Innie or Outtie?

“What do you wish you’d done differently when you were a young mom?”

I so wish I’d prayed daily to become an innie!

Now I’m not referring to belly buttons but instead I wish I’d grasped in the depths of my heart that my value came from within and not from without.  What a difference this would’ve made in my life!

It’s like I’m an empty box and all my life I’ve looked to things outside of me to give me value – what I do, what I have, what other people think of me…


But the reality is when I became a Christian, I wasn’t just saved for eternity, but God’s Holy Spirit literally came to live inside of me.

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That’s of greater value than if a ton of gold was poured inside me!

But I still kept living as if things outside were needed to give me value.  So when my son was a baby and my husband would come home from work and ask “What did you do today?”  I’d burst into tears.  I’d had a full day, nursing him, changing his diapers, caring for him… but there sure wasn’t much to show for all my efforts.

Did the enemy ever use this to rob me of contentment.

When my son celebrated his first birthday I decided to head back to school and get more training so I could do something of value.  Now I’d heard on a Focus on the Family broadcast that it was important if possible that moms not be away from their children during their first three years of life more than 15 hours a week so I worked out my schedule never to be away from him more than that.  When I put him down for bed at night I’d study till 2 in the morning then sleep until 6 am.  I lived an entire year only getting 4 hours of sleep each night and I was sick the entire time.  Pretty ironic as I was teaching personal and family health!

Even though I wasn’t physically away from my son I wasn’t very present emotionally or mentally.  I’ll never forget trying to study for an exam one Saturday and my son kept coming in wanting me to help him, play with him, ask me questions…  After about the fifth interruption he went back to his dad and exclaimed, “Mommy isn’t very nice.”

Sadly I wasn’t the only one being robbed here…

And the crazy thing is on the night I graduated the Lord woke me up asking, “Dream big Deb.  What’s the biggest dream you can come up with for your life?”  And after I shared how I was going to work part time as a consultant, designing programs for hospitals, providing continuing education classes on the weekends, He exclaimed, “That’s nothing compared to what I can do with your life if you’ll give it all up and wholeheartedly follow me.”  You should’ve seen my husband’s face the next morning when I told him I believed the Lord didn’t want me to work!  But I did what I sensed the Lord was leading me to – and I can’t even begin to tell you how thankful I am now!

Though I will say, my search for significance (and being robbed by the enemy because of this!) didn’t end.  It just morphed into looking to being a mom to give me value.  I wanted to be the best mom I could be – and help my son be the best he could be.  Sounds good – except it sure can get ugly when you’re looking to this to give your life value and meaning.

“Did you just call me a fool mommy?”  My son had been practicing his piano and not very open to correction, so in frustration I’d shared the verse Proverbs 12:1  “a fool hates correction.”  Of course I quickly pointed out he was acting like a fool not that he was one.  But did that ever stop me in my tracks!  I so needed to guard my tongue!  The problem was I really wasn’t aware what was fueling my reaction.

What a blessing it’s been to finally understand – not just in my head, but in the depths of my heart – my value is a set thing. And it’s not because of anything I do or don’t do, have or don’t have, or what others think about me – it’s because of what’s inside me, God Himself, that I have tremendous value always!  …even on my worst days!

The sad thing is you can’t just do a Bible study or read a few verses and get this.  That’s why if I could go back I’d be praying every single day asking the Lord to help me be an innie – to understand and embrace this truth in the depths of my heart.  Can it ever help protect you (and those around you!) from being robbed by the enemy!

Love is Kind… It does not rejoice in evil… It ALWAYS Protects!

If he hits you, if he causes pain, whether physical or mental, that’s not love.  It doesn’t matter how sweet or sorry he is the next day, it doesn’t matter how many gifts he brings you, how handsome or wealthy he is, it doesn’t matter if he promises to change, or if he says he only did it because of what you did… that’s not love, that’s a neon sign to get out, get away, leave the relationship.

Today is a great opportunity to consider what love truly is… and isn’t!  And to share that with those younger than you!  No longer can we assume people know.

Over 100 million copies of the book Fifty Shades of Grey are circulating and today the movie releases.  Don’t think because it’s rated R and can only be viewed by people over 18 that the younger generation isn’t being impacted.  This isn’t the first work of BDSM literary porn, but it’s the first to hit mainstream culture and be embraced.  Even Sherwin Williams is using “50 Shades of Gray” in their advertising!

Facebook is flooded with articles about why you shouldn’t see or read this…. And what’s the best way to get those younger to want to read or view something?

Yes, this is “just a work of fiction.”  But story is a powerful way of communicating and what this story is communicating has the  National Center on Sexual Exploitation off the charts concerned.  You see, it’s every woman who remains in an abusive situation’s dream – that if I just stay with him long enough and am obedient and loving enough he’ll change.

That’s the way this story ends – but that’s not reality!  On the contrary, The National Center on Sexual Exploitation states on its website that this movie, “Glamorizes and legitimizes both sexual and domestic violence.  In real life, women in these situations don’t end up like Anastasia – they end up in a women’s shelter, on the run from their abuser or, sometimes, dead.”

Women who are being victimized in a relationship are not the ones to rehabilitate their abusers!

Ironically, if you really want to help your abuser one of the best things you can do is to bring the abuse to light and leave until he gets help.  Rare is the person who will change without experiencing consequences for aberrant behavior.

Another lie is as long as there’s consent it’s not abuse. But this doesn’t take into account the psychological manipulation that is usually involved, which is why so many women experiencing domestic abuse end up remaining in the relationship. It’s vital to understand consent can be compromised by trauma, abuse, alcohol or mind altering drugs, miseducation, or a lack of knowledge.

Nor does consent remove the psychological or physical damage that results.  To get a picture of this you can read an article recently published in the Huffington Post entitled “He Never Hit Me”   Note how much the author still struggles over leaving the relationship. Does this ever show the impact of emotional and psychological abuse.

I first read this article when it was shared by Doris Rivera-Black, a former Colorado Springs police officer who stated, “Wow.  As I read this I could not help but feel my chest tighten.  I remember feeling just as this woman felt.  No, he never hit me… but the scars he left me with ran deeper than any physical pain I’ve ever experienced.  It was not until the night he kidnapped me at gunpoint that he actually laidhands on me but in now way the emotional and psycholical abuse I endured prior to that should have been minimized.  Domestic violence is not always physical.  I pray this article helps someone out there that may have felt invalidated.  You are not alone.  I thank God every day for freeing me of this abuse and I pray you too are liberated.”  (She has great resources on her facebook page and an incredible story of how The Lord rescued her).

And please note these consequences often don’t stop with the victimized partner!  Earlier this month The New York Times ran an article entitled, “To Stop Violence, Start at Home,”  which begins, “The pattern is striking.  Men who are eventually arrested for violent acts often began with attacks against their girlfriends and wives.” And goes on to say “More than half of the 110 mass shootings in the United States between January 2009 and July 2014 included the murder of a current or former spouse, an intimate partner or a family member.”  And it states, “Violence is a learned behavior.”

Since the book and movie also send the message that “This is what women want” this also increases the likelihood of this happening to the women around you, women you care deeply about.

Especially as it’s sending the message to women “This is what you want!”  And if the drastic increase in the purchase of bondage sex toys and rope are any indication, many women are believing this!  In a recent article, “Is 50 Shades hurting your vagina?”  The Washington Post reports the number of Emergency room visits for injuries related to sex toys has drastically increased since the book’s release.

I’m not writing this as someone who’s read the book or seen the movie, but instead as someone familiar with the aftermath in the broken lives of women, and I’m sadly expecting to see this more.

But one of the best ways to prevent this happening is to talk about it before it happens with those you love! And don’t just talk about it from the perspective of “Don’t read this book” or “Don’t see this movie” but help younger women understand what true love is and how to recognize it and how the lies in this story can actually keep them from finding and enjoying what their heart truly desires.

To celebrate love, what it truly is, sometimes means having a hard conversation about what it isn’t.

Discipling Your Children Bible Study

If you go to you will find a ton of books on parenting.  And of course there’s always the advice of friends and family.  All this certainly can have value, but one thing my husband and I did when our son was a toddler that was incredibly helpful was to go directly to the Scriptures to see what they had to say.

