Surely We Know ( by Carley Evans )


Surely we each know the pain of life — the unexpected loss of job, the devastating illness or infection, the sudden or prolonged death of loved ones, the demise of self through dementia, the agony of self-loathing and self-doubt, etc. etc. etc. No one is immune. Some pretend to be immune, but no one is.

So, why can’t we say a prayer for each other? Right now!

Thanks! And many blessings!

May God meet all your needs in His perfect way and in His perfect timing. In Jesus’ Name, amen!

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Challenging God ( by Carley Evans )


Sennacherib

Sennacherib (Photo credit: Averain)

Sennacherib, the king of Assyria, sends a threatening letter to Hezekiah, the king of Judah. In the letter, Sennacherib taunts: “Do not let the god you depend on deceive you when he says, ‘Jerusalem will not be handed over to the king of Assyria.'” (2 Kings 19:10) Then he boasts he is capable of destroying Judah as the kings before him destroyed whole countries! “And will you be delivered? Did the gods of the nations that were destroyed by my forefathers deliver them?” (2 Kings 19:12)

Sennacherib compares God to idols, to gods that are “only wood and stone, fashioned by men’s hands.” (2 Kings 19:18)

Hezekiah takes the letter to the temple and “spreads it out before the Lord.” (2 Kings 19:14) He asks God to take notice of the insult. “Listen to the words Sennacherib has sent to insult the living God.” (2 Kings 19:16)

Isaiah sends a message to Hezekiah, saying the king of Assyria “will not enter this city or shoot an arrow here. He will not come before it with shield or build a siege ramp against it. By the way he came he will return; he will not enter the city.” (2 Kings 19:32-33) God promises to “defend this city and save it, for [His] sake and for the sake of David [His] servant.” (2 Kings 19:34)

That night the angel of the Lord puts to death a hundred and eighty-five thousand men in the camp of the Assyrians. In the morning, only dead bodies greet the city. Sennacherib returns to Nineveh where he is murdered by his own sons while worshiping his god Nisroch.

Father God, help us to pray as Hezekiah — concerned about the insult to Your Name, he asks You to take heed. He does not worry about the fate of Jerusalem; his only concern is Your Honor. In Jesus’ Name, amen.

 

Stacking the Deck ( by Carley Evans )


Watched a Johnson & Johnson commercial promoting nursing with a tagline of “Nurses Heal” and the nurse stating she believes in science and medicine and in “stacking the deck.” She puts a 4-leaf clover medallion in the palm of a comatose patient on a stretcher in an emergency room.

I believe in science and medicine, too. I also believe in stacking the deck. But, not with medallions or voodoo or horoscopes or seances or witchcraft or superstitions; instead I stack the deck with prayer.

Thank You, heavenly Father, that You are always listening, never tiring of our voices asking for Your interventions. In Jesus’ Name, help us to pray as we ought. Amen.

Stay Awake, Pray; Get Up, Let’s Go


Today — still exhausted from my trip and lack of sleep last night — I kept thinking about Peter and the two sons of Zebedee falling asleep while Jesus agonizes in the garden of Gethsemane. Jesus has asked them to “sit here while I go over there and pray.” (Matthew 26:36, HCSB) I can imagine Peter sitting down on the ground, perhaps leaning against a tree while Jesus grows ever more “sorrowful and deeply distressed.” (Matthew 26:37) About this time, Peter and the sons of Zebedee must be somewhat bewildered. Why is the Son of God so distressed?

Jesus says, “My soul is swallowed up in sorrow — to the point of death.” (Matthew 26:38) Such deep sorrow is imaginable for us, who have experienced the loss of a child, a parent, a dear friend, a spouse — these sorts of sorrows we understand. Jesus is facing utter isolation as well as intense physical suffering. No wonder He “falls facedown and prays, ‘My Father! If it is possible, let this cup pass from Me.'” (Matthew 26:39) No wonder He is disturbed when He finds Peter and the others asleep rather than keeping watch with Him. He commands, gently I am certain, “Stay awake and pray, so that you won’t enter into temptation.” (Matthew 26:41)

He goes away to pray again. When He returns, He finds Peter and the sons of Zebedee asleep, “because they can not keep their eyes open.” (Matthew 26:43) Right now, I can barely keep my eyes open. I understand physical and mental exhaustion. Peter doesn’t fully grasp what it is that they are doing in the garden. Why are they sitting there? Why is Jesus in such agony? The third time Jesus goes away and comes back to find Peter and the disciples asleep, He tells them, “Look the time is near. The Son of Man is being betrayed into the hands of sinners. Get up; let’s go! See, My betrayer is near.” (Matthew 26:45-46) I imagine Peter and the others scramble to their feet right quick at that message from Jesus.

And when Judas appears to kiss Jesus, “one of those with Jesus reaches out his hand and draws his sword. He strikes the high priest’s slave and cuts off his ear.” (Matthew 26:51) Now the disciples spring into action when earlier they are unable to remain awake to watch with Jesus even for an hour.

Notice how “get up, let’s go” is easier than “stay awake; pray.” Such is human nature. Doing is easier than watching. Keeping busy seems more desirable than sitting at Jesus’ feet and listening. Won’t you keep watch with Jesus for an hour.

 

‘Big Red’ Heart for God


In 1973, I live in Southern Indiana, not more than 45 minutes from the site of the Kentucky Derby. I vaguely recall watching the Derby on television that day — the day Secretariat, the most famous, the greatest racehorse of all time wins the first leg of the Triple Crown. I do not remember my young reaction, whether I cheer or cry or look on with vague misgiving. I say misgiving because I am always fearful for the horse when watching a race.

Today, I watch the film SECRETARIAT and cry. I cry twice — when Big Red wins the Derby and again when he takes the Triple Crown by 31 lengths! And I do pray, “Oh God, to have a heart that big for You!” The soaring emotion I feel here is one I feel occasionally in worship, not usually when lifting my arms during song or even while listening to a pastor tell his sermon; but sometimes when alone — which is difficult to come by in today’s modern, locked church buildings — praying in a pew. The tears stream, and I can’t stop them.

Today, my heart feels like it is bursting in my chest. I want to run that fast for You, O Lord. Oh to be a Secretariat!

O Lord, Send Me A Tropical Storm


This morning, on NPR, I heard a farmer from Alabama state emphatically, “We need a tropical storm to make a dent in this drought. If things continue like this, we’re in for a rough winter.”

I’ve never heard anyone ask God for a tropical storm. That, of course, doesn’t mean it never happens, but this wish seems counter-intuitive. Tropical storms often bring costly damage to coastlines, trees, buildings, and lives. Therefore when the farmer  on National Public Radio indicated Alabama needs a tropical storm this summer, I was momentarily taken aback.

Then, I remembered that what is good for me may not be good for my neighbor, and what is good for my neighbor may not be good for me. Judging good and evil for others is a task to be avoided. I wouldn’t want a tropical storm, wouldn’t wish one on my worst enemy — if I had an enemy, that is — or on my best friend. Unless, of course, that friend was praying, “Please God send a tropical storm across my dry, barren corn fields.”