Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Yes You Can -- Chris Lim's Prayer App

I opened my e-mail one day to discover a note from a friend who told me he had prayed for me that morning. He had signed up for an app called Ceaseless, which sends him daily messages that include a scripture and the names of five of his Facebook friends so that he can take a few minutes to pray for them. My name had come up that day.

I don't know about you, but I am always blessed to learn that someone has brought me before the throne of God through prayer. My friend gave me the website and suggested I might also like to sign up. I did, and am in my third week of receiving my own daily reminders to pray for specific Facebook friends. I may have already prayed for you!

Each day, as I see the faces of five friends -- some whom I am close to, others whom I barely know -- I pray for them. The Bible calls us to pray for each other. Even the apostle Paul asked people to pray for him! So when I pray, I am fulfilling a part of my role as a follower of Jesus. I am also participating in the dream of the young visionary who created this app, Christopher Lim.

Chris is a twenty-something computer programmer from the Seattle area. Tom and I had coffee with him a while back. I wanted to know more about the person who would make an app to encourage people to uphold others in prayer. With that conversation, and questions that he answered for me online, I came to appreciate this young man whose heart is set on the things of God.

Raised in a loving Christian home, Chris found joy in following the Lord, yet he struggled with a sense of being unlovable. "My whole life was driven by a desire to impress and amaze people since those were the only times I felt loved by them," he told me. But through an experience during his days at the University of Washington, he sensed the Lord saying to him, "'Chris, you can't impress me and you don't have to impress me. I love you just as you are. Apart from all that you have done and despite all the sins you have committed, I love you -- I gave my Son for you.' In this moment, the gospel of Christ's death in my place on the Cross crossed the chasm between my head and my heart and my soul burst with joy and praise to God like I had never experienced before. The abiding sense of his steadfast love satisfied my longing to be loved...and instilled in me a heartfelt desire and love for Christ and a passion for others to know him."

Chris' love for Jesus, for others, and for technology have come together in the Ceaseless app. It started as a "weekend project" in March and is now operating without too much oversight. It's a simple app in an era of "exceptionally well designed and beautiful and fancy products," says Chris.

Most Christians have a desire to pray for others, he says, and "as a royal priesthood it is one of our privileges and responsibilities to intercede for people." But distractions and busyness overwhelm us. "So my aim was to try to address those two challenges technologically to see if it might help us to fulfill our priestly ministry."

"My desire is to help people experience the joy of discovering that the Father hears their prayers and answer them! I long for people to regularly experience the joy of prayer that Jesus Christ promised, 'Ask and you will receive and your joy will be full.' I long for people to share in God's compassion for others by praying for them. I long for us to obey the full scope of the priestly ministry Christ has given us. I long for God to hear and grant our petitions, doing something beyond what any of us could have asked or imagined."

In the first six months of Ceaseless, the daily e-mails sent out the names of 25,000 unique individuals to be prayed for. "What might God do with all of our intercessions? I don't know, but I am excited to find out," says Chris. And he dreams of the day that Ceaseless can provide personal  prayer for every person on earth over the course of a year.

If you would like to sign up for Ceaseless, just click this link. If you have any questions about how it works, this link will answer them.

Chris has other ideas for encouraging the church and using technology to bless the world. He believes God has called him to start a business to do just that. He will soon be leaving his job to begin this new venture.

I asked Chris what else he'd like to share. "Please pray for me as I make preparations to leave my job, devote my attention to the purpose God has called me to, and trust in him to provide. From the time that I believed this was clearly his will for me, I have struggled with all sorts of ups and downs and trials and having your prayers and those of your readers would be immensely encouraging and helpful. Perhaps the verse Ceaseless sent me this morning would be fitting:
To this end we always pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling and may fulfill every resolve for good and every work of faith by his power, so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ (2 Thessalonians 1:11-12).
* * * * * * * 

(Yes You Can is a monthly feature that tells the story of someone who has had a dream, followed their  dream, and made a difference in their world because of it.)

Monday, October 28, 2013

Good Words

I always enjoy reviewing the quotes that fill the flyleaves of my Bible. Here are a few of my favorites.

