Praying down the walls

jericho

“March! 1-2-3…March! I’m the line leader!” my 5-year-old confidently proclaimed as she established her territory around the perimeter of our living room.  She held that leadership position for all of a minute before she was ousted by the elbows and shoves of her 3-year-old sister.

“No, I’M the line leader!” the little one rebutted, with her hat on her head, her flute in her mouth, and her full-fledged courage in her steps.  They would’ve marched (and fought) all day if I didn’t step in to set them both straight and place them BOTH back in line.

As I halted their mini-march around our little house of Jericho, I thought back to the bible story.  When God’s chosen people, the Israelites, marched in the POWER and the presence of a mighty God, the impossible happened.  Walls came crumbling down.  And they made it into their promised land.

I think about us, our families, our faith and the walls of doubt and struggles that we all face.  And how we have the same God-granted opportunity to hold our position in prayer, to blow our horns of praise, and to keep marching on in faith.  And then, by the hand of the living God, watch those man-made walls come crashing down.

How long did they march? As long as it took.  How long should we keep marching and praying until we make it to our promise?  As long as it takes.  Until the walls come crumbling down.  And know that He who promises is always faithful.  So march and pray on girlfriends!  Pray on!

Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. Hebrews 10:23

By faith the walls of Jericho fell, after the army had marched around them for seven days.  Hebrews 11:30

Song:  Place of Freedom (I’m gonna shout your name, ’til the walls come falling down!)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d1ThjwPQDBU

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The same applies to praying for our country as we consider the obstacles we face as a nation.  Technically, the Israelite priests, leaders, marched around the city of Jericho 13 times before the walls finally came down. So ironically today, on MARCH 13th, I’m revisiting Jericho, as well as our own country’s challenges.

With that thought in mind, I want to highlight a new book, Exploring the Faith of America’s Presidents, by my friend Kendra Armstrong. With lives short on time and long on lists, this quick read sums up what many of us have wondered, yet never taken the time to explore: Where did our own presidential “line leaders” stand on matters of faith, and even more, what words have they spoken that have stood the test of time?

Check it out.  The authors have done all the research and wrapped it up in an easy-to-understand, quick-to-read format, and even better–they’ve provided faith principles to apply!

A favorite presidential quote from the book:

“If we ever forget that we are one nation under God, then we will be a nation gone under.” Ronald Reagan.

 

kendra-armstrong   Kendra book

FIND IT ON AMAZON:

http://www.amazon.com/Exploring-Faith-Americas-Presidents-Homeschool-ebook/dp/B00DW5RPFS/ref=cm_rdp_product

God never forgets a promise

He engraves & doesn't forget

He engraves & doesn’t forget

Ever felt forgotten?  Chances are, you have and you haven’t forgotten it. Think back to being a kid.  Sitting on the cement step in front of the school, counting the cracks and the minutes. Elbows propped on knees, hands hugging flushed cheeks, and hound-dog eyes sagging to the ground.  Felt like an eternity didn’t it? Until you heard the rumbling sound of the station wagon engine chugging along, and then those crunching wheels finally smacked the curb.

I had a punctual parent, but it only takes one time to always remember feeling forgotten.  I re-lived that scene weeks back.  Only I was a big 38-year-old kid this time, and I thought God was the forgetful parent.

I’ve been sitting here waiting on a God-size promise with a girl-size problem. I don’t like to wait.  It’s hard to be patient when you’re still hurting. But right here in this little writing spot, He gave me a verse in my head for another post.  I slid on past it, until I heard it again.  And then again.

“See, I have engraved you in the palms of my hands.” Isaiah 49:16. The God who made me knows that when I really want to remember something, I write it on my hand. Always have. But I use ink that smears, while He permanently engraves.

After the same verse came across 3 times from 3 different places, I gave an upwards nod, for a second.  I asked my husband, “You think maybe God’s talking to me?”  His reply, soaked with love and drenched with sarcasm, “Ya think?”

I placed the thought on a shelf and forgot all about it.  Until I came face-to-face with it two days later. I darted into my women’s bible study, scanned the room for my usual chair, and then reluctantly settled into one across the room from it. A lovely lady had taken my spot.

I didn’t like it.  Not a bit.  I like the usual.  The planned. The comfort zone.  Come on, I can’t be the only one.  You know what I’m saying.  “Lord, don’t mess with me–or my chair. Not today.”

My fellow leader even remarked, “We’re changing it up this week, huh?” I smiled, but I had itching hands and ants in my pants. I was ready to scramble across the room as soon as a spot opened up, but prayer time came a second too soon, and it was time to humbly bow and pray.

I was on bended knee, but truth be told, I was still holding onto the humble part.  I uttered a short and simple prayer, “Lord, you’re a promise keeper,” and I kept it at that. Just in case He needed some reminding.

