Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Happiness Is...

In middle school choir, we sang a song called "Happiness Is" from You're a Good Man Charlie Brown. I can vaguely remember the tune and none of the words. What I can remember, however, is some of the lyrics from the dirty version of the song that we crafted in our down time. I'll spare you the details, as they are beside the point.

I only brought up the song, because it was the first thing that popped into my head as I loosed my brain to explore the meaning of happiness. As I look around my life, I see a lot of people who are not as happy as they should be. These people appear to have so much going for them, but can't find a way to make it enough for sustained contentment or security. Ironically, this knowledge does not stop me from envying them.

I have my moments, but for the most part I'm a pretty happy person and I always have been. I can honestly say what I have is more joy than happiness. I'm not feeling Bibly right now, so I'm not going to bore you or me with an exegesis or isogesis of scriptural references as to the difference. Suffice it to say, my sunny disposition is not always justified by my surroundings or my situation. Even though my life, in general, is pretty darn sweet.

Now that I'm three paragraphs into this post, I realize that I don't have a point. I really don't. I guess I really just want the people I care about to be happy...especially if I'm wasting time being jealous of them.

"Though your sins be as scarlet..." Isa 1:18

In case you didn't notice, there has been a bit of a face lift here in the Black Sheep Diaries. The redo was inspired by my wonderful friend's suggestion for increased readability. It's still a work in progress, so don't be surprised if we land somewhere completely different.

If you have comments or suggestions, feel free to pass them along. Mi blog es su blog.

God Bless,
The Black Sheep

Monday, May 29, 2006

Don't Forget To Remember

I've been feeling very unchanged lately, but today God reminded me that I am. Today in church service I did something I've never done before. I worshipped at the foot of the cross.

The folks at Living Waters are huge into two things: the cross and visualization. Both came into play, today as Pastor Mark talked about remembering how you met Jesus. Toward the end of the sermon he told us to imagine ourselves watching from the crowd as Jesus' was tried, tortured and crucified. My vision was so vivid that it was like a memory of somewhere I had actually been. Pastor Mark talked us through the trial, torture and execution, and that's pretty much all I remember of the last part of the sermon. I stayed in my vision at the foot of the cross until the service was over. I was in and out to get directions and lyrics, etc, but I was there.

Worship is normally a very self-conscious exercise for me. I'm very aware of what I'm singing, how I sound and what the people around me are up to. This time, I was standing at the foot of the cross singing to Jesus as he died and all of that fell off. We sang "Before You" (lyrics are below), which is an amazing song to sing to Jesus on the the cross. Next, we had communion. It was a...I can't even say what it was like having communion in that vision: eating Jesus' "body" as he hangs with his flesh exposed and broken, and drinking his "blood" as he is bleeding in front of you. Our closing song made for an equally surreal, and somewhat ironic, experience. It was "How Great Is Our God." Singing about how great God is as his Son hangs dead was pretty awesome. It felt really defiant, like a big up-yours to the devil.

It wasn't about the resurrection for me today, like it usually is. It was about the death, about the cross. Jesus' resurrection showed me how to live free, but it was his death that made me free. And that was what I was celebrating. Being free to worship at the foot of his cross.

Here are the song lyrics:
Before You by Steph Modder

Lovely One, God's own son, came for me. Left his home, came alone, all for me. Humbled here, so many tears cried for me. Took my shame as your name, you died for me. Before you I am made pure. Before you I am restored. In you I am reborn, all my sin you made yours. Such amazing love. The sin you've taken from me you cast to the bottomless sea, set me free. Precious Lord, the pain you bore, was Life for me. Precious Lord, the death you wore, was Life for me. Open up, oh heaven's cup, spill over. Spill over me.

How Great Is Our God by Chris Tomlin
The splendor of a King, clothed in majesty. Let all the earth rejoice, all the earth rejoice. He wraps himself in Light, and darkness tries to hide and trembles at His voice, trembles at His voice. How great is our God, sing with me. How great is our God, and all will see how great, how great is our God. Age to age He stands and time is in His hands, beginning and the end, beginning and the end. The Godhead Three in One: Father, Spirit, Son. The Lion and the Lamb, the Lion and the Lamb. Name above all names, worthy of all praise. My heart will sing how great is our God.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

"I don't buy it."

