Dear Salvation Army: Emergency Disaster Services – Touching Lives, Not Networks.

I have been watching and praying for my fellow Officers and Soldiers who have served and are currently serving on Emergency Disaster Services teams in Texas and Florida.
Some of the devastation is heartbreaking as many families have lost everything.  Many organizations have been on site since day 1…including The Salvation Army.   EDS2

Confession:
I have to confess something, I would often get upset when other relief organizations would get all of the press time on television networks.  I would grow weary of the lack of reporting of all of the good things my fellow Soldiers, Officers and volunteers of The Salvation Army were doing on the ground. It seemed that there were many media hogs seizing every minute of television and radio time but as soon as the cameras were gone…so were they.  On behalf of the movement I faithfully serve, I felt gypped.

I expressed this salty opinion to one of my corps members, I was in a cantankerous mood. This corps member is a far wiser person than I will ever be.  He had perspective and with calm, sage advice said, “You know, it has never been about how much press time we get…we aren’t there for the applause or public acclaim, we’re there to serve the hurting as best as we can as we rely on the Lord to guide us.”  With one fell swoop, he cut me off at the knees – which was a good thing.  He brought a great sense of perspective to my heart.  There I was, getting so upset in the halls of public opinion while completely forgetting the primary purpose for our ‘Army’ existing in those places of disaster – to faithfully serve others with the love and grace of the Lord – regardless if it was seem through the lenses of some camera.   prayer

I was reminded of a passage of scripture, and I don’t use this to get preachy or to sound judgmental, but rather to put some sobering perspective back into my heart and perhaps others who might be struggling with this as well:  “….Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven. “Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others.”  (Matthew 6:1,2)

-If we serve because we want to be seen, we have gotten it all wrong…
-If we serve because it brings fame to any organization, we have gotten it all wrong…
-If we serve because it makes us look good, we have gotten it all wrong…
…and we will have already received our reward, if so then God help us!

Instead, may our service, especially those unseen by the world around us, bring glory to God!  It should never be about our air time or the many external fund raisers on our behalf – The Lord will provide – be faithful in this!  Our consistency in serving Him is paramount to all of these things.  We are called to offer compassion, care, love, hope…with all of those things, who has time to worry about anything else?

Pray!!
Please pray for the many hands and feet of God currently serving in Texas and in Florida!  Continue to pray for this hurricane season…and the upcoming storms.  Don’t forget the Emergency Disaster Service personnel in the Western Territory either!  Prayer is not a last resort, but a means to continue to bring the needs of many before the Lord continuously!

Something more to Ponder…To God be the glory!!

Let’s Get Uncomfortable About Prayer

I have been driven many times upon my knees by the overwhelming conviction that I had no where else to go. My own wisdom and that of all about me seemed insufficient for that day.” ― Abraham Lincoln

Today is National Prayer day.
So let’s talk about prayer shall we?!

We have these images in our minds when we think about the word “Prayer”…perhaps it looks like this:  handsor maybe maybe this:
gardenThese iconic images of prayer are okay, but are they really what prayer looks like and should be for us today?  Don’t get me wrong, I am not discounting some of us might fold our hands like this when we pray, but by and large our prayer life probably looks more like this:

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Driving back and forth from home to work, only to repeat this process.  Perhaps after a really good, challenging Sunday service we might feel compelled to be more intentional about prayer and so we turn off the radio and simply talk to God.  Realistically, the World around us seems to be a constantly busy place and our prayer life can begin to be measured out in how long it takes us to get to work.

Still there are some of us whose prayer life resembles this:
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We work hard all day long and when it comes time for us to go to bed we think about prayer.  So we pray, and we are serious about it, but at the end of the day we are completely spent and so our prayers fall into sounds of deep breathing and even snoring.

I don’t say this as a guilt trip, because I’ve been guilty of this too.  We mean well, it’s just that our bodies and our minds are tired and we drift off to sleep.

