Sunday, September 28, 2014

Prayer Challenge

(My own photo. Dave and me on Pikes Peak.)
I remember the phrase, the family that prays together, stays together. Yeah, it’s a cliché, but for those families that truly pray together I believe there’s a bond that unites their hearts in a special way, no matter what; even when disagreements and family arguments make their way into our lives.

I grew up in a Catholic family that prayed together almost every single night until us kids got to our teen years. My mom had us get on our knees and recite memorized prayers before a crucifix or a Catholic statue before bed. Some nights it was hard not to giggle, exchanging glances and wobbling on our knees.

Now that I have a personal relationship with Jesus Himself, it’s easier to commit to prayer time because I’m spending that time talking with my very best friend. And talking is what I do the most. I’m sure He’s pleased with the fact that I’m learning to listen, too.

Is it now “nerdy” or “geeky” to pray? Is it too old-fashioned? Or is it merely the enemy’s plan to rob us of our strength, because united in prayer we’re a strong force to reckon with?

Some of my biggest blessings come through my husband laying his hand on my head every morning and praying over me before he goes to work. Not a complaint passes through my lips without him praying over whatever has me upset. I’m honored to be his wife, He loves me with a never-ending love; unconditionally. His love is without limitations.

We draw incredible strength from praying, out loud, together. It’s empowering and draws us even closer, creating more intimacy between us.

A guest speaker at our church, Pastor Deo from Uganda said, “Prayerlessness means you believe you can do everything in your own strength, without help from God. Depend on God!”

Pastor Deo went on to exhort, “Personal prayer alters have been destroyed, family prayer alters have been broken down and church prayer alters are formal and weak.”

Does this describe your prayer life?

I’d like to toss out a challenge.

Couples: etch out a few minutes each morning or evening to pray, out loud, together. Commit to it for a week and let me know what, if anything, changes in your lives. Singles: take that same time to commit to prayer everyday and watch for the results in your day-to-day life, and if you wouldn’t mind, fill me in.

We need to be entering into communion with the God of the universe; and seeking His heart on every matter, from our relationship with Him, to our knowledge of Him and His ways, to what’s on His heart and in His plans. Simply spouting off a grocery-type list of requests probably yields very little change.

We can be interceding for our children, our family relationships, our marriages and the marriages of those around us. The enemy seeks to destroy our children by hijacking our marriages. Yes, sometimes divorce seems to be the only answer to marital problems. But, sometimes it’s just the easiest or fastest to come by. In the long run, it can give Satan and his minions leverage against us, and our children. If you’re already in a blended family, pray for strength and unity, and courage to face life’s problems together.

We can be interceding for the unborn in our world, that the wombs that house them truly are the safest place they can be. We can come against radical Islam and witchcraft (which yes, is very much a reality) and against evil powers and the rulers of the darkness of this world, against wickedness in high places. Our battle is not with each other, though often it appears so.

“For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” – Ephesians 6:12 (KJV)

I look forward to hearing about what prayer is doing in your life!

Wednesday, September 24, 2014


(photo from
In our house, we generally watch television shows that Dave has previously set the DVR box to record. Seldom do we watch much, including the news, live.

Last night we watched Monday’s premiere of a new show called Gotham commercial-free because we could zip past them. I engaged with one of my favorite friends via Facebook, discussing it as we watched. She’d already seen it.

Caught up in the creativity of the writers, and the planting of characters and future story lines that most superhero geeks would find intriguing, I was enamored with the idea of the show. As one blatantly violent scene after another was touted before my eyes, I cringed and gasped at the blood, but tried to “get past it” to see the rest of what promised to be a great show. The filming was dark, which neither Dave nor I are fans of, but, that’s Gotham, a dark place.

But, enough is enough. And it was too much. Upon reflection throughout my mostly sleepless night (not necessarily because of the show), and revisiting several brutal scenes, I’ve decided that though I’d love to watch the creation of this enterprise called Gotham, I can’t endure and deem the horrific violence to be acceptable. In at least two of those scenes, innocent people were graphically killed right in front of us, the first in front of their child in the opening of the show; the last was the closing scene.

Yes, it is part of the storyline that Bruce Wayne’s parents were killed this way, but do viewers need to see it? Not this viewer. And yes, to appreciate the heroism that will rise in Detective, one day to be, Commissioner Gordon, we need to know what he’s overcoming in the dying metropolis. But, I don’t need such an in-my-face, ruthless, violent, apathetic display of brutality.

There have been many television shows that Dave watched where I had to leave the room. Call me a baby, but I don’t need those images in my head. The more we view this and tell our brain that it’s acceptable because it’s part of something good, the more desensitized we become to violence in general.