I have a couple of good friends who have taken to saying "I don't buy it" whenever something I say doesn't quite jibe with their somewhat idiosyncratic sensibilities. I literally want to shoot them every time they say it. In part, because it's often the response to a relatively innocuous statement based on some common-sense concept. For instance, I told one of them that I occasionally supplement my deodorant with body powder and it helps absorb excess perspiration. "I don't buy it." BANG!

In his inimitable way, God used my homicidal frustration as a teaching tool to show me my own hypocritical idiocy. God's will is full of principles rooted so firmly in logic and love that it's hard to believe anyone would question them, let alone disobey them. Yet so often, in my words and my actions, I say "I don't buy it."

The idea that anyone would question the moisture absorbing properties of a talc based substance is positively mind-boggling to me. But, isn't it equally ridiculous that I would question the idea that not forgiving someone would eventually put a strain on our relationship? Isn't it equally ridiculous that I would question the fact that someone who left a lifestyle more posh than I could imagine to die a horribly painful death just for me might actually love me?

The other reason that the I-don't-buy-it's piss me off so much is the subtext of "if it doesn't make sense to me, it doesn't make sense." The unmitigated arrogance!Granted, this also stokes some issues that I have with pride and wanting to be agreed with, but let's just focus on the unmitigated arrogance.

I accept the fact that God's thoughts are higher than mine. That's one of the myriad reasons that he's God and I'm not. Still, I sometimes feel like I need to perfectly understand what he says before I can agree with it or act on it. Say it with me: the unmitigated arrogance!

Oddly enough the litmus test for sin is much less stringent. Even after I accept that something I have done is wrong, I'll still do it. I'll bemoan it, I'll lament it, I'll despise it. I'll do everything but agree with it and feel like doing it. But, it still manages to get done. A lot of the stuff that God wants me to do, however, will not get done until I "buy it." It's like Paul says, I do the evil I don't want to do, but I don't do the good I want to do.

I won't love until I feel like it. I won't share until I agree with the concept. I won't sacrifice until I understand the underlying principles. I won't change until we agree to the terms of the process. I won't forgive until I see the findings of the cost-benefits analysis.

Luckily, God is patient and merciful, and he loves me. So, when I say I don't quite believe what he says, he lovingly answers, "I don't buy it."

Dum Spiro Spero or Dum Spero Spiro...I can't remember

Doth my inspiration cometh from the hills? I had the toughest time coming up with something to write for this post. The prayer dare made things so easy. Now that it's over, I see that it was successful. I could not consider going to bed before I had written something. I read through nearly every previous post (there's actually some good stuff back there) and most of my mini-journal (there's actually not much in there), and all of my digital pics to find something to write about. Nada. Nil. Goose egg. Looking inside or, God forbid, up never occured to me.

I'm still a little fuzzy on where my blogging will go from here. It's going to involve pictures, but the "how" is still a little lazy, crazy and hazy. We'll see how things shape up. God has a plan. So, I'll just touch and agree with Carrie Underwood and say "Jesus, take the wheel."

Today was another good day at work and a good day away from work. I got a decent amount accomplished and had some fun. God timed the rain perfectly to benefit me, then painted an incredible sky as a followup. Then there was a belated birthday celebration comeplete with excellent dinner, dessert, and a blended chai. There really should have been a bed somewhere in the mix. Prayerfully, I'll be able to stay sleep tomorrow, but I'm not holding my breath. I just want rest. Is that so wrong?

...and to all a good night.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Prayer Dare: Day #40 (Series Finale)

I'm betting that your 40 days in the wilderness didn't seem to go by this quickly. Or did they? What was that like? Was it no food and no water? I don't remember. Why the wandering in the wilderness? Fasting for 40 days in the Ritz-Carlton would be bad enough. Feasting in the wilderness would also have been more than enough of a sacrifice? You put the two together. I guess it's the height and depth proportionality thing. The incredible amount of power that you had required a supernatural sacrifice to balance. I just can't imagine either the power or the sacrifice. It's amazing.

I don't know where I'm going from here. That statement could apply to many areas in my life, but I'm speaking specifically about the blog and my journaling. Guide me toward your purpose. It's not about my next bold move, it's about your next move in my life. If it's 300 years of silence or one word a day, I just want your leading and your anointing and your joy to be my strength. Pictures? That would be interesting. Show me how and I'm there.

