Saturday, February 26, 2011


One of my classes here at seminary is called Spiritual Formations. I am in my second semester of this class. Last semester in Spiritual Formations 1 we focused on personal spiritual disciplines and this semester in Spiritual Formations 2 we focus on spiritual disciplines for corporate worship. We have certain videos we have to watch throughout the semester. I just watched the last one on Corporate Ministry of Prayer. I realized that as I was watching this video I was feeling convicted about several things and the only thing I know to do is to write about it so that I hopefully will never loose its lesson.

I have grown up in church my whole life and I will not even attempt to count the number of songs that I have heard that focused on prayer. I will even admit to having sung one particular song in my church that was about prayer. Do we have a good grasp on what prayer really is? It is an opportunity very simply to have a conversation with our Maker. Praise God we have this freedom! But how respectful are we of this spiritual discipline in our personal lives and in our corporate ministry lives?

Have we become liturgical in our prayer ministry? Do we repeat what we have heard others say because we don’t know ourselves what or how to pray? God wants to hear our hearts; He yearns to hear it. Having grown up in the church, I have had many musical opportunities to sing in the children’s, youth and then adult choirs, to play hand chimes and then handbell’s, took voice lessons and sung on praise teams. I cannot begin to tell you how much practice and patience went into preparing for each performance. Why is it that we will practice for music, preparing to teach, practice our favorite sports or prepare for the big game but will we not earnestly prepare for prayer? Dr. Richard Ross, the professor in the video, made a statement that shocked me to the core. He said that “we Baptist tend to look down on our Catholic friends for their liturgy like services, but isn’t that almost what prayer has become in our services”. It breaks my heart to know that my prayer life has become like that and it breaks my heart that many of our churches do feel this way.

I have already begun feeling like our churches are too full of people who are there for a show and not as an active participant. People who could very well be answering God’s call on their life but are too scared because they simply do not understand the power of prayer. Trust me when I say, I understand that fear. I almost succumbed to it and never came to seminary in the first place. After a hugely tragic even in my life, I fought tooth and nail to stay where I felt safe only to loss that fight(PTL) after 13 months of fight Him. By the way, sooner or later (hopefully sooner), hopefully He wins. The closeness and growth you experience is like none other you have experienced. Here is the overall thought that I have been convicted in my heart about. God can answer our prayers exactly the way we want Him too but what about the way He wants to answer prayers. Maybe He wants us to learn to trust Him, turn to Him, to seek Him and to experience what it is like to be completely and totally reliant upon Him and to be okay with that. I believer we Americans have a heard time with this than any other Christian from any other country. Its right there in our makeup to want the nice home, the nice car, the perfect family and so on and so on. I know because those are things that I want too. God at any time could give me exactly what I want and then what. Would I have or would we be as close to Him if He did? Would we, after having received everything we “pray” for, still turn to Him for everything else? I dare say no, we would not. Dr. Ross when teaching this very point used an example that probably for all of us hits very close to home. He said, “well, you may be wanting to pray that a loved one gets healed of the cancer that has consumed his/her body, BUT if he/she has grown closer to Him because of this experience, what could be the worst thing to happen to them? The answer- for them to get better.” Yes, I know that means we could lose that loved one and that will grieve us. God knows and understand grief. After all, did He not send His son to die a cruel death on the cross? Did He not have to forsake His own Son when our sin was placed upon Him? Did God the Father not grieve then?

I believe we need a revival in our churches. We need to as the song says “Get back to the Heart of Worship” and then just maybe we will see the lost come flocking to Him like never before, and maybe prayer would not be some empty thing we do every now and then and something we do not take seriously on Sunday, maybe then the church would have to figure out ways to make room for the overflowing amounts of people, maybe then some that are sitting there saying I am scared of how to go and do what He wants me to do will say “I will follow You, if You will go before me and show me the way”. Now, let me say here, this is no easy task. In fact, it is quite difficult but it is well worth it.

Finally, let me close with this. If I have tagged you in this note, please know it is because I value your prayers and know that you will join me in lifting up this prayer for me. Please pray that I may be so changed by this realization that I never return to the person I was before. May I always be praying for His will and that all I do may glorify Him. Yes, there are many things I could ask you to pray for as prayer requests because I do have many, but I ask that if the Holy Spirit impresses anything upon your heart to pray over concerning me that that is what you pray about for me. May I always be following after Him in faith and trusting that He will provide, protect, guide and so on for me always. May I quit saying God bless me (because He definitely has) and may I pray God help me in some small way bless You! Thank you dear friends! I love each of you dearly and will be praying for you as the Holy Spirit prompts me.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

February Update

Hello family and friends!