A friend shared with us the following study that proved for us to be pure gold.  It was compiled sometime prior to the 1990s as that’s when we received a copy.  What I love about it is you aren’t trying to take parenting advice and then go to the Scriptures trying to find Biblical support.  Instead you start with the Scriptures.

I found it helpful to take time to write out the verses listed in each reference! True, it’s much easier to use a computer and cut and paste the following verses onto a Word document – but you want to be sure you’re really taking in the content and many times a great way to do that is to write the verses out by hand.  (if you’d rather not hand write them, but instead print them out I’d encourage you to read over the verses with a colored pen or pencil in hand underlining the things that stand out to you.  I have found this can be a huge help in processing!)

After you’ve written out or read through the verses, there are a list of questions you can seek to answer based on the verses you’ve read.  This really was a powerful way to process and work through our convictions as a couple.  My husband and I did the study separately, then spent time together discussing our observations and conclusions.  Did it ever help us, two very different people, coming from very different backgrounds to get more on the same page regarding parenting and discipling our son.

Now please note due to the nature of the questions, two different people may work through this and come up with very different answers.  In truth, God’s Word is the Living Word and there may be different aspects that He highlights for you.  Remember when you are doing Bible study there is observation – what the text says, interpretation – what the text means, and application – how the text gets applied and lived out in your life and family.  Be sure to ask the Holy Spirit to guide you and teach you and give you wisdom as you go through this process!  The Author is right there with you!  Feel free to ask Him questions and enjoy His presence as you do this!  :0)

We found this study created a great foundation for discussion, that helped us step outside current cultural norms and consider what we were going to do in our family based on the timeless truths of God’s Word.  By no means am I saying it’s the best study or resource out there!  But I always like to pass on things that helped me personally!

If you don’t like some of the questions or the way they are worded, feel free to omit, change or add what you’d like!  I just love the idea of going to the Scriptures first and then drawing your conclusions from there.

This is also a great resource older women can share with young moms.  I recommend it highly!


Discipling Your Children

1.  Discover all you can about child raising and family living from the following passages.  Record your observations and questions as you study each passage.  Be sure to note the context.  (This is not an exhaustive list of verses… add your own!)

Exodus 13:8

Deuteronomy 6:6,7

Joshua 4:21-24

Joshua 24:15

1 Samuel 1:3, 2:12, 2:22, 3:12,13

Proverbs 1:8

Proverbs 13:24

Proverbs 14:26

Proverbs 19:11

Proverbs 20:7

Proverbs 22:6

Proverbs 22:15

Proverbs 23:13

Proverbs 29:15, 17

Proverbs 31:28

Ecclesiastes 8:11

Mark 10:13-16

Ephesians 6:1-4

1 Timothy 3:4,5,12

Titus 1:6

Titus 2:4,5

Hebrews 12:9-11


Deuteronomy 4:9

1 Kings 1:6

Psalm 71:18

Psalm 78:5-8

Psalm 127, 128

Proverbs 13:1

Proverbs 13:22

2.  Based on the passages you have studied, answer the following questions (with appropriate references).  Where the Scriptures do not give a direct answer, be sure your response is rooted to Scriptural principles.

A. Is spanking Scriptural?  List three guidelines for disciplining children.

B.  Whose responsibility is it to teach your children about God?  What role should the local church play?

C.  Should parents argue or have “discussions” in their children’s presence?

D.  What should parents do when children do not want to have family devotions?  When children show little interest in spiritual things?

E.  Should both parents work outside the home?  How will this affect the children?

F.  How should your children be educated?

G.  How can a busy mom or dad find time for God, others, self with a busy household of pre-school children?

H.  How can parents combat the influence of secular society on their children?  What kinds of guidelines should be developed regarding TV?

I.  What role does touching physically play in a home?

J.  How does your relationship to your spouse affect your children?

K.  How does your relationship to God affect your children?  How does it affect your ability to properly raise your children?

3.  Best two verses on parenting (for memory):  ___________________     ____________________

4.  I would be a more effective Biblical parent if I…

(a)  ____________________________________________________________

(b)  ____________________________________________________________

(c)  ____________________________________________________________

Prayers for Your Children (and Grandchildren!)

One of my favorite ways to help new moms get off to a great start praying for their children is to create a roll of index cards that feature one verse from scripture they can pray for their child every day.  I actually got the idea for doing this from a grandmother in Vermont who kept a similar roll on her dining room table so she could pray one verse each day for her grandchildren.

The beauty of this ~ you don’t have to spend hours in prayer to have a significant eternal impact in the lives of your children and grandchildren!  Slow and steady wins the race!

And I love how this gets us beyond praying for more temporal needs (not at all to say those aren’t important!) but praying God’s Word can really help us invest strategically in the lives of those we love.

Years ago Jerry Bridges wrote an article entitled, “Engaging The Unseen Foe”  and in it he utilizes military terms to challenge us to not just pray about logistics but also about things that are tactical and strategic – and how key especially those strategic prayers are for God’s kingdom advancing. I’ll re-post that article at the end of this post in case you’d like to read it!  What an huge impact this has made on the way I pray!  As well as on my life and the lives of those I’m praying for!

Now there are a ton of verses you can use for prayer – in fact, one dear friend and I are praying straight through the Scriptures each week as we walk and pray for our husbands.  We take turns reading verses through a chapter, stopping when the Lord prompts us to pray for something related to that verse for our husbands and children.  So far we’ve prayed our way through Ephesians, Luke, Acts, and are now praying through the book of Romans.  You can pick up a Bible anytime, anywhere and do this!

But having some verses in a ready to use (ready to pray!) format can really facilitate this happening.  Years ago, in Pray! Magazine a format for 31 days of praying for your children was published that I often use as the basis for my roll of index cards, adapting the format so I can personalize it for the child being prayed for.

1.       Salvation: “Lord, let salvation spring up within _______ that he may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory” Isaiah 45:8 and II Timothy 2:10

2.       Growth in Grace: I pray that ________may “grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.” II Peter 3:18

3.       Love: Grant, Lord, that ________ may learn to live a life of love through your Holy Spirit. Eph. 5:2 and Gal. 5:22

4.       Honesty and Integrity: May honesty and integrity be ________’s virtue and protection. Ps 25:21

5.       Self Control: Father, help _______ not to be like many others around him, but let him be “alert and self controlled” in all he does. I Thes 5:6

6.       A Love for God’s Word: May ___________ grow to find your word “more precious than gold, than much pure gold, (and) sweeter than honey, than honey from the comb.” Ps 19:10

7.       Justice: God, help _________ to love justice as you do and to “act justly” in all he does. Ps 11:7 and Micah 6:8

8.       Mercy: May ____________ always “be merciful as (his) Father is merciful.” Luke 6:36

9.       Respect (for self, others and authority): Father, grant that __________ may “show proper respect to everyone” as your Word commands. I Peter 2:17

10.   Biblical Self Esteem: Help _____________ develop a strong self esteem that is rooted in the realization that he is “God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus.” Eph 2:10

11.   Faithfulness: Let love and faithfulness never leave _________but bind these twin virtues around his neck and write them on the tablet of his heart. Prov. 3:3

12.   A Passion for God: Lord, please instill in _____________a soul with a craving for you, a heart that clings passionately to you. Ps 63:8

13.   Responsibility: Grant that ___________ may learn responsibility “for each one should carry their own load.” Gal. 6:5

14.   Kindness: Lord, may _________ “always try to be kind to each other and to everyone else.” I Thes 5:15

15.   Generosity: Grant that ___________ may “be generous and willing to share and so lay up treasure for himself as a firm foundation for the coming age.” I Tim 6: 18-19

16.   Peace-loving:  Let ___________ “make every effort to do what leads to peace.” Ro. 14:19

17.   Hope: May the God of hope grant _________ to overflow with hope and hopefulness by the power of the Holy Spirit. Ro. 15:13

18.   Perseverance: Lord, teach ____________ perseverance in all he does. And help him especially to “run with perseverance the race marked out him.” Hebrews 12:1

