Weighted

Prayer

I heard someone say one time-I think it might have been Beth Moore-that if the devil can’t make you bad, he will make you busy. I can’t think of any other time in our culture that that statement has been more true. I can personally attest to the fact that, though I do not always struggle with the obvious sins, busyness is my nemesis. I am the queen of trying to do too many things at one time, resulting in the things that are important to me-the things that really matter-not being done well.

Society is different now than it was when so many of the well known evangelists and Kingdom Workers were doing God’s bidding. Tozier and Spurgeon didn’t battle with the demands of social media. Billy Graham didn’t have to build a following through the means of YouTube and Instagram. No. They simply did what God called them to do and trusted that he would handle the logistics.

Nowadays, we worry so much about building a platform that we forget that the Kingdom is already established.

I am as guilty of it as anyone. I check my “numbers” more often than I check my email. Self-doubt creeps in when I see someone “unfollow” me on social media and I begin to wonder what I did that made someone leave. When I see someone else’s numbers growing rapidly, I worry more about emulating their posts and figuring out what it is that they do that makes them so “popular” that I lose sight of who God made ME to be.

Not only is social media my struggle, I am a “yes” kind of person. I have a really hard time telling people no. I do not like confrontation in the least. I don’t like to disappoint people and I do not like to let people down. When we lived in Alaska and I was just starting my web design business, I did not turn down a single project. Not one. Every person that came to me with the desire to work with me, I accepted. Regardless of whether I thought that their project was a good fit. Regardless of whether I immediately sensed that they would be a client that was difficult to work with (and believe me that happens often). I was too excited about the ability to be “known” and that someone chose me to work with, that I overlooked everything else.

 If I were your enemy, I’d make everything seem urgent, as if it’s all yours to handle. I’d bog down your calendar with so many expectations you couldn’t tell the difference between what’s important and what’s not.  Going and going, guilty for ever saying no, trying to control it all, but just being controlled by it all instead…If I could help keep you busy enough, you’d be too overwhelmed to even realize how much work you’re actually saving me.

What happened?

I became so busy that I stopped sleeping. I was working 18-20 hours a day, barely sleeping, and completely absent for my family. The results of that were a lot of extra stress and a lot of problems at home. I lost connection with my husband and our marriage suffered. I jumped back into work too soon after having our second son and stayed sick with mastitis more times than I can even count. My heard was fueled by the wrong passions and I suffered for it, as did my family.

Not only that, but my love for the work that I did faded as the job became too much pressure. The joy that I had once found in creating beautiful things, was gone because I was working too hard trying to do it all and be it all. Subconsciously, I was competing with every other designer out there-though I would have never openly admitted that. Jealousy raged within when I saw someone else finding success doing the thing that I was doing. Over time I have learned that, though for a season my business was a good thing for my family, it wasn’t the best thing for my family.

My fear of not being enough…not measuring up…not doing enough…led me to a place of bitterness toward something I once loved and left me feeling the same sense of emptiness that I felt before I started working. Something that I believe God had brought me to so that he could give me joy during a season of life where I was struggling (if you’ve ever been to Kodiak, Alaska…you’ll understand the reason I needed something to bring joy…dreariest place on Earth), the enemy used to bring disdain.

Thank you, God for perspective.


FOR DISCUSSION

(feel free to answer in the comments or privately on your own)

  • Are there things in your life that God has given you to bring joy that the enemy has used to bring pressure?
  • What area/s of your life do you find yourself struggling most with when it comes to meeting unrealistic expectations?
  • What is God asking you to let go of so that you can find rest?
FOCUS VERSE

Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart.

Psalm 37:4

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Whatever is pure…

Faithful Living

I’ve been open about my past here before…but “purity” is not a word that I would use to describe myself. Once upon a time when I was naive and completely unaware of things like spiritual warfare, I walked a pretty straight line. If you were to ask my parents, they’d likely tell you that I was a great kid who caused very little issues. I was quiet. I was reserved. I did not really make waves of any kind. Yet, at some point in my life (and I am pretty sure I know about when it happened) , I started to battle feelings of worthlessness and the idea that I never measured up. Feelings that I have continued to battle on up into adulthood.

