Thursday, March 9, 2017

Who is Hearing My Prayers?

This morning I woke up early- for some unknown reason my body decided that I was done sleeping.  I am in the middle of a few days where I have purposed to set aside some things in order to focus on prayer for our nation.  (You can find out more about this national call to  prayer and fasting by clicking over to TheCall.)  So I said in my mind, "Ok God, if you want me to pray right now, I will pray."  I proceeded to pray silently, inside my mind as I lay there in bed. (I was tired, remember...)  It wasn't too long into my prayer time that I started to think about what I was doing- this silent praying.  I thought about Jesus, and how he prayed.  I know he prayed silently sometimes, but whenever he was confronting something, whether it be disease, demons, or death, he prayed out loud.  Paul, Peter, the rest of the apostles?  I can only think of examples where they prayed out loud.  I then thought about confrontation.  When we need to confront someone, how effective is it if we only confront them silently in our head?  It's not.  In order for effective confrontation to happen there has to be verbalization.

Much of our prayer life is spent in confrontation.  We may be confronting lack, fear, stress, hopelessness, sickness, relationship issues, despair, etc.  All of those requests on your prayer list, all of those things you are interceding for, it's confrontation.  We are confronting the devil and his plans and declaring God's truth and God's kingdom over the situation.  Yes, God hears your prayers when you pray silently, but its time for the devil to hear your prayers too!  Beyond this though, there is supernatural power attached to our words.  

God made mankind in his image, we are created in his likeness.  When God speaks, the world is created.  The spoken word has power.  As his image bearers we too carry power in the words we speak.  When Ezekiel was confronted with a valley of dry bones, this is what God said to him:

Then he told me to speak (prophesy) to the bones and say: “O dry bones, listen to the words of God, for the Lord God says, ‘See! I am going to make you live and breathe again! I will replace the flesh and muscles on you and cover you with skin. I will put breath into you, and you shall live and know I am the Lord.’”
So I spoke these words from God, just as he told me to; and suddenly there was a rattling noise from all across the valley, and the bones of each body came together and attached to each other as they used to be. Then, as I watched, the muscles and flesh formed over the bones, and skin covered them, but the bodies had no breath. Then he told me to call to the wind and say: “The Lord God says: Come from the four winds, O Spirit, and breathe upon these slain bodies, that they may live again.” 10 So I spoke to the winds as he commanded me, and the bodies began breathing; they lived and stood up—a very great army.  (Ezekiel 37:4-10, TLB)

In the same way Jesus spoke to the wind and the waves and told them to, "Be still!" (See my previous blog post for more about storms!) We are to speak to life's situations and command them to line up with the word of God.  What does God's word say about your situation?  Speak it over that situation and believe for God to do what his word says.  

There is also something supernaturally faith-building and encouraging that happens when we hear ourselves speak faith over a situation.  The fact is, how we speak about something affects how we think about it.  And how we think about it affects how we feel about it.  Your whole perspective can change when you align your words with God's.

If praying out loud is not already your habit, I want to encourage you to start praying out loud as much as possible
Proverbs 18:21 "The tongue has the power of life and death"
Psalms 71:8 "My mouth is filled with your praise, declaring your splendor all day long."
Matthew 21:21 "Jesus replied, “Truly I tell you, if you have faith and do not doubt, not only can you do what was done to the fig tree, but also you can say to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and it will be done.”

God Bless You,

Friday, February 17, 2017

Sometimes He Calls Us into the Storm

I was listening to this song today, and it made me think about the story where Jesus sent his disciples ahead of him, to cross a windy lake. 

