Tuesday at Ten: Who am I? {I am … }

Who am I? When asked to introduce myself, I usually say that I’m the wife of a Christian film and video producer and the mother of two adult children. Depending on the setting, I might add that I’m the mother of a special needs adult son. Or that I’m a woman who suffers with a long list of chronic illnesses. These are facts about my life, but are they really who I am? No. If I have repeatedly been unsuccessful in reaching a goal, I might even identify myself as a failure. But all of these are simply what the flesh, the world, and the devil says about me. They are not who I really am, because they leave our the most important thing about me. First and foremost, I am a Christian, a daughter of the living God!
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Ralph Waldo Emerson said: “Our chief want is someone who will inspire us to be what we know we could be.” For me, that “someone” is Jesus Christ. In 1 John 2:6, the apostle John said we are “to walk in the same manner as He walked.” So being like Christ is the key to being the person I really desire to be.

This idea was a major key to accepting Christ as my personal Lord and Savior. I grew up in church, but I was twenty-four years old before I made this decision. My pastor at the time decided to do a sermon based on the book In His Steps. This novel by Charles M. Sheldon asks the question, “What Would Jesus Do?” in various situations of life.image

Because of the challenge of my pastor, I asked “What would Jesus do?” and as a result changed my plans for the next evening. Instead to going to see a local play as I had planned, I decided to accept my pastor’s invitation and go with his family and a few others to a church service. The speaker that night was Dale Chapman, who had recently started a Bible college in Oklahoma City. As a result of that meeting, my life was changed for ever! First, I accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. And I made a commitment to do whatever God said and to go wherever He led me. That resulted in me resigning from my job as a kindergarten teacher, enrolling in the Bible college Dale Chapman had spoken about, and meeting my future husband. I became a child of God, a daughter of the Kings of Kings and Lord or Lords. And I dedicated my life to serving Him. Since that pivotal day, the question “Who am I?” really has only one answer: I am a Christian.

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Tuesday at Ten {Awaken}

If Jesus was walking on earth today in His human body, I believe His message to today’s church would be similar to what He said to Peter at the Garden of Gethsemane. I think He might say: “It’s time to AWAKEN from your spiritual slumber and pray!”


If you look up the word AWAKEN in a dictionary, it means to wake up from sleep and to action. Today, much of Christ’s church is in a spiritual slumber. We need to be stirred to action. We need to pray.

I haven’t been sleeping well recently. I’ve had a hard time getting to sleep, so when the alarm goes off in the morning I tend to push the snooze alarm to get just a little more sleep. This isn’t good physically – my days are usually full of things that need to be done. But “pushing the snooze alarm” spiritually is even more dangerous. God is calling His church to prayer, and to pray effectively we need to be spiritually awake.

Let me start by saying I am not an expert on prayer. Like most of you, I am a learner. I’ve made a commitment to spend time daily in prayer, and that usually begins by responding to the Scripture passages I’ve read that day, praying God’s Word back to Him. This is one easy way to know that my prayers will be heard.

There are many keys to effective prayer, so I will just list a few. This is an area in which most of us have room to grow, and numerous resources are available for more in-depth study.

Keys to Effective Prayer:

1. Remember that prayer is an incredible privilege that God has given us. Whether we personally are facing a time of need, or someone else we care for has a need for prayer, we can come before our Lord with confidence that He is listening.

  • “Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” (Hebrews 4:16)
  • “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him.” (1 John‬ ‭5:14-15‬ ‭NIV‬)

2. Effective prayer begins with becoming quiet before the Lord and focusing on His presence. Be still, slow down and turn your mind from the things of this world to the presence of God, through praise and thanksgiving.

  • “Cease striving and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”(‭‭Psalms‬ ‭46:10‬ ‭NASB‬‬)
  • “Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name.” (‭‭Psalm‬ ‭100:4‬ ‭NIV)‬‬

3. Sin separates us from God, so the next keys to effective prayer are to humble ourselves, confess our sins, resist the devil, and submit to God.

  • “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” (‭‭1 John‬ ‭1:9‬ ‭NIV)‬‬
  • “Whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father who is in heaven will also forgive you your transgressions.” (‭‭Mark‬ ‭11:25‬ ‭NASB)‬‬
  • “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.” Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” (James‬ ‭4:6b-7‬ ‭NIV)

4. Next, be su‬re that you are praying according to the will of God. Take time to listen to God’s voice, allowing Him to direct your prayers.  And as mentioned above, pray the Word of God, as specific‬ verses come to mind. Pray with faith that God will hear and answer, because He has been involved from the beginning of your prayer time.