Holiness is letting Me live through you. Since I dwell in you, you are fully equipped to be holy. ~ from Jesus Calling, March 19

Love is the family business, my friend. ~ Brent Johnson

He is the God of every place; He is the God of every race; He is the God of every face. ~ Source unknown

Let God's Word fill your memory, rule your heart, and guide your steps. ~ Our Daily Bread

It is not a sin to doubt your beliefs. But it is a sin to believe your doubts. ~ Haddon Robinson

I never preach my doubts; I preach my faith. ~ Bishop Paul Ellis

Love never tells anyone else's story. ~ Mona Van Brenk Kern

You can never justify gossip. ~ Our Daily Bread

Speak to us, Lord, till shamed by Thy great giving,
Our hands unclasp and set our treasures free;
Our wills, our live, our dear one, our possessions
All gladly yielded, gracious Lord, to Thee.
~ Anonymous

Redemption prevails! ~ Carol Kent

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Copy That!

My grandparents' wedding picture, 1920

Is there a name for a person who has watched incredible changes take place in their lifetime, especially technological changes? Born in November of 1900, my grandma died in 1994, living through almost the entire 20th century. How much change she witnessed in her day! She was an infant when the first radio receiver was developed in 1901. That's the same year the vacuum cleaner was invented. She lived through the introduction of so many things we take for granted today: airplanes,  penicillin, nylon, zippers, pop-up toasters, microwaves, the calculator (and that was not until 1967).  Audio cassettes showed up in 1962, video disks in '63 and the Compact Disk in 1965.

And then there is computer technology. By the time Grandma died the world wide web was already four-years-old. It's enough to make a girl's head swim!

One of the most significant inventions in the 1900s was the copy machine, which Chester Carlson invented in 1938. Yesterday was its 75th birthday, but it didn't hit the market until 1959, when Xerox introduced it.

Before that, the most common way to copy information was by mimeograph machines and ditto machines. Schools and churches used them to print the weekly bulletin or run off copies of the math game that the 2nd graders were going to play in class. They did not make very legible copies, they were very fussy (especially the mimeograph machine), and they used fluid that smelled just awful! But it's the technology I knew until I started my night job at a bank the summer before I entered college. There I was introduced to The Copy Machine. It was a complete mystery to me, I assumed that, for each copy it spit out (maybe "drool" would be a better word; "spit" suggests speed), an identical image was stored on the machine. Needless to say, I was very careful about what I chose to copy.

Ditto Machine

Mimeograph Machine

If you are under 50, you may not fully appreciate a computer which allows you to correct your mistakes on the spot -- and even corrects them for you -- rather than using carbon paper, typewriter erasers, or White Out. With the click of a button you can print out your creation then step over to the copy machine, where you can reproduce your work in black and white or color, however many copies you need, and pick them off the tray, collated and stapled!

Totally amazing!

If you'd like to know more about Chester Carlson and his life and inventions, here's a great article on, and a book that goes into even greater detail.

You'll really enjoy this NPR story. Listen clear through; it ends with the head-nodding Typewriter Song.

And if you are an antique geek, you'll enjoy this site, featuring copying machines down through the ages.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Celebrating Love and Friendship

Yesterday was Dad and Mom's 65th Anniversary party! People came from all over to celebrate this remarkable event, and to remember the wonderful friendships they have shared with my parents over the years. My folks' peers were there; the kids we grew up with were there; even their children–who are also friends of Dad and Mom–Were there!

I realize not many couples achieve 65 years of marriage. I don't expect we will—unless we both live past 100! So this really is something to celebrate. And these folks came for a party! I didn't see anyone who looked lonely. At some point I think everyone connected with someone else from their past.

Dad and Mom stood by the door and greeted people as they poured in and trickled out. There were plenty of hugs, laughs, and squeals. It really was a delightful gathering!

