Prayer

“Rejoice always, pray continually” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-17, NIV)

A short, simple verse but one packed with so much more. Do you struggle to rejoice always? Me too. Some days I’m only able to tolerate life, far from rejoicing about it. Life is a struggle at times. Situations stress us out. People stress us out. A new school year stresses us out. As a parent I have felt the fear and sadness from dropping my children off at school. Would this be a good year for them? Would they make new friends? Did I pack a lunch they will like? Did I remember to sign all the papers I was supposed to for the registration? Am I going to miss them while they’re at school? What am I going to do while they’re at school? My routine is all messed up now.

Well, you might think this is something I dealt with when my children were in elementary school and that it’s long past me now. But, no, this is actually my thoughts this morning. Except for the lunch part. I’m sure they packed their own today. My daughter is the teacher now, but I still get excited for her first day of school with her new kindergarten class. And I still stress over whether my college age son has everything he needs as he starts his junior year. And yes, I miss them a lot. And my schedule has to change as I figure out what to do now that they have returned back to college and to their apartments after a summer with them here. Being a parent means you will always worry and stress about your children, no matter the age. It comes with the job.

So, this morning I want to remind all the parents out there to remember prayer. Pray for your students and their friends, their teachers, their schools. And pray for yourself as well. Parents need prayer too. Don’t be embarrassed to ask for prayer for yourself. My Husband knows how the new year of school can be stressful for me and he knows to pray for me. If someone does ask you for prayer, please do it. Don’t neglect the request or put it off for a “to do” later, just stop and pray at that moment. In fact, we should always be in a prayer moment. That is what it means to pray continually. All through the day.¬† -God Bless- Nancy

Prepare For The Best

Shout out to all the Boy Scouts out there! I remember when my two sons were in Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts and there was this motto to always be prepared. I can also think of the old adage to prepare for the worst and hope for the best. I’ve been thinking about this topic for awhile and finally found a point to consider with you all. Being prepared. We all like to be prepared and don’t like being blind sided by unforeseen events, but they happen.

Recently, in the United States we celebrated Thanksgiving Day. Thanksgiving is an opportunity to celebrate with family and friends and remember all we have to be thankful for. It also commemorates the first thanksgiving feast on the shores of Massachusetts. The Pilgrims from England had left in search of religious freedom. The first winter they were in the New World was tough, many died of sickness and starvation. If not for the Native Americans, they probably would have been wiped out entirely. I am proud to have recently learned that one of my distant relatives came from England to the New World on board the Mayflower. So, one of my family was present at that first Thanksgiving, thanking God for His provision and protection, to make it through that first year. I am sure the meal was not as elaborate as our current traditional Thanksgiving foods, but one thing I’m sure about, it took time to prepare. Eating Thanksgiving dinner is easy, but behind the scenes, it takes time and effort to prepare for such a big celebration. Turkeys come frozen at the grocery store and must be thawed several days before the big day. Pies are made, potatoes peeled and rolls baked and kept warm in cute little baskets lined with pretty cloths. A meal such as Thanksgiving is not something that can be created at the last minute, like¬† a grilled cheese sandwich.

But, what if you find yourself totally unprepared for something? Well, welcome to the world. Life does not always give us opportunity to be prepared. Parenting for example. Despite the multitude of books out there, no one is ever ready to be a parent. Most days you just wing it. Recently, I began my graduate studies in Christian Apologetics. I thought I knew what to expect, having been a recent graduate last Spring from an undergrad program, but boy was I wrong. It is much more work than anyone told me. It is alot like being a parent. You just gotta do it and hope for the best, while being tired all the time and stressed out.

In one of my courses, I was reading an article on preparing for preaching a sermon, and I thought this was a perfect way to make my point this week. The article was written in the early 2000’s and made the claim that preaching sermons in the traditional sense would never be out of style. The author was balking at a comment made that film production and technology would replace a pastor standing up and preaching. Well, welcome to the new era of reaching the world for Christ with the Gospel! It is amazing to reach others on multiple platforms, across borders and cultures. The author of the article might not have been prepared for the future, but boom, here it is anyway.

You see, we can’t prepare for everything that will happen in our futures. How we deal with the future is what matters. This becomes our own testimony to the world, which is our sermon to a lost and dying world. People are looking at our lives not just our words. 1Peter 3: 15 says we are to set apart Christ in our hearts as Lord and always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give a reason for the hope you have (NIV). Being prepared might not mean to have a rehearsed answer, but be able to give a reason. Why do you have hope? Why do you believe in God? Why are you a Christian? The key is in the first part of this verse, set apart Christ as Lord. It’s like saying keep your focus on Christ and you’ll be prepared to give anyone who asks the reason for your hope. Someone might study and prepare a sermon, but not be living it as an example in their daily lives. Being prepared for something such as sharing the Good News of Christ with others, means preparing our own hearts. Life can throw us many curve balls and we might not be prepared to deal with events well, especially the ones that overwhelm us, but we can have our hearts prepared, by focusing on Christ, keeping Him first. There will be plenty of times when we aren’t prepared, but how we deal with the events will reveal if our hearts are prepared or not. Believe me, I’m not saying that I am always prepared or that my heart is prepared, but I am a work in progress. -God Bless- Nancy