Category Archives: Prayer

Free Seminar on Learning “God Speech”…Christian Prayer

Did you know that at its root, “theology” means “God speech”? I always thought theology meant “the study of God,” and that’s the common modern idea, but in the original Greek, “ology” is derived from “logos,”  meaning “word.”  Biology is the study of life, but it’s also “life words”…learning how to speak the language of life. Similarly, “theology” means learning to speak the language of God.

Do you know how to speak God words? To talk to God? To let him speak to you and respond back to him, the way I toddling child learns to speak to his father?

Starting today, Wednesday, February 27, 2017, my son Jonathan (who is now a professor at Moody Bible Institute) is beginning a series on prayer, and I wanted to let you know, just in case it might be interesting to you. For those of you who may not know, Jonathan’s great passion is to make Christian education available to anyone who wants it, regardless of where they live or whether they can afford to attend a traditional university for training. Moody has been wonderfully supportive in working on this vision with him. Here is the specific information:

 

 

 

Dear Friends of Aqueduct Project,

We are incredibly excited to invite you to a live lecture series on prayer that will take place on Wednesdays beginning this week, February 22, 2017! You can join in on this live event from anywhere in the world with a single click. Full details are available at the course landing page: http://aqueductproject.org/prayer-seminar/

We have assembled a teaching team of seven gifted and passionate students from Moody Bible Institute who will be delivering these lessons alongside me. Whether you are able to join us for only one lesson or whether you will be able to participate in the entire series, we hope that we will see you soon for this transformative experience!

No registration is required, and all lectures are free! If you have questions, please email Jack DePuy at jacob.depuy@moody.edu.

“When the righteous cry for help, the LORD hears and delivers them out of all their troubles. The LORD is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.” (Psalm 34:17–18, ESV)

Yours,
Jonathan J. Armstrong, Ph.D.
President of Aqueduct Project

In the Spirit of the Ides of February

“Blessed are the flexible, for they shall not be bent out of shape.” Maureen Churabrutus-and-the-ghost-of-caesar-public-domain-wikiMost people know about the Ides of March, March 15, which was made infamous by the assassination of Julius Caesar in 44 BC and continued in infamy by Shakespeare’s famous play, Julius Caesar, written some 1643 years later.

©Photo. R.M.N. / R.-G. OjŽda

However, did you know that February 15 also has special significance historically? February 15 was the date of an ancient ritual of purification, particularly washing with water, to purify people and their city from any evil spirits, which would allow the blessings of health and fertility to flourish as the citizens prepared for spring. februar_leandro_bassano-public-domainI don’t know about you, but I find all the dissension in America deeply disturbing, and I’m wondering if we might honor today as a day of personal purification coupled with earnest prayers for the healing of ourselves and our nation. It’s so easy to be critical of others…to make ourselves and our own values  into a gold standard for the way things should be. Can we instead humble ourselves and ask God to purify our hearts and straighten our thinking, so that we can see clearly and become a positive influence for good instead of adding to the cacophony of discord? There’s an old saying that “Charity starts at home,” and I think it’s just as true that “Purity starts with me.” Are we casting stones because we’re perfect and angry, or are we throwing mud because we’re frustrated that life is unfair and things aren’t going the way we think they should? Instead of adding to the problem, let’s pray that God will make us part of the solution by purifying our hearts and the hearts of our people. We can’t change others, but by God’s grace we can change ourselves. Then, I do believe God himself will rise up and move to work all things together for good…something no amount of fighting and anger will accomplish.mourning_mingrelians_pranishnikoff_1884“Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded. Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness.” (James 4:7-9)

Rise Up, My Love (222): How Can We Reciprocate God’s Love for Us?

bread-and-wine-and-candlesSong of Solomon 7:2 “Thy belly is like an heap of wheat set about with lilies.” So many of the sacred lessons I’ve learned from this book came during quiet times of meditation during our chapel’s weekly communion service. These next thoughts came as I pondered our text during one of those communion services. There were two questions on my mind. #1. The Lord gave his body as bread and wine to be broken and poured out for us…not only for our salvation, but for daily spiritual food and drink that we might have a spiritually abundant life of “feasting” on and with him. In return, what exactly (if anything) can we bring to him for the love feast? #2. What is the significance of “liquor” rather than wine, and “heap of wheat” rather than bread? The answer to the first question, is, I think, a resounding and thrilling, “Yes!” challah-bread-and-candle-10-15-16We can offer to our Lord what he has given us—our body, open and available for his delight. As a woman cannot produce offspring by herself, but rather by joyfully receiving her husband’s seed and allowing it to penetrate her being, spark new life, take root in her womb, and grow to fruition…even so can we delight our Lord by receiving with joy his living seed…the Word of God, and allowing it to penetrate our being until it sparks new life, which we allow to incubate within us…receiving our life blood of time, love, and spiritual resources until it comes to birth as a spiritual babe…to be suckled and brought up “in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.” This is much harder than simply coming to the communion table each week and taking in all the Lord has provided for us, but if it is the longing of our heart to delight him as he delights us…this is the way, for he has told us the secret in this verse! To him, our navel is drink indeed, and our belly wheat. That in us which allows for spiritual reproduction is a spiritual feast for Christ. fresh-rolls-11-25-16Do you remember the account from the fourth chapter of John where the disciples leave a very weary Christ by the well and go into town to buy provisions? When they return and urge him to eat, what is his response? “I have meat to eat that ye know not of” (John 4:32). The disciples…always thinking in physical terms…wondered if someone had brought him lunch. But, notice his reply; it had nothing to do with physical food. “My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work. Say not ye, There are yet four months, and then cometh harvest? Behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest” (John 4:34-35). What had Jesus feasted on in the disciples’ absence? The joy of one sinner coming to faith in Christ…the refreshment of imparting living water to one fainting heart. What was his aspiration for his disciples? That they see the multitudes of people in need of salvation. Would you like to provide a love feast for your master? Open up your navel to be filled with the wine of the Spirit. Feast on the Bread of Life until your belly is as round and lustrous as a “heap of wheat set about with lilies”…filled with the Word, fragrant, and protected by purity. Allow yourself to become fruitful in producing spiritual offspring for your Lord. In this way, you will become a “love feast” to refresh your bridegroom!

