“Go out and stand on the mountain, before the Lord . . . and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a sound of sheer silence”

— 1 Kings 19: 11–12

HEARING THE SHEER SILENCE OF GOD

A friend of mine, Bob, was in the process of selling an important asset. The sale would be a crucial part of his future and success. Bob was determined to be a good seller. To not hide anything from the buyer and provide the buyer with a product that exceeded their expectations. Bob responded faithfully to all the buyer’s requests and went further than his lawyer or broker expected him to go. But the requests didn’t end. After each obstacle was resolved, another popped up. A meeting was scheduled between all the parties to find a clear path to resolution.

“He prayed for God to give him the wisdom to make the right decisions with his business and to help his wife.”

The day before the meeting Bob’s wife announced that the doctor had found something during her checkup that needed a radiologist’s opinion. The appointment with the radiologist was scheduled at the same time as my friend’s important meeting. His wife told him to go to the meeting and she would be okay. Bob felt besieged. How can I ignore my wife? But how can I secure our future? He prayed throughout the day. He prayed for God to give him the wisdom to make the right decisions with his business and to help his wife.  Then he went to the meeting and his wife went to the radiologist.

During the meeting, there were many questions. Tough questions. My friend answered them all honestly. At one point the broker for the buyer became unrelenting. Bob felt a spirit of resolve fall over him and became quietly serious. Normally Bob’s mannerisms were friendly and engaging, but now he became dead serious and firm. Looking firmly into the eyes of the buyer’s broker and without hesitation he stated firmly and in a quiet tone, “If there is a problem, I will pay to have it resolved. It is what I have done to this point and will continue to do.” He left the meeting wondering about his wife and at the same time about the state of this important sale.

“A wave of joy overcame him. While Bob had waited in silence, God had answered his prayers.”

At home he sat in his favorite chair and waited in silence. A short time passed and he got a call. The broker said, “It is done, you have done everything and had no more to do. The sale is going forward.” Shortly after, his wife called and stated that the radiologist had found nothing serious and she would need some minor medical attention. My friend rested. A wave of joy overcame him. While Bob had waited in silence, God had answered his prayers. No great bell was rung, no fireworks,  the quiet winds of life had brought his answer. Life was back in balance.

Blessings, until next time,
Bruce L. Hartman

 

 

“Pray then in this way: Our father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your Kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And do not lead us into temptation, But deliver us from the evil one.”

– Matthew 6:9-13

 

PRAYER

While I was discussing prayer with a business friend of mine, he related to me his morning practice. Each morning on his bike ride he would recite the Lord’s Prayer. Previously he had struggled with how to pray and what to pray for. He discovered the Lord’s Prayer and noted that this was Jesus’s example of prayer. So he incorporated this prayer into his bike ride and later would also say it in other quiet times of the day. Over time he felt that he was just reciting the lines and not being sincere. He began to change the words to reflect his understanding of the prayer. For instance, instead of saying “Our father in heaven,” he would replace it with “God our creator” or something similar. Or instead of saying “Give us this day our daily bread,” he would say “Feed me your words of wisdom.” This kept the prayer fresh for my friend and helped him explore his relationship with God.

The Lord’s Prayer appears two times in the Bible, first in Matthew 6:9–13 and a shorter form in Luke 11:2–4. The version in Matthew is part of the Sermon on the Mount. In Luke, Jesus uses the prayer to explain to his disciples how to pray. In both cases it contains the elements that are important in a prayer of petition. First, praising and recognizing God. Then petition. There are three petitions in the Lord’s Prayer. The first is for the substance to live a godly life, “Give us this day our daily bread.” This can mean food, spiritual guidance, or personal strength. The second is asking God to “forgive our debts,” or sins and that’s followed quickly by our taking responsibility for forgiving our neighbor’s debts or sins. The third petition is for protection. Protection from evil but also from the temptations of evil. Over time the prayer has morphed into longer forms that place further emphasis on the sovereign nature of God. For instance, many endings add something along the lines of “For yours is the kingdom, the power and the glory forever more.” The verse quoted at the top of the blog is a direct quote from the NKJV Bible.

“Jesus gives us The Lord’s Prayer as a basic prayer that will open up our prayer life.”

Many of us struggle with how, what, and when to pray. Jesus gives us The Lord’s Prayer as a basic prayer that will open up our prayer life. In the marketplace, where many are pressed for time, this prayer is easily memorized and can be said many times throughout the day. The prayer is easily adaptable to our personal circumstances. My friend learned how to say the prayer with creativity and tailor it to his day. God does not want us to just say the prayer from memory, God wants this prayer to be part of our personal relationship with him. It is okay to use the prayer as a template and expand it to fit into our own connection with God. Following the parameters of the Lord’s Prayer and remembering to say “In Jesus name I pray” at the end of every prayer were the only two things my friend needed in his prayer life.

