Friday, October 16, 2009

Spiritual Winter

I am reading FACING YOUR GIANTS, by Max Lucado. In this book, he talks about David and how he faced Goliath. He uses a term I hadn’t heard before. He said the looseknit tribes of Israel, in One Thousand BC, were going through a bad era. He then states the people went through three centuries of spiritual winter.

The phrase ‘spiritual winter’ set me to thinking.

Do we, as modern day Christians, have spiritual winters in our Christian life? Are we, as a nation, experiencing a form of this phenomenon? If we are, can we break through this ordeal?
It seems the answer to my first question also works for the second one.

1. We stop reading our Bibles. We are a people who can give many excuses. “I don’t have time.” Our pastor reminded us in one of his sermons that we all have 168 hours a week. “I’m too tired at the end of the day.” “I can’t understand what I read.” I believe it was Mark Twain who said, “It’s not what I don’t understand when I read the Bible, it’s what I do.”

2. .We start watching TV shows we know we shouldn’t. We justify our viewing habits by saying or thinking “ But the newspaper said it was good.” “But my friend said it didn’t have any bad language in it.” or “I like this actor/actress, it won’t hurt to watch it.” As a writer, I have sometimes claimed to myself, “It’s research.”

3. We begin to exhibit inconsistencies in our behavior and we justify it. We call our closest friend and tell something that we were told in confidence. Again we try to make our actions seem right. “I can trust her/him. She won’t tell anyone.”

4. . We don’t pray as we once did. There again we make excuses. “I’m too busy.” I saw a sign years ago, “If you are too busy to pray, you are TOO busy.” “I don’t believe God hears my prayers.” If we think God doesn’t hear your prayers, then we need to look at our lives and see what we’ve done to cause it.

5. We look to other gods, forgetting the one true God. We have a plethora of things that can take the place of the God of Abraham, if we let them. Yes, it’s nice to have a new car. . . once in a while. Yes, it’s cool to have a nice home. . . we can afford it. It is nice to have a beautiful yard. . . if we don’t forget how we got it and it doesn’t own us.

Now, how do we get back to where we need to be–come out of that spiritual winter? We need to follow the directions of God in II Chronicles 7:14, “If My people who are called by My name, shall humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Being Available to God

Show me your faith without deeds and
I will show you my faith by what I do.
James 2:18b NIV

I received an email from a dear friend who had relocated to the southeastern part of our nation. She had received disturbing news. Her only sister was diagnosed with Cancer. Tests have shown that the liver, pancreas, and lymph nodes are involved. My friend asked me to put her sister’s name on our church prayer chain. I found the note after the office closed. Knowing the closeness of these two sisters and loving them both, I spent time contacting the ladies I needed to reach.
Later that evening, I answered the phone to hear a local friend ask me to start the prayer chain for her niece. A woman in her mid 40’s exhibited signs of a heart attack. She had been taken to a hospital near her work. Later she was transported to a heart hospital.
They wanted to be sure what her problem was. Again, I made calls to people to start the prayers.
Now, the lady who lives in another state has known me for about 24 years. She relies on God to help her through her days. I feel honored she would ask me to do this favor for her. She is in her middle 80’s and has worked hard all of the time I have known her. Before her health dictated she slow down, she cleaned other people’s houses to have extra spending money. She had to quit this task when she was 2 months shy of 81. She had to learn to drive after her husband had a stroke over a year later. At one point in her life she was cleaning houses part of five days a week. She served as church treasurer at our former church for two years. She had been in charge of the kitchen for many years.

My local friend is a few years younger than I. Her husband dealt with Cancer in the mid 1980’s. They found the Lord about 22 years ago. He now has diabetes and a severe heart condition. Since I have known them she has worked in different jobs, mostly part time. She also was church treasurer at our former church.
My reason for sharing these thoughts is I believe we are Jesus’ hands and feet when we allow ourselves to be open to His call. We have to be available to work for Him. When we disciple new believers we should convey the fact that we are to reflect Christ while we dwell in this our temporary home.
If we don’t allow ourselves to be available for Christ, we might have a lot to ask forgiveness for.

Monday, October 12, 2009

The Importance of Prayer

Do we understand the importance of prayer?

After a long day of healing people, Jesus arose before dawn and went off by himself to pray. He needed to spend time with the Father in order to do the work of His ministry.(Mark 1:35)

The followers of Jesus were gathered in an upper room. They were praying and pleading with God. They even prayed about who should be added to the remaining eleven disciples. They left the final decision up to God. (Acts 2:13-14,24)

Each year since two churches moved and merged, our congregation has a 24 hour prayer vigil at the beginning of October. We just had our third one. Our pastor has made this month-a time of evangelism.

Toward the end of this month, on two Wednesday evenings, several of our congregation will do a prayer walk through the adjoining neighborhoods.

Due to some health issues, I haven’t gone on one of these. Those who are unable to participate in these walks stay at the church and pray for the safety of those who can as well as other needs.

The apostle Paul tells us to pray continually. I have been taught that means we are to be in an attitude of prayer at all times.

As a child, I was taught to say the prayer, ”Now, I lay me down to sleep, I praise the Lord my soul to keep. If I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord, my soul should take. Bless. .
As a young mother, I chose not to teach that prayer to my son. I chose instead to teach him to pray from our hearts.

As a senior citizen whose son is grown, I wonder if I made the right choice. There is a point of theology in the children’s prayer. But I didn’t think of that in the early 1970’s.

We have gotten away from the practice of seeking God and His guidance for our lives. We have to ask for forgiveness for our lack of respect for our Heavenly Father.

Fear, Courage: God Is With Us  Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the LORD ...