5 ways to Creatively Connect with the Creator in Prayer

folded hands“Our Father who art in Heaven….”  I remember our nightly ritual, brushing teeth and bed time prayers with folded hands.  I knew the prayer by heart. I could offer it up in my sleep, and often said it as my Father carried me to bed.  As I got older, those words became more powerful and the practice of prayer more personal. I began to learn about the value of personal prayer.  Coming from a charismatic background I’d seen prayers for healings yield lengthened limbs, and bid diseases away.  I saw doors of opportunity open and relationships restored as a result of prayer.

“The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces

wonderful results.” (James 5:16b NLT)

Sometimes our prayer life can become routine or stale.  I felt like my prayers were becoming laundry lists of petitions lacking sincerity.  I decided to shake up my prayer life a little by reading some devotionals and old school prayer books and was blessed by how new the practice of prayer became.

Last Blog we discussed visual reminders to keep a focus on God’s presence, this blog I am going to share with you some things I’ve incorporated that keep me focused on prayer time and block out distractions

             My prayer beads were a gift from my ministry partner.  They are smooth and purple.

Prayer Beads

Prayer Beads

Sometimes I will just hold them as I pray each stone representing a different prayer of thanksgiving and I’ll go through them again with petitions…helps me balance my conversation with God. Sometimes I will just sit quietly and thumb through them allowing for silence for God to speak.

“The LORD is near to all them that call on him, to all that call on him in truth.”

(Psalm 145:18)

Shower door prayer reminders

Shower door prayer reminders

2              I am known for writing the name on my hand of someone to pray for throughout the day. (YAY for Sharpies)  I also keep a dry erase pen in my bathroom to write on my mirror and shower door so that I can be prayerful while I am getting ready for work.  “A day hemmed in prayer is not likely to unravel” (Note: Do not confuse Sharpie w/dry erase. Much harder to get off mirror; lesson learned the hard way.)

“Be anxious for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” (Philippians 4:6)

             This past year, I have been making coloring part of my Sabbath.  I will sit on my

Coloring Book and pencils

Coloring Book and pencils

back porch with soft music playing and chose a picture, while I color it, I lift my prayers to God.  It makes prayers less rushed and more heartfelt. I find the contemplative quiet in between is so beneficial to the  “Listening” part of prayer.  It really is a two way conversation.

“Prayer is not monologue, but dialogue. Gods voice in response to mine is its most essential part.” ~ Andrew Murray

Prayer Journaling

Prayer Journaling

4              Journaling prayers has always been a part of my life, but I had gotten away from keeping record of answered prayer. Answers are such an incentive and encouragement to our prayer lives.  The bible is full of answered prayers which show the Power of Prayer.  Journaling our prayers gives us a gentle reminder that the God who answered us back then….is the same God we are seeking today.

 

5              These prayer stones were stones I intentionally

Prayer Stones

Prayer Stones

picked up on Lake Erie several years ago.  I wrote topics on them in sharpie and set them in a basket. Throughout the day I would take one out and pray about that specific need and lay it on the table. At the end of the day the basket was empty and I had some great unstructured conversations with God.  Often I will leave a particular stone out to remind me  to pray about an issue that burdens me.   It prompts me to be a “Prayer WARRIOR and not a prayer WORRIER”

I am super excited about the movie coming out called WAR ROOM – it looks fabulous and is centered on prayer.  Check out the trailer here :  http://warroomthemovie.com/

Prayer is part of a Christian’s daily walk.  Prayer is connecting to the Creator.  You don’t get to know someone by only spending one hour a week with them. Talking with God daily will increase your faith and your connection to him.  We are called to pray without ceasing in Thessalonians 5:17.

My prayer is that you will find a method that works for you and that as you grow deeper in your relationship with the Savior; Prayer will become something you crave.

POINT TO PONDER:  What can you incorporate into your prayer life to make it more meaningful to you and to the Lord?

