Monday, August 13, 2007

A Good Story

One thing about the evangelical community is we love a good story. Heck, I love a good Kingdom story and hope to share a lot more of them here in this blog. I wish I could tell a lot of sensational stories week after week about how the heavens open up day after day and angels come and meet me as I pray, but it just wouldn’t be true.

The truth is I sit in my chair a couple of times day, and I struggle to stay present and open to God, and maybe for a few brief seconds, if I’m lucky, I know in my heart that I am in the loving presence of God. Most of the time not much happens as I pray that I am all that conscious of. The only thing I have to go on is my wife and my friends noticing that I have changed a little; that I seem to be a little more at peace, and a little happier. I have also noticed that I handle situations differently. Situations that caused me a lot of stress, or anger in the past, don’t seem to get to me as much as they used to, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Contemplative prayer has taught me to not buy the religious guilt trip any more. Whether it be over social justice, experiences of the Holy Spirit, reading my Bible more, evangelism, etc. Do miracles happen in my life, is it important to read my Bible, feed the poor, and tell others about the love of God? Yes, and in one way or the other I have been involved, or hope to be involved in all of these things in the future. Do I see evidence, and experience the Holy Spirit in my life? All the time, but I no longer cling to these experiences, and then tell other people they need to do this or that to be whole, or accepted by God. WE ARE ALL ACCEPTED AND LOVED BY GOD - PERIOD.

Prayer teaches me to let go of everything, including experience and religious guilt trips, and simply love God for who he is rather than what he can do for me. God loves me just as I am – weeds and wheat. Amazing kingdom stuff is going to happen, and is happening, but not because I force it to happen out of guilt and shame. It’s going to happen because God loves this broken world and he wants to share that love through me to whoever is open to it at any God ordained time.

I am “in the river” and good and bad stuff is happening all of the time, just like it did in the life of Jesus. Prayer teaches me how to handle it all more like him.

learning to pray: Let go of any religious guilt or shame.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

How Great Thou Art

learning to pray: On your next walk, hike, or boating trip take the words for the hymn "How Great Thou Art" with you. Here's a sample that spoke to me recently as I was standing at the base of mountain in the midst of a beautiful garden at the Cedar Springs Retreat Center in Sumas, Washington:

When through the woods, and forest glades I wander,
And hear the birds sing sweetly in the trees.
When I look down, from lofty mountain grandeur
And see the brook, and feel the gentle breeze.

Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, How great Thou art.

For the lyrics to the entire song go to: Turn the volume up!!! (Just kidding).