Tag Archives: prayer

Last days

Standard
Last days

It should come as no surprise to followers of Jesus Christ that we will encounter more false teaching, doctrine, so-called believers including pastors of mega churches, authors, music, and the like who proclaim false doctrine according to the Word of God.

My husband is probably the first to ever challenge me on this very topic. I’ve written about it before, but I believe it needs to be repeated. As someone who worked in a Christian bookstore for years as a teenager, I thought I was pretty well versed on what should be classified as ‘correct theology’. The bookstore I worked in was a “mom and pop” bookstore that exercised discernment in what they would supply in their store. I specifically recall a very popular book at the time I worked there that was one of those so called ‘bandwagon books’, meaning a large community of believers was endorsing, purchasing, and ‘buying into’ its teaching. I recall how even as a young impressionable teenager, I so admired the owners’ conviction to not carry said book, even though it would have been profitable financially to do so.

Fast-forward some twenty or so years later, my husband and I had a conversation once about a particular, rather popular “Christian” author in which I had a few of this author’s books on my bookshelf. In a loving, yet direct way, my husband challenged me to consider this author’s beliefs. As he did some research and lovingly shared his findings with me, I was shocked to learn this author with a large following, selling out stadiums for speaking engagements, had huge discrepancies in major key points of doctrine. Of course, I was embarrassed that I’d been duped into believing this author was one to be trusted. I recall when my husband first brought his suspicion to me, I was a bit defensive of the author as someone I respected on our church staff quoted this author often in a women’s group she led that I’d been a part of for some time. We even watched some of this author’s teachings during our meetings. In my defense, I’d never heard her speak or read anything she had written that contradicted my beliefs or noticed any red flags of the person’s theology. However, it was from this person’s twisted and false doctrine that they wrote and spoke from. It can be very subtle and even sneaky so as not to unveil the lies.

It was then that my husband educated me to be discerning about everything we allow into our minds, especially when it comes to teaching and music from a “follower of Christ”. He gave me pointers such as checking into the endorsements of an author’s books. Are those endorsing this author someone you can trust biblically and theologically? Is their doctrine sound? Where was the author educated? He pointed me to a couple trusted websites where I could search a particular author and their beliefs. He also cautioned me that just because a particular author or book is sold in a so-called Christian bookstore or even marketed as a Christian book, doesn’t mean the book/author is reputable, or even a Christian. Most importantly though, my husband encouraged me to pray for discernment from the Holy Spirit. Pray and ask the Lord to help me rightly identify anything I come across that does not align properly with God’s Word. Ask the Holy Spirit to heighten my senses by being in God’s Word regularly so that I can recognize counterfeit from truth, remembering that the two are closely intertwined.

Now, as a long-time follower of Christ, I was astonished and quite embarrassed that I didn’t recognize such false teaching for myself. How was it possible I could be duped? I believed I was well-versed on truth. It was then that I realized how critical it was for me to ask the Lord for wisdom, understanding, and discernment. God’s Word is clear to believers, warning us of what we allow into our minds and what is to come in the last days. We have to remember that our enemy seeks to confuse us and our beliefs; while God is not a God of confusion. We must be careful what we allow in our thought life and what we put before our eyes, even if it seems that everyone else is reading it. Just because a book is a top seller, doesn’t mean it’s meant to be read. Being in God’s Word with our minds saturated in His truth will give us reason to check everything against His Word.

“But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them—bringing swift destruction on themselves.”  (2 Peter 2:1)

“But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people. They are the kind who worm their way into homes and gain control over gullible women, who are loaded down with sins and are swayed by all kinds of evil desires, always learning but never able to come to a knowledge of the truth. Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so also these teachers oppose the truth. They are men of depraved minds, who, as far as the faith is concerned, are rejected. But they will not get very far because, as in the case of those men, their folly will be clear to everyone. You, however, know all about my teaching, my way of life, my purpose, faith, patience, love, endurance, persecutions, sufferings—what kinds of things happened to me in Antioch, Iconium and Lystra, the persecutions I endured. Yet the Lord rescued me from all of them. In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evildoers and impostors will go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.                                         (2 Timothy 3, full chapter)

