boyradd

Forgiven…Loved…..Transformed!

Archive for the tag “Pray”

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Proverbs 21:23 – Those who guard their mouths and their tongues keep themselves from calamity.

I have a lot of titles for what I WANT to name this.

Most of them contain 4-letter language and would be quite abrasive.

So I am going to take the wisdom of Solomon on this and tame my tongue with regard to the title.

But I do want to speak out.

I am sure we have all heard the news recently about how Donald Trump came out basically persecuting Muslims. Well, this is true. And it isn’t the first time in American history it has happened. A few different presidents have singled out different cultures to persecute over the years. It has happened on both sides of the fence, Republican and Democrat.

But I don’t want to give a political party any more press than it deserves, so I am not going to talk about Trump…or Clinton…or Cruz…or Carson…or Sanders…or any of those other idiots…um, er…candidates.

I want to talk about humanity as a whole.

And in particular, Americans.

And I want to start with a small test.

I am going to show you 3 pictures. Without even thinking about the picture, write down the first few thoughts, feelings, etc… that come to your mind.

Are you ready?

911

Great start, eh?

muslim man

How does he make you feel inside?

Ok, last one…

atheist

Hmmm….

So how did those pictures make you feel? I’ll tell you how I felt.

Picture 1: I felt sad. Not that people were dying, but that they were dying without Christ. Thousands of lives ended before they made the choice to believe in God. Am I angry at those who flew the planes? Of course, I am angry at those men who were on the planes. Not the thousands of men, women, and children in a faraway land.

Picture 2: At first, I thought this might be one of the terrorists that was on the plane in the previous picture. But it isn’t. It is a Christian from the Middle East. It is very easy for us to profile someone based on their looks. But if we would do that, if I would do that, then the risk of missing some amazing Christian men and women is very high. I think about Naeem Fazal, pastor of Mosaic Church in North Carolina. He converted from Islam to Christianity simply through a Christian friend who loved him. And then there is Walid Shoebat. He is a former PLO operative that turned to Christ and became a peace advocate. He believes, as do I, that Jesus is compensating for the weaknesses of the Western church, succeeding in many places where the church fails.

Picture 3: This one saddens me even more than the other two pictures combined. This shows how America, and in particular the American church, is failing. There will always be people who run counter to our beliefs. That is one guarantee we see in Scripture. But the fact that more churches in America close every year than open leads America to be a very secular nation.

What saddens me the most is just how much I have failed.

If I as a Christian believe it is the most important thing in all of my existence to proclaim the glory of God’s kingdom and worship Him, then why don’t I have a worshipful heart?

Isaiah 29:13 – The Lord says: “These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is based on merely human rules they have been taught.

If I believe, as a Christian, that evangelism, not hatred or fear, is my primary job on this earth, then why don’t I spend more energy evangelizing and less energy being filled with hatred or fear?

If the Christian life is supposedly filled with joy, even in the face of suffering, persecution, and spiritual warfare, then why am I not constantly joyful?

And then something happened.

I was convicted.

Our church hosted the Children of the World choir. About a dozen kids, made up of children from various countries, all with high risk backgrounds, came to sing. My wife and I had the opportunity to house 4 of the boys while they were in town for the 2 days.

boyz2

At first, I was wondering what we got ourselves into. 4 boys, high energy, coming over to our house where we already have a dog with high energy and we haven’t even completely unpacked yet. It was a recipe for disaster.

But God provides.

We ate dinner with them the first night and then watched a movie with them. We learned a little more about them. It was fun.

boyz

The next night the kids sang and we watched videos of their lives before they were allowed in America to share the gospel.

isaac

marcio

And that is the key, these 8,9 and 10 year olds were here to SHARE THE GOSPEL.

They have already seen the effects of a life without God.

Here were orphans, refugees, and the outcast given a second chance at life because of Christ. Their lives transcend cultures.

One of the boys was talking to Mimi and I about his “caste” tonight and how his caste is different from the caste of one of the other boys staying with us. And here are these kids, saved from the issues of the caste system, and a fallen world, and given a hope and a love in Christ.

But as these kids were singing, I was amazed at their joy. Sure, on stage they have to show a happy face, but even when these kids were at our house or in our car, they were filled with joy. they weren’t always happy, but they had joy. And peace.

I want that!

These boys were missionaries. They were not just sent here to sing to a church full of believers, they were sent to convict the life of a single believer by simply being used by God in such an innocent way. During that time there was no death at the doorstep, there was no politics, there was no gay marriage debate. There was only Jesus. There was only peace. There was only joy.

So now I go back and look through those pictures again that I showed at the beginning of this post and my answers have changed.

Picture 1: I am still saddened by how many people died that day. But I am also seeing a moment in history where hope can come alive. If the Christian church can unify and remove fear from our vocabulary, we will be able to storm the gates of hell. When Christians storm the gates of hell and not the gates of some country that believes differently than we do, then moments like 9/11 will stop happening.

Picture 2: I see a person, formed in God’s image. Yes, it may be a Muslim. Or it may be an atheist. Or an agnostic. Or…or…or. But these people were formed in God’s image and they have a desire, even if they don’t realize it, to know the true God of Creation. It is the God-shaped hole that C.S. Lewis speaks about that is in all of us.

