FULLY ALIVE!

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


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Lord, You Said

Think your kids are too young to understand your grown-up conversations? Think again. They not only hear what you are saying, they will repeat it – often at the worse time possible (like in front of your mother-in-law or at school). And very often, they repeat your own words to you.

“Mom, you said…”

“Dad, you promised…”

While moms and dads sometimes have selective amnesia failing to remember what they said or promised, there is nothing God loves more than keeping His promises. He waits for us to take Him at His word – His word which contains literally thousands of promises waiting to be claimed in faith. Promises like Psalm 50:15 – “Call upon Me in the day of trouble; I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify Me” and like 1 Corinthians 10:13 – “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.”

God stands ready and waiting for you to ask Him about Isaiah 40:29 (“He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might He increaseth strength.”) and Isaiah 54:17 “No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper; and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and their righteousness is of me, saith the Lord.”) And when we stand on His word, He stands by His word, faithful to keep every promise. You have to claim them. You have to know them. You have but to say, “Lord, you said…”

THIS WEEK search the Scriptures for God’s promises. Which do you need to claim? Pray them keeping in mind Psalm 84:11 (“No good thing does He withhold from those who walk uprightly.”) Praying is standing on the promises of God. If you take God at His word, you will experience the joy of knowing that He keeps His word.

You Said (Hillsong)                                                                                                                                                      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OEpaG4VlBcA

Standing on the Promises of God  


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Television 8; Prayer 1

Yesterday I watched 8 hours of television.  I watched until the cable box automatically shut down to go into power save mode  Even the cable company couldn’t believe someone would be actually watching television that long!

Yesterday I prayed 1 hour.

The Daily News says, “The average American watches more than five hours of live television every day.  More if you’re African American. Quite a bit more. Less if you’re Hispanic or Asian American, but not that much less.  For all ethnic groups, TV viewing time increases steadily as we get older, according to the March 2014 “Cross-Platform Report” released by the Nielsen media ratings company.  Once we pass 65, we watch more than seven hours a day.”

The American Time Use Survey says that Americans spend on average 2 to 17 minutes each day on “religious activity.”  In my home state, North Carolina, the average is 11 minutes per day.

I guess I could tell myself that I am “above average,” for a North Carolinian and for a Southerner.  The Survey notes, “Southerners are more likely to say religion is “very important” in their lives than people from any other region, so it’s no surprise that they report spending more time per day on religious activities.”

But I cannot make peace with these numbers.

Why don’t we pray?

The most popular excuse is time.  We don’t have time.  Well, I watched 8 hours of television.  Trust me, it was not life-altering, mind-enriching, world-changing television.  And I’ll wager that what you watch is not either.  Mine was more of the home decorating, new cooking techniques, travel to an exotic land variety with a sprinkling of good health and diet suggestions.  The truth of the matter, we have time.

The second most popular excuse is that it’s really not necessary.  Really?  Think of the many examples in the Scriptures when victory came through prayer – and when defeat came because of a lack of prayer.  Two contrasting examples – (1) Elijah praying that it would not rain (and it did not for 3 1/2 years) and then his prayer for rain (and the sky poured causing the earth to produce fruit) and (2) the defeat of the Israelite army when they fought against the city of Ai.  Confident in themselves, they did not pray or consult the Lord before going into battle.  They were bold.  They were self-centered.  They were defeated.  (See 1 Kings 17-19 and Joshua 7.)

We know, too,  that while He was on earth, Jesus was faithful in spending vital time in prayer with the Father. Just as He sought time alone to talk with His Father, shouldn’t we?  Hebrews 5:7 reveals the passionate prayer life of our Lord. During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, He offered up prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears to the One who could save Him. The truth of the matter, we need to pray as Jesus prayed.

The third most popular excuse is that prayer does not make a difference.  Sure, if we think prayer is magic, it doesn’t make a difference.  Or if we think prayer is about presenting our shopping list or Christmas list to Santa God, it doesn’t make a difference.  If we think prayer is about us and our sole benefit, it doesn’t make a difference.  Finally, if we think prayer is about showing off – using fancy, 50-cent words and parading our theology before people, it doesn’t make a difference.

When we get that prayer is about a relationship with God, it makes a HUGE difference.  Prayer is talking with, spending time with, loving and worshipping our Holy Father.  Yes, we share our hearts and may make requests, but we also confess our faults, thank God for His love, praise Him for who He is, intercede for others and more.  And prayer is knowing that God hears us, loves us and will answer us.  The truth of the matter, prayer makes a difference. The difference is the relationship.  The difference is the peace.  The difference is the love.

Contrast this with television.