What I learned at Camp

Seneca Chapel1.Bring several warm layers even in April

2.The “Heavenly Storehouses Laden with Snow” can pour out…even in April

3.Don’t forget the sleeping bag or the camera.

4.Camp food is tasty –  don’t start a diet before you head out.

5.Women Rock at Paintball.

6.Lack of outward appearing response has no bearing on INWARD Impact – YAY God!

7.A Zipline can make your age 40 + body, feel older the next day.

8.God not only calms the storms in your life, but your stomach as well.

9.Audiences love a good Super Hero story…especially when it involves BAT GIRL!

And the best thing?

10.GOD SHOWS UP AT CAMP!

 

This weekend was the Anchor of the Soul:  Women’s Retreat at Seneca Hills. Anchor Prop I continue to be blown away by the awesomeness of God and how he can take willing and broken vessels who serve and pour into them until they overflow on others.

We explored who God is and How he loves us.  We examined how the hurts we go through grow us. We looked at things that can harden our hearts which hinders our relationship with God and we learned about how essential hope is to our prayer life and how to be a hope giver.

We UNTIED the knots in our lifeline which keep us from being tethered to the Anchor of our souls and we became UNITED with the only sure thing to keep us from drifting in this crazy mixed up world.

Several ladies came to the true and life saving knowledge that they are daughters of a King.

We sang, journaled, prayed, pondered…did zumba, PraiseMoves and Paintball we ate and learned how to eat Biblically…we shared…we cared…we chatted…but most of all…we worshipped.Worship at Seneca

It was a memorable weekend. Thanks be to God!  If you were there comment on what you took away from the weekend.  Hope to see you again soon!

If you missed it.  Learn how you can schedule the An Anchor for Our Souls Retreat for the women at your church by leaving your query below.  We look forward to serving you!

 

Under Fire…

Unfathomable.

Photos and descriptions of the fires devouring the Colorado landscape are incredibly overwhelming.  Watching the force of the fire knocking things over before it reaches its hot fingers out to engulf all that is in its path.  Witnessing the devastation in the wake of the walls of fire and watching the depth of despair in all those who have lost due to the devouring wave of flames is heartbreaking.

It’s with incomprehensible sadness we observe the gripping saga of our friends in the west.

As I prayed for the firefighters, the people in the towns awaiting orders to evacuate, I felt the word Hell seared upon my soul.  The scene and those who have experienced the wildfire’s wrath have described it as “hell on earth.”  It prompted me to ponder Hell.

I wait anxiously to learn if my friends in Colorado Springs have anything left to return to at all or if their home and possessions fell victim to the indiscriminate path of the destructive fire.

One of them has been working with the fire fighters at the base camp where the toll on these brave warriors has been immense.  From flora and fauna to wild life to townsfolk, nothing has been left unscathed. 

But for most of these people, life will go on.  It will be a long road of restoring what the fire destroyed…but for those who end up in Hell, there will be no second chances.  Sadly what we are seeing in Colorado could be an eternal reality for those who don’t know about the message of salvation.

Just like the firefighters working tirelessly to save people, pets and property…we should have a compelling urgency to rob Hell of victims to engulf in despair. Each time I see the flicker of a flame on the news, I pray “God use me”.

Years ago, my best friend’s dad was severely burned and scarred.  She said there wasn’t just a physical transformation as he adjusted to a life of scars, she said he was spiritually transformed as well.  “Dad was never the same after experiencing the burning of his flesh.  He said it gave him just a taste of what Hell might be like and inspired him to try to reach more people with the Life saving message of eternity with Jesus,” she explained.  These recent fires are igniting a passion in my heart for the same.

I am sure this post will be challenged by people who wonder if there really is a hell.  It’s not a gamble I am

www.lindajackmanphotography.com

willing to take.  My prayer for Colorado is Rain and Restoration. My prayer for the unsaved is to Find Salvation. My prayer for myself is to be courageous to reach those whose future is destined to be charred by the choice of unbelief.  Will you join me?

