Election Day prayers

So, I can’t wear my shirt today to the polls…so I thought I’d “wear” it here today…I know alot of people that have already voted. Have you voted already? Are you going today? In years past I have never had to wait to vote more than maybe 10-15 minutes…so I wanted to take my kids with me today. They have learned alot about the election and the candidates over the past 2 weeks and are excited to go with me! (and well, they are excited to go to walmart too.) :(

So, anyway…make sure you get out and VOTE today!

I have been praying for our country…and must confess that I haven’t really known how to pray for this election. But, thankfully I’ve been getting those emails in my box with the 40 days to pray the election…here is today’s prayer. Please join me in praying for our country today!

Going a little farther, He fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as You will.”
–Matthew 26:39

Sovereign God, Your plans are perfect and Your ways are right and just. You put Your plans in place and we see the beauty of all You have designed. We trust in Your perfect will, even when it does not make sense to us.

O Lord, bring about Your perfect will in our nation through these elections, we pray. Do just as You intend and give us faith and understanding to relinquish our wills to Yours, just as Your Son Jesus did when He surrendered His life for our sin. We thank You for Your goodness, and for Your kindness to us and our nation. In Your name, Amen.

Mean what you sing

Can you remember the songs that you sang this morning at church? Can you remember the words? Being a musical person, I love songs with meaning. I mean, I like a *pretty* song, but the songs that mean the most to me are those that have words that touch a place in my heart that the Lord has worked on. You know, like…

Amazing grace, my chains are GONE…

Great is thy faithfulness…morning by morning new mercies I see…

My Jesus, My Savior, Lord there is none like You…

He gives and takes away…my heart will choose to say, blessed be Your name!

Then sings my soul…how great Thou art…

Oh no, You never let go, Lord you never let go of me!

I could go on and on…and I’m sure you could name a few of your favorites. But, when is the last time you sang those songs with a heart so full you just felt like you would burst? When was the last time you sang those words with a heart so thankful that tears streamed down your face? I pray that the last time was this morning or even this evening! But, if not, I challenge you to take a few minutes the next time you hear a song and truly listen to those words.

And if, by chance, you don’t like the sound of the song, perhaps you can still find meaning in the words. Perhaps you can still find a reason to praise Him, because truly He is worthy. Despite our favorite worship style; despite the problems we see all around us…HE IS WORTHY. Amen.

Why do I say all this? Well, this morning (at our Southern Baptist church, by the way) our service opened with this song.

Folks, this is an upbeat song. I saw 1-2 people even half-dancing. (You know the kind that are bursting at the seams but afraid to um, dance in a Baptist church!) The lights and spotlights were swirling around the sanctuary. I’ll just tell you, I was excited.

You see, the words to this song make me want to cry. No, this isn’t one of those really “sappy” songs that brings tears to your eyes because of the way it sounds. And, I guess I could say that not too many people in our congregation seemed impressed. (at least by outward appearance.) But, as for me, I wanted to jump up and shout Hallelujah. (but, I didn’t. Maybe I should have!)

I just wanted to say…THANK YOU Jesus that my shackles are GONE. Thank you that I am free in You and because of YOU. I am no longer bound by sin. Thank You that You have freed me to praise You.

I would not have even thought about blogging on this topic (or song) had I not been working on my Beth Moore study tonight with this song still on the brain. We are finishing up Beth Moore’s Psalms of Ascent this week and I was working on some of the study. (as an aside, if you get the chance to do this study, I suggest you jump on it!)

Tonight my study was on Psalm 134.

Now praise the Lord, all you servants of the Lord who stand in the Lord’s house at night!

Lift up your hands in the holy place, and praise the Lord!

May the Lord, Maker of heaven and earth, bless you from Zion.

Beth asks us to recall the first word in this psalm: NOW. Beth goes on to say that we shouldn’t dwell on the journey, the people who made us mad earlier, the style of worship that we don’t care for…but do what we were made for: worship. She goes on to say; “Worship has endless side effects in the life of the everyday psalmist. Among them, it exalts God to the highest place, thereby relieving the sojourner of the backbreaking burden of ego. It defeats our enemy. It answers grace with gratitude. And it ends in joy.” She also reminds us that the tempter tempts you to praise God the LEAST when you need it the MOST.

Ouch. I feel just a bit of conviction as I think about the distractions I feel in worship from time to time. And how much like the enemy to get us not praising when that is not only what brings God the glory, but is often what we need the most to get our heart in the right place!

