Enough is Enough - Life Still Sucks and I Am Still Seeking God



Whatever.

Really. What is the deal?

How much more fighting is necessary? How much more tearing at each other is needed? How much more will we tear down other people until we learn what bullies taught us long ago, namely that tearing down other people does not make us look better?

I suppose it doesn't matter much anymore. We prefer whatever glitters, like a squirrel or a raven, over what matters most. No, we won't keep the main thing the main thing because our thing means more to us. 

And no, we, the human race will not seek first the Kingdom of God because the kingdom of me is what the universe revolves around.

I guess at 50, I am getting mouthy. Maybe prophetic. Maybe Ecclesiastes-ical? 

Lets read the words again shall we?

"The words of the Teacher, the son of David, king in Jerusalem.
Vanity of vanities, says the Teacher,*
vanity of vanities! All is vanity.
What do people gain from all the toil
at which they toil under the sun?
A generation goes, and a generation comes,
but the earth remains for ever.
The sun rises and the sun goes down,
and hurries to the place where it rises.
The wind blows to the south,
and goes round to the north;
round and round goes the wind,
and on its circuits the wind returns.
All streams run to the sea,
but the sea is not full;
to the place where the streams flow,
there they continue to flow.
All things* are wearisome;
more than one can express;
the eye is not satisfied with seeing,
or the ear filled with hearing.
What has been is what will be,
and what has been done is what will be done;
there is nothing new under the sun.
Is there a thing of which it is said,
‘See, this is new’?
It has already been,
in the ages before us.
The people of long ago are not remembered,
nor will there be any remembrance
of people yet to come
by those who come after them."  Ecclesiastes 1:1-11, NRSV

Life still sucks and I am still seeking God. 

I am not going to give in to those who refuse to admit the state of things nor will I go along with those who cannot wait to tear it all down.  I love the book of James, probably my favorite book in the Bible but close behind it has become Ecclesiastes because it resonates with those who have suffered and struggled. 

Part of the wonder and beauty of God's Word given to us in the Bible, is we are blessed with a diversity of theological thought. One need not look for the books not in the Bible to read words hard to understand. The words hardest to understand are already right there! I have had numerous people turn from Christianity, not because of the books not included but the words of the book right there!

If we'll pay attention, nothing happening in our world is new. That is the truth of these words of Ecclesiastes. Are they new to us? Of course! But to those who remember? No..."the people of long ago are not remembered." The moral majority of the 90's put faith not in God but politicians and did so again. The progressive Christians of this new century  put faith in the progressive politicians in like fashion and crafted a new "golden calf." They look the same and nothing is new.

The Church is not perfect. She has always been an imperfect bride, it is the story of Hosea and his wife, Gomer. The Church is MEANT FOR PERFECTION but it is God who pays the price for that perfection.

God always has and it is because of that radical, crazy love of God for all of us schmucks that I will still seek God...even when life still sucks.

Do no harm, do good, and keep to the guidelines of God!
Jedi Pastor Ken






Stay In Love with God - Journal and Pray with this Free download


 

I turned 50 this month.

50.

It seems insane to be that old and yet even when I say it, I have people tell me I'm still a "youngster."

If only.

That little dash between the day I was born and the day I will die is getting shorter. My late wife was two years older than me so I have now outlived her. The valley of suck still resonates in cruel ways for sure. But as I reflect on the turning of the page, I realize there are things I've learned and things that used to impact me, don't have the importance.  

One of the big things is that I am an optimist. No, I haven't joined the organization (though maybe I should) but my whole life, I have been fighting for the most positive view of things. Even when bad things happen, when people are critical, and when relationships and situations sour, I want to look for the lessons and the good to come around the corner.


I want that for others too.

This has had me really thinking about what I can do and what I offer. I've written a couple of blog posts about some of that this year already. You see, it really bugs me when people start treating pastors like we should be carbon copies of other pastors - how does that work in any other profession after all? It doesn't. How can any of us be someone else after all anyway? Isn't that part of the beauty of the world and people - we aren't all alike and we don't all see things the same?

And this was always part of my issue with prayer and how it gets taught and written about - that there is only one way to do it! Prayer Simply Breathe, is a book, in part, about this very struggle I had and it seems, many others have had as well. And whether you pray breath prayers or any prayer, the bigger issue is, are you talking with God?

Well...are you?