I remember my brain trying to break through how surreal it felt to watch the second of the twin towers erupt into flames as the second plane hit its target in New York in the infamous acts of 9/11. This was live TV. This was history in the making, yet it felt like a movie. It felt unreal. It felt unacceptable. It felt outrageous. It somehow became personal – and crippling. We all connected with the victims on a personal level that shook our nation.

That’s one of the things that can draw us into the shows we enjoy, a personal connection. It’s what makes comedians funny to us; relating to their jokes.

I realize that evil is part of our world. Children in war-torn, third world countries grow up in a reality that few of us have ever known, nor can appreciate; thank God. I know hatred and killing and tormenting and viciousness are around me. But won’t seeing it with my own eyes plant fear in me? Won’t those images become scars in my brain? I’ve endured scenes in movies that will haunt me forever, just so I could see “the bad guy get it in the end.” How stupid was that?

I don’t want to be naïve, but I don’t plan on watching these atrocities when I don’t have to. If watching this stuff spurred us on to do something about it, then bravo. But, in general, it does not. More and more of us become part of the problems, shunning and dodging the responsibilities of being part of the solutions.

I get it; fiction and fantasy have their place. It’s not the first superhero show to take it to this extreme. But, I for one don’t find this display of violence acceptable or necessary. But, it’s realistic, Helen! Yes, a bit too realistic in many cases. Just because violence like this happens doesn’t mean I want to watch it from my bed or my living room. As much as I want to see this universe of the Batman dimension unfold, I can’t.

And let this serve as a warning to the parents who would let their children watch this show, simply because it’s a “Batman show” – watch it first and then decide.

(I hesitated to put a scripture verse on this blog post. I don’t want to come across as holier-than-thou; this blog post is merely my own personal conviction and viewpoint.)

Sunday, September 21, 2014


(photo from
We are all created, by God, with such vast potential that as we are, we cannot wrap our head around all that we can be. And when we become what we couldn’t see yesterday, we still cannot comprehend what we can be tomorrow. We compromise when we surrender to the worldly idea that what we see in our reflection is all there is to us; all that there will ever be in the framework of what we call, “me”.

Being designed in the very image of God, we not only have creative potential, we are creative potential. So it’s not just a matter of what we can do with what we’ve been given, but of what and who we are. We are not human doings, we are human beings.

An apple tree, in all its splendor, gets noticed for what it can produce; beautiful apple blossoms and delicious apples. But whether there is fruit on the tree or not, it’s still an apple tree. Whether we appear to be contributing much to the world around us, we are still people.

We are the crowning glory of God’s creation, not that we were necessarily created to be better that everything else He created, but that we are created to be above the rest.

In the creation account we read: “Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”” – Genesis 1:26-28 (NIV)

I don’t believe for a minute that God wanted us to destroy or be cruel to the life  He put here on earth for us to rule over, but rather, to take care of it, to cherish it and to respect it.

I believe He created us to be power-filled, not impotent and self-deprecating. Power can be usurped, abused and surrendered. God’s Word tells us that the first humans yielded the authority He gave us to an enemy, who crept in with subtlety and deception. Now, of course, being the question-asker I am, I have plenty of questions about this whole scenario, but those questions don’t discount the reality that it happened.

At the point of surrender, our power and authority became perverted and misused, mocked and questioned, even thrown back into the face of our Creator.

Yet, our potential remains. We are still God’s image-bearers, though His image has been tarnished and twisted. And though His image is marred, He remains the same as He’s always been; perfect.

My reflection looks nothing like me if I stand before a dirty, smudged and cracked mirror. Yet if I believe I am as I see that reflection, I’m already defeated before I begin to grow into all I was created to be.

The result of believing the lies the enemy speaks into our lives? His plan to “…steal, kill and destroy…” is put into motion. The life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ redeems us from that plan. (John 10:10)

An acorn can sit on our windowsill and forever be an acorn. However, some will fall to the ground and grow into mighty oak trees. Unlike the acorn, our potential includes choice.

Are you metaphorically sitting in a window, enduring the world around you; are you settling for the enemy’s plan? Or are you choosing to look into your God-given potential and maturing into all that God has for you and for us, through you?

Tuesday, September 16, 2014


(photo from fanpop,com)
In my world, we have a plethora of shoe styles, though in third world countries  the average citizens often go barefoot; the soles of their feet becoming tough at an early age.

For us, life is easier when our feet are properly (or beautifully) shod. Man has designed snow shoes to more effectively trek across deep snow. We have so many sports shoes it makes my head spin; walking shoes, running shoes, basketball shoes, football cleats, golf shoes, cross-fit shoes, ballet slippers, tap shoes, etc.

