prayer challenge

Pray without ceasing.

Pretty strong exhortation in I Thessalonians 5:17. Pray without ceasing. That’s a lot!

I’ll bet every one of us would agree that prayer is so important. That our country and our families are in need of it. That it changes things. (and us!) And that we need to do more of it.

I think most of us want to pray more…but maybe we lack the structure or the encouragement or the accountability.

So, today, I am asking you to consider joining me for prayer. For the month of March - 31 days - let’s commit to daily prayer. I am not suggesting an hour (but that would be a blessing if we did!) but let’s commit to pray daily. If you’re willing to join me, I’ll be sending out daily guidelines to help us pray. Scripture passages to pray through for our families. Our country. Our world.

I hope you’ll join me in walking in obedience to His command to pray without ceasing. If you are willing to give it a try, take the next step and say yes “publicly”. Either email me at chamfam@bellsouth.net or leave a comment below and I’ll know you’re in.

Beginning March 1. On our knees before His Throne!

Happy Birthday, Daddy

repost from 3 years ago….

I don't know if Heaven celebrates Earthly birthdays but I figure you're having a fabulous day regardless.  I know you are whole and well and overflowing with joy because that's the plan for God's children. 

I wish I could talk to you and hear you answer me back.  I wish you could tell me what you're experiencing and learning - I know beyond a shadow of a doubt it's beyond my wildest dreams.  Do you get to see Jesus anytime you want?  Is it so awesome that it's near 'bout scary to stand in front of God's Throne?  That rainbow that Scripture tells us about - do you get to walk around its entire circumference and does it take your breath away? 

I'll bet you've already conquered a lot of the books He has there.  The Science and History ones, anyway.  For theology, I suppose you get to ask all the questions you want of The Sovereign King Himself?  Do you get to hang out with your Mama and Daddy and siblings a lot?  And have you met David and Paul and Noah?  I look forward to chatting with Peter - we have a lot of similarities I think.

Compared to what you're living now, things down here are quite temporal.  Oh, we think it's dramatic and exciting and incredible but you know better - life here is just a warmup for Eternity. Training ground for what's really real.  I am not sure if you even have time to glance down from time to time but I know with all my heart that you think about us, especially Mom.  And I am absolutely certain that you talk to Jesus about us all.  Thank you.  We're doing OK, Daddy.  We're doing OK.  We miss you terribly.  How someone so quiet could leave such a void is beyond me!  But you have.  We talk about you a lot and wonder what you would think about such and such and so and so. 

I want you to know (in case you don't already) that we're taking good care of Mom.  Just like you wanted us to.  We did "black bags" for Christmas and Robert threw out the candy in your place.  Gotta be honest - it wasn't the same.  But we did it anyway because you'd want us to.  The kids are all doing great - you would be so very proud still.  They are smart and deep and kind, just like their Papa.  (And they are fun and witty and wide open, just like their Alice!)  The great grands are practically perfect, as you well know.  Baby Lucy made it here after you left, but maybe you met her on the way.  She is positively gorgeous.  Jonathan is still uncertain about that red Indian and Mary Alice is still the prettiest baby you've ever seen. They asked about you last time they were here.  It made me cry.

Mary's getting married in just a few weeks.  She's got something planned to honor you so I hope you'll peek down and see.  Katie pulled out pictures of you from her wedding and the memories flooded.  So did my eyes. I cherish that shot of us together.  Chip is loving school - I wish he could discuss his research with you.  The rest of us don't understand him.  Betsy is still swimming and singing.  I am glad she got to serenade you every morning. 

Thank you for the gifts you gave us, Daddy.  The gifts of intellect and of gentleness and of generosity.  The gift of valuing all lives and that of prioritizing kindness.  The gifts of loving to learn and to teach and to sing. The gift of faith, especially the gift of faith.  Because of that, we know where you are and we will see you again.

I wish you could've stayed here a while longer, Daddy.  But I guess we'd never be ready for you to go.  I wish I could've made you oatmeal cookies one more time.  Maybe somebody will fix you a batch today to celebrate. 