When I think about it, I don’t have time to watch that much television!  There are too many people hurting and too many people lost; I need to intercede.  There are too many shortcomings in my life; I need to confess.  There are too many blessings in my life; I need to worship and adore my God.

When I think about it, television is not that necessary.  Much of what I watch is pure entertainment.  Now, I am all for laughing.  I like learning new recipes and seeing new decorating ideas.  I like escaping to other worlds.  But none of that is essential to my survival, my success or my salvation.

When I think about it, television does not make a difference in my life.  Yes, I learn a little because, more often than not, I choose programs that will teach, but can I compare those to time spent with my Lord?  Think about your much-loved spouse, child or friend – would you rather spend time watching television or with them?  Now, I have some colleagues that regularly toss their spouses aside for episodes of Scandal or Monday Night Football, but I am confident that when the end comes, they will not be wishing for more time with television, that they had not missed that touchdown or that one episode.  They will be wishing they’d spent more time with the ones they loved and the ones that loved them.  And no one loves you more than the Father.

Am I planning to give up television?  That would be a, “No!”  But I am rethinking what I watch and how much time I spend watching.  I am also rethinking my prayer time.  My focus won’t be how many minutes and hours I can spend praying so that I can hold them up before the Lord and say, “See, Lord, television 2 hours; prayer 3.”  My focus will be about spending quality time engaged in necessary prayer talking to the One who loves me and who makes all the difference in my life!

THIS WEEK, evaluate how you are spending your time.  You may want to look at the American Time Use Survey Maps found at http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2014/06/20/ten-maps-that-show-how-much-time-americans-spend-grooming-eating-thinking-and-praying/.  Do you need to revisit your prayer time?  Craft a plan.  Understand that plans are as unique as the individuals that create them.  You may find one example at http://thecripplegate.com/a-sample-prayer-plan/.


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Didn’t You Hear Me, Lord?

For weeks I have been partnering with a dear friend, several fellow church members and a hurting mother in prayer for her son.  I don’t know the details just that he became suddenly ill and was airlifted to a hospital far away.  Regularly mom has texted updates; occasionally we have spoken by telephone, continually we have prayed.

We have prayed fervently.  We have prayed specifically. We have prayed the promises of the Scriptures.  We have prayed in our hearts and aloud; standing, sitting and on bended knee.  We have prayed believing.

This evening mom texted an update that was not good.  And for a brief flash of a moment, I questioned all that praying and all those prayers.  Doesn’t God see us?  Didn’t God hear us?  Why this response?

Likely you know instances where prayers for healing were offered and you did not witness healing.  Sometimes it even appears that the opposite happens – the condition worsens.  Perhaps you’ve had your own questions.  If you’ve experienced this, I suspect one of your questions might have been “Why?” followed by “Why bother?  Why bother to pray for healing?”

We pray for healing because our Heavenly Father wants us to be whole – in mind, spirit and body.  Whenever and wherever there is sickness, there is an opportunity for God to display His glory.  He will heal.  The struggle comes for us because God does not always move in our timing or in ways that we have imagined.  Whatever the illness, we have an image in our minds of what the healing will look like.  We also have an idea about when the healing should occur with our thoughts typically being, “No time like right now, God!”  We believe that if we believe, we pray and there should be an immediate response and that response should look like just what we asked for.  Instead of “Thy will be done,” we are, in truth, thinking more along the lines of “My will be done!”

Sometimes we fault ourselves when prayer appears to go unanswered.  The Scriptures instruct us,  “Ask, and it will be given unto you” (Matthew 7:7).  If we do not receive what we expect, we sometimes assume we have asked incorrectly.  Perhaps we did not pray long enough or hard enough or using the right words.  Surely we ought always to examine our hearts for doubt and unbelief any time God answers “No” to our prayers. We should ask Him to search our hearts and to reveal any areas of sin or any doubt that we might harbor – knowingly or unknowingly – and to help us deal appropriately with it; then we should continue to pray because not only is praying for healing a privilege, we are instructed to do so (Acts 20:28, James 5:13-20).  We are to pray with fervor and boldness.  We are to pray believing (John 14:14, Mark 9:23, Jeremiah 33:3, 1 John 5:14-15).  Sometimes we worry that if God doesn’t respond just as we have requested, it will appear as failure on our part.  But our job as believers is to take a hurting person’s needs to the Lord, to intercede on their behalf and to trust God. He will choose when and how to respond.

The truth that I know for sure is that some of the blessings Jesus purchased through His suffering on the cross will not be fully realized until we are in His presence one day.  Sometimes this includes healing.  Hebrews 11:6 says, “Those who come to God must believe that God is.”  That means that we not only believe that He can and will answer our prayers, we also trust His timing and that His response is the right response.  Always He will heal.  The healing may be immediate; it may be gradual or it may be ultimate – when we see Him face-to-face.

