Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The Relationship Between Prayer and Rain

                                                     I"ve seen fire and I've seen rain,
                                                        I've seen sunny days that I thought would never end.
                                                       I've seen lonely times when I could not find a friend,
                                                            But I always thought I'd see you again.
                                                                                                        James Taylor

For all our progress and advancements we are still a very fragile race. The ongoing drought shows that  truth very plainly and we who live under a massive dome of high pressure can readily attest. The land, the elderly, the poor, the crops, wild animals, the cattle and several industries are in trouble. The amount of trouble depends on your age, debt, savings, outlook, experience, place in the food chain and whether you are selling a\c units or having to buy one. We try facing the trouble of no rain with busy-ness. We try humor that gets less humorous with the fourth reception of the same e-mail about the heat in Texas. We try to travel out of town or ignore the drought. We try optimism and patience. Still we see the fire and no rain and so, being Christians, we try prayer.

We also turn to science. We are enlightened about the decrease in sun spots which affect the atmosphere and we also now know about 'La Nina,' the Pacific wind current that blows opposite of 'El Ni no.' These things are cyclical and we must be in a dry cycle. Did you ever put your dryer on for sixty minutes when you meant twenty? We can now name the problems and even somewhat predict them but it doesn't change things does it? It's like being sick and finally finding the name of the disease. It doesn't make you better but you can talk intelligently about it. Oh, and being Christian, we pray.

We also try questions. Is a drought the way Mother Nature "rests" the land? Is this a way to let some grasses, bushes, tress, and animals be thinned out to prevent overcrowding? (if it is it's working in my yard) Is this the result of global warming? pollution? gov't mismanagement? nuclear fall-out? democrats or republicans? Will our advance in science help us weather (pun intended) this lack of storms better than folks did in the 30's or 50's? Is this part of the end times? The questions abound and increase with the dust but so far few answers are very satisfying so we ask God another question: may we have some rain?

Really what else can we do? If God is trying to get our attention like He did in the Old Testament then let's listen. If we need to repent as a nation or an individual then let's repent. Don't let the weather decide that, read God's word and listen to His Holy Spirit, and let Him tell you not the clouds. If we have messed up the environment, then let's learn to live simply and cleanly. We need to do that anyway, whether it is wet or dry. If this drought is a cycle to be repeated more or less every 20-30 years then hold on and get ready for the next one. It there are lessons to be learned, then let's learn them, if its trials to be endured then let us endure them. As the old preacher used to say, "when da Lawd sends tribulations, He expects His chillrens to tribulate." As Christians there is nothing in this world that can't befall us including drought, flood, tornado, illness and eventually death. But we never face these alone. A person can learn many things, endure many things, hope many things but only Jesus can restore and guarantee the essential thing--a relationship with Him and an eternal home in heaven, which I choose to believe is sixty nine degrees.

There are many good things in this life above and beyond its hardships. So as Christians, we pray for the lost, we pray for the lonely, the sick, the hungry and we pray for justice. We pray we might be loving, kind, and generous. We pray joyfully and thankfully for all the blessings, we pray without ceasing, and we even pray for rain in times of drought. Because as followers of Christ we know that in His way, in His time, for our good and His glory He hears us and responds.
                                                  won't you look down upon me Jesus,
                                                                   you got to help me make a stand,
                                                                   just got to see me through another day,
                                                                 My body's aching and my time is at hand.
                                                                 I won't make it any other way.
None of us make any other way, James. What does Jesus need to see you through today?

Dust Cos

Thursday, July 14, 2011

A Prayer-a for Klaira

I watch from a distance as I head into the autumn of life to see the experiences of my sons as they approach their summer seasons. Many are similar, some correspond to experiences I had at those times but my eldest son has taken a path I'll never tread. He is now the papa of a baby girl, Klaira Reese, who breathed the pneuma of life for the first time last Saturday evening.  I noticed a text on my phone at seven pm Texas time that said they were at the hospital. The text was sent at five thirty. By seven thirty we got the call that Klaira was here and all 7 lbs. 6 oz and 22 inches of her were fine. We were relieved, ecstatic, and a little blue all at once.

