Prayer

I’m not going to be talking about prayer in groups or at meetings.  Just you and invisible other party.  Welcome to the land of our imaginations.  This wonderful, mysterious, curious place within our minds that absolutely no one else can see.  Sometimes words are the form of communication that is seen or heard in our minds.  There are endless other ways we communicate internally, feelings, physical sensations, pictures, colors, actual scene sequences, actual memories, our skewed memories viewed through feelings, songs, sounds, melodies, listening, waiting, just being, imaginary future conversations or interactions, premonitions, out of body experiences, dreams, waking thoughts, and a plethora I’m sure I have no idea about or haven’t mentioned here.

prayer

All of the above listed experiences communicate something about ourselves and God, back and forth with one another, God experiencing everything our internal spirit experiences, with us.  Immanuel, God with us, not just here on earth, but inside our very selves.  Our spirit is one with God’s spirit.  Everything encompassed in this communion I would consider as “prayer,” others use the terms like meditation or spirituality.

God’s kingdom is gloriously unseen.  It’s not at a place that has GPS coordinates.  This is wonderful, because instead, it is everywhere.  No matter what dirty hole in the earth a person finds themselves in, there God is fully alive within them.  No matter about the people around us or circumstances, there, in all his fullness, is God’s beautiful self abiding in our hearts.  Sometimes we have a harder time remembering this or experiencing it when we get distracted with ourselves, our performance, our strivings, our failures, and we believe lies about ourselves or the God that lives inside of us.  But this never the less, makes all of the above no less true.  The fullness of God lives within you.  How awesome is that!

The first step in prayer is getting past our own religious performance involved with our interaction with God.  God’s kingdom I imagine is a lot more like a children’s outdoor jungle gym than a church service.  Modesty and restraint are not necessarily going to help us here.  I would say the beginning of prayer is basically being completely and 100% honest with this God that lives inside us and this also involves 100% honest with ourselves.  This concept sounds easier than it seems.  Our minds are filled with justifications and self-perceptions that sometimes aren’t true.  But no mind, moving forward.

Honesty with ourselves and God is just the foundation of relationship.  Prayer is simply relationship.  This does not exclude asking things and communicating needs, but involves so much more.  God watches movies with you, rides bikes with you, cooks dinner with you, rides in the car with you.  God lives with us!  I enjoy expressing my feelings and verbalizing my questions and frustrations with God.  When I intentionally chose to share life with him is often when I also get to enjoy his participation in mine.  God will communicate love to however you are open to receiving it.  He will tell you he loves you and he is with you daily.

SPIRITUALITY

Maybe you are more a picture person, or a word person, or feeling person, but when you engage with God in your imagination it may be unseen but it is possibly more real than any relationship you have living in these tents of flesh called bodies.  Engage with God and have fun with him.  He wants to set you free of your fears but he also wants to make you laugh.  He is a gentleman and will not force you to engage with him, but he is looking forward to every moment you do.  Love is the great mystery of our inner world with God, his kingdom of beauty and strength inside of us.  He loves to respond to all that you offer himself of you.

Character     Covenant     Creativity

Family     Freedom    Gift Giver

Joy    Judgement    Kindness    Trust

Love     Praise      Prayer     Self-love

 

Joy

He keeps turning my eye here.  I try to focus on other things in this world or his kingdom and he keeps pointing me to this thing called happiness, this thing called Joy.  Perhaps the wide road is the one of worry, fear, anxiety and frustration and the narrow road of heaven we’re actually invited to traverse upon could just be the road of trust, peace, contentment, love, rest and joy.

Joy somehow sparkles with glory and a supernatural existence; it is a gift of heaven without limit and often overlooked.  Joy has a lowly state.  It is often seen as ignorance or immaturity.  Serious, urgent things are looked upon with esteem and great importance.  But Joy is not news.  It is not urgent.  It does not fight for power.  Joy is meek and unassuming.  It is persistent and unexpected, playful and a welcomed guest.

There are things we must chose to not give attention to in order to participate in Joy.  We must look away from the fears of our own condition and any worries ahead.  We must turn away from decisions gone awry behind us.  Joy requires us, or allures us rather to be entirely present once again.  We must let go of performance in it’s company.  It is participation with someone wholly other than ourselves.  A different source from which this magical river flows; Jesus’ side.

