Abiding Prayer: The Peace & Power of Praying IN Him – Not Just TO Him

(Breakout Session from #ConquerConference2016)

 I was so blessed to participate in #ConquerConference2016 and spend an afternoon with some beautiful women as we learned together how to better hear the voice of our #GoodGoodFather through #AbidingPrayer. And the beautiful church we were in recorded our breakout session – so you are more than welcome to join us through the power of technology.

(The information below was included on the handout mentioned in the conference video).

Thank you for joining me in this journey of learning to pray and live from a position of “pre-paid” connection with the only source of Truth and LIFE rather than from a position of constant seeking and chasing for blessings and answers from God.

Key verse:

Key Verse: “If _________________ abides in me, and my words abide in _________________, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for _____________.” –John 15:7 

(Write your name in the blank instead of “You”)

Abiding Challenge:

  • Meditate daily on Key Passage, John 15:1-11. 
  • Also, dig deep into the whole “root system” of God’s word by finding other passages referencing the same or similar concept of abiding, staying, or uniting with God. 
  • Commit the passages that touch you most deeply to memory. Write personalized confessions based on these passages and speak them out.

Key Concept:

  • Checking where you are praying from is just as important as how you pray. Visualize your position in Him (whatever reminder picture He puts on your heart that helps you see yourself as a much loved daughter who has always had her Father’s ear).
  • Don’t be afraid of imagination and visualization in your Prayers. God is the author of these concepts – not the new age movement. Consistency combined with a passionate listening style of prayer that incorporates all of the senses God gave you will change prayer from a task that may or may not produce results to a lifestyle of powerful connection with your Creator.

Recommended Reading:

  • Abide In Christ: A 31-Day Devotional for Fellowship with Jesus – Andrew Murray
  • The Practice of the Presence of God – Brother Lawrence
  • God Is Closer than You Think – John Ortberg
  • Fervent – Priscilla Shirer
  • Hosting the Presence – Bill Johnson
  • Seeing is Believing: Experiencing Jesus through Imaginative Prayer – Greg A Boyd
  • 10 Confessions for Living – Ilya Golden 

Bono & Eugene Peterson | THE PSALMS” on YouTube

Wow…. If you do art and/or ministry (it is challenging to do one without the other, actually), this is a #MustSee. Plus the fact that one of my favorite artists is talking with one of my favorite authors about one of my favorite books of the Bible and the authenticity that is often so lacking in westernized Christianity today.  Again, WOW….

Be a Rebel… WITH a Cause

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Do you ever wonder why when you try to live selflessly, thankfully, and authentically it seems like every element in rhe entire universe is aligning to try stop you from doing so?

The answer to that question lies in some ancient words….

Centuries ago, the Apostle Paul was mentoring Timothy and wrote him a letter. In that letter – now a part of the Bible – God was giving His Church a glimpse of what life would be like in our modern times.

Paul was telling Timothy that the “latter days”, a.k.a. our modern age, would be characterized by people who are relentlessly greedy, self-seeking, lazy, and ungrateful… among other things. In essence, this passege tells us that the spirit of our modern times is selfish pride. So, when we strive to live beyond ourselves to walk out a lifestyle of kindness and humility, we are actually rebelling against the evil “spirit of the age” that Paul wrote to Timothy about so very long ago.

No wonder it feels like all hell itself is coming against us when we strive to live beyond ourselves! Does this mean we shouldn’t live in the beautiful love-led way Jesus modeled for us when He walked our streets? Of course not! That kind of selfless love-driven life is exactly what He made us for. So keep going for that kind of life, friends…. a life so much bigger than what you see around you and the pretense on your TV and computer screen.

But, keep in mind… When you live like that you are being a rebel against our very times for the cause of Christ.  So don’t you dare do it without Him. And don’t you dare do it alone. Depend on God’s strength – not your own. And stay in community, a Bible-based church (like my Amazing Church) where you’re surrounded and supported by other “rebels” against the spirit of this selfish age.

It won’t be easy, but it wiil be worth it!

Precious In His Sight

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Because of my faithful God, some sweet friends and mentors, and my Amazing Church family speaking into my life – I am beginning to see that the parts of my story I used to view as curse, can actually become a blessing to others when shared from the viewpoint of God’s relentless grace.    So this was written for and performed as Spoken Word poetry at Christmas With The Arts this year.  I thought I would share it here, too, just in case some piece of my story helps you see God at work in your story.