Matthew 14:22-33 Living Bible (TLB)
22 Immediately after this, Jesus told his disciples to get into their boat and cross to the other side of the lake while he stayed to get the people started home.
23-24 Then afterwards he went up into the hills to pray. Night fell, and out on the lake the disciples were in trouble. For the wind had risen and they were fighting heavy seas.
25 About four o’clock in the morning Jesus came to them, walking on the water! 26 They screamed in terror, for they thought he was a ghost.
27 But Jesus immediately spoke to them, reassuring them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said.
28 Then Peter called to him: “Sir, if it is really you, tell me to come over to you, walking on the water.”
29 “All right,” the Lord said, “come along!”
So Peter went over the side of the boat and walked on the water toward Jesus. 30 But when he looked around at the high waves, he was terrified and began to sink. “Save me, Lord!” he shouted.
31 Instantly Jesus reached out his hand and rescued him. “O man of little faith,” Jesus said. “Why did you doubt me?” 32 And when they had climbed back into the boat, the wind stopped.
33 The others sat there, awestruck. “You really are the Son of God!” they exclaimed.

I was thinking to myself, Jesus may have known that a storm was going to come and he sent his disciples into it anyways.  There was another time the disciples were faced with a storm, with Jesus sleeping in the boat this time.

Mark 4:35-41 Living Bible (TLB)
35 As evening fell, Jesus said to his disciples, “Let’s cross to the other side of the lake.” 36 So they took him just as he was and started out, leaving the crowds behind (though other boats followed). 37 But soon a terrible storm arose. High waves began to break into the boat until it was nearly full of water and about to sink. 38 Jesus was asleep at the back of the boat with his head on a cushion. Frantically they wakened him, shouting, “Teacher, don’t you even care that we are all about to drown?”
39 Then he rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Quiet down!” And the wind fell, and there was a great calm!
40 And he asked them, “Why were you so fearful? Don’t you even yet have confidence in me?”
41 And they were filled with awe and said among themselves, “Who is this man, that even the winds and seas obey him?”

Sometimes God may call us into a storm.  Sending us into the storm does not make him unkind or uncaring.  We may not know all the reasons for why we are in the storm, but the ultimate reason would be for His glory to be shown.  If you feel like you are in a storm I wanted to encourage you: its OK.  God sees you.  He knows.  He knows it's hard and how you are struggling to keep your boat upright in the midst of the wind and the waves.  He knows you're bailing hard and it really does feel some times like this boat is going under and everything will be lost.  In spite of how you feel, it is possible to keep trusting in God.  It is possible to praise Him.  It is possible to believe for light in the midst of darkness.  Remind yourself of who God is, not how big your storm is.  Remind yourself of the love and care that he has for you. The best way to do this is spending time in His word and in worship and prayer. 

Sometimes we really do feel like those disciples, we're about to sink and we wonder, "God, don't you even care?"  And God's patient reply is once again (after all you've seen, after all you've learned), "Don't you even yet have confidence in me?"  What has God brought you through already?  Remember where you have been.  And remember where you are going. 

The lyrics to the song "Captain" can be seen in this video, please watch it:

Hold on friend.  Every storm will eventually pass.  It won't last forever.  Peace will come.

God Bless You,

P.S.  If you want to read more thoughts about being in a storm, you can read my previous blog posts here (Part 1) and here (Part 2). 

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Easy, Inexpensive Solution for Storing Christmas Tree Lights

This is outside of what I normally post about, but I came up with an idea that I think is very helpful!  A simple, cheap, effective way to store your Christmas tree lights- just what I needed!  Maybe I had seen this somewhere else previously, because Google tells me that I am not the only person to have this idea, but none the less, I want to share it with you.  Did you save your empty paper tubes from all the rolls of wrapping paper you used at Christmas time?  If you did, they are going to come in handy for you right now.

Trim your paper tube down to about 18 inches (you don't have to, but it makes it easier to handle).

One one end cut a slit, about 1 inch (mine's closer to 2 inches, but 1 inch is all you need).

Now you start taking the lights off the tree.  Begin by placing the plug end inside the tube through the slit.

