Monday, August 31, 2009

Descriptions of God

Good morning. Today’s scripture comes from Psalm 104:30 (NIV):

“When you send your Spirit,

they are created,

and you renew the face of the earth.”

The Psalms give several descriptions of God, which I’ll get to in a moment. Here, He is called a spirit (with a capital S, signifying His deity) that renews or changes us. Great things can happen to us when we are filled with the Spirit. In Acts 9:17, Saul is filled with the Holy Spirit after his encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus. Saul was on his way to Damascus to arrest new believers to the Way, but he, too, became a follower after the scales were removed from his eyes so he could see the truth. That’s what the Spirit does to us.

With each new situation in the Psalms, the writers gave different descriptions of God, revealing his character. Elsewhere in chapter 104, God is called creator (vs. 5). These various characteristics are what the Psalmists experienced first-hand so that we would know God better. As we read the Psalms, we should ask ourselves what God is revealing about himself that we need to understand.

Here’s a few of those characteristics listed in the Psalms: All-knowing and ever-present (Psalm 139); beautiful and desirable (27, 36, 45); creator (8, 104, 148); good and generous (34, 81, 107); great and sovereign (33, 89, 96); holy (66, 99, 145); loving and faithful (23, 42, 51); merciful and forgiving (32, 111, 130); powerful (76, 89, 93); willing to reveal his will, law and direction (1, 19, 119); righteous and just (71, 97, 113); and Spirit (104, 139, 143). Psalm 103:8 says He is slow to anger, giving us a chance to seek his compassion and grace before it is too late. He gives us chances we don’t deserve because He loves us.

God reveals His character to us, because he wants to be known, and His word tells us what we need to know about him. Because He is described as good, He cannot also be evil. Because He is just, He cannot also be unjust. Because He is merciful, He cannot be unmerciful. Because He is all-knowing, ever-present and all-powerful, He cannot be limited in scope. The various descriptions of God tell us how He acts in different situations we face. We can count on those characteristics being revealed, because God is also the truth (25:5) and His Word cannot lie to us.

How does this apply to my life?

Today’s prayer: Lord, reveal to me who you are today. I pray that throughout my day, I keep my eyes open to who you are. Amen

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

God discards hard hearts

Good morning. Today’s scripture comes from Psalm 95:11 (NIV):

“So I declared an oath in my anger,

‘They shall never enter my rest.’”

God’s ultimate blessing is our eternal “rest” with him, here on earth now and later in heaven. So how do we tick off God so that we never enter our “rest.” Psalm 95 gives us an indication of the kind of things that anger God.

1) Ungrateful hearts (Psalm 95.2); 2) not worshipping or humbling ourselves before him (95:6); 3) hardening our hearts (95:8); and 4) testing God because of our stubborn doubts (95:9). The Israelites had hard hearts in the desert by constantly resisting God’s will (Exodus 17:7) after leaving Egypt. Hebrews 4:5-11 warns us not to harden our hearts and to reject worldly things that keep us from God.

No one wants to admit when their hearts have hardened. My step-son just went through a hard-heart period, and we prayed that God would soften his heart. God is working on him as we speak, and we’ve seen a big change in him. But I’ve had a hard heart toward God over the years, too. It’s easy get angry at God when things aren’t going our way. We want to blame God instead of taking responsibility for our sin, our mistakes, or our poor choices. I have to make a daily effort to love God and not be angry with him.

Hard hearts are like a lump of clay that has hardened. It’s useless and can no longer be molded into any shape. Hard hearts come from stubbornness; we don’t want to change our ways. Hard hearts don’t just happen overnight; it is a series of poor choices. Resist God long enough, and he’ll discard you like a hard, lump of clay. Yet God can change our hearts, so that he can use us. We must let go of our desires and seek God’s will. That means first humbling ourselves, worshipping him and having a grateful heart. It starts for being thankful for what we have and not being angry for what we don’t have.

How does this apply to my life?

