Bekah's Heart, Poetry/Songs, Prayer

New Morning. New Mercies. – A Morning Prayer

New morning.
New mercies.

The fears and failures of yesterday have past.
The doubts and dreadful moments
The sin and its stain
Washed clean.
Restored.
New.

Father, at the beginning of this new day,
we dare to hope:
hope for life abundant
hope for joy
hope for connection and community
hope for a chance to play a critical role in the story You’re writing in this world
hope for hope itself.

We cling to this hope as we remember:
Your faithfulness is great.
Your mercies begin afresh each new day and each new day You do not fail.
Your steadfast love never ends:
Love for me.
Love for those around me.
Loved as a child.
Nothing that happens today–
nothing done to us
or nothing we do–
can separate us from that love,
Your love.

When Satan tries to steal, kill, and destroy our lives this day–
if tears flow like rivers or
our souls say “everything I had hoped for is lost”
if the missteps and mistakes lead us astray
if the trials and temptations feel too much—
May we not be consumed by anything but
Your faithful grace.

For no one is abandoned by You, Lord, forever.
You show compassion
Because of the greatness of Your unfailing love.

Let us live loved today.

You are good to those who depend on you.
May we depend not on ourselves.
When we’re tempted to take things into our own hands
teach us to rest in Your loving hands,
hands that hold the world.
From that place of dependence and love, establish the work of our hands this day.
Let us ever be aware
of where You are at work around us
and joyfully say “Yes!”
to each invitation to join in.

In the morning, O Lord, You hear our voice;
in the morning we lay our requests before You
and wait in expectation.
It is good to declare:
Your steadfast love in the morning
and Your faithfulness at night.
When this day comes to an end,
may Your love still be echoing in our souls
and witness of your faithfulness flowing from our mouths.
Great is your faithfulness!
Amen.

(Based off of Lamentations 3:18, 21-24, 31-32, Zephaniah 3:5, Romans 8:38-39, John 10:10, Psalm 92:1-2, and Psalm 5:3)

Lent, Prayer

Giving Up Complaining

Lord,

Forgive me when my words are filled with complaints… to You, to others, to no one in particular. Forgive me when I get focused on the things that aren’t going the way I would like or imagine and get my heart focused instead on the many ways in which you have blessed me.  Forgive me Lord when my words which express desire for more or different get in the way of showing the world your abundant grace and joy.  Forgive me for the ways these complaining words have damaged relationships, hurt people, or given an inaccurate picture of You.

I can’t help but be reminded of the Israelites who grumbled their way through the wilderness, longing to go back to Egypt… forgetting the slavery they endured there. (Exodus 16, Numbers 11) Your provided freedom and they grumbled that it took so long.  You provided food and they grumbled that they wanted something different.  You lead them and gave them guidelines to help them live the best life possible and they grumbled.  Lord, I confess I do the same. Forgive me of my grumbling.

Replace my complaining spirit with a spirit of praise… a heart that longs to bless Your name and the many ways You provide for me, lead me, care about me, and use me.  May I not be conformed to the complaining pattern of this world but may my mind be transformed and renewed (Romans 12:1-2). Like Paul, may I learn contentment and praise in every situation, coming to you with any worry, concern, or fear, presenting requests with thanksgiving to Your glory by your grace (Philippians 4).

In the Mercy and Name of Jesus,

Amen… let it be so!

img_1559-3

Lent, Prayer

Giving Up Half-Hearted Prayers

A couple weeks ago I was in the store and decided to buy a baptism card.  That might seem totally normal, except I don’t know anyone being baptized soon.  In short, buying that card was a way to trust that God was going to answer one of my prayers for 2016: that I would get to see the salvation of souls… that I God would make me a disciple that makes disciples. Buying that card was a way for me to tell my heart to trust God that He will answer my prayers for new people to know the love of Jesus this year.

So often we I pray for something to happen, but then don’t actually expect God to come through. Sadly, at times, I pray for things and then find myself shocked when God actually answers.

Today, I give up half-hearted, unexpectant prayers.  When I pray, I’m not checking something off my list… I’m standing in the very presence of the Creator and Sustainer of the Universe!  I’m bringing my praise and my petitions before the One being in all Creation who really can make things happen and LOVES to do it.  I want to learn to pray with persistence and passion, but most of all, with expectation. While God may not come through in the WAYS or the TIMES I might desire or expect, He WILL come through; I can count on that! It’s in His very nature to be faithful to His children even when we’re not.

