Is There Really Power in Prayer?

Have you ever heard someone say they “believe in the power of prayer?”

As a Christian, I agree with this statement… somewhat.

See, I don’t believe that a prayer in itself has power. My own lifting up words of praise and petition is not powerful. What is powerful–who is powerful– is the One I’m praying to.

I once heard a pastor liken the Christian and his/her relationship with Jesus to a person walking across ice. That person could have all the confidence and ability and faith in the world, but if the ice is too thin, they will fall right through.

Alternatively, a person could have just enough faith to simply step on the ice, and if it’s thick, sturdy, trustworthy ice, they will make it across.

Our walk, then, about how much faith or ability we have, but about how much power and ability the One we put our faith in has.

And I believe that if your prayers are to Jesus, if your relationship is with Him, you’re putting faith in the thickest ice that will ever exist.

Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” Matt 17:20

I loved that ice analogy, and thought about a little more.

If I stepped on that thin ice with confidence and fell through– or, say, put my trust in something not very trustworthy– and then later got to walk on that thick ice, I would probably be very, very grateful for that thick sturdy ice after experiencing the shivering cold water beneath the thinner ice.

So when we commit to Jesus, we are amazed at the perfect Provider, caretaker, Friend, and Father He is. We walk with Him and know He is meant to be our firm foundation.

But… that thin ice looks just the same. Maybe even like a shortcut on some parts of our walk.

“Just this once, maybe I can make it across that thin ice…”

(“Just this once, maybe I can turn to drugs/alcohol/food/control/gossip”)

Crash. It never works. The ice is too thin.

Jesus is the only firm foundation we can put full and complete trust in.

Jesus said… “no one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:26

Have you decided to walk with Jesus?

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What Makes Thanksgiving My Favourite

“Over Christmas? Really?”

That’s usually the reaction I get when I tell someone that Thanksgiving is my favourite holiday.

But in my house, it’s the same every year.

My mom makes the most amazing turkey dinner on the planet, for one thing.

And the smell of it reminds of all different seasons of my life.

Seasons running home from school excitedly with hand-traced turkey crafts, “What I’m Thankful For” cards, and pumpkin pictures.

Seasons marking on the calendar when the pumpkins were to be picked and carved, and seasons chattering with my Oma and Opa about what Id learned in school.

Seasons crying in front of my meal, so sick with anorexia that I didn’t know how to be thankful for food let alone eat it.

Seasons of healing and growth, of “coming home” for Thanksgiving, of dreaming about hosting my own one day.

None more thankful than I am this year. In my last year of university, paying bills and cooking and working and trying to get the grades. I am more thankful than ever for parents I have that have loved and shaped me in many ways, and the people in my life today.

I am feeling restful. Sick with a second brutal cold of the year, I’m recognizing sufficiency in God’s Grace and timing and guidance. Trusting that He has me in the palm of His hand. Glimpsing my own imperfection, error, and downfalls more and more. Realizing more with each passing moment how much I need my God… thus, at the same time, realizing it less, because coming to know it more means becoming more aware of how undeserving I am. It makes no earthly sense that He is the lover He is.

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I am thankful today for Jesus, and the fact that He is Life and He is Love.

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever Psalm 136:1

I am thankful that He has given me the most wonderful man to love and be loved by. I am even thankful for the long distance that challenges us and strengthens us.

I am thankful for my beautiful parents and sisters, and the ways they have challenged me, loved me unconditionally, and taught me.

I am thankful for friends who are loyal, funny, and compassionate, and friends who double as God-fearing, fiercely loving sister-roomies.

I am thankful for each and every short day on this earth, and days loved for the purpose of my unfathomable Creator Jesus. Would I actually know the weight of this, Lord, and live, by Your grace, like it’s true.

So I guess Thanksgiving is my favourite because it’s a reminder of the fact that that I’m meant to give thanks and praise to my God. To never cease in singing His praise. To know that, in different seasons, His love band very personhood has never changed, never faltered, never lessened. I can look back and look forward, and I know it’s Jesus who remains constant.

Thanks be to God!

On Worship

“Put it this way: if your idea of God, if your idea of the salvation offered in Christ, is vague or remote, your idea of worship will be fuzzy and ill-formed. The closer you get to the truth, the clearer becomes the beauty, and the more you will find worship welling up within you. That’s why theology and worship belong together. The one isn’t just a headtrip; the other isn’t just emotion.”N.T. Wright

I think this is maybe one of the most fuzzy things about the way we do church today.

