ARCHIVES: May 2015


05.29.2015

Friday Prayer for Good Men

IMG_2536Well, Annesley and Geoff are now Mr. & Mrs. Cole, and we couldn’t be happier!

I’d fill you in on the wedding details, but since Friday’s posts are meant to be prayer helps, I want to back up and give you a peek at something I prayed for Geoff last week.  (If you want wedding stories, check back in the next week or two;  for now, consider borrowing the prayers in this post for your own son-in-law, your son, your husband…or your hoped-for husband!  It’s never too early – or too late – to start praying for your man!)

First, though, a bit of background:

You know how if you’re in the market for new rug or paint color you can’t go to anyone’s house without noticing their floors and their walls?  Well I think it’s the same way with the Bible.  Whatever you’re in the market for tends to be what you find.  Which is exactly how, for me, the Christmas story turned into a Friday Prayer for Good Men.

Like many of you, I like to have a strategy when it comes to Bible reading.  I can get easily distracted, and having a plan for what to read each day helps keep me on track.  (It also means that, eventually, I will have to get around to the parts I wouldn’t normally read…and as some of you know, one of my greatest fears is showing up in heaven and having someone like Obadiah say, “How did you like my book?”  I want to be ready for that!)

Anyhow, right now I am on a two-year reading course (if you want to download the plan and join me, click here) that currently has me in Matthew.  I’ve probably read the Christmas story a zillion times and I’ve always admired Mary, but last week, as I thought about my own daughter and her impending nuptials, I found myself drawn to Joseph.  He doesn’t get much press coverage, but if you read Matthew 1 and 2 with an eye toward discovering a little bit about his character, you’ll find a treasure trove.

Here are just a few of the nuggets:

Matthew 1:19 calls Joseph a “righteous man” who didn’t want to expose Mary to “public disgrace.”  In an age where reality television has made revenge and public humiliation an acceptable response to just about any offense, we might not have blamed Joseph if he’d pointed a few fingers.  He had to have figured that Mary had cheated on him, but instead of ridiculing her or doing something to salvage his own reputation, he planned to end things quietly.  Classy guy.

And in the very next verse, when the angel shows up to set the record straight, Joseph doesn’t protest.  He had to have been thinking, “Whaaaat??”, but instead of peppering the angel with a bunch of questions, he simply accepts God’s word as truth – and he acts on it.  A man of genuine faith.

And that acceptance becomes a pattern.  Again and again in the narrative, we see Joseph following God without hesitation, even when the instructions seemed a little incomplete, or when obedience meant getting out of bed and fleeing during the night, with a wife and a baby in tow (see Matthew 2:13-14, 21, and 22-23).

What a guy!  And what a model for our prayers!  I used Joseph’s example as a way to pray for Geoff, as well as for my husband, my son, and my future son-in-law, Charlie.  Go ahead and put the name of a man you love right into this prayer, and make it your own:

Heavenly Father, make _____ like Joseph.  Let him respond to insults and offenses – whether real or perceived – with wisdom, tact, and grace.  May he always put the needs and reputation of others ahead of his own.

Give ____ a keen sensitivity to your Holy Spirit.  Speak to him, Lord, and tune his ear to hear your voice.  When you give him instruction, equip him to follow it wholeheartedly and without hesitation.  Strengthen his faith so that he will stay when you say “stay” and move when you say “move.” 

As _____ cares for his wife and family, be his protector, his guide, and his Father.  May he always put his trust in you.  

Bless him, Lord.

Amen.

 

 

 

Bible reading plan


ARCHIVES: May 2015


05.22.2015

Friday Prayer for a Common Life

FullSizeRenderIt’s Wedding Time!  Whoop!  Whoop!

Instead of today’s Scripture-based prayer, I want to share the one I’ve been reading and praying for Annesley and Geoff this week.  It’s from the Book of Common Prayer, and it’s part of what we’ll pray for them tomorrow, during the ceremony.

Feel free to borrow this time-tested blessing today for your own marriage, or for any couple you love:

Eternal God, creator and preserver of all life, author of 
salvation, and giver of all grace: Look with favor upon the 
world you have made, and for which your Son gave his life, and especially upon this man and this woman whom you make one flesh in Holy Matrimony. 

Give them wisdom and devotion in the ordering of their common life, that each may be to the other a strength in need, a counselor in perplexity, a comfort in sorrow, and a companion in joy.  

Grant that their wills may be so knit together in your will, and their spirits in your Spirit, that they may grow in love
and peace with you and one another all the days of their life.  


Give them grace, when they hurt each other, to recognize and acknowledge their fault, and to seek each other’s forgiveness and yours. 

