Archive for the ‘Prayer’ Category

How to keep going when you can’t feel God

March 8, 2011

The disciples were in a boat.  They had been rowing for hours.

Then somebody shows up – out for a Sunday afternoon stroll (at 3am) – on a sea of raging water.  Freaky!

They were so scared.

When we are exhausted, God does show up – sometimes His presence doesn’t look right.  Sometimes it scares us.  Always it challenges us and shows us what can be.

Peter, an obvious early adapter, grasped the concept of walking on the water quickly.  “Hey Jesus, if that is you, ask me to join you!” For all his bravado, Peter realized the most important point – if you are going to get out of the boat, don’t go because you think it would be cool.  Don’t go because you hope God will call you.  Don’t get out of the boat until you have heard God’s voice.  On the flip side, when you hear God’s voice, JUMP.  Don’t think, don’t speculate, ACT.

Peter got out of the boat.  He was walking on the water.  He was following Jesus in the wild, wild world.

Now, some have a code, “you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours.” This sometimes sneaks into our theology.  It sounds something like this: “If I follow God, He will make sure I am comfortable.”  Surely Peter had the right for some expectation.  After all, Jesus had called him.  He hadn’t jumped out of the boat, he waited until he heard God’s voice, and then, as soon as he heard, he followed.

Yet, a few steps into his stroll, wave swells grew.   Pretty soon, he could no longer even see Jesus walking on the other side of the waves. (My supposition.)  Sometimes, when you follow God, as soon as you say ‘yes’, the terrain seems to morph.  Nothing looks the same.  Where is God?

Peter, full of faith, was distracted by the waves.   When you walk on a balance beam, it is important to focus.  If you loose focus, even for a millisecond, a flip can become very dangerous.  Walking in faith is equally demanding.  When you choose to follow Jesus, you have to discipline your mind, focus your thinking, feed your faith.  You have to keep your mind’s eye focused on where God called you to.  Otherwise, like Peter, you will find yourself sinking below rush of life.

If you are human, you will occasionally reach that point of overwhelm.  Peter had Jesus, in the flesh, out there on the sea with him.  Those waves seemed so high that he lost his concentration.  Then, he did what you and I need to do – he asked for help.

Jesus, help me!

When you can’t feel God, you cry out.   A good friend of mine calls this “carpet eating prayer.”

Faith is that point of concentration and focus.  You keep your mind focused on God, and continue to walk where He told you, even when the waves are so large you can’t see two feet ahead.  If you lose that point of concentration, you do whatever it takes to get it back.  You dig deep into spiritual disciplines, and wait.  God will show up.

Saints throughout the years have taught us spiritual disciplines. The whole point is to help us walk straight – not by our power, but by the power of the Holy Spirit. Are you feeling swept away? Let me know – leave a comment or email me – I’d love to be in prayer with you.

Solitude and Silence – Why?

May 20, 2010

Wheat in the quiet of Central OR

Up until my senior year of high school, I lived on a farm in Central Oregon.  With rare exceptions, my friends were a long-distance phone call away, so during the summer and school holidays, solitude (with the exception of my immediate family) was my constant companion.

What can one learn from solitude?  From silence?

When you are alone, you learn to hear your own voice.  It is my opinion that the ability to hear one’s own voice helps us discern God’s voice when He speaks.

Solitude shows us our fallibility.  If my kids are any indication, people have a natural propensity to argue – or maybe it’s just our gene line.  In solitude, you have no one to argue with but yourself.  Have you ever listened to yourself think?  Have you ever contemplated whether you are really right, or if there might be another approach?

Solitude and the resounding silence leave room for wonder and imagination.  God is much bigger than you or I.  His perspective is completely foreign to us.  In silence, we are able to reach beyond the noise in our own head and imagine.  We expand our thinking and make room for God’s perspective.  We hear His voice and consider His ways.

Silence teaches us the power of words.  I know that I have a natural tendency to yammer.  My friends tell me this isn’t the case – but they don’t hear the conversation in my head – they just hear the edited version that exits my mouth.  This self editing is a skill that is learned through silence.  Words have power.  We can let them flow, fully diluted, or we can use them selectively and have maximum impact.

Solitude is where we are transformed.  Jesus spent time alone with God.  When we spend time alone with God, we are changed.  More time alone with Him means we give Him more time to transform us into the people we were created to be.

When you are constantly in community, talking, you are producing.  Eventually, you have produced everything you have that is original.  In order to recharge, you have to step aside to a place of solitude and silence, where the breeze blows fresh perspectives and offers new insights.

