What If?

A learning at Luke 10:27 By Becky Walding In a world of uncertainty I often find myself looking ahead and wondering about all the what if’s and things to come whether they are good or bad, most often bad. I get so caught up in the unknown that I allow myself to get to a state of worry and then fear enters without even realizing it. Once in that place I become so frozen that I can’t or won’t allow myself to savor all that life is offering at this moment. I become so fearful it literally stops me from seeing anything good in my life because I am so focused on the if’s. This morning in my quiet time with Jesus, I asked him a question, “What do you want me to learn today?” this is what I heard.. “Be content- live for today, enjoy each moment. Do not worry about things to come, instead put all your trust in ME and I will guide you and keep you safe. I just love how he knows just what we need and when we need it. Feast on these verses. Philippians 4:11 I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. Psalm 56:3 When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. Psalm 37:24 …though they stumble, they will not fall, for the Lord upholds them with his hand. Isaiah 43:2 When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers they will not sweep over you. So today I am leaning into these truths and trusting. Father God, I want to savor each day with you and cherish every moment with the people in my life. Thank you for your sweet way of talking to us and reassuring us that you are right there with us every step of the way. I pray that as I savor all you have to offer that I will continue to grow closer and closer to you each day. Love you so much. Your servant, Becky

Play With God

It was a Freudian slip.  An error in speech due to an unconscious wish. His prayer during our worship service  was coming to an end.  “in the name of Jesus we play.  Amen.” We play?! I love it!  Praying is playing with God.  Wow!  That’s no Freudian slip.  That’s divine revelation. God wants to play with us. I’ve prayed with prayer shawls and  prayer books,   but never with play dough.  The unconventional thought  seeped into my soul. Pray with play dough?   Preposterous.   Call out to God with a crayon?  Absurd.   Seek the Lord  in sand?  Strange. But not according to recent research in the field of Social Sciences .  Studies of the brain prompt Neuropsychologist R. Joseph to say, “The limbic system (of the brain) may well be the seat of the soul or may serve as the neuro transmitter to God.”   We are wired to connect with God.  Creative arts  heighten that connection by offering  a “slow-paced setting conducive to reflection.”   John Berryman, author of Godly Play, encourages us to be in the presence of Godly laughter.  “Godly laughter,” writes Berryman, “is that of creation and play.” So, here’s to pink play dough, a pack of colored pencils, a sack of sand and a box of crayons. Teach us to pray, Lord.  Teach us to play. . . . . with You! We adore You, O Christ, now and forever.  Amen.

Unhurried Intimacy With Christ

Unhurried intimacy with Christ. Like a salmon swimming upstream it’s a daunting task. Why? Why is it so difficult to linger in God’s presence? Why is it so hard to just hang with the One who knows us better and loves us stronger than anyone? When I was growing up my Mom had a mantra: “Leslie, slow down!” I wish I had been a better listener. Have you ever noticed how the beautiful things in God’s creation take their time? Slowly, insistently light defies darkness as the sun rises. A baby is born. A flower blooms. An oak tree looms large in our yard. Each formation takes the path of gradual growth. Each formation experiences barely perceptible change from one day to the next. I think God likes unhurried. Today, Lord, help us linger in Your Love. Give us the courage to challenge “busy” and “not enough time” by spending gentle, relaxed time with You, the One who saves us from ourselves. We get that it’s going to take us time to learn how to take time. So, bless us with persistent patience, Jesus. We adore You, O Christ, now and forever. Amen.

Love

Today, Lord, How many faces will we see? How many words will we read? How much time will we spend with our family and friends? As our fingers type and swipe Bring us, Love, into Your Light. Yours is the Face we want to see when we strike a messaging key. Love listens. Love learns. Love forgives a wrong turn. Love seeks to always find something good – something kind. Love never wants to turn away from what His people have to say. Love gives us space to make a fuss refusing to give up on us. So, today, Lord, may Your Face fill the space between us and our friends. May Your Love from above be our button marked “Send.”

I Want To Pray

“I want to pray, but I don’t know how.” “Who has time? I sure don’t.” “I just do it while I’m doing things.” Common thoughts for an uncommon practice. Uncommon because prayer is a sacred encounter with the One who created us. A listening for holy whispers. A transforming power to change direction, change one’s heart, and change the world. It’s God’s way of intimacy with us. It’s One being one with us. Leading us. Convicting us. Loving us. So let’s learn about it. I’m SO excited about the series we’re doing at Luke on Sunday mornings: Being with Jesus to be sent out. Each week, along with the sermon, we’re receiving a WayCard. The WayCards contain specific ways to experience intimacy with the One who thinks we’re His best idea ever. For these first ten weeks we’re learning how to be with Jesus. Our being with Him informs out doing for Him. If we don’t get this order right, being before doing, we end up like a chicken running around with her head cut off. Busy, but dead. The following weeks we’ll experience being sent out in ministry of service, finances, and relationships (with particular focus on strengthening our marriages). It’s a breathtaking experience to be with Jesus and to be sent out by Him to help build His kingdom. So, let’s learn how to do it together! You are our King, Lord. We stand in awe that you want to come close to us. Help us create space in our busy lives to love You,. . . to serve You, . . .to just be with You. We adore You, O Christ, now and forever. Amen.

