Friday, September 14, 2018

Above The Storm

As I sit on my back porch watching the driving rains come down, there seems to be nothing but the small space around me. It's raining so hard that I can't see anything. When it lightens up, I only see the dark, heavy clouds looming over my backyard. This is how life has looked recently. If I went strictly by what I could see, I would truly be depressed right now. Thinking of the future based on what I can see would not look good at all.

I remember the last time I flew to see my in-laws. It was a stormy day when we took off in the plane headed to St. Louis. In the back of my mind, I was praying we wouldn't have to deal with turbulence while on the flight. When we flew above the massive, dark clouds, the higher we went the lighter it got outside. The rain stopped and the sun started shining. From the ground, I couldn't see the light. but as we flew above the storm clouds toward the heavens, the light appeared and was shining brightly before us. I think of Isaiah 40:31. Those that wait upon the Lord will not only renew their strength, but they shall mount up with wings as eagles. It wasn't until recently that I understood why God chose eagles. I had previously thought it was because they were big and bold. That wasn't right. Eagles are the only birds that fly above a storm. When we rely upon God during our storms, He will lift us above them. When we wait for Him, he will give us His strength, so we can walk and run again!

We can't always see or feel God, and we certainly can't always see the light. Sometimes the light is hidden by the dark clouds and storms of life, but the light is always there--it just may take a while before we can see it.

I have to remember to not base everything on what I see, because that is not allowing for the divine, for God's part in things, which I don't get to know ahead of time. He wants my trust, He wants me to have faith in Him. God wants me to depend on Him, and to lean into Him for His strength, not just His wisdom. He wants me, and everyone else, to wait for Him, because He will always make Himself known when the time is right, although He already is present, sometimes we're just so caught up we can't see past our storm, just like I can't see past my porch.

Watch "Still" by Hillsong

Repost from 9/2017

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Do It Again Lord by Max Lucado, September 15, 2001

A prayer written by Max Lucado for America Prays, a national prayer vigil held Saturday, September 15, 2001.  It seems fitting as we remember the anniversary of 9/11 to share it once again.  Permission to copy is granted and encouraged.

Dear Lord,

We’re still hoping we’ll wake up. We’re still hoping we’ll open a sleepy eye and think, What a hor­rible dream.

But we won’t, will we, Father? What we saw was not a dream. Planes did gouge towers. Flames did consume our fortress. People did perish. It was no dream and, dear Father, we are sad.

There is a ballet dancer who will no longer dance and a doctor who will no longer heal. A church has lost her priest, a classroom is minus a teacher. Cora ran a food pantry. Paige was a counselor and Dana, dearest Father, Dana was only three years old. (Who held her in those final moments?)

We are sad, Father. For as the innocent are buried, our innocence is buried as well. We thought we were safe. Perhaps we should have known better. But we didn’t.

And so we come to you. We don’t ask you for help; we beg you for it. We don’t request it; we implore it. We know what you can do. We’ve read the accounts. We’ve pondered the stories and now we plead, Do it again, Lord. Do it again.

Remember Joseph? You rescued him from the pit. You can do the same for us. Do it again, Lord.

Remember the Hebrews in Egypt? You protected their children from the angel of death. We have children, too, Lord. Do it again.

And Sarah? Remember her prayers? You heard them. Joshua? Remember his fears? You inspired him. The women at the tomb? You resurrected their hope. The doubts of Thomas? You took them away. Do it again, Lord. Do it again.

You changed Daniel from a captive into a king’s counselor. You took Peter the fisherman and made him Peter an apostle. Because of you, David went from leading sheep to leading armies. Do it again, Lord, for we need counselors today, Lord. We need apostles. We need leaders. Do it again, dear Lord.

Most of all, do again what you did at Calvary. What we saw here on that Tuesday, you saw there on that Friday. Innocence slaughtered. Goodness murdered. Mothers weeping. Evil dancing. Just as the ash fell on our children, the darkness fell on your Son. Just as our towers were shattered, the very Tower of  Eternity was pierced.