You see, feelings of worthlessness give way to temptation and temptation gives way to sin. I once heard someone say that the enemy doesn’t come to you with horns and a pitch fork. That’s too easy. You’d be on to him if he did and he’d never get a hand on you. Instead, he comes at you disguised as everything you’ve always wanted. That’s why when he came to Jesus in the wilderness he brought bread. Don’t you know that any kind of bread after 40 days of fasting would have been like a little piece of heaven? Despite knowing that carbs are not my friend after having three babies, I have a really hard time turning them down. French fries, y’all are my nemesis.

During my time in college, I lived with three other girls. We were the best of friends, even though we didn’t really know each other before we all moved into our apartment together. It didn’t take long for us to start trying to make sure we were in the same classes together and we went out together every night. We added a few others to our little group and eventually we all worked at the same restaurant together. We were inseparable. But, as with any group of girls, things eventually became a competition. There were always guys around and it was nothing for one or all of us to feel a little “less than” when someone brought home another boy, even if he wasn’t the “right” boy.

I remember that two of my roommates went out with two roommates one night. To an actual movie on a real date. To say that I was jealous would be an extreme understatement. I spent a lot of time after that questioning why them and not me? What did they have that I didn’t? I started to question everything about myself. My morals, my looks, my personality…all of it. If I couldn’t manage to get a date, then there had to be something wrong with me, right?

In walks that temptation…guy after guy. Wrong motives, wrong mindset, wrong intentions. Needless to say my “purity” was out the window. They seemed to feed my desire for feeling like I was worthy. That I was good/smart/pretty enough to be worth someone’s time. They looked like everything that I wanted…attention. I thought that I was fitting in and that I was worth while. Long story short, those quick relationships didn’t last and I ended up feeling exactly like I had always felt. You see, the enemy fooled me into thinking that that was the kind of person that I needed to be in order to be worth someone’s time. I was vulnerable enough to fall for it.

Fast forward 13 years and I am married with three kids. I have a family that I absolutely adore and I found the one that I was meant to be with. Our marriage hasn’t come easy and there have been a lot of hard times and a lot of tears…there have been way more of those tempting moments in our marriage than I want to even really delve into, but with each moment like that that has come, I can CLEARLY see that it came because of the lack of depth in my relationship with Christ at the time.

If I were your enemy, I’d tempt you toward certain sins, making you believe they are basically (even biologically) unavoidable.  I’d study your tendencies and proclivities till I learned the precise conditions that make you the most likely to indulge them.  And then I’d strike right there.  Again and again.  Wear you down.  Because if I can’t separate you from God forever, I can at least set you at odds with Him for the time being.

We tend to think that when we aren’t getting what we think we need or want, that God just isn’t there. That’s a lie my friends. What the enemy would have us believe is that what we want is the only right thing and the thing that the enemy wants for us is the only thing. Our responsibility is to stay in the word and measure each and every decision against what the Lord says. It’s not always easy. It’s not always fun. But, it’s worth it.

I would rather live in the will of the creator than walk blindly into the way of the enemy. At least when I’m walking with God…invested in my relationship with the Lord…I can spot trouble. I can sense the mistakes before they are made and I can fall back on the only thing that’s always been and always will be…Christ.

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I’m Not Who I Was

Faithful Living

If I were your enemy…

I’d constantly remind you of your past mistakes and poor choices  I’d want to keep you burdened by shame and guilt, in hopes that you’ll feel incapacitated by your many failings and see no point in even trying again.  I’d work to convince you that you that you’ve had your chance and blown it–that your God may be able to forgive some people from some things, but not you…not for this.

I have always been pretty transparent about my past. I’ve openly shared my testimony here on my site and I’ve spoken to a small handful of Youth Groups in the past regarding my many, many shortcomings during my early college years. The few parts of my story that remain hidden and buried within the walls of my heart are pieces of my story that I have not quite reached the point of being ready to share.

For the most part, I have made peace with my past. I have prayed (many, many times) and accepted the grace that covers the multitude of sins in my life. I know that my Father has cast those sins away and forgiven them.

That doesn’t mean that they don’t still haunt me. That my mistakes don’t still creep into my mind all too often and that I don’t allow the enemy to plant lies in my head and my heart.

You are not the kind of person that God can use.
Look at what you’ve done in your past.
You aren’t qualified to minister to anyone.
God didn’t really forgive you for those things.

Any of those lies sound familiar?

The enemy really likes to drag up the past and our mistakes. Have you ever paid attention to the timing that those mistakes creep into your mind? For me, I always hear those things when I’m trying to pursue a calling God has placed on my heart; especially if it involves ministry of any kind. The enemy likes to sneak in and whisper the, “God could never use you” garbage in my ear and leave me feeling like regardless of the power that I have been given by the Holy Spirit through Jesus, I will never amount to anything.

