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Archive for the ‘Prayers’ Category

Morning Prayer

On the first day, You hovered above the chaos, bringing about the beautiful order we see throughout creation; and to this day all things are held together by your Spirit.

Lord I pray, hover above the turmoil within my soul; and gather my scattered thoughts with your loving hands.

 

On the day You awoke in the midst of a raging tempest, You rebuked the wind, and calmed the seas.

Lord I pray, speak to the storms that swirl around me, and quiet the waters of my heart.

 

On the day You prayed in the garden, You chose the will of your Father above your own.

Lord I pray, help me today that I might do the same.

 

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You’re the One who gave me breath

even though You knew I’d use it to curse Your name

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You’re the One that came off Your throne to find me

even though You knew I’d go my own way

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You’re the One who gave me freedom

even though You knew I’d use it to liberate myself from You

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You’re the One who gave me gifts

even though You knew I would use them to glorify myself

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But in Your sovereignty You also knew;

that one day I would bless Your Holy name,

that I would find that my way leads to death

and

that I would see that apart from You there is no freedom nor glory

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All praise and honor and glory be unto You O Lord

My hope and my salvation!

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If we are genuinely meant to be “followers” of Christ, our prayer times need to consist of more listening than talking.  His word tells us that, “My sheep know my voice, they listen, and they follow.”  Our desire to express our will to Him isn’t as essential as His desire to express His will to us.

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On Friday night (08/22/14) the families, and fans, of both the Chillicothe & Unioto High Schools got together for what was ostensibly billed as a football scrimmage.  Even though these two schools aren’t in the same conference, or even in the same division, it would not be an exaggeration to call them cross-town rivals; or to acknowledge that this rivalry isn’t always friendly.  But for this gathering, we were more of a community coming together for a common cause; and we spent our energy battling the elements instead of each other.  With thunder, lighting, and torrential rains, the organizers of this event pretty much had to throw away the script in order to keep things going, and they did manage to pack a lot into the time they had.  Money was raised for the cheerleaders, and for the football boosters, and for the ALS foundation.  There was a helicopter dropping golf balls at a target, and ice bucket challenges, and even a little bit of football.  But perhaps the most significant moment of the night occurred off of the field, in a place that most of us couldn’t see.  In a parking lot adjacent to the field, where many members of Chillicothe’s team came face to face with their fallen star, Carl Harris.

 

People from our area have likely seen it in the paper, or heard about it around town.  But since these words might reach further than that, I can tell you that Carl was to be a senior at Chillicothe High School, and until about a week ago, he was their star running back.  Those who’ve seen him play would tell you he was absolutely electric on the field.  Unfortunately, if the police reports are correct, a week earlier Carl made a very bad decision, and now he is going to have to pay a terrible price for it.  For the guys on the team, it was a shock, and I think that many were hoping to find that it was all just some sort of misunderstanding.  But coming face to face with Carl made it all too real.  The emotions that flowed out of that moment were as profound and sincere as any you’ll witness from a group of teenage boys.  Their tears weren’t for the touchdowns that Carl won’t score for the team; they were for their brother who would no longer be a part of their daily gatherings. Their tears were for the young man they looked up to, and for the realization of what has been lost.

 

While I would never attempt to defend the actions that Carl allegedly took, I can’t help but point out that he is not defined by that moment, or even by what he’s accomplished on the athletic field.  Many of his teammates described him as a “leader” and my wife, who substitutes in the school system, confirmed that Carl was someone who’d stand up for her in the classroom.  Whatever caused him to make the choices he made, there is no way to justify simply writing him off as a bad kid.  On a personal level, my prayer is that, as difficult as this season of his life will be, Carl will battle through with the same grit and endurance he always displayed on the football field.  I pray that he will find that his gifts go well beyond his athletic ability, and that maybe someday he’ll be able to help young people avoid the heartbreaking situation that he finds himself in today.  I also pray that his Chillicothe teammates don’t allow this gut-wrenching lesson to pass by them too quickly.  I suspect that there are many other young men out there who are one bad decision away from their own disaster.

 

About an hour and a half after the scrimmage finally ended, I went out to get some pizza for my family; and as I was returning home, I saw a player from the team, walking along the road in the rain.  As I gave him a ride home, he mostly sat in stunned silence.  He did tell me that his head hurt from crying for the last two hours, and we talked about how your whole life can change in the blink of an eye.  I’m not sure what he derived from that conversation, but I can’t help but think it was a conversation worth having.  We often try to get past the hard moments quickly, but if we go too fast, we fail to learn the necessary lessons.  For now, we as a community need to keep all of these young men in our prayers, most especially young Carl Harris.

