Tag Archives: Faith

I Want Child-Like Faith…

It was such a dreary morning as I got into my car and began my journey. The windshield was getting spattered with intermittent light rain so that I had to keep my wipers going, but not consistently. Traveling on days like this are not my favorite especially with the fog making for limited visibility! Lord knows what could jump out in front of me since it would be an hour or so before daybreak!

Where was I going? It all seems so fresh and new but I have to admit that I am really feeling hesitant about the next part of this journey. It is those stinkin’ uncertainties. After all, I like to know what I’m getting myself into. Guess I’m sort of a black and white kind of person these days. And it is really kind of scary to imagine the what ifs that I could run into. What if this venture doesn’t pan out? What if I am making a ‘big’ mistake in making this move? What will he say if I fail at my attempt to make things better? Will he understand or be angry with me?

Oh, I dislike those thoughts that are rolling around in my head. Okay, I just remember that when I get like this I need to go back to some of my favorites…

He will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on Him, because he trusts in You.” Isaiah 26:3 (NKJ)

There it is, perfect peace…why? It’s those last four words, “he trusts in You.” That takes Faith! Oh man, this faith thing certainly is a challenge!

And then there are these two verses I have claimed as my ‘mantra’ for a long time now…

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made know to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6,7 (ESV)

Again, peace of God that will guard my heart and mind in Christ Jesus! Oh yes, I have had loads of opportunity to put those verses to the test and you know, God has never failed me on His word! Stop and ponder this...how could He renege on His own word? It just doesn't happen or He isn't the God he says he is! Click To Tweet

So, why does this new adventure seem so scary? I need to take some time and remember the many times that God has seen me through. Because He has upheld me in the most difficult of circumstances!

If I can’t trust God by now then seriously, what’s the point of continuing? I have made up my mind that I want to finish my journey here on this globe strong. I want to be the woman that God has designed me to be. I want all He has for me as I finish and Lord, let me finish strong! My word this year is “Faith”, but I added the adjective Big to my word because that was the kind of faith I want to learn this year. Faith that moves mountains, faith that believes in big changes, faith that knows the prodigals will return home and faith that believes that the lost will be saved!

So, here goes! I am preparing for the next leg of the journey, and it just might include (shhh…) retirement. But I don’t want it to look like what I see some slip into. That’s why it will be one baby step after another. And you know, I am actually excited to begin the trek.

How does it go? How do you prepare? How do you plan? Well, I am adding this verse to my repertoire…

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Hebrews 11:1

I know it well, I have used it times before and I now have three Hebrews 11:1 graphics for my blog posts!!! But with this faith thing, this BIG faith thing, something tells me I am going to need to remind myself over and over as I begin to live it out purposefully!

You may not think that you have a faith issue, and if you don’t I want to know how you do it! But for those of us who have lost our ‘child-like’ faith somewhere along the road, let me challenge you to examine how you respond to those rough bumps we encounter. You may be like I am thinking I can’t do this thing unless I have all my ‘ducks in a row’!

So what are your faith inhibitors?

  • Fear?
  • Uncertainty?
  • Control issues?
  • Gotta have your ‘ducks in a row’?

These will certainly rob you of unadulterated FAITH, the big faith I’m talking about. The faith I want and honestly struggle to maintain!

So maybe you would like to at least join me from the standpoint of growing in your faith? If you do then you might not have such a ‘faith deficit’ when you get to that place where I am hoping to be someday!

Step one has to be memorizing those three verses if you haven’t already…let’s do it so it can do the work inside of us that only God can do when we implant His word in our heart! And then just like I did on my North Dakota trip, put His word to the test! I have wondered if God doesn't delight in showing us a glimpse of His character during our rough times? Click To Tweet

We will check back on the progress here…I promise. This is a journey that is not too soon to end

Happy Valentine’s Day!

February is most of all highlighted by Valentine’s Day, and designated to express and receive love! How delightful. Let me share this writing with you by Stephen Crotts…

Love ~

To be young, wealthy and in love–all in the third century. And to be a Christian. 

Such was young Valentine. He would consummate his great love by taking her as his bride. Soon he would be wed. But his world came crashing down around him when the Roman emperor declared all Christians illegal citizens and guilty of treason. All they had to do was to say, “Caesar is Lord!” Rather than deny Christ, young Valentine was arrested. 