Today’s prayer: Lord, help me to be thankful for what you’ve given me. Help me to look at my life as a blessing from you, and not what I think I should have gotten. Amen

Monday, August 24, 2009

You can make a difference in the world

Good morning. Today’s scripture comes from Psalm 94:16 (NIV):

“Who will rise up for me against the wicked?
Who will take a stand for me against evildoers.”

Don’t let silly politicians fool you: There is much evil in the world. Today, for instance, there is more slavery in the world than in any other time in history. There are more poor and starving children in the world than in any other time in history, often because of oppression and political corruption. America is feeling the effects of the current recession, but it’s nothing compared to those who live on a dollar a day in Africa, India or South America. In Haiti, people are selling mud patties to fill their empty stomachs. They add butter to make them palatable.

I am reading “The Hole in Our Gospel,” by World Vision president Richard Stearns, who spoke at the Willow Creek Leadership Summit earlier this month. I am convicted for what the church is not doing to help the poor and the starving. I go to the church I do because we support such ministries as World Vision and International Justice Ministries, both of which go out into the poor countries of the world and try to make a dent in the world’s poverty. My wife and I support two children financially.

At the Summit, Jessica Jackley, the founder of, was interviewed by Willow Creek pastor Bill Hybels, about the group’s concepts. Kiva is a microfinance bank that offers loans from people such as you and me to impoverished entrepreneurs who have an idea to start a business but no capital. For as little as $25, you can help a single mom in Africa buy a few chickens that will lay eggs to be sold in the market so she can feed her kids. These people don’t need a handout, they need a hand up.

I was recently unemployed for six weeks, but we had saved money for such an emergency. I never missed a meal during that time. Our mortgage was never late. The worst complaint I have is that our air conditioner is busted, and on hot days it can get uncomfortable working in the house. I daily drink bottled water that is clean. Compared with 90 percent of the world, I have it made. I have a roof over my head to protect me from the elements. I have clothes to wear, and food to fill my tummy. No one in my family is going without. But I can’t help thinking about the impoverished single mom in Africa whose husband just died of AIDS, and she can’t make a living to feed her starving children.

It’s a small thing, but you can make a difference in one person’s life. I urge you to check into these three organizations listed below and to support them in any way you can. Giving up a latte a week means $20 a month toward feeding someone. It’s time to stop sitting on our lazy butts and making excuses. You can make a difference—even if it’s in the life of one child in the world.

International Justice Ministry:


World Vision:

How can I help one person in this world?

Today’s prayer: Lord, help me not to forget about the poor and the starving in the world. Amen

Friday, August 21, 2009

One awesome resume

Good morning. Today’s scripture comes from Psalm 93:1-2 (NIV):

“The Lord reigns, he is robed in majesty;
the Lord is robed in majesty
and is armed with strength.
The world is firmly established;
it cannot be moved.
Your throne was established long ago;
you are from all eternity.”

In today’s job market, the basic requirement is to have an electronic resume and letter. Then, too, you might have a personal Web site, a LinkedIn profile, as well as a social marketing gimmick such as a Facebook profile. All those things let the world know who you are and what you can do for a potential employer.

If God were to write a resume, what do you think he would put on it? Just in the past few days, we’ve included two character traits that surely would be included: He loves us, and he is righteous. What about that creation thing; do you think that would be a resume builder. Just how would he word that? Would someone think he was being pompous by stating he had created the world, universe and heavens in six days way back when? “Did you get a bonus for that job?”

The Bible tells us who God is in every book. He is not some fly-by-night god (note the lower-case g) who needs to come up with flowery characterizations of himself just to pump himself up for mankind. This short psalm gives us a window of who God is. “He is robed in majesty.” He “is armed with strength.” The “world is firmly established” and “it cannot be moved.” His “throne was established long ago,” and, finally,” he is “from all eternity.” Powerful stuff, our God. Nothing else can match his accomplishments.