19.   Humility: Lord, please cultivate in _________ the ability to “show true humility toward all.” Titus 3:2

20.   Compassion: Lord, please clothe___________ with the virtue of compassion. Gal. 3:12

21.   Prayerfulness: Grant Lord, that _____________’s life may be marked by prayerfulness, that he may learn to “pray in the spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.” Eph. 6:18

22.   Contentment: Father, teach ______________ “the secret of being content in any and every situation…through you who gives (him) strength.” Phil. 4:12-13

23.   Faith: I pray that faith will find root and grow in ________’s heart, that by faith he may gain what has been promised to him. Luke 17:5-6 and Heb 11:1-40

24.   A Servant’s Heart: Lord, please help ______________ develop a servant’s heart, that he may serve wholeheartedly “as if (he) was serving the Lord, not men.” Eph 6:7

25.   Purity: “Create in _____________ a pure heart, Oh God, and and let that purity be shown in his actions.” Ps 51:10

26.  Gratitude:  “Lord, please help ______________ to live a life that is always overflowing with thankfulness and always giving thanks to You for everything in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord.”  Ephesians 5:20, Colossians 2:7

27.  Discipline:  “May ___________ acquire a disciplined and prudent life doing what is right and just and fair.”  Proverbs 1:3

28.  Joy:  “May _____________ be filled with the joy given by your Holy Spirit.”  1 Thessalonians 1:6

29.  Courage:  “May ___________ always be strong and courageous in character and in action”.  Deuteronomy 31:6

30.  Willingness and Ability to Work:  “Teach __________ to value work and to work at it with all his heart, as working for You and not for men.”  Colossians 3:23

31.  A Heart for Missions:  “Lord, please help __________ to develop a desire to see your glory declared among the nations, your marvelous deeds among all peoples.” Psalm 96:3

Source:  PRAY!  Magazine issue #4

Can you imagine the impact such prayers can have on a child’s life, even years on down the road?!!!
Now when I meet with a young mom to share this with her I will bring this stack already made as a gift and then we’ll spend time praying through some of these cards for her child.  Remember people are much more likely to use something if you’ve first done it with them!  Depending on how much time she has we’ll pray back and forth through some of these for her child.  I encourage her to keep the stack near where she feeds her child and to seek to pray at least one verse prayer for her child each day.  But the beauty of having 31 cards numbered – even if she misses a few days she can just start on the card for that day!
And can you ever have fun decorating the cards and personalizing them!  This batch I did with the word “thanks” written in the lower right hand corner of every card as a helpful reminder to always pray with thanks.
So you can put these verse prayers on a flip roll that will stand up on your dining room table, create your own stack using a circular ring which I find works great for walking and praying or I’ve also printed these on a bookmark that I keep beside my bed and will grab at night to pray through some of these verse prayers before going to sleep.  What a lovely way to end the day!
Now that my “baby” is 24 years old, it is such a joy to see how the Lord continues to answer these prayers!  I cannot recommend doing this highly enough!
And have I ever found this to be a wonderful example of one way older women can train younger women to “love their children” and be “busy at home!” ;0)


By Jerry Bridges

Issues: Prayer is warfare with a defeated but still powerful enemy. When we allow our prayer lives to remain only on the level of immediate or “felt” needs, we risk the great danger of losing the struggle that God is ultimately interested in.

There’s a chapter in the history of the nation of Israel that I believe graphically illustrates the way we tend to operate as Christians.

Second Kings 3 records the account of Joram, the king of Israel, going into battle against the king of Moab. Joram did not seek God’s help or guidance for the fray; he simply made the decision and then enlisted the alliance of his former countryman, Jehoshaphat (king of Judah). Jehoshaphat didn’t pray either. After gathering up the king of Edom, they all went charging into battle.

In verse 9 we find out that they got into a supply problem: they ran out of water in the middle of the desert. Suddenly they wanted God’s help, and only then did they begin to pray (their method of praying was to seek the prophet). Their felt need was the focus of their prayer.

Water for their men and animals was a very important detail for those kings. But they were not out in the desert to drink water: they were there to fight a battle. Notice how God answered when he spoke to the prophet Elisha: “You will see neither wind nor rain, yet this valley will be filled with water, and you, your cattle and your other animals will drink. This is an easy thing in the eyes of the Lord; he will also hand Moab over to you” (verses 17–18). God had not forgotten the objective: to win the battle over the Moabites. The kings, however, had lost sight of why they were out there, because they were preoccupied with their immediate need.


As Christians, our prayer lives tend to dwell in the realm of water shortages. We seldom operate in the realm of true spiritual warfare. Go to an average prayer meeting, and I guarantee that 75 percent of the prayer requests will be for felt needs: for example, Jim’s neck. Now Jim’s neck needs to be healed, and I hope we are praying about it. But we never seem to get into the battle. As I’ve told students, “The only way that you can get prayed for at our church is to be in the hospital or out of a job.”

One year at Thanksgiving time I flew out to southern California to speak at a mission conference. My goal was to stimulate a vision among students and young military personnel for recruiting laborers for the harvest field. When I arrived at the Los Angeles airport, however, no one was there to meet me.

After wandering around the gate area and the baggage claim for forty-five minutes, I called the conference grounds. No answer. I thought, Well, I’ll get my secretary on this—she knows how to take care of these things. But when I called long distance back to Colorado Springs, no one answered the phone there either! Then I remembered that it was the Friday after Thanksgiving, and the office was closed. There I was, stuck.

It was then that I resorted to prayer: “Lord, if there is anyone in this airport looking for me,” I prayed, “help him to find me.” Not having much faith that my prayer was going to be answered, I headed out a nearby door to catch a bus to Pasadena. On my way out, I ran into a familiar-looking man on his way in. He was looking for me.

That was one of the quickest answers to prayer that I have ever experienced. Later on, however, I asked myself this question: “Did I pray as fervently for the real mission for which I was sent to southern California as I did that someone might find me at the airport?” In that airport, I was like Joram and Jehoshaphat, stranded in the desert without water. But the real reason I was there was not to get picked up at the airport, but to have a part in recruiting laborers for the harvest field. Jesus told us to pray that the Lord of the harvest will send forth laborers. That was the real battle.

There are three military terms that I feel illustrate various types of prayer: strategic, tactical, and logistical. Strategic refers to the ultimate objective—to defeat the enemy—and the overall plan, or strategy, to bring him into submission. Tactical means the specific battles necessary to achieve the ultimate objective. Logistical is simply supplying the physical needs of the army fighting the battle.

I believe that 75 to 80 percent of our prayer is for logistical items. For water in the desert. For someone to find us at the airport. For that sick person in the hospital. For the one who lost his job. All of these things are important, and we should be praying for them. But those kinds of things are almost all we pray about.

I would guess that 15 to 20 percent of our prayer effort is tactical, related to specific engagements with the enemy—the spiritual results of the conference I spoke at, for example. But that conference was only a specific operation; the overall objective was raising up laborers.

Very little of our prayer effort is strategic, or focused on our ultimate objective—the battle that God is really interested in. We need to remember that when we pray, we are entering into spiritual warfare. We are engaging a defeated but still powerful enemy: Satan, our unseen foe.

There are four primary aspects of this kind of warfare that are crucial to our success: first, understanding our enemy; second, identifying and learning to use the weapons with which to fight him; third, understanding the nature of our struggle with him; and fourth, focusing on the right objective in our attempts to defeat him.


In Ephesians 6:12, Paul says that our struggle is “not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” Our warfare is with the devil and all of his evil angels. They are the spiritual forces Paul refers to in this passage.

The New Testament tells us four facts about the devil that we need to know in order to combat him. First, he is the ruler, with evil angels under him, of a kingdom in which all of the unsaved are held. When Paul wrote to the Ephesian believers that they were formerly dead in their sins, he was saying the same about us. We used to live in our sins when we followed “the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient” (Ephesians 2:1–2). We all used to follow the devil because we were all in his kingdom, under his dominion. When God commissioned Paul, he sent him to turn the Gentiles, the unsaved, “from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God” (Acts 26:18).