I'm a week into my new year of life. Let this be a year of peace in process. I pray for motion, progress. Last year was probably the best year of my life, full stock. But this year will make last year look like the semifinals of a parcheesi tournament. Guide me. Guide me. Guide me. I know that my responsibility will increase and I pray for strength and discipline. Grant me asylum in the nook between your shoulder and your wing.

I honor you, Sweet Jesus,

Prayer Dare: Day #39

Father God,

Bless me and keep me as I sleep. I pray for pleasant dreams and a restful night. Keep the temperature comfortable and let me wake up feeling rested. Help me to stay alseep until I hear the click of the alarm clock. Let me have an efficient morning and get out of the house early. Bless me, also, with another productive day. Let me finish and mail out the e-mail memo. Help me to find good graphics and a better layout for the activities guide. And, let me find time to do some work on the report. If anything comes up on the grant, let it be manageable and insiginificant. Let my lunch hour be good, too, help me find something relaxing to do with the time. Throw a good surprise or two in there somewhere. Let me finish my day feeling like I've accomplished all that I needed to, let it end with closure on an project or some major intermediary step. Let my afterwork time be relaxing. I'm not sure if I want to read or write or draw, but whatever I do, I need you in it. Be there, God and help me to end my day without regrets.

I honor you, Lord, and ask this all in Jesus' name,

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Prayer Dare: Day #38

Father, in the name of Jesus,

Lord, I thank you for this day. I thank you for a productive day. I thank you for a good meeting that went better than I deserved to have it go. You totally answered that prayer. I thank you for a good evening that I caught myself enjoying more than...I would have...I don't know, it was a weird feeling. Natural, I guess. Whatever it was, thank you. I ask you for the strength, okay the will to use the strength, I know I have it. Help me to do what I have to do, you create the opportunities and I'll try to take them. Lord I pray for strength, for conviction, for a total loss of control, not rock bottom, but a yielding. It's hard to imagine myself back in that situation, but I cannot deny the compassion I have. Lord God, you've given me a charge or maybe I've taken it on in spite of you. Either way, I feel like it's there. If I'm not supposed to have it, take it away. If I am, please guide me, 'cause I'm goin' in. Lord, I still wonder how you do this for a living. Loving as much as you do, how can you watch us live our lives the way we do? It's astounding. I'm grateful I guess. Such incredible passion, such incredible patience. I don't know. Thank you. I'm at a loss for words, as I so often am with you, yet nerves, habit and duty keep me from being silent. One day, I suppose. I love you. Thank you. And let tomorrow be even more awesome.

I ask this all in the matchless name of your son, Jesus,

Monday, May 22, 2006

Prayer Dare: Day #37

So, part of me is feeling not so changed. By part, I mean the thinking and feeling portion of my being. The longer I'm here in real life the more last week seems like an anecdote. I hate that. There is a part of me (the aforementioned part) that wants to fill my bathtub with water and try to walk on it, just to prove to myself that it was all real. I would love to ask you for a test of my changedness, but honestly as strong and free as I was feeling I can't imagine the test you'd give me. So, I'll hold off. I don't mind tests and trials, per se, but I'm not going go around inviting them. Would you really send a test just so that I could prove to myself that I could pass it? Would that be a good enough reason for you? Would that be "tempting you"? Would that be sin? It would be kind of stupid, but would it be sin?

God's answer:
You don't always feel saved, but you don't doubt your salvation.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Prayer Dare: Day #36


As I was thinking about how to explain the Living Waters training to all of the uninitiated in my life, it occured to me that the training experience was a lot like rehab. People often have a hard time leaving rehab facilities for the outside world, because for all of the unabashed unhealthiness, it becomes a very safe environment. Knowing that everyone around you already knows that you're struggling and they are struggling just like you and aren't trying to hide it is extremely freeing.

There was something so ridiculously honest about it all. There was a wonderful naked-and-unashamedness about being in fellowship with a couple hundred people who stand flatfooted and declare "I'm broken and I need Jesus and I need you to help me see and feel Him." As the leadership was careful to point out it lulls you into a false sense of intimacy, because you're in an environment that is crafted to be safe, where openness is expected, and imperfection is the assumption. And, also, you are surrounded by people who know things about you that your closest friends and family don't know, but probably don't know your last name. Knowing that these people already knew the things that I can occasionally [yes, I know occasionally is a bit of an understatement, but you have to admit I've gotten better] act and omit to cover up, saved me a lot of misspent effort and distancing. All of this extra energy came in very handy for all of the volleyball games, and the relating, and the worship.

