Praying like a Child

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Mar 292015
 

Recently I arrived at my sister’s house just as my niece and nephews were about to go to bed, and immediately the kids exclaimed they wanted me to tuck them in. So as they said good night to their parents and shuffled off to their beds, I tucked in and prayed with each one. Now the boys pray themselves while I hold their hand and bow my head, but my three year old niece often wants whoever is tucking her in to pray. So I asked if she wanted to pray, or wanted me to, and she requested I be the one to pray. I prayed, kissed her good night, and left her to go to sleep.

It was not until a couple of days later that I realized a detail about the way I had prayed with her that night. I had prayed from her point of view. I had prayed for “mommy and daddy” in speaking of her parents, and “grandma and papa” in referring to my parents. This realization brought to mind how the Holy Spirit prays for us when we do not have the words.

“Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And He who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.” Romans 8:26-27 (ESV)

When I am too weak and worn to know what to pray, I can just humbly say that to Jesus in prayer and I know the Holy Spirit intercedes on my behalf. When I am too brokenhearted to even form that many words, Christ knows my heart and I can just go to Him and cry. Even when I am so elated and in awe of something He has done in my life, and I can only get out a thank you, He knows the words of my heart.

“About that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who is greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven?” Jesus called a little child to him and put the child among them. Then he said, “I tell you the truth, unless you turn from your sins and become like little children, you will never get into the Kingdom of Heaven.  So anyone who becomes as humble as this little child is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven.” Matthew 18:1-4 (NLT)

“But when the right time came, God sent his Son, born of a woman, subject to the law. God sent him to buy freedom for us who were slaves to the law, so that he could adopt us as his very own children. And because we are his children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, prompting us to call out, “Abba, Father.” Now you are no longer a slave but God’s own child. And since you are his child, God has made you his heir.” Galatians 4:4-7

John MacArthur wrote, “Abba is a diminutive of the Aramaic word for father. It was a term of endearment used by young children of their fathers and could be translated to “daddy” or “papa”. The Holy Spirit brings us into a personal, intimate relationship with our heavenly Father, whom we may approach at any time and under any circumstance, knowing that He always hears us and lovingly cares for us, because we are truly His own.”

Much like my niece trusted me to go to God in prayer on her behalf, God wants us to go to Him as a child goes to a loving father. What does an intimate and personal relationship with the Father through the Holy Spirit look like? Do you get the picture of a child running to its father, climbing into his lap and throwing their arms around his neck while burying their head in his shoulder? In either instance of elation or brokenness this illustration applies, there are only changes the child’s emotion, not the relationship to the father.

Review of 2012 [in books]

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Jan 022013
 
bookreview2

I read a blog post by someone else where they suggested books to read in the upcoming year and I loved the idea. But I also wanted to personalize it by suggesting some of the books I read in 2012 and explain how they spoke to me. I also wanted to reveal some of the books that I will be reading in 2013, in case anyone wanted to join in. I love this idea and I think I am going to keep this as a New Year’s tradition on my blog (which means next year it will be better because I will be planning ahead of time and collecting information and thoughts as I read them). You can also connect with me on Goodreads (http://www.goodreads.com/user/show/9326025-tina) and see what I am currentlly reading. Goodreads also has a 2013 reading challenge, therefore I have challenged myself to read 24 books in 2013 (I am really hoping to read more, but felt I should start with a reasonable goal the first time, especially with resolving to blog on a regular basis).

So here is my review of 2012 in books:

 

 

From Fear to Freedom: Living as Sons and Daughters of God by Rose Marie Miller

This was an amazing book from a personal standpoint. It was a book that God very clearly had brought to my attention, and after reading it I knew what He wanted to teach me through it. Rose Marie Miller is poignantly honest as she speaks through her own testimony, but it was so often like I was reading about myself. She speaks of the characteristics of an orphan mindset as opposed to living as a child of God, such as living in our own strength instead of in Christ’s transforming power. I read this book on my flight home from Nicaragua, after living there for six and a half weeks with friends there adopting a sibling group of four children. So many times the children would handle a situation as an orphan would and I would feel God whispering to my heart of times I act like that towards Him.

 

Kisses from Katie: A Story of Relentless Love and Redemption by Katie Davis

“People who really want to make a difference in the world usually do it, in one way or another. And I’ve noticed something about people who make a difference in the world: They hold the unshakable conviction that individuals are extremely important, that every life matters. They get excited over one smile. They are willing to feed one stomach, educate one mind, and treat one wound. They aren’t determined to revolutionize the world all at once; they’re satisfied with small changes. Over time, though, the small changes add up. Sometimes they even transform cities and nations, and yes, the world.” – Beth Clark (Author of the Introduction)

This book was referred to me by the same friend who is adopting the sibling group of four (we share a heart for orphans and therefore she knew upon reading this book that I would love it). It is one of those books that I know I will read again, probably many times, which my friend already has done. There are so many things in this book that are both convicting and inspiring.

