Wednesday, November 30, 2011

FINDING GLORY Wednesday

This is a wonderful season for reflecting on the presence, love, power, and purposes of God. Larry and I have been part of a Finding Glory Group this fall and are so thankful for the opportunity to share life with them in light of God’s amazing work among us. Each of us has experienced times of confusion, anger and temptation to question our faith yet we are learning how to stay rooted in the Truth and we are all excited to share the Gospel with others.

We have also prayed that you, too, are convinced that your own "Glory Stories" have profound influence with others because of the power of the Holy Spirit. Talking about how God is present in our lives and hearts has the power to change eternity for someone. Please take today’s scriptures and discussion questions seriously and with enthusiasm:

Sing to the LORD, praise his name; proclaim his salvation day after day. Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous deeds among all peoples. For great is the LORD and most worthy of praise; 
he is to be feared above all gods. Psalm 96:2-4

If you had only 3 or 4 minutes and one opportunity today to explain to someone how God has proven Himself to be present in your life lately, what would your Glory Story be? How would you make a declaration of God’s presence in your life?

Please consider sharing a Glory Story right here in the comments section below today's post. The enemy shudders at the idea that we are all sharing boldly of Christ's power and presence in our lives!

These “Finding Glory Wednesdays” posts are an online discussion series based on the books Finding Glory in the Thorns and the companion Finding Glory in the Thorns: Group Discussion Guide by Larry and Lisa Jamieson. For more information about Finding Glory Groups, visit http://www.findingglory.com/findingglorygrou.html.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Christmas Throwback

We drove to Springfield, Missouri and back to Minneapolis for Thanksgiving. It involved almost 24 hours driving and required a certain amount of caffeine. My usual “drug” of choice is green tea but that would have triggered too many stops. After peering into the cooler at the gas station for a moment, I decided on a Pepsi Throwback.
In case you’re unfamiliar, the Throwback line is marketed with the Pepsi and Mountain Dew brands. It started as a “limited time only” theme but is now widely available because the retro style packaging and “made with REAL sugar” idea went over well. Despite what corn farmers are saying, there are still people out there who believe there is some advantage to pure cane sugar instead of the high fructose corn syrup that soft drink companies used to replace sugar in the 1980s.
So anyhow...I was sitting in the car listening to Christmas music with the kids and staring at my Pepsi bottle. It got me thinking. Well, yes, I do tend to be a thinker but I also had a blog to write and had been prayerfully pondering what kinds of things I might write about this Christmas season. So it may be no surprise that fireworks of questions and ideas started floating around in my brain:
  • What would it look like if I re-packaged the Christmas season at my house (to better reflect the original sentiments and circumstances around Jesus’ birth)?
  • What could I do in my personal Bible reading and reflections this season to help me capture the anticipation and excitement of the original Christmas?
  • What would it take to convince the skeptics that there truly is something of great value about Jesus — that no substitution can be made?
  • What, if anything, is useful about the latest packaging of Christmas?

For starters, I decided that I’m going to do some review of Bible prophecies related to Christmas. I’ve listed below just a few of the most well known but I’m going to spend this week exploring more (and I hope you will too). After all, these were the original things God was saying about the Messiah. God’s original, first-hand introductions have valuable things to say to us today just as they did to those who first heard them.
Lord, give me ears to hear You as I look back at the ways you introduced Your Son to my ancestors and as I remember the first ways I heard about you myself. Stir up in me a spirit of hunger, enthusiasm and gratitude as I prepare to receive You anew this Christmas season. Show me how to use this information to tell others that You have come for them also! AMEN
Isaiah 7:14 “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.” (Fulfilled — Matthew 1:22-23)
Micah 5:2 “But you, Bethlehem, Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.” (Fulfilled — Matthew 2:1)
Jeremiah 31:15 This is what the Lord says: 'A voice is heard in Ramah, mourning and great weeping, Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted, because her children are no more.' (Fulfilled — Matthew 2:16-18)

Hosea 11:1: When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son.  (Fulfilled — Matthew 2:14-15)
I welcome and value your “Christmas Throwback” questions, ideas and insights so please feel free to chime in! This could be both fun and meaningful.