  • “Therefore I say to you, all things for which you pray and ask, believe that you have received them, and they will be granted you.” (‭‭Mark‬ ‭11:24‬ ‭NASB‬‬)


5. Pray for your personal needs, whether you need wisdom in a difficult situation, a financial need met or whatever is on your heart, lift it up to God in faith that He hears.

  •  “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians‬ ‭4:6-7‬ ‭NIV‬‬)
  • “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.” (James‬ ‭1:5-8‬ ‭NIV‬‬)

6. Effective prayer looks beyond our own needs to the needs of others. Whether pleading with God for those lost in their sin, for others in the body of Christ who are struggling in some way, or for those needing physical, emotional, or spiritual healing, lift the needs of those God has put on your heart up to His throne of grace.

  • “I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them.” (1 Timothy‬ ‭2:1‬ ‭NLT‬‬)
  • “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them, and I will raise them up at the last day.” (John‬ ‭6:44‬ ‭NIV‬‬)
  • “Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven.” (James‬ ‭5:14-15‬ ‭NIV‬‬)

7. Finally, we need to pray for our city, state, nation and the world. Pray for the church, including those facing persecution for their faith. Pray for missionaries, who have the only message that can change individuals and nations. Pray for spiritual leaders, who need wisdom in these difficult times. Pray for those in civil authority. Ask God to show you who especially needs your prayers today.

  • “Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains. Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should.” (Colossians‬ ‭4:2-4‬ ‭NIV‬‬)
  • “But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,” (Matthew‬ ‭5:44 NIV)
  • “I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people— for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.” (1 Timothy‬ ‭2:1-4‬ ‭NIV‬‬)
  • “if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” (2 Chronicles‬ ‭7:14‬ ‭NIV‬‬)

James 5:16 says that the prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective (NIV) – and if you know Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, you are clothed in His righteousness.  So wake up! Receive your prayer assignment for today from God. And pray. 

 

Tuesday at Ten  {I Find Faith In…}

I Find Faith in God’s Word

The best way to find faith is by making a choice to spend time daily in God’s Word. Faith grows as we hear the preaching or teaching of God’s Word, as we read it aloud or even silently, as we memorize it and meditate upon it, and as we study it, being “diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth” (‭‭2 Timothy‬ ‭2:15‬ ‭NASB)‬‬.

Knowing God’s Word and standing on what it says – and not on what our emotions are saying – is the key to walking through any circumstance in a way that pleases God. For Hebrews 11: 6 makes it clear that the only way to please God is to walk in faith. “And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him” (Hebrews‬ ‭11:6‬ ‭NASB‬‬).

  • The Word of God reveals the character of God. He is a loving, faithful, powerful God. But He also hates sin and will discipline His children when they stray from His ways.
  • The Word of God reveals the works of God. As we see what He has done in the past, our faith is built for what He will do in our lives.
  • The Word of God reveals the promises of God. He has promised to never leave us, to give us wisdom when we ask for it, to show us how to walk, to meet all of our needs, and so much more.
  • The Word of God reveals who we are. If we are born-again through faith in Jesus Christ, we are His beloved children, a part of His family. When He returns, we will be a part of His bride.

I hope you will join me in making a commitment to read God’s Word every day. It can make the difference between walking in faith or unbelief, in victory of defeat! 

This is a Tuesday at Ten post, the Tuesday blog link-up where you have 6 full days to use the “prompt phrase” as a part of your writing.

Tuesday at Ten     {If I could change anything …}

This writing prompt from Tuesday at Ten took a lot of deliberation for me. First, I thought I’d write about changing my problems with chronic illness, but then the Lord reminded me that He’s been telling me to let go of my “if onlys.” What I’ve walked through, and am continuing to experience, hasn’t been easy, but it is a major part of my testimony of God’s faithfulness. So I kept praying.

Finally, I came up with an area I actually have some power to change – the spiritual and moral condition that currently exists in our nation, where our rights as Christians are being threatened. So what can I do to change this situation? What can all of us, as believers in Christ, do to bring our nation back to the Judeo-Christian mindset  and culture we used to have?