It’s Our Children That Grab My Heart

STOP! Please. Before you place any more food in your mouth today, would you take a moment to hear my heart. Yesterday three children came to our LANDers after-school program with their hands on their stomachs. “Please, Ms. Leslie, I’m starving,” one moaned. With tears in her eyes she cried, “I didn’t get to eat breakfast or lunch today. They couldn’t feed us at school. Please let me have snack early today.” As I frantically placed food in their empty hands my precious Frank called a high ranking political servant and asked what was happening. He stated the horrific obvious. “It’s happening all over the country. The government’s shut down.” Blame is of absolutely no benefit here. Democrat or Republican? I could care less. It is our children that grab my heart. They are totally dependent on us to get it right. And so far, we haven’t. Several weeks ago Nancy Hill, an elder at our church, preached a powerful word about prayer. She stated an absolute truth. “Prayer is the easiest and most powerful tool we have at our disposal.” She’s absolutely correct! Blame helps no one. Prayer, on the other hand, releases strong Power, great Wisdom, and a Compassion that weeps and raises the dead. PLEASE. Whether a deal is made today or not, I invite you to place no food in your mouth for the next twenty four hours. Let your growling stomach bring all children across the world to mind. Let the pangs of hunger awaken your soul to pray protection for them. Our children our counting on us to get this right! In our emptiness, Lord, fill us with Your Wisdom, Your Power, and Your Compassion. We adore you O Christ, now and forever! Amen.

Taking a Double Take at Double Tape

A Learning at Luke . . . Taking a Double Take at Double Tape by:  Kevin Acord Last Saturday I decided to attend the Fall on Your Knees class being offered at our church through October.  I was expecting to learn something about prayer, but little did I know, I was in for much, much more. Ms. Leslie brought pieces of paper with various thoughts on prayer for us to put into the notebooks we brought with us.   She was even thoughtful enough to bring several rolls of Scotch tape for us to use to put the papers into our notebooks.  When I got my roll I noticed that it was double sided tape.  I immediately thought, “I can’t use this, it’s double sided tape; it will make the sheets in my notebook stick together!”  My next thought was, “Classic, Ms. Leslie!” In that fond, warm, yet patronizing kind of way I all too often think and speak.  As soon as there was a break in the teaching, I passed the roll back to Ms. Leslie and asked for another while pointing out the silliness of trying to use double sided tape.  Ms. Leslie then said, “Yes, I handed that out so one side could stick to the back of the handout and the other could stick to the notebook.” Doing it that way never even crossed my mind.  I couldn’t believe I missed something that simple. Immediately, the Holy Spirit said to me, “Kevin, how many other times have you thought you did things the right way and judged someone?”  “What other areas in your life could you be stuck doing things a certain way?”  I guess it’s worth a double take.

It’s Twenty Minutes, Lord

It tastes better than a cup of coffee,  a glass of warm milk,  or a hot fudge sundae with nuts and whipped cream. A couple of nights ago I realized regretfully that I had forgotten to attend our Study/Prayer Group.  Totally bummed I continued the myriad of tasks before me as a gnawing anx began tugging at my soul.  Breaking away from my ‘to do’s’, I went outside to walk and wonder.  “What is it God?  What do you want me to hear?”   A spiritual practice came to mind from a recent reading.  Centering Prayer. The early desert mother and fathers (ie. 4th century women and men monks who totally captivate my admiration) practiced contemplative prayer as a lifestyle.  Today centering prayer provides a means to encounter their transforming experience. I’ve heard about it.  But never tried it. That  night I tried it. No amount of M&Ms and Diet Coke could have brought the peace and pleasure I experienced in 20 amazing minutes. Recognizing my complete lack of culinary skills this is one of the best recipes I could possibly share with you. Centering Prayer Serves:  one weary soul PRESET a timer for 20 minutes CHOOSE one of the words below or your own sacred word of one or two syllables. God, Abba, Jesus, Mary, peace, shalom, prayer, love, stillness, joy … SIT comfortably with eyes closed. and silently, slowly repeat your word. WHEN a “thought, feeling, impression, memory or external stimulus attracts your attention gently return to the sacred word…as if the word were a feather floating softly onto a pillow.”                                                                      (The Tree of Life, Models of Christian Prayer) SPEAK slowly the Lord’s Prayer at the end of the twenty minutes. YIELDS: one refreshed, centered soul submitted to the Holy Spirit It’s twenty minutes, Lord.  It feels impossible.   Stir in our hearts a way to do what doesn’t seem doable as we seek to be what we haven’t been for Your glory.   We adore You, O Christ, now and forever.

Put On The Helmet

A couple of days ago while riding my bike at a rapid pace I hit a curb, lost control of the bike, and landed with a horrific thud on my head with my bike on top of me.  Five staples later in the back of my head I left the emergency room vowing to change my ways and wear a helmet. I don’t like helmets. But bottom line . .  Helmets protect. That ‘s their  purpose. If they aren’t used, they can’t do what they are supposed to do. It’s the same way with prayer. Repeatedly the scriptures urge us to “Pray for one another.  Pray without ceasing. ” Prayer places Perfect Love, Wisdom, and Power in our lives. If we don’t pray, prayer can’t do what it’s supposed to do. When we’re angry, confused, frustrated, hurt, overwhelmed, full of fear God’s provision is prayer.  But, like a helmet, we don’t want to stop and use it.     It’s inconvenient to put it on.  It doesn’t really seem necessary.  And it feels weird. Who wants to stop and pray with someone?    It’s inconvenient. Why pray for our children relentlessly through the day?  It doesn’t seem necessary. Who wants to pray in the midst of an argument?  It feels weird. But His answer remains the same.  Put on the helmet.  Pray. “Pray for your children every night, every morning, every time they come to mind. Pray with each other wherever you are whenever you can. Pray. And prayer will do what it’s supposed to do. It will place perfect love, wisdom, and power in your life.” Lord, help us get low enough to know that we need you every minute of every day. Stir in us an unwillingness to forget about You  and a passion to include You in everything we do, think, and say.  We adore You, O Christ, now and forever.