It is God’s expressed desire for our Joy to be full, not finding lack in our experience of this wonderful gift of heaven.  But the realist would ask, what is Joy’s purpose?  How is it productive or long lasting?  Joy is a fruit to be enjoyed, not to be made into a gadget for a machine to use.  It’s expression is as purposeful as the beauty of a flower.  It is meant to be enjoyed.

The treasure map to finding joy is clearly shown in scripture.  Psalm 16 says the fullness of Joy is found in God’s presence.  Everlasting pleasure is found at his right hand.  Not on this earth or in a thing or an activity or a person, but in God’s company.  His nearness, his friendship.  Where can you find his will for your emotions?  In the goodness, safety, commitment and gladness of himself!

So many things can happen in life that deter our hearts from this child-like track.  Perceived failures, tragic losses, disappointed expectations, and hurtful betrayal are just to name a few.  The eternal part of joy is that we don’t derive it from what we see around us, what people are saying, or doing.  We derive it from his presence within us.  It is truly powerful and absolutely unassailable.  Nothing has truly threatened or will ever be able to take away this gift of Joy that has been given to us through Christ Jesus.   He has overcome everything that claims to have overcome his presence in your walk with him in this life.  His Joy is yours.  His Joy is mine.  And it endures.

Character     Covenant     Creativity

Family     Freedom    Gift Giver

Joy    Judgement    Kindness    Trust

Love     Praise      Prayer     Self-love

 

Brave Dreaming…Brave Living

Quill-Paper-and-Wax

Joel:   We have the privilege of dreaming together with God. Now Religion has told us that we must sacrifice our dreams, to offer them up on the altar, die to them in order to “please” God. When in reality He was the one who placed those dreams inside of us in the first place. This lie of giving up your dreams has left many depressed and not really living their lives to the fullest but merely surviving. We encourage you to dare to dream those dreams again. I see many leaving jobs that they have been working in for many years because they thought they had to and opening up their own businesses and or going to school again to go after those things they have longed for. I see a people who will no longer dread getting up in the morning to go to their boring job but jumping out of bed with joy and a great expectation of what that day will look like.

Heather:   After working as a missionary giving “my all” to God, my career choice took an unexpected turn of events.  While living in the midst of illiteracy, a culture of addiction, lack of adequately involved parenting, and general violence, while doing a lot of “good work” Papa said, “Quit belittling the gift I’ve given you.”  In my hierarchy of perceived self-sacrifice I was “laying down everything” to do what I perceived to be God’s will.  Until he had a conversation with me.  I was invited by an individual to start painting.  It seemed like the world was ending in the midst of my decision on this one point.  I was picturing with God and I saw him through the eyes of a scared little daughter.  I was tightly holding a box of 64 crayons (well used and appreciated in my childhood–mine even had the sharpener built into the back) and Daddy reached out his hand to following his leading.  He was opening a door for me into the front of a building and was leading my hand to follow him and come inside.  I said yes.

I’m not sure if I would have had the faith to step out into starting my own business trusting God’s leading if I hadn’t already done that on the mission field for eight years without having “produced” anything.  But God made it undeniably clear that he desired my creativity and that somehow was important to him, well beyond my understanding.  I was even slightly offended by my lack of understanding on how this was at all practical or effective in any regards to the kingdom of God but I decided he knew what he was doing.

To this day, two and half years later, I paint.  I still don’t understand it, I still have never received training (I don’t have any concept of doing things wrong or right), I still don’t know why what I do is special, and I still often wonder how I should be doing things differently but in the meantime, I paint.  I don’t paint led by money, I paint led by inspiration; sometimes those to combine nicely, other times, I am left to wonder and trust at the fruit.  I find I am often challenged by the Holy Spirit–every project actually–always has something new I’ve never done before involved in it.  To be honest, that’s what keeps thing challenging and intriguing and inside when I’m going to approach a project.  I have to figure out the execution and that’s the part I enjoy of creation, the newness that I’ve never experienced before.  I guess it’s kind of like singing a new song to the Lord.  That’s a little of my story as an artist, a child, and a wonderer.