Friday, October 31, 2008

Prayer Worrier or Prayer Warrior ?

Yes.. you read the title right ! I think there really are prayer worriers and prayer warriors. Which one are you ??

I think ‘worry’ is the emotion that sits right next to our ‘concern’ button. We all appreciate people who are quickly concerned and eager to come along side someone who is suffering or in pain or going through a difficult time.
I don’t think it is possible to be a person with a caring heart and not be tempted to worry !

So how does worrying relate to prayer ?

What drives you to your knees quicker than worry ? Worry is an alarm clock meant to alert us that it is time to pray ! Many of us hear the alarm clock quick enough but we never turn it off… we try to pray over the aggravating sound of it !!

The Prayer Worrier

What does our prayer look like when we pray without turning off the alarm clock?
We pray the begging prayers, the pleading prayers, the prayers that never bring us more than a moment of peace -- the prayers that lack faith !

I had a friend named Carrie who was a great prayer worrier !
She had a heart for the suffering of others and she wanted everyone’s life to be happy – including her own ! She wore her ‘worry’ emotion on her sleeve where it was always ready for a quick response. While it would drive her to pray , five minutes later she was worrying the problem in her own strength, trying to find an answer, trying to think of how she could manipulate circumstances, people, and yes.. even God … to the end solution she was sure was the right one! I told her once that she needed to give her prayer concern to God then get a tall ladder and put that concern on a very high shelf and put the ladder away. It became a joke between us – this ladder that was so often put back up so she could reach that top shelf and take her concern down again !

I know that there are times when our burden is heavy and a quick prayer isn’t enough. I’m not talking about those times … but it is the ‘worrying’ kind of situations that we are often most reluctant to trust God to take care of.

The Prayer Warrior

In contrast, a prayer warrior prays with faith - the kind of prayer that comes out of knowing God’s heart and Word and is full of trust that He will hear and answer... His way , in His time. A prayer warrior knows the tactics of the enemy and is not taken in by them. A prayer warrior goes with confidence into the Holy of Holies to bring his request before God.

Heb 4:16 “Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”

When I think of a prayer warrior, I often think of the ‘example’ of my granddaughter.
She was a precocious child , talking in sentences when she was 18 months old. Somehow- perhaps by over hearing her Mom who asked me to do her mending - she got the idea that I could fix anything. So when ever something was wrong… a hole in her pyjamas, a broken doll or toy, a torn blanket ….her immediate response was, “Nanna fix it!” and she would drag it to the front door to be ready for me the next time I came over!
I, of course, did all I could not to disappoint her faith in me !!!

I have often thought… God must feel the same way. He looks down at His children who are prayer worriers, those who never shut the alarm clock off… and wish they would just realize how powerful and willing He is to answer their prayers!
I think how His heart must swell , as mine did, with pride at a child that trusts Him so completely!
And He too is careful not to disappoint His prayer warrior’s trust that their prayers will be heard !!
1Pe 1:7 “That the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ”

How often we think a prayer warrior is one who knows how to storm the gates of heaven! I think a prayer warrior is one whose heart is big in childlike trust ! One who hears the alarm clock at the first stroke of worry , and quickly reaches over to turn it off, and immediately seeks the God that has all the answers!

A prayer warrior makes sure his "whole armor" is in place, and then "praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit" is assured that he will "be strong in the Lord" who always has the victory over every battle !
(Eph .4:10-18)


Monday, October 27, 2008

The Egyptian Book of the Dead

When God speaks, He speaks not from the lofty realms of His heaven.
He speaks in a down-to-earth way that man understands. He uses the language and customs of the current society.
While the cultures that existed at the time God dictated the scriptures have long since disappeared, we today have , via the Internet , information at our fingertips that would even a few short years ago been difficult , if not impossible, to find.

Yesterday, I came across some interesting information that shed new light on my understanding of a couple of Scripture passages.
I was reading a translation of the Egyptians' Book of the Dead. The oldest copy we have is from about 1900 BC. That is before the time of Joseph in Egypt.

I became interested in the detailed , deeply religious rituals they carried out as part of the 70 day embalming process.
I want to focus on two of them and how they surprisingly enlightened my understanding of scripture.

1. The ritual concerning the heart ...

The rituals regarding the heart were regarded as extremely important.

The Egyptians believed in an afterlife but only if their heart was judged sinless would they be allowed to enter a joyful eternity.
They believed that they would be met by many gods who had the power to judge them worthy to enter eternity or to condemn them to torment.

