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For Alice Lakey

My grandmother was called home to be with her Lord on Thursday.  Since I can’t be present at the funeral service today, I’ve asked for this to be read aloud:

Today, I honor the godly grandmother that I was blessed to know.  In 2 Timothy 1:5, the apostle Paul writes, “I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well.”  Paul expresses gratitude for the heritage of faith that Timothy received; a heritage passed down from his godly grandmother.  In a similar way, I have received a heritage of faith passed down from my grandmother, who remained steadfast in her heart for the Lord Jesus Christ.

I remember her love of life.  What a delight it was to see her eyes twinkle as she would laugh!  I must confess that I often tried to say something funny just to make her laugh.  Her love for life’s good times was fueled by her love for others, especially her family.

I am grateful for the gentle kindness that my grandmother showed to others.  Just as she gently held many babies over the years in the hospital maternity ward, her caring hands held me as an infant and held my children too.  Over the years, her gentle spirit never faded.  I’ve met many other people who harbor resentment or display a harsh spirit as a result of life’s difficulties.  But my grandmother did not respond this way; her concern for others seemed only to deepen as she weathered the storms of life.

Through many ups and downs, trials and triumphs, victories and disappointments, her faith endured.  The most visible evidence of this was seen during the most difficult season of my life.  During nearly two decades of heartache as my father turned from the Lord, my grandmother persisted in prayer.  She also persisted in love and in kindness.  While many prayed for my father, for family members, and for me during those years, the prayer of my grieving grandmother is something that I will always hold most dear.  Her trust in the Lord, offered from a broken heart, was the sweet fragrance of worship.

Among her answered prayers are that my brother and I have remained followers of Jesus.  Rather than harboring bitterness and allowing resentment to rule over us, our grief has been turned to gratitude and our pain has become blessing as God faithfully worked even these things together for our good.  I am sure that not all of her prayers were answered in the exact way she asked, but her persevering faith endured as God’s faithfulness over time came into view.

My prayer is that I will pass on this heritage of faith to others, especially to my own children and grandchildren.  Her example of love, kindness, and persevering prayer is one that I will always remember and strive to emulate.  I am grateful to have known her in this life, and grateful for the hope to be reunited with her again in the presence of our Lord Jesus one day.

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>2010 National Day of Prayer

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On Thursday, May 6th, several pastors and faith group representatives in the Waterville, Maine area gathered for a National Day of Prayer observance in downtown Waterville’s Castonguay Square. I was given the privilege of praying for the “Church and Missions.” Here is what I prayed:

Heavenly Father,

Thank you for raising up churches in the Kennebec Valley area that proclaim the Truth of Your Word. Thank you for the precious faith we have in common. Forgive us for our competitive spirit; for giving lip service to unity but refusing to share resources and work together. Forgive us for bearing grudges against each other, for gossiping about each other, for being absent in time of need; for giving a poor witness to the sacrificial love of Christ. Teach us how to think differently; how to think in terms of generosity, how to think in terms of unity. Forgive us for thinking these churches are ours instead of yours. Forgive us for failing to communicate the good news of Jesus Christ to those who need to hear by going instead of expecting them to come to us.

Forgive us for neglecting those who are poor; for lacking in compassion; for failing to meet the needs of the least of these. Forgive us for when our church potluck dinners have plenty but children in our towns go to bed hungry at night. Forgive us for obsessing over how our sanctuaries are decorated while some in our communities lack safe shelter for the night. We pray that you wouldn’t just meet the needs of the poor but that you would meet the needs of the poor through us. Give us a broken heart for the broken lives around us.

Remind us please to be the bearers of mercy, the standard bearers of forgiveness, and the stewards of grace; show us again how to give others what they don’t deserve because, in Christ, you have given us what we don’t deserve. Give us the courage to speak the truth in love; to pursue a deep fellowship that holds each other accountable to the standards of biblical truth; to lift high the name of Jesus Christ as the only solution to the problems in our churches, communities, and nation.

Lord, please also give us a broken heart for the broken world in which we live. We pray that the Gospel would find reception by those with ears to hear. Be with the missionaries who serve overseas and in other cultures. We pray for their protection as they minister in nations that oppress religious freedom and persecute the faithful. Help their love for others to translate into any language. We pray that their needs would be met; for their prayerful dependence on you; we pray that the day would come soon when every knee would bow and every tongue confess that Jesus is Lord.

For all of this, we know it is more than we deserve, more than we can accomplish, more than we can even imagine, but nothing is impossible for You. We pray for this believing it to be your will, but nonetheless asking for Your perfect will to be done. Lord Jesus, build your church so that the gates of hell will not prevail against it, for it is your name we pray.

Amen.