Tuesday, October 19, 2010

"Pray With Me"

I need the prayers of my friends tonight. My precious Matthew has struggled with allergies for years. He has often said that it is his "thorn in the flesh." He prays continually that God will show him the reason for these allergies and that he will be able to use them for the glory of God. I love that he has such an eternal mind when it comes to his struggles. Please pray with me. As a mother it breaks my heart to watch this incredible young man struggle each day to see normally, to breathe deeply and to make it through the day doing normal boy activities without the aid of many medications.

"Precious Jesus, you know Matthew better than I can and even better than he knows himself. You are his creator and you know him full well. Your wisdom is vast and your purpose is true. Matthew is your child and you created him exactly the way he his. For that reason, it is your wisdom I seek in knowing how to medicate, treat and help Matthew live each day without pain or fear. God, I know how much he hurts and suffers and I know how much he relies on you for his strength. God, in the name of your son Jesus Christ I pray for healing for this precious young man. His situation has left Dr.'s scratching their heads, but you oh God are his creator and you never stand baffled. You know the reasons, and you know the bigger picture of what you are accomplishing in his life. Lord, may we never seek the easy way out and in doing so miss the blessing of your perfect will. May we be willing to endure so that your power may rest on us in our weaknesses. Lord, we are all weak right now and we are resting our heads on your chest. As he lays here beside me tonight with streaks of red down his face, eyes swollen shut and breathing shallow, I am comforted in knowing that he is Yours. I am simply a steward for a time. God I pray that you would grant sweet sleep to your son tonight and healing to his eyes. Lord, show us the answers we need to help him get better. God, provide the resources and lead us to the right Doctors. God I thank you that he hears from you and I thank you that you have placed within his heart a desire to spread the message of the gospel. Oh Lord how convicted I was when this precious young man spoke these words to me, "Mom, I am being called to missions. I know it might not be best for my allergies, but if means breathing my last breath, I want to know that I did it obeying the will of my Father." Lord, give me the same obedience that lives within my 11 year old. Lord God grant peace to his soul tonight and heal him in Jesus Name. AMEN"

Thursday, October 14, 2010

"I'm Tired of Mamby Pamby Prayer Lives"

Pray without ceasing!! For some reason we see this as an option. I have to warn you that if you offend easily you might want to navigate away from this page. I'm in no mood to skirt around the issues tonight. God has called our family and our church family to a new place of obedience. It is actually not so new, but it is new to us because we have fallen so short in this area of obedience as of late. We obey the parts of scripture that are easiest to obey and the parts that appear to us as the most serious areas, but how about praying without ceasing? Do we obey in this area? It is a very christian thing to say..."I will pray for you" but how often do we really pray? It is acceptable to move forward with decisions if we say that "We have prayed about it." How often do we say these things because they make us sound obedient when in reality we forget to pray for the person to whom we promised our support and we offer up a "God help us" then we have an idea that is all ours and assume it is God's solution. Sometimes I wonder if God gets tired of us throwing things off on Him when we never really sought His face in the matter. It just sounds better to say..."God is leading me to...or God has told me to..." God has recently called our church to pray. I don't mean to say we pray and share prayer requests and tag a prayer on at the end (which we have been guilty of so many times.) God has called us to SEEK His face. He has called us to stop talking and PRAY. How dare we be so pious as to think that "sharing" with one another could be more important than praying. We have no counsel to offer aside from scripture and we can do nothing better or more than pray. Friends, this has been such a blessing and a time of conviction all in one. My heart has been convicted that I do not pray enough. Not just enough, but that I do not pray according to His word. Let me share with you some things that the Lord has taught me and reminded me of concerning prayer this week.

1. Tuesday night we were on the soccer fields and I received a text from my brother asking if Matthew could call his cousin Ashlyn. She was getting ready to go away to a camp for a few days and she was nervous. She wanted to talk to her big cousin and get some reassurance that it would all be ok. As I listened to Matthew encourage her I heard him say 3 or 4 times that he would be praying for her. I looked over and mouthed "are you going to tell her that or are you going to pray." He asked her if she had a minute and there in the van on the way home he prayed for her on the phone. She was blessed as was I that as young cousins they would encourage each other through prayer. Don't say you are going to pray, but stop and pray.

2. I was reminded tonight of a prayer I prayed years ago for someone very dear to me. Someone I loved very deeply was struggling with gratifying the desires of the flesh and I began to fast and pray that every time this person came in contact with or was tempted to sin that he would become physically sick and that he would lose sleep until he had made his life right with the Lord. It was years later that I found out that every time he began to party he would become sick at the first taste of the substance that resulted in his sin. He didn't sleep well for months. God got a hold of his heart and he lives today a changed man. Not because of me, but because of prayer. Don't be afraid to pray bold and pray big and learn the discipline of fasting and praying.