In jail, awaiting his execution, he wrote love letters to his girlfriend…beautiful, passionate letters assuring her of his great love for her. But theirs would be a love not lived out. On February 14, 269, Valentine was put to death, martyred for Jesus Christ. 

Since then, Christians have celebrated his fidelity to Christ and romantic love on the 14th of February by sending our own love letters to special people. And we do so this year, let us resolve to live for Christ unashamedly.  ~ Stephen Crotts 

So my friend, how will you spend your Valentine’s day? Maybe a romantic dinner with card and flowers from or to your beloved? It seems odd that we need a day in the year to remind us to show and exhibit love. Click To Tweet A day that indicates we should express our faithfulness and love to our beloved!  Yet, how about most of all to our Christ. His words to us penned by the apostle Paul in Corinthians need to be seared upon our hearts:

“Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing.

“Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

“Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away. When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things. For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known. And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” ~1 Corinthians 13 

No small wonder it is called the Love Chapter. The above words are the key to any and every relational issue known to man. For if we do as it says we should, we become humbly involved in laying aside our agenda and we pick up the care the concern for others and administer love, unselfish love. 

I know my tendencies and I know how hard it is to look beyond me and see others in the light of God’s love, forgive me Lord. As Your creation, it should be a natural to do likewise–as You do unto us–to those around us. Why do I always get in the way? 

Father, when I am struggling with my spouse, my friends and even the poky driver ahead of me who thinks I should live my life at his speed, help me to think LOVE. Forgive all the “buts…” that I throw out as excuses to justify my unloving attitude. Lord, if I could always have on my mind the love You showed Your unworthy child, I just might remember. And how do I really show Your love to that unlovable person(s) we all seem to have in our lives? Whatever it takes Lord, I need Your grace and mercy so that I would remain that humble servant who desires to walk in love and then purposes to do it! I am so weary of asking and then I watch myself turn around and reneging on my intention. Give me authenticity that will reveal who You are through me. I love you Abba and my desire is to live for You. In Jesus Name, Amen!

Oh Momma, are You at Peace Today?

John16.33Is your contentment contingent on another’s happiness? Whether it is our children, our spouse, our our boss, too often unless they are happy then we will want to or tend to do cartwheels to make them happy. When they aren’t then we may have trouble settling in and being at peace.

Too often our thoughts and the things that we do are perpetuated by what another thinks or by how they may respond. I think we call that walking on eggshells! Boy that can make us one miserable and sometimes neurotic person!

I want to encourage you to look inside and ask yourself just what it is that gives you peace and contentment. If you find it is in pleasing others then “Houston, we have a problem!”

So where do I go and what do I do to find true happiness?

First of all let me ask what is it that causes you to feel content?

Where do you derive that sense of peace that makes you feel ‘real’ joy?

I know that for myself, it didn’t come until I was willing to let go or cut off every string of a someone else “if only they…” that drained life and peace from me. I did so someone else would be happy or see value in me. I controlled so that someone else would not get upset. And on and on the vicious cycle would go. Family, loved ones and our friends can be wonderful, because relationships are extremely important! Part of who the human race is and why we exist is to be relational, by God’s design. And of course ultimately pointing to Him. But when we can’t find contentment apart from others then we really do need to purpose to know why not.

When I came to Christ as a troubled young mom who was extremely co-dependent, I was not a very happy or peace filled person. My joy was too contingent on others. For thirteen years I struggled to be content. I was never truly happy and my world basically fell apart, not to mention that my marriage came pretty close to a disastrous end as well.

Line Break

I remember a time when my husband and I had words that weren’t good or healthy. I was so upset and of course the first thing I wanted to do was run to the phone to talk to an older wiser woman of God. I am not kidding you when I say that when I went to pick up the phone the Holy Spirit whispered to me, “Put down the phone and call upon me.” Wow, I did, and I prayed and talked to the Lord and felt more at peace than I had for some time.

You see our tendency is to run to others to solve our problems or to gather our troops. To prove our case is right and that our ‘enemy’ is wrong. Way to solve a problem…not!

It wasn’t until I continued to run to my Abba Father and cry on His shoulders that I could finally find contentment and peace in the midst of my storms. Hey, I had to learn the hard way and it really was a slow process for this hard-hearted woman.  I could no longer keep looking at people to make me happy, to solve my problems so I could have peace. I realized that it needed to come from within, from listening to the Holy Spirit to guide and show me my shortcomings and sin which when confessed lightens the heart!

