2017: Page 291

Page 291 was the end of a short work week and the beginning of a family fall break getaway.  The day began early with the usual prayer, cleaning, and building prep tasks.  As I took the trash out, Venus was shining brightly above the tree line in the eastern horizon.  It wasn’t long before it was followed by a small sliver of the moon being chased by the rising sun.  The rest of the morning was spent taking care of some maintenance tasks and correspondence details before heading home to get ready for our adventure.  

After firing up the pellet grill and making some bacon cheeseburgers for lunch, we hit the road for a long afternoon of driving.  Probably not the best planning to end up going through a major city at 5 PM, but we managed.  As evening was approaching I could see the sun rapidly falling toward the horizon in my rear view mirror.  We weren’t quite going to make it to our destination by sunset, so we made a quick search for a nearby park overlooking the lake so we could get some sunset photos.  While not the best, we found a partial view just as the sun was setting.  We managed a few photos, but it was beautiful to see and watch even with a partiall blocked view.  

As with many of our family adventure pages, I think I’m going to let the photos do most of the speaking for the day and do without the bulletted “lessons and observations” section.

Lake Erie Sunset

Lake Erie Sunset

Lake Erie Sunset

Moon and Venus in the same photo . . . If you look closely enough.

Almost a New Moon

Venus and a “random” star.

Venus Close-Up

2017: Page 290

Page 290 began with the usual early morning prayer, cleaning, and building prep tasks.  As I went about my morning work, I found myself praying about communication styles and how they influence the manner in which we relate to God.  The sky was filled with stars when I left the house early this morning, but the moon didn’t rise until sometime while I was going about my early tasks.  Today was an interesting day on the solar and lunar schedules as the moon rose in the eastern horizon about an hour before the sunrise and set in the west about an hour before the sunset.  With the new moon fast approaching, there was just a sliver of moon visible when it finally made it up over the horizon.  The moon was present in the sky overhead all day, but there wasn’t enough of it reflecting the light of the sun for it to actually be visible in the bright daylight.  As I took the trash out, it was an interesting sunrise as there was more color in the sky to the south and west than there was to the east.  Today’s photo was taken at sunrise this morning looking to the south and a little west.  Not only did the sky light up with color, but the trees are finally starting to show some of the color change of fall as well.

As I went about my early morning tasks, a poem showed up in my mind again today.  As I look back over the past few years, it seems like these flare-ups of the PTSD symptoms I’ve been diagnosed with, probably along with the seasonal effects of SAD, somehow crack open a wall to the poem storage in my mind as it is when I am dealing with these symptoms that most of my poems have shown up.  While not pleasant to live with, it is good to know that God doesn’t waste anything as I’ve watched Him use some of these poems in incredible ways.  If you follow my blog writing, you’ve probably already seen the poem, “Just a Moment“, that I posted earlier today.

As I worked on some prayer ministry correspondence, I got word of some maintenance issues that needed taken care of.  After evaluating the situation, I put on my plumbers hat and went to work taking care of a couple water issues.  Most days I have an idea of what I hope to accomplish, but many of them include a surprise or two that is just part of the nature of my job.  When the surprises come, I can either address them cheerfully knowing they are a part of my work, or I can become irritated that my plans are being disrupted.  It is kind of that way in our spiritual life, right?  Or is it just mine?  We have a plan or idea of how things should go but as much as we want it to be, it isn’t always identical to God’s plan.  When God “surprises” us with something that is a disruption to our plans, do we do His work cheerfully as we ought to or do we become irritated that something got in the way of what we wanted?

By mid-afternoon my mind was fading fast and it was time to call it a day.  I stopped for a late lunch on the way home then took my meds and a nap to finish out the afternoon.  There are issues that I feel I ought to write about, but with little clarity of mind and no clear direction from God to do so, I think it is best to leave those topics until He makes it clear there is something He wants me to say.

