"Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with the Lord's people who are in need. Practice hospitality." Romans 12:12-13 (NIV)
I remember sitting in the smelly middle school gym like it was yesterday.
I'd survived the awkward and much-dreaded moments of changing into my PE uniform in the girls' locker room. And now I sat on the hard bleachers listening to the squeak of tennis shoes, the uneven cadence of bouncing balls, the teacher's sharp whistle and the girls laughing behind me.
They weren't laughing with me. That would have meant I was accepted, wanted and invited in to be a part of their group.
No, they were laughing at me.
I was the subject of their gossip. I was the punch line of their jokes.
And it hurt.
I imagine you know that hurt too. Change the scenery and people, and this same hurt can be found in most of our lives.
• When your co-workers all make plans to go to lunch, but you weren't invited. • When that other preschool mom says, "Several of us moms are concerned with how aggressive your child seems on the playground." • When everyone else's social media makes marriage look dreamy and uber-romantic as you're crying yourself to sleep.
Then a friend steps in with a gentle smile and a few simple words of encouragement and suddenly you're not alone.
I want to be that friend for you today.
In the midst of whatever it is that's made your heart feel knocked off-kilter, can I whisper what I believe are the 5 best things one can say to a friend? And then might you give the gift of saying these things to a friend today?
This list is from our key verses, Romans 12:12-13, in a section titled "Love."
1. "You're wonderful."
(Romans 12:12, "Be joyful in hope ...")
What a loving thing to infuse joyful hope into your friend's life by reminding her why you think she is wonderful.
The world is quick to tell us girls all the ways we fall short. We are hyperaware of our faults and frailties.
So, what a precious gift to remind a friend of specific ways she's a wonderful friend, a wonderful mom, a wonderful Jesus girl, a wonderful wife, a wonderful co-worker, a wonderful person.
2. "Me too."
(Romans 12:12, "... patient in affliction ...")
What a gift to remind a friend we all have afflictions, hurts, faults and tender places. We all get sick both emotionally and physically.
The patient friend freely gives grace because she so desperately needs it herself. "Me too" acknowledges that I'm no better than you, but together we can get stronger. It is such a loving and disarming admission that we're all in this together.
3. "I'll pray."
(Romans 12:12, "... faithful in prayer.")
Wouldn't it be wonderful to tell a friend you will absolutely be faithful in your prayers for her? I have someone who prays for me faithfully and even texts me Scriptures she's praying.
But here's what I really love about her. She doesn't just pray about my situations. She prays me through them. I honestly don't know how she hasn't gotten tired of praying for some of my same issues for so long. I get so tired of me ... but she never does. What a gift. A gift I know I must pass on by being faithful in my prayers for others.
4. "I'll share."
(Romans 12:13, "Share with the Lord's people who are in need ...")
When we notice a need in a friend's life, might we be willing to step in and be part of the solution?
I have a friend who lost every possession she owned due to a chemical spill in her home. So, we threw her a "Job (like the man in the Bible) Party." Each of us brought a few things to help her family start over.
We didn't come close to fully meeting their financial needs. But we helped build a foundation of restoration and gave this family the assurance that God was working on their behalf.
5. "Come over."
(Romans 12:13, "Practice hospitality.")
Welcoming a friend inside the sacred space of our home is such a needed gesture. There's just something about relationships that are less pixilated when we get eye-to-eye, voice-to-voice and talk. Really talk.
Over broken bread we share broken hearts. And then we celebrate the parts of us that are still intact. We reach across the table and across our differences to grab hold of the glorious bond of friendship.
Yes, these are 5 great things, maybe even the best things, to say to a friend. So, today, I pause and say them to you.
Now, I haven't quite figured out how to do that last one. It would be such a hoot trying to fit you all in my kitchen, but I sure am dreaming about it!
Dear Lord, thank You for the gift of friendship. Please show me who I can encourage today. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
Reflect and Respond: Think of a friend in need. Of the five statements above, which one can you put into practice with her today?
Power Verse: Hebrews 13:16, "And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased." (NIV)
© 2014 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.
Proverbs 31 Ministries 630 Team Rd., Suite 100 Matthews, NC 28105 www.Proverbs31.org
The tempter [the devil] came to him [Jesus] and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.” Matthew 4:3
The devil tempted Adam and Eve to doubt God. He tempted Job to give up on God and he tempted Jesus to disobey God. Satan’s tactics have not changed. He still subtly and not so subtly seeks to steal, kill and destroy our faith. He sows seeds of doubt into our taking seriously Christ’s commands. He plays mind games to get us to go against what we know is clearly right or wrong. The evil one masks a sinful choice by causing us to doubt God’s clear expectations. What God says does not require a second opinion, so we are wise to first do what He says to do.