I'm sure you knew there was going to be an ask in here somewhere and here it is: Let Your Church and my church be more like that. Let Your Church and my church be a place where people can let their hair down and take off their masks. Let Your Church and my church be a place where we default to the assumption that each person is broken by the world and desperately in need of you and each other. Let Your Church and my church welcome the outcast as "Brother". Let Your Church and my church be a place so unlike the world, so unlike real life that there has to be a disclaimer on the fellowship and the relationship and the intimacy. Let Your Church and my church be a place where worship is that much sweeter and easier, because it doesn't require an extra 10 minutes on the front end for a costume change.

Let Your Bride come lay beside you bearing and baring her sin-scarred body, not hiding it under a negligee that gives only the illusion of nakedness. Let Your Bride come lay beside you bearing and baring her scars, knowing that your touch and kiss alone can heal them.


Prayer Dare: Day #35


I know we've (that's the royal "we", meaning you) done a lot of work to get me to see myself the way that you see me, but I'd really like to see myself the way that other people see me. Not all the time just occasionally. I feel so vacant sometimes and I wonder how much of that is legible on my face or in my eyes. When I listen to people being so honest and vulerable, sometimes I feel them with every fiber of my being, but just don't have the emotional wherewithal to reciprocate. Those are the times I want to see what they see. I would really like to find out that I'm just being self-conscious, that I don't look as weird as I feel at those moments. This of course begs the oft-asked question, "Do I want health or the appearance of health?" In spite of myself and everything I now know about you, me and life, I really want to say, "Can't it be both?" Can't I get the appearance until reality catches up? I feel so backslidden even thinking this, but it's coming from a good place. The thought of someone pouring out the innards of their very soul and looking at me and seeing in my expression the visual equivalent of emotional silence worries me.

I'm at a loss. Help me to reconnect and stay connects. I know I said "bring it," but I'm not ready for the mountain top experience to end. There's been enough closure in my life in the last week. Oh, yeah and I need rest. How are you doing? Thank you Jesus,


Friday, May 19, 2006

Prayer Dare: Day #34


DC feels weird. I got off the train and everything felt foreign. I was only gone for a week, and I've been gone for longer and come back to find myself glad to be home. I know that I've changed after this week, but I didn't think it would be so pronounced. I want my inner life to change dramatically, but I don't want a whole bunch of miscellaneous change in my environment, I suppose. That's probably impossible, or at least it should be. I don't know. I'm also feeling a little disconnected socially. I have a lot of calls to make. I made a lot of senseless promises with my time before I left, because this weekend seemed a lifetime away last week. I don't feel like doing any of it. I don't know why. I guess the reason could be any one of several possibilities. It could be that being empowered and strengthened so totally makes you a little stingy. You just kind of want to revel in your ability before you start pouring it out on the slobbering masses. That's probably not it. It could also be that after being in an atmosphere of such freedom and engaging in such deep and honest relationships (even with total strangers), the prospect of going back to life and relationship as normal just sucks. And, I'm subconsciously acting against it. That could be it, but the most likely reason is that I'm dead tired. Maybe all of the sleepless nights and the days of volleyball and mini-hikes and eating like a pig got to me. Or perhaps, contrary to my belief, I actually was physically and emotionally drained by laying in fetal position and sobbing uncontrollably two or three times a day for a week. I don't know. Only you know for sure. All I know is tomorrow's got to be different. Make a way for me, Lord, within myself and also build opportunities for me to use all of the power and strength and gifting that you wrought in me this week. I know asking for something so labor intensive and in line with your will can be a little dangerous, because you are known to make those the prayers that you answer in spades. Just the same, I am so unbelievably grateful for everything you've done, I wouldn't feel right not doing something great with it. Please help me out with some rest, in the meantime. And please work out this weekend so that I can do as much as possible and still feel rested on Monday.

Thank you. In Jesus' name I pray,

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Prayer Dare: Day #33

So, it's the last day. I'm still processing. Still absorbing. Already there are tests and challenges to my new found freedoms, but you have been faithful and proven me strong. Thank you for friends and family. Thank you for common ground. You are awesome and again thank you for worship. Read my mind as often as you feel like it. It's spooky, still it's cool. You are calling me to a higher level and I vowed to answer and obey and I least for the first few weeks. I guess that's why you started the tests so early, to begin the process before I lose my nerve or my memory.

