It’s April. It’s spring. It’s time to embrace...
iEmbrace His Existence
A friend of mine's husband is a Lt. Colonel in the USA Military's Air Force. He was away last month, training for his deployment taking place in June 2012. After a long morning He went to lunch with a fellow Lt. Colonel and the Wing Commander that will be serving along side him throughout the coming year. My friend's husband received his food first. Out of habit he paused to pray for his food. He then went on with the conversation with his colleges. One by one they received their food and each of them paused to pray. An unspoken acknowledgment was made: GOD EXSITS in my life and I'm not ashamed to PAUSE TO PRAY.
Later that evening the same three men went to dinner. This time the Wing Commander suggested that instead of one by one pausing to pray on their own, that they all pause to pray together before they eat. And they did.
If my friend's husband had not paused to pray, he may not have ever had the gift of knowing that he was sitting with men that believed that God exists as he did. Three men could have sat there keeping their faith private and hidden and missed the opportunity to pray together as well as knowing that they will be serving with fellow men with a common bond of faith. What a comfort it was to know that as they all were serving their country together, they were also serving God together. Even before they will meet up again for their year of deployment, they have already prayed together.
Why keep our faith private and hidden if we believe that God exists? Does he only exist in our minds? How often are we ashamed, self conscious or just publicly ignore that we pray to God who exists?
Far too often we only pray in church, at prayer groups or in private places. But God tells us to pray without ceasing. If we embrace that He exists then pausing to pray becomes a habit. How could it NOT flow out of our lives and present opportunities to connect with others?
On March 21, 2012's American Idol episode, Colton Dixon paused at the piano before he started his song. After he was done Ryan Seacrest recognized that he had taken a moment before he started to sing, "What were you doing right before you started playing?" He asked. Colton said that he had paused to pray.
Colton said this in front of millions of people. And yet in front of a few friends I am guilty of keeping my faith to my self. A few weeks ago my family sat down to eat with another family at a restaurant. The food came as we conversed.
For half a second my old habitual thoughts flooded my brain, "This family probably does not pause to pray... think about who you are with and who is around you... what might they think of you... will their view of you change if you pause to pray... people have opinions... why do you want to interrupt the flow of conversation... how rude... others in the restaurant might look over at you... why draw unwanted attention to yourself and your friends..."
In an instant the countless times of shamelessly and joyfully praying at dinner time (at home, restaurants or where ever) didn't matter at all. After all the years of crating a beautiful habit to pause to pray before we eat, I let the moment slip by. Will I ever see 90% of the people in that restaurant again in my life? Really, what was I so afraid of? My existence slipped under the radar means God's existence was under the radar as well. Is that really my heart's desire? I ask God to make me a vessel and then promptly deny his existence. Why do I care if they think anything negative about me because I believe God exists and choose to pray to Him before I eat? I should care about the one that might be encouraged by the sight. And why would our friends care at all... they are our friends!
My daughter Shirin came over and whispered in my husband, Farhad's ear, "We forgot to pray, can we pray together?" So they did quietly, politely not interrupting the conversation. I noticed them talking quietly so I asked what they were doing when they were done. He told me they had prayed. I felt the shame. This time it was not from what people might think, it was the shame of not pausing to pray, not living my faith out publicly, ignoring that God exists. I asked the family if they mind if we paused to pray together and of course they thought it was a fine idea. Shirin led our prayer beautifully.
A while back our family ate dinner at The Ranch. They serve the BEST burgers I have ever had in my life. Everything (including the buns) are "home" made. (See for yourself: http://theranchwestlake.com/menu.php) Yum... just thinking about the Duimo Inferno makes my mouth water. Before our teeth sank into burger bliss we paused to pray. It's easy to shout out some gratitude for good tasting grub! After our prayer the owner came up to us and said, "Thank you so much for praying in my restaurant! God Bless You!"
Is talking to our God less important than what others might think or something to be ashamed of? If we believe God exists then why act like we don't by staying silent at His spirit's prompting? It's not simply about being a good listener, having good thoughts or displaying a nice attitude. It's also about living like He exists.
You are a praying person, embrace it. Live it. Love it. Don't let the enemy's lies about it deter you from pausing to pray. iEmbrace God's existence by pausing to pray!
iEmbrace His Presence
In our small group Bible study we have been talking about what it means to "walk across the room", out of our comfort zone and into the lives of others. The point was made that as we embrace others in real ways God’s presence in our lives will become real as well. That God will provide spirit-led opportunities to share about the hope we have in Christ.
Meet my introvert friend Richard Jung! Two weeks ago he shared a time he could feel God's spirit prompting him to embrace God’s presence and His strength in order to give a women a real example of God’s presence. He was a good listener while God's sprit urged him to speak up. Even the shyest of people can find the boldness to openly embrace God’s presence. I’ll let Richard speak for himself...
Click Here: Shy Guys Can Be Bold
Richard is not the only one who needs to rely on God's strength. I can relate all to well...
March 23, 2012
This morning I woke up with achy muscles, pounding head, sore ears and a flaming throat. As the kids ate breakfast they noticed I was not at my best. My son Frederick turned to my daughter Shirin and said, "Let's pray for mom right now, OK?"
Shirin agreed and led him in a beautiful prayer, pleading that their mom would feel better really soon. She ended the prayer with these words, "Please help her feel better really soon so that she can look at me, smile at me and like what I say like she usually does."
I heard them praying from the kitchen so I walked in and joined in the prayer. When she ended the prayer I said, "A-man!" The sound of my voice startled them both since they were unaware I had walked over to agree with them in prayer.
