PrayerPoints ~ Friday, March 25th

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Today’s PrayerPoint ~ Psalm 109

“But you, Sovereign Lord,
    help me for your name’s sake;
    out of the goodness of your love, deliver me.” Psalm 109:21

God’s means for our deliverance was put in place since the beginning of time. Here we are to Good Friday where the scriptural accounts and the dramatizations help us understand a little bit more each year as we struggle to comprehend the magnitude of God’s love, His provisions, and Jesus’ sacrifice.

Lord, it is only through Your Name’s sake and only out of Your goodness that I can be delivered from sin and death. A broken and contrite heart you will not despise. Because of my sin, I am beyond broken but I am not too far from Your reach. Thank you, Jesus.

PrayerPoints ~ Thursday, February 25th

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Today’s PrayerPoint ~ Psalm 30

“You turned my wailing into dancing: you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy, that my heart may sing to you and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give thanks to you forever.”      Psalm 30: 11-12

Psalm 30.

Have you ever been far enough from a painful situation to actually look back on it and say, “OK, Lord, I really don’t want to go through that level of pain again but I get a glimpse of what you have worked out through that situation and thank you for carrying me through that time.” ?

Sometimes there is a lifetime of time and healing that passes in order to move from the wailing to the dancing. Healing is one of those highly individualized processes and so many things come into play during the healing that it is really hard to predict or rush the process.

Can you look back on hard times and see God’s work and provision? It is good to be reminded of those things. When I read through Psalms and contemplate the depth of pain and anguish of the authors, I know my feelings and struggles are not so unique. There is a bit of comfort in that, I suppose. But the real comfort, for me, is found in the consistency of God’s provision and healing throughout Scripture.

Blessings on your time in Psalm 30!

And just because I love this precious song by Fernando Ortega, I am sharing it here:

Word Pictures

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Today’s PrayerPoint ~ Word Pictures

Have you ever used “word pictures”?

Word Pictures are entirely written or spoken but vivid enough not to need an actual illustration. I think they are particularly powerful when they are written to communicate a complex idea but tailored into the “language” of the audience. Jesus used parables frequently in Scripture and I think those are pretty comparable to word pictures. Jesus told important Truths using a setting familiar to the those who were listening. Often He was talking to fishermen so he used fishing references when He talked about sharing the Gospel. When you speak to someone in their language and use scenarios from experiences they can understand they can grasp your intent more easily.

A well-crafted word picture can communicate positive or negative ideas and can speak volumes even if it doesn’t use many words.

With Valentine’s Day coming up, you might want to practice crafting some sweet word pictures for the precious people in your life. Consider their special interests and craft a positive message for them based on that. If you are a natural wordsmith, this shouldn’t be too hard.  For example, if you are talking to an astronomer and you want to express feelings of deep affection you can tell them “I love you to the moon and back” and they will probably get a sense of how much you care.

On a more serious note, when I have an important point to get across to another person sometimes I will craft a word picture to communicate my thoughts. This action serves several purposes:

  • I slow down and think about the best way to approach the situation before I say the first thing that comes to my head.
  • I put myself in the other person’s shoes as I think about what they might relate best to.
  • I consider my words carefully for the best impact.

Practice makes perfect! Well, maybe not perfect, but it does help you get more familiar with using this technique for communicating.

This may sound like a paradox but I think it can be hard for a person who is always thinking to choose very carefully what they will say.  I am a verbal processor and it tends to get me into trouble because I often think out loud. Many times I start speaking in an effort to sort out my thoughts and there have been times as I have talked through things I have completely changed my mind by the end of my words. Let me tell you, this has caused problems in our house through the years. I am married to a great guy who means what he says and doesn’t say it unless it is true. Don is very precise with his words and I am often very general so taking the time to create a word pictures for him has been helpful for me.

Word Pictures create powerful imagery when crafted properly. I love the challenge of using an every day item to illustrate an important truth that I want to share. If you are having a challenge communicating an important idea to someone else maybe a word picture will help.

Expectations

It is so easy to be moved from being satisfied to dissatisfaction when we allow our own or someone else’s expectations run the show.

Not all expectations are bad. I am referring to the expectation that you will be able to pull off the unrealistic perfect family gathering this weekend! We see those photos in ads where there aren’t any dirty dishes or dust bunnies and every outfit blends or coordinates with every outfit in the photo and all of that is accented by the perfect food, makeup, and….well, the list goes on. Media and advertising have painted unrealistic and unattainable “picture perfect” moments for us to try to reproduce in our own homes.

Can you imagine how long it takes to set up those photo shoots?

And when we aren’t able to pull it off we become dissatisfied with what we have.

Don’t do it. Don’t go there.

