prayer

Master & Pupil

Many of us remember the TV show Kung Fu of the early 1970’s that entertained us with martial arts.  David Carradine (Grasshopper) played the part of an Oriental traveling nomadically across the American West of the late 19thcentury.  The TV drama introduced us to the lifestyles of Shaolin priests while teaching their pupils in a Temple in China.  I enjoyed the snippets of Grasshopper as he would travel back in his mind reflecting on his youth asking questions of his masters while he was growing up in the Temple.

“Master?” he says as he gazes out over the ocean from a cliff with the bind priest, his favorite teacher.

“Yes, Grasshopper?”

“Why is the ocean one color?”

“Ahhh, yes, Grasshopper, what appears as one color from this spot is totally different when one is closer, much less down under the depths.  I have been told there is vast array of colors, more than one can describe.  Tell me Grasshopper, since I am blind, describe to me what color you see at this time.”

I made this conversation up.  It was never in the script, but it sounds like it.  Now let me get to what I really what to talk about, that being “Master.”

I was blessed to be introduced to the Lord as a young teenager.  I have always prayed for wisdom, courage, guidance and so forth, however, let me share how I could have improved my walk with the Lord.  I’m not sure I looked upon Jesus as my master.  Let me explain.

If I prayed, “Lord be with me in this challenge,” or “guide me safely,” it was as if I was asking Jesus to be beside me.  To a certain degree there is nothing wrong with this, just as there is nothing wrong with asking for courage.  I used to envision God giving me confidence as I embarked on any new challenge or experience.  Athletics, college, a new job, whatever.  With Jesus beside me I felt safe and secure.  Sounds good doesn’t it?  But I’m not so sure anymore.

Like most Americans I was raised to be respectful of authority.  This was definitely reinforced when I was in athletics, or shall I say it was  forcefully enforced.    It was again definitely brought home with my time in the military.  However, I was never taught to be overly submissive to authority.  In some ways that is good.  I was also taught it is wrong to be a slave to anything or anyone.  Sounds good, but here’s the problem.  It has to some degree hindered my relation with Christ.  It gives me hesitation in allowing him be in total control, much less bow to him as I would if he were my King.  I do not recall ever bowing to anyone or anything.  For most of recorded history if you did not bow to a king it very well could have been the last thing you ever did.

The 12 disciples of Christ, his eventual apostles, were very young, much younger than any pictures, paintings or movies depict.  Most were probably in their teens while following Christ as their Rabbi.  He was elder to them in age and knowledge. I know they sometimes walked beside him as their Rabbi and teacher, but I think most of the time they were merely following him.  Watching, observing, learning as an apprentice would of their teacher or master.

As I mature in my Christian walk I am learning to bow more in my prayers, not just physically which I need to do more, but with a submissive reverence and abandonment.  I still am going to question things but I want to learn to bow spiritually with a profound respect and happiness when doing so.  For many of you this may have never been a challenge, but for me , well let’s just say I’m still a pupil.  As I enter into prayerful thought my mind asks, “Jesus, (Master)?”

A voice whispers in my mind, “yes, Keith.”

“What does it mean to rest in the Lord?”

“Ahhhh, yes, my curios one, a very good question,” as a voice once again whispers in my mind.   “Let us ponder this thought together.”

Abandoned Temple

     

          

Have you ever wanted to explore the ruins of an ancient temple?  That would be a unique experience wouldn’t it?  If you had asked me what comes to my mind when I hear the word temple, I would think of King Solomon’s Temple.  I have been a bible reader all my life so I obviously have given much thought to the ancient Israelite Temple and its significance in God’s Kingdom.  God used the Temple to try and convey the nature of himself to mankind just as he had done with Moses and the Tabernacle.  God was trying to reveal His Holiness to them: His righteous.  He is still trying to do so to us today.  By the way, the following passage popped out at me as I was reading the bible just recently.

          “This is the basic law of the Temple:  absolute holiness!”          Ezekiel 43:12

          The Mayans had temples, the Greeks and Romans had temples.  There are temples all over Asia.  There are many to visit, but just for the sake of imagination, would it not be an interesting adventure to explore a temple all to yourself, especially an abandoned temple.  A temple no one else has explored, just waiting for you.  But, unfortunately, what are the chances of finding an abandoned temple?  You may be surprised you don’t have to travel to a distant or remote location.    

