We lost another good one this past weekend. Another prayer warrior who slipped quietly into the arms of Jesus.
He left us after a long and painful surrender to the devastations a stroke left behind and supported and loved by a family and friends and a community who all have stories of how he quietly touched our lives.
We first got to know him when our John was a young kid in junior high.
He had the divine appointment to be randomly assigned to Curtis that school year under a prayer initiative we used to do.
Parents signed up their students…people signed up to pray for them…names were paired and letters were sent and our John landed a faithful prayer warrior that never stopped praying for him all these years since.
Nor did he stop praying for all the other names he received assignments for.
And he didn’t just pray. He showed up.
For every sport John played all the way through his senior year…and believe me…he played them all…Curtis would show up at at least one game.
After high school, he followed his activities in college and always knew what year he was in and prayed him through some rough times with health and adjusting to being on his own.
He always knew what job he was currently in, what town he was living in and delighted to hear how he was doing with rec league games now that he’s all grown up.
When the stroke held him captive and he couldn’t get out and go to games and be out in the community he loved, he signed up to be on the Intercessory Prayer Team and I can tell you right now…there is a void in the battle and we are missing him in the trenches.
I don’t know of any Scripture that says Curtis will be praying for us in heaven.
From what I read, Jesus intercedes for us…so thankful for that…but Curtis will be praising God with all the saints.
He did his praying and his showing up and his caring for people and his remembering things because we mattered to him here on earth.
People are sometimes surprised when we show up at a ball game to see some kid play that we know from church or we attend a concert or a musical because some young person we pray for is in it.
We learned it from Curtis.
We remember what it felt like for us and for our son to have someone who didn’t really have to come just show up because he wanted to.
*repost from September 11, 2017…still true for me this morning as we remember those who bravely gave their lives to save others <3
While there are high schoolers who were not even born on that infamous day 16 years ago, I well remember the phone call from a friend asking me if I had the news on.
This was pre-smart phone days when we used wall phones to communicate and one by one, America found out that airplanes full of people had become a new form of weapon.
I remember sinking to my knees on the floor of our family room as the newscasters tried to explain how a plane had just flown into the side of a building, even as they realized another was headed to do the same to the sister tower.
In horror and with desperate prayers to God, many followed the events of that morning.
I do believe the increasingly less effective methods of destruction were in direct answer to the prayers of those around the world as this well-planned attack became exposed.
We have been told that across Maasai-land, our Kenyan brothers and sisters were in prayer for us as well.
Many around the world were interceding for us that day.
There is an enemy that seeks to destroy all that God has created.
And while we often want to put some tangible face to this foe, scripture tells us that our enemy is not flesh and blood.
Yes, the enemy works through people…through ideologies and governments and systems; through terrorists and agendas and despots; through exploitation and greed; through the exaltation of “self”…
I am reminded of the “I will’s” of pride outlined in Isaiah 14:13 – 14…
I will ascend into heaven
I will exalt my throne above the stars of God
I will also sit on the mount of the congregation
I will ascend above the heights of the clouds
I will be like the Most High
A dangerous game for anyone, with tragic repercussions for all.
The hallmarks of such thinking are destruction and devastation and death.
So for our nation today, I pray that we would learn well to remain humbly before the God who blessed this land with resources and with His Spirit.
I pray that we would enter into all warfare under His direction and counsel, availing ourselves of His guidance so freely given to those who seek His face.
I pray for those who still mourn the loss of lives in personal ways, for those first responders who showed true heroism and courage.
I pray for those who still suffer today from the physical and emotional sacrifice they gave to enter into a different kind of battle as they inhaled ash to find survivors.
I pray for those who are today fighting another unthinkable kind of warfare as rains and winds and fires sweep various areas of our nation.
I pray that we would be a nation that recognizes the power of prayer, not only for our own country but for the many many people who suffer around the world.
Devastations of man and nature abound around this globe and many do not have any kind of resources with which to bring aid to their people.
May God’s mercy and grace be poured out over us as we lift our hands to Him and invite Him to come and work in ways that only He can.
I hope you will come back tomorrow and each day this week as we look at what God says about winning battles His way.
Be blessed today in all that you do, as you bless others <3
It has been a little soggy here in corn and bean country this spring.
Fields that are usually sprouting neat little rows of the summer crop have not even been plowed over.
