Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Day Seventeen: All Things Are Possible

I'm not sure how many of you caught the NBA finals last night, but the Boston Celtics beat the pants off of the LA Lakers. Now obviously, as a lifelong New Englander and a sports fan, this was a fun game for me to watch. (Especially because I'd broken protocol and prayed for the Celtics on Sunday when I spoke at church about the power of prayer...)

I'm not bragging about basketball here on our 40 Days blog simply because I'm an excited fan. I'm bragging about basketball because what happened with the Celtics this season feels like a bit of a miracle. Them winning the championship represents an absolute, 180 degree turn around from where they were were at this time last year. Day and night, complete change. Beyond what anyone could have asked or imagined.

The Celtics have stunk for most of my adult life. Last year was especially bad; they won only twenty four games ALL SEASON, and I think one of those was a charity event against retired circus clowns or something. It was pitiful. Fans called for Coach Doc Rivers to be fired, captain Paul Pierce to be traded to some pickup league in the Arctic Circle, and Larry Bird to be brought out of retirement to see if maybe he, on his own, could amass a better record. You know, maybe win twenty five games.

Then everything changed. New players came on board, rolled up their sleeves and worked harder than anyone expected, checking their egos at the door for the good of the team in ways NO ONE thought possible. Attitudes were different, expectations were different, and (most excitingly) RESULTS were different. EVERYTHING CHANGED.

This is today's take home point: however things look today, it's not (necessarily) indicative of how they'll look at this time next year! That's an exciting possibility, right? What God invites us into is shaping that change, rather than coasting along hoping for the best. We can work with him to push back against inertia and hopelessness with real spiritual power. Now granted, we have to roll up our sleeves and work harder than we expect, and check our egos at the door, because now, we're part of a team. But the results!?! The Bible seems to suggest that it's completely reasonable to expect a complete turn around in our circumstances. How cool is that?

In keeping with this, we're diving into some deeper waters, reading-wise. We're turning to the book of Acts, which is the action-packed account of what happened after Jesus left earth for heaven. (If you need proof that Jesus can make good on his promises, Acts is your book.) It was written by a doctor named Luke, who also wrote the account of Jesus' life that bears his name...the book of Luke is a "prequel" to Acts--interesting reading if you want to check it out.

Right before Jesus left, he promised his followers that they would be "clothed with power from on high." That's what happens in the early pages of Acts: God's Holy Spirit comes and fills the people who have said, "I'm with Jesus." This changes everything in some astonishing, miraculous ways.

My friend Dave says that this one of the most important moments in human history--that throughout all time, people have longed for a connection with the divine, and at this moment God came down and filled us with his Spirit, such that we can speak with him and hear from him all the time. This strikes me as pretty great news.

Today, let's read the first two chapters of Acts. It tells us about the Holy Spirit showing up for the first time, and how it resulted in a pretty big turn-around in Peter, who had been a complete buffoon up until this point. Suddenly, he emerges as a powerful, encouraging leader...I'm pretty sure no one saw that one coming.

If you're on the fence about whether or not to jump into the "I'm with Jesus" line, today might be a good day to give it a go. And let's all pray, "God, fill me with your Holy Spirit, open up the doors of connection."

If you'd like more on this "talking to God" idea, here is a link to the talk I gave on Sunday called "How Can My Prayers Have Power?" (It jumps in mid-way through my first few sentences, but it's right at the beginning). And don't worry, I only spent a little time praying for the Celtics :)

Today's song: Turn it Around by Israel Houghton & New Breed. The first few lines are great prayers for today, saying to God (and reminding ourselves): All things are possible for you...nothing's too difficult for you...

It's the truth :)


Patti said...

i have been noticing that i do strongly believe for others, and encourage them to believe for themselves as well, but my weakness is believing in the impossible, in snagging an agent, in publishing a novel, for me.

i am fasting from unbelief for the duration of these days. it is a challenge. seems easy, but you would be amazed at the evil that stands ready to cut me in half for the audacity to believe.

and that's where i found myself on my run this morning: i have the audacity to believe. it was as if the river met the current. i actually raised my hands in thanksgiving as i understood, maybe for the first time ever, that i SHOULD believe. that giving in to unbelief is the same as surrendering to the spirits that would love to see me fail (they have been a happy lot lately).

all things are possible for you...and me.

god is good.

Sarakastic said...

I have almost the same problem as Patti, I believe in the impossible for others but when it comes to me, not so much.

I guess it's because I'm so used to things being exactly the same year after year. I blame it on finally "growing up" & accepting that is the way life is, but I'm going to try & give myself over to the idea that things can completely turnaround & next year I will be amazed at how much everything has changed.

Liza said...

Thanks for the reminder that everything can change and all things are possible! I always believe things can change for others, now I have to get better at believing it can happen for me.

Larramie said...

Trish, I could listen to you all day and your Sunday talk was amazing. Oh, if you'd only do podcasts here.