           

  In the New Testament, many times Jesus tried to teach his followers that God does not dwell in Temples or buildings but within peoples’ hearts.  I think this was a challenging concept to his Jewish disciples.  During the time of Moses while the Israelites were in the wilderness God would enter the Tabernacle.  After King Solomon built the Temple in Jerusalem for God, scripture teaches that God chose to indwell there.  But why would the Creator want to enter the hearts of people?  After all, it is not always a safe place to enter.  Greed, envy, anger, lust, deceit: you name it and where does it start?  In the heart.  Unfortunately, to some degree all of us carry some of this dirty baggage.  And yet, amazingly, that is where God chooses to live.  The Kingdom of God dwells in our hearts.  That is where His Temple is.  It is something I think most of us know intuitively, yet something I personally struggle with.                        

         I want God to walk with me on my daily journey but I am hesitant to invite the Lord into my temple: my heart.  There are too many distractions.  When I sit still and try to pray, my mind wanders; the day’s schedule, bills to be paid, the upcoming football game and so forth.  On a more sobering note, I’m not sure God wants to come into my heart when I have anger issues, some degree of unforgiveness towards those who have wronged me in the past, anxiety over finances, and so forth.  I have shared these thoughts with my wife.  She responded:           

          “You may need to relax more before the Lord and accept his graciousness.  You may not believe you are worthy enough to invite God, but that is a lie from Satan.  God is always more than willing to engage you when you genuinely seek him, even if you don’t feel up to it at that moment.  Remember , you don’t always have to pray,” she adds.  

        “What do you mean I don’t have to pray?  I thought that is what I was supposed to be doing during intimate time with the Lord?”  I add, “As a matter of fact I often pace back and forth in the backyard very early in the morning underneath the canopy of the stars in order to reveal the passion of my prayer petitions to the Almighty.”  However, I admit to her, “I have wondered if I am working at it more than just, ‘letting it flow,’ so to speak.  I’m a disciplined hard worker, so it just seemed natural I would pray that way.” 

         “But that is just it,” she says. “Sit still, try to clear out the distractions in your mind, and rest.  Rest in the Lord.”  She goes on to say, “As I said, you don’t even have to pray.  If you are inviting the Lord into your heart he will know your prayers.  Through Christ we are made righteous.  Because of Christ we have the holiness that God wants and therefore He can enter.  Some days you will feel the presence of the Lord more than others: some days when you are tired you may even fall asleep.  But enjoy it.  The more often you relax and enjoy his presence, it will be that much easier for him to indwell within you.  It will not be long before you earnestly seek to return to this place of rest and the easier it will be.  It won’t have to be in the backyard or in the study, much less a certain time.  It will be a state of mind that is abandoning itself to the Lord.  That is not to say you do not need to engage in prayer, just don’t feel guilty if some days it does not seem to come naturally.  The Holy Spirit will guide you.  There will be days when you are drawn to your knees.  Other times you may want to ‘just sit,’ and peacefully reflect: yet you are still praying even if you are not directly articulating the words in your mind.”

        My wife calls it, “Abandonment to God.”  She explains, “We all have experienced the feeling of being abandoned to God.  Yet it is those times that provide an opportunity for God to reveal himself or his nature to us: His mysterious ways.  You and I grew up with the word ‘surrender,’ but I like the feeling of being abandoned to God’s providence.  Each of us has a choice to feel abandoned by God or to abandon ourselves to him.”

         As each of us journeys through life we will realize more and more our human limitations physically and emotionally coupled with a spiritual neediness.  I think God encourages each of us to invite him into our hearts as we become Temples of Abandonment. Our exploration is probably the most important search of our life.  Life’s treasures await us all in these temples…..these abandoned temples………God’s Temples.

Holy Water

 

     Please be very patient with me when you read this article.  Please do not judge me too hastily.  Please listen to what I am trying to communicate.  Please understand I am only sharing from my heart.  Please remember we are all human mortals searching the mysteries of the world we live in, it’s hidden truths and treasures. If you are patient with me, I won’t hold it against you when you snicker at what you about to read.

