Thursday, February 24, 2011

The Privilege of Prayer, Part 2

Yesterday on Heartprints of God, I included a youtube link to "Maplewood Methodist Church", the song I referred to in my post. For some reason, those of you who receive "Heartprints of God" via email, did not receive the link included in this post.

Not wanting you to miss out on the blessing of this song, I decided to post the lyrics today. Remember, your prayers DO make a difference in the lives of others~

Maplewood Methodist Church
by Gordon Mote

Spends every night inside these walls, dumps the trash and sweeps the halls
And he makes sure that stained glass shines
Picks up paper in the pews and stacks the chairs in the choir room
But his real work don't start till quittin' time
When he goes through every prayer request lying on the pastor's desk
He hits his knees and says

God bless Miss Somersby, Lord it's hard to live alone
And Marianna Thompson wants her daddy back at home
And Mr. Nelson needs forgiveness; Old Man Miller's crops need rain
While the whole towns fast asleep, he's hard at work
Pullin' that midnight shift at the Maplewood Methodist Church

Every night's the same routine and by the time he finally leaves
He's done so much more than clean the building
He's called down angels from on high
And helped someone through a sad goodbye
And lost souls finally find what they've been missing
The congregation will never see that simple man who still believes
He can change the world by saying please

Give Johnny Mays the strength to put that bottle down
Mrs. Bailey and her husband find a way to work things out
And Mrs. Olsen hold on long enough to see her daughter's wedding day
While the whole towns fast asleep, He's hard at work
Pullin' that midnight shift at the Maplewood Methodist Church

The sign out front says Sunday service starts at nine and ten-fifteen
But he holds his own revival, seven nights a week

While the whole town's fast asleep he's hard at work
Pullin' that midnight shift at the Maplewood Methodist Church

Spends every night inside these walls, dumps the trash and sweeps the halls
And he makes sure that stained glass shines


Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The Privilege of Prayer~

For eighteen years, I was blessed to be addressed as "teacher". To me, this was not a title, or a name by which to be called, it was truly a term of endearment. As far back as I can remember, I always wanted to be a teacher. Now, as an adult, I realize this wasn't just the wish of a child, or an answer to the "what do you want to be when you grow up" question that children are often asked. It was indeed my spiritual calling. The Lord, himself, placed this desire in my heart.

As a teacher, I knew my calling was more than to simply teach my students how to read and write. It was more than instilling in them right from wrong. It even went beyond showing them the love of the Lord. My responsibility as their teacher also included praying for them...each of them....each and every single day.

Before the first footsteps were heard in the hall, before the first laugh or the first word echoed in my classroom, before the rush of the day, I would meet with the Lord in my room and pray for "my children". I would go from desk to desk, sitting in the chairs that would soon be home to these precious young hearts and minds. As I prayed, I talked to the Lord about each child specifically. Together, we shared the joys of achievements, the heartache of poor choices, and the concerns and issues of each little life.

At the end of the day, the Lord and I often met again. Once more, a tiny chair was the spot where I communed with the Lord. As I poured out my heart on behalf of these children, I felt the presence of the Lord fill our classroom. A place built for education became a cathedral of worship and divine intervention.

The Lord heard my prayers. I know he did. I could give you account after account of his faithfulness. No. My class didn't miraculously turned into "little angels". We still had our moments! But, our class was held in the hands of God, and his protection, guidance and loving care made all the difference.

Have you ever thought about the difference your prayers can make in the lives of others?

This morning as I was driving to work I heard a song that took me back to these sacred moments in my classroom. I've included it at the end of this post. As you listen to the words, may your eyes be opened to the people in your life who are in need of prayers from YOU. Never underestimate your calling in life.

Maybe you have been called to be a nurse. If so, as you minister to your patients each day, talk to the Lord about them in your heart.

Maybe you work as a cashier in a convenience store. As you handle your transactions, gently and intentionally hand over each customer to the Lord in prayer.

Perhaps you are a truck driver. Why not pray for each motorist you pass on the highway of life?

A stay at home mom? Perfect, pray for your family, then pray for another family you know who homeschools, too.

Whoever you are, whatever you do, you have been given the awesome privilege to pray for others. Don't take this privilege for granted. Others are depending on you.




