens and I have to respond quickly both in terms of decision making and reports to the CA department of public health. I'm trying to get into mid-week groups with that local church but it keeps not really working for a myriad of reasons.  This church tends to have various, time limited groups that revolve around a specific book they're studying together.  I've completed two during the past year where I was able to attend and participate just about every single meeting.  Those were great experiences, but not enough to form real relationships and intimacy.  The current one I'm trying to participate in only meets every other week so you'd think I'd easily make it; but it's been just the opposite - work keeps coming up on the week of group.  I'd also had some issues since I'd participated in this group previously and have some difficulty fitting in.

All of this is to say that I want desperately to come together in meaningful, routine meetings with other Believers - to do "church" but can't seem to work it out.  All I know to do is to continue to try.

I truly don't have it all figured out but I know that I need other people.  I want to love God and love people in ways that are real.  I want to grow in my faith and relationship with both God and people.

Saturday, October 12, 2019

Prayer for Devon

Photo graphic from Christ Church
Devon is my oldest son.  It's hard to believe it but he's already 31 years old - how did that happen?!  He's got so many wonderful things about it and I'm  grateful for the wonderful man he is.  Grateful for his heart of integrity.  He has his wounds too, because of my sin and failures when he was growing up.

I'm reading the Bible and other books as I seek to learn to pray.  This is the prayer I felt led to craft and am praying over Devon currently:

Father God, I praise You that You are the all knowing all powerful God!  I praise You that You have good plans for me and my children.  Thank You that You knew who I would be, the good and the bad, and that You chose to bless me with Devon as a son.  I praise You because I know that You love Devon more than I do.  Thank that you still chose me to be his mother; that amidst all my failings, I am the one you wanted to impact my son.  I praise You that You who began a good work in Devon will be faithful to complete it.

I ask forgiveness for the ways I’ve failed Devon.  For way his father and I’s messed-up-ness created holes in Devon’s heart.  I ask forgiveness for that unhealthy marriage that I participated in with Dale and all the pain and damage it inflicted upon Devon.  Please restore and heal his broken heart. I ask forgiveness for the fact that I wasn’t always present for Devon; that sometimes I failed to deal with the pain of life and chose to slip into food, daydreams, relationships and other things to numb out pain.   I’m sorry God, I was wrong.  I thank You for Your forgiveness.  Please dear God heal the parts of Devon that are broken because of mine, his father’s, and Dale’s failures.

Oh Father I pray that Devon would be a man who delights in You, whose pleasure and passion are remaining true to You. Father may Devon be a man who hides Your words deep in his heart and thinks on them throughout his days and nights.  Oh Holy Spirit empower Devon to experience You endless love beyond measure that transcends his understanding; may he be overflowing with Your love. May he be intelligent and discerning in knowing You personally. May Devon be firm like a tree deeply rooted by the brooks of bliss and bear fruit in every season of his life.  May Devon never be dry, never fainting, but experience your endless energy and boundless strength. May Devon refrain from pride and sarcasm, instead, make him a lover of people.  May Devon take up residence in a life of love.  Help him to daily make it as clear as he can to all he meets that he’s on their side, working with them and not against them.

Oh Holy Spirit please rise up big within Devon and give him what it takes to be a Husband and Father. May he demonstrate Your love toward Rachel.  May he be self sacrificing in that relationship.  Teach Devon how to be a father to his children dear God; bring resources into he and Rachel’s lives to help them continue to grow as parents.  Help Devon practice loving discipline with his children.  Open his eyes to who each of his children are as individuals and grant him insight into how to help each of them grow in the individual gifts You’ve bestowed upon them.

Father You are not a respecter of persons so I ask for you to bless Devon just as you did Joseph and David of old. Please put Your favor on Devon just as You did Joseph; so that everywhere Devon works both his superiors and those he supervises will be drawn to him and give him respect and authority.  May Devon be a leader like David; may he lead with skill and integrity of heart. May he care for the hearts of his wife, children, and the people he leads at work and in his community. Father please grant Devon the open hearts of those whom he leads so that he may speak truth into their lives.   .