You may have guessed that this verse in John 16:33 is one I lean hard into…

“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

How does knowing this help my situation? I have said many times that I purposed long ago when I came to Christ to although not understanding much of what I read in the Bible, I would choose to believe even what I couldn’t understand. That the Lord would reveal to me what he wanted me to know when I needed to know it.

I have peace knowing that God is sovereign, omniscient and that in spite of His greatness, He cares greatly about me and those things that I am concerned about! My fears and failures. Click To Tweet

In trusting a God like that, I can have peace that passes ALL understanding, even when my world is crumbling apart.

Line Break

Oh momma…I want to encourage you to not doubt the God who loves you. Did you know it is a sin not to believe? This isn’t some wishy washy, comme ce, comme ca, kind of God who is in and out, here or there, maybe I can trust Him maybe not. If we don’t believe in what He says then why are we pretending to “Believe” in Christ?

Will you ponder these first three verses of Psalm 46

God is our refuge and strength,
A very present help in trouble.

Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change
And though the mountains slip into the heart of the sea;

Though its waters roar and foam,
Though the mountains quake at its swelling pride.

Let your heart find rest not in people, for they can disappoint and let you down. Not in the doing all the right things, to be affirmed (you won’t make it anyway or you will make yourself sick trying!) How about simply allowing yourself to rest in Him. To be comforted by Him. To be surrounded and loved by Him?

The last four verses of Psalm 46 should give way to reassuring your troubled heart:

     Come, behold the works of the LORD,
Who has wrought desolations in the earth.

He makes wars to cease to the end of the earth;
He breaks the bow and cuts the spear in two;
He burns the chariots with fire.

“Cease striving and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”

The LORD of hosts is with us;
The God of Jacob is our stronghold.

“Cease striving and know that I am God”…another version says, “Be still and know that I am God…” Tonight when you lay your head on your pillow to sleep or hope too, remind yourself of your commitment to Him. Your commitment to trust Him in ALL things, to put your hope in Him so that He can fill you with faith, trust and confidence in Him.

Lord, when my heart is in panic mode and I don’t know where to turn I know I can turn to you! You are the only One who can show me true peace which allows me to truly rest in You. Thank You for loving me and caring for me like nobody else can. There is none like You Lord and I am grateful to be Your child…amen.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l6eDvl4Xbh8

GraceTruth-300x300

Oh, Those Emotional Meltdowns!

2 Corinth 10-5It was a day wrapped in disappointment!  I am most thankful that I don’t have many days like that. But not today…this was a dreary, gloomy (sensing winter’s approach) day of emotional let downs. Two of my friends recently lost their loved ones and my heart was heavy for them at their loss of mom and a sister.  Then to top it off, an opportunity came to bless some gals that went south and for whatever reasons it just could not happen. Well my emotions were already tender and I responded with an inward look instead of upward.  I began to play around in the pity pool for a time getting splashed with more and more disappointed as my ‘woe is me’ thinking–that untruth that swirls in the head–began to flooding into my mind.  Wow, I was really beginning to drown myself in self-proclaimed despair.  I am this and I am not that…!  Suddenly I didn’t think I had a friend in the world and I even began to doubt my abilities as one thought streamed right into the next. Only God knows where this cesspool of thinking could have taken me!

Then, I received a revelation!  Just maybe God was protecting me, doing exactly what Paul says in Romans 8:28

“And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”  

I began to look at various scenarios that could happen if things went as I desired for them to go. Instead, I decided to–by faith–believe that these disappointments were not intended to discourage me but to protect and prevent dire things from happening?  Then the Holy Spirit reminded me of that powerful word from 2 Corinthians 10:5 that ends with

“taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ…” 

This certainly changed my entire outlook!

Line BreakYou see, God has empowered us, He has given us tools to help when we get all wrapped up in our own “stinkin’ thinkin” (remember that term?)

Although sometimes difficult, our part is to acknowledge the enemy's lies and then counteract them with God's truth about who we really are! Click To Tweet

I really believe that we can all get in a funk like this at sometime or another in our ‘everyday’ living, but the key is admitting where we have landed. When our thinking is is incorrect according to God’s standard–what He says about His children–then I need to be willing to do something about it!  Start by applying 2 Corinthians 10:5

“We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God,” then finish by…“taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.”