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In my recent (17 Jan 2014) post, “4 Days and Counting” I told the story of our precious girl, Carleen, and of her efforts to kick her heroin addiction. Sadly, it is a battle that she’s still struggling to win, and her setbacks not only affect her, but her three children. Last night, we got a frantic call from Carleen, telling us that her 21 year old son, Christian, who is also a drug addict, had flat-lined (i.e. heart stopped), and was coughing up blood. He is now in the Intensive Care Unit, with an uncertain prognosis, and he is asking to see me. I wanted to go last night, but even Carleen wasn’t able to stay past 8:00 p.m. As I prepare to see him today I find myself praying hard for the right heart and words. In the midst of those prayers I recalled something I wrote for Carleen a few years ago. At that time, she too was very close to death. These words still ring true today. Please pray for all of us as we join hands and walk down this uncertain road together.

A Prayer for the Dying

You were born in the wilderness
Under the cover of darkness
With no shelter from the weather

You were raised by wolves
Who occasionally shared their scraps
But who also fed upon you

That you survived those years is a miracle
Or maybe it was destiny
Either way, the “civilized” world has never quite felt like home

You learned to adapt
And even to excel
But a full moon still stirs you in the middle of the night

We wanted to believe the scars meant that the wounds had closed up
And that your incredible strength would somehow keep you free
But now we know that the bleeding never really stopped on the inside

You’ve pressed further than most of us could have
But the pallor of death has begun to wash over your face
As the last drops of hope seemingly seep from your pores

You keep trying to remember to breathe
But because you don’t think of yourself as valuable
It doesn’t really seem to be all that important

Though you have often felt alone, there is One who has never left you
He’s watched you from afar
And occasionally you’ve caught glimpses of Him through the trees

He always knew that this day would come
And He made sure that you’d have what was needed to face it
And, indeed, you do

Call to Him
Surrender to Him
Reach for Him

He has a plan for you
A destination for your journey
And nothing from the past has the power to steal it

He will give you strength
But He will not make the decision
He will only take what you’re willing to put in His hands

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This morning, the thermometer outside my window said that it was – 7 degrees F (that’s without wind-chill). By Midwest standards, that’s cold. Of course, I was standing inside my kitchen at the time, which was a balmy 68 degrees F. As economic times have gotten tougher in the last several years it has been easy to succumb to the notion that things are “bad”, but days like today remind me of how blessed we still are. Yeah, I live in a 54 year old, non-descript house, that I’ll likely never have fully paid for. But it’s a well insulated, brick house, with a high efficiency gas furnace. Yeah, I drive a 16 year old car with almost 200,000.00 miles on it. But this morning it kicked right over when I turned the key. Yeah, the cost of food is putting a big time strain on my budget, but no one in my house went to bed hungry last night, and there’s plenty of provision in the cupboards for today as well. It’s not lost on me that within just a few blocks of our home there are people who couldn’t make those claims and that around the world, there are many people who will never experience such prosperity. When the kids were young, I used to lay down with them, and on cold nights I’d pray, “Father, thank you for a warm house on a cold night, and we pray for everyone who is seeking shelter tonight. Father, thank you for the abundance of food on our table, and we pray for everyone who is hungry tonight. And Father, thank you for the wonderful family that you’ve given us, and we pray for everyone who is alone tonight.” Today, as I walked toward my office, and the frigid air burned in my nostrils, I once again found that prayer on the tip of my tongue.

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Now I lay me down to sleep

I pray the Lord my soul to keep

But if I die before it’s day

There’s something more I need to say

 

If you’ve ever felt cherished

Or safe here with me

If you’ve felt like you’re special

Or who you should be

If you’ve been filled with hope

By things you can’t see

I can assure you

That wasn’t me

 

Those things are gifts

From your Father above

Things I can’t give you

They come through His love

He put you together

With His very own hands

You’d be amazed

If you knew of His plans

 

If you’ve ever felt empowered

Or that you were strong

If you’ve known what is truth

Or what’s right and wrong

If you’ve ever pressed on

When the journey was long

It was because of His Spirit

And because of His song

 

Those things are gifts

From your Father above

Things I can’t give you

They come through His love

He put you together

With His very own hands

You’d be amazed

If you knew of His plans

 

But if I’ve ever hurt you

Or made you feel small

If I’ve led you astray

Or caused you to fall

That was my weakness

And not from His heart

He longs to heal you

And to make a new start

 

That’s just a gift

From your Father above

A thing I can’t give you

It comes from His love

He yearns to touch you

With His very own hand

Seek Him today

And yield to His plan

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