Point to PonderIf you thought hell was even 1/10th of the intensity of a forest fire, would you wish it on anyone?  Is there someone in your life you’d like to share Jesus with? I pray you have wisdom, courage and the words that will change their heart.

(Photos on the page except the one at right were from a Colorado Friend’s Facebook Page)

A matter of the heart.

Did you know?

* The average adult heart beats 72 times a minute; 100,000 times a day; 3,600,000 times a year; and 2.5 billion times during a lifetime.

* You have 60,000 miles of blood vessels in your heart

* The heart begins beating at four weeks after conception and does not stop until death.

* More than 2,500 Americans die from heart disease each day, equaling one death every 34 seconds

The topic of the heart is near to mine after the past two weeks.  Recently, my father in law collapsed at home and died before he reached the hospital. He was 71 “apparent heart attack” reads the obituary.  My husband’s life is forever altered as dad was his friend and golfing buddy all rolled into one. 

I lost my father when he was only 54 due to his 3rd and final heart attack. When I was pregnant with my first child, my mother suffered a heart attack.  My brother in law died at the age of 24 of an Arrhythmia of the heart. And my own brother merely 15 months older than I,  just underwent a heart cath on Tuesday.  To say I have a “history” with matters of the heart is an understatement.

As my daughter and I were driving from my mother in law’s house in Ohio  back to ours in Pennsylvania on Wednesday after the funeral, my husband called me with news that he had been taken by ambulance to the hospital for chest pains. I was 2 hours away still from our house, another 45minutes from the hospital. My own heart sank. I first called on God then the people who needed to manage my life and kids for at least the next 24 hours.

I came home dropped off the dog and the 11 year old, funeral flowers and food, and headed to the hospital where I found an indignant husband anxious to be released. My husband is an athlete. He is in great shape physically working out about 4x a week and competing in triathlons and races via running and biking all year long, and he always has. 

His resting heart rate is 52. His blood pressure and cholesterol levels are amazing and the envy of most of his doctors…yet here he was in the care of cardiac specialists.  After a stress test which he nailed and a night of observation he was permitted to go home.  Apparently the stress of a broken heart can wreak havoc on even the strongest of bodies.  It was diagnosed as an esophageal spasm due to stress. We were given a prescription for Prilosec and sent on our way. 

As I was praying and trying to find a “good” or “GOD” part of ending this exhausting week in the Emergency Room I pondered God’s heart.  Everything we endure has a purpose.  He is so gracious and walks with us through trials. 

In my heart, I felt like GOD allowed this to happen in order to assure Brian’s mom and me that his HEART was PERFECT so that his mom and I wouldn’t even have to worry about him following in his father’s footsteps.    

How like God to know my fears and concerns even before I did and assure me that “all is well”.

Point to Ponder:  In what ways has God given you “Blessed Assurance” about something to alleviate your worries?

Lessons from the Wilderness

(thanks for your continued patience during our do-over of the Kissed by the Creator site)

I am in the middle of teaching a 12 week series on Connecting with the Creator through his creations.  This week as I was preparing my discussion on The Wilderness Speaks, I became keenly aware of the words that describe physical wilderness.  Words like: desolate, barren, lonely, deserted, dangerous, wasteland and void.  Words that at certain times in my life, described my journey through a spiritual wilderness.

Tanzania

In preparing and reading about the impact of Wilderness(physical) in the lives of people throughout Biblical history, it struck a chord that the physical wilderness journey taught similar lessons that would be valuable during sojourns of spiritual wilderness.

The story of Moses in the Old Testament, leading the Israelites through the desert is fraught with tales of their give and take relationship with God. The consequences of their disobedience, repentance and reconnecting with God read like a travel log. Their time in the wilderness was a time of trial and testing. God met their every need in the wilderness from raining down manna to rocks springing forth with water.  It was also during the time in the wilderness that God issued his Commandments, guiding their moral lives. Basically the only way to have needs met is to be in a position of need.  The Israelites would not have been able to fully appreciate the promise land without first experiencing the desert.