As I reflect on the day, here are some thoughts/lessons that stand out to me:

  • Not everyone communicates most effectively in the same manner.
  • It’s one thing for me to understand my preferred means of communication.  It is a different, and better, thing for me to work at understanding the preferred communication styles of others.
  • Realizing that people communicate differently helps me to see how people relate to God differently, and then work with them to help them use their communication preferences in their conversations with God.
  • I find the interaction between the sun, moon, and stars fascinating and they always leave me in awe of a wonderfully creative God.
  • The sun provides light, but the varying degrees of moisture and density of the clouds turn the light into the beautiful colors of a sunrise or sunset.
  • God provides His light within us, but it is the personal characteristics of each of us that turn His light in us into a beautiful tapestry of humanity.
  • Sometimes the things which cause discomfort or pain in our lives are the things God wants to use to minister to others through us.
  • God’s plans are never disruptions no matter how much they may feel like it.  His plans ought to be the purpose of our life.
  • When my plans become more important than God’s re-directions, I am headed for trouble.
  • Sometimes emotions lead us down paths that aren’t ours to take.  It is always best to walk the paths God leads us on rather than the ones our fear or anger direct us to.

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2017: Page 289

After a very late night going through Sunday evening photos, the Monday morning alarm seemed to go off extra early.  I am starting to sleep a little better when I do get to sleep, so it wasn’t too bad waking up and heading into work.  The air had a crisp fall feel to it and the crispness made the stars and small sliver of moon seem that much brighter.  It was so beautiful that I pulled my camera out of my bag and shot a few photos before heading into the building once I arrived at work.  As I started on my workday, I began with the usual prayer, cleaning, and building prep routine as I prayed for the students who would be arriving in a couple hours to begin their school week.  I also spent time praying about the Growing Strong retreat concept as I seek God for a further refinement in what they will look like now and into the future.  I believe He is calling me to remain both faithful and flexible as these retreats come about, so I trust and expect Him to further reveal what that means as the dates for the first retreat quickly approach.

As I worked, I noticed movement outside one of the windows as a couple deer made their way along the backside of the building.  As I tried to figure out if there was any way to get enough lighting for a photo, they noticed my movement and disappeared into the woods.  As I gathered up the trash and got ready to take it out, I noticed a different movement by the back door and looked to see a pair of raccoons washing their hands in a water puddle that had accumulated by one of the downspouts.  There is an exterior light over the door, so I managed a few photos that at least made the raccoons recognizable even though there was a lot of glare visible from the glass door.

Once the building was ready for the day, I settled into my Monday morning prayer guide writing routine.  I suppose because of my time spent as I worked praying about the upcoming retreat, the instruction of Jesus to watch and pray was firmly in my mind as I set about listening for a topic for the new weekly prayer guide.  As I spent time in scripture and prayer the focused changed a little bit, or was refined to an extent, to be more specific about our need to watch out!  The rest of the morning was spent fleshing out the prayer guide as it will address a number of things that God challenges us to watch out for.  Sometimes we find ourselves in situations that are not beneficial to our spiritual growth simply because we have not paid attention to the path we are on.

As I worked on the prayer guide, I was watching out my window and noticed the sun sparkling off the dew-clad leaves.  I took a quick walk outside with my camera and snapped today’s photo.  It really doesn’t do it full justice, but I still liked the capture of the fall colors and droplets of water from the heavy dew.  Back inside, I finished writing the prayer guide then took care of some maintenance issues that had been brought to my attention.  When I returned to my office, I spent the early part of the afternoon formatting and scheduling the prayer guide for Sunday’s publication through my email newsletter and on my website.  

