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I’d like to be indestructible

50 03 10 Indestructible
Personally, I’d like to be indestructible. You know, like superman, only more so.

There’s a good reason:

I don’t like pain in any of its many varieties. I don’t like being hurt. I don’t like being vulnerable. I don’t like being fragile.

I try to explain all this to God. “Just think of the advantages,” I tell Him. “If I were indestructible, I wouldn’t be afraid of anything. You could ask me to do anything, and I’d do it.”

God must laugh. The angels, if they listen to prayers, they must laugh too.

“But, wait a second, God,” I tell Him. “You’re indestructible. Nobody can back you into a corner. Nobody can make you squirm. If I pointed a revolver at You and commanded You to hand over all Your money, You’d send Your servants, the police, to me; they’d come and lock me up.”

(More laughter.)

But I’m on a roll, so I go on. I come to this verse in the Bible:

I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead. Philippians 3:10-11 NIV

“While You’re at it, God, couldn’t you take this verse about ‘the fellowship of His sufferings’ out of the Bible? It bothers me. I don’t like suffering.”

I sit there, knowing full well that God isn’t going to do any of these things I’m praying for, but feeling good for having gotten these feelings out on the table.

But, slowly, an uneasy feeling starts to come over me. I can’t quite put my finger on it. The fellowship of His sufferings. The phrase rings over and over again in my mind. The fellowship of His sufferings.

Then it occurs to me that the path to resurrection indestructibility—at least for Jesus—was paved with thorns, with nails, with drops of blood, with contempt and injustice and humiliation.

It hurt.

It seems like every time Jesus surrendered to one level of pain and humiliation, another deeper level was waiting for him, until, finally, life itself was given away.

He was crucified in weakness.

Why?

Oh, I know the theology. I know that He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins.

But there’s something more here. Otherwise, why would He reach through the centuries and ask me—ask you—to fellowship with Him in His suffering?

Why is He so lonely?

I don’t know why I started crying. Except that I started feeling the hurt of Jesus. I started to uncover a fragile and vulnerable side to God I never knew existed.

And, in stumbling into this, I begin to feel that all the hurts and fears I’ve worked so hard to protect are okay with Him. I don’t have to hide them any more.

What is my path to resurrection? I don’t know. I just know that sometimes it will hurt. And I know, in the end, I will have to give away everything—all my strength, all my defenses, my very life.

But, suddenly, that feels okay.

Easter Sunday. The Day of Resurrection. A resurrected Lord comes to visit his flock of weak, vulnerable and frightened disciples. His greeting? “Peace to you.” The same word He used to calm the convulsing Sea of Galilee: “Peace.”

Once again, Jesus reaches through the centuries. He speaks to you and He speaks to me. “Peace.”

How is it that we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us? How is it that we can stand up to the storms in our lives? The resurrected Lord is here. He speaks through us: “Peace.”

All around us storms rage. People hurt. People cry out in pain. But we, the light of this world, carry a great healing gift to our generation.

Peace.

It’s okay. Jesus is here.

Dwight

Photo credit: Adapted from a photo by Tatrattery, Flickr, Creative Commons License

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Are you embarrassed when people ask you to pray out loud?

embarrassed2prayaloud

Are you embarrassed when people ask you to pray out loud?

If you are, you’re not alone. Many people—even those who have no trouble praying in private—freeze when asked to pray aloud in public. It can be scary at first, but if you have a plan, it will become easy, and you may find that you actually enjoy praying in front of a group.

Praying out loud in public is a form of leadership. You are giving a group of people a voice in prayer. You don’t need fancy words—in fact, they just get in the way. You don’t need to pray for a long time; short prayers are usually better. You don’t need—nor do you want—to preach a sermon while you’re praying. As a rule, avoid saying negative things about yourself or someone else. Instead, focus on God and His goodness.

To pray aloud in public, you need a plan because it helps you lead well by knowing what to say, how to start and how to finish. I’m going to give you a simple formula you can use when you are called upon to pray in front of a group. When you get more practice, you can enhance this and deviate from it. But this will help you in the beginning.

Here’s a very simple formula for public prayer that you can use in almost any situation:
You go to “bat” for someone in prayer. Here’s the formula you use:
B – A – T

  • B – Believe
  • A – Ask
  • T – Thank

It’s easy. Let me explain.

Start with B – Believe. What do you believe to be true about God in this situation? This isn’t the time for an entire theology lesson, but rather one or two simple statements about what we believe to be true about God:

We believe You are good.
We believe You care.
We believe You are here.
We believe You heal.

Starting with what we believe to be true about God focuses everyone’s attention on God’s goodness and His greatness. I try to pick out one thing I know about God that seems relevant to the subject of the prayer.

Now move on to A – Ask. What do you want God to do? Ask Him!

Please remove this cancer from John’s body and restore him to health.
Please show us what to do. We want to honor You in this situation.
Please provide a way for us to help these children.

If the situation is particularly difficult—a death or impending death, seemingly insurmountable trials or difficulties, or whatever—you can always ask for things like these:

Please bring Your presence near in a way that we can experience.
Please grant us clarity in this difficult time.
Please show us a way forward and guide us with Your love.

