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One of the circumstances of getting older is that I have begun to do things slower. It’s not that I intentionally want to, it just happens. In the fast-paced world we live in today that could be a cause for anxiety. But since I am slower, my anxiety doesn’t have the power it used to have.

Actually, there is a great blessing that comes with moving slower. I call it “living in the moment”. 

When I was younger I remember always waiting for the “next thing” to happen. I can’t wait till my daughter sits up, crawls, walks, talks, etc. I can’t wait till this pregnancy is over and I can meet my baby boy. I can’t wait till we get a bigger house. I can’t wait till I finish school and get a better paying job. Sometimes it was big stuff I was waiting on to happen and sometimes it was little everyday things. I can’t wait till it’s bedtime for my kids. I can’t wait till I finish cleaning the floor. I can’t wait till the mail comes. I can’t wait to get out of this car I’ve been riding in for two hours.

You probably know what I am talking about.

As I have gotten older though, one thing I have noticed is that time passes by at an alarmingly fast rate. When I was a child, the summer seemed to last forever. It was agony waiting for Christmas to arrive. The school day seemed to never come to a close.

Now, I sometimes feel like I can literally see time flying by me.

A few years ago I found an interesting little book that helped me change my thinking about how I was living my life and viewing time. It’s called The Practice of the Presence of God . This little book was written by a monk named Brother Lawrence who lived in France in the 1600’s.  Brother Lawrence was a humble and lowly kitchen aide in his monastery. He was so humble that if he had not spoken in depth with a French nobleman of the time, we would probably never have heard of him today.

Praise God for French noblemen!

One of Brother Lawrence’s jobs in the monastery was peeling potatoes. Every day, he peeled mounds of potatoes. Although this could be a monotonous and tedious job, Brother Lawrence adopted the specific attitude of peeling every potato as though he were peeling it for God. This helped him find joy and purpose in even the lowliest, most tiring aspects of his day. When I first read Brother Lawrence’s writings, a light bulb went off in my head. The example Brother Lawrence set could be used in my everyday life as well. I would not have to be missing the present moment by waiting on the next better thing to come along.

Living in the moment.

Perhaps you have already had this little revelation in your life. If you haven’t, I hope you will consider this. Life is not a destination, you are already there. Pay attention to each moment and open your mind and senses to what is happening right now. Don’t miss out on the moment while waiting for the future to come.

In C.S. Lewis’s The Screwtape Letters  Satan writes letters to his nephew, a lessor demon, and explains to him ways to keep “his human” away from God. In one of the chapters, he advises his demon nephew to keep the human’s mind either on the past or on the future. He tells him that the future is the better choice because thinking about the unknown future can cause anxiety. The main thing is, it will keep the human apart from God. God lives in the present. The present is the closest thing we have to eternity here on earth.

Maybe this is old news to everyone but me, but realizing this concept has impacted my life in a dramatic way. Living in the moment, practicing the presence of God. It makes time go by at a less frantic pace and it calms my spirit. It is not a destination, you are already there.

Here are a few ideas I have about how to better live in the moment:

  • Turn off your electronics
  • Go outside
  • Give someone your full attention with kindness
  • Breathe
  • Notice your thoughts and feelings
  • Engage your senses in a really intentional way (taste, smell, sight, sound, touch)
  • Accept what is and don’t fret about what isn’t
  • Slow down
  • Express thankfulness

There are countless other ways to live in the moment. My prayer for you is that this might encourage you to consider applying the concept of living in the moment and practicing the presence of God in your own life.

If you have already done this, what are some of your ideas for living in the moment?

*Editors Note: This blog is from our archives and was one we wanted to repost! Enjoy

Are you stuck in a rut?  Having trouble dealing with that one person at work that knows just the right button to push, and does it just for sport?  Do you have trouble letting go of the small things that happen throughout your day, so they pile up and stress you out?

I think we have all been in one or all of these situations.  How we handle ourselves and deal with these issues show those around us a lot about who we are.  We all have a bad day; but is every day a bad day?

I worked in the medical field for about 20 years.  People are at their worst when they are sick, and some days you question why you do what you do because it just doesn’t seem to be worth it.  For the past six months I have been working at a school for middle and high school children with learning disabilities.  This has a whole different set of challenges to face on a daily basis.

Many years ago, when I first truly began my walk with God, I came across a Bible verse that has helped me through many difficult days.