“…if we are faithless, He remains faithful—
for He cannot deny Himself.” ~ 2 Timothy 2:13

My God will show up and I don’t want to be left surprised. I want to be able to jump up and down, celebrate, saying,
“I knew You’d come through. I knew You’d show up. I knew I could count on You!”

… because we can!

prayer

Lent, Prayer

Giving Up … Pride

  
Jesus, you and I both know how I struggle with pride.  Today, with your help, I give it up! It seems only appropriate way to start this reflective, repentant season of giving up the things that keep me distant from you, to begin with this one.  (And perhaps wearing ashes all day might help in the process.)

How easy it is to shy away from the truth of how often I mess up. We want to believe we are good enough and that the things we do “aren’t really that bad”. Our pride is good at times at hiding our mistakes and failures from others and sometimes even from ourselves. It’s easy to look around our world and see people doing awful things and rather than being grieved at the injustice we are all capable of as human beings, we instead “thank” You that we’re “not like them”. Such an ugly thing–that pride!  John seemed to understand this as he wrote: 

“If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.” (1 John 1:8)

Deceive … that’s a great word for what pride does … And I’m not sure what could be scarier than deceiving myself… unaware of how far I’ve fallen.  Jesus, I’m thankful the passage doesn’t stop there.  

BUT if we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”  (1 John 1:9)

I don’t want to be blinded by my pride any more, Jesus. I’m trusting in Your justice and faithfulness as I confess my need to give up pride. Only when we own up to our faults do we experience the freedom of Your forgiveness. As I walk around today with black ashes in the shape of a cross on my forehead, may it be a statement not only of my guilty pride and my confession, but also a declaration of praise to You, the One greater than all my sins. 

Jesus, today, I give up pride. It seems like such a handy tool to pull out whenever I want to think I’m better than someone else or am trying to ignore my sin. But in reality it only keeps me from You. Help me give it up today remembering that from dust I came and to dust I will return, yet always in Your loving arms. 

In Jesus’ Name, 
Amen 

   
  
 

Bekah's Heart, Prayer, Youth Ministry

Prompted to Pray… A little closer to home

A few days ago I shared of awakening from a nightmare feeling prompted to pray for the persecuted Christians around the world.  As 4:30 this morning rolled around I found myself up once again, with people on my mind.  And, once again, I took the recent advice I overheard from a friend to her son, that if you wake up in the middle of the night with someone on your mind, God probably wants you to pray for them.  But this time, my prayers hit a little closer to home.  This time one after another God began to bring students and families to mind, students and families in someway connected to the mission and ministry God has asked ME to join Him in…

  • A family where the dad has walked out to go live with the girlfriend
  • An only child, who lost her mom to cancer a few years ago and her dad couldn’t take the pain anymore and took his own life a few weeks ago leaving her orphaned and alone
  • A girl unwanted by her mother, emotionally abused by her father, waiting through a long court process as those same people who don’t even pay attention to her for some crazy reason fight to take her from the one person who truly loves her
  • Another young woman with a similar story, only worse
  • Two siblings who just passed the one year mark of an accident that took the life of their father and left one of them fighting for his life as well
  • 10-15 kids (maybe more, I’ve lost count) who have experienced the blessing of adoption, but find themselves at times feeling unwanted, alone, and wondering where they belong, many who know little, if anything, of their biological identity and family history 
  • Students who struggle with trying to figure out what God really thinks about them as they deal with same sex attractions in a Christian culture that often unknowingly communicates that they’re the exception to the “God loves everyone” rule
  • Students battling debilitating depression, trauma, self-esteem problems, and overwhelming anxiety
  • Students crushed by the expectations from parents, teachers, coaches, siblings, or themselves, wondering if they’ll ever be able to live up to impossible standards
  • Students who get everything they want and whose lives seem perfect, yet who are crumbling inside, searching for meaning and purpose and identity
  • Young people who are bullied and belittled as they walk through school each day
  • Kids grieving the loss of friends who couldn’t take that kind of pain and chose to take their life
  • Students who struggle with thoughts of doing the same, seeing no other alternative in the midst of their pain
  • Students whose parents are absent, distant at best, whether by choice or mental illness or work-a-holism or an affair or death
  • Families torn apart by drug addiction and students on a path to do the same thing to their family
  • Families struggling to have enough money to keep the heat on and food on the table
  • Students with family members facing chronic illness or disease
  • Families grieving the death of family members, the death of dreams, the death of innocence

And the list continued on…and on…and on… 

It was in those early morning moments that I found my compassionate, tender, broken-hearted God remind me: 

Bekah, you are far from perfect… and I don’t really need you because, well, because I am GOD, and I am far more than capable of doing my job on my own. 

BUT I want you.  