Let’s Get Uncomfortable About Prayer:
This will probably be unpopular among many Christians, but we are too soft.  We are not as disciplined as we should be in regards to prayer.  Instead of looking like this in our prayer life:  runing

(We don’t take the intentional time we need.  We aren’t focused.  We lack the discipline to keep going.  We struggle with many distractions such as TV, cell phones, social media, websites, books, video game…etc. )

So we end up looking more like this in regards to the discipline of prayer:
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And the only time we pull out our prayers, our conversations to God, is when we are in need of something.  Could it be that THIS is why we feel as if God isn’t listening?  Perhaps because we haven’t really disciplined ourselves enough to have a constant conversation with Him?

It’s like the couch potato suddenly gettingug up from the comfortable sofa and putting on their shoes and attempting to run a marathon without any training.  Sure, some might actually finish, but by and large most would fall flat on their faces in utter exhaustion.

Prayer takes work.  
Real prayer isn’t a bunch of “Thees” and “Thous” thrown into some fancy sentence full of flowery meaningless words.  God doesn’t want our ritualistic prayers.  He doesn’t want us to be something we’re not.  He wants our authenticity.  He longs for us to be completely candid with Him.  He already knows us, there’s nothing hidden from Him…so why do we feel as if we have to put up a wall or limit what we say to Him?

Brother Lawrence, in his little book called “The Practice of the Presence of God” said this; “Do not be discouraged by the resistance you will encounter from your human nature; you must go against your human inclinations. Often, in the beginning, you will think that you are wasting time, but you must go on, be determined and persevere in it until death, despite all the difficulties.
― (The Practice of the Presence of God)

True prayer requires concerted effort.
It might require us to become uncomfortable.
Discipline is required to spend time conversing with the Almighty.
It is not a waste of time.
He does hear us.
He will speak…but the question is are we actually listening?

Do we need prayer?
Absolutely…BUT perhaps prayer isn’t what we have always been taught it is.
Could it be that our prayers should resemble more of a constant invitation for God to hang out with us?  Could it be that instead of kneeling at our bedside,  we continually begin to think and speak to our Creator?  Perhaps we’ve been taught prayer is all about closing our eyes…maybe we should open them instead.  God longs for our fellowship, and a part of that fellowship is our constant communication with Him.  He is nearer than we think or realize.  But perhaps could it be that our hearts are not completely in tune with Him?  Perhaps we are out of sync due to our random, undisciplined prayer lives?

The Discipline of prayer is more than just a notch in the “Christian” belt of accomplishments (hopefully we don’t think of it like that), it is connect ourselves completely to the Divine.  It is a part of Holiness.  It is a part of the complete surrender the Holy Spirit is desiring from us.  For many of us, a complete surrender is really scary to think about.  Instead of thinking about the things we will give up, think about the life that we will gain and the peace and knowledge that brings.

I’m not there either, but I want to be.
Something more to ponder today.

Just how important is Intercessory Prayer?

“Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.” -Romans 8:26

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Just how important is praying for one another?  It is vital!  Each of us have needs that must to be brought into the very throne room of heaven and placed at Jesus’ feet.  Sometimes though we have difficulty in articulating these concerns.  Have you ever been to the place of sheer and utter weakness?   Have you been to that dark place of loneliness and fear?  Brothers and sisters in Christ, our love and care for one another isn’t solely meant for Sundays in the pews alone!  No!  We have been given this vital task of praying for each other daily.  We, are to exercise these prayers of intercession for one another daily!

Perhaps you may say to yourself, “Well I’m not much of a pray-er, there are much better Christians out there who could do a better job!”  This may be true, but God has called YOU to pray today for someone in need.  You don’t have to be “good” at it.  You just have to be diligent and faithful.  We are all called to this task and we need to be in prayer for the body of Christ.  There will be times when you need prayer and others will surround you.  It will be in those moments when this vital intercessory prayer circle will make complete sense to a doubting heart of the vitality and power of such a discipline.

Brothers and sisters, say a prayer for each other today.  The Holy Spirit can help you articulate it for you.  He guides us in our prayer discoveries and in those dry moments when nothing comes forth.  You don’t have to have all the elegant and “right” words, you just have to show up.  Say to the Lord, “Here I am, send me!” in an attitude of prayer and He will allow your mind to be “sent” upon those people and situations in which need crucial intercessors.