PRECIOUS IN HIS SIGHT

Children…. Music…. Memories….
So many beautiful things about this season
And some funny things too
Like the things we do – songs we sing
Without really knowing what they mean
Like the profound mystery
Of what really is in that fruitcake we eat
Then there’s Rudolph – nose shining brightly
What are those games the other reindeer play?
Basketball, soccer, Monopoly??

But it’s not just Christmas songs perplexing me
Other songs, too – church songs even
I’ve basically been in church
From the moment I was breathing
“Red and yellow black and white 
They are precious in His sight”
You’ve heard that one – Right?
Strange as it seems
Understanding those words
for me has been a lifelong plight
The words didn’t match up with what was in my sight

In my Sunday school to my left… my right
What I saw was white, white, white
And yes more white
Something didn’t seem quite right
But I was young – perhaps didn’t understand
Just ’cause we’re all precious to God
Maybe it doesn’t mean we live
And worship on the same the same block??
But there wasn’t time to figure that out
‘Cause getting ready for kindergarten
That’s what I was all about
I loved to learn, already starting to read
Figured – just like home and church
School kids would love on me

So on that first day dressed in the very best
My sisters handed down to me
I skipped across the playground
Excited about the friends I would meet
But things played out a little differently
You see, I experienced a facial injury
When I was maybe 2 or 3
Had severe deformities
Of my mouth and teeth
Only close friends and family
Could understand when I would speak
So my dreams of new friends were shattered
As laughter began to shriek

And relentless bullying was there to stay
From k5 to high school graduation day
Thankfully, home and church
Provided a safe place respite from the hurt
But even knowing Jesus – the pain remained
As kids laughed, mocked, even spit in my face
And I suffered oh so silently
Not a word to church, teacher, family
After all… didn’t Sunday school songs say
Christians should be happy -“Turn the other way”?

So in about second grade
We moved to a larger town
Where faces as white as mine
Were no longer the only ones around
And in a diverse community
Now – up close – I could really see
That all (“red, yellow, black, and white”)
Are truly precious in God’s sight
Well, all “others” anyway – is what I believed
I still had a “blind side” when it came to me

As time went along things appeared fine
At least —-              on the outside
With help of intense orthodontistry
And quite a few years of speech therapy
I looked and sounded almost like a normal teen
But there was that pain…. Deep and unseen
Saturating every part of my reality
“Blending in” didn’t stop the bullying
I still thought I was worthless
And attracted what I believed
I still sang “Red, Yellow, Black, and White”
But didn’t feel precious in anybody’s sight

Fast forward to adulthood
For a while everything looked quite alright
Education, great career, & husband in my life
But behind the door of my heart – closed tight
Remained so much pain  – so much strife
As I worked hard to feel loved and get it all right
But expecting anyone or anything
To complete me besides God
Blocked me from receiving & giving out
His perfect love

While smiling on the outside
I suffered silently
Depression – thoughts of suicide
Sad old friends who wouldn’t leave
I was beginning to think
That maybe church and God
Were really just a cruel and senseless façade
So my “church hop” progressed to not going at all
Or watching “mega church” from my comfy couch
But my Sunday school upbringing
Still called out to me
So I had to go back to church
– For Easter at least

So a couple years back in the spring we received
An invite to what is now this Amazing thing
I looked around –could almost see
That song I used to sing
“Red and Yellow, Black and White”
We’d found a loving family with big vision in sight
That reflecting our city’s diversity
Is the true heartbeat Christ

But as for me…  “Precious in His Sight”
I still struggled with that lyric
I sang the words but for me… I really couldn’t hear it
The brokenness and pain
I worked lifelong to keep hidden
Were now rising to the surface
Becoming visible – unbidden

But even when I could no longer hide my mess
These amazing people stood by me
Continuing to bless
And I learned ‘though heaven-bound
I wasn’t really free
‘Til I experienced – not just sang of –
God’s amazing love for me
And as with this church I began to do LIFE
“Restoring Hope & Loving People”
Became more than just words for (one day)
Our building’s sign

Because  I stand here restored
And loved back to life
No pretense of perfection
Scars revealed only to be healed
So today… today…  I look around and see
Much more than Red and Yellow, Black and White
They…. No we… TOGETHER 
Are so precious in His site
and now…. that Sunday school song –
I finally understand it right
Thank you, my Amazing God,
   We ARE precious in Your sight.