Saturday, October 5, 2019

Prayer for Lincoln

Graphic from Greater Kashmir
My heart aches for my grandson Lincoln.  My son Dylan, Lincoln's father, has been clean and sober for 3 years and I'm so grateful!  Lincoln is 5.  Lincoln's mother (who is now not with his father) is still in that old, unhealthy, lifestyle.  Dylan and his ex share custody of Lincoln.  I can see how broken little Lincoln is; he engages in a lot of acting out and lashing out at others.  You know that old saying about how hurting and broken people hurt others?  Well, Lincoln's mom hurts him a lot; from what we're told she slaps, pinches, uses curse words at him and demeans him. Today when Dylan and I were talking, God opened up my heart to be able to share some advice with Dylan to get Lincoln into therapy and Dylan was open, receptive and appreciative.

I spent time in the word and developed this prayer for Lincoln:

Father God, I praise You that You are the all knowing all powerful God!  I praise You that You have good plans for my children and my grandchildren.  Thank You that You knew who Dylan would be, the good and the bad, and that You chose to bless him with Lincoln as a son.  I praise You because I know that You love Dylan and Lincoln more than I do.  Thank that you still chose Dylan to be Lincoln’s father; that amidst all the things that you know would grow wrong with Dylan and Kelsie, You still choose to bring Lincoln into their lives.  I affirm that I know that Dylan is the one You want to impact his son.  I praise You that You who began a good work in both Dylan and Lincoln will be faithful to complete it.

I ask forgiveness for the ways Lincoln has been failed.  For all the pain his parent’s failed marriage inflicted upon him and for all the pain his father’s human frailties have had upon him.  Father I intercede and ask forgiveness for the sins of Kelsie against Lincoln.  Oh Father God, may your love pierce her heart and cause her to repent of the evil she’s inflicting on Lincoln.  Dear Lord, please do what it takes to bring her into right actions toward her son.  Father, may you put your mighty warrior angels around Lincoln to protect him in the midst of what is happening to him. Oh Lord, I ask for a miracle, that Lincoln would come to know You in a personal and intimate way even at such a young age, so that he would know in the deepest part of his heart that he’s never alone.

Dear Lord I ask that You would direct Dylan’s way and help him to find a good therapist for little Lincoln; one who will accept his insurance and who specializes in working with children.  Oh dear Lord, please use this therapist to bring healing into Lincoln’s heart and life.  Father help this therapist to help Dylan and Liz to know how to work in the best way for with Lincoln.  Teach them how to specifically discipline Lincoln when he needs it.  For we know that discipline is an important part of lovingly parenting and teaching our children – but how are they to discipline a little boy who’s so broken?  Who’s acting out in hurtful ways because he is hurting so bad?  Oh Holy God, You alone are all wise and powerful.  Please provide Dylan and Liz the resources they need to be trained up and empowered to meet Lincoln’s special needs.  Use this therapist and whomever else You choose to help them learn the best way to love, discipline and parent Lincoln.

Father I know that you don’t play favorites; so I ask that you grant Lincoln favor with those around him just like you did Joseph through all those hard times he went through.  Please put your favor on Lincoln.  Help those in his life to be inexplicably drawn to him.  May his school teacher have the patience and persistence to truly care for him and try to help him.  Oh dear Lord, I ask that Lincoln would not be labeled as “bad”.  Oh God may Lincoln know at the deepest level of his personhood that he is good, valuable, and loved by You.

Lord I ask that You would do a deep and mighty work in Lincoln’s heart.  Give him the opportunity to learn about You and Your ways. Empower Lincoln oh Holy Spirit to have a handle on his anger and to learn not to lash out at others. As he grows dear Lord, teach Lincoln how to listen deeply and to think before he speaks.  Father bring him the resources he needs to enable him to enunciate and speak so that others can easily understand him. May he be a boy who delights in following after You.  Please keep him away from those who are wicked and who make fun of others.  Help Lincoln to be a person who takes pleasure and passion in You and Your Word.  Help him to think on You, Your love, Your ways and Your truth. May his life be like a firm tree that is deeply rooted by the brooks of bliss, and may his life be fruitful.  Please bless and prosper Lincoln.

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