Are You Tuned in to Donald Trump’s Inauguration?

donald_trump_august_19_2015-wikiToday is Inauguration Day… “the big day” that every American’s been waiting for, either with a sense of anxious dread or excited anticipation, or something in between. Are you going to watch Trump being sworn in at noon today?trump_rally_in_cincinnati-wikiWhether you’re lining up with the thousands of protesters in L.A. or have a room reserved in Washington D.C., there’s electric energy in the air across the country. I try really hard to avoid being political on this blog, although I am deeply grateful for every person who has invested his (or her) life in trying to make our country the best possible through serving in a public leadership role…a difficult calling at best and a heart-breaking disappointment at worst.  trump-caucus-wikiWould you like to be the president of the United States? Frankly, I would not. donald_trump-wikiApart from spending my life flat on my face praying to God Almighty for wisdom, I can’t imagine how I (or anyone) could possibly have the insight and courage to rule our country well. I have a few friends who are quite delighted with the prospects of Trump becoming president, and I have many friends and family members who vacillate between feelings of fear, anger, and despair.  electoralcollege2016-wikiNo matter how you feel personally, as Christians I know what the scripture teaches, and that is: I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour” (1 Timothy 2:1-3).  donald_trump_laconia_rally_laconia_nh_4_by_michael_vadon_july_16_2015_19-1Over the years, I’ve done more complaining and less praying for our presidents than I want to admit, but I’d like to encourage all of us to take up our role as prayer intercessors on  behalf of those who are in positions of authority… especially Donald Trump. Do you want to be able to live a quiet, peaceful, godly, honest life? I do. Let’s put our prayers where our complaints have been and lift up Donald Trump to the throne of grace, so that we (and he) “may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16).

donald_trump_and_mike_pence_july_2016-wikiWhen the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice:
but when the wicked beareth rule, the people mourn
” (Proverbs 29:2).

(All photos used by permission of Wiki Commons.)

Don’t Forget to Vote! Need Wisdom? Try Asking for Spiritual Discernment

grandma-and-grandsonFor the sake of our country’s future, We Need YOU to Vote!

For those of us who live in America and have the great privilege of participating in choosing who will be our commander and chief for the next four years, I sincerely hope you are prepared and planning to vote today! Now that Alan and I are both over 65, we get our ballots in the mail and have already sent them back in. I’ve heard many people saying they didn’t want to vote because they don’t like either candidate…that one is “publicly repulsive and the other is privately repulsive.” But, please appreciate the privilege and vote!!

donald-trump-third-presidential-debateFor whom?  Well, I don’t think it can be based on integrity this round. As I’ve been studying and thinking over the past months, I’ve found myself totally unable to approve either of the candidates based on their character or integrity (which has been a conundrum for the large majority of Americans). I agree whole-heartedly with one of my blog followers, who says she wants to vote “Pro-life, Pro-freedom, Pro-truth and Pro-Christ.” Amen, Sister. That still doesn’t make it crystal clear to me. Trump is clearly pro-life and promises to nominate justices who believe in a literal interpretation of the constitution as originally intended, which I consider “pro-freedom.”  However,  I’m still gravely worried about how honest or Christian he is, and whether or not he has the wisdom and self-control to keep us out of any unnecessary war.

hillary-clinton-third-presidential-debateOne morning as I was meditating on scripture and praying about the election, it occurred to me that what I really needed was the ability to see into the future. I have a pretty good idea of what Clinton would be like as president, and I fear she will lead our country into further moral and economic ruin, but to me Trump is a wild card. He could turn out to be a Reagan type who reinvigorates our economy and becomes an able leader despite his anti-illustrious past, or he could make our national reputation completely odious to the world and plunge us into war. What would really happen?

grandfather-and-grandsonI thought to myself…”Isn’t that why you pray? To seek wisdom and help from the One who knows all things…including the future?”  So, I stopped being anxious and started praying for God to guide me by His wisdom to make the best choice. Ultimately, that’s how I make personal decisions all the time: pray for wisdom, study, seek counsel, and pray more until I feel peace. How in the world did I get sidetracked into imagining I had to “figure this all out” with my own ultra-limited brain? God knows all things, and He can give me an answer of peace. So, that’s what I did, and I am at peace!

