Sunday, April 30, 2006

Prayer Dare: Day #14

What can I say about the Day Away but thank you. You worked everything out. Every variable defined, every loose end tied. Lord God, I pray a covering on every life. I say amen and second every prayer. I ask that you will follow them home. Follow them very ever they go. God, invade their thoughts. Plant the seeds of life abundantly in their hearts. Please bless everyone who took the an opportunity to help out. I thank you for the curiosity. Satisfy the questions with a word. Find them exactly where they are and meet their very real needs. I pray that on this day friendships were made and cemented. Let each person know what it is to be your friend.

I sought you and I found you. You were true to your Word and I thank you.

You are glorious,

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Prayer Dare: Day #13


I lift my hands and I extend myself to you. With your arms stretched out wide, you paid the price. You bled and died. Lord, I lift my voice and I praise your holy name. With your life you saved my soul and with you your power you made me whole. Lord, here I stand! I give my life back to you. You've been so good, that it's the least that I could do.

God, I wasn't quite sure what to say, but Smokie had my back. Thank you for what you did on the cross. And thank you for having me in mind when you did it. Thank you for looking down through history and deciding that I was worth it. That the moments when I would actually pay you attention, when I would worship you and give you the credit that you earned, when I would return your love were worth it. You decided not only were these moments worth what you would suffer on the cross, but also worth the many moments when I would hurt you and make you suffer all over again.

A love that can withstand omniscience? Truly, your love is amazing. Giving you my life is the least that I can do. It's yours. Be gentle :)

I love you back.

Friday, April 28, 2006

Prayer Dare: Day #12

I'm at a loss, in part because it's late and in part because I'm just at a loss. I had a fairly productive day at work. Living Waters was great as always. We learned about having healthy friendships with people of the same-gender, always an interesting topic for me since most of my friends have always been women. That is changing, thankfully. I really need rest. It's nearly 4:30 and I have a LONG day tomorrow and a LOOONNNGGG weekend ahead of me. Lord I wish I could sleep in, but I can't. So please redeem the sleeping time, and multiply the hours. Let me wake up refreshed and ready to attack the day and bask in your presence all day long. I can spaz about details, but that doesn't necessarily mean that I nail them all down. I need you to remind me of anything Day Away-related that I forget. And, remind me of those things that I remember and those I forget that I need to trust you with. Also give me the wisdom and strength to release those things that I need to trust others with. It's going to be an amazing day, so I'll thank you now. Jesus, it's late. It's so late. Thank you for the sense of touch. I... That's all I've got. I love you and goodnight.

In Jesus' name,

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Prayer Dare: Day #11


It was kind of a blah day. Nothing too bad, nothing exceptional. So, no major prayer requests or praise reports for you, God. I do have to thank you for inspiration coming from the least likely of places: just lying on the ground. That was kind of cool and random. I'm also very grateful that my fast is over. Thank you for helping me make it through the day and thank you for waking me up before the fast started so that I could grab a last-minute bite to eat. I pray that my sacrifice is honored and you answer my prayers. Also I pray that Jonathan gets his camera today without any hassle. Give him new vision using that camera. Guide and steady his hands, so that he can capture what you want him and others to see. Also use the camera to give him a greater appreciation for your expression of grace, beauty, truth and love through inanimate objects. As he travels, keep him safe and give him the favor to be the exception to the rules. You've purposed for him to have the camera, allow him to use it to document his journey. And where your name and your praise are forbidden, let his eyes and his lens find your hand. Only you can change the hearts of men, do that for your son.

Thank you, Jesus,

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Prayer Dare: Day #10

So, God,

There's a refrigerator magnet or sticker or something I've seen that says, "God said he'd never put more on me than I can bear. I just wish he didn't trust me so much." So that leads me to a chicken-and-egg question. The people I know who seem to go through the absolute worst crap are some of the coolest people I know with the biggest hearts. So, are these the people who can handle the most? Are they the ones who can come through adversity without being bitter or cynical? Or, did the adversity shape them into cool people? Did suffering stretch their hearts?

I know I was on a really good track: talking about other people for more than two sentences. But, that leads me to a question about myself. I've had a relatively easy life. What does that say about me? Can I not be trusted with adversity? It's not that bad things haven't happened. Some things sucked so much that I wanted to curl up and cry until things got better. But I don't feel like I've ever been without your joy, so it never seemed that bad. I've felt like you weren't there for me plenty of times, but I've never felt like you weren't somewhere. I've never felt like things would never get better. Please understand that all of this is purely academic musing. There is no need for any experimentation. Don't get any ideas up there. I'm just saying...

