What Would Jesus Do?

DSCN2544Alone, I go to a secluded area. I want to talk with the Lord. There are so many people in my life who ask for prayer, who have deep needs.

How do I pray for them? Does my perceived needs for them line up with God’s will for their lives?

I think of my own prayer requests, wisdom needed so decisions can be made.

What would Jesus do?

Those words have become a catch phrase on bracelets and T-shirts, but this truly is my desire “to do the right thing” so I pray,

What would Jesus do?

A thought stirs my heart like the wind blowing through the pine trees on the hill.

Jesus would pray.

“But He would often slip away to the wilderness and pray.” (Luke 5:16)

He made communion with God, the Father, a daily priority.

o   Before he chose the twelve men who would be his apostles,

o   Before Jesus spoke to the multitude, and afterwards,

o   Before he healed the leper and the blind man,

o   Before he was arrested,

 Jesus would pray.

American culture has programmed me to be productive rather than be still.

Consequently, my Christian walk also gets caught up in a blur of activity:

Follow Christ, serve Him, live a life that is worthy, please Him, bring Him honor.…

I forget to be still….

And do what Jesus did every day of his life on earth…PRAY!

The Lord’s Prayer (Luke 11:1-4) are the words Jesus shared when the disciples asked Him to teach them to pray. John Chapter 17 also shows what Jesus prayed for when He knew His hour had come.

He prayed:

Ø  His name would be glorified, and that believers would see His glory.

Ø  God would keep believers safe from the evil one, and care for them.

Ø  Believers would be filled with His joy.

Ø  Believers would be sanctified in the truth; God’s Word is truth.

Ø  Believers would be unified so the world would know that He was sent by God who loves them even as He loves the Son.

Ø  God’s love would dwell in His people’s hearts, and He in them.

Alone in the wilderness, I know what to do.

I pray likewise knowing these are the best things I can pray for myself and others because

This is what Jesus would do.

What About My Needs?

There are Naked Ladies in my garden, soaking up the August sunshine.

When I see them, I think of the Lord’s Prayer.

Naked Ladies are also called Belladonna Lilies. They earned their nickname due to their leafless long stems that produce funnel-shaped flowers in late summer.

What do Naked Ladies have to do with the Lord’s Prayer?

Yesterday while I dug shallow holes for these plants, it occurred to me …

Plants like my Naked Ladies need four things to survive: water, oxygen, sunlight, soil.

According to the Lord’s Prayer, these are my needs.

Bread

Forgiveness

Deliverance 

What about Marriage? Children? Success? Wealth?

Sorry, these aren’t mentioned in the Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6:9-13).

This passage, simple enough for a child to memorize, packs a deadly punch….to my egocentric heart.

Even the words preceding this prayer humbles me.

“Lord, teach us to pray.”

The disciples didn’t assume, they wanted to know how to pray.

“Lord, teach us to pray” …. is a prayer in itself.

A challenge for me to come before God with a teachable heart and one request. “Lord, teach me to pray.”  

I don’t want my prayers to resemble a laundry list of perceived needs for myself and others. 

I don’t want to be a taskmaster, telling God what I want fixed, finished, and furnished. And make it quick. 

Even when I praise God’s attributes, thank Him for my blessings, and ask Him to forgive my sins….

There is still too much of me, and too little of God in my prayers. 

HE should have turned me into a pillar of salt long ago.

But instead, the Lord teaches me to pray while I kneel in the dirt, head bowed beneath a canopy of oak trees…an earthly sanctuary where His Prayer convicts and fills my heart anew.

IMG_4537

“Our Father in heaven,

Hallowed by YOUR Name

YOUR kingdom come,

YOUR will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”

Hmm, this prayer is all about God. What about ME: My reputation, My life, My will? My needs?

“Give us today, our daily Bread

And forgive us our debts as we also have forgiven our debtors

And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.”

Bread

Forgiveness

Deliverance

There are other prayers in the Bible, other needs addressed.

But, when the disciples said, “Lord, teach us to pray.”

Our Father was the prayer Jesus taught them.

I need to pray likewise, and be thankful when God meets these needs!

Must I Go to Church?

DSCN2047Must I go to church today?

As I rolled over in bed, every muscle in my body ached. I’d spent the previous day pulling weeds from my garden.  I don’t feel like going anywhere.

Excuses whined in my head:

I need the rest.

I had to go somewhere every day last week, I deserve a break.

I can listen to praise music and worship God in my home.

I can read my Bible and pray in my recliner.

I won’t be missed.

Notice the word “I” stood center stage.

 

Rolling out of bed, I stumbled to the bathroom sink and splashed lukewarm water on my face.

Am I behaving like a lukewarm Christian?

So what if I’d had a busy week. Should church be less of a priority than the multitude of other activities on my agenda?

 Is church attendance an option?

 Guilt squeezed my chest, dragged me to church where I purposely sat by myself in the last pew.

  The worship band played. I sang, but there was no song in my heart.

 Someone prayed. I bowed my head, but my mind wandered.

“See!” An inner voiced mocked. “You should have stayed home.  Coming to church out of obligation is legalism. You can go through the motions, but God sees your heart!”

I turned to Psalm 19 and followed dutifully along in my Bible as the Pastor read:

Connect

“The heavens are telling of the glory of God. And their expanse is declaring the work of His hands.”