The devil also tempts us to give up on God when our world is shaken. Like Job we may lose our children and see our finances slip away. Our health may fail and we may be tempted to think the Lord has failed us. However, it’s our faith in Jesus that offers stability during unstable situations. Almighty God is unmovable. He is a rock, refuge, and strong fortress against the deceptive tricks of the tempter. Yes, we lean into the Holy Spirit when unholy forces seek to force unfaithfulness.
“In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing” (Job 1:22).
Moreover, Satan appeals to our pride by tempting us to use power powered by the flesh. Our pride can easily run ahead of the Lord. Though a good outcome may come about, God does not get the glory when we are out in front of Him. Humility waits to be led and empowered by the Spirit. The devil also misapplies Scripture in an attempt to spiritualize his suggestions. He will twist the truth to sound inviting: “everything if done in moderation is ok.” Really? One click to a pornographic site is not ok, one car ride with a drunken driver is not ok, and one lie is not ok.
Therefore, we come against the enemy’s tricks, lies, and deceit with the Word of God. We are naive and defenseless if we try to defeat the devil with our own clever devices. We will win however, if we keep our prayer guard up and if we spend time meditating on and applying biblical principles to our behavior. This is why we are engaged, not nonchalant in our spiritual disciplines. We stay aware of devilish schemes that try to convince us we are the exception to the Lord’s expectations. By God’s grace we win the battle of the mind by renewing our mind with truth.
“‘Why are you sleeping?’ he asked them. ‘Get up and pray so that you will not fall into temptation’” (Luke 22:46).
Prayer: Heavenly Father, expose the enemy’s errors by the Holy Spirit’s illumination of truth.
Related Readings: Genesis 3:1; 1 Thessaloinains 3:5; Philippians 2:16; James 5:11
Post/Tweet today: What God says does not require a second opinion, so we are wise to first do what He says to do. #wisdomhunters
© 2014 by Boyd Bailey. All rights reserved.
New York Frontier, 1784
The woman who had been Burning Sky had kept off the warrior path that came down from the north through mountains, along the courses of rivers and creeks. Doing so meant traveling slow, over steep ground unfriendly to trudging feet, but she had not wanted to be seen by men on the path. Red men or white men.
She’d slept on the cold ground thirteen times before she saw the stone that marked the end of her journey—and the boundary of her papa’s land, the place she once called home. Time had not dimmed it in her memory. The stone, tall as a man and pointed as a blade, thrust from the crest of a ridge. But with her step quickened and her gaze fixed on it as she neared, she failed to notice the dog slithering out of the laurel thicket below the stone, until the muddy animal stood in her path and showed its teeth. The woman who had been Burning Sky halted, shaken less by the dog than by her own inattention. If Tames-His-Horse had been there, he would have scolded her for it.
He was not there, but another was.
The sun had slipped from behind clouds and sent a shaft of light lancing down the ridge into the laurels, full across the man lying in the thicket, showing her a booted foot, a length of knee breeches, a hand cradled on the breast of a brown coat. A white hand.
She caught her breath, while the blood thundered in her ears. When neither the man nor the dog moved, fear began to sift from her like chaff through a winnowing basket. The dog was only standing guard. But over the living or the dead?
It was tempting to assume the latter, but for this: the man lay on her papa’s side of the boundary stone. The significance of that settled on her, a heavier burden than the long-trail basket she’d carried on her back these many days. Maybe the man was dead and it would not matter what she did, but she could not turn her back and walk on as though she had not seen him.
There was still the problem of the dog in her way. It was one of those bred for bullying sheep, black and white, rough coated. The English word for it surfaced in her mind: collie.
The woman who had been Burning Sky slipped the tumpline from her forehead and the cord loops from her arms, lowering the basket to the ground. She gripped the musket slung at her side, even as she spoke kindly in the language of the People. “You are a good dog, guarding your man. Tohske’ wahi. It is so?”
The collie did not alter its rigid stance.
It occurred to her the dog might not know the speech of the Kanien’kehá:ka, called Mohawks by the whites. She tried English, which felt to her like speaking with pebbles in the mouth.
“You will let me near him, yes?” She took a step toward the laurels. The collie moved its matted tail side to side. “Good dog.”