Yes, it can take a concerted effort but it is always better than staying in the pit which spells out destructive thoughts. Oh how the enemy of our soul likes to rob our joy!

Father, thank You for Your Holy Spirit that teaches us in the way in which we should go. Continue to give me listening ears to hear His voice and then a willingness to respond correctly when I am headed in a direction that spells out CALAMITY.  My heart wants to please You and I ask for grace when I walk contrary to Your excellent way!

Can God Speak through a Fortune Cookie?

Fortune CookieMany years ago while in a spiritual growth spurt I remember being extremely frustrated that in my dreams it seemed as if I wasn’t a christian.  There is probably a doctor of something who has studied this kind of stuff and would be able to tell me why this happens…but that being said, I almost felt like only part of me was saved but not my subconscious.  It really began to bother me in the dreams I remembered.  (I typically don’t remember many of my dreams.)  If I belong to the Lord then I am His conscious and unconscious!  No split personality going on here!  So I began to pray and ask the Lord to please let me know that I am 100% his, through and through without wavering, asleep and awake!

It was but a few weeks from my intense request of the Lord when I had a dream that was incredibly vivid and even in color!  I think most of my dreams are black and white but the few real God-dreams I have had have been in technicolor–vivid and very intense.  I don’t remember who it was that I was with but that we were running and hiding out as if we were being pursued by someone.  I remember scenes of running up and down back outside staircases like on  apartment buildings and then suddenly I was with many others who were being ushered on a train.  I then realized that I had been taken captive.

Suddenly, soldiers were one-by-one taking people like me and executed us with machine guns.  It was soon to be my turn and I remember being grabbed roughly and as the gun was placed to my head and told I was next that I started to sing the chorus to “I Am Not Ashamed of the Gospel”. I am not ashamed of the gospel, the gospel of Jesus Christ, I am not afraid to be counted, but I’m willing to give my life…”

And suddenly I woke up, completely amazed at what had just taken place in my dream.  You might enjoy listening to this powerful song yourself at the end of this post.

So what about the fortune cookie you are thinking?  About two weeks after this vivid dream that I believe was an answer to my request of the Lord, I found a fortune cookie placed on my desk at work.  We had a youth radio station and it was manned by young adults and they were such a blast to work with and have around and I was pretty certain that one of them had put it there.  so I opened it up and read it and was in total amazement as to what it said (I have to print it out because it is too faded to read from the picture above)…

You begin to appreciate how important it is to share your personal beliefs.

Okay, you may say whatever you want but have you ever seen a fortune with a message like that?  Not me!  And that was a confirmation for me that God not only heard my prayer but he answered it in a very dramatic way!  For some reason I needed to experience what He allowed me to live out in my dream and then it was as if He was said to me that I was His through and through!  Whew, the content of my dreams began to change after that and I no longer doubted whose I was!  And that old, yellowed and faded fortune remains taped to my computer screen at work!

Enjoy and older Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir presentation with Damaris Carbough…

I Am Not Ashamed of the Gospel

A Tested Faith?

James 1-6How come? Why can’t it be easy? I know most of us know the quip that says “faith is like a muscle that has to be exercised to become strong.” Okay, that makes sense! However when my world is falling apart around me I feel as if my faith is really like being ‘weak in the knees’…a bit on the whimpy side.

James, that leader of the church in Jerusalem and former disbeliever in Jesus as the Son of God, who may have even been his brother, sure had a turn around and then wrote this straight-forward book in the New Testament, James! I only bring this up because his words of truth have a bit of a bite to them. For instance let’s look at chapter 1:5-8 ESV

 If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.”

Especially verse 6 which tells us that if we are going to ask we need to ask in faith and without doubting which you too may have found happens when you ask of God. That thread of doubt begins to weave itself in and out of your thoughts. So…how can I turn that around? I want to utilize what God has given me in the most difficult, and doubtful situations!

If my circumstance is a difficult husband (and I have had one!) How do I pray and believe that we can get through when butting heads? It seems so foolish to think just pray and watch God change him, however when I prayed, “God, I can’t change him but I know You can and in the mean time please work on my heart.” I will began to see things loosen up. We must be determined to see the situation with God’s eyes, He always wants what is best for us and if we don’t get in the way of what it is that He is doing, guaranteed, things will change.