And it occurs to me that we celebrated Dad and Mom, but we also celebrated friendship. These bonds were as thick as blood (about a third of us were family), as deep as the roots of a tree, and as strong as the strands of a cord. These were people Dad and Mom had cried with, prayed with, laughed with, led in the children and youth programs at church, and babysat. I was the 4-year-old flower girl in the wedding of one couple. My dad and his cousin have laid thousands of yards of carpet together. Mom has served more cups of coffee to these friends over the years than you could count. But who's counting anyway? These were the kind of friends that you hold dear, just because you are in one another's lives, and you don't want to lose the sweetness of it all. This was a celebration, all right. Dad and Mom were the cause of it, but joy was the spirit of it, and love, and all those sweet memories that we recall, and the ones we make each time we enter into life with those who happen to be there at the time.

I offer these photos, not because they are so sharp and clear and the color is so good—because they just didn't turn out very well—but because they represent the love across the generations that we experienced yesterday. If you came, thank you so much. We were so glad to have you there. If you didn't, we wish you'd been there too.

So here are the photos, in celebration of love, be it in marriage or in friendship!

Michael W Smith's song Friends is playing in my mind this morning, as I think about the friends God has brought into my life. Thank you, Dad and Mom, for living modeling friendship for us, as well as how to love well and long.

Friday, October 18, 2013

In My Own Front Yard!

I just stepped outside to take the green waste container to the curb, and look what I discovered, right in my own front yard!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

The Apostles Creed -- He Ascended Into Heaven

For our 2013 Hymn of the Month we will be exploring the Apostles Creed
With each post we'll look at one of the statements in the creed,
consider its significance, and share an appropriate hymn.  
I believe in God the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth:  
And in Jesus Christ His only Son, our Lord; who was conceived by the Holy Spirt, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead, and buried; He descended into hades; the third day He rose again from the dead; He ascended into heaven, and sitteth on the right hand of God, the Father Almighty; from there He shall come to judge the quick and the dead.  
I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy Christian church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen. 
I want to begin this post by saying how much I appreciate the work of Timothy Tennent, in his book This We Believe! Meditations on the Apostles' Creed. Much of what I think and write about the Apostles Creed has been shaped by this book. Today's post is particularly influenced by Dr Tennent's writing.

When Jesus returned to Heaven, His followers stood looking up into the sky. He was gone! Two angels spoke to them, assuring them that Jesus had gone to Heaven and that He would return. They waited for His return and we, 2000 years later, continue to wait.

Today's portion of the Creed tells us that He is seated on the right hand of God the Father Almighty and that He will come to judge the living and the dead. What does this tell us about Jesus?

Jesus as Prophet -- Prophets declare God's word to people, and then they wait to see what the people will do with the truth they have received. Jesus is the living Word of God who lived in among us, boldly declaring Truth. Then, as Hebrews 10:12b-13 tells us, he sat down at the right hand of God. Since that time he waits for his enemies to be made his footstool. We read in Acts 3:21 that he must remain in heaven until the time comes for God to restore everything, as he promised long ago through his holy prophets. Even creation groans in frustration during this interim period while it waits its liberation from its bondage to decay and the return of Jesus (Acts 8:19-21). And so Jesus waits until the time appointed by the Father, a time known to the Father alone (Matthew 24:36), to come back to Earth.

Jesus as Priest -- "A prophet is one who faces the people and proclaims God’s Word to them. A priest, in contrast, faces God and intercedes on behalf of the people" (Timothy Tennent). There is much in Scripture to remind us that our Great High Priest prays for us! We read in Hebrews 4:14-15, Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are -- yet was without sin. Let us, then, approach the throne of grace with confidence so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. That high priest is further described in Hebrews 7:25-26: Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them. Such a high priest meets our need -- one who is holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners, exalted above the heavens. Jesus, the Perfect One, is praying for you. Today in real time, He knows your needs and He is lifting you to the Father as only He can do! You may approach Him boldly, knowing that He is waiting for you at the mercy seat.

Jesus as King -- A king rules; he is sovereign and has great authority. That describes Jesus Christ, who has gone into heaven and is at God's right hand -- with angels authorities and powers in submission to him (1 Peter 3:22). In writing to the Philippians, Paul said, Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father (2:9-11). We hear the strains of the Hallelujah Chorus quoting Revelation 11:15, The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he will reign for ever and ever. And we add our bold Amen!