And that is where I am and what is on my heart and what I am working on in me in my ministry - how can I help people grow in their faith for everyday? How can what I do and teach, help you and your neighbor and your friend and a stranger grow in faith?

Prayer is taking a time-out from playing God and letting God be God.  I wish God would put me in time-out more often but that isn't God's way. You have to do it and I have to do it - that is, make time-out.

So, I want to help you make time-out with God, even if just 5 minutes. I have been using the PARTs of prayer for many years and created this sheet years ago to help me make time-out with God.  PARTs stand so for:

Praise - Admit - Request - Thanks 


It is a simple outline of the content of the Lord's Prayer and help - not a hard and fast rule.


Click here to view and print:

PARTS of Prayer Journal Page   (Seriously, this is FREE, use a three-hole punch and notebook)

I'd like to think, my little additions have improved it but ultimately, this is JUST a GUIDE!! No rules here - Just me trying to share from my journey of faith what has helped.  I have some more journals coming up I'm working on to help too.

So what will you do this week to stay in love with God?


Do no harm, do good, and stay in love with God! This is the Way.

Jedi Pastor Kent




Prayer Journal for Women with the Writings of Heather Nall Hagler

Prayer Journal for Women with Writings of Heather N Hagler

I have had the iron in the fire with Prayer Simply Breathe but with the heaviness of these days, I have been at work on some other projects. One that is bittersweet is this offering. It is a prayer journal that comes from my late wife's writing and spiritual journey. Going through her notes in her Bible and some of her journals, I am reminded of how much she could run rings around most pastors and professors.

But more than that, she just loved Jesus. She would be up nearly every morning with hot tea, her Bible and our cat, Tigger. She would spend time with God and praying for everyone she loved. She memorized scriptures and hymns not because she had to but because she wanted to. She wanted to know God more. It is my hope and heart this journal will help you on your journey inspired by her words and faith each week. So, in honor and memory of Heather Nall Hagler, I offer her words and faith to the world as best I can.

---- Prayer Journal for Women: A Five-Week Scripture Inspired Journey of Prayer for Christian Women is a guide to prayer inspired by the life and faith of Heather Hagler. She was a devout Christian, teacher, pastor's wife, and loving mother who died of colon cancer. In these journal pages, you will be encouraged to live out your faith for every day. On these pages are some of Heather's words and devotional thoughts from her Bible and journaling. It includes some of Heather’s favorite Bible verses for reflection and guidance, combined with prompts and guides for strengthening your faith. These journal pages will provide you with encouragement and hope!
The journal Includes - Five full weeks of pages for a total of 35 days to build a habit of prayer and journaling. -Two pages for each day with plenty of room to record your journey. -Each week features one of Heather's reflections and favorite verses. -Prompts that are creative and flexible for you to use as you follow after Jesus Christ. Click Here:

When We Are All In The Valley of Suck Pray Together


I have written and spoken throughout the start of Covid. We moved as a family.  I have prayed. I wrote about prayer. I have struggled to be positive and optimistic.

But this sucks. 

When I wrote Life Sucks Seek God, it was about getting through difficult times and for me, that was the loss of my wife. The valley of suck sucked all the joy, hopes and dreams out of our family. We were ruined. I was in ruins. 

Today, as we creep closer to the two year mark of dealing with Covid, as a pastor, I am worn out. It has been a long journey to get to where we are and today we are looking at infection rates in Anchorage that are nearly at the same point as the height of the pandemic.

Oh, I am not about to give up - not by a LONG SHOT! As I reflected on turning 50 this year, a lot of things become more clear to me.  One thing is, I am an optimist. Period. I hate getting negative or being negative.  I am wired that way but following Jesus, well, that kicked things up a notch.  I keep hearing the Apostle Paul's words that three things remain: faith, hope, and love and the greatest is love (1 Corinthians 13:13). That sounds like an optimist to me!

So, the valley of suck is still here, unfortunately. For those who are shut-in, this makes it all worse. For folks trying to get out of tough financial situations, it really sucks.  I surely don't have the answers to many of these things. What myself, and clergy can offer is faith, hope and love. We've GOT to hold onto the promises of the gracious and loving God we worship.  I know and have read some who already thrown in the towel.

I am trying to get more creative - provide what I can provide.  I am going to keep Prayer Simply Breathe at the lowest prices I can.  I am going to provide free downloadable pages for you to print from the journals I have been working on so you can use them or get the books.

