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Prayers with Muscles

17 Aug

Boy praying - face upwardFive-year-old Ricky said grace at family dinner one night.  “Dear God, thank you for these pancakes,” he said.

When he finished praying, his mother asked, “Ricky, why did you thank God for pancakes? We’re having chicken tonight.”

Ricky smiled and said, “I thought I’d see if God was paying attention tonight.” (1)

Texan Jeannette Sharp, whose writing has appeared in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Answered Prayers and other titles, compiled the book Hurray God! ~ Hope, Pray, Believe She tells a personal story of an answer to prayer that rocked her world as a child and helped her to understand the power of God.

In “Five Boxes of Christmas Cards,” Jeannette wrote about an incident in fifth grade . She hurried home after school to pick up a case of boxed Christmas cards. She wanted to sell them, door-to-door.

“I headed out with high hopes, and knocked on every door for blocks, but found no buyers,” she said.”

Her father had died earlier that year, and the urgent need to make money to help her family griped her young heart. “I worried about our money and could tell mother did, too,” she said. “I often saw her fight back tears. She wrote down everything she spent in a little black book.”

Jeannette knew that Christmas would be bleak without her daddy. And so, as it turned dark outside and cold winds blew, she decided to try one more house.

“As I walked up the driveway and knocked on the door,” she said, “I whispered, ‘O God, please help me sell all five boxes,’ she said. The bigness of my prayer seemed almost unreasonable.”

The lady who answered the door bought ALL FIVE boxes.

“I could hardly believe my ears,” Jeannette said. “All of a sudden, nothing mattered ~ not what Mother’s little black book said, the cold north wind, or that Daddy was gone.” Clutching the money for the cards, she ran home to tell her story.

“We had always gone to church, and I believed in God,” she wrote.  “But this was the first time I knew through and through in my heart that God heard me, saw me, and cared for me.” (1)

I love that story, and others in the book encourage me to hope in God and believe Him for more. Hurray God bookJeannette’s book stretches faith and renews the desire for powerful (not wimpy)  praying.

Has God ever answered an “unreasonable” prayer for you … a prayer you prayed with muscles, bold in seeking an answer to a desperate need? Though we cannot force God’s hand ~ our prayers do not manipulate Him ~ I believe that God is honored by bold prayers, and especially when we plead His promises.

Jesus told the parable of the persistent widow (Luke 18:1-8) to remind us that we should always pray and not give up. We can pray boldly (Hebrews4:16) because we believe our Heavenly Father desires to give good gifts to His children (Matthew 7:7-11).

The Bible tells us that the prayers of righteous believers are powerful and effective (James 5:16b). Jesus shared a story about a man who had unexpected guests and no food to serve them. The man pounded on his neighbor’s door, asking for bread, and his persistent boldness had positive results (Luke 11:5-8).

It’s true! God wants us to pray with MUSCLES … and remember: muscles grow stronger with exercise. Flex your prayer muscles today!

(1) Adapted from a joke at: http://www2.netdoor.com/~gina/cleanjokes.htm

(2) From Jeannette Sharp’s compilation of hope-filled stories,  Hurray God! Hope, Pray, Believe (WinePress Publishing, 2011), pp. 124-125

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Ready for Some Action?

26 Jul

I (Pam) recently saw a list of “Ways to know you are NOT cut out to be a First Responder” (Police, Call 911EMT, or Firefighter).

One of the funny lines was, “When you see trouble brewing, your first reaction is to call 911.”

Running in to help when others run out is what people call heroic.  You might be surprised to know we each have a seed of the heroic in us.

Caleb ~ Harding SuperheroRecently, we were out kayaking  and our son Caleb, home for a few weeks from his football playing and engineer studying days at Harding University, spotted a kayak that had just flipped. He instantly power paddled across the San Diego Bay to rescue a frantic father who was desperately trying to hold his six-year-old son up and keep them both from drowning. Caleb single-handedly lifted up the kayak, emptied the water, flipped it over, rescued the son and placed him into the kayak, lifted the dad and got him back in the boat, and retrieved the paddles all before we could reach the location to help.

A very grateful father and son are still alive today ~ and Caleb’s mom and dad are very proud of this son who listened to that prompt from God and instantaneously obeyed the call.

Several years ago, our friend, Debbie Douglass ~ the guide for our annual Seasoned Sisters women only Caleb Kayakingkayak trip and an award-winning outdoor educator for the state of Alaska ~ trained Caleb and the counselors of Echo Ranch Christian Camp in water safety.

Years before this, Bill and I equipped Caleb through our Learner and Leader parenting program (which we outlined in 10 Best Decisions a Parent Can Make). We prayed and worked diligently with our very shy, quiet Caleb. The Learner and Leader plan helps parents weave character into their children year after year, one trait at a time. One of the first traits we impressed upon Caleb was initiative: “When you seen something that needs done, DO IT!” (Without being asked!)