Once the workday was over, it was time to run some errands before relaxing at home — including a little nap time.  I can typically feel when my mind has reached its limit for the day, and right now that usable time span in most days doesn’t cover very much other than my work hours.  The nap did help some, so I sat down to write today’s page.  As I did so, I got caught up in looking at some possible location stops for an upcoming delayed anniversary trip.  One of the advantages in planning family trips is our shared love of capturing and sharing photos of the beauty of creation wherever we go.  The difficulty lies in the fact that there are so many beautiful places that we have not yet been to and most regions of the country we would visit have so much more to see that we could fit into any available time.  Anyhow, it is fun to look and fill my mind with ideas so that when the trip actually takes place there is plenty of options and flexibility.  The downside of getting sidetracked with looking at trip options is that I can feel the buzzing in my head starting to return as I try to finish writing today’s page.  I guess that is a good cue to go to the closing. 🙂

As I reflect on the day, here are some thoughts/lessons that stand out to me:

  • I have a difficult time stopping in the middle of something and finishing it later.
  • When taking photos at a lake, I find that I pay so much attention to the detail of what I’m trying to capture that I rarely end up with the horizon level in the photo.
  • Taking 600+ photos on a short photo trip adds up to a lot of hours editing when I have to manually straighten almost every one.
  • When I’m paying attention, God often stops me in my tracks with varied displays of His creativity.
  • For me, God rarely gives me all the details that I want.  He usually calls me to a task one step at a time and asks that I trust Him for the steps I can’t yet see.
  • Being observant is important.  Knowing what you’re observing can help keep you headed in a proper direction.
  • Satan is the enemy of every person.  While it is easy to see him as the enemy of the Christian, his goal of destruction is the same whether a person believes in Jesus or not.
  • It is far easier to walk down the wrong path than most of us imagine.  That is why it is important to constantly watch out for anything, and anyone, who would lead us astray.
  • When my internal chemical balances are out of whack, it is even more important than usual to pay attention to the signs my body gives me that enough is enough.
  • Rather than be overwhelmed at all the incredible beauty of this country that I’ve not yet seen, I get excited at all the options that exist should something not work out at a location I’ve considered.

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2017: Page 288

Page 288 was a Sunday and I continued my recent pattern of writing the previous day’s page first thing in the morning.  It had been a long week for all of us, and Susan was still saying she didn’t feel well or was having seizures, so she slept a little longer and we didn’t make it to Sunday School.  We had a good worship gathering at Deer Run and David continued a sermon series that he is preaching from the book of Acts.  This morning’s message was from Acts 14 and opened up a glimpse into the odyssey that was a part of Paul’s life, and ought to be a part of our journey as well.  We looked at three scenes from the chapter and focused on three words from the first scene.

