Thursday, July 26, 2007

iPod Tales

I recently sent a friend the following story and thought I would post it here (with a few embellishments) for all to read. It might bring a tear to your eye.

My iPod died yesterday. Poor iPod. I originally got it for free from my son, Peter. He said that it didn’t work and I could have it – GEE THANKS! But it was cool, because it only cost 50 bucks to repair. It was an old Photo iPod – so no video or cool games. But it worked well and I loved it. I had it for a few joy filled months and then one fateful day I dropped it in the sink while washing the dishes and it drowned. A warm hair dryer helped along with a trip to the Mac repair shop. ($180 – I should have buried it then). Then, it stopped working a little over a week ago and I took it in and they said they couldn't fix it - BUT when I got home it worked! The iPod lives!
Yesterday, it was in the cup holder in my car. I spilt coffee and thought it missed the iPod only to find when getting to the gym that I had filled the bottom of the cup holder with coffee and my iPod was soaking in it! The poor thing thought it was charging, really it was shorting out. I was able to trade it in and get 10% off a new model...
So today is my first day with my new iPod! I am already thinking I should have gotten the 80 gig instead – after loading all my music, books and podcasts – it took up 20 gigs! I could dump some podcasts....

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Here's a recent poem

I recently wrote a few divorce poems that I may share on my blog. Here is the first one about the dock in Santa Cruz, CA

Dark and light blue
White caps

Sunlight flash
Band of gold skipped off the dock
Up to the sky
Into the waves
Sinking deep

Lost forever?
Resting in the sand?
Eaten by a fish?

God only knows….

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Praying The Lord's Prayer

This is from Prayer by George A. Buttrick. It is a classic old book on prayer. Here are suggestions on how to use the Lord's Prayer as a guide for prayer"

Our Father, who art in heaven,
Help me to believe this day that there is a power to lift me up which is stronger than all the things that hold me down.

Hallowed be Thy name.
Help me to be sensitive to what is beautiful, and responsive to what is good, so that day by day I may grow more sure of the holiness of life in which I want to trust.

Thy Kingdom come.
Help me to be quick to see, and ready to encourage, whatever brings the better meaning of God into that which otherwise might be the common round of the uninspired day.

Thy will be done, On earth as it is in heaven.
Help me to believe that the ideals of the spirit are not a far-off dream, but a power to command my loyalty and direct my life here on our real earth.

Give us this day our daily bread.
Open the way for me to earn an honest living without anxiety; but let me never forget the needs of others, and make me want only that benefit for myself which will also be their gain.

And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.
Make me patient and sympathetic with the shortcomings of others, especially of those I love; and keep me sternly watchful only of my own. Let me never grow hard with the unconscious cruelty of those who measure themselves by mean standards, and so think they have excelled. Keep my eyes lifted to the highest, so that I may be humbled; and seeing the failures of others be forgiving, because I know how much there is of which I need to be forgiven.

And lead us not into temptation, But deliver us from evil.
Let me not go carelessly this day within the reach of any evil that I cannot resist, but if in the path of duty I must go where temptation is, give me strength of spirit to meet it without fear.

For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.
And so in my heart may I carry the knowledge that thy greatness is above me and around me, and that thy grace through Jesus Christ my Master is sufficient for all my needs. Amen.

A few good prayers

Here are two very nice prayers that a member of WPC just sent me that I would like to share. She says they have been helpful to use when she can't sleep.

This was written by Teresa of Avila.

Let nothing disturb you.
Let nothing frighten you.
All things pass.
God does not change.
Patience achieves everything.
Whoever has God lacks nothing.
God alone suffices.

This is part of the "breastplate prayer" of St.

Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me,
Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ on my right, Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit down, Christ
when I arise.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

MORE Experiments in Prayer

Here are some practices that might help you with your prayers. Many of concepts I'm using come from two books - Prayer - Does It Make a Difference by Philip Yancey and a classic - Prayer by George Buttrick

But first a disclaimer:

These are just some ways that others and myself have found to helpful in prayer. There is no tried and true formula that if followed to the letter will guarantee your prayers will be answered -

• Pray in this posture -
• Use these words -
• Have this proper amount of faith
- IS NOT CHRISTIAN PRAYER - it is magic and superstition -

Next week I'm going to talk more about the difference between prayer and magical thinking - but for now - I want to be very clear that the ideas and practices I share are just tools to help you in your prayers and not methods to guarantee your prayer requests will be answered as you like -


The first has to do with time and place of prayer

You can pray anywhere and anytime - and daily life should be punctuated with brief prayers to God - sort of an on going dialogue but there also is a place for structured prayer.

I think most folks have tendency to find one or the other easier or more fitting for them -

Some folks have a continual prayer dialogue with God through out the day - God, help me - God be with that person - thanks God for opening my mind and heart to that other way of thinking … But they have a hard time remembering to kneel by their bed at night or in the morning.

Others may have no problem stopping at certain times during the day for prayer. They start the day kneeling by their bedside or in the kitchen with coffee and talk with God and read a few scriptures. Pause at lunch break and then before bed. But in-between those times - they just live life and trust in the Lord - and don't talk with God much until the next appointed time.

Neither is right or wrong - I think we need both. It is like in a marriage. Many times during the day you may say - I love you. - There might be many hugs or kisses on the cheek - or glances across the room - phone calls - and that is good and necessary

But then there are other times - private times alone when you share your love together in more intimate and passionate ways - You set dates to have a special dinner together - even though you could be close and eat dinner as you do every night - you set special dates to just be with each other -

Both connections are needed in a healthy marriage and both types of connections are needed with God

My struggle is not with the on-going prayer dialogue - my struggle is with the special scheduled times of prayer -

Here are some things that have helped -

Find places and times when you are already alone and quiet and take advantage of those times to pray -
So mine are in the shower and driving to work - those are prayer times that work - Yours may be different - Could a coffee break during the day - could be a time at night when you finally get the kids to bed and your spouse falls asleep on the couch as usual - but try to notice those times and use them.

