As our community wakes up this morning, they are waking to the news of the loss of one of their own. Not just anyone, but someone who has been speaking out about addiction for months now.
It breaks my heart and it makes me angry. It breaks my heart that this precious life is gone. It breaks my heart that parents are grieving the loss of a son this morning. It breaks my heart that a brother has lost a friend, and it breaks my heart that it would appear that Satan won this one.
It angers me. It angers me that Satan has such a devastating, and destructive tool of war in his arsenal. It angers me that this happens so often. It angers me that this is something that we don’t talk about enough, that we try and hide it in our families, but something that touches everyone. If I am totally honest, I ask God why do you allow this to happen? Every one of you know someone in your family or close circle of friends who struggle with addiction in their life.
Addiction is not my struggle, and I thank God everyday that it isn’t. I have watched it in lives in CR. It is a tight rope struggle every day. No matter how long someone is clean, a day, a week, a month, years, they walk a tight rope. Everyday could be that day your foot slips. Tight rope walkers often have a balancing pole, and in the lives of an addict, Jesus is that pole. Lay that pole down for a moment and your next step may be a deadly slip.
Today my prayer is that just like Joseph, what Satan meant for evil God means for good. I pray that all across our community today students are going to parents and saying, I need help, I can’t do this alone. That loved ones of people struggling go to people they trust and say, I can’t do this alone any more. My loved one is struggling with addiction and I need support, will you be there for me.
I pray that Celebrate Recovery groups(see my Celebrate Recovery page for info), and NA groups, and I am Second groups in the community are full this week. That people say I need accountability, I need help. That a friend will say, hey let me go to group with you this week and support you.
Most of all my prayers go out to the Morgan family this morning. May God’s peace and mercy pour over you.
My friend Elaine sent this to me last week or maybe even the week before. I have it on my laptap screen, and have been mulling (is that even a right word), it over for over a week. She sent it to me, because she knows me well enough to know it would hit a nerve, and she’s right it did.
First of all it’s Piper, and his stuff always makes me think. I like Piper, I like what he has to say, I like that I feel I can trust what he says. I don’t ever feel like he is trying to please anyone when he speaks. He just speaks the word. I like to hear him talk, he has a mezmerizing voice, and I was fortunate to get to hear him speak, at a conference in Minneapolis a few years ago.
I have been reading this one little sentence over and over for a few days now. Piper will make you do that. Mainly this hits two things I struggle with. 1. A to do list. I am a constant list maker, who thinks every thing on the list should get done. 2. Grace, even though I say I understand it, even though I know it, some days it slips through my fingers like sand.
These are both things I have struggled with for a long time, and I have come along way on both issues. I can now admit them and can see when they are starting to take over. There was a time when not completing a list would have sent me over the edge, it isn’t quiet that bad now. I can carry a list over to another day or even throw one out that isn’t completely crossed off.
Grace – grace is a favorite subject of mine. It is something I cherish, something I hold close, God’s grace, knowing that he loves me and that can’t be changed. His unmerited favor on my life. But this sentence brings a new element. God doesn’t just love me no matter what, he isn’t measuring me, how freeing is that? I measure myself every day, but God doesn’t. If God doesn’t, then why am I?
After contemplating this for a week I finally summed it up in my own words. This is what it says to me. “Be at peace, knowing that my to do list is not going to measure up to reality, but God isn’t checking that list and loves me anyway.”
Thanks John Piper.
Sometimes a post just has to about fun stuff. This happened on Easter Sunday. It was not planned out, we didn’t shop together, we didn’t call each other. It just happened. It is funny and ironic when two grown women dress alike.
Those of you who don’t know me, don’t realize how ironic this picture is. The other woman in this picture is my daughter-in-law KC’s Mom. The woman I will soon be sharing Milo with as Grandma’s. There is no one who I would rather share this new adventure with, Grandma’s to a sweet baby boy.
I feel blessed to share Milo with this woman who is kind, funny, giving, has a big heart, great taste in clothes (ha), and most importantly loves the Lord. Milo your matching Grandma’s can’t wait to meet you. Sandy you are going to rock this Lala role.