Friday, November 25, 2011

It's Marriage Prayer Friday!


Early this week, a reflection on gratitude by our worship pastor stirred a deep passion within me. His email came as I was between discussions with several women about their marriages. It was a fairly typical day. I answered emails in the morning, met a woman for lunch and had two painful phone calls in the afternoon.  All of those conversations involved marriages that could be radically transformed if even one person in the marriage chose to go to God with a spirit of generous — even undeserved — gratitude for her spouse.
Why do I know this? For two reasons, I write confidently today.
First, Jesus modeled that gratitude preceeds a miracle.  As Pastor Jon pointed out, John 6:11 says Jesus then took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed to those who were seated as much as they wanted. He did the same with the fish.”
Second, my own marriage is living proof that God uses a mind focused on good things to change hearts and revive broken or hurting relationships.  Several years ago when Larry and I were in the midst of a very dark season in our marriage, God used a song about gratitude to convict me of a thought pattern that was darkening my attitude and slowly stealing the joy from my marriage. There will be another time for me to share details of things Larry and I learned through that experience. For now, I plead with those who are struggling in marriage to trust God’s Word on this point. 
Whether your marriage is good, great or gross today, please thank God for your spouse, pray and believe for better days. Allow this prayer to begin a healing and growing work in your soul and invite God to break through every obstacle to complete wholeness by the absolute authority of Christ and through the power of His shed blood!
A prayer for your own marriage—
JEHOVA RAPHA (God my Healer), I am coming into another holiday season with mixed expectations. In some ways, I’m hopeful that this will be an unusually special Christmas season for my family. In other ways, I’m afraid of being hurt or disappointed (again). I want to believe that what Jesus modeled about gratitude is a key to transformation in my own marriage. Please use my attitude with You to unlock new potential in my marriage starting today and continuing throughout the holidays this year. I confess that I tend to cling to all the reasons why my husband/wife doesn’t deserve my gratitude and I even get angry and impatient with You when I fail to see progress in our relationship. But I am willing to make this a new day, Lord. When I am tempted to complain, prompt me with some reminder and stop the flow of my critical words (1 Corinthians 10:13). Please soften my heart toward my husband/wife and show me how to trust that you will comfort, strengthen and enlighten me when I am vulnerable. Help me to keep pondering the lovelier things about my spouse (Philippians 4:8-9). Cause that focus to bear the fruit of gratitude in my thoughts, words and deeds (Colossians 3:17).  Thank you, God, that as I bring more of my focus on You this holiday season, instead of on all the things I wish were different, You will reveal Yourself and many (not just me) will be blessed.  Please make it so, Lord!  AMEN
Something to pray for a friend's marriage—
JEHOVA RAPHA (God our Healer), many are coming into the holiday season with mixed expectations. I have some friends who are hopeful that this will be an unusually special Christmas season for their family. I also have friends who are afraid of being hurt or disappointed (again). I believe that what Jesus modeled about gratitude is a key to transformation in the marriages of people I care about. Please increase the spirit of gratitude within my friends’ marriages and use that to unlock new potential starting today and continuing throughout the holidays this year. Forgive them for clinging to reasons why their husbands/wives doesn’t deserve their gratitude. Forgive them when they get angry and impatient with You and encourage them with they fail to see progress in their relationships. Give them a willingness to make this a new day, Lord. When they are tempted to complain, prompt them with some reminder and stop the flow of their critical words (1 Corinthians 10:13). Soften their hearts towards each other and show them how to trust that you will comfort, strengthen and enlighten them when they are vulnerable. Help them to keep pondering the lovelier things about their spouses (Philippians 4:8-9). Cause that focus to bear the fruit of gratitude in their thoughts, words and deeds (Colossians 3:17).  Thank you, God, that as we collectively bring more of our focus on You this holiday season, instead of on all the things we wish were different, You will reveal Yourself and many (not just me) will be blessed.  Please make it so, Lord!  AMEN

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

FINDING GLORY Wednesday

This week we are talking about sharing — specifically, being authentic and real with each other, even when life is hard or when we feel vulnerable. Each of us has an opportunity and responsibility to display God’s glory — who He is and how He is present among us. Yet we cannot be a display of anything if our lives and hearts are not engaged with others.