And quite honestly, a lot of them look like they have sprouted rivers and ponds instead of the stuff we rely on around here to feed our families and keep the economy going.
Over the weekend as we dried out from a soccer game played in the pouring rain and saw the forecast of more rain through the coming week, Russ reminisced about a time several years ago when we were all praying for rain.
It was a drought year on top of a drought year and people were desperate enough for rain that they started calling us together for prayer meetings.
We attended one that was so strange to our normal way here even for us who live as followers of Christ.
One of the leaders of the agricultural community called a prayer meeting and farmers and citizens and a collection from all walks of life and faith backgrounds showed up and we prayed and we asked God for rain.
The weather forecasters had predicted another dust bowl and it certainly appeared we were headed that way.
But we prayed.
And apparently the drought ended, because I had totally forgotten about the whole threat until Russ mentioned it.
One of the down sides of living in a land or a season where things are just going well and nothing really too terrible is shaking things up is that we are forgetful people.
We fail to heed the warning
11-16 Make sure you don’t forget God, your God, by not keeping his commandments, his rules and regulations that I command you today. Make sure that when you eat and are satisfied, build pleasant houses and settle in, see your herds and flocks flourish and more and more money come in, watch your standard of living going up and up—make sure you don’t become so full of yourself and your things that you forget God, your God,
the God who delivered you from Egyptian slavery;
the God who led you through that huge and fearsome wilderness,
those desolate, arid badlands crawling with fiery snakes and scorpions;
the God who gave you water gushing from hard rock;
the God who gave you manna to eat in the wilderness, something your ancestors had never heard of, in order to give you a taste of the hard life, to test you so that you would be prepared to live well in the days ahead of you.
17-18 If you start thinking to yourselves, “I did all this. And all by myself. I’m rich. It’s all mine!”—well, think again. Remember that God, your God, gave you the strength to produce all this wealth so as to confirm the covenant that he promised to your ancestors—as it is today.
Deuteronomy 8: 11-18 The Message
We are indeed forgetful people until things get disrupted enough to gain our attention.
Oh to remember in the best of seasons to live with gratitude to God from whom all blessings flow and to cry out to Him with the same desperation our need for Him is worthy of before we are living in a flood or a drought and realize how far we have removed ourselves from Him.
That is the goal…
to reduce the cycle of forgetfulness so that in all seasons we are mindful that all things are from His hand.
Every good gift and every perfect gift comes down to us from above…from God the Father…who never changes nor shifts. There are no shadows in Him…only pure Light and Life….
A number of years ago I bid on and “won” a painting at the New Life Pregnancy Center annual auction.
I loved the colors and the texture but most of all I love that down the narrow side edge of the canvas the artist has written these words…
How fragile we are…
Yes, yes… indeed.
I found a perfect spot for it in our front hallway, but during Christmas and the following months into spring I replace it with more holiday themed hangings.
Well, the time came this week that I needed to locate it and I searched all over the house for it without success for several days.
I have a method for finding things we can’t locate and our family knows if they can’t find something they will get the same advice every time.
I pray a simple prayer saying basically –
God you know where this item is. Please lead me to where it was placed. Help me remember where I put it or point me to where it has been tucked away.
As I wait and listen with my spirit ears, I will get an impression of a spot.
Sometimes it takes awhile for me to hear it right.
Like the time John headed off to college after the summer and asked me if I could locate his student ID.
I prayed my prayer, and I kept being led to the key rack by the back door.
But it wasn’t there.
So I would pray again and I searched his room and the kitchen drawers and everywhere I could think of, even though I kept being led back to the key rack by the back door.
I was quite frustrated because it was evident every time that clearly no long ORU lanyard was hanging on the key rack.
John told me no worries and he got a replacement ID made.
A few days later, I was pulling something out of the little shelves above the key rack and guess what I found.
The ID sans lanyard had been stashed there in May by our boy.
I had my mind set on what I pictured the ID to look like.
I was looking for a lanyard…not an ID.
I must have learned my lesson from that experience, because as I prayed for where our missing painting might be I kept getting an impression that I had placed it on a shelf in my closet.
I went there numerous times and even checked all the other closets and every possible drawer, behind furniture and under beds.
But it kept coming to me to go to my closet.
Finally I got a step stool out and as I gained a foot and half of height, I could see the narrow edge of canvas tucked just out of view on the top shelf of the place God had taken me over and over.
God knows how to find lost things, you know.
