Saturday, January 23, 2016

Some Benefits of Prayer

Prone to wander, Lord I feel it. Prone to leave the God I love.

When I sing this particular verse of this hymn, I can't help but close my eyes and bow my head in shame because it is true. So easily do I just wander away from Him. And I don't think I do it on purpose. It is more like a boat that isn't anchored that just floats away and just heads in all kinds of directions. Never on purpose, but always surrendering to its circumstance. Thankfully, whether I feel lost or floating about in my spiritual life, the truth is that He is the One who has me anchored to Himself and I am assured that He will never let me go. (John 10:29)

One way that I feel anchored again (remembering that regardless of my feelings, my salvation doesn't ebb away) is through prayer. And I know that sounds so "cliche" and so easy of a fix, but truly there is nothing (outside of Scripture) that hones in my heart to match His as prayer can do.

Prayer sifts out my sin.
When life gets busy, sin can easily hide. When life gets idle, sin comes out to play. Regardless if I am confessing a besetting sin or if the Holy Spirit is revealing one to me, prayer allows me to be more aware of the sin that grieves God and brings me to the cross gladdening my heart for He is always faithful to forgive. (James 5:16)

Prayer brings me to the throne
When I think that I am approaching the King of kings in prayer and I am not going to die I am left speechless. There are no words to describe that a Gentile woman can enter the Holy of Holies and worship. (Heb. 4:16) Prayer allows me to worship Him privately.

Prayer reminds me that I have love to give
When I read my prayer list and pray for those on it, I am reminded of people who are hurting, lonely, lost or feeling loss. It triggers me to make a phone call, bake some cookies, write a letter, type out a text, send a facebook message, or make a house visit. Prayer beckons me to be His hands, feet, shoulders, arms and voice.

Prayer softens my heart
Some people are hard to love and some people are even harder. When I honestly pray for those that hurt me or those that hurt the people I love, God does something amazing. He softens my heart towards them and they begin to have less control over me and my feelings. And in the rare occasions when I have trouble "forgiving", God always reminds me of the dastardly things He has forgiven me for already. :)

Prayer is therapeutic
My overbearing mother, my passive father, my annoyance with my ex-husband, the attitudes of my children, my lack of wanting intimacy, my self-esteem, that thing I do that I don't want to mention here and so, so much more; I have brought to God. And He truly has helped me figure so much out. It is through prayer that we are given wisdom. (James 1:5) So many times I have come to God bawling my eyes out, completely overtaken by despair, and patiently He has brought to mind Scripture that overtakes my moments of sorrow or pain. I have also come to him lost, in a rage, scared for my life, indecisive, numb, depressed, raw and feeling so many other things. I have also been given the peace that transcends understanding, and it was always after time spent with Him in prayer. (Phil. 4:7) Who better to tell me about myself and how to handle a certain situation than the One who created me and was with me throughout my entire life? (Jer. 33:3)

I want to encourage you to take time to pray. If you are not sure how to, Jesus Himself teaches us how to pray in Matthew 6:5-15. Also we can read Jesus' prayer before he was captured in John 17. And what is so amazing about this prayer is that in it you can read where Jesus is praying for you!!!!! (see verses 20-21 of that same chapter), and He is still praying for you! The Son of God prays for you! So let us imitate Him and pray.

 . . . . For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. ~ Romans 8: 26-27

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert - Book Review

Ever since I heard the testimony of Rosaria Butterfield, I just fell in love with her. I spent a couple of days looking her up on youtube and other sites and just listening to what she had to say. When I found out that Mrs. Butterfield wrote an autobiography, I just had to read it, so I added her book to my Christmas list and I got it. Needless to say, I read the book in two days!

On youtube and other sites, a lot of the focus of her testimony is that she was a lesbian, Marxist progressive and that she no longer is now. Although that is important, there is just so much more to her than her past lesbianism. In her book she does mention her life before Jesus, but she also speaks vulnerably about her transformation into a repenting Christian and even mentions her current sin issues and how horrible they are to a Holy God. Rosaria beautifully speaks of the struggles in the life of a Christian. My sins, the currents ones I am committing as I write, God hates; but because of the trust I have on the work of the Cross, I can boldly approach this Holy God and plead for forgiveness, and because He is faithful to forgive, I can jump for joy that He is a great God! She also reveals the Gospel in such a way that it just grabs me by the hand and takes me along for a journey in getting to know this forgiving God! Rosaria's story (like all Christians) doesn't stop once she converts!

I was also pleasantly surprised to learn that she also wrote about worshiping God through hospitality. She mentions the lack of hospitality among Christians and the plenitude of it among the LGBT. And I had to agree with her. Why are we quick to look the other way when someone needs attention or even just a hug? Why do we not open our doors enough to the wretched, the ugly or the lost? Why do I turn up my nose to the depressed, the emotionally needy, the poor, the pill poppers and the losers? What is the point of my candle light shining in an already lit room? Have I forgotten the mire of where I came from and where I still continue to go?

A specific sentence she wrote really captured my attention. On page 24 she says that looking back at pictures of herself, she no longer recognizes herself. Am I transforming in my Christian life that much that I too do not recognize myself? My life before my conversion was despicable. But am I continuing to change to become more and more like my Savior. Am I different from the person I was last year or even last month? Or do I still continue with my same sins, not caring about the monotony of my daily besetting transgressions?

I loved this book! And I recommend it to all Christians! I do not want you to think for a second that this book is only for those struggling with same-sex addictions or inclinations! It is not! It is for the Christian who struggles with hypocrisy (me). It is for the Christian who feels that God cannot heal him from a besetting sin (me also). It is for the Christian who is at peace with their holiness (the self-righteous). It is also for the lost. It is for all of us.

I also want to tell you that the book is not graphic. There is nothing obscene or tasteless in the book, unless words like "drag queen" or "butch" offend you. Not once did I flinch, or think she had crossed a line. Rosaria does well writing her autobiography in a way that exalts her Savior, not her sins (past or present).

I leave you with several excerpts from her book:

Undisciplined taste will always lead to egregious sin - slowly and almost imperceptibly. (pg30)

 In regards to evangelism - The integrity of our relationships matters more than the boldness of our words. (pg. 48)

I felt and feel no solidarity with people who think their salvation makes them more worthy than others. (pg. 81)

People whose lives are riddled with unrestrained sin act like rebellious children. Sin, when unrestrained, infatilizes a person. (pg. 108)

We in the church tend to be more fearful of the (perceived) sin in the world than of the sin in our own hearts. Why is that? (pg. 115)

Our plans are not sacred. (pg. 126)

You can help, but only Jesus can heal. (pg. 146)

There is so much more in this book, but I want to leave it to you to discover on your own. You can buy this book here!