Tag Archives: PRAYER

Believing Is Not About The Outcome

I used to struggle a great deal about this believing business. Mostly because my expectations and outcomes didn’t always match up with what I was believing for.

It is easy to say to someone, “You need to trust God.”

Oh yes, that part is easy!

building trust and believingBut, if our trust is tied to our beliefs for a certain kind of outcome, and then things seem to go haywire?

Then what are we supposed to do?

Was our believing at fault?

Should we have prayed more fervently?

Isn’t my faith supposed to move mountains?

I used to stumble over these questions wondering if there was something faulty with my faith, or my praying, or my believing, until I realized one day that I kept making a very strategic wrong turn in my understanding.

I began to see that if my beliefs were based on my expectations for a certain outcome, and if that was the foundation for my trust, I would always struggle—because my expectations were so often wrong.

I needed a better basis for my trusting.

And then I saw it!

The “wrong turn” I kept making was right here:

Jesus said in John 6:29John 6:29
English: World English Bible - WEB

29 Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.”

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, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.”

I needed to put my confidence and trust in who Jesus had proved Himself to be, not in what He would do for me—or not do for me.

My trust couldn’t stand on my outcomes.

No, my trust had to be based on who Jesus said He was—period.

The Bible says over and over, “We live by faith, not by sight.” [2 Corinthians 5:72 Corinthians 5:7
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7 for we walk by faith, not by sight.

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walk by faithThe reality of this world is that sometimes bad things happen even if all of our faith is in good outcomes.

Therefore, if my faith and trust are to survive the storms of this life, then there will be times when I must trust in what I can’t see.

walking with JesusI must learn to “walk” with stability in the unseen with my trust based solely in the One God sent.

He is my Cornerstone.

If my confidence is in Him, and my trust is built solely on the character of God’s goodness, then no matter what the outcome to my faith, prayers, and believing—my TRUST will stand on a firm foundation.

Seeds for Trust #2:

believing for God's outcome

 

Women Who Move Mountains: Not The Status Quo!

Women Who Move Mountains kind of blew my doors off. I mean, if you’re looking for the status quo in books on prayer, this is NOT it.

Women Who Move Mountains

Sue Detweiler has written a book with a fresh new approach to an old problem in the church—namely our prayerlessness!

When I read a book on prayer, frankly I am expecting a whole wheelbarrow of “should” and “ought” with a healthy sprinkling of “guilt” thrown in for good measure.

Instead, Women Who Move Mountains takes us on a journey to inner healing and wholeness that comes out into “a wide and spacious place” of new and fresh intimacy with God.

Wow! This is definitely not where I thought this book would lead me. Yet, Mrs. Detweiler seems to believe that it is our unhealed insecurities, wounds, and life-baggage that keep us following God at a distance—and thereby increases our reluctance to pray.

When you think about it this makes total sense to me.

I especially appreciated this book’s down-to-earth, heart-to-heart, “let’s ALL get REAL” approach. She uses simple and honest stories to illustrate clearly why she believes most of us avoid prayer. There are three bonus sections in the back of the book: 21 Days To Spiritual Breakthrough, Guidelines For Taking A Spiritual Retreat, and Guidelines For Fasting.

I think that this is possibly the most “common sense” book on prayer, and learning to pray with power, that I have ever read.

I also liked the fact that Women Who Move Mountains is tailored for group study, but the author’s website also offers a free downloadable journal so the reader can do this book solo if they desire.

SueDetweiler.com

You may get your copy of the book from Amazon or at any other fine book retailer.

I want to thank Bethany House Publishers for sending me this complimentary copy of the book in exchange for my review.

A Closer Walk: A Storm That Terrifies

Have you ever been in a severe storm?

Man, I have. It was driving back from the airport in Wichita to Hutchinson, Kansas to stay with friends.

It was my first time in a “tornado watch.”