And yet the world keeps finding things in God’s creation to worship and take the place of the creator. Go figure. We hug trees and rocks, but don’t want a hug from God. We cherish the life of an animal, but not the fetus inside a woman’s womb. We make false idols out of work, money, play, and lust after the things of this world. We want credit for everything good that happens in our lives, and blame God when things go bad. We worship at the foot of “me” every day. God hasn’t changed in thousands of years; if anything changes it’s us. We can look at the world around us and know that God cares for us, because he put so much thought into his creation. Each of us is special because God created us in his image—not in the image of a rock, a tree or an animal. Our God has a resume filled with awesome accomplishments. All that remains is for you to hire him, and make him No. 1 in your company.

How does this apply to my life?

Today’s prayer: Lord, help me to always worship you, the creator of the heavens and the universe and everything in them. Thank you for the beauty around me. I marvel at your workmanship. Amen

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Be a sturdy tree

Good morning. Today’s scripture comes from Psalm 92:12-15 (NIV):

“The righteous will flourish like a palm tree,

they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon;

planted in the house of the Lord,

they will flourish in the courts of our God.

They will still bear fruit in old age,

they will stay fresh and green,

proclaiming, ‘The Lord is upright;

he is my Rock, and there is no wickedness in him.’”

Gone are the days when men are honored with a gold pocket watch for working for the same company for 40. Few couples will reach their golden anniversary because of the prevalence of divorce in our society. People no longer watch their children and grandchildren grow up in the same house. Gone are the days when elders in the church are the grey-haireds who stuck around through thick and thin. Now our health care system is even talking about wiping out the elderly who cost too much to maintain.

But in God’s house, the righteous are still honored for long life and service to the church and the kingdom. And that’s the way it should be. When my dad died 3 ½ years ago, he was honored for being a righteous man in all areas of his life—his family, his work, his friends, and serving his church. That’s how I want to finish. Even though I’m only in my second year of marriage, someday I want people to look at my remarriage as a blessing to others. I want to be a part of my grandchildren’s lives (just not yet). I want to be known for selflessly serving my fellow man. That takes dedication and commitment.

In this psalm, palm trees and cedars of Lebanon are symbolism for long and sturdy life. Cedars of Lebanon grew to 120 feet high and 30 feet in circumference. Old trees have roots that go down deep; they aren’t shallow. Old trees are solid and immovable, and that’s what God wants us to be. The key is living a righteous life before God. If we look good on the outside to the world, but our insides disgust God, we are not genuine in our character. We can’t have integrity without authenticity. That’s what being righteous means.

Life is a journey. We don’t reach our destination until we die. We don’t suddenly reach an earthly milestone and quit serving others and the Lord because we’re tired. Serving God energizes us, so if we do it right, we should be serving mankind even after retirement from our careers. We may slow down, but we never stop serving. If you’re single, there’s nothing wrong with being single for 15 years. If you’re unemployed, you can survive a year or two without work. The question is, how are you acting under the pressure? Do you spend all your time feeling sorry for yourself or are you serving others? No matter what your circumstances, you can find ways to bide your time in a meaningful way? That’s what God expects from us.

How does this apply to my life?

Today’s prayer: Lord, help me to live my life in a way that’s meaningful to you. Help me to always make time for you and my brothers and sisters in Christ. Amen

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Loving God first

Good morning. Today’s scripture comes from Psalms 91:14-16 (NIV):

“Because he loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him;
I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.
He will call upon me, and I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble,
I will deliver him and honor him.
With long life will I satisfy him
and show him my salvation.”

Following Jesus Christ does not mean you get a free pass from danger. On the contrary, life is filled with danger, and there seems to be no way to avoid it—and no denial doesn’t really work. What God promises is that He will be there during times of trouble, and He offers His help. Contrast that with the world’s thinking: You must be strong to survive. “Everything’s riding on your shoulders, buddy. If you can’t cut it, you’re a failure—or worse—a loser! Now go get ‘em!” Very comforting.

