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Entries in Prayer (6)

Friday
Dec112015

Christmas, Cardinals & Prayer

Have you ever had a time when you had a decision to make and just didn't know what to do? I'm talking decisions like buying a house, accepting another job, changing careers, how or if to spend money, even making a donation. You could go with your "gut" and make a decision but earnestly wanted to do only what God wanted for you in that particular decision. So, you prayed, you waited but seemingly no clear direction or answer. Lord, should I or should I not?  You then prayed, fasted and waited some more.  Finally, you asked for a sign!

Years ago a very dear friend of mine and I were praying about a financial decision.  It was a big decision, so we prayed and waited and prayed some more.  Finally, not knowing what do to we asked God for a sign.  Here's the story...

It was early December so the weather was cold, the days short, and the trees bare.  Even with the bird feeders full, there always seemed a shortage of Cardinals that time of the year in that particular part of the US. When you did spot a male Cardinal in a bare tree or against the snow it would take your breath away.  So, our earnest prayer went something like this:  

"Lord, if you want us to proceed forward and do it, then show us both a cardinal on this particular day."  

Okay, so just in case you are laughing or shaking your head, my God is certainly able and truly, the possibility of us both seeing a cardinal on that particular day would certainly be "of God."  This was not an impossible sign and the heart of the request was to do what would be right and pleasing to Him.  So, don't judge!

That particular day came and there were no cardinal sightings by either one of us by mid morning.  None by mid-day.  Still none when the sun went down.  Thank you, Lord.  We had our answer.  We will not go in that direction! That particular day also happened to be the day my dear husband was taking me to Longwood Gardens to experience A Longwood Christmas. Oh, it was so beautiful!  Toward the end of the evening tour, we entered one of the buildings that had a few different rooms with various wreath displays. As I entered one of the rooms, my breath was taken way.  Every wreath in the room had one or more Cardinals on it made from a variety of materials.  I literally started laughing out loud.  I called my friend to see if fake Cardinals counted and if she had seen any!  We reckoned fake could be a sign, but she had not seen any fake Cardinals either.  Now we were both laughing!

Through this experience, the Lord encouraged me in two ways:

  1. Fervently and with great expectation, take any and all requests to the Lord.  Keep praying!
  2. Before praying, stop and ask His Spirit to lead me and show me how to pray - specifically!

I will never forget that experience and the laughs that my friend and I had over it but also the fun moment it was with the Lord.  You see, before He ever spoke  the world into existence He thought of  and planned for me and my friend.  He knew exactly what we would be seeking from Him and on what day.  He also knew that on that day I would be walking into a room filled with fake Cardinals. The word from the Lord spoken into my heart that day? No go girls but I heard the cry of your hearts so surprise!

In sharing this experience, I am praying (specifically) that you too will be encouraged in these ways. Fervently and in great faith, take all your requests to the Lord.  Keep praying!  Before praying, stop and ask his Spirit to lead you and show you how to pray - specifically!  Since the time of this story, I've tried to stop and ask myself what I really want to ask the Lord to do in each situation and for His Spirit to show me how to pray - specifically!  These two things are not necessary to being heard or having my prayers answered.  But, I love it and I love Him all the more for leading me by His Spirit to pray specifically!  I love, love, love when I pray specifically and He answers specifically.  It's thrilling.  It's amazing.  It's a wonder.  He's a wonder!

Sunday
Apr192009

The cost of complacency

I remember the moment I realized I was a complacent woman. Sometimes the truth hurts and this was one of those times. Until that very moment, I would have never thought of myself as complacent. In fact, God was developing within me a real passion for Him and for His Word. As such, I was seeking Him in a greater way and devoting more and more of my time in service to Him and to His. But I was still complacent. In some ways I still am. I hate that because there is a cost to complacency.

How did I come to understand I was complacent? I came face to face with the Word of God. Specifically, Isaiah 32. There I saw that the women who were at ease and complacent were being told to "rise up." A verse later the women at ease and who were complacent were being told to tremble, be troubled, take a look around and then mourn and weep over what they were seeing. These women were comfortable and secure and this had caused them to be careless. I learned they no longer cared about what was going on all around them but cared only for their own comfort and ease. Otherwise they would not have been told to "rise up." So how does complacency look in my life?