And I am going to pray. More. More creatively. More consistently. More compassionately.

We are in this together - this journey of life and we still are.  So let us pray together this amazing prayer for Covid:

We Asked


Loving Creator,

We asked for strength, and you gave us difficulties to make us strong.

We asked for wisdom, and you gave us problems to solve.

We asked for prosperity, and you gave us purpose and brains to use.

We asked for courage, and you gave us fears to overcome.

We asked for patience, and you gave us situations where we were forced to wait.

We asked for love, and you gave us troubled people to help.

We asked for justice, and you called us to be just and lead with integrity.

Lord, we have received nothing that we asked for or wanted.

And yet, we receive everything that we needed.

For this we give thanks.

- By Colleen Hanycz, PhD incoming President at Xavier University


Prayer Simply Breathe Christian Yearly Planner 2022 Monthly with Breath Prayers, Scripture and Inspirational Prompts

When I posted about journaling the other week, I meant it. When I wrote about it in Life Sucks Seek God, it was because it really helped me and has on my journey with God.

And that is what I am EXCITED to let you know about! There are three 2022 Calendar Journals available now in paperback for 2022 based on Prayer Simply Breathe!

I've been working on a number of journals to be a help on your spiritual journey to grow in your faith for every day. There are currently three covers available you can order on Amazon.

Here is a sample of the interior. Each month has a breath prayer and scripture reflection. With each month is a place for notes and a monthly task list as well.


2022 Breath Prayer Calendar Planner (Black cover)

2022 Breath Prayer Calendar Planner (White cover)

2022 Breath Prayer Calendar Planner (Football) 

 I have been working to get other journals completed as well. One is from my late wife, Heather's, journaling and Bible notes for women and I'll be promoting it soon enough so stay tuned (It is a 5-week journal for women).

As the calendars and journals come out, I hope you'll find something that you can connect with on your spiritual journey that will encourage you to live your FAITH FOR EVERYDAY!

Do no harm, do good, and follow the guidelines of God!
Jedi Pastor Ken

Is Your Life Worth Examining?



 It was Socrates who is credited with stating “the unexamined life is not worth living.” While I think it is a bit of an overstatement (and a few other philosophers appear to agree such as Epicurius), it is, at least, true to an extent. There is not doubt that in looking back in history, we benefit from the knowledge and experiences of many who journaled and reflected on their lives.

For me, Benjamin Franklin and the Rev. John Wesley come readily to mind. One, a giant of the American Revolution, and the other, a giant of Christian revival. Their journals reflect individuals of deep thought who understood, at least for themselves, the need to reflect and consider their actions and events of their day and time.

What does this mean for us? There is no Biblical command for people to journal. That we are aware, Jesus did not maintain a journal. Much of what makes up the stories of the Bible are passed down from oral tradition of the Ancient Near East. What is written, could hardly be classified as a journal.

So why journal?

More than a mere diary, journaling is a time of reflection and examination if you will. It is not a practice that everyone finds beneficial. For me, I have journaled off and on throughout my life. I have kept most of my journaling through the years and from time to time, I go back and reflect upon what has happened in my life. My journal offers a snapshot of how I have grown in my faith as well as how I have grown as a person.  I still have my first journals that even date the Upper Room Devotional books I used.

As a spiritual practice, it is hard to miss the value and how journaling has shaped so many.  As we turn the page of August to September, I challenge you to consider trying out journaling as a spiritual practice. It could be a notebook or in your day planner. Take note of where you think you see God as you read and reflect on the course of events in your day.

You can use John Wesley's Three Rules as a guide even:

When did I do harm?
When did I do good?
Have I stayed in love with God?

Then use who/what/when/where/how/why as a guide to expand upon each one as appropriate.

It may not change THE world but it just might change YOUR world.

-Jedi Pastor Ken




Chapter One: It's You and God


In just a few weeks, Prayer: Simply Breathe goes to print in paperback and on Kindle.  This has been a book I have been passionate about and scared about at the same time.  It is a book I have REALLY wanted to write and one I have felt called deeply to write.  I want to share with you chapter one and it is my hope and prayer, you will join me in supporting the launch.  