Picture 3: I see an opportunity to pray. Tell me something, how much will happen if Christians sit around on Facebook complaining about the problems, which takes away from the time we have to pray about the problems. Problems get fixed through prayer, not complaining.

Philippians 2:14 – Do all things without grumbling or questioning

So here is your, and my, homework. When you feel the urge to complain about something that is happening in the world, in your life, in your marriage, etc., then I want you to stop the complaining and pray about it. And don’t just pray to get YOUR way. Pray that God will open your heart and eyes to what HE needs done.

It is when the church prays, that we find that our greatest moments and spiritual awakenings happen.

So pray.

And watch what happens.

Why Can’t I Be the Old Me?

Joel 1:14 – Announce a sacred fast; proclaim an assembly! Gather the elders and all the residents of the land at the house of the LORD your God, and cry out to the LORD.

Over the past month, God laid on my heart to ring the New Year in at church, not out partying. When first proposed in my head, this was an awesome idea. God had put that thought in my head since I got divorced, and this year I finally spoke up and proclaimed that it should be done.

But then reality, the world, and Satan begin to play with my mind.

It was difficult, for example, for Mimi and, especially her boys, to understand why, for the first time ever in their lives, they would be missing the ball drop on TV. Heck, it was even difficult for ME to understand that.

Then, on the morning of the prayer event, Satan was REALLY trying to dig into me. “You should be able to go out and party it up.” “It is only one night.” I even went so far as to go through the Facebook pictures of my party friends. Every picture, a raging party in the background and smiles on all the faces.

Philippians 2:4 – not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.

Reality was hitting.

I didn’t want to spend all night in church for what would probably be a couple people.

I wanted to be out, living it up, placing a lampshade on my head and dancing to rave music at the foam party or something.

So what happens when this kind of thought creeps into my head?

I pray.

Mimi and I were talking back and forth on text and Skype and I was in prayer during almost all of it.

I thought about a few things.

First, I remember those days. I remember college and my professors getting me drunk after the final class. I remember one of my first business trips ever and ending up in a strip club. I remember the trips out of the country for work and spending the down time drinking and spouting profanities.

Were those fun nights?

Sure, from what I can remember of them.

But then I thought about whether they defined me. Was I always that happy during those times? Sure, those were fun nights, but was there a pure joy that came with it?

Of course not. My final class of my college career involved a presentation. Guess who did horrible on it. Yep, this guy. In retrospect, I was drinking to numb the pain from doing horribly on my final class.

What about the business trip? Yea, during my time at that company I was excelling. I was doing so well at catching thieves in the restaurants that my boss had put me in charge of that around the region. The business trip was a national meeting where all my peers were as well. Being the guy that was responsible for getting a lot of people fired, I had no friends. While everyone else was out at the after parties and enjoying each other’s company, I was bound to be stuck in my hotel room yet again. I went out simply to get away. And that is where I ended up.

What about the trips outside the country where I got drunk? My marriage was failing. I was thousands of miles away and I couldn’t do anything to fix it. So I decided to drink it into submission for a night.

I don’t give you those stories because I want to hear a collective “awwww” from everyone. I give you those stories because I want you to realize that I had something missing at that time. I claimed Christ, yet I hated being alone with Him.

Ephesians 4:22 – You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires;

So how does all this relate to last night?

Those feelings came flooding back to me. Feelings of wanting to do my own thing and be out there partying and drinking and just enjoying the night. But there was a difference this time.

I took it to God in prayer.

And wow did I get a sense of peace.

So I went to set up for the prayer and before every one showed up, I went to the altar, got on my knees, and prayed for God to bless it.

Going into the night we only had two confirmations and one of them texted me and called out, so I only knew 1 person was coming.

But God told me to be still and trust Him.

So I did.

And at 10pm, people showed up.

By 10:10 we had 9 people.

Throughout the night we ended with 16 people coming and going through there, not counting our senior pastor who made a cameo appearance at 11:30.

The prayer time I got alone with Mimi was priceless. The time I got to speak with Jay, Nelson, Stacey and Joe could not have happened in a loud place filled with a party.

By the end of the night, I met a few people who were praying for their daughter who was sick, an elderly woman who counsels families of prisoners, and a young adult and her mom.

And as 2014 came to a close, we didn’t watch the ball drop or watch Taylor Swift sing or even get anxious about whether there would be anything bad going on. We prayed. We took our own fears and problems and anxieties to God and left them in His hands. We prayed for our families. We prayed for our church. We prayed for our communities and our nation. We prayed for places like Ferguson, China, and Syria. And we prayed that all those out partying would make it home safe.

And then we took communion. As everyone was watching the ball drop, we were breaking bread and drinking grape juice.

1 Corinthians 11:26 – For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.

And the next morning, we weren’t nursing a hangover or trying to put the pieces back together on what happened. We weren’t worried that someone had a Facebook or Instagram picture up about us doing something that we shouldn’t have been doing.

No.

We were thanking God that we had the opportunity to spend that time just sitting at His feet, talking to Him, and loving on Him.

We were counting our blessings.

We were taking a deep breath and getting ready to tackle 2015, knowing that the victory has already been won. We gave the new year to God. We dedicated it to Him.

And He will bring us immeasurable joy and peace through this upcoming year.

1 Thessalonians 5:17 – Pray without ceasing

Amen.

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