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Searching for Words to Pray

Searching for Words to Pray

I’ll be honest with you: there are times I have found it hard to be honest with God. The strange thing is, it’s not because I want to be dishonest with God. Sometimes it’s because I am stressed and anxious, and my prayers are fast-paced and emotionally disengaged. Sometimes it’s just because I am angry, and due to my personality and whatever else is going on inside me, I struggle to address my anger and I avoid it. Sometimes I feel like I don’t have the energy or the focus to center myself on him for a long time. 

 

Searching in the past

Here’s another reality: sometimes, when I am praying I am unable to conjure up the words to say what I really want, or what I really need to, in order to be honest with God. Even when I have a strong desire to be with God in prayer,  I can struggle with words. For someone who loves poetry and all forms of literature, that’s hard to even admit. 

Over the years I have taken great comfort in the fact that God can use my silence; my silent mouth and body that is just sitting and seeking to be close to him. Conversely, I take great comfort in the fact that I can trust God listens when I just ramble on and purge out all my random cares. But even more satisfying and expressive of my own feelings are prayers of the saints of old. These are prayers that seem holier than me, prayers that when I pray them, I feel like I’m standing on the shoulders of Christians who lived faithfully. 

When people ask me what my prayer life is like, I often respond with a simple truth. I typically have a mantra going on in the back of my head throughout the day. It’s the Jesus prayer; it is my quickest access point, my default, the groove I often fall back into when I pray. It goes like this:

“Jesus Christ, Son of David, have mercy on me, a sinner. Amen.” 

This prayer, over and over, is a place of honesty for me. It’s raw. I find great comfort in it. 

 

Finding in the present

And yet, recently I really felt a desire bubble up in me for more words. And not just the easiest, accessible ones, and not ones from the ancients. I want words that correspond to my modern life, but still have real depth. That get at the heart of my distractions, my anxieties, my fears, my thoughts about God, and my thoughts about myself. 

In my searching I’ve stumbled into some modern prayer books that have given me fresh language—new words to pray. As someone who often celebrates the ancients and their faithfulness to God in prayer, I have been surprised at how, through these fresh prayers, I can enter into real, honest moments with God. In fact, these prayers have given me the words that I desire but don’t have, that my heart feels and needs. 

In Living Like Monks, Praying Like Fools by Tyler Stanton I found a prayer by Ted Loder. He passed away recently, but he was a longtime pastor in Philadelphia, and spent much of his life writing prayers. I don’t agree with him on all things, but there are a few of his prayers that have connected with me in the past months. If you are anything like me, the prayer printed below offers words that correspond to my world, my lived reality, and offer it up to God in a comprehensive way. 

 

“There is Something I Wanted to Tell You” 

Holy One, there is something I wanted to tell you, but there have been errands to run, bills to pay, arrangements to make, meetings to attend, friends to entertain, washing to do… and I forget what it is I wanted to say to you, and mostly I forget what I’m about or why. O God, don’t forget me, please, for the sake of Jesus Christ…. 

Eternal one, there is something I wanted to tell you, but my mind races with worrying and watching, with weighing and planning, with rutted slights and pothole grievances, with leaky dreams and leaky plumbing and leaky relationships that I keep trying to plug up and my attention is preoccupied with loneliness, with doubt, and with things I covet and I forget what it is I want to say to you and how to say it honestly or how to do much of anything. O God, don’t forget me, please, for the sake of Jesus Christ…. 

Almighty one there is something I wanted to ask you but I stumble along the edge of a nameless rage, haunted by a hundred floating fears, of war, of losing my job, of failing, of getting sick and old and having loved ones die, of dying, and I forget what it is the real question is I wanted to ask and I forget to listen anyway because you seem unreal and far away and I forget what it is I have forgotten. O God, don’t forget me, please, for the sake of Jesus Christ…. 