We left the airport under sunny skies but soon after a storm began to brew. It looked like we were driving into the wrath of God with pitch black skies in the middle of the afternoon. Lightning was hitting the ground all around us and the peals of thunder were so loud I thought the sky was splitting in two!

A storm unleashing its fury can be terrifying.

But what about spiritual storms?

They can be just as terrifying.

motoring through lifeWe can be motoring through life with our destination firmly fixed in our minds and “Wham!” we can find ourselves unexpectedly hurled into a cyclone of  emotional devastation wondering, “Where is God?”

That’s how I remember January 1999. My life turning upside down and inside out with all of my nice neat expectations shattered and in broken pieces all about me—caught in my own Hurricane Andrew.

Remember Andrew? Not only did Andrew erase everything in his path as he swept through central Florida, the tornadoes that spun off the main storm created all kinds of chaos and collateral damage.

That’s what I want to talk about.

Storms that catch us off guard. Storms that flatten and confuse us. Storms that test everything we believe and then leave us asking questions like, “Will I survive this? How will I survive this? Do I even want to survive this? What will I believe afterward even if I do make it through this?

What will survival look like?

I want to take you on my journey through a personal hurricane.

I want you to meet a God who walks in when the rest of the world walks out and marvel at a Savior who treads on the top of our storms.

I hope you will also hear a Holy Voice whisper, with a Voice so quiet that sometimes He must shut out everything else in our lives, so that only His Still Small Voice can be heard.

Okay, so here is where my story begins.

It’s January in the Central Valley of California. The weather is cold, foggy and miserable, which is normal for our winters.

I love my busy life. I have a job I love with people who are depending on me every day. I am tired most of the time but who isn’t in these stress-filled days we live in? When I’m feeling exhausted (which is most of the time) I chug another diet cola, get a new caffeine fix, and motor-on.

Flu is everywhere. It’s the season for flu. So I don’t think it strange when I wake up one morning feeling like I’ve come down with a “bug.” It’s a pain, but a minor inconvenience, not a devastating catastrophe. I curl up on my couch under my favorite quilt and resolve to endure a week of misery. But you know how flu is. As the day wears on I begin to feel worse until it feels like everything in my stomach is about to hurl, so I run for a bathroom. That’s the last thing I remember until I wake up on my bathroom floor lying in a pool of my own blood.

I’m laying there trying to figure out how bad I’m hurt. What happened and why does my face feel like I’ve been kicked by a mule?

I holler for help so a family member can call 911. Minutes later paramedics are putting me in the back of an ambulance and I am on my way to an emergency room at a local hospital.

a storm that terrifiesAfter three days of running tests my doctors come to my room to share their results. Starched white coats with grim faces and official looking clipboards begin to paint me a picture black and bleak.

They tell me of the health issues they believe I am facing.

Their findings were all based on erroneous information but that will only come into the light—later.

My doctors get it all wrong but in the meanwhile…

Me? I’m doing my best to listen and not freak out!

I try to listen hard to what these men are saying, but their “conclusions” don’t fit with the facts that I’m remembering and the evidence on my face.

In addition I am missing the most important thing I need. I don’t have the “inner peace” I depend upon when making life-altering decisions.

These doctors are telling me I need to begin a drug therapy program immediately, but when I ask them about side effects, they freely admit these drugs will cause great harm if they are the “wrong” stuff.

So I tell my doctors, “I have to pray about this.”

They just stare back at me in stunned silence. These men are used to being obeyed without question. They do not take it well when I tell them, “No, I will pray first—then we will talk about what to do.”

They argue with me but I stand my ground. They threaten dire consequences but I stand my ground. They storm out in anger but I am still holding on to my ground!

I want to talk to God FIRST.

In the middle of my storm I reach for the Gideon Bible next to the bed, trying my best not to panic.

Praying  a desperate prayer I say, “God I am in DEEP trouble. I don’t know what to believe. You HAVE to show me what to do—and I mean RIGHT NOW!”