Next, you just start wrapping the string of lights around the tube, doesn't matter how it's spaced out, but should be taught against the tube.  I'm starting at the bottom and wrapping up towards the top of the tube as I go along.

Once it reaches the top of the tube you just use your hand to push it down, so the strings are now all close together.

Repeat until you have gotten to the end of the string of lights.  The nice thing about this method is that if you are taking down the tree by yourself (like I was) and your tree is up against a wall, it is easy to just place the tube on a branch on the back of the tree and walk around to the other side and pick it up (passing yourself the baton, so to speak).

When you get to the end of the string of lights, put another slit in the top end of the tube (just like you did for the bottom of the tube) and tuck the plug in.
Voila!  I did this for three strings of lights from our tree.  This was very easy, very fast, and these lights are going to be neat and ready to put up on my tree when I take them out of storage next year!

Monday, January 18, 2016


On my recent airline flight home from Rwanda, I re-watched a not-so-new movie called Tuck Everlasting.  In this movie, the Tuck family finds a large tree in the forest.  At the base of this tree is a pool of water.  The whole family is thirsty and drinks fully of the water.  Slowly they discover this water held a secret: immortality.  They no longer age, and they are unable to die or be mortally wounded.

Recently I have felt as though the enemy of my soul has taken aim at my heart and shot me through.  He is a wise adversary.  He takes note of where it will hurt us most, and that's right where he hits.  He wants to take us out- completely.

However, I am reminded of a scene in the movie Tuck Everlasting, where the young men are shot, and should be dead.  They are knocked down, but because they are immortal they cannot be killed, so they get back up again & they keep going.

It is the same for us.  For those of us who have eaten of the Tree of Life, we have accepted God's everlasting gift.  We drank fully of the Living Water found there, and we have been changed.  We no longer can be taken out by the enemy.  We are now immortal.  The enemy will still take aim, in fact even more so because he hates the family we belong to now.  We will be hit.  We will fall down, and we will bleed.  But we will get back up again, and we will keep going.  We will reach our destination and receive our reward. 

No weapon formed against us will prosper!  Nothing can take us out.  No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us!

If you have felt under attack, take heart!

Isaiah 54 (The Message translation)
You’ll be built solid, grounded in righteousness,
    far from any trouble—nothing to fear!
    far from terror—it won’t even come close!
If anyone attacks you,
    don’t for a moment suppose that I sent them,
And if any should attack,
    nothing will come of it.
I create the blacksmith
    who fires up his forge
    and makes a weapon designed to kill.
I also create the destroyer—
    but no weapon that can hurt you has ever been forged.
Any accuser who takes you to court
    will be dismissed as a liar.
This is what God’s servants can expect.
    I’ll see to it that everything works out for the best.”
        God’s Decree.

Romans 8 (The Message) 
So, what do you think? With God on our side like this, how can we lose? If God didn’t hesitate to put everything on the line for us, embracing our condition and exposing himself to the worst by sending his own Son, is there anything else he wouldn’t gladly and freely do for us? And who would dare tangle with God by messing with one of God’s chosen? Who would dare even to point a finger? The One who died for us—who was raised to life for us!—is in the presence of God at this very moment sticking up for us. Do you think anyone is going to be able to drive a wedge between us and Christ’s love for us? There is no way! Not trouble, not hard times, not hatred, not hunger, not homelessness, not bullying threats, not backstabbing, not even the worst sins listed in Scripture:

They kill us in cold blood because they hate you.
We’re sitting ducks; they pick us off one by one.

None of this fazes us because Jesus loves us. I’m absolutely convinced that nothing—nothing living or dead, angelic or demonic, today or tomorrow, high or low, thinkable or unthinkable—absolutely nothing can get between us and God’s love because of the way that Jesus our Master has embraced us.

Yes, take heart and be brave!  Take courage and do not be afraid!

Thursday, October 1, 2015

This is my story...

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

How Parenting Feels to Me...