O Father in Heaven, perhaps you’ve already heard what I wanted to tell you, What I wanted to ask is, forgive me, heal me, increase my courage, please. Renew in me a little of love and faith, and a sense of confidence, and a vision of what it might mean to live as though you were real, and I mattered, and everyone was sister and brother.

What I wanted to ask in my blundering way is don’t give up on me, don’t become too sad about me, but laugh with me, and try again with me, and I will with you, too. What I wanted to ask is for peace enough, to want and work for more, for joy enough to share, and for awareness that is keen enough to sense your presence here, now, there, then, always. Amen.

The Joy Of Prayer: 5 Ideas to Cultivate Joy in Your Prayer Time

The Joy Of Prayer: 5 Ideas to Cultivate Joy in Your Prayer Time

What is the first image that comes to your mind when you think about prayer? Someone on their knees with their hands clasped together toward heaven? The prophet Daniel praying three times a day with his window open toward Jerusalem in defiance of the government? A monk or a nun in deep contemplation? Or, is it someone falling asleep out of boredom? I get it, some days prayer is rough, particularly in the afternoon after lunch!

But what if I told you that prayer is joy? What if I told you that prayer is movement and breath, a labor of love in the presence of the One who is with us in lament and in dancing, in painful sobs and belly laughs, when the spirit groans and when it soars with delight? Would you believe me? In case you don’t, let me share with you the image that comes to my mind when I think of prayer.

When I think of prayer, I remember a former pastor of mine with fondness, particularly the way in which he nurtured his prayer life and intimacy with Jesus. I often saw him pacing back and forth talking to God, and if you happened to find yourself next to him during a long drive, you would hear him murmuring as he talked to God. He woke up early to read the Bible, journal, and pray for an extended period of time before he went to his office at the church. At the elder meetings we prayed for a while before we did anything else. And on Tuesday nights at 6:30 PM you would always find him at the weekly prayer meeting.

I learned much from watching my pastor and other servants of the Lord tend to the presence of God with such diligence and delight. The strength of their faith, their zeal for the Lord, and their desire to be with him was evident. They always wanted more time to pray because they never get enough of Jesus! I am indebted to these saints, intercessors, and prayer laborers for everything they taught me as they shared their prayer lives with me.

What is the “secret sauce”? How do they do it? How is anyone able to cultivate a consistent prayer life and find joy in it? Building a consistent prayer life is not always joyful. It starts with discipline! One minute seems like an eternity when you are trying to concentrate in prayer but the mind keeps wandering. Did I switch off the stove, add detergent to that last load of laundry, will I ever finish that project at work, will God ever bring Prince Charming? Don’t fret, keep at it; this is all part of learning to give God our full attention. Over time you will notice that discipline has turned into joy and time begins to fly in the space of prayer. Here are some things I have learned throughout the years that have helped cultivate joy in prayer.

 

1. Establish rhythms of time and place

Luke 2:37 says, “[…] She did not leave the temple, serving God night and day with fasting and prayers.”

That is what the evangelist tells us about Anna, a widowed prophetess, who had spent all her life serving God in prayer. I imagine she fervently interceded for the coming of the Messiah, whom she was now seeing with her very own eyes as a babe being blessed by Simeon. I imagine everyone knew exactly where to find Anna at particular times of the day. If anybody inquired about her around the temple, one of the priests might have said, “You know, this is her regular prayer time, so she will be at her usual spot, follow me. But you better brace yourself to wait a few hours because it’s gonna be a while before she is done praying.”

You and I need regular rhythms of prayer in order to be consistent. Pick a time of the day when you are most alert and a quiet, peaceful place to pray. Make this an appointment that you cannot break, and always show up. Do not concern yourself with the length of your prayer time, focus on being with Jesus.

 

2. Devise a strategy

It can be daunting to arrive at our prayer appointment without an agenda. It can feel like staring at a blank page on a computer screen with the cursor flashing, reminding us that we haven’t written a single word. In order to avoid that sensation of being stuck without anything to say, make a plan for your prayer time. Here is a basic outline of my prayer times.