I pondered a recent descent into a spiritual wilderness or valley, where I wasn’t seeing a burning bush or getting messages carved in stone, let alone hearing His still small voice. During that wilderness experience I was both disobedient and repentant and though it didn’t seem like it at the time, my needs were met.  There is no way I could fully appreciate the blessings that came from that valley if I hadn’t walked the barren ground.

Another poignant trip to the wilderness recorded in the Bible is that of Jesus where he fasted for 40 days then successfully endured and withstood the temptations of Satan.  Matthew 4:2-3 says “And after He had fasted 40 days and 40 nights He then became hungry. And the tempter came to him and said, “IF you are the Son of God, command these stones become bread.”

Temptations happen in the wilderness. They seem to come when we are at our weakest.  Satan waited until Christ was hungry to tempt him and he tempted him with what HE was thinking about – food.  How often do our temptations come about what is filling our thoughts?

The danger of this temptation wasn’t asking Jesus to miraculously make bread because Jesus did go on to create bread for the multitudes.  The danger of this temptation was that Satan’ proposed this to question Christ’s authority and identity.

Spiritual wilderness can often challenge our identity in Christ because after all we are not “feeling” it right? Satan will use our time in the Wilderness to test “whose” we are and what we are made of.

If our call is to be “Christlike” then it goes without saying that we will not only find ourselves in the wilderness, but we will find ourselves tested and tempted during those times. 

Jesus faced off Satan by quoting scripture. He used a passage from Deuteronomy 8 to refute the first temptation.

 “It is written, Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word

that proceeds from the mouth of God.”(Matthew 4:4)

Jesus’ response to Satan was an indicator of what he really relied on.  He relied on God, his Father not a temporary fix – food or bread.  We can’t ever underestimate the value of relying on God even when we aren’t “feeling” it.

Satan continued to tempt Jesus during his stay in the wilderness but what happened at the end is the good part. “Then the devil left Him, and behold, angels came and ministered to Him (Matthew 4:11)

In both accounts, the wilderness was a place of transformation.  Change happened.  The Israelites were free and received their promised land and Jesus was launched into his ministry.

So while in the midst of the Wilderness it doesn’t seem like God is moving, the results are often seen when we emerge – changed, transformed and ready for…

Point to Ponder:

Have you been sojourning in the wilderness or perhaps just returned, what did you learn?

Do you have a “fooljita” scale?

Our Creator has given us many things that we classify like plants and animals which are divided by genus and species. 

Our weather is classified by severity.  Warnings and watches are issued based on the ferocity of the storm.  The Fujita Scale is the official classification system for tornado damage ranking storms by classifying the devastation created. The more powerful the tornado, the higher the assigned number.

Hurricanes are measured in strength by the  Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale which determines how ferocious a storm can be by how intense the winds are within.

Quantifying and classifying weather is productive and the systems in place are often helpful when giving advanced notice of incoming natural disasters.

How many of us have our own scale for measuring the intensity of sin? Perhaps it’s the Fooljita?

 Yes, we have the list of the 10 Commandments.  But they are not listed in their 1-10 order by their intensity or the punishment they merit.  If so, saying OMG is worse than Murder.  Murder is less offensive than say, stealing or coveting.

There is no gauge for sin listed in the Bible, except for the 6 the Lord detests and the one he finds an abomination see below:

Proverbs 6:16-19 

 16 There are six things the LORD hates, seven that are detestable to him:

    17 haughty eyes, a lying tongue,  hands that shed innocent blood,

    18  a heart that devises wicked schemes, feet that are quick to rush into evil,

    19 a false witness who pours out lies.  And a man who stirs up dissension among brothers.  (um..Gossip-just sayin’)

This does not mean that the ones listed in the Ten Commandments not mentioned here don’t matter, because Creator God himself wrote them on the tablets. 

