Guide To Food Prayers

I read Jonathan Acuff’s book, Stuff Christians Like a few months ago. It is an awesome book that is written with a great sense humor that I love. If you have been a Christian for a while, or even attended a church at any point, his book is definitely worth reading.

Michele and I use one quote from the book a lot when we talk about praying before eating our meals. It is a rhyme to “help” you remember whether or not you should pray before eating food while standing up.

Here is the rhyme:

If you have to stand / God won’t demand / a prayer tonight / so take a bite.”

Hopefully, this will help you when you get stuck trying to remember if prayer is required with your standing meal.

Passing It Along: Experiences

But watch out! Be careful never to forget what you yourself have seen. Do not let the memories escape from your mind as long as you live! And be sure to pass them on to your children and grandchildren. – Deuteronomy 4:9, emphasis mine

Since Asher and Bechan have been born, Michele and I have tried to teach pass on God’s word to them. One thing Chele and I have not done much of, though, is sharing a lot of stories about God directly interacting in our lives. After recently reading the verse above, I think this is something we will need to improve.

Here is one story of God touching our lives over the past couple of months that we will be sure to share with Ashe and Becs.

Michele and I started doing part-time freelance web design and development about eight years ago. In 2006 we created our company, Triune Designs, to bring a little more structure to our work and drop the freelance title. Despite the fact that we had incorporated Triune, Chele and I still did the web work part-time while still working full-time in our other jobs.

When all of these changes were occurring we felt God had bigger plans for the company, but it was not the right time to take the step to full-time web design work. This year, God spoke to us and we knew it was time for Michele to quit her other job and work solely with TDI.

We knew this was what God wanted. We knew God was going go take care of us. We knew all of this and more, but the final step off the diving board was not easy.

Once we made the step leap, it was just God and us. There was nothing to bail us out and cover certain bills. That was (and is) a great place to be. In the face of fear, doubt, and second-guessing, the only thing getting us through these past few months is knowing God was going to take care of us… we knew he had our back and we did not need a bailout plan.

Since Michele has gone full-time with Triune, God has taken care of us each and every time. Whenever a bill has been due, the money arrived at the exact time we needed it in the amount we needed to pay.

This month, things were getting down to the wire. During a conversation, I told Chele that I was not sure God was going to send the money to pay a bill we needed to mail two days from then. Doubt was creeping in. The next day, I got a call from Chele and the money we needed had arrived in time for us to deposit it and mail it off. Wow!! I knew at that moment that if God was in the business of saying “take that” then I would be hearing it for months.

Since that doubt and subsequent Godly faithfulness, my decision is to not lose hope like I just mentioned. I desire to improve my faith in such a way that I will stay assured of things I cannot see (that are happening behind the scenes).

I tell this (rather long) story in hopes that it might provide you with some reassurance during times when you prepare to jump off the diving board while trusting God’s guidance.

Probably More Like My Life Than I Want

I recently signed up for Google’s Adsense. I do not expect to make any money off of it through my personal blog and part of that is on purpose. This is the one blog I (help) manage where I can write whatever I want without having to worry about schedules, content that fits in with the business’/blog’s theme, etc.

Mainly, practicing here with Adsense helps me get more knowledge so I can give more accurate advice and recommendations to our Triune Designs clients.

Unfortunately, when allowing advertisements, some content I do not want may get on the website. When setting up my ad account, I blocked almost 90% of the categories Google provides for advertisers. I did not want any inappropriate content to accidentally pop up on the sponsors section.

I think this plan has mostly worked so far, but I cruised over to the website today and saw a t-shirt ad. T-shirts are pretty cool, but unfortunately this ad was for naughty t-shirts. The funny thing is that this ad was right above another ad selling Bibles and right next to two posts talking about Deuteronomy and religion. I went back to my Google account and they have a new option where I can block specific ads in addition to the aforementioned categories. I am glad to see that and will begin sorting through the ads tomorrow once the functionality has been fully enabled.

My Life
Oh, and by the way, this two-ad combination is probably a pretty accurate metaphor for my life. Despite my faith and deep love for God, I have things in my life that I do not want to do, but I do them anyway. And there are things that are good that I want to do, but I do not. Check out Romans 7:14-25 for Paul’s teaching concerning this.

In the end, I continue to praise God for Jesus and His continuing effort towards my life and sanctification!!

