Tag Archives: Prayer Requests

Joy in the Storm

“And a great windstorm arose, and the waves were breaking into the boat, so that the boat was already filling.  But he (Jesus) was in the stern, asleep on the cushion.” – Mark 4:37-38a

This has been something I have experienced spiritually and emotionally recently, that I’m in a boat and windstorms of life have arisen, waves have been breaking into my Christ Asleep In His Boat by Jules Joseph Meynierboat so that it has been filling and it feels like I’m in danger of drowning.  When I call out to God, it seems at times like He is sleeping in the storm much like Jesus was in this story, and I feel like the disciples did in the boat with Jesus.  I start to freak out and ask Him, “Do you not care that we are perishing?  Um, hello, Jesus, do you see me over here?  I’m about to drown, don’t you see this?  Are you gonna do anything?” Ever experience something like this?  I have before, and I have recently.  It isn’t easy or fun when you are in the midst of it and freaking out.

What is it that I’m forgetting, just like the disciples did in this story, in the midst of the storm?  I think I could say a lot of things here, but lets look back a few verses to what was going on in this story. Just before this storm rose up and the disciples started to freak out, Jesus had finished telling some parables and told the disciples, “Let us go across to the other side.”  Did you get that?  Jesus didn’t say, “Hey, let’s get in this boat and go sink out in the middle, for this is how we die today.”  No, he says, let us go across to the other side.  As in, everyone on the boat. Seems like Jesus had a plan and it included getting to the other side of this body of water without drowning.  And these were experienced fishermen – they have been in boats, most likely have even gone across this body of water before, and it is a high chance they have been in storms on the water before as well but they still freak out in this storm (must have been big).  In spite of their expertise, or maybe because of their expertise, they freak out about this storm and turn to Jesus when they don’t know what else to do.  Just like me at times, they have easily forgotten what Jesus has said and they were confused that their circumstances weren’t what they expected of their journey.

What is Jesus’ response after they wake him?  First He calms the storm with His words – which is incredibly loving of Him.  Then verse 40 says: “He said to them, ‘Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?'”  Jesus had told them they were going to go across to the other side, but how quickly they lost sight of what Jesus said and were overcome by their fear in the storm.  I do this.  I have experienced this recently, and there are many aspects to this current storm for me. But I am reminded that I am not experiencing joy in this time because I am so easily distracted by the storm around me.  Someone recently said to me that joy is: looking to Jesus first, then to others, and then lastly to yourself (Jesus, others, yourself = Joy).  It is kinda silly doing acronyms, I know, but really it made some sense when you look at the great commandments – to love God (seek His Kingdom) and to love others.  Instead of looking to Jesus first, I’ve often in the storm been looking to myself, my own needs, and my own desires. Like the disciples on the boat I start freaking out and saying “God, don’t you see me? Don’t you care that I am perishing?”  I easily forget promises He has made. I forget who He is.  Please pray for me to turn from myself – repent – and look to Jesus.  The disciples had to learn this lesson, so at least I’m in good company.

When I discussed this with someone the other day, what came to my mind is the Casting Crowns song – “Praise You In This Storm”, so I have included it from Youtube below.  I think it is fitting and pray that although my heart is torn, that I will praise Him in this storm.  I am reminded also that just because we can and want to experience joy in these storms does not mean that we act like our hearts aren’t broken and just put on a happy face. We can bring our brokenness to Jesus and that is how we experience this Joy.  By coming to Him, no matter what. Lord, help me in this even now!

My daily bread…

Pray then like this: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. – Matthew 6:9-13

I’m getting a colonoscopy.  Yup, that’s right, time to explore more of my body in my year of body exploration (or at least that is what it seems to have become).  Why I am doing this you ask, well here is the short end of the long story: after some lab results from the doctor I am having a colonoscopy/endoscopy to determine if I have chrones disease or any other inflammatory bowel diseases  (Yes, I appreciate your prayers with all this – thank you!).

By now you may be wondering, “what the heck does this have to do with ‘my daily bread’?” as I have titled this blog post.  Well, I had to give some background to get to where I’m going with all of this.  I’ve always been intimidated by the idea of fasting.  Ever since I became a Christian I have heard many talk about fasting for Spiritual reasons and I have always thought to myself “I don’t think I would ever be able to do that”, and so I never have.  As many who have gone through having a colonoscopy would know, the difficult part of getting one is the preparation leading up to the actual day, because it requires fasting from anything but clear liquids among other not-so-enjoyable things… but yes, it requires fasting!  This thing I have been fearful of for so long, and now at the age of 34, I am being forced into a time of abstaining from food for health reasons.  But I feel that God has used this time for other reasons, as He often does.

While spending some extended time with God this morning in prayer, I was asking God for physical strength through my day… I asked that He would be my bread for the day.  This day that I had feared, I asked Him to replace my desire for food for a greater desire for Him.  And as I prayed this to God, my mind went to the Lord’s prayer, that you can see above.  But I got hung up on the part that says “Give us this day our daily bread”.  I have always thought to myself that this line seems a bit out of place among the other things that Jesus says during this example on how to pray.  And I have also always heard it explained to be an example of asking for our physical needs in prayer… but what occurred to me today was that maybe Jesus was not saying daily bread as to ask God for food, what if more importantly He was showing us to ask for Him daily?  Almost immediately other verses started coming to mind such as: John 6:22-59 where in verse 33 Jesus says “For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world” or in verse 35 Jesus states “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.”  Also in John 4 that we went through in our Bible study last night where the disciples are insisting that Jesus eat something after talking to the Samaritan woman, then Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to accomplish his work.”  And yet again the verse that many know came to mind that says “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”  What I forgot when that verse came to my mind, along with the section just before it about not being anxious about anything and how God provides for the birds of the air because of his common grace (which also made me think of where Jesus talks about God “make(ing) his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust”), is that this verse is just after Jesus teaches the disciples how to pray.