Blessings, until next time,
Bruce L. Hartman

 

PARTING THOUGHTS

Do we pray by rote or from our hearts?

Are we remembering to praise God?

Are we willing to accept God’s answer?

 

“So I say to you, Ask, and it will be given you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you.”

– Luke 11:9

 

ASKING WITH FAITH

I remember sitting at my desk waiting for an answer. A few hours earlier, our chief accounting officer had told us that we were just hundreds of thousands of dollars from breaking our debt agreements. In effect, our $8 billion company was on the precipice of financial disaster. Six months earlier, I had been made the CFO of Foot Locker, inheriting responsibility for a company that was deeply in debt. Earlier in the day, I had called all our staff in for a meeting and asked if they could stay late that day, until we found a way to keep our company afloat. Not finding the means to do so would put the company into a cataclysmic spiral that would cost thousands their jobs and potentially result in a bankruptcy. We agreed that no one would go home until we came up with a solution.

It took hours, but finally, at 8:30 p.m. that night, our assistant treasurer and the chief accounting officer walked into my office, looking visibly relieved.

“We don’t know what you were so worried about,” they joked weakly. “We found some money in a long-forgotten utility deposit account.”

It was just enough to buy us another ninety days. But that was enough time to avoid the crisis, and we managed to use it to turn the company around. Two years later, we were praised in a Forbes magazine article for managing to make such a tremendous save.

JESUS AND ASKING

Jesus says all we have to do is ask. But there is more to it than just asking. We need to consider, Is what we are asking for the right thing? Are we willing to be patient and wait for God? Are we willing to put in the effort to search for the solution with Jesus? Jesus wants our participation. Once we ask, Jesus wants us to participate in searching for the answer, to take an active role in finding what we seek.

Often, we pray and ask for an answer. Many times, the answer doesn’t arrive on the timeline we’d like it to. Many times, the answer is different—but also better—than what we’d originally hoped for. Each time we ask for God’s help, we must be willing to work toward finding a solution by working with Jesus. This is God’s way. I remember sitting at my desk alone that evening at Foot Locker, calmly considering every possible solution. For hours, I could find no viable option. Then, seemingly out of nowhere, a solution materialized.

“Each time we ask for God’s help, we must be willing to work toward finding a solution by working with Jesus.”

At times, the answer to our prayers comes through people or circumstances, but it can also come simply from a Bible verse. So, after we ask, we need to become aware of our surroundings. We need to search alongside Jesus for the answers we seek. But we also must be patient. Once we ask for God’s help, we must be willing to wait for the answer on God’s time. If our hearts are pure and we take an active role in seeking what we want or need of God, we will receive what we’ve asked for.

Blessings, until next time,
Bruce L. Hartman

 

PARTING THOUGHTS

Can we be patient in prayer?

Do we worry or stay calm after prayer?

How has God responded in the past?

 

 

“Pray then in this way: Our father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your Kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And do not lead us into temptation, But deliver us from the evil one.”

– Matthew 6:9-13

 

PRAYER

While I was discussing prayer with a business friend of mine, he related to me his morning practice. Each morning on his bike ride he would recite the Lord’s Prayer. Previously he had struggled with how to pray and what to pray for. He discovered the Lord’s Prayer and noted that this was Jesus’s example of prayer. So he incorporated this prayer into his bike ride and later would also say it in other quiet times of the day. Over time he felt that he was just reciting the lines and not being sincere. He began to change the words to reflect his understanding of the prayer. For instance, instead of saying “Our father in heaven,” he would replace it with “God our creator” or something similar. Or instead of saying “Give us this day our daily bread,” he would say “Feed me your words of wisdom.” This kept the prayer fresh for my friend and helped him explore his relationship with God.

The Lord’s Prayer appears two times in the Bible, first in Matthew 6:9–13 and a shorter form in Luke 11:2–4. The version in Matthew is part of the Sermon on the Mount. In Luke, Jesus uses the prayer to explain to his disciples how to pray. In both cases it contains the elements that are important in a prayer of petition. First, praising and recognizing God. Then petition. There are three petitions in the Lord’s Prayer. The first is for the substance to live a godly life, “Give us this day our daily bread.” This can mean food, spiritual guidance, or personal strength. The second is asking God to “forgive our debts,” or sins and that’s followed quickly by our taking responsibility for forgiving our neighbor’s debts or sins. The third petition is for protection. Protection from evil but also from the temptations of evil. Over time the prayer has morphed into longer forms that place further emphasis on the sovereign nature of God. For instance, many endings add something along the lines of “For yours is the kingdom, the power and the glory forever more.” The verse quoted at the top of the blog is a direct quote from the NKJV Bible.