  • Scene One: Iconium.  When Paul and Barnabas arrived in Iconium, they did what they usually did — they went into the Jewish synagogue and shared the good news about Jesus.  The result was that a great number of Jews and Gentiles believed.  Great story, great success!  What could go wrong, right?  Well, that’s where the three words come in.
    • Refused.  While there were a great many who believed, the text says that there were Jews who refused to believe.  Not that they didn’t believe, or weren’t convinced, but the they had a firm enough understanding of what was being taught and deliberately chose to not accept it.  This always becomes the dangerous crowd, and it was in the lives of the early Christians.  No believing isn’t the same as refusing to believe, and once a person has enough knowledge to refuse belief, they become increasingly aggressive in trying to stop others from believing.  This group that refused had no tolerance for those who did believe.  They did everything in their power to stir up dissension and trouble.  Good thing that attitude of refusal was only a first century thing, right?  Think again.  So much of the opposition that you and I will face as we share about our faith is not from people who aren’t sure, but from those who have already heard the truth and refuse to accept it. 
    • So.  “So” is one of those big little words in the Bible.  God gives us information about what took place and/or what was happening and then He opens up the window to the response with the little word “so”.  Luke writes about the great opposition and the stirring up of trouble by those who refused to believe, SO, Paul and Barnabas spent considerable time there speaking boldly.  That may not be the response you were expecting, nor the response that you and I may have given, but the word so means that Paul and Barnabas took into account the opposition and chose to continue to speak boldly.  The “so” in our life means we understand as much as possible what we’re up against and we choose to continue on, doing what is right and what God called us to in the beginning.
    • Continued.  Eventually a plot was conceived by a group of Gentiles and Jews working together to put an end to Paul’s message by stoning him to death.  Surely, that had to mean an end to this journey and a return home where they could be free from this violent persecution.  After all, they tried . . . the people just don’t want to know, or follow, the truth.  They did more than most, so now it is time to just mind their own business and lead a peaceful and quiet life back home.  Not if  you are doing life’s adventure God’s way!  Even when forced to flee one city, Paul and Barnabas continued to preach the gospel wherever they went.  People may reject them, may mistreat them, may even force them out of town, but they would not be able to put an end to the proclamation of the gospel by those whom Christ himself had compelled to go into all the world and tell the good news . . . oh, wait, that’s not just Paul and Barnabas, that is the instruction Jesus gave to all who would take up their cross daily and follow Him.
  • Scene Two: Lystra & Derbe.  In some ways, scene two was a repeat of scene one, just in a different location.  As Paul and Barnabas preached the good news of Jesus, they encountered a lame man whom Paul “saw that he had the faith to be healed.”  Between the proclamation of the gospel and the healing of the lame man, the people were convinced the gods Zeus and Hermes and come to visit them.  Talk about a fickle crowd, after Paul and Barnabas insisted they were only human and shared with them about the real God, the trouble-makers from Iconium arrived and stirred up the crowds to the point they stoned Paul and dragged him outside the city gates believing that he was dead.  And I don’t think this was any “playing possum” routine to get them to quit throwing stones.  After the disciples had gathered around Paul and life returned to his body, he did the unthinkable — he went back into the city where he stayed the night before leaving the next day!  Oh, how easy it is to run away when things get difficult.  God calls each of us to a life that knows there is a truth far more valuable than any difficulty people may throw our way.
  • Scene Three: The Return Journey.  After reading about scenes one and two, scene three can be a bit difficult to understand.  After rough treatment in Iconium and Lystra, which eventually brought Paul and Barnabas to Derbe, the decision is made to go back home to Antioch and to do so with stops in Lystra and Iconium!  The return journey was necessary to finish the work that God had begun on their first trip through.  The seeds of the gospel had been planted as they proclaimed the good news of Jesus and now it was time to pray and fast as elders were appointed in each church.  God wants us to allow Him to finish the work He began in us, and sometimes that means going back to a place where we weren’t treated well so that we can see the good results that He continued to produce.

After the worship gathering, it was time for lunch with my family and then some afternoon resting.  I managed a short nap before we decided to head to the lake to capture some wave photos.  The forecast was for high winds, so we bundled up and drove through periods of rain before arriving to the shorelines of Lake Michigan.  The waves and beauty of the sky did not disappoint and I ended up with over 600 photos taken throughout the afternoon and evening!  Today’s photo is one I caught as a wave was about to crash over the end lighthouse.  As I watched surfers and kite surfers playing in the waves throughout the afternoon, I thought about a God who could calm even the most turbulent scene with just a word.  That’s a God I want, and I have, in control of my life!

As I reflect on the day, here are some thoughts/lessons that stand out to me:

  • Routines are good, especially if they are adaptable to actual circumstances.
  • God gives us His Word to show us real examples of how people lived out their faith so that we would see how He would have us live ours.
  • Some people don’t believe, but the group with even less hope is those who refuse to believe.
  • There will always be facts and circumstances beyond our control. So, what will we do to move forward.  The “so” is usually our choice.
  • When we know God’s presence in our life and His calling to us to share the good news of Jesus, we ought to continue to do that no matter what.
  • While I enjoy looking at, and photographing, storms and waves that I can safely view from a distance, I am also glad I know the One who can calm those storms.

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2017: Page 287

Page 287 has been a much needed day of rest.  I woke up late and began the day by writing yesterday’s page.  As I wrote about my Friday, a new poem showed up in my mind and as I put my fingers to the keyboard, I managed to coax it out.  Most of the poems I write begin as the “tip of the iceberg” kind of thing — I see a small piece of it in my mind that looks intriguing and so I begin to examine it only to discover there is much more underneath it than I had ever imagined.  Today’s poem, “Not Alone“, was one of them as the opening stanza drew me in with its heaviness and darkness.  While not as frequent as they once were, God uses these poems to encourage me and I always pray that as I share them, He also encourages others.