I love you,

Prayer Dare: Day #32

This whole visions thing is very interesting. It's...interesting. I like it. It's not that I don't trust it. There's just a part of me that wonders if it will stick around for good or if it was just a temporary gift. It's also a gift with a heavy measure of responsibility and accountability. If it is to be used, there are some stipulations: I've got to tell whoever or not tell, depending on your instructions. I've got to hear your instructions. Okay, I'm out of stipulations and it's not so different from other gifts. I guess it's just new. I'm grateful. So very grateful. Interesting. Guide me and speak loudly and clearly with your usage instructions. I don't want to hurt anyone. I also don't want to be wrong, but I'd rather risk obedience and risk faith than be safe and silent.

Bless me, Jesus,

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Prayer Dare: Day #31


I thank you for the freedom to truly worship. Seal your work, and never let me forget that your work is done, but mine is just beginning. I must live it. I must live in it. I forgive, but I must walk in forgiveness. I love, but I must walk in love. Through your love and mercy, you have empowered my will and my voice. Now that they work I need to use them. Help me to use my will and my voice wisely, not like a child with a new toy, but like Jesus who used his power to heal and help and love and instruct, and most of all to bring you glory. I want to bring you glory and I never want to steal your glory and I never want to abuse your gifts. Don't let me feel the need to earn your love. Remind me that "sin has wages, but your love yields gifts."

Thank you Lord Jesus for carrying this message to your father on my behalf,

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Prayer Dare: Day #30

Lord God,

I accept your charge, your commission. I don't know exactly what I'm getting myself into, but I rarely know your plan in advance. you've never steered me wrong, and in the end (sometimes the very end), I usually end up enjoying myself or at least seeing how you've grown and developed me for the next mission. I accept. I also commit to putting in the effort and making the decisions you have freed me to. I want to be as ready as I can be trusting you and your grace and favor to do the rest. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you and I accept.

In Jesus' name,

Prayer Dare: Day #29

Good morning,

Yesterday was one of those day when it seemed the sun was shinin just for me, in part because it was. I felt your love and purpose so strong it was hard to understand how I could ever have abad day. It's like I was reaping a harvest of joy from all of the tears I shed before (the night before, the morning before, just before). I trust you so much, not just because things are so good, but because they're not. I just really feel like they are. Nothing's changed, but everything is changed and still changing. I don't know from day to day who I'll be or what you'll show me, and I don't know what you're up to, but I know you're up to something. As I stand on the hill and shout "your name is great," I'm realizing that my name isn't so bad either. It's the one you called me. The one that captures all that you made me. The one that affims my existence, my presence, my gifting, everytime it's called.

God morning,

Prayer Dare: Day #28

I thank you for comfirming your words. Your prophet, I forget which one, said you spoke once and he heard you twice. I thank you for the echo. Be near me Lord Jesus, I ask you to stay close by me forever and love me I pray. As this week begins, I ask you for focus. I've come to the middle of nowhere to find peace and refuge. I'm not running away from anything (well I sort of am, except they're all in my head so they travel well), I am running to you. So that I may find you, shut my mind up for a while. I thank you for my mind, it's capable of amazing things. You have gifted me incredibly. But, it doesn't do quiet very well. It likes to be two steps ahead to the next amazing thing and that's distracting. Quiet it that I might hear and learn and worship without anything getting in the the way. Training has been good so far, but I pray that I stop looking for ways to maintain control and start looking for the Way Maker. You are why I'm here. Be larger than life and smaller than my tears.

It's nice to meet you again,

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Prayer Dare:Modus Interruptus

I'm off to the Living Waters Leader Training in the a.m. (Saturday)! So the prayer dares will have to go low-tech for the week. I'll write them on paper and publish them when I get back. Until then, check out #27, it's the last for a week. Drop God a line on my behalf, if I come to mind.


Prayer Dare: Day #27


As you've reminded me through my Living Waters experience, you didn't save me, you didn't deliver me, you didn't free me, you didn't arm and equip me, you didn't call me and you didn't choose me just so that I could have a house in the suburbs with a white picket fence. There is a battlefield. There are trenches. Lord God, the armor that I tried on wasn't mine and it was too big. So, I obeyed you and I took it off. I stand before you as you made me. Free. Freed to fight. Freed to face whatever giant will come with only the weapons you've taught me to use and my total reliance on you. I don't feel ready, but I march because your flag is moving forward. Lead me. I will follow you. I don't have any choice. There are too many lives at stake.