Can you do something? You have surrounded me with people more incredible than I could ever deserve to share space with. Bless them in the way you've blessed me so many times. Tomorrow, give each of them at least one moment when they are overwhelmed by you. Dig through their hearts and find the thing that will move them to worship you, to love their lives, to forget anything in their situations that is not the way they want it to be. They give so much to me, more than I could or would ever ask. So bless them. Please. You said that you would bless the people that bless me and curse the people that curse me. So, in Jesus' name, bless them.

I love you and I thank you. I love my life and I am so grateful for who you made me to be,

Monday, April 24, 2006

Prayer Dare: Day #9

So, you know what we have to talk about. I know that I don't have a right to ask why, but you know I'm going to, so just prepare an answer or evade the question by giving me some peace. Right now, all I feel is unsettled. What was that even about?

So, yes, tonight's lesson was about evil. Did I need the object lesson in evil? Why that way? For real, what was that about?

And, maybe evil is too strong a word for what happened. It was more bad, than evil. No one was hurt, exactly. But, I just can't figure out why? It was my fault, technically. I made it possible, but... Why did I have to see that, if I couldn't do anything about it? Did I hear you wrong? Should I have done something? I don't get it and you need to explain it.

You know how I am, you know that's all I'll see every time. And every time I'll be just as confused. It will be distracting. How do I avoid acting on that? Is it a test? Did I already fail? What do I have to do to pass? Yes I can pray, but I want to know why. I don't want to hear that it doesn't matter. Why? It doesn't make any sense, and I don't mean that in a proud way, like "how dare he do that after all this?" But that's not a bad question. It's a very good question.

No, it doesn't have to make sense, and it doesn't have to make sense to me. But you let me see it. You knew how I would react, and you did it to me anyway. And you knew the only way I would foresee calming down was if you gave me some modicum of control or at least the illusion of it, by getting some information. A reason. Knowledge. You knew that's what I'd want. You knew that you wouldn't give it to me. I'll pray, you knew I'd pray, but I need you to drop me a crumb.

Prayer Dare: Day #8


I thank you for worship. It's been a major theme of the weekend. The last few weekends, actually. It's great to hang out with you and not feel like I have to or even want to just talk about myself, and my issues and my needs and my strengths and my good. I spend enough time thinking about me. And even though it's hard sometime to refocus, once I lock my sights on you, it's pretty awesome. Everything else fades away. I get smaller (in a good way), my problems get smaller (in a great way). The Postal Service sings "everything looks perfect from far away," and that's exactly how it feels. I'm not sure if they know you or not (their lyrics suggest they at least know about you), but if they don't they have no idea how true their words are. When I worship, I feel like I'm translated to heaven. Looking at my world from your throne, everything looks so easy, so manageable, so blessed. Looking at all that I have to do and face through the eyes of your strength and your ability, it all looks so simple. Help me to stay there, in that place. Help me to worship you always. Bend my heart, change it to make the refocusing easier. Thank you.

In Jesus' name,

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Prayer Dare: For Mia

Jesus, I thank you for staying true to the words that you spoke to me. Now that you've begun this thing, see it through to the end. Bless my sister and be with her right now where I can't. Go into that hospital room and grab her hand and don't you dare let go. Work through every doctor, nurse and technician. Let them be your hands, your eyes, your ears, your mouth. Make every single decision that there is to make. And help them to follow it through with excellence. Never let them forget that that is your child they are working with, and the child in her womb is your princess. So, make them attentive. Give them a heart for both of them. Let them laugh with them and cry with them and hurt with them. Let them love them and care for them as their own. I pray for a fast process, without complication, a delivery that the experts will call miraculous. And, when there's pain, let her feel you there all the more. Open her eyes to see the angels standing around her, lovingly watching over her and ministering to her. I bind all fear, all doubt, every negative thought, in Jesus' name. I thank you for answering her prayer for the delivery date and for the baby's size. Now, Lord God, help her and help her body through the process. I thank you for my brother-in-law. I thank you for the overwhelming love that you've given him for his wife and his daughter. I ask that in this time, when he must be strong and brave enough for all three of them, that you will be with him. Strengthen him and his love all the more.