Today’s scripture and discussion question are:

“Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life. As long as it is day, we must do the work of Him who sent me.” John 9:3-4

How do you resist the temptation to hide out or become isolated in your circumstances? What would be some appropriate times for privacy and solitude as compared to times for reaching out and sharing your story?

These “Finding Glory Wednesdays” posts are an online discussion series based on the books Finding Glory in the Thorns and the companion Finding Glory in the Thorns: Group Discussion Guide by Larry and Lisa Jamieson. For more information about Finding Glory Groups, visit http://www.findingglory.com/findingglorygrou.html.

Monday, November 21, 2011

The Power of A Thanksgiving Love Story


The weeks leading up to Thanksgiving 2000 were a time of profound emotion for Larry and I.  While overwhelmed with gratitude for an experience of remarkable community support, we had also just been told that our 2 1/2 year old daughter Carly had Angelman Syndrome. The news ripped our hearts. We suddenly felt strangely alone despite being surrounded by the love of friends and family.
Earlier that year, we had started an intensive home-based therapy program with Carly. Dozens of people from our church and neighborhood had stepped out sacrificially in a profound expression of practical helps and prayer. Yet for all of the developmental obstacles, a life-threatening seizure and then that devastating diagnosis, God had been using the love within that community to release miracles.
It wasn’t just about Carly. God was bringing about various kinds of unexpected healing. Carly was reaching surprising milestones but others were being shaped and changed through their intersections with each other too.  Healing was unfolding in physical, emotional and spiritual ways. It was exciting and humbling to experience such a tangible sense of God’s power and love.
No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.  1 John 4:12
With the encouraging evidence of God’s presence among us, Larry and I were asked to share some of the story with our congregation during a 4-minute testimony at the Thanksgiving Eve service.  We had overflowing reasons to share but felt our passion would not allow us to stay within the time allotment and our tears of joy and pain would not allow us to speak.
Larry wisely suggested we use a video. It proved to be an efficient and effective way to express the depth of our gratitude and the growing passion we had to advocate for community that delights God.
That original video — Carly’s Thanksgiving Story — is posted here. (It’s now about 7 minutes long with the update Larry added in 2010.)
Tragically, there are many facing life-altering challenges without support modeled after God’s design for thriving community. Our family is blessed to know what it feels like to be embraced by God’s love through others. But we also know what it feels like to be abandoned. We have not always known such remarkable support. Thankfully, God also uses seasons of hurt and disappointment to stretch and strengthen us. Only God can do that!
Years later, in our book, Finding Glory in the Thorns, we expressed gratitude and some insights about community this way:
“The sense of community that grew out of our crisis was a treasure we’ll be hard-pressed to match in our lifetimes. We were increasingly energized to see how God was magnifying His handiwork. God was bringing a ripple effect of healing into other people’s lives because of what was going on around Carly’s situation…a beautiful picture of how He designed community to work.” (Page 73)
 “Yet for all the ways that community had the capacity for blessing, it also had the capacity to distract us from depending on Christ alone for our strength and solace.  So maybe it should be no surprise that just when God’s light on that grand collective adventure was shining brightest, God chose that time to reveal the true nature of Carly’s challenge and reinforce our need to stay completely surrendered unto Him.” (Page 75)
With every passing year, we appreciate more and more how economically God uses life’s challenges. He is teaching us that there is a privilege and grand adventure in how life unfolds when it is wrapped within the power, love and grace of Christ’s presence.
So as we begin another Thanksgiving week, we are both grateful for how God uses community to reveal Himself and we are praying that His people increasingly learn how to live sacrificially and joyfully in the kind of Christ-centered fellowship He intended. But most of all, we are grateful to experience intimate relationship with the One who holds the world in His Holy Hands.
May you, too, personally experience the joy and peace of that forever Love Story!

Friday, November 18, 2011

It's "Marriage Prayer Friday!"

