Friday Finds: Advent Activity

The internet is full of great ideas for Advent Readings, Calendars, and the like- so I wanted to share something today that’s pretty unique. I’ve talked about Praying in Color before, and I’m sure I will again. ;)

Today I’m specifically sharing the Praying in Color Advent Calendar. The doodling side of my brain loves this format for prayer and meditation. Check out Sybil MacBeth’s blog posts on using color to pray this Advent.  This isn’t a product to purchase, but something you can start today with items in your home! She even has templates for recreating and printing. Take advantage and try coloring your thoughts and prayers this weekend.

Praying in Color Advent

“Prepare for God’s arrival! Make the road straight and smooth, a highway fit for our God.” (Isaiah 40:3 The Message)

Happy Friday!

Following and waiting,
Ginger

Dear Ginger: Hurt Feelings

Dear Ginger,
School hasn’t been going very well. I have a teacher who treats me differently from all the other kids in my class. My mom, dad and others have talked to her. I just wish Jesus would come in her heart and show her the right way to treat me. What should I do to help me be stronger around her when my teacher hurts my feelings? –A

Dear A,

I am so, so sorry about the situation with your teacher. My heart hurts for you. It sounds like you and your parents have done everything in your power to fix the situation… and yet, it’s still broken.

What do we do when we are being treated poorly or unfairly? Let’s see what the Bible has to say.

“Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.” James 1:2-4, NLT

“Don’t repay evil for evil. Don’t retaliate with insults when people insult you. Instead, pay them back with a blessing. That is what God has called you to do, and he will bless you for it.” 1 Peter 3:9, NLT

Over and over the Bible calls us to love others even when the situation isn’t fair.

“Pray for those who hurt you. If someone slaps you on one cheek, offer the other cheek also. If someone demands your coat, offer your shirt also.” Luke 6:28-29, NLT

Praying for people who hurt our feelings is one of the deepest forms of love, because it means that you have to really want something good happen to them. The prayer Jesus has in mind here is always for their good. He is not talking about us praying that those people would be run over by a truck. He’s not talking about praying for lightening to take them out. We are to pray that their hearts and ours be softened, be changed, be reconciled. He wants us to head to the root of the problem, not just the symptoms.

For example, if I stay up late and don’t get enough sleep I end up getting a headache around one in the afternoon and I can be irritable for the rest of the day. But if all I do is take painkillers or drink caffeine, I’m only dealing with the symptoms. What I really need to do is get off Facebook and go to bed earlier, because that will eliminate my tiredness. That’s what prayer does to whatever problem we are having with someone. The best thing we can do is pray for the people who have hurt us. Praying for your them will actually keep you from being destroyed by bitterness and anger.

Jesus is calling us not just to do good things for those rough relationships, like greeting them and opening the door for them; He is also calling us to WANT their best, and to express those wants in prayers when the enemy is nowhere around. We are to love them, bless them, and pray for them.

I don’t know why your teacher is being hurtful. But I do know that God loves you both so much. Perhaps God has put you in the situation just to show her love. Have you tried praying for her? Maybe pray each morning before you go to school that God would give you the strength to love her, and that God would open her eyes and heart. I know it seems like a tall order, but I know the freedom that prayer can bring from personal experience.

I’ll be praying for your situation, A… that God would give you courage, peace, and comfort each day.

Yet I am not ashamed, because I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him for that day.” 2 Timothy 1:12, NIV

Question: What advice would you give to A?

Following,
Ginger

The Mountain

Lots of things have influenced my prayer life: books, people, liturgy, teaching, and experiences. But a teaching and experience combo on the top of a mountain in Israel stands out above the rest.

Mount Arbel is a mountain in lower Galilee with high cliffs and views in every direction. On a clear day you can see across the Sea of Galilee, to the heights of Mount Hermon and into the Golan Heights.

The journey to the top was intense. We fought our way up Mt. Arbel, removing layers of clothes as we entered the low-lying clouds. The hike kept us panting, but the scenery took my breath away. I chatted with my fellow hikers in between gasps, totally unaware of where our journey was taking us. But eventually we reached the top. If I close my eyes I can picture that first look: windy, chilly, rolling dark clouds, the Sea of Galilee, and tiny villages dotting the entire landscape.

We bundled back up and sat down. (I love that… went up on a mountain and sat down… to pray. Sounds familiar.)

We were reminded of the strenuous hike taken to reach this quiet place, and the journey that Jesus would have taken to get away from the crowds.

“Yet the news about him spread all the more, so that crowds of people came to hear him and to be healed of their sicknesses. But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed. (Luke 5:15-16)

eremos topos – solitary/quiet place – in Hebrew: desolate or deserted.