Just a few thoughts tonight from an everyday psalmist…that’s you and me you know! Worshipers! It’s what we were created for…and I hope that when you read this you will be reminded to mean what you sing.

Struggling with Compassion

“When He saw the crowds He had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.” Matthew 9:36

“When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, He had compassion on them and healed their sick.” Matthew 14:14

“Jesus called His disciples to him and said, ‘I have compassion for these people…” Matthew 15:32

“Jesus had compassion on them and touched their eyes…” Matthew 20:34

“Filled with compassion, Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man.” Mark 1:41

Have you ever noticed how much compassion Jesus had? And who exactly did He have compassion for? The sick, the hurting, the poor, the “lowly” things of this earth. Jesus didn’t come to the world to identify with the rich, those who have it all together. He entered the world as a lowly, poor pauper. One of those people. Born in a stable. A king?

In Matthew 25:40 Jesus said, “whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was me – you did it to me.”

I’m reading a book called The Red Letters ~ Living a Life that Bleeds by Tom Davis. And quite honestly, I can hardly get through it. Not because it is bad writing or not not interesting enough. But because about a year ago (maybe even more time than that, I’m having a hard time pinpointing when I started having these thoughts and feelings) God began working in my heart in a new way. The only way I can sum up my feelings are to say that I have become uncomfortable with being comfortable. And let’s face it, we are pretty darn comfortable here in America.

This book challenges us as believers…believers in Jesus…to ask ourselves if we are truly living out the words Jesus Himself gave to us…you know, the “red letters?”

“What if all Christ-followers lived the Red Letter words in the Bible – Jesus’ words? what if we offered the hungry something to eat, gave one of our many coats to someone who was cold, and truly loved all neighbors as ourselves? How radically different would our lives be? How different would our world be if Christians were really living as little Christs?” (from The Red Letter.)

I am going to risk offending someone that is reading by sharing this…but one of the things I struggle with the most is our church. And not just the one church I attend…but the american “church” I guess to take it further.

Yes, we have our pretty programs where we bring in a measly shoebox filled with maybe $5 worth of stuff to send to a poor child once a year. (or maybe we even do 2-3 boxes! Yay for me!) We take our old, worn-out clothing to the local ministry drop-off place. We give money to the church. Sometimes we even give money to other organizations, organizations that do wonderful things, don’t get me wrong. Maybe we even give an hour or two of our week each week to teach a lesson or keep the nursery.

Then, we walk out the church doors and get back to “life” as we know it. Busy schedules, carpool rides, going to ballet, fixing dinner, paying the bills, doctors appointments, dentist appointments, schooling the kids (or taking them to school) and the list goes on. And on. And on.

We paid our tithe, though! We are good Christians!

I struggle with the wealth of our churches. I mean it keeps me awake at night. I say this not to brag that I am some super-spiritual person. I’m not. I say this to ask you to pray for me. I can easily become critical when I dwell on the negative things! Pray that I will have God’s perspective…I want that so badly! I want His vision. Because quite honestly, I am a little (ok maybe alot) disheartened by the thousands of dollars our church body is spending just to advertise for our building fund. Now, don’t get me wrong, if we need a new sanctuary (big if, there) that really is not the point I am disheartened by. What bothers me is that they send us a new fancy folder, bumper sticker, pens, key chains in the mail…this week I walked into the church and now they have t-shirts —- all for the building program! I am too scared to look at the budget and see how much money we have spent just trying to raise money for a building.

See what I mean, I don’t like feeling this way. I don’t like the negative and critical thoughts. But I am laying them all out there for you…honestly, I’d love to hear the perspective of other believers.

Given my personality, I know that I have a tendency to dwell on the negative. I have learned that about myself. And believe me when I say that I see a LOT of good things that my church is doing! truly! But I can’t get past all the money stuff. I can’t get past the child across the world that is dying without a .20 medication that he doesn’t have. And we need an 18 million dollar sanctuary.

I struggle with the orphans all over the world, our country included. I struggle with those who can’t feed their children, while I buy an ice cream treat on the way home from Sonic. I struggle with those who don’t have a roof over my head while I’m busy thinking about my friends with bigger and more beautiful homes. I struggle with not wanting to just sell my house and move across the world to live where I feel like I can actually do something. I know there are so many acts of service I can be doing right here. I just feel so helpless. I feel so burdened. I feel so rich.