The first step God has called me to make, like the Christian forefathers of our nation, is to be willing to “pledge our life, fortune, and sacred honor” to stand for righteousness in this nation. Our pastor preached on this July 5th, and my husband and I reaffirmed that our primary allegiance is to God. If our government asks us to do something that goes against God’s Word, we made the commitment to remain faithful to God. Since we don’t know what stands ahead for our nation, we don’t really know what this commitment will require.

My husband and I live in Houston, Texas, where our lesbian mayor and our city council passed a law in June 2014 prohibiting any discrimination against people because of their sexual orientation. This case make the national news when Mayor Parker filed a law suite againt several pastors who opposed this law, subpoening their sermons. After national outcry, the subpoenas for the sermons were withdrawn. But the law remains on the books. The recent Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) ruling does in our nation what Mayor Parker did in our city, and goes a step further and overrules state laws prohibiting homosexual marriage, making it legal in all 50 states. So we are living in a time when Christian business owners, including my husband who is a Christian filmmaker and video producer, could be forced to take jobs that go against their Christian beliefs or face huge fines or even prison. This had already happened to several Christian business men and women across our nation prior to this SCOTUS ruling, and with this recent ruling the likelihood of an increase in such cases is high.


In Matthew 5, Jesus clearly called the church to be salt and light to the world around us. Unfortunately, the church as a whole has failed to obey this call.  Jesus’ statement in John 17:14 concerning the church, “they are not of the world any more than I am of the world,” is no longer true of a large portion of His church. According to Barna Research, the percentage of people who identify themselves as born-again Christians (but not as evangelical) who divorce is 33%, and the percentage for all Americans is 34%. The percentage of Americans who live together before marriage is 33%, with Protestants 30% and Catholics 36%. In both of these areas, there is virtually no difference between the church (at least the non-evangelical church) and the world around us. In our nation, 77% of individuals identify themselves as Christians, but only 33% believe that the Bible is the literal Word of God. Barna concludes by saying Christians in the U.S. are “less biblically literate, more fearful about sharing their faith and less influential in society than ever before.” What can we as individuals do to change this?


‭‭2 Chronicles 7:14 makes it clear that change in God’s people is the key to healing of the nation. While this was written to the Jewish nation, it also applies to us as God’s church. Culture does not change by winning elections, though being a responsible Christian citizen includes voting according to our beliefs. Culture does not change by evangelism and church attendance, though both of these are important. Two things change culture: prayer and being faithful representatives of Christ where He has placed us. According to 2 Chronicles 7:14, change begins with humbling ourselves, praying and seeking God’s face, and turning from our wicked ways. When we are obviously different than the society in which we live, people will notice. It may mean persecution, so we need to be prepared. But this is the key to changing our nation. It will start with prayer and repentance within the church, one Christian at a time. Will you join me in a commitment to pray for the church in America and to be a living witness of Jesus Christ to our nation, regardless of the cost?

Tuesday at Ten …                       {I truly believe}

God Works For My Good Even In Circumstances I Dislike

  

I had plans for this week, that included a “simple” injection of pain medication on Tuesday to relieve the pain I’ve been experiencing in my neck and upper back, then a week of catching up on business and family paperwork and preparing to celebrate our special son David’s thirty-first birthday. Well, that injection into my cervical spine ended up not being so simple. A procedure lasting only about ten minutes resulted in a leak of spinal fluid and almost a week in bed so I could heal. I quickly learned that God had different plans for my week than I did!

As a chronic pain sufferer, this definitely wasn’t the first time my plans had to be changed. Many years on this path have taught me that it does no good to fight circumstances like I experienced this week. God is good, and when He asks us to go through things we’d rather avoid, we can trust in His character. Being flexible and “going with the flow” are skills I’ve had to learn, and I was facing another training session. The Master Potter had some more work to do in my life, and I could either receive His grace to walk with wisdom through my valley or I could reject it. I chose grace. As Elisabeth Elliot said, “God shields us from most of the things we fear, but when He chooses not to shield us, He unfailingly allots grace in the measure needed. It is for us to choose to receive or refuse it. Our joy or our misery will depend on that choice.” 