Jesus as Judge -- When the time is right, Jesus will descend from Heaven and will judge the living and the dead. For he [God the Father] has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to all men by raising him from the dead (Acts 17:31). Paul prefaces his charge to Timothy with these words: In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom... (1 Timothy 4:1). Jesus will have the final word, based upon how every person, both living and dead, has responded to Him.

And why should He not? He is the faithful Son of God, the atoning Lamb who took upon Himself the sins of the whole world, who alone is worthy and for whom all creation waits. Even so, come Lord Jesus!

Monday, October 14, 2013

Fall Colors

We took our second annual trip to Leavenworth on Saturday to enjoy Octoberfest with our friends from Spokane. Judi was my roommate all through college and it's always great to be with her and her husband Arlin. We've discovered that this almost-halfway point between us is a great rendezvous point and particularly festive during Octoberfest, which is celebrated every weekend of October. Leavenworth is about 120 miles from Seattle and makes a do-able day trip. You might want to allow extra time to stop along the way to try to capture the glorious colors of Fall along Stevens Pass.

Here's a sample of what we saw.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

He Restoreth My Soul

Does your soul need a little restoration? Maybe these photos, taken on three separate outings last October, will draw you into the presence of God, where you can breathe deeply and find that He is waiting to restore your soul.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

What to Have for Dinner When it's Definitely Fall

We had friends over for dinner last night. Since it is definitely Fall, we served a definitely Fall meal: pork chops, baked acorn squash, homemade applesauce and, for dessert, pumpkin roll. Our friend brought a broccoli salad, which added color and crunch to our dinner. It was a menu worth repeating.

Here's how we prepared the pork chops and the squash.

We chose boneless pork loin chops. Tom put a little brown sugar and soy sauce and chopped fresh sage on the top of each chop and, after it had sat a while, he turned them over in the baking dish, seasoned them with salt, pepper, and put them in a 375˚ oven. They baked for about an hour. They were moist and lovely just as they were, but we served them smothered with sautéed mushrooms and caramelized onions.

I purchased small acorn squashes which we sliced in half (top to bottom). We scooped out the seeds and laid them cut side down in a baking dish, then added about 1/2 inch of water to the pan. They also went into the oven and baked about 50 minutes. A few minutes before serving the squash we turned them over and put some butter and brown sugar into the center and broiled them for 3 or 4 minutes.

When we make applesauce we just peel, slice, and boil our apples with enough water to keep them from boiling dry but not enough to water down the applesauce. Once the apples are cooked enough to blend together with a spoon, we do so and season with cinnamon and brown sugar or honey. Served warm off the stove, it went very well with the pork chops and the squash.

The pumpkin roll and a cup of coffee or tea finished off the meal. I'm so glad I didn't wait till Thanksgiving or Christmas to make my first pumpkin roll this season -- I forgot how delicious this is! You can find the recipe here. (I used the rice flour mix combination and truwhip for my cream filling, with a little cinnamon sprinkled over the whip before I rolled it up. Ummm, ummm.)

Of course what you serve isn't nearly as important as who you serve. We had a delightful time with our friends and enjoyed the conversation and the chance to get to know them better. Good friends enrich our lives, and we are grateful for them!

Monday, October 7, 2013

Po-tay-to, Po-tah-to

Whoever knew that there is such a thing as a dutch cream potato, or that there are three classifications of potatoes -- waxy, floury and all-around? And how are you supposed to know which kind of potato is good for which kind of dish?

Well, not me, until I came across the instruction to add "4 large dutch cream potatoes" to the soup I wanted to make. I turned to Google to find out what they were. It seems I'd wandered onto an Australian recipe website where I'd been introduced to dutch cream potatoes, a spud with similar qualities to America's milva and yellow finn potatoes (oval, with yellow skin, and classified waxy).

So what makes a potato waxy, and why does it matter? Here's what I learned:

Waxy potatoes work well in salads or stews or other dishes where they need to hold their shape well, as they have less starch and higher moisture content. They usually have delicate skins. You may know them as boilers or new potatoes.

Floury potatoes are good for baking, frying and mashing. Their moisture content is lower and they have a fluffy texture. They are considered old potatoes. If you want to use them for fries or salads, soak them first to lower their starch content.