A schedule will help you focus and avoid exclusively self-centered prayers that ignore neighbors and the work of God’s kingdom. Note that a schedule serves as a guide and is not written in stone. The Holy Spirit will often change our plans by reminding us of someone’s name, or bringing to mind a particular situation. Follow the lead of the Spirit! There is no need to be legalistic about the schedule. This is how we learn to listen to the voice of God as we pray, obedient to the promptings of the Holy Spirit.

 

3. Bring your Bible to your prayer appointment

1 John 5:14-15 says, “This is the confidence we have before him: If we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears whatever we ask, we know that we have what we have asked of him (emphasis mine).”

John tells us that one of the keys to effective prayer is to pray according to the will of God. How do we know the will of God? The will of God is written in the sacred Scriptures. Thus, knowing our Bible is the most productive thing we can do to cultivate joy and effectiveness in prayer. When we pray Scripture, we pray God’s very word back to him!

How do we pray Scripture? The epistles are filled with rich prayers. One of my favorites is Ephesians 1:15-19, as Paul prays for a Spirit of wisdom and revelation, for an opening of spiritual eyes, so that the church would understand the nature of the marvelous inheritance they have in Jesus. Ephesians 1:3-14 tells us that such inheritance is nothing less than “every spiritual blessing.” In Christ we have been chosen, redeemed, adopted, forgiven, and sealed by the Holy Spirit. Paul was praying that God would grant understanding to his church, so that she could grasp the glorious gospel she had received in Jesus!

In addition, the Psalms are a treasure trove of ancient, liturgical prayers that often feel as relevant today as they have felt throughout the history of the Judeo-Christian tradition. The Psalms give language, voice, and imagery to the whole range of human emotions. In joy and in sorrow, in sickness and in health, in mourning and in dancing, in lament and in praise, we can pray the Psalms. These poems help us say to God the things our heart knows but cannot speak. They communicate that which our souls long for but cannot name.

 

4. Incorporate a variety of prayer types

Isn’t it fun to experience a variety of foods throughout the week? One of my favorite things about going to my mom’s house in Puerto Rico is that she cooks all my favorites when I am home. Oh the flavor, oh the variety…what a gift! If you sense your prayer life growing stale and each day it feels like a burden rather than a joy, try a different prayer type. For instance, instead of interceding, try contemplation: spend time worshiping God and thanking him, pick a passage of Scripture, meditate on it, and pray it back to God. I like to employ a variety of prayer practices in one single prayer time. It takes me a while to get to a space of stillness in prayer because I am usually thinking about the many tasks ahead of me so, during the first few minutes of my prayer time I listen to worship music, praise God out loud and thank him. Other times I sing until it turns into prayer. Then, I start interceding. Other times I write in my journal or type in my computer.

Recently, I arrived at one of my prayer appointments during the week and my soul was heavy; all I could do was cry. And when I say cry I mean ugly crying, shaking violently, snot coming out of my nose, deep sobs crying. I think, perhaps, the Holy Spirit was interceding through me with “unspoken groanings” (Romans 8:26). I could not utter a single word. At that moment, I felt compelled to type on my computer, and God was gracious in granting me language to give voice to the things that were in my heart but I could not express. Don’t be paralyzed by a long list of prayer requests; incorporate variety in your prayer time and let the Holy Spirit carry you!

 

5. Be creative

I think one of the reasons prayer sometimes appears boring is that we have a narrow view of what it looks like. There is no need to be inside a room, still, and on our knees when we pray. Stillness in prayer is a posture of the heart, not the body. I routinely pace while I pray. Yes, I look a little crazy, but the movement helps me stay focused when I am tired, and it reminds me that prayer is not a static activity. When we pray, we accomplish the work of God’s kingdom and the angels get their marching orders. Prayer is movement! This is why long walks, which are a favorite pastime of mine, are a fantastic time to pray.