“Jesus gives us The Lord’s Prayer as a basic prayer that will open up our prayer life.”

Many of us struggle with how, what, and when to pray. Jesus gives us The Lord’s Prayer as a basic prayer that will open up our prayer life. In the marketplace, where many are pressed for time, this prayer is easily memorized and can be said many times throughout the day. The prayer is easily adaptable to our personal circumstances. My friend learned how to say the prayer with creativity and tailor it to his day. God does not want us to just say the prayer from memory, God wants this prayer to be part of our personal relationship with him. It is okay to use the prayer as a template and expand it to fit into our own connection with God. Following the parameters of the Lord’s Prayer and remembering to say “In Jesus name I pray” at the end of every prayer were the only two things my friend needed in his prayer life.

Blessings, until next time,
Bruce L. Hartman

 

PARTING THOUGHTS

Do we pray by rote or from our hearts?

Are we remembering to praise God?

Are we willing to accept God’s answer?

marriage

 

“Be subject to one another out of reverence for Christ”

— Ephesians [5:21]

A DAUGHTER’S COMMENT ABOUT MARRIAGE

While on Christmas vacation, in Portland, Oregon, I had just gone out to get my wife her morning wake-up material. It consisted of a large decaf Americano with cold soy, a whole grain bagel with no butter, and the New York Times crossword puzzle. My daughter, who was lying in bed with my wife, said, “Wow. I want this for my marriage.” And there it was, a statement that I had shown my daughter what marriage looked like. A marriage in which I cared about my wife and her needs. I don’t judge my wife that she needs these tools to arise. They are just her. It makes me happy that I can make her happy and help her day. 

“Over time we build a history of repeated positive actions that create a marriage.”

Now, what my daughter doesn’t know is that our marriage is hard work. Being a good husband doesn’t just happen after we say our vows. It is a constant repeating of failure and then success. It is a constant searching for how to be a better husband. Some arrive quicker than others. And some, like myself, take a while to get the point. In marriage we venture around the rooms of a committed relationship. In these rooms we discover revelations, which we then take and try out. Some work and some don’t. Over time we build a history of repeated positive actions that create a marriage. We slip and fall. Through the graciousness of our partner, we get another chance. This process repeats itself every day. We try every day to be a better spouse. 

“In marriage we are subject to one another, because we are in reverence to Christ.”

Paul provides the attitude to help us continue this journey. He says, “Be subject to one another out of reverence for Christ.” Our actions, when supported by reverence to Jesus, present to our spouse a commitment of behavior as if we were talking with Christ. But also, we act the way we do because we are reverent to Christ. We get the decaf Americano with cold soy because we’d do it if Christ asked. We are gentle, because it is the way we would treat Christ. We spread our coats over puddles, because we would do this for Christ. In marriage we are subject to one another, because we are in reverence to Christ. 

“As Paul recommends, we remain subject to each other and Christ.”

My marriage is easy, because my wife is gracious. My wife leads with love. My wife helps others first. My wife has a deep faith. My wife makes it easy to get her a decaf Americano with cold soy. We bicker. We test each other’s will. We fight for control. We complain about each other’s frailties. But we go to bed each night with a moment of affection.  As Paul recommends, we remain subject to each other and Christ. We wake up each day ready to renew our marriage. I am glad my daughter wants our kind of marriage. 

Blessings, until next time,
Bruce L. Hartman

 

PARTING THOUGHTS

What does reverence to Christ look like in our marriage?

Do we treat our spouse in a way that honors Christ?

 

faithful prayer

 

“Whatever you ask for in prayer with faith, you will receive.”

— Matthew [21:22]

FAITHFUL PRAYER

On an early spring morning, while taking a long walk, I felt I had lost the ability to pray. In that moment, all that I wanted seemed gone. A long ago desire to be a faithful Christian seemed lost forever. The fire I had started as a youth had burned down to a tiny ember. It appeared to be burning out. I began to pray that I could learn to pray. It was at that moment my greatest desire. I needed to rekindle my connection to God. To return to a connected life of thankfulness and humility. No other desire in that moment stirred within me. Later that day and for many days to come, the ember began to burst into flames. After I had thought it was burned out. 

“Fundamental to prayer is a sense of need that we ourselves cannot meet, and faith that God is both able and willing to meet that need.”