Chapter 1: It’s You and God

You are unique. You are “it.” You have “it.” You are the only one who has your “it.” There is not another person in the world like you, and there never has been and never will be another. It seems to me this makes you pretty dad-gum special as we say down south.

If you and I are so special, then God is pretty, dad-gum creative! I mean, if God isn’t making clones of us all, then God is spending a whole lot of effort and energy to make each of us special. And if we think on that a bit more, it must mean God is interested in the uniqueness of each one of us and what we might make of our lives and the world we live in.

I am also under the conviction God is interested in each and every one of us. There is something one of my spiritual teachers, Roberta Bondi, once said that has stuck with me a long time. She said one day, “God doesn’t just love us; God likes us! God really, really likes us!” Her point was the God of all creation wants to hang out with us and enjoy our presence. God wants us to laugh and play, and God enjoys it when we are enjoying God and the world made. God doesn’t just tolerate us or put up with us and love us despite our failures. God likes us!

God likes you.

Now, let that sink in.

And I cannot help but think that if God is so interested in us all being unique and likes us, God must be interested in what is going on in us too. We live in this world through our mental, emotional, and physical selves, but there are many who believe there is a spiritual part of us too. There is a longing deep inside of us. The multitude of religions gives testimony to the search many human beings have been on, trying to understand this longing for God.

Prayer represents one of the primary things we do when it comes to seeking God. Praying is what we call talking to God.

I can remember praying back in 5th grade over a lost magic snake toy. It was a desperation prayer. I had taken it to school against the rules my parents had established. It was a time in my life that I had grown rebellious in a lot of ways. And maybe it was grace or God’s way of sparking hope into my life, but the day after I prayed, the toy was found and returned to me. Kind of a silly story, right? But things that happen when we are young can make life-long impressions, and for me, it was the beginning of a journey with God that is continuing to this day.

While I might wish I could give you a list of prayers God has answered in miraculous ways, I can’t. On one side, I can look at this prayer of a fifth grader that God seemed to answer, and on the other side, I can look back on the prayers for healing for my late wife that God seemed to not answer.

Prayer is the act of turning our mind, our emotions, our body, and our spirit to God. The practice of prayer is a practice of laying aside our worldly worries and cares and turning our whole attention to the presence and heart of God. It doesn’t mean we forget our concerns—for God does care about those—but we release them into the presence of God and trust God with them. In prayer, we encounter and converse with God.

Let’s look a little more intently at the prayers Jesus gave. Jesus’ disciples once noted that John the Baptist had taught his disciples how to pray so they asked Jesus to teach them. In response, Jesus gave them the prayer that today is called “The Lord’s Prayer” or “The Our Father”

“Pray, then, in this way:
Our Father, who is in heaven,
Hallowed be Your name.
Your kingdom come.
Your will be done,
On earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” (Matthew 6:9–13)

But this was not the only thing Jesus had to say about prayer nor was it the only prayer Jesus gave to His disciples that is honored by Christian churches even to this day. Luke records a parable regarding a Pharisee and tax collector that gives us another prayer to consider.

He told this parable to some people who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and viewed others with contempt:

“Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood and was praying this to himself: ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other people: swindlers, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I pay tithes of all that I get.’ But the tax collector, standing some distance away, was even unwilling to lift his eyes to heaven, but was beating his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, the sinner!’ I tell you, this man went to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted.” (Luke 18:9-14)

This prayer became what we know as the Jesus Prayer in the Orthodox tradition of the Christian faith. Jesus would go on to teach many things about prayer as did Paul and other writers of the New Testament. Through the centuries, the desert fathers and mothers, saints, pastors, monks, priests, professors, and popes have all expounded on prayer.

One of those, Bernard of Clarivaux, cut to the core of what prayer really is, what it means and what it does in us. Bernard writes this:

“By prayer we focus the soul in God. And when we focus only on Him, we cut out the distractions of the world and see Him lifted up before the eyes of the soul. And in this state, the Spirit speaks in us so that we discern God’s will - and by this, what is important to God becomes important to us.” 

-----

Thanks so much for taking time to read this chapter! If you'd like to learn more and get a FREE PDF copy, just sign up for my email list (Look over to the right of the page).  There is a new BONUS gift available now that will be shared in my latest email.   MARK YOUR CALENDAR FOR SEPTEMBER 7!!!





  © Blogger template Webnolia by Ourblogtemplates.com 2009

Back to TOP