Life on the front porch

Faith, life, kids & bikes


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Lasting Peace compared to Good Attempts to find Peace

After a hurried rentrée (return to school after a week off) and praying through the stressful situations that many of our friends find themselves in (and you too?!), I’m reminded that we do not live in a peaceful world. There is always something for me to be worried about. There is always something trying to steal my joy and peace.

The verse that came to my mind this morning was John 14.27
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

I am reminded of the ways that people around me (and me included) look for peace:

  • In political powers: my own nation of Canada is groaning and rejoicing with the political shift that has just taken place. In 4 years it will all shift again. Palestinians, Israelis, Syrians, Ukrainians, Romas are still waiting for political peace.
  • In economic prosperity: many of the deepest economic recessions have happened after stratospheric financial booms. A bumper crop can be wiped out with a hail storm.
  • In educational superiority: just when you think you’re getting somewhere, along comes someone who makes you seem very ordinary.
  • In family stability: we are all hoping that home will be a place of peace and security and look to copy those around us who seem to have it. Family is where tension and strife is most normal (and faith can make it even worse).
  • In physical health: one accident, one illness, one unusual test result and it’s all shattered.

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Are Alpha Churches ready for people who find faith in prison?

I have a theory, but it’s untested and I need some help.

Churches that run Alpha are more than halfway ready to welcome people who find faith during an Alpha Course in prison.

Now, it’s just a theory, but wouldn’t you like to help me test it?

If you’re in Winnipeg May 2, would you consider joining me for a roundtable discussion called Breaking the Cycle of Crime.  We’ve designed the time to be focused on building relationships between pastors, prison chaplains & those working in after prison ministries.  We’ll hear from Alpha for Prisons Director John Kreklo and have opportunity to talk together about what God may be doing in our city and province. Continue reading


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A final thought on my career in prayer

Last night as I scrolled through my Facebook page I came across a disturbing post.  When I woke up this morning I was still thinking about it and began to think, “What can I do about this?”  Can I visit this person, should I start a class, should I get some friends and go do some prayer ministry?  Do, do, do, do!  It sounds like a song, but it’s not a heavenly song.

Prayer: A Holy OccupationThe Holy Spirit then reminded me of what I’ve been writing – that prayer is the greater work.  When Jesus said that we would do greater works than this, he meant that we’d have unfettered access to the throne room of heaven.  We can know his hear heartbeat and ask anything in confidence and we can know that he answers our prayer.

So now the test.  Will I take a short 5 second prayer (which counts) or will I dig in in confidence, boldness, patience and power like I’ve been encouraged to do?  Will I start my prayer with a bold declaration of who God is and stay in the place of prayer until breakthrough.  Sounds exhausting!  And what if the situation doesn’t change?  What if I don’t feel anything?  How long should I stay there?

“Pray because you have a Father, not because it quietens you, and give Him time to answer.”

“The only way to keep right is to watch and pray.  Prayer on any other basis than that on which it is placed in the New Testament is stupid, and the basis of prayer is not human earnestness, not human need, not the human will, it is redemption, and its living centre is a personal Holy Spirit.”

“Waiting means standing under, in active strength, enduring till the answer comes.”

“Watch for God’s answer to your prayers, and not only watch, but wait.”
 The task of intercession is to humbly let go of what I think should happen and turn over to God, what he wants to happen.  And so, this morning, I agree in prayer.  You are Almighty God, nothing is too difficult for you.  Step in, make your fame glorious!  Jesus, I love you and I love your name.  Break the power of my friend, bring her dreams of you in the night. Encounter her with healing and salvation.  Bring someone near to her that will faithfully recount your story of love and redemption.  Almighty God, you can do this, you have done this many many times.  Today again. Healing and encounter!
Amen
Here are the Characteristics of a Believer who overcomes in prayer from my reflections with Oswald Chambers.  Hope you enjoyed as much as I have.
Patience: To wait on the Lord
Power: Strength and endurance to pray
Purpose: What is the end of my prayer? What is God desiring to happen because I pray?
Boldness: What has Christ done for me?
Childlikeness: What is my relationship to God looking like?
Communion: When, in my schedule, will I meet with God?
Concentration: Where will I go to meet with God?
Discipline: What is the One thing that God will do through me?
Honesty: What lies am I believing about God, prayer, others?
Faith: Who is God and what is He like?
Work: What is my discipline of regularly throwing my shoulder into the work of prayer?
Communion: Do I long for God’s nearness?  Do I hunger for His holiness?


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“Prayer does not fit us for the greater works; prayer is the greater work.  We think of prayer as a common-sense exercise of our higher powers in order to prepare us for God’s work.  In the teaching of Jesus Christ, prayer is the working of the miracle of redemption in me which produces the miracle of redemption in others by the power of God.”
– Oswald Chambers

What is my work in the life of prayer?  Even the things that I must do in prayer require the grace of God, so with God’s grace, there are 3 requirements of me to live a life of prevailing prayer.  Here’s my alliteration: To pursue passionate prevailing prayer I must practice and pursue patience, purpose and power.

Patience:

Here’s what I want to remember in growing in patience, I am a waiter, not just waiting.  I am God’s servant, towel over my arm, eyes on Him, ready to respond to what my Lord requires.  I want to quickly and easily do what I’m called to do.  Patience in prayer is taking the role of waiting on the Lord – learning the rhythm of His grace.


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The 3 P’s of Prayer

When I set out on this little series I had 2 goals. First, I wanted to dig into what Oswald Chambers has to say on prayer. He was a passionate man who pulled no punches when it came to prayer. When he arrived in Egypt to serve soldiers serving in the war he both ministered to their physical needs (by providing a place to write letters home) and their spiritual needs (by calling men to prayer). He modeled a bold prayer life and a confident living after the things of God. He took God at his word and lived this way.We cannot.001

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Honesty in prayer (Pinocchio had an advantage)

Three things I desire quoteTruth. You’d think it was reasonably easy to figure out!

When it comes to truth and lies Pinocchio had a bit of an unfortunate problem (a nose that grew every time he lied) but I think it would be so helpful I had his nose. If every time I lied my nose grew I’d be very motivated to be truthful; but it doesn’t seem to work for me like this. I can tell lies and get away with it or not even know it. In the same way I can pray with great sincerity but not be honest with God.

Maybe you know someone like me.  Here are some of the lies I say in prayer (thanks Oswald Chambers):

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Faith and Work in Prayer

“The point is not–‘will you believe?’ but ‘will I, who know Jesus Christ, believe on your behalf?'” Oswald Chambers

As I think about prayer, faith and work are 2 seemingly opposite but very complimentary values needed in having a life of prayer.  (Now, many of us simply pray in life – maybe at meals, perhaps at bedtimes, in crisis we cry out and at holidays we give thanks – but it doesn’t take much faith or much work to pray this way.)  If we’re trying to live a life of following Jesus, it seems to me that we should be praying in the ways that Jesus demonstrated – both in faith and with diligent hard work.

This reminds me of the story of Jesus healing a man (who had been paralyzed for 38 years) – very exciting but he did it on a Sabbath.   Continue reading