She set her musket within reach and turned her attention to the man. He was too tangled in the laurels to have crawled in. Likely he’d fallen from the ridge above. Not a long drop, but steep. Closer now, she could see his face. Even for a white man, it was pale, the hollows of his closed eyes bruised, sickly. Hair almost black stuck to his brow in stiffened curls. While the dog nosed her heels, she wrenched away twigs, keeping one eye on the man’s still face. With the small hatchet from her sash, she hacked away larger branches, sending down a shower of leaves and insects, until she knelt beside the man. He had not stirred, but the warmth of his breath against her palm told her he lived. From the way he cradled his right arm across his chest, she knew it to be injured. His legs lay straight and seemed undamaged, save for scrapes where his leg coverings had torn in the fall. Not leg coverings, she thought. Stockings.
She did not know about his ribs, or what hurts might lurk beneath them. Moving him might cause further injury, but he could not remain as he was, unless she stayed and cared for him. She tipped back her head, lifting her eyes to the boundary stone, then to the sky at which it pointed. Why the man? Why now, so near her journey’s end?
Neither the stone nor its Maker gave answer. For whatever inscrutable reason, the Great Good God—the Almighty—had placed this man in her path, as He’d removed so many others from it.
It did not seem a fair exchange. But sitting there, wishing it was not so, would change nothing. This she well knew.
Returning to the basket, she found a length of sturdy basswood cord. With the hatchet, she cut cedar saplings to serve for poles and crosspieces, then retrieved the elk hide from her bedding. Through all this and the building of the travois, the dog milled about, whining. She met its fretful gaze but had no promises to make it. She would do what she could. Though she was strong for a woman, and tall, the man’s deadweight proved no easy burden. While she maneuvered him out of the laurels, she expected him to rouse. But not until she knelt to secure him to the travois, sweating from the exertion, did she look up to find his eyes open. He had blue eyes—the drenching blue of trade beads—and they were fixed on her in glittering bewilderment and pain.
Responding to his pain, she touched his face to reassure him. His beard was coming in. The rasp of it against her palm stirred memories. Papa’s face had sometimes rasped with stubble, against the touch of her childish hand. Not black stubble—reddish brown like her own hair. Was it red still, or had the years made it white?
Then she thought she should stop touching the face of this man who was not Papa, whatever memories he stirred, but her fingers stayed pressed to the cold, bristly cheek.
While she hesitated, bewilderment fled the man’s blue-bead eyes, replaced by something like awe, then a look she had not seen in another face since the day she watched the longhouse burn. He was gazing at her with the trust of a child, innocent and complete.
“Oh, aye, that’s all right, then,” he said. The warmth of his breath brushed her face as he exhaled, closing his startling eyes.
The woman who had been Burning Sky sat back on her heels, stabbed beneath her ribs by a blade so sharp she wanted to beat her breasts to drive it out. Never again had she wanted to see that look of trust on the face of the sick, the dying. She’d fled far, thinking she could outdistance that sorrowful pairing. Had she not seen suffering enough to fill a lifetime?
A bruised reed shall he not break, and the smoking flax shall he not quench. The words settled in her mind like a hand on the shoulder, large and steadying. She drew a breath through lungs that fought with grief for space inside her, and looked at the man on the travois. A bruised reed. There would be many such scattered over the land, broken and uprooted by the war just past. She was not the only one.
Though she was no longer adept at judging the ages of white men, this one seemed young. Not as young as she, though she doubted he was past thirty winters. No white threaded his hair, and the lines at the corners of his eyes were faintly drawn. The quality of his woolen coat marked him a man of consequence. Not a farmer, she thought.
She could not begin to guess why he was there, fallen on the edge of what the whites called the Great Northern Wilderness, a sea of forest rolling away in mounting crests to Canada, where the redcoat soldiers of the defeated English king had retreated since the war to lick their wounds.
Was he someone Papa knew, here by his leave? If so, Papa would be glad she helped him.
She wanted Papa to be glad when he saw her again. If he saw her again.
Though the long winter had finally ended, the day was chill for the moon of budding leaves. She unrolled her rabbit-skin cloak and spread it over the man. She gathered the few belongings she found scattered around him and secured them on the travois. One of those was a small glass bottle, dark with the liquid it contained. She uncorked the glass, put it to her nose, and grimaced at the bittersweetness of opium dissolved in spirits. Was this the reason he’d fallen, or had he found it afterward and dosed himself to bear his injuries? It explained why he had remained unconscious, save for that brief moment.
Perhaps, even then, he had been in a dream’s grip and had not really seen her. Perhaps that look of trust had been for someone else. She greatly hoped so.
She corked the bottle and dropped it into her carrying basket. The snow thaw had passed on the lower slopes, leaving only the marshy places impassable with mud. There on the ridge, the ground was moist but not saturated. Gripping the travois poles, she hoisted her burden and picked herself a path through the wide-spaced trees, while the dog followed.