And, God, let the baby that is pulled from her womb, be perfect in every way. With ten toes, ten fingers, two arms, two legs, and a heart that beats strong for you. Let her be born with an understanding that she is wonderfully and fearfully made, that she is loved beyond reason by you. Make her beautiful in mind, body, and spirit. Let her be a child after your own heart. Let her be a child that will point her family, her friends and her generation to you. Let her be a child with an unusual joy, an unsual peace, an unusual hope that will bring joy, peace and hope to everyone that she comes in contact with. Give her a fire and a passion for life and for you that cannot be denied. Let her walk with you always and always recognize you, no matter the shape or form that your love takes.

I pray all of these things, knowing the you alone are the God that can make them so. I praise you because you alone are willing and able and going to do it. In Jesus' name,


Prayer Dare: Day #6

Lord God,

You have declared in your Word and confirmed in my heart that now is the time. It is high time that I awake from sleeping. My salvation is far closer than it has ever been before. The night is almost over and the day is at hand. Lord, you've given me a mission and a purpose in this life. That purpose is not to pass the time constantly looking for the path of least resistance. You have ordained a destiny for me and it's more than I can agree to. It's more than I want. But I choose to bow my will unto yours. So, God be my strength and my confidence. Go before me and behind me. Encamp your angels around me. And fill inside of me with your spirit. You live in me and you want to use me. I say yes. I say yes. Don't ever stop carrying me, holding me, rocking me in your arms. Don't ever stop singing me into rest. I love your voice and I need to hear it. Guide my every step into worship. Do it.

In Jesus' name I pray,

Friday, April 21, 2006

Prayer Dare: Day #5

Hey God,

So today was a little harried. It flew by, but I felt and heard you every leg of the journey. It still amazes me. I know it's been years now and I know we've talked about this before, but I'm still in awe of our relationship. Job said that even if he called you and answered, he still wouldn't believe that you listened to his voice. I'm so there with him. I can't believe that you run this whole universe like a cottage industry, so you keep pretty busy. You're the most powerful being in existence, so you're fairly important. But everytime I open my mouth, you listen as if I'm the only person alive and every word I say is precious to you. I say some decently foul and crazy stuff, but you still want to hear me. And you even take the time to put your own words in my mouth. Even when I'm not talking crazy, even when I'm worshipping you, I still find it amazing that you hear me. And you don't just hear, you listen. And you don't just listen, you answer. I call you holy. And you answer. I call you righteous. And you answer. I call you mighty. And you answer. I call you glorious. And you answer. I call you awesome. And you answer. I call you perfect. And you answer. I call you gracious. And you answer. I call you merciful. And you answer. I call you victorious. And you answer. I call you worthy. And you answer. I call you great. And you answer. I call you Father. And you answer. I call you friend. And you answer. I call you lover. And you answer. I call you mine. And you answer. I call you Savior. And you answer. I call you Jesus. And you answer. I call you...And you answer.

Thank you for answering.


Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Prayer Dare: Day #4

So, God,

I had a really good day today, so I thank you for answering my prayer. It was productive, I don't have any regrets. I wasn't perfect, but you were. Well, I did cave to peer pressure a little, and I'm not too happy about that. But I know that I could have made a different choice. I saw the options and I had the power to make the right or wrong choice and I chose wrong. There were so many years in my life when I couldn't say that, when the wrong I did was a reflex, when I didn't have the moment or the power to choose right. That's progress. That's incredible. It's also dodging the point, but if I've got to dodge a point, I think it's best to do it with praise and thanksgiving. Anyway, Lord, I understand that there is a new level of accountability involved with this progress. I don't really want it, but I know it's a package deal. Given the choice between bondage with chains and freedom with strings, I'll choose you every time. Thank you for my amazing friends, and their barely-there Christianity. Thank you for their amazing hearts for you, coupled with their craziness. Thank you for sending people into my life who remind me that I don't have to stop being me in you in order to have more fun than I can stand. Thank you for the wonderful old relationships and thank you for the wonderful new relationships. Thank you that I have someone to think about, whose name makes me smile, no matter what. You, My Father, have been better to me that I can ever deserve. Thank you for your love and favor.

