The First 90 Days…

After two days hiking Pikes Peak with a friend I was exhausted.  So when my husband picked us up at the end of the trail I grabbed the nearest book in the car and started reading as he drove us home.  The book was entitled The First 90 Days by Michael D. Watkins.  Not something I normally would pick up.

On the first page the author states, “The actions you take during the first few months in a new role will largely determine whether you succeed or fail.”  Did that ever catch my attention! Especially as Jim was just about to start a new job!

So I prayed, “Lord, you’ve created me to be Jim’s helper.  How can I help him during these first 90 days on his new job?  Especially as I’ll be in a different state for the first third of them!  Would you please give me an idea?”

Did he ever!

One of the girls in my Bible study is getting married soon and asked if we could get together to talk about praying for your husband.  If you know me, you know this is one of my favorite things to do – both praying for Jim and sharing with others the incredible blessing of doing this!

For the past twenty years I’ve made it a point wherever we live to find someone who will meet with me to pray for an hour each week for our husbands.  I can’t even begin to tell you the huge difference this has made in our marriage as well as in my life!  So even though I’m not much for schedules or doing the same thing repeatedly, this is one of the top priorities of things I do.  Out here in Colorado, one prayer partner and I got waterproof Bibles so we can still walk and pray even if it’s snowing or raining!

Over the years have I ever collected a bunch of resources that help me pray for Jim.  So I arrived at my friend’s house with a bunch of materials. What a wonderful time we shared not just talking about praying for your husband, but also praying together for my husband and her husband to be!

At the end of the time she showed me a book she’d just bought that was recommended to her called Praying for Your Husband from Head to Toe by Sharon Jaynes.  When I saw it included a month’s worth of daily scriptures to guide you in praying for your husband I was so excited!!!  This was the Lord’s answer to my prayer for something I could do to “help” Jim as he transitions!!!  You better believe the moment I left her I went right to Amazon.com and bought a copy!

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So Jim just started his new job yesterday and I just got back from my second day walking and praying through this.  Oh friends, I can’t even begin to tell you what a treasure it is!!!  It’s so deep and rich and extensive!  I think the guy who wrote The First 90 Days should’ve included this in his book!!!  :0)

Here’s what I prayed through this morning:

ZRE9d  YTVou   A4Jrm

Now I’ve only just started so I’ve no idea what kind of impact it may have on Jim, but it is blessing the socks off me!  Not only am I getting to pray for my husband, but it is providing some of the sweetest time with the Lord as I walk and pray through this each morning.  It’s so rich and so unbelievably applicable to his transition, I think I very well may pray through this book three times – which perfectly covers his first 90 days! ;0)

Oh how I love it when I ask the Lord for an idea and He so abundantly delivers!

Just thought I’d share this new treasure with you!  ;0)

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!
photo-28
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)
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ENGAGING THE UNSEEN FOE

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.

THE TRUE BATTLEGROUND

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.

UNDERSTANDING OUR ENEMY

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.

USING THE RIGHT WEAPONS

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.

THE NATURE OF OUR STRUGGLE

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?

FOCUSING ON THE RIGHT OBJECTIVE

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!

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photo-21

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!

Seeing Myself The Way Jesus Does

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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!

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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

Love Is A Choice

When Ruth Bell Graham (wife of evangelist Billy Graham) was asked if she’d ever considered divorce, she replied, “Divorce?  No.  Murder?  Yes!”

Marriage is hard.  Even if you get to choose who you’re going to be married to!  Imagine living in a time where your parents do the choosing, often years before you ever say, “I do!”

Small wonder one of the first things Paul instructs older women to teach younger women is how to love their husbands.  The Greek word used here is πιλανδρους which literally means “to have affection for one’s husband.”  When Paul was writing this most likely many women got engaged with zero affection for their husband as marriages were arranged.  Isn’t it wild to realize that having affection for one’s husband is something you can be taught?!

Having been married for over 27 years Jim and I have seen a lot of ups and downs – and some of those downs have taken us as low as we can go, where feelings totally flatlined.  There have been at least three times when I reached the point where all feelings died, where I simply felt no affection for him at all.

The first time happened after we’d been married two years.  In fact, I was ready to walk away from him and our marriage.  We were actually overseas at the time and I was staying an extra week to spend time with a friend.  I’ll never forget saying goodbye to him on the coast in England not caring if I ever saw him again.

