Being Prayerful

“Whenever, in the course of the daily hunt, the hunter comes upon a scene that is strikingly beautiful, or sublime—a black thundercloud with the rainbow’s glowing arch above the mountain, a white waterfall in the heart of a green gorge, a vast prairie tinged with the blood-red of the sunset—he pauses for an instant in the attitude of worship. He sees no need for setting apart one day in seven as a holy day, because to him all days are God’s days.”

                                                            ~Charles Alexander Eastman (Ohiyesa)

                                                                                                          Santee Sioux

 Last week, Pastor Reggie spoke briefly about prayer, and prayerfulness. The subject has stayed with me, all week, but I wasn’t really sure how to organize my thoughts on the subject. It seemed somehow “incomplete” to go more into detail about our instructions from the Lord on how to pray, when the subject I really wanted to talk about was how to live with an attitude of prayer.

It is something that I strive for (often successfully) in my own life, but I wasn’t sure I could explain how it is done. And then I read the quotation from Ohiyesa.

Clearly, the Native Americans were not Christians. They were, for the most part however, very spiritual in the sense that they recognized all things as being a gift from God. This is something that I have touched on in the past, although not directly (“GOD MADE THE BROWNIES,” from an earlier post, comes to mind here), but there’s more to it than just the material things that He has provided each of us in our own lives as individuals. How many things has God provided, that we take for granted?

 

Last night’s rain?

Breakfast this morning, and the coffee that is keeping me from doing a face-plant into this keyboard?

How about the air we breathe, the trees and green plants that keep that air clean, and the outrageously creative and complex system of sun/water/land that keeps the air moving across the earth?

When was the last time you stood in your driveway, watching dusk turn from red-gold to indigo, and just thanked God for the beauty of that few minutes of the day?

It is a tough thing to do. We get wrapped up in our daily routines, we get distracted by the needs of the day, our families, our pets… the oil in the car needs changing. The laundry needs done (that reminds me…).

Did you thank God for the companionship of a good dog, or cat? Or did you stop for a moment and consider the way that your oil came to be? Did you thank God for your wife/husband/mother/father/children? I don’t mean to ask if you said, “God, thank You for my blessings, for my family, for…” in the same manner that we say grace over dinner. I catch myself doing it all the time, trying to knock out the “routine” parts of my devotional time—like thanking God for the blessings that are always there—so that I can get to the meat of my prayer time. Stuff like the check that serendipitously appeared in my mailbox, or the rash going away (don’t ask), or just to ask Him for more stuff.

All that stuff is cool, and we should be thankful for it. But that oxygen stuff? Well, it’s a pretty big deal too.

Do me a favor, and try this exercise. Sit down in a somewhat quiet place (to those of you with toddlers, try… I got nothin’. Good luck) and make a list of the things that you have for which you can be thankful. Shoot for a minimum of ten, but don’t stop until the pencil is too short to hold on to. Remember that no blessing is too small (do you throw away a card from your child, because there is no Lamborghini inside?) and none too large (because honestly, if there was a Lamborghini involved I’d keep it). Every night, or whenever you do your devotional time, pull out that list, pick two or three items, and make a special effort to recognize those blessings, and to thank the Lord for the love He has shown by giving these things to us. Recognize the fact that everything is a blessing, starting with your conception, and ending in this very moment, as you sit there reading this blog (which may or may not be a blessing, depending on your personal feelings about me).

God loves us all. God provides for us even when we think He has forgotten us completely. In our most corrupt moments, we still breathe and laugh and feel… Sunday is a day to worship with the brothers and sisters.

Every day is a day to worship the Lord.

I thank God for all of you. Be well, be blessed, and I’ll see you again, soon.

~BlogDude 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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THE MAYAN APOCALIPSSSSSSSSSSSS!!!

Okay, so, according to the Mayans, today was the end of the world.

If that’s true, then I’m in Heaven right now.

If I’m in Heaven right now, I seriously got gypped. This place sucks eggs. My breakfast was burnt, my armpits are somewhat malodorous and there’s nothing good on T.V.

Oh, no. What if I’m in HELL???

Nah, that can’t be right. My feet are cold.

Stupid Mayans. I blame the History Channel for this…

Some thoughts…

“How many observe Christ’s birthday! How few, His precepts!”  ~Benjamin Franklin 

 

 

“Christmas can be celebrated in the school room with pine trees, tinsel and reindeers, but there must be no mention of the man whose birthday is being celebrated. One wonders how a teacher would answer if a student asked why it was called Christmas.”  ~Ronald Reagan 

 

Merry Christmas!

Connecticut

Pray for comfort and healing for the families of all that lost a loved one in Connecticut, today.

Pray for the wounded, that they might heal and be comforted.

Pray for all of the children, that this event not be the defining moment of their lives, but that each of them will be healed spiritually, mentally and emotionally.

Pray for the friends and family of the person who committed this horrific act.

Pray for law enforcement and public safety personnel, as they search for victims and survivors, and a possible second suspect.