One of my favorite verses is the one that reminds us that the enemy came to steal, kill, and destroy. But Jesus. Jesus came so that we might have life and have it abundantly (src). He wants nothing more than to steal the joy you have found in Christ, to kill your dreams and your passion and your drive, and to destroy any opportunities to share your redemption story that God intends to use for the good of His kingdom.

One thing that I have had to learn (and I still struggle with it) is that the enemy could care less about me. Or you. We are just pawns in his never ending attempt to hinder God’s work. We are the minions that he gets to do his dirty work…the grunts…the marionette that he tries to get to do his bidding. His real beef is with God. His soul purpose is to pull us away from the Lord and convince us that he knows a better way. He isn’t after you because he cares about you. He’s after you because the KNOWS that the God that we serve can use anyone to do work for Him.

He attacks our drive and dampers our passion. He steals our focus and causes us to lose sight of the big picture of God’s eternal plan. He throws wrenches into our marriages and comes after our children.  He causes us to question not only who we are, but WHOSE we are. And when none of those tactics work, he likes to drag up what we’ve done and who we were before Christ. All because he knows that if we were to step into the power that God has given us…if we were to allow our past to be a witnessing tool; something that can further draw people to the Kingdom, he will once again lose his traction and God will gain ground.

Our God forgives.
Our God casts all of our sin as far as the East is from the West.
Our God changes us from the inside and transforms us into someone he can use.

The bible is full of unlikely heroes and redemption stories. God uses all kind of people with all kind of mistakes and all kind of stories.

Let’s let our life be the next great God story.


FOR DISCUSSION

(feel free to answer in the comments or privately on your own)

  • Are there parts of your story that you think God can’t or won’t use for His glory?
  • What tactics does the enemy use to try to pin your past against you?
  • Do you find that he uses your past more often in certain situations than in others?
  • Are there areas of your past that you haven’t yet asked God to heal and forgive?
FOCUS VERSE

In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace…

Ephesians 1:7

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Raising Arrows

Faithful Living

My husband and I haven’t always been tens when it comes to parenting our children.

We, like most people, have days where we are on point with our parenting skills. We do things well; we work together (as mom and dad) well, our kids get along and everyone is happy. We hit the mark on those days as your predictable storybook family.

Those days are rare.

More often than not, we are doing the best we can to get by. Getting the oldest to school on time, working with the middle one to prepare him for Kindergarten next year and feeding a newborn every 4-5 hours feels like a nonstop, full time job for me. Throw in the fact that we make sure that we take them to church every week, keep them involved in an extracurricular activity (i.e. ONE activity not twenty), do the homework, make sure they don’t live off of potato chips and soda and work diligently to teach them and show them Jesus in their day to day life.

Parenting is not for the weak. My husband and I work pretty steadily on our own marriage and we know all too well which weapons the enemy uses to attack our marriage. I can generally spot those marital landmines a mile away and do well to ward them off and counteract them with scripture and prayer, but the ones that sneak up on me as a mama? Those are a whole other battlefield.

Don’t be surprised when he starts coming after your kids. And don’t think it’s all because they’re being headstrong or peer dependent or careless or lazy. Satan knows the parts of their character-both their strengths and their weaknesses-where he can worm in and try stunting their growth, their potential, and their confidence.

This is an area of life that my husband and I are currently struggling with. I have a whole section in my prayer journal devoted to specifically praying for my children because of the attack that I feel like is being waged against them. We all think our kids are great and every mama I know loves to brag about her babies; I am no different. My kids are legitimately good kids who get good grades, say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ about 90% of the time, and are overall nice humans.

Are they perfect? Not hardly. We still have outbursts and tantrums and yelling and crying more often than I personally care for, but they are human and they are sin ridden just like the rest of us. However, since I formed our Prayer Warriors Facebook group, I have noticed a dramatic increase in the negative emotions and reactions around our house by my children. My two boys, who have always gotten along very well, are constantly at each others throats and fighting. My oldest son is growing increasingly frustrated and agitated by things that used not to bother him.