But a few days later as I spent time with the Lord, He asked me, “Do you believe I brought you and Jim together?”  and I answered, “Yes, Lord.”  I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt He had.  Then He said, “To walk away from him is to walk away from me.” And I thought, “I can live without him, but I can’t live without you!” So I decided to return to him and press on despite the pain and my feelings being totally dead towards him.

And here’s the crazy thing, as I did, those feelings came back, even more intense than before!  Over the course of 27 years, I’ve experienced this happening a number of times!

It is so vital that younger women understand this!

I’ll never forget a friend telling me.  “It’s over.  I don’t have any feelings for my husband anymore.  Our marriage is dead.”  What a difference it can make when we remember, God can raise the dead!

And when we remember, “Love is a choice!”  Feelings come and feelings go, and every marriage is going to pass through difficult times.  Any woman who has been married for any length of time can attest to this.  But you sure don’t see this in the movies!  And sadly, that’s where so many women learn about “loving” their husbands.

In 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 we are given a description of love.  Love is patient, love is kind.  It does not envy, it does not boast.  It is not proud.  It is not rude.  It is not self-seeking.  It is not easily angered.  Love keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil, but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects.  Always trusts.  Always hopes.  Always perseveres.  Love never fails.

Do you see any mention of romantic feelings there?!

One thing I’ve found so clearly through the years, when I seek to live out love as described in 1 Corinthians 13:4-8, feelings follow.  Feelings are a result, not something you pursue!  And certainly not something that’s magically there and when they vanish forever gone!

For example, when I’ve kept a record of wrongs and not been intentional in forgiving my husband (and when you live in close proximity to someone in this broken, fallen world, do you ever have ample opportunity to get hurt and be hurt by them!) has that ever taken a toll on our relationship.  When this happens the slightest thing he does can set me off (talk about being easily angered!).  But when I take the time to process what’s happened and forgive him, the difference in our relationship is HUGE!  (there’s more info on how I do this in the “Heal” section on this website).

Another thing that’s really helped – In my early years of marriage an older woman challenged me to take time each day to write down ten things about my husband I was thankful for!  At first, since at the time we were really struggling, it was hard to think of anything.  I started out, “He doesn’t beat me.”  But you know as I did this simple exercise it made  such a difference in my relationship with Jim.

You see, this side of heaven, everyone is a mixed bag – of strengths and weaknesses.  The only perfect person who ever walked this earth was Jesus – and he never married!  The enemy so loves to get us focused on our husband’s weaknesses (and comparing them to some other man’s strength – forgetting that other man has weaknesses too!).  But I found as I prayed with thanks for Jim did it ever help me gain a more balanced view – and remember the blessings of who the Lord has created him to be (and yes, they are many!)  Following Paul’s encouragement in Philippians 4:6-7 to pray with thanks is so important!

In fact, praying for my husband has been a key part of loving him well through the years.    For nearly 20 years I have sought to pray weekly with a friend for an hour each week for our husbands.  I cannot recommend this highly enough.  It has helped me persevere in loving Jim through our darkest seasons.

Back around 1995 when we attended a Family Life Marriage Conference (something I highly recommend!!!)  the speaker shared how she met weekly with a group of women to pray for their husbands and she handed out a basic outline they followed.  Right away I went home, found a prayer partner, and dove in!  You wouldn’t believe the answers to prayer we’ve seen!  But more than that, as I take time to intentionally lift my husband before the Father’s throne, does it ever impact me.  It’s like the Lord uses that time in a powerful way to give me His perspective on my marriage… and on my part in it! (yes, I can be a challenge to live with too!)

One other help has been praying through a bookmark entitled, “Seeing My Husband the Way Jesus Does.” Whenever I’m struggling, when those feelings start to falter, I pull out this bookmark (see below) and go walk and pray – and what a huge help it’s proved to be.  As I’m praying for him, I’m reminded how God sees him and what’s true about who he really is.

These are just a couple suggestions for things I seek to pass on to the women I meet with to help them learn how to love their husbands.  What’s helped you?  What is currently helping you?  Draw from that treasure and pass it on!  Younger women so need this encouragement and so need you to share your struggles and what’s helping you persevere!

