Blue, do they have a prayer? – Checking the Clues 3 - Purity 538
Purity 538 09/30/2021 Purity 538 Podcast
Today’s photo of a pink and orange sunrise sky comes to us from a friend who was up early and decided to share their view near their home in upstate New York on social media this past Monday. If that all sounds a little vague, it is because although I thought I recalled the particular friend that shared this photo, this morning I find myself with somewhat of a mystery on my hands as I am not sure of the friend, or possibly ex-friend that shared this photo.
Recently, I decided to “downsize” my FB friends list to “tighten my circle” to just include actual friends and acquaintances or people who I have had some interactions within the recent past.
Last night at my discipleship class, we discussed how the world can cause us to feel insignificant or offer ways to feel significant.
The number of your FB friends is one barometer that we could use to make ourselves feel better about ourselves. Last week I had approximately 700 friends. While that number might seem high to some, I know others that have over a thousand friends, some with over two thousand. So by that standard I could either feel pretty good about myself or feel like I wasn’t as good as others. But honestly, did that number make me a better person or more loved? No, it didn’t.
Because I recently have found the person who will be my significant other for the rest of my life and I was aware of the shallowness of “friendships” that made up those 700 friends, I decided I wanted to feel a little more insignificant in the world’s eyes I guess and unfriended around 300 people or things since last week. And you know what? I don’t feel like I am half the man I used to be by that almost 40% decrease in “friends” because my value is determined by God and who I am in Christ.
God doesn’t care about the number of friends or followers you have He just cares that you make Jesus your friend, Lord, and Savior. And when you do that He also cares that follow Him.
So this morning as the namesake of the kid’s show, Blue’s Clues, has been tromping through my imagination, as we investigate the “clues” that would reveal that someone was a “real” or authentic Christian, I was joined by our blue and furry friend during my morning prayers.
Blue’s murmuring indicated that the topic of prayer would be the next “clue” that we look for and examine to determine if it could help us determine if someone who claimed to be a Christian actually was a Christian.
As a reminder, this search for the “clues” of authentic Christian faith, was motivated by the desire of several friends to find a Christian life partner. We are not to cast stones or disparage the practices or lack of spiritual practices in the other members of the body Christ. Everyone’s relationship with God is highly personal and we have the liberty in Christ to choose to worship and relate to God in the ways we choose. We are not creating a check list of necessary things that “make” someone a Christians. We are merely looking for ways to discern how someone’s profession of faith compares to their practices. Are they for real?
Christ said that we would know His disciples by their fruit and so in our search for a life partner we want to be sure that the fruit growing in our potential partner’s lives are being watered by the word of God and not by the dry cisterns of the world.
Discipled Christians, Christians who are “walking in the Spirit”. or believers living by a Christian worldview or lifestyle can have a wide variation in their prayer practices.
So in our evaluation of our supposed “Christian” friend, we should observe and question the role of prayer in their lives. Looking and not asking is probably the best tactic to get your initial impression of someone’s prayer life. So what do you see?
Do they pray? Do they talk about prayer? Do they have a regular prayer practice? Do they pray at church? Do they pray over meals?
The presence of unprompted or noncompulsory prayer or a verified prayer practice outside of corporate gatherings in someone’s life could be an indicator of authentic Christian faith. While charlatans may go to great lengths to appear holy in front of the grandstands, they may reveal themselves by having little or no prayer in their lives when nobody is looking.
Do they offer to pray for others? And if they do offer, do you get the impression that they are actually praying for them?
People who believe in the power of prayer will generally offer to pray for others and when they offer, they will add the person to their prayer list or pray for the other person immediately. If people are not offering to pray for others, we could question whether they actually believe in prayer, or the God who answers them.
Do they pray out loud? If they prayer out loud, what do their prayers indicate about what they know and believe about God?
Jesus warned us about people who pray out loud and in public because they may just be doing so to appear spiritual to others, feel good about themselves, or seek to manipulate people. The content of the verbal prayers can reveal quite a bit about what the person believes theologically and can even give us insights into their personality, sincerity, and intelligence.
Do they pray silently?
Perhaps the hardest to draw any conclusions from are those who pray silently. Silent prayers could indicate an intense and devoted faith or could just be an outward expression of an empty practice. If you see someone praying silently with their eyes closed and you catch them “peaking” and looking around and then closing their eyes again, you may have discovered a sign that the person isn’t as devout as you thought they were.
So what do all these things say about someone’s faith?
While we can gain some real insight into the possible levels of devotion and maturity of the person we are observing, only God can know their hearts. Just because someone hasn’t developed a robust prayer life doesn’t mean they don’t have faith in Christ.
So we shouldn’t judge someone too harshly because of the observations we glean from their prayer life, but we shouldn’t dismiss what we see either. God gave us eyes to see and minds to make conclusions based on our observations and we would be wise to use what He has given us to make wise decisions when it comes to committed relationships.
After you have gathered some data on the person’s prayer life through your observations, the best way to know feel about prayer and their faith in general is to discuss it. When you talk about prayer or any aspects of faith with someone, listen what they say, how they say it, and also consider what they are not saying. Our conversations with others can give us great “clues” as to who they are and what they believe.