Yesterday was Easter, and as I was on the way to church, I was praying. I was praying for my church and for churches across the nation, because it is one of the most attended days of the year. I prayed like Paul prayed, that the message would be clear.
As I was praying, I was thinking about that first Easter morning. What it must have been like for those women who went to the tomb, Mary Magdalene and the other’s. They went to the tomb grieving, their savior was gone, they went hurt, maybe a little angry, confused, scared, they didn’t know where to go from there. They didn’t know what the future held.
I thought about that, I thought about the people walking into our churches. Not just on Easter morning, but every Sunday. Some are grieving, grieving different things, loss of someone they love, infertility, loss of dreams, loss of job, loss of relationship. Some come in hurt, others come in angry, confused, scared, and no idea of where to go from here.
As I thought about that, I began to pray, God show your self to people this morning. Show yourself the same way you showed up in the garden that morning. Mary turned away from that tomb dejected, angry thinking someone had stolen Jesus’ body. Then when she turned to leave, Jesus was standing there. He asked, “who are you looking for?” She didn’t recognize Him until he spoke her name.
Most of us don’t recognize until he speaks our name. My prayer was Jesus let people hear when you speak their name today, let them recognize who you are. Answer the prayer of that wife who has been praying for her husband for years. That Mother whose wayward child comes to church with her on Easter. The answer to prayers of a son or daughter for a lost parent, prayers of grandparents and friends.
The next thing Mary does, is run to tell the disciples that Jesus is alive, I have seen him. On this Monday morning after Easter, I pray that there are people everywhere at work, and school who found out yesterday that Jesus is alive, and they are just as excited as Mary to tell people today.
Easter is only one day a year, but the hope that comes from that empty tomb lives every day. So what does the empty tomb mean the Monday after Easter? The same thing that it means Easter morning, Jesus is alive and calling our names. God, let me be as aware of the empty tomb every morning, as I am on Easter.
I have always wondered why it is called Good Friday. Because from where I see it, it was not a good day. Jesus had some bad days in his life. Lets start at the beginning, the day he was born, there were no rooms available and he was born in a stable. Not really a good day.
There were days when he started his ministry that were not exactly good. Days where he poured into the crowds all day, and yet they kept coming. Days where he was exhausted, hadn’t eaten, and probably would have liked to rest but he kept going. Not a good day.
There were days when his disciples frustrated him. Days when they had been with him for months. They had seen him do miracles, feed thousands, heal, and cast out demons. They had seen him stop the wind and waves in their tracks, yet they still didn’t understand who he really was. Not a good day.
So, yes Jesus had some bad days, but this particular Friday I would classify as his worst. He was betrayed by one of his own, he was deserted by all his disciples, and denied by one whom he was closest too. Yet, that was only the beginning. He was beaten, and spit on. He was flogged, he was made fun of, he was ridiculed. He had his beard plucked out, and a crown of thorns stuck into his head. He was cruicified which was a death of humilation. Far from a good day.
I will never understand why it is referred to as Good Friday. Ash Wednesday I understand, Palm Sunday has a reason, but good Friday makes no sense to me. To his followers it was one of the darkest days in history.
The Oxford English Dictionary states that “good” in this context refers to, “a day or season observed as holy by the church.” Holy Friday I can understand. Because to those of us who know the full story, who know how it ends. Those who know that three days later Jesus will rise and conquer sin and death, know that Friday is a very Holy day. Because without that Holy Friday, Easter doesn’t happen. Without that Holy Friday, our Savior doesn’t die to raise again.
So, today as I hear the words, Good Friday, I am going to mentally think Holy Friday, and be thankful for a Holy Savior who made something good out of it.
Can my prayers be wrong? Maybe not wrong, but there is a best way to pray.
I am still reading in Colossians, about to come to the end. In Chapter 4 this morning, Paul is encouraging the church about prayer. He says we should devote (give all or a large part of your time and resources to) to prayer. Do it with an alert mind and a thankful heart.
Is that how I pray? Sometimes, but a lot of times it can be an after thought. Not a last resort thought. Not I have tried everything else and now I am going to try prayer. More like, I had to get up and do this and this and I ran out of time thought. Which is no excuse. Or, I do it as I am doing five other things. I do it while I am driving, or while I am sitting at work, or as I am drifting off to sleep.
