Within the first responder’s comment to the post “Try Writing Prayers” on The Blazing Center blog is:
In our Shepherd Group we actually pick one person that we will pray for that week and then sometimes we will write the prayer to them during the middle of the week. I know I have been so encouraged during the week when I receive a written prayer from one of the guys that shows up in my email. I love writing prayers and sometimes model them after the Psalms. I know my kids and my wife have some of the prayers that I have written over the years in their Bibles and that encourages me to continue to write my prayers for them.
I feel a little mixed. I like the idea of writing prayers for people. It’s very possible I may have e-mailed a prayer(s) before, but I don’t regularly send people written prayers. I am not a prayer warrior. Writing out prayers in a journal or praying aloud with another person(s) are techniques that may generally tend to produce a wordier and perhaps more substantial or heartier prayer out of me. But words aren’t everything.
In Matthew 6, praying in secret is commendable. What is not commendable is “many words” & “empty phrases”.
But it must be okay to write out a prayer for someone. In Bible gatewaying, I can see that Paul has mentioned the content of some of his prayers, and perhaps some of those are his actual prayers.
And there’s something about communal prayer, so perhaps writing out a prayer for someone and giving to them could ‘count’ as a sort of communal prayer and means of encouragement.
Anyway I like the idea, though perhaps with a little hesitation…
God & Man:
24:7 – “I will give them a heart to know that I am the LORD, and they shall be my people and I will be their God, for they shall return to me with their whole heart.”
3:22a – ” ‘Return, O faithless sons; I will heal your faithlessness.'”
3:23b – “Truly in the LORD our God is the salvation of Israel.”
Power of God’s Word / Power of God:
23:29 – “Is not my word like fire, declares the LORD, and like a hammer that breaks the rock in pieces?”
1:19 – “They will fight against you, but they shall not prevail against you, for I am with you, declares the LORD, to deliver you.’ ”
False Prophets & Omnipresence of God:
Trusting in the Lord & Deceitfulness of the Heart:
The God Who:
15:22b – “Are you not he, O LORD our God? We set our hope on you, for you do all these things.”
5:2 – “Though they say, ‘As the LORD lives,’ yet they swear falsely.”
4:4a – “Circumcise yourselves to the LORD; remove the foreskin of your hearts,…”
*Scripture quotations from the ESV
Tidbits from “A Heroic Cup of Tea“, a post at The Blazing Center blog:
Sullenberger’s wife, Lorraine, at a homecoming celebration for the hero in their home town in California, said with tears in her eyes, “I have always known him to be an exemplary pilot. I knew what the outcome would be that day because I knew my husband. But mostly for me, he’s the man that makes my cup of tea every morning.”
Jesus said that if we give a cup of water to a disciple we’ll be rewarded. If we receive a child in his name he takes special note. Jesus said a poor widow who gave her last penny gave more than all the rich who gave out of their abundance. Most Christians’ lives are made up of thousands of small, faithful acts of service which glorify Jesus more than we know.
Like my friends Bob and Twila. For the past twenty-two years they’ve been foster parents to 43 children, and adopted 6. How many thousands of acts of kindness and service have Bob and Twila done that only Jesus remembers?
For the past 2 years, Twila has been battling cancer. She’s been in the hospital a lot. And many nights, Bob, who drives a coal truck, comes in after work at 8 at night, stays with Twila till 2 a.m., then quietly heads out into the darkness for another day on the road.
A true hero is a servant. He makes his wife a cup of tea every morning. Ordinary. Faithful. Incredible.
Designated moments can serve as important reminders (communion, Passover…).
But what would it be like to treat each day as if it were something special?
In Happy Valentine’s Year, Christina Holder writes:
Jesus and His followers didn’t have to create days to motivate or to force or to even guilt-trip people into encouraging or thanking or appreciating one another. Jesus simply loved people where they were. He gave people what they needed during their most grievous times. He surprised them with simple acts of generosity and compassion.