I know, like me, you probably want it NOW! Hold on with all your might to the truth above so that when you pray, those subtle and unsubtle threads of doubt will be cut off. Then you can relinquishing them, continuing to pray it through, until you see things begin to change. And, don’t stop…continue to thank God for the ‘impossible’ as you believe for the impossible!

Lord, I am blessed, blessed that you have my best interest always in mind. Help me to get out of the way and teach me to patiently wait for Your answers to my impossibilities, in Jesus Name! 

GraceTruth-300x300

 

Happy to be visiting here where you can find loads of encouraging words at Grace & Truth!

God’s Divine Appointments!

I was involved in the Bible Study, “Battlefield of the Mind” by Joyce Meyer and we had an assignment to respond in obedience to the nudging of the Holy Spirit–in other words, to act upon the promptings we can get that may seem a little ‘out there’.  You may have had those promptings like I have and you may have received incredible blessings from being obedient to the call.  However, I have also sometimes ignored them and not responded to that nudging with the justification that “I can’t do that” or “What would that person think if I did that.”

http://www.dreamstime.com/stock-images-tattered-background-image9202084When I sing “Here I am to Worship…,” I know that to worship God is to revere, adore and acknowledge Him for who He is.  But there is also another part of worship that encompasses what we do with our life on the horizontal plane.  My mantra continues to be “Love God and love others” but I need help with all that entails.  I do not necessarily need to round up the troops to head over to India to be on the mission field.  That could be the call to some but I have a mission field right here in my own backyard.  Wherever I am and whatever I am doing provides an opportunity to make a difference in my “sphere of influence”.  However, I want to take this to another extreme only because every time I have let an opportunity go by without sharing the gospel when the door was planted and opened right in front of me, I knew that I blew it!  I felt such disappointment with myself and had to ask the Lord to forgive me for cowering away from such a prime moment.  I am reminded in the book of Esther when Uncle Mordecai admonished Esther that if she did not respond in obedience to the call placed upon her to confront the evil plot against the Jews God would raise up someone else to do the job! And, Esther herself might perish with the rest of the Jewish people that she had been called to rescue.  Strong words! Well, Esther did heed the warning, asking the people to fast and pray for her opportunity to go before the king.  It was her obedience that saved a nation!

On a recent return trip to Minnesota with my daughter, we did not have a direct flight and I was grateful that we could just be casual about the extra hours of waiting and flying without having to run to catch our last leg of the trip.  We finally boarded in Dallas and, since I fly a little bit more often than she, I gave her the opportunity to sit by the window before I sat down.  The isle seat remained open until the gentleman in the row ahead of us (after helping my daughter stow her carry on) was booted out of his seat because he mistakenly read his seat number when someone came to claim the seat he was in him in our row.  He was a quiet man who busied himself with reading the newspaper.  I waited until after he had read his paper, because there is nothing more annoying than being interrupted by someone asking you questions when you are reading!  Out of the corner of my eye I noticed a rather large ring on his hand which I soon discovered had Vikings imprinted on it.  Hmm…and, of course, I got my daughter to notice without too much fuss.

We began our conversation by my asking about cab service out of the Minneapolis airport.  I have never needed to take a cab before, but our Monday return had our friends working and unable to pick us up and take us to our car.  I will spare you the details of a two hour conversation, but I have continued to thank God for opening up a door to share a message of hope to a man who had some stuff going on in his life from serious physical issues, a pending divorce and some personal stuff he was trying to work through.  I was able to share Scripture with him because I could sense some uncertainty about his future.  Philippians 4:6,7 is certainly where I go camping when things look obscure, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything, by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; then the peace of God which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds through Christ Jesus.”  I also encouraged a relational walk with Jesus.  He seemed like so many of us who find ourselves at the end of our rope with no way of turning things around and wondering what the point is in going on!

I have since prayed for this man, his health and marriage and I can only thank God for the fulfillment of this Scripture in 1 Peter 3:15 “…but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect…” Peter makes it very clear to me!  Now, on to my next assignment. So simple; just take the step of obedience instead of wondering if you should because God has already paved the way!

Unashamed of You

A Simple Prayer of Faith

Facebook 0011God blesses us all the time. Sometimes in small ways and sometimes in great big ways! It seems that it is quite the same with our prayers. Although I do believe He always answers our prayers—it may just not always be the way I think that He should or in the time-frame I think that He should answer them. 