As he continued reading verses 7-11, my dutiful heart became deliriously devoted.

“The law of the Lord is perfect…”

“The testimony of the Lord is sure….”

 “The precepts of the Lord are right….”

“The commandment of the Lord is pure…”

“The fear of the Lord is clean…”

“The judgments of the Lord are true….”

Notice GOD’S NAME stands center stage.

Focused on God and His Word rather than my feelings, excuses, or moods….

My soul was restored…and my mind made wise. (Verse 7)

My heart rejoiced…and my eyes enlightened. (Verse 8)

And that is why I must go to church.

For I know I’ll hear God’s Word and meditate on the ONE whose glory is revealed in the heavens. And I’ll worship the only ONE who is able to keep me from sins and forgive my transgressions because ….

The Lord truly is “my rock and my Redeemer.” (Verse 14)

There are no other options.

What Does the Future Hold?

IMG_6108My Christmas tree, an Evergreen symbol of eternal life, stands stripped of its color and lights. Waits to be thrown away like last week’s used gift-wrap.

I pinch the needles, still soft and green. Run my fingers like a comb through strands of silver tinsel clinging to its branches. Pine scent lingers, but the Christmas gifts are gone.

Refrigerator shelves, once crowded with a feast, look bare.

Cookie platter has nothing left but crumbs.

And the living room, where guests sang carols, is filled with empty chairs.

Christmas has come and gone. All gone, like 2012.

A melancholy sigh escapes my lips.

All gone, except the dust and piles of dirty laundry.

Why does the Creche on the mantel suddenly seem out of place? God’s gift to the world is no less real just because it’s New Year’s Day.

Move Baby Jesus to a storage bin, toss the Christmas tree outside. Dust the mantel, vacuum pine needles, put tangled lights into a pile.

Christmas time is gone.

Even the stores have moved on. Their shelves once stocked with candy canes, now display pink heart-shaped candy.

Winter rain will come, perhaps it will even snow.

But today the sun is shining so my dismal mood must go.

Daylight stretches longer, beckoning more warmth.

And dormant bulbs beneath a cold, hard ground, are scheduled to appear when the Groundhog comes to town. Will he see his shadow?

The good Lord only knows.

Till then, I …

Peruse mental snap shots of  family far and near; and the extraordinary “in laws” we met two weeks shy of the new year.

I remember forever friends, new friends discovered, and the kindness of strangers who once crossed my path.

A new calendar hangs on my wall, twelve months of the unknown. For example, who knew this time last year, the abundant blessings God had in store? Who could predict ill health, tears wept, and painful losses that made me shout, ‘no more!’

I glance through last year’s journal to read from whence I came. Reminders I can trust the Lord to walk with me through the coming days.

God is present and He loves me…whatever 2013 holds.

“I launch my bark on the unknown waters of this year,

with thee, O Father, as my harbour,

           thee, O Son, at my helm,

           thee, O Holy Spirit, filling my sails.”

Puritan Prayer from The Valley of Vision

Remember When

Miles and miles of asphalt stretch like black ribbon across the arid land of southern Arizona.

As my vehicle transports me westward through Tucson, memory carries me backwards when I called this city home. Its mountain range was the scenic backdrop during the bulk of my childhood. I dream about it still.

If time wasn’t a factor, I’d spend the day searching for landmarks, hoping my memories remained reality. Is the rope swing still hanging from the tree? Are the neighbors the same? Would Buttons, our black and white cat, be sitting on the backyard fence?

Remembrance brings tears.  Wishing I could travel back in time. Knowing I can’t.

Sweet memories rise like creme to the surface, negating any bad remembrances. But is anything gained by looking at yesterday? Lessons learned? Friendships made? Turning points …

My heart flutters. Jesus Christ became my Lord and Savior when I lived in Tucson. It was here I received my first Bible: a white leather, King James Version, with my name engraved on the front cover. I remember the desire He planted in my twelve-year-old heart to follow Him, know Him.

Not remember?

How could I walk this earthly journey “by faith and not by sight” if I didn’t recall God’s faithfulness during my life?

His Word repeatedly says, “Remember”…

  • The deeds of the LORD and His miracles of long ago” (Psalm 77:11).
  • God is our Rock; that God Most High is our Redeemer” (Psalm 78:35).
  • Life is fleeting” (Psalm 89:47).
  • To obey God’s commands” (Numbers 15:40).
  • Words the Lord Jesus himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive‘ ” (Acts 20:35).
  • Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, descended from David. This is my gospel…” (2 Tim. 2:8).
  • The poor” (Galatians 2:10).
  • Each other in prayer” (2 Tim. 1:3).
  • Those in prison” (Hebrews 13:3).
  • Your leaders, who spoke the Word of God to you...” (Heb. 13:7).

Plus the multitude of scripture which saysGod remembers.” He remembers His people, His covenant, His promises.

A highway patrol car passes on my left, pulling thoughts back to the moment. New homes and freeway overpasses show the city is expanding. In my mid-teens, I moved away. But Tucson isn’t a ghost town or stuck in the past. It’s progressing, thriving like me after all these years.

And God, the Redeemer who sought a twelve-year-old girl in Tucson, is still leading me on the highway of life.

Jesus Christ, the Alpha and Omega. The beginning and the end. 

That’s something to remember every day.

Remembering Him, even in this……