Make times and make a place
You might actually schedule a time in your calendar or set an alarm on your cell phone or PDA and have a quiet place in mind like a garden or study. We think of Islam as having certain times of prayer - but Morning Prayer, midday prayer, evening prayer have long been part of the Christian tradition.

What do I pray about? How do I keep focused in prayer?
I was at a conference on prayer at MPPC and John Ortberg shared about how his mind wanders from thing to thing when praying and how that would drive him crazy - O Lord I praise you for - and he would think of a problem at home - or an issue a staff member had - of something he was supposed to do that day - and the thought came to him that maybe those things weren't really distractions - maybe those were the very things he needed to be praying about -

• Praying out loud can help - softly - be careful here
• Writing prayers
• Reading prayers of others - psalms and collections - I found one at a bargain book store - called "A Time to Pray" that has 365 different prayers from scripture, early church, Celts, mystics, reformers, hymn writers, modern authors - great help in learning to pray.
• Use the Lord Prayer as an outline for prayer (I will post an example of this later)

Here is an example of a prayer that has helped me by John Baillie CH (1886-1960) was a Scottish theologian who wrote A Diary of Private Prayer (1936)
Teach me, O God, so to use all the circumstances of my life today that they may bring forth in me the fruits of holiness rather than the fruits of sin:
Let me use disappointment as material for patience
Let me use success as material for thankfulness
Let me use trouble as material for perseverance
Let me use danger as material for courage
Let me use reproach as material for long suffering
Let me use praise as material for humility
Let me use pleasures as material for temperance
Let me use pain as material for endurance -

Consider your posture in prayer
There is no proper posture in prayer - but I do think there should be a congruency in our verbal language and our body language and I would encourage experiments in posture and prayer - the Bible has people sitting, standing, bowing, raising hands, dancing, spinning, lying down - all sorts of postures in prayer - try raising your hands or opening your hands in a symbol of receiving or letting go - try kneeling as a posture of submission or reverence - lay prostrate on the floor as a sign of helplessness before God - It won't guarantee that your prayers are any holier or greater, but it might help you prayer more with your whole being and not just your head - or intellect.

Think through what you are really trying to accomplish in prayer - are you really seeking God's will and involvement or are you trying to use prayer as a way of manipulating God and others?

David Mains gives a checklist of good questions to make sure or prayers or on target:
1. What do I really want? Am I being specific, or just rambling in my prayers?
2. Can God grant this request? Or is it against God's nature to do so?
3. Have I done my part? Or am I praying to lose when I haven't dieted or pass a test when I haven't studied?
4. How is my relationship with God? Are we on speaking terms?
5. Who will get the credit if my prayers are answered? Do I have God's best interest in mind?
6. Do I really want this prayer answered? What would happen if I actually got that job? Or if I actually did get that boyfriend or girlfriend back?

One last thing that can help with prayer - talk to others about your prayer life - what has been helpful - share about times when you feel you have connected with God and about times you have not - and there will be a strengthening and as you encourage others you will be encouraged -

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Experiments in Prayer

Sunday I started a sermon series called, Experiments in Prayer. The series is about some practical ways we can pray - ways that you can experiment with prayer and enrich and grow your prayer life. At the end of the sermon I suggested a few things anyone could do to help with prayer their prayer life. I thought I would post those suggestions here, Next week I will add a few more.

The main point of the first message is that prayer is primarily about building a relationship with God. Relationships involve dialogue not Monologue - Have you ever tried to build a relationship with someone who only talks about him/herself and never listens? Prayer involves listening to God as well as speaking to God.

So a first experiment in prayer is to experiment with listening to God - warning - If God speaks He might ask you to do something!

So be careful not to be like the man who was late for an important meeting and couldn't find a parking space. As he frantically circled the block, the man got so desperate that he decided to pray.

Looking up toward heaven, he said, "Lord, take pity on me. If you find me a parking space, I'll go to church every Sunday for the rest of my life, and not only that, I'll give up drinking."

Miraculously, a parking space appeared.

The guy looked up again and said, "Never mind. I found one."

Experiments in listening to/for God:

Like any experiment you might want to keep a journal.

Try writing your prayers.

Write a prayer - could be as a letter to God - asking for help learning to listen - (God just loves these sorts of prayers) confess how you have a hard time hearing God.

Sit quietly.

Read a few Psalms.

Live life with your ears open to God.

Find time before you go to bed and take out your journal - Think about your day - write a letter to God or an entry about what you think God might have been telling you today - You may be surprised at what comes out.

Maybe you're more of an extrovert and journaling is no fun for you and hard to do if you know only God will be reading your journal - So, for extroverts: Try this with a friend and commit to email each other each day for a week - Email each other your God letters and then at the end of the day email what you think God is telling you and then comment on each others emails.

Or if journaling doesn't work for you at all, try this for a few minutes each day next week:

Find a quiet place, where you can be alone and just talk to God about your day. No fancy words, no editing, just what's on your heart - just like you would talk to a friend. And then sit and be quiet and listen.

Next week I'm going to go further into more practical experiments in prayer.

If you would like to email me with questions about prayer or to share your experiences as you experiment in prayer feel free to do that - I'd love to hear from you.