Archive for March, 2010

God’s Son Was a Missionary

Writing to his brother, Charles, David Livingstone said . . .

God Had An Only Son

Is it unreasonable to think that all Christ followers could live this way?

Grace and Peace,

Tiny Distractions

It has been more than 35 years since my friend Lonnie introduced me to the writing of C.S. Lewis. Many of you are most familiar with his works of fiction; The Chronicles of Narnia, The Screwtape Letters and The Space Trilogy.

In the late 1930’s Lewis determined that God would have him answer all his mail. At one point, rising an hour or so before others in the home, he was replying to over 100 letters every month. Each letter was meticulously handwritten and personal in direct response to a query.

On March 31, 1958 he wrote a letter to Mary Willis Shelbourne which is published in Letters to an American Lady.

“We all go through periods of dryness in our prayers, don’t we?

I doubt…whether they are necessarily a bad symptom. I sometimes suspect that what we feel to be our best prayers are really our worst; that what we are enjoying is the satisfaction of apparent success, as in executing a dance or reciting a poem.

Do our prayers sometimes go wrong because we insist on trying to talk to God when He wants to talk with us. Joy tells me that once, years ago, she was haunted one morning by a feeling that God wanted something of her, a persistent pressure like the nag of a neglected duty. And till mid-morning she kept on wondering what it was. But the moment she stopped worrying, the answer came through as plain as a spoken voice. It was, “I don’t want you to do anything. I want to give you something”; and immediately her heart was peace and delight.

St. Augustine says, ‘God gives where He finds empty hands.’ A man whose hands are full of parcels can’t receive a gift. Perhaps these parcels are not always sins or earthly cares, but sometimes our own fussy attempts to worship Him in our way.

Incidentally, what most often interrupts my own prayers is not great distractions but tiny ones—things one will have to do or avoid in the course of the next hour.”

Letters to an American Lady p. 73

I really identify with several lines in this letter. . .

  • periods of dryness in our prayers…
  • our own fussy attempts to worship Him in our way…
  • what most often interrupts my own prayers is not great distractions but tiny ones…

The prayer retreat helped me deal with all three items, especially the tiny distractions – those “things I have to do or avoid in the course of the next hour.” That’s why 30 hours without talking on the phone, texting, emailing, etc. was so meaningful to me.

We all need to find deliverance from those tiny distractions.

Whether it be at a retreat with friends, a personal escape to a solitary place or simply a quiet room, spend some time away from those things that hinder your conversation with the Father.

Grace and Peace,

Join the Conversation: Where do you find deliverance from the tiny distractions of life that keep you from pray

The Family that Retreats Together

Our prayer retreat was a family retreat. Sometimes the children romped and played children’s games with one another but we also did a lot of things intergenerationally. We ate together, sang together, told stories together, played board games together, studied the Bible together and prayed together.

Doing things together.

I got to spend some time in conversion with Joelle and P.J. during dinner on Saturday evening. Joelle and I talked about her favorite subjects and her 2nd grade friends.  She told me about a close friend who was going to move because her dad was looking for a new job. Her mom and dad also joined in the conversation.

Around the campfire we shared some great stories. We did not limit our singing to fun songs with motions and actions. The children sang along with us in praise and worship.

David was bold and slept in his tent with four boys, preschool to age 12.

Several adults and the children played board games together. Their laughter was contagious and heart warming.

Studying God’s Word Together

One of the most rewarding things for me was the intergenerational nature of our Bible study on Saturday afternoon. We examined the prayer life of Jesus form the gospels. We were divided into two groups and the children were grouped with their parents. They read scripture and asked and answered questions. We did not “dumb” down the study time but simply included them in the conversation about the times and manner of the Jesus’ prayer life.

We need to remember that Jesus’ parents found him, at age 12, in the temple sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking questions. (Luke 2:46-52)

Don’t take your children for granted and don’t send them off to a back room to watch a video. Sit down and talk with them. Play a game with them. Study God’s Word with them. Pray with them.

Father, help us understand that corporate prayer means intergenerational prayer.

Grace and Peace,

Join the conversation: What are some ways we can be more intergenerational in our church gatherings?

6 Reflections From Our Prayer Retreat

Camping in the rainI had a great experience at the prayer retreat last weekend. Let me share 6 things that touched my life.

1. Conversation with friends

There’s just something about a good cup of coffee and good conversation. The relaxed schedule offered many opportunities to sit and talk with friends. We shared stories from our past and expressed hopes for our tomorrows.

2. Flying a kite

Friday was a beautiful day with enough wind to get my kite aloft. Lying on the ground looking up at the blue sky and feeling the kite tug at the string in my hand helped me spend some time with an old friend of mine.

3. Singing and telling stories around a campfire

We took advantage of the pretty weather on Friday night and had a campfire. It was great singing those old camp songs like Little Cabin in the Woods and Kumbaya. We’ve also got some good story tellers in our group.

4. Sleeping in a tent with my wife

I don’t know how many times I have spent the night in a tent. It has always been something that I took for granted. I had never taken time to realize that Beth never got to camp out. I neglected to observe that it was something she had always wanted to do. I am  so glad that after 37 years of marriage we got to share that experience.

5. 30 hours with out . . .

The retreat afforded 30 hours without a phone, texting, messaging, email, computer . . . You get the picture.

6. Refreshing times of prayer

We had several stations of prayer based of the phrases of the Disciple’s Prayer. The schedule was relaxed giving us time to visit each station during the day on Saturday. Those times refreshed and renewed me – something I greatly needed.

Grace and Peace,

Join the conversation: Do you practice the life habit of retreating?

The Deer’s Cry

I like to read and pray Celtic prayers. Below is a video of a prayer attributed to St. Patrick set to music. I think you will be blessed with these thoughts so fill up your coffee cup, enjoy the beautiful images and meditate on the words of the prayer.

The Deer’s Cry

I arise today
Through the strength of heaven:
Light of sun,
Radiance of moon,
Splendour of fire,
Speed of lightning,
Swiftness of wind,
Depth of sea,
Stability of earth,
Firmness of rock.

I arise to-day
Through God’s strength to pilot me:
God’s eyes to look before me,
God’s wisdom to guide me,
God’s way to lie before me,
God’s shield to protect me,
From all who shall wish me ill,
Afar and anear,
Alone and in a multitude.

Against every cruel merciless power that may oppose my body and soul
Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me,
Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ on my right, Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down,
Christ when I sit down,
Christ when I arise,
Christ to shield me,
Christ in the heart of every one who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of every one who speaks of me.

I arise to-day

Grace and Peace,

A Time to Retreat

Occasionally we all need a break from the everyday activities of life. Because of the hectic pace of our lives we need to find times of retreat. A retreat is a period of time when you withdraw from the busyness and routine of life to commune with God.

This weekend I will be retreating with a group of friends to focus on prayer. We have been having a conversation about the Disciples Prayer [we’ve been calling it the Lord’s Template] in Matthew 6:9-13 for the past few weeks and we will continue that conversation over the weekend.

The apostles gathered around Jesus and reported to him all they had done and taught. Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.” Mark 6:30-31 NIV

If you are finding yourself feeling emotionally and spiritually empty you may need to get away for some spiritual renewal in some type of retreat either personal or communal.

Grace and Peace,