It looks like…
…A lot of time, energy and effort making sure I live in comfort and security.
…Spending hours tending my stuff and accumulating more.…Pursuing the "American dream" rather God's will and plans for my life.
…Seeing what others have, are pursuing and doing and letting that be the measure for how I am doing in my own life.
…Doing everything I can to keep from sacrificing any of my comfort and what I’ve determine brings me security.

Being complacent is the exact opposite of trusting in and relying on God. For trusting and relying on God ALWAYS, ALWAYS means getting out of my comfort zone and walking away from what I consider secure.

Complacency has cost me God ordained moments. You see, to pursue what God has planned for me means giving up my plans for a life of comfort and ease. That means giving up something or being uncomfortable in some way. My complacency causes me to put my needs above the needs of others. So then, my complacency cost others. I mean just look at Isaiah 32 and what had happened to the land and to the people because of complacency.

More and more every day, I realize how much I have bought into the "American Dream" that I should have and hoard. I have so loved the world and the things of the world. I have been so easily distracted and bought into so many of the lies the world has offered and I am SO ashamed.

Complacency has cost me years of denying myself, taking up my cross and following my Jesus (Matthew 16:24)

Complacency has cost me untold moments when I could have "gained Christ" but didn't because I was unwilling to "suffer loss" (Philippians 3:7-14).

Complacency has cost those God has put within my reach and influence because I have been and am unwilling to get out of my comfort zone, give up my comforts & ease. So it means others go without. Complacency costs me the experience of finding all my joy in God, having all my needs met in God or being totally satisfied in God.

Complacency costs me untold opportunities to bring God glory by proving He really is my Provider and that suffering for His name sake really is a gift.

God's Word has opened my eyes and what I see is that God wants me to live a life totally abandoned to Him so that I can fulfill His purposes for my life. It means trusting in and relying on ONLY Him. It means walking by faith but in order to do that I have to KNOW Him and the only way to KNOW Him is to KNOW His Word. I understand now that I cannot step out in faith and follow Jesus if I don't know Who it is that I am following. Praise be to God I do KNOW. But I’m also learning what it really means and looks like to FOLLOW Jesus.

To follow Jesus will cost me my comfort and life of ease. I will have to deny myself. It will cause me to have to “rise up” and follow Him. How did we get so far from the truth? Truth has stumbled in the streets (Isaiah 59:14). We preach another Jesus and a different gospel (2 Corinthians 11:4).

I am tired of paying the price of complacency and I am tired of making excuses for myself and other complacent Christians. Living out of our comfort zones isn't easy. Denying me of what I want and think I need - dying to self is painful. I don't want to suffer - but if I'm not denying, dying and suffering - can I really call myself a follower of Christ? What does staying in my place of complacency say to the world about what I really believe? How does my complacency distort the character and glory of God? What will happen to the world around me - around us - if I/we don't “rise up” out of our place of comfort, ease - complacency?

I call myself Beloved of God. Years ago, I claimed Philippians 3:7-14 as my life verses (I know, obviously clueless). But today I am taken back by a fresh look at these truths from God's Word and also from Romans 8:16-18 which says...

"The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him. For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us."

"If? IF? IF INDEED I WHAT????? What I BELIEVE determines how I live my life. Does my life say that ....
...I suffer with Christ?
...I consider the sufferings of this present time not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed?
...Whatever things were gain to me those I counted as loss for the sake of Christ?

Oh God, what does my life say about what I really believe? I am so tired of missing the mark, living the life of complacency. I want my life to SHOUT your trustworthiness and faithfulness because I trust in and rely on YOU and YOU alone. I want to live a life totally surrendered and submitted to you no matter what it costs me. Please God - don't let me miss another minute of what You want to do in me and through me. Cause me to fully understand what it means to find ALL my joy in YOU. Help me to experience being full in the fullness of YOU. Help me to remember that glory awaits me and nothing this world has to offer or can take from me can compare to that!