On our way to school I always pray for them. This morning I was just trying to fulfill my obligation to get them dropped off so that I could get home to rest. (Yes, writing is a type of rest). Shirin spoke up, "Mom, pray for me!" Of course! I jumped right in, thanking God that I had children that would pray for me when I don't feel so good. I also asked God to go before them as they walked onto their school campus. That they will call on God in their times of need and that they will be a blessing to their friends and their teachers.
After the prayer Frederick asked me why I always asked for God to be with them as they walk onto their school campus.
Distracted by my pain-filled muscles I took it upon myself to perform the well rehearsed right answer which ended up being a long drawn out monologue.
As I explained why I pray for them each morning I felt like I was relying on my own strength and reasoning for the answer. Making a simple question into much more than it needed to be. When I was done all Frederick could say was, "Oh, OK."
Only moments before Frederick's first response to me not feeling good was to talk to God about it. Not an ounce of hesitation because He knew that God was right there. On the way to school Shirin's first response to start her school day was to pray, knowing He was right there with open ears. Maybe my response would have been simpler if I had taken a moment to recognize God's presence and yield to what He might have had me say. And maybe it would have been as simple as, "So that you can continue to embrace God's presence in your life, as you already do."
I felt like one of the adults on the cartoon Charlie Brown, "Wah wah waaaaah wah," while my kids spoke of God's presence loud and clear by embracing his presence without hesitation when they prayed.
iEmbrace His Life
This month we celebrate Easter. Most will observe the holiday by attending a church service and maybe running home to hide some eggs and eat candy.
The word Observe as a verb is defined this way:
1) notice or perceive (something) and register it as being significant : [with clause ] young people observe that decisions are made by others.
* watch (someone or something) carefully and attentively : Rob stood in the hallway, where he could observe the happenings on the street.
* take note of or detect (something) in the course of a scientific study : the behavior observed in groups of chimpanzees.
* [ reporting verb ] make a remark or comment : [with direct speech ] "It's chilly," she observed | [with clause ] a stockbroker once observed that dealers live and work in hell.
2) fulfill or comply with (a social, legal, ethical, or religious obligation) : a tribunal must observe the principles of natural justice.
* (usu. be observed) maintain (silence) in compliance with a rule or custom, or temporarily as a mark of respect : a minute's silence will be observed.
* perform or take part in (a rite or ceremony) : relations gather to observe the funeral rites.
* celebrate or acknowledge (an anniversary) : many observed the one-year anniversary of the flood.
Nothing wrong with the word observe. But doesn't it seem a bit stand offish? Believing that Jesus of the Bible is real, that He is what He claimed to be and accepting His spirit to work in our lives is not stand offish at all. It's all about embracing. Now theres a more appropriate word. Embrace!
The word Embrace as a verb is defines this way:
- he embraced her warmly: hug, take/hold in one's arms, hold, cuddle, clasp to one's bosom, clasp, squeeze, clutch; caress; enfold, enclasp, encircle, envelop, entwine oneself around; informal canoodle, clinch.
- most states have embraced the concept: welcome, welcome with open arms, accept, take up, take to one's heart, adopt; espouse, support, back, champion.
- the faculty embraces a wide range of departments: include, take in, comprise, contain, incorporate, encompass, cover, involve, embody, subsume, comprehend.
Ok, now we're talking! That is more like stand INish. But what does it mean to embrace His life? Embracing Jesus is one thing, but embracing his life that included death on a cross? THAT is the Easter story, but it can seem a bit morbid.
Well yes, Jesus did die on a cross. But he faced the cross for our good, embracing all our guilt and shame. What's more, he did not stay dead. God showed His power over eternal condemnation and death through Jesus Christ on the very first Easter morning when He resurrected to life. His life did not end at the cross... He continued to speak truth to hundreds of people until he ascended into Heaven. By the way, he did not die at that time... Jesus is still alive. We embrace a living God!
Observing this truth is one thing. But embracing it is our recognition that we are in need of a savior. We are imperfect but God takes our imperfections and transforms those who put their hope and trust in Him. In order to put our hope and trust in Him we have to believe He is the promised Messiah. We have to believe that the cross was necessary.
Check out all the prophecies that Jesus fulfilled as God's promised Messiah...
We also have to believe that the cross was necessary. I love how an article on the site Answering Islam answers the question, "Why was it necessary for Jesus to die on the cross?"
Embracing His life is opposite of the stand offish observation of Easter. It's the stand INish of the truth of who Jesus is. Embracing Him as our promised Lord and Savior, inviting His spirit to live in our hearts and experiencing His love which embraces us in ways far beyond our comprehension. That is what it means to Embrace the truth of Easter rather than just observing it.
Steve Green sings a song called "Embrace the Cross". Here are some of the lyrics:
Embrace the love
The cross requires
Cling to the one
Whose heart knew every pain
Receive from Jesus
Fountains of compassion
Only He can fashion
Your heart to move as His
Here is a link to that song which includes the lyrics:
Embrace The Cross:
The best prayer ever made is one that embraces new life through Christ Jesus.
You are His special one.
He wants you to embrace all of Him.
His Existence, His Presence and His Life.
I'll leave you with an Easter Poem of sorts. I wrote it as God's spirit prompted me, far be it for me to walk away without sharing it with you. iPray it will bless you today, and give you hope in what it means to embrace God in your life:
Discovering Little One poem:
All for Him,
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