caring

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I am seeing again how prayer is one of the best ways to let someone know you care about them.  I know in the past when I’ve been going through a tough time, just knowing someone is praying for me makes a big difference. Sometimes, I’ve felt peace during a difficult day and later found out someone was praying for me at that time, which is always wonderful to realize!

I was thinking about this a little yesterday.  We had school canceled here in the Twin Cities again because of the cold (-19 F) and wind chill, and I had a student who had told me they might not be in school anyway because of a parent’s medical issues.  I made sure to pray for the student and family, and today in school I let the student know I’d prayed.  I have no idea whether the student even cared, or if the day had been as scary for the family as anticipated, but I found myself with a feeling of love for the student as a result of knowing I had prayed for them and that God had answered.

Often, in our spread-out world, friends and family are so far away that prayer is the only thing you can do for a situation, barring spending hours on the phone or a plane.  Sometimes it feels like it’s a last-ditch, feeble effort, but I believe that if we put effort and time into praying that it is so much more than that.  The Bible is full of stories, as is history, of times when a believer prayed, not just an off-the-cuff prayer, but a heart-felt, faith-filled prayer, and God answered in such an outpouring of mercy and blessings.

james5_16Of course, any time spent in prayer changes the person praying as well.  I have spent extra time praying for others in times past, and I always felt like a better person — more peaceful, more loving, more interested in others — because of the time I spent praying.

It’s like the parenting advice to spend time with your children instead of spending lots of money on them.  When someone says they will pray for you, they are committing time and energy to you at some point when you aren’t around to remind them of your need.  They are promising to remember that you need God’s help and “go boldly before the throne” on your behalf. It’s one of the best gifts you can give someone, one of the most loving things you can do, to place someone gently, but fervently, into God’s hands and ask for His blessing.

May we remember to pray more for others in our lives.

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the Amen

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So after writing the last poem in my Lord’s Prayer set, I was thinking about the Amen of the prayer.  It really should have its own poem, probably. Amen is such a tying-up sort of word. Like you’ve laid all of your problems out on unstained linen, wrapped them up with a scarlet ribbon, sealed it with the signet Amen, and offered it, lumpy and heartfelt, to an all-loving God.

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And He doesn’t take it in finger and thumb like the dirty, earth-bound set of issues it is, but because of who He is and who we are in Him, He tenderly unwraps it, looks at what’s inside, and holds it in His heart. To answer yes or no, or maybe or wait — but never to throw away.  Because the trust of His children is precious.

In fact we have a promise — the cap of promises, in fact.  The promise to end all promises:

Picture3_thumbAll the promises of God are Yes in Jesus! How can we read that and not rejoice in our hearts? Because of that white linen, that scarlet ribbon — that righteousness and heart’s blood of Jesus, we have a Yes from God! And so we can send our prayers, fumbling, tearful, but sure. Sealed with the Amen, the “so be it”, the trust in the trustworthy God, the faith in the risen Jesus — the Amen to God for His glory*. And how can He not answer our prayers?

since-he-did-not-spare-even-his-own-son-but-gave-him-up-for-us-all-wont-he-also-give-us-everything-else-bible-quoteSo take that battered faith you’ve got tucked away somewhere, reach for that cord of scarlet, claim the white-scrubbed linen, lay your prayers inside and seal it with a confident Amen.  And know you are heard.

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*In Revelation 3:14 Jesus refers to Himself as “The Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God’s creation.”

 

 

glory forever

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“…for thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever.  Amen.”

Therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple: and he that sitteth on the throne shall dwell among them. They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more; neither shall the sun light on them, nor any heat. For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes (Revelation 7:15-17).

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The Lord reigns, he is robed in majesty;
    the Lord is robed in majesty and armed with strength;
    indeed, the world is established, firm and secure     (Psalm 93:1).

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Yours, O LORD, is the greatness, the power and the glory, the victory and the majesty; for all that is in heaven and in earth is Yours; Yours is the kingdom, O LORD, and You are exalted as head over all. Both riches and honor come from You, and You reign over all.  In Your hand is power and might; in Your hand it is to make great and to give strength to all (1 Chronicles 29:11, 12).

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Before the mountains were born
    or you brought forth the whole world,
    from everlasting to everlasting you are God (Psalm 90:2).

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before the stars were the faintest pinpoints

after all things have crumbled to dust

greater than even the universe’s expanse

yet

the smallest seed of love inside my heart

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though i speak with the tongues of angels

though i search to the ends of the world

though i live forever and never stop praising

You

are greater still than anything i comprehend

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higher than the highest human thought

deeper than the deepest chasm

wider than the ever-expanding universe

stronger than life or death

is the glory of Your name

of Your love

of Yah-weh — my breath

my Lord

my God and

King

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deliverance

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“…but deliver us from evil…”

Grace to you and peace from God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us from this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen (Galatians 1:3-5).

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Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints (Ephesians 6:13-18).

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But the Lord is faithful, who will establish you and guard you from the evil one (2 Thessalonians 3:3).

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deliver us from evil

we pray

piously

while secretly shivering deliciously

at the thought

tantalizing wisps of brimstone

a little touch of naughty

surely just a taste won’t

no one will know if i…

then over our heads

in trouble again we fling up our hands

and cry

why don’t you save me

why me

but once again on firm ground

we tiptoe

peeking over the edge again

just dipping in a toe

danger is the spice of life

and anyway

if it were really bad

it wouldn’t be here

so temptingly

because i can resist anything

except temptation

so we lay down our sword and shield

and stoop to take just one sip

while the water of life

pours out wasted

behind our willful backs

and the Lifeguard sighs and prepares

for action

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I do not understand what I do.