If you’re not sure what to ask, you can ask for God’s guidance, His presence, His wisdom.
Finally, end with T – Thank You. What has God done or what can we expect God to do that gives us reason to give thanks?

Thank You that You have always provided for us in the past.
Thank You that You are here, You are listening, and You care.
Thank You for loving us.

“Thank You” is a way of expressing faith and gratitude. We believe God hears our prayers and will do something good in response to them. We are grateful for all the good He has already brought into our lives.
Here are some sample prayers. Read them carefully and notice how each one follows the B – A – T plan. Then read them aloud. Pause a moment after each line. Get a feel for the rhythm of praying aloud so when your turn comes you can say, “Sure, I’d be happy to pray.”

A mealtime prayer:
Our Father in heaven
We believe that every good gift comes from You.
We welcome You to our table. Please be honored here in our conversation.
Thank You for this food.
In Jesus’ name
Amen

A prayer for healing:
Our Father in heaven
We believe You are the God who heals us.
We ask you to bring complete healing and recovery to Mary.
Thank You for hearing us. Thank You for caring. And thank You for what You will do.
In Jesus’ name
Amen

A prayer in a very difficult situation:
Our Father in heaven
We believe that You are higher, smarter, better than we are.
We are in a situation that’s way bigger than we are. We ask for clarity. We ask for guidance. We ask for strength. We ask for the comfort of your presence to be with Mike.
Thank You for listening, for caring, for doing what only You can do.
In Jesus’ name
Amen

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Top ten life lessons #1

#01 top ten
#1 Someday you and I stand before God

Compared to that, all other things shrink into insignificance. That defines our existence and determines our priorities. Someday, I will be on the other side waiting for you. Heaven will not be complete for me until you are there.

Remember, you are designed to make a difference!

Dwight

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Top ten life lessons #2

#02 top ten
#2 We really only have one power: to say yes (or no) to God

Find the door where Jesus is knocking, and let Him in. I’ll give you a hint. Usually the door is where the pain is. Invite Him in, and watch everything change. This is how you start the Christian life, and this is how you continue it. You fling every door open, and invite Jesus all the way in to be whoever He wants to be.

Remember, you are designed to make a difference!

Dwight

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Top ten life lessons #3

#03 top ten
#3 Know who you are

You are a royal son or daughter of God—loved by God, designed to make a difference, created to live forever, indestructible, undefeatable. That’s the real you. That’s the you that lives forever. The Bible tells you how the real you operates. What does a rock star do? He acts like a rock star. How does a Navy Seal operate? He operates according to his identity. You also are invited to act according to your identity. When you can’t, when you feel drawn to some other experience or behavior, it’s time to go back to God and say, “Something inside is broken. Could You please fix it for me?”

Remember, you are designed to make a difference!

Dwight

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Top ten life lessons #4

#04 top ten
#4 You are at war whether you know it or not

Your enemy’s main line of attack is deception. He will tell you lies about who you are, who God is, what your world is really like. He doesn’t lie to you because he is your friend; but he will do everything in his power to make you believe that your friends are your enemies, and your enemies are your friends. Your enemy will try to corrupt all of your God-given desires and use them as a weapon against you, but God satisfies your desires with good things. (Psalm 103) Your best line of defense is to take every doubt, every temptation to Jesus and get from Him the truth that sets you free. (See John 8:32.)

Remember, you are designed to make a difference!

Dwight

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Top ten life lessons #5

#05 top ten
#5 Dream big, and every day take a small step toward your dreams

You have a great big God inside you, and He has no small plans for you. You were designed to make a difference. You have the power to make an eternal difference for good in many lives; use your influence wisely. But don’t just daydream; take action. You don’t get from here to there without moving. It may be a small step, but after you take it, you’ll be closer to where you want to be. We crawl before we walk; we walk before we run. So take the small step today; take it now.

Remember, you are designed to make a difference!

Dwight

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Top ten life lessons #6

#06 top ten
#6 In times of trouble, turn to God

Every challenge, every trial, every tragedy can be an opportunity for God, if you allow it to be. Yes, it hurts. Feel the pain, and hold it up to God. Keep doing that until He brings you through. Something good is waiting for you on the other side.

I don’t like pain, but I know it comes into our lives. For years I prayed, “God, give me maximum mileage out of my misery.” I don’t want to suffer any more than I have to. Trials can turn you sweet or bitter, and it all hinges on one thing: which direction you run.

Run to God.

Remember, you are designed to make a difference!

Dwight

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Top ten life lessons #8

#08 top ten
#8 Learn to listen

Teachable people get to their dreams ten times faster than unteachable people. Everyone can teach you something, if you are willing to humble yourself and listen. Wisdom is like an Easter Egg hunt; God hides it in unexpected places. Listen to people that the world shoves aside. Listen to people who disagree with you. Listen to people who are too old and too young, too rich and too poor, and, yes, too clueless. If you do, you will walk away a wiser person.

Remember, you are designed to make a difference!

Dwight

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