The heart of the discerning acquires knowledge, for the ears of the wise seek it out. (Proverbs 18:15)

“Let the wise listen and add to their learning, and let the discerning get guidance” (Proverbs 1:5)

“The way of fools seems right to them, but the wise listen to advice.” (Proverbs 12:15)

“I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.” (Matthew 10:16)

What you heard from me, keep as the pattern of sound teaching, with faith and love in Christ Jesus. Guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you—guard it with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in us. (2 Timothy 1:13-14)

If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. (James 1:5)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Purposeful Respite

Standard
Purposeful Respite

You might say I’ve been on a respite or a break, call it what you will. I may have felt a little uninspired actually. Life certainly wasn’t without drama and stories, yet words just would not come. Actually I had allot on my mind and still do!

While “on hold” with my creative brain, I have been doing much research. Interviewing, reading, listening, and conference attending….all for a purpose. I’ve been busy praying, learning and soul-searching to determine whether or not home schooling is for me. There, I said it! It feels good to let those words fly from my lips! I’m one of those who keeps silent and introspective whenever I’m pondering a new adventure. My purpose in keeping under wraps is so that I’m not swayed by others unsolicited opinions or advice. Rather, I want to hear from the Lord, blocking out all other distractions. Once I’ve heard from Him, my M.O. is to do what I’ve been busily doing to get a good grasp on what I’m about to step into.

After weeks of consideration, I landed on a curriculum for my active boy who will begin kindergarten in the fall. Now that I have that settled, purchased, and sitting on my dining room table, the planning will begin. I’m really excited to learn and explore alongside my son! I am certain there will be days I will dream of putting him on the yellow bus. I’m quite confident that there will be days upon days where I’m frustrated with his lack of focus and even interest. It’s a whole new world I’m navigating, but I feel that our family has been called to this. One step at a time, all with God holding my hand.

Stay tuned for my adventures of the home school kind laced with the same whatnot you’ve come to expect from my writings of the past. At last, my words are coming back and I’m excited to get back to the good ‘ol laptop!

a great reminder!

Standard

One of my favorite people to read about and learn from is the late Elisabeth Elliot. What faith she had in the Lord and if you’ve read any of her books, or know anything about her husband, the late *Jim Elliot, you will certainly know what I mean.

As I was reading my devotional this morning, which happens to be one of her books, I was struck by her words:

Learning to pray is learning to trust the wisdom, the power, and the love of our Heavenly Father, always so far beyond our dreams. He knows our need and knows ways to meet it that have never entered our heads. Things we feel sure we need for happiness may often lead to our ruin. Things we think will ruin us (the chariots of Egypt, or the waters of the sea), if we believe what the Father tells us and surrender ourselves into His strong arms, bring us deliverance and joy.

~Excerpt from Keep A Quiet Heart, Elisabeth Elliot

Interestingly enough, my husband and I just shared a conversation this morning where we confessed our fear of trusting Him for our needs to be met with a particular expense we’re facing in the (hopefully) distant future…wayyyy distant future. It was then that the Lord reminded me of a time not too far back when we were faced with a similar overwhelming financial expense. At that time, a wise friend of our family wisely counseled my husband, “It’s not about the (thing you’re needing); it’s a faith issue.” And, indeed it was. A matter of days later, we were able to financially take care of the need we had. Of course, the Lord somehow, some way provided. Then, as usually happens, we were on to the next seemingly impossible situation.

I truly believe that the Lord places situations in our path where we are faced with choosing faith over fear. Since His Word is clear about not being afraid or fearful, we hopefully, eventually succumb to placing our faith in Him. And, if we’re prudent, we’ll keep a mental file, at least, of all the times throughout our lives where He has brought us through over, and over again. Later, when faced with another seemingly impossible situation, we can recall all He has brought us through, choose faith and banish fear knowing that He is for us and not against us and that He can be trusted.