Another way to add creativity to your prayers is to write them. I write them in my journal or type them on my computer. Slowing down to write my prayers helps me think carefully about the words I say to God, the theology that is in my heart, and my deepest desires. This practice also allows me to encourage those for whom I intercede with the words God lays on my heart to pray on their behalf.

There are many other ways of engaging the discipline and joy of prayer. I know some people like to draw as they pray and others engage art as a way to cultivate their imagination. Do not let the thought of a bland room paralyze you and rob you of the joy of praying, and growing in depth of intimacy with Jesus.

May you pray earnestly and freely, in mourning and in dancing, in lament and in praise, at home and at work, for you and the world. May the Lord grant you peace as you pray, and may you know the deep joy of keeping company with Jesus in the space of prayer. Amen.

Demystifying Mentoring

Demystifying Mentoring

Mentoring is a word that has been getting a lot of attention, yet It seems to be shrouded in mystery and confusion. Most have an understanding that mentoring involves an experienced individual willing to advise or support someone less experienced in a particular aspect of life. But then the questions arise: How do I engage in mentoring? Am I capable of being a mentor? Is this something I should pursue? And, of course, Where can I find a mentor?

Historically, church mentoring programs have focused on the Titus 2 ministry as a role designated for older women mentoring younger women. However, as we look more closely at Scripture, we see that it is not exclusive to women. It is a broader concept.

 

The Biblical Example of Mentoring

There are many Old Testament examples of mentoring for guidance and support. Jethro mentored his son-in-law Moses, showcasing how mentoring can have a familial dimension. Moses, in turn, mentored Joshua, who went on to mentor the other army leaders. Mentoring is an integral facet of good leadership. Eli mentored Samuel, who in turn mentored Saul and David. Eventually, David became the king of Israel and extended his mentorship to Solomon. Mordecai mentored Esther, who God used to save his people. These are just a few Old Testament examples that show the transformative power of mentoring. Similarly, the New Testament is rich with mentoring examples, especially from the disciples and early church members, from which our present-day discipleship and spiritual formation classes come.

Ordinary people see a need and answer the call to make a difference in the lives of others. A succession of mentoring relationships can have a domino effect. Mentoring changes lives, and not just the life of the one being mentored; it can have a profound impact across generations. 

Mentoring is a call for spiritually mature men and women to journey with those younger in their faith and pour into them. While it can take the form of a structured program, it certainly doesn’t have to. Mentoring is doing and sharing life with those God has placed in your path. Some of the best mentoring happens in simple moments over a cup of tea or a casual conversation in the midst of everyday life. It is becoming the person you needed when you were younger. Sometimes our mentors may be years ahead of us, other times they may be just a step ahead. This is a call for every age. A younger person can be a mentor to an older person.

 

We All Need a Mentor

No matter how put together we are or think we are, we are all broken, and broken people do hurtful, stupid, and sinful things. We are all in need of a Savior in Jesus, as well as at least one faithful friend and a mentor. What does mentoring look like in your life? It might be helpful to reflect on the influence mentors have had on you. Whether we realize it or not, we have all experienced the impact of mentors, and we have all served as mentors in some way. Sometimes it can be a friend willing to ask the hard questions or someone less connected to us who shows us another viewpoint from their life experience.

I am profoundly grateful for those who looked at the messy, younger me and chose to pour into me anyway. While they could have chosen to gossip or criticize me, some chose to roll up their sleeves and walk alongside me, helping me become the woman I was called and created to be. I honestly do not believe I would be who I am today without these dear souls. 

One example is an older woman who poured into me by teaching me the value of studying the word of God for myself. She took me to my first Bible conference. We had many cups of tea together as I grew spiritually. In many ways she was my spiritual mom. She is now home with Jesus and I often wish I would have asked her why she was willing to spend so much time with me. The shape of her life now intertwines with mine. Her mark on my life is evidenced in so many ways: my love of studying the word of God, joy in teaching others, gardening, and even enjoying a good game of baseball.