As for all-around potatoes, neither with high or low starch levels and versatile in their use, the white potato is a good choice.

I found some great websites about potatoes you might want to explore. They are beautiful and helpful besides. They'll set you straight on spuds and give you some great ideas to enhance your meals. Check them out here (basic descriptions of potato varieties) and here (an encyclopedia of potato varieties).

This site has some wonderful videos, recipes and cooking tips. Included on their "Potato History and Fun Facts" page are these folk remedies which involve potatoes:
* Help a toothache by carrying a potato in your pocket.
* Ease a sore throat by putting a slice of baked potato in a stocking and tying it around your throat.
* Ease aches and pains by rubbing the affected area with the water potatoes have been boiled in.

Over the next few weeks I'll be trying out a few new potato recipes, and I'll plan to pass on the best of them to you. If you've got any good ones you'd like to share, send them my way!

In the meantime, here's a dutch cream potato, wishing you a g'day!

Actually, I'm a russet!

Thursday, October 3, 2013

I Believe

I came across this video a couple of years ago and am moved each time I watch it. It is a song shared in a worship service in Seoul, Korea, led by Scott Brenner or Tribe of Levi Ministries. It is sung in Korean, and I realize that most of you don't speak Korean. But I want to share this video because of the passion for Christ that is expressed in the lives of the musicians and the congregation. (Even the cameramen are singing!) Partway through the video Scott shares -- in English -- about an experience he had when he was teaching the song to the worship team, and it is powerful.

I share this video with you today to give you a glimpse of God at work among our brothers and sisters in Korea and to remind us that the body of Christ is alive around the world. Praise Him!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

A Parent's Influence

Photo Credit: Scott Ritterbush
Tom and I went to Unashamed last Saturday, a conference on the persecuted church sponsored by Voice of the Martyrs. Seven hundred people were there. One of the first things I noticed as I entered the sanctuary was the large number of children and youth scattered throughout the audience. The little girl behind me was no older than seven. I felt a little nervous. Oh, this could be pretty intense for them! I thought. I'm not sure their parents should have brought them!

We found our places and the program began. The speakers were outstanding. One of them, Gracia Burnham, told how she and her husband had been kidnapped in the Philippines in 2001 and held hostage for over a year before he was killed and she was freed. Others shared about men, women and children who are facing persecution right now in various places around the world. We saw two or three sobering videos.

Then Russell Stendal shared a story. He was four when his dad bought a book about Columbia to read to him for a bedtime story. His dad must not have had the time to look it over very well because when he got it home and began to read it to his little boy he realized that it didn't present the fluffy, tourist version of life in the mountains of Columbia; instead it showed the poverty and desperation of the lives of the people. He tried to rush through the book but his son wouldn't let him.

When they were finally finished Russell asked his dad several questions and, as he got ready to crawl into bed that night, he knelt by his bed to pray. "Lord, please let my family go to Columbia to help the people there."

Four years later the family was serving as missionaries in Columbia. That was 50 years ago, and that's where Russell and his family still minister.

Who knows how many of the children and teens who attended that VOM conference were sensing God's call on their lives to be missionaries. How many of them, I wonder, will be prayer warriors for the persecuted church because at Unashamed they heard the stories and developed a passion to pray.

We had dinner with friends the next day. Lisa is a nurse, caring for children with serious longterm health issues. There's not one thing about her job that I would be able to do. "I've been caring for people for a very long time," she told me. "It helps that my mom always worked in nursing homes and took me along with her."

BINGO! That's it. Like Lisa, exposed to nursing by a mom who loved being a nurse, the children at Unashamed were there with parents who are world Christians. They do not shelter their kids from the harsh realities that were shared, but live their lives out of hearts of love for God and compassion for His people. It was probably as natural for those parents to take their kids to a conference on the persecuted church as it is to teach them to eat vegetables.

In the way that a child learns to eat broccoli because the parents love it, present it to them in interesting and delicious ways, and expect their kids will love it too, we should also expose them to God's heart for the world. They will be prepared, then, when He calls them to pray for those who suffer for the sake of the gospel or to serve among them.