On a daily basis, couples and families face challenging decisions, questions about the future, hopes, and dreams.  Today's prayer is for direction.  Please consider praying it along with your spouse.  Even if you usually pray privately or rarely pray out loud, would you consider reading this prayer out loud with your spouse tonight?  God promises to answer when two stand in prayerful agreement!

This prayer is inspired by Proverbs 3:5-7 and Ephesians 3:18.

A prayer for your own marriage—
LORD, You are completely trustworthy.  We know that we should not lean on our own understanding but it can be so hard to know what You would want us to do sometimes!  My spouse and I want to do what is right.  We want to follow the "straight path" but life is feeling more like a "long and winding road." We confess that we don't like the mystery of it all but we realize that there are some benefits in having to cling to You for direction.  If Your higher ways were perfectly clear to us, Lord, we would be even more tempted to run off on our own and forget about You.  Forgive us for doing that!  Would You point us in the way we should go and lead us one step at a time?  Show us who to listen to, who not to listen to.  Open good doors and close unhelpful ones.  Teach us, Lord, so that we can lead this family in the ways of truth, health, strength, love and joy.  Help us to hang out together with You more — reading the Bible, praying, being with people who know You — so that we know Your heart better and can make wise and discerning decisions.  Keep bringing us, as a couple, to places in scripture where we will see Your ways more clearly and have Your hope.  Thank You, God, for the many good gifts and perfect leadership You provide for this family!  AMEN

Something to pray for a friend's marriage—
LORD, You are completely trustworthy.  Right now I bring before you my married friends who want to do what is right.  They know they should not lean on their own understanding but they need help to find Your "straight path." Use times of unclarity to cause them to cling even more firmly to You for direction.  Forgive them for any times they have run off own their own and forgotten about You.  Please point them clearly in the way they should go and lead them one step at a time.  Show them who to listen to, who not to listen to.  Open good doors and close unhelpful ones.  Teach them, Lord, so that they can lead their family in the ways of truth, health, strength, love and joy.  Help them to hang out together with You more — reading the Bible, praying, being with people who know You — so that they know Your heart better and can make wise and discerning decisions.  Keep bringing them, as a couple, to places in scripture where they will see Your ways more clearly and have Your hope.  Thank You, God, for the many good gifts and perfect leadership You provide for these families I care so much about!  AMEN

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

FINDING GLORY Wednesday

Discussion last week was about hope. This week, we’re reflecting on joy. If you are just reading Finding Glory Wednesdays for the first time, we hope you will join the conversation. Please feel encouraged to share your ideas and perspectives whether you have been a past reader or not.

Today’s scriptures and discussion questions are:

Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’ ” Matthew 4:4

Your words were found and I ate them, and your words became for me a joy and a delight of my heart. Jeremiah 15:16

Have you ever felt “hungry” for God’s Word? Think about a time when you “devoured” a good book. What do you think the psalmist meant when he said that eating God’s words became joy for him?

These “Finding Glory Wednesdays” posts are an online discussion series based on the books Finding Glory in the Thorns and the companion Finding Glory in the Thorns: Group Discussion Guide by Larry and Lisa Jamieson. For more information about Finding Glory Groups, visit http://www.findingglory.com/findingglorygrou.html.

Monday, November 14, 2011

What's all the fuss about STORY?