Marriage is hard.  Thankfully not all the time!  :0)  But you’ve got to learn to persevere through the hard times if you want to enjoy the sweet ones over a lifetime.  What a difference it can make when older women will step up to the plate and help younger women learn to do this!

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RESOURCE:

Seeing My Husband The Way Jesus Does…

      is in Christ

Thank You for immersing my husband in Christ. Thank you for grafting him into the true vine.

      is blessed

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

      is chosen

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

      is holy

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

      is without blemish

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

      is adopted

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

      is God’s child

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

      is free from sin’s power

Thank you for liberating him from his old master. Thank you for saving him from his enemy.

      is forgiven

Thank You that You now hold nothing against him. Thank you for not expecting him to make up for the ways he has failed you.

      is favored

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

      is wealthy

Thank You that as Your child he has an inheritance that provides all he needs. Thank You that he will always have more than he needs.

      is secure

Thank You for enveloping him in Your love so that he is sealed, secure and safe. Thank You for shielding and sheltering him by Your Spirit.

      is called

Thank You for giving him an exciting, fulfilling direction. Thank You for showing him why he is here and where he is going.

      is praiseworthy

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

      is capable

Thank You that You love to show Your extraordinary power in him. Thank You that he is therefore qualified & able to do all You want him to do.

      is alive with Christ’s life

Thank You that since You came into his heart, he is born again – born from above and bursting with real life.

      is seated with Christ in heaven

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

      is God’s masterpiece

Thank You for making him Your personal work of art. Thank You that he is the work of a Craftsman, not a mistake.

      is close to God

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

      is an insider

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

      is God’s mobile home

Thank You for moving into his heart. Thank You that he is now Your house, Your temple, Your tent.

      is promised great things

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

      is loved

Thank You for loving him the way he longs to be loved. Thank You that he can’t wear out Your love. Thank you for continuing to win his trust by convincing him of the depth of Your love.

      is a new creation

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

      is righteous

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

      is the light of the world

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

      is nourished

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

      is cherished

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

      is 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 him. Thank You that he is actually a member of Your body.

      is united with Christ

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

      is strong

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

Note: contents adapted from David Lyons’ booklet Now That I Am Born Again.

These are a few of my favorite things!

I love a good movie!  And I must say The Lord of the Rings movies are my hands down favorites!  There’s something about the desperation in the middle, when all seems lost and there seems to be no hope of good ever happening again that I can so relate to.  You see, I live my life in the middle of the story.

But then Gandalf arrives, or Sam shows up or even Gollum hurtles back into the picture and my heart is encouraged to press on.  In the midst of this broken and fallen world, I so need the perspective a good story can bring reminding me the end is coming and it will be good.

That’s also why I need XTAWGs (aka extended times with the Lord!).  When Jim and I were first starting out we sought to do these once a month.  But the longer I walk with Jesus the more I need extended time sitting at his feet, focusing on who He is, taking time to let His Word dwell in me richly… to give me His perspective in the middle of my story!

The more intense life is, the more I desperately need this!  I now seek to enjoy such time weekly.  What a difference it makes  in helping me press on in following Jesus!

So I thought I’d share a few of my favorite ways of enjoying an XTAWG!

1.  When I first started doing this, I began with Lorne Sanny’s article How To Spend A Day In Prayer.*   In addition to explaining the value of doing this, this is a great guide for getting you started!  You can literally go through the article step by step and use that to structure and experience an incredible XTAWG!  We usually give this out to people when they are doing this for the first time, along with the circles that come at the back of Roger and Jean Fleming’s book Feeding Your Soul – I can’t recommend their book highly enough!!!**

2.  What I most use now is Prof. Richard Horner’s Bible Reading Plan*** only instead of daily I use it weekly, reading from ten chapters – one from each of his lists – during my XTAWG.  I find it is so helpful to have a set plan for what I’ll do each week, so I hop on my bike, asking the Lord to lead on our “date” and then stop, read one chapter, draw a small picture that summarizes the key thing that stood out to me as I read, then hop back on my bike until the Lord prompts me to stop again and I dive into the next chapter…  It’s amazing to me how the different readings will relate and often a theme will emerge during my time with the Lord.  (and yes I often end up at different cafes along the way!  ;0) You can see an example of this here:  http://restfulheart.wordpress.com/2013/06/25/come/  If you’d like a copy of what I’ve taped in the front of my Bible to keep track of where I’m at from week to week email me at jadseekhim@Msn.com and I’ll be glad to send it to you. :0)

