Call To Prayer / I have a question

Call To Prayer / I have a question

I have a question and look forward to reading your answers. I had another sleepless night and while I laid there trying to fall asleep I had this thought, ‘Why do we go to the alter for prayer at the close of a service?’ I don’t know why this thought came to me. Yes I was praying. I have a prayer board I made hanging next to my bed so when I cannot sleep I can pray for others. Then BANG! This thought just popped into my head. Why is it that we ask people to come to the front of the church with all eyes on them at the end of the service? I have served on a prayer team for the current church I am a member of and have served in this same department at previous churches and never had this thought crossed my mind. I have many times been heart broken when the alter of prayer remained empty, knowing that many are hurting lost, and have some kind of need, either for themselves or a loved one. So why am I laying in bed praying and hoping for sleep did I question why do we ask people to come to the alter with the congregation as an audience to pray? I started thinking how many do not approach because they don’t want every eye looking at them, passing judgement (this does not mean they are being judged but the fear of being judged and maybe even gossiped about). I thought about Jesus teaching us to go into our closet to pray, but then I also thought about the scriptures about going to the elders to have them lay hands on us to pray and anoint us. These thoughts may be nothing more than thoughts of a sleep deprived mind. But I would like to know if anyone knows when this part of a church service began?

Thoughts on the sun

Thoughts on the sun

I was looking up into the sky today, and seeing the sun shine. The sun is always there shining. It doesn’t matter if the sky is clear or filled with dark clouds. Even at night when you cannot see the sun it is still there, shining it’s light reflecting on the moon. I thought this is how God is. He is always there, even when you cannot see Him. The Light of Jesus shines no matter what the conditions are. We may not be able to see the light because of the storms in our lives, but it is there and does not go away. God is always there for us. Faithful and true, we can trust Him at all times, in the dark of night, or in the middle of the storm. If God is for us why should we be afraid of what the world tries to do to us? I do not need to be afraid but have faith in God, and trust in Him at all times.

Call To Prayer ? Praying for our enemies

Jesus teaches to love those who hate you and bless those who curse you. Those who are in the world can find this almost impossible. Why would we love someone who hates us, and why would we want to bless them? To be honest I find this a difficult task. When someone hurts you, your reflex is to protect yourself and strike back. You have been hurt and you want to hurt the person in return, but this is not God’s way. While on the cross, Jesus said, ‘Forgive them, they do not know what they are doing.’ If it had been anyone else hanging on that cross dying for someone else’s crime, I do not believe they would have been asking for the ones who were responsible to be forgiven. It is His love that forgives us, even though we do not deserve His grace and mercy. We want the ones responsible for our pain to pay for what they have done, but Jesus died to pay that price. The best thing I can pray for one you would call my enemy is for them to receive the love of Jesus and repent. The blessing of His salvation, His love, and His healing. If they turn to Christ and give their lives to Him, they would no longer be our enemy, but a brother or sister in Christ Jesus. So I pray that anyone who has ever done you or myself wrong, repents and receive the blessing of His salvation. That they learn of His love and mercy, and that they grow in His love. I also pray that I can love them as Jesus loves me.

P.S. I hope this post makes sense, I am intense pain which fogs up my thoughts, but I wanted to write this while it was fresh in my mind.

The Moon / Thoughts on being a Christian

Photography by Julie Sheppard

With all the sleepless nights I have had, I have spent many nights looking up into the night sky praying to God and thinking of many things. One thought that I have had is the comparison to the light reflected from the moon and Christians. The moon is not the source of light. It reflects the light of the sun. It has many phases from full to not visible, and it can even eclipse the sun. We who have received Jesus as our Lord and Savior are called Christians. We are not the source of light, Jesus is The Light. His light shines through us. Some of us shine like a full moon, and others are like the different phases of the moon.

His light can shine through us in the darkest of night or even during the day.

Then there are people and things in this world that try to eclipse His Light. God created the sun and the moon and all the stars in the sky. The moon does not think or have choices in where it will be in the sky, but we do. We make choices every day. We decide if we go to work, go to school, go shopping, sleep in, etc… We choose to repent and follow Jesus. We choose to love or hate. We make so many choices, and our choices can reflect His light if our actions and choices reflect His love. We can be a vessel filled with His Love and Light giving to others what He has given to us.