I'm excited to share a really fun story today. It will take a little setting up but stick with me because this will kick your week off with a big smile.
Have you heard? Story is all the rage these days. Everyone is talking about it. Your story. My story. God's story. From a Christian perspective, here are some of the messages people are trying to bring across:
    Our stories matter to God.
    Our individual stories are part of God's larger story.
    God's glory is magnified when our stories intersect with one another.
At Walk Right In Ministries, we have focused on what we call Glory Stories. These are stories that reflect God's presence in our lives — emphasizing the way God is active in our circumstances and the way we see Him revealing Himself through our trust and obedience. 
There is great opportunity in these story-telling trends, particularly as it relates to building awareness about our relationship with God and to the extent that it facilitates growing intimacy in that relationship. But there are a couple of things I remain prayerfully on guard about. 
In elevating the idea of story, I hope we keep in perspective Who is the star of the show. After all, our story would not exist without the Author-Creator and Savior-Redeemer. 
I also hope that by thinking about our stories in the context of God's story we grasp the reality that the stories of the Bible are, in fact, part of our historical record. I remember the exact season in my personal faith journey when a critical transition occurred for me. Those Bible stories I had been hearing as a child were no longer just morally good or entertaining tales that educated me about God. My eyes and heart were opened to the profound reality that those people I was learning about were my ancestors and that my life story was about a relationship with the living God!
For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Hebrews 4:12
I am excited and grateful to say I had received a touch from the Holy Spirit that forever changed the way I experienced scripture and my relationship with God. The Word of God had come alive to me. God had taken the more limited perspectives and attitudes of my childhood and grown them up into a soul-changing, life-altering understanding of the Bible's stories. That is a process of enlightenment that continues for me yet today and what a precious adventure it is.
Now here's the treat. Watch Peter recount this great story from the Bible and ask God to show you how you connect with it. Ask the Holy Spirit for an historical awakening within your soul.
FATHER GOD, thank you for being the author and perfecter of my faith. Please continue to work in my mind and heart deepening my sense of the truth of who I am in the history of Your creation. Increase my appreciation for how my story fits into the larger story of "Your Kingdom come, Your will be done."  And, Lord Jesus, I want to pray for the children I know who are learning the great stories of the Bible.  Awaken them to the truth of their history in relation to You. God, please cause my story to intersect with someone else's story this week in such a way that You are made known and glorified!  AMEN

Friday, November 11, 2011

It's Marriage Prayer Friday!

Today's prayers are based on Psalm 19.

A prayer for your own marriage—
HOLY REDEEMER, there are many ways I bring offense to my spouse and I am not even aware of all of them!  I admit that sometimes I am defensive about my sins and weaknesses, very often I am overwhelmed by them, and other times I’m just plain blind to them.  Lord, please cleanse me of my faults for they are more offensive to You than they are to anyone else — and that is what should matter most to me!  Keep me from deliberate sin and don’t let them control me.  You promise great reward to those who obey and revere You.  I know it is also true that Your law has the power to make me and my husband/wife wise, to revive our souls and to bring joy to our hearts.  God, I want those things in my marriage but I need Your help to stay consistent, humble, hungry and hopeful.  I keep trying to do this on my own yet I am nothing without the power of Your Holy Spirit within me!  Please make Your Word and ways like sweet honey to me.  I want to be as passionate about my marriage as You are.  I want to find as much delight in my spouse as You do.  Soften and strengthen me so that my thoughts, words and actions are both pleasing to You and edifying to my husband/wife.  O Lord, You are my personal Rock and Redeemer.  In Your mercy, hear my prayer.  AMEN

Something to pray for a friend's marriage—
HOLY REDEEMER, there are many ways spouses bring offense to each other and they are not even aware of all of them!  My married friends (and me too) can become defensive about their sins and weaknesses, very often overwhelmed by them, and other times just plain blind to them.  Lord, please bring my friends to their knees in repentance so they can be cleansed of their faults.  Deepen their appreciation for the fact that their sins are more offensive to You than they are to anyone else — and that is what should matter most!  Keep them from deliberate sins and don’t let sin take control of them or their marriage.  You promise great reward to those who obey and revere You.  Help my friends to soak in this truth today — that Your law has the power to make them wise, to revive their souls and to bring joy to their hearts.  God, I want those things for my married friends but they need Your help to stay consistent, humble, hungry and hopeful.  They keep trying to work things out on their own yet they can do nothing without the power of Your Holy Spirit within them!  Please make Your Word and ways like sweet honey to them.  Make these husbands and wives as passionate about their marriages as You are about marriage.  Teach them to find as much delight in their spouse as You do.  Soften and strengthen each of them so that their thoughts, words and actions are both pleasing to You and edifying to their spouse.  O Lord, You are the Rock and Redeemer.  In Your mercy, hear my prayer.  AMEN

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

FINDING GLORY Wednesday

From our limited human perspective, God’s allowing things like stress, fatigue, pain and suffering to continue is not logical. Yet, today’s scripture and discussion question remind us that God’s ways and timing are always significant — always a worthy place to fix our hope.