*In 1956, five young men, including Elliot’s husband, Jim, traveled into the jungles of Ecuador to establish communication with the fierce Huaorani Tribe, a people whose only previous response to the outside world has been to attack all strangers. The men’s mission combined modern technology with innate ingenuity, sparked by a passionate determination to get the gospel to those without Christ. In a nearby village, their wives waited to hear from them. The news they received – all five missionaries had been murdered – changed lives around the world forever. Written while she was still a missionary in South America and at the request of the men’s families, Through Gates of Splendor was Elisabeth Elliot’s personal account of the final mission of these five courageous men.

Screen shot 2017-09-27 at 10.37.41 AM.png

All you need is prayer

Standard

Prayer is good for the soul. It connects us with our Creator. Our hearts, minds and will are molded, bent, and yielded to God’s will when we truly are seeking after Him. So, if this is all true, and we know that it is according to God’s Word, WHY is it that we don’t find ourselves in a posture of humility and prayer? Why do we think we can solve it all on our own, as if there’s some badge we’re aiming to attain declaring our wisdom? Why do we allow ourselves to be anxiety riddled trying to figure it all out on our own? And why do we go to Him only after we’ve exhausted all other options?

For me, I’m guilty as charged. I allow myself to get distracted by other things. I pray at mealtime, bedtime and over my husband as he heads out to work; the rest of the day, I find myself “sending sky grams,” as our former pastor used to say, which isn’t bad but on the other hand, isn’t near enough. God knows it all but we still need to be (get to be!) in a conversation with God. And a conversation is a two-way street, involving both listening and speaking. You can’t be in a true conversation with someone all the while running hither and yon, not focused on what you’re doing, spouting off a grocery list of needs. Sure, you can talk up a blue streak, but the most important part of a conversation is listening. Hate to break it to you, but to really listen, you have to be still and quiet.

My husband likes to tease me that when I’m in a conversation with a friend, I’m so focused on them and what they’re saying that the building I’m in could be on fire and I’d never know because I’m so “locked in,” as he says. Why do I do this you ask? Because I don’t want to miss out on important details of the conversation out of being distracted by what is going on all around me. Now, if I feel this way about a conversation with a dear friend, how much more should I defend and protect my time in conversation with the Lord?

I’m well-versed on how to pray and even assuming the posture of prayer. I have loved reading Pastor Cymbala’s books on the power of prayer, as well as many other wonderful reads over the years. I know prayer is where our power is found as believers in Christ. I mean, the God of the universe, Creator of all things, wants a conversation with me! That trumps (pardon the pun!) a phone call from the President of the United States!! However, I also know that our enemy hates for us to pray for this very reason. In fact, he will do whatever he can to distract us, stir up doubt and disbelief all to keep us in a place of defeat and spirit of hopelessness. Therefore, it becomes imperative for us to be intentional. Intentionally carving out time daily to not only be in God’s Word, but to be in constant conversation (prayer) with Him.

Once again, I’ve read and re-read books on praying for my husband; Stormie Omartian has some great resources! I want to be a prayerful wife, mother, daughter, friend….my desire is there and I’m confident this is where power and solutions are found, so I must ask God to help me carve out uninterrupted time daily. After all, we are in a battle for our marriages, children, families, and on and on it goes. I’m not dissing counseling, wise biblical counseling that is, but God’s Word is chock full of counsel if we’ll just open the Word and pray scripture. He should be our first go-to, not our friends or spouses. I’m confident I’d have much less stress if I’d simply go to Him first who is the only One who can advise me and give me the wisdom I’m seeking.

Will you join me in praying fervently for our homes to be a place of peace, our marriages to be shored up on the foundation of Christ, our children to thirst and hunger for the things of our Lord and coming to saving faith at an early age?

 

 

 

“Happy Mother’s Day!”