I have thought about parenting and what I could compare it to.  In my mind I compare it to playing on a basketball team, and I would like to explain why.  (I've never played on a basketball team & really know very little about the sport, but this is how it seems to me.)

Imagine you are a young person who has never played basketball.  You've seen the teams, and you admire their jerseys, their ability, and their talent.  You think to yourself, "Wow, playing basketball looks really amazing...  I think I should join the team!"  You imagine yourself making slam dunks and three point shots.  You see yourself as an amazing player and an asset to the team.  You're really interested, so you even try out a few little pick-up games of basketball here and there.  You feel pretty confident in your abilities, and you are sure you will only get better with real experience.  Since you're interested in basketball, you also observe games and other players.  You are able to pick out every mistake they make, and you are convinced that you will never fall into the same problems they experience because, obviously, you have a much better understanding of the game and the skills it requires.

Finally, the time is right for you to join the team.  You try out, and maybe you have to try out multiple times to make the team, but eventually you make it!  You're on the team!  You are so excited and full of expectation as to what your future will hold.  From day one though you are thrown off by how hard it is to be the team.  You didn't realize how many hours of drills and hard work this would entail.  You're exhausted and overwhelmed by all the new skills you need to learn.  You watch experienced players and try to model yourself after them.  You watch game tapes and hope to somehow figure out what you're doing and to be successful at it.  There is so much more to this than what you thought before.  You find your confidence crumbling under the realization that you are really not prepared for how hard it is to be on this team.

The team starts playing games, and instead of landing three point shots and slam dunks, as you imagined yourself, you wind up fouling out and missing shot after shot.  You're not one to give up though.  You keep trying and you keep running after the ball.  Sometimes you think you're on the way to a really great shot, when the opposing team suddenly steals the ball right out from under you and you find yourself running at the back of the pack again.  Oh, its not all misses though.  You make some great shots and hear the roar of the crowd.  You also do a lot of great assists and good defense- those things that no one really sees, but you know that they matter.

You watch other team members making great shots and scoring points, way more points than you.  It seems like those team members are connecting with the game and understanding the ins and outs of it all, and you're struggling.  Sometimes you even question why you signed up for the team at all.  What were you thinking?  You thought you could be good at this game?  How foolish! 

And sometimes you get hit, and you hit the floor, hard.  Nobody told you about that.  It hurts and your whole body radiates with the pain.  Those hits can come out of nowhere, from unexpected places, or you can see them coming a mile away, but they still hurt more than you ever thought possible.  It feels like its going to consume you, and yet you get up.  You may limp along for a while, but you keep moving and you learn to keep going in spite of the pain.

Quitting is not an option for you.  You're gonna stick this out.  Through twisted ankles, bruised body, exhaustion and frustration, no matter how wounded or tired you become, you keep showing up everyday.  You accept that you're not a star player and you will probably never make those amazing game winning shots you once dreamed of.  But you are a part of this team and you will keep running that court, and trying to make the shots, and hoping that sometimes you will hit it just right.  Sometimes you do... and sometimes you don't... but you're on this team for the long haul and you will keep getting up each day, putting on your shoes, and playing the game the best you can, with the hope that in the end you will have made more shots than you missed.

This is what parenting feels like to me.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

A Table of Blessing

I  have been meditating and thinking a lot on Psalms 23 lately.  For some that may be a verse that has been "over played" but I think there is still so much to glean from this Psalm.  I find comfort and encouragement in these verses.  I am going to share them with you in the Amplified Version, and my thoughts along with it.

The Lord is my Shepherd [to feed, guide, and shield me], I shall not lack.
He makes me lie down in [fresh, tender] green pastures; He leads me beside the still and restful waters.