For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. 

For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. 

For I do not do the good I want to do,

but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. 

What a wretched man I am!

Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? 

Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!

(Romans 7:15-25, selected)

the choice is mine

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“And lead us not into temptation…”

O Lord, I know that the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walks to direct his steps (Jeremiah 10:23).

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The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD, and He delights in his way. Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down; for the LORD upholds him with His hand (Psalm 37:23, 24).

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Do not take me away with the wicked and with the workers of iniquity, who speak peace to their neighbors, but evil is in their hearts (Psalm 28:3).

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No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God isfaithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it (1 Corinthians 10:13).

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For You are my rock and my fortress; therefore, for Your name’s sake, lead me and guide me (Psalm 31:3).

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Lead me in Your truth and teach me, for You are the God of my salvation; on You I wait all the day (Psalm 25:5). 

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And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9). 

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hesitating in leafy shade

pausing at the crossroads

torn by choice

why not take that path

sun-dappled wide and fair

enticing golden-green

so lovely

so close to the way

just a winding smooth trail to follow

never mind the faint sense

the hint of decay under the flowers’ essence

such a bright track

must surely be sound

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“lead us not into temptation”

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or take that other path

with creeping vines and

darkling shadows

drooping moss and webs interwoven

a swaying curtain brushing

shrinking fingertipes

rotting logs and half-buried rocks

narrow the way

stumbling

bearing straight into gloom and

half-dusk

arrowing true

toward a distant faint

point of white and

beckoning light

forgive(n)

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“Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors…”

“Come now, and let us reason together,” says the LORD. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall be as wool” (Isaiah 1:18). 

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If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9).

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And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you (Ephesians 4:32).

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

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And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses (Mark 11:25).

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You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the children of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the LORD (Leviticus 19:18).

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For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, 

he is guilty of all (James 2:10).

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For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God…(Romans 3:23)

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…There is none righteous, no, not one…(Romans 3:10)

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Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times?

Jesus said unto him, I say not unto you, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven.

Therefore is the kingdom of heaven likened unto a certain king, who would take account of his servants.

And when he had begun the reckoning, one was brought unto him, who owed him ten thousand talents.

But since he had nothing to pay, his lord commanded him to be sold, and his wife, and children, and all that he had, and payment to be made.

The servant therefore fell down, and worshiped him, saying, Lord, have patience with me, and I will pay you all.

Then the lord of that servant was moved with compassion, and released him, and forgave him the debt.

But the same servant went out, and found one of his fellow servants, who owed him a hundred pence: and he laid hands on him, and took him by the throat, saying, Pay me what you owe.

And his fellow servant fell down at his feet, and besought him, saying, Have patience with me, and I will pay you all.

And he would not: but went and cast him into prison, till he should pay the debt.

So when his fellow servants saw what was done, they were very sorry, and came and told unto their lord all that was done.

Then his lord, after that he had called him, said unto him, O you wicked servant, I forgave you all that debt, because you desired me:

Should not you also have had compassion on your fellow servant, even as I had pity on you?

And his lord was angry, and delivered him to the jailers, till he should pay all that was due unto him.

So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if you from your hearts forgive not everyone his brother their trespasses (Matthew 18:21-35).

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harsh judges all

we expect perfection in others

overlooking our own pet faults

pointing daggers

spreading words of ruin

shunning

lips curled

one who stumbles where

we happen to stand firm

eyes closed to others’ virtues

blind to our own inner rot

folly

for a heart-seeing God

forgives as we

forgive

and as we deny

we are denied

mercy

we cannot look down our noses at others

and also come crawling

begging to God

for mercy

undeserved and

unbestowed

the broken bread

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“Give us this day our daily bread…”

Then Jesus said to his disciples: “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life? Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?  Consider how the wild flowers grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe you—you of little faith! And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them. But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well (Luke 12:22-31).

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Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. But as I told you, you have seen me and still you do not believe. All those the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away. For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all those he has given me, but raise them up at the last day. For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day.

 I am the bread of life. Your ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness, yet they died. But here is the bread that comes down from heaven, which anyone may eat and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats this bread will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.

 Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day. For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in them. Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven. Your ancestors ate manna and died, but whoever feeds on this bread will live forever” (John 6:35-40, 48-51, 54-58).

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Bread of heaven, bread of heaven, Lord, on you alone we feed;

Bread of heaven, bread of heaven, for you satisfy our need.

Always may our hearts be fed with your true and living bread,

Day by day with strength supplied through the life of Christ who died.

Wine of heaven, wine of heaven, O the joy your love supplies,

Wine of heaven, wine of heaven, O blest cup of sacrifice.

By your wounds our sin forgive, to your cross we look and live.

Christ our life! O let us be dead to self and one with Thee.

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in a low-carb life

we pursue

more filling options

a spiritual atkins diet

pursuing the meat of

theological debate

embracing a vegan

lifestyle

(because it is trendy

and politically

correct)

forgetting

when He said

I am the bread

He meant simple

faith

and daily sustenance

yielding

our hunger for more

only to be filled

by the broken

true bread