And these students and families, THEY are why I’ve called you, THESE are the reasons I want you to help Me … They are the ones who need to know that 

I am real.

I am good.

I am faithful.

I bring hope and new life.

And above all, I love them.  

I know it can be overwhelming. I see the temptation to try to do it on you own.  I catch you wondering what you could possibly do to relieve their pain.  I understand your fear of failure.  I watch you try to plan and strategize, to worry and wonder what others may think.  But that’s not your job. All I need, no, all I invite you to do, is to declare the truth about the One who brought YOU out of darkness into light and has the power to do the same for them… To help them experience hope found only in my death and resurrection… To remind them that the pain they’re in is not the end of the story… To SHOW them (not just tell them) that they are loved and they are enough and they can be free … Not because of anything they could do, or you could do, but because of My grace and what I’ve already done.

So do not be afraid, My daughter, and do not give up.  Your work is not in vain. Be strong, in Me.  Work hard, in Me. Rest well, in Me.  My grace IS sufficient, and MY power is perfected in YOUR weaknesses.  Abide in Me, and I will abide in you.   THEN, and ONLY then, will you bear much fruit. Remain in My love. I’ve got this! 

Love, 

Your Father, The Almighty Father

  

Prayer

Prompted to Pray

Two days ago I woke up in the middle of the night from an awful dream/nightmare.  

I was in a church/school and the layout was similar to that of the church I grew up in except it had multiple floors.  I don’t remember the details, but I know we were in danger.  I remembered who I was with when I first woke up but have since forgotten.  We were in danger because of our beliefs and had found a place to hide as what we tried to stay as quiet as possible and block out the sounds that led us to imagine the awful things were happening around us.  It was one of those dreams where it takes you a few moments upon waking to convince yourself that you really are perfectly safe in your bed and everything is okay.  

However, at the same time I came to that realization, I immediately remembered the words I heard a friend tell her son a few nights before: “and if you ever wake up in the middle night with someone on your mind, it probably is God saying you should pray for them”.  Instantly, my heart sank… Yes, I was perfectly fine, safe in my bed… Yet across the world, at that exact moment there were likely many people who were experiencing the horror of my dream in real life, and perhaps even worse.  

At that I awoke even more and began to take my friend’s advice… I began praying God’s protection and grace over whoever found themselves in danger and hiding in that moment, especially those who were being persecuted because of their faith. So why am I sharing this here?  Well because I think maybe one of the reasons I had that dream is becuas these are the things I like to ignore in my waking hours.  It’s easier to ignore the tragedies and injustices of the world than to imagine the pain and feel powerless.  Yet, these people need us… They need our prayers.  God tells us and shows us time and time again the power prayer has.  May we not get so comfortable that we forget the reality of statistics like these:

 

opendoors.org
 
While I hope God’s Spirit does continue to prompt me to pray for people both waking and sleeping, even more so I hope I never forget to lift up I my brothers and sisters who have and  continue to suffer for their faith. May they be strong and courageous knowing God is always with them and they are not alone!

Advent, College Ministry, Prayer, Wonder-Full Wanderings

 {wonder-full wanderings} at UB 

This semester I have seen God do amazing things through the time I have spent at the University at Buffalo campus.

Also true: This semester not many things have gone as planned in our work at UB. 

 “Wandering” feels like a pretty applicable word in trying to figure out where God is calling us, specifically with our Lifetree Cafe ministry. God has made it very clear that our presence on campus is necessary.  I’ve talked to at least twenty students who all think that this is an amazing ministry that needs to be happening on campus, and yet some weeks not a single person shows up.  

As I kind of talked about in my first advent post, the neat thing is that even in all the “wandering”, wonder has not been absent. Every single time I’ve left the campus this semester I’ve done so in complete awe of God’s work in that place.

Tonight was no exception.  

To sit in a room with 20+ Christian leaders right smack dab in the middle of thousands and thousands of students from all across the globe praying for them, praying for our world, praying for peace in tragedy and hope in darkness, praying for salvation of souls… Yea, it’s pretty holy ground. 

To see the fields ever so “ripe for harvest” and to be in the presence of some of the workers God has sent… it does something powerful in your heart. 

To know that the thousands of students you see walking by out the window might not have even ever heard of the Christ child born in Bethlehem, evokes urgency and passion.

I still have no clue exactly what God is calling me, or First Trinity, to specifically do in that place, but He’s working and I’m so thankful for the any chance He gives me to join Him.  

Truly wonder-filled wandering at its best! 

” We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.” – 2 Chronicles 20:12

 See all of this advent’s Wonder-full Wanderings posts here.