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Archive for the ‘prayer’ Category

by Brian Bolton with Becky Cerling Powers

I remember one day when I woke up in a crack house with the electricity turned off and people crashed out everywhere and wondered how I got there.  How in my journey through life, with all the talents I had, with all of the community support and all of the family love I had, how I could be at this place and think that it was normal?

Throughout my childhood, I was raised in a solid Christian household and blessed with a wonderful family, even with the shortcomings of my stepfather. My own father died of a heart attack when I was four and the youngest of five children. My mother married a few years later, but unfortunately my stepfather’s ex-wife came back to him behind the scenes, and I lost my stepfather to divorce.

Still, with the strength of my mom, we made it through. I had wonderful teachers who helped me graduate with honors from Eastwood High School. I had wonderful coaches who helped me become all-city in swimming for three years straight. And I had wonderful youth directors in church and Young Life who helped me grow in the Lord. 

I left for Texas Tech in 1981 and moved out of the structured, disciplined environment where I thrived. I no longer had a coach for a daily training program. I didn’t have professors that cared about my grades and attendance. I had no youth director that I was spiritually accountable to. It was a gradual thing, but once I got unplugged, my batteries only lasted so long.

I met a beautiful co-ed. We drank, we got into drugs, we dropped out of college together and we had an abortion together. When that relationship ended, I moved from Lubbock to California to start over. But unfortunately I moved out there with myself. (more…)

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When our son Matt was little he had a lot of ear infections. Finally in January, just after his fourth birthday, the pediatrician said that unless we could curb the infections, his hearing would be affected. He gave me the name of an Ear Nose Throat specialist and said, “He’ll probably want to put tubes in his ears.”

So I took Matt to the ENT, who examined him and said, “He needs a tonsillectomy. His tonsils are constantly swollen, and they are blocking his Eustachian tubes.” So we scheduled the surgery.

I’d had a tonsillectomy myself when I was six, so I knew Matt would be in a lot of pain. He really wanted cowboy boots, so we went out and bought him a pair to give him a happy distraction after his surgery. (more…)

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(by Sharon Withers as told to Becky Cerling Powers)

The first time Manny walked into my classroom, I knew immediately that I had a huge problem on my hands. He came into my life during the 1980s when I taught a special fifth grade class for underachievers who had failed standardized testing. My task was to bring them up to passing level. My students had normal intelligence but struggled in school because of emotional and other problems or a poor grasp of English.

The school was located in a deteriorating neighborhood in central El Paso, and Manny came from a family embroiled in drugs and alcohol. His older brothers were in a gang, and Manny was attracted to gang life. He used to write gang signs on his papers and on his hands. (more…)

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Last week I talked with a friend of mine who has an adult daughter with special needs. Some unsavory people took advantage of her daughter, who has been hospitalized. My friend is a Christian, and she was struggling with the ferocity of her rage. “I feel like a Mother Bear: ‘Don’t get near my cubs!’” she said. “I want to go and beat up people. I just want to get revenge on the people who have hurt my daughter. Is it wrong to be so angry?”

I told her that I believe it is right to be angry at the things that make God angry.

Our culture is offended at the idea of a God of wrath and judgment, especially a God who would become enraged at us. Yet at the same time, we all long for a God who will right the wrongs that upset us. That’s why we like Superman so much. He has power. He gets mad at injustice, and he does something about it. We really want God to get angry and do something about people who rape children. We want God to get mad and swoop in to rescue vulnerable people like my friend’s daughter. And the Bible says that the real God does this – in His own way, in His own time, and with incredible power. God gets angry.

This blog post could proceed at this point, I suppose, to discuss free will and original sin and why God doesn’t always swoop in like Superman, in the way and with the speed that we think He should. But I just want to talk about a mother’s pain and anger. Or anybody’s pain and anger. People do things that deeply hurt us or those we love. Things that may not necessarily be illegal, but things that are cruel and unfair. And we get angry. We want revenge. We want to get back. A lot of Christians think we’re not supposed to want those things – or feel that way. After all, “Vengeance is mine,” says the Lord. “I will repay.” And didn’t Jesus say we are supposed to turn the other cheek?

So what does that mean? Pretend it didn’t happen? Swallow your rage? (more…)

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A number of years ago I set aside a morning to ask God to give me a faith vision for my writing. How should I pray for my writing? Where should I focus? I felt the Lord directed my attention to Psalm 90. So over the next weeks I memorized this psalm, and I have meditated (reflected) on it through the years in the process of reviewing and reciting it.

Right away I noticed that it ended with this benediction: “May the favor of the Lord our God rest upon us; establish the work of our hands for us, yes, establish the work of our hands.” That was what I wanted. I wanted the work of my hands – the articles and books I scribbled and typed – to have staying power, to be a positive influence to people not only today but in the future.

Then I found out that the man who wrote these words was an astonishingly famous writer: Moses, one of most widely read, most widely translated, best selling authors of all time. This man wrote or dictated the first five books of the Bible. These books, and this psalm, have been translated into thousands of languages.

Lastly it dawned on me that this remarkable prayer by this remarkable man was answered over and over again. People have been reading Moses’ works for over 3000 years in every corner of this planet. Entire civilizations have been built upon his writings. Truly the favor of the Lord rested on him. Truly God established the work of his hands.

So I began to call Psalm 90 “The Writer’s Psalm.” It’s a great psalm for writers from one of the greatest writers of all time. But it could also be called “The Parent’s Psalm,” because don’t we parents want the love and labor we expend on our kids to endure through generations? It could also be called “The Builder’s Psalm” or “The Artist’s Psalm” or the “The Scientist’s Psalm.” Really it is a psalm for anyone who wants to leave behind a positive legacy.

(more…)

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