He didn’t wait until International Widows Day (June 23) to reach out to vulnerable women who felt unloved and abandoned or World Leprosy Day (last Sunday in January) to heal men and women who had been pushed out of society because of a skin disease (Luke 5:12-14) or National Hunger Awareness Day (1st Tuesday of June) to feed people who were starving (Luke 9:12-27). He just showed up at people’s houses—to eat dinner with them, to heal them, to teach them.
Every day, He made himself available to people. He went out of His way to bring them comfort and healing and security. He left His family as a young boy and spent hours discussing God in the temple with religious leaders. He traveled a far distance to be with Mary and Martha when Lazarus died. And in the biggest display of love, He endured a brutal death, dying on a cross so that you and I could be saved. Jesus spent His days sacrificing for other people. He made the little things count, and that made the big things count even more.
And think of ‘forever moments’ in non-holiday contexts:
Transitions….life is a transition…it’s not just the momentary moves, job changes, or life stages…once we ______ , life will be good. No. There will be the next transition, and the next….but for perspective, this whole life is vapor mist…
Ministry. Ministry is not limited to service projects and technical ministry, but should be a way of life. I need Thee every hour. A similar thing could be said for worship.
Being Nice. My mom has given the advice to ‘remember the Safeway checker.’ We can be momentarily, superficially nice to people we don’t know in public; we should also treat those close to us nicely. I believe she’s also given the advice to not let your hair down.
Also, we should not only be nice when it is advantageous for us or to the ‘targeted’ people being outreached to. I believe there is a verse in the Bible that tells us to do good to everyone, especially to the saints.
Am I good at practicing ‘special moments’ in a ‘forever’ sort of way? No. But this is just a mindset to consider…
2/20 update: I guess the ‘big picture’, ‘top down’, ‘wholistic’ type stuff might relate to this…it’s easy for me to focus on tiny unnecessary things while neglecting the big picture…
Words from the following e-mail that got posted up at Boundless:
My family (Mum, Dad, myself and my three little sisters) lived in the small town in Victoria. There were warnings that bushfires were 5 kilometres away and we were getting ready to evacuate. We had grabbed the family photos, important documents, blankets for the night in the evacution centre and some extra clothes but just as we were about to leave the fire came surging over the hill north of our property. We all scrambled for the car and sped off along the south road from our property. My two youngest sisters were crying and screaming about the pets my dad forced them to leave behind. Mum and I were trying to calm them down and praying God would spare our house. But just as we turned around the next corner we saw fire coming up on the south of our property. We were being closed in on both sides. We all began to panic but Dad said nothing and turned the car around and started heading towards the dam, there wasn’t enough time to take any other route out.
We got to the dam, by this time we were coughing really badly and sky was black with smoke. Dad made us all get in the water, he grabbed the blankets and wet them and we all started to swim out to the raft ancored in the middle of the dam. We could see the fire coming and started to feel the heat. My parents and I dragged my sisters through the water because they were too distraught to swim properly. Finally we climbed on the raft, we lay there with the wet blankets on top of us. The plan was that when the fire came we would all slide off the raft into the water with the blankets over our heads and tread water until it passed around the dam. My dad kept looking out the side of blanket to see how close it was. He could see headlights in the distance through the smoke and realised that our neighbours were also driving to our dam.
He said he had to go and help despite our pleas. He said he’d be back in a few minutes and jumped off the raft swam to the edge and got into the truck and started out towards the lights. That is the last we ever saw of him. We don’t know what happened … we know they didn’t make it. Him and our neighbouring family of 5 were caught in the fire 1/2 a km from the dam.
The fire came and we slid off the raft into the water, the smoke and heat were incredible and but the wet blankets were amazing in keeping the air breathable and the heat manageable. While we tread water we all cried, we all knew Dad hadn’t made it, there was no way. In all honesty I didn’t feel like treading water, this was a nightmare and I could have easily just let myself slip away. I know that sounds selfish because I was there with my mum and sisters but that’s the way it was.
