Thursday, September 21, 2017

Every Place You Set Your Foot: Prayer Walking

Did you know that if you’re a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ you can speak with authority against evil spirits in His name, and pray for God’s will to be done in a specific territory? As we approach the Halloween season when the world glorifies witchcraft, the occult, and images of death, there are better things for us to do besides close the curtains and turn off the lights.* As children excitedly plan this year’s costume, parents buy candy and decorations, and people of all ages feed on thrillers and scary stories, we need to hit the streets and claim our communities for Christ.

Throughout the Bible, God’s people laid hands on others to pray—for healing, release from demonic influence, and to receive the Holy Spirit. Jesus himself laid hands on many when He performed miracles. There’s something about touch we need as humans. It communicates love, power, relationship, and so much more.

We can also touch the land where the people we’re praying for live, to release God’s presence in powerful ways—by prayer walking. God told Joshua before he led the Israelites into the Promised Land, “I will give you every place where you set your foot” (Joshua 1:3, NIV). They couldn’t claim the land as their own from the other side of the Jordan River—they had to walk the ground and possess it. We must do the same.

Have you ever prayer walked your neighborhood? Prayer walking is a foreign concept to many believers, even those who grew up in church. Many feel intimidated—afraid they won’t do it right. It seems weird and uncomfortable—they’re afraid of attracting a lot of attention.  But in reality, prayer walking is just going for a walk (preferably with a friend) and talking to God. Speak in a normal conversational tone and pause to greet people as you pass by. Just as Jesus sent His disciples out in pairs, prayer walking is more fun with a buddy—it keeps your mind from wandering and the prayers flowing.

As you walk:

  • pray for those who live in the houses you pass
  • the teachers, staff, and students in schools
  • for God’s Spirit to be poured out in churches on your route
  • for honesty and success in businesses
  •  safe travel and an awareness of our loving Creator on highways and parks

Sing praise songs, quote scripture, and pray for everything that comes to mind. You’ll be amazed how fast the time goes.

Today I’d like to introduce a series I’m very excited about. I plan to post a new blog every day during the month of October from the book of Joshua, about claiming our land for Christ. I hope you’ll read each one and venture out to claim your “land” with prayer and praise. Watch what God does. It will be amazing!

And to get you even more revved up for this journey, next week I plan to post an interview with an acquaintance of mine in full time in ministry. She has prayer walked all over the world and has incredible things to share. You will be inspired by her story and even more convinced of the power of putting feet to your faith.

*If you’d like to learn more about Halloween and some possible alternatives for Christians, my book Taking Back October is a terrific resource! Available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle:

Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
Romans 12:21

#prayerwalking #spiritualwarfare #claimingterritory #halloween #AllSaintsDay #Josh1:3  #Rom12:21

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Small Things

Our days are full of small, seemingly insignificant moments. Who would guess that a simple smile could make a significant difference in another person’s life? Or that a word of encouragement, a bit of advice, or sharing a story could be important to them? And yet, these things can be the springboard for change or the spark of hope someone else has been waiting for. It’s the small things that are remembered for a lifetime.
For instance, the memories I treasure most about my Grandma are not things she planned and labored over—games of Bingo and Pig Rummy, trooping into the backyard with a milk carton of fruit and vegetable peelings “to feed the soil” of her flower beds. We scoured the carpet for balls of lint and walked around the block, stopping to admire the neighbor’s Wisteria draping the front porch of his stone house. In these moments, I felt important and loved.

My husband and I have been to some incredible places since we’ve been married, but the memories I cherish the most are the small moments. Dancing on our deck or in the living room at the end of a movie to a romantic song as the credits roll. I cherish our hikes in the lush green forests of the Northwest, pungent with evergreens, moss, and fern. Impromptu drives and conversations, tender touches from my lover, and comforting hugs at the end of a hard day. These small things make up the big love we share.

 The best moments of motherhood, friendship, becoming a stepmom and mother in law, and now a grandmother, are mostly small treasures I’ve tucked away. The first time my babies hugged me back, the look of trust in a child’s eyes, the first time one of my son in laws called me Mom, little notes of appreciation for no reason at all.

How many examples from your own life have flooded your mind since you started reading this? Our lives are rich with small things that we treasure over the years. Words of encouragement from a teacher or coach that changed the way you felt about yourself, maybe even the path you were on. A touch, a gift, a look that said, “You’re ok in my book.”

Would we ever despise those things? I don’t think so. We might forget them for a while, or tell ourselves they weren’t’ that big of a deal, but we would still appreciate that they happened. And smile when we think of them. Yet we often despise the small things God sends our way.

We count them as insignificant, express our disappointment to God that He’s not doing His job, or letting us do it for Him in a manner consistent with our expectations. I am especially guilty of this.

So when I read of Zechariah’s vision and the angel asks, “Who dares despise the day of small things?” (Zechariah 4:10, NIV) I feel pretty convicted. I’m certainly not going to raise my hand. I begin to see His point. God is always at work, but it’s not always spectacular and miraculous. Most often it’s small and accumulative.

 How dare I despise what God is doing—in my life, my work, our church and community, in the lives of the people I’m praying for. What I can see from my perspective may seem too small to count, but sometimes, the small things are the most important ones of all.

#smallthings #greatexpectations #whatmeansthemosttoyou #marriageandfamily #waitingforamiracle #Zech4:10 #lotsofsmallmakesbig

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

The Allure of a Joyful Heart

I’m drawn to smiling people, aren’t you? They just pull you in.

