Ministry Moment: Good Gifts Prayer Walk

“One day we went to Guatemala and my prayer life was transformed.”

Don’t get me wrong, I’m still very much a work in progress. But once upon a time, 11 years ago we were invited to partner in mission work with those working in and around the Guatemala City garbage dump. I went to teach VBS. Who doesn’t love a good VBS? That’s my gig. I can easily organize a chaotic group of kids to sing and play and discover the promise of Hope in the Word of Christ Jesus. No problem. I was shocked when one day the missionary walked us through a shanty village and abruptly stated, “Now we will pray.”

Before I knew it we were knocking on doors and entering homes by the invitation of warm, but weary, residents. We introduced ourselves and said who we were with. We asked one question – “Is there a way we can pray for you today?”

I expected resistance. Heck, I was surprised anyone even opened their door. I expected small things, practical prayers, based on physical needs – the need for food, clean water, a better home than their current cardboard and corrugated metal shanty, or more money…any money…

What we got were prayers for healing after the loss of a stillborn child named Emilio, prayers for strength and others to walk alongside in the battle of alcohol addiction, prayers for a teenage son to know the Lord among the voices of friends who would only share with him darkness, and prayers for hope after a child had been kidnapped from them while they slept in their beds.

No where on this earth do we have less struggle, less concerns.

No where are we more desperate for the love and hope of Jesus. We all NEED it. We needed it yesterday, we’ll need it today, and by golly, you better believe that whatever tomorrow brings we are going to need it.

I realized that praying is a simple kindness with deep roots. Praying together is the sharing of the burden with one another so that together you can place it on the shoulders of Christ Jesus, the only one who can really hold it anyway.

I literally groaned with one mother, selfishly thinking of my 18-month-old, praying together for our children by the Spirit grace of a Spirit who intercedes when there are no words, no words (Romans 8:26-27). The beautiful thing is that groans of a fellow mother overcome the language barrier like few other things can.

Praying with others on this trip wasn’t about me and what I would learn and do, but isn’t it always like God to refine and teach in every moment? When we returned back to the States my conscience poked and prodded me. Why don’t I do this more? What is holding me back? So I made a concerted effort to pray with people like mad. And I mean like mad. I had to rip a Band-aid of distrust and embarrassment off like you would not believe! I still do, every day. I just have to do it…or I won’t. Every day it’s a battle of the Spirit in me against the Prince of Darkness –

“Pray with them…pray for them…just ask…I am with you…”

“What can your little prayers do?! Don’t humiliate yourself! They don’t want your prayers anyway!”

Thank goodness there is confession and forgiveness, and He doesn’t really need me to do His work, He just invites me to be a part of it all. Praise God that even prayer holds the same grace as every other piece of life lived with a Savior and Redeemer.

So, as part of our study of James, I created a prayer walk. It’s usable, whether you have studied James recently or not. Use it in your individual prayer life, in your small group Bible study, in your women’s group, at a prayer breakfast, anywhere! Here’s some ideas to get you started.

Some ideas for using the prayer walk:

Get up and walk! 😉 It’s good for us. Walk around your neighborhood, your church, your work place, anywhere and let in a little Gospel light by silently or quietly praying as you go.

Use the prayer walk for a “walk through James” as you sit in your chair for quiet time with the Lord. Spread the prayer walk out over multiple days, and pray one segment a day. You could do it on repeat for a season as well.

Journal your prayer journey with the prayer walk in your journaling Bible, prayer journal, a notebook, or scrap pieces of paper. Post it notes and 3×5 notecards are a personal favorite. Just get it out of your brain and into open space to share with the Lord.

Host a prayer breakfast or luncheon and work through the prayer walk (sitting or walking) as part of the program, or all of the program.

Use the prayer walk as an intentional time of prayer in your marriage. Use it every night for 9 days, or spread it out for 9 weeks, or whatever works.

Got another idea? Share it with us in the comments so that we can learn and grow together. Did you do something that works? Feel free to share that in the comments as well.

Pray, praise, and give thanks. Ask. Seek. Knock. Let the Spirit dwell richly. Watch and see what He has in store. He gives generously…

Click here for the free printable prayer walk

The Good Gift of Peace

We are given a great amount of freedom in this life. Yesterday, we covered the freedom to be warm, to invite others in, to be in meaningful relationship rather than a loneliness vacuum. We also have the freedom to believe what we would believe, even in the face of very real oppression in some corners of the world. We have the freedom to dance in the face of trial, to laugh when evil rears its ugly little head, because we know a God who is bigger, who is smarter, and frankly who is better than any of it.