Sunday
Jan252009

His eye is on the sparrow

Part of being in God's boot camp is being told "how to" and then given a chance "to do". You know what I mean? Let me explain it this way. As I left last Saturday's seminar, I was armed with truths that I have had to "take up" often this week. Here's how my week played out.... When I got up Sunday morning, it was to an awful sore throat. I immediately started begging God for relief while at the same time taking Air Bourne, Ziacam and Dayquill/Nyquill! You see, as a part of my new job responsibility with Precept Ministries, I was scheduled to fly to Dayton, OH on Wednesday where I would join Kay, Jack & David Arthur at the Call2All Conference. In order to catch my 6 AM flight, I set my alarm for 3:30 AM. At this point, let me just say that I stepped out in faith believing God would give me the grace to make it because I knew my body was not cooperating. My husband had told me that Kay was not feeling well and had almost no voice. So, Miss Kay was my example to follow! I arrived in Dayton mid-day and was told they had a room ready. HALLELUJAH! I checked in, got unpacked, set up my computer, had two phone meetings and tried to get some work done. Honestly, though I think when I look on Monday morning, I'll have to redo anything I think I did. It was probably mid-afternoon when in my mind I began to whine before the Lord. By 5:30 PM, I gave up trying to accomplish anything and determined in my mind that there was no way I was going to be able to do my job! I whined to my husband, a dear friend and on Facebook and knew I had dear friends praying for me! Around 6:30 PM the Arthur's called saying they had arrived and that Kay was feeling awful and had no voice. As I prayed for Kay, I trusted that God had brought her to Dayton, had a message that He had for her to give and would give her the grace she would need to make it. I went to bed early reminding myself who am I to whine, focus on Miss Kay, the goal of the trip that God knows...

When my alarm went off at 6 AM on Thursday morning, my first thought was "Thank you Jesus!" My teeth didn't hurt. In fact, I had no pain in my forehead or cheeks either. While I still had a lot of congestion, I felt like I could make it! In fact, when I fell into bed at almost 1 AM on Friday morning, I had made it! Thanks be to God, I managed to serve with joy, energy, strength and very little nose blowing. God gave Kay voice enough to passionately speak the Word of God at two sessions (almost 1,000 people). So why am I going into such detail? Because God was speaking volumes into my heart. You see, all day long I was marveling at how God was providing. I was reminded that He doesn't remove the hurdles and difficulties but as we step out in faith and obedience He gives us the grace we need to make it THROUGH!

When my alarm went off on Friday morning, I hadn't allowed for quiet time with the Lord. Instead, I had to get dressed, packed and downstairs so I could catch my ride to the airport. But, as God would have it, I finished a little early and had time to sit with a cup of coffee before the Lord. I walked over to the window and pulled back the blackout shade to find the most glorious sunrise. "Oh, thank You God for drawing me to this window at just this time so You could show me Your glory. You are glorious - this is glorious and I stand in awe of YOU." It was such an awesome touch and reminder from the Lord Himself that He is ever present, all sufficient, and personally involved in my life. He wanted me to see that and He wanted me to enjoy it with Him and He wanted me to be aware of His presence in EVERY detail of my life. God is amazing. But that's not all!

When I got to Cincinnati for my plane change my ears were killing me, my nose running like a faucet and once again I felt like I'd have to die to feel better. I decided to seek relief and comfort in a cup of hot tea. The terminal had lots of glass and metal beams. As I approached a water fountain I saw a sparrow fly down, land on the edge of the water fountain in search of some beads of water. I was captivated. I tried to capture the moment with my camera but by the time I got it out someone else walked by and the sparrow flew back to one of the metal beams. In that short 1 to 2 minutes God preached a sermon into my heart! Yes, it was based on Luke 12:6-8 and yet God also showed me how adaptable that little sparrow was to his surroundings and trusting of God to provide. The Scripture and the song below immediately came to mind! OH GOD, I LOVE YOU AND I THANK YOU FOR REDEEMING ME AND CALLING ME YOURS!