I don’t know about you, but I just don’t have that kind of strength. Sometimes, I want to think I do, but then, when I get through a trying week like I just did, I realize how much I need God’s strength in my life. Whenever I go through struggles, like divorce, my dad dying from lung cancer, unemployment, issues with my sons, relational issues—I always say the same thing: I don’t know how people deal with life without Christ in their lives. Those difficult times are reminders of our need for God, just as they were thousands of years ago in the time of Moses (author of Psalm 90).

Psalm 90 through 106 is a bundle of Psalms with a common theme—our submission before the almighty God. One of the key phrases in the first two Psalms is God’s love for us, but in 91, God is looking for reciprocation of that love. God is pleased with the anonymous author’s love and is rewarding him with a blessed life. In the end, he receives God’s salvation in return for loving the Lord.

That’s all God wants from us: to put Him No. 1 in our lives—not No. 2 behind work, money, toys, or any other worldly pleasures. He doesn’t want anything to come between us and our love for him. Putting God first in our lives doesn’t mean we will have a life without pain; it simply means that we won’t be alone in those trials. Not only will we have God in our life for guidance, we will have fellow Christians to walk with us through those valley times. My brothers and sisters are what got me through times such as last week in dealing with my step-son’s schooling issue. When that week was over, all I could think of was thanking God for his love and his goodness.

How does this apply to my life?

Today’s prayer: Lord, thank you for your love and your goodness. Thank you for giving me patience and endurance. Amen

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Reaching out to the rejected

Good morning. Today’s scripture comes from Psalm 88:13-14 (NIV):

“But I cry to you for help, O Lord;

in the morning my prayer comes before you.

Why, O Lord, do you reject me

and hide your face from me.”

In life, there is much difficulty. Sometimes, it seems, there is no relief in sight. All hope is lost. Does God even hear our prayers at such times? Life is miserable, and we don’t know where to turn. We cry out to God, but we aren’t even certain he’s listening. Yet, even in our deepest misery, God understands; he does not reject us forever.

Psalm 88 is one of the few psalms that do not have a conclusion of answered prayer. The psalm does not end with praise of how God worked in Heman’s (a son of Korah and a musician) plight. Even though Heman’s soul “is full of trouble,” (vs. 3a), he does not stop crying out. Even though he appears to be near death (“as my life draws near the grave”, vs. 3b), he doesn’t stop praying.

Because of Heman’s illness, his friends have deserted him. This is one of the darkest psalms out of the 150 listed in the Bible. Life does not appear to get better for Heman. So what is the message if there is no hope for someone in such despair? Perhaps the message isn’t for the afflicted, but for the friends of Heman. God tells us to love our neighbors as ourselves (Matthew 22:39). How do we do that in such a situation as this? Or do we avoid the situation, as the priest and the Levite did in the story of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:27-37).

We can always pray for that person. Pray for a miracle. Pray for strength. Pray for endurance. Pray for their financial needs to be met. Pray that friends don’t desert the person, because despair robs us of dignity and emotional strength. Despair leads to depression. Depression leads to solitude. All those things wrapped into one leads to hopelessness. Hopelessness leads to the end. We need to be friends to such people. We were created to love and be in fellowship, and when we are lacking those two essential elements in life, misery can fill our lives. When Jesus told us to love our neighbors, he wasn’t talking about the millionaire down the road who has everything; he was talking about the person who has nothing. When we love our neighbors today, that has a way of coming around to us tomorrow when we are down and out.

How does this apply to my life?

Today’s prayer: Lord, help me to lift up my friends in prayer, and help me to be a better friend through their troubles and struggles. Amen

Monday, August 17, 2009

Dwelling in God’s place

Good morning. Today’s scripture comes from Psalm 84:1-2 (NIV):

“How lovely is your dwelling place,
O Lord Almighty!
My soul yearns, even faints,
for the courts of the Lord;
my heart and my flesh cry out
for the living God.

