Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Lent - Day 15: Gratitude

STOP!!  First thing that comes to mind - what are you grateful for, right now?

I would recommend with today's video that you not read along with the text, as it's not quite accurate.  But the video is interesting.

From Kat Hurley - Transformational Coach who focuses on an Attitude of Gratitude with her clients
How many times throughout the day do you find yourself saying a "Thank you, God" out loud, or under your breath, or even just in your thoughts - just a quick acknowledgment of Divine blessings?  And what would happen if you would stop, and take all of those moments to create something like the picture above?

Try this - keep a notebook with you and as you find things to be grateful for, write it down.  Then creating such a picture of your own will be easy.  And the notebook will help you keep focused on the attitude of gratitude - even if sometimes, what we have to be grateful for is the opportunity to practice patience with your 2-year-old who is discovering the world around him - in the most dangerous and mess-causing ways.  Find the positive in each experience, and, remembering to say thanks at the time, know that you'll create a thing of beauty from the gratitude of the day.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Lent - Day 14: Intercession

Intercessory prayer - today's video puts it into an interesting perspective.  How many times have you been asked, would you pray for me?  or please pray for my friend [fill in the blank here]?

So often between the liturgical churches and the evangelical churches, there is controversy regarding "intercessory" prayer, because so often in liturgical churches (often Catholic, but also Episcopal or Lutheran), we request the saints who have gone before us to offer prayers on our behalf.  Perhaps we're hoping they might have the ear of God and can make our prayers better heard.

Another difference often seen is the presence of a "prayer list" - where when it is time to pray, we have a list of people for whom we offer intercessory prayer - and they're all those people who have asked for prayer or who others have asked on behalf of friends or family.  Often in evangelical churches, if you ask someone to pray for you, you're going to find that everything stops, right then and there, and the person literally offers up prayer, with you right there.

The concept of an "arrow prayer" - that quick, please God, watch over so and so on their journey or, thank you, God for the thing that has made my life easier at the moment, or the prayer of a parent - Lord God, please watch over my kid and give him a brai... er, wisdom -- these are the ongoing, little prayers we send on a regular basis to God, perhaps to ensure that we don't forget an intercessory prayer later, or to ensure that we don't forget to thank God for His blessings.  These are no less heartfelt than those prayers offered in a more formal manner, following "ACTS" as discussed previously - they're just different.

And perhaps we can each appreciate the differences people have in how intercessory prayer is offered - they are all heart-felt and sincere.  And whether it's our own intercession, or the intercession of one who's already on the other side - they're all prayers.  And that's the important part.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Lent - Day 13: Places to Pray

Today's video talks about where you pray, and the Brother speaks of going to a labyrinth for a walking meditation-type prayer.  Labyrinths can be something complex like the picture at the left, or something as simple as garden stones you've arranged in your backyard for your own use, like the one below.  This site has a good explanation for how to use a labyrinth in prayer.

For those in this area, there is a labyrinth behind the old Episcopal church in Libby, at St. Luke's.

Do you have other places outside that you like to pray, or as I often put it - talk with God?  What do you find different about praying outside as opposed to inside?  Do you find you have a preference?

Lent - Day 12: Praying

The video for today follows a reflection on prayer that can really make you think.

How do you pray?  Do you have different times for different types of prayer?  Do you have times for meditation?  What do you meditate on?

Do you feel that your life is just far to busy to fit in time to pray?  Here's an exercise for you:  Set a timer for 30 seconds.  For that 30 seconds, talk with God.

Stuck on how to start?  Think ACTS - Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving and Supplication - or praise for whatever you feel like praising God about, confessing sins that come immediately to mind, thanking God for your blessings, and asking for something - healing, watching over loved ones, opportunities.

So try the 30-second exercise again - how'd that go?  Think you could do that three times a day?

Lent - Day 10: Contentment

Today's video talks about contentment, and the sufficiency of what we have now - fully appreciating what we have at the present time, and abiding in that thankfulness in contentment.

How often do you practice being fully present where you are?  In a conversation, do you truly listen to what the other person is saying, or is part of your brain planning out what you're going to say when it's your turn to talk?

As you're listening to the sermon at church, are you also planning your afternoon activities?

How often do you find yourself multi-tasking - not really putting your whole attention into any one activity, but dividing it among several?  Does that lead to the best results?

When was the last time you felt content?

Lent - Day 11: Observation and Consequences

The video for today reminds us that the sabbath rest is not only for those who observe the Jewish traditions, but for anyone visiting, servants and animals.  And I can hear the non-Christians, agnostics and atheists now - I don't care what you do, but don't shove your religion down my throat!

So here you have a bit of a dilemma.  We do attempt to respect each person's path, but at the same time, God couldn't have made the fourth commandment more clear:
8 “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.
9 Six days shalt thou labor and do all thy work;
10 but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God. In it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates.
11 For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it. (Emphasis added.)
 This would seem to imply that perhaps our "socializing" on this day should be with others who believe as we do, or with those who also want to rest and don't mind that while it's a commandment for us, it's a break for them.

The author the Brother mentions, Marva Dawn, wrote a book called Keeping the Sabbath Wholly, that gives some helpful hints on how to help workaholics, worriers, overachievers, etc. to fully and wholly embrace this Commandment.

How do you keep the Sabbath holy/wholly?