Here are some intriguing quotes:

The mark of solitude is silence, as speech is the mark of community. Silence and speech have the same inner correspondence and difference as do solitude and community. One does not exist without the other. Right speech comes out of silence, and right silence comes out of speech. – Deitrich Bonhoeffer

Be able to be alone. Lose not the advantage of solitude, and the society of thyself. – Sir Thomas Browne

Solitude shows us what should be; society shows us what we are. – Robert Cecil

Talking to Myself and Finding a New Perspective

November 21, 2009

What do you do in times of trouble?  When the world seems to have spun off its access, and you aren’t sure what comes next?  In times of conflict or stress, we all have one of two tendencies:  fight or flight.

Those who flee will tend to run away – sometimes physically, but most often emotionally.  We will do everything that we can to get rid of the feelings of stress – eat, escape into a book or TV, ignoring the problem…the list is long.

Those who fight on the other hand, seem to do well with adrenaline – they might use their words, lose their temper, move great mountains to get things done.  One of the less obvious ways of fighting is to be a ‘figurer outer’.  We will tend to analyze the problem from morning to night, anticipating every possible solution, hoping we can make it go away!

The really creative people are those who manage to combine the two stress responses.  When they face a stress that is just too great, they might stir up trouble in another area of their life in order to be able to channel the adrenaline into something they feel they can conquer.  Or they might start a new project, giving themselves a productive outlet for all that pent up energy.  (I can really do a lot of cleaning when I’m avoiding something!)

Fight and flight are built into our makeup, and have their purpose.  But when we are driven by feelings, and don’t respond out of love, neither of these is healthy for us, or our relationships.  When we are in stress, we have to find a firm rock to stand on in the midst of it.  That rock is Jesus.

How do you handle stress?  How do you really turn things over to Jesus?

Not very long ago, I got to that point where I needed to again assess – am I just complaining, or am I really expecting God to work?

I have discovered over the years that sometimes I get to the point where I pray for other people, but fail to pray for myself.  I need to sit myself down and determined to talk to God about things every day – not just about other people’s things, but about my stuff.

After a year of job rejections, statistics tell us that as many as 8% of the population have just given up.  There is always more than one way to look at a situation.  I believe this time in history is a chance for us to restore our foundations and get ready for our next time of building.  Every time of rebuilding has to be preceded by a time of demolition, cleanup and restoration of the foundational structures.  Sometimes you wonder if you are going to get squished under the rubble.  This is a time to find encouragement and a new perspective.

David learned to encourage himself towards God in times like this:

Psalms 42:11

Why are you downcast, O my soul?
Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
for I will yet praise him,
my Savior and my God.

Psalms 27:13-14

I am still confident of this:
I will see the goodness of the LORD
in the land of the living.

Wait for the LORD;
be strong and take heart
and wait for the LORD.

Living in the Spirit – Chpt. 2

July 27, 2009

The Baptism and Fullness of the Spirit

Favorite Quotes:

“Worship and work – these are the purposes of the Spirit.”

“The totality of what God wants…to do in the Church and in the world cannot be done unless we are filled with the Spirit.

Overview:

This chapter is clears up questions regarding the difference between receiving the Holy Spirit at conversion vs. the Baptism of the Holy Spirit.

There are, traditionally, three primary views within the church to describe the baptism of the Holy Spirit.  (They aren’t all right.)

  1. When we give our life to the Lord, we are automatically baptized in the Spirit. (Thus if you haven’t received the baptism in the Spirit, you aren’t saved)
  2. The highest goal of the Christian life is to be baptized in the Holy Spirit, and once the goal is reached, it need not be sought after again.
  3. “Spirit baptism is a distinct part of our entrance into the full Christian life, along with salvation and water baptism.  These can each occur at different times, but I believe it is God’s purpose to make this a cluster of initiation events into the Christian life.”

There are two results of our baptism in the Spirit:  deeper worship of God through prayer language, and power in Christian witness.

There are five terms used of the Baptism:

  1. Baptism in the Spirit

When we receive Christ, we receive the Spirit – all receive the Spirit of God in conversion.  There are three separate events of note:

 

  • The Holy Spirit baptizes, or immerses the person (now new believer) into the body of Christ.
  • Christ baptizes the believer into the Holy Spirit.
  • The minister baptizes the believer in water.

2.  The promise of the Father

In Luke 24:49 Jesus said he would send “what my Father has promised”, referring to the coming events of Acts 2. “In scripture, the word utter means “to speak out loudly and clearly.”  There is an emphasis upon enthusiasm… When the Old Testament used the verb utter, it referred to prophetic speech.”