Charles L Allen, a mid-twentieth-century author and pastor, describes prayer as follows: “Fundamental to prayer is a sense of need that we ourselves cannot meet, and faith that God is both able and willing to meet that need.” When we search for something to meet our need, we search in many places. We search at work, in our relationships, and in our readings. The further we search, the more we seem to just miss. But some search directly to God. They are patient and faithful. Charles Allen was the pastor of a Methodist church in Atlanta during the 1950’s. Each Sunday night he would hold a service on prayer. Each Sunday, over a thousand would show up to pray. Each person strung together Sunday by Sunday a life sculpted by prayer. A faithful request to be connected and renewed. 

“Faithful prayer is the recognition that God is the source of our strength and the provider of the answers to life.”

Jesus tells us to pray. But he also tells us to pray with faith. A faith that our prayer will be answered. A faith that we will watch the events of our lives respond to our requests. A faith that isn’t based on selfish desire, but based on an authentic desire to be redeemed. A faith that our thankfulness is pointed to God. With this faith we will receive. The desire to receive being based not on ego, but on a spirit-led connectedness.

There are many times Jesus prays in the Gospels. In the Garden, while in the desert, and early in the morning. In his prayers, he is in dialogue with God, a searching for answers and an examination of the heart. In the Lord’s Prayer, he lays out the fundamentals of prayer: praise and petition. We express our recognition of God’s value and place a request. A request that through our faith we will receive an answer. When we engage in silent prayer, this request becomes molded by our dialogue with God. Our prayer request shape changes as the spirit helps formulate our requests. At times the prayer becomes something different than our original intent, an internal mediation with the spirit.

It is with faithful prayer that we let go of our human desire to shape our lives and through faithful prayer we let God help shape our lives.

 

Blessings, until next time,
Bruce L. Hartman

 

PARTING THOUGHTS

Why pray?

What dialogue do we have with the spirit when we pray?

Why is faith important?

 

 

“So I say to you, Ask, and it will be given you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you.”

– Luke 11:9

 

ASKING WITH FAITH

I remember sitting at my desk waiting for an answer. A few hours earlier, our chief accounting officer had told us that we were just hundreds of thousands of dollars from breaking our debt agreements. In effect, our $8 billion company was on the precipice of financial disaster. Six months earlier, I had been made the CFO of Foot Locker, inheriting responsibility for a company that was deeply in debt. Earlier in the day, I had called all our staff in for a meeting and asked if they could stay late that day, until we found a way to keep our company afloat. Not finding the means to do so would put the company into a cataclysmic spiral that would cost thousands their jobs and potentially result in a bankruptcy. We agreed that no one would go home until we came up with a solution.

It took hours, but finally, at 8:30 p.m. that night, our assistant treasurer and the chief accounting officer walked into my office, looking visibly relieved.

“We don’t know what you were so worried about,” they joked weakly. “We found some money in a long-forgotten utility deposit account.”

It was just enough to buy us another ninety days. But that was enough time to avoid the crisis, and we managed to use it to turn the company around. Two years later, we were praised in a Forbes magazine article for managing to make such a tremendous save.

JESUS AND ASKING

Jesus says all we have to do is ask. But there is more to it than just asking. We need to consider, Is what we are asking for the right thing? Are we willing to be patient and wait for God? Are we willing to put in the effort to search for the solution with Jesus? Jesus wants our participation. Once we ask, Jesus wants us to participate in searching for the answer, to take an active role in finding what we seek.

Often, we pray and ask for an answer. Many times, the answer doesn’t arrive on the timeline we’d like it to. Many times, the answer is different—but also better—than what we’d originally hoped for. Each time we ask for God’s help, we must be willing to work toward finding a solution by working with Jesus. This is God’s way. I remember sitting at my desk alone that evening at Foot Locker, calmly considering every possible solution. For hours, I could find no viable option. Then, seemingly out of nowhere, a solution materialized.

“Each time we ask for God’s help, we must be willing to work toward finding a solution by working with Jesus.”

At times, the answer to our prayers comes through people or circumstances, but it can also come simply from a Bible verse. So, after we ask, we need to become aware of our surroundings. We need to search alongside Jesus for the answers we seek. But we also must be patient. Once we ask for God’s help, we must be willing to wait for the answer on God’s time. If our hearts are pure and we take an active role in seeking what we want or need of God, we will receive what we’ve asked for.

Blessings, until next time,
Bruce L. Hartman

 

PARTING THOUGHTS

Can we be patient in prayer?

Do we worry or stay calm after prayer?

How has God responded in the past?