“Jesus went up on a mountainside and called to him those he wanted, and they came to him. He appointed twelve—designating them apostles…” (Mark 3:13-14)

Jesus quite possibly spent the night on this solitary mountain top and then called His disciples. I found myself straining to grasp the lesson our trip leader was trying to communicate. It felt as though the rain and wind were doing everything in their power to keep me cold and miserable, but then something happened to change my entire attitude and perspective. It’s something so simple, and yet it’s a picture that will help me in my times of prayer for the rest of my life.

PERSPECTIVE

Our trip leader called out to a guy in our group. “Kyle, will you join me up front?”

Kyle, a tall twenty-something with red hair, obliged. Kyle was encouraged to name someone he looked up to or a celebrity he would like to meet. He chose the author J.R. Tolkien. Our leader, Matt, then took on the persona of J.R. Tolkien carrying a basket of bread for the illustration. “Kyle,” he said, “I want you to ask me for one of my loaves of bread. And by the way, you are homeless and very hungry.”

Kyle grovelled a bit reminding Mr. Tolkien just how much he loves all of his books. He went on to pay his respects, to mention favorite books, and then to gently ask, saying please several times, if he could have some bread.

Tolkien eventually relented and handed Kyle an imaginary piece of bread.

End scene.

Except then our trip leader did something else a bit unexpected. You see, Kyle’s father was also on our trip. He was called to the front and asked to stand next to Kyle.

“Kyle, ask your dad for some bread.”

Kyle put his arm around his father and asked simply and without hesitation, “Dad, may I please have some bread?”

I’ll admit, I became a little choked up as father and son hugged and shared a moment on the top of the mountain of prayer. I lost it when our guide turned to us and said, “Just ask. You aren’t speaking to the CEO of a company or an angry dictator. You are talking to your Father. Ask. Ask. Ask. Ask. Ask. And He Gives. Gives. Gives. Gives. Gives.”

Mt. Arbel has changed they way that I pray because I have a better picture of my Heavenly Father, a reminder that He invites us to connect with Him, to seek Him, and to simply ask of Him.

One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he had finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.”

Jesus said to them, “When you pray, say this:

‘Father:
    May your holy name be honored;
    may your Kingdom come.
Give us day by day the food we need.
Forgive us our sins,
    for we forgive everyone who does us wrong.
    And do not bring us to hard testing.’”

And Jesus said to his disciples, “Suppose one of you should go to a friend’s house at midnight and say, ‘Friend, let me borrow three loaves of bread. A friend of mine who is on a trip has just come to my house, and I don’t have any food for him!’ And suppose your friend should answer from inside, ‘Don’t bother me! The door is already locked, and my children and I are in bed. I can’t get up and give you anything.’ Well, what then? I tell you that even if he will not get up and give you the bread because you are his friend, yet he will get up and give you everything you need because you are not ashamed to keep on asking. And so I say to you: Ask, and you will receive; seek, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened to you.For those who ask will receive, and those who seek will find, and the door will be opened to anyone who knocks. Would any of you who are fathers give your son a snake when he asks for fish? Or would you give him a scorpion when he asks for an egg? As bad as you are, you know how to give good things to your children. How much more, then, will the Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” (Luke 11:1-13, GNT)

Just Ask.

Following,
Ginger

Chazaq – Prayer

“And there is none that calleth upon thy name that stirreth up himself to take hold of thee…” (Isaiah 64:7, KJV)

Isaiah 64:7 – “How to Pray”

(Hebrew) Chazaq;

To fasten upon; seize; be strong; courageous; obstinate; to bind; restrain; conquer; catch; cleave to; be constant; continue; force; lay hold on; maintain; play the man; wax mighty; prevail; retain; be urgent; wax strong.

All these meaning can be understood in connection with prayer. If one would stir himself up in this manner, refusing to be denied, and if he would appropriate every benefit of the promises and covenants of God which have been freely and abundantly given to men – all men, then such a person would experience answers to prayer for body. soul. and spirit. for both himself and others.

From the Dake Annotated Reference Bible, Finis Dake

“Then Abraham prayed…
Isaac prayed…
Jacob prayed…
Then Moses left Pharaoh and prayed…
Then Manoah prayed to the LORD…
Then Samson prayed…
So David prayed…
Elijah stepped forward and prayed…
And Elisha prayed, “O, LORD”…
After Job had prayed for his friends…
And Hezekiah prayed to the LORD…
Daniel gt down on His knees and prayed…
From inside the fish Jonah prayed…
Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed…
Going a little farther, He fell with his face to the ground and prayed.”

(Uses of the word pray in its various forms from Genesis to Revelation.)

Recently I have been thinking, praying, discovering, and learning what prayer does and could look like in my life. I’m looking forward to learning together this week.

Following,
Ginger