I believe if you ask Him, He’ll do the same for you! Also, let’s continue to pray for one another, and for our nation, especially during this critical time of election.

Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man” (1 Corinthians 2:13-15).

ArtPrize 2016 ala Notre Dame Cathedral: One Dream Has Come True

Rose Window in Notre Dame. Paris, FranceGuess what? Almost 3 years after initial inspiration, I signed a hosting agreement last night with the Holiday Inn on Pearl Street adjacent to the Grand Rapids Public Museum, so I’m now officially “in” for ArtPrize 2016! Votive candles burning in Notre Dame. Paris, FranceThose who know me well or have been patiently reading my blog will recognize that this represents a dream come true and the culmination of unending hours of contemplation, prayer, hard work, study, listening, submission, hard work, expense, prayer, research, prayer, frustration, hard work, submission, excitement, determination, prayer, soul-searching, anxiety, confusion, prayer, hard work…you get the picture! I would have added “ad nauseum” were it not something I felt like the Lord had inspired in the first place. P.A.S.S.I.O.N. Candles burning in Notre Dame. Paris, FranceSleepless nights. Distraction. Planning. Asking. Organizing. On my knees and on my face. Walking in the Spirit and wrestling with my flesh. Around, and around, and around in spiraling circles. Hope. Deferred hope. Hope again. Growth. Disappointment. Resignation. Hope. Then, the whole crazy cycle started over again for the third time this April when it was time to apply for ArtPrize 2016. Christ on the Cross in Notre Dame. Paris, FranceYou get the picture, and I’m sure you’ve experienced similar passions in your life—if not for a venue for ArtPrize, perhaps in wanting a particular spouse, a certain job or a particular home or car. As humans we all experience ardent hopes that something we desire deeply will become a reality. Candles and statue of Jesus in Notre Dame. Paris, FranceIn the process of praying about an ArtPrize venue, I was always acutely aware that whether or not I succeeded would be up to God ultimately, and that in the grand scheme of things, there were (are) innumerable things that I desire much more, such as the spiritual health and welfare of my loved ones and the world at large, peace on earth, and goodness to overcome evil. Inside the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris, FranceWhat infinitesimal impact my ArtPrize entry might make on the relatively small population of people who will see it is less than a drop in the bucket of need and desire, but it is one of the things I feel like God has inspired me to pursue, and so I’ve been pursuing it with all the “heartily as unto the Lord” I can muster! Jesus with Peter walking on the water in Notre Dame. Paris, FranceDespite my calm assurance that God is in control, which provides  an ocean of peace in the depths of my being, I still struggle superficially, and I still find it thrilling when my prayers and hopes are granted. You too? Sarchophagus in Notre Dame. Paris, FranceI’ve prayed for some things over 50 years now, and perhaps I’ll go to my grave praying for others, but let’s keep praying and asking, for God’s glory and our good.Candles buring in Notre Dame. Paris, France 2

Hope deferred makes the heart sick: but when the desire comes,
it is a tree of life
” (Proverbs 13:12).Chestnuts bloomin in spring at Notre Dame Cathedral. Paris, France(I took all these photos in or of Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, May 2016.)

You Never Know Who You’ll Meet in Washington, So Let’s Go: Together 2016

President Obama in Washington D.C.If you could meet anybody you wanted to in Washington D.C., who would it be? Out for lunchGuess who came in to the restaurant while my “little sister” Lizzie was out with some girl friends a few weeks ago? Uh huh! The Pres just happened to walk in!

Washington D.C. Naitonal Cherry Blossom Festival 3 That might be even more unique and exciting than seeing the cherry blossom festival, but actually, I believe there’s something even better than either that’s coming up this summer: “Together 2016.” Hillsong Outcry 4.19.2016While Alan and I were at Outcry a couple of weeks ago, there was a young man who came out on the stage to invite everyone to meet him at the National Mall this summer on July 16. 12375044_10153334041351247_6018210484951187046_oThat young man is staying with Lizzie and Chuck this year in D.C. while working with a huge network of people who are praying for a million people to meet together at the mall.  “Together 2016 is the day our generation will meet on the National Mall to come together around Jesus in unified prayer, worship, and a call for catalytic change. We’re coming together with as many people as possible who believe Jesus changes everything.” Wouldn’t you love to be there? I would! Flowering TreeAll sorts of people will be there: Hillsong United, Ravi Zacharias, Francis Chan, and on and on. But, best of all, I believe we’ll all meet God there, and that will be even more glorious than meeting the President of the United States! Are you in?

For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them” (Matthew 18:20).

If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land” (2 Chronicles 7:14).

(The first three pictures are used by permission of Elizabeth, who just happened to be in the right place at the right time to see President Obama. The picture of Mike is used by his permission, and the “Together 2016” video is from Facebook. If you’re interested, please check out their Face Book page for more details and helpful contact information.)