name='verify-v1'/> Big God - little d: September 2009

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

An Empty Journal

"The grass withers and the flowers fall,
but the word of our God stands forever." -- Isaiah 40:8

We have a routine, the Lord and I. Most mornings, I pull out my One Year Bible and see what God's Word has for me that day. Anything from His Book that stands out [intrigues, comforts, convicts, challenges, delights, distresses, clarifies, teaches] gets copied into a journal. For the past four years we have been meeting. And for the past four years I have been writing His Words back to Him.

In four years time, I have filled up 25 journals with Scripture.

Open a page in any one of those journals and God's faithfulness and glory is revealed through His Word. Read for a while and that particular stage of my faith journey and state of mind becomes clear, as well. God's Word has persistently and consistently been molding me into the person He intends me to be. Not that we are there yet!

Yesterday marked the beginning of fall and I celebrated by picking up a new journal. When I got home, I sat down to copy the words I had underlined earlier in the day. I had to smile when I saw Isaiah 40:8. How appropriate to begin Year 5 with an empty journal and the promise that His Word stands forever.

Father God,
Your Word is eternal. For so many years, I approached Your Word with little expectation. Forgive me. Remind me, Lord, to approach Your Word with fear and trembling for through it You will speak Life into my very soul. Speak to me, Lord. I am listening. In Jesus' name, Amen.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

A New Season

"There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under heaven:
a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain,
a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace."
--Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

There is a change in the air. Mornings are cooler. The alarm clock goes off but now it is pitch black outside. Fall is on the way and hope is riding its coattails!

It has been a long seven months for my family. For me. Grieving, surviving, adjusting to the challenges of moving to a new city...each day its own mountain needing to be scaled. Breathe in, breathe out.

Give me the courage to make it through the next five minutes.
Okay, how about the next five minutes?
Oh God, how am I ever going to make it through the whole day?

Falling asleep exhausted and getting up the next morning, begging for the courage to do it all over again.

Our family of five has been tested. This move has marked us; left us with tender battle scars, a new limp from freshly knitted bones and the memories of dark places. It has not been easy and yet, we are stronger for having gone through it. I am stronger for having gone through it.

Am I glad I moved? Not really. Not yet.

But I am grateful. I am grateful for the faithfulness of my Lord who has walked every step of the way by my side. I am grateful for the prayers and encouragement of my friends. I am grateful for the life lessons I have been taught as I have been forced to grow and change.

Even more, I am grateful to be moving beyond "survivor mode" to "thriving mode." The cooler breeze has ushered in a season of hope. I cannot wait to see what God has planned!

You are the God of Hope. Praise Your Name! Thank You that there is a time and place for everything under the sun. Forgive me for all of the times I doubted Your plan this past year. I want to believe You without reservation. Teach me, Lord, teach me. In Jesus' name, Amen.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Beyond Words - Prayer Part 3

"Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth." --Psalm 46:10

We are all called to pray. Even when I was a small child and didn't understand much else about God, I knew that prayer was important. It wasn't until I had reached adulthood that I experienced, first hand, how the practice of prayer establishes and grows a relationship with God.

As my prayer life has developed, I have taken great comfort in Romans 8:26 which reassures believers that when we don't know what to pray, "the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express." I also love that Jesus sits at the right hand of God as my advocate; my intercessor (1 John 2:1). It is easier to openly express my heart knowing that Jesus will filter my words before they reach the Father's ears.

The summer I turned 42, I answered the Lord's call to serve Him through intercessory prayer. This type of prayer was different than the other kinds of praying I had done before. I found myself burdened with the invisible, yet palpable, weight of certain people and events. Their names and faces traveled with me throughout the day...always with the understanding that I was to keep lifting them up to the Lord and praying for them as He directed.

For the last six years, I have been exercising this gift. It has become an integral part of my life. I fall asleep praying. I wake up with prayers already in my mind. Throughout the day, it has become second nature to agree with the Lord in whatever He has to say over situations and His beloved people. (In fact, I just stopped typing this in order to pray and answer a text from a friend who needed prayer because the enemy is trying to rob his joy -- the very joy he expressed, yesterday, over all the Lord is doing in his life.)

One of the things I love about God is how He continues to teach me new things about Himself through prayer. Last week, as I prayed for a mission team in Costa Rica, the Lord revealed Himself to me in a new way.