And by dusk, heaven’s sweetest song was silent, buried behind a rock.

But you did not waver, 0 Lord. You did not waver. After three days in a dark  hole, you rolled the rock and rumbled the earth and turned the darkest Friday into the brightest Sunday. Do it again, Lord. Grant us a September Easter.

We thank you, dear Father, for these hours of unity. Disaster has done what  discussion could not. Doctrinal fences have fallen. Republicans are standing with Democrats. Skin colors have been covered by the ash of burning buildings. We thank you for these hours of unity.

And we thank you for these hours of prayer. The Enemy sought to bring us to our knees and suc­ceeded. He had no idea, however, that we would kneel before you. And he has no idea what you can do.

Let your mercy be upon our President, Vice President, and their families.  Grant to those who lead us wisdom beyond their years and experience.  Have mercy upon the souls who have departed and the wounded who remain.  Give us grace that we might forgive and faith that we might believe.

And look kindly upon your church.  For two thousand years you’ve used her to heal a hurting world.

Do IT again, Lord. Do it again.

Through Christ, Amen.

As written by Max Lucado for America Prays, a national prayer vigil held Saturday, September 15, 2001.  Permission to copy is granted and encouraged.

Monday, September 10, 2018

Storyteller by Kimberly Burnette

As a fifty-something, I have found that the Christian journey is a long, hard one. When I first found salvation I had a much different picture of Christianity. I thought that giving my life to the Lord was the ultimate step, and that life would be so much easier after that! I saw it more as a conclusion to my story than an introduction. Indeed it was the beginning of a great story that has been unpredictable and challenging.

Don't get me wrong. I would not change my decision to become a true Christian for anything in the world. The more I get to know my creator and savior, the more in awe I am. At the same time I am learning that nothing is about me. The wonderful plan He has for me isn't about me, it's about something so much bigger. When He blesses me, He does so simply because He loves me. I'm also learning that God loves me so much that He uses what He needs to teach me.

So this story that I've been in has had many plot twists and tragic events. Sometimes, it has taken a while to get to the next chapter in my tale. Parts of my story have been very dark, and  the only way I could move is with the light that my God gives. He has lead me step by step. So why would a God that loves me so much let me go through all of this? Because it makes me stronger and it teaches me how to persevere. He allows me to go through all of these things so that I can help others who go through all of these things. Interestingly, He has put people on my path who were able to help me because they went through all of these things.

So as Christians we earn our testimonies and become incredible storytellers. Not only do we have incredible stories to share, but the ultimate example is when people see us live through our struggles with grace. This is when Jesus shines at His brightest in us. So not only do we learn from what we go through, but others are blessed by it too.

The wonderful thing I have found is that God is always there with me, always. He is as faithful as they come. When I ask Him to pull me closer I can feel His love touch me physically. When I need to do something He asks and I don't feel strong enough, I can ask Him to help me do it and He will. What an amazing God!

So while it is easy to get really down when one's story is hard, a change of perspective can make all the difference. Counting one's blessings each day can bring a grateful attitude. Realizing ways we have been spared is healthy. When I think about how God created everything around me and count it all as blessings, it can be overwhelming. When I reflect on the supreme sacrifice He made of His own son, to take the sin of the world on himself to save all of us, it astounds me. I feel so blessed that I have eternity in front of me where there will never be another tear or pang of pain. When I think this way, even on bad days, I can still put one foot in front of the other and share the stories God has given me to tell. What about you?

The mountain where I climbed
The valley where I fell
You were there all along
That's the story I'll tell
You brought the pieces together
Made me this storyteller
Now I know it is well, it is well
That's the story I will tell

From the song "Storyteller" by Morgan Harper Nichols. To see the song video click here

repost from 2016

Monday, September 3, 2018

When We Don't Pray by Kimberly Burnette

Watch When We Pray

First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people ~ 1 Timothy 2:1

Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. ~ James 5:16

There are so many people in need, hurting, in trouble. How many people do you encounter in a day that need comfort and assurance? How many ask for help or prayer?  How many do you say you will pray for? How many do you actually pray for?

