Tag Archives: Billy Graham

Don’t Make Me Come In There… “The Power of a Whisper” by Bill Hybels Makes You Think

Friends! I pray today finds you well and that perhaps you’re getting to experience a beautiful spring day.  It’s been a wild-n-crazy week in the Hoagland Household. (Translation: Not enough hours in the day.)

I found a post on a most helpful and interesting book by Bill Hybels which I wrote about a while ago, worthy of a reprise. Please enjoy.

Next week,  I’ve got a fun, new devotional to share with you. It will lift your spirits every day.

May you have a blessed week and hear from the Holy Spirit thanks to Bill’s great thoughts…


 

Ahhhh…Motherhood…. A time when you finally admit, “Never say never!”

How ‘bout a for instance?

“I’ll never be one of those Mothers who chucks a pop tart in the back seat to my child on the way to school.”  Busted.

 bigstock-Hot-Strawberry-Toaster-Pastry-41906824

“I’ll never plunk my child down in front of a TV and let him/her sit for hours.”  Busted.

 “I”ll never scream and yell like a  possessed person at my child.”  Yeah, right.

To this day, our boys’ favorite seemingly-possessed-style-of-parenting was me shouting “May Day!  May Day!” at the top of my lungs when something really went awry.  As if “the troops” knew I was waving a major white flag?

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After years of experimentation (!!!), probably the biggest attention grabber in my mothering was lowering my voice, in a do-or-die whisper.  Whispering won out way over yelling.  Greatest fear factor:  Whispering “Don’t Make Me Come In There!”

So what exactly do you do when someone’s whispering to you?  You sit still, ears at attention, and you listen

This week I’d like to share some highlights from an intense book by Bill Hybels:  The Power of a Whisper: Hearing God, Having the Guts to Respond.  It had me from its’ title…

Not such a gutsy gal, I prayed this book would give me some gargantuan guts. (I s’pose “Guts for God” sounds better…)

Allow me to share the wealth:

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Bill begins with informing us he’s been on a fifty-year odyssey of hearing whispers from God.  Bill expounds: “Inaudible whispers at that!…My entire journey comes down to a series of unplanned promptings from heaven that have charted a course for my life even I never could have foreseen.”

Sound crazy?  Perhaps.  But…to encounter Bills’ experiences all over the world  immediately hooks and leads us, the readers, to want to learn to listen expectantly and prayerfully.

After citing Samuel’s story, how he became a prophet of God from listening to God  in I Samuel 3, Bill shares a poem one of his teachers gave him which he memorized in the second grade:

“Oh! Give me Samuel’s ear,

An open ear, O Lord,

Alive and quick to hear

Each whisper of Thy Word;

Like him to answer to Thy call

And to obey Thee first of all.” (A hymn by James Drummond Burns)

Titus 3:5 returned to Bills’ memory when he surrendered his life to Christ:  “He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy.  He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal of the Holy Spirit.” (NIV)

Soon after that, a Christian man offered to buy Bill dinner.  Over burgers, the man asked him a show-stopping question:  “What are you going to do with your life that will last forever?…I’m just curious what you’ll do that will outlive you and all of those earthly accomplishments.”

Oh boy…that’ll make you think, huh?  My husband, John, is always saying upon his death, he just hopes he’s missed.  Not remembered so much for what