Though the going now was even slower, the land beneath her feet grew more familiar with each step. In her mind she rushed ahead, seeing it in memory—its fertile dips and rocky ridges, the broad noisy creek called Black Kettle, the lake with its tiny islet, the broad flats where Papa grew his corn and wheat. The clearing where the barn and cabin stood. So close now. Relief and dread warred in her belly.
She found the little stream where she remembered it to be, and the footpath that followed its winding course south, then east, then south again. She saw no tracks of men, but the deer had kept it clear. Though the travois passed with little hindrance, the man’s weight dragged at her shoulders, causing a burn across the muscles of her back and arms. The basket’s tumpline, tight across her brow, strained the bones of her neck. She turned her mind from the pain, continuing as she had done through each day of her journey. One foot, then the other. A step, and another. As she went, she spoke aloud a name, one she had not heard for many years, and so she said it with care, her enunciation precise.
The collie trotted up beside her, ears perked, already accustomed to her voice. The woman who had been Burning Sky nodded to the dog, whose name she did not know.
“Wilhelmina Obenchain,” she said, more assuredly this time. “But you may call me Willa.”
Excerpted from Burning Sky by Lori Benton Copyright © 2013 by Lori Benton. Excerpted by permission of WaterBrook Press, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
"For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many." Matthew 20:28 (NLT)
For years, something in me longed to be a savior. It was the space within my heart that lit with imagination when I watched heroes on TV save a falling baby with a mattress, rescue survivors from a mudslide or wrestle a hijacker to the floor of a plane. I aspired to be a woman with such daring, admired by thousands.
That desire carried me on a trip to Kolkata, India, where I was determined to make a difference with my positive attitude and can-do spirit!
I prepared with confidence and traveled with bravado, but when I arrived in the city, my assurance began to wilt. Walking out of the airport into the dead of the night, our team was surrounded at once with impoverished women and children begging. Shouldn't they be sleeping?
Decrepit buildings lined potholed streets, patrolled by feral dogs and rifle-armed policemen. Rancid smells and unfamiliar sights assailed our senses.
On the way to our hotel, we drove by a billboard proclaiming, "Kolkata: City of Joy." The very idea whiplashed my brain, and my deepest motives were exposed. What was I thinking? This isn't a job for me ... making Kolkata the City of Joy is truly a God-sized job!
In that moment, my desire to be a hero was both exposed and crushed. My smile and positive attitude alone would not feed the hungry, free women from oppression or liberate captives from spiritual darkness with. No, only Jesus the Savior could meet such overwhelming need and make a difference! I was simply there to serve Him.
Why did I want to be a savior? The truth was a mix of good and bad. I desired to help people, ease their suffering and introduce them to a loving God. But all that good was spoiled when mixed with my desire to feel virtuous, to gain recognition from others for the "noble" things I was doing and to feel I had met God's requirements.
The works inspired by my savior complex might have looked good on the outside, but they were achieving self-gratification rather than pleasing God.
Jesus is our true hero, the only real Savior. Jesus brings good news to the poor. He can bind up the brokenhearted. He provides freedom for the captives and releases prisoners from the darkness. Jesus brings God's favor, comforts those who mourn and cares for those in need. He gives us beauty instead of ashes, gladness instead of mourning and praise instead of despair (Isaiah 61:1-3). Jesus is beautiful and powerful and worthy of being the Savior.
In Matthew 20:28, Jesus reveals His superhero, Savior secret to His followers, and it's a huge surprise: "For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many."
The secret is service. As we serve our Savior and those around us, we can become behind-the-scenes heroes in God's eyes. Humble service may not make the news, but it can definitely change the world.
Years after my lesson in Kolkata, I walked into a new volunteer position with my same bright smile and positive attitude. The difference was I wasn't there to be a savior, but instead to serve my Savior.
Jesus is the hero to admire; I'm just there to roll up my sleeves and stand beside Him as He saves the world.
Jesus, I praise You as the only worthy Savior. Will You change my motives from a desire for admiration to a desire to humbly serve You? Please change my savior complex to a servant's mindset? I long to follow Your example in serving Your people. In Your Name, Amen.
Reflect and Respond: Have your motives to serve the Lord ever gotten mixed with a desire for recognition or to feel virtuous?
What is one way you can serve someone anonymously this week?
Power Verses: Isaiah 43:11, "I, even I, am the LORD, and apart from me there is no savior." (NIV)
Psalm 115:1, "Not to us, Lord, not to us but to your name be the glory, because of your love and faithfulness." (NIV)
Ephesians 6:7, "Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not people ..." (NIV)
© 2014 by Amy Carroll. All rights reserved.