Sometimes mentoring isn’t about Bible study, but sharing practical information.  A woman heard that I wanted to learn to make jelly. While this might not seem important to some, it was a big deal to me. One day she showed up at my door with grape juice, jars, and all the things necessary to make jelly. That afternoon, as I learned a new skill, we talked about parenting. She measured, and I talked. I poured the jelly into jars, I listened. When she left, I had a dozen jars of jelly, a desire fulfilled, a new skill, and so much more.  

These are just two examples of women who have poured into me over the years. Women who made me feel loved and valued. Some have been in my life to teach me a single concept, while others became lifelong friends.

 

A Change of View

Being mentored has also shaped how I view other women. Now I see them as mothers, sisters, daughters, and friends. If we look through that lens, there is no room for competition, judging, or gossiping. It leaves space for growing together in community. We talk about wanting to leave a legacy, and mentoring offers a fresh avenue to do that, all in the name of Jesus.  

One might wonder if they have what it takes to be a good mentor, if they have anything of value to offer others, or if they are spiritually ready. There is not a one-size-fits-all approach to mentoring. God has uniquely shaped each of us for the individuals he intends for us to mentor. 

For the believer, having a faith walk and an ongoing prayer life are essential. Without these foundational disciplines, we might attempt to rely on our own strength. And that “strength” can lead to issues such as pride that are not God-honoring.

 

Called to Mentor

While mentoring is a call for everyone, there are specific requirements. The first step is simply to respond to the need. The second is to have an open heart that is willing to listen—really listen—to others before speaking. Listening is so important and is a great way to begin mentoring. Too often, we jump in with advice or throw around Bible verses before we know someone’s story.  

Another essential skill in successful mentoring relationships is a willingness to be vulnerable with others, vulnerable enough to share your story when appropriate. Men and women are waiting for us to be willing to show up and be there for them, and each of us have life experiences that uniquely shape us to pour into the lives of others. A good mentor sees what someone needs and is willing and available to accompany them through life. 

 

An Unlikely Pair

Trying to find a mentor or finding someone to mentor can feel overwhelming because of our tendency to overcomplicate things. Go where the people are! If we are praying and show up, God will direct the right people to our path—those whom we are to mentor or those who are to mentor us. 

In the movie Four Feathers, a British soldier goes through a devastatingly hard time, leaving England in disgrace. In hopes of regaining his honor he goes to the Sudan. A desert prince finds him and is instrumental in helping him put the pieces of his life back together. An unlikely pair. When the soldier is ready to go back to England, more healed and whole, he asks the prince, “Why did you help me?” His response sums up mentoring so beautifully, “Because God put you in my way. I had no choice.” An unlikely pair that only God could put together. The beauty of mentoring is that God puts unlikely people in our path, to help grow them, grow us, and ultimately glorify himself.               

If you want to be mentored, begin with prayer. Then, when you find a brother or sister you want to learn from, be vulnerable enough to ask. Asking doesn’t mean they will say yes, and even if they agree, the relationship might not always flourish. If it doesn’t, keep trying and trust that God has the right people walking with you at just the right time.

 

Mentoring Boundaries         

Being a mentor does not mean being someone’s everything. Rarely will you teach/mentor someone in all areas of their life. Each of my mentors brought something different into my life, influencing me in specific ways or areas of life. 

Healthy boundaries also need to be part of any mentoring relationship. A healthy boundary could be as simple as no calls after a certain time. Boundaries help foster a respectful attitude toward each other’s time, and this part of healthy mentoring is a two-way street. While one might be the mentor and another is being mentored, we need to remember that there is wisdom to be gained from each other. Younger individuals grow and stretch us in ways our peers might not.  