My youngest son is more anxiety ridden and worried about things than he has ever been. A few weeks ago, he refused to go out in the backyard and play with his brother (something that he typically enjoys). When I questioned him as to why, he told me that he couldn’t because he was scared. After further probing and questioning, he finally revealed to me that he was afraid that the man from his dream was going to get him. Never one to have had nightmares before, I was dumbfounded to hear that he had been having them. That night, at bedtime, he was afraid to go to sleep because he didn’t want to see the nightmare man again.

I talked to him about prayer and how he could ask God to take that nightmare away so he could sleep without being afraid. Sure enough, we prayed together, with him asking God to take away the “scary dreams,” and he went to bed. The next morning, he woke up rested and hasn’t mentioned nightmares since.

Coincidence? Not hardly.

You see, when we-as parents and mothers-do kingdom work, the enemy gets antsy. Our ministry, whether in our home or outside of it, tends to pour out on our children. With that kind of outpouring comes little disciples being made right under the enemy’s nose. He can’t have that, can he? Our weapon against him is prayer.

I don’t know about you, but I can go into full on “Mama Bear” mode really quick over my kids. Best believe that seeing the enemy at work within my home and against my children has me on attack mode nonstop. Mess with me and I’ll defend myself but you mess with my kids? Be ready for a full on counter attack and assault.

Only now-under the authority given to me in Christ-I am guaranteed victory.


FOR DISCUSSION

(feel free to answer in the comments or privately on your own)

  • Can you spot the areas of attack against your children?
  • What methods does the enemy use against them (self-doubt, anger, rebellion, etc)?
  • What tactics can you use to counter those attacks?
  • Have your children ever unknowingly noticed those attacks against them (similar to my son and his nightmares)?
FOCUS VERSE

“I have no greater joy than this, to hear my children walking in truth.”

3 John 4

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For Better or For Worse

Marriage

If I were your enemy, I’d seek to disintegrate your family and destroy every member of it.  I’d want to tear away at your trust and unity and turn everyone’s love inward on themselves.  I would make sure your family didn’t look anything like it’s supposed to.  Because then people would look at your Christian marriage , your Christian kids, and see you’re no different, no stronger than anybody else – that God, underneath it all, doesn’t change anything.

My husband and I will celebrate ten years of marriage this April. Ten years. That used to seem like such a long time to me. Especially in a culture nowadays where marriages come and go quickly and we see all too many couples changing spouses like they change clothes. I won’t go into the sanctity of marriage right now (that’s another post for another day), but I will say that marriage just isn’t what it used to be. Commitment isn’t what it used to be.


Let me pause here just for a moment and throw out that disclosure that if you are in an abusive and/or dangerous situation, please do not continue to dwell within the confines of your marriage. There are times where other actions need to be taken. I’m not a pastor nor am I a professional counselor so please seek help from those who are qualified to offer you Godly advice and wisdom.


2015 will always go down as the year that almost ended my own marriage. After seven years of marriage and two children, my husband and I were just at our breaking point. We had spent the four previous years in complete isolation living in Kodiak, Alaska; had traveled across the country yet again to settle in a new town and were both spiritually not where we needed to be. We spent our days arguing and fighting. We spent most of our nights giving one another the silent treatment.

We used the others flaws against them in every single argument we had. Never leaving old wounds alone and consistently ripping those bandages off time and time again; tossing below-the-belt comments around like they were nothing. Rehashing the same mistakes over and over and over again. Never really addressing the issues we were having, but rather patching them over with halfhearted, “I’m sorry’s” and fleeting affection. We had spent the last seven years of our marriage doing that and slowly, but surely, all of that bitterness and resentment and poorly handled conflict was building below the surface of our marriage.

In January of that year, my husband got on a plane and flew to San Francisco for some military training. It was the first time in the years that we had been together that I did not shed a tear when he got on the plane and left; despite knowing that he was going to be gone for months. Quite honestly, I was relieved that I was not having to spend my days bickering with my husband for those months while he was away. I was looking forward to just having my kids to worry with and not having to overexert myself for my marriage (which, in and of itself should have been my clue that there was a lot wrong with our relationship).

When my husband got to California and we talked, I’ll never forget what he said to me. I don’t know how it came about or in which of our conversations it got brought up, but he made the comment that he didn’t know if he would have a wife when he got back home.

We were that far gone. I had begun to check around and look into apartments for myself and the kids. I’d started to look into what a divorce actually meant for me in terms of rights and legalities. I sought counsel from all of the wrong places; almost all of which told me time and time again that I needed to do what made me happy. Or that I didn’t deserve to be in a marriage that wasn’t making me happy. What was supposed to have been a few months of school for him ended up being only a few weeks.