Knowing God doesn’t give us these freedoms; they were there all along. But knowing God introduces us to these freedoms, opens our eyes to the freedoms we would miss otherwise. Read 2 Corinthians 3:16-17 to see how this works.

But when one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed.17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.

The veil is removed. If you look further back in your Bible at 2 Corinthians 3:12, which tells us we get to be bold.

I love bold. Bold speaks my language. I’m good for a soapbox and a heated discussion.

James comes in, to remind us again, of the two sides to every coin. As Christians we don’t just see one side in life, in conversation, or in any given situation. The veil is removed.

We are free to see two sides.

For the purpose of our study today, let’s look at the two sides of the coin that can be found in our words –

We can speak boldness.

And we can speak peace.

Read James 3:2-12.

For we all stumble in many ways. And if anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle his whole body. If we put bits into the mouths of horses so that they obey us, we guide their whole bodies as well. Look at the ships also: though they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are guided by a very small rudder wherever the will of the pilot directs. So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things. How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire! And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell. For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. 10 From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so.11 Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and salt water?12 Can a fig tree, my brothers, bear olives, or a grapevine produce figs? Neither can a salt pond yield fresh water.

We all have some words. I know I have a few. Sometimes they’re helpful, sometimes they would be better off tucked away with my tongue against the side of my cheek, mouth closed.

Let’s connect some dots. Write James 3:18 out for yourself, or read it out loud.

And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.

What does peace have to do with everything James talked about earlier in the passage? How is it connected to

a tongue setting the world ablaze

a ship of words that stays the course rather than being blown by the winds of time and raging emotion

words of sustenance for someone’s soul, rather than words of poison

tamed in the knowledge of the righteousness bestowed to every individual on the cross of Christ Jesus, rather than a rebel of selfish ambition, an animal that bites for attention and false affection

salt or fresh water?

fresh fruit or rotten?

James’s point isn’t that we will never be angry, that we will never go forth and proclaim the truth boldly.

Boldly go, friends. Boldly go.

But there are two sides to this coin. Even bold faith looks peaceable in Christ Jesus. The battle has been won. The victory claimed.

We just confess it.

Confessing is what helps us balance boldness and peace. We have a rudder, like James says. His name is Jesus. His Spirit guides our hearts and lives and, yes, our words.

Confessing is simply letting Christ guide, keeping Him at the center, considering in prayer before the words roll out – Dear Lord, help me find the boldness and help me find the peace, all in You.

Discussion:

Is your natural gift boldness or peace?

Can you tell us a time when you or someone you know had to speak boldly but peaceably?

Look back at James 3:2-12. Note any metaphors that James uses in this passage. He’s a word picture wiz. Isn’t it cool how God uses all our individual gifts to share His Spirit breathed message? The metaphors make hard truths, palatable. Which metaphor is the most helpful for you?

Fear and the Crazypants Cycle


Fear does funny things to us.

We once could look at life reasonably. We could hold discussions, share opinions, eat across the table from someone we disagreed with and not want to rip their head off.

But that’s anger, you say, not fear? Isn’t intent to harm, even when it’s deep inside us, never actually expressed- that’s anger?

No, no it is not, and it’s time to get honest about that. We are destroying one another, not because we are angry, but because we are afraid.

When I sit down at my computer, when I open my google plus tab, when I connect with my friends across miles and space, I see fear written all over the internet, and it makes us crazypants, which looks a whole lot like angry.

Let me introduce you to the crazypants cycle. I jest, but it’s real.

First, we are afraid.

We are afraid for our finances – will there be enough money? will I be able to make ends meet? will I have a job next month?

We are afraid for our marriages – will he still love me? do I make her happy? will we make it through the storm and the struggle?

We are afraid for our children – will a shooter come to their school? will they understand the values I try to pass on? is this world screwing them up? am I screwing them up?

We are afraid for our neighborhoods – if people look different, will I understand them? will they understand me? Different makes us uncomfortable, unsure.

We are afraid for our churches – where are all the people? what if we close? will our people hear the Gospel? will it change anything?

So many questions and so few answers. So much of life we don’t know, we don’t understand, we aren’t in control of. It’s scary. Life is scary. The world is a scary place, because this isn’t the way God intended it. Sin and divisiveness, hurtful words, selfish ambition, isn’t what we were created for. So we make assumptions, we jump to conclusions. We make accusations.

Enter anger.