When I was a younger woman, I longed for older women to encourage, guide, and come alongside me. God was gracious and answered those prayers. Are you willing to let God use you as an answer to someone’s prayer? 

That is what a mentor is—an answer to someone’s prayer.      

Prayer and Witness |  POD 015

Prayer and Witness | POD 015

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HOSTS & GUESTS

Gabe Coyle – Downtown Campus Pastor

Nydiaris Hernandez-Santos – Associate Pastor, Downtown

Bill Gorman – Host

Show Notes

Prayer and Witness

In today’s episode with Gabe Coyle and Nydiaris Hernandez-Santos, we dive into the transformative power of prayer and the significance of having a personal relationship with God. Nydiaris and Gabe share their personal experiences and reflections on prayer and how it has shaped their lives, from the importance of spending time in God’s presence to the impact of witnessing through telling our personal stories of God’s rescue. Join us as we explore the profound role of prayer in our journey of faith.

 

THREE KEY TAKEAWAYS:
  1. The importance of prayer and experiencing God’s presence: This episode emphasizes the significance of spending time with God in prayer and immersing oneself in His presence. Regular prayer makes one become attuned to God and develops an intuitive understanding of His actions and character. Personal anecdotes and biblical examples demonstrate the deep interconnection between individuals and God through prayer.

  2. The power of witnessing and storytelling: Witnessing the impact of Jesus in one’s life is an integral part of being a Christian. This episode encourages listeners to share their personal experiences of how Jesus has transformed their lives. Engaging in storytelling and effectively communicating the gospel message is vital in facilitating spiritual growth and creating unity within the church community.

  3. The transformative role of prayer in personal formation: Prayer serves as a means of bringing one’s authentic self before God and surrendering to His lordship. It allows for vulnerability, authenticity, and sharing one’s personal story with others. The episode highlights prayer as both a discipline and a lifeline, emphasizing its role in personal growth, self-care, and building a strong connection with God.

 

#PrayerLife #SpiritualGrowth #WitnessingFaith #FormedInChrist #ExperiencingGod #GospelStories #DigitalFormation #SharingTestimonies #DeepeningFaith #PrayerLegacy

 

GUEST BIO:

Nydiaris Hernåndez-Santos
Nydiaris grew up in a small coastal town in Puerto Rico, surrounded by mountains and a beautiful community of people that deeply shaped her faith. A fascination with science led her to pursue a B.S. in Biology/Microbiology at the University of Puerto Rico, resulting in a two-year internship at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, M.D. Her passion for germs and the immune system led her to pursue a Ph.D. in Immunology from the University of Pittsburgh and subsequent postdoctoral work at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Nydiaris loves to learn and study! Her life turned one hundred and eighty degrees when the Lord asked her to pursue ministry and her passion for preaching in a more traditional way, including pursuing an M. Div. degree from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School; Nydiaris loves meeting new people and deep conversations. She also loves music, particularly her beloved Latin American tunes. As a passenger in her car, you will likely hear some salsa or Latin jazz playing. A long walk, good food, a nurturing book, and passionate prayer are her version of spa treatment.

Gabriel Coyle
After receiving his Master of Divinity at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, Gabe’s passion for the gospel to transform and develop whole communities gracefully collided with his passion for the arts in downtown Kansas City. In the spring of 2012, God called Gabe and his wife, Allie, to Christ Community’s Downtown Campus to be a part of God’s work for His name’s sake in this city. Gabe loves running ultra marathons, taking long walks through the neighborhood with his three children, and jamming out on guitars as a family after dinner. Gabe is pursuing his Doctor of Ministry from Fuller Theological Seminary.