I know when I have a need, especially for a loved one, I ask for prayer. It’s nice that so many respond, but how many actually pray?

We all have great intentions, but if we don’t act on it, it’s unlikely we will. People these days say they will pray for you as easily as they say “God bless you.”

As Christians what do we do? When there are so many that need prayer, are we really doing people a service by saying we’ll pray and not doing it?

Each time we pray for someone it is such a blessing, for that person and for us. There are different approaches we can take to make sure we always pray:

1. Keep A List- Write down every prayer request and add it to your daily prayers.
2. Say A Short, Simple Prayer- Prayer doesn’t need to be long or eloquent. One sentence such as “Lord, please help Karen.” or “Father, please provide what Debbie needs” counts.
Remember, God already knows. Praying to the point can be done on one's own immediately after the encounter, or with the person needing prayer. Praying with the person can be such an encouragement.
3. Pray A Full Prayer Right Then- What a great way to help someone! I know how honored and important I feel when someone does that for me. Imagine what that could do for someone who is on the fence with their faith or someone who doesn't know Jesus yet!

None of us intentionally skip praying for someone else when we said we would. I know I've had times when I messed up. I try really hard to use one of the approaches listed above at all times so I don't miss out on doing something this important. I personally prefer to pray at the time I am asked, and usually either use approach #2 or #3.

Praying and seeking God's presence is so important. Praying for others is part of our prayer life. When we get busy, it is easy to skimp. What happens when we skimp on our prayer life? We place quantity over quality and what is of God becomes less of a priority. We become more distracted by much less important things that start to take the place of prayer and presence. And most importantly, we gradually move further and further away from God and holiness.

Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. ~ Jeremiah 29:12

Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing. ~ 1 Thessalonians 5:11

Reflect: How do you handle prayer requests or prayer commitments? If you need to use an approach to make sure you always honor your commitment to pray, which will you use?

Let us pray: Lord, thank you so much that we can lift each other up to You in prayer and you will always hear our prayers and answer. Thank you for prompting us to reach out and show Your love for others by praying for them, encouraging them and lifting them up. Help me Lord, to always honor my word that I will pray for someone, and even better to pray with them. Please give me the right words to pray. Let Your spirit speak in me and through me. You are so good God and I praise You! In Jesus' name I pray, Amen.

Friday, August 31, 2018

God Gave Me You by Kimberly Burnette

12 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. ~ Colossians 3:12-14    

I just reconnected with an old friend who was instrumental in helping me at one of the hardest times in my life. It has been many years since we lasted talked.

I have always believed that God puts people in our paths to help us and works through them indirectly. I have prayed for the right people to put in my children's paths. With all my heart I believe that God does this and that He uses us in this way to help each other. 

Laura was not an obvious choice to be the one to be this much help to me. As so often happens, God uses us when we are hurting and struggling, and we sometimes serve the greatest purpose when we are in the valley rather than on the mountain top. This was the case with my friend Laura and also with my friend Ann.  Despite their own struggles, they both made sure they were there for me. 

If there was ever anyone who modeled Colossians 3:12-14, it was my friends Laura and Ann during my fight to keep my sanity all those years ago after some crazy things happened to me and in my life.

God has changed my life quite a bit since then, and Laura and I both no longer live in Mississippi. Remembering what happened back then is like remembering an old movie. It is of great comfort to know that something that painful can fade with time like that. I hope this can be of comfort to those who are hurting now.

When you are God's child, He will take care of you. It doesn't mean you won't go through some painful things, people have free choice. He will always provide a way, He will give care and comfort directly and indirectly through his people- special friends who are our Christian sisters and brothers.

A friend loves at all times. ~Proverbs 17:17

My intercessor is my friend as my eyes pour out tears to God; on behalf of a mean he pleads with God as one pleads for a friend. ~Job 16:20-21

Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other one up. ~Ecclesiastes 4:9-10

As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another. ~Proverbs 27:17