3.  Once a month I love to spend my XTAWG at an art gallery or art museum.  Before I go in I pray and ask the Lord to lead me to one piece of art He wants me focusing on and then ask Him to give me ears to hear whatever He wants to say to me through this.  As soon as something stands out to me, I stop there and begin drawing it – I find I notice so much more when I slow down and do this and then I take out my journal and start dialoging with the Lord regarding what I’ve noticed.  These have been some of my most life changing times experiencing Him and hearing from Him.  You can find two examples of this at:  http://restfulheart.wordpress.com/2012/06/19/lord-please-save-me-from-ideas-that-are-not-yours/  and  http://restfulheart.wordpress.com/2012/10/27/despondency-or-delight/

4.  For those who are here in Colorado or if you ever come out here to visit – another favorite way to enjoy an XTAWG takes place at The Potter’s Inn in Divide, Colorado.****  They have a prayer walk on their 35 acres and a booklet you can purchase for $1 that will provide you with some amazing extended time with the Lord!!!  (imagine reading about Moses in the cleft of the rock as you’re actually sandwiched in one!!!)  I’ve done this three times and still look forward to the next time I get to do it!

Now you don’t have to bike.  And you don’t have to draw!  And you don’t have to go to art museums or on adventures discovering new special spots or come to Colorado or hang out at local cafes!  These are just things I really enjoy!

But isn’t that the point?  Make a list of what you really enjoy, a list of your favorite things, and seek to incorporate those into your extended times with God!  Think of it as a date with God!  When someone plans to take you on a date, if they are wise they take into consideration what you enjoy doing!  And is the Lord ever wise!!!

You see, when I first got married, my husband and I were encouraged to spend time every day interacting, even if just briefly, and then to take time weekly going on a date where we could enjoy uninterrupted focused time together.  What a difference those dates have made in our marriage!

This is also true for my relationship with the Lord!  I have my daily quiet time – which truly is the most important 15 minutes of my day, but then these weekly dates are taking me so much deeper in my relationship with Him!  And when you’re feeling very much in the middle of the story, wondering how any good can come of all that’s happening, is this ever especially needed!

So this is by no means an exhaustive list!  Just a few of my favorite ways to enjoy an XTAWG while doing some of my favorite things!  :0)  If you have ideas for what you enjoy doing as you spend extended time with the Lord would I ever love to hear them!

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* How To Spend A Day In Prayer by Lorne Sanny:  http://www.cmfhq.org/Portals/0/acrobat/training/Day%20Alone%20with%20God.pdf  )

**Feeding Your Soul by Roger and Jean Fleming:  http://www.amazon.com/Feeding-Your-Soul-Quiet-Handbook/dp/1576831442  (note:  If you go to Amazon.com and on the webpage for this book click to “look inside” this book and type “How to Spend A Half-day in Prayer” in the search box and scroll down to pages 140-142 you can see their circles for breaking down how to spend each hour for three hours with the Lord! I have found this to be of incredible help!!!)

***Professor Horner’s Bible Reading Plan:  http://www.challies.com/sites/all/files/attachments/professor-grant-horners-bible-reading-system.pdf

**** The Potter’s Inn website:  http://pottersinn.com/

A Disciple Making Continuum: Flexibility vs. Structure

There is not one way to disciple.  This is true not only because each person being discipled is unique, but also because every discipler is unique!

Personality, maturity, past experiences, convictions, spiritual gifting… there are so many factors that impact the way we do what we do.

Some disciplers are super structured.  They know what they want to accomplish and have a clear plan for how to get there.  Others are extremely flexible, highly relational, ready and willing to go with the flow.   In between there’s a range of possibilities!

This reality can be expressed by a continuum which features on the left “extreme flexibility,” (aka “Let’s just get together and talk…”) and on the right “extreme structure” (aka “This is THE plan!”).

There are strengths and weaknesses to both.