Google Adsense Ads

Regaining Perspective

This past week Michele and I spent quite a bit of time outside making the yard look better in preparation for an appraisal of our home. Admittedly, there was a bit of stress over how much the house would appraise for. Probably, and more importantly, we were concerned with what issues the appraiser might find as s/he looked over our home.

In my opinion, there was a little too much time and effort placed into concern/stress and preparation, but we wanted to present the best house possible to get the best appraisal we could.

Finally, the appraiser came and went. We were able to calm down. And a couple of hours later I took off for the fire station to work a half shift. Working at the fire station that night helped me. It helped me to regain perspective.

The first call we had after I arrived for duty was a general illness. There ended up not being anyone sick, but we came upon a homeless village of about thirty people. The roof over their heads was the overpass (pictured below).

Seeing this helped remind me that the possessions I have are not the things I will take with me through eternity. The homeless village also helped me to remember how incredibly blessed Michele and I are and that we are called to use some of those blessings to help others.

In a time when obsession over the house was beginning to take over, this reminder was perfect timing.

Home Sweet Home

Room Cleaning Christianity

This is a good article a friend recommended about why Christians are jerks online. I really liked the concept of “room cleaning Christianity.” His analogy comparing cleaning your dorm room when you should be writing that term paper with tearing people apart for seemingly small things is great. Personally, I can identify with both and will remember this as I work on scraping out the judgmental attitude out of my heart.

Prayer, Faith, and Dropping the Bomb

My good friend, Jonathan, wrote an excellent article about prayer and faith. Here are a few of his thoughts.

Dropping the bomb on the ants!

sometimes I find myself saying, “Hey the least I can do is pray for you!” What a crock!

If the US Air Force accepted my invitation to execute military maneuvers in my backyard to destroy a nasty nest of Army ants (you gotta love the imagery) they would bring firepower that was more magnificent and vastly superior to any defense or assault the vicious insects could mount!

Asking the USAF for help would not be the least I could, that would the most extravagant, maybe even audacious thing I could do! Consider when we pray, we are inviting the divine and infinite source of power in and beyond this universe to move and accomplish His perfect will in our life. That is so far above “the least I can do”! Praying for people is less about what I want to do to help, but the privilege I have of inviting God to bring His strength and power to the table.

Please Stop Faking It, Rather I Hope You Faith It

The least I can do is fake it and mouth the request. The best I can do is faith it and sincerely trust in Him to do what only He can! Sincere prayer is where faith in God is strengthened, not solely by His fulfilling my request as I asked, but more, by the wonderful reality and promise of His Presence, His Purpose, and His Power that will ultimately brings His version of good into my life. Given the choice, I definitely want His version of good!

My prayer is that I hope I see God more as the One who can drop the most extravagant, audacious, and powerful bombs/answers to our requests instead of the one I just fake prayers to (which I think I do too often).

The Art of Discipleship

As part of a church leaders class I took a couple of months ago, I read Conformed To His Image by Kenneth Boa. One of the chapters discussed a philosophy of discipleship.

A few quotes in the chapter either hit me with an “aha” moment or served as an excellent reminder. For those of you also digging into the art of discipleship may these assist you as well.

Having so fond an affection for you, we were well-pleased to impart to you not only the gospel of God but also our own lives, because you had become very dear to us.” 1 Thessalonians 2:8; “It is more noble to give yourself completely to one individual than to labor diligently for the salvation of the masses.” – Dag Hammarskjold

Some people come to Jesus as a solution to their… problems. When he doesn’t rectify their difficulties in the way they had hoped, their unrealized expectations can paralyze further growth. We cannot follow Jesus when we are asking him to follow us. We limit our spiritual development when we fail to make the transition from seeing Jesus as a problem solver to seeing him as our life.

But the point of the Great Commission is to make disciples, not merely converts.”

While Jesus ministered to the masses, he focused his time and training on a small number of disciples. He was closer to the Twelve than to the seventy, and closer to the three (Peter, James, and John) than to the rest of the Twelve. Instead of dissipating the bulk of his energy on the curious multitudes, our Lord concentrated on a handful of people who were teachable and committed. By building his life into these men, he was equipping them to reach an ever-widening circle of people through multiplication rather than addition.”

The Lord may call you to nurture some people for a brief moment or for a long season, but they were and never will be yours. They are always his. A willingness to expose people to other gifts and resources is a mark of the humility of authentic security in Christ.