Colossians 3 23Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men.                                   Colossians 3:23

In situations when I had a difficult patient or family member, co-worker or supervisor, I would remember this verse.  God gave me the gifts and abilities to remain calm under pressure, to be compassionate and understanding, to be patient and kind.  It is my responsibility to use those gifts to glorify him.  He is always there for me to draw strength from and sometimes the best way to draw that strength is through his word.

So, the next time that co-worker trods across that sensitive spot, remember that God made you who you are and it doesn’t matter what that co-worker thinks.  As long as you are doing your job to the absolute best of your ability and doing it as though you are doing it for God, that is what is important.

Sometimes the solution to the problem is just an adjustment in our perspective.  Whether it is your job, coaching your son’s little league team, being the troop leader for your daughter’s Girl Scout troop, do it as if you are working for the Lord and not for man.  I sure felt more fulfilled and my job was more rewarding when I adjusted my perspective.

All you have to do to change your perspective is decide who you are working for, God or man.

prayer

Unknown“In that day you will ask in my name, and I do not say to you that I will ask the Father on your behalf; for the Father himself loves you, because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God.” John 16:26-27

Have you ever really thought about what it means to pray “in Jesus’ name”? Often, it can just become a mantra or tag-line we say at the end of our prayers. But for Jesus, it was a matter of theological significance. It was a paradigm-shift in the practice of prayer. It opened the flood-gates to power in prayer. He told his disciples, “Truly, truly, I say to you, whatever you ask of the Father in my name, he will give it to you. Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.”

However, prayer “in Jesus’ name” may be easily misunderstood. In fact, Jesus warns disciples about misunderstanding prayer “in his name” (in John 16:26-27). He warns that we can be confused about what praying “in his name” is designed to accomplish. We can act presumptuously in thinking of it as “saying the magic word”. But we can also act disbelievingly in thinking that we need to convince God.

We can misconstrue the need to pray in Jesus’ name by thinking that the Father is distant and reluctant in his attitude towards us. To be sure, Jesus acts as a mediator between us and the Father; he propitiates the wrath of God. But none of that should lead you to think that there is tension between Jesus’ heart and the Father’s heart, and that the Father’s heart is distant from us and needs to be convinced. Prayer in Jesus’ name does not mean that Jesus must convey the request to the Father and convince the Father on your behalf. Instead, Jesus wants us to be assured, “The Father himself loves you” and needs no prompting from the Son (see 2 Cor.13:14).

Too often, I think that I have fallen into this trap. I doubt that God actually wants to hear me. I doubt that my prayers are effective. So I pray using Jesus like a bargaining chip to convince God to listen – “for the sake of his Son”. While there is truth in the practice of claiming God’s promises in prayer, this kind of attitude towards God is dead wrong.

It’s not like you come to the gate of heaven and they crack the door and look out at you suspiciously and ask, “Why should I hear your prayer? Why should I let you in?” And you say, “Because of Jesus.” And they reluctantly respond, “Oh, all right, fine”, and open the door just wide enough for you to dart through. And Jesus is like the bargaining chip to convince them to let you in. No! Prayer in Jesus’ name means – prayer knowing that the gate is flung wide open and the red carpet rolled out and the Father running to welcome you.

How does that change your prayer life?!?

Prayer in Jesus’ name is prayer on the basis of Christ’s finished work. It is prayer confident in all that he has done for you and accomplished. It is praying with confidence that the door is already wide open. John Calvin wrote, “We have the heart of God as soon as we place before him the name of his Son.”

Hebrews 10:19-22 says, “Since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.”

Prayer “in Jesus’ name” means that we are invited to pray like we’ve never prayed before. We are invited to prayer with the knowledge that the Father is waiting at the door to hear our prayers. Oh, that we might take up with joy such an awesome invitation and pray “in Jesus’ name”.

Today thy gate is open, and all who enter in,
will find a Father’s welcome and pardon for their sin.
The past shall be forgotten, a present joy be given,
a future grace be promised, a glorious crown in heaven.

O all embracing mercy, O ever-open door,
what should we do without thee, when heart and eye run o’er.
When all things seem against us to drive us to despair,
we know one gate is open, one ear will hear our prayer.

