Tag Archives: prayer

When My Heart Is Overwhelmed — Post by Mary C.Findley

smaller el capitan

Two people today posted the same statement on Facebook. They said they felt overwhelmed and didn’t know how to handle responsibilities. My immediate impulse was to quote the verse that says, “From the end of the earth will I cry unto thee, when my heart is overwhelmed: lead me to the rock that is higher than I.” (Psalm 61:2) Lately I’ve been hearing people share about the need from more income, the need to hurry and get things accomplished, the frustration about not being able to do the good work God has called us to fast enough for various reasons.

My husband reminded me yesterday about the time spent in prayer by great men of the faith — Jesus Christ Himself spent all night in prayer. David wrote songs of prayer by the scores. Martin Luther, Jonathan Edwards, and many others spoke about how, the busier the day was going to be, the more hours, in proportion, they needed to spend in prayer. These are people who didn’t have the internet to do research, a computer to type with, or even, in many cases, running water or electricity. But they accomplished more than we do.

So I have to go back to the story of Martha and Mary. Martha was doing a good work, showing hospitality. Mary was sitting around being lazy. Wait. No. She was sitting listening to the teaching of Christ. She chose the good part. Jesus said it wouldn’t be taken from her. So, if we get so busy we say we don’t have enough time to do what needs to be done, who took that time away from us? We did it to ourselves, when we took away our time in prayer and sitting at Christ’s feet.

But we need to take action too, to use what God gives us to do His work. The morning message at our church was about the three servants who were given talents. They got five, three, and one, based on their abilities. Five talent guy wasn’t jealous of the other two because they had less work or less responsibility. And Three wasn’t treated any differently than five when they came to report to the master and receive their rewards. They were each rewarded according to their abilities and what they’d done with them.

What happened to One Talent Guy? He wasn’t overwhelmed. The master knew what his abilities were, so he didn’t give him something too hard. One Talent Guy just decided to blame his failure on his boss. He insulted the man who had entrusted him with responsibility. He said he “knew” his master, but could only claim he was scary and greedy. The one talent, with which he did nothing, was taken away, and Five Talent guy got it. One Talent Guy got tossed out into outer darkness. Pretty stiff punishment for just not doing anything, huh?

People talk about sins of commission and sins of omission. One of our big sins of omission was what I talked about at the beginning, not praying enough or spending enough time in God’s presence. Apparently another big one is not doing anything with what God gives you. God knew One Talent guy. God gave him a job. He didn’t hang over him and hound him to make sure it got done.

But One Talent Guy screwed up, and he tried to blame his master. What that means is that he didn’t know the master. So he is like the people pretend they are believers, but who don’t spend the time getting to know God in prayer and study of His Word. Be careful that you know your Master. If you don’t, you might end up like One Talent Guy.

Photo of El Capitan from National Parks Services.

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What Will You Do to Save Your Sister? A Review of Alana & Alyssa’s Secret by Joana James

This is the second book I have read by Joana James. While it’s less perfect technically than Nightmare at Emerald High, it’s still a very moving, powerful story about the power of God and the prayers of the faithful.

Could anybody have more to overcome than Alana and Alyssa? You won’t know unless you read it for yourself. But what a powerful lesson Alyssa learns about what we can and can’t do to protect those we love. Sometimes even a second chance isn’t enough.

Only the greatest tragedy can sometimes shake us out of our reliance on what we have the power to do in our own strength. Realizing that we need help, accepting that help, and getting it from the Source of all true help, makes all the difference in what happens to these two sisters.

Eric is almost too good to be true, but he’s not an angel sent to escort Alyssa safely home. He’s a real person, and the only thing he wants is the truth. If Alyssa’s ready to face the truth herself, Eric will hang on for the emotional ups and downs of Alyssa’s life. It’s up to her.

I appreciated the author’s afterword explaining the terrible tragedy described in this book. It was jarring to me, but sometimes life will jar us out of our self-sufficiency. It’s something we have to accept, and this book is fundamentally about accepting help. Help from others, and help from God. In the end, Alyssa kept trying to help her sister Alana, never realizing how much she needed help herself, and what a terrible price she would have to pay before she was ready to accept that help.

http://www.amazon.com/Alana-Alyssas-Secret-Ashes-ebook/dp/B005JJDVG2

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Why Him? Why Now? A Review of Messages by John Michael Hileman

Messages is described as a “fictional allegory,” similar to a parable. A parable uses physical elements to teach a spiritual lesson. David Chance develops a sudden “talent.” Words stand out in posters, newspapers, even movie titles, and give him “messages.” Some might object to these extrabiblical revelations. The story has plenty of Scripture and biblical teaching and the “messages” don’t teach doctrine. They really just push the adventure and mystery along.

Just one example, the $400 incident, is a brilliant detail. Don’t forget the $400. The full “Why Him? Why now?” mystery isn’t explained until almost the end of the book. He is an ordinary man but providentially placed for the “Why Now?” of terrorists, hidden bombs and presidential assassination. Revealing these story elements isn’t giving away the real surprises in the story. There are many, and they really keep the reader adrenalin-buzzed and zig-zagging right along with poor David.

“Why him?” It’s a case of “be careful what you wish for.” Or what you beg for, and pray for. When the response to his plea to understand God comes David learns how far from ready he is. Fortunately godly counsel is only a phone call away, even in the most extreme circumstances. The fact that part of David’s extraordinary quest involves keeping his godly counselor alive is another brilliant detail.

This story examines a favorite theme of mine, how a person can believe he’s “good enough,” or other people are, until reality jars that nonsense out of his head. Who can you trust? Who are the good guys and the bad guys? In the end, David realizes that goodness, and trustworthiness, and faith, are not things for which man alone has the answers.

