The Seed of Hope

A gift for tomorrow

Viewing by month: August 2010

Waiting for Inspiration

Waiting for Inspiration

I don’t know if I’ve ever told you this, but I can’t just sit in front of this laptop and write at will. I have to wait for God to give me not only the topic to write about, but the inspiration to do so. It can be a little frustrating sometimes...

Here’s the thing: I have a laundry list of ideas for this site, probably another three or four months worth. Most of them are “meaty” subjects. They’re topics that I could really get into, because at one time or another each one of them has had an impact on my life. Be that as it may, I can’t write about them until God lights a fire in me to do so.

This week’s topic was gonna be When God Doesn’t Make Sense. I’ve been thinking about it since last week, and had developed a layout of it in my mind. And that’s as far as I got. Sunday came and went. Same thing for Monday and Tuesday. Jackie (my wife) kept asking me if I was gonna write, and my response was always “I don’t know. You need to ask God that one.”

And so it was, until this morning. My message to you today is about something that I’ve been immersed in for the last week or so. It has been powerful, moving, and miraculous. Waiting for Inspiration is the title of this post, but its focus is really on what I’m going to refer to as being…

Called to Prayer

Today marks the day eleven of the Twenty-One Days of Prayer service at Church of The Highlands here in Birmingham. I’ve written on this topic before, so I won’t bore you with the details. I’ll just tell you that each weekday morning at six o’clock a couple of hundred church members meet for an hour of worship and prayer; intense prayer.

Look, I’m gonna cut to the chase here.

Your prayers are powerful. AND, God is listening. At this very moment, some of you are nodding your head in complete agreement with both of those statements. You know what prayer can do, don’t you?

There are many of us that want to believe it, but for a variety of reasons can’t, or won’t. We don’t think that our prayers aren’t powerful enough, or that we’re not worthy enough, or that we don’t know how to pray. For so many years that was me.

But I’m gonna tell you right here and now that I was wrong, and if there was any doubt left in those stubborn little corners of my mind, the past eleven days have erased it.

I won’t go into detail here, but I’ll tell you that during this past week it was answered prayer that gave me the strength and conviction to do some things that I really didn’t want to do, but were necessary. Answered prayer allowed me to come up with the right words in some difficult situations. Answered prayer kept me calm and centered though it all. Answered prayer opened a door for me to serve as a mentor for some young adults in our church.

Yeah, I know; these are all answered prayers that I said for myself. And believe me, I was, and am, grateful that they were answered. But there was one other prayer that was answered, and it was a prayer that I was offering, not for myself, but for someone else.

There’s a young lady that I’ve been praying for this week. Well, I’ve been praying for her family too, but I’ve really been praying for her. I’m not talking about including her in my morning or bedtime prayers, but praying for her whenever and wherever I had the opportunity. I was so blinded by my prayers for her that I couldn’t bring myself to even think about The Seed of Hope. Her needs, or more specifically her spiritual needs, were more important this site. And I wasn’t the only one praying for her; she was being held up in prayer by many others, I’m sure.

You know what? God answered those prayers. At what you might call the last minute, of the last hour, of the last day, God gave this young lady and her family a miracle of sorts. No, it wasn’t in the way of a healing, or a narrowly-missed tragedy. Well, it did have something to do with sight…

You see, the eyes of this young lady’s Dad were opened to something that they had been blinded to for a long, long time. And as his eyes were opening, so did his heart. What her Dad may not yet realize is that his restored “sight” is going to open the door for his daughter to touch the lives of many, many people.

I’m calling you to prayer.

Your prayers matter. They’re heard. They’re powerful enough, and you’re worthy enough.

And this thing about “not knowing” how to pray? I hear what you’re saying; like I said, I’ve walked that walk. For years I would say the Lord’s Prayer (because that’s the one I knew by heart), and then I’d ask Him for my needs. And get this: To make sure that He heard me, and because I felt like I hadn’t done enough, I’d go back and recite the Lord’s Prayer again, and again, and again. It got to the point that I wasn’t even paying attention to the words, which in turn, diminished both the effectiveness of my prayers as well as the continued growth of my relationship with God.

If you know how to talk, you know how to pray. I believe that the purest form of prayer with God is talking to Him. It allows us to express our emotions, and to voice, with our voices, our fears, needs, and concerns to God. And it allows us to express, in our own words, our love for Him, and our gratitude for what He’s done.

I’m calling you to prayer.

Go talk to God. Pray for the needs of others. Pray for our country and our President (Even if you didn’t vote for him.). Pray for our elected officials at every level of government. Pray for your church, and your Pastor, and all those who serve to keep it going. Pray for our troops in harm’s way. Pray for your families, and your friends.

Pray for anyone and everyone that you can think of. Pray for your enemies or people that have hurt you; yes even the ones for which you feel hatred (you’ll be amazed at what happens to your heart when you do this!).

Pray for lost souls, that they may come to know God.

Finally, pray for your own needs. And when you do, don’t be timid in your petitions. If there’s something that you need, or if there’s something that you’re facing in life, ask Him, with boldness, for it. Perhaps what you’re needing is more of Him in your life. Ask Him. He answers prayers and works miracles every day!

I’m calling you to prayer.

See you next week!