I think about you every single day.  I am so grateful I got to be your daughter.  I hope you hear me at night...I still tell you "Good night, Daddy.  Love you.  See you in the morning."

Oh, and if somebody does make you some heavenly oatmeal cookies today, I hope you don't like them as much as you do mine.  I'll make you some as soon as I get there.  I love you.

Giving when we have nothing

Take from among you a contribution to the Lord. Whoever is of a generous heart, let him bring the Lord's contribution: gold, silver, and bronze; blue and purple and scarlet yarns and fine twined linen; goats' hair,  tanned rams' skins, and goatskins; acacia wood, oil for the light, spices for the anointing oil and for the fragrant incense, and onyx stones and stones for setting, for the ephod and for the breastpiece. Exodus 35:5-9

The Lord’s instructions to Moses. It was time to build the Tabernacle, the place of God’s dwelling. It was to be elaborately beautiful, extravagant even. Of the finest materials. Explicit and intricate design details. Every element representing aspects of God’s character and His relationship with His people. A place that honored God above all else.

It was time to build and God told Moses to invite the people to participate in the process. He called upon them, as moved by the willingness of their hearts, to contribute. To bring the best of their possessions - gold, silver, bronze. The finest of fabrics and building materials. Beautiful jewels, oils and fragrances.

What a beautiful scene! God’s people responding to His call, building Him such a magnificent tabernacle. A place of worship. Beautiful.

But think for a moment. What is the context for God’s call? Where were the people when He told them to build this? Not in Jerusalem, residing comfortably, working hard at their jobs, making a living, enjoying life.

They were in the wilderness! They were on the move, no means for providing for their families, much less contributing to a magnificent building. Plus, they had just left Egypt on the run, from their lives as slaves! They were not affluent nobility, relocating from one kingdom to another. They were slaves who owned nothing!

So why in the world would God ask of them such expensive gifts? Where in the world could they obtain them? They were in the desert wilderness, remember!

Well, guess what. God knew what He was doing. Imagine that :)

Go back to chapter 3 in this same book and see what God did….

Long before He freed them from slavery, He told Moses what to do. He told him that it would be difficult to get Pharaoh to release them but that God would intervene. And He promised in Exodus 3:21,22:

And I will give this people favor in the sight of the Egyptians; and when you go, you shall not go empty,  but each woman shall ask of her neighbor, and any woman who lives in her house, for silver and gold jewelry, and for clothing. You shall put them on your sons and on your daughters. So you shall plunder the Egyptians.”

When the time of deliverance came, God reminded them to make these requests (Exodus 11:2,3) and sure enough, God was faithful and the people obeyed. Exodus 12:35,36 The people of Israel had also done as Moses told them, for they had asked the Egyptians for silver and gold jewelry and for clothing. And the Lord had given the people favor in the sight of the Egyptians, so that they let them have what they asked. Thus they plundered the Egyptians.

Wow.

So, in the middle of nowhere, with no means of financial support, these slaves were able to construct an edifice that, in today’s dollars, would be valued at approximately $ 57-62 million. Yep, That is $62,000,000.

Gulp.

All because God provided. For what He called them to do, He luxuriously provided.

Such a glorious truth and a beautiful story. Evokes in us wonder and praise and thanksgiving.

But what else would God say to us through this Old Testament account? He exhorts us in Romans 15:4 For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures, we might have hope.

So there is a treasure trove of truth to glean from this historical record in Scripture. I am sure I don’t even know a fraction of it. But two things stand out to me as I ponder His Word. Two things that we can tuck into our hearts and draw from. Two things to share with you, my friends.

One, God will provide. For whatever He has called you to do, God will provide. Whether it’s to carry His truth to an unreached group or to live on one income or to finish that degree. God will provide. Often from unlikely channels, but ultimately He is the source.

And, two, when God provides for us, He intends us to give it back to Him. For however He chooses to use it. He owns it all, He controls it all, and He wants to direct it all. Through us. Our gifts from Him -whether financial or physical or mental or relational - are to be returned to Him for His use in carrying out His work for His glory. We can enjoy the gifts but we must understand they are for His glory.