Not only does Satan hold the unsaved under his reign, but he also blinds the minds of unbelievers so that they cannot see the light of the gospel (2 Corinthians 4:4). That’s why witnessing often seems like pouring water off a duck’s back. Our speech comes across like a foreign language; the unbeliever just can’t understand.

When we witness to someone, we are launching an attack upon Satan’s kingdom. We cannot win this attack by our own power, because that person is under Satan’s dominion, and he is blinded by him. Jesus said that we cannot enter a strong man’s house and carry off his possessions until we first bind that strong man (Matthew 12:29). The strong man is the devil, and we bind him through prayer. That’s why we must enter into battle in prayer before we engage the unsaved in a witnessing situation.

The third fact that the Bible tells us about Satan is that he wars against believers, even though we have been delivered from his dominion into the kingdom of God. First Peter 5:8 says that he prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. The roaring lion is intended to symbolize the ferociousness of Satan.

When he attacks us in order to ruin us, however, he masquerades as an angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:14). In Scripture, light stands for either truth or moral purity. When Paul says that Satan masquerades as an angel of light, he means that Satan tries to convince us that his false teaching is the truth. When he tempted Jesus in the desert, saying, “Cast yourself down because it is written, ‘He will hold you up,”’ Satan twisted the truth.

Second Timothy 2:22–26 tells us that Satan’s masquerade can be so deceptive that he actually takes believers captive to do his will. This is not demon-possession, but rather a diversion of our minds into false teaching, unimportant or peripheral issues, temptations, discouragement, and doubts about the truth of God’s word.

I vividly remember an event that occurred to me while going through an intense spiritual battle. I was looking at a particular promise in Scripture, when Satan planted this thought in my mind: “It isn’t true, is it?” That was just as clear in my mind as if he had spoken in a voice. He was seeking to make me captive to do his will by attacking my mind with false teaching.

We are at war with an enemy who has thousands of years of experience. Satan attacked Eve in the Garden of Eden, and he has been attacking God’s people ever since. He knows his strategy, and he is not locked up in logistics.

But Scripture gives us a fourth (and the most important) fact about Satan: he is a defeated foe. Colossians 2:15 tells us that Jesus Christ disarmed the powers and authorities and “made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the Cross.” This is the reason James can tell us, “Resist the devil and he will flee from you” (James 4:7). Satan has lost the big war. He is now engaged in guerilla warfare against us, and we can defeat him in this day-to-day struggle.


In 2 Corinthians 10:3–5, Paul gives us a clue to the kind of weapon we need to battle Satan:

For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.

The war we are engaged in is for the minds and souls of people. Our weapons are not physical, nor are they those of human logic and cleverness. They are divine.

When you are engaged in battle and the objective is a person’s mind, what are you going to use? The truth. Satan masquerades as an angel of truth, but we combat him with the real truth—the word of God. Paul tells us in Ephesians 6 to put on the full armor of God, so that we may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. The list of armor is primarily defensive: helmet, breastplate, belt, sandals, shield and so forth.

In verse 17, however, Paul says, “Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” There are two Greek words that are translated, “the word of God.” One of them is logos, referring to Scripture in general. The other is a word that focuses on a specific passage of Scripture. In this verse, Paul is referring to the specific word of God—individual passages of the Bible that are brought to bear on individual battles. Just as Jesus answered Satan with specific passages of Scripture from the Old Testament when he was tempted in the desert, so we fight Satan with specific passages of Scripture that apply to the situation at hand.

Our first weapon in battling our foe is the word of truth. In verse 18 of Ephesians 6, Paul gives us our second: “And pray in the Spirit.” The second weapon is prayer. Whether we are evangelizing the lost, discipling believers, or trying to restore a lapsed brother or sister, the weapons are always the same: the word of truth accompanied by prayer in the Spirit. We need the Spirit of God to open our minds and release us from Satan’s captivity.

The battle for the souls of men and women is really not won in the witnessing encounter or the discipling meeting, but in prayer, before we ever get into those situations. Our actions are of course necessary, but it is futile to fight without paving the way by prayer against the devil.


We are at war against a powerful, unseen foe. And our weapons are the word of God and prayer. In order to use these weapons successfully, we need to have an adequate understanding of the kind of warfare we are engaged in.

Several times, Paul uses a word related to prayer that means to struggle or to agonize. It is the word from which we get our word agony. The same word is translated “fight” in 1 Timothy 6:12—“Fight the good fight of faith.” Paul also uses this word in Colossians 1:28–29: “We proclaim him, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present every one perfect in Christ. To this end I labor, struggling [or agonizing] with all his energy, which so powerfully works within me.” Here Paul is talking about our first weapon, the word of truth. But in chapter two, verse 1 of his letter to the people at Colossae he continues, “I want you to know how much I am struggling for you and for those at Laodicea, and for all who have not met me personally.” In Colossians 1:29 Paul means, “I agonize in the ministry of the word.” In Colossians 2:1 he means, “I agonize in the ministry of prayer.” Both indicate intense fighting. Paul wasn’t just praying about those in the hospital and the unemployed. He was in the heat of the battle.

In Colossians 4:12, Paul commends Epaphras for the same kind of struggling: “Epaphras, who is one of you and a servant of Christ Jesus, sends greetings. He is always wrestling [always agonizing, always waging war] in prayer for you, that you may stand firm in all the will of God, mature and fully assured.” Epaphras had his eye on the battle. He wanted these people to grow up in Christ and stand firm in the will of God. He wasn’t just concerned about their logistical or felt needs. He was concerned about the spiritual aspects of their lives. And he waged war in prayer.

Are you in the battle? Have you agonized in prayer lately? Or are you still preoccupied with the material things of your life, as Joram was for the need of water, losing sight of the real battle and the real enemy?


Once we’ve faced the enemy, armed ourselves with the right weapons, and prepared ourselves for the rigors of battle, we can still jeopardize our success by losing sight of God’s ultimate objective in this spiritual warfare.

What is God’s objective? “For God so loved the world.” God so loved people that he gave his only begotten son. Christ died for them. This is God’s objective: people; not being found at the airport, or even having a great mission conference. Those are logistical and tactical operations.

In Genesis 12:3, God promised Abraham, “All people on earth will be blessed through you.” This hasn’t happened yet. Our job is to engage the enemy in warfare, to see that it does happen. God’s plan is going to be fulfilled, but he has ordained that this plan be carried out through prayer.

There are 4½ billion men, women, and children on this earth right now. Most of them have never received the gospel. Have you prayed God’s promises into fulfillment for any of those people lately? Are you engaging Satan in battle through prayer? Are you asking God to bind the strong man, and claiming Christ’s victory on the Cross?

Jesus said that the harvest is plentiful and the laborers are few. He told us to pray that the Lord of the harvest would raise up laborers. The battle is not with unemployment and sickness and transportation arrangements. Those are necessary logistical items, and I am not saying that we shouldn’t pray for those things. God is aware of our friend in the hospital, or the man or woman out of a job. But I think that his attitude toward them is embodied in what he said to Joram: “This is an easy thing in the eyes of the Lord.” They are logistical details. He will also hand the enemy over to us.

My challenge to you is this: keep praying for your friend in the hospital, and keep praying for your friend who needs work. But remember that these are light things in the eyes of the Lord. Ask God to get you into the heat of the real battle. Ask him to equip you to engage the unseen foe, and then take your prayer life into the war for God’s ultimate objective. And expect him to hand Moab over to you.

[1]Mayberry, Peter, Discipleship Journal, Issue 19, (Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress) c2000.

Powerful & Effective Ministry (for everyone! but especially for moms at home with little ones!)

On July 26th, 1944 Eldon Powley was running communication lines as a Marine in Guam when he crested a ridge and was shot through the leg, breaking it.  As a hail of bullets began to descend he pulled his rifle close and began to roll over and over until he hit the dry river bed and kept rolling until he was up against the bank. As bullets continued to beat into the river bed he lay perfectly still until everything became quiet. After bandaging his leg he crawled down river hoping to find help.

Suddenly he heard movement and gripped his rifle, thinking “They might get me, but I’ll get some of them first.”  Instead of the enemy, it was the rest of his gang!

