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Archive for August, 2013

Some of the most amazing blessings in my life are the people God has given me to love, and who love me. From the moment of my birth I’ve been surrounded by family who is not “perfect” but whom I would not trade for any other.

Each is on his own spiritual path, at her own stage of growth either away from or toward the LORD. All have been baptized and have heard the gospel … not all are active in their faith and a few are somewhat opposed to Christianity or angry at God.

The Holy Spirit has impressed upon me how important it is to pray fervently for all of my family. How many family members prayed for me when I was a prodigal? If I don’t pray for my own family, who will?

God placed each one in my life “just so” … as mother, brother, sister, husband, child, niece, nephew, brother-in-law, sister-in-law. Each has blessed me. And the best way I can thank God for them, is to place them lovingly back into His hands in prayer.

And so I pray daily for each one of them by name. I don’t know all of their needs, but God does. Whether God is waiting for the prodigal to return, or whether He is drawing someone ever closer to Him in spiritual maturity … whether one needs discipline or another needs comfort … God knows and He cares and He will use my prayers as each needs most.

Sometimes the enemy tries to discourage me or distract me, making me wonder if it really matters or whether I am being selfish praying for my own family too much and not enough for the larger world.

So it was a great blessing to read each of these passages recently …

“As for me, far be it from me to sin against the LORD by ceasing to pray for you and to teach you the good and right way.” (1 Samuel 12:23)

“I pray for them. I do not pray for the world but for the ones you have given me, because they are yours” (John 17:9)

I really do feel I would be sinning against the LORD were I to cease praying for any one of my loved ones. He gave them to me, He lead me into this deeper prayer life, He has shown me how to pray for them.

And I am so grateful for His guidance and for this ministry of love. And I love how our relationship with God is reciprocal, a sort of cycle … He gave me these people, I give them back in prayer; He shows me how to pray and when I do, He does the work.

I pray for their sake, and for His great glory!

 

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This summer I’ve been so blessed each morning, sitting on my porch swing with my Bible and a cup of coffee. This morning I read John’s account of Jesus preparing to raise Lazarus from the dead after four days in the tomb.

And I wept.

I’m not sure why … I was just so moved by Martha coming out to meet Him and expressing her total faith that if He asked our Father, anything would be granted to Him … and her confession that He is Messiah for whom they’ve waited. That had to be an enormous blessing to Jesus who was constantly doubted and challenged and accused by people. Here, He was known and loved.

And then there was Mary. We read that when Martha went out to meet Jesus, Mary sat at home. I can just feel her deep grief; their shared questions those four long days of, “Where is Jesus during this darkest hour of our lives? I was sure He would come quickly and be here with us … now it’s too late …  ”

Haven’t we all felt like that?

But then: “When she had said this, she went and called her sister Mary secretly, saying, “The teacher is here and is asking for you.” As soon as she heard this, she rose quickly and went to him. (John 11:28-29)

Jesus asked for her … He asks for us. Do we continue to hide from Him? Do we allow our roadblocks of resentment, sorrow, or anger keep us isolated away from the LORD? Or do we rise quickly and go to Him?

What a beautiful chapter; what a beautiful morning  and what amazing blessings from the LORD as I had coffee with God.

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I clearly remember “the moment” when the switch was flipped and I finally “got it.”  It wholly, completely reordering my world and my place within it.

Though I have always known & believed that God existed, I had a disordered view of my place in Him. In my mind, I walked around, the center of my own universe. And somewhere “out there,” God was waiting for me to come to Him in prayer in my times of trouble with a list of needs that He would answer.

But unless I was in need – or unless I was sitting in the pew my one hour a week – I really didn’t give Him much thought.

Today I thank God for Father Boess, who asked in a homily what our relationship with God was like. That question stuck with me … what “relationship”? A relationship with a living, breathing, tangible human being is one thing … how do you have a “relationship” with Spirit? With a far-away God?

I came to the realization that all relationships are forged and maintained in the same way. Time. You spend time together, talking to each other and listening to one another.

That realization was such a gift to me. At first it took practice and decided effort to stop and include God in my day, to speak to Him and to listen. Soon, however, I came to realize that the running conversations we have in our heads – our interior life – can include God! Why have a conversation just with myself when He is so near to me, and is much wiser and much better company?

And all of this led to “that moment.” That moment when my entire world underwent a seismic shift and I understood that “I” am not the center with God as some peripheral floating around me, “out there” waiting.

GOD is front and center, and I am in orbit around Him. He is the center, He is the focus, He is the purpose and reason for everything.

Finally understanding this, I now have a profound joy and peace in being in my proper place.

A relationship with God – a real, deep, abiding relationship – is possible and He desires it. He will not hide from one who seeks it!

Father Jim said in a recent homily that he thinks “the narrow gate” is found by those who understand this, who have a relationship. So many people have a certain awareness or belief in God, but not the relationship.

I wonder.

And I pray.

Dear God, so many in this world labor and never enter the kingdom of God. So many have a certain knowing, but miss the relationship. Some turn away willfully, angry or disappointed at you or the circumstances in their lives. Others simply don’t think about You, don’t realize the peace and joy of knowing You intimately. Please, dear God, never stop reaching out and calling them. Send them Godly people to help flip that switch so they “get it.” Please remove all obstacles that keep us from seeking, knocking, moving closer to You. I pray this in Jesus’ name, amen.

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the ark, Mary

I love how the Old Testament and the New Testament have so many parallels.

I’ve heard it said that Mary is the ark of the covenant and was thinking about that.

What is within the ark of the covenant? Three things:

  1. The stone tablets on which were written the 10 commandments by the hand of God.
  2. Aaron’s staff that had budded overnight, to show the Israelites that Aaron was the one God had chosen as priest.
  3. Manna that God had provided to the Israelites for food as they wandered in the desert.

What was within the womb of Mary? Jesus …

  1. The Word of God.
  2. The Great High Priest
  3. The Bread of Life.

And there are more tidbits that are fascinating to me, such as the veil that was torn at the moment of Jesus’ death. This was a heavy, woven curtain that was torn from top to bottom, and was a sort of separation between the ark and the priests & people. The symbolism of that is just so cool.

And there is this passage from the book of Revelation.  Though the ark of the covenant had been lost for generations, John wrote an astonishing thing in Rev 11:19:

“Then God’s temple in heaven was opened, and the ark of his covenant was seen within his temple.”

I believe that the ark he saw was Mary.  🙂

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