Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Study on Prayer

I've posted all three parts of the prayer study I used with my Sunday School class. You can either scroll down the page for all of them, or click on the appropriate links. I hope it blesses someone.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Prayer - What is prayer?

“Prayer is the practice of the presence of God. It is the place where pride is abandoned, hope is lifted, and supplication is made. Prayer is the place of admitting our need, of adopting humility, and claiming dependence upon God. Prayer is the needful practice of the Christian. Prayer is the exercise of faith and hope. Prayer is the privilege of touching the heart of the Father through the Son of God, Jesus our Lord.” ~ CARM

“Prayer is the practice of the presence of God.” That is the definition of prayer in a nutshell. But what does it mean? Think about your closest relationship. What does it mean to be in that person’s presence? What do you do together?

  • You confide in each other.

  • You congratulate each other on jobs well done.

  • You thank them for things they’ve done for you.

  • You ask advice or for help.

  • You say you’re sorry.

  • You hang out, just enjoying being together.

    That’s how our relationship with God should be.

Why should we pray?

“Since the power of prayer is in the One Who hears it and not the one who says it, our prayers do make a difference.” ~ Max Lucado in He Still Moves Stones

“Pray often, for prayer is a shield to the soul, a sacrifice to God, and a scourge for Satan.” ~ John Bunyan

We are commanded to pray.

Jesus gave us an example.

(If Jesus, the very Son of God, felt a need to be in communion with the Father, then surely we humans need it even more.)

Prayer shows our dependence on God. (John 15:5)

We are priests between the lost and God.

God acts in response to prayer.

  • Moses prayed for the people to be spared and God spared them. (Exodus 32:7-14)

  • Elijah prayed for no rain and it didn’t rain for three years, not until he then asked for rain. (James 5:17-18)

  • Hannah prayed for a son and received him. (1 Samuel 1)

  • David prayed for forgiveness and God gave it. (Psalm 51)

  • Jonah prayed for mercy and received it. (Jonah 2)

  • Peter prayed that Tabitha would be raised from the dead, and she was. (Acts 9)

  • God offers the same to us. (See Psalm 37:4, Matthew 21:22, and James 5:16)

Results of Prayer

"The one concern of the devil is to keep Christians from praying. He fears nothing from prayerless studies, prayerless work, and prayerless religion. He laughs at our toil, mocks at our wisdom, but trembles when we pray." ~ Samuel Chadwick

Thursday, July 19, 2007

We're Home with Pictures

After sitting on the runway for an extra hour and a half (due to severe weather somewhere between there and here) we made it home. God welcomed us with the most beautiful sunset. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to snap a picture of it. Our last two days in Baltimore were pretty uneventful. Some of us walked to the Holocaust Memorial which was gruesomely fitting for what it commemorates. I'll post pictures of that later.

On Sunday night another team from Mississippi arrived. We shared our living quarters with them for the night. On Monday morning we all sat on the sidewalk singing praise and worship songs. That was pretty cool.

I posted a lot of pictures from our trip on our church's website. Instead of trying to post them all here, I'll just give you the link and you can click over and take a peak there if you wish.

I'm fully convinced I have jet lag, even though there was only an hour's time difference between Baltimore and home. Maybe I'm just getting older and it takes my body longer to recouperate from living on adrenaline for a week.

Anyway. I hope everyone is well. Be blessed!

Baltimore in pictures

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Saturday in Baltimore

Saturday was slated as our official free day. We actually had a lot more free time than anticipated. Much of that was due to some poor communication. (But that's all I'll say here about it.) In some ways I think our time and energy could have been better utilized, yet, I still consider the trip well worth it. We've had some eye-opening-out-of-our-comfort zone experiences. We've seen some incredible sites. We've met some really facinating people who've enriched our lives. And we've had a great time bonding as brothers and sisters in the body of Christ. (Perhaps that is the most rewarding of all.) I'm thankful for our time in Baltimore.

We had a great time exploring the National Aquarium in Baltimore. It was awesome! The only thing I can say is that Baltimore is home to about 2 million people, and I'm sure they were all walking around the Inner Harbor and visiting the Aquarium. *grin* Still, it was incredible and I had a wonderful time.

I'd like to write more, but I've got to go shower. Today is actually Sunday. We'll be heading back to Mississippi tomorrow.

More later.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Friday the 13th in Balitmore

Today our team split up for a time...the majority passed out packets in a different part of town while five of us helped with a preschool activity. I was one of the five along with the two summer missionaries. We took crafts, puppets, and the guitar up (and I mean up) to Federal Hill where we simply sat in the shade and tried to capture the attention of any children and parents. There weren't that many, even though it was a beautiful morning, but there was a woman there with seven children she keeps in her home. Using the guitar case as a table, the children first played with sculpty clay. (The girl next to me made snails.) Then the puppets came out to be played with and to entertain in a very easy going way. The children were given paper bags and made their own puppets. My two daughters, our guitarist, and I led the children in several, what I call, "Sunday School" songs which they really enjoyed. Finally, some simple crafts were pulled out for the children to make. Though very laid back, it was a good morning. There were a couple other mothers with children at the park who were either too shy to join in, or just didn't want to. One of the most interesting people I met told how she got to Baltimore. She and her husband decided to move from their home in Atlanta to somewhere. To discover where, they hopped on their motorcycles and toured the country. They liked Baltimore and moved here twelve years ago. I could never picture myself riding around the country and picking out where to live without any job or security. I have to admire their courage and sense of adventure.

We basically had the afternoon free. Most of us went to the Inner Harbor to shop and look around. (Some stayed behind to play games.) My two daughters, a friend, and I meandered around the Harbor. At the mall a couple approached us asking if we knew of a shelter that would take them in. (Most shelters are either just for men or just for women.) They said no one in the mall had been helpful and no one would even give them water to drink. I say what I'm about to say not to pat myself on the back, but to confess my weaknesses....for a brief moment I wanted to give the vaguest of answers and not get involved. For a brief moment I wondered if these people were really needy or just playing on sympathies. For a brief moment I wanted to "pass by on the other side". Then I was reminded of why I was in Baltimore. How could I be excited about ministering at the Helping Up Mission, how could I be blessed by passing out ice cream and water at the homeless park and not respond Christfully to someone on the street. Can you put on and take off Christianity like a T-shirt? If you can, then you're not really a Christian. I told the couple that we were tourists in the area and didn't know of a place that took in both. But we'd be glad to buy them some water and a little something to eat. We walked together to the food court. My friend and I bought them some pizza and drinks and prayed with them before leaving. Instead of patting myself on the back and feeling good, I feel badly about my hesitation, no matter how brief. It was a lesson in humility.

If you think about it, say a prayer for Chris and Becky.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Thursday in Baltimore

God is good! He knew we'd be walking the city blocks of Baltimore today and sent a cold front through last night. Well, cold front might not be the correct word, but the humidity and temperature dropped to a comfortable level for walking.

Instead of putting door hangers on door knobs, we passed out little packs of mustard seeds with the church's website on them. The idea is to capture people's attention and make them curious about the church that is coming. Altogether our team handed out nearly 750 packets. Since the target group is the creative/artsy group in the city, the church planting team is made up of mostly creative/artsy people. People like Cameron who is a violin major; Maria, a sculptor; John an artist, and our guide Steve, a student at the Peabody Institute majoring in classical guitar. We got a peek at the first library in Baltimore which is housed at Peabody and is gi-normous! (I feel so cultural!) Earlier in the day my oldest daughter fell down the steps and scraped her knee, so Steve took my team to his apartment to clean it up and get a bandaid. He lives at what used to be the Stafford Hotel....Francis Scott Key stayed there once upon a time.

All our teams met up for lunch in a local park. A couple of homeless people asked us for food, so we invited them to lunch. About four more came from nowhere so we shared with them too. After lunch we went to another nearby park where Cameron has a ministry to the homeless. We went there to pass out ice cream and converse with the people there. Not that many people were there as some actually have jobs during the day, some go to the various missions to eat, and some go to the library to get cool. One man told us about his life and said, "This isn't a bad existence." I wonder what he's been through to consider the homeless life as not being a "bad existence".

I really admire Cameron. He's a highly gifted young man, who is investing his life in the lives of these homeless people. He says that many charitable folks come by the park and give food and other items, and between the organized missons and groups bringing food the homeless should never be hungery. However, very few people actually take the time to hang out with and get to know them and share their lives. Cameron goes to this park every Wednesday to grill hot dogs and invest himself. I wonder, am I really willing to go that far? Sure, it was cool to offer ice cream and cold water to these "residents". I can go home and feel good about myself. But to go back week after week after week and really get to know each person on a first name basis, to actually know their history, to know the good, bad, and ugly and still be Christ's conduit of love to them consistently, that's where the "talk" meets the "walk". It gives me much to ponder on.

Wednesday in Baltimore

I really wish I could upload pictures from my camera while here because my Mississippi friends would find the row houses here very interesting. I haven't mentioned our facilities much except to say we are staying in various Sunday school rooms in the church building. There is a men's room with one stall and a ladies' with two. There is a separate shower which measures about three feet across. Next door, but also church property, is a connected beautiful row house which measures about 12 feet across. (No joking!) It is 40 or 50 feet deep and three stories high. A house like that sells for $300 - $400 thousand!!!!! There is a single shower on the second and third floors. You can see where it makes for interesting logistics to take care of 8 women and three men. (Two of our members are staying in a nearby hotel.) Even though today's activities were to begin a little later, we still had folks up and at it taking showers at 5:00 pm!

We were scheduled to cook for the Senior Citizen Luncheon/Health Fair today, but the man who usually cooks for the Seniors insisted on cooking for all of us, and we let him. LOL! We did sing for those in attendance and the two nurses on our team took blood pressure readings, did diabetes screenings, and passed out information.

After lunch, our scheduled preschool activity was postponed due to the threat of rain. Our back-up plan was to go back to Helping UP Mission to help unload a truck. When we arrived at Helping Up the truck wasn't there yet. My husband told the man in charge some of our men would come back later to unload. Since everything on our afternoon agenda fell through some of us went to Barnes and Nobles. (I know, I know, suffering for Jesus, but someone has to do it. :-))

Evening activities included preparing for supper and turning the fellowship hall into a make-shift coffee house where the two summer missionaries hosted open mic night. It was lots of fun. My daughters clogged to two songs, and our guitarist played and sang a song he wrote. Then we had a time of just hanging out.

On Thursday we will be helping another church with their new church plant, so that pastor (Roger Kim) and several of his members (all students or graduates from MICA Maryland Institude for Creative Arts) making them all creative geniuses. They were all on fire for Jesus and quite energetic. I look forward that adventure.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Fort McHenry!

Did you know Fort McHenry is in Baltimore? It's not that far from where we are! Any way, the reason my husband wanted to talk to me was to ask if I wanted to go to the Fort and look around!!!! All but two of our team went along with the two student interns helping us.

We didn't pay to actually go into the Fort because we really didn't have time to spend all the time we would have liked. But the visitor's center was free. It had a great model of the Fort and a 15 minute movie on the Defense of Fort McHenry. For anyone wondering what the big deal is, the Defense of Fort McHenry is what inspired a lawyer by the name of Francis Scott Key to write a little poem which begins:
"Oh, say can you see, by the dawn's early light...."
I feel so historic and American!

Helping Up Mission

The grits were found! Yippee! So we southerners were able to function today. After breakfast and a time of devotion and prayer, our entire team (except for our handyman) headed to the Helping Up Mission to do whatever were were asked to do. We began with a time of orientation and a word of testimony from one of the residents. Then we took a tour of the facility which houses 240 men in various stages on the road to recovery from addictions. It also sleeps and feeds homeless men off the streets.
Four of our ladies helped in the kitchen while the rest of us wiped down the mattresses the homeless men sleep on at night. Then, while the kitchen ladies continued working, the rest of us did a little dusting, but mostly talked to and encouraged one of the residents who is working hard to get his life back together. We spent a little time in the rec room, then four of us helped serve in a very, very hot kitchen, two washed collard greens and cut up 100 chickens, and the rest mingled with the men while they ate. I had serving duty. The men were very polite and nearly always thanked us for putting food on their trays. One of the men sang for us, and another man showed one of our youth boys the proper way to lift weights. All in all it was a very rewarding experience. We left Helping Up just before a thunderstorm burst open upon us. We drove through torrential rain, gusts of wind, and marble sized hail. Fortunately the worst part was over by the time we arrived at our door step. We were hot and tired, but blessed by our experience. One lady took a nap while the rest of us did our own thing. We had a rousing game of spoons going which was a blast. I was on my way to losing when my husband asked me to come to where he was. He had something to ask me.

Baltimore, we're here!

Thankfully we had an uneventful plane ride here to Baltimore. Security found something suspicious in my carry-on. (Turned out to be my mascara.) Then they found something suspicious in my purse. (Turned out to be my asthma inhaler.) One of our youth had his $25 acne medicine confiscated. It was 1 ounce over the limit. But, we're here safely!

We're staying at Warren Avenue Baptist Church which has been in this location since 1912 and in existence since 1855. The pews go back to the 1855 date. Their sanctuary is gorgeous with incredible stain glass windows. I wish I could post pictures here, but I have no way to download them from this location. Part of our team arrived a day earlier and had lunch ready. Then we had a time of not-so-brief orientation. We spent the rest of our first day airing up our mattresses, settling in, and exploring. We walked to Federal Hill which over looks the Inner Harbor. What a view! Later we walked part way around the Inner Harbor to the Cheesecake Factory. The Inner Harbor is such an interesting walking area, and the Cheesecake factory was oh, so yummy!

July 10, 2007

I awoke during the night with my behind on the floor - obviously my mattress has a leak. Debbie (our cook) can't find the grits she brought. I'm not sure we Mississippi folks will survive the day! LOL!

Today we are scheduled to work at the Helping-up mission which is a drug rehab homeless shelter. We don't know what we'll be doing, so I'll write about that this evening!

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Attention Star Trek Fans!

Does this symbol look vaguely familiar? If you are a Star Trek fan (like my family is) it certainly does. It sparks an uncontrollable urge within me to say, "Live long and prosper." I found this yesterday as I was searching google images for pictures of hands. It was accompanied by a most interesting article. It is called the Kohanim or Cohanim Hands Priesty Blessing. If you are interested in Star Trek or merely curious about bits of trivia, click on the link to read more.

Monday, July 2, 2007

Passport Stamps

In honor of the Fourth, I thought I would post some thoughts on citizenship I wrote while living overseas.

Passport Stamps
May 5, 2001

Sometimes I still feel like a small child on Christmas morning, filled with excitement at the possibility of fulfilled dreams. My excitement spills all over everyone in my path, and I just can’t control my enthusiasm. I had one of those days last Thursday. Everyone in a five mile radius knew I was giddy with excitement when our Slovene friends announced that our Friday plans included an excursion into Austria. (Ok. Ok. Maybe not a five mile radius, but everyone in the house.) You might be wondering, “So,what’s the big deal?” Well, to this country, Mississippi girl who has memorized most of the songs from The Sound of Music, going to Austria was big stuff. My expectations weren’t even great. I didn’t have to go to Salzburg and take the Sound of Music tour. (Even though I’d love to some day.) I didn’t have to enjoy authentic Austrian food. (We ate at McDonalds.) I didn’t even have to “shop ‘til I dropped”. (I bought some shaving cream and a few postcards. ) Learning German and living like an Austrian weren’t even part of the plan. I didn’t want to live there, I just wanted my passport stamped. I wanted proof to show that I’ve been to Austria. It was a tense moment when the border guard tried to wave us through with just a count of passports and passengers, but our driver kindly asked if the Jeffcoat’s passports could be stamped. (Which he did!) I was thrilled and satisfied.

Even though my excitement nearly drove Raymond and the kids crazy, I don’t think it was a bad thing to simply want my passport stamped with the Austrian insignia. (I’ll be glad to show it to you sometimeJ) But I did get to wondering…Do I/we ever approach the kingdom of God the same way? Sure, we all want to enjoy the Kingdom of Heaven in the next life. But do we really want to be a part of it in this one?

If I go to church on Sunday and live like I want to Monday through Saturday;

if I give begrudgingly to the church or special offerings;

if I join the church and am baptized, but my life hasn’t changed;

if I do things for God out of a sense of duty and not out of my love for Him;

even if I live as a “missionary” in a foreign country, but have a heart full of self-pity;

then I’m only having my spiritual passport stamped for show and am not really living the Kingdom life.

I don’t think God wants tourists to His Kingdom on earth, He wants committed citizens. He wants people to live the Kingdom life here and now every minute of every hour of every day. If I were a citizen of Austria, I wouldn’t be merely passing through, I would plant my life there. I would have to leave my American comfort zone, give up my American ways, language, and life style, and abide totally by Austrian rules and culture. It wouldn’t be easy.

If I want to be a genuine citizen of Christ’s kingdom, I have to give up my worldly ways, language, life-style, and totally abide in Christ. Often that means reaching beyond my comfort zone to touch the lives of others. It isn’t always easy. But it is always worth it, because even though His Kingdom is one of self-sacrifice and self-denial, it is a kingdom of love. There’s no place like it on earth.

“But your hearts must be fully committed to the Lord our God, to live by his decrees and obey his commands…” (1 Kings 8:61) “For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” (Colossians 1:23)

Dear Lord,
Help me to make the necessary changes in my life in order to be a committee citizen of Your Kingdom. When it comes to Your Kingdom, I don’t just want my “passport” stamped, I want to live, breathe, and experience You every minute of every hour of every day. Amen.

Striving to be a good Kingdom Citizen with you,
Drewe Llyn