Wednesday, December 9, 2015

What would happen if the world's believers prayed like a Muslim?

We're struggling here in the United States.  Our world is topsy turvy and we're struggling to keep our balance.  At least I am.  Our citizens keep drawing deeper and deeper lines with no end in sight.

I got a call from my daughter yesterday, after I blasted my frustration on Facebook, lost a little bit of my ground and had to shorten my sin list again.  There were plenty there too.  I raised her right, I guess, because she called it like it was and told me to get it together.  Well actually, I said get it together, she said to get off Facebook.  I'm not quite ready to do that, as much as I probably should, I have this hope deep inside that this social media world that has permeated our fiber is for a higher purpose.

Maybe I'm fooling myself, but I'm not ready to give up.  Yet.

A year ago today hubs and I were in Istanbul, Turkey.  A picture popped up on my memory feed with the two of us standing in front of the Blue Mosque.  And then it hit me between the eyes.  Pray!  Pray like the Muslims pray.  We don't have to go to a special building and wash our feet outside before going in.  We don't have to even take our shoes off if we'd rather not.  We don't have to do anything else but stop what we're doing, turn the phone, the computer, the tv, the radio - all of it off - and just take ten seconds to pray the Lord's prayer.  If you miss the time, so what?!  We're Christians living in Grace - but if you miss, pray as soon as you remember.  Get back on that prayer horse and ride!

So this is my call to you, Christians...pray.  Weak faith, strong faith, small faith, big faith.  Pray.  Start a wave of praying the Lord's Prayer five times a day, sunrise, noon, midday, sunset, and evening.  Let us Christians stand - or sit or lay flat on your face - as one all over the world and pray the prayer Jesus taught us.

Our Father,
who art in heaven
Hallowed be thy name
Thy kingdom come
Thy will be done
On earth as it is in heaven
Give us this day our daily bread
And forgive us our trespasses
as we forgive those who trespass against us
Lead us not into temptation
But deliver us from evil.

Add "for thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever and ever.  Amen." if you so desire.

Let's pray, Church!  Let's fill the heavens with a collective prayer the Lord Jesus taught us to pray.  It is the prayer that unites believers around the world.  It is the prayer all flavors of Christianity know.  It is the prayer that unites, that glues this fractured body together.  We don't need anyone special to lead us, we don't need to go to any special place.  Stop what you're doing, set your phone alarms (I know you have them), then pray.

Pray like you've never prayed before.


Peace,

Ronda





Monday, December 7, 2015

Keeping the List Short

As you are awakening from your sleep and seeing life/God/the Bible/faith with a new view, old habits are going to try and bring you down.  Sometimes they'll win, but I want to share with you what has worked for me after the lightbulb turned on and things started becoming clear.  The veil was removed from my clouded mind and what I once thought I understood, with some difficulty, became easier and easier to understand.

This business of sin.  More importantly your list of sins.

You know them.  I don't have to try and pull them out of you or get you to see what ones are the big ones the bad ones or the not so bad ones.  You know.  You've been dogged by them for years, I'm sure.  They come at you when you least expect it, taking your thoughts captive, robbing you of joy,  belittling you.  They tell you those sins are the reasons your faith is weak, God couldn't love you/forgive you/trust you.

Today is the day you will put them to rest.

This is how.

Make your list of the above things I just mentioned.  If it helps to write them down and you have enough paper do so.  (wink, wink) As they come to mind, imagine them being placed in a suitcase.  Each sin gets its own suitcase.  Don't worry, you won't have to carry them too far.

As you put each sin that comes to mind in its own suitcase, take that suitcase and place it at the foot of the cross.  Then, look up.  Jesus is there.  You may see him as he is being crucified or you may see him sitting on top of it, in all his glory.  Whatever way you see him though, He's there.  Leave those suitcases filled with your specific sins there.

