Sunday, January 28, 2007

RESOURCE ~ New Guide with Tools for Deep Breathing for Your Soul

Oxygen: Deep Breathing for the Soul


Keri Wyatt Kent

Oxygen
is the perfect guide to help you deepen your walk with Christ. In it, you will discover practices that will help you develop your relationship with the One who loves you the most. These simple, time-tested practices have been part of the Christian tradition for centuries. Oxygen shows you how to put them to work in your life and faith. You'll learn
  • that doing is not always as pleasing to God as being with him
  • how to spend time in solitude
  • how to journal and pray
  • how to listen to what God is saying to you

Through the exercises in this book, you'll sharpen the tools needed for:

  • Deep Listening - being open to what God is saying and allowing Scripture to "form" rather than "inform"
  • Journaling - responding to questions posed in the passage
  • Being There - imagining oneself in the Gospel story
  • Breath Prayer - a one-breath expression of love for God
  • Solitude - alone with God
  • Kindness - extending prayer with love and action
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Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Confessions of a Stressed-out Pastor

Confessions of a Stressed-out Pastor

by Greg Asimakoupoulos

Although the following is written by me, it is not a page out of my journal in this season of my life. It is rather a poetic confession that portrays a composite of what is a temptation to most pastors of smaller churches. I will admit that the following confession has been true of my life on several occasions in three decades of ministry.

I must confess, my life is stressed.
My fuel gauge points to E.
I’m running out of energy
to do my ministry.

My church’s strife (just ask my wife)
has pinned me to the mat.
It seems the hurt of those I serve
is pain I must combat.

When members die, it makes me cry.
They are like family.
When they divorce, I’m tied in knots.
I can’t just let it be.

When critics snipe or elders gripe,
my world’s a living hell.
And when the offerings come up short,
I don’t sleep very well.

Somehow I must (or I will bust)
release my angst to God.
Unless I do they’ll bury me
six feet beneath the sod.

Confessions of a Stressed-out Pastor (Part 2)

I weary of the “oughts” and “shoulds”
when church folk make demands.
Although I know I’m called to care,
I wish they’d understand

that pastors have so little time
to really call their own.
We’re at the church more nights a week
than evenings spent at home.

Suggestions come most randomly
as if they know what’s best.
You should do this. You should do that.
Their memos dwarf my desk.

“You should be reading this great book.”
“Hey, should you have a chance,
you ought to check the website
of my cousin’s church in France.”

“You really should be in the know
of what MOPS hopes to do.”
“You ought to find a way to meet
my mother’s brother Lou.”

“Should you be in the office more?
My other pastor was.
He always was available
and you should too, because

you never know when crises strikes.
My son might get the flu.
My husband might come home depressed
and need to talk to you.”

By giving in, I’m burning out.
I’m stressed as stressed can be.
I want to shout “I’ve had enough.
Please do not “should” on me.”

But then I think “That’s not so nice.
Those words sound rather crude.
If only I could speak my mind
without it seeming rude.”

And then the Lord helped me discern
exactly what to do.
He said that I must share my heart
before my sermon’s through.

“Just humbly claim you’re wearing out
and need to change your ways.
Tell them you’re setting boundaries
and will stay home some days.

“Admit that you must listen more
to what the Lord will speak
instead of doing all they say
that leaves you feeling weak.”

And in my heart I felt assured
it was the Lord who spoke
to help me better spend my time
since “shoulds” have left me broke.

by Greg Asimakoupoulos
www.partialobserver.com
Rhymes and Reasons


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Thursday, January 04, 2007

Receiving From God in Prayer

The Joy of Soaking Prayer

“Jesus says, ‘Ask and you will receive’. We’re very good at the asking part but how about the ‘receiving’? If we are the ones who are dong all the talking, it’s a pretty one-way conversation. Soaking is the listening part of our conversation with Him. It’s laying aside time to lie down and receive from Him.” CTF Ministries

“When we discipline ourselves to behold Jesus in every circumstance, a transformation occurs. We learn how to sit, wait and watch for Him every day. The Holy Spirit teaches us about face-to-face, personal adoration; it comes from a worship that flows from a place of rest. When we sit at Jesus’ feet and just be, as Mary did, we behold Him. Worship cannot come out of striving, but out of stillness. Spending time with God gives us a touch from Him - this touch is such a pleasure that it will cause a spirit of adoration to well up in us, and overflow.” Graham Cooke

There is joy in the life of those who practice soaking prayer. It’s time to lay your burdens at the feet of Jesus. It’s time to find rest for your soul in 2007. It’s time to be still and know that He is God. It may take a little effort to quiet your racing thoughts, but it’s well worth the effort. Let Him lead you beside still waters. Take time to meditate on the following Scriptures:

“Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30).

“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul” (Psalm 23:1-3).

“Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10).

How to Soak in God’s Presence

”When it comes to real devotion, come with nothing to do except to sit and learn how to wait, rest and be. Be still. Fill your mind with Jesus. Faith and stillness are sustenance for your spirit, so learn to focus on Jesus. When your mind wanders off, bring it back. Retrain it; it’s had years of having its own way. Renewing your spirit and your mind is exciting and has incredible fruit. Worship becomes natural for you, and the peace of God wells up in your heart. God’s perspective can be seen more quickly.” Graham Cooke”

· Find a quiet place - A peaceful environment helps you to become peaceful on the inside.

· Listen to worship music - You may want to use quiet instrumental or quiet worship music. There is so much good soaking music available (www.soaking.net is an excellent resource).

· Quiet down your busy thoughts - Initially your thoughts can be racing all over, but know that the Lord is with you. Turn your attention to Him. Wait for your thoughts to settle.

· Invite the Holy Spirit to come and soak you in His presence - Surrender your mind, body and soul in prayer to the Holy Spirit. Humble yourself before Him.

· Focus on the Lord’s presence - Open your heart to God. You are learning to abide in Him. You are learning to focus on Him and His presence.

· Rest in faith and believe that God is working within you - It isn’t about what you can accomplish through your efforts; it’s about what God is doing in you.

· Give time to soaking in God’s presence - The more time you can spend in His presence, the better. Start with 20 minutes in His presence. You will find as you do this, in a very short time you will want to spend more time in His presence.

· Watch as God changes you - You will leave refreshed and full of the Holy Spirit. Your life will be different because God is changing you through soaking in His presence. You will have an impact on the world around you as you carry God’s presence with you wherever you go.

“Intimacy with God is the key to fruitfulness in every area of our lives. As we become more aware of His presence in us… so do other people. As we become more affected by His presence in us… so do those around us. By taking time in the secret place with God, we start to walk by the spirit in everyday life. We find that rather than striving to achieve things for God, He is building His kingdom through us.” CTF Ministries

Begin today by soaking for at least 20 minutes in God’s presence. Go on the internet to www.soaking.net. This website offers free downloads of soaking music. I guarantee that you will be blessed by playing this soaking music. We used it during our month-long 24-7 House of Prayer in Spain. It was a favorite in the prayer room. If you don’t have a computer, put on any quiet worship music. Practice the above points and watch what God does. Soaking prayer will have a transforming effect in your life, and if you practice it regularly during 2007, it will have a transforming effect in your year.

“Soaking is a dedication: ‘God, this is time just for you.’ Soaking is an invitation: ‘God, do what you want to in me.’ Soaking is an expectation: ‘Thank you, Father, for what you are accomplishing as I rest in you.’ We come to Him like little children believing that He has good things for us. ‘If you then know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask Him.” CTF Ministries

Together in the Harvest, Debbie Przybylski, Intercessors Arise
deb@intercessorsarise.org

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