So, the promise of the Father is something seen and heard that gave the disciples power to utter boldly.  “The promise of the Father comes upon us so that we might have the power of utterance that magnificently declares God’s glory and greatness.”

3.  The gift of the Spirit
4.  Receive the Spirit “The word receive is used precisely in Acts to describe the baptism in the Spirit.  But in John 20, it is used precisely to describe conversion.”
5.  Filled with the Spirit. “We should never take a view of the Holy Spirit that once we are baptized in the Spirit we have all that He offers.  While there is one baptism, there are many fillings of the Spirit.

Initial Evidence

Response to experiential theology criticism:  “We understand that Spirit baptism comes in two ways.  First, we set forth the pattern of Scripture as found in Acts 2, 8, 9, 10 and 19.  Second, history is full of cases of the Spirit falling on people without their prior expectations. Just as Peter did in Acts 2, they then went to Scripture to find an explanation.

Kim’s note:  I’ve been listening for some time to those who wonder if tongues are the initial evidence because people, D.L. Moody for one, have an experience where they encounter the Holy Spirit and are changed.  It would appear that this would be exactly what we are being accused of – experiential theology – having an experience and building a theology around it.  I don’t know exactly what they experienced, and I don’t doubt that they encountered God in a way different than they had before, but scripture is pretty clear that the baptism of the Holy Spirit, as noted in Acts 2, 8, 9, 10 & 19 is always accompanied by the outward evidence of tongues.

There are three words to describe the Spirit’s activity:  Outpoured, Immersed (in the Spirit) and Filled.  Interestingly, all are words also associated with water.

Living in the Spirit – Chapter 1

July 22, 2009

I am reading through George Wood’s new book and thought I’d blog it for you.  About once a year, I like to read a book on the Holy Spirit, and so far, I’m liking this one.

Chapter 1 – Person of the Spirit.

Quotes of Note:

The HS brings creation out of chaos.  “I would suggest to you that this also describes the work of the Spirit in your life and mine.  Our life without God is chaos.  The Spirit of God wants to create in us the personality of Jesus and to breathe into the formlessness and the void of our life the life of Jesus.” (page 36-37)

“If you read the Book of Acts carefully, you discover that time and again in the life of Jesus’ disciples, at critical junctures in their lives the text says, “They were filled with the Spirit.”  That filling of the Spirit is a post-Pentecost filling.  It is not the filling of Acts 2; it is a filling subsequent to that.  The Spirit continued to fill the disciples at moments when they faced challenges they had never faced before, when a new level of power was called for in their personality that they had never needed before.  With each new challenge comes a new demand for a fresh filling of the Spirit.” (Page 45)

The Holy Spirit is a person

  1. The HS is described with personal pronouns
  2. He has a name
  3. He has Intellect (1 Cor. 2:11), Feelings (Eph. 4:30), Will (1 Cor 12:11) and Actions.
  4. His Actions are:
    1. He speaks
    2. Testifies
    3. Teaches
    4. Convicts
    5. He intercedes for us
    6. He guides us into truth
    7. He reveals God’s Word to us
    8. He can be tested
    9. He can be lied to
    10. He can be grieved
    11. He can be resisted
    12. He can be insulted
    13. He can be blasphemed (and if you are worried that you’ve blasphemed, then you’ve proven that you haven’t)

The Holy Spirit is Divine, and bears the attributes of God:

  • He is Eternal (Heb. 9:14)
  • He is All-Knowing (John 14:26; 16:12, 13)
  • He is all-powerful.
  • He is present everywhere (Psalm 139:7-10)
  • He does the works of God
    • He is involved in creation
    • He is involved in regeneration  (Ps. 104:30)
    • He is active in giving us the Scripture. “All scripture is God-breathed”
    • He is involved in the resurrection from the dead (Rom. 8:11)

Symbols of the HS:

  • Wind
  • Water
  • Seal (like sealing a document, not the grey Sea World kind)
  • Oil
  • Dove

Four things are noted in the Book of Acts about the Spirit in our experience:

  1. He creates unity.
  2. He taps the potential in our life that no one or nothing else can reach
  3. He is always leading us in two dimensions simultaneously.  He’s always leading us deeper into God and He’s always leading us out into the world.
  4. The HS is a Person, and therefore, we can resist Him, ignore Him or welcome Him.

Prayer for a Crisis

June 10, 2009

There are going to be times in your life when your stability is in question – whether it is a job change, health issues, your emotional upheaval or other people’s emotional upheaval – life will be unstable at times. The bible doesn’t say that when we join God’s team we won’t have problems. It says that God will walk with us through the problems.