Last week’s events left me utterly exhausted. All week long, my wife and I were dealing with her son’s schooling issue. We watched God do his best work up close and personal. The biggest miracle we witnessed was watching the transformation of a once stubborn teenager who returned to his old chipper self, once we laid the law down. . On Friday morning, he got up and went to school the same way he did every day last year. He didn’t ditch and curse us. Friday after school, I met him at on his walk home from the bus and bought him a Jamba Juice, and we talked about school. Life is peachy keen.

But that was just the beginning. I had two finals in my online college courses due on Friday, including a 10-page paper that I didn’t start until Friday morning at 8:30. I turned the paper in at 4 and finished the second project at 7. Then, on Saturday, I worked 15 hours on a catering job. You can imagine how I feel right now. I took a 90-minute nap yesterday, which rarely happens. After not sleeping well all last week, I am suddenly sleeping through the night.

After a few hours sleep Saturday night, I couldn’t wait to get up and go to church on Sunday. I wouldn’t miss a chance to worship in the house of my God. After all we had been through, I needed worship him. I needed to rest in God’s jumbo-sized arms and cry out my thanks to him. We had put some serious requests before the Lord and waited patiently while he worked through the 11th hour on our behalf. Just a few weeks before, he had answered my prayer about a job. This prayer answer to my step-son’s schooling was huge to us, because we felt this was a crucial time in his life.

You better believe I look at God differently than I did a month ago, when I was unemployed and my step-son was trying to get his way by demanding, lying and manipulating. During that time, my prayer life has changed dramatically. Instead of glancing through my prayers, I spend 10 or 15 minutes going through a long list. My needs are suddenly miniscule when I look at my friends’ needs for jobs and marital guidance. If God worked miracles, he surely can work miracles in my friends’ lives. I want them to prosper just as I am right now. The place I am dwelling now is indeed lovely. I think I’ll stay here awhile.

How does this apply to my life?

Today’s prayer: Lord, I am exhausted. I just want to rest in your dwelling place for a while until my strength is restored. Amen

Friday, August 14, 2009

Happy dance time!

Good morning. Today’s scripture comes from Psalm 81:1 (NIV):

“Sing for joy to God our strength;

shout aloud to the God of Jacob!”

Today is a holiday for my wife and me. Silently, we will be singing for joy and shouting aloud. We have agreed not to do the happy dance while my step-son is around. He isn’t quite ready to sing and do the happy dance, but he’s coming around. The reason for our joy is that we witnessed God’s miracle in the 11th hour as He changed the hearts of my step-son and his dad. In short, my step-son will be going to the same Christian high school he attended last year, and not the public high school four blocks away, which was his desire.

We are joyful, because we had inwardly resigned to his attending the public school when it looked as though all hope were lost. We even started looking into getting involved in a few faith-based programs at the school. Our prayers changed to “Lord, if this is your will, then show us where you want us to serve.” My wife was looking into Mom’s in Touch, a group that prays for the students, campus and faculty at schools, and I was praying for new ministry direction, perhaps on campus. I had even tried to meet with the principal of the Christian school in order to give back the generous scholarship the school had given us, but was thwarted by a phone calls that caused me to miss him. When I arrived at the school, the principal had just left. School started there on Wednesday.

Then something happened. The door that had seemed shut, suddenly opened a crack. “Hmm,” I thought to myself, “very interesting.” What might God be doing here? I grabbed my wife’s hand on Monday morning and said, “This isn’t right. We prayed for God’s peace in your son going to public school, and it isn’t happening. We’re not giving up. We’re going to pray some more. And we did – fervently. I was on my knees every morning, and my wife fasted for one meal a day all week.

What God did next blew us away. He opened new doors of communication with the dad. It seemed our “opponent” had switched jerseys at halftime. God shined a light on the truth. Their son had pitted them against each other to get his way. His reasons for wanting to switch schools became suspect; something was not sitting right with any of us. But the grace of God brought his parents together to decide what was best for him and tore down the walls of division. Before we met with him and his dad, we had prayed all day, and sent an email to over 200 people asking them to pray with us. We were deeply touched when about 20 people responded immediately that they were praying right then and there.