Commit to it today.  Prayer for one another, give thanks for your fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, and pray through intercessory prayer.

-Just a thought for today.

Whose ‘Will’ is it?

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“Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”  (Matthew 6:10)

 

It’s from the ‘Lord’s prayer’.  You’ve probably recited it any number of times, but have you really thought about what you’re actually saying?

When we say to God, “Father you are holy” we acknowledge two things, the first is that He is our heavenly Father and that secondly He is holy.  Kinda obvious isn’t?  But when we get to the next line of the ‘Lord’s prayer’, what we begin to realize is that our prayer to God isn’t about what we can get from Him, but rather what we can give Him.

A few verses back Jesus even tells His disciples not to pray like the hypocrites who love to hear their own voices and want others to hear them as well.  Our prayers can be corporate but they should also be private conversations with God throughout our day.

Back to His Kingdom:

What we mean when we say “Your Kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven” is this: God you are God of my life and I want to be a part of Your kingdom.  We are also saying that God’s Will is more important than that of our human will.  Essentially what we are saying is ‘God I trust you and I surrender to you!’…but do we really?   I don’t know about you but letting go of the control that I have on my life isn’t something that I’m good at.  It’s a powerless feeling to let go, and yet when we pray this prayer or something similar to it,  we are implying exactly that.  If we don’t mean what we say then why are we saying it in the first place?

I liken it to parenting.  I’m a father of four children.  They mean the world to me and I am proud of each of them for who they are.  As their father I want what is best for them.  I want to see them succeed in every area of life.  In school, I want to see them get good grades and flourish.  In social settings, I want my kids to have healthy friendships and strong bonds and connections with others.  As future adults I want them to be wise with their resources and smart with their money.  I want to see my children succeed and so I guide them and provide them the wisdom that I have learned since I’ve been on this earth longer than they have.  In the same way isn’t that what our Father in Heaven wants from us?  He wants us to love Him first, but next there is that deep longing for us to succeed in this life!  He wants to guide us, He wants to provide for us and show us how to live better lives.  The key is that we have to listen.  We have to subjugate ourselves, or submit ourselves to His kingdom and His will.   When we view this submission not as negative thing or that we are losing our freedom, but rather we are gaining our freedom then it becomes clearer as to how important it is to submit to the will of God.

We don’t pray this line to mean, God wipe out all of my enemies and crush them with your kingdom.  We aren’t turning prayer into another selfish edict of our wills…but rather we are first saying, “Lord it has to begin with me…right here, right now…teach me, I am submitting to your will not mine anymore.”  When we can say this and actually mean it there is freedom.  When we find ourselves willfully submitting to His will great things can and will take place.  The world might become fiercer because of it, you might face stronger opposition in your life but you now are fully engaged in the workings of God and not your workings any longer.  Our Father in Heaven wants us to trust Him, and He wants us to allow His wisdom and will to guide our lives.  He wants us to succeed because He cares and loves us.

This isn’t some magic phrase that we say to make things work better in our lives.  This isn’t some mantra that we utter habitually and thereby willing our essence to perform amazing tasks either.  No, what we mean when we say these lines to our Father is “Here I am at your feet ready to submit all that I am to your kingdom and your will.”

What does that mean to you today? 

Have you submitted yourself, your will, your desires, you hopes and dream to Him?

It won’t be easy, but if you let Him reside in you and allow His kingdom and will to replace yours, you will be amazed that you didn’t allow Him to do so earlier.   Make it your private prayer today to say “Lord, your kingdom come (in my life) your will be done (in my life) on earth as it is in heaven.

-Blessings on your day today!

Prayer:

Lord I confess to you many times I have not allowed you access to my entire life.  I have held back and tried to force my will not your will to be done.  Forgive me and show me today how I should submit myself to you.  I know that you want what is best in my life.  I know that you want me to succeed.  Help me to follow you, help me to trust you with everything in my life.  I want to turn it over to you today.  This I pray in Your name, may your will be done and your kingdom come in and through my life.  –Amen. 

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