Daily Prompt: Hidden

Daily Prompt: Hidden

Daily Prompt: Hidden a poem:
The beauty of creation, life, and miracles leave

the Creator hidden in plain sight while many – 

maybe even all – look, but fewer see.

It leaves me saddened suddenly, 

And makes my goal to be: 

revealing every blessing given me. 

My hope’s just one will stop – briefly – 

to consider why such creativity?

And in that moment be

Convinced about our spirituality.

Three Parts to the Power of Prayer

Three Parts to the Power of Prayer

praying handsIn Celebrate Recovery, we say that we believe in the power of prayer. Prayer works; we’ve seen it. This doesn’t mean prayer is chanted like some sort of magic spell but the Bible does tell us that we have some influence over the results.

“And all things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive.”
– Jesus, Matthew 21:22

We also say, “Don’t quit before your miracle happens,” and, “Whatever you ask, ask in Jesus’ name,” (which is actually a verse straight from scripture). I got to thinking about these declarations this morning, and I believe there are three corresponding things we must “do” to make prayers effective. In other words, there are three parts to the power of prayer.

praying on knees#1. In Jesus’ Name

The phrase, “In Jesus’s name” packs a lot of meaning. To start, I think the better verse that describes asking in prayer is John 15:7:

If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.”

“Pre-requisites” isn’t exactly the right word to use, because this part of the power of prayer is not about anything we physically do, but instead is completely about the belief we hold. There’s a lot that invoking His name signifies. It means we believe:

  • in God, the Creator, and that we have faith and trust in Him and the plans he does have for us
  • in everything He tells us, which we hear by studying His Word and developing a personal relationship with Him
  • that He does indeed have the power to make anything come to pass but that whatever does happen will be what’s best for us
  • we must commit, from the very start, every effort to and for Him

#2. Believe you will receive, but…

serenity prayer coinThis is the caveat to prayer, and it’s really all about accepting the results, whatever they may be, having faith that they will be what’s best. We won’t necessarily get exactly what we want, but what we do receive will be beneficial in the long run, all part of God’s plan and purpose. Maybe this is the biggest difference between prayer and magic, which would provide exactly what we want. This is also where we can feel let down – because what happens might not be what we think we want – until hindsight reveals otherwise.

Believe you will receive – not it (the thing you pray for) but what is best. Seems kind of contradictory, doesn’t it?

#3. Do your best, consistently, and don’t give up

persistenceThis is where we really have some input. I’m reminded of the saying, “If you aim at nothing, you’ll hit it every time.” Magic, if it existed, wouldn’t require any effort on our part. This is not how prayer works. Instead, whatever we do, we do it for the Lord and His glory, not for our own. We commit this work to God from the very beginning. effortWe ask His blessing on our work. And we persevere; we persist until/unless He tells us to stop. Our personal relationship and ongoing time in meditation and study will reveal this. Basically, if the vision remains, continue to work toward it.

Finally, I feel it’s necessary to mention one more thing: about the reasonableness of our requests in prayer. What is “realistic?” Here is where we can limit ourselves, thinking that a particular outcome is impossible. My only advice is to listen to the testimonies of believers. I wholeheartedly believe in miracles. Prayer works, if you believe in it and let God work. Make your plea, do your best, and leave the results to God, accepting whatever comes to pass as meant to be.

Daily Prompt: Tea

Daily Prompt: Tea

Daily Prompt: Tea

I have fond memories of hot tea with milk and sugar. This is strange because I don’t drink it much these days – I prefer coffee. Here’s a quick story about how I came to like tea.

It was 7th or 8th grade – I can’t remember which – it was a long time ago! On the second day of school at Coolidge Junior High, I barfed right there in the classroom. I’d had cereal for breakfast so you can imagine.

Long story short, I never made it back to school that year. The illness would repeat: every morning, sick; afternoon, improvement. Doctor visit after doctor visit followed. The practiced guess was either Hepatitis (don’t know which one) or Mono (I’m not going to try to spell it). Good news, I got better.

I was cool that both my parents were teachers in our town, so they were able to have my instructors that year provide (literally) home work. I passed the year.

Here’s the tea part. Late each morning, as I was starting to feel better, Mum would make me a cup of tea with milk and sugar, and maybe some toast. These days, when I drink tea, it’s when I don’t feel good. The tea helps. 🙂

Life: The Real RPG (Role-Playing Game)

Life: The Real RPG (Role-Playing Game)

About a month ago I posted a quick plug for an app that makes a game – a real-life game – out of defining and realizing habits and to-do’s. It’s called Habitica, and it’s tag is “Motivate yourself to do anything.” Here’s the WordPress blog.

A role-playing game is one where you take on a virtual persona, a character, and “play” in a digital (or board game) world, adventuring and going on quests of various kinds. My favored genre is “swords and sorcerers,” aka (the original inspiration for RPGs), “dungeons and dragons.” The purpose, of course, is purely social entertainment; the drawback is that, otherwise, it is a completely unproductive pastime. If you’re like me (obsessive), this can become a problem. I can literally live there for hours, even days, at a time, meanwhile getting nothing done in the real world.

Enter the idea of “gamifying” life.

Gamification is the application of game-design elements and game principles in non-game contexts.

Gamify, the verb, is to turn (an activity or task) into a game or something resembling a game; to adapt (a task) so that it takes on the form of a game.

The concept is not new. All of us have probably “made a game” out of some mundane chore to make it less boring. When my kids were younger, feeding the cats and cleaning the kitchen were accomplished quite nicely in this way. It reminds me of “a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down.”