Folks, it isn’t happening at our house. We won’t be serving perfection but we are serving love, forgiveness, mercy, and grace. We have been busy with life so we might be a wee bit tired and the house isn’t perfectly clean. We didn’t buy new dresses. We probably won’t be color coordinated but we will be enjoying one another’s company. When it is time to share the big meal, my goal is for all the food to be ready at the same time but even that isn’t always easy.

Expectations. Sometimes they kill the joy of the moment!

God sent Jesus in an unexpected way to save ordinary people like you and me. Jesus died an unimaginable death to set things right with God on our behalf. This isn’t the picture perfect situation by the world’s standards but God’s love for us is perfect, so this evidence of God’s love is perfection.

God has given you His all. Ask Him to open your eyes and heart to be satisfied with all He is and all He is doing.

Thank You, Father, for Your perfect love!

Seasons

I do love the routine of the seasons although there are some seasons I like better than others. I like the general predictability of the seasons within a year but even the “unseasonal” events make life interesting.

I have always enjoyed the seasons of parenting and rarely wished the days away. I enjoyed each moment as it came. And if I was in an ugly moment, I knew that it would change shortly. When it was a sweet moment, I savored it knowing it would also move quickly to the next.

I also enjoy the seasons of the Church Year. Today, Palm Sunday, marks the start of Holy Week. It is a very busy week at our church for the entire staff. It probably is at yours as well. There are many people putting in many hours of preparation. Pray for your pastors, musicians, janitorial staff, secretaries, bulletin designers, printers and collators. Pray for the many who will attend church only because it is expected in their family. Pray for God’s Word to be preached effectively and for many ears to hear the Gospel, pure and true.

And as you travel through this Holy Week, consider the walk Jesus took for you. Pray for a greater integration of His gifts of love, mercy, and forgiveness into your life. As His gifts pour out into your life let them flow unrestricted to those around you!

Are You Stuck in a Bad Chapter?

Ever wonder how King David from the Old Testament (shepherd boy, giant slayer, and man after God’s own heart) could possibly walk so close with God and then end up so far away from God by committing adultery, murder, and failing to protect his family? It happened just one step at a time. An unchecked heart and unconfessed sin can lead both you and I astray very quickly. David’s story didn’t end there…and ours doesn’t need to either….

Sometimes we think receiving faith in Jesus as Savior eliminates all of our temptations and rebellious, sinful decisions. It isn’t true, but it sure would be nice. We do, however, get to experience the nudging of our conscience from the Holy Spirit. You and I can try to stifle and smother those promptings and go our own wanton way for a long, long time but the consequences will catch up to us eventually.

Don’t try to still the small voice of God. Confessing your sin will be a turning point in a difficult chapter of your life. Consequences won’t likely be eliminated but God can and will grow you in His love and grace.

God can redeem all situations and longs to be reconciled with you!

Keeping It Real

When was the last time you had an honest heart-to-heart conversation with someone you trusted? My prayer is that you have a person (or two) with whom you can share a deep burden and be real about how things are going in your life. Sometimes I get caught up in what I want my life to look like or what I think it ought to look like that I occasionally misrepresent my reality by not sharing my struggles. And sometimes it is easier to not reveal the struggles and stresses in my heart. But if I only mention my “woohoo moments” then people who don’t know me well have no idea that I have many moments when I blow it or they are unaware of things that I am “in limbo” on.

Where is the balance?

It is hard to know what to share, how much to share, with whom to share, and when to share it. I certainly can’t share everything all the time. I don’t know that it’s wise and it would take all of my day! But I do know that a part of being in and creating a sense of community is sharing my struggles as well as my joys. We are imperfect people living amongst imperfect people in an imperfect world. We each have recurring struggles and sins — sins we cannot seem to shake. Some of those sins are even addictions. Sometimes it’s downright ugly. Usually so.

Some of the power of a stronghold is released when it is brought out into the light. Confession brings embarrassment and shame at times but it also can foster accountability. Some struggles are evident but the secret ones are probably the most damaging. So be careful to not invest all your energy on spiffying up your outward appearance. Allow God full access to transform your heart. Be willing to be humbled by confession–it doesn’t always need to be to a person–sometimes a confession is only meant for God. But consider allowing a trustworthy someone else know one of your most difficult struggles. You may find a great prayer warrior and your friendship will likely move to a deeper level. But you don’t know until you try.

If we want people to “be real” with us we often need to “be real” first. Do you have a friend you can be honest with about the ugly parts of your life? I pray you do or you will soon. Always ask God for discernment on what to share and when to share it. And be prepared to hear some real stuff. This is real life. We each experience real struggles. We all need real hope and forgiveness. I am so thankful for God’s hope and forgiveness in Jesus and our privilege to live together in community with one another ~ sometimes we are called to listen and sometimes we are called to share but I also believe we are called to “be real”.