Caleb’s education through Christian school and his decision to launch a Fellowship of Christian Athletes Huddle further prepared him to be a leader of action. And Caleb himself has guarded his quiet times and devotional life with God, so a quiet whisper from God is all it takes to get Caleb’s attention.

That day, that moment, all the preparations came together! The result was life saving! Watching it unfold is a treasured moment in my heart.

When asked about the decision to rescue the father and son, Caleb simply and quietly replied,  “I saw the boat flip. I knew what to do, so I did it.”

In a similar moment of decision, our friend, Captain Jack Collier, a police officer, was recently confronting a criminal brandishing a gun ~ pointed at Jack. In the face of losing his own life, Jack drew his weapon and arrested the man. His wife, Robin, later asked him, “Were you afraid?” He answered, “No, because I didn’t have to GET ready; I WAS ready!”

Pam&Dawn - LOLwithGod bookWe can be like Jack and Caleb. We can be ready for the time God asks us to step up, step in, or step Devotions for Women on the Goforward. That is really one of the main reasons Dawn and I wrote LOL with God: Messages of Hope and Humor for Women, and why I wrote Devotions for Women on the Go.

If we, everyday, prepare ourselves with a consistent quiet time with God, we will be ready when He calls us into battle ~ and the results maybe life-saving, life- changing, or life-altering for others.   

2 Timothy 4:2 gives a clear command: “… be prepared in season and out of season….” Luke 12:35 encourages, “Be dressed ready for service and keep your lamps burning.” And 2 Corinthians 9:3 shows how fellowship keeps us accountable to be ready: “But I am sending the brothers in order that our boasting about you in this matter should not prove hollow, but that you may be ready, as I said you would be.”

To aid my own readiness, I have quiet time baskets in many rooms in my home with Bibles, a journal, and a devotional in them. In addition, on my desk are several translations, several more daily devotionals, and journals. I also have the Bible on my smart phone and many devotionals are electronically delivered to my Inbox. I want the tools of being ready at my finger tips so I can dig into God’s Word. I want to be ready.

Are you ready?

Stay Sharp for Your Battles

20 Jul

Bill Carlson, our friend on Facebook, is such a comedian. He loves all women in Jesus, but he does love to tell an occasional clean blonde joke. He recently shared this one on Facebook:

Two blondes were sipping their Starbucks when a truck went past loaded up with rolls of sod.

“I’m going to do that when I win the lottery,” announced Blonde #1.

“Do what?” asked Blonde #2.

“Send my lawn out to be mowed.”

“Pastor Tim” at Cybersalt.org tells another story about a woman and a lawn mower:

“I was trying to mow the lawn before my husband got home from work,” a woman said, “but our electric lawn mower refused to cooperate. It would run fine for a few seconds, then cut off, run again, cut off. Finally, I gave up and waited for my husband.

“He had a good laugh when he diagnosed the problem. Instead of plugging in the mower using a three-prong adapter, I had hooked up the cord through the Christmas-tree light blinker.” (1)

Old Lawn MowerI (Dawn) love to watch my husband try to crank up our old lawn mower. He pulls the starter cord over and over and over again. He stops and wipes his brow. He repeats this process several times. Finally, the mower starts purring (or growling, actually). One good thing about that mower is that it still cuts grass like a champ.

Not at all like my Grandpa’s old push mower. That mower must have had the world’s dullest blades! Not only did it glide over the overgrowth of weeds in the yard without cutting them, that lawn mower hardly snipped the tips of the grass.

A lawn mower with dull blades is just about useless.

Not unlike a Christian with a weak “sword.”

The Sword of the Spirit is the Word of God (Ephesians 6:17b). As part of the armor of the believer, it is Sword of the Spirit _ Biblepotentially powerful in spiritual warfare. But many Christians ~ by lack of use or not caring to “sharpen” this powerful tool in their hands ~ aren’t very effective in cutting down the “overgrowth” of sin.

We are in a real battle today for souls. We are in a war against those things in the world and culture that want to destroy us. And we can’t fight the powers of darkness with a dull sword.

Remember, it is the Sword of the Spirit. He gives the sword its cutting edge; and the Word cuts deep and discerns the intentions of the heart (Hebrews 4:12). The Spirit will teach us how to use the scriptures, too.

It is our sword when we learn to use it.  It’s not enough to simply read the Word, although that’s a good start. We need to study it, meditate on it, memorize it, and use it. We need to stay “sharp” … a ready tool for God to use. We need to learn discernment ~ how to apply the Word’s wisdom (perspective) to everyday circumstances. We need to know how to “wield” it to lead others to Christ.

So we must pick up our swords with purpose every day, because God is calling us to stand for Him. Knowledge and wise use of the Word of God is power! STAY SHARP for your battles!

(1) http://www.cybersalt.org/clean-jokes/mowing-the-lawn

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