We say things that should be said in person. We refuse to let someone disagree. We eat, sleep, and breathe this climate of anger until it sucks us in. We become unreasonable and we so desperately need to be right, that we become rude without noticing. We shift from speaking the truth in love to speaking the truth in rage.

And next, comes shame.

Words come out and relationships are affected in a way that “whoops” just can’t fix. So we crawl back under our original rock of fear, which was Satan’s original intent after all. Work done, he slinks under his own rock, slimy and satisfied.

But there is a solution to fear, which anger and crazypants can never give.

The Holy Spirit. 

He’s real. He’s a gift, left for us by a Savior that knew we would need Him like fish need water. He freely gives This Spirit in the waters of baptism. He welcomes the little children, the sojourner, the weary, and the weak, the disgusted, and the disgusting.

“…for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.”

2 Timothy 1:7

Let us lay our fears down at the cross of Christ Jesus, instead of the mob of social media. Let us lift our prayers to Him like incense, rather than battle uphill to be heard.

He gives us His gifts in our anger, and He gives us His gifts in our shame. He gives us His gifts in our crazypants. He never treats us as less than. He doesn’t need us to be right. He just offers us Redeemed.

So let’s bust out. Let’s bust out of the Crazypants cycle. Let’s call fear what it is, so we can put on love and self-control.

No longer a spirit of fear. Crazypants no more.

 

Confess Hope

 

It’s that time of year again, the time when New Year’s resolutions begin to creep out your back door when you weren’t looking.

There’s grace for that.

I’m not a resolution keeper, but I’m not really a resolution maker either. I’m one of the breed of people who choose one word for the year. However, I egregiously fail at keeping rules of any kind, particularly when they encourage keeping words to a minimum. I’m like a window shopper who has restraint in buying but absolutely no restraint in trying things on- I’ll try this one, and this one, and this one, maybe this one, two of those…

My one word is almost always two, or three, maybe four, if any of you remember from last year’s Fearlessly Wrong post. This year I was able to keep it to two words. Clean and simple. If I were honest, though, it’s not really my doing. My words were chosen in that way the Holy Spirit has when you read or hear a text of Scripture and a few specific words reach into your body and grab ahold with an unmistakable fierceness that cannot be ignored.

As I led a retreat this fall, Hebrews 10:23 resonated in my ears, and for many days after the retreat ended:

Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.

Hope is a beautiful thing. Without it we fade and we wither. I have visibly watched this happen, when life crashes in and hope drains from a face…a mother who loses a child, a friendship abandoned, a marriage left out to dry.

Most of you reading this as Christians know the Truth that our hope does not fade and it never disappoints. Our verse in Hebrews tells us that it’s stable and sturdy, because it depends on the Maker, who is ever and always faithful. But let me tell you another story. A story of people that do not know Hope as we know Hope. Sometimes life rolls in and covers us like a flood, the earth shakes beneath our feet with family drama, long held back pain rises to the surface, and people do not know where to turn. Who helps when hope seems lost? Can you even imagine, my friend? A world with no hope, with shifting hope, with forgotten or disappointing hope?

Our Savior offers us something different.

He offers us an anchor of Hope (Hebrews 6:19)

A Hope unshaken (2 Corinthians 1:7)

A Living Hope (Ecclesiastes 9:4)

A Hope of Joy (Proverbs 10:28)

A Hope for Trouble (Jeremiah 14:8)

A Hope that does not shame (Philippians 1:20)

But they will not know if we do not confess it. God can work any way that He wants, but He chooses to work through our words very often. He puts Hope in us undaunted and pouring out. He helps us to reach across the table at the coffee shop and say,

“Let me tell you my story of Hope.”

How has God worked Hope in your life? What has He brought you through? What adventures has He taken you on? What rock has He set your feet upon in troubled times and in times of victory? What path have you journeyed on and discovered more of Him and less of wantonness?

This is confessing hope. God weaves His Word into our hearts and when we tell the ways in which He has helped us find hope or see hope more clearly, we help someone else see hope in the darkness and in the light.

Confess Hope

Will you confess it with me this year? Share with us how you confess hope each day in the comments below. Spur us on to confess our Hope boldly in the Lord. You can print the Confess Hope wall art below. Tack it up somewhere to be seen and remembered. Put it in a pretty frame and give it to a friend who could use an extra dose of hope this winter. Save it as your phone wallpaper. Share it at your family table. Print small copies and hand them out like little pieces of hope candy, from your purse or your backpack. Leave them in surprising places. Whatever you do…

Confess Hope

May the words roll off our tongue in the comfortable and the uncomfortable places, to share Christ Jesus, to share Hope.