Hmmm, why not? All things are possible!

the teacher said...

i liked the part where you invited us to think about how life could be completely different a year from now. lately i have been thinking of my in terms of what i was doing last year during this time. i have grown spiritually, but am still alone and struggle with it. looking back, it seems like the year has flown by. it is very encouraging to think that in just that short amount of time, or at any moment, my life could be changed.

thanks for sharing your talk from Sunday. it hit a topic i have been trying to work on. i had a discussion with others about hearing God and have been reading a book about it and have been a bit discouraged. i will keep trying.

heiress said...

All things are possible through God. I am certainly a believer. Today, I went on a job interview but I had a very interesting morning.

I woke up extra early because I knew I had a long drive and I didn't want to get stuck in traffic. I woke up took my shower, then I realized that the power went off on our entire block. So, the outfit I had purchased the day before still needed to be ironed. I told myself everything would be alright I would find something else in my closet to wear. Luckily, I had curled my hair the night before (it's amazing how important electricity is when you don't have it).

After, I finished getting ready and walked out the door the power came back on (apparently a squirrels life was ended on the power line today).

I went out to my car and my father was outside, when just before I was about to pull off he noticed I had a flat tire (I have never had a flat tire, this was the first time I had to use my spare tire).

For a brief moment I wanted to panic, I thought the devil is really on me why is he trying to keep me from this job interview. I went back in the house and told my mom, and she said don’t worry, pray and you will make it. Her words gave me the strength I needed and I started praying and asking God to hold back the time, clear the traffic, and let me make it to my interview on time.

God definitely came through for me today like he always does when I trust and believe in him. I choose to think positive and I made it to my interview with 5 minutes to spare. God is not only good he is truly amazing!

Suzanne said...

Today I am really struggling. I received two more rejections from agents that I sent my queries to. I have been praying "God if you want me to be a writer, bring me an agent." Getting these two rejections, on top of a whole lot more, have left me incredibly sad. Is God telling me I can't be a published writer? Is God just not interested in giving me the biggest dream of my life?
This is the biggest stumbling block in my faith, not getting any positive feedback to my prayers. If God doesn't want me to be a writer, then what does He want me to be? No answer.
Today, I'm really struggling.

Stephanie said...

So you are the reason my Lakers lost! :) That actually is a great story about Celtics, it makes me view their win in a whole new way.

I think my struggle is feeling like my prayer is selfish. I know God wants the best for me but I have a hard time asking for it.

ForstRose said...

God is making clear to me why I've felt some things were "not right" for some reason and why I've felt like I needed a change of pace in my church situation.

OK so it seems this doesn't really fit with either of my initial prayers but when I explain about tonight the connection might be a bit clearer.

The recognition actually started Saturday night. A conversation I was having with another believer after an evening service made me stop and think about why it seemed like something was missing in the church services I've been to and felt like it wasn't worth going. This other person mentioned noticing a lack of teaching straight from the scriptures in churches and in its place pastors or speakers simply taking a verse or passage and giving their interpretation of it. Then tonight some friends invited me along to a service where the pastor is going through the bible (literally) and teaching from the portion of scripture they are at that week which is currently Matthew. It was so refreshing to hear that much of God's word over the space of the service after feeling like I've been in such a dry spell for so long where being fed at church is concerned. Now I just have to figure out a service that works for my schedule at a church that has a similar teaching style.

In the meantime if you all are wondering what the heck this has to do with the job situation or social connections, my theory is that this was something God has been trying to get me to realize for a while and without being fed and steeped with His Word my decisions and fellowship are limited by a lack of proper focus in my life.


Kim said...

I'm really feeling for you right now. I too have gotten lots of rejections even as I know my writing has improved, I feel I'm falling farther from the publishing powers that be. What's up with that?

Sometimes I think God is stalling me, letting me grow/improve, write a backload of stories, holding up time for that exact right moment when the PERFECT agent/editor will land right in my lap. I also see all the support He has given me along the way to reach my dream. I know He wants me on this path, but it took a while to convince myself of that when the rejections said otherwise.

My question to you--look around your life, do you see His hand nudging you down the writing path? And here's another--could you NOT write? If the answer is yes and then no, be assured that God does want you to do this.

At the beginning of this year I was depressed about my writing prospects as well. I'd lost the joy of writing. But then I realized that NOT writing was making me feel really awful, so I started writing again, short stories, novellas, little things to get my juices going again. And the joy came rushing back. I love to write and will continue to make up stories and improve them for myself and my inner circle of friends who love to read what I write while I wait for that perfect person(s) in the industry. That's not to say that I've stopped submitting. No, I'm still doing my part, trusting that God is doing His.

Hang in there!

Suzanne said...

Kim thank you for your kind words. I don't feel God's encouragement of my writing, no doors have opened in all the years I've been doing it.

But my desire is still there, I love writing more now than ever, I suppose that is the frustration, how could God give us a desire, but not the means to achieve it?