In our culture, people spend mega-bucks on shoes, and even the closets we put them in. Whether it’s the best sports shoe or the fanciest heels, women in particular, are stereotyped as shoe collectors, squandering huge portions of our paychecks on footwear.

Shoes are vital to our attire, our performance, and the protection and comfort of the wonderful body parts we call our feet. It makes sense, to me, that at some point, shoes would be mentioned in the Word of God.

Moses was told to take off his shoes at the burning bush encounter because he was standing on holy ground. But, over in Ephesians 6 we’re instructed to put on a warrior’s attire. This includes a specific type of footwear; shoes made of peace. What might these shoes look like? Peace isn’t a fabric like leather. Let’s look at a few verses from scripture and the meaning of the word peace found there.

“Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand…” – Romans 5:1-2 NIV

“Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.” – Colossians 3:15 NIV

In both places, according to my Strong’s Concordance, the Greek word for peace means: “one”, “quietness”, or “rest”, combined with “being made at one again”. We need to be at peace with God (being made one with Him again) and with ourselves (not waging an internal war over our past, current circumstances or even future events) to effectively present the gospel in our world and to face life’s everyday battles victoriously.

At last weekend’s conference, I listened as Joyce Meyer taught on living from a place of rest and resting in Christ. She pointed out that the first full day of life on Earth for Adam and Eve consisted of a day of rest; day seven, where even God rested from His work. This is where our purposes are realized and we can begin to walk in them.

Without this peace, or rest, with and in God and within ourselves, walking through life will be as painful as bare feet on broken glass. Both arenas of peace are acquired only through Jesus Christ. In Him, whether our feet are bare or wearing Army boots, our feet are beautiful.

“How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of them which bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, “Your God reigns!” – Isaiah 52:7 NIV

“And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!” – Romans 10:15

Or as our pastor put it, “…how beautiful are the feet that kick down the doors of the enemy [setting the captives free]?”

What are your shoes made of?
(photo from
(photo of sneakers from; photo of brown suede shoes from; photo of funky looking sports shoe from, my apologies, the caption feature of blogspot wouldn't work on those photos for some reason.)

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Open the Ears of Your Heart

(picture from
 Have you ever complained that you can’t hear the voice of God?

In a nutshell, God speaks to us from the inside. If you don’t hear from Him, is it because you never invited Him in? If you’re one of God’s own, you’ve heard His voice.

Jesus tells the Pharisees, and each one of us, The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice.” (John 10:3-4 NIV)

The other day someone shared a quote with me about salvation through Christ. I don’t recall where the line originated, but it stuck with me. The idea that we’re all sinners, always falling short of the high standard of God on our own, ruffles some feathers. “I’m a pretty good guy, why would a loving God send me to a place of torment? I’ve never killed anyone, I don’t steal, I’ve never committed adultery. I’d say I’m an alright kinda guy….” This is one person comparing himself to the unrighteous people he perceives around him. God does not compare us to each other. We stand before His Son, Jesus, who was completely without sin, though tempted in every way we are.

With God’s grace freely available to all of us, we’re invited to put on His righteousness in exchange for our own filthy, sinfulness. The wages of sin have already been paid by our Redeemer. Once we recognize this truth, that’s one sure way of knowing we’ve heard His voice.

Oh, that quote? - “It’s not about being good or bad, but about being dead or alive!”

We can’t impart this truth to one another without the Holy Spirit. Jesus said, “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them…..” (John 6:44 NIV) In Acts 1:4-5 Jesus told His disciples, “…Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.” He goes on in verse 8 to say, “…you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses ….to the ends of the earth.” So, by the gift of the Holy Spirit, from the Father, poured out on believers after Jesus ascended into the heavens, we can share the good news of salvation through grace. Our words and actions can present the gospel, but only by the power of the Holy Spirit do we perceive Truth.

Remember when Jesus asked of Peter, “Who do you say that I am?” Peter declared that Jesus is the Son of the Living God. And how did Jesus respond? Yes, He no doubt grinned from ear to ear when He said to Peter, “Blessed are you, Simon, son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven.” (Matthew 16:17 NIV)
(picture from
Flesh and blood cannot prove or reveal God’s Truth in any meaningful way without the Holy Spirit. God’s Truth is not a doctrine or a line from the “Good Book” – God’s Truth is a person, the person of Jesus Christ, His only begotten Son.

To be drawn to God is to hear His voice. Listen not with your ears, but with your heart. The ears of our heart hear music. “….Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts.” – Hebrews 4:7 (NIV)

What have you heard God speak to your heart?

(photo from