When you get all your sins packed in their suitcases (each sin gets its own bag for this exercise) and you set them at the foot of that cross, turn around and walk away.  You can look back at Jesus and wave, blow Him a kiss too, but don't look at your luggage.  It's not yours to worry about anymore.

Now, after you've got today's list written, the suitcases packed and left at the cross and you're walking away, waving back at Jesus, whistling a tune, feeling RELIEF, some of those sins are going to try and jump out of their suitcases and back on you.  Be ready for it.  It will happen.  But that's ok. When it does happen you stop, don't look at the suitcase or the sin as it is trying to push itself out, but instead say this, "Jesus, I left that bag with you.  Please make it leave me alone."

This will be a battle you'll have for awhile, but a short while if you remember what I'm telling you to do.  As long as you realize it's going to happen, you're ahead of the game.

Those bags you left today have no business torturing you tomorrow.  Once they are left at the foot of that cross, that is where they stay.  You have no business picking them up and carrying them with you.

Many will try and get you to pick them back up.  Be prepared for this too.  Those you sinned against.  Those you hurt by the lies you packed in the bags.  Those who know the "real" you won't like to see you with peace.  But you don't let yourself get overcome by those, you just keep telling Jesus, "Keep my baggage.  Keep my baggage.  Keep my baggage."

In a little while, today's baggage rack will be a memory that becomes more and more distant in the rearview mirror.

Now, here's truth.  I hate to tell you this, but....you will sin again.  You will.  It's in our fleshy nature,




BUT!!!!!!! 

Because you know where to put those sins, immediately when the Holy Spirit convicts you you have sinned, pack that sin up in a suitcase and repeat the exercise.  You no longer need to waste time on thoughts that deny or deceive you into thinking you have to wait till Sunday or when you're alone or after you've prayed real hard to pack up the sin and lay it at the cross.  Do it as soon as you can!  It only takes a spit second.

Once you get this practice down and deep in your mind and in your heart, the deeper understandings of God will begin to come.  I have found the deeper things are revealed when I keep my sin list short.

Now,
what I am not saying: 



1.  Unless you confess every single sin you are not saved.  No.  The blood of Jesus Christ has cleansed us from all sin.  This is the way you keep the communication channels open between you and him.  If you have unconfessed sin, like a blocked artery not able to get oxygenated blood to the body, unconfessed sin blocks clear communication between you and him.  If the Bible is too hard to understand for you, it may become easier if you practice doing this.

2. I have to list every single sin.  Are you kidding me?  Do you know how long that would take and how defeated one would feel?  No, God will reveal things to you little by little.  He's a good dad, a gentle dad, overflowing with compassion for you.  He knows how much your heart can take.  I still have sins from years ago that surface from time to time, that I haven't confessed.  But when Jesus brings them to mind I confess them quickly and trust that if that past sin was keeping me from hearing him now, in the present, that he clear clear the blockage and quickly.

3.  You have to do this with a priest, a pastor, a congregation, or two or three.  No.  Absolutely 100% NO!  Not just no, but HELL NO!  This is between you and Jesus.  It ain't no one else's business for now and forevermore!

Are you ready to give it a try?  Are you ready to start tasting real freedom?  Today's your day.

Remember, just because those bags try to jump back into your hands after you lay them at the foot of the cross, it doesn't mean they have to be confessed again and again and again.  Just call Jesus, he'll come and get them.

Don't do anything else but these four things and you will be waking up refreshed and renewed.  

1.  Confess individual sins as they come to mind.
2.  Pack them up in individual suitcases.
3.  Drop them at the foot of the cross.  (don't forget to blow Jesus a kiss and wave)
4.  Run!  Run free!

Soon you'll be ready to learn about all those things that before were blocked.  I'm rooting for you!

Peace,

Ronda


1 John 1:9



Sunday, December 6, 2015

It's a conundrum

To say the least, Christianity in America is a conundrum.

Ugh.

Guns.  No guns.  Rights.  No rights.  Safety.  Fear.  Refugees.  Terrorists.

Ugh.