Bless me, Savior,

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Prayer Dare: Day #26


What is it with me and change? As you know, this whole cable internet business has turned my life and my room upside down. I rearranged my entire room to move the desk within spitting distance of the cable jack. I broke 5 jewel cases in the process [which ordinarily would have floored me, I'm really making progress]. Two of my major paper catch-all spaces will have to now remain clean at all times, because they're no longer shielded from view. There's a huge dark corner in my room now. My wardrobe blocks out part of the window. The panoramic view from my desk is now completely different and on the wrong side of my body, I keep looking into the bathroom thinking I'll see outdoors. But you know what bothers me most? The two new icons on my desktop. Everything else I'll adjust to without a peep. But those two icons are not going to make it through the night. One or two of the existing icons will have to go bye-bye, so that I can have two neat rows of icons just like before. What is that about? For real! You're the Counselor. Please tell me why I'm crazy. I'm sorry to call me crazy, but it's very...unique. It's also a metaphor for ret of my life. It's the insignificant changes that wreak the most havoc. I think it's the Serenity prayer. I don't sweat the changes I can't do anything about, but the things I can control I want to stay exactly the same until I'm ready for them to change. That makes a certain amount of sense. Thank you. I feel better. Those icons are still toast, but they won't have died senselessly :)

Good night,

Oh, by the way, I need a lot of help with getting ready for Saturday, so please let work go really smoothly and quickly. Help me to get all of my laundry and packing done and help me to pack wisely. I love you and thank you, again.

In Jesus' name,

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Prayer Dare: Day #25

I wonder what my life would have been like had I made different decisions along the way. Not better or worse, just different. I know it's a pointless exercise, and like Pastor Brown used to say, "there's no reason to waste a whole lot of time cleaning up the past, because you don't intend to live there." But, every once in a while I just wonder. You would be different. Not that you're not constant and unchanging, but I would be different, so my experience of you would be different. Like, what if I had actually gone to Northwestern or Drexel? I would have graduated med school already, and would be an intern or a resident, I'm not sure which. Okay, so maybe, you're right, I still wouldn't have gone to med school. But I also wouldn't have come to DC, either. So, I would have come to DC, but I would have come for a different purpose and in a different mindset. I don't get your "plan". I know I don't have to get it, but it would still be nice. It is one of your more intriguing mysteries. How you can devise a plan that spans billions of years that accounts for random decisions made by billions of people, who may or may not be aware of you and/or your plan. And not only does your plan start and end exactly where you want it to, it also hits an infinite number of preordained points in between. I swear, if I had your mind for even a moment, my head would spontaneously combust. Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know what I said. I do have your mind. You know what I meant.

Good night, Smart Guy,
Love you.

Prayer Dare: Day #24

Our Father, which art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy Kingdom come. Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory.


Monday, May 08, 2006

Prayer Dare: Day #23

I don't really know what to feel right now. All I feel is peace. Please don't think I'm not grateful for peace. You know me and peace are like siamese blood brothers. I love peace. But I feel like I should feel something. With Alpha over, I feel like I should feel something: relief, excitement, disappointment, nostalgia, anticipation, pride, fear, exhaustion, something. But, it's just peace. I guess I have plenty of time to feel any or all of those things, but I just feel like I should feel it now. While it's fresh. Thank you for peace. I can't exactly complain about peace. Okay, so clearly I can compain about peace, but you know what I mean.

I just want to praise you forever and ever and ever, for all you've done for me. Blessings, and honor, and glory, they all belong to you. Thank you, Jesus for blessing me.

Thank you for peace. In Jesus' name,

Prayer Dare: Day #22

What's going on?

I don't know where to begin tonight. Can I just sit here for a while? I... What are you up to? Nevermind, don't tell me. I like surprises. Not that you were really going to tell me anyway. Anyway, Rob says that with her, I am "buying up". He doesn't know the half of it. I thank you for all of the things in my life that I don't deserve, which is pretty much everything. And thank you for all of the things that my sins bought, but I never had to pay for. You are truly amazing. Thank you for the message today. That was all up in my business. And thank you for closing it with my song. Help me to accomplish everything tomorrow that I need to. It's a lot, but you're a lot. I... I pray that tomorrow night will be the closing that this semester deserves. Come up in there and wreck shop, in Jesus' name. Send your Spirit, and don't let us go until we bless you. Give me the rest that I so desperately need. I pray that Clarence made it to his daughter and home safely.

