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Wednesday, May 27, 2009

# 60 - Icon Prayers

Pray with eyes wide open. Many of us were taught to close our eyes when we pray. Praying with icons (i.e. pictures or symbols) is an ancient practice that involves keeping our eyes wide open, taking into our heart what the image, symbol, or icon visually communicates. Popular icons used in prayer are the empty cross, the crusifix, a candle, a visual of the sky, a picture (praying hands, Jesus at Gethsemane, etc.) a smooth stone. Find a icon that represents God to you, something that will help your thoughts to rise heavenward. Meditate, and let its image inform your prayer.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Give Free Food. Every Day. From Home.

There are so many good things anyone can do that cost nothing and only take a second. Here's one.

Give Free Food every day with just two clicks. Click here or just scroll down and click the Give Free Food banner on the side panel, then click the orange tab on The Hungersite page that opens.

Thanks, and God bless you for caring.

# 59 - "Guard Against" Prayer

Prayer is protection, spiritual protection. Wesley cautions, “Guard against the wicked spirits who continually strive to infuse the saints of God with unbelief, pride, idolatry, malice, envy, anger, hatred and the like.” Prayer is the shield against all such spiritual threats. He continues, “That you may still keep your armor on and still stand upon your guard, you must still watch and pray.” And weren’t those the words of Jesus himself (Mark 14:38)? “Watch and pray that you enter not into temptation.” Remain in prayer to guard against temptation. Return to prayer to escape the tempter’s grip.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

# 58 - Harvest of Life Prayer

Light a small candle. Watch the flame. Inhale. Focus on your life in Christ. And pray, “Dear God of the harvest, thank you for the harvest in my life. I now realize that my very life is a harvest for you because you did the planting with care. Please constantly remind me to look at the full basket that I have and help me to be a blessing to others. Amen.”

# 57 - Personal Prayer Calendar

Jonna, a missionary, mailed me a prayer calendar. On it are things she wants me to pray for. These things are arranged in 4 columns. Column 1 is for the months, Column 2 is for her self, Column 3 is for the programs she and her colleagues work in/with, Column 4 is for the people she serves and thier country. I thought I should make my own prayer calendar, too. For example, in June I would likst that my arm to continue to heal and grandson's brithday (column 2), in column 3 the Iowa Annual Conference, Garden Grove VBS, and John L Lewis Museum. In column 4 I would mention the farmers in their work and cooperative weather, children at the pool/park/library, new businesses in town. What would you list on your summer prayer calendar for June? For July? For August?

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Remembering Easter

I only ever attended one pro-football game that I remember. It was a playoff game in Pittsburgh between the Steelers and the Oakland Raiders. The remarkable thing about the game is how it ended. On the last play of the game Terry Bradshaw threw a desperation pass. The receiver missed it, the ball was batted in the air, and before the ball had time to hit the ground Franko Harris scooped it up and ran it into the end zone, scoring the winning touchdown.

My Dad was there at the game with me, but he didn’t see the play. He was gathering up the blankets we had been bundled in. “What happened? What happened?” he asked when the crowd suddenly went absolutely nuts, “did we win? We won? How? What happened?”

We were both there. I saw it. He didn’t. But we both knew it happened. It was an absolutely unbelievable experience. Over the years we both enjoyed remembering that day, going back over the game, recalling that wonderland feelings. How fortunate we were to have been there, at the beginning of the rise of the Steelers to football dominance.
What an experience!

Friends, I tell this story to make a point, a very serious point, and the point is this. Our experience of that day had nothing to do with the Steelers winning the game. Neither did our experience that day have anything to do with the Steelers rise to football dominance. What Franko Harris, Terry Bradshaw and the Pittsburgh Steelers did, they did on their own. What Dad and I experienced has nothing to do with their accomplishments. What they did is one thing. What we experienced is another.

I tell this story as a parable about Easter. Easter is about that moment in time, that last play of the game, when Jesus miraculously rose from the dead. Game over. Eternity won.

Easter is about Jesus, what he did, and whether we believe he did it. Easter is a fact, a done deal. Easter does not depend on anyone’s experience of it. It happened, thank God, and it changed the world forever.

I saw Franko catch the ball. My Dad did not. But we both know it happened, and in happening it changed the franchise of the Steelers forever. Steelers fans still experience that day with great relish. Raider fans still experience that day, but much differently.

Back to Easter for a moment. When all is said and done, Easter is a fact. Our feelings about it, whether affirming or denying, don’t change a thing. Jesus is Risen. That’s all that matters. Believe it or Not.