The Lord has taught me some big things about prayer as of late. Like why pray if you don’t expect Him to answer? I have done a lot of praying but honestly, I have not seen a lot of obvious answers. Now I am not saying that He is or has not answered, just that I do not always see the results and especially right away.

Recently I was reminded of a time several years ago when my daughter, Becky lost her wedding ring. She just had her first baby and they had gone swimming at David’s place of work. She took her wedding ring off her finger to shower in a public place and forgot put them back on before she left. She was devastated! When she finally told her husband, he even put notes on the bulletin board at work with hope that the person who took it would see the note and return the ring.

A few weeks went by and we were visiting when I noticed that her ring was not on her hand. She tearfully told me the story and as we sat on her bed we prayed together asking the Lord to return her ring and even allow the person wearing it to be very uncomfortable with it on their finger. I remember very distinctly that something rose up in me as I prayed for this situation feeling certain that she would get her ring back.

It was but a couple of weeks later that my daughter’s husband David, received a package at work with no return address label. He opened it to find the stolen wedding ring. We were amazed and so grateful, both realizing that God had answered our prayer as well as the prayers of others who were also praying for the ring’s return to its rightful owner. It had not so much been the value of the ring as it was the sentimental value considering the diamond had once belonged to her great grandmother. We were ever so thankful for this victory indeed!

It is interesting how James talks about the “prayer of faith” being enough to even heal the sick.

James 5:15 NKJ

“And the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven.”

James 5:13 NIV

“[The Prayer of Faith] Is any one of you in trouble? He should pray. Is anyone happy? Let him sing songs of praise.”

James 5:15 NLV

“And their prayer offered in faith will heal the sick, and the Lord will make them well. And anyone who has committed sins will be forgiven.”

The various versions show that it is possible for a few different things to happen here in regard to the “prayer of faith”:

The sick will be saved

The sick will be healed

Those in trouble should pray

I am not certain what we do with those prayers that appear to go unheard. But it does seem to me that when God does answer our prayers whether big or small, that it should certainly serve to increase our faith for the next time. (Kind of like filling for reserve.) For even when it doesn’t look as if something is happening, we have to believe that God has heard and is applying Romans 8:28 to our situation.

Line Break

Let me leave you with another amazing little story of my own. About four years ago I lost an earring. It was one in a pair of simple hand crafted opals set in sterling silver, that were a gift from my mother. (I should never wear French hook earrings with out stoppers on them and have since tried to remember to do so when wearing that type of earring.) These were a lovely little pair–probably not extremely valuable but they have sentimental value being handed down from my mother. I had no idea when or where I could have lost the earring and I looked high and low (literally) around work, my car, etc. all to no avail. I never dared to tell mom, as she would have been terribly disappointed. I did pray though and I asked the Lord if He would help me find them so as not to upset mom should she ever ask. And I always believed that they would show up.

A few years later, the earring was still missing and I even toyed with the idea of having the jeweler see if I could get a replacement. This could not be done without knowing the company who made them. Well that was out because I would have to ask my mother and then she would know the story. So I just let it rest.

Last fall I found myself vacuuming the floor of the radio station studio as my husband and I ripped out carpeting to prepare the floor for the new carpeting that was to be installed the next week. I was naturally amazed at the dirt that showed up after the carpet was ripped out. I was on my hands and knees with my husband’s big old shop vac, giving the final touches on the nooks and crannies way underneath the console. I bent down low to the floor to look under a computer that sticks out on a low shelf and to my utter amazement there was my opal earring! There is no logical reason for it to have survived the carpet rip-out, and the shop vac’s super suction to be found just sitting there on the floor, but for God!

Once again, God answered a small “prayer of faith” and it served once again to bolster and fill my faith reserve once again. A reminder to pray with the expectation of getting the right answer, at just the right time!

Matthew 17:20 NKJ

“So Jesus said to them, “Because of your unbelief; for assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you.”

Father, you absolutely amaze me when you answer our prayers. I know that there are many that we do not see and I am thankful that You are the one Who sees the big picture. I would ask that You continue to remind me that when I ask, I am to ask in faith, believing for Your perfect answers every time! I want to exercise the “prayer of faith” when I pray for one to be healed and or saved or simply to find a lost something of importance to whomever! In Jesus’ Name!

