Friday, September 28, 2012

September 28, 2012 Thoughts about burden-bearing!

Matt. 23:37  O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the propets and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings and ye would not.

Luke 19:41 And when he was come near, he beheld the city and wept over it.

I have been studying the prayers of Jesus, and I encourage you to take a look at them as well.  You can find a good study guide at

As I read the verses above, I was impressed with the  idea that I have my own Jerusalem - this campus here at BBC, and with the idea that I have always said that this was my calling, as much as it was to go to Africa years ago.  With all my heart, I believed God had appointed us to the ministry at BBC.

Anyway, as I was thinking through all of this, I felt the weight of the burdens people at BBC are carrying: family loss, impending family loss, the burden of caring for parents, the burdens students are carrying from parental struggles with cancer, suicide of family or friends, physical needs, family and friends who do not know or embrace Christ, and a myriad of other burdens. 

This last week a couple of students came to me about starting a support group for abused women.  Can you imagine that?  Having experienced sexual abuse of some kind, and trying to look normal and be a college woman with that hovering around the edges of every day?  One student told me she cried when she found the other woman who shared that in her past and how comforting it was to know she was not alone.

I guess today my heart is just very heavy, feeling the pain of my students and colleagues.  And I think that is the way it should be; it is pretty hard to minister genuinely if you never enter into the suffering of others.  The challenge is to not allow their suffering to overwhelm and discourage you. 

Jesus wept, but he talked to the Father and he kept at it - getting up a great while before day to spend time in God's presence without distractions, and from that place, doing great things.

Friday, September 14, 2012

September 14, 2012 On Listening to God

John 10:3 To him the porter opens: and the sheep hear his voice and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out

I used to get so frustrated with these words, "Just read your Bible and pray." Those words were somehow supposed to be the solution to every problem, the prescription for spiritual growth, and the recipe for devotions.

But it didn't work! I came to understand that these words as advice for building a relationship with God were a lot like telling a young woman that all she had to do to develop a relationship with her husband was read his old letters and talk to him. That wouldn't work either. A relationship, by definition, requires two people to share, to communicate meaningfully, a listening and replying with the other's values in mind.

So when I think about having a relationship with God, there has to be some listening on my part as well as the listening I assume He is doing in response to my prayers. The problem is we don't do all that much paying attention to what He might be trying to say to us.

James Martin says the "Emotions are a key way that God speaks in prayer. You might be praying about a favorite Bible passage, and suddenly you feel happiness over being closer to God, or anger over how Jesus or the prophets were mistreated, or sorrow over the plight of the poor. God may be speaking to you through the emotions...These invitations to listen can be easily overlooked because they are often fleeting. If we're not careful, we'll miss them."

As I read this, I thought about how little time I give to paying attention to what is happening when I pray. Too often, I think we go to prayer with our list in mind, and then we sort of pay attention to other things God brings to mind.  However, I am not sure that we are listening or paying attention to how He might be guiding our response to our prayers or anticipating His desire to guide us in life.

I am not sure we even expect to feel all that much when we pray. Oh, certainly we feel when we pray out of desperation we are feeling and hoping for something, but how many of our prayers are uttered out of desperation. Even then, in our desperation, do we listen for God to respond?...or do we just feel better because we have gotten our pain off our chest?

I guess I am concerned about how real we are when we pray - we expect to feel something when we talk to a human. I expect to feel loved when my husband listens to me and responds with caring gestures and words. I want that, and I look for or anticipate it. I expect to feel grief and loss when I talk to someone about a death in their family or friend circle. I am just not sure that we go to prayer anticipating that we might recognize God's communication to us, and feel something. And as I feel affection for my husband when he listens carefully to me, I want to love him back in some way meaningful to him to show him my appreciation. Do we return God's love that way?

Well, now I am rambling, but this is what I have been thinking about.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

September 12, 2012 Because He Loves You

I John 3:1 Behold what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us that we should be called the sons of God, therefore the world knoweth us not because it knew him not. KJV

See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him. ESV

See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. NIV

What marvelous love the Father has extended to us! Just look at it - we're called children of God! That's who we really are. But that's also why the world doesn't recognize us or take us seriously, because it has no idea who he is or what he's up to. The Message

I love it how things come together when you are loving God back. I am leading a Bible study on prayer here at the college...and as I think about prayer, I think of it as one part of any relationship - communication. When you love a human, you want to hang around them and with them and you sure do want to communicate with them - in lots of ways. And since God loves us and desires our love - that means a lot of communication should be taking place.  So all of that has been perking around in my mind.

Then, I am always on the look out for resources, books and articles, that will be helpful in my own spiritual journey. Some time ago I came across The Jesuit Guide to (almost) Everything: A Spirituality for Real Life. I have to say it was the last few words that caught my attention, and as I stood there in the store browsing through the book, I found more and more in it that spoke to my desire for another voice in my growth. Not that the Bible was not enough, nor the dozens of believers that surround me at work every day, but I'm always open to more somehow.

Please don't stop reading, just because it is a Jesuit guide. I believe that God does give us discernment, so I read and process in light of what I know the Bible says. And this book, read slowly and not straight through, has been a blessing in my life, especially right now as I have been studying prayer.

Let me share a few things that caught my attention this week. In the chapter on Friendship with God, the writer speaks to ways God responds to or communicates with us. I am going to list them because it is way too much to tackle in depth today. He suggests that emotions are a way that God speaks in prayer. Insights and memories that float to the surface during prayer are also tools God uses. Feelings, both emotional and physical are also ways that God communicates with us. As we pray, God responds and in that stillness, I do believe God's Spirit moves...

I will talk more about this another day, but I wonder what you think.