          I was raised Protestant and still am, as is my wife.  We met at a Christian University 35 years ago.  We are both reflective people and enjoy sharing with each other.  We are also honest and try to create an atmosphere where we can question our walk with God and admit our concerns about how He works in our lives.  This includes sharing the positive as well as the disappointments in our perceptions of God.

          My wife Melanie reads more than I do, including a good many inspirational and devotional books.  I am not a good reader but try to read the bible daily.  I enjoy her sharing the highlights of what she explores; it is always edifying.  Being the honest and direct person I am, I share with her the things that I read in the bible that make me question God and his dealings with mankind.  I appreciate it when she says, “that passage has also always troubled me.”  If I go on to convey what I think God, or Jesus, or Paul, or John is trying to say, she listens and then often affirms what my understanding is.  She might say “I think that is getting at what the nature of God is,” or “I was reading something recently that sounds close to what you’re saying.”  Let’s get on with what this to do with Holy Water.

          Melanie recently read to me from a book written by a lady who has a degree in chemistry and sees the nature of God at the smallest element of creation; the atom.  Convergence of Quantum Physics, Scripture and Prophecy was written by Bev Robinson and her husband Ras, a Pastor.  They are not the first to see God’s hand working in all levels of creation from the stars to the microbiological level.  However, there was one chapter that captured my wife’s attention.  A chapter discussing the power of words.  It challenges us to remember that what we say to others and what we receive from others in word has a stronger impact on us than we may realize.  Even at the molecular level.  Yes, even at the molecular level.

          Bev shared in the book some research done by a Japanese scientist named Masaru Emoto.  He was searching for scientific evidence as to whether or not the molecular structure of water is affected by words and thoughts.  Let me briefly summarize my understanding of his research.

50 individual drops of water were taken from a polluted water source, frozen on separate petri dishes, and photographed revealing malformed crystals.  50 individual drops were then taken from the same source, however prior to be frozen had words of love and thanks spoken over them as a blessing.  The difference was the crystals that received a blessing were mostly symmetrical and therefore pleasing to the eye. Those droplets that did not receive words of affirmation had crystals that were not symmetrical appearing malformed and ugly.  Sounds like a bunch of nonsense doesn’t it?

          It may indeed be ridiculous, but just think if there is any truth to it.   It would indeed affect us.  After all, our bodies are over 75% water.  So what?   

          Remember, God spoke creation into existence.  He exists in all of creation including the cells of our bodies.  He reveals himself to us through in a number of ways including nature, science, his animals, his Son Christ, and through his Word.  The Word (the bible), was given to us through prophets, Kings such as David and Solomon, scribes, apostles, disciples, and of course Jesus.  It was the words that these people of the bible spoke that often brought physical healing, inspiration, victory in battle, release from demonic spirits and so forth.

          I have always tried to weigh my words before I speak.  I am well aware of the numerous times I spoke sooner than I should have or words spoken in anger that are so condemnatory.  I will hopefully be more mindful of the words I say to others.  I will also be more open to the idea that peoples prayers over others for healing are not in vain.  Those prayers may not bring the healing that was specifically sought but I am confident some measure of healing at some level is occurring, whether I visibly see it or not.  There could very well be improvement( healing) at the molecular level.  I will leave the amount of healing and the timing up to God. I don’t think I will be quite as hesitant to pray over others as I have been, and I believe I will have more confidence in those prayers.  In other words some amount of good is taking place.

          At the end of our conversation I began teasing Melanie when I asked, “what about that jug of Holy Water I saw in the corner of the baptismal area of the Catholic church we visited?”  I had a snicker on my face.  She giggled: then we both paused at about the same moment.  We looked at each other until one of us said, “Someone may have blessed the water in that container with words.”  Food for thought, isn’t it?  Or should I say, possibly life giving water.  

“A person’s words can be life giving water; words of true wisdom are  as refreshing as a bubbling brook.”    Proverbs 18:4

  “Words satisfy the soul as food satisfies the stomach.” Proverbs 18:20         

                             New Living Translation