Running the Race

Who’s to know if Paul was an athlete (unlikely?) or a wanna be or had he been an observer to the Roman Olympics? When you read the descriptions of this man we don’t really find our mind wandering to pictures of a buff, athletic form of a man. On the contrary, we read stuff like that he was a tent maker (Acts 18:3). So he sat and sewed tents and people who sit a lot…well you get my drift. No real physical prep going on there. He was raised at the feet of the famous Jewish teacher, Gamaliel which meant hours of pouring over the Pentateuch, learning all of the Scriptures. Paul was particularly known for his knowledge and obedience of the Mosaic law. I see a picture of a man who did much reading and reciting. Now you can recite on the run but…highly improbable in his day with no ipods and such with the recorded Word drumming in his ear either. In 1 Corinthians 2:1,3 we see mentioned that Paul’s inadequacies include not being an excellent orator and being weakened in his flesh. So how interesting it is that he draws a spiritual parallel of the life of faith to one of a physical race.  

Let’s look at a few verses from 1 Corinthians 9

Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? :24

The exhortation is to run in such a way as you would as if you were in a competition. He has compared this journey to a marathon! Life can surely be a long one at that. Then he continues on to tell us that we have to exercise self-control throughout this marathon. 

Everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things. They then do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. :25

Wow, now he is really hitting home. Oh how I struggle with the speaking before thinking it through thing. Or the doing before praying thing. Yet I know that this is where the Lord completely shows me that I can save many steps by checking in with Him first! Okay, I am seeing the picture here. (How we need our coach!) Now on to the prize thing. We are not running this race to add a trophy or another trophy to our display case. No, this one is a forever, in full living color kind of a trophy that is too big for my little pea-sized brain to imagine. For an eternity with my Father is just too big to put to words, but this is it, this is the goal. And I just can’t afford to get sidetracked with the minuscule issues of life (that see overwhelmingly large at the time) that the enemy of my soul uses to pull me off course. You know, sidetracked by disappointments (in myself or others), relationship issues or every little stinky thing that comes along to persuade me to stop for just a while till I get this thing ironed out. (That one just cost me three miles!) 

Now Paul gets into the ring and he really puts purpose to each swing, jab and punch: 

I run is such a way as not without aim, I box in such a way as not beating the air; :26

So I can then ask myself, why am I doing this anyway? What is it all about that I should go through all the rigorous training, denying and pushing myself beyond my capabilities anyway? Have I really got the end in mind? This is a good time to reflect and make sure I fully comprehend what it is all about. And is it really all about me and my goals anyway? Or is there a bigger picture here than me getting to the finish line. I think we all would adamantly agree that it is! I was brought to the Scripture in 2 Peter 3:9 that tells us that God desires that no man would perish and that all would come to repentance. I know that I repeat this a lot but here we go again. We get saved and on our way but then it is about those out there who also need to know the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ before it is too late. The hurting out there need to know that there is a God who is big enough to heal their pain and wipe their tears and bring peace to their calamity. To bring salvation to their souls! 

So here we go with the last verse that is going to really drive it home as I wrap my brain around the fact that Paul was a spiritual athlete! 

but I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified. :27

True confession time. I have failed miserably at times when it comes to doing the right thing. Whether it’s denying my appetite or exercising, I am not a very disciplined person. I want to be but…being human and on this side of glory I will be prone to fail at making my goals. I am however a bit better than I was if that counts for anything. But this is the verse that really bites. “…so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified.” Ouch! In consideration of being a Christian life coach, you know, you attempt to tell others how to walk the walk and then you model the way…and my biggest fear is in failing to be the example. However, there is a viable solution to “down time”. We do not have to be caught in the devils snare dwelling on thoughts that tell us that we will never be good enough to serve the King because we keep messing up! 

Bob Carlisle sings a song called “We Fall Down” that really brings this struggle to light. I hope you will take the opportunity to listen and let me know how you receive what he sings. Friends, we are going to stumble and it may throw us off course for a time (hopefully not too long) but the thing is we must get back up and continue on pursuing the race set before us. My life verse really solidifies the entire message here.  

I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet, but one thing I do, forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead; I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:13,14

 And that’s it. I am not disqualified if I press on. When I see the winners of those marathon races as they hit the finish ribbons, they ain’t very pretty and they look like they are in mega pain to boot but they made it. I too will get weary and worn but…it is going to be well worth it at the end when I hear my Abba say “Well done!” 

Friend, whatever you do, don’t loose heart. Let’s keep pressing on, you see over there, up ahead, we are getting closer! 