 

QUOTES:

“I see that in the legacy. I see that with my own mom growing up in a single-parent household. My mom wasn’t as verbal in terms of directing me to pray, but I would come home many nights and see her crying over her Bible and praying. And what she would say is, ‘God’s good in ways I can’t explain’ or ‘We’re looking at the messy side of the tapestry, but one day God’s going to weave something beautiful on the other side,’ and I saw this trust in her that was born in prayer.”
— Gabe Coyle

 

“How are we intentionally being formed ourselves versus being deformed?”
— Gabe Coyle

 

“But she has heard about what God was doing with his people and rescuing people. And she said that to the spies, that were afraid. And please don’t forget me when you come because I know that the lord is going to give you this land. I mean, she had faith off the charts, and she was witnessing to the Israelites about what their own God can do.”
— Nydiaris

 
KEYWORDS:

spending time with God, prayer, feeling God’s presence, regular prayer, intuition, biblical figures, David, Jesus, faith, trust in God, personal anecdote, mother, high school, empty Walmart parking lots, parents, raising children, wandering, Augustine, mother and grandmother, 20 years, return to faith, garden, book of Romans, teaching series, Christ Community, Form dot life podcast, medium, platform, history, engagement, cultural context, resonance, saturate, God’s involvement, personal experiences, storytelling

CHAPTERS:

00:02:41 Prayer shaped me, a lifeline of joy.
00:08:29 Prayed together, powerful moment, God’s love.
00:11:10 Powerful prayers and emotional connection to God.
00:14:44 Intuitive sense of God’s presence in prayer
00:18:54 Parents raising children in the way of Jesus, using the example of Augustine.
00:22:34 Growing in God’s word and ways together.
00:27:40 Prayer is receiving and covers various disciplines.
00:31:56 The story of how he rescued us.
00:34:17 Witnesses to Jesus’ story, telling it passionately.
00:39:40 Prayer is a witness and surrender to God.
00:48:44 Mitch journals prayers for 17 years straight.
00:50:59 Let stories of God flow freely, unexplained.
00:54:06 Final Question.

Maui: Rebuilding Spirits and Homes

Maui: Rebuilding Spirits and Homes

Weeks have passed since the tragic fires on Maui. Although for decades the sugar cane company regularly planned a controlled burn of large harvested fields, no one seemed prepared for the raging wildfires that blew through the historic town of Lahaina, claiming hundreds of lives and thousands of homes.


A Personal Connection

My wife Sharon and I are Christ Community staff members. We met and married on Maui in 2007. We built a business there, and had a community we loved. Sharon has three sisters whose families still live on the island. Thankfully, none of our family lives on the west side of the island that was devastated, but numerous close friends have lost everything. Friends with two young boys that we worked with every week narrowly escaped with their lives and lost all their possessions. Rodrigo and Michelle, with their two little ones, escaped just behind them and are thankfully safe.

Many, however, did not know of the danger and were trapped in their homes and cars, unable to escape the scorching heat and smoke. Another friend, Josh, lost his father in the tragedy.

This devastating event has had a dramatic impact on us, and we struggle to comprehend the horrific destruction. Historic buildings and locations that held many memories for our family are now leveled, and the best thing we know to do is pray. Pray for the many families who have lost not only their houses and possessions but also family members, their daily routines, their neighbors, their jobs, their community, and essentially their entire sense of home.

 

Meeting Needs

There are undoubtedly many practical needs, but on a deeper level, there are tremendous mental and emotional needs. Those on Maui who lost homes have lost everything, and those who have not lost their homes will likely suffer from survivor’s guilt, among other things.

In a recent update on social media, Sharon found encouragement through our affiliation with ReachGlobal, which serves as the outreach branch of the EFCA. Some of her friends are church leaders on Maui and were offered training in post-trauma recovery. The training was provided through financial support that came from ReachGlobal.

Sharon said, “Knowing that our church, Christ Community, contributed to the community relief endeavors in Maui through ReachGlobal meant a lot to me.”