As all these thoughts and verses were flooding my mind, I thanked and praised my God who is so generous and loving.  I right there and then asked Him to send me the bread of life daily, by filling me with His spirit daily, that I would walk in the power of the Holy Spirit as Jesus so perfectly did as an example for us.

What are your thoughts?  Do you think asking for our daily bread is to ask for the physical sustenance that God seems to promise soon after to already be there for everyone without even asking?  Or is it the spiritual bread that the Bible so often refers to as The Bread of life: Jesus Christ?

Get your feet wet… a big step of faith.

“And as soon as the priests who carry the ark of the LORD—the Lord of all the earth—set foot in the Jordan, its waters flowing downstream will be cut off and stand up in a heap.” – Joshua 3:13

Crossing the Jordan River
1780s
Unterberger, Christoph

This story, and others that talk about stepping out in faith (literally in this case), have been popping up to Michelle and I since we started praying about joining Campus Crusade for Christ staff, especially when we decided to have Michelle step away from her job with the American Cancer Society (which was our main source of income at the time) and into the waters of the Jordan… or at least to trust God that He would continue to provide as we follow His lead into the ministry in Florida that He has called us to.  Looking back at this story in Joshua, we see the Israelites witnessing God performing wonders right before their eyes, in order to take them where He called them to go.  We continue to see God use this story, as well as the stories of other missionary friends, to lead us forward in faith to follow His call on our lives.

Right now, we feel God asking us to take another big step of faith.  What we feel God is asking us specifically at this time is to plan on being ready to be in Florida in January.  This seems so impossible, and this is one of those things in life where we have struggled with discerning whether or not this is our own selfish desires, or if it is truly God working in and on our hearts.  Back in April when we attended a follow-up training in Arkansas, some of the encouragement we received from the coaches was to pray and ask God to reveal a specific time that He would send us to Florida, and then to pray fervently for that to happen.  So, Michelle and I both began to pray, and both of us came together one night to discuss what we felt God was speaking to our hearts as a time that God wanted us to arrive in Florida…and both of us felt that January is when we are supposed to be there.  At that time, we were somewhere around 25% of our monthly support goal, so January felt like a huge hill to climb, needing God’s guidance every step of the way.

Lately, especially over the last week or two, we have been feeling encouragement and confirmation on asking God to send us at a specific time – and again January has been coming up as when we are supposed to be there.  As of this post, we are at 52% of our monthly support goal, so if it were to happen for us to arrive in Florida in January, God would have to move a mountain over these next few months and bring in almost as much support as has come in during the past year.  We know it is possible, but sometimes it is hard to act in faith in light of the unseen.  But as we learn in Joshua, as well as in the steps of faith that God has already led us through, it usually works that God will provide when you take the step of faith and it is usually not before that action is taken.  The waters of the Jordan didn’t budge an inch until the priests took a step of faith (literally) into the water, and only then did the waters get “cut off and stand up in a heap.”

This morning, I again returned to this story in Joshua, just to remind myself yet again about how God moved.  As I read, I was reminded of the details of this story – like the fact that when the Levite Priests carrying the ark of the covenant came to the Jordan River, it was during the season that the river is flooded (see Joshua 3:15 and 1 Chronicles 12:15) – so they are not only crossing a river, but a river running at a higher level.  But what does God ask them to do as they are on their way to the promised land?  He asks them to take a step of faith into the water, and it is then that the waters move.  As I looked at this story, I was curious to look at some cross-reference verses in the New Testament, and I ran into my sermon notes from our church service on Sunday, which I normally don’t leave in my Bible.  When I came to them I noticed a verse reference that I had underlined which made me curious to look it up, it was this verse: Matthew 7:21 – “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.”  And then this afternoon I was reminded of a verse I was made familiar with not long ago thanks to a newsletter update from some of our missionary friends in Italy, “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.  And if we know that he hears us–whatever we ask–we know that we have what we asked of him.” – 1 John 14-15

So, what does this mean for us?  Well, it means that we are prayerfully planning on packing up our stuff here in Arizona soon in order to prepare to move out sometime between now and the end of December (when we need to be in Colorado for the annual Denver Christmas Conference hosted by Cru staff).  From there, we are praying that we will have the courage to be ready to leave for Florida in January and trust that God will complete our team of ministry partners to make it possible for us to report to where He is calling us.

This of course means we need your prayers as well.  Please join us in prayer that we would be sensitive to and follow God’s will for the path and timing we are to take on this journey, and we humbly ask that you pray with us that God would provide for our needs by January in order to make it possible for us to report to Florida where we hope to reach the world with the love of Christ.

Please let us know your thoughts and any words that God may be giving you to share with us on this topic.  Thank you again for your partnership in prayer or financial support with us in bringing the Gospel of Jesus Christ to all the world, in order to make disciples of all nations.