Proverbs 31 Ministries 630 Team Rd., Suite 100 Matthews, NC 28105 www.Proverbs31.org
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Shane Harper established himself as an artist with a quadruple threat—singer, actor, dancer, and songwriter. He began working as a professional dancer in the entertainment industry when he was just 13, appearing as a principal dancer in High School Musical 2, and in Nickelodeon's show, "Dance on Sunset".
Shane transitioned easily into acting, and is recurring on the hit Disney Channel show, "Good Luck Charlie", for all 4 seasons. He guest starred on "Wizards of Waverly Place", and "So Random". He also guest starred in a 4 episode arc for the scripted MTV series, "Awkward."
As an actor in film, Shane worked with Rob Reiner, in a supporting role for the movie, FLIPPED. He also had a small featured role in the Bollywood film, MY NAME IS KHAN.
Shane has a principal role in the feature film, GOD'S NOT DEAD and recently, I sat down with him to talk about faith, Hollywood, books music and coffee.
Read the full interview here.
"The more you walk in relationship with the Lord, the more you learn to trust him. I'm learning not to focus so much on the issues I think are so big right now—our bus has broken down, or someone said something that frustrated me. I'm learning to slowly let things roll off my back, to say, 'Hey, God knew about this before it happened and He's got a way out or a plan better than mine.' I've learned to stop freaking out and just trust that God knows what he's doing. He's not going to leave me in a bad place because He never has before."
Such it is with Francesca Battistelli. Honest. Simple. Beautiful. Intentional.
We have all been exposed to her music. Starting with "I'm Letting Go," or "Free to Be Me." "This is the Stuff" or "Strangely Dim." It doesn't matter. For every time that "Franny" opens her mouth to sing, she is opening her heart.
There is a vulnerable side to this young lady. And if you didn't know it already, you will be able to hear it by reading the interview below. Franny came to our corporate Christmas party to bring encouragement and holiday greetings. After I sat down with her, I was reminded again about her passion.
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If you have never heard of Phil Robertson or the Robertson boys, well, you must be living under a rock. The Robertson family has taken American TV by storm, along with it the hearts of almost every person. Along with Phil, his wife Kay and their boys, the reality TV show Duck Dynasty has been a gathering place for the whole family. In other words, it's been a breath of fresh air.
Phil Robertson was born and raised in Vivian, Louisiana, a small town near Shreveport. With seven children in his family, money was scarce and very early on, hunting became an important part of his life.
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Being unstoppable is about believing and achieving. It’s about having faith in yourself, your talents and your purpose and, most of all, in God’s great love and His divine plan for your life.
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From “latch-key kid” to key player in the Man Up movement, Lecrae’s life is an example of God’s transformative power – and he’s not quiet about it. In his signature straight-shoot approach, new album Gravity calls Christians to open their eyes to the weight of need in their world and share the love of Jesus as never before.
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Dictionary.com gives the definition of pioneer in the following ways 1. a person who is among those who first enter or settle a region, thus opening it for occupation and development by others. 2. one who is first or among the earliest in any field of inquiry, enterprise, or progress. 3. one of a group of foot soldiers detailed to make roads.
For more than 15 years, well-respected worship leader Kari Jobe has been using her gifts to lead people into the presence of God. When she began leading worship at age 13, she never imagined she would be nominated for a GRAMMY®, win a Dove Award or be praised by the New York Times. She only knew she had a heart for broken people and a deep desire to lead them to the cross.
Pioneer? This may be the word that describes who Kari is and what she hopes to do as an artist.
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As soon as the master was turned in to the studio to finish post production on the new album, I sat down with John Cooper (lead singer) to talk through what was behind Rise. As you will see, while reading this, John is a passionate man. He is passionate about his music. His wife. His family. About Christ.
Read the full interview here.
There’s no denying much of today’s music has the power to move the masses physically. Inventive beats and hooky choruses are the currency of the day. Now enter Capital Kings, a talented duo that blends pop, electronic dance music, and rap into an intoxicating musical mix that makes audiences want to move, and yet there’s a thought-provoking, life-affirming undercurrent. Capital Kings combine style with substance and introduce flash with a foundation.
Jon White and Cole Walowac have parlayed a long-term friendship and shared passion for music into one of the hottest careers in the industry. Despite their young age, the duo’s history is a lengthy one. “We were in the nursery in the same church,” Jon says. “We moved away to Massachusetts for a few years, Cole and I met back up in the same middle school and we started playing in the youth group band. Cole would play drums and I would sing and that’s how we started making music.”