I don’t usually talk to God like that, but when you’re caught in a TERRIFYING storm flowery prayers are the last thing on your mind!

After I prayed I opened the Bible to Isaiah 51 and this is what I read,

a closer walk“I, even I, am He who comforts you… so what right have you to fear mere mortal men, who wither like the grass and disappear? And yet you have no fear of God, your Maker? ~ You have forgotten Him, the One who spread the stars throughout the skies and made the earth. Will you be in constant dread of men’s oppression, and fear their anger all day long? Soon, soon you slaves shall be released; dungeon, starvation, and death ARE NOT YOUR FATE.” [Isaiah 51:12-14Isaiah 51:12-14
English: World English Bible - WEB

12 I, even I, am he who comforts you: who are you, that you are afraid of man who shall die, and of the son of man who shall be made as grass; 13 and have forgotten Yahweh your Maker, who stretched forth the heavens, and laid the foundations of the earth; and fear continually all the day because of the fury of the oppressor, when he makes ready to destroy? and where is the fury of the oppressor? 14 The captive exile shall speedily be freed; and he shall not die and go down into the pit, neither shall his bread fail.

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I closed the Bible and said, “Okay God, that’s good enough for me.”

 

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The Maggie Bright, Mystery Meets History at Dunkirk

I love it when an author takes a mystery and wraps it around true historical events. That’s what we have here in The Maggie Bright, A Novel of Dunkirk by Tracy Groot. The book is full of endearing and lovable square-pegs like Murray, Mrs. Shrew and the Burglar Vicar with vivid and colorful historical detail that is set against the backdrop of that Green and Glorious Island during one of her most desperate hours—Dunkirk.

The Maggie Bright

England, 1940. Clare Childs knew life would change when she unexpectedly inherited the Maggie Bright—a noble fifty-two-foot yacht. In fact, she’s counting on it. But the boat harbors secrets. When a stranger arrives, searching for documents hidden onboard, Clare is pulled into a Scotland Yard investigation that could shed light on Hitler’s darkest schemes and prompt America to action.  Across the Channel, Hitler’s Blitzkrieg has the entire British army in retreat with little hope for rescue at the shallow beaches of Dunkirk. With time running out, Churchill recruits civilian watercraft to help. Hitler is attacking from land, air, and sea, and any boat that goes might not return. Yet Clare knows Maggie Bright must answer the call—piloted by an American who has refused to join the war effort until now and a detective with a very personal motive for exposing the truth.  The fate of the war hinges on this rescue. While two men join the desperate fight, a nation prays for a miracle.

It’s been awhile since a book reached out and dragged me into a story like this one. The Maggie Bright,  is not what I expected but, “Wow, what a ride!” It took off right from the start, and by the time I reached page 86 and the following, I was hooked good and proper.

She fell upon her notes with hand-clasped rapture. “Isn’t life just full of glorious havoc at every turn? My dear Cecil would have something to say about these extraordinary times. He’s giving St. Peter an earful now, surely prodding him to join the great cloud of witnesses surrounding me; telling him to look on, just to see what that woman is up to next. Always called me ‘that woman.’ Always quite proud of me. Thought of me as rather a maverick…”

When Clare reached for a plate of toast crumbs, Mrs. Shrew placed her hand over Clare’s and said earnestly, “We’re in it together, aren’t we—this glorious and dreadful time that has come upon us?

I read this book in one day because I could not put it down!

I don’t think you will be able to either.

And let me finally say, “Bravo Ms. Groot, bravo!” I loved this book! You certainly make history come alive.

The Maggie Bright is available now on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Target, as well as your other fine book retailers.

I am most thankful to Tyndale House Publishers for sending me this complimentary copy in exchange for my review, and I sincerely hope there will be many more like this one to come!

 

I’ve Been Thinking…

A young blogger, one I admire greatly for her quirky posts and deep thoughts, has me thinking. Perhaps those inner musings that ordinarily never see the light of day might be of benefit to others.

Perhaps.