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The Prayer Networks

“Pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.” (James 5:16)

When we first joined Facebook, it was simply to keep in touch with our children in their far-flung adventures (and ours). Eventually we began to make friends there, usually people we knew in “real” life and in some cases hadn’t seen in many years. It was nice to reconnect. Gradually we made other friends, what I call “digital-only” friends. We haven’t actually met them or had any live communication. We are Facebook (or Goodreads, or blog post, or Twitter) friends only.

I had one Facebook friend who for awhile felt a little like a stalker. It was really just that she knew very little about something we were both interested in, writing and publishing, and I knew more, so she asked a lot of questions. In no way did I feel threatened by her, or worried that she would try to kill me if I didn’t get right back to her when she messaged me.

Yesterday I read an article about a couple murdered in their home. When they arrested two suspects, the Sheriff said that these people were killed because they had “unfriended” the daughter of one of the suspects. The other suspect had an “attraction” for the daughter of the man he assisted in committing murder.

The Sheriff said this was not the first time this woman “could not handle it” when she thought she was being ignored or slighted. She had been accused of stalking and harassing another woman who failed to pay attention to her on social networking. Her father said she “lived” on Facebook. It was all she did.

A previous complaint against the woman, who apparently got her father and a wannabe boyfriend to commit murder for the sake of her bruised ego, was made by a woman she stalked online and by phone. The complaint said that the woman being stalked didn’t even know the stalker personally.

Instead of lashing out in anger or stalking people in my social network when I don’t hear from them, or hear from them a little more often than is comfortable, I pray for them. I pray for those who need jobs, those enduring separation from family because of military service, those struggling to get a book published, those with ongoing medical problems, those struggling with disobedient children or unsaved spouses. We have friends who are missionaries, short term or long-term, around the world. We have others having marital problems. We have met people in countries where it’s difficult to get books, to figure out where to buy them from, even online. I even pray for people who don’t believe prayer does any good.

One of those friends recently seemed to be having a very bad time with family and health problems. She cried out on several sites we both belong to, and the answer was almost universally, from whatever site, whoever responded, “We are praying for you. God comfort and help you. Please know that we care.” Nobody was angry with her for pouring her heart out in near-despair. Everyone has problems, but everyone who knows Christ knows that even though we call it a Social Network, we can make it a Prayer Network, anytime, anywhere.

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What Did You Do Wrong?

You sacrificed to homeschool your children or put them in a Christian school. Yet they still turned their back on you and God. Today they are nothing more than another statistic, no different from any other sinner without Christ. There are almost unlimited people, Christian workers, articles and general advice to tell you what you did wrong.

According to the Word of God, we must carefully examine and confess every known sin. “Purposes are established by counsel.” Proverbs 28:18 The Word of God commands us to seek out Godly counsel to know if we are doing what is right. We will never be perfect but are we “training up a child in the way he should go”? If, after diligently searching the Scriptures, seeking Godly counsel and praying for the direction of God’s Holy Spirit, we find nothing wrong, then there is one other possibility which is rarely, if ever, mentioned. The child is responsible for his own choices.

“The fathers shall not be put to death for the sins of the sons, neither shall the sons be put to death for the fathers. Every man shall be put to death for his own sin.” Deuteronomy 24:16 Our Secular Humanist culture despises the concepts of sin and personal responsibility. So God gives us an extended example at the end of Judges, chapters 19-21. I have heard and read thousand upon thousands of sermons and only one man has preached on this passage. A very brief overview: A Levite had a wife who left him. He went back to her father’s house, retrieved her and stopped for the night in a town of Benjamin. An old man invited them to stay the night with him. The men of the town surrounded the house. The old man gave the Levite’s wife to these men and they raped her all night. When the Levite awoke in the morning, she was dead. The Levite cut her in twelve pieces and sent the pieces “to all the borders of Israel.” All Israel gathered together and asked for these men to put them to death. The tribe of Benjamin refused to hand them over and the rest of the tribes attacked Benjamin. At first Benjamin killed thousands of his brothers, but Benjamin was eventually destroyed so that only 600 men were left.

The important point is in Judges 28:22 “and Phinehas the son of Eleazer, the son of Aaron stood before (the ark of the covenant of God) in those days.” Phinehas killed a leader of Israel with a Midianite woman during sexual intercourse while Moses was still alive before they crossed the Jordan River.

Joshua was at least 80 years old when they crossed the Jordan River. The campaigns took somewhere between ten and twenty years. Then Joshua retired to his possession. Eleazar was the high priest of the older men under Joshua, and Phinehas the high priest of the younger men under Joshua. Phinehas became high priest when Eleazar’s generation was gathered to his people.

“And the people served the LORD all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders that outlived Joshua, who had seen all the great works of the LORD, that he did for Israel.” Judges 2:7

“And also all that generation were gathered unto their fathers: and there arose another generation after them, which knew not the LORD, nor yet the works which he had done for Israel.” Judges 2:10

Though the historical account is placed at the end of the book of Judges, these Benjamites were “another generation after them, which know not the LORD.” These wicked atrocities occurred just a few decades after the death of Joshua.

Yet nowhere in the Word of God is any fault laid at the feet of Joshua. There is no direct blame placed on Eleazar’s entire generation for the actions of these men. The Benjamites were completely responsible for their own actions.

As parents, we can do everything right, yet have children who openly rebel against the Word of the LORD. The prophet Samuel’s children corrupted the Word of the LORD and took bribes. Noah was righteous in the eyes of the LORD, yet every wicked sinner on earth today is a child of Noah. Though we need to constantly examine our hearts for sin, there is no reason to blame ourselves for every sin our children choose, to the point where we destroy our own ministries with undeserved guilt.

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