Let your praises ring. Reign forever, King Jesus,

Amen and amen.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Prayer Dare: Day #21

Lord God,
I thank you that I get a second chance to make a first impression. There are so many things in my life that I did absolutely wrong the first time. I did family wrong. I did friendship wrong. I did dating wrong. I did Christianity wrong. But when I came to you with my head hung down and my tail between my legs, begging for you to make it alright, you forgave me. And even when I came to you with my chin in the air and my chest puffed out, insisting that everyone but me was wrong, you laughed at me, then forgave me anyway. And you didn't just forgive me, you washed me up and sent me back to the front lines, as if I had never made a mistake. I did family wrong, but you've given me a second chance to love them better and a will to take it. I did friendship wrong, but you've given me great new friends. I did dating wrong, but you've sent an amazing woman into my life. I did you wrong, but every morning you wake me up, I open my eyes to see you beaming at me with such amazing pride. You look at me like I am a newborn baby, like you can't see the scars and the scabs from the days and years before. And you trust me. I would probably get turned down for a pre-approved credit card at this point, but you put lives in my hands. What are you thinking? And though you know I'll make mistakes, I'm a new man, so I'll make new mistakes. I thank you for the change. I thank you that as I walk into these new relationships and these new opportunities, the difference in me is you. I'm not just working to protect myself and meet my own needs and figure things out on my own. You're there inside of me showing me how to live and how to love. You're protecting me. You're providing for me. You're cheering me on every step of the way (or every crawl of the way, as the case may be). Help me to forget all of the wrong I've done, but remember all of the right that you did with it. Help me to remember all of the times you erased my mistakes, placed me back in the same situation and said "Here, there's something new I want you to try." I thank you for using your omnipotence to will your omniscience to not know.

I love you.

In Jesus' name,

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Prayer Dare: Day #20

Happy Cinco de Mayo, if you're into that sort of thing. I'm really not sure if you celebrate non-Christian holidays. Today was a lot of hard work on a little bit of sleep and a little bit of food, so I'm dead tired. I can just barely think straight, let alone type straight. And, no, it's not the tequila. I'm just really, really tired. Help me to rest. Please let me sleep beyond 6:30. Let me get at least a full 8 hours of quality sleep. Okay, I'm really falling asleep. But God, I thank you for demystifying my life and helping me to think simply, even when it seems like complicated and deep is the way to go. You know me as well as I could possibly be known, you made me for...well, your sake. You know every move, every thought. But you still ask questions, you still observe me, as if you don't know how I'll answer your questions or what I'll do. Thank you for taking the time.


Thursday, May 04, 2006

Prayer Dare: Day #19

Thank you, God, for being in the buy-back business. There were so many...there are so many things in my life that have strengthened my faith, that have strengthened my relationship with you that could and should have sent me running and hiding from you. The wounds that jacked up nearly every relationship in my life, that kept me delusionally hiding from everyone (including you) to protect a me that never existed, that landed me in Living Waters were meant to kill me. But they have led to more freedom than I could imagine. They have brought me back to life: new life, abundant life. I should be hiding in the bushes searching for fig leaves to sew together, but instead I'm naked and unashamed. You've come strolling through my heart in the cool of the evening and found me broken and wounded, but at our regular meeting place. And you walk with me and you talk with me and you tell me I am your own. You never cease to shock and awe me with your barrage of redemptive miracles. I know that if you could have your perfect will and your perfect way, my life would be perfect from start to finish. But somehow, in your infinite wisdom and power, you can allow me to make mistakes and allow others to make mistakes, toss in some bad luck for good measure, shake well and still pour out a life that is right in line with your plan. I don't know how you do it, but I'm overwhelmed that you do.