We often withhold forgiveness based on the “level” of offense committed against us.  Jesus died for all sinners and their sins, not just certain sins. Often Christians ascribe their own fujita scale to offenses.  We think that taking the Post It notes from the office isn’t as serious as Bernie Madoff’s $50 Billion Ponzi scheme.  Both offenses are stealing.  Both are sin.  God is not determining which is worse, why should we?                                                 

In the parable of the talents, the master forgave the servant an unpayable debt.   That servant turned around and demanded repayment of a debt owed him.  When the master found out he sent the unforgiving servant to prison.

Matthew 6:14-15 is talking to believers it says:    

14 For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.

Is there an unforgivable sin?  The Bible doesn’t mention one that I can find.  John Bevere in “The Bait of Satan “ study series talked about how  the love in our hearts when we become saved is what equips us to be able to forgive. We have a choice we are equipped through the love that is deposited in us at the moment of our salvation. “A person who refuses to forgive is a person who has forgotten what he’s been forgiven of.” – JB.

The key to being forgiven by our Creator, is to forgive those that have committed offenses against us.  Forgiveness means we release that individual to God to discipline.  The “Bait of Satan” study makes it clear that a person who refuses to forgive will not inherit the kingdom of Heaven because they are living with unforgiveness which is a sin according the scripture.

Forgiving isn’t all about forgetting it is about releasing.  Often people will say, “I can’t forgive them, because I can’t ever forget what they’ve done to me.”  Forgiveness is not conditional of forgetting.  Forgiveness is a choice, the forgetting is a detail God can work out, but only after a choice to forgive and release the offender. 

Are you wrestling with unforgiveness and an unproductive prayer life? Hint: They are connected.

Point to Ponder:  Is there someone in your life you need to release and forgive?  Is there someone you need to seek forgiveness of?  

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BTW:  Thanks for your patience while we are under construction. 

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Erosion of the heart

Photo Courtesy of Linda Jackman Photography
http://lindajackmanphotography.com/

The other day I watched rivulets of water from melting snow trickle down my driveway creating ruts. Today in the freezing temps, those water filled ruts have frozen and widened. I watched my daughter navigate these obstacles trying to avoid them on the way to bus.

According to the dictionary….. Erosion is the natural process of weathering and transport of solids (sediment, soil, rock and other particles) in the natural environment or their source and depositing them elsewhere.

Recently, I used the following analogy about erosion to draw a word picture of how our hearts can be eroded by our loved ones, specifically our family members.

Often our loved one never “intends” to hurt us. Reality is though eventually they do actually wound us. They do things over and over which causes ruts to be carved on our hearts. Rarely do we bring this up. We just react. We pull back, hurt back or just ignore both the issue and the offender. We get over it and move on, but the rut grows deeper with each hurt.

Gradually all their stuff (words/actions) washes over our heart and trickles down the eroded grooves widening them. So we hear or feel things based upon it washing over the grooves and picking up remnants of the hurts that are deposited in the troughs.

Eventually everything they say or do…is covered in baggage and offensive. The result is defensiveness which is divisive.

Watching flood ravaged areas, one sees sandbags to prevent erosion and trucks backfilling things as earth is washed away. I pondered how to fill the grooves in my heart left behind by others whose words or deeds have gradually etched my heart and wounded my spirit. People I am forced to interact with daily.

Backhoes would destroy my heart. A sandbag would squash it. Avoiding people is not an option especially when you are related to them or even live with them. How to fix it?

According the Mayo Clinic: “Generally, forgiveness is a decision to let go of resentment and thoughts of revenge. The act that hurt or offended you may always remain a part of your life, but forgiveness can lessen its grip on you and help you focus on other, positive parts of your life. Forgiveness can even lead to feelings of understanding, empathy and compassion for the one who hurt you.”

Our Creator’s word says:

Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.
Colossians 3:13
Anxiety in a man’s heart weighs it down, But a good word makes it glad.
Proverbs 12:25

Forgiveness is an act we do without any action on our offender’s part. It is giving up our right to revenge. It’s our choice and it would seem forgiving is heart healthy for us.

Point to Ponder:
Does the erosion of my heart affect my relationships? What can I do to heal my heart? What choices do I need to make and whom do I need to forgive?


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