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Clearing It Up


persistence, persistence

For a while now, we’ve been watching Emme try to walk. At first, you could put her feet on the ground and show her how to stand there holding your fingers… then in the past month, she would walk around holding your fingers… then pushing her toys everywhere… then reaching from person to person or other objects to get to her destination. She can be pretty persistent when she wants to go somewhere, trying to get your fingers. She will even turn around and hunt for your hands if you try to hide one!

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Your great name

One of my recent posts referenced names of God following the “Jehovah-” line. This theme of “names” keeps coming up for me, which typically means God is wanting me to look at something deeper.  First it was the sermon that got me started. Then, a song by Natalie Grant, that I absolutely LOVE titled, “Your Great Name” (click to see/hear a version w/lyrics). Today, I’m back on the name theme, but for slightly different reasons.

I was supposed to teach Sunday school for our class this week and the text was from John 14 and 15.I really hate that Rob and Em are sick and I can’t actually teach! In these passages, we find John 14:12-14 “I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. You may ask me for anything in my name and I will do it.

I sure have been doing a lot of praying lately. Apparently growing up, becoming a parent, having friends who are getting married and becoming parents, plus having a career and husband can be cause to pray, imagine that!  Being from the South, a lot of people claim to be Christians. They are serious about their faith and, typically, their denomination. Denominations (I believe) are one of the biggest obstacles to reaching people with the message of Christ. (But that’s another story for another day.)  However, no matter what denomination, there seem to be some people in every single one who believe you have to pray “in Jesus’ name”.  When I first heard this, as an adult who had been a Christian for years, I thought, “For real? I’m praying, to God, therefore am I not praying to Jesus?”  But, these people were very serious about it. They said that “it couldn’t hurt” and some said, “If you don’t pray in His name it won’t be heard as well by God.”  No joke. These are real statements from real people. Of course, no one could tell me where they got the scriptural basis. I had to go hunting.

The best I can tell, the scriptures above from John 14 are where this comes from. So, when I came across these scriptures again studying for the lesson, I decided to read the study notes in my NIV study Bible.  I found this note interesting (on v. 13): “Not simply prayer that mentions Jesus’ name but prayer in accordance with all that the person who bears the name is. It is prayer aimed at carrying forward the work Jesus did–prayer that He himself will answer.”

Following this line of thought, I don’t think we should end every prayer with “In Jesus’ name, Amen” or start every prayer with “Dear Lord Jesus”.  Even following the Lord’s prayer (see Matthew 6), there is no mention of having to direct every prayer to Jesus specifically and the Lord’s Prayer is the example Jesus gave us on how to pray! But, following this line of thought, I can see where there are many times where praying in Jesus’ name could be powerful—when praying for the lost, marriages on the rocks, health and healing, deliverance.  But, I don’t think I would pray in Jesus’ name to have an efficient day at work or for job opportunities, or for an item to still be on sale, etc. Then again, maybe I shouldn’t even pray for the latter things.

Oh, and along these lines, one of the study questions on the side of the leader’s book for this day’s lesson said, “Have you ever prayed to the Holy Spirit?” …. interesting… Have I? Would I? What circumstances might prompt such a prayer?… Thoughts for another day!!!

As always, I would love to hear your thoughts about anything above. I, like you, am a work in progress and love to hear new perspectives!

Natalie Grant (Your Great Name):

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stubborn little cus!

so, does she listen to mommy’s pleas to slow down??? OF COURSE NOT!!! Tonight she took steps between me and Robbie while we held her fingers. What?!?  

Watching Em grow and change so fast has made me wonder about how God sees us. As we grow and learn new things, are there times God would want to hold us back? I look at her trying to pull up on the ottoman and find myself moving all her toys out of the way in case she falls backwards and such. Does he do that for us? Doesn’t that make a bump in the road for others or even us sometimes? I guess that’s why he says “wait” sometimes. I think we tend to relate to this meaning of waiting: “to remain inactive as until something unexpected happens.” What if waiting doesn’t mean to be “inactive”? I think many times God means for us to wait in terms of this meaning: “to be available or in readiness”.

Sure, waiting stops me from ramming my head into the wall over and over in my stubborn nature, but it also doesn’t mean to turn and run the other direction. How do I stay “available” or “ready”? By keeping my line of communication open! I can’t be ready for the call to do what God would have me to do if my phone battery is dead. I’ve got to stay alive in my walk through the Word, through active prayer, through fellowship. The next time I feel like God is telling me to “wait”, I’m gonna have to pray for a little more clarification. :)

Oh well, enough rambling… here’s some video footage of Em these days!

playing with Minnie Mouse

stinker playing silly

play time before bath time

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and Happy New Year!