Make their life together a sign of Christ’s love to this sinful and broken world, that unity may overcome estrangement, forgiveness heal guilt, and joy conquer despair. 

Amen.

(This is only part of the prayer; if you want the whole thing (and you do!), click here and then scroll down until you get to page 429.)

Let the wedding bells ring!

 


ARCHIVES: May 2015


05.15.2015

Friday Prayer for Waiting

FullSizeRenderIt’s peony time in Virginia Beach.

Every year, I watch the stems sprout up from the ground and form buds. It seems to take forever and then – just like that – they pop into bloom, great bursts of white and pink that can fill an entire house with their marvelous, heady fragrance.

I clipped this bunch this morning and thought about the waiting process. I don’t like it (who does?), but as I walked around the garden, I realized how creative God is. I would have had all the plants pop at once – one big noisy show of azaleas and hydrangeas and peonies – but then it would be over. God, in his wisdom, tells each flower when to “go,” and the result is a beautiful, season-long symphony.

When it comes to waiting, David was way ahead of me. Psalm 27 shows him surrounded by enemies, facing a day of trouble, and calling out to God for help…and yet there is no sense of panic or fear. Instead, David is confident that God  will show up. He knows God is good, and that his timing is perfect.

As we look to the Lord to work in our lives today – to be our helper, our teacher, our place of safety, and all the other things he is in Psalm 27 – let’s not give in to worry or fear, even if the answer seems to be taking longer than we’d like.  Instead, let’s borrow a prayer from David, and ask God to fill our hearts and minds with confident expectation:

Heavenly Father, let me be confident in your goodness.  Help me be strong and take heart, and to wait for you.  (Psalm 27:13-14).

 


ARCHIVES: May 2015


05.13.2015

To Know is to Love

FullSizeRenderThe toughest part about throwing a wedding?

For me, it might be choosing the wine.  You’d think that someone who likes the fruit of the vine as much as I do would find this an inspiring job (another tasting? Yes please!), but that’s not the case.

Robbie and I are blessed to have befriended a lot of wine enthusiasts  who, over the years, have graciously shared some of their favorites from the cellar.  Not wanting these folks to show up on our big day and gag over our offerings, I decided to tap into the wisdom of Proverbs 15:22 (“Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisors they succeed”) and get their input, up front.

Oh my.

The first guy was happy to take my call.  Twenty minutes later, I knew more than I ever wanted to about the difference between a Cabernet and a Malbec (which doesn’t seem like much, actually), the “lock” some growers had on different price points, and how Argentina was producing some really good varietals right now.  Or maybe it was Australia.  I can’t remember.  (See?)

The next fella’s reply came via email and was incredibly well organized.  Fifteen of his favorites, all listed with accompanying prices, commentary (“People think it is expensive because he was once a ‘cult’ winemaker”) and an assessment of each wine’s “drinkability.”  Drinkability?  I thought that mostly came down to whether or not you had a glass and corkscrew.  (And I’m not really positive about the glass.)

I think my favorite tip came from the wife of one of the connoisseurs, who offered to hook me up with his buyer. I spent about half a second fantasizing about how I could work that relationship into party conversation (“I was cleaning the lint trap on the dryer the other day, and it reminded me of something that my wine buyer said…”), but I knew I couldn’t pull it off.  Sensing my growing panic, the wife hung up the phone and then graciously sent me this text:  “It’s going to be great no matter what you serve.  We’re Episcopalian.  We’re happy with anything.”

That’s what I’m talking about!

IMG_8498I know I sound overwhelmed, but I actually loved all the expert feedback, if only because it proved the point that Jen Wilkin makes in her fabulous book, Women of the Word.  On the theory that you can’t love what you don’t know, Wilkin’s mission is to help us go after God not just with our hearts but also with our minds.  

Right off the bat Wilkins taps into scientific studies done by Yale brainiac Paul Bloom, who specializes in – get this – “pleasure research.”  (Talk about a sweet job.)  Bloom cites a clear link between knowledge and enjoyment, maintaining that our pleasure in something increases when we learn its “history, origin, and deeper nature.”  For Bloom, a ready example is wine:  “The key to enjoying wine isn’t just to guzzle a lot of expensive wine,” he says.  “It’s to learn about wine.”

Our grape-loving friends would add a hearty amen right there.  The more they know, the more they love.  (And presumably, the more they drink.  But far be it from me to point any fingers.  Especially when they invite me to share the love.)

Wilkin takes Bloom’s research and slaps it onto two of her favorite topics:  Bible study, and our relationship with God.  “Finding greater pleasure in God will not result from pursuing more experiences of him,” she writes, “but from knowing him better.”  Instead of making the Bible “all about me” (wisdom for my life, direction for my relationships, comfort for my sorrows), she encourages us to approach it as a book that is “all about Him.”  As we get to know God’s character, we can’t help but fall deeper in love…and as a result, we are changed.