Standard

These words used to bring tears to my eyes. Tears for a couple of reasons, actually. I had a wonderful, loving, godly, fun, best-friend kind of Mom for 23 years of my life. She was the nurturing type, full of mercy, peace, and grace. She poured into me, sacrificed in huge ways, and most importantly led me to Christ. God called her home at 47 years of age. For many years, I was conflicted with ‘why God did you take her from me when I loved her and needed her so much?’ and thoughts of being at peace knowing she was safely in the arms of her loving Jesus, free from pain. Sprinkle in the tormenting thoughts of ‘why does Jesus heal some, and yet others have to suffer, gaining their ultimate healing?‘ If I’m being honest, I still struggle with some of these emotions, and probably will until Jesus takes me home.

As time passed, after *marriage, I never thought I’d hear the words “Happy Mother’s Day!” I watched and celebrated my friends who were celebrating their pregnancies and subsequent births of their bundles of joy. While I was truly happy for them, I found it increasingly more difficult to hide my own feelings of desperately wanting to be a Mom and have a child of my own. Eventually, we found ourselves on the path to fertility treatment. It was a lonely, depressing world of disappointment upon disappointment; not to mention the thousands of dollars spent on a hope unrealized.

God had other plans for my husband and me. Unaware at the time, we faithfully prayed and trusted Him for direction and wisdom. The Lord kept opening our eyes to adoption. While it took me awhile to warm up to the idea, God slowly prepared me for a new journey. I have to admit, this path is not for the faint of heart. We went to training in and out-of-state, completed physical exams, psychiatric exams, interviews, background checks, counseling, mounds of paperwork, home visits, and created a book of pictures introducing our family to birth mothers who would then choose a prospective adoptive couple. As my husband jokingly says, “we did everything short of having a body cavity search”.

Nearly two years into our process of becoming a “waiting family” or “paper pregnant” as they call it, we found ourselves fighting disappointment when we still hadn’t been contacted by our agency that a birth mother had looked at our profile, wanting to meet us. It was then that God showed up in a big way! The Lord led us to our precious birth mother through some friends. Ironically we met with her for the first time near Mother’s Day. It was this initial meeting which led to accompanying her to doctor’s appointments, long chats over lunch, meeting her family and at long last, joining her in the delivery room as our baby boy was born! Truly, what at first appeared to us as our “Plan B” quickly turned into God’s “Plan A” for our family. We could not have asked for a more beautiful story had we written it ourselves. God was in every single detail.

I struggled trusting God that He would answer our prayers for a child of our own. The enemy hurled doubt left and right. The Lord, however, held our hands and affirmed us throughout our journey to our son even when our fears threatened to take over. The Lord continued to speak to us not only through our own prayers, but through others as well. We felt encouraged and edified, almost as if God was carrying us through til the very end. He was faithful and would not let go.

As my husband and I often tell our son, “God made us a family”. And, He did. Undeniably one of the most difficult holidays of the year for me, Mother’s Day, has now become one of the most joyous days of my life. God heard our cries for a child and He answered our prayers. God’s ways are often not our ways; His plans are not always our plans, and His timing is often not our timing. Know that He can be trusted with the longings of our heart. He is a good, good Father.

*marriage-another God story of how God brought my husband to me in His timing, not my own.

The Lord is righteous in all his ways and faithful in all he does. (Psalm 145:17, NIV)

So, my very dear friends, don’t get thrown off course. Every desirable and beneficial gift comes out of heaven. The gifts are rivers of light cascading down from the Father of Light. There is nothing deceitful in God, nothing two-faced, nothing fickle. He brought us to life using the true Word, showing us off as the crown of all his creatures. (James 1:17, MSG)

For great is your love, reaching to the heavens; your faithfulness reaches to the skies. (Psalm 57:10, NIV)

Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. (Matthew 7:7, NIV)

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us,… (Ephesians 3:20)

If your heart is broken, you’ll find God right there; if you’re kicked in the gut, he’ll help you catch your breath. (Psalm 34:18, MSG)

I prayed for this child, and the Lord has granted me what I asked of him.          (1 Samuel 1:27, NIV)

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. (Jeremiah 29:11, NIV)