3. Last Thursday night my boys found out that a neighbor friend who is also a mentor for them was starting in his high school football game and he was nervous. We walked over to encourage him and their in his den we prayed for this precious friend. Matthew and Caleb both prayed and it was such a blessing to hear the things they prayed for their friend. They prayed that the coaches would find favor with him and give him a chance. They prayed that he would praise God when they were winning, but also when they were losing. They prayed that he would remember it was about God and not about him. They prayed for many other things that I can't remember, but the point is...Pray spirit led prayers and pray specifically.

4. The last thing I want to share is what God has been doing through our prayer time as a church. We don't share requests. We pray! God has used this to encourage us all more than we could possibly do with our words. Marriages are being lifted up and prayed for by the prompting of the Holy Spirit. Wives are hearing the hearts of their husbands and learning how they can pray for them. Our God is being praised and lifted up. As we openly confess our sins before God and others through prayer we are being healed and held accountable. We are being unified as a body. God is accomplishing all of this through prayer. Why? Because that is His desire and that is His plan. We lift Him up and we communicate with Him and HE MOVES!!! Honestly, I believe in my heart that He is always moving. When we pray we become aware of how and where He is moving and we can join Him. Don't talk about prayer. Don't intend to pray. PRAY!!!

My friends we are in a battle. We have been called to war. It is a spiritual war. It is a war that is far greater, far more dangerous and far more difficult than any war this earth has seen or will ever see. The good news is we know the outcome. We know who wins the victory and we know what happens to the enemy. However, we must not get lazy and give up the fight until that final day. The battle must be fought and we must fight it on our knees. Join me!! I'm committed. It won't be easy. I have experienced more hurt, disappointment and strife in my life during these times of obedience than any other time. That is the spiritual warfare. Are we willing to obey no matter what the cost? It's worth it!! The rewards of a life lived through prayer are far greater than anything this world can offer. PRAY PRAY PRAY!!!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

"Smoothing Out My Feathers"

I have a confession to make. My feathers get ruffled very easily. It seems I spend a great deal of time smoothing them out. They get ruffled when everything on my list of to do's doesn't get done. They get ruffled when circumstances go one way in my mind and then another way in reality. They get ruffled when the rest of the world can't understand how wonderful my ideas are. My feathers get very ruffled when someone messes with my children or my husband. Sometimes I think it would be better to walk around as a naked bird than one whose feathers continually stay ruffled. I have been trying for over a week now to smooth out my feathers. Something happened last Sunday afternoon that ruffled me like I had never be ruffled before. I will spare you the details, but let's just say when you are helping someone who has asked for help and you become the victim it is easy to have your feathers ruffled. I'll be honest...I'm having trouble getting over it. It seems that just about the time I think I have calmed down something else happens to ruffle my feathers and this bird is squawking again. I have been reminded daily of the verse in Proverbs 19:11 "A man's wisdom gives him patience, it is to his glory to overlook an offense." I am so thankful for this verse. I am thankful that wisdom is found in His word. I am thankful that patience is a fruit of the spirit and I am thankful that through the power of the Holy Spirit we have the ability to forgive and let go of wrongs done to us. (Even when we don't want to.) That has been my problem this week. I don't want to get over it. I don't want to walk around with ruffles feathers, but somehow I feel like getting over it would let the offender off the hook. I have even thought this week that by "overlooking" this offense I would be offering forgiveness when what was really needed was justice. This person was wrong. The words they chose were wrong. Their attitude was wrong, but guess what? I am then reminded that God does not punish me according to what I deserve. He sent a substitution to pay the price for me and for the one who ruffled my feathers. How dare I sit in judgement when He came to give His life in forgiveness? He has called us to do the same. So as I sit here today smoothing out my feathers I pray that God would continue to teach me how to be quick to forgive and slow to become angry. I pray that you would do the same.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

"Confessions Of A Tuesday"