I don’t know what God has called you to, my friend, but it’s likely that His call comes while you are in the desert wilderness, with no visible means of accomplishing what He is calling you to do. No worries. Just rest in the fact that He will plunder the Egyptians for you!

Treasures in the darkness

Have you ever noticed that some people have a depth that sets them apart from other folks? For some, it is manifested in a quiet compassion that not only feels the pain of others but especially moves to meet their needs. For others, it's insight that surpasses prevailing wisdom. Or it might be a heart that seems to always notice the needs of every situation and matches with a willingness to serve. But always with an attitude that never seeks to be applauded or even noticed. Confident humility.

I've studied these folks and found a common denominator. Each one has known difficulty, brokenness, disappointment, heartache, pain. Even defeat. But then survival. Sustaining endurance.

That's where the depth of character came from. Isaiah 45:3 says "And I will give you the treasures of darkness, and hidden wealth of secret places, in order that you may know that I am The Lord, the God of Israel". Treasures aren't found lying around on top of the ground. They are located deep down, in dark places. To get to them, one has to go to the depths, to the darkness, through the hard spots.

Treasures that only come from the darkness. Wealth that is hidden but shared with those that go into the deep places. Places immersed in trials or heartaches or pain.

We don't usually choose to go into life's hard places. But maybe if we remember they are the only places that these treasures can be found, we won't run away from them when God takes us there.

Treasures in the darkness. Getting to know that He is The Lord. Treasure indeed.

What's in a name?

Psalm 9:10 tells us "Those who know Your name will put their trust in You". Do we know His name?
In order to trust Him, we need to!

Elohim - The Creator
El Elyon - The God Most High
El Roi - The God Who Sees
El Shaddai - The All-Sufficient One
Adonai - The Lord
Jehovah - The Self-Existent One
Jehovah-jireh - The Lord Will Provide
Jehovah-nissi - The Lord My Banner
Jehovah-mekoddishhkem - The Lord Who Sanctifies You
Jehovah-shalom - The Lord Is Peace
Jehovah-saboath - The Lord of Hosts
Jehovah-raah - The Lord My Shepherd
Jehovah-tsidkenu - The Lord Our Righteousness
Jehovah-shammah - The Lord Is There

God is so beyond our comprehension that He uses lots of different names to help us begin to grasp who He is, His glory, His power, His love. Today I want to focus on just one - Elohim - The Creator. For those of us who are Christ-followers, we probably have no difficulty embracing Him as The Creator in a macro-sense-- we are confident that He created the world and everything in it. And that everything He made is good. And that He is The Ultimate Creator, beautiful and powerful and good. We stand strong against worldviews that purport otherwise. But when it gets down to the "micro" level, we might be a little shaky. The level of His creation of us. Of you. Of me. Oh, now I don't mean that we think we evolved from an amoeba. Or that random cells arbitrarily assigned themselves as this function or that. No, not that. But deep down do we celebrate and cling to Him as Creator of us, including our physical characteristics, the circumstances of our birth, our abilities (or lack thereof)? Do we accept ourselves as having been conceived and fashioned by Elohim? With the assigned purpose to give Him glory? Do we believe that every single detail of who we are was orchestrated by our always good, always loving, always powerful Heavenly Father in order to establish a relationship between us and Him? Or do we think He must have made a mistake or two in His design? Do we hold to a desire that He had tweaked a few details differently?

My prayer is that we, that I, would grasp our Elohim and His creation of us so completely that we wouldn't feel the need to expend our energy on trying to change our unchangeables. And that we wouldn't catapult into anxiety and discontentment and insecurity over our efforts. And that we wouldn't be consumed with thoughts about how God could've done things differently. And then anger and disappointment towards Him because He didn't.

May we heed Proverbs 18:10 which encourages us that "The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous runs into it and is safe". Elohim dreamed us up and designed the particulars of who we are just as He desired. To bring Him glory. And to bless us. He loves us. And He doesn't love us because He made us --- He made us because He loves us. We are beautiful and precious in His sight. Run into the strong tower of Elohim!