With the writing done for the moment, I checked on Susan and then went out to fire up the pellet grill.  We were expecting one of our nephews to stop by with his family for a visit later in the day and he promised that if I forced myself to cook them some BBQ, they would force themselves to eat it. 🙂  So, since I  had already cooked the pulled pork and it just needed to be warmed up, I got the grill smoking, prepped the meat, and put three full racks of ribs on to slow-cook for the next 6 hours.  Yes, six hours is a lot of time, but the result is worth it.  In our fast-paced world, it seems we are always looking for shortcuts and often find ourselves willingly sacrificing quality so that we can have what we want sooner rather than later.  Even in a relationship with God, many seek for ways to make it less intrusive in their everyday life and somehow think that if they can condense a lifestyle of prayer and worship into a couple twenty minute segments each week, the result ought to turn out as well as the one who actually lives that lifestyle 24/7.  Can I cook ribs in less than six hours?  Yes, but I would be embarrassed to share them with others because I know they are not what they could, and should, be.  Perhaps that is one reason so many are reluctant to share about their faith — they’ve not put much time and effort into the process in their own life and deep down are embarrassed because they know what they are offering is not what it could, or should be.

Once the ribs were on the grill and the cooking begun, the rest of the day was time to relax and enjoy a quiet day.  It was cool and rainy all day, so I didn’t manage any new photos — although by the time they were done, the ribs were tempting.  But, the temptation to eat them was much stronger than the temptation to photograph them. 🙂  Speaking of those ribs, the evening was a great time of eating and fellowship with family as we shared together not only the food, but a slice of our lives as well.  I did spend a little time going through the photos I took Friday evening at work, and today’s photo is one of the sun as it was dropping into a bank of clouds on the western horizon.  It was a great reminder of fall with its burnt orange coloring, and a reminder of God’s faithfulness in setting the universe in place in a way that makes life on earth possible.

As I reflect on the day, here are some thoughts/lessons that stand out to me:

  • When our “to-do” list seems longer than what is reasonably manageable, I often hear people say, “Oh well, sleep is over-rated.”  I’m pretty sure they are wrong.
  • Sometimes a day ends with so much weariness that it would not be productive to add one more thing to the task list by feeling I have to write that day’s page right then.
  • There is a difference between setting limits and procrastinating.
  • What we first see is rarely all there is to a situation.
  • Sometimes God reveals the “tip of the iceberg” to us because we are not yet ready for the whole thing but we need encouragement to draw nearer to what He has for us.
  • Some things take more time than we would like in order to do them right.
  • Compromised methods always lead to compromised results.
  • When we spend the time and effort to do something right, we usually have a result that we are proud to share with others.
  • While I do write prayer guides and devotional journals, I never write them with the idea that they are shortcuts to a relationship with God.  Rather, they are tools to help you spend the time necessary to live in a lifestyle relationship with Him.
  • The time we invest in pursuing, growing, and living a relationship with God ought to produce within us something that we are eager to share with others.
  • Whether our actions at any given time are faithful or not, God is not caught off-guard and He continues to remain faithful.

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2017: Page 286

Page 286 was a productive fall day.  A very long day, so I’m once again not writing the day’s page until the next morning — but a very productive day nonetheless.  I arrived at work a little before 6 AM to begin the morning prayer, cleaning and building prep and with the exception of a short break to pick up fuel for the lawn mower, and food for me, I didn’t leave the property until 10:30 PM.  In between those hours, I was able to enjoy a day filled with a variety of inside and outside tasks — and even managed a few photos to start the day and a few near the end of the day.

As I pulled into the parking lot to start the day, the moon was visible through a gap in the cloud cover so I stopped on my way into the building to take a few photos and to thank God for the reminder of His presence and His faithfulness.  As I did the morning round of cleaning, I talked with God about the upcoming day and asked for the wisdom to see it more clearly from His perspective so I would be better prepared to make the most of every opportunity.  After the building was ready for the day, I took the time to write the previous day’s page as I caught up on messages and information I needed to be aware of.  