So prayer, or lack of prayer, in someone’s life could be a great “clue” to tell you whether someone is an authentic Christian but before making any quick judgements about someone’s faith and character look for other “clues” that will solve the mystery of whether this “Christian” who has come into your life is for real and the one who will walk with you toward the Lord for the rest of your days.
This morning’s meditation verse is:
1 Thessalonians 5:8 (NKJV)
8 But let us who are of the day be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet the hope of salvation.
Today’s verse encourages us to put on the armor of God and to be serious about our Christian walk.
Ephesians is usually the scripture that is pointed to when we mention the armor of God but as we can see in today’s verse, Paul uses similar language in Thessalonians to encourage us to walk by faith.
The breastplate of faith and love and the hope of salvation that is to be our helmet demonstrate that our hearts and minds are to be covered by the truth of who we are in Christ. The faith we have in God’s love and His promise to save us are the means by which we can walk through this world with peace and confidence.
God’s love for us and the promise of salvation makes us accepted, significant, and secure and the Apostle Paul is directing us to “clothe ourselves” with these aspects of our faith every day.
The command to be sober indicates that we should take our faith seriously and really live it out. For the application of our faith to our lives is how we can experience the fruit of the Spirit.
So keep walking and talking with God. Remind yourself of his love for you and the fact that you have the hope of salvation ever since you placed your faith in Christ. So we have the hope of salvation for ourselves, but we can also share that hope with the world around us.
As always, I invite all to go to mt4christ.org where I always share insights from prominent Christian counselors to assist my brothers and sisters in Christ with their walk.
Today we continue to share from June Hunt’s The Blended Family’s God’s Recipe for Success.
As always, I share this information for educational purposes and encourage all to purchase June Hunt’s books for your own private study and to support her work. If you need this title you can find it online at several sites for less than $5.00:
The French, known for their exquisite breads and pastries, have a saying, "Mauvaise brioche, mauvaise maison." If the dough is not good, nothing else will be either. Making a good brioche is not difficult, but it requires patience and a basic understanding of the properties of the dough. Brioche dough is unusually heavy from the weight of so much butter and eggs. It takes longer to rise than ordinary bread, and the dough will be very sticky and hard to work with. Failures are inevitable when you're learning to make brioche, as well as when you are learning the properties of blended families and how to work with them. Relationships get sticky and hard to deal with. But as any chef will tell you, failure is the beginning of wisdom and understanding.
"By wisdom a house is built, and through understanding it is established." (Proverbs 24:3)
Stages of Blended Family Adjustments
A. Fantasy Stage... Unrealistic Expectations
- The dream of gaining happiness and wholeness through a new marriage
- The dream that I won't make the same mistakes I made in my first marriage
- The dream of marrying a model parent who will love my children
- The dream that I will love my spouse's children as my own
- The dream that our love is enough to conquer all problems
B. Factual Stage... Reality Sets in
- The dream of a unified family life is not reality.
- The guilt, jealousy and anger from former relationships are damaging to the new relationships.
- The children are mourning their lost parent and are not accepting the stepparent.
- The transition to a new family becomes more difficult than expected.
- The problems seem too difficult, accompanied by a strong temptation to give up.
"You're not my mother."
"You are so right. However, I am the mother in this home."
"You're not my dad. I don't have to do what you say."
"Your mother and I have talked about this, and we have agreed that this decision is best for you."
C. Fruitful Stage... growth and Maturity
- The realization that a blended family is not ideal; there will always be a unique set of family problems
- The realization that mistakes will be made, but God uses mistakes to build character and strengthen the family unit
- The realization that it is going to take the cooperation of both partners to overcome difficulties and make the marriage work
- The realization that it takes time, and it may be years before there are any signs of unity or smooth functioning relationships
- The realization that God will use this blended family as a source of spiritual growth, a means of healing the past and a demonstration of His unconditional love
Question: "I have two children by another marriage, and my husband has three. His thirteen-year-old son lives with us, and I have an eleven-year-old son and a fourteen-year-old daughter. This is the second marriage for both of us. We seem to constantly disagree on discipline issues. It seems that my children have to make the most adjustments. My husband rarely disciplines his son, yet he is very critical of my children and their behavior. This is causing a lot of anger between us, and I am not sure our relationship will survive. How can we overcome the serious differences that are dividing our family?"
Answer: It is common for each spouse to put his or her child's interests first. But when the children's interests are first, over that of the other spouse and his or her children, it becomes a recipe for dissension. Although blended families such as yours tend to be very difficult, there is hope. Both you and your husband must be willing to agree on appropriate behavior and discipline for all the children. Do absolutely nothing until you can apply the policy to which you both agree. Ultimately, you will begin to discipline by taking each other's feelings into account. As you learn to agree in other areas of conflict, you will begin learning how to act in the interests of all family members.
"Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others." (Philippians 2:4)
Biblical Counseling Keys: The Blended Family: God's Recipe for Success.
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Encouragement for the Path of Christian Discipleship