If you were to ask my husband, he would tell you that he came home to save our marriage. We began to seek counseling together. We began to seek God together. We began to slowly heal the old wounds that we had allowed to fester within our lives. We started to love one another again. Most importantly, we started to love God again. 

I had been praying for my husband for many years, stopped whenever I would get angry with him, and believed the lie that it was my job to change my husband and not God’s. Then, when God didn’t “fix” him the way that I thought he should, I would become angry with God and began to believe that prayer didn’t work, God didn’t hear me and that God didn’t care enough to fix my marriage.

The problem was that my husband wasn’t the only problem.

It takes two people to make a marriage. It takes two people to break a marriage. I had become so wrapped up in my own hurts and pointing out my husbands flaws that I couldn’t see the mistakes I was making within my own life. I was spending more time trying to tell him what he needed to fix that I was not even remotely looking at the areas in my own messed up humanity that needed to be worked on.

The only effective way to fight for your marriage is to pray for your marriage.

It’s been an uphill battle and our marriage isn’t perfect, even now. We still have plenty of bad days. We still make plenty of mistakes. We still fight with each other more than we fight the enemy (if I’m being perfectly honest). We still let old wounds get ahold of us and we still try to throw around past mistakes to hurt one another. We are not perfect and we don’t do it right all the time.

But.

We know who our real enemy is. We know that when we fight with one another instead of for one another, we are doing exactly what he wants us to do and that he is working to dismantle our relationship. Now, we spend our time fighting our battles on our knees. That has made all of the difference.


FOR DISCUSSION

(feel free to answer in the comments or privately on your own)

  • How much time do you spend fighting for your spouse rather than with them?
  • Are you spending more time trying to fix HIM than you are letting God work on him?
  • In what areas of your own life does God need to infiltrate to make you a better, more God-centered wife?
  • Are there old wounds that you need to let go of and turn over to God that you may still be holding onto?
FOCUS VERSE

“Let your eyes look directly ahead and let your gaze be fixed straight in front of you. Watch the path of your feet, and all your ways will be established.”

Proverbs 4:25-26

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Gloves for Glory

Fervent 2018

If I were your enemy, I’d disguise myself and manipulate your perspectives so that you’d focus on the wrong culprit—your husband, your friend, your hurt, your finances, anything or anyone except me. Because when you zero in on the most convenient, obvious places to strike back against your problems, you get the impression you’re fighting for something. Even though all you’re really doing is just . . . fighting. For nothing.

Have you seen the movie Rocky? Yes, the Sylvester Stallone movie about the boxer from Philly. “Yo, Adrian!” Rocky.

We introduced that movie to our oldest son, Noah, about two years ago. When he was about four he was fascinated and enthralled with the movie Real Steel about the boxing robots, so when he got a little bit older we thought he’d enjoy this series of classics. I am a big fan of underdog movies, and Rocky is no exception. I think my favorite part of any of the Rocky movies, is watching him train and prepare for his fight. He’s preparing to fight against Apollo Creed…a trained champion with all of the best equipment and gear. Everything he needs to win. He’s a shoe in to take Rocky down with ease and make him look like the amateur that he is.

Then in steps Mick. Someone to teach Rocky and help him prepare. Someone who makes him realize that he doesn’t need or have to have all of the best equipment to win. He doesn’t need to have the fancy brands, the most expensive gear or the swankiest gym in order to train and train well. He just needs to be intentional with his training. Focused. Fervent in preparing for the fight. Preparation for the fight, is going to give him intentionality IN the fight.

It’s kind of the same thing where we are concerned.

The enemy is really good at making us turn our attention to everyone BUT him. In our house, he has a habit of making me turn my focus and my attention to my kids and their behavior, my husband and whatever I think he should be doing at that time (but isn’t), the unexpected expense that came out of our checking account, the negative or hateful comment from a family member…basically everywhere but at him. Unfortunately, I haven’t yet mastered the ability to recognize him at work around me and direct my feelings and thoughts at him instead of the ones that I love. Way too often I realize it after the fact. When the hurtful words have been spoken and I can’t take them back. When I’ve lashed out at my kids and broken their spirit. When I’ve made a snarky comment at my husband and created friction between us. When I’ve placed blame on anyone that doesn’t deserve it. When I’ve allowed a negative comment made by someone else to steal the joy from my day. Anytime that I do that, my focus is out of line and I am enabling the enemy to keep one foot in the door when instead he belongs out in the heat and as far away from my life as he can get.