What, then, are we to do?  Take a cue from Luke 18:1 (CEB) – “[Jesus] told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not to turn coward (faint, lose heart, and give up).”

Didn’t God hear us?  Yes.  And He will answer.  He will heal.

Healer (Hillsong):  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q7M6nTV1tFs

By His Stripes We Are Healed (Esther Mui):  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ga3dVzhIzio

Who I Am? (Casting Crowns):  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VU_rTX23V7Q&list=PLB7455A80B9FBC9BF&index=74


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No Corns, No Pinching

Yesterday I spoke at a work-related event. It was risky, but I opened with a joke someone shared with me years ago. Risky because I’m not the best joke teller and because of the audience. But I told it anyway. It went like this:

It seems that a man, known to be a cheapskate, had gone to the tailor to have a suit made, but when the suit was finished and he went to try it on, it didn’t fit him at all.

He was greatly disappointed and complained to the tailor. It was a horrible fit.  The jacket was too big in back, the right arm was too long, one pant leg was too short and three buttons were missing!

“No problem,” said the tailor, ” this is an easy fix – just hunch your back, bend your arm, walk with a limp, and stick your fingers through the button holes and you’ll look just fine!  Nobody will ever notice.”

So the man, still upset but not wanting to upset the tailor, contorted his body to fit the suit and, even though he felt that he had been duped by the tailor, he left. He had not walked one block when he was approached by a stranger.

“Who made that amazing suit for you?” asked the stranger. “I’m in the market for a new suit myself.”

Surprised, actually shocked, but pleased at the compliment, the man directed the stranger to the tailor’s shop.

“Well, thanks very much,” said the stranger, hurrying off. “I do believe I’ll go to that tailor for my suit. He must be an absolute genius if he made a suit to fit you.”

Isn’t it astonishing how we will wear something that we KNOW does not fit?  There are many a corned toe that will attest to this.  It’s also probably why SPANX and Lipo-in-a-Box are multi-million dollar companies, and everyone else has sought to make knock-off versions of their products which make claims to “transform” your body, help you fit in a size smaller garment and look pounds thinner.

All day long we (especially us women) walk around trying to “fit” into something that simply does not “fit” us.  Remember Cinderella – all those women trying to fit a Size 10-looking foot into about a Size 5 slipper?

We try to “fit” into social groups.

We try to “fit” into workplace cliques.

We try to “fit” into love relationships.

We try to “fit” into careers.

We try to “fit” into age groups and mindsets and lifestyles.

We try to “fit” where we simply do not belong and have no place being.

Author and TED Talk speaker, Brene Brown, says, “Fitting in, I’ve discovered during the past decade of research, is assessing situations and groups of people, then twisting yourself into a human pretzel in order to get them to let you hang out with them.

A human pretzel.  Corns. Pinching. Ouch!  Don’t we realize how painful it is trying to “fit?”

Brown goes on to say,Many of us suffer from this split between who we are and who we present to the world in order to be accepted, but we’re not letting ourselves be known, and this kind of incongruent living is soul-sucking.”

I think the split is not just between who we are and who we present to the world but rather between who we are, who we present and who our Father has designed and called us to be.  God has called us collectively as His people and He has called us individually to specific roles and responsibilities.  Trying to “fit” into roles contrary to His calling is like slapping God in the face and telling Him that He doesn’t know what He is doing. Now, there’s an ouch for you!

Examples of how He has called us as His people are found throughout the Scriptures:

  • Matthew 11:28                      We are called from labor to rest.
  • Matthew 5:14, 1Peter 2:9     We are called out of darkness into light.
  • 1 John 3:14                           We are called from death to life.
  • 1 Corinthians 7:15                We are called out of turmoil into peace.
  • 1 Corinthians 1:9                  We are called from loneliness into the fellowship of Christ.
  • Galatians 5:13                       We are called from bondage to liberty.

God also extends to us a personal invitation to a unique and special task He planned just for us as individuals. Seek to know, understand and “fit” that plan. How? First, you must have a personal relationship with His son, Jesus Christ. (Click the tab SALVATION at the top of this page if you don’t have or don’t know how to have a relationship with Jesus.) If you already have a relationship with Christ, then seek to know His plan by praying, reading His word, meditating, seeking Godly counsel and, listening.

One size fits all is a lie about pantyhose and about most other things in life including God’s calling. He has a plan just for you, and when you walk in the way that He has called, you will find it to be a perfect fit – no corns and no pinching!