I hope you hear my heart in this. I’m just struggling. I’m not trying to be critical. I’m just trying to hear God’s voice. I am begging that He would tell me what He is asking of me. I’m begging for His vision for my life. I’m wondering why He is giving me these burdens. What He is trying to tell me. What He wants from me. I want to be filled with that compassion that He has for me. I want to be filled with that compassion that He has for those around the world who don’t have anything. I want to be filled with Him and His love for the world around me.

“The Lord is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love. the Lord is good to all; he has compassion on all he has made.” Psalm 145:8

More thoughts after Alaska

I have had so many thoughts swirling around in my head (I know, what is new?) and I haven’t quite known how to put some of it into words. But, I want to try. I also want to say from the start that I do hope and pray none of what I’mfeeling makes anyone else feel less. It is not my intention to make anyone feel badly…these are just things the Lord is laying on my heart. I have wanted to get these feelings out there because I want to hear from others…am I off base? Do you agree? Disagree?

Over the past year, David and I have both sensed the Lord nudging us to come out of our comfort zones. We have been feeling convicted of living too comfortably, in a lot of ways. I think part of these convictions led us to go on this mission trip to Alaska. We felt like the Lord dropped it into our laps and said…GO.

Now that we are back, the feelings are even stronger…the feelings of having the “easy life” as a Christian. I don’t mean that life is easy…you all know how I have struggled over the past 2 years with simply being a mom and wife! But, our lives as Christians here in the Bible belt are significantly “easier” to live. Meaning, we don’t have doors shutting in our faces…quite as often anyway! We don’t have people rudely answering NO when we mention that we are having VBS at church. In fact, generally speaking, we can speak about Jesus to our friends and neighbors without too much negativity. (Note, this is not to say that they are all Christians by any means! But that “religion” is very accepted and “ok” here.)

On the other hand, in Alaska, 95% of the population is lost. Not only that, but they don’t attend church either. In the Bible belt you may have a pretty good percentage of lost people, but I’m willing to bet that of those lost people, at least half of them attend church at some point.

Another aspect to the “easy life” is the amount of people we have. I struggled with feeling guilty and spoiled coming back to my big church in TN. I look across the sanctuary and see ten, twenty if not more men there that could at anytime get up and preach a message or give the gospel presentation from the pulpit. In Alaska the state missionaries have a list of villages with NO CHURCHES…a list of churches with NO STAFF…a list of places that want churches with NO WILLING PEOPLE. And folks, this list is rather long.

I looked around our sanctuary and saw how blessed we are with talent. (I notice the music because that is my gifting.) We have a choir and band made up of instrumentalists, back-up instrumentalists, instrumentalist who don’t want to play every week, vocalists, praise band rotations, the list goes on. In Alaska, one of the churches we ministered to had been without anyone to help with music in a year, I think.

These are just 2 examples. The list goes on.

My struggle is this…why are so many of us HERE where it is comfortable, easy and we aren’t “needed” when the need around the world is staggering. Why are we sitting on the pew hoping they won’t call us for nursery duty, when children around the world don’t have anyone to share with them the love of Jesus? Why are we showing up late to church on Sundays hoping they won’t ask us to usher when in other parts of the world they are struggling to keep the church doors open? Why are we sitting in our comfortable pews being spoon fed each and every week when fellow brothers and sisters around the world don’t even have Bibles to read of their own?

(press pause on the music on the sidebar before you listen to this song.)

Since coming home from Alaska

I wonder…

Do the boys at the orphanage know the love of Jesus?

Do the boys at the orphanage know that we truly love them.?

Will the Lord send someone (soon) to walk alongside these boys and disciple and encourage them?

Were the seeds firmly planted in the children at VBS?

Who will help water them?

Do the pastors of the 2 churches we were at know we are praying for them?

Will God open more hearts in Alaska?

Will He send more of His people into the darkness? Soon?

Will the outermost villages ever see the Light of Christ fill their villages?

Will the suicide rate go down before Jesus comes back?

Will the LIGHT overtake the DARKNESS that is there?

Did those we came into contact with see Jesus in us?

Did Mark, Ricky, and Barry from the food bank hear the love of Jesus in our words?

Who will go?

The Lord is my LIGHT and my SALVATION…whom shall I fear?

Psalm 27:1