 Katie Davis writes, “People from my first home say I’m brave. They tell me I’m strong. They pat me on the back and say, ‘Way to go. Good job.’ But the truth is, I am not really very brave; I am not really very strong; and I am not doing anything spectacular. I am simply doing what God has called me to do as a person who follows Him. He said to feed His sheep and He said to care for ‘the least of these,’ so that’s what I’m doing, with the help of a lot people who make it possible and in the company of those who make my life worth living”

To read this story of an ordinary girl doing something extraordinary through Christ, as a response to Christ’s love, spurs me on to live boldly for Christ in His transforming power. I cannot live boldly for Him in my own strength, but I can “do all things in Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13)

Real Life Discipleship: Building Churches that Make Disciples by Jim Putnam

I read this book as part of a small group as my church moves towards being more intentional about making disciples, but it was very informative even in my own walk with Christ. As it teaches through spiritual maturity from a standpoint of training up disciples, it is also revealing about your own spiritual maturity and areas where you need to grow. I also found this understanding of spiritual maturity has helped my relationships as I can see the role spiritual maturity plays within the relationship.

 

The Fitting Room: Putting on the Character of Christ by Kelly Minter

My finding this book was unintentional and ironically after beginning the book recognized Kelly Minter’s name as the author of a study that my small group was going to begin upon my returning home from Nicaragua. What I love about Kelly Minter is her realness. She is funny and uses daily life illustrations. It appears that she also has a heart for foreign missions, is also a single woman of God (like myself), and clearly we both love to write and study God’s Word, therefore I related well with her and saw similarities to my own life.

Kelly Minter writes, “For it is out of the unfathomable riches of Christ’s love for us that all these characteristics become attainable virtues: First, because His love gives us a new life, literally allowing us to cast off our selfish natures and clothe ourselves in the character of Christ. Second, because knowing we’re loved gives us the confidence and freedom to live in this new way. When we know and believe God loves us, the biblical virtues are no longer like school uniforms we begrudgingly put on but exquisite clothing we are eager to slip into. When we are confident we are loved, Paul’s list of Christlike characteristics become less chores and more delights we are eager to embody, because we trust the ways in which God has called us to live. We understand that these characteristics will not only bless those around us but will be beneficial for us as well. This is all a distant cry from moralism or behavior management.”

 

Fearless by Max Lucado

Oh where to begin. I had seen this book in a catalog and made a mental note that I wanted to read it, but had done nothing to pursue reading it. While at a friend’s house, I was asked if I wanted to borrow any books, I took a look at her bookshelf as I thought about how many books I was already in the process of reading and therefore how I really shouldn’t start another one. Then I saw Fearless on her shelf and immediately picked it up. Then it was a done deal and I had to borrow it. I read the book that week and loved it. I struggle with fear and tend to live according to my fear, so it was not hard to figure out that Christ wanted to teach me a few things before I left for Nicaragua. Many of the areas in this book were areas where I struggle with fear. I would definitely suggest this book to anyone else who struggles with fear.

What I am planning to read in 2013:

 

Nothing is Impossible with God: Reflections on Weakness, Faith, and Power by Rose Marie Miller

 

Love Does by Bob Goff

 

Multiply: Disciples Making Disciples by Francis Chan

 

Center Church: Doing Balanced, Gospel-Centered Ministry in Your City by Timothy Keller

 

Don’t waste your life by John Piper

strong

New Year’s Resolutions

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Jan 012013
 

I don’t usually make New Year’s resolutions. In the past I have pondered a few and just kind of nonchalantly thought ‘yeah, I’ll do that this year’, but they were never serious goals in which I planned to hold myself accountable. I am going to make a few this year, and here they are:

Seek Christ more & be more obedient. I want to be boldly obedient to Christ, therefore I want to move toward that goal. Bold is tough for me, and this will require leaning into Christ more in this area.

Complete a Bible reading plan. Last year I had begun two Bible reading plans at the start of the year. Then I fell to one. Then I got way behind on the second and gave up. This year my pastor invited my church family to complete a reading plan along with him, so I am going to attempt this again. The reading plan we are doing can be found here: https://www.youversion.com/reading-plans/14-first-steps-reading-plan

Write & blog more. I love to write, but finding the time to do so is not always easy. I love when Christ lays a subject on my heart to write about, and then He teaches me as I write through the topic. In 2012 I completed writing a book and wrote the first draft of a bible study on a topic that is a struggle for me. I plan to complete the bible study and publish both pieces in 2013, although I do not yet know which avenue Christ will lead me down in this area. I plan to set up a blogging schedule and be more intentional about posting regularly.