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Coming off her most successful album ever, Mandisa returned to the studio to record her new album, Overcomer. Her previous album, What If We Were Real, has sold over 270,000 albums and featured the breakout radio hits “Good Morning,” “Waiting For Tomorrow,” and the #1 hit, “Stronger.” The American Idol alum and three-time Grammy nominee continues to be a voice of encouragement and truth to women facing life’s challenges. Mandisa also continues to have unprecedented media exposure for a Christian artist including two recent appearances on Good Morning America.
I sat down with Mandisa at a local coffee shop to talk about new music, coffee vs. tea, family and what it means to be an over-comer. What follows is a real conversation. Mandisa, some would say is a true artist. She is that for sure, but she is so much more. She is a warrior in a huge battle. She is a fighter - fighting for the truth of the Gospel. That can be summed up with one statement from her, "There is joy unspeakable!"
Read the full interview here.
So which blog post was your favorite? Is there an author or an artist that you would like us to interview? Leave a comment below and let us know.
No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it. 1 Corinthians 10:13
What is temptation? It is a desire enticing you to make an unwise decision. To be tempted is not to sin, but it does mean a sinful desire is close to conception, awaiting birth. So, we are wise to see temptation coming and prepare not to fall for its power of deceit. Trials are an outward test that can lead to an inward temptation. When weakened by adversity we become a prime target of our adversary--the devil. So how can we be prepared to overcome trials and temptations?
For example, a job promotion can be a good thing, but what if it requires the test of travel? Time away from home cannot be properly replaced by any amount of money. And what are the agreed upon guidelines (with ourselves and if married, with our spouse) to keep us from falling for temptation? The moral temptation is to not remain faithful. The ethical temptation is to compromise our honesty. Peer temptation is to give into juvenile behavior. Intentional preplanning deals best with temptation. Avoid compromising situations: alone with the opposite sex, nightclubs or inaccurate expense reports.
“Each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their ownevil desire and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin;and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death” (James 1:14-15).
Moreover, there are those who desire to get rich. It is tempting because of the allure of affluence: freedom, nice homes, new cars, power and prestige. This test of prosperity requires a generous spirit to truly prosper, otherwise money creates idols of its own making. Those blessed materially learn how to leverage their possessions for God’s kingdom and not their own. They recognize the Lord as the owner and themselves as stewards. Generosity trumps the temptation of greediness.
Lastly, use trials to draw closer to Christ and not be tempted to pull away from Him. Don’t allow hard times to harden your heart, instead invite the Spirit to soften your heart. In His desert aloneness Jesus was tempted by the devil, but He answered his lies with the truth of Scripture. So, seek the Lord when He seems distant and He will draw you unto Himself. Furthermore, be transparent with mentors and friends who can support you in remaining faithful. Confessing your vulnerabilities weakens temptations grip. Christ provides a way of escape for patient endurance.
“Because he himself [Jesus] suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted” (Hebrews 2:18).
Prayer: Heavenly Father, lead me away from temptations into the joy of doing Your will.
Related Readings: Job 1:12; Matthew 4:1, 6:13; 1 Timothy 6:9; Hebrews 4:15; James 1:13
Post/Tweet today: The test of prosperity requires a generous spirit to truly prosper, otherwise money creates idols of its own making. #wisdomhunters
© 2014 by Boyd Bailey. All rights reserved.
An Extraordinary Mystery
Robin: Sometimes, when an idea just won’t go away, you need to pay attention to how God is nudging you. That’s what happened with this book.
Tricia and I have been friends for almost two decades, and both of us are writers. But our life stories as well as our love stories are radically different. Beyond writing, we do have one interesting commonality: both of us prayed for our future husbands when we were teens. But how did that add up to our writing a book together? Three incidents convinced us we should…
The first moment of inspiration fell on me with a weighty sense of urgency one bright November afternoon. I was in Brazil, standing in front of three hundred teen girls in a school cafeteria. My Christy Miller and Sierra Jensen novels for teens have been translated into Portuguese, and the teachers at this school use the books as part of their curriculum. That meant all the girls had read the books. When my husband and I entered the cafeteria, the girls greeted us with a wave of screams as if we were the real Christy and Todd all grown up and visiting them in Brazil.
To quiet down the screaming girls, I asked the translator to invite them to ask questions. One of the girls raised her hand and popped up from her seat. In Portuguese she asked me what she and her friends should do since the boys in Brazil weren’t reading my books.
“What do you mean?” I asked.
She spoke passionately as the translator beside me explained.
“She says that, after reading your books, she and her friends are making good decisions. They’ve given their lives to Christ and now want to stay pure and save themselves for their future husbands. But, you see, the boys of Brazil are not reading these books. They are not making these same decisions. She wants to know what can be done about that.”