Do you ever have a day of the week that you wish you could skip? You know the kind of day I am talking about. You have more to do than you can possibly get done and yet it still must be done. Tuesdays are my skip day. However, if I skipped Tuesdays I would miss the joy of watching my favorite soccer players having the time of their lives. Have you ever noticed that the things in life that produce the most joy and satisfaction are usually those things that are under the greatest attack? Let me explain. I know that Tuesdays are busy. I could use a good nights rest on Monday night to prepare. Last night I did not get much sleep. My oldest coughed all night and needed multiple breathing treatments. As I awoke to face my Tuesday I packed 3 lunches, 3 snacks and ushered 3 boys out the door. I then made sure 3 soccer uniforms were washed and dried and by noon I was cooking supper. Yes, I said supper. I picked Joshua up at 2:30 and found a very sick 5th grader who could not stay for chorus. When Caleb arrived home from chorus at 4:00 I had dinner packed in the cooler, water bottles ready and boys dressed for soccer. We had 15 minutes to get to the soccer field for pictures. As I pulled the cooler, chairs, blankets and a bag of soccer balls onto the field my attitude was less than appropriate. I watched 2 games and 3 1/2 hours later I loaded the car knowing that we had 20 minutes to return home, shower and make it to bed on time. I thoroughly enjoyed watching my children play soccer and score goals, but I was robbed of complete joy by having a bad attitude. I grumbled and I complained all night. Well, maybe not out loud, but in my heart I was complaining. I "might" have threatened out loud to "make everybody quit soccer." That conversation is kind of blurry, but the point is I have allowed the busyness, the hectic schedule and the inconvenience of Tuesdays to steal a very real and exciting joy that comes from the game of soccer in our lives. The Hawkins family is a soccer family and we love it. You know what else we are...We are a Jesus loving family too. We love Jesus, but we often allow the hectic, busy life we live to come before Him. Oh, we say it is all because of Him, so that we can have an impact on His kingdom, but is it really? Are we using all of "this" for His glory? God has called our family to a place of reevaluating why we do what we do? Are we keeping up with the Joneses or are we obeying His calling on our lives? Are we willing to be inconvenienced and uncomfortable to obey Him or do we shy away from those things that might stretch us? Sometimes it is those very things we shy away from that produce the most joy, growth and results in our lives. I pray that we will all be willing to be inconvenienced. I want to embrace the hectic, the new and the challenging, IF that is what it takes to know my Savior more, be conformed into His image and make a difference for His kingdom. I confess that Tuesdays stretch me. I can't ignore or run away from Tuesdays. I can't pretend they don't exist. I must face them each week. There are other things God calls me to that I cannot run from, things that stretch me and call me to a place of surrendering my agenda and teach me to die to self. It is my prayer that we will all learn to embrace the "new" that He calls us to even if it means being stretched. It is in those places of obedience that we find His joy.

Friday, October 1, 2010

"Grow Up"

What goes through your mind when you see a toddler drinking from a bottle? Grow up already!!! There comes a time when drinking from a bottle is just no longer appropriate. I Peter 2:2 "Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation." As infants we need milk. We are at the mercy of someone else to feed us and make sure we are being nourished. However, just as in real life there comes a time that we learn to feed ourselves, first by pinching bits and pieces, next by shoveling in the food with a fork and then learning how to prepare the food and feed others as well, so too we should follow this progression in our spiritual life. How unfortunate and unnatural would it be to drink from a spiritual bottle for the rest of your life depending on others to feed you. We must "Grow Up" in our faith and learn to feed ourselves from the meat of His word. Maybe it is because I am a pastor's wife, but I have always taken great issue with the statement "They just aren't being fed." Any obedient pastor will proclaim the truth from God's word when he is given the opportunity to speak. If he is not preaching scripture, then you need to find a new place to worship. As the scripture is opened, there is food. You have to make the choice to partake of the fare that is set before you. You must eat!! But it is not enough just to partake of only one meal a week. Imagine how weak and frail you would become if you only ate once a week. No, you have to nourish your body each and everyday and the same is true for your soul. As believers in the Lord Jesus Christ we must learn how to open God's word and feed on it for nourishment. It is so discouraging to see those who have been walking with the Lord for a long time yet still dependent on someone else to fill their bottle and assist them in their feeding. I just want to scream..."Grow up." But how does one grow up? By trying!! I remember when I wanted my children to begin to feed themselves, I would break up small pieces of food and lay it on the tray in front of them. It was with much effort that those tiny pinchers began to work and grasp for those nuggets of nourishment. Once in their hand, it took a little while to make it to their mouth, but the more they practiced the easier it became. There were times that they would become lazy or tired and want me to do it for them, but as their mother who cared about their development, I could not allow them to become lazy. I encouraged and I stayed the course in seeing that they learned to feed themselves. Now, 6, 9 and 11 years later I have children who not only can feed themselves, but that can also prepare food and feed others. Yes, I am talking about physical food, but it is also true with spiritual food. I have watched my children growing up in Him and being able to take scripture and encourage, rebuke and teach others through the truth of His word. They are growing up!! We as believers should continue to grow up in Him. 2 Peter 3:18 "But grow in the grace and knowledge or our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, to him be glory both now and forever. Amen." He wants us to grow! He has designed our physical and our spiritual beings to grow up in Him. May we always be found feasting on His Word so that we may become healthy and strong for the sake of His kingdom and His glory!