I remember one dreary day I went to the post office and there was a long line. Big surprise, huh? But one woman changed the atmosphere of the whole room. She positively glowed. She chatted with the postal worker while he weighed her package, and her joyful laughter filtered through the room like magic dust. As she left she looked around as if blessing each of us with her gaze and I suddenly felt at peace about the wait. 

On the day of the full eclipse, I gathered with a group of people in front of the YMCA. Most of us didn’t know each other, but we shared a sudden camaraderie as we witnessed this once in a lifetime event. We alternately gazed at the changing light through eclipse glasses, and sharing our delight with one another. We might not have sought one another out on a normal day, but awe of nature drew us together. 

Children do this to us too. Their uninhibited antics and joy in the simple pleasures of life lighten our mood, and make us laugh. Which is good for heart, lungs, soul, and healing to the bones.  

Ann Voskamp found healing from years of grief by choosing to look for and record 1,000 blessings to be joyful about. One of my favorite scenes from her book* is where she gets excited about cheese: 

Her husband came in from a long day on their farm to find her enthusiastically taking pictures of a mound of shredded cheese backlit by the sun. She thought he’d think she was ridiculous to be enamored by such a simple thing, but her joy drew him in. 

“I like finding you like this,” he says.

“Crazy like this?” she says.

“Perfect like this.” He nods toward the cheese plate. “You being all happy in all these little things that God gives. It makes me very happy.”

The allure of a joyful heart.

People who live life joyfully, wonder at the beauty of simple things, and express gratitude for everyday blessings are the most attractive people of all. 

What about believers in Jesus Christ? Do we delight in the miracle of life--the petals of a flower, the taste of real food, the feel of sunshine on our skin? Do we, despite the suffering and trials of this world, still smile, knowing eternity is ours? Do we stop to share a smile like the woman in the post office?  Stand in awe of the power of God on display like those eclipse watchers? Do we rejoice in the beauty of everyday life, like sunlight on grated cheese?

We have more to smile about than anyone on earth. “May the righteous be glad and rejoice before God; may they be happy and joyful. Sing to God, sing in praise of his name, extol him who rides on the clouds; rejoice before him—his name is the LORD” (Psa. 68:3-4, NIV). People of God—deeply in love with Jesus, sharing genuine love for others, living with joy and laughter. Sounds pretty attractive to me.

*One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are by Ann Voskamp

#whatmakespeoplesmile #letyourlightshine #simplepleasures #smileifyouknowJesus #rejoiceandbeglad #smilemore

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

When the Wind Blows

We get a lot of wind in our coastal town. More than once we’ve had to run down the street to retrieve our can and lid on windy mornings after garbage pickup. Hoodies help keep us out the rain, but won’t stay on when the wind blows. And umbrellas turn inside out. I’ve also learned if I don’t go out soon enough when I hear the sound of outdoor furniture scooting across the deck, I’ll have to fight the rosebushes to get them back. Even in beautiful summer weather, a breeze kicks up almost every afternoon. 

That’s why it wasn’t much of a surprise to see the road crew met their match when they repainted lines down the middle of nearby streets. The wind must have been blowing when they sprayed, because I noticed every dotted line was surrounded by a fuzzy yellow mist. 

Humorous to the observer. Annoying if you’re the crew worker trying to keep your paint from flying in all directions. 

Disastrous when winds of confusion blow you off course spiritually.

Paul compared the ever-changing culture of this world to three things that continually fluctuate. Babies, who change their minds on a whim. Waves of the sea, that toss to and fro. Wind, that can blow even the largest vessel off course. You never know when the wind might change direction; the same is true with the values of our society.

What was once absolute is now fuzzy. You can’t quite make out the lines anymore between truth and what is culturally acceptable. Sex outside of marriage, the use of substances to “feel good” or medicate away your problems, lying to “protect” others, and stealing off the Internet (because everybody does it) are just a few practices people no longer consider outside the lines. 
When we go where the winds our society take us, it makes it hard to stay on the road God has laid out, or even remember where it lies. What the world paints is unfocused, difficult to read; always changing. How can we know the truth for sure on any given topic?

God has given us everything we need to know to live a life pleasing to Him in His Word. We don’t get to pick and choose though. Unlike our world, God doesn’t change His mind. His 10 Commandments are still applicable for every person, or, as Jesus boiled them down to 2 commands—love God with everything you’ve got, and love other people as much as you love yourself. If we do that, it rules out any participation in idol worship, cursing, lying, stealing, cheating, coveting and all the others.

How do we guard against our tendency to go with the flow? It’s hard to do; pressure to conform, worldly ideals, and rationalization sneak in subtly. We hardly even realize we’ve gone off road, until we end in the ditch, or over a cliff. 

I think the way to begin is to press the pause button and ask two questions when we’re watching TV (and commercials!), movies, the news, talking with others, listening to music, or reading.

1    1. How does this compare to the truth in God’s written word?   
2    2. How does God want me to respond? Should I turn it off, do some research, ask forgiveness, speak up for truth?

If we want to make a difference in our culture for Christ, we have to stay vigilant, and not assume everything being “taught” us is true. “Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming” (Eph. 4:14). 

Where is the wind taking you? Where do you want to go?

#windsofteaching #trueorfalse #Eph4:14 #culturalnorms #politicallycorrect