By mid-morning I had caught up on the office work and it was time to head outside and enjoy the cool fall day from the seat of the mower.  I suppose it is the combination of being outside where I’m surrounded by the beauty of creation, and riding the mower where the constant hum of the engine behind me blocks out nearly all distractions; but I don’t know of too many work related tasks that draw me near to God like mowing does.  After a couple hours on the mower, I took a break to get fuel for the mower and fuel for me as well.  

The afternoon was spent finishing up the mowing.  Not only do I enjoy mowing (as long as I have a nice riding mower to do the job with), but that enjoyment extends to seeing the results of my work even as I  am in the process of doing it.  With each pass of the mower across the lawn, I can clearly see where I’ve been and what still needs done.  Some things in life are like that, but others are not.  Many of the tasks I do are more about being faithful and trusting God for a result that He will bring about in the right time — whenever that is.  Investing our lives in people will occasionally have those moments when we can see the good results of our relationships, but more often we will struggle through the ups and downs of life with our choice to either be discouraged at so little visible progress or be encouraged that God is continuing to use us somehow in a task that we don’t fully understand.

Once the mowing was complete, the building was nearly empty again so it was time to start the prayer, cleaning, and prep all over again to get the building ready for Sunday.  I had finished one end of the building by the time the sun was starting to drop over the treeline of the western horizon, so I took my camera outside to see if I could get some new photos of the building in the evening glow to use in our online presence.  While I was outside taking photos, my wife stopped by with some meds my doctor had phoned in, so hopefully I will be able to return to some healthier sleep patterns once I get the brain chemicals that cause the severe anxiety symptoms brought back into proper balance.  I’ve written at times about how my mind stores so many experiences and things in a manner that God uses to allow me to effectively teach and preach without manuscripts or notes — a down-side of that gift is I don’t have a way to fully filter what is stored so that it is only what is good and helpful from my perspective, everything seems to get filed away.  A few years ago, about this time of year, I had my office broken into two nights in a row and that event took me downhill rather quickly from a mental perspective as I found myself in a strange combination of being unable to sleep due to severe anxiety attacks and unable to really be awake due to the lack of sleep.  As a man, and as a prayer minister, I kept thinking I ought to be able to overcome this — I mean, no one was hurt and the things that were taken could be replaced.  While that was true of the computers and cash and physical things, the internal things that were stolen weren’t so easy to replace, let alone recognize.  Anyhow, long story short, I finally went to my doctor and learned about PTSD that is much more common than just what we hear about veterans having to deal with because of their experiences.  Stress and trauma hits us all in unique ways and often even in unique forms, but it is something that ought to be dealt with honestly.  From time to time since those events, I find myself sliding down a mental path that I know will not end well.  Sometimes I can change that path through deliberate changes in my routine that seems to naturally restore the internal chemical balances.  Other times, however, I find that I need help to change my mental path and right now happens to be one of those times when the help dealing with the anxiety attacks make it easier for my mind and body to get along and be restored.  Well, not what I had thought I would write today, but maybe God will use it to help someone have the courage to get help for the struggles that cannot overcome on their own.

While I was outside, I looked down the empty field and saw a deer standing along the woods at the far end.  As I made my way to a better, and closer, vantage point, I found this nice buck who appeared to be out enjoying the sunset just as I was.  I was able to take several photos of him as he stood and watch the sunset then appeared to watch me.  He would make a few deliberate moves as if he was going to disappear into the woods and then turn around to see I had taken it as a hint to leave or if I was still there.  Eventually he did walk into the woods and out of sight, and I went back inside the building to finish the cleaning and prep that needed done.  

