FULLY ALIVE!

Your life will be as bright as the noonday sun. Job 11:17


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Lord, Hear Our Cry

The National Day of Prayer is an annual observance held on the first Thursday of May, inviting people of all faiths to pray for the nation. It was created in 1952 by a joint resolution of the United States Congress, and signed into law by President Harry S. Truman.  So, as presidents have formally done every year since 1952, President Obama on today, Thursday, May 7, will issue a proclamation urging our country to “turn to God in prayer and meditation.”

No one can seriously question whether our country – our world –  needs prayer.  We are troubled and in trouble.  Just read the headlines or watch a little television as I did earlier today.  Within an hour I heard stories about teens committing suicide because of cyber bullying, women swindling money from unsuspecting men by purchasing fake pregnancy tests, celebrities posing in the nude, men scamming hundreds of thousands of dollars from senior women desperate for love, Syria continuing to use chemical weaponry and families searching for lost loved ones in Nepal.

But I have mixed feelings about this day.  I am not sure we need a National Day of Prayer any more than we need a Black History Month or a Veteran’s Day.  Some things, some people, some history as well as some practices, like praying, need to be a part of every day.  They need to be habit.   I am also skeptical in 2015 of the government’s involvement in prayer.  Yes, the day is part of our country’s heritage born from the first call to prayer in 1775, when the Continental Congress asked the colonies to pray for wisdom in forming a nation to the call to prayer by President Lincoln when he proclaimed of a day of “humiliation, fasting and prayer” in 1863.  Those days, those times and those prayers seemed different to me.  It seems there was a time when our country was led by those who truly believed in God, who consistently sought His guidance and faithfully asked Him for wisdom and direction.  Such was the case not just for our national leaders but also the leaders of our cities, towns, communities, schools and churches.  These days?  Not so much.

But according to the National Day of Prayer website, this day “has great significance for us as a nation as it enables us to recall and to teach the way in which our founding fathers sought the wisdom of God when faced with critical decisions. It stands as a call for us to humbly come before God, seeking His guidance for our leaders and His grace upon us as a people.”  This statement is how I have made peace with the day.  And the spirit of this statement is what I pray everyone will embrace – but not just for a day, for always and every day.

The web has been inundated with “model” and “sample” prayers shared for this special day.  These actually might be the first misstep.  Rather than recite a prayer scripted by someone else, I encourage you to embrace the theme of this year’s National Day of Prayer – “Lord, Hear Our Cry.”  Cry out before the Lord sharing what is in your heart.  Don’t worry about the “right” words, embrace the right attitudes – humility and gratitude.  Don’t fret about the “right” posture, pray as the Holy Spirit leads you – standing, sitting, opened eyes, closed eyes, prostrate on the floor.  The theme is not, ‘Lord, Look at Me,’ but rather, “Lord, Hear Our Cry.”

Matthew 6:7 (ESV) reminds us, ““And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words.”  On this National Day of Prayer, pray freely.  Pray openly.  Pray passionately.  Pray from the heart, and know that “When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears and delivers them out of all their troubles” (Psalm 34:17, ESV).


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Defining God

My head hurts.

I think it has something to do with my homework that is due Tuesday. Here’s the assignment.

“Develop a personal Definition of God and the Person of Jesus Christ (deity and humanity).  Your formal Definition brings together the various elements of Trinitarian theism into coherent concepts of God and Christ. Specifically, the Doctrinal Statement should define the names and attributes of God, and especially the Trinity—the Father, Son (including the incarnation and two natures), Holy Spirit, and the Trinitarian relations. The one-page statement is to be your definition or credo (I believe…), not an exposition, argument, or apologetic.” (There’s more.  I’m sharing a shortened version so your head won’t hurt, too.)

Aside from the fact that I struggle with the Turabian Style Guide (I was raised on APA) and the fact that I just had two huge quizzes and face another this week as well as having to write another paper for another class, this is a LOT to think about. A personal Definition of God.

Hmmm…

God implores us to “be still, and know” that he is God (Psalm 46:10).  I’ve spent a lot of time this weekend being still. I’ve read Scripture. I’ve listened to archived sermons from my pastor. I’ve read countless articles. I’ve sat just pondering all that I read and heard.

And while I must complete this assignment, or accept that a zero will be calculated as 20% of my final grade, I’ve come to the conclusion that God is not so much to be defined on paper by penning lists of His qualities and attributes – omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent… or even by listing His names – Elohim, El Shaddai, El Olam, El Elyon…

“Be still, and know.”

Know is the word that strikes me. There are different ways of knowing.  When I was a school principal, I always told teachers that they need to know their students as students but also as people. There is intellectual or factual knowing or, as the German say, “wissen” and the Latin and Italian “sapere.” This is knowing that is general, abstract and rather easily put into words like a student’s reading test score or knowing the answer to a math problem. But there is also individual, particular and often hard to articulate knowing that comes through relationships and experience. The German call this “kennen” and the Latin distinguish it as “cognoscere.”

I believe God desires us to have “head knowledge” – “wissen” and “sapere” about Him. He would have us study the Scriptures, know His names and know the works that He has done. But when His word tells us to “be still, and know,” I believe He means for us to know Him in true relationship and personal experience – “kennen” and “cognoscere.” And when you really stop and think about it, isn’t that awesome? That He desires us to know Him this way, at this level?

The King of Kings’ the Lord of Lords; the one true, living God wants to know you and wants you to know Him. Just think about trying to walk up to Queen Elizabeth, Xi Jinping (President of China), Vladimir Putin (President of Russia) or Barack Obama (President of the United States), introduce yourself and get to know them at a personal level? Probably ain’t going to happen. You’d have to try to navigate all kinds of red tape, background checks and Secret Service. And the key word is “try” because you’d probably never get through it all.

But God who is greater than these, wants you to know Him, to have a personal and intimate relationship with Him, to spend time with Him. Acts 17:27 (NASB) says God desires that we might “grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us.” He wants us to be in relationship with Him such that He has not hidden Himself away behind walls, bars, armed guards, bureaucracy or Secret Service.

God desires to build a unique intimate and personal relationship with each of His followers so that He may reveal more of Himself to each – truth by truth – as that knowledge is needed.

Who is God?

Be still, and get to know Him for yourself. Some possible resources for you follow. I’ve got to get back to that paper! (But I’d love to hear who YOU think He is.  Share your comments!)

RESOURCES

How to Know God

http://www.insight.org/resources/topics/how-to-know-god/

How to Know God Personally

http://www.cru.org/how-to-know-god/would-you-like-to-know-god-personally.html

How Can I Get to Know God Better?

http://www.intouch.org/you/all-things-are-new/content/topic/how_can_i_get_to_know_god_better_all_things

How Can I Deepen My Relationship with God?

http://www.intouch.org/you/all-things-are-new/content/topic/how_can_i_deepen_my_relationship_with_god_all_things