So, Rae, I dedicate this set of posts to you. The inventor of interesting questions that make me THINK rather than drift. I hope I inspire as you have inspired. To that end may we both aspire to represent a blend of humor, plus faith, sprinkled with honest doubts, in hopes of equaling a life transparent.

“Ah-hem,” so to begin.

I’ve been thinking as I’ve spent the last ten days in bed with another miserable cold, how much I dislike it when I am put in another cycle of WAIT on ME. All fine speeches of patience set aside for the moment, “Will I ever learn?”

This is decade numero six for Pete’s sake!

Perhaps it’s my strange dreams that get me going. Fever plus Grief Leftovers makes for strange mind journeys. I see the “what” but not so much the “why” except that the past is finally releasing it’s hold on me.

That’s good, for I am longing to step into something new but without all the baggage, or at least—not so much.

baggage

Is it possible I have one last grand adventure in me?

A Dream Splendid yet undreamed?

This cold reminds me that the spirit is willing but the flesh is indeed weak. But, I am also reminding me that Elijah did some of his best work at the last, after dark days in dim and distant cave.

For that matter, so did Moses, and Abraham, my heroes!

I don’t pray much these days because I am waiting. I don’t know what or how to pray—so even my prayers are “on hold.”

Still, I am strangely content in my dislike.

Is that even possible?

I don’t feel restive or as if I am pacing in my soul. “Thank you God!” It is indeed possible to enter into His rest.

Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.   Matthew 11:28Matthew 11:28
English: World English Bible - WEB

28 “Come to me, all you who labor and are heavily burdened, and I will give you rest.

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The Infinite Value of One

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We live in a day when everyone seems to be chasing BIG numbers.

(We measure by numbers.)

Big numbers seem to say, “This person is important.” or “You need to own that thing that everyone else is buying.”

Big numbers seem to equal a BIG deal.

Bigger equals better—that’s the world’s mantra!

But remember? The Kingdom of God is usually running counter to the world; the way the world thinks; and this I find to be particularly true when it comes to calculating the value of individuals.

Most media sites these days have folks seeking large volumes of “Followers or Friends, with people in hot pursuit of the most, Views or Shares.”

Unfortunately, no matter how many you might get? You’re always going to find some other guy out there, with a “score” that makes yours look like very small potatoes.

(…sigh.)

Welcome to my world.

I was thinking about this a lot this morning (definitely feeling like small potatoes) when I heard the Holy Spirit whisper softly to me,

“Would you still write, if there was only one person you were actually reaching each day? Would they matter? Would you write to encourage only them?”

Only them? Only one.

I said, “Yes LORD, even if there was only one because I know—every ONE matters to You. You left the ninety-and-nine to go and care for that one lone sheep. I know we all matter to you LORD. Every. single. one. We matter. Every single moment.”

You do matter, you know?

You are the only you God created. You are unique. Special. One of a kind!

Others may treat you as just another number on their score card, or just another “sale” they wanted to tot-up… but you are of so much more value than that.

So if today, you are feeling especially insignificant?

Please remember this:

You are priceless in the eyes of God.

He sees YOU and He has great plans… for YOU.

In His economy? One is a very BIG deal.

(So… you are.)

Who can guess at what “just one” might accomplish in this world?

Like maybe just one little… (previously unknown and unheard of…) Belgium nun—for instance?

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How much God cherishes each—one, of us.

There is a world-changer inside of you!

Maybe it time to turn the Infinite One inside of you, loose?

The two of you shall shake the earth.

(Count on it!)

 

The Parable: A Fearful Climb

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CATERPILLAR:

Oh, dear… oh, dear…

This thing You ask…

It is too much!

Remember me? I am only a tiny worm… that is all.

Fragile, Dream-Maker… easily broken.

Have You forgotten?

tree barkOh, dear. This tree…

This bark… it is too rough!

It hurts my feet!

How can I climb a thing so BIG?