The fire passed. We survived and climbed back onto the raft, we didn’t know what to do next we couldn’t go back to shore because the ground was too hot. So we just sat in silence, holding each other. After a while my youngest sister started to ask questions ‘Do you think the dog is alright? Do you think our house is ok?’ all my mum said was ‘Sweethearts, it is well with our souls and that’s all that matters’ I’m sure she was saying that to herself as much as she was saying it to us. We were rescued half an hour later by the Fire Service and taken to a shelter. That night at the shelter is a story in itself. The death toll stands at 181 and still climbing.
We are now staying at my Aunt’s house 3 hours away. The amount of support is incredible but nothing replaces the horrific memories and my sisters have nightmares every night. We are left wondering what is next. What is the point of rebuilding if my Dad is gone and can’t farm and support us? Where do we go? Most of our friends are dead, half our church is dead, what life do we have left? Do we sell? and if so will we make enough money to pay out our mortgage, who wants to buy black burnt piece of land?
Everyday is a battle to see God’s faithfulness and righteousness above the loss we have experienced. I’m not quite there yet, I’m angry, confused and bitter. We all miss Dad, he was quiet but strong man who loved the Lord. He put his family first and lead us with incredible wisdom, he saved or lives that night and died trying to save more. There should be some comfort in that but I haven’t found it yet, I wish he was selfish and had of just stayed with us. If he were here to lead us now things would feel that much more secure but he’s not and I feel abandonned, everything secure and familiar is gone. I am immensely thankful for my family but even that feel different right now.
I am reminded of the Gaither song Because He Lives.
Because He lives, I can face tomorrow,
Because He lives, all fear is gone;
Because I know He holds the future,
And life is worth the living,
Just because He lives
God, please be with all those who have lost in the wildfires in Australia. Comfort, provide, and bring them close to you…thank you…
“…life is worth the living, Just because He lives”
“‘Sweethearts, it is well with our souls and that’s all that matters’ ”
Like Job, in Job 1 after receiving grievous news:
Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head and fell on the ground and worshiped. And he said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.”
Blessed be the name of the Lord…there’s something about one choosing to bless the name of the Lord in the midst of adversity…
The last lines of the well-known chorus “Blessed Be Your Name” sing:
You give and take away
My heart will choose to say
Lord, blessed be Your name
Once again, a videoclip featuring some powerful words by John Piper comes to mind. I found it online and have put it on the blog before, but here it is once again:
26:3-4 – “You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you. Trust in the LORD forever, for the LORD GOD is an everlasting rock.”
50:10b – “Let him who walks in darkness and has no light trust in the name of the LORD and rely on his God.”
The blessings of waiting:
30:18 – “Therefore the LORD waits to be gracious to you, and therefore he exalts himself to show mercy to you. For the LORD is a God of justice; blessed are all those who wait for him.”
32:6 – “[…] and his heart is busy with iniquity, […]”
Stability in the LORD:
33:5-6 – “The LORD is exalted, for he dwells on high; he will fill Zion with justice and righteousness, and he will be the stability of your times, abundance of salvation, wisdom, and knowledge; the fear of the LORD is Zion’s treasure.”
38:16b-17 – “Oh restore me to health and make me live! Behold, it was for my welfare that I had great bitterness; but in love you have delivered my life from the pit of destruction, for you have cast all my sins behind your back.”
43:1b-3a – ” ‘Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. For I am the LORD your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.”
50:9a – “Behold, the Lord GOD helps me; who will declare me guilty?”
Power of God and waiting for the LORD:
40:28b-31: “He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength. Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.”
Lots of “who”s describing the Redeemer: 44:24-28
50:2b – “Is my hand shortened, that it cannot redeem? Or have I no power to deliver?”
God’s faithful care:
46:4 – “even to your old age I am he, and to gray hairs I will carry you. I have made, and I will bear; I will carry and will save.”
People can still be sinful even if they seek God and delight in His ways. Our seemingly spiritual acts can be unrighteous. See Isaiah 58:1-3.
*Verses quoted here are from the ESV translation.