As we look at Jehoshaphat’s prayer, we will see the components of how to approach God – how to put our faith in God, not just as an entity in the sky, but as the One who walks with us and in whom we can rely.

Jehoshaphat was in a pickle.  A great big army was coming against him.  He was trapped.  Ever felt that way?

As we look at his prayer, you will find a way to deal with your situation.

Read 2 Chron. 20:6-13

Who He is – First, Jehoshaphat described God.
• List the attributes of God
• David often listed God’s attributes to himself. He often reminded himself of Who God was – (see Ps. 121)

What He has done – Next, he described what God has done in the past.
• Part of knowing Who God is, and making it personal is to remind ourselves of what He has done for us in the past.
• See Ps. 21 – vs. 1-7 are declarative of what God has done – vs. 8 and forward talk about what God will do.
• We believe what we see, and when we remind ourselves of what God has done in the past, we are able to “see” His provision.

Affirm trust in Him – Jehoshaphat then tells God that He’s all they’ve got.  They are sticking with God no matter what.
• Make a decision. You can decide to ‘hope’ in the Lord, or you can decide to PUT your hope in the Lord.   If you can hope in a swing without ever sitting on it.  You PUT your hope in the swing when you sit in it.  When it doesn’t break, your hope has been proven well placed.
• When you are backed against a rock, you can keep squirming, or you can choose to lean on the rock.

Ask – Next, Jehoshaphat describes the problem to God and asks for Him to act.
• After you have told God (and yourself) Who He is, What He has done, and chosen to believe that He will be your deliverer, then you lay out specifically what you want Him to do. (2 Chron. 20:10 and forward)
• Another example is Jesus – Mark 14:35-36
o He asked God for what he wanted, but He still affirmed Who God is, and knowing in His heart that God wanted Him to press forward, He bowed His will to God.

Wait – the people then stood and waited – and God spoke.
2 Chron. 20:13
Ps. 27:14 – David told himself to wait on the Lord.
•Looking again at Jesus’ prayer,  I believe that in laying out His request to God and reaffirming that He was willing to do whatever God wanted even if it wasn’t His own will, Jesus gained the strength from the father to press forward.

Praise – God told them to go out singing.  By the time they got where they were going, the battle was already won.

•How do you spend your energy?  Do you spend it worrying about everything that could go wrong, or do you choose to put your hope in God and march forward in praise?

Difficult times are going to happen – they will make you or break you. The sooner you let stuff go and take your concerns to God, the sooner you can get off the treadmill and just deal with what is in front of you today. Life gets crazy sometimes – but when we accept Jesus into our hearts, eternal life starts now – abundant life, life to the full – and that includes joy in the moment, expectation for the future, and anticipation of God’s great and mighty works along the way.

Let’s anticipate God’s voice and His breakthroughs.

Talking to God

March 6, 2009

This morning, while reading a book to some 2 year olds,  I asked them what they should do if they are afraid.  Another worker helpfully suggested that they should pray.  I said they should say “help me Jesus.”  Is there a difference?  Not really – yet there is.

The blind men on the side of the road didn’t ‘pray’ to Jesus.  They shouted “Help us!”

Once, when I was a teen, I was at a friend’s house.  This was the house where we had Sunday night church, and this was Sunday afternoon.  Peg  was a godly, amazing woman.  She spent all of afternoon making loaves of bread for the group that was coming to her home.  By the end of the afternoon, her oven was stuffed with loaves, and she needed to make a meatloaf for her family.  I watched her put that meatloaf on the BOTTOM of the oven and tell God “Lord, this meatloaf needs to be done in 30 minutes.”

Now, in my house, meatloaf took a minimum of 45 minutes, and you never put ANYTHING on the bottom of the oven.   Up to that afternoon, I “prayed” to God.  I had never talked to Him like He was in the room.  But I watched Peg talk to Him like He was in the room.  I have to tell you that there was never a more watched meatloaf on this earth.  It was done in exactly 30 minutes.

My relationship with God changed that day.  I started crying out “Jesus help me” and multiplied my prayer life.

To a lot of people, God seems far away.  He may seem far away to you.  The blind men didn’t cry out once.  Jesus was actually, physically far away.  They kept crying out “Lord, Son of David, Have Mercy On Us!!!”  Again and again they cried out.  They cried out until they got an answer.

Keep crying out.  From the gut.  You will, in time, hear His answer:  “What do you want me to do for you?”