The problem was that, for me, as part of my recovery from surfing the XXX intrenet, abusing alcohol, and wasting time, I had to give up RPGs. I have missed the fun.

The solution is replacing/redirecting that desire to play to something useful. After a month of “using,” I’m really pleased with the results, and can heartily recommend this approach to adventuring life.

And the best part is that this is completely biblical!

Ephesians 6:10-18 Easy-to-Read Version (ERV)

Wear the Full Armor of God
10 To end my letter I tell you, be strong in the Lord and in his great power. 11 Wear the full armor of God. Wear God’s armor so that you can fight against the devil’s clever tricks. 12 Our fight is not against people on earth. We are fighting against the rulers and authorities and the powers of this world’s darkness. We are fighting against the spiritual powers of evil in the heavenly places. 13 That is why you need to get God’s full armor. Then on the day of evil, you will be able to stand strong. And when you have finished the whole fight, you will still be standing.

14 So stand strong with the belt of truth tied around your waist, and on your chest wear the protection of right living. 15 On your feet wear the Good News of peace to help you stand strong. 16 And also use the shield of faith with which you can stop all the burning arrows that come from the Evil One. 17 Accept God’s salvation as your helmet. And take the sword of the Spirit—that sword is the teaching of God. 18 Pray in the Spirit at all times. Pray with all kinds of prayers, and ask for everything you need. To do this you must always be ready. Never give up. Always pray for all of God’s people.

Basically, with Habitica, you create your todo list and the habits you want to make (or break), and play consists of gaining experience, loot, and gold for checking them off; or suffering damage to your health if you don’t get them done. You are represented graphically by an avatar (icon) which you can equip and customize. There also a social element: Guilds are communities of players with similar goals, such as the Disciples of Jesus. There are challenges and quests, and a way to join a party to tackle them. The tavern is a group chat place to check into. (I’m not into the social side so much.)

So far, just having a single place (web-based or mobile app) where I can set, organize, and track my goals, and feel instantly gratified or penalized for making progress (or not) on them has been incredible. For the first time, I can tangibly see – anytime, anywhere – my priorities. I’m realizing just how full a day can be.

The important parts of this app are the three types of activities: Dailies, ToDos, and Habits.

Dailies are those tasks that are done daily, weekly, or monthly. For example, “Do an hour of chores everyday” is one of mine. “Blog the daily prompt” is another. The best way to describe dailies is those things which are almost automatic, like showering or taking medications.

ToDos are one-time appointments or projects with deadlines. I currently list the Sundays I’m scheduled for the worship team and a checklist for the long, bureaucratic process of retiring from the USPS under this category.

Habits are those behaviors and goals in more of a “working on” status. For example, while blogging the daily prompt has quickly become a daily checklist item, actually getting a post (like this one) from journal to blog is a habit I’m trying to get better at. Actually folding the laundry and putting it away is my wife’s favorite. Habits can have good (if completed) and/or bad (if missed) results. Once I’m regularly accomplishing the habit, I can make it a daily.

To summarize, Habitica is a ToDo List/Life Organization tool that is working very well for me. It makes a game out of setting and accomplishing those things I’ve always wanted to do but somehow never got around to. It has a web and app interface, so it’s completely mobile. It satisfies my urge to play my favorite type of game in a meaningful, productive way.

Daily Prompt: Traditional

Daily Prompt: Traditional

It’s the middle of the night. I’m driving in the middle of nowhere – I mean nothing in sight. I come to an intersection with a red light. What should I do?

The difference between the spirit of the law and the letter of the law is like the difference between the two reasons I can have to follow the traditions of my elders. On the one hand, I can be traditional purely for tradition’ sake, on the other I can to be making my own choices per the situation in which I find myself. Not coincidentally, if those choices are rational, I would not be surprised to find them traditional.

I mean, there’s a reason for the tradition, right? By thinking upon it and knowing myself well, I can understand what that is.

I think we humans too often do things just because that’s the way they’ve always been done, instead of deciding and learning the “why” for ourselves, especially in how we are “religious.” Not all things are as simple as the choice to sit in the middle of nowhere at a red light, waiting for it to change.

Daily Prompt: Traditional

Matthew 15:2 GWT
“Why do your disciples break the traditions of our ancestors? They do not wash their hands before they eat.”

Q: Why do we wash our hands?

Daily Prompt: Harmonize

Daily Prompt: Harmonize

Daily Prompt: Harmonize

Is it just me, or do we humans always desire that which we are not most capable of? For example, I love music: singing and playing. I know I’m not the best guitar player, but I’ve seen improvement with practice, and I’ve always been good at drums (although, strangely, I don’t drum these days). Singing – I’m just not so sure.

These past 9 years I’ve been practicing a lot more – like daily (I sing in the car). Years ago, I listened to my own recordings and was disappointed by my voice. So I know I’m not a natural. But, recently I have been complimented (I sing at church). Honestly, I’m afraid to listen to a recording; I don’t want to be disappointed.

I guess another form of the question is: Does passion for doing something count for more than talent for it?

BTW, my band’s name will be “Joyful Noise.” Or maybe “The Courage to Change the Things I Can.”

Daily Prompt: Gate

Daily Prompt: Gate

Revelation 21:25
In the daytime (for there will be no night there) its gates will never be closed;

My F.A.I.T.H. gets me up, keeps me going, faces me forward, looking to the day when that city whose gates never close will become made.

Fascination    with God
Awe                 of God
Inspiration     from God
Thankfulness toward God
Hope                in God