A plethora of "difficult and intricate problems."  To say the least.  But, unfortunately, my brain never quite stops at saying the least I have to say.

It would be different if we were totally uneducated, unschooled, illiterate, unable to discern.  It would be much different if we were like in the dark ages, the days before Luther unlocked the Word of God from the pulpit and we only had the educated and learned to tell us what the locked words said.

Those days existed.  Thank God they no longer do.

So here we are.  Americans.  If you're my age, born in the 60's you've lived a pretty prosperous and fairly protected American life.  Our parents and grandparents experienced war.  Our mothers raised us in the light of feminism, some, well really, many disregarding and shaming their own mothers before them who stayed in the home and raised a family.  One, because their opportunities to do otherwise were limited or non existent and two....see number one.  We, of the 60's, were part of an in-between time when everything that once was valued, suddenly, in many ways, became ridiculed and shamed.

Our feminist leaders, fighting so hard for equal pay and equal rights and equal opportunities, breathed into women a fire of confidence, but their grandchildren and great grandchildren are now living without great purpose and meaning, second guessing nearly every institution, and struggling to find direction.  Did feminism win what it set out to do?

At the time, maybe, but 50 years later.....I'm not so sure.

We have man-boys and woman-girls.  And in the midst of it all we are a country that is hated by a small group of people that is tearing the United States into even more tiny pieces.

My nieces and nephews, of high school and college age, at Thanksgiving this year shared they were thankful they themselves have not been hurt by terrorists.

Let that sit for a minute.

They thanked God they had not been hurt by terrorists.









Where just one to two generations ago thanks was said for home, food, and clothing this generation is thankful that they have not been killed by a terrorist.

Does anyone else find something wrong and unsettling with that?

My friends and family, who profess Christianity are in two entirely different camps on gun control, abortion and homosexuality.  How can that be that there is such a divide among believers....in America?

This is what I would like to see among all my brothers and sisters in Christ.  It may not be a solution, but it certainly can't hurt.

Stop.

Stop and pray.  And then pray some more.

When your church doors open on Sundays and Wednesdays or whenever else they open, do nothing but pray.  Let the non essentials go.  There is no emergency meeting that needs to be held that cannot wait.  There is no song that needs to be practiced that cannot wait until all have prayed.  There is no sermon that needs to be written that cannot be better spoken from the heart.

Pray, Church.  Pray hard.  And then pray even harder.

The way things have been done in the past are not cutting it anymore.  The enemy is at our doors, and wringing our hands and going through the centuries old motions are not going to keep them from busting down the gates.

Our children are thankful they have not been killed by terrorists!!!!!!!!!!!

Our Christian children are being raised in fear that they will be killed by terrorists.  In America, of all places.

Does that not bother anyone enough to stop yelling and not listening and stop arguing and stop shouting and stop blaming?

America is flawed.  But since its birth it has been a place of refuge for those fleeing from tyranny.  People came because of our founder's constitution.  Now people hate America because of our Constitution.

It's not about more laws.  It's not about less guns.  It's not about our rights.

It's about Jesus Christ, who paid the ransom for us all.  We live in this conundrum of time, following Him, in a government established by Him.  Yet, His followers are doing everything but asking Him, what do we do?  

Church, we have to show the way.  There are no other reasonable options coming through.  Our elected officials are a mess because we, God's precious kids, are a mess.  But we can't show the way when we don't agree on THE WAY!!

Our country is a mess because God's church is divided.  It is not a liberal's fault or a conservative's fault.  It's our fault.  We didn't create all the mess but we're helping to make it messier.  It is our responsibility to confess, to repent, to beg God for mercy.

We have not loved enough.

We have not overcome fear enough.

We have not trusted enough.

But it's time now to pray that we love enough, that we fear less, and trust more.

It's time to trust with all the faith He has given us, not cower under our critic's pointing, blaming fingers.  

Jesus did not condemn those of no faith, he shook his head at those of "little" faith.