Call To Prayer / Focus

Call To Prayer / Focus

Focus is one of my weaknesses. My mind can wander so easily. I even find this during my Bible study researching. While looking up scriptures for one subject, I read scriptures that lead me to to other subjects. This has made preparations for teachings a struggle at times. Yet because the Word is filled with so much knowledge it is understandable that my thoughts can wander from one subject to the next. Yet I work through it and manage to get my focus back on topic and finish the lesson.

It is in the other areas of my life where my focus wanders that getting back on track. It even happens during my prayer times where staying focused is important. There are many needs to be prayed for from personal to global needs. Scriptures speak of meditating on His Word. Keeping focused on what God has spoken. Not just hearing but listening carefully.

Definition of focus

FOCUS
1a : a center of activity, attraction, or attention the focus of the meeting was drug abuse put immigration into focus as a hot topic for commentators
b : a point of concentration
2 : directed attention : emphasis The focus is on helping the homeless.
3a : direction sense 6c the team lost focus
b : a state or condition permitting clear perception or understanding tried to bring the issues into focus
c : adjustment for distinct vision also : the area that may be seen distinctly or resolved into a clear image

Proverbs 4:25 Let your eyes look straight ahead, And your eyelids look right before you.

One thing that the prayer boards I have made for myself and others has helped me to stay focused in my prayer time. Yet it is not the only way to focus. Keeping distractions from getting you off track is not always an easy thing to do. Horses wear blinders to keep them from being distracted during a race. Well we are in a race so to speak.

CORINTHIANS 9:23-25 23 I do all this for the sake of the gospel, so that I may share in its blessings. 24 Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way as to take the prize. 25 Everyone who competes in the games trains with strict discipline. They do it for a crown that is perishable, but we do it for a crown that is imperishable.…

2 Timothy 4:7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.

Hebrews 12:1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off every encumbrance and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with endurance the race set out for us.

Meditate : intransitive verb
1 : to engage in contemplation or reflection He meditated long and hard before announcing his decision.
2 : to engage in mental exercise (such as concentration on one’s breathing or repetition of a mantra) for the purpose of reaching a heightened level of spiritual awareness

transitive verb
1 : to focus one’s thoughts on : reflect on or ponder over He was meditating his past achievements.
2 : to plan or project in the mind : intend, purpose He was meditating revenge.

Psalm 119:15-16 I will meditate on Your precepts And regard Your ways. I shall delight in Your statutes; I shall not forget Your word.

Psalm 63:6 When I remember You on my bed, I meditate on You in the night watches,

Psalm 119:148 My eyes anticipate the night watches, That I may meditate on Your word.

Let us continue in prayer together, and to intercede for others, for loved ones, coworkers, communities, ministries, organizations, nations, and leaders to name a few things we pray for. Keeping focus on His Love, peace and directions, and for His will to be done.

How do you keep focused?

What scriptures help you?

What ministries do you support?

What do you need prayers for?

Please leave your answers in the comments, and let us continue to pray together and for each other.

God bless you and keep you safe.

WORDS / If you don’t have anything nice to say…

Proverbs 18:21 Death and life are in the power of the tongue,
And those who love it will eat its fruit.

One thing told to me when I was growing up was, ‘If you don’t have anything nice to say then keep your mouth shut.’ I know this phrase is also said in other terms, but they all boil down to this message; Be careful what you speak, the damage your words can do cannot be undone.

People today are so quick to slander each other for such a wide variety of reasons, I won’t bother to start that list. I will talk today of my own self. As some of you may have noticed I have not been posting here for a while. This past year has thrown some painful pitches my way, and some of my earlier posts I talked about how pain can effect us. For me one thing it leads me to is anger, and not a righteous anger. It is an anger that can lead to mass destruction. I can do more damage with my tongue than with my fist.

So I had slowly been isolating myself, which is a terrible thing to do. Yet fear of what I would do in my anger helped me to justify becoming a hermit again. Since I had not had very many nice things to say, I just started shutting myself away from the world. Yet that did not keep me from thinking words of hate and destruction which in other words are curses. No sooner had I thought them or said them aloud, even though I am home alone, I knew that what I was doing was wrong and would have to quickly repent. Yet the thoughts and words still lingered in my mind.