It’s time to take our focus off the enemy and put it on the Almighty. 

I want to go to bed at night feeling like I am victorious, rather than defeated. I want to know that I have fought hard, battled with everything in me and taken down the adversary who tries so hard to steal the joy that I have been given in Christ Jesus. I want to stand-much like Rocky does when he stands at the top of those stairs in complete victory-with my hands help high in praise knowing that God and God alone WILL be victorious when my days on this Earth end. When it’s all said and done, the enemy doesn’t win regardless. Isn’t it time we stop letting the enemy win in the day to day moments? He’s already lost the war…it’s time he starts losing the battle, too.


For Discussion

(feel free to answer in the comments or privately on your own)

  • Can you identify the area(s) in your life where you find yourself having lost focus on who the real enemy is?
  • Do you see a pattern in those areas? Repeated arguments among loved ones or circumstantial frustrations?
  • Are you aware of the enemy at work in those areas or have you been attacking the wrong enemy?
  • What “power verse” will you claim in those moments in the days, weeks and months to come?
Focus Verse

Do not rejoice over me, O my enemy. Though I fall I will rise; Though I dwell in darkness, the Lord is a light for me.

-Micah 7:8

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Our Passion Led Us Here

Faithful Living

If I were your enemy

I’d seek to dim your passion, dull your interest in spiritual things, dampen your belief in God’s ability and His personal concern for you and convince you that the hope you’ve lost in never coming back–and was probably just a lie to begin with.

My oldest son loves football. I mean, loves it. He’s a fan of baseball, too but nothing comes close to how much he loves football. He knows the different positions; he knows the names of coaches and players. He knows how to run routes and what it means to line up in the shotgun position and when and how to blitz the quarterback. The first thing he does when he gets up in the morning, is grab his football. The first thing he wants to do when his dad gets off work in the afternoon, is play football.

Everyone who knows him would tell you…the kid is passionate about football. His dream is to play college ball and one day in the NFL. To him, there is nothing in the world better than the game. He eats, sleeps and breathes it. Using every moment that he can to learn more about the sport, to practice and to improve.

His passion is one my favorite things about him. He just doesn’t quit. Yet, at the same time, his love for football often convicts me in my spiritual life. What would my life look like if I were as passionate about my faith…about growing in Christ…as Noah is about football? What could God do in me and through me…if only I were as passionate as my son?

That’s a tough question to have to stand in front of the mirror and ask yourself. It’s that recognition, deep within me, that I’m not living up to my potential in any way. I’m not living up to God’s hope for me. His desire for me. When I force myself to examine my own faith, I stand face to face with the reality that maybe my faith isn’t as strong as I like to think it is. Maybe, the enemy has slipped in and put just enough doubt in God’s goodness in my head that I am living a life that is watered down and lukewarm. Maybe my own passion has started to fade when life gets in the way and things don’t look like I want them to.

Praying for your Passion

I think our passion led us here. Me and you (whoever and wherever you are reading this). Our passion for more. More prayer. More faith. More conviction. More time in the word. More time in Worship. More time with Jesus. More like Christ. Distractions come and go. Passion fades. But, our God remains the same.

I find my passion dwindling when my big prayers seem to go unanswered. When those things that you want with an intensity that it knocks you down, don’t come to pass. When those relationships that you want to see renewed, continue down the same road. When that person you’ve been praying for continues to act out in a way that breaks your heart. When your child struggles and can’t find a place of peace. When that cancer doesn’t go away or that job doesn’t work out or that relationship crumbles…it’s easy then for passion to fade.

It’s hard to be passionate about something that you feel you get nothing from. My son loves football because it makes him feel something; whether it’s pride when your favorite team wins the National Championship (Roll Tide!) or whether it’s physical pain when he’s tackled by someone bigger than he is. Our faith and our passion for God should be the same way. We tend to think that because we are saved we should have only the good feelings; the happy vibes. Our faith doesn’t entitled us to nothing but sunshine and rainbows. In fact, I guarantee that you’re going to struggle and face trial because of your faith. James even tells us so.