They stared at him as if they’d seen a ghost.  As they continued to head back there were more scrimmages on the way. It seemed they were shooting in all directions.  At one point a fellow charged him with his bayonet and when Eldon shot him, this guy’s rifle slipped down beside Eldon.

Just as Eldon realized he was out of ammunition, a hand grenade bounced on the river bed, bouncing right over Eldon and went off.  He remembered thinking, “So this is what it feels like to die because no one could ever live through that blast”  But Eldon did!  After regaining consciousness he discovered he was terribly wounded but still alive.

Remembering he was out of ammo he rolled over to pick up the Japanese rifle and discovered his whole left side was paralyzed from the hand grenade shrapnel – it was in his left leg, arm, side, back and head.  When he finally got into a position that he could get hold of the rifle he discovered it had two rounds left in it.  The shrapnel in his head and face resulted in so much bleeding he had to lay the rifle down to wipe the blood away so he could see.

Eventually he saw more men coming across the ridge in his direction.  When they were about 100 feet away he laid the rifle down to wipe the blood out of his eyes one last time but when he lined up on them again he realized they were Marines!  And there was a Navy Corpsmen with them who quickly tended his wounds!  After he was finished, Eldon looked like a mummy wrapped from head to toe in white bandages.

The next day he was so sore and stiff he couldn’t move and when anyone talked to him it sounded like they were talking down a hollow tube. Because of the shrapnel in his face and jaw he couldn’t open his mouth or separate his teeth to eat.  He was sent via ship to Hawaii to be put back together.

While there he received his mail from the past few months.  When he opened a letter from his mother, he read, “Last night the Lord woke me and said to pray for your son as he is in very serious trouble.” The letter said she got out of bed on her knees and prayed for a long time for his safety and got no relief.  Finally she prayed, “O Lord, just keep him close to you.” She said a calmness came over her and she got back into bed and went to sleep.  The next morning she wrote this letter before going to work.  As Eldon read the letter to his roommate they realized the 25th of July was really the 26 of July in Guam, the day they fought for their very existence.

His mother was praying for him during those hours!!!

Oh how I love this story!  It reminds me how powerful prayer is – his mom was in Michigan! And they didn’t have iphones back then!!!  When my son was going through training to become a Marine officer it so encouraged my heart to think the Lord could prompt me to be praying for him when he needed it – even if he was on the other side of the world!

Do you realize the impact you can have through your prayers?!!!

Being at home with a baby and young children is a unique season of life when you truly can cultivate a life of prayer.  There are a lot of daily tasks that require your attention, but your mind isn’t as challenged – well, it may be frazzled!!!  But I found there was a lot of time when I could pray  – if I’d be intentional about it.  Granted this is much easier said than done.  I found for this to happen it required a lot of creativity and perseverance.

Have you heard about Susanna Wesley?  Even though she had 19 children she was determined that prayer would be a part of her life.  She taught her kids whenever she sat in the middle of her kitchen floor with her apron over her head she was not to be disturbed – and yes, there were serious consequences for any child who violated this unless there was an emergency.  Did those prayers ever produce a ton of fruit, impacting her children and millions more through them.

What a wonderful picture this is of being intentional!

But since you don’t see quick results all the time, prayer truly is a huge act of faith – especially initially.  It really is a great faith workout and brings such pleasure to the Lord.  But I can’t even begin to tell you the joy I have when I do get to see answered prayer – and the more I pray the more i get glimpses of the Lord answering.

Like a few days ago I was walking in the neighborhood and a neighbor was in her driveway with her husband, distraught having discovered that afternoon while at school the diamond was missing from her wedding ring.  So we prayed for her and can you believe her son found it the next day in her bedroom when he was bringing in his laundry – and the room was dark!!!  Were we ever celebrating when we heard this!

Now you can pray anytime but I think certain seasons of life are extra ripe for growing in prayer.  When I was nursing my son, I use to love to pray for him.  As I did so, I began memorizing the prayers in Scripture so even though I couldn’t hold a Bible I could pray through those for him and others too!

Not only is it a joy now 24 years later, seeing how the Lord is answering those prayers – but as I invested that time in prayer I was changed.  My perspective often changed regarding the hard things we were going through but also I became much more sensitive to the Holy Spirit bringing things to mind for me to pray for.

I think it’s important to note, Eldon Powley’s mom spent years cultivating a close walk with the Lord so when He prompted her to pray during this crisis she recognized His voice and was ready even in the middle of the night to fall to her knees in prayer.

One of my all time favorite verses in the Bible is Isaiah 40:11 – especially the last part where it says, “He gently leads those who have young.”  Over and over I find the Lord so amazingly faithful to do this.  But the kicker is – when you gently lead someone you don’t yank them around!  In fact, if someone is gently leading, the person being led has to work to be attentive or it’s easy to miss such cues.  Yet the more you seek to listen and follow, the easier it becomes to be alert to such guidance.

So one of my key prayers is to ask the Lord to help me be sensitive to His gentle leading!  That’s not a passive request!  But one He is honoring as I show up for His training day by day ~ to listen, to follow, to obey.

Many times I’ve been asked – why pray if the Lord already knows what’s needed?  Because prayer doesn’t just change circumstances – it changes us.  Especially as we experience the Lord!

He could’ve rescued Eldon without his mother’s prayers.  But can you imagine the impact it had on Eldon and his roommate when they realized his mom was praying at the exact time he was under attack?!  Or what an impact it had on his mom when she heard the full story?!  And others too?!

Talk about powerful and effective!  Over fifty years later it still brings tears to my eyes and moves my heart to worship… and does it ever motivate me to keep praying even more!



note:  Eldon is now in the presence of the Lord.  But before he died he wrote an autobiography entitled My Life in the United States Marine Corp.  You won’t find this listed for sale on Amazon as he wrote it for his children and grandchildren ~ and graciously gave me a copy when I asked for one.  

We met nearly twenty years ago when I was directing drama at our church. He would come help me set up and tear down sets sharing his story as we did so. What a special man! I was blown away by how he experienced the Lord during World War 2.  

Prior to this attack he’d been on a ship when it was torpedoed and shared how he spent the night in the water praying while he waited to be rescued.  First he prayed he wouldn’t be sucked down with the ship.  Then he prayed he wouldn’t be burned by the spilled oil that was igniting all around him.  Then he prayed he wouldn’t be eaten by the sharks drawn by the bloody wounds of many of the men.  Then after many hours, he prayed his soaked life vest wouldn’t pull him under.  And of course he prayed for rescue – and that it wouldn’t come from any enemies!  

After spending all night bobbing in the sea he was picked up well after daylight the next day.  I share this to highlight his mom wasn’t the only fervent pray-er!  Isn’t it beautiful to see how she modeled and passed this on ~ and two generations later this blessing is still having a powerful and effective impact for the glory of God!

The Pressure’s off!

Ever been to a Bible study where you watch a video or listen to a speaker talk and then break into small groups and your facilitator presents a second message?  It can be a heady thing to speak and have a group listening to what you share.  But is that really what’s needed for life change to occur?

We live in a society that is information rich.  At any moment of the day you can pull up a sermon online or read a book or listen to a radio broadcast.  We’ve never had more access to the Word being taught – and struggled as much to live it out.

Consider what the Scriptures say:

“But you are not to be called Rabbi, for you have one teacher and you are all brothers.”  Matthew 23:8

“Neither be called instructors, for you have one instructor – the Christ.” Matthew 23:10

“As for you, the anointing which you received from Him abides in you, and you have no need for anyone to teach you; but as His anointing teaches you about all things and is true and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, abide in Him.”              1 John 2:27

Once someone is a believer their greatest need usually isn’t for advice, but for someone to come along and help them learn how to listen to what the Lord is teaching them and help them process what they are hearing so they know how to respond and to encourage them to respond by living out what He is laying on their hearts. There are three key ways you can do this:

1.  Modeling

Until the day we die we are all very much in process, in need of growing and becoming more like Jesus.  As you share your weaknesses, where you struggle, and what helps you, there is a tremendous opportunity for people to learn how to process and apply as they see you doing this.  The quote, “More is caught than taught” is so true!  Whenever I’m asked to speak at a women’s retreat or to a group I find it so helpful to keep this in mind.  My goal isn’t to teach but to share my journey, yes, even the ugly parts when it will be of help for them to hear, and what’s been helping me.