I cannot even begin to tell how much has changed and how wonderful it is here. To try and tell of everything that has happened in just the six short weeks I have been here would take entirely too long. It many ways it feels like I have been here longer and in other ways it feels like I just got here, but one thing is certain, I am not the same person I was when I arrived here. There have been many moments of self-doubt and there are been many assurances of why I am here.

One of those assurances has been just how much I have learned in the little amount of time I have already spent in class and in my studying. One thing that has been very difficult for me over the past ten to twelve years of my life is to open up and trust people. I was so hurt in my past by “friends” and people in my life that I got to the point that I never fully trusted anyone. I have met some wonderful people here and wish I could tell you more than just one story but for the sake of the length of this email I will refrain to just one story. I met Erin at an event for all women on campus to just come and meet each other. Knowing that it was the Hoerner homemaking house for the Women’s ministry I had considered not going, but the day of the event just decided that it would be a good idea to go and at least meet other women here at the seminary. Erin and I had already met at chapel earlier that day but didn’t get to talk. We opened up to each other and it was like looking in a mirror. Our stories were so similar and it was so encouraging to know that someone understood the pain I felt and could talk with me because she had felt it too. Erin by the way is also a strawberry blonde so it really was like looking in a mirror. We have become friends and sit together in Chapel and have lunch together everyday after Chapel. What did I learn from this and do I continue to learn – to trust other people.

In class, I have learned so much about my faith and my heritage and a hunger to know more has been ignited. It is still a lot of hard work, a lot of reading and writing but I must say that I am enjoying learning all these new things. I have learned that what I am experiencing is culture shock and as fate would have it I am in a Missionary Anthropology class this semester learning about this very subject. Now granted, I am not experiencing the same level of culture shock that our missionary’s feel when they leave their country of origin and go to their new one but I am feeling shock nonetheless and now that I understand is I really don’t mind experiencing it.

One last thing I would like to share and I will be done for this update. One of my classes, Spiritual Formation 2 requires students to attend Chapel. The level of worship and sermons everyday just amazes me. If you have the time and wanted to out of your curiosity to check out some of our sermons, go to Make sure to go to the Spring 2011 archive and pick out one or two. I can tell you that a great one to listen to would be the one from January 20th. It is Dr. Hayken, from Southern Seminary in Louisville, KY and he gives a history and great sermon about our Baptist beginnings. It was WONDERFUL!! The experience I want to tell you about happened just this week on Tuesday, February 8th. The worship experience just beautiful and one of those moments when I felt my soul lift up and just sing His praise. We were singing the song Amazing Grace, My Chains are Gone. Tears welled up and spilled over on my checks and my hands raised high because I could feel that Amazing Grace. And then as the song went on the last verse says, The earth shall soon dissolve like snow, the sun forbear to shine, but God who called me here below will be forever mine. We just had some beautiful snow here last week in Texas and are expecting to receive some more. I watched the snow fall and remember how peaceful and beautiful it was and also watched later as it melted away and also how peaceful that was in its own way. Then we sang this song today and this verse had a new meaning for me. To think that this earth that we temporarily call home will one day melt away like that is strange but the comforting part of the song for me is the last line and starts with a word I have come to love – But God who called me here below will be forever mine. Praise God! My chains are gone, I’ve been set free. My God, my Savior has ransomed me and like a flood His mercy rains, unending love, amazing grace. The speaker/preacher today left us with this thought and so I leave it with you as well. Do not be afraid to fail, be afraid to succeed at something that does not matter in eternity.

My dear friends and family I again close with prayer requests. Please continue to pray for me as I go through school. I can tell you with certainty that Satan is unhappy with me being here and is doing a lot to get me to quit and go home. I will not give him a victory. My Lord is victorious and through Him so I will be also. Pray for me to find a job and to find scholarships. Pray that God will continue to reveal to me His reasons for having me here. Please, if you have any prayer request that I may pray for, send them to me. Also, if you have time, drop me a line sometime. I would love to hear from you and see how things are going and where life has you going.


Stephanie Easterly