Monday, February 21, 2011

Dance!

Dance!

Of course! Why hadn't I thought of that?

But wait. I'm getting ahead of myself. Let me take you back to the beginning...

It had all started when I posted the following as a Facebook status on GRACEFUL SISTERS(a page I host similar to HEARTPRINTS OF GOD where I post a scripture verse or a word of encouragement each day.)

Lately, I've been overwhelmed by the beauty of the Lord. Everywhere I look, everywhere I go, I sense His love for me. I have to admit, sometimes, it's more than my ♥ can handle. It is then, His all-consuming love spills out through my tears. Now is such a moment. Thank you, Lord for being so very beautiful to me. How my ♥ adores you. Forever I will worship you & give you my highest praise~


After posting this, I sat back, wiped my tears and tried to continue on with my task at hand. About twenty minutes later, I received a notification that someone had commented on my post. Clicking on the notice, I found this comment from my sweet sister:


Don't cry dear...dance instead! :)


But wait! It doesn't end there! Yesterday, a dear friend posted this as her Facebook status:

One step forward. Ten steps back. Sigh.


As I read her post, it was obvious to me that she was in need of some encouragement. Immediately, I reached for my Bible and prayed that the Lord would give me just the right verse to share with her.

Finally, I had found it.

And let us not lose heart and grow weary and faint in acting nobly and doing right, for in due time and at the appointed season we shall reap, if we do not loosen and relax our courage and faint. Galatians 6:9, The Amplified Bible

I went back to my computer and shared this verse. As I refreshed the page, I discovered that someone else had already left this comment:

I hope that's a dance step......I love you!


It was then I began to wonder just who the Lord was speaking to in this post.

Once again...the invitation to dance~

I decided to search the Bible for any reference to the word dance. I read about Miriam (Exodus 15:20) and David (2 Samuel 6:14) dancing before the Lord in praise and celebration. Then, I came across this passage in Ecclesiastes:

There is a time for everything,
and everything on earth has its special season.
There is a time to be born
and a time to die.
There is a time to plant
and a time to pull up plants.
There is a time to kill
and a time to heal.
There is a time to destroy
and a time to build.
There is a time to cry
and a time to laugh.
There is a time to be sad
and a time to dance.
~ Ecclesiastes 3:1-4

This passage in Ecclesiastes was not new to me. I had read it many times before. What WAS new to me was the last word in verse four. DANCE! Somehow, I have managed to always pass right over it.

Sadly, my default reaction to anything, happy or sad, has always been to cry. (Just ask anyone in my family. When they see my lower lip start to quiver and take a downward turn, they know tears are sure to follow!)

DANCE! What a wonderful idea. As I thought about dancing, I remembered the words of an email I had received several years ago:

Dancing With God
(Author Unknown)

When I meditated on the word guidance, I kept seeing "dance" at the end of
the word. I remember reading that doing God's will is a lot like dancing.
When two people try to lead, nothing feels right. The movement doesn't
flow with the music, and everything is quite uncomfortable and jerky.
When one person realizes and lets the other lead, both bodies begin to
flow with the music. One gives gentle cues, perhaps with a nudge to the
back or by pressing lightly in one direction or another. It's as if two
become one body, moving beautifully. The dance takes surrender,
willingness, and attentiveness from one person and gentle guidance and
skill from the other.

My eyes drew back to the word guidance.

When I saw "G," I thought of God,

followed by "u" and "i."

"God, "u" and "i" dance."

God, you, and I dance.

This statement is what guidance means to me.

As I lowered my head, I became willing to trust that I would get guidance
about my life. Once again, I became willing to let God lead.
Dancing with God. Allowing God to guide me in all the seasons of my life. No matter what may be happening, good or bad, happy or sad, I can choose to dance because God is there, gently guiding and leading me across the dance floor of life. Why should I choose to cry when I can choose to dance and live in the JOY of the Lord?

Nehemiah 8:10 reminds us that the joy of the Lord is our strength.

Galatians 5:22 reminds us that joy is one of the fruit of the spirit.

When my heart was feeling overwhelmed by the beauty of the Lord, I cried. How I wish I would have danced!