Then straight from the mouth of a precious woman, but straight down from the throne of grace, I heard her say, “And Lord, you never go back on your promises.”  I unclenched teeth and hands, and handed over my humility in that moment.  Right before the floodgates of forgotten opened up, and the silent, warm tears flooded down.

We Amen’d, I stood up, and turned around to face the wall I’d had my back to all along, and then I looked up. There it was. I came eye-to-eye and hand-to-hand with Him.  Again.  You’d have to see it to believe it.  Yet sometimes He asks us to believe it before we see it.

He never forgets you

He never forgets you

I had to take a camera shot, just so I wouldn’t forget.  A child’s picture page, with the hands of Jesus filled up with the names of His kids. Not one forgotten. I’d been sitting in that room for months, and hadn’t seen it once.  From across the room, I couldn’t see the picture, much less hear His words. Girlfriends, He saves us a seat, and He never forgets His promises.

If you’re still waiting on His hand, know that the hand you’re waiting on, has your name all over it–engraved with HIS handwriting.   And that’s a promise you can keep.  Now don’t you forget it.

The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.  2 Peter 3:9

But for you who fear my name, the sun of righteousness shall rise with healing in its wings. You shall go out leaping like calves from the stall. Malachi 4:2

But as for me, I watch in hope for the LORD, I wait for God my Savior; my God will hear me. Micah 7:7

How to pack light for a heavy trip

CLOUDS

I love to travel, but I hate to pack.  We just returned from a week-long getaway, and I bet I crammed three weeks of stuff into a week’s worth of play. I never pack light.  It’s just not me. But the problem with packing is that what you pack, you have to carry.

So as we’re traveling around, we’re also lugging around way more than we need. And far more than I should be carrying.  Especially with these pesky herniated disks I’ve got.  The uninvited stowaways that slow me down, even without my bags. That leave me fed up and worn down at home and away.

This week after huffing and puffing from the unseasonable cold of Louisiana, I sat down on one of God’s red rocks of Sedona, Arizona.  Surrounded by the golden glow and rustic warmth, I still carried a chill inside.  In the midst of physical pain, whirling thoughts of the “what if’s” crept in to steal a breathtaking view.

What if this is it? What if the healing never comes?  What if the prayer goes unanswered?  What if I heard Him wrong and I didn’t get it right?  What if He changed His mind?

And then I slowly unpacked a well-placed, God-given, feather-light message.  Sitting on a rock that hasn’t moved.  And yet even more, we stand on the immovable Rock of Jesus, who’s the same yesterday, today, and forever.  He stands the test of time in the middle of our own time of testing. He doesn’t change His mind.  He still heals.  We still hear, and He still draws near.

I pictured a life lived lighter.  Without all of those stowaways.  And while I’m waiting on His healing hand, maybe He’s waiting on my white-knuckled hands to move as well.  To relinquish a few things.  To let go of past mistakes, to unzip regrets, unfold disbelief and then hurl them over the edge.  Standing tall and peering over to watch them fall splat before pulling out the light layers of obedience stashed way at the bottom. They look too heavy and hard, but they go on light and easy.

With empty hands poised and ready for a heap of blessings, I look up.  To clouds of white fluff kissing a sky of serene blue.  My mind floats back to those God has used to spur me on in my faith. To grandparents’ prayers.  Back to when God lit a flame that has yet to dim.  And when He sent me straight to the well of His Word for a life-long friend.  Back to when cancer took her body, and Jesus took her home.

With head in the clouds, I think about the heavenly welcome party for my mom nearly a blink ago. How they all went home empty-handed, but with spirits filled to the rim with love and faith. That’s how I want to live here. Letting go of life’s luggage.  With grateful hands held high.

We can have assurance here that although we run and sometimes stumble in our faith for an audience of One, we are rallied on by an audience of many.  Are you carrying baggage that slows you down?  Are you like me, heavy-laden waiting years for an answered prayer?  Take heart, rest on the Rock, and move in close to the hand of grace.  And then Shhhh….listen.  Can you almost hear them? The roar of the clapping crowds?  Look high and listen up.  That’s your cloud of witnesses cheering you on!

If you know someone who needs this reminder, SHARE with the one you love!

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Hebrews 12:1

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light. Matt. 11:28-30

 For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so through him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God. 2 Cor. 1:20

 He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken. Psalm 62:6

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. Heb. 13:8

In need of target practice to reach your goal?

Micah bow and arrow

Here’s my lesson on how to reach a goal with a whole lot of target practice.

The dawn of day has yet to crack, the chickens are still snoring, and I awake to the sound of rubber slamming glass at record high speeds.  Snap. Donk!  Snap. Donk! Again and again. “What in the world?!” I say as I run to the kitchen.

And there she is.  Brown hair, bright eyes, and every bit of bushy-tailed. A brand spanking new 5-year-old holding her brand new bow.  And not the girley-girl, big bodacious hair bow kind. I’m talking about the real deal. Her current weapon of choice. All pearly plastic with suction cup tips.