I could see coming to church for the first time, being confused by worship– especially modern worship, with, sometimes, choosedly, its bright lights, smoke machines, and people with their hands in the air or falling to their knees, etc.

I can imagine walking into that space and feeling uncomfortable, or out of place.

So, in a way, these words are my heart are to the people who have come to check out church without really knowing much about it, and left feeling confused rather than blessed by worship, by talking a little bit about what the Word says worship is.

1. The Lord says: “These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is based on merely human rules they have been taught.Isaiah 29:13

God Himself takes “religion” out of worship here by speaking against rules. If our worship is just singing because it’s what we’re told to do, our praises just a going-through-the-motions, we miss the heart of worship.

If our hearts are seeking His present Spirit, though, and we’re giving Him praise, though we’re weak– every one of us– our worship is meaningful and “we will find Him [when we seek]” Matt 7:7.

2. “Worship the Lord with gladness: come before Him with joyful songs” Psalm 100:1.

True Worship is joyful. While awing and sometimes overcoming, His Spirit causes deep joy. To praise Him and know He is near.

3. Worship is not about what “we get”, but about the praise He gets. Hence the word “worship,” defined as the expression of reverence and adoration for a deity. If you’ve heard someone say, “Ah, I don’t get much out of singing worship,” remember that worship is it about what you get out of it. It is a duty, heard by your Creator, Saviour, Perfect Son of God, and an act of praise for HIM. Your soul absolutely benefits from this, as you grow closer to Jesus in this time, but that is not the purpose of your worship.

Know that you are so loved by a God who desires relationship with you. And part of that relationship is praising and thanking Him for who He is and all He’s done, seeking the things of Him along with simply His presence.

Recognizing the Spiritual Battle

Our battle is not against flesh and blood. Ephesians 6:12

What does it mean to make note of the spiritual battle, but not allow to harm you?

As a Christian believer, I have learned the importance of recognizing that what we can see in a physical sense is not the real battle. Especially when we turn to Jesus, we become more aware of His enemy, and the grip the devil has on the world. The devil works sneakily to draw our attention away from Christ– and while he’s able to draw that attention away, he has already been defeated forever by Jesus. Christians believe that is the end of the story, and that Jesus has already overcome. Committing to following Him doesn’t mean easy (He actually tells us that we will face trials in this life) but it does mean eternity, joy, and purpose.

The devil’s only real threat is Jesus, who makes him tremble immediately. But where he can take ground in a person, he will try to. He will try to convince us of lies. His attacks are both sneaky and obvious. But one thing is for sure.

An encounter with Jesus, and the devil’s attempts are immediately reduced to nothing.

These are all certainly heavy concepts, but so important to be aware of. In the midst of a very spiritual battle, the Christian’s greatest weapon is prayer. Constant relationship with Jesus; asking for His eyes and mind. Little by little, Jesus works to draw you closer to Him, embolden your faith in Him, and turn lies into Truths. His plans are steadfast and good, period. What a Truth! But it is our job to be faithful in prayer and obedience, racing toward Him, the prize.

How to recognize the devil, even at his sneakiest?

Be constantly rooted in the Word. Read the Bible lots? Keep reading it. Speak it over yourself and others. Ask God to reveal new things to you through it.

Pray unceasingly. Aim that your life is in constant communication with Jesus.

Keep yourself accountable. Talk about your convictions with people you trust. Pray with people. Put the devil to shame aloud.

Jesus tells us we need not fear in the midst of this battle, because we have Him. So why not stay so close to Him? Lean on His Spirit. He will take the reigns.

Mourning What is No Longer

The Lord is close to the broken hearted and saves those who are crushed in Spirit. Psalm 34:18

Recently, I have recognized myself mourning many things.

Mourning the period of my life in which I lived with my parents;

Mourning childhood innocence;

Mourning my old church community;

Mourning my boyfriend’s presence, as he is at school in another province;

Mourning my job at Starbucks;

Mourning my old student house…

Even, I hate to say, mourning the illness I once had, or so it feels sometimes.

So many changes all at once, and I don’t think I have in the past thought so much about the changes. But recently, as I’ve freed up time and space in my life to ensure I’m getting adequate rest, social life, and focus on studies– I recognize my mourning, missing, and sadness. I realize that I’m sad about the fact that many of these things are over, I’m confused about why some of them had to end, and I feel a little lost.

And I’m learning…

This is okay.

It’s okay to feel lost, uncertain, and a little afraid. It’s not okay to be aware of sin and sitting in it, okay with it.