The judgement depended on the weighing of their heart. It would be placed on a scale .....and weighed against a feather.
It was believed that a heart was made heavy by sin and only if it was sinless could it weigh less than a feather ! If it weighed more - the person was condemned to torment and then to being devoured by a beast.
Facing judgement, the deceased Egyptian was called upon by the gods to make what was called a Negative Confession.
Here is the Negative Confession he was required to confess.
"I haven't committed sin.
I haven't committed robbery with violence.
I haven't stolen.
I haven't slain men and women.
I haven't stolen grain.
I haven't purloined offerings.
I haven't stolen the property of god.
I haven't uttered lies.
I haven't carried away food.
I haven't uttered curses.
I haven't committed adultery - I haven't lain with men.
I have made none to weep.
I haven't eaten the heart.
I haven't attacked any man.
I am not a man of deceit.
I haven't stolen cultivated land.
I haven't been an eavesdropper.
I haven't slandered any man.
I haven't been angry without just cause.
I haven't debauched the wife of any man.
I haven't polluted myself.
I have terrorized none.
I haven't transgressed the law.
I haven't been wroth.
I haven't shut my ears to the words of truth.
I haven't blasphemed.
I am not a man of violence.
I haven't been a stirrer up of strife.
I haven't acted with undue haste.
I haven't pried into matters.
I haven't multiplied my words in speaking.
I have wronged none - I have done no evil.
I haven't worked witchcraft against the Pharaoh.
I have never stopped the flow of water.
I have never raised my voice.
I haven't cursed god.
I haven't acted with arrogance.
I haven't stolen the bread of the gods.
I haven't carried away the khenfu cakes from the Spirits of the dead.
I haven't snatched away the bread of a child, nor treated with contempt the city god.
I haven't slain the cattle belonging to the god."
Obviously there were not many Egyptians who could die unafraid to recite the Negative Confession.
So man being man and the Egyptians being rather resourceful, they came up with a safety net plan.
The Egyptians believed that the heart , because it was always truthful , would witness against them when they recited the confession before the gods.
So to avoid being betrayed by their own heart, they cut the heart out of the deceased Egyptian and replaced it with a heart carved out of stone on which were written magic incantations.
Then when the Negative Confession was recited - the heart , being stone, could not speak and therefore could not witness against the Egyptian. He would be saved by his hard stone heart and be found innocent by silence !!
We read the story of Pharaoh. We read the verses that speak of Pharaoh's hard heart!
The Israelites at that time very clearly understood what a hard heart was. They were familiar with the Egyptians' rituals for the dead and also their religious beliefs.
When God said "Pharaoh's heart is hard..." (Ex.7:14) the Israelites would have had the picture in their mind of the 'stone heart' that replaced the flesh heart of the dead Egyptian.
But it is interesting that while the Egyptians believed that a 'hard' stone heart would save them, God showed it turned about. It was the hard heart that rejected God and therefore suffered eternal punishment.
A stone heart does not turn God's eyes away from the man whose heart bears witness of the sin he committed.
2. The ritual of the opened mouth ....
The other ritual that I found interesting was the very last one that was performed on the mummified body before it was laid in the tomb. This was an extremely important ritual , in fact it was considered the most important.
Using a forked tool, the mouth of the deceased was pried open. (If you want to see a rather frightening photo you may find it here... )
It was the open mouth that restored all the senses and body faculties to the deceased enabling him to enjoy to the fullest all the delights and joys of the afterlife !
The Israelites understood this Egyptian ritual.
With their mind set read this this verse in Psalm 81:10......

"I am the LORD your God, Who brought you out of the land of Egypt; Open your mouth wide, and I will fill it."
Notice that God does not pry your mouth open...He invites you to open it ! and He promises to fill it !! Not only with the good things of this life but also the wonderful things pertaining to the life to come !
photo credit (

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Which God do you Love?

Last night at our church bible study, it came up again. The God of the Old Testament is different than the God of the New.

Over the years, I could not count how many times I have heard people express this view of God - He is fearful in the Old Testament , but loving in the New.

I remember years ago as I began to seek to know God, I too, avoided the Old Testament because I was uncomfortable with the God I had been given to understand was portrayed there.

I stayed in the safe pages of the New Testament where I could read of God's love and mercy and forgiveness and see His compassion played out in the life of Jesus.