Consider the following:
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At one extreme we have Flexible Felicity.  Her focus is primarily on building relationship.  She tends to see disciple-making as an art, with each encounter a new creative opportunity.  Her strengths can be her focus on the person, who usually feels very loved and cared for, and her flexibility may result in deep needs being met that might otherwise be missed which she intuitively may be more likely to pick up on (though this doesn’t always happen!).  A key weakness is she can easily be sidetracked and miss the goal.  Her greatest danger is to lose sight of the goal and end up spinning her wheels, perhaps even wasting the time.  When this happens does the enemy ever rejoice!

At the other extreme we find Structured Susan.  Her focus is on reaching the goal.  She views disciple-making as a science (most likely one she’s got down pat! and is very eager to help others learn to “do right”).  Her strengths are her ability to clearly articulate her goals at all times for this is primarily what she’s focusing on.  What she does in her one on ones tends to be easier to duplicate, since the more organized something is the more easily it lends itself to passing on, and what she does with people is usually measurable (ie, she knows when her plans are accomplished…at least her part of doing it!).  A key weakness is this can be impersonal and with such a heavy focus on a predetermined plan, important needs can easily be missed and people can end up feeling like a project.  The key danger here is losing the relationship!  When this happens does the enemy ever score a huge victory.

In Ecclesiastes 7:18 we’re told, “It is good to grasp the one and not let go of the other.  The man who fears God will avoid all extremes.”  Have I ever found this to be wise advice.  There can be great beauty and strength in balance!  For example, it’s vital to love well (see 1 Cor 13:1-3!), people really do grow best in the context of relationship, and to realize you are meeting with a unique individual who has unique needs, but also to understand being intentional can be a huge part of loving well.  How do you feel when someone puts effort into preparing something for you?!

My favorite part is what happens to our focus as we struggle to stay more balanced – rather than focusing primarily on the person or on the goal, I find the struggle tends to help me keep my focus primarily on God!

Can it ever help to pray through this continuum and consider where you fall on it:

Where does your personality naturally place you?

How have your past experiences influenced this, especially if you were discipled, what did that look like?

What impact has your spiritual maturity had on this?  Have you changed through the years?

Are there any convictions influencing what you do?

And how does your gifting influence this?

For example, I’m a fairly flexible, intuitive, highly creative and highly distractible person who LOVES people!!!  So on the basis of personality alone, it’s obvious I’m more likely to fall on the left of the continuum.  BUT I was discipled by a woman who was structured and had a plan so that provides balance!  Since what was modeled for me was more on the right side, I’ve experienced the benefits of that side too.

Because I’ve been discipling women for over thirty years I have a lot of tools available to use that are internalized, so if an opportunity to meet one on one with someone pops up unexpectedly I don’t need as much advance planning as I did when I was first learning how to do this.  Though without a doubt the first tool I always seek to use is prayer, because I realize no matter how much experience I have, God’s ways still aren’t my ways and I so want to walk in step with Him! (that’s a conviction that’s resulted in a set plan to pray first!)

Over the years I’ve seen one of the best ways I can help women is to faithfully spend time in the Word with them each time we meet.  With all my heart (yes, this is a deep conviction!) I believe that’s the most enriching thing I can ever do with anyone.  So I intentionally plan each week to spend focused time together in the Word.

And I have a deep conviction about spiritual generations of laborers being raised up – I want what I’m passing on that’s of value to be readily passed onto others.  I so want each woman I’m meeting with to discover the joy of doing with others what I’m doing with her!  Not only for the benefit of others – I deeply believe this is key for her finishing life well.  Does that ever spur me on to be more organized so what I do is pass-on-able!

Now hospitality is one of my gifts, so I am much more likely to seek to disciple in a warm place preferably with a cup of tea and something good to eat and to spend time at the start catching up and relationally connecting!  But the Lord has also given me a gift of teaching and often teaching well requires advance planning (like making certain I have two sets of colored pencils or copies of tools I’m introducing!  ;0) and being aware of the time (which does NOT come naturally to me) so we have enough time to do what I believe the Lord wants us doing!

So I continue to seek to grow towards being more balanced when I’m discipling women.  In all honesty, this can be a struggle!  I expect I’m always going to be more on the left side due to my personality.  But that’s not bad!  That’s a big part of how the Lord made me.  Maybe structure and planning come more naturally for you and you need to be more intentional about enjoying relationship with those you meet with.  Either way, let’s not let what comes naturally be an excuse that keeps us from growing, or from doing the best we can for the women we’re discipling!