Jo and Mike Barr, members of the Leawood congregation, are parents to a daughter who resides in Maui. Gemma and her son were forced to evacuate their residence due to the fires, which destroyed homes only a few blocks away. Fortunately, their own home was safe but entirely covered with soot from the fires. The entire community is coming together to navigate this new reality after the fire.

The video attached provides a few firsthand insights from Gemma into the situation, including her expression of gratitude for the contributions made by churches like Christ Community, who have been instrumental in assisting the Maui residents by sending resources.


Ways to Help

As we consider our neighbors in Maui, here are a few ways to embrace support opportunities and extend our hands in compassion to make a meaningful impact:

  1. Pray – That the people of Maui will encounter the love of God in a real and tangible way through the community of the Church.
  2. Give – Christ Community Church allocated $10,000 through ReachGlobal, which was gifted to the EFCA church on Maui to help their community. If you feel led to give beyond that, we recommend giving to the Maui Food Bank. They are an entirely local organization with existing infrastructure and volunteers able to handle current needs.
  3. Share – If you are on social media and feel led, share articles and videos of the impact on Maui to help create awareness for their needs.

A Prayer for Runners

A Prayer for Runners

If you like to run, what are your routines for run prep? Stretching? Coffee? Mapping out your run? What if running could strengthen your soul as much as your body? How do you prep for that?

Okay, so maybe this isn’t the blog you were expecting from your pastor. I know this topic may feel niche, but even if you aren’t the “running type,” I invite you into an exercise to expand your perspective of the ordinary aspects of your life. Life with God is an adventure that predominantly dwells in the riches of the mundane, and there are few things that remind us of our ordinary, earthy existence like a morning run. The body is cranking sweat out of every pore. Muscles, joints, lungs, and heart are burning. The spirit seems to grow silent at the screaming of the body. 

And yet, what if this is one of the ways God meets us? What if the joy at the end of a run doesn’t merely have to be a dopamine hit, but a moment of embodied encounter with God? Would we be ready? Do we even have to be ready for it to be true? 

I wonder if some of the greatest acts of cultivating our attention toward God’s always-and-forever presence is not merely by rehearsing good ideas but rather by entering recurring prayers. What if the same way we put on the same shoes for a daily run, we prayed the same prayer, slowly allowing our souls to mold into its repetition? What would we notice about God? What would we notice in ourselves? Who would we become mile by mile?

For those who run or walk, for those who have been meaning to run or walk, for those who want to care for their bodies and souls, I wrote a prayer that opens our eyes when we open our strides. May this prayer be a resource for the Holy Spirit, leveraging your senses to better feel your run with God.  

 

A LITURGY FOR 

An early morning run

This prayer is best when coupled with the physical act of putting on running shoes, paying attention to the well-designed grip of the shoe on each foot and the tightness of the laces. 

Lord, you have crafted these toes reaching out from these feet connected to these ankles,
syncing with calves, knees and hips to run as you move all of me. Today I join the wind, a sacrament of your invisible presence gracing these quiet streets.

As I run, may I remember I was made to run
with you.
Not ahead—as if I could leave you behind
Nor behind—as if I must try to catch up.
Only breathing—with.
The syncopated in—hale, ex—hale with each mid-foot strike
a reminder of your Spirit kissing my soul,
The sunrise and her shadows a reminder that you, Lord Christ, hold it all together,
The sound of birds, the reminder that the Father’s eye is on the soaring sparrow.

May my run be an act of devoted attention,
Not an escape from your world
But a seeing service in the world.

And so,
awaken my heart
passing in front of homes exhausted by an erratic world
while aching for homeless trampled by the world
awaken my mind
listening to podcasts, books, music,
and praying prayers with the world.
awaken my hands
surrendering what I must carry to be ok
freed to wave at each day laborer for the world.

God, in this early hour, I run
with you,
and I know you are with me
closer than these well crafted shoes
each step of the way. 

Amen.

For more prayers in this vein written by others around various ordinary aspects of life, check out the amazing resource, Every Moment Holy.