We were relieved  because early in Melissa's pregnancy they were told some tests showed bad defects and deformities and were told abortion was an option. Abortion would never be an option to Matt and Melissa. The tests were wrong. Later tests didn't show any problems but there were lingering questions way back in the mind so Pam and I were greatly relieved at the good news of health. We were, as any grandparents, absolutely thrilled at her arrival. Thoughts flooded the mind faster than they could be processed. Questions about her looks, sounds, how momma was doing, how big brother was doing, did she have hair, what color was her hair (blond), did she look like Kaden and a dozen more flashed across the mind that the birth had delivered. But we were also a bit sad. When Kaden was born we were there as soon as the "come on" was sounded. Distance, health, local family availability, and other considerations mean we have to wait a bit. We wanted to catch her up in our arms and squeeze, snuggle, nuzzle, caress, kiss, and feel that sweet baby's breath on our own cheeks...but that will have to wait. Waiting is hard. There is still an element that is not  yet real about it all to us, but it will be. I guess that's kind of like the second coming in a sense.

Klaira was a bit early, by ten days or so. When she and the Lord decided it was time, she came so quickly that Melissa didn't have time to have her epidural shot so Klaira was delivered naturally. I began to wonder what other surprises Klaira might have in store. What will she like and dislike? Will she like ice cream and chocolate like her daddy? Will she enjoy photos like her mom? How will she feel about fashion or will she be tom-boy?  Will she be athletic or musical or artistic? Will she break into a smile like her big brother when he sees MiMi and Grandcos on the computer? Will she be tall or short? Will she be thin like her mom, dad,  and MiMi or pudgy like her Grandcos? Will she be stubborn, conforming, rebellious, studious, playful or serious?  The questions keep coming, time will reveal answers, and more questions no doubt in the life of Klaira. That is a big part of what life is, isn't it? We ask, we learn, we face mystery and ultimately we trust someone or something. That led me to my second prayer for Klaira after her arrival.

I was up a bit earlier than normal Sunday morning. I wasn't preaching so the sermon didn't dominate my mind from 6 AM on as it usually does. In the quietness of the morning I wanted to pray for Klaira. I turned to the Psalms for their richness of truth and beauty and storehouses of prayers to find the right expressions. I started reading and cobbled together a prayer for Klaira. Some thoughts from Psalm 90,113,121, a few others and then Psalm 139 finished the prayer. It went something like this....

O Lord, you have been our dwelling place throughout all our generations. You have now added another blessing in this generation. We praise you, O Lord, for the gift of Klaira and I pray that from the rising of the sun each day of her life to the place where it sets, may she always praise your Name above all. Watch over her, Lord, now and throughout her life. You do not sleep nor slumber and you know there will be days of shade and shadows in her life as well as days of sun and brightness. Keep her in your watch in all those days of darkness or light--may she feel your Presence. May she know the freedom of your mercy, the depth of your salvation, the light of your hopes for her and the joy of your love. You will search her and know her as no other can. Hem her in with your will and may her heart always be tuned to sing your praises. You created her and knit her together in Melissa's womb. When evil reports called for her ending before her beginning, your voice was heard above all. May she always hear your Voice above all others. Keep her from the vanity and selfishness so prevalent in our world. May she learn quickly that the world doesn't revolve around her but help her to let her world revolve around You. May she always know your precious thoughts toward her. May she be unable to count them any more that she could count the grains of sand by the sea. Grant her, in your timing, salvation through your Son and may her faith in Him always be strong and her love for Him be seen in deeds of mercy and service. Thank-you for the grace that makes this miracle life. May we all, grandparents, brother, family, and parents be good stewards of this joy, this gift of Klaira.          Amen

You may find me occasionally refer to Klaira as Klaira Grace. That was originally going to be her name and that stuck in my head and heart. Family will just have to roll their eyes and give me 'that look' when I call her Klaira Grace. Once you have grace in your heart, it's impossible to get it out.


Thursday, July 7, 2011

That's Church to Me

Voice 1: Candle's aroma...the Lord's Prayer...reciting the Nicene Creed....that's church to me.....
Voice 2: Anthems and organs, reflective prayers and planting seeds of niceness....that's church to me....
Voice 3: Stained glass windows, the jangle of Mrs Whitt's jewelry on the piano as she played, the creak of
old wooden floors beneath my feet... that's church to me....
Voice 4: Guitars and keyboards, choruses and celebration, extemporaneous prayer, and a screen to see... that's church to me...
Voice 5: Having it all from quiet to loud, from 15th  century to last week. Why settle for less than what should be?...now that's church to me!
Voice 6: All good and well as far as it goes but without a system it works not well. Organize it, account for it, dot every "i" and cross every "t" that's what church should be for you as it is for me...
Voice 7:   Excuse me? Excuse me?
1,2,3, 4, 5, 6   Who's that? What voice is that we've never heard? Why should we listen and interrupt our words?
Voice 7: Oh, I'm Jesus and was wondering, have any of you ever asked what church is to me?