God is not the cause of most of the difficult things we experience in our lives, but He works through them to accomplish His purposes. EVERYTHING God allows in the valley is with purpose. Every situation is permitted so that we might grow in faith and become more like Jesus. Romans 8:28 tells us that we can know, if we love God, that He is using our circumstances for His purposes. We may not be able to see the finished picture, but we can be assured that Our Lord is at work and that He has the right pieces to produce the image of Jesus in us.

    
 God controls the length of our valley experiences. He knows fully what the valley experience will entail, and how long the journey will take to complete His work. Our part is to submit to His process and timing.

One of the clearest Scriptures concerning God’s control over the timing of our valley experiences is found in Psalms 105:16-19. “He (God) called for a famine on the land of Canaan, cutting off its food supply. Then he sent someone to Egypt ahead of them— Joseph, who was sold as a slave. They bruised his feet with fetters and placed his neck in an iron collar. Until the time came to fulfill his dreams, the LORD tested Joseph’s character” (NLT). 

God had big purposes for Joseph, and He knew exactly how to work in Joseph’s life so that he would be ready to fulfill his purpose. The Jewish nation was about to face famine, and Joseph was being prepared to rescue them. Through years of difficulty, Joseph remained faithful. From the time he was unjustly sold by his brothers as a slave and taken to Egypt, God wasted nothing that touched his life. What happened to Joseph could easily have made him bitter, but there is no indication that happened. Even in prison, Joseph recognized that the Lord was with him, and he lived to please God. Everyone around him recognized the grace and favor of God in his life, even while he was still in the midst of his valley of preparation. (See Genesis 37 & 39 for more about this season of Joseph’s life.)  Until the time came for God’s purpose for Joseph’s life to be fulfilled, he character was being molded.

I do not fully know the purposes for which God is preparing me – I cannot yet see the completed picture. But I do know that My circumstances this week have been a part of His process of preparation. I do know that ALL THINGS that touch my life are being worked for my good by His hands of love. And that is one thing I truly believe!

   
 

Tuesday at Ten {I find joy in …}

I Find Joy in Jesus!

During the Christmas season last year, one of our local Christian radio stations published a “Joy Pledge.” It said:            
  
The message was clear. Because of our relationship with Jesus, we can find joy in any and every circumstance. God has not promised to keep us from difficult circumstances. Instead, He has promised to make us victorious in everything we face. But the key is that joy is a choice, not something that happens automatically just because we have accepted Christ Jesus as our Savior and Lord. We must choose joy. So how do we find joy, when we face adverse circumstances?

Before I answer that question, I want to make sure we understand what joy is. Joy isn’t the same thing as happiness. Happiness has to do with outward circumstances. When we get a job promotion or receive an unexpected financial blessing, we feel happiness. But when we lose a job or have unmet financial needs, the happiness is gone. Joy isn’t like that. It is not affected by outward circumstances, but instead springs from the work of God in our hearts. Joy is a fruit of the Holy Spirit. 

HOW DO I FIND JOY?

  • I find joy by putting my trust in the Lord.  “Bring joy to your servant, Lord, for I put my trust in you. (‭Psalm‬ ‭86‬:‭4‬ NIV)
  • I find joy by abiding in Jesus’ love and obeying His commandments. “If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love. These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full.” (‭John‬ ‭15‬:‭10-11‬ NASB)
  • I find joy by spending time in God’s presense.  “Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving, Let us shout joyfully to Him with psalms.” (‭Psalms‬ ‭95‬:‭2‬ NASB)
  • I find joy by reading and studying God’s Word.  “The precepts of the Lord are right, giving joy to the heart. The commands of the Lord are radiant, giving light to the eyes.” (‭Psalm‬ ‭19‬:‭8‬ NIV)
  • I find joy by being upright in heart. “Light shines on the righteous and joy on the upright in heart.” (‭Psalm‬ ‭97‬:‭11‬ NIV)
  • I find joy by confessing my sin and asking God to give me a pure heart.  “Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me. (‭Psalm‬ ‭51‬:‭10-12‬ NIV)
  • I find joy by choosing it, regardless of circumstances. “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” (‭James‬ ‭1‬:‭2-4‬ NASB) 

  

Findig joy in our relationship with the Lord isn’t automatic. It’s a choice we can make in the strength that God provides, and the first six points above give us some keys for making that choice.  The seventh point reminds us that it’s possible to find joy in the Lord, regardless of what’s going on. Trusting God, growing in our relationship with Him, turning our eyes on Him instead of focusing on and complaining about our adverse circumstances are all important. Even in the midst of grief, chronic illness, financial struggles, and any other trial you can name, joy can be found. Joy is the settled assurance that God is good and that He is in control of all the details of life, even when we don’t understand what is going on. It is the quiet confidence that in all things He is working for our good because we love Him and have been called according to His purpose.