Prayer Day

January 27, 2009

I’m dedicating Wednesday as a prayer day for the needs of others (and maybe a few of my own).  If you have things that you’d like prayer for, please let me know, so I can add them to the list. You can either post a comment, or email me personally at kimkmartinez.7@gmail.com.

Being part of a community means that we get to lift each other up – it is a gift.  Thank you for being in community with me.

Happy Wednesday.

Giants in the Land

January 16, 2009

Are there giants in the land for you?

Tonight it occurred to me that to the 10 spies and the Israelites that followed them, the giants were very obvious obstacles.  In fact, common sense said that they needed to ‘count the cost’ of this venture, and avoid these real obstacles.  From their point of view, fortified cities and very powerful people were insurmountable problems compared to people on foot without any of the modern ‘tools’ (chariots, for one).

They wanted to run for the hills!  (Okay, they wanted to go back to Egypt, but you get the picture.)

Here’s the kicker.  Listen to what God said in response:

“The LORD said to Moses, “How long will these people treat me with contempt? How long will they refuse to believe in me, in spite of all the miraculous signs I have performed among them? I will strike them down with a plague and destroy them, but I will make you into a nation greater and stronger than they.” (Numbers 14:11-12)

God was seriously offended that they didn’t trust Him.

Are you facing obstacles?  Finances, relationships, even personal growth – sometimes we just reach that wall where we say “there are giants in the land.  I can’t go forward.  I have to find a way out.”

Has God led you? He will bring you victory.

Let’s draw a line in the sand, and choose to listen to those with faith instead:

“We should go up and take possession of the land, for we can certainly do it.” (Numbers 13:30)

“The land we passed through and explored is exceedingly good.  If the LORD is pleased with us, he will lead us into that land, a land flowing with milk and honey, and will give it to us. Only do not rebel against the LORD. And do not be afraid of the people of the land, because we will swallow them up. Their protection is gone, but the LORD is with us. Do not be afraid of them.” (Numbers 14:7-9)

We can move forward.  We can find the view of faith.  There is always a view of faith and a view of the practical.  Let’s do what Joshua and Caleb did – find the view of faith by

  • looking backwards to God’s record
  • looking forward to the possible
  • choosing to believe

Faith trumps practical because God is working.

When the Children of Israel did go into the land, finally, they found that God gave them so many miracles and new lessons.  Going forward in faith is a walk in the miraculous.  Going back to the familiar is to live in the mundane, walking around the same mountain again and again.

I choose to look for the miraculous.  What about you?

How, Then, do we Change?

January 9, 2009

How do we change something about ourselves that needs changing?

If I have something on my face, I can wipe it off, but only if I know that it is there. I either need a mirror with which to see it, or good friends that will point it out to me. Sometimes, I can feel it myself, as it starts to dry and my face gets that dried cement feeling on it.  In all these cases, all I need to do is get a napkin or wash cloth and wipe it off.

When I have a mannerism, habit, way of thinking or approach to life that needs changing, God often uses the same process. He will either show me through some sort of ‘mirror’; He will tell me through good friends and new insights; or the thing that needs to change becomes a problem and I become aware of it.

Here in lies the problem: Mannerisms, habits, ways of thinking and approaches to life don’t wipe off as easily as jam. Paul talked about his attempt to follow the law this way:

But I need something more! For if I know the law but still can’t keep it, and if the power of sin within me keeps sabotaging my best intentions, I obviously need help! I realize that I don’t have what it takes. I can will it, but I can’t do it. I decide to do good, but I don’t really do it; I decide not to do bad, but then I do it anyway. My decisions, such as they are, don’t result in actions. Something has gone wrong deep within me and gets the better of me every time. (Romans 7:18-20, The Message)

How, then, do we, as broken people perfectly incapable of getting it right, fix the things that God brings to our attention?

Where we are powerless, God is powerful.  Jesus healed the blind man, the paralytic.  God raised the dead – not only through Jesus, but through Elisha, Peter, Paul, and (I’m sure) others.  If that isn’t enough, then take a look at the lives of Peter and Paul – men who were changed very quickly by the power of the Holy Spirit to be the people God needed them to be for the jobs He had for them to do.  God worked mightily in all these instances – He can do the same for whatever issue you might be facing today.  Just ask Him – stop ‘trying’ yourself, and give the Creator of the Universe the authority to do the work in you.  Rerouting brain pathways isn’t such a big thing for the One who held back waters, put the stars in place and created man from dust.

Where we are powerless, He is Powerful – let’s ask Him to do it.


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