Be more intentional about missions. I want to be more intentional about being on mission every day for Christ, whether that is locally or travelling to do so. I am in the process of moving toward leading my first mission team to Nicaragua towards the end of 2013.

Reflect Christ’s love in my relationships more. I want to acknowledge the Christ is at the center of every relationship and be more intentional in loving others as Christ does, even when it is messy and hard. I want to rely on Christ more in moments of raw emotion and set aside the personal hurt and instead actively love in spite of it.

Feel free to comment some of your resolutions for the upcoming year.

 Happy New Year! Wishing you many blessings in the upcoming year!

 

Patience with Joy

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Dec 052012
 

I am still learning patience, as I am not a patient person and I hate waiting. I believe I am patient with people for the most part, but when it comes to waiting on God I have a hard time. I don’t think my impatience is caused by not believing that He will act, but that in knowing He could do so with such ease and just hasn’t. 

I so relate to Sarah sinfully taking matters into her own hands after waiting for God to allow her to become pregnant (Genesis 17-21). Waiting is hard. Control tends to be an idol for me and I have to consciously relinquish my attempt to be in control to Christ in even everyday circumstances, even more so in waiting circumstances.

Upon receiving news on a couple matters I had been praying over for quite a length of time, the answer being that of keep waiting, I said aloud “Lord, I am so tired of learning patience” to which I felt “so learn it already” whispered to my heart. As I repented, following the conviction, I realized a key word in the exchange. Learn. Once I realize it is something that I am being taught, and have been for a while, then it is no longer a matter of my learning but a matter of doing. It becomes about repenting and changing direction, turning around. In these instances it is no longer about learning, it is about making the decision to live as I am called to live, instead of that of a rebellious child. Prayer will be necessary to ask for Christ’s help, as I cannot live according to my calling in my own strength.

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,  gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” Galatians 5:22-23

“And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.  May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy, giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light.  He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” Colossians 1:9-14

If God’s goodness is truth in my life, and in my heart, then it is also true that although He could have acted already, He hasn’t because that is what is truly best for me. And it is “patience with joy”, not just barely getting through this patience or with a poor attitude, but patience derived from gratitude and trust.

Christmas of Love

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Nov 272012
 

Christ has me in a unique situation this Christmas season, one I have never found myself in before. Basically being out of work, means I will not have the ability to purchase Christmas gifts for my family. While Christmas is not about gifts, picking out gifts for each of my nieces, nephews, and family, waiting in anticipation to give it to them, and then watching them open it, is special to me. I enjoy all of this more than opening any gifts I am given on Christmas. It is like my being able to love them in this way is a gift to me.

I can’t help but notice the timing of this, after spending more than seven weeks total in a third world country this year. So many of the people there do not get to shop for the perfect gifts for their family, wrap it with pretty paper and bow, and watch in anticipation as their family opens the gifts they picked out especially for each one. No, they are struggling to provide for their families each day. They may not be able to show their love through buying things, but there is no doubt in my mind that their families will still feel loved. In my experience with the people, they do not associate love with being given things, but by the time spent together and showing your love through action.

I don’t want to concentrate on what I cannot do this Christmas season, but what I can. I am going to take this opportunity to spend the time I would ordinarily be shopping for and wrapping gifts to instead be worshiping Jesus. I am going to spend extra time in the Word, and doing an advent devotional (the one I will be doing is free, and can be found here: https://dwynrhh6bluza.cloudfront.net/resources/documents/5544/DG_Advent_eBook_Final.pdf?1353696982).

Instead of showing my love to my family through buying gifts, I am going to show it through my time, my actions, and my words. On Thanksgiving I took each niece and nephew aside for a moment and gave them a hug and kiss, and told them each that I thank Jesus for them each and every day. Altering the previous balance by showing love more through time, actions and words versus gifts will in the long run be what resonates with them. Growing up my family always had a huge Christmas, including way more gifts than we ever needed, but I can’t tell you what I received for gifts for the most part. I can, however, remember encouragement that others have invested in me, encouragement that resonated with me. 

“And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.  And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear.  And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.  For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.  And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.”  And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,

                   “Glory to God in the highest,
                    and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”

When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger. And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child. And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them.  But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart.  And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.” Luke 2:8-20

I want my treasure, and the treasure of my family, not to be found in gifts but in Jesus Himself. I want our treasure to be pondered in our hearts, as it was with Mary. I want our treasure to be in His presence, His holiness, His love, and His sacrifice.