Father, I see that it is all for You that I am even alive. Thank you for loving me and making a way for me to be reconcile to You through Your Son, Jesus. I just ask that You help me up when I stumble and my knees are pretty scuffed up from tripping but I will not give up. You have called me to dance for You and I am going to give You my best. Use me Lord as You see fit for I am excited to see that the fields are white unto harvest and that Your return is very soon. Let me be part of the the homecoming in Jesus’ Name!

Identifying Blocked Goals in Our Life

Strongholds, although this word can be seen as a save place or refuge, it is also the opposite where a certain mindset is used to hold us captive and when used as in the latter a stronghold just might be preventing us from living the abundant life.

Let’s begin by thinking about blocked goals. You know, the times when we set our sights on something like marrying our high school sweetheart but then he ran off with your best friend.  Or maybe like me you always wanted to be a teacher, even as a little girl, but things got in the way and when you finally decided to go to college your husband said no (not to college but to traveling over 200 miles each day to attend classes.) And maybe your child had such a caring heart for others and you really saw them becoming a missionary someday but they got into trouble along the way and have yet to find their way back into the church body. These are things that can really take the wind out of our sails and cause some deep-seated resentment toward God or others. The story of my prodigal has served to teach me many lessons that have been extremely painful and even drove me to temporarily delve into unbelief and hopelessness. 

My youngest son was difficult from the get-go. By kindergarten he was already having problems on the bus and with all authority figures. It is a long story but to bring you up to speed and when I suffered the biggest disappointment was over six years ago now. While sitting in jail and under my influence, he opted to see if the judge would let him go to Teen Challenge, in hopes of getting the help he needed to get his life straightened out. The judge court ordered him there and we were holding our breath thinking that this is it, this kid is finally going to turn things around. Teen Challenge is a twelve-month plus program that I really do believe in because they have proven very successful at helping anyone who is ready to help themselves recover from whatever it is that got them in the program! My son pulled himself out after seven and a half months and it was just like I was socked in the gut. I just knew this was the answer for my guy and that it would bring him back to the Lord and I was devastated. I wanted to throw my arms in the air and tell God that I give up, that’s it and that he is hopelessly lost. I really hope to never revisit this place again. 

Let me say that pitfalls like the blocked goal described above can turn into your times of preparation!  It can be a time of tilling the hardened soil around the heart. In a Bible study that I did many years ago called “Trials, Don’t Resent them as Intruders” the author, Juanita Purcell said this and it has stuck with me:

“Faith does not grow on a smooth road without obstacles.  However, we must view trials as steppingstones—not stumbling blocks.  Each trial we pass through should help us climb a little higher and draw us closer to Christ.”

We all have dreams that have been soured. And my prodigal’s situation is a perfect example of obvious disappointment. It is situations like this that the enemy uses us to render us hopeless! When we are in a hopeless mode it can lead to depression and depression is many times anger turned inward, a blocked goal. The plan didn’t develop the way that I thought it should have or would have if only…He had taken the road I knew would bring healing to his wounded spirit. What I found though, was that this was a lesson for me. You see God wanted me to know Who was in charge. And it wasn’t me! 

I am very grateful for an amazing little group of people who I pray with almost every week and we have met for going on eleven years. They are my prayer partners and accountability group and I thank God for them often. They played a big role in helping me to get back to believing that God would make a way where there seems to be no way.  For a good couple of months it was like I was numb. With their tough love and words of encouragement I soon found myself back on the journey of faith. It is certainly easy to see how I could have continued on the downward spiral of unbelief and become very bitter and angry. I could have missed out on walking in my kingdom purpose. 

Faith is where I need to rest when it comes to my goals being prohibited. 

Hebrews 11:1 (NKJ)

“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”

Do I trust God with the unknown?  Can I trust Him when circumstances take a different path than I anticipated?  Will I be able to admit that I am not in control and that there is Someone much greater and more trustworthy than I could ever be?  Who knows the beginning and the end and what is best? 

Father, I am so guilty of trying to step in and take charge but then so disappointed when my way didn’t quite turn out as I expected.  What I need to do is take a deep breath and then open the Word and look at the many times You were faithful to those whom You called Your own.  Faithful even when they didn’t deserve Your favor but Your judgement.  It is rock solid truth that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.  Right now I am choosing to trust in You.