When my friend needed words of encouragement, I shared a scripture to strengthen her faith. How I wished I would have followed this scripture with a suggestion to turn her one step forward, ten steps back into a beautiful dance with her Heavenly Father.

What about you?

When was the last time you danced?

Are you feeling overwhelmed by God's awesome love for you?

DANCE!

Are you finding it hard to keep your footing? Is life pushing you backward each time you try to move forward?

DANCE! Take the hand of your Heavenly Father and allow Him to lead you through this season.

Dance!

Of course! Why hadn't I thought of that?


Thursday, February 17, 2011

Good Morning, Lord~

In the quiet of the morning,
You are here.
As the moon gently sets in the West,
and the sun prepares to rise in the East,
You are here.

Lord, thank you for waking me up early this morning. Otherwise, I would have missed this spectacular start to a brand new day. You know how much I love the moon. What a gorgeous moonset! Thank you, Lord.

It's been so long since you and I have enjoyed some "alone time". So long, in fact, that I've forgotten how wonderful it is to welcome a brand new day with you. As we sit here in the stillness of the dawn, I feel so very close to you. My soul at peace. My heart as bright as the moon, radiant with your love. How much you must love me to have arranged such a special moment alone.....with me!

I wonder what this day will bring, Lord. Each day is such a gift, and yet sadly, I often take these precious moments of time for granted. When the alarm goes off I grumble that I have to get up and "face another day". *sigh* I'm so sorry, Lord.

The sun is making it's way up over the mountain and I know my time here with you is fading as quickly as the night. Oh, for a few more minutes....hours....to simply sit by your side.

What, Lord? Oh, yes! It's true! We do have more than just this moment. We have every moment of every day! Thank you for reminding me that in the hustle and the bustle of my day, you are here. You are still here.

Thank you for being ever-present in my life. Thank you for being ever-mindful of me....ME!

Thank you for this time together.

I love you, Lord.

By the way, do you think you could wake me up early tomorrow morning, too?




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Saturday, February 12, 2011

Retreat to God

Have you ever wished you could put your life on hold? You know, just push a button and pause all the action, all the drama, all the emotion, all the.....living?

No wonder Calgon commercials were so appealing. Remember those?.....Calgon take me away!!! A warm, relaxing bath can do wonders to rejuvenate the soul, but personally,I think you and I are in need of something more than a tub full of tiny bubbles!

I don't know about you, but I think I need a retreat!

- a place affording peace, quiet, privacy, or security
- a period of seclusion, retirement, or solitude
- a period of group withdrawal for prayer, meditation, or study

Yep! That is exactly what I need! You, too? I thought so.

Hey wait....where are you going? Hold on a minute. Before you rush off to make a reservation at that quaint little mountain resort you've had your eye on, let me share some refreshing news with you.

‎Last night as I showered and got ready for bed, the cry of my heart was....."If only I could go on a vacation. Just a little time away. A time of retreat away from the drama of life". Later, as I climbed between the warm covers and opened the worn cover of my Bible, my eyes fell on this amazing verse:

You're my place of quiet retreat;
I wait for your Word to renew me.
~ Psalm 119:114, The Message

Isn't that amazing?! We don't have to wait until we find a convenient time or an empty spot on our calendar. We don't have to hold on until we can afford a weekend getaway. We can "retreat" into the peace, quiet, and security of our Lord anytime and in anyplace.

What refreshing news!

Yet, I wonder how often you and I take advantage of this incredible offer.

When you need a break, where do you go?

When you feel overwhelmed and under attack, where do you head?

When you feel the pressure of the world bearing down on you, where do you find relief?

When you need God, where do you run?

If we are to find the peace, quiet, solitude and security we long for, we need to retreat to the only One truly capable of bringing refreshment to our soul. Only God can take the burdens of this world and lift them off of our shoulders. Only God can take the worries of our heart and replace them with an unmistakable and incomprehensible peace. Only God can replace our fears with promises of hope. Only God can ease our tired mind and rejuvenate our spirit.

When was the last time you packed up your heart and headed for a time of retreat with Jesus?

He is always there. Always available. Always waiting with loving arms. Always ready with words of hope, peace and strength.

You're my place of quiet retreat;
I wait for your Word to renew me.


Aah.....thank you, Lord.