I smiling to tears and I never want to stop,

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Prayer Dare: Day #18

So, I got to work on time, as you know. And as you also know, that's pretty much where things ended. I accomplished a lot today, but it wasn't what I planned. I wrote the Day Away report. I did most of the stats for the DiNAS report.
It would only take a few hours to write, I just can't sit still and do it. Part of the problem is that I'm tired. Having a life will be the death of me. I love everything I do, but I need to rest. I need to take a week off and do nothing. Just come home and watch movies [which reminds me, don't let me forget to sign up for the free Netflix trial]. But, there isn't an end in sight to the work. I didn't go out tonight and I still got home at 8. I know that I should listen to you, and I know that your will allows me to do everything [well, most things - Cambio Corsa:)] I want to and still take care of myself. I know you call it the "narrow way," but there's so much room, there's so much freedom. How do I forget that? Why can't I just do it your way the first time? It all comes down to what Lisa was saying about grace, but you know that grace is something that I have for other people. You're the only person I know who can balance the whole control and grace thing. I suck at it. Not that I'm supposed to be trying to balance them. I'm not, technically, supposed to be clinging to control for dear life. But, hey, that's why you have the grace :) Anyway, help me to be gracious to myself. I'm not under any delusions of grandeur or perfection, but I still manage to shock myself every so often when I make mistakes. Like I'm not allowed to or something. You are the perfect model of love. You never call the wrong I do right, but you never call me wrong. Help me to love me the way you love me. Heck, if I could just love me the way I love others, I'd be doing pretty well. Anyway, I...Let me...Help me to see your face in mine. All of it. The adoring smile, the fatherly scowl, the royal diadem, the crown of thorns. All of it. Let me understand what each one means to me, and what it says about me. Help me to believe it. You love me unconditionally, and I love you back.

Goodnight and sweet dreams.

Prayer Dare: Day #17

Hear my cry, O Lord, attend unto my prayer. From the ends of the earth will I cry unto thee. When my heart is overwhelmed, lead me to the rock that is higher than I, that is higher than I.
For thou has been a shelter for me and a strong tower from all mine enemies. When my heart is overwhelmed, lead me to the rock that is higher than I, that is higher than I.

Lord, I'm praying as a pre-emptive strike against the flood waters of fatigue and insecurity (okay, that song just came out). Insecurity is just part of the song, but the fatigue part fits. I know that over the next week and a half I'll be facing tough deadlines and a laundry list of tasks, followed by intense and emotionally challenging training. But, I also know you. And as the song says, sometimes you calm the storm and sometimes you calm your child. I don't care who you calm, just please calm somebody. I'm good right now, but I want to stay this way.

Don't let me procrastinate. Your joy is my strength, so I don't need the pressure of the deadline and the adrenaline rush of the stress to fuel my progress. I can choose a different way and here and now, I do. Granted, I've already waited quite a while, but it's not too late to change and make a different decision. So, I do. I change. Tomorrow is going to be another productive day. I'm going to arrive on time. I'm going to draw up my task list and schedule. I'm going to finish my report and well. I'm going to prepare for the staff meeting. I'm going to leave on time, having completed a productive day. I'm going to be a good steward over the gift that you've given me in this job and I'm going to stop taking it for granted, because I know what I went through to get it. I know the hoops that you created and then jumped through, just to prove to me that you could do whatever you wanted to. Let me never, drunk on the wine of milk and honey, forget the wilderness. Here I raise my Ebenezer.

Thank you, Jesus,

Monday, May 01, 2006

Prayer Dare: Day #16

So, what's up?

How are things going up there? How was your day?

If you had to describe your job, what would you say? What about your personality? And you can't use the words "loving" or "holy".

If you had to choose a favorite contemporary worship song, which would it be? What about your favorite of all time? Who is your favorite secular artist?

What is your favorite place to peoplewatch in the continental U.S.? What about the best place to spend time alone?

What is your favorite memory in all of history? History as I know it, you can give a moment in future history, too. What is your favorite memory of my life? What was the first word that you said to me after I was born?

I'm out of questions. Good talking to you,

Prayer Dare: Day #15

Dear God,

I pray for waking, working rest. I pray Lord, that you will rejuvenate and replenish every drop of energy even as it is spent. You are the God of time, so let the hours of the night pass quickly, but give each hour the productivity of two. I pray that you will weave every letter, word, sentence and paragraph together with your own hand. Let every reader be struck by the wisdom and insight. Let every goal and purpose be accomplished. Let every expectation be exceeded in a way too miraculous to be comprehended and explained. Do all that you can and I trust and know that will be more than more than enough. Every work of our hands ought to praise you, so be praised and thanked and adored.

In Jesus' name,