“What are you DOING?!” I ask and glare with stinging, sleep-deprived eyes.  Doe-eyed but willful, she responds, “I just can’t even help myself from shooting it, I just love it so much! I gotta get that circle!”  Pause.  Now for the kicker.  She adds, “And YOU gave it to me!” No, she didaaant!  But wait a minute, I sure did. I gave her the bow AND the gumption.

“Oh, girl,”  I sigh. She’s got me, but even more, He’s got me.  Point made. Right on target. What a picture.  Scotch-taped to the window.   I’m sleeping while she’s aiming.  And she ‘aint stopping ’til she gets it.  She’s got an early morning date with destiny.  A big red dot ready for her mark and her initials carved right in the center of fear and failure.  They taunt and they tease.  Then she shuts them up and smacks ’em down with the end of a well-aimed suction cup. And then again.  And again.  She’ll aim dead center for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

So where’s your mark?  What’s your big red dot?  Write it down.  And you plaster and paste it for your eyes to see.  Visualize the target day in and day out. Whether it’s a goal, a quota, a number or theme.  A yearly resolution or a daily devotion.  Believe more.  Then doubt less and fast fear. Give them up, lay them down, and pick Him up.  Have a CROSSbow moment.

How are you gonna hit the target? You’re going to use the gifts He gave you.  And if what’s on that list, that goal, that number, is for your good to display His glory, chances are, He’s the one who gave it to you in the first place.  And He gave you the gifts to get it done.  For first place.  And while you hold them in your hand, you remember that He’s got your initials engraved in the palm of his.

My girl’s aiming for a red dot on a window. I’m aiming with God’s red letters shot straight to the heart. Now you give it all you got.  And you got this. Because He has you.  He’s got you in His sights, and girlfriend, He plays for keeps. He aims to win. Your heart and those all around YOUR circle. Pull back, hold steady, aim high.  But look straight ahead.  Don’t turn to the left or the right.  Eyes on the circle and the prize. Now let it go. Whoosh!  You got it!  Now keep going.  Again. And again.

Practice Reminders: (Again and again. And again.)

And the LORD answered me: “Write the vision; make it plain on tablets, so he may run who reads it.” Habakuk 2:2

Remember the LORD your God. He is the one who gives you power to be successful…Deut. 8:18

Every good and perfect gift is from above. James 1:17

See, I have engraved you in the palms of my hands…Isaiah 49:16

So be careful to do what the LORD your God has commanded you; do not turn aside to the right or to the left. Deut. 5:32

I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. Phil. 3:14

Micah target

 

Still in Need of Training Wheels

11867370124_6b83ae685a

“Thank God for training wheels!”  That was my recent exclamation when my little speed racer took her first topple on wheels.  Her confidence and pride are reluctantly recovering now.   She’s skittish of turns and her hope is more hesitant.  But it’s still there.

What she’d really like is for me to walk alongside her, hold onto her handlebars, and never let go.  Truth is, today on her 5th birthday and every day after, I’d kind of like to do that as well.  Then I’m reminded that I can’t ride it for her.

But I sure can relate.  Most days I’d like for God to ride this life out for me, too. Yet He allows me to do the heavy peddling, while He guides and steers the way.  When I let Him.

All the while our sweet Heavenly Father keeps His hand securely on us. Even on days when it seems as though He might’ve taken it from us, we can trust that it’s just to show us how to use the strength He’s given us.  To put faith to peddle and muscle to might.  Here is where we regain our confidence and our grin, all the while trusting in Him.

Besides His hand and His presence, I’m also learning to lean on what I overlooked before.  The training wheels. Steady and true.

Much like my daughter, I didn’t pay them much mind. They’re hard to see and easy to miss with eyes locked on shiny new paint and sparkling streamers flowing from  handlebars just calling your name.  And when she took that hot-pink wonder for a spin, she was too busy looking up, mindless of what steadied her.

Isn’t that what we do as well?  When we’re riding high, full speed ahead, we pay little mind to what steadies us. Until we’re halted. Until we fall.

I think God uses ‘training wheels’ to coax us back up and get us back going.   As I fly through life,  caught up in the sparkles or down in the dumps, I want an awareness of the sturdy support He provides through those that uphold me.  The friends. The family.  The ones that encourage and assure me, when I’d surely topple on my own.

With texts and calls saying simply, “Just thinking of you. Keep going, don’t give up.” And the prayers that I didn’t even ask for.  That I’ll never even know about. Until I need them.  When I almost fall, but don’t.

Pulling over to the side now for a thankful pause.   Lord, help me to see those that fade into the background to help push me forward in my faith.  Bless them right back.

And If you’ve put motion to my wheels and helped me with your prayers, check your phone.  That’s me texting you.  Just to say thank you (TY in texting terms).  From the top of my head, through the bottom of my heart, and down to my peddling toes, thank you.