  

    Tuesday at Ten  {I will never forget….} 

    When God Reversed an Impossible Situation!

    Time was running short. Our son David would soon be twenty-one years old, usually a cause for rejoicing as a child becomes an adult and often moves out on their own. But for David, this wasn’t necessarily a good thing. David had been diagnosed with massive infantile spasms as an newborn, resulting in severe brain damage. And his condition had deteriorated to the point where he was now totally dependent upon others to meet all of his needs. He had a long list of medical diagnoses, and was tube fed and bed bound. Prior to his twenty-first birthday, David had received services through the Texas Medicaid children’s health program (CCP), and through it he received 112 hours per week of private duty nursing care in our home. But in Texas, Medicaid recipients lose their eligibility for CCP services when they turn twenty-one. His other Medicaid program, Home and Community Services (HCS), had a cost ceiling that would only allow him to receive four and a half hours of nursing services a day. The Department of Aging and Disability Services (DADS), the regulatory agency over David’s Medicaid programs, decided that the HCS program was no longer a safe placement for David. In essence, the only options they were giving us were to take care of David’s extensive needs (both medical and financial needs) on our own, or put him in a state school.

    After talking with David’s neurologist and pulmonologist, and also visiting the state school closest to Houston, we knew this wasn’t an acceptable choice. David’s doctors said that he probably wouldn’t survive six months with the level of care he would receive at the state school, and even the nurses at the state school said they would not be able to meet his needs. Because of my own disabilities, there was no way I could meet David’s needs on my own, and my husband was at work during the daytime hours. So we began sharing our situation with our church and asking for prayer. We were facing an impossible situation, and we desperately needed God to intervene. The cry of my heart was, “God, please make a way for us to continue caring for David in our home.”

    Frankly, my faith was at a weak place at the time. I felt overwhelmed, but to the best of my ability tried to hold onto hope that God would move on our behalf. I started sending out prayer updates to friends. And I contacted the Houston office of Advocacy, Inc., now called Disability Rights Texas, the federally mandated legal protection and advocacy agency for people with disabilities in Texas. Because of the precedent-setting nature of David’s case, the two head attorneys from the Austin office decided to take over the case. They advised us to appeal the decision made by DADS, and a “Fair Hearing” was scheduled. Our attorneys told us that they didn’t expect a positive result from this hearing, but it was a necessary first step before they could take our case to the Houston Division of the United State District Court.  DADS did agree to continue David’s HCS placement and cover four to five hours of nursing per day as our attorneys prepared to take this to court. His twenty-first birthday was on July 10, 2005, and for about ten months we had some nursing care during the daytime hours, with me taking over when the nurses left and my husband relieving me when he got home from work.

    The next step was to ask the federal court for a Temporary Restraining Order and Preliminary Injunction, which was approved and reinstated David’s private duty nursing services to the level they had been prior to his twenty-first birthday. This was filed on May 4, 2006, and approved almost immediately.

    A final legal settlement was reached on July 14, 2006 that permanently reinstated the Medicaid-funded services David had received as a child. God had come through for us, turning the heart of the king – in this case, the federal judge – to fulfil His purposes (Proverbs 21:1). In the process, our faith had grown. And God was also able to use David’s case to help other families facing similar situations in our state.

    In an article concerning our case in the Houston Chronicle, one of our attorneys was quoted as saying, “The fact they did make a decision in our favor does give some more hope of others having a victory, but it looks like it would need to be decided on a case-by-case basis at this time.”  He went on to say, “If we can’t fix it administratively or legislatively, it would appear that a judge is going to have to decide the issue.” Since that time, our attorneys have been working to bring changes both in DADS rules and through the state legislature, but the last time I spoke with them they were still representing other parents facing the same situation we had on a case-by-case basis.

    David is now thirty years old, and we know that this battle was worth the pain involved. We saw that God really could make a way where there didn’t seem to be a way, and our faith grew. Each year, his services have been approved, according to the court settlement. With his continued nursing care, David has been medically stable. Below is a recent photo of David.