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, 
neither are your ways my ways,” 
declares the LORD. 
“As the heavens are higher than the earth, 
so are my ways higher than your ways 
and my thoughts than your thoughts. 
As the rain and the snow 
come down from heaven, 
and do not return to it without watering the earth 
and making it bud and flourish, 
so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, 
so is my word that goes out from my mouth: 
It will not return to me empty, 
but will accomplish what I desire 
and achieve the purpose for which I sent it. Isaiah 55:8-11

Can you describe a time when reading God’s Word helped you catch a vision for His “higher” thoughts and ways so that your hope was renewed or your perspective was re-shaped?

These “Finding Glory Wednesdays” posts are an online discussion series based on the books Finding Glory in the Thorns and the companion Finding Glory in the Thorns: Group Discussion Guide by Larry and Lisa Jamieson. For more information about Finding Glory Groups, visit http://www.findingglory.com/findingglorygrou.html.

Monday, November 7, 2011

We can tend our Chores while the Lord tends our Fears

Pulling dead flowers from the gardens one afternoon last week led me to tears and a couple days of raw emotion.  I knelt by the phlox and day lilies praying something like this:
Lord, I have tried to take good care of the gifts you’ve given me yet they could be taken away from me at any time.  By next spring, will there be someone else mowing this lawn or watering these plants?
It’s been 14 months now since Larry was laid off from his job.  And while a contract consulting position has helped, he remains significantly under-employed.  As a result, we are not strangers to the kinds of fears, concerns and questions that many are facing today.  How are we going to make it financially?  Will we need to move?  How bad might things get?  What will people think?  What does God think?  Are we doing all we can or should?  Will it ever get any easier?  Does anybody care?  
Disability can wreak all kinds of havoc.  For one thing, it has an insidious way of storming against a family’s earning power.  I’m not making excuses or trying to stir up sympathy.  I am attempting to build awareness among the na├»ve and reassure those who face similar challenges that they are not alone.
We remain in a season of waiting.  While we wait, we are busy and grateful.  We are grateful most of all for relationships — a strong marriage and family, friends who are standing with us in prayer, Jesus.  We are busy trying to walk obediently with God, busy renewing our minds with reasons why we can trust that He cares, busy resting in the fact that God is sovereign.  While we are tending to our responsibilities and trying to steward our resources well, God is working out His glory and our good — even though it is challenging and may take a long time before we fully understand His higher ways. 
Some days (or moments) are harder than others in the battle against fear and worry.  The Bible tells us to keep knocking on the door of God’s heart asking for His peace, strength and protection from fear.  The Lord teaches us to fight back against those arrows of fear by saturating our minds with God’s truth.  Here are some verses keeping my heart and mind firm in the battle:
He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday.  Psalm 91:4-6
For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayer, but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.” Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good? But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. “Do not fear their threats; do not be frightened.”  1 Peter 3:12-13
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.  John 14:27
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.  Romans 8:37-39
There are many more jobs on our weekend chore lists yet for this fall.  It’s tempting to let them go.  After all, it’s not the end of the world if we just have more to do in the spring.  And just maybe it will be someone else’s job by then anyway.  It’s easy to get discouraged, slough responsibilities or give up completely.
Keeping a faithful heart and mind is hard work.  It’s also a gift of the Holy Spirit when we ask Him for it.  Why do I know it’s a gift and not something we can conjure up on our own?  Because, on our own, we are unable to muster up things like the reassurance that we are valuable to God, re-shaped perspectives about what is truly important, and daily diligence for things outside of ourselves. 
What is the Lord asking you to tend well while you're waiting for His purposes to unfold?
A marriage?
A child you are parenting?
A project?
A body (health)?
A checkbook?
A ministry?
A career (or job search)?
A friendship?
A relationship with a family member?
Your relationship with Jesus Christ?
SOVEREIGN LORD, please calm my fears and show me how to steward my resources well.  Help me slow down and meditate on what I read in the Bible so that I recognize Your voice and respond promptly and wholeheartedly to it.  Prompt me with promises and truths from Your Word so that I can stand firm against these arrows.  AMEN 

Friday, November 4, 2011

It's Marriage Prayer Friday!