Though these verses were just given in the last post, I’d like to devote this post to them…
And he will SWALLOW UP on the mountain THE COVERING THAT IS CAST OVER ALL PEOPLES, THE VEIL that is spread over all nations. He will SWALLOW UP DEATH FOREVER; and the LORD GOD WILL WIPE AWAY TEARS FROM ALL FACES, and the reproach of his people he will take away from all the earth, for the LORD has spoken. It will be said on that day, “Behold, THIS IS OUR GOD; WE HAVE WAITED for him, THAT HE MIGHT SAVE US. This is the LORD; WE HAVE WAITED for him; let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation.”
This is our God…
I wrote out the words to these verses on a notecard, and my hope is to look at them and allow them to sink deep into my heart.
And now I’m listening to a version of “I heard the bells on Christmas Day” by Casting Crowns. (Found here on my blog)
Here are part of the lyrics:
Then rang the bells more loud and deep
God is not dead, nor doth He sleep
On giving ear…
1:10-11: Hear the word of the LORD, you rulers of Sodom! Give ear to the teaching of our God, you people of Gomorrah! “What to me is the multitude of your sacrifices? says the LORD; I have had enough of burnt offerings of rams and the fat of well-fed beasts; I do not delight in the blood of bulls, or of lambs, or of goats.
Wash…, make…clean, remove…evil…, cease to do evil, learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppresion; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause. (1:15-17)
Hope of redemption:
“Come now, let us reason together, says the LORD: , though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool. (1:18)
As for a purpose of church, 2:3 includes the concept of going to the house of God “that he may teach us his ways and that we may walk in his paths.”
What is man…”of what account is he” (2:22)? “Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes, and shrewd in their own sight!” (5:21)
And even Isaiah knew that he was ‘woe’ because of his sin. Here’s a curious story of his redemptive vision detailed in 6:5-7:
And I said: ‘Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!” Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a burning coal that he had taken with tongs from the altar. And he touched my mouth and said: “Behold, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away, and your sin atoned for.”
-On the importance of being firm in the faith: “If you are not firm in faith, you will not be firm at all” (7:9b).
-Prophecy about Jesus at the end of 7, and in ch. 9.
-Hope in 12:2: “Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and will not be afraid; for the LORD GOD is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation.”
-God’s purpose will stand (see 14:24, 27).
-God’s deliverance: “When they cry to the LORD because of oppressors, he will send them a savior and defender, and deliver them” (19:20b).
-God as refuge: “For you have been a stronghold to the poor, a stronghold to the needy in his distress, a shelter from the storm and a shade from the heat;” (25:4a)
-And another on hope:
And he will swallow up on this mountain the covering that is cast over all peoples, the veil that is spread over all nations. He will swallow up death forever; and the Lord GOD will wipe away tears from all faces, and the reproach of his people he will take away from all the earth, for the LORD has spoken. It will be said on that day, “Behold, this is our God; we have waited for him, that he might save us. This is the LORD; we have waited for him; let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation.” (25:7-9)
(all Scripture quotations from the ESV)
For IF God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to chains of gloomy darkness to be kept until the judgment;
IF he did not spare the ancient world, but preserved Noah, a herald of righteousness, with seven others, when he brought a flood upon the world of the ungodly;
IF by turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to ashes he condemned them to extinction, making them an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly;
and IF he rescued righteous Lot, greatly distressed by the sensual conduct of the wicked (for as that righteous man lived among them day after day, he was tormenting his righteous soul over their lawless deeds that he saw and heard);
THEN the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials,… (–2 Peter 2:4-9a)
Okay…but what about when I’m ungodly? What then? When ‘something’s wrong’, is He still able to rescue me? What about when my sin overwhelms?
David felt encumbered by the weight of his sin, as evident in Psalm 38:
there is no health in my bones because of my sin. For my iniquities have gone over my head; like a heavy burden, they are too heavy for me” (vs. 3b-4).
I am feeble and crushed; I groan because of the tumult of my heart (vs. 8).