We can participate in the work of God, but we cannot measure or control what he is doing in us and through us. Thus it is always unwise to determine effectiveness by comparing one person with another or one ministry with another.”

Sheep and Shepherd

I am reading Tim Laniak’s book called While Shepherds Watch Their Flocks.

While reflecting on his chapter about caring, it struck me deeply: we are both shepherd and sheep. Here is what I wrote.

Once, I was a lost sheep who responded to the call of the Shepherd.
Now, I am a rescued sheep who shepherds a part of the Shepherd’s whole flock.”

I will never presume to replace the work of the one true Shepherd. Despite that, as a leader within the church, I am called to assist with caring for His flock. Being called as a leader who serves the Lord, I should have, as Laniak says, “a compassionate heart for [His] individual sheep.”

So this is my prayer for today, that I will maintain compassion for the all of the Lord’s sheep: the rescued and the lost; the ones close to me and the ones from afar; the members of my LifeGroup and my family (so dear). I pray that the compassion I receive daily from the Shepherd is passed through me to the rest of His flock.

Want To Excel At Sports? Embrace Bitterness

Back in the day (it was a Tuesday if I am correct), the Michael Jordan show was the most exciting thing to watch on television. When he played with Chicago I became a Bulls fan – just because he was that good.

Induction Speech
Last week, Jordan was inducted into the NBA Hall of Fame. In what should have been a time of celebration, Michael flipped things upside down a bit. During his induction speech, Jordan showed why he was so motivated to become the best player of his time: he embraced bitterness.

According to a Yahoo article, Jordan took shots at various players and coaches. His speech revelaed bitterness dating all the way back to his sophomore year of high school. What it showed was that as good as Jordan was, he was never able to let it go. Over the years, he held onto his failure, hurt, and pain like a kid clutching a toy.

His Bitterness, My Bitterness
The thing is, Jordan is not alone. Take a look at Brett Favre. Part of the reason he is playing with the Vikings is so that he can take a stab at his former team. My question is why? Why would a man embrace bitterness toward the Packers after spending so many years with them.

The bitterness these two men hold are their own and no one will be able to share it with them. For, “each heart knows its own bitterness, and no one else can share its joy” (Proverbs 14:10). But, it can serve as a warning to all of us.

Free Yourself
Do not embrace joy-stealing bitterness. In fact, take it one step farther: “do not let the sun go down while you are still angry” (Ephesians 4:26). Do not even let bitterness have a chance to take hold… unless you want to be a superb pro athlete. Then, game on!

Our Return Flight – An Answered Prayer

I have to admit, there have only been a handful of times over this past year where I have come to God hopeless, worn out, and on the brink. In two simple words: broken down. Monday was one of those days for me. Asher and I were on our way back home from Phoenix and we were on our first of two flights. We were both exhausted, fussy, and grouchy from a weekend visiting with the family.

During the flight (to Memphis) Asher did not want to play quietly nor did he want to play with his games. Basically, he did not want to be on the plane at all, and he let me know it constantly. Likewise, I was not being the gracious father. All I wanted to do was to have him remain quiet so that we would not disturb those around us. And with short little outbursts, I did my best to keep our noise to a minimum.

Asher and I were heading toward a meltdown and I knew it was going to happen on the second flight. I knew I could not handle our situation anymore. I also knew I did not have the patience to handle Asher and I could not take care of him on my own.

So, it was as the plane was on approach (for our landing) that I prayed to the Lord for help. It was a simple prayer asking the Lord to give me patience and help so that we would make it through the rest of our trip. For me, it was most definitely a prayer of desperation!

My Answered Prayer And there it was. As our second flight lifted off the ground I looked next to me and was overwhelmed by what I saw: Asher asleep. Now, before you dismiss this as a common occurrence, I will tell you that it is a rare moment when Asher sleeps on a vehicle. For me, it was an overwhelming relief that I cannot describe. It was more than Asher just lying there asleep. For that entire flight, it was my temporary place of refuge, where I could finally rest. It was my answered prayer.

And so, Psalm 142 comes to mind as I reflect on this moment from a few days ago:

I cry out to the Lord; I plead for the Lord’s mercy. I pour out my complaints before him and tell him my troubles. When I am overwhelmed, you alone know the way I should turn.

Then I pray to you, O Lord. I say, ‘You are my place of refuge. You are all I really want in life.'”

Psalm 142:1-3 & 5