So I have been having this inner battle, that if you saw me in person you would not see this struggle. I do know how to put on the right mask when necessary. I try hard to keep my dark battles to myself and only let those who I feel I truly can trust know of these battles. Which I thank God for blessing me with these close friends who love me unconditionally and do not condemn me when I falter, and so I can confide in them.

Yet this struggle has not left me blind to the fact that I how can I be of help to others if I am home alone licking my wounds, and living in fear? It is out in the fields where the laborers should be, and I have been hiding in my own little cave like David hiding from Saul, or Elijah hiding from Jezebel. Like Elijah hiding in his cave, God has reminded me that I need to get back out there and do what he has called me to do, and not stay hidden in the safety of my home. Which in all honesty is not so safe when you have to battle your personal demons alone because you have hidden yourself.

One assignment He had given me a while back, that I had put off on the back burner so to speak is to unite His body in prayer. I had one excuse after another pop up as either obstacles or rejection to this idea, for various reasons. Yet I have heard Him say it is not over yet, so get back up and keep trying. Now the most current obstacle I have faced is organizing a public gathering for people to gather in prayer because the current problems with the Covid 19. I was reminded that I still have a way to unite my brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus in prayer here, and that this would actually reach more people, than if I had organized a prayer meeting for the area in which I live.

Our prayers are to include more than just our family, friends, church, and needs of those we are personally connected to, but to cover this earth with prayer, and for every need to be met and most important, for His will to be done. My next blog will speak more of this assignment and will include how I started making prayer boards.

I hope you will join me in this assignment, and if there are any prayer requests for anyone, ministry organizations, etc… please share those requests here and we can pray together.

P.S. I am sorry that this post started on one topic and led to another, but prayers are words that can do such good, and that is what I have to get back to. Speaking words of life.

Life and Death

Doc
Mary

I have recently lost two people I care deeply about with a very short time of each other. I know death is a part of life, but this does not bring comfort when someone you love has passed away. I also understand that there is nothing a person can say to take away the pain of your loss. It has been years now since my mother died of a stroke, but time did not take away how much I still miss her. Now a woman who has been like a second mother to me is gone. Another person who I had worked for over ten years, had also been a friend and father figure. I had left his funeral to visit Mary, and within a short time of coming home from visiting her she was gone. I am grateful for the time I had with both of these amazing people. Yet I still miss them. I am glad that I was able to spend time with Mary in the days that preceded her passing. I had not had the ability to do the same with my Mom, since she had died suddenly, so the time with Mary was very special. Doc had closed shop and moved away, so news of his death was shocking. At least his memorial was held here, and I was able to spend some time with his family.

I was blessed of these wonderful and loving people. Loosing them in such a short period of time is hard, but I am still alive, and they will not be forgotten. Life is a special gift that we should cherish what time we get to spend with each other while we are still here, because like it or not it does come to an end.

So call a loved one, or better yet spend time with them.

My Mom

May 9, 2020 The Seeds We Sow

May 9, 2020 The Seeds We Sow

IMG_20200502_154937IMG_20200509_124354This grapefruit tree, which is still a sapling, was grown from a seed from a grapefruit given to me a few years back. It had come from a tree that was growing in a friends yard back in Florida. I kept a few of the seeds after I had eaten the fruit and thought I would see if the seed would grow. To my surprise a few weeks after I had planted it in a pot did I see a sprout. To my amazement it continued to grow over the past few years. This spring I thought it was time for it to be planted in the ground. Living in an apartment I had not planned on planting it in my little yard, but when I had seen that the bush outside my door had died over the winter I thought it was good as time as ever.

I have grown many plants from cuttings and had even been able to grow an avocado tree from a seed but this is my first attempt of growing any kind of citrus.

IMG_20200509_124129This is an orange tree that was also grown from a seed that I planted.

Avocado trees.

I love watching things grow. It lets me know there is still life no matter how dark things may be at times. They also let me see growth. For one to truly live we need to grow, not just physically but spiritually. Jesus gave us the parable of the sower and the seed.(Matthew 13:1-23/Luke 8:1-15) I have grown plants and trees from either cuttings or seeds, they have both needed to be planted in order to grow. They have also needed to be cared for, if I wanted them to grow.

There are things in our lives that grow that are not plant life. I gave birth to a beautiful daughter, who then had her own child. What God had blessed me with has been fruitful and had given birth to a child who will grow up and some day give her a grandchild. Now there are other things we grow, relationships are one of those things. How we grow in these relationships depends on the care and nurturing we give to them. We do this not only by the words we speak but by are actions as well.