It’s His specialty.
He knows just where the lost are to be found and perhaps if we would stop and pray and then listen with our hearts…if we quit looking for how we think they should appear and trust where He is leading us…we just might reclaim more of the lost than we ever dreamed possible.
I kind of checked out of sharing about the Ezekiel study this week.
Partly because I didn’t get to hear the sermon until Monday and also the material is as graphic and rough as the first week was fantastical and other-worldly.
But I would be remiss to skip the more unpleasant aspects of how doing this study with our church family has been working on me.
So welcome to a glimpse into my journal entries from Monday this week.
The passage was Ezekiel 4 and the first question from the study guide asked about an area where God might be calling me to repentance.
I was slightly offended at how little time it took God to help me fill in the answer.
He is God after all and it is His way to be direct with me so here was my fairly immediate response:
Two things come to mind this morning that I have recently been strongly convicted about
1. The “sin of prayerlessness” as Andrew Murray calls it in several of his books
2. The sin of slander
First off: Regarding #1… yes, I lead three prayer teams at our church and yes, you would think I pray all the time.
And while I do pray, the reality is that my prayer life has become weak, powerless and dead of late.
And when I look critically at the reason for this I see clearly the sin of unbelief.
I could blame that on a lot of different things but in the end it comes down to the fact that I have let my doubt become bigger than our God.
As for the sin of slander: for way too long my thoughts and my mouth tend to lean toward words that do not edify or build up but rather take swipes…sometimes out loud… but more often in my inner conversations.
Both are equal in the eyes of God – the seen and heard and the ones buried deep inside of me. He knows the heart and what doesn’t get said matters as much as what does.
When I lay that out for consideration I can see the root of bitterness has fueled this sin.
The next question in the study asked me what it would look like to turn from my sin and turn toward God.
So as I examined my sinful bent and the roots that were behind them, I came up with this;
Acknowledging that my unbelief and bitterness ARE Sin – and thus as disgusting to God as cooking my evening meal over a pile of human excrement
(look up the passage and read Ezekiel 4)….
To OWN this as my own sin and to confess and agree with God that this IS indeed SIN…
and then to ask for forgiveness and to REPENT…
to make every effort to walk away from both of these sins and choose to live in complete contrast to them…that is what is called for in response to the work of God in me through the series we have been looking at the past two Sundays.
And here is the prayer I wrote in conclusion:
Heavenly Father, I am confessing to you how I have let hopelessness and unbelief take precedence over faith and the Hope that is in me through the work of Jesus Christ alone.
I also confess my sin of bitterness and envy and a critical spirit that have found a greater place in my heart than the love I should have in You.
I have not followed Your command to rid myself of doubt, envy, wrath, anger and malice but have let my own pride and sense of self-righteousness to rule my thoughts and words and actions.
I have spoken ill of people to make me feel better about my circumstances.
When I envy others in what they have been given or for what they have accomplished – in Your sight this is the same as if I hoped for them to fail.
This is sinful and as disgusting to you as human excrement.
Father, I confess this has been my heart attitude.
I ask you to forgive me LORD and I know that I am forgiven in Christ – my LORD and Savior.
I do repent but also fear the depth of sin in me – I ask You to help me LORD to turn from this and to choose Your way only. I ask in Jesus’ Name.
The final question was what action steps I can take to show my repentance.
Here are the conclusions I came to after my time in prayer:
<3 Just like the suggestions gleaned from reading “Adorned” by Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth; aggressively resist mean, jealous and unloving thoughts when they crop up – GET. RID. OF. THEM.
<3 Pray – start somewhere. Probably for me right now it is best to just open up my Bible and pray directly from Scripture. Ephesians 1 – 3 has always been a good place for me to pray through, so I can start there. Also to use the Scripture prayers provided in several prayer books to get my mind and heart back in the language of prayer.
There are times when we feel God does not hear or answer our prayers because we do not see anything changing in situations that have made us desperate for His involvement.
However; the above prayers are something He very quickly has answered…prayer for conviction of my particular sins…prayer for forgiveness…prayer for repentance…prayer for actions steps I can begin to take and prayer for obedience to follow through.
As I have taken these steps, I have found He has heard and answered with abundant mercy and grace.
No matter how far we move away from Him, the moment we turn back He is already there to meet us and help us.
There is only ONE God, three in One, and He is full of mercy and kindness and grace for all who will return to Him <3