In the matchless, mighty, and marvelous name of your Son, Jesus,

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Prayer Dare: Day #3


Show me how to pray. I know that I can be all over the place sometimes, but it's partially your fault because of the mind you gave me. Yes, I've abused it, but... Well, I don't really have an excuse for that. I'm sorry. Give me the focus and discipline that I need to handle all of the freedoms, the responsibility, and the power that you've given me. I don't like hurting people. I don't like hurting myself. And, I don't like hurting you. So, help me. Thank you for the time delay you've given me between my thoughts and my words. Now help me to use it. Today has been a good day. I've had better, but I've definitely had worse. So, thanks. Tomorrow will be an even better day. I can't wait to see what you'll show me. I can't wait to see how you'll use me. Let it be a productive day. Let it be a day without regrets. Even though I know I won't be perfect, I know you will. Speak to me, sing to me, and I'll answer. I love you. Thank you.

In Jesus' name I pray,


TJ's Words of Wisdom

I spent last Saturday hanging out with some good friends. We ended up at the Tidal Basin, just five guys chillin' at the monuments. The conversation took a number of turns, a sharp left here, a gentle right there. It was a great night. If Christians made buddy films, they'd probably look a lot like our Saturday. Of course, some of the conversation would have to be edited for all-age appropriateness. A couple of those sharp lefts led us off the straight and narrow path. But anyway, that's all beside the point.

My reason for bringing this up is the time I spent exploring the Jefferson Memorial. I have been to the Jefferson several times. I never really paid it much attention. To be honest, I've never found it terribly remarkable, beyond the killer view of the city from the back stairs. That is, until now.

I can only assume that recent experiences have removed the scales from my eyes and mind, and actually allowed me to process the inscriptions. I'd read them every time I've visited, but they never struck me. How could they not? Thomas Jefferson was friggin' brilliant and clearly in touch with God. The four inscriptions are excerpted from 10 different speeches or documents, and all include shameless references to God and his principles.

The first inscription I came to read as so:

"God who gave us life gave us liberty. Can the liberties of a nation be secure when we have removed a conviction that these liberties are the gift of God? Indeed I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just, that his justice cannot sleep forever. Commerce between master and slave is despotism. Nothing is more certainly written in the book of fate than these people are to be free. Establish the law for educating the common people. This it is the business of the state to effect and on a general plan."

Craziness! My friend Jonathan would probably debate me on this, but I don't hear speeches like this as part of contemporary political discourse. Some of these concepts aren't even that popular in churches. The idea that our freedom is placed in jeopardy when we lose sight of the fact that God gave it to us is absolutely astounding to me. Couple that with the idea that the only exchange between a master and a slave is the absolute rule of the former over the latter and then apply that to spiritual bondage.

I suppose, as much as anything, it was what I needed to hear at that moment. I was and am eternally grateful to God for speaking to me in ways that surprise and reassure me.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Prayer Dare: Day #2

Tonight's prayer is also about me. Perhaps there's a pattern forming here. I'm not sure yet. It's somewhat related to points in yesterday's prayer, which wasn't really a prayer as much as an invoice. There were bullet points, after all. It was late, I can't be held accountable for anything that comes out of my fingers after 12:30am. Anyway, here's a prayer:

My God and King,

You have been amazing in my life. You have seen to it that there has been a parade of wonderful people marching in and out of my life. Lord God, let me always understand that each person is a gift and a precious life. Make me a good steward over the time that you allow them to stick around. Don't let me take them for granted, and don't let me waste my time with them and have them leave my life without accomplishing your purpose for our relationship. Help me to be a good friend and a good example of what your love can do. I thank you that you honor my need for relationship even when I don't acknowledge it. I love you.

In Jesus' name,

Prayer Dare: Day #1

My Easter Resolution is to begin a let's say 40-day prayer fast. During this period I will journal a prayer everyday. The 40-day part is kind of arbitrary, and technically, it's less of a fast than a dare. The actual goal is to begin journaling consistently. However, as a creature of habit, I know that if I can do something for 40 days continuing will be no sweat.

It stands to reason that the intended outcomes of prayers, like those of experiments, should be SMART. That is, Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Tangible. Well, maybe not attainable and realistic. After all, if it's attainable and realistic, what do I need God for? I can do the attainable and realistic. Or perhaps, I should keep the principles but expand their definitions to account for God's limitless ability to attain the unattainable and to "push out the corners" of reality. Of course, the entire debate is merely academic, as my first request will break the rules.