My heart pounded. Every face in that cafeteria was fixed on me, waiting for an answer. The young woman had just identified a global problem for our present generation of Christian women. I had heard this frustration voiced many times in letters and e-mails I had received from readers over the years. But no one had ever asked me what could be done to change this dilemma of an unbalanced ratio between God-honoring young women and their male contemporaries who were slow to seek God. What could I tell her?
The words that came out of my heart were, “You can start praying for your future husband now.”
The translator gave her my answer, and a reverent hush fell over the room. Before me was a troop of willing but untrained young women ready to enter the warzone to fight for the young men. But how?
I wished then that I had something more to offer those girls. It’s one thing to tell them to pray and another thing to come alongside and show them what that looks like. If only, I thought, a book existed. I wished one of my nonfiction writer friends would hurry up and write it. None of them seemed to have a passion for such a book.
The second defining moment came two years later. Tricia and I were at a writers’ retreat in California. During the afternoon break, we headed out to the pool. I settled in a lounge chair and wrote notes in my journal for a novel I was working on. Tricia succumbed to the luxurious autumn sunshine and floated off into a deep sleep.
Suddenly she woke up, turned to me, and said, “What?” as if I’d been talking to her while she slept.
I looked at her and spoke an unpremeditated thought. “Tricia, we need to write a book together.”
“Okay.” She didn’t even blink before sinking back into her afternoon lull. A moment later her head rose again. “What are we supposed to write about?”
“I have no idea.”
The gentle notion flitted past me as softly as it had fallen on Tricia. We caught the little inspiration the way an artist would reach for a floating feather or a child would bend to pick up a pale blue pebble and tuck it in a pocket.
Over the next year or so we periodically pulled the small inspiration out of our pockets and talked about what we should write. We had lots of ideas, as all creative people do. But the affirmation and direction wasn’t there. So we waited, and we prayed…
The third moment of inspiration came with such defining clarity we knew what the book was to be about.
Tricia and I were in Montana, preparing to speak at a women’s retreat. The night before the retreat we sneaked off to a lodge for some last-minute planning. I entered the lodge first while Tricia parked the car in the snow. A darling little strawberry blond toddler trotted over to me, put up his arms, and allowed me to scoop him up. His surprised young mom told me his name was Toby, he was eighteen months old, and he was usually not that friendly with strangers. Toby patted my face.
Tricia entered, and Toby’s mother froze. She stared at Tricia and in a shaking voice said, “It’s you! You’re the one who spoke at the luncheon two years ago.”
Tricia spoke often at events for teenage girls and women in Montana, so I doubted she would remember this particular young woman from a luncheon two years ago. The mom said, “Do you remember that you talked about being a teen mom and that you prayed God would send you a Christian husband?”
“I did the same thing. I prayed and…” She leaned in closer. “I don’t know if you remember my telling you this after the luncheon, but I had just found out I was pregnant.” “I remember,” Tricia said.
“I was scheduled for an abortion just a few days later.” The young woman gazed at Toby cuddled up in my arms. “But after I heard your story and what you said about how God answered your prayers, I cancelled the appointment for the abortion, and I prayed for a husband, just like you did.”
Her smile widened, and tears formed in her eyes as she told Tricia, “I always wanted to see you again so I could tell you that God answered my prayers. He brought an amazing Christian guy into my life. He loves me, and he loves my son. We’ve been married for almost a year. When I think about what my life would be like right now if I hadn’t heard your story and did what you said…”
By then we were all hugging and crying and hugging some more. Toby climbed into Tricia’s arms and received her cuddles and kisses. We couldn’t stop crying. It was such a beautiful moment. The room seemed full of light and hope.
After Toby and his mama went their way, Tricia and I sat together in stunned silence. We both knew this was it—this was the theme of the book we needed to write together: praying for your future husband. We also knew we were the two unlikely novelists being invited to pour our hearts into this project. And so we did.
As we wrote, what tumbled from our hearts surprised us. We didn’t compose a handbook on techniques or formula for effective prayer. Through the ages many wonderful such books have been written. Instead, what we saw forming, as we met together to pray and write, was a book anchored with true stories about what happens when women pray for their future husbands and the ways God answers those prayers.
Both of us agreed to tell our own stories on these pages. This took some courage. Dozens of other women gave us permission to tell portions of their stories as well—how they prayed, how God chose to answer, and how their lives changed in the process. This took courage for them as well. We pulled from our Bibles and journals favorite scriptures and excerpts. These quotes worked perfectly to lace the chapters together.
As the book took shape, we discovered that prayer is an extraordinary mystery.
This sacred privilege of communicating with our Heavenly Father is more than a cozy, open invitation to come to Him anytime, anywhere. Even though His ears are open to the cries of His children 24/7, prayer is more than that. Prayer is also an act of obedience. We are exhorted to pray for others and to pray without ceasing.