Are not five sparrows sold for two cents? Yet not one of them is forgotten before God. “Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear; you are more valuable than many sparrows. “And I say to you, everyone who confesses Me before men, the Son of Man will confess him also before the angels of God. Luke 12:6-8

 

Sunday
Dec212008

Tom's home!

Tom left Chattanooga last Thursday morning and arrived here in time for dinner that evening! As a token of my love and "welcome home honey," I made his favorite comfort foods: meatloaf and his mom's recipe for macaroni & cheese.

It has been wonderful having Tom close. Friday it snowed all day and he worked from the office here at home. Normally his talking on the phone and "doing business from home" would be a huge distraction for me in my own work, but sharing the space with him on Friday was wonderful! Even though we had to go in separate cars this morning because he was teaching the new comers class during third service, it was wonderful sitting together in church, singing together and listening to the word of God together! He came home with a bad cold and cough but even these sounds (especially at night) don't bother me. They are a wonderful reminder that he's here - next to me. Yes, absence has made the heart grow fonder!

I thank God for Tom and these moments we have together. God has given to me the awesome privilege of being Tom's wife. God has declared me Tom's helper suitable. WOW! I acknowledge that only God knows how I can be a help and only God can give me the ability to be a helper. Amen? But, I am so grateful for the opportunity to try and keep trying! I've learned so much from Tom. God has gifted him with leadership skills and abilities and with a deep and genuine love for people. It's a beautiful thing to watch! This makes the times we are apart a little easier because I know he's doing what God has created him to do and he's doing it for God's glory. For almost 7 years, I prayed that God would (1) Put Tom in a place where he could wake up every morning knowing that he was created for that moment. That, with every fiber of his being, he would understand that God had used all of his life experiences to bring him to that very moment and that God had created him to accomplish the work set before him; (2) Find male friends who loved God's Word, were passionate and committed to the study of God's Word and who would challenge him in his faith and hold him accountable; and (3) Be given more time to study the Word of God inductively.

Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine God would call him to Precept Ministries - the inductive Bible study people. Honestly, how can I even take credit for the prayers prayed? God surely put them on my heart knowing what He was going to do. Tom's loving his new job. And this, blesses my heart. It will also warm my heart while we are apart during the winter days to come.

Thank you God for Tom. Fill him to the fullness of You! Strengthen, empower and enable him to further Your kingdom. Continue to give him a passion and a hunger for your Word, a love for your people, and a willingness to lead forward for Your great name sake and glory- no matter what. All glory, honor and praise to You. In Jesus Name - Amen!

Wednesday
Nov192008

Frankly my dear, I'm afraid!

Stepping out - walking by faith not sight?

The for sale sign is finally up. Sunday at church, the pastor and elders prayed with us, blessed us, loved on us and kind of said goodbye to us. Tom left Monday to head back down to Tennessee to work. He'll be back here for Thanksgiving, return to TN and then back for Christmas/New Year’s. As I shared earlier, I'm in that betwixt and between place in my life. I know God is calling me out of Truth for Women. Things are moving forward there without me and that's both thrilling and....I'm not sure what this is I "feel." This past weekend, I got a glimpse of how God might be leading me next. But I can't quite visualize it yet. I’m sitting here this week with things to do but I'm here and the folks I'm working with and for are there. And, I have a million who, what, where, when, why and how questions! Frankly my dear, I’m afraid.

In my crying out to God, He's reminded me that I haven't known what I was doing for years, but He has been faithful to give me what I've needed to accomplish the things He was calling me to accomplish. During my time at Truth for Women, God used the book of Nehemiah to help and guide me. I'm reminded of just how often I have found myself in a place where I've "felt" overwhelmed, discouraged and afraid. I learned from Nehemiah that the cure for fear is to remember God who is great and awesome.

Frankly my dear, it’s normal to be afraid. The thing is I just can’t stay afraid or I’ll never step out and accomplish what God has planned for me to do next. REMEMBERING GOD WHO IS GREAT AND AWESOME!

When I am afraid, I will put my trust in You. Psalm 56:3