[bctt tweet=”When I force myself to examine my own faith, I stand face to face with the reality that maybe my faith isn’t as strong as I like to think it is…” username=”CourtneyKirklnd”]

But when we press on and lean in…the victory is sweeter than anything we’ve ever known. Passion is our driving force in this journey of faith. It’s what keeps us going. What gives us our want to. It’s what gets us out of bed when it’s still dark outside to meet with the Lord in the wee hours of the morning. It’s what keeps us coming back to the Word time and time again, even when we don’t want to and feel like God isn’t there. Because we know better. We know he is always there. Passion says that you fight for what you love, what you want, with intensity and gusto.

Have you ever looked up the definition of “passion” in the dictionary? I included it here for  you..

strong and barely controllable emotion; the suffering and death of Jesus.

Christ was passionate about us, even to the point of death.  May our hearts desire the passion for HIM that he deserves in return.


For Discussion

(feel free to answer in the comments or privately on your own)

  • Have you ever found yourself without passion for the things of Christ?
  • Can you identify what brought you to that place? How did you feel?
  • What is the main tactic you find the enemy using to target you in this area (this will look different for everyone)?
  • What tactics can you use to overcome the lack of passion you may be feeling right now OR to prevent yourself from falling into that trap?
Focus Verse

Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.

Jeremiah 29:12-13

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Intentional Prayer Planning

Faithful Living

Many of you managed to find me and my little corner of the internet through the study that I did of the book Fervent earlier this year. That book…changed my life. I’ve mentioned many, many times before (even wrote an article about it for a magazine) that prayer and the realization of how powerful prayer is, changed my life.

I am always looking for more effective and better ways to grow spiritually. Whether it’s a new book or a bible study, I’m constantly wanting to grow. Scripture was pretty specific on how we are called to draw closer to God always and that we are to meditate on His word day and night and pray continually.

I’ve laughed about it before, but ya’ll my ADHD is for real when it comes to prayer. I would love to be the person that could sit and silently talk to God for hours on end. I’d love to even be the person who can sit and talk to God outloud for hours on end. But, I can’t. My mind never seems to turn off and I’m going 90-to-nothing almost all the time. Sitting down and praying is difficult for me; especially when I am expected to sit down and pray without interruption.

I am all about my planner. I live by a schedule and love my Emily Ley planner and my Whitney English Planner (yes, I have two…don’t judge). Yet, when Illustrated Faith came out with their own day planner, the nerd in me had to have one. Even if it was just to see what it looked like and what was inside it. I fell in love with the Bible Journaling community as soon as I purchased my first Journaling Bible. I love the beauty that people are creating all over and how something so simply is being used to bring honor to God.

I have followed Shanna Noel for a while now and was so pleased when DaySpring picked up her Illustrated Faith line…I’ve loved watching her ministry grow. So when I ordered her planner, I really more or less did it in support of this ministry she’s built. I didn’t have a whole lot of intention of really even using the planner just because, come on…who keeps three day planners?

What I got in the mail was just as beautiful and just as creative as I expected it to be…with journaling pages and coloring pages and plenty of blank space for really making this planner my own. Unfortunately, I am just not that creative when it comes to painting and drawing and sketching. So I set it to the side and started seeking out ways that I could use it. I mean, I wanted it to be beneficial. I wanted to use it for something useful. That’s when I saw somewhere on social media (because who can keep up these days, amiright?) someone mention something about a Prayer Planner.

That’s when it hit me…

I could use my new planner as a prayer planner.

One thing that I learned through reading Fervent is that prayer needs to be intentional. It’s great to pray throughout the day (and we should!) but there are some areas of our lives in which prayer needs to be purposeful…intentional…deliberate. We are fighting a very real enemy these days and without strategic prayer, we end up kind of bantering and rambling to the Lord and hoping that he kind of gets our drift and knows what we mean.

NOTE: I don’t think that every single prayer has to be specifically geared toward just one thing. That’s not what I’m saying. I am saying, however, that we need to have time in daily routine in which we pray for specific things/people/circumstances.

I have a whole list of prayer prompts that I use when I pray. Prayers for my husband. Prayers for our boys. Prayers for the world and our nation. The list goes on. But, sometimes, I just don’t have the time to pray for two or three hours in the mornings or in the evenings to hit every single one of those areas of my life.

Instead, I’ve opted to intentionally plan my prayers. Using my Illustrated Faith Day Planner, I’ve set aside specific prayer prompts for each day and spend a few minutes every morning praying over that prompt a bit more in-depth than I normally do. Since school is starting back this month, I’ve been focusing the month of August on praying for my children. Next month, I’ll be focusing on strategic prayers for my husband. As the the year goes on, I’ll rotate each month and focus on something else: our country, the world, our extended families, friends, etc..