Neither Tricia nor I pretend to have prayer all figured out. What we do know is that God hears. He sees. He knows us. He cares more than we can ever comprehend. And most important of all, God answers prayer.
Perhaps you’ve noticed that oftentimes the way God answers prayers isn’t what we expect. We look back years later and see that what God did was oh so much better than what we first envisioned when we sent our heartfelt requests heavenward. He created us, and He desires the best for us. God always gives His best to those who leave the outcomes with Him.
Another, even more amazing mystery is that when we pray for someone else, we change. All of us were made both to give love and to receive love. When your heart connects through prayer to the One who is the source of true love, you’ll find that praying for your future husband will wondrously result in your heart being changed. And when your heart is changed, your life is transformed.
What sort of changes will God bring about in the life of your future husband as a result of your praying for him now? We don’t know.
As you pray for him, what sort of changes will God initiate in your heart? We don’t know that either.
But we do know there’s only one way to find out…
Excerpted from Praying for Your Future Husband by Robin Jones Gunn and Tricia Goyer Copyright © 2011 by Robin Jones Gunn and Tricia Goyer. Excerpted by permission of Multnomah Books, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
"When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave. Then a voice said to him, 'What are you doing here, Elijah?'" 1 Kings 19:13 (NIV)
When I was about 13 years old, my family vacationed in the beautiful Hawaiian Islands with friends. We heard about a local waterfall with a smooth slide carved into the rocks. We were up for the adventure, so we went to check it out.
The water slide looked spectacular. As we made our way to the top of the rocks that formed the slide, I noticed a handful of local kids jumping off of the adjacent towering cliffs into the water. Whew, that looked scary!
After about an hour of fun on that wonderful natural slide (it's still the best water slide I've ever been on in my life), we started eyeing the cliffs and the local kids who were jumping. We looked at each other to see who would conjure up the guts to be the first mainlander to climb the cliff and jump.
Seeing how I always wanted to beat the boys, I volunteered.
I made my way up a path cut into the rock wall. As I stepped up to the edge of the cliff, where the overhang suspended me 30 feet above the water, I began to seriously appreciate how high I was. Basically I started to freak out.
Tim, one of the younger boys in our group, joined me on the cliff. He said, "If you're not going to jump, move over and I'll jump. Are you chicken?"
Before I could answer his challenge, a local man, who must have been watching me for five minutes as I contemplated jumping, said, "Just step off."
"What?" I yelled.
"Just step off," he repeated.
"Yeah," Tim echoed. "Just step off."
Just taking a step seemed easy. I took steps all day long. What was the big deal? It's just a step. With that, I moved to the edge, closed my eyes tight and simply took a small step forward. My body instantly plunged into space and I free fell with a scream of thrill all the way to the water. I came up out of the water feeling like a stunt girl on Hawaii Five-0.
Are you standing on a "cliff," unable to jump? Are you feeling like God wants you to make a radical change, but you just can't? Some people are born jumpers. Others are more like I was: frozen on the edge of that cliff, unwilling to jump but willing to take a small step.
Throughout history God has prodded His people with questions and suggestions to help us figure out what we are doing for Him. Kind of like that man's comment to me to step off the cliff.
An example of this kind of question is asked of one of my favorite Bible characters: A prophet named Elijah. Elijah had a deep love of God. And in 1 Kings 19, God quietly called out to Elijah through a whisper in the midst of a series of riotous distractions.
God asked a very simple question: "What are you doing here, Elijah?"
The question was not for God's benefit and certainly not for His information. God already knew the answer before He whispered the question. God designed that question to help Elijah come to grips with what he was going to do.
Nearly three millennia later, God asks the same question of me: "What are you doing here, Shelene?"
His question asks me to consider where I am. It challenges me to see where I need to go. And then it prompts me to take my next step.
I may not be a jumper, but I can take a step.
Lord, help me recognize Your voice when You call. Help me recognize Your trustworthy character and trust that You have my best interests in mind. Burn into my heart the desire to do the tasks You want me to accomplish for You. Give me the strength and courage to take the first step toward what You want me to do. In His Name, Amen.
Reflect and Respond: What insecurities are holding you back from taking a step toward the things God is calling you to?
What small steps can you start taking this week?
Power Verse: Psalm 37:23-24, "The LORD makes firm the steps of the one who delights in him; though he may stumble, he will not fall, for the LORD upholds him with his hand." (NIV)
© 2014 by Shelene Bryan. All rights reserved.
Proverbs 31 Ministries 630 Team Rd., Suite 100 Matthews, NC 28105 www.Proverbs31.org