PRAYERS IN THE POOP....sorry
Last Weekend: My day began innocent enough, taking my daughter to the National Mill Dog Rescue to volunteer, to nurture her passions and to be a driver. After a few minutes of standing around in support of Victoria, I was instructed by a very energetic leader at the Dog Rescue center to clean the cages. OK, no big deal, I already smelled like dog from head to toe, but, ooohhhh, she wanted me to get into the cages where the dogs go to the bathroom and clean with a towel and pressure washer. Thank God someone else was doing the "picking up", but now I was doing the clean it off and wipe it down part. Some cages were OK, some, well, not so much.
Unlikely Place to Pray: While going from cage to cage, I did have more and more compassion on the dogs. They are taken from puppy mills where they were neglected, abused and caged in terrible conditions. They end up with health and social issues, which can be evidenced by the way they react to the change in environment, food, meds and human interaction. The cages sometimes tell the story, enough said, right... At this point, the smell was giving me a head ache, I needed a Mountain Dew and fresh air, which helped some, but after entering the cages again, I felt led to pray. Pray for the dogs, I think not, I didn't have that much compassion for them, they are dogs, after all. But, to pray for the humans. I just asked the Spirit of God to pray through me, so I prayed for every human who would ever enter that cage, and the leaders of the organization and the volunteers to work so hard. Then I began to pray for my daughters who were leaving to go to another country that weekend, for a mission trip no doubt. Then, I prayed for my wife and daughter who were there with me. I prayed for land to move my family to so we could have more freedom to have animals and such, then I just prayed for random things that came to me. In the end, I prayed, worked hard with excellence and came out smelling...well, still like dog.
Pray Everywhere: R.A. Torrey wrote a little book called "How to Pray". He says that "...prayer...is the richest fulfillment in the Christian life". He shares about how Jesus prayed in the morning, during the nights sometimes and before a crisis. He also prayed after a crisis resulted in a victory, before or during times of busyness and before and during times of temptation. The idea of "Abiding in Christ" that Paul also wrote about in the New Testament leads us to believe there really isn't anywhere or anytime when prayer is not appropriate, or even necessary. Torrey begins his book saying, "you have not because you ask not" then goes on to share many reasons why prayer is important. I would add that my experience has been that God wants to give, bless, protect, comfort, equip and guide us in every circumstance, according to his Word. He wants us to pray continually, constantly, sleeplessly, passionately and directly to Him and only Him through the Name of Jesus and to do it in Faith. When we make this our practice, like breathing, we begin to realize, there is no where too stinky, too trivial and too obscure to approach our King in Heaven with prayers and petitions, with thanksgiving and to see miracles take place right before our eyes.
Pray, just Pray....
Friday, January 27, 2012
THE DAY IS NOT OVER
(Red Letter Revelations)
I thought today was over. It is the 26th of January, a day I take to focus on my personal growth and development. Each month, on the 26th day, I remember my birthday, which is October 26th, not to spend the day thinking about me or celebrating me, but to remember that I am still a man who needs intentional work to become the man I will someday be. So, today, I spent time, reflecting, honestly, about my life, love and labor. Some of it needs adjustment, some of it I just don't know about. I met with a brother in Christ, a fellow Pastor today, which usually brings accountability, encouragement or other means of "iron sharpening iron". Then I spent time with my son, who should be a reflection of me, and my wife, who also shares things that are important to my growth. I thought my day was over about 2 hours ago, but it isn't.
The more I learn, the more I realize I need to learn. Today, and I'm saying that, knowing it is actually tomorrow at 1:31 in the morning, there are several words that are keeping me up.
The first is again, the more I learn, the more I realize I need to learn. The more diligent I am to seek wisdom, truth, and knowledge, the more I realize I need wisdom, truth, and knowledge. And the more I seek holiness, righteousness and power, the more I realize I simply need to seek them more. Till God has all of me, there is always more of me to give.
Another striking word, that came from my conversation with the pastor friend, is that sometimes pride is not thinking so much of myself, but that I think of myself so much. In pursuit of true humility, I do believe, one test is not only how high I think of myself, but how often. Could I go an entire day where I only think of others? A day where I serve, give, help and love outwardly so intently and intensely that I lay my head down at night having not focused on my selfish needs, not even once. I'm sure I don't even know what that looks like yet, but I can sure understand the need and understand that true humility will be measured in both ways.
Another word rattling in my tired head is, TODAY. Today matters, says John Maxwell. He says, "The secret of your success is determined by your daily agenda." In his book, Today Matters, he talks about the values we can employ today in order to get the most out of it. One of them is Family. He says this provides stability. OK, I see that and believe it. I work on family with daily conviction and have done pretty well, considering. Another one is Priorities. He says, "Today's Priorities gives me FOCUS." Now that is a great reminder for me, someone who probably when undiagnosed as an ADD or ADHD kid. Basically, we put our hands to the things, each day, that we value the most. We may not say we value them, but we exalt them to a place of value by giving them a choice and giving them time. When I work the formula of Choice + Time + Effort, that equals my chosen priority, therefor, my focus. At the end of the day I can look back and see if I made the right choice. Did I really want to give my time and effort to that? And boy, if we miss the chance to focus on the right priorities or to establish the right priorities to focus on, guess what's next..........tomorrow.
Lastly, a word from Holy Scripture. As I reflected today on my role in the Kingdom of God, the Church of God and Family of God, I slipped into meditation on the New Testament accounts of the life and ministry of Jesus. The red letters of the Gospels record and reflect the words of the man God came to be, Jesus. They tell us what he said and did while on earth. They demonstrate what a man on a mission looks like. He is very clear about NOT coming to preach the Law of the Old Covenant, but to fulfill the Law with a New Covenant, one sealed and signed in his own blood. His life demonstrated a life that is "others focused", his words taught the same. It occurred to me after reading the "greatest commandment" of Matthew 22, the "as you go" instructions to the disciples in Matthew 10 and the "beatitudes" of Matthew chapter 5, that he taught us to live life "ON A MISSION". He was "on a mission" as he led the disciples "on a mission" and taught that all of life was about intentionally loving God and loving others. He, furthermore, sent the disciples out on what we call the "Great Commission" as recorded in Matthew 28 and Mark 16. In Acts 1:8 we also see instructions to the disciples to wait for the power of the Holy Spirit so they can in turn "be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth." It made me think of a ship or a plane. Sometimes a great vessel can be "commissioned" to a certain cause or purpose. A solder can be "commissioned" to a certain assignment or task. When an ambassador is chose to represent America to another country, it is his commission to do so. So, it may be semantics or word-play, but the difference between living a life "on a mission" the way Christ taught and being "commissioned" by the "great commission" as popular Christianity interprets Matthew 28 is significant to me. What I happen to see in the comparison is this. My call to Christianity is to "BE" on a mission everyday. To love God and love my neighbor. My call to "TAKE" Christianity to the world is to "GO" tell others about loving God and loving their neighbor. So, there is the Mission I am on every day, then, the fact that God has Commissioned me to take that Mission on the road, so to speak. I guess at the end of the day, the revelation for me is, I'm a Missionary.
As I learn more, I realize I have so much more to learn about my priorities and focus, through true humility, on the Mission and Commission I am called to live out here at home and around the World.
How about you?