My Day #1 petition is to be a better man. For several reasons, this is a good time in my life to be at my very best. So, that is what I pray:
  • to be wiser and more intentional;
  • to choose and measure my words and actions more carefully;
  • to use my gifts and talents whenever possible and appropriate;
  • to hesitate less and reduce the number of sins of omission that I commit;
  • to process and express my emotions in a healthier and more timely fashion; and,
  • to be more honest with others (and myself) about where they stand in my life.

This is a relatively nebulous goal, but what the hay. What's a little nebulosity between friends?


    Friday, April 14, 2006

    Further Adventures in Catholicism

    So, Good Friday found me once again darkening the door of a Catholic church. Perhaps along with my yearly Ash Wednesday visit, this Good Friday visit will also become a tradition.

    Today’s new adventure was the Stations of the Cross liturgy. I tried explaining my experience to a friend of mine who grew up Catholic. As I told him, I never really got the whole Cross piece of the jigsaw puzzle that is Christian existence. That made truly knowing Jesus “in the fellowship of his suffering” a little more challenging.

    There have been notable experiences in my life recently that have helped out with getting more in touch with that aspect of Jesus. Watching The Passion of the Christ was clearly one of them. The centrality of the Cross is also a huge part of the Living Waters curriculum. Participating in the Stations of the Cross today marks another long mile along that journey.

    Walking the path of Jesus’ torture and execution step by step, and focusing so intently on every word and emotion, the reactions of other people, and the fulfillment of prophecy was more affecting than I can say. The other thing I told my friend was that I have to remember to bring tissue on these excursions, because I always find myself crying and snotting profusely. With only my hands to wipe my eyes and nose, it gets very messy very quickly, and shaking hands with people afterward leaves me feeling very, very guilty.

    Anyway, putting myself in Jesus’ shoes helps me to feel closer to him and gives me a greater appreciation for the sacrifices that he made to put himself in mine. I still have immense difficulty feeling worthy of the sacrifice, but I am eternally grateful for the love that made up the difference between the price he paid and the prize he won, me.

    Monday, April 03, 2006

    Oh, The Places You’ll Go!

    I am a person in process. As we speak, God is building and changing me into me.

    The weird thing about this process is that it’s hard to track. The path I’m following is conspicuously devoid of mile markers. It’s hard to know when I’ve arrived at the different levels and stops along the way.

    What typically happens is I’ll look up and find myself somewhere I shouldn’t be, doing, saying or thinking something I wouldn’t normally have been able to. It’s a little like the first season of Smallville (that was before God delivered me from an insidious and all-consuming addiction to the WB). Clark would periodically find that he had some new superhuman ability that he had to learn to hone and control. He would wake up hovering above his bed, or look at someone and suddenly realize he could see their skeleton. I wonder if that’s what Jesus’ adolescence was like. Did he try to go swimming one time and accidentally walk on the water?

    Anyway, that’s what it’s been like for me. I’ll look around and realize that I’m leading a ministry that I shouldn’t even be a part of. Or I’ll be sharing my innermost thoughts and feelings with someone that I just met. Or I’ll be praying for someone and realize I have more information than they gave me. Or I’ll be crying because someone I don’t even know is hurting. Or I’ll be trusting people. Or I’ll be forgiving people.

    On one hand, it’s a little annoying. For instance, I found out recently that I am an extrovert. My entire life, I have built a substantial portion of my identity and my schedule around my intense need for personal time and space. Now, all of a sudden, I’ll be sitting at home and wishing I had some company. When did that happen?

    On the other hand, it’s very exciting. I’ll think about some amazing new experience or gift, and look to God and say, “Cool, what else can I do now?” This weekend, I went on my first date in a long time. I found that she was getting more beautiful with every word, but instead of feeling more intimidated or unworthy, I just felt more grateful and more intrigued. All night long, the thought of being anywhere else with anyone else never crossed my mind. Everything I did and said seemed like one more opportunity for her to get up and walk out, but that didn’t scare me and it didn’t stop me. I have no idea where any of this is going or if it’s going anywhere at all, but that doesn’t scare me either. I'm patient, I'm present. Who in the world am I?

    It’s been an amazing ride, so far. I wonder where I’ll be and what I’ll be doing next time I stop to think about it. At this rate, I’ll probably have mastered turning water into wine just in time for New Year’s Eve in Greenland.