2.  Listening & Asking Questions, Then Listening More

In James 1:19 we are instructed, “Everyone should be quick to listen…”  Is this ever vitally important to remember when you are facilitating a group discussion.  There is nothing like listening to someone share their heart or their thoughts to make them feel loved and cared for.  This creates a wonderful environment where growth can happen.

And is the second part of that verse, “slow to speak…” ever key for facilitators to remember.  When I’m speaking I’m in control.  So if I’m scared it’s so easy for that to be my default.  Even if someone in the group asks a question, well, the natural response is to answer right away.  But what a difference it can make if you first ask if anyone else in the group would like to respond.  Creating a learning community, where you are all sharing your journeys together is so much more powerful and life changing than a quick correct answer being given.  You want to be able to engage with each other as well as the material.  Can that ever do wonders to help people grow as this takes place.

Now it can really help to identify whether the women in your group are internal or external processors.  Those who process externally will usually be the first to share and sometimes the internal processors can get left out, so it takes extra intention to listen to them.  I’ve found it can be so helpful to provide an opportunity for them to first process on their own and then listen and ask questions.

For example, when I’m facilitating a group discussion after a speaker has shared, I will often start our time encouraging them to first write down on a notecard what stood out to them in the message or draw a quick picture representing this.  Even extroverts benefit from this opportunity to collect their thoughts (because writing is also a form of external processing) so when they share it tends to be more focused. But this is so key to being able to “listen” to internal processors.  I can’t tell you how many times this makes it possible to listen to what’s going on inside them.  Women who ordinarily would never share in a group will often open up when the group is conducted this way.

And it really is amazing how much more people are helped when we listen and ask questions, than when we just give answers!

3.  Introducing different ways to process


As mentioned above, this can be as simple as having your group draw a picture or write a word or short paragraph that summarizes the key thing that stood out to them either from the message they just heard or from their Bible study that week.  Or if you’re reading the scriptures together and then discussing, it can be giving colored pencils and having them underline what stands out to them or circle key words.  Or it can be as involved as having the group art journal a page reflecting what they learned and then sharing it afterwards with the group (more information on this and examples are available at

All of these means help people focus in on the key thing that stood out to them, narrowing down what they heard so they can more easily come up with an application.  That really is where the rubber meets the road.  It can be so powerful when people have time to process together for helping them come up with an application and then for the group to provide an opportunity for accountability – it doesn’t even have to be like drill sergeants checking up on you ~ just knowing someone is going to ask “how did it go this week?”  or “What did you experience as you sought to live out what you learned last week?” can be a powerful motivator for actually doing what’s on your heart to do.

Remember the difference between the wise and foolish builder isn’t a matter of hearing the Word!  The difference is what they do in response to it.  And it wasn’t that the wise builder got more gold stars – no!  By responding to what he heard, by actively seeking to do it, to live it out, he was laying a solid foundation for when the storms of life came.  And note it’s not “If” they come but “when!”

Yes, there can be times when it is appropriate to give advice, but I like to filter that through Ephesians 4:29 speaking “only what is helpful for building others up, according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”  Be sure to ask yourself – is this really helping them become wise?  Helping them process what they’ve already heard and move towards application?  Or am I just providing opportunity for them to “hear” more?

Whether you’re meeting one on one with someone or facilitating a group it can be so wise to keep asking yourself how much time am I talking?  And what is happening as a result?

Best part of this?  Does it ever take the pressure off you as a facilitator, discipler or mentor!  You don’t have to have all the answers!  And since no one does (according to I Corinthians 13:12 in this life we only know in part) what a relief!  All you have to do is join in with what Jesus is doing, helping them learn to listen to him – not just hear him, but respond to him and yield to him as He guides them.  And in the process, instead of remaining babes dependent on you they are learning how to walk with him and abide with him for life!

Seeing Myself The Way Jesus Does


Years ago a fellow Navigator, David Lyons, wrote a booklet entitled “Now That I’m Born Again” based on what the Lord  reveals in Ephesians regarding our identity in Christ.  Now I love to walk and pray so I placed that content on a bookmark that I print double sided on card stock.  I like to carry a copy of this in my purse so whenever I start doubting my value I can pull it out and pray through this.  What a life changing difference this is making in my life!

Before we lived in Colorado Springs we use to fly out here for leadership meetings.  Now Navigators love to “get time with each other” one on one, so it’s not uncommon to find people at these meetings setting up lunches and breaks to do this.  At one particular meeting there were a number of people I was hoping to get time with so I was really excited when I learned we had a two hour break before dinner one night.  Now it was going to be a special dinner and what I didn’t realize was most of the women wanted time to get ready so as I went around asking if people could get together, one after another told me no.  And I found myself starting to feel down…

Now another couple who lived out here invited us to come wait for the dinner at their house.  On our drive over I pulled out this bookmark and started praying through it.  What an incredible reminder it was – I’m not a loser, because of Jesus I am blessed, chosen, holy, without blemish, adopted…  I felt my spirits begin to lift as my heart spent time giving thanks.  Especially as I prayed “Thank you, Father, that I am wanted”  the pain I was feeling from rejection dissipated (and please note it wasn’t that anyone was rejecting me, they just had other plans, but do you know how you can go there and still feel this way?!)

Now I was sitting in the back seat and since I can’t hear anything in that setting anyways, I spent the whole drive (about twenty minutes) silently praying and giving thanks for who I am in Christ.  By the time we arrived, my heart was soaring and a smile was on my face.  We enjoyed a lovely time and learned a bunch from the things they shared with us.  Truly the Lord had other plans for that time!

Fast forward two hours and we head to dinner.  On the way in I stop to talk with the son of a friend, seeking to encourage him.  By the time I go in to where the dinner is being held nearly everyone else is seated.  But then I spy an open chair right next to one of the women I’ve been hoping to get time with.  I’m so excited!!!  I race over and ask, “Is this seat available?” only to hear, “No, it’s saved it for…”  Then I spy another empty chair next to someone else I’d hoped to get time with… only to discover that was already taken too.  In fact, the only available chair was all the way at the back of the room.

Now normally by this time my insecurities would be kicking in big time. No one saved a seat for me.  So easily I could’ve withdrawn into myself and eaten my meal in silence.  It takes a lot of energy to interact when you are hearing impaired, energy that if I’m feeling rejected, discouraged and down I usually don’t have.  But after praying through all those truths of who I am in Christ, I thought, “Jesus must’ve saved me this seat at the back for a reason!”

I ended up sitting across from a woman I didn’t know very well and as we talked over dinner our hearts connected in a powerful way.  Did that evening ever turn into a HUGE gift from the Lord!

But so easily I could’ve missed out if my soul hadn’t been fortified right when I needed it by remembering who I am in Christ.

It’s one thing to know these truths in my head or even to do a Bible study on them, but I’m finding these truths are making the biggest life changing difference when I am intentional to apply them by praying through them while my value is under attack!


Seeing Myself The Way Jesus Does…

I am in Christ

Thank You for immersing me in Christ. Thank you for grafting me into the true vine.

I am blessed

Thank you for continually speaking well of me and favoring me in every possible way.

I am chosen

Thank you for picking me for yourself, like a groom marrying the bride he desires.

I am holy

Thank You for setting me aside for yourself, just like the best silver is set aside for special occasions

I am without blemish

Thank you that when you look at me, you do not focus on all my failures. Thank you for focusing on the best part of me, the part You have perfected, my innermost being.

I am adopted

Thank you, Father, that I am wanted. Thank you for coming to me, extending Your hand, pulling me to Your side, and making all the necessary arrangements to make me Your very own.

I am God’s child

Thank you for making me Your beloved child, in whom You are well pleased, for allowing me to bear your likeness, for making me your pride and joy.

 I am free from sin’s power

Thank you for liberating me from my old master. Thank you for saving me from my enemy.

I am forgiven

Thank You that You now hold nothing against me. Thank you for not expecting me to make up for the ways I have failed you.

