Today’s Day of Prayer.

Franklin Graham, the son of the late Evangelist Billy Graham, posts these words on the Samaritan’s Purse website:

“Today, our nation is at a critical juncture. We need to call out to God for His help, His intervention, and His mercy. It is only by His hand that America will survive and be able to thrive again. We have an election coming up with so much at stake—two vastly different directions for the future of this country. This not only affects us, but our children and our grandchildren.”

He is calling for today to be a day of prayer and fasting.  Maybe you, like me, aren’t exactly sure how to fast or if we can fast all day.   Maybe we fast from eating breakfast, or lunch, or dinner or eating all day.  Maybe we can’t do that so we fast from chocolate or sugar or television or internet activity.  Or maybe you do not feel led to fast at all.  And that’s okay, too.

It’s not about the rules.  It’s about the heart.  And I ask you to join me in heart to pray for our nation specifically today off and on throughout the entire day!

Let’s join as one nation under God to pray for our country, our leaders, and the upcoming election that God will unite our nation to fall under HIS leadership.  I don’t care about our particular party affiliation today.  I just care about our nation and future of it.  I want our nation to be led by Christian principles and godly leaders.  I want the hatred to be gone.

Our affiliation should not be specific to politics but our affiliation should be to have a heart for Jesus.

Please join me however you feel led to pray and/or fast for our country today.

If my people, who are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.       2 Chronicles 7:14

 

Pinocchio Prayers

Nothing worse than being lied to.

And unfortunately, this time of year during voting season, it seems the lies are passed around like candy.

One party blames another while touting their own lies.  The accused creates their own lies to combat the accuser.  It snowballs – all this lying – until it becomes so big and so heavy that we give up digging through the dirt to find the truth.  We start distrusting everyone – even the truth-tellers.

And that’s not good.

But before we start pointing fingers, let’s look at our own lives.

Are we liars?  You.  Me.  Are we liars?

Maybe we don’t mean to be.  Maybe our intentions are the best but what about our follow through?

As I was having my quiet time this morning, I was convicted.  Like heavily convicted.  One of the studies I am doing is about Daniel and how committed he was to prayer.  He was so busy with daily responsibilities and excelled in his work that he was promoted and given greater and greater responsibilities until he was like a “prime minister” of Babylon.

Yet he still found time to pray – multiple times. Every. single. day.

When we tell someone we will pray for them, do we?
Do we mumble a quick prayer right then and never follow through with additional prayers?
If we say we will pray and then don’t do it, are we a liar?

That seems pretty harsh, but that’s the conviction the Lord gave me.  When I say I am going to pray, I not only need to stop and pray right then, but add it to a list and continue to pray for that request.  Then, I need to not only pray but follow up and check on the request for which I am praying.

Praying is a privilege awarded to every person.  And we can do it anywhere, any time.  If we are in a place where prayer isn’t allowed, we can still do it in our heart.

God loves to hear from us.  People need to know we are praying for them.

And we certainly don’t want to be “Pinoccchio Pray-ers”.

Be like Daniel.  Continue to live.  Continue to work.  But don’t forget to continue to pray.

Praying is a privilege.  Let’s take that honor seriously.

Ephesians 6:8 – And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.

Toothpaste Words.

Have you ever squeezed the toothpaste too much and all that white glob spills over the sides of the toothbrush?

I try to prop it back on top of the brush only to leave it oozing down the side again.  I think, “it will be okay.   This isn’t that much toothpaste.”  I begin brushing my teeth only to feel as if fluoride-infested ice cream is floating around my gums and my taste buds just can’t take it any longer.

The very next day, the same thing happens.  Why do I squeeze the toothpaste with so much force?  So I try desperately to do like a reverse squeeze; you know, like try to open up the tube from the bottom in hopes there will be some kind of sucking of air IN versus pushing of toothpaste out.

I put just a little on the top of the tube and hold the tube upright thinking perhaps gravity can force that little gritty white paste back into the tube.  Maybe a toothpick can shove it down in.  And then I come to grips….

It is NOT gonna happen.

There is no getting that toothpaste back in that tube.  I tried every angle, every scientific method my bathroom sink had to offer.  The toothpaste is out and will not go back in.

That’s how our words can be.  We say things out of anger or just because our mouth sets in action before our brains and out come those words.  Words of hurt or defense.  Words of expressing our opinions in forceful manners.  Words that don’t express our Christian values but instead ooze out of our mouth from our sinful heart.

We’ve all done it.
We’ve all tried to backpedal.
We’ve all apologized.
We’ve all deleted our comment on social media.
We’ve all asked for forgiveness.

But there is no putting those words back in our mouth to reverse the action that has already happened.  They’re toothpaste words.  They can’t be put back in the tube.

The good thing is that people can forgive.  God will forgive.  And we can learn valuable lessons for next time.

Ephesians 4:29 – Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.

It’s hard, especially in today’s highly-sensitive climate, to not let those words ooze out of our mouths before we think.  But once they’re out, we can’t take them back.

I challenge you to come along with me this week to be extra cautious about our words; to be very mindful of the things we say and the way we say them.  We should ask ourselves before we speak, “is this something that will build others up or tear others down?”  If it’s not to build others up, don’t speak it.

Because once those words are out, no matter how much we try, they cannot squeeze back into the tube.

The Wooden Bench.

There’s one outside the local barber shop to catch up on today’s gossip.
There’s one at the bus stop to take a load off during the wait.
There’s a few scattered around the reservoir to rest during exercise.
There’s one on the front porch and another on the back.
There’s several in the park and a few under the trees.

The Wooden Bench.

A seat compiled of several pieces of lumber.   They come in all sizes but usually one basic shape.  Some are more decorative and some are plain.  Some are stained while others are colorfully painted.

It offers a lot – this little wooden bench.

It’s not complicated but actually rather simple.

It offers rest for the body and the soul.

It invites one to visit with a friend or a stranger.

It allows one to sit solo or with another.

It is versatile because it can go anywhere.

It can be here.  It can be there.  It can be everywhere.

It is welcoming and offers only good.

It is sturdy and strong.

The Wooden Bench.

Jesus is a lot like the wooden bench.  He is simple, welcoming, inviting, provides rest for the body and the soul, supports, loves people of all sizes and colors, is a friend and welcomes strangers.  He is sturdy and unchanging.  He is here, there and everywhere.  And He is no stranger to wood.

I hope you find time to sit a while on your wooden bench.  Rest.  Relax.  Chat with a friend.  Watch the squirrels.  Find renewal and peace from the weight of the world.

And may you feel the Spirit of the Holy One sitting there with you offering eternal peace from the weight of this world….. right there at the foot of the wooden bench.