Tuesday, February 27, 2007

If any of you read my lovely wife's blog you know that I've been tagged. Here's the rules:

1. Grab the book closest to you
2. Open to page 123, and go to the fourth sentence
3. Post the sentence and the three following sentences
4. Post the author and title
5. Tag three other people

So here goes...

"Ray remembers, "He sat on a kind of portable throne covered by leopard-skin robes, surrounded by warriors with spears. Even now I can't believe what I did, but at the time I felt a prompting of the Spirit. I said, 'Oh king, you are a great king, but surely even you would wish to kneel before the King of Kings.' He hesitated a moment, then got off his throne and kneeled."

Philip Yancey
"Prayer - Does it Make Any Difference"

The last one is a bit tricky because I'm always hearing of more and more people who read my blog. Random people whose names I know but not much more will come to me and ask, "When are you going to post something new on your blog?" I usually laugh at the "following" this blog has developed because, honestly, there are much more interesting things a person could read. Nevertheless, thank you for reading and encouraging me.

Having said all that, I'm not exactly sure who to tag next. So I'll take the easy way out and say, "Tag - you're ALL it." If you have a blog, follow the instructions above and see what nugget of wisdom, humor, or pointless information you can find on page 123 of the book nearest you.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Yancey on Prayer 3

So I've been reading a lot but not blogging about Yancey's book on Prayer. While everything I've read has been great, there's one thought that has stood out to me thus far. Here's the line:

"The real value of persistent prayer is not so much that we get what we want as that we become the person we should be."
I know a woman who has wrestled for some time with what God is doing in her life. She's suffered tragedy in which she never sensed God's protective or comforting presence, and that has led to serious doubt as to whether God actually cares. She prays but the pain never relents, it just digs deeper and deeper.
I think the line above from Yancey's book applies to all of us in some way, but especially to folks like this woman. The purpose of prayer should not be for us to get what we want, as though God is the cosmic Santa Claus making His list. Instead prayer ought to be approached with a desire to see our circumstances through the eyes of God and adjust our lives accordingly. There's really no sense in praying for God to act, work, and move in our lives if we're not willing to conform to the world as He sees it.
Perhaps this means we ought to take more seriously Jesus' prayer, "Not my my will but yours be done," regardless of our circumstance. This will only enhance our relationship with God because our desire is to know as He knows, not to force His hand to act according to our wishes.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Cory Jones - Bad Luck Charm

I finally got to see a Duke basketball game - LIVE!! It wasn't at Cameron Indoor Stadium (Duke's home court), but it was at the amazing new John Paul Jones arena in Charlottesville at UVA. This past Thursday I went to see the game with a friend and, wouldn't you know it, Duke lost in overtime on a last-second shot. It was a REALLY exciting game and it was cool to see all the UVA students rush the floor after the game, but it got me thinking - how many of my teams have lost when I'm in the audience? For those of you who don't know, "my teams" are the New York Yankees, the Duke Blue Devils (basketball), and the Michigan Wolverines (football). Here's my record as best I can remember:

New York Yankees: 2-2 at Yankee stadium when I'm in attendance, 3-4 at Camden Yards when I've gone to see them play the Baltimore Orioles

Michigan Wolverines: 0-1 - Craig Wilson and I saw them lose to the Minnesota Golden Gophers on a game-winning field goal with time expiring.

Duke Blue Devils: 0-1

Apparently I bring a bit of bad luck to the teams I love so dearly.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Yancey on Prayer 2

Sorry to have taken such a long hiatus from reading and writing about Yancey's new book. Since it's snowing outside today I took some time to sit beside an open window in my office and read a little more about prayer. There are three things I'd like to share:

1. Of all the differences that separate us from God, perhaps the most significant when it comes to prayer is time. God exists outside the confines of time, a place we cannot go, much less fathom. I've often wondered how God hears every prayer offered up by the millions upon millions of Christians around the world who may be praying at precisely the same moment. How is that possible? Yancey addresses that question:

A God unbound by our rules of time has the ability to invest in every person on earth. God has, quite literally, all the time in the world for each one of us. The psalmist exclaimed that "a thousand years in your sight are like a day that has just gone by," and the reverse also applies: to God, one day is like a thousand years. The common question, "How can God listen to millions of prayer at once?" betrays an inability to think outside time. I cannot imagine a being who can hear billions of prayers in thousands of languages because I am stunted by my humanity. Trapped in time, I cannot conceive of infinity. The distance between God and humanity - a distance that no one can grasp - is, ironically, what allows the intimacy.
What a neat thought to think that God has "all the time in the world" to spend with each one of us because He is not bound by time. Not only that, but despite His endless wonder and power, He chooses to be intimate with us.
2. When I pray I often feel like I'm "summoning" God into my bedroom or office or car or wherever I might be at the time. Like a mystic or a psychic I work to get the attention of a supernatural being, to wake His Spirit, and invite Him to listen to what I have to say. But, as Yancey points out, God didn't leave when I last said 'Amen.' God has been, and continues to be, in my heart, by my side, surrounding me in nature. God is everywhere. As Yancey says, "...prayer means keeping company with God who is already present." Prayer is not like calling someone on the phone, it's like talking with someone in the seat beside you on a long journey.
3. Intimacy is something I lack in my prayers. Maybe it's because of my upbringing, but I've never felt totally comfortable using expressive language in my prayers. I almost feel as though I'm being irreverent when I pray things like, "God, you're so cool. I just love you so much." But here's what Yancey says about it:
In His own prayers [Jesus] used the word Abba, an informal word of address that Jews before Him had not used in prayer. A new way of praying was born, says the German scholar Joachim Jeremias: "Jesus talks to his father as naturally, as intimately and with the same sense of security as a child talks to his father."
When I think of God longing for my prayer to sound the way I long for Levi, and someday Titus, to talk to me, it changes my entire approach. There are two things I like to hear from Levi:
A. Expressions of love - the other night I was walking out of his room after tucking him in, reading a story and praying, and as I got to his door he said, "Hey Daddy." I turned and said, "Yeah, bud?" He said, "I love you." Oh man. My eyes well up just thinking about it. I honestly believe there are few things better than hearing your child say on their own, "I love you." What if I took time to pray just to tell God how much I love Him?
B. Insights into his worldview - It's amazing to see the wheels turning when Levi, and even now Titus to some degree, are trying to figure something out. I love hearing his take on why things are the way they are. It's like the Cheez-It commercial where the explains how they get all that cheese into a little er and the big cheese wheel comes rolling out of the truck and down the street. It makes me wonder if God would like to hear what we think of His creation - the physical, the emotional, the spiritual. I enjoy hearing it from Levi because it gives me a glimpse into his mind and heart. Perhaps sharing our take on things in creation will bring a smile to God's face as He listens to us explain why we think things are the way they are (even though He already knows).
I'm really enjoying this book. I highly recommend purchasing it or borrowing it from a friend if you get the chance.

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