I am favored

Thank You for making me one of Your favorites. Thank You for hovering over me with a special loving attention, like a parent with a firstborn child.

I am wealthy

Thank You that as Your child I have an inheritance that provides all I need. Thank You that I will always have more than I need.

I am secure

Thank You for enveloping me in Your love so that I am sealed, secure and safe. Thank You for shielding and sheltering me by Your Spirit.

I am called

Thank You for giving me an exciting, fulfilling direction. Thank You for showing me why I am here and where I am going.

I am praiseworthy

Thank You for filling me with Your glory. Thank You for bragging about me as Your prized inheritance.

I am capable

Thank You that You love to show Your extraordinary power in me. Thank You that I am therefore qualified & able to do all You want me to do.

I am alive with Christ’s life

Thank You that since You came into my heart, I am born again – born from above and bursting with real life.

I am seated with Christ in heaven

Thank You for placing me with Christ in a position of extraordinary privilege and authority.

I am God’s masterpiece

Thank You for making me Your personal work of art. Thank You that I am the work of a Craftsman, not a mistake.

I am close to God

Thank You for not holding me at arm’s length. Thank You for pulling me to Your side in a prolonged embrace.

I am an insider

Thank You for making me a true citizen in Your kingdom. Thank You for making me a true member of Your household, no longer an outsider.

I am God’s mobile home

Thank You for moving into my heart. Thank You that I am now Your house, Your temple, Your tent.

I am promised great things

Thank You for making such priceless commitments to me. Thank You for letting me experience what others strive to obtain.

I am loved

Thank You for loving me the way I long to be loved. Thank You that I can’t wear out Your love. Thank you for continuing to win my trust by convincing me of the depth of Your love.

I am a new creation

Thank You for completely remodeling my innermost being, my spirit. Thank You that all things in me are truly new.

I am righteous

Thank You for making everything right in my innermost being. Thank You for placing the holy and living Spirit of Your Son in me.

I am the light of the world

Thank You for making the light of Your life shine in me. Thank You for making me Your flashlight, shining into the darkness around me.

I am nourished

Thank You for satisfying my thirst and hunger. Thank You for the Bread of Life that fills me. Thank You for the Living Water welling up in my soul.

I am cherished

Thank You for adoring and treasuring me, like a parent marveling over a newborn baby.

I am Christ’s body

Thank You that although You once lived among Your people in an elaborate tent, and then You walked among us in a Galilean body, now You truly live in me. Thank You that I am actually a member of Your body.

I am united with Christ

Thank You for becoming one with me, as a husband becomes one flesh with his wife.

I am strong

Thank You that with You living in me, I can face anything. Thank You that every battle, test and victory belong to You.

 from David Lyon’s booklet Now That I Am Born Again

Is It You? Or Your Tools?!

photo 2-5

I love to bike!  But a year ago I started having a harder time, especially going uphill and wasn’t enjoying it as much.  Over time I biked less and less, assuming that since I turned 50 old age was finally taking its toll.

But this past week my husband bought me a new mountain bike.  As we headed out for our first ride I was racing uphill with no struggle at all!  With joy I realized, the problem wasn’t me being too old, but with my “old” bike!  

As I shared this, my husband smiled.  “Sounds like a great discipleship metaphor to me!  If what you’re doing isn’t working, the problem may not be you, but rather you don’t have the right tools.”  

And he’s so right!!!

Have you ever reached a place where what you’ve done before when discipling doesn’t seem to be working?

It can be so easy to conclude, “I can’t do this anymore.”  Been there, done this!

You see, when we switched from working with college students to 20s, I use to get so frustrated.  “They aren’t interested in what I have to offer.  They don’t want to learn.”  And I concluded, “I can’t do this!”

In truth, there’s a big difference from a wide eyed freshman, eager to take in whatever you want to tell her and a recent grad, who is ready to go out and conquer the world.

Thankfully my husband was asked to work with the Leader Development team and received extensive training in Keith Webb’s The Coach Model.  When he came back and offered training in this I was blown away at how it opened a whole new way of investing in women.

It wasn’t that I couldn’t do it, I just needed new tools!

I was use to “telling,” more direct teaching.  And I found women in their 20s weren’t very open to that.  But as soon as I started asking questions…!!!

And you know those tools have even enriched the way I interact with freshmen! In truth, I wish I’d known how to do this when my son entered adolescence!  

When I cut back on biking, did I ever miss out!   And that almost happened with discipleship too!  I was so close to concluding that I simply couldn’t be of any benefit to women in their 20’s.  Am I ever thankful I discovered the problem wasn’t me, but the tools I was using!

Whether you’re biking or discipling, what a difference the right tools can make!


Have you ever been frustrated because what you’re doing when discipling doesn’t seem to be working? How did you respond?  What helped you?

You Can Teach An Old Dog…


A month ago we moved across town into a neighborhood that has a community pool.  I can’t even begin to tell you how excited I was!  (and am!)  Whereas in Florida there are tons of pools, in Colorado where water is much more scarce and expensive, well, I’ve barely swam at all since we moved here.  Best part –  I learned that master swim classes are offered every Tuesday and Thursday morning for free!  In these classes you have a coach who guides you step by step in how to make the most of each workout, tailoring it specifically for you.  So after purchasing a swim cap and goggles I dove in!

But was that first class ever humbling…  You see, there are a wide variety of people who attend.  From Olympic hopefuls to tadpoles.  I barely made it one and a half lengths of the pool when I stopped, gasping for breath.  After living in Colorado for two years I can’t blame that on the altitude.  Yep. Say hello to the queen tadpole!

Then there was the time the coach asked if I could do the backstroke. Now I was on the swim team in high school.  I may not be fast but I do know my strokes!  Or so I thought…  When the coach told me to swim 100 meters on my back with my hands stationary above my head so I could focus on kicking, guess who promptly inhaled a ton of water and sank repeatedly?!

But you know what’s incredible?  I am improving!  Things that were impossible for me to do a month ago I’m now doing.  And I keep being spurred on to new challenges I never would’ve dreamed of.  What a difference it makes to have a coach!

Especially on mornings like today when it’s rainy and 50 degrees out.  In all honesty it’s so much easier to stay in bed.  Especially as the class starts at 6:30 am!  The very thought of jumping into an outdoor pool, even though it is heated to 80 degrees, is a bit daunting.  I almost didn’t make it.  But knowing there is someone waiting for you, waiting to help you, and a group of others to  share the journey with sure makes a world of difference.

And does it ever make a difference in helping me grow my skills.  You see, I can go to the pool any time and swim laps – and as I do my endurance will improve.  But there’s something about having someone keep raising the bar that is pushing me to improve far beyond anything I’d do on my own.  Not only am I getting stronger and faster, but as I keep marking new accomplishments am I ever spurred on to want to keep growing and getting better!

And I’m amazed how it’s not just spurring me on physically but also providing an incredible metaphor for continuing to grow spiritually.

Remember a disciple is a learner as well as a follower of Jesus.  Being His disciple isn’t a rank you attain but a direction you head.  Stop learning, stop following Jesus and you are no longer His disciple.  As I spend time in the Word and keep seeking actively to apply it I am growing and it is exciting to periodically notice differences.

But a month ago an older woman contacted me and said I’d kept coming to her mind, would I be interested in getting together?  What a gift from the Lord this has proven to be!  Each time we interact I am so spurred on to want to go deeper with Jesus, far deeper than I would on my own.  And her insights and suggestions for things I can practically do to keep growing are making such a difference in my life!

But just like swimming, it takes effort to make this happen.  This precious woman lives four hours away.   It requires time and effort and intentionality to connect.

Is it ever worth it!

So what I’m chewing on today is the reality discipleship isn’t just for new or young believers.  Discipleship is about intentionally spurring people on to be (and remain!) Jesus’ disciple.  That’s something we can all benefit from all our days!  And do the women I disciple ever benefit from me continuing to be discipled!

Thankfully you can teach an old dog new tricks* – and what a difference it’s making in my life as I keep being spurred on to learn, grow and follow Jesus!