CATERPILLAR:

Oh, dear… what if I slip? What if I fall?

Oh-why-oh-why, did I pray for wings!?tn_img_6542

Are you listening to me Dream-Maker?

If I fall? I shall be squished!! 

What then? What then?

Oh, what shall become of squished worm with squished dreams?!

I can’t look down…

I can’t look down…

 

(DREAMMAKER:)

Climb or die.

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CATERPILLAR:

Climb or die

     climb or die

          This is too hard!

You ask too—MUCH!

 

 

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The Parable: The Calling

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(DREAM-MAKER:)

The time has come…

We are here…

Climb.

CATERPILLAR:

Climb?

This?

Climb this tree?Aviary Photo_131148396786868564

No, Dream-Maker, I cannot!

It is too high!

This calling of Yours, You ask too much!

I cannot, I cannot!

 

(DREAM-MAKER:)

Climb or die.

 

CATERPILLAR:6d34573ead6fd06bd181fabebb00097b

Climb or die?

What kind of love is this?

Climb, or die?

You said You LOVED me?

How can you ask me this?

 

 

(DREAM-MAKER:)

Climb or die.

CATERPILLAR:the-giving-tree

Have You seen this thing?

It is so high.

You cannot ask a tiny worm to do this thing!

Dream-Maker pleeeeease!

It is too high—You ask too much!  (oh, dear… oh, dear…) How can I obey this thing You ask?

It is too high…

You ask too much…

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wISHING fOR tHE mOON

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In dismal mud ~ far from the sky
A thousand glittering nights sped by
Until the one meant just for me
A call to “Come…” to garden tree.

“Who me? I am too small!” I said
“What if I fall?” spoke Fearing Dread.
Yet somewhere from my coward’s heart
Came Maker’s whisper, “Now… Depart.”

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From lowest haunts to highest tree
“Come little one… come, follow Me.”
I looked at yellow moon on high,
And heaving one last fearful sigh…

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Began to climb up to the stars,
Past Craven Fear with iron bars
I inched my way to top of tree
Little… lonely… frightened… me!

“Begin to spin.” was all He said.72e109cfbdcf81c918900eaecfe7225e
I held on tight and bowed my head,
And spun… and spun… in pale moon’s light,
‘Til silken cords were fit just right.

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It’s dark in here! — He said, “I know.”
I cannot move! — “But you can grow…”
“Into the dreams I have for you,
When school is out, and you’ve come through.”

So in cocoon’s restricted place,
Suspended between time and space;
In midnight deep ~ a worm did croon,
The yearnings of it’s heart’s sad tune…

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I’m wISHING… wISHING… fOR tHE mOON.

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Far from the ground ~ far from the sky;
Stuck iN bETWEEN ~ not knowing why,
While swaying high in inky night
Came answering notes of pure delight…

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“If you will trust, and still believe;
A brave new heart you will receive.
New things called wings I’ll spin for you,
And fastened sure ~ we two shall view,

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The place where Starry Rivers run;
Where Hope is found and Fear undone!”
I’ll go I know ~ come night or noon,
Came daylight bright or puzzling gloom;

I’m breaking free from silken tomb,
For we’ll be off and conquering soon…

wE’RE wINGING… wINGING… tO tHE mOON!f47d28c7481075420ddf7e7639a39c59

2141989-czs-2-683_199So if you stumble on this cell,
Where sad caterpillar once did dwell,
And say, “I wonder what befell,
Small worm encased in tiny shell?”

sOMEWHERE oUT tHERE, bEYOND tHE bLUE,
sWEET mUSIC wILL fLOAT bACK tO yOU…

“Come fly, My Love, come soar above…
Moon’s cosmic light, to dazzling heights
And there you’ll see ~ spun just for thee,
Two gOLDEN wINGS ~ yOUR dESTINY!

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For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways. (Psalm 91:11Psalm 91:11
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11 For he will give his angels charge over you, To guard you in all your ways.

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