But one day I was convicted by the Holy Spirit that I was avoiding the Old Testament which was a big part of my bible.

I recognized that the early church had nothing but the OT scriptures and I could see that they were full of joy in the Lord. How did they reconcile the two?

So I took a deep breath and braced myself to study the OT... fearful that I would encounter a God that ruled from afar as a Judge full of wrath against sin, demanding an impossible standard.

To my great delight and awe... the more I studied , the more I found instead a God of Love and Mercy .... acting always as One intimately concerned for His people.

I found that knowing the God of the Old Testament filled me with such confidence and trust and admiration that my faith in Him was greatly strengthened. It truly changed how I understood His thoughts, His ways, and consequently how I prayed and related to Him!

One of my favorite subject titles when I was teaching woman's bible study groups in our church was ... 'You cannot Know or Understand the Love of God until you Know the God of the Old Testament.'

The NT 'tells' us that God is love, but it doesn't show us HOW ! It doesn't show us a picture of what that looks like played out in daily lives. Yes, we have the beautiful picture of Jesus willing to give His life for us.... we see Jesus being willing to bear the wrath of the God of the Old Testament on our behalf. Even though we recite John 3:16 for memory, we hide in a corner of our heart a fearful drawing back from the God who would demand such a price.

Many of us are not convinced until we see a picture... we learn best when we can 'see' what something looks like. God knows that ... He knows that we love pictures and stories. So He has given us that in the Old Testament.

Satan has tried to keep Christians from spending too much time there because he wants to keep them ignorant of what they will find hidden in the rich pages of God's His-story.

I started studying the OT by looking at the OT stories... the old familiar bible stories I had grown up with as a child. But I read them from a new perspective. I read them looking for how God related to His people ... as a nation but especially individually. I looked to see what the circumstances were and I looked to see how God thought and acted to and interacted with His people.

Again, and again I saw His tenderness, His love, His compassion, His open ears to their cries. I saw 'pictures' in the photo album of the OT of a God who was not afar off but was near to His people - understanding their needs, their pain and always with a ready answer for their questions. He met them in wonderful ways.

But I also saw how easily the human heart defaults back to its evil tendencies, choosing to follow its own inclinations and desires and turn away from a God who loved them.

And then I began to see the difficult parts of the OT - the violence , the killing - from His perspective and saw His love and patience even there.

I think the one thing people most often bring up is that the God of the OT was a God of violence and bloodshed.
Have you ever considered that the fault of the violence in the OT lies not with God but with man? If God had not been actively involved in the wars and violence of the OT, perhaps man would never have survived long enough to enjoy the blessings of the new covenant. All through the OT it is easy to see that God wanted His people to live in peace and under His provision ... but He was very much a parent with rebellious children. When God saw that they were bent on going in a certain direction He manipulated the outcome through His discipline - the sword, famine, pestilences- in such a way that His purposes in the end were realized. And His end purpose was that He would have a remnant of people that would be ready to receive His Son. If there had not been - you and I would not today be enjoying the blessings of being His child.

People look for a strong person to be their leader, to be a boss or CEO of a big corporation, a political head of their country but they seem to prefer a weak, permissive God. A permissive God does not inspire me to feel protected or safe. I want a 'hands-on' God , One who is powerful and unchanging - a God whose Word I can count on , whose Love is strong , who is infinitely wise, and yes, a God who hates evil !

That is the God I saw in the Old Testament - and that is the very God who was willing to take on human flesh and become the God/man to show us by the ultimate selfless act of giving His own life and death and resurrection the depth and breadth and height of His divine Love and through His compassionate mercy provide a way for you and me to come into fellowship with that Love!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Your Glasses may be Dirty !

Have you ever tried to do life looking through smudged glasses ? I am amazed how dirty my glasses can get! All they do is sit on my nose .... yet the pollution in the air, the dust, the grime ... can make them dirty enough that I just can't see !!!

I may for awhile try to look around a smudge but it doesn't take long for me to be annoyed enough to quickly wash them so that I can see clearly again - and that puts the smile back on my face! I was thinking how this is also true in a spiritual sense.

We are bombarded by 'pollution' in the air... literally . The air waves of information fill our waking moments and even if we do nothing we are influenced and formed by the things we hear! We have no control over it . The glasses through which we view our world will be colored\smudged by the opinions and views of the people we listen to.

All of the world's offered information, in its many and varied opinions, is fundamentally flawed or 'smudged'. It's foundation is a shifting one, built on a system of mixed truth and error.