As I reflect on the day, here are some thoughts/lessons that stand out to me:

  • Knowing and/or feeling that you’ve accomplished something always makes a day feel better no matter how much time it took to do it.
  • I’m not always the best judge of what I’ve actually accomplished.
  • We could probably help make a person’s day by letting them know that we noticed what they accomplished.
  • I find that I stay more aware of God’s presence when I stop and acknowledge it whenever I notice the reminders that He provides.
  • Not only does my lawnmower need fuel to keep going, so do you and I.
  • It is good to have some tasks that produce visible results quickly as they become the balance for the many tasks that don’t.
  • God can, and does, bring balance to a person’s mind and body — sometimes He chooses to restore us with just a whisper from His mouth and other times He chooses to use the wisdom He has given to doctors and medical personnel in a wide variety of ways.
  • Asking for help is not a sign of weakness — in fact it often takes great strength to do so.
  • Our first request for help ought to be made to God but we must never neglect the help of others that He may direct us to.
  • Some of our life stories are easier to tell than others.  Often the more difficult ones have the greatest ability to help someone else if we would have the wisdom to share them appropriately.
  • I am always filled with joy when it appears I am allowed the privilege of being invited to share the beauty of God’s creativity with some of His creation from the animal kingdom.

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2017: Page 285

Page 285 was a beautiful day even though it looked rather gloomy outside.  Between the weather and a long list of tasks to get done, it was also another day with no new photos.  One of those tasks was continued prep work on the Growing Strong retreat and that included some time spent going through photos from a late-August trip to the retreat location with my family.  Today’s photo was one I took during an early morning walk as I could hear this guy singing loudly but had some difficulty in finding him as he was at the very top of a tall tree.  It was as if he wanted the very best vantage point to both watch the rising sun and praise his creator.  I get that.  Most of my life I had not been a “morning person”, but that changed when I realized that the opportunity provided by a sunset to be blessed and worship God in His majesty also existed with the sunrise. 🙂

The day began with the usual prayer, cleaning, and building prep time which led into some small maintenance tasks.  I also took some time to research and register for display space at the North American Christian Convention which will take place in Indianapolis next summer.  When it comes to setting up an Impact Prayer Ministry display at a large convention or conference, I always tell people I study and study the exhibit hall layout in an attempt to determine the best location still available, and then I pray that God uses my selection to reach the people He desires to connect with the prayer ministry.  The good part is that He always does a much better job of bringing people to the display than I do of choosing just the right location.  I do believe He wants me to use the intellect and logic He created within me in order to make wise decisions, but I also know He wants me to trust Him for the results.  That can be a tough balance sometimes.

I had been asked to help a prayer group get started that wanted to use the weekly prayer guides that I write, so I spent time in preparation and prayer before heading to their meeting early in the afternoon.  My part of the meeting seemed to be a combination of explaining some of my prayer routines — specifically  in regard to developing the weekly prayer guides — and answering questions about prayer focus, about regaining focus when its been lost, and about using both scripture and hymns to keep the mind centered on the things of God.  The one hour prayer meeting ended up taking nearly two hours because the introductory parts and explanations took most of the first hour and the group was committed to not just learning about prayer, but to actually spending time praying.

After the prayer group had concluded, I needed to pick up some supplies from the other side of town, so I made my way to Sam’s Club where I got a very late lunch before getting the shopping done for the things I needed.  By the time I got home, the evening was spent unwinding and relaxing with my family before calling it a day and trying to get some sleep.

As I reflect on the day, here are some thoughts/lessons that stand out to me:

  • The outside often has a profound effect on the inside.  God wants us to turn that around and allow His presence on the inside of us to have a profound effect on what is seen on the outside of us.
  • God deserves our best.  I need to be deliberate about doing what it takes to worship God with my best.
  • Finding the best vantage point to worship God often leaves me with both a greater blessing and a greater sense of having truly worshiped.
  • The best vantage point for worship is the one in which we can see God best.  Sometimes that is a mountaintop and sometimes that is in what we would consider a low position of service.
  • Trusting God often involves trusting Him to use the gifts and abilities He put within us as much as it is about trusting Him to use our weaknesses.
  • Our best laid plans are only as good as our willingness to let God use and change them for His glory.
  • It is fun for me to be able to share with people about some of the how and why of what I do.
  • Instruction is great, but without practice the instruction is more easily forgotten.
  • Learning about prayer is a good thing.  Praying is a better thing.

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