And say a prayer of thanks for the level-headed teachers who orchestrated and executed the evacuation of the school, before more lives were lost.

“Dude, get some rest…”

My bones suffer mortal agony

            As my foes taunt me,

saying to me all day long,

“Where is your God?”

Why are you downcast, O my soul?

            Why so disturbed within me?

Put your hope in God,

            for I will yet praise Him,

            my Savior and my God.

 

                        ~Psalm 42:10,11

 

All of this writing and research on the subject of hell has started taking a toll on me; I think we’ll be taking a break from it for a few weeks. I’ll come back to it once I’ve experienced a little bit of spiritual recovery.

The entire subject, once one finds himself immersed in it over a more or less longer period, is quite draining, spiritually and emotionally (not to mention intellectually, when you get down to it; some of the more metaphysical stuff can be tough to wrap your head around).

In any case, starting Thursday, we will be going on to some more cheerful topics. Something hopeful, or inspirational. I’ll use the next day or two to see what the Spirit tells me… I actually had something of a testimonial that I was thinking of passing along that might do for others what it has done for me.

In the meantime, I’m going to let my troubled spirit rest a bit, and give all of you awesome readers out there a chance to sink your teeth into something other than eternal torment, for a while. I’ve had some things that the Lord has been trying to tell me, and I haven’t been hearing Him all that well; Pastor Reggie finally hammered the message home for me when he told us that God said to Elijah, “Dude, get some sleep. Seriously. You’re taking things way too seriously.”

Speaking of which, it’s really, really late as I write this, so I think I’m gonna take that advice, myself. See you folks on Thursday. Be blessed, and be a blessing to others—but get some rest, too.

 

Hell, Pt. 3

Having covered the more familiar terms used to name Hell, let’s turn now to the purpose of the place.

Vine’s Expository Dictionary states that the word, “hell,” is used twelve times in the New Testament, eleven of which are in the synoptic gospels and all of which record the word being uttered by the Lord, Himself. In general, when Christ teaches about Hell He is illustrating that God should be feared with the fear that prevents one from doing evil [as in Luke 12:5; “But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear him who, after the killing of the body, has power to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him. (NIV)”]. To do evil in the sight of the Lord, and to deny or reject Christ, leads to condemnation and eternal suffering in hell, “where their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched.” (Mk. 9:48, NIV).

Purpose of Hell: Hell is a place of punishment, where the damned are consigned to eternal torment and suffering, completely removed from the presence of God. It is important that we understand that mankind is consigned to hell as the result of his own decisions; we are given one life in which to accept God (through Christ), or to reject Him. God wants that no one should be consigned to Hell, but that all should be saved; however, in deference to the free will with which He has endowed each of us, He allows us to decide for ourselves where we will go when the present body dies. Since He created us to be free, and, as a perfect Being, he cannot contradict Himself by forcing our salvation (being perfect Love, God can persuade, but not coerce us to love Him), human dignity demands the existence of Hell. As stated by C.S. Lewis,

“There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, ‘Thy will be done,’ and those to whom God says, ‘Thy will be done.’”

God, being perfectly holy and pure, cannot even look upon sin. He is also perfectly just; since it is a fact that not all evil is punished in this life, it is necessary that there be a place of punishment in the afterlife. It is also true that without a hell, there could be no victory over evil. If one assumes a Heaven as the ultimate destination of the righteous, then there must be a hell for the unrighteous; without an ultimate separation, good could not triumph over evil, and God would not be in ultimate control (which would deny His omnipotence).

God is perfect in every respect; mankind is hopelessly enslaved to sin, rebelliousness and idolatry. Because God is eternal, the only just punishment for a depraved, unrepentant mankind (“…for all have sinned, and fall short of the glory of God” Rom. 3:23) is eternal punishment. It was because of our inherent depravity that God sent Christ to die on the cross, as propitiation for our sins.

To deny the existence of hell is to delude oneself into a state of wishful thinking. Sigmund Freud defined an illusion as a belief that is derived “from human wishes.” He said,

“We call a belief an illusion when a wish-fulfillment is a prominent factor in its motivation, and [when] in doing so we disregard its relations to reality.” Speaking of religion, Freud said that it would be great if there were a Creator who was in all ways benevolent and saved all from damnation, but that it is striking that due to the nature of hell, “all this is exactly as we are bound to wish it to be.”

Some interesting numbers:

A 2009 Gallup poll indicated that 69% of Americans believe in Hell.

In the same poll, 81% believe in the existence of Heaven.

Some other polling numbers:

69% of Americans believe that they will go to Heaven, while in the same poll only 3% believed they would go to hell. 70% believe that “good” people will go to Heaven, regardless of faith; surprisingly (and a bit disturbingly) 57% of evangelicals believe that people of any religion will go to Heaven!

31% of Americans believe that Hell is a place where people are tormented, while 37% believe that Hell is not a place, but only represents separation from God.

And finally (I love this one!) 44% of Americans believe that “good” atheists will go to Heaven?!

See you Thursday; we’ll be talking about the nature of Hell.