Thirty to forty minutes earlier, I had prayed my way through a long list of individuals. The Lord had directed me to claim a new Scripture for each one. Even though I enjoyed the end-result, the process was tedious. So, as I began praying over the mission team (a group of nine), I half-wondered if God was going to ask me to find individual Scriptures for them, too. Imagine my surprise when I sensed the gentle words,

"Shhh...Let Me talk." in, these are My children, I know what they need.

"Shhh...Let Me talk." in, this is My mission trip, I know what needs to be done.

"Shhh...Let Me talk." in, just be still and let Me do what I do best.

Immediately, I broke into a great big grin. Everything in me: spirit, mind, body became still. I closed my eyes in delight and bowed my head as our Father prayed perfect words over my friends.

After some time had passed, something in the air shifted and the moment drew to a close. I knew, without having to be told, that He was finished. I didn't dare add to the words that had already been spoken. There was no need. He had said it all.

"Be still and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth." --Psalm 46:10


Wednesday, September 9, 2009

God's Word - Prayer Part 2

"As the rain and the snow
come down from heaven,
and do not return to it
without watering the earth
and making it bud and flourish,
so that it yields seed for the
sower and bread for the eater,
so is my word that goes out
from my mouth:
It will not return to me empty,
but will accomplish what I desire
and achieve the purpose for
which I sent it."
Isaiah 55:10-11

It has been three weeks since the Lord called me to an intense time of intercessory prayer. It's a good thing school is back in session. This kind of prayer tends to spill over into every aspect of my day... which is good for the people I am praying for...but not so great for my family who has to live with me while I'm in a very distracted state!

Ever since the enemy rattled my fence, A Strong Hedge - Prayer Part 1, I have been extra diligent about staying in God's Word, not just for my sake but for those I am praying for. God has also been clear that I am to use His Word as I lift others up to His throne of grace.

Over time, I've discovered a few things about myself and what happens when I use God's Word in my prayers:

1. My prayers are shorter. God's Word is enough. I don't need to add to it.

2. I have greater peace when I claim God's Word for a person or a situation. I don't have to wonder if I said the right words or asked for the right thing. I have faith in God's Word.

3. It takes time to apply God's Word. Using God's Word in prayer requires me to do my homework.

In the past, I haven't always taken the time to search God's Word for the verse or verses which fit the circumstance. In the beginning, I didn't know I should. When I started to understand that it was a good and powerful thing to pray God's Word, I didn't know how. It was faster to pray words of my own then to face the task of searching God's Book - which is overwhelming in size and intimidating to those who are still learning their way around it.

It has become a bit easier as I have become more familiar with the Bible. Amazingly, my journals (filled with Scriptures that I copy during my daily reading) often yield the Words that are needed. Over time, I have purchased several books on prayer that identify helpful Scriptures. But, if I am somewhere with internet access, I will go to to search using a keyword or words. The beauty of this site is that I can pull up the same verse in multiple versions and compare the wording to see if the meaning holds true (to what I thought it meant). I can also look at the verses before and after to see the context in which they are used. This has kept me from misusing God's Word in prayer, more than once!

And that leads me to the last discovery.

4. There is no greater blessing than to claim God's Word on behalf of someone me and the one I am praying for.

" is my word that goes out
from my mouth:
It will not return to me empty,
but will accomplish what I desire
and achieve the purpose for
which I sent it." -- Isaiah 55:11

Father, Thank You for the knowledge that Your Word always accomplishes what You desire and never returns to You empty. Thank You for Your Word that blesses and teaches; convicts and heals. I love You. In Jesus' name, Amen.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

A Strong Hedge - Prayer Part 1

"Have you not put a hedge around him and his household and everything he has? You have blessed the work of his hands, so that his flocks and herds are spread throughout the land." --Job 1:10

I have been working my way through the book of Job these last few weeks (heavy duty reading). I have also been called to an intense time of intercessory prayer for family, friends, and others (heavy duty praying).

The whole idea of God and Satan having a conversation over a righteous man (Job) will have to wait for a different post. What I want to address is the reality of evil, Satan and spiritual warfare and how we arm ourselves against it.

If we are walking with the Lord and growing in our faith we should expect to gain the attention of the enemy. The simple truth is at some point in your life, you or someone you know will need to know how to respond to spiritual warfare.

In Job 1:10, Satan asks God a question about Job, "Have you not put a hedge around him...?" A hedge, as in, a hedge of protection. When I read those words an immediate question came to mind,

Q: How does Satan know there is a hedge around Job?

A: Because he has already walked the fence line.

He has literally prowled the perimeter of Job's world.

Job is not the exception. Satan does the same for all of us.

"Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour." -- 1 Peter 5:8

He looks for an opening in our hedge and uses it to his advantage. Our weaknesses become his exploit, distract, derail...anything to keep us from focusing on and giving praise to our God.

This past weekend, I volunteered at a concert for a well-known Christian artist. Through God's design, I ended up as one of the chauffeurs for the artist and the band. I had two jobs, really. My physical act of service was to drive the group from the airport to the church and then back again. My spiritual act of service was to pray for the artist.

For the past week or so, my prayers had been divided between the artist and a group of friends who were preparing for a mission trip to Costa Rica. The concert was scheduled for the same day that the mission team was heading to CR. So, when I wasn't praying for one, I was praying for the other.

While praying, something very unusual happened. The kind of thing that people don't talk about. The kind of thing that many people don't believe in. The kind of thing that makes people look at you sideways once you share.

I have been praying for discernment ever since the experience. I have thought a lot about this before writing a single word. And, I have asked for spiritual counsel before posting it. After all of that, I still believe God wants me to testify and to equip you for the future.

Here goes:
I was standing outside the conference room where the band had just finished eating dinner. Two volunteers were inside the room, cleaning up. I was out in the hallway, by myself, leaning against the wall in prayer.

Out of nowhere, I felt the physical weight of two hands on my shoulders shoving me downward. The sheer force of the blow took my breath away. I blinked my eyes and concentrated on breathing in an effort to keep from blacking out. As my knees buckled, I slid down the wall and crumpled in a heap on the floor. Had I not been leaning against the wall, I am convinced I would have been knocked over, violently.

I was completely caught off guard. I struggled to catch my breath. My mind raced trying to analyze and rationalize what had just happened. Dehydrated? no... Low blood sugar? no... Anxiety? (I took my pulse - it was unusually slow) no...

I was seized by an overwhelming need to pray. I didn't know if the need was for the artist or my friends who had just arrived in Costa Rica. I only knew it was critical to pray as if lives depended on it.

I must pray. I need my Bible.

My backpack was only 6 feet away but I couldn't stand up to walk over to it. I ended up crawling on my hands and knees and pulling it open. My heart sank as I realized my Bible was in the car. Don't ask me why, but I pulled out my journal and, with great difficulty, wrote down these words,

"7:12 p.m. Heavy hand shoving me to the floor.
Standing outside --'s band conference room/eating dinner.
Faint - heart beating very slowly.
Jesus. Jesus. Jesus. Jesus. Jesus."

I prayed in the hall until I could stand up (five-ten minutes?). On shaky legs, I slowly made my way to a chair in the conference room where the volunteers were working. One of the woman, took one look at me, and alarmed by what she saw in my eyes, asked if I was okay. I'm not sure how coherent I was but I shared what had happened in the hallway, that I was interceding for the artist and my friends in Costa Rica, and I needed help I asked them to join me.

They stopped what they were doing and, immediately, took a seat on either side of me. We joined hands and prayed. Afterwards, they returned to cleaning up. I could not stop shaking in the aftermath and was so grateful to be in the comforting presence of women of faith. I stayed in the room; on my knees in continued prayer.

To say I was rattled is an understatement. One minute I was fine. The next minute I was being assaulted? What the heck had happened? There is really only one explanation that fits:

I think Satan was ticked off because of the wall of prayer surrounding the artist and my friends in Costa Rica.
I think he was ticked off because he couldn't sabotage the concert or the mission trip (although he certainly gave it his best effort).
I think he was ticked off because I was a part of that wall that he couldn't penetrate.
I think he had already prowled my hedge and couldn't find an opening.
And, I think he shoved me in frustration when he saw that he was defeated -- the equivalent of a dog throwing itself against a fence, one last time, in futility.

So what do we do when the enemy throws himself against our fence line and rattles the boundaries that keep us under God's protection?

God's Word provides the answers:

1 Peter 5:9 says, "Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings."

How do we resist him? By putting on our armor before going into battle. Ephesians 6:10-18 talks about putting on the full armor of God in order to stand up to the devil and his pray without ceasing.

And, finally Revelation 12:11 reminds us that we have already overcome Satan by:
1. the blood of the Lamb (Jesus)
2. by the word of our testimony

Over the years, I have found that when a spiritual moment intensifies my prayers tend to do just the opposite. They simplify. My journal entry attests to this:

"Jesus. Jesus. Jesus. Jesus. Jesus."

"Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name,
that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father."
-- Philippians 2:10-11

The name of Jesus will never fail you.


is always enough.

Jesus, thank You for being enough. In your perfect name, Amen.