The last miracle was the change of heart in my step-son. He had threatened to ditch if we forced him to go to the Christian school, but last night, he was happily texting his friends and letting them know he would be there today. Through this whole ordeal, the school remained a staunch supporter of my step-son. Two of the secretaries were praying for us the past two days. This is where God wanted my step-son to be. It was an easy decision for us, because we knew he was loved and accepted there. Oh, and God answered a bazillion prayers on our behalf. Thank you all for being our friends and prayer warriors. We felt your prayers. Someday, we’ll let my step-son know that more than 200 people were praying for him. You may now move about the cabin and join us in the happy dance.

How does this apply to my life?

Today’s prayer: Lord, you are awesome. You do your best work in the 11th hour. No one else gets the glory but you. Your sovereignty and love are simply amazing. Amen

Monday, August 10, 2009

Heal our nation? Look inwardly first

Good morning. Today’s scripture comes from Psalm 79:5 (NIV):

“How long, O Lord? Will you be angry forever?
How long will your jealousy burn like fire?
Pour out your wrath on the nations
that do not acknowledge you,
on the kingdoms
that do not call on your name.”

Uh, that would be us, the United States of America, founded on Christian principles way back in 1776. For 200-plus years we were known as a Christian nation, led by Christian leaders. Today? I don’t know. I am scared for our country. I’m frightened that Christians are being threatened with silence, from the airwaves, to schools, to the workplace. Our government is headed toward socialism, forcing a free medical health care plan – even for illegal immigrants – on us that would include provisions for free teenage abortions. Oh, and if your mom is in her 80s, the government has a right to intervene and take over her life, including determining when she dies.

When you look across our nation, it is not acting much like a Christian nation. You might be saying, “That’s all well and good, but I’m just a pour, private citizen. What can I do?” Simple. Pray, just as Asaph is doing here probably shortly after the Babylonian invasion had leveled Jerusalem (see 2 Kings 25). Suddenly the landscape of Jerusalem had changed. God-fearing Jews were being sent off to foreign lands, and the mighty Babylonians were in charge.

Asaph (or one of his descendants) was outraged at the injustice he saw all around him, so he cries out TO God, not AGAINST him. There’s a difference. Asaph is angry at the situation, but he isn’t angry at God. During times of disaster, we must trust God to deliver us from tough times. Are we facing tough times in America? You bet. But most of our public ills were brought on by our greed for more of everything. More money, more toys, better-paying job, bigger house, bigger cars, more fun, more merriment. Oh, and more sex and pornography, meaning more abortions and more divorces. The toys were put on credit, meaning more debt. More time in the office to pay the creditors, and less time in the home, which means letting liberal teachers to raise our children.

Like Asaph, we must realize why the calamity around us is happening: It’s our sins. God was so thoroughly disgusted with the Israelites worship of false idols that he let the Babylonians conquer Jerusalem and the scattering of Jews began in earnest. In verse 9, he asks God to “forgive our sins / for your name’s sake.” Before we can heal our nation, we must look inwardly and heal our own hearts. Get your own life in order before you criticize the political landscape around you. Then get on your knees and pray for the injustices you see around you. God is our only hope.

How does this apply to my life?

Today’s prayer: Lord, before I ask you to heal our nation, I ask you to heal my heart. Lord, I ask that you cleanse my heart of my sin. Amen

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Have integrity of heart

Good morning. Today’s scripture comes from Psalm 78:72 (NIV):

“And David shepherded them with integrity of heart;
With skillful hands he led them.”

Psalm 78 is written by Asaph, David’s choir director, and he retells the story of how Israel rebelled and was not faithful to God after He delivered the Israelites from slavery in Egypt. The Israelites gave their thanks by forgetting what God had done for them. Asaph shares the Jewish history all the way up to David’s reign as king, every sad detail.