The shepherd is always with his sheep: to lead, guide, and protect them.  He knows that we would get lost without him.  Without him we wander. We get tangled in the underbrush.  But we don't have to do it without him.  He's right there- he is the good shepherd and he leads us to places of nourishment and refreshing.  I just need to follow his presence.  That is the place of rest, refreshing, and nourishing.  He is our rest.  He refreshes our souls.  
He refreshes and restores my life (my self); He leads me in the paths of righteousness [uprightness and right standing with Him—not for my earning it, but] for His name’s sake.
Yes, though I walk through the [deep, sunless] valley of the shadow of death, I will fear or dread no evil, for You are with me; Your rod [to protect] and Your staff [to guide], they comfort me.

The valleys are the low places in our lives.  Those places of struggle and discouragement.  Where we feel unseen.  Those places where shadows threaten us.  Think about a shadow: it is something that appears to have form, but lacks all substance.  Your shadow may not be the shadow of death, it may be the shadow of failure.  Or rejection.  Or lack.  Or not being enough.  "Yes, even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of (failure, rejection, lack, not being enough).  I will fear or dread NO EVIL, for YOU ARE WITH ME."  God promises you, no matter where you are, he is there with you.  No matter what shadows may threaten to overtake you, you do not need to fear.  He is there.  He's got this.  His protection overshadows you, and you can take comfort in that.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my [brimming] cup runs over.

What is happening when we are in the presence of our enemies?  We are battling.  There is war raging.  Enemies do not sit still and quiet in front of you.  They attack.  They shout & scream & threaten.  We are tired and grow weary of the fight.  We wonder about the outcome.  We search for the bravery to continue.  In the middle of all this, God says, "Stop."  In the middle of the battle, when we are weary and worn, he says, "Come."  He prepares a table.  Not of scraps, not of meager rations, but of BLESSING.  The table God prepares for you is a huge feast of ABUNDANCE.  He says, "Come.  Taste and see that I am good."  The table is filled with overflowing platters of all that you could want or need.  Overflowing amounts of peace.  Overflowing amounts of healing.  Overflowing amounts of provision.  Overflowing amounts of strength.  Overflowing amounts of wisdom.  It does not matter that the enemy is all around you, in their very presence God prepares bountiful blessings for you, and he invites you to come and receive all he has for you.  Come, and partake.  Eat to your fill.  ALL that you need.  He has provided for you and prepared for you.  He has made all the preparations for the feast and wants ALL to come in and partake.  No beggars here.  We are all royal, invited guests for the banquet of the king.
In regards to the oil mentioned in the scripture, the Amplified Bible notes this:  It is difficult for those living in a temperate climate to appreciate, but it was customary in hot climates to anoint the body with oil to protect it from excessive perspiration. When mixed with perfume, the oil imparted a delightfully refreshing and invigorating sensation. Athletes anointed their bodies as a matter of course before running a race. As the body, therefore, anointed with oil was refreshed, invigorated, and better fitted for action, so the Lord would anoint His “sheep” with the Holy Spirit, Whom oil symbolizes, to fit them to engage more freely in His service and run in the way He directs—in heavenly fellowship with Him.
Surely or only goodness, mercy, and unfailing love shall follow me all the days of my life, and through the length of my days the house of the Lord [and His presence] shall be my dwelling place.
Goodness, mercy, and unfailing love shall follow me.  That doesn't mean they are trailing after me, trying to catch up.  No.  Goodness, mercy and unfailing love are pursuing me.  I do not have to worry about an enemy pursuing me, because it is God's goodness, mercy and unfailing love which pursue me and defend me.  Like a shadow that does not leave, these blessings are attached to me and I cannot separate myself from them.  God is a part of me, and with him he brings his whole house- his presence- which brings with it every good thing that he is.
I hope that these thoughts from my heart have been an encouragement to you.  If you feel like you are in a valley, or you are weary from a battle, God is inviting you to come.  Come into his presence.  Be refreshed, be renewed.  Let him nourish your soul with every good thing.  Spend time in his presence and you will find that which you seek.  Taste and see that the Lord is good.
God Bless You,