Intentional Prayer Planning

 

I love that there is a date for each prayer and that years from now, we’ll be able to look back on how I was specifically praying and targeting different areas of our lives. Beside each date, I write down the prompt for that days prayers (for this month, I’m praying specific biblical virtues over my children using these verses) and the verse that correlates. Any answered prayers, I write the date that the prayer is answered in a different color out to the side.

This kind of thing just keeps me on track, keeps me focused and keeps me deliberately in line with the areas of my life that need to be covered with the power of the Holy Spirit.

There’s no such thing as too much prayer.


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Intentional Prayer Planning

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Humble Expectancy // Fervent Conclusion

Faithful Living

I’m going to be really honest…up until I met my husband’s late grandmother, I didn’t think that much about prayer. I said the blessing. I half-heartedly asked God for protection and safety when I began to drift off to sleep at night. If I was traveling somewhere or my family was traveling, I would pray hard for safety; and when things in my life were bad…like really bad, I would pray a whole lot.

Otherwise, when life seemed good, I barely had time to stop and talk to God.

Then I met his Mama Nell. I’ve talked about her before here on my site, but in the short time that I knew her, and even more so in her passing, just what a spiritual warrior looked like. Having had the chance to read her journal entries (which she was faithful in logging), she never missed a morning prayer time or bible reading. When I say “prayer time,” I don’t mean a quick God is great, God is good type thing. I mean intentional, direct, fervent prayer. And it showed. It was obvious in the way she lived her life. She loved so many and cared deeply for others. She was the example of how I would want to be remembered.

However, when she passed away? When her fervent, intentional prayer stopped? It was obvious and it was felt by so many. 

My husband and I started having the roughest time of our married lives upon her passing. Our families went through some of the most intense heartache and struggle and frustration that it’s ever known. We faced the deepest temptations and hurt that we, as a couple and as a family have ever known. Those direct, thought out, wholehearted cries on our behalf were not there anymore. And that left a hole around us in which the enemy filter himself in.

Fervent Study by @CourtneyKirklnd

While I was still praying for my family and my husband, it was not in any way the kind of prayer that his grandmother prayed over us. I was more or less still praying those same mundane prayers for protection and safety. Those kind of prayers in which I was more or less just wanting God to do the things that I wanted him to do. I wasn’t seeking to pray with any purpose. Or with any passion. Or with any intention. I was saying my prayer, and just assuming that God was going to work out the rest.

Just because our God knows the things on our heart, doesn’t mean we don’t need to present them to him in holy surrender.

He knows what is on our hearts. He’s placed us where we are and he knows where we are going. He also knows what we are encountering and what we are struggling with. He wants to help us. But we have to ask. All to often I think that we go into prayer with the idea of, ” I hope God hears me…” rather than the knowledge and faith that he does.

We hesitate.

We question.

Believe me. I’m preaching to myself here.

There are things on my heart that just terrify me; even when I pray I do it with a sense of hesitation that he may not hear or may not listen. If I truly believed that God was listening to my prayers, I would approach Him with humble expectancy & gratitude for the answer to a prayer that I haven’t even prayed yet.

It’s time to start praying like we mean it. Like we believe it. Like we believe that not only can God save our souls, but that he can answer the prayers that are truly simple in the grandest scheme of things.

He wants to be our person…our go-to guy when life gets hard. The ball is in our court friends. He’s there. So how long will we keep him waiting?


 

Now that we have reached the end of our Fervent Study, the praying can’t stop. Too often, we read a book, love the message and swear it changed us….only to go back to living our lives exactly as we had before. Friends, we can’t do that with this message. We can’t sink back into the old habits…the habits of praying lackluster, half-hearted prayers. If anything, our prayers should grow stronger. They should become more intentional and more detailed as we start to discover who God is and learn how to pray.

It can’t stop here.

Learning how to pray…growing in prayer…becoming intentional in praying every. single. day. isn’t something you do for a few weeks (or days) while you do a study. It’s a practice. It’s difficult but it is so worth it.

What did you learn from this study? What habit are you looking to take away from what we’ve read?

 

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© 2019 • Courtney Kirkland • Writer, Designer, Creative

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courtney kirkland

live life known.