Even though David is called a shepherd here, he is the king when this Psalm is written. Some of the Bible’s great leaders started as shepherds, including David, who was tending his father’s flocks when his father sends him on an errand to check up on his brothers on the front line of Israel’s war with the Philistines. David was prepared to battle Goliath because he had killed a bear and a lion while protecting his father’s flock. Being a shepherd was an honorable trade in the days of David, who learned responsibility through his daily tasks. The flock was completely dependent on its shepherd, for guidance, protection, and provision. David didn’t know it as a boy, but he was learning to lead a much bigger flock later in life.

Perhaps you are going through a rough stretch of life – unemployment, loss of home, becoming a single parent, struggles with your teenager, etc. Maybe God is using this time as a training ground, much the way David’s shepherding prepared him to lead Israel. Maybe God has something bigger for you later, and you need to learn lessons first, before moving on to what God has for you. You must act responsibly during this training ground time. You may not know what God has for you later, but you must be ready when he calls you. Our families need to see act responsibly during rough times; respect is earned.

Most importantly, you must act with integrity. Temptations will continue to infiltrate your life when you are unemployed or after going through a divorce. David was a skilled leader years later, because he learned humility during that time of being alone. When he had no one to talk to, he talked to God. He learned to hear God’s voice in the quiet of the night, when the only sounds that could be heard was the baying of sheep. During difficult times, God wants us to act in faith and obedience. Trust God to see you through the storm, and obey his laws. David’s integrity was strongest when he was fighting his toughest battles.

How does this apply to my life?

Today’s prayer: Lord, let me be a man of character right now. May others see you through my actions. Amen

Monday, August 03, 2009

Fulfilling my vow

Good morning. Today’s scripture comes from Psalm 76:11 (NIV):

Make vows to the Lord your God and fulfill them.

For the past two months I have been praying for a job. In the interim, I’ve been freelance writing a little, but not enough to pay the bills. Specifically, I have been praying for a 20-30-hour-a-week client as an anchor, one that pays well and allows me to do the ministry that I desire. Frankly, I don’t want a 40-hour-a-week job that pays well if it means not having the time or the energy to minister to the homeless and jobless.

Last week, I believe my prayers were answered. I worked nine straight days as a contract copywriter, working for a nearby marketing company. It was a trial-run for my client and for me. Although I had never done this kind of work, the skills I had as a journalist are invaluable to me in this line of work. Friday was pay day, and we have a mutual agreement to continue. Because it’s contract work, I don’t know how many hours it will be every week, but that first nine days was busy much of the time. That’s where faith comes in: Lord, provide for my needs.

I did my halleluiahs on Friday, and over the weekend, I realized I had to fulfill my vow in my prayer time. God answered my prayer beyond my expectations, and now I must figure out what it is God is calling me to do in ministry. I have lots of options, and it will take more prayers to determine the direction God wants me to go. My job prayer was answered, but not my ministry prayer. I have been praying about praying for the unemployed. I have been praying about volunteering in a homeless shelter kitchen one day a week. I have been praying about jumping back in and ministering to the single men I used to minister to, many of whom have followed my path to marriage. Plus, my step-son may be going to public school in a few weeks, and maybe God has a plan for me to minister to high school kids in a different way than teaching provided.

I don’t know which direction to go, but God does, so I must seek him out. I’m back in the waiting game. One prayer down, one to go. Maybe I need more patience. Maybe I just need time to focus on my new work opportunity. I have an obligation to my new boss, to give him my best effort every day during my working hours. Most importantly, I made a vow to God, and I must fulfill it. I told God that if he provided me the right job that affords me time to volunteer in the community that I would do it. Maybe it will be another two months of prayer before I know the answer. I know God will answer this prayer, too.

How does this apply to my life?

Today’s prayer: Lord, thank you for answering my prayer for work. Now, I ask for wisdom in deciding how to use my volunteer time with my church and the community. Amen