  

Posted by Sam Maniscalco on 08/11/2010 at 12:51 PM | Categories: Faith -

God Stories

God Stories

A couple of months ago, Jeff, a long time business associate, friend, and amazing Christian, stopped by the salon for a few minutes. When Jeff spotted me, he broke out in this huge, toothy, “cat-that-swallowed-the-canary” grin, vigorously shook my hand, and said “Sam that was another great post! I can’t believe that you’ve done eighty-five of those things! Where do you get the ideas? I would’ve run out of ‘em a long time ago.”

Good question Jeff, and for the longest time it was one that I would often pose to myself. As a matter of fact my biggest fear when The Seed of Hope was launched wasn’t saying the wrong thing, or feeling qualified to share my thoughts, but running out of things to say (the number is up to ninety-six, which is almost unfathomable for me). How would I possibly come up with enough “O.C.” material (my friend Kris’ term for original content) to write something that was meaningful every week?

There’s actually more than one answer to mine and Jeff’s questions…

Change

Change is inevitable, you know? Change is gonna happen in your life; every day. There’s no avoiding it. If you were to wake up tomorrow morning and make a decision to do nothing, absolutely nothing, all day long to bring change into your life, it would still happen. Don’t believe me?

If nothing else, the day after tomorrow you’re gonna be another year older! And of course, the world around you is gonna change, which will, in some fashion, have an effect on your life. What I’m saying is that change is gonna happen, whether you like it or not!

Some of the changes in our lives seem to come with “easy” buttons. (I’m reminded of the Staples commercial in which the voiceover simply states “That was easy!”) It has been my experience the easy changes in life were the ones that I didn’t have time to prepare for. Not physically, but mentally. Give me too much time to think about making changes, and my brain turns to Jello.

I believe that we face the majority of changes in our lives with skepticism, doubt, resistance, and fear. We’re predisposed to the idea that change is a bad idea, that it’s for other people, and that nothing good will come out of it. We’re so convinced that the outcome is gonna be bad that we don’t allow ourselves to see or receive the blessings that quite often accompany change!

I’m gonna share a little nugget of truth with you that took me fifty-seven years to discover:

One of the most important things to realize is that it’s not what you receive in life, but what you do with what you receive.  

I walk with this thought ingrained in my mind each and every day. Of course, if I had a vote, I’d opt for receiving nothing but the good stuff! But life doesn’t work that way does it?

I don’t know about you, but my life, and what I receive in it, seems to run in seasons. There’ll be a stretch of prosperity that lasts for months, and just when I’m getting a bit comfortable, something happens that reverses the trend. There have been periods of time when our hair salon has been filled with peace and harmony, and seemingly out of nowhere, I’m standing in the midst of chaos!

I find that my walk with God, or better yet, my spiritual life, runs in seasons as well. A few weeks I wrote about a spiritual dry season that I was in, and had been for several weeks. As it turned out, I was the one responsible for that one; I had done something that wasn’t the right thing to do, and God let me work through it until I realized the error of my ways.

There have other times when I felt as if I were standing on a spiritual mountaintop, as close to God and the heavens as humanly possible, only to wake up the next day in what seemed like Death Valley, wondering what had happened to me! On each of these occasions, I’ve just gone after God with all that’s in me, believing that a new level of spirituality was in store for me.

This is where it gets good.

I’ve said many times on this blog page that God is faithful to those who love Him, to those who seek His face, and to those who serve Him. I’ve said that because that’s exactly what He is.

He’s gotten me through all of the seasons; every one of them. And here’s the thing…I had good seasons because He gave them to me; He allowed me to have them. I had bad seasons because He gave them to me; He allowed me to have them. And He gave me the strength to get through them. For years I didn’t realize that it was His strength, and not mine, that got me through all of the rough spots. You can bet that I know it now.

It’s that “knowing” that allows me to receive everything in life with the expectation that the outcome is gonna be good, regardless of how bad it may seem to be. Call me a fool. Call me blinded by my faith. Call me whatever you like. It really doesn’t matter. I know what I know, and I know that He’s all that I need.

Most of what I share with you on these pages is from my journey through life and towards God. They’re what I call God Stories, and I call ‘em that because they’re stories of what He has done in my life. I love to tell them because they quite often impact people’s lives; not because of what I’ve done or received, but because of what He’s given! (I hope that made sense. What I’m trying to say is that it’s all about Him, and not about me.)  

Here’s the thing: All of us have God Stories. Yes, all of us; even you. I don’t care what you’re going through right now. If you look back over your life you’re gonna see some times when it was His strength, and not yours, that got you through a rough spot.

You need to share your God Stories with people that are willing to listen. If you’re willing to try it a few times, I have a feeling that you’re gonna discover a couple of things:

·         There are a lot of people in the world today that have heard about God, but don’t know the first thing about who He is, or what He can do. You start sharing what He’s done for you, and you’re going to open some eyes and some hearts. You’ll be sowing some Seeds of Hope, and you’ll know why I do what I do!

·         God’s gonna be listening too. If you give praise to Him, and you turn those eyes and hearts to Him, He is going to bless you abundantly. You’ll be receiving His Seeds of Hope, and you’ll really know why I do what I do!

See you next week!

 

 

 

Posted by Sam Maniscalco on 08/02/2010 at 7:32 AM | Categories: Faith -

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