It's time, dear followers of Christ.  Brothers and Sisters of all who call on the name of Jesus - none of us have it all right and all of us have some of it wrong.  But Jesus doesn't think like us, act like us, or falter like us - thank God - He knows the right way.

He has given us the tools we need to endure.  If you have faith, you have all you need.  It's time to strengthen it.  It's time to start working out at the faith gym.  Time's are going to get more difficult, but only so that our faith gets strengthened.

Our children are afraid.

No more.

We are either who God says we are... or we're not.  It's not about the size of your faith, whose faith is true or weak, it's about how we are going to start using the faith we have been so freely and mercifully given.


Peace,

Ronda




Saturday, December 5, 2015

All means.....all

I've had two words on my mind lately.  It started out with just one, but then it led to one more and now two words are having a wrestling match in my brain, one trying to pin the other, but both have really good moves.

It started with a word I highlighted many years ago.

Wholeheartedly.

As in, "But because my servant Caleb has a different spirit and follows me wholeheartedly."

And,

"Because they have not followed me wholeheartedly, not one of the men twenty years old or more who came up out of Egypt will see the land I promised on oath to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob - not one except Caleb son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite and Joshua son of Nun, for they followed the LORD wholeheartedly."

Oh, if only the Word of God would just stick with that one word.  I, of course, had to be nosy.  I couldn't just look up that Hebrew word and let it sit there and soak for awhile.  No.  I had to simultaneously ask and answer the question, What other words are translated #4848 in Strong's Exhaustive Concordance?  I'll never learn.

Ready?

Just a smidge of a sampling from a word that is defined as, "to fill, accomplish.  The completion of something that was unfinished or the filling of something that was empty."

Are you sure you're ready?  Ok, don't say I didn't warn you.

bear
came
come
come to an end
cover
crowded
completely
drenched
 enriched
finish
 filled
gorge
 is satisfied
heaping up
make succeed
making full
overflowing
satisfy

So, you have some homework.  I've given you some clues.  When you have done your homework, consider this:

In the New Testament, the Greek uses a word multiple times that has a similar definition - "whole, all, entire, throughout.  That is Strong's # 3910.

It is used strongly (no pun intended) in this scripture:

"See to it, then, that the light within you is not darkness.  Therefore, if your whole body is full of light, and no part of it is dark, it will be completely lighted, as when the light of the lamp shines on you."

I told you there is a second word wrestling in my mind.  That second word is another word used for that Greek word, #3910.

All.

Care to know where it is used?

Among other places, but most significant to my wrestling match, it is here:

"Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind."

How much is all?

The "whole, entire, total amount, quantity, as much as possible."

So to encourage you....not to shame....but encourage you....

As much as possible for the moment you are in right now, love Him with everything you have.  Don't worry about how you didn't love him yesterday or last week or twenty years ago.  Don't step into tomorrow's worry bus and wonder if you'll be able to love him for tomorrow's moments.

As much as possible, for the moment you are in right now, love Him with your whole heart, soul, strength and mind.

That's all He's asking from you.

For the moment you are in right now.  When you get to the next moment, deal with the next moment. But for now, for this moment, practice loving him with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength and with all your mind.

He's not expecting perfection from the get go.  He's offering freedom for the moment you and I are in right now, with this breath.

At that moment it will be said of you, "My servant, (YOUR NAME HEREhas a different spirit and follows me wholeheartedly."  That's the only moment that matters for the moment we're in.

Your wholehearted all will be enough.



Peace,

Ronda

***************************************
Homework hints:

Peruse Numbers, Deuteronomy, Joshua ( wholeheartedly is used 8 times in these books)
See if you can find #4848 in Jeremiah 31:25 and Psalm 20:4; Genesis 29:27

You'll have fun looking for #3910 in Luke, around chapter 11.

I'm not spoon feeding you people!  Why do you want to be spoon fed anyway?  Grow up, stop being lazy, and live the faith you were given!  You're not a spectator, so stop acting like one.