I may never be a sommelier (I think those people have to know the difference between Argentina and Australia, for starters), but when it comes to knowing the true vine – the one from John 15, who makes our lives bear fruit – I want to drink deeply of the stuff Wilkin is peddling.  I don’t want to just study the Bible; I want to study God – to know him better, to love him more, to let him transform both my heart and my mind.

And as for the wedding wine, well, I can’t worry about that anymore.  I figure that the same God who turned water into wine at that wedding in Cana 2000 years ago is still showing up at parties today.  Maybe he can make a few tweaks when nobody’s looking.

 


ARCHIVES: May 2015


05.08.2015

Friday Prayer for Being Still

Exodus 14-14I texted a friend yesterday to ask her to pray for me, since I felt weary.  She immediately shot back this promise:  “The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.”

I loved that!  Who wouldn’t?

Those simple words changed my perspective and carried me through a jam-packed day with grace and joy.  If you find yourself needing a break today – or better still, if you have a friend who could do with turning her battles over to God – why not turn Exodus 14:14 into your own personal prayer?

Heavenly Father, thank you that you know all that I am up against, and you promise to fight for me.  Quiet my heart and help me to be still, trusting in your sovereign power and endless love.  (Exodus 14:14)


ARCHIVES: May 2015


05.06.2015

“Wait…What?”

IMG_8660“Wait…what?”

If you ask Robbie’s three older sisters to cite the quote they’d heard most often during his growing up years, that would probably be it:  “Wait…what?”

Maybe in a house full of women, a guy has to learn to hone his selective listening skills, lest he get swept away in the torrent of daily verbiage. And maybe Robbie turned the dial a little to far to the right. It’s not like he was trying to ignore us (at least that’s what we tell ourselves), but golly. If we had a nickel for every time we heard, “Wait…what?” during a dinner table conversation, well. You know.

Sometimes the girls and I would repeat ourselves; sometimes we’d just roll our eyes and say, “Forget it, Robbie.”

Thank goodness God’s not like that.

Reading Jonah’s story the other day, I couldn’t help but think about all the times I would have missed God, had he not been willing to repeat himself. Sometimes it’s my own “Wait…what?” lack of attentiveness that dulls my radar; other times, I deliberately choose not to listen. Like Jonah, I don’t always want to hear God speak – or to obey him, when he does.

I think it was Charles Spurgeon who said, “God never allows his children to sin successfully.”  Jonah may have taken a detour when he ran away from God, but his story was far from over.  God hadn’t given up on him.  After that uncomfortable business with the fish (my Bible says it “vomited Jonah onto dry land,” which had to have been fairly awkward for both of them), we read that “the word of the Lord came to Jonah a second time.”

A second time.

How good is God?

If you feel like you’ve missed God’s original instruction – be it in a relationship, a business decision, a move, or whatever – don’t let that get you down.  He’s the God of second chances.  He’s willing to speak a second time…or even a third, it that’s what it takes.

We can run away if we want, but – to paraphrase Spurgeon – it’s only a matter of time until we trip.  And when we do, guess who’s gonna help us get back on our feet and pointed in the right direction?

Yep.  He’s pretty good.

IMG_8661(And P.S., if you like the Jonah pic that accompanies this blog, you’ll love the book it’s from:  The Jesus Storybook Bible, by written by Sally Lloyd-Jones and illustrated by Jago. It looks like its for kids, but don’t let the cover fool you. Lloyd-Jones takes all of the stories you read as a child – Noah, Joseph, Daniel – and shows how, in every case, they point the way to Jesus.  Very cool.  Click here if you’d like to buy your own copy!)

 

 

 


ARCHIVES: May 2015


05.01.2015

Friday Prayer for Your Diet

Leviticus 3-16Diets are all well and good (particularly if you are Annesley, and your wedding prep consists mostly of mac-n-cheese), and yet everyone has their limits.  I recently took a walk with a highly disciplined friend who’s dropping the pounds, but even she faced an emotional crisis when the trainer suggested she cut her daily almond intake from 17 to 9.

Nine almonds?  Seriously?

Anyhow, with swimsuit season just around the corner, I thought it might be time to trot out one of my favorite Bible verses.  Leviticus 3:16 says, “All the fat belongs to the Lord.”   To me, that has the makings of a mighty fine prayer (particularly for those who are just plain tired of counting their almonds):

Heavenly Father, all the fat belongs to you.  So does all of the protein, carbs, and the hipster stuff like quinoa and kale. Please give me wisdom and discipline to make wise dietary choices…and grace for the times that I don’t.




Created with love by Yellow Leaf Marketing.