So, as I reflect on things past and things to come, one thing remains True and sure, and that is the faithfulness of a Creator who goes before me, who, in the being the Creator, is before me and is in everything.

And I finally come to this place of peace because He has brought me there.

I know that when Jesus says I don’t need to fear, it’s True.

And His unconditional love and the amount of my undeserving of it makes me want to please Him and serve Him in every moment, reflecting positively on the past and all that He has brought me through, and trusting that He is faithful in every season.

Not for my oh-so temporary comfort or pleasure or happiness, but for His sake and glory… which equals joy.

It is Jesus who “turns my mourning into dancing” (Psalm 30:11)… and Jesus who I will forevermore praise.

To the One who Feels Unlovable

That song that goes “how deep is your love?”

To be honest, sometimes not so deep. Right?

Sometimes we don’t wanna love. Sometimes our family gets a little too on our nerves, we’re absolutely exhausted from a long day and feel like we’re not “going anywhere,” we’re stressed to the max and have a million things on our minds.

I feel like we let our boyfriend/girlfriend down, I didn’t do nearly as well on that exam as I could have, I didn’t make as much money as I thought I would.

I don’t want to disappoint my family, I feel like I’m a bad brother, I don’t feel as social as I used to.

Thoughts like this can absolutely consume us.

Thoughts like this can easily become all we hear, the norm, what we listen to.

Thoughts like this are not true.

Because maybe we failed that test, but God never failed.

Maybe we’re not the greatest lovers, but that’s because only One person is.

Maybe we’re stressed to the max and at our capacities, but God says I’ve never had a limited capacity.

Maybe He’s saying, right now, Give it to my, my son/daughter. I’m right here, and I already love you more than you’ll know on this earth.

So, to the brother, sister, father, mother, student, teacher, chef, athlete, businessman, daughter, son that feels beyond loving, or far from God–

No matter how far back you’ve stepped from Him, His never ending love has never been far from you.

1 John 3:1 See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are

Trusting in the “Delay”

Much of today’s musings are inspired by a wonderful message preached by Pastor Mike Rutledge  

at Risen City church yesterday, where Jesus met me in my own worries, stress, and anxieties and revealed newness to me as His Spirit does, starting when I so loudly heard His voice that it was deafening, above all and any other sound: “I have promises I’m in the middle of working out.”

Now, to get very real here, when I say I so loudly heard His voice, I don’t mean I heard an audible-to-the-ears sound. I mean His Spirit, unlike mine, but that I could physically feel the presence of, as well as spiritually, convicted my heart of this matter to the point that I felt I couldn’t stand. I sat to pray and as I did I only heard more from Jesus, who promises His Spirit is no different from the living Jesus, whose presence is palpable and who promises to show up where two or more call on His name with genuine hearts.

Gently I received the peace of Truths I did not deserve to hear. About what He is in the middle of doing, in His timing. That when I feel like something has been “missed out” on, Jesus never missed it. That very thought of Him “missing” or “forgetting about” something part of His creation is laughable!
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Healing and miracles and even more simply clarity don’t always look the way we think we want them to. If you have ever been swayed from reaching out to the Creator of the Universe because you feel like “He hasn’t done anything for you,” a good place to start would be asking yourself what gave you the right to take such a position of deserving.

The Christian faith is about believing that Jesus came when He didn’t have to to suffer in this life and death on the cross because He loved us. To pay the penalty that should have been ours. In His perfection, He suffered the penalty for sin, and, in being God, He owes us absolutely no promises, and no miracles. And yet, because of the very nature of our gracious God, promises and miracles He chooses to bestow.

So after receiving from Him a little nudge that, No, He hadn’t forgotten about xyz, He was working it out in His timing and all I needed to do was give Him space and trust Him, I experienced weight rising off my shoulders as I scribbled down the prayers and promises.

And after hearing from the Spirit, Mike delivered the message on his heart for the church about the waiting periods in our life, how we often question them, and how, really, they’re such a part of the healing. In fact, they are the healing.

Maybe God is in the middle of completing your testimony because His plan for someone else is to learn from some of your stories.

Maybe He’s about to initiate change that wouldn’t have been possible if it weren’t for the trial.

But here’s the maybe not: the definitely not: Since He’s God of the universe, He has not forgotten about xyz, kicked it/you aside, or grumbled, “ah, well, they missed their chance.”

Frankly: God and His Kingdom came much before you, and you were created to submit to Him for a greater purpose. Not to pose of Him that He submits to you. 

He only asks of us that we trust Him, engage in relationship with Him, and follow Him.

It’s the only life to live!