But what does he do? He shares his longing with God; He understands his “sighing is not hidden from” Him (vs. 9). He waits for God and trusts that He will answer (vs. 15). He confesses his sin (vs. 18). He pleas with God not to forsake him, to not be far, to make haste to help (vs. 21-22). He recognizes that God is his salvation (vs. 22).
I, too, should reflect upon salvation, which resurrects deadened hearts:
But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trepasses, made us alive together with Christ- by grace you have been saved- (Eph. 2:4-5)
There must be a relationship between remembering His forgiveness and having the qualities of faith, virtue, knowledge, self-control, steadfastness, godliness, brotherly affection, love as 2 Peter 1:5-9 reveals some connection between forgetting His forgiveness and lacking these qualities.
If God exists, and His word is true, and if His hand has been involved in the formation of the world and the resurrection of Christ, then surely has the power to transform my heart.
God, please remind me of Your forgiveness and reveal its power in me. Please crucify my flesh and let your life in me shine through. Please grow your love and related qualities exemplifying Your love in me. Thank you…
photo by willandbeth
My mom ascribed the word politics/political to the concept that there’s more than what meets the eye…
Perhaps we can think ‘politics’ when we perceive rudeness (maybe their dog died, maybe they were busy…). But sometimes there won’t be excusable (in people’s minds, rather than God’s) reasons for ill behavior. We might not always be able to rationalize sin away. And even what seems excusable in a person’s mind doesn’t mean the action wasn’t sinful.
Forgiveness should happen even when one’s behavior cannot be clearly rationalized or excused.
I hope one day I can better understand what exactly forgiveness is…I think I once saw it as ‘not remembering’ vs. ‘forgetting’… ‘Not remembering’ is like not constantly bringing s.t. up…
Maybe forgiveness is not holding a grudge or holding the sin against someone or keeping the thing in mind alot. Letting go. If one says “I forgive you,” or “It’s okay”, can these things be kept in mind? It doesn’t mean “I’m not bothered” or “I don’t care” or “it doesn’t hurt”…
And then how can one not dwell on the things? Through prayer and thinking about the verses in Philippians that say to think about whatever is good, honorable, etc.?
There’s something in Christianity about taking the hit…turn the other cheek, give the person 2 coats if he takes one (am I remembering that right?), we’re supposed to love our enemy and pray for those who persecute us…
I know the proper answer would be that Christ could give us strength to endure and forgive or let go. The proper answer would be too look to Christ when thoughts afflict. The proper answer would be to really surrender oneself to Christ.
But I think often the proper answers in life don’t match up to my practical life. Why don’t I act as though I were crucified with Christ and that it is Christ who lives in me?
God please crucify my flesh and live in me….forgive me of my sin, and make me not dwell on what I should not. Make me follow you…forgive me and give me the power to live for you….thank you….
An e-mail forward I received led me to do an online search, in which I found the following excerpt from a conversation with Rick Warren**:
I used to think that life was hills and valleys—you go through a dark time, then you go to the mountaintop, back and forth. I don’t believe that anymore. Rather than life being hills and valleys, I believe that it’s kind of like two rails on a railroad track, and at all times you have something good and something bad in your life. No matter how good things are in your life, there is always something bad that needs to be worked on. And no matter how bad things are in your life, there is always something good you can thank God for. You can focus on your purposes, or you can focus on your problems. If you focus on your problems, you’re going into self-centeredness, which is my problems, my issues, my pain. But one of the easiest ways to get rid of pain is to get your focus off yourself and onto God and others.
It is interesting that when one happening can be interpreted as a blessing by someone, it may be interpreted as a curse by another.
In a post up at the The Boundless Line, Ted Slater ponders the benefits to one, loss to another issue. Here is a blurb from that post:
Then I wondered about similar kinds of blessings. If I get a parking space near the door or the last piece of pie at the buffet, someone else doesn’t. If I find a $20 bill fluttering on the ground, someone has lost their $20 bill. If I find a good deal on a HUD house, someone has likely been evicted from their home. If I marry a wonderful woman, some other guy doesn’t get to.