I watched the movie Fireproof again this week.  Larry I cuddled up with popcorn and I asked him to grab me some tissues (at least once).  Watching that film moves us to pray more fervently than ever for marriages that are struggling.  We know far too many people facing very dark days.  Having survived our own marriage storm, we deeply appreciate the message of what it takes to make a marriage fireproof.  To us, that movie underscores three critical things needed in marriages facing a storm:
  • At least one partner committed to loving unconditionally through a life surrendered to the power of the Holy Spirit.
  • God’s perspective that marriage is a covenant relationships, not a contract.
  • At least one Christ-loving friend to come courageously alongside the couple with encouragement, sound Biblical guidance and persevering prayer.

Please join us in asking the Lord for these things in your marriage and for others today.

A prayer for your own marriage—
ALMIGHTY GOD, thank you for creating marriage with the potential to display the kind of covenant love you have for us.  Please keep me and my spouse from taking our commitment lightly in any way.  Protect us from considering our relationship disposable.  Reassure us that, by Your power, anything that is broken can be fixed.  Help me to so intimately and humbly appreciate my salvation from sins that I overflow that kind of profound grace toward my spouse.  Lord, we need your help and we need the help of Christ-loving friends.  Please bring others alongside of us as a couple and as individuals — we need people who will persevere with us through encouragement, Biblical guidance and prayer.  Give us ears to hear You through them and empower us to walk in Your ways.  Most Holy God, rain down Your power to protect, restore and refresh our marriage for Your glory, our good and the blessing of those whose lives we touch.  Thank you, precious Lord.  AMEN

Something to pray for a friend's marriage—
ALMIGHTY GOD, thank you for creating marriage with the potential to display the kind of covenant love you have for us.  Please keep my married friends from taking their commitment lightly in any way.  Protect them from considering their relationship disposable.  Reassure them that, by Your power, anything that is broken can be fixed.  Help them to so intimately and humbly appreciate their salvation from sins that each of them overflows with that kind of profound grace toward their spouse.  Lord, my friends need your help and they need the help of Christ-loving friends.  Please bring others alongside of them as a couple and as individuals — 
and make me one of those people who will persevere with my married friends with encouragement, Biblical guidance and prayer.  Teach me and equip me for the important role I may have in specific marriages to be an instrument of Your holy work.  Give my friends ears to hear You through godly counsel from others and empower them to walk in Your ways.  Most Holy God, rain down Your power to protect, restore and refresh these marriages on my heart today for Your glory, their good and the blessing of those whose lives they touch.  Thank you, precious Lord.  AMEN

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

FINDING GLORY Wednesday

We are so thankful for how God is using Finding Glory resources to stretch and strengthen people in their relationship with Jesus while cultivating their experience of Christ-centered community with others. Your comments in these online discussions and within one-to-one relationships or small groups are so valuable! Because we have readers from Canada to England, Australia, and Belize, your contribution to these discussions helps spread growth and encouragement throughout the world.

We hope you’ll listen to God’s promptings to post a comment or engage a friend in Christ-centered conversation today so that more and more people might find glory.

Today’s scripture and discussion question bring us to a reflection on where the authority of our faith comes from:

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

Where does Jesus point us in the face of life’s trials?

Our source for strength, courage and comfort is Jesus — what He has SAID and what He has DONE. What specific knowledge and experiences of Jesus have you had that encourage you to believe God is worthy of your trust (even when life brings trouble)?

These “Finding Glory Wednesdays” posts are an online discussion series based on the books Finding Glory in the Thorns and the companion Finding Glory in the Thorns: Group Discussion Guide by Larry and Lisa Jamieson. For more information about Finding Glory Groups, visit http://www.findingglory.com/findingglorygrou.html.

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