Thursday, September 29, 2011

Random Prayers

Most people learn to pray through rote prayers. They learn the mealtime prayers of ‘God is great, God is good, now I thank Him for this food.’ Or they learn the Lord’s Prayer: ‘Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name. Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil, for Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen.’

Along with this, prayer often is very organized. We pray at certain times. We take prayer requests so that we can pray for specific events and people. We have organized prayer meetings or special times of prayer in church services. We like to know how we are going to pray and when we are going to pray and who we are going to pray for.

But what about random prayers? What are random prayers? They are prayers that just happen throughout the day randomly. For example, maybe you are driving along and you hear a siren, so you randomly pray for the ambulance and the person who is injured. Or you pass a school and you decide at that moment to pray for the teachers and students of the school.

Why random prayers? Random prayer allows you to pray for people and things you might not normally pray for. Being open to random prayer allows you to listen to God’s prompting for situations that might be a ‘now’ need. Random prayer leads you to reach beyond what is comfortable and normal for your prayer life. Random prayer leads you to trust in God for His leading, and guiding, and responding.

I hope you try some random prayer today, and every day! Blessings.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

What is Hell, Exactly?

Hell is not a topic most people like to talk about. It is not even a topic most churches talk about? Why is this? I believe it is because the idea of hell is appalling to most people. The idea of hell is that it is a terrible place of intense heat and pain and torture. Why would a place like that exist? How could God allow something so terrible?

According to Jesus, Hell does exist. I'm not sure EXACTLY what hell is, but I do have a relative idea based on the teachings of Jesus. In the gospel of Luke, chapter 16, Jesus tells the story of a beggar named Lazarus who begged at the gate of a rich man named Abraham. Lazarus had faith, but Abraham did not. They both died. Lazarus went to heaven and Abraham went to hell (or hades). Then Jesus says this in verses 23-24, "In Hades, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham (the Father of all Nations who is in Heaven) far away, with Lazarus by his side. 24 So he called to him, ‘Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.'"
Apparently, there is torment and great need in hell (he was needing even a drop of water). He goes on to ask God to send someone to his brothers to tell them that hell is real so that they will believe in Jesus and be saved.
So let's look briefly at these issues:
Why does hell exist? Hell exists because Satan exists. Ever since Satan (who was once an angel of light) got himself thrown out of heaven by trying to overthrow heaven, he has been bent on trying to steal people from God. As 1 Peter 5:8 says, "Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour." Satan wants to devour you by taking you away from God, and all the blessings God wants to bring into your life. Hell has been established for Satan and all of his followers.
Why is there torment? There is torment because the truth is, hell is devoid of all love. If God is love, and only because of God love exists in the world, then once you are out of the presence of God, you will be out of the presence of love. Imagine for a moment having "NO" love, or peace, or goodness in your life. That would truly be a world of torment. Hell at its worst is the fact that you will be forever out of the presence of God!
Why is Abraham (the one in hell) in such great need? People search for meaning and purpose in so many things: money, fame, success, possessions.... Yet, none of these things will ever satisfy. Without Jesus as our Savior, we will always find ourselves in need, because our spirit will never be at peace. In hell, you will forever be without peace; you will forever be in need.
So, don't think that hell is a great place to party with all of your non-Christian friends. Don't sing "I'm on a highway to hell" as a trumpet call. Give yourself to Jesus, and receive the wonderful gift of love, salvation, and forgiveness. Blessings.

Thursday, September 08, 2011


Oppression is the exercise of authority or power in a burdensome, cruel, or unjust manner. Notice key words like ‘burdensome or cruel.’ To understand how these words are important, it is good to note that God created us to be in relationship with each other, not to be a lord over another.

We see oppression in many forms. A man can oppress a woman. A parent can oppress a child. A leader can oppress those whom he or she leads. One group can oppress another group. We see a prime example of this in the book of Exodus (in the Bible), where the Israelites were slaves to the Egyptians. At one point Moses is appointed by God to free the Israelites from their slavery. However, when Moses came to inform the Pharaoh, the Pharaoh responded by adding more work to be done; the oppression increased.

We see this happen often in marriages as well. That is why the statistics for domestic violence are so high. One spouse ‘oppresses’ the other by use of some kind of control. This is not how a marriage is to be. In a marriage there is to be mutual love and the giving of themselves to each other.

People can be oppressed by addictions as well. When a person ‘has to have’ a drink, or a cigarette, or a drug, they are oppressed by this substance. The substance ‘controls’ their life.

God wants to break us free of any oppression. Free of our sin, free of the abuses, free of the cruelty. God, who is love, wants us to experience love. God created us in love, and made us to experience love. As children of God, we need to not only seek God to break us of our oppression, but help others to break free as well. As we are told in Galatians 6:2, “Bear one another’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.”

What oppressions do you see around you? How can you break free of them? How can you help others break free? Blessings.