Surely the Lord has His hands on the events of my life, even the seemingly meaningless ones. Why in His providence do I sometimes benefit at someone else’s loss?
And more importantly, what should my attitude be when I am blessed in this particular kind of way? Maybe a sober thankfulness? Maybe, in light of my undeserved good fortune, open-handed generosity? Maybe with humility, knowing that the Lord in His providence may some day want to bless someone else through my loss?
Surely with the conviction that my loving Father’s ways are not capricious, but simply beyond mine.
We’ve probably been on the receiving end of a myriad of ‘invisible blessings’ when we don’t at all view them as such. How often have I complained when I received one of those? And even if there’s not a direct ‘invisible blessing’ associated with a seeming loss, it has to be part of the grander plan. We know that if we are called by God, all works for the good.
Perhaps the ‘invisible blesssings’ concept can be remembered in heavy traffic. A worthwhile conversation may be happening in the car ahead of me. Perhaps because of the delay I was spared from a fatal accident.
Or if someone gets a seemingly ‘undeserved’ traffic ticket. Perhaps it helped the city create a park for all to enjoy or contributed to a hard-earned salary of someone who is financially struggling.
Or if a backpack gets stolen; maybe their Bible inside got deposited in a place and got opened by the right person at the right time.
Or if, or if…
We will likely not always see the good, but that doesn’t mean it’s not there, even if the good is simply part of the seemingly invisible process of God’s work in us. Check out 1 Peter 1:6-7 (ESV):
In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.
***Photo by HamWithCam
Jesus prayed these words at the Mount of Olives, a place he frequented. But this time would be his last before the betrayal. Take this cup from me, he prayed. Take it, not I give you this cup. Take it, just take it from me. As the old hymn goes, Take my will, and make it Thine; it shall be no longer mine.
Take my heart, it is Thine own; it shall be Thy royal throne. But God, please make a throne in my heart and reside there. Please give me a heart transplant.
Back to the Mount of Olives prayer. Accepting God’s will was no easy task. Luke 22:44 says He was “in anguish” and that “his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.” Take this cup.
Take me. Here’s a snippet from the familiar Take My Life song:
Take my Heart and mold it
Take my mind, transform it
Take my will, comform it
To Yours (to Yours) oh, Lord
We need His power to do the unimaginable. There is supposed to be power in remembering forgiveness. Soon after a long list of qualities in 2 Peter 1 comes the verse:
“But if anyone does not have them, he is nearsighted and blind, and has forgotten that he has been cleansed from his past sins.”
So there is supposed to be a connection between our forgiveness and the good qualities. When we trust in Christ to save us, His Spirit indwells us and shows His fruit in our lives. It’s HIS fruit. It’s the fruit of the Spirit. The fruit results from a transformed heart.
Perhaps we’ll at times feel we cannot display the fruit and that we are completely powerless on our own. How can I get this fruit? How can I feel or be transformed by the power of God’s forgiveness?
The Bible says “we love because he first loved us.” How can I? God please put your love in me and make me love with your love. We are told to “forgive as the Lord forgave”. How can I? God please put your forgiveness in me, make me remember your forgiveness, and let it flow out. Please make me extend mercy.
If we are told to obey, He must provide the power to do it. Not my Will, but Yours be done. That should be my attitude. I should obey, regardless of my feelings. Still, thinking about forgiveness and love coming from myself because of God’s love for me still seems hard. God, please transform me and PUT your forgiveness and love inside me. Thank you…
photo by SnoShuu
From the post No Opinion at the Boundless Line:
When we don’t have the full story, when we aren’t fully aware of someone’s motivations, in the face of such everyday ambiguity sometimes it’s a virtue to have the firm conviction of “no opinion.”