I’ve been debating what to post for our New Year post this year and I’ve found it pretty difficult. I wanted to write about change, resolutions, a multitude of things. Instead, I’m writing about Jehovah. At church this morning we were singing the song, “Days of Elijah” and the line repeats, over and over, “There’s no God like Jehovah” and that part of the song is always where my mind wanders. Not to bad things, but to more focused things, like the names of God. When I was younger, a young man in my church converted to become a Jehovah’s witness. At a Wednesday night Bible study, it’s all he could talk about, that Jehovah was the ONLY name of God. It is true that Jehovah is a name of God, but not the only name given of God in the Bible. I’m personally partial to “I AM.” But, today, I do want to mention some of these Jehovah “compound names” seen in the old Testament. This is just a sampling: Jehovah – Jireh: The Lord Who Provides (Gen 22), Jehovah – Rapha: The Lord Who Heals (Exodus 15:22-26), Jehovah –Nissi: The Lord Our Banner (Exodus 17:8-15).

When my mind wandered this morning, it was to, “There’s no god like Jehovah, There’s no god like Jehovah–my Healer, There’s no god like Jehovah–my Provider, There’s no God like Jehovah–my Victor!” and each line just filled my heart with so much more joy. In the last week, I’ve rejoiced in the holidays with my family over their health and being together. I’ve felt some heartache as I left my mountain home to come back to my east coast home. I’ve been excited for 2 friends who have gotten engaged and for the new life being born in my family. And I’ve wept for a new dear friend who lost her son in a tragic accident the day after Christmas. My prayers for 2011 include that everyone in my circle and family would know there’s no god like Jehovah. There is none like Him. Behold He comes!

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Better than a Hallelujah?

At our church, there’s a segment of the traditional service called “special music”. I don’t typically get to hear this music because we attend the early (more contemporary) service, but each week, someone is there in that slot singing something. As a praise team person, my time comes around about once a quarter… and it was this week. I dread special music so much. I dread it because it’s a solo, because I’m singing stuff that is not the traditional they are used to, because I always pick music special to my heart (which makes me emotional to begin with) and because I get all the blank stares of the church directly on me for at least 3 minutes.  For that matter, I really don’t see the point of special music. It seems if it was “special” it would not be done every Sunday…. but I digress…

Where I mean to be going is on the topic of Hallelujahs. “Hallelujah” literally means “Praise Yahweh” (the ultra special name for God used by the Hebrews in the old testament) or “Praise the Lord”. I’ve heard it said before that Hallelujah translates the same way in every language which I always found reassuring and just out and out awesome. Then I heard an Amy Grant song the other day I hadn’t heard before. Yep, that’s right, Amy Grant. It was called “Better than a Hallelujah”. At first it struck me as odd, b/c I was like, “What could be better than saying, ‘Hallelujah’ to God?” It’s the highest praise… but is it? Music has been important my entire life. I was saved at a Wednesday night music practice. The lyrics and the melodies carry a message to my heart better than any other. I remember singing in the LRC A Capella choir and how much I enjoyed hearing all those voices blend in Hallelujahs and I couldn’t imagine anything more beautiful or pleasing to God.

After I had Emily, there was a night that I was up at 2 or 3 a.m. trying to get her back to sleep. I was holding her in her room by the crib, in the mostly dark, singing songs to her and I was completely overwhelmed by the love I felt for her, the praise I needed to give God for her and the lack of words I could pour out. I couldn’t come up with one better than “Thank you” out loud or even in my head! All I could do was cry. Upon hearing this song, I saw that moment for what is was, “Better than a Hallelujah”. An honest moment with God. He knew my thoughts before I could speak them and I was being 100% real with him. Oh how I wish I could be that honest everyday!

Here’s the lyrics to the song from this week. You can hear my rendition of it at http://www.blackjackchurch.org/sermons.asp (if not today in a couple of days). While you’re there, stick around and hear the message. Pastor Philip was really bringing it today! As always, I would love to hear your thoughts!

Better Than a Hallelujah (by Amy Grant)

God loves a lullaby, in a mother’s tears in the dead of night
Better than a hallelujah sometimes
God loves the drunkard’s cry, the soldier’s plea not to let him die,
Better than a hallelujah sometimes

(Chorus)
We pour out our miseries, God just hears a melody, beautiful the mess we are,
the honest cries of breaking hearts, are better than a hallelujah.

The woman holding on for life, the dying man giving up the fight
Are better than a hallelujah sometimes
The tears of shame for what’s been done, the silence when the words won’t come
Are better than a hallelujah sometimes

We pour out our miseries, God just hears a melody, beautiful the mess we are,
the honest cries of breaking hearts, are better than a hallelujah.

(Bridge)
Better than a church bell ringing, Better than a choir singing out, singing out

We pour out our miseries, God just hears a melody, beautiful the mess we are,
the honest cries of breaking hearts, are better than a hallelujah.

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