Those are not wrong, they are still prayers. They are more like a snack prayer. They are not the devoted, alert, focused prayers Paul is talking about. Our diet isn’t healthy if we live on snacks alone. Our prayer life isn’t either.
My prayers are filled with thankfulness. I am not always sure they come from a thankful heart though. I have to check myself sometimes, to make sure that I am not just filling them with thank you’s. That I am not just following some formula. Praise God, be thankful, present petitions. Not the mimicking heart I talked about with Bella and the bubbles. I say thankful things you give me what I asked for.
Paul also asked the church to pray for them, he says pray God will give us MANY opportunities to share the good news. Do I pray for that? On occasion I have prayed God send someone across my path today that I can tell about you. But I am sure I have never thrown in the word many.
Then my favorite Paul says pray that I will proclaim this message as clearly as I should. Paul the great evangelist prayed, let me present your message clearly. Part of why I am reluctant to speak up sometimes is because I am afraid I won’t be clear. I love to write, because I can think before I put the words down. When I speak I talk faster than my brain thinks, and sometimes it comes out in a ramble of things, things that are confusing and don’t make sense. I haven’t prayed about that, that God would make my message clear.
Paul wraps it up by saying. Live wisely around the world, make the most of every opportunity; it probably won’t come again. Let you conversations be gracious, so that you will have the right response to everyone. If I am gracious and kind in all my conversations, I won’t have to worry if I said something that will hurt someone’s feelings or offend someone. Remember the old saying “you catch more flies with honey than vinegar”. If you speak kindly to people they are more likely to listen to what you have to say.
God Today let me pray without distractions, with a sincere and grateful heart. I will come in contact with many people today, there will be many opportunities, let me be courteous, and obedient in them. Let my words be clear in proclaiming your message. Let my conversations be kind and gracious to all those around me today. Amen
I have been reading in Colossians, did you know there was a villain, a model, and a cowboy in Chapter 3? There is a lot in that chapter but as I read, I noticed how many picture words there are. Words that when I read them, a picture automatically comes to my mind. I don’t know if Paul was that descriptive, or just the version of the Bible I am reading.
In this chapter he talks about setting your sights on heaven. Concentrate on heaven and not this earth. We are no longer of this world. When Christ returns he will take us home. I recently heard this phrase, I am a citizen of heaven, and a resident of earth. When my Grandma lived in the nursing home they called the people there residents. They weren’t staying there forever, it wasn’t really their home, they were just passing through for a season. Earth is not my home, I am only passing through for this season called life on earth. And this season is such a vapor in time, such an unimportant vapor in relation to eternity.
Paul goes on to say put to death the sinful things lurking in you. When I see that word lurking, I think of someone hanging around outside your home or outside a place of business. They are dressed in dark clothes, with a hoodie covering their head. Kind of just sneaking around waiting for a way to get in. That is what my sinful thoughts and desires do, they lurk around waiting for an opportunity to sneak into my heart. Waiting for me to let my guard down and leave a door unlocked.
I wish Paul expanded more on how to put our sinful things to death. A quick death anyway, mine tend to want to die slow. Like a long, slow death scene in an old cowboy movie. Where you think the villain is gone but he takes one last breathe or two or three. Some of my sinful ways want that long drawn out death scene. They are shooting for an Oscar award. I want them to be dead and done.
Then Paul has a lists of things we should stay away from, sexual immorality, lust and evil desires, anger, rage, malicious behavior, slander, dirty language, and lying. He says stay away from these and put on your new nature, as you begin to know God and become like him, model him.
I picture a little girl, or really any of us girls. We put on a new outfit that we think looks good, and feels really good. We model in the mirror, we are confident, we turn around and check it out from all sides, and we feel good, we feel comfortable. That’s the way it should be as we begin to model Christ. We should be confident in him, we should begin to be comfortable in doing the things he does.
Paul says, in this new life it doesn’t matter what color our skin is, the size of our bank account, the job we do, or the people we come from. Christ is all that matters, and he lives in all of us, who know him. Today is a good day to start day one-to start living in your new nature.