Yes, often there are clear rights and wrongs. But when things are shady grey, or when we feel we’ve been wronged, we should remember that we don’t see every detail or motivation as God does…
Yesterday afternoon I was thrown a wonderful bridal shower, which took place at my aunt’s house. A party just for me (well, Steve will be able to benefit, too). Several friends and relatives came even though it had snowed the night before – it wasn’t snowing at the time of the shower, though, and the main roads were clear, which was nice. Not everyone who was invited was able to come, but the number of people who came was just about perfect for a comfortable seating arrangement in the living room (near a blazing fireplace fire) without any awkward isolated seating. The home provided a warm environment complete with good finger foods and desserts, red candles, a beautiful white flower arrangement, and a decorated Christmas tree.
My sister facilitated the day’s activities, putting her teacherly talents to good use outside the classroom. The first game was an acronymn game where everyone was to write down a word related to marriage corresponding to each letter of “Mrs. McIntosh” – the name I’ll soon take as my own. After a short time, my sister asked me if I was done. I was, and so I won a prize — a candle (though later my mom and I did a candle switch).
My favorite game was the second game. It was SO cool. For any bridal shower planners out there, I recommend this game! Before the shower, my sister had e-mailed Steve a list of both serious and lighthearted questions, which he answered within minutes of receiving the e-mail. Yesterday I was supposed to answer the questions as well; perhaps I was supposed to imagine how he may have answered them. After each question I attempted to answer (and I tried most of them), my answer was then compared with his. It was a kick. He was a kick. His creativity, lightheartedness, and depth shone through in his answers. It’s neat he was able to be a part of a shower even though he wasn’t physically present. The game turned out wonderfully. One of the questions, perhaps the last one, was asking him what superhero he’d be. He mentioned a couple of superheroes, the first of which was…The Green Lantern. A character I’d never heard of. Soon thereafter I received a wonderful gift utilizing this information…The image (above) set in a wide black frame. It’s so fun!! It’ll be great if we can hang this up. If we put it up, it will be a step in helping his home reflect the two of us. Anyway, this was a lovely gift. Not my only lovely gift received that day, but it was just a cool, unique gift.
In addition to the gifts, activities, food, and conversation was a little talk prepared by my mom in which she gave some advice for when times are tough. Nice for her to put so much of her heart and thought into the talk. There was also a time of prayer. A very good blend of activites with a good mix of people.
If anyone’s reading this who attended, thank you very much!! It was a beautiful, special afternoon.
updated on 12/16
I keep listening to the Casting Crowns version of that song. You can see a youtube version of that on my blog.
Here are the words to a hymnal version of that song:
I heard the bells on Christmas day
Their old familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet the words repeat
Of peace on earth, goodwill to men.
I thought how, as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
Had rolled along th’unbroken song
Of peace on earth, goodwill to men.
And in despair I bowed my head:
“There is no peace on earth,” I said,
“For hate is strong, and mocks the song
Of peace on earth, goodwill to men.”
Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
“God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail,
With peace on earth, goodwill to men.”
Then ringing, singing on its way,
The world revolved from night to day-
A voice, a chime, a chant sublime
Of peace on earth, goodwill to men!
text: Henry W. Longfellow
Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven,
whose sin is covered.
Blessed is the man against whom the LORD counts no iniquity,
and in whose spirit there is no deceit.
For when I kept silent, my bones wasted away
through my groaning all day long.
For day and night your hand was heavy upon me;
my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer.
I acknowledged my sin to you,
and I did not cover my iniquity;
I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the LORD,”
and you forgave the iniquity of my sin.
Therefore let everyone who is godly
offer prayer to you at a time when you may be found;
surely in the rush of great waters,
they shall not reach him.
You are a hiding place for me;
you preserve me from trouble;
you surround me with shouts of deliverance.
I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go;
I will counsel you with my eye upon you.
Be not like a horse or a mule, without understanding,
which must be curbed with bit and bridle,
or it will not stay near you.
Many are the s0rrows of the wicked,
but steadfast love surrounds the one who trusts in the LORD.
Be glad in the LORD, and rejoice, O righteous,
and shout for joy, all you upright in heart!