“My Hope comes from the Lord…Maker of heaven and earth. Let me tell you a little bit about it…”

 

Click on the image to download the pdf file. Thank you to Jennifer Tinkey for creating this reminder for us!

Gathered to Go


Eight weeks of study, friends. Eight weeks of walking in Truth –

He Calls You Beloved

He Calls You Ransomed

He Calls You Child

He Calls You Redeemed

He Calls You Clay

He Calls You Sought Out

He Calls You Gathered

We have stood in the promise that He aggressively pursues us, He picks us up from the dust and lifts our pretty heads, He infiltrates our lives with restoration and gives salvation to every little piece of brokenness He finds.

Oh, the Truth of it! The joy of a God who loves enough to proclaim my place at His table, a God who chases, a God who brings back, a God who says “Daughter, draw near.”

On this last day of study, let’s turn to the final chapter of Isaiah’s writing. I think you’ll find that God’s concluding message in this beautiful book is this…

Gather to Go.

Read Isaiah 66:18-23 –

“For I know their works and their thoughts, and the time is coming to gather all nations and tongues. And they shall come and shall see my glory, 19 and I will set a sign among them. And from them I will send survivors to the nations, to Tarshish, Pul, and Lud, who draw the bow, to Tubal and Javan, to the coastlands far away, that have not heard my fame or seen my glory. And they shall declare my glory among the nations. 20 And they shall bring all your brothers from all the nations as an offering to the Lord, on horses and in chariots and in litters and on mules and on dromedaries, to my holy mountain Jerusalem, says the Lord, just as the Israelites bring their grain offering in a clean vessel to the house of the Lord. 21 And some of them also I will take for priests and for Levites, says the Lord.

22 “For as the new heavens and the new earth
    that I make
shall remain before me, says the Lord,
    so shall your offspring and your name remain.
23 From new moon to new moon,
    and from Sabbath to Sabbath,
all flesh shall come to worship before me,
declares the Lord.

The message is not just that God gathers us, but He gathers us to gather those around us. He reaches His arm out and sweeps up not just me and you, but all of those we love, our offspring, and our neighbors, and our communities by the simple act of allowing ourselves to be gathered.

The message of Isaiah from beginning to end is consistently –

People matter to God.

He will do anything to reach them. He will send us to the coastlands (v.19). He will have us go and fetch the brothers (v. 20). He’ll use planes, trains, automobiles, camels, sheep, mustard seeds, pastors, teachers, and any other person, place, or thing to get to His people (v. 20). Day by day, He is faithful. From workday to rest, He is available and ready and willing to meet with us and seek with us. He will not desert us now, dear sister. He will not desert us now.

We need to Go.

Go…

He uses any means necessary to get to us

Go…

and use any means necessary to get to Him – Bible study, worship, relationship, conversation

Go…

and use any means necessary to reach the world

Go…

let them know, let all flesh know what you know

Go…

loved, honored, encouraged, held, entrusted

Go…

worshiping, giving glory, lifting high, offering up the good, the hard, the daily.

I wonder what message of Isaiah sticks with you the most? Which one is stickiest in this season of your life? Which one reminds you of your priceless worth in Him and His love for every soul walking on this earth?

Beloved

Ransomed

Child

Redeemed

Clay

Sought Out

Gathered

The message that sticks out to me the most is this: I am loved.

God says it flat out in Isaiah 43:4 –

Because you are precious in my eyes,
    and honored, and I love you…

And if I keep that to myself, I will be gathered, and He will continue to gather, but what woman out there needs to know? What woman has never heard that they are loved…with a love that never gives up, that never quits, and never lets go?

We need to Go.

I’d rather be a part of the gathering, girls. Because when I look around me, it breaks my heart to know that even one woman, one young girl, one precious child of God would cross my path without knowing the message that I know.

He Calls Me Loved.

Go Loved, girls.

Go Loved.

 

Exploration:

What message from Isaiah was the stickiest for you?

Who in your life are you a part of gathering with the message of God’s Love?

Let’s do this. Let’s gather. Share the photo on today’s blog, with a message you learned in Isaiah that stuck, and an offer of conversation. This can be public, like on social media or you can utilize the pdf below to share our free printables with individuals in your life, even just one. Whatever you choose, let them know that He Calls Them Loved.


 

He Calls Me Loved free printables