Saturday, January 24, 2015

Finishing Well

Day 21, whew!  I could think of several ways to celebrate the end of 21 days of Prayer and Fast.  I could end with a pork-ish breakfast complete with biscuits and gravy; maybe even chocolate syrup?  Or, I could end well.

For me ending well would be to complete the discipline I've gained over the past 21 days.  After all...isn't that what discipleship is about?  Discipleship is a process of growing in Christ...trying time and again to build on the disciplines that help me become more like Christ in every area of my life.  For was living in the world and not being of the world.  I celebrate the last 21 days and kick myself for not doing it sooner.

So, with that said, to finish well means that I end it like I started -working out and eating well while engaging in some serious prayer.  This morning I celebrated the end of 21 days with 1 hour on the elliptical, after my morning prayers.  It's funny because next week is a clergy Prayer Summit at Camp Sumatanga -Monday thru Wednesday.  And, usually I treat it at a chance to get back to Spiritual Disciplines, however, this year I go into with a different perspective.  Instead it being a starting point, I am treating it as another way to finish well.

I pray that you have gained increased confidence in the way you are able to finish the race.  I am reminded of 1 Cor. 9:25, "Everyone who competes in the game goes into strict training.  They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever."  Life is not a sprint, I'm not sure it can be compared to a marathon...but one thing for certain, it is potentially timeless IF you finish well!  Well done thy good and faithful servant.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Just in the Nick of Time!

Well, we are nearing the end of our churches 21 days of Prayer and Fast, and I've never felt better!  I can never forget that to gain is to lose.  What I've been reminded is to gain that greater connection to God that I so desperately needed, I had to disconnect from the world.  The last 20 days (soon to be 21) provided that opportunity for me.

My Tabernacle Prayers each morning were saturated with the faces of my congregation.  I caught myself envisioning where each family sat, but after a couple weeks of prayer I noticed something odd.  Each time I prayed for my friends and family...I noticed each person was smiling...was happy.  Now I don't have to tell you that the church isn't some Pollyanna world were everyone auditions as Stepford Wives.  We, the Church, attract the broken...Jesus attacks the broken.

The truth is I had forgotten how beautiful our congregation is while connected to God-my prayers reminded me!  I forgot how my vision for God's beauty is impaired while connected to the world.  For us to be the church, we have to learn to not think as the world thinks...for us to mend the broken memories of our past, we have to be connected to the one who created life.  Jesus speaks to us in a conversation with His disciples, "...Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life, will lose it, but whoever will lose their life for me will find it.  What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?..." (Matthew 16:24-26)

For me and the ministry I share with my church and start this new year with 21 days of Prayer and Fast came just in the nick of time! "May the Lord bless you and keep you."

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Day 1, Day 2, and Day 3 Gone...Working on 4!

Day 1, Day 2, and Day 3 are in the I'm working on my 4th day of my 21 Days of Prayer and Fast.  The 2nd and 3rd day were draining.  I had the feeling of being washed out.  Although I was fighting for motivation, God knew my needs.  At different times throughout the 2nd and 3rd days I would read something priceless; I would pray something inspiring; I would gain greater confidence as  I separated myself from the world.  I truly believe it is a connection thing!

I am reminded of my connection as God spoke to me multiply times throughout the drain of the 1st 3 days of this lengthy prayer and fast.  Replaying in my mind (in my own voice) was...greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world. (1 John 4:4)  Mainly, my greatest victory comes from my adoption by God, and everything beyond God choosing me fails in comparison (regardless the level of importance I place on the difficulty!).  I Love the way The Message puts it...My dear Children, you come from God and belong to God.  You have already won a big victory over those false teachers, for the Spirit in you is far greater than anything in the world.  My lack of personal prayer, and my attachment to large quantities of unhealthy food is based on my connection to the world and all the world teaches.  Greater is any part of God that is in me than anything that is in the world -Thanks be to God!

Maybe my attraction to The Message's interpretation is based on the reference to the Spirit in me is greater than anything in the world.  Jesus sent us the Holy Spirit to support us for a task that we couldn't complete on our own.  When Jesus gave us our mission statement, He told His disciples to hold up in a room until the Spirit fell upon them.  They did and It did...then the church was born!  I pray for that kind of revival for our church...for The Church.  It will happen when we remember greater is He that is in [me], then he that is in the world.

To reach some kind of conclusion in my excitement, I realize the day is still young.  However, this morning, I am encouraged and strengthened because I awoke fresh and allergy free and ready for my 3rd consecutive day at The Gym (5 out of the last 7 days). Whatever the remaining part of my busy day started and will end with God.  Our church's commitment to 21 Days of Prayer and Fast might just be what God wanted for us -Confident Connection! Again, Thanks Be To God!