*fun links:

Pursuing Purity – part 3

Imagine you’re in Afghanistan, right on the edge of a minefield.  Only problem – those mines are buried.  You can’t see them.  How free would you feel to run and explore knowing at any moment a mine could detonate and blow you to bits?

Now imagine an explosive expert has arrived and with his high tech equipment identified where every single mine is located and put a fence around it.  You are guaranteed the only mines that can harm you are inside those fenced off areas and you’re surprised to find there’s lots of room to run and have fun, where mines aren’t located.  How would that impact your movements?  Would you complain that you can’t go into the areas inside the fences?  Or be thankful you can freely move everywhere else?

But what if some of those mines are set to detonate after long delays?  What if you suddenly see people climbing over the fences and having fun inside of them?  Would you start to question the explosive expert?  Wonder if maybe he’s just putting up fences to keep you from having a good time?

This is why it is so important for older women to teach what is good, and so train younger women to be pure. Titus 2:3-5  (If you haven’t read the previous two posts on pursuing purity please do go back and read them so you can put this third post in context!)

After you’ve lived a while you realize even the most delayed of those mines do detonate and can be so destructive.  We served in collegiate ministry for years and saw a number of students lured into heavy drinking and partying – everyone looked like they were having so much fun!  And they were!  The only problem is stick around long enough and sure enough there is great personal damage that takes place whenever the boundaries of God’s commands are violated.  Oh, you don’t always see the damage immediately – that’s one reason why so many get taken in.  But given time, it is heartbreaking to see the consequences.

I’ve never yet met anyone who started out seeking to be an alcoholic!

And after being married 28 years it is so sad to see the devastation in friends’ lives when one spouse decides to jump the fence and commit adultery.  The sex may be awesome!  And the new relationship may seem incredible at the time, but the earthquakes of devastation when trust is broken and relationships shattered is heart wrenching to witness.

One of the most famous songs from the musical Les Mis is Fantine’s “I dreamed a dream.”

There was a time when men were kind
When their voices were soft
And their words inviting
There was a time when love was blind
And the world was a song
And the song was exciting
There was a time
Then it all went wrongI dreamed a dream in time gone by
When hope was high
And life worth living
I dreamed that love would never die
I dreamed that God would be forgivingThen I was young and unafraid
So dreams were made and used and wasted
There was no ransom to be paid
No song unsung
No wine untastedBut the tigers come at night
With their voices soft as thunder
As they tear your hope apart
And they turn your dream to shameHe slept a summer by my side
He filled my days with endless wonder
He took my childhood in his stride
But he was gone when autumn came
And still I dream he’ll come to me
That we will live the years together
But there are dreams that cannot be
And there are storms we cannot weatherI had a dream my life would be
So different from this hell I’m living
So different now from what it seemed
Now life has killed
The dream I dreamed

This is a song of a woman who climbed over a fence.  A fence meant to protect her.  And yes, God is forgiving.  He will never walk away from us no matter what we do.  And oh how He grieves when His children disregard his commands, thinking they know better what good is and then as He sees the destruction that follows He carries our griefs, he bears our sorrows.  Thankfully He doesn’t just leave us there.  I love how in Les Miserables you see God in action bringing good out of evil.  But how much better it is to heed His warnings and obey his commands in the first place.
One thing Fantine gets very wrong in this song – life didn’t kill her dream, her choices killed her dream. She found someone who filled her days with endless wonder, and thought he’d always be there.  So she climbed the fence, not waiting for a commitment.  She thought she knew better than God what was best. And initially it looked great!  Like she really was prospering… until this rich guy and his friends lead their women to a pub and leave them with a goodbye note, never to be heard from again.
Now Fantine, if you’ve read the book especially, you’ll note is not some horrid creature, if anything in Les Miserables Victor Hugo highlights her incredible commitment as a mom to do whatever she can for her daughter.  This is the very thing that sends her into prostitution.  But the reality is this road began with a choice when she was younger to do what seemed good to her and hope that God would be forgiving.  Or a more modern version – “I know God’s going to forgive me so why not just go ahead and do what I want?”
This brings us to a third and critical aspect of pursuing purity.  You see God never creates commands to make us jump through hoops.  They are always for our good.  Always to protect us.  Why does the Lord hate sin so much?  One reason is because of how destructive it can be.  Fantine isn’t the only one who suffers for her choice. Her daughter Cosette does too.
Remember John 10:10 ~ the thief comes to rob, kill and destroy.  Because the enemy is a deceiver, he so wants to lure us into believing we are missing out if we follow God’s commands.
And in truth there are times when we follow God’s commands and there is still destruction.  We may be so careful and miss the mines detonating but in this broken and fallen world there are times when the enemy still drops bombs on us – times when we do what the Lord says and still experience great pain and brokenness – so on one hand, following the Lord’s commands really does protect us from a lot of pain.  But on the other hand it is not a guarantee no problems will come!
Just think of Joseph.  He didn’t climb over the fence even when day after day Potipher’s wife tried to seduce Him.  He ran away… and ended up in a dungeon.  But note that wasn’t the end of the story!  You could think – hey, if he’s going to end up in prison anyway why not have sex with the woman and at least have a good time!  But zoom out and you see His choice to pursue purity even in the face of injustice proved eventually to be a HUGE blessing for him, his whole family and even the nation of Egypt as well as all the nations surrounding them!!!
So don’t pursue purity to have an easy life.  In the short term life may actually end up harder.  But God sees.  God truly does know what is best.  And in the long run, “blessed are they whose ways are blameless” (you only get that through Jesus! what we covered in the previous posts), “who walk according to the law of the Lord” (obeying His commands!). The longest chapter in the Bible, Psalm 119, starts out with this very verse highlighting two different aspects of purity.   As David says in Psalm 16, “The boundary lines you have laid for me have fallen in pleasant places.”  May we learn to live well within the Lord’s boundaries and experience the blessedness that comes with this – and help those younger than us learn this too – even when all hell may be breaking lose around us …or those around us may seem to be having a lot more fun fence jumping!
So what can it look life for an older woman to help a younger woman process this?
Psalm 73 gives us such an excellent outline!  In it the Psalmist starts out being very honest about his observations regarding how well the wicked are doing, how they are prospering and seem to have it better and he’s almost sucked in… until he goes to be near God and considers it all from an eternal perspective.
1.  Read through this psalm together
2.  Then each take a blank piece of paper and fold it into sixths.
3.  In the top right section write “Psalmist: Short term perspective,” in the square underneath write “Psalmist:  Description,” in the bottom square write, “Psalmist:Long term reality.”  in the left column at the top right write “Wicked: Short term perspective, then in the middle write “Wicked:  Description” and in the last bottom section write “Wicked:  Long term reality.”
4.  As you read through this Psalm record what you can in each category
5.  Then discuss – with you, the discipler, sharing first.  Do you know people like those described under the wicked?  People who don’t fear God, who do evil but still prosper?  How does it make you feel when you see this?
6.  Can you relate to the Psalmist in his struggle?  If so, how?  When do you find yourself struggling like this?  Is there something you’re struggling with now?
It’s so easy never to talk about this when you meet with someone.  But it is reality.  Sin wouldn’t be such a struggle if it wasn’t fun, if it didn’t look good, especially initially! Or are either of you struggling because you’ve obeyed and life is still hard or even harder because of your obedience and you feel like giving up?  Opening up and talking about your struggles can be one of the best ways to thwart the enemy.  He thrives when things are hidden.
You don’t need to wait until a problem surfaces to discuss this!  As long as we are this side of heaven we are all going to struggle.  Welcome to being human!  Open the door for honest dialogue. Share the journey!
7.  What stands out to you from the long term realities of both the wicked and the Psalmist?
8.  What brought about the change in the Psalmist’s perspective?
9.  Now turn the page over and each of you write on the back of your pages the thoughts that come to mind after considering this.  What can you learn from this?
10.  Share your thoughts
11.  Then spend some time brainstorming ways that could help you keep perspective.
12.  Pray for each other!
Older women, whether you are decades or just a few months further along than the women around you, may we all be faithful to teach what is good and so train the women around us to be pure and in so doing be encouraged to keep persevering in this ourselves!