We are not judged by our words alone but how we live. If we live in love we grow in love. Others see how we live, if only for a brief moment a stranger can be effected by how we act and speak. These are the seeds we plant without thinking about. Yet these seeds are just as important as the close relationships we have with family and friends. Simple acts of kindness can impact people in ways we may not see or realize. These are seeds we may not nurture or see the fruits of but they can grow and the next person may be the one to nurture and cultivate what we have planted.(1 Corinthians 3:6 Contemporary English Version / I planted the seeds, Apollos watered them, but God made them sprout and grow.)

I look forward to seeing this tree grow, and possibly produce some fruit. This will take time and over that time I look to learn even more and do some growing myself.

May 3, 2020 The Dead Sea

Today I have been thinking about the Dead Sea. Many tourists travel to it because of the high mineral content and the buoyancy caused by the salt volume. This is supposed to have healing qualities, but it is the name that is stuck in my mind today. Water flows in but it goes no where and this is to be the reason why for the high salt and mineral content. This sea is called dead because it cannot support life. Water continues to flow in but then it under the sun it evaporates. I wonder how many of us are like the Dead Sea? His spirit and blessings are flowing into us, but what are we doing with what He is giving to us? Works do not produce faith but faith should produce works.

James 2:26
For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.(Read James 2:14-24)

Think about the parable of ‘the servants and the talents. Matthew 25:14-30. In this parable three servants are each given talents. The amounts varied, but it was what each servant did with what was given to them. The first two increased their talents, but the third one buried his talent and it produced him nothing. It is with this servant that the master was not pleased. This servant lost his talent and it was given to the first servant. This parable too, reminds of the Dead Sea. I want to be like the first two servants and do something with what God has entrusted to me.

Even though I have faced many trials and abuse in my life, I know He has been with me through it all. He kept me going when I there was nothing I could do. When I felt hopeless He gave me hope. He did not create me for the pain I have lived through but that pain inspires me to help others who are in pain. I don’t want to wallow in my self pity, but share that even when everything in the world is coming against you, He never leaves you and His love is limitless. For all that He has done for me I want to do whatever I can to be there for others. I want to be a vessel that He uses, not one that sits on a shelf collecting dust, and I don’t want to be a dead sea. Receiving but doing nothing with what He has given to me. I want to be more than a hearer of the Word, but a doer as well.

What about you? Are you using what has been given to you to further His Kingdom, or are you sitting their collecting dust?

 

 

April 18, 2020

Many these days are anxious because of the pandemic of Covid19, that is world wide. It is effecting people of all nationalities and classes. Social media has become the main way people are keeping connected. Unless you have a job that is deemed necessary, you are basically grounded. When the stay at home orders were first being issued, one of my first thoughts were about the parallel of Passover and the Exodus. One of the things Moses had told the people to do before Pharaoh would finally release the Hebrews, was that they were to put blood on their doorposts and were to remain inside. The reason for this was to keep their first born alive. For the plague of death of every first born was coming. yet those under the blood would be safe.

Exodus 12:22-23 22 Take a cluster of hyssop, dip it into the blood in the basin, and brush the top and the two side posts of the doorframe with some of the blood. None of you shall go out of the door of his house until morning. 23 When the LORD passes through to strike down the Egyptians, He will see the blood on the top and the two sideposts and pass over the door; so He will not allow the destroyer to enter your houses and strike you down.

We are all going through a terrible time right now and the treat to life is real, so I understand why so many are afraid. This virus does not care if you are a first born, what your religion is,what color your skin is, or if you are wealthy or poor. Any one of us could get sick from this virus. If we take the necessary precautions we should be okay. Looking at the story of Exodus I do see the reason to have hope. If you are stuck staying home you could very well have cabin fever by now, and are itching to get out. If you have a full house you may want to get away just to find some peace and quiet, if you live alone the desire for company can make you want to leave the safety of your home. As much as I do not like feeling like I have been grounded, I do see the importance of staying home unless I have an important reason to go somewhere.

We need to remember these is temporary and that we will get through this. There is hope. I turn to the Word for this hope and it never lies.

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Art by Julie Sheppard

Light at the end of the tunnel is not a train but the Light of Jesus Christ!