Often we get so used to seeing through our 'smudged' world view that we do not realize that our 'glasses' may need adjustment or cleansing so that we can see the Truth.

I thought of the verse in Psalm 119:9 "Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? by taking heed thereto according to thy word."

I looked into the Greek word meaning for 'cleanse' .... It is "clear, transparent, free from disguise or falseness".

That fits my analogy perfectly doesn't it? When I look through smudged glasses everything is disguised or false - the things I look at are obscured or distorted.

But when I look through clean glasses - clear and transparent- then my view is clean - crystal clear and sharp.

I read a quote by Os Guinness who said ... "Without truth there is no freedom!"
We all desire to be free but often we look for freedom in the wrong places.

Jesus told us the only way to be free!
Joh 8:36 "Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed." and from Eph. 4:21 we know that "the truth is in Jesus !"

In Christ we are free... in Him we have the truth ... revealed to us in His Word.

I was frustrated the other day when my glasses were smudged and I wasn't close to any water. Scripture says it is by the 'washing of God's Word' that we can see clearly to discern the error around us.
But if we don't read it .. don't study it .... then we are 'without water' and our glasses will stay smudged.

Especially today, when the world's 'smog' mind set is thick around us, we need God's Word... it is the most important survival 'how-to' guide that we have !

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Your Steps are Ordered

Have you ever stood at a place in your life where you felt like the sunshine was behind you and all you could see in front of you was darkness and a treacherous path? Where fear twisting and gnawing within you snuffed out any moment of happiness you reached for ? Where you felt that you only thing you could hold onto was fragile at best ?

My husband and I went for a walk today behind our home where there is a lovely mountain trail. Until recently, the start of it was rather treacherous ..a steep incline without sure footing and a little rain could make it down right dangerous. There was nothing strong to hold onto.
It reminded me of a person's life without God - his path is unknown, unsafe, unpredictable and unstable.

But... how our path changes when we accept the Lord into our life. When we become His child there are vast improvements made to our path of life.
Just like our mountain trail!

Beautiful steps have been ordered and installed !
About a hundred of them. Steps carefully fitted to the terrain and spaced in such a way as to make it just right for a climber's natural pace. The trail that before filled me with trepidation is now a delight !

I thought of the verse in Psalms 37:23
"The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD, And He delights in his way."
The word 'ordered' jumped out at me. Ordered implies several things......
First it implies that what is ordered will be made according to specifications . Careful thought and planning has gone into the specifications that will meet the intended purpose. God knows exactly where my feet will go and He has build steps before me so that I will not stumble or slip and can climb the mountain of my life without fear!
Along the steps of our new mountain trail, benches have been thoughtfully placed for weary climbers.
The Lord knew that I would also get tired along my life path ... and in His forethought places of rest were placed beside the steps.

Exo 33:14 And He said, "My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest."
There are also places where we can stop and look out over the view .
There are times in my life where I need to stop and take a look at the bigger picture . It is sooo easy to get caught up with the details of my life... details that can confuse me, disappoint me, overwelm me or even make me question the purpose of events, circumstances that face me .... But if I stop and look from God's point of view, seeing the bigger picture that reveals His heart and purposes I find that my soul is quieted and I am strengthened and encouraged to carry on - my faith built up in the One in Whom I trust !

Isa 55:8 "For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways," says the LORD.
And along the path of my life ... God has also ordered surprises to delight and cheer me. Just like this caterpillar on our walk reminded me of my childhood fascination with these furry little creatures that would curl up in my hand. I had not seen one for a long time and the sight of him put a smile on my face.
I am always amazed at how God seems to delight in hiding surprises along my life path.... little things that only He would know would give me a moment of pleasure and an assurance of His love toward me.

We are living in times that are more apt to fill us with uncertainty and fear than a settled confidence that all will be well.
I want to remind you that if you are a child of the Father your life steps are ordered by Him and they are fitted and measured specifically for your footsteps. He ordered them long ago knowing just what you would need. There are no surprises to Him - your life was known to Him from before you were born. How comforting to know that we do not have to find our own way on a dangerous path of life.....but our steps were ordered, preplanned to specifications according to His purposes and His care over us.
(If you are not yet a child of the Father.. know that He would love to welcome you into the kingdom. Simply come to Him as a child - repent and confess your sin and need of Him-recognizing that it is only through Jesus that there is salvation)

Jer 29:11 "For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. "