[ESV, bold/italics added]
I live in the city. I rode the bus nearly every day this quarter, often transferring downtown. But I don’t usually walk around downtown for pleasure. Today I took my annual dad & daughter date trip to downtown Seattle. I’ve probably missed 1-3 of these trips in my adult years (like if I was in Japan or something), but I’ve taken many, many a trip downtown around Christmas time since I was a little girl.
The city sights this time of year are quite varied. A communist? You got it. Someone dressed in a santa outfit in a wheelchair? You got it. Someone saying ‘heaven or hell’? You got it. Someone selling glow-in-the-dark things, a young boy playing some instrument in sunglasses, kids trying to sell See’s candies, a man with a sign declaring his desire to trade a joke for some cash, the piano guy (who is EXCELLENT), the guys who sing outside Starbucks, a guy who was making music with a saw, a group that included a tap dancer, a cup guy (according to my dad, the guy always collects cups), …anyway, you name it, you got it.
Lots of people out to make a buck. Lots of people out to spend a buck. People enjoying the holiday cheer or trying to keep up with the commericalism, people who perhaps just don’t know what to do with themselves so they turn to the streets — perhaps they do what they do because they don’t know what else to do…I guess there are a lot of people who live like that 365 days of the year…
…and how often do I do what I do even when I know I should do otherwise. How often do I let my weakness get me when I know Who has strength that can overcome those weaknesses?
There are the acquaintances, hang-out friends, friends of depth, friends of depth but later grow apart, friends of depth that only see each other once in awhile…and then there are the friends of presence, which may or may not involve depth.
There is something powerful about…presence. About seeming care. My sister mentioned something about how when people get married they understand how important going to things like bridal showers (or/and weddings?) is. And you know, I wonder if that might be true to an extent. Even though the planning of my wedding won’t be as long, months-wise, as perhaps most brides in the U.S., there is quite a bit of thought going into that day. And it is an important day.
It’s nice when someone seems to care. It’s just…nice. I wonder if going to other people’s more ‘monumental’ events and just the repeated rubbing of elbows helps move the friendship level from acquaintance to something deeper. It is also nice when someone seems to care and wants to spend time with you outside of of a monumental occasion.
It’s just…nice…when people seem to care.
I should become more initiative in my relationships and friendships. You never know when someone might be touched by the present of presence…
We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete.
When wrong thoughts persist in staying, start speaking the Word, never try to wage a silent mental battle. Take your thoughts captive with the Word of God by speaking the Word. Try this exercise as an example. Begin counting silently in your head from 1-100. At the same time begin quoting scripture and praising God out loud. What happened to your counting?
from John MacArthur:
The verb here where it says we are taking every thought captive means literally to take a prisoner with a spear. It has the word spear in it in the verb. It means to take a prisoner with a spear. We smash the fortress to the ground, went in and put a spear in the back of the prisoners and marched them out. That’s a magnificent metaphor of rescuing a soul from damning lies, isn’t it? We marched them right out and brought them into subjection to Jesus Christ, that’s what it’s saying. Wow.
Then what you’ve got, Paul knew this, is a lot of people who have been convinced by the wisdom of men and that’s not salvation. The Scripture is the weapon that smashes the fortresses that people have built up to buttress themselves against the knowledge of God. “I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ,” Paul says, “for it is the power of God unto salvation.” Hebrews 4:12, “For the Word is alive and powerful, sharper than any two-edged sword.” The Word is the weapon. And that’s what we read you earlier, 2 Corinthians chapter 4, it says it, verse 5, “We do not preach ourselves but Christ Jesus as Lord.” That’s the message of power. Over in chapter 6 verse 7, “In the Word of truth, in the power of God by the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and the left.” It’s the Word of truth that carries the power of God that makes up the weapons of righteousness. Scripture is the only weapon that smashes the fortress and takes the people captive to Christ.
Here’s an insightful Pooh quote :
“When you are a Bear of Very Little Brain, and Think of Things, you find sometimes that a Thing which seemed very Thingish inside you is quite different when it gets out into the open and has other people looking at it.”
The House at Pooh Corner