Matt Foreman– Matt Foreman, studied at Furman University and Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia, Pastor of Faith Church in Media PA where he serves with his wife Mary Scott and a bunch of adorable red headed kids! Matt and Mary Scott are both Furman WDA alumni. Go Paladins! Read more of Matt’s blogs at http://blog.faithchurchpa.org/

Image by Karen Seibert click to buy this image

“9 At that time Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. 10 Just as Jesus was coming up out of the water, he saw heaven being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. 11 And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.”
12 At once the Spirit sent him out into the wilderness, 13 and he was in the wilderness forty days, being tempted by Satan. He was with the wild animals, and angels attended him.” (Mark 1:9-13)

What possessed Jesus to go to the wilderness to be tempted? Where did he get the courage to do such an uncomfortable thing? I’ll suggest it was an experience of the Father’s love and the Spirit’s presence at his baptism.

That moment in the Jordan must have been a moment of clarity for Jesus. God knew there were difficult tasks ahead so he gave Jesus 2 big “tools” for his tool belt. These two truths would carry him through the desert, through his ministry, and to the cross.

1.    The Spirit is with me, leading and empowering me.
2.   The Father loves me. I’m his son. And he’s proud of me.

So compelled by the Spirit’s presence and the Father’s love he went willingly into the desert, into hunger, deprivation, and temptation. Notice who’s in the desert? Angels, animals, the Holy Spirit, and the Devil. Notice who’s NOT there? People. I think Jesus went to the desert not just to say “no” to Satan and get clarity on his mission. I think he spent that time apart from civilization, apart from food, apart from human relationships, to learn how to rely on the Spirit and engage with spiritual realities around him. I think it was HERE in this place of total vulnerability that Jesus grew deeper into this “oneness”, this intimacy with the Father.

When I personally experience the Father’s love and the Holy Spirit’s active presence in my life, THEN I gain the power to do the scariest things imaginable. It’s not a pep talk or a kick in the pants or a biblical education that gives me courage. It’s a deep unshakeable knowledge that Daddy loves me and that His Presence is with me, that my life is no accident and that I am no orphan. When I can learn to HEAR the Father’s acceptance, and SEE the Spirit, that’s when I gain the courage to be vulnerable and to rely on Him every day.

This is changing the way I think about parenting. It’s tempting to focus on behavior modification or “winning battles” or protecting my kids or fostering their independence as the stuff that will help my children become courageous adults. But I’m beginning to see that it starts at a much deeper level. Before I do anything else as a parent I need my kids to know two things:

1.    I love you. I’m proud of you. You are MY child.
2.   Your life is no accident. You have great purpose.

We’re currently deciding whether to send our daughter to public or private school. Debra had an excellent experience in a small Christian school where she experienced a feeling of acceptance and belonging. The last thing we’d want for our 4-year-old is for her to be in a classroom (public OR private) where she feels she doesn’t belong or isn’t accepted. Given my daughter’s sensitivity to shame and rejection, we feel pressure to make the right decision from the get-go.

But as I look back on my childhood and think of MY most painful experiences with rejection, I’m realizing something profound. If I had felt comfortable enough to fall in my father’s arms, to embrace my mother’s acceptance, to grow deep in the knowledge that I have a place of nurture and love and belonging… then I could have dealt with those painful experiences with grace and courage. My parents are kind and caring people who sought to instill in me a sense of love and belonging. But no parent is perfect and I needed to make the choice to trust in their care.

So as I parent MY kids, my focus isn’t on keeping them from challenging or painful situations. My focus is on ensuring that every challenging or painful situation in their life is matched by countless experiences which show them that they are loved, that I am emotionally present for them, that they have a place in their father’s heart and in their father’s arms.

If you’re still reading this, I want you to listen to this. It has become the fodder of endless conversation in our house:
http://www.ted.com/talks/brene_brown_on_vulnerability.html

Researcher Brenee Brown nails it on the head. In this 20-minute talk, she discusses her research into what gives people the courage to live whole-hearted lives full of risk and vulnerability (or faith, if you like). She basically says that the courage to be vulnerable, to “risk it” with the people and situations in our lives, comes from an innate belief that one’s love and belonging are never on the line. Even if our endeavors fail, WE cannot become failures. Even if our relationships go south, we believe that we are worthy of receiving love. And that belief beyond anything else is what makes us brave.

I think the secret to Jesus’ obedience, his courage, his authoritative confidence, his willingness to do ANYTHING, stemmed from that moment in the Jordan, and other moments throughout his life when he could SEE the Spirit and HEAR the Father. Likewise, in our pursuit of maturity, in our passion to get “unstuck” and grow deeper in God, I think that’s where our focus should be: experiencing the Father’s love… and understanding the Spirit’s presence and purpose in our lives.