Tuesday, July 31, 2007
Thursday, July 26, 2007
“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.
- You confide in each other. You tell God your deepest hurts, highest dreams, and greatest longings. (See Jeremiah 33:3)
“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.
- Should pray always. (Luke 18:1)
- Be…faithful in prayer. (Romans 12:12)
- Pray continually. (1 Thessalonians 5:17)
- You do not have, because you do not ask God. (James 4:2)
Jesus gave us an example.
- The Model Prayer (Luke 11:1-5)
- For Peter (Luke 22:32)
- Before feeding the 5,000 and the 4,000 ( John 6:1-15 and Mark 8:1-9)
- He prayed often. (Luke 5:16)
- Early in the morning (Mark 1:35)
- All night (Luke 6:12)
- In the Garden of Gethsemane (Luke 22:39-46)
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)
"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
- Our sins are forgiven. (1 John 1:9)
- Our hearts and minds are renewed. (Psalm 51:10, Isaiah 40:31, 2 Corinthians 4:16, and Romans 12:2)
- We have hope. (Romans 15:13)
- We get strength. (Psalm 59:16, Isaiah 40:31, and Philippians 4:13)
- We are delivered. (Psalm 34:17)
- We receive direction and guidance. (Isaiah 30:21 and Proverbs 3:5-6)
- We are encouraged. (Psalm 10:17 and Hebrews 4:16)
- We demolish strongholds. (2 Corinthians 10:3-5)
- We become like Jesus. (1 Corinthians 2:16 and 2 Corinthians 3:16-18)
We have peace. (Isaiah 26:3 and Philippians 4:6-7)
Thursday, July 19, 2007
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!
Sunday, July 15, 2007
Friday, July 13, 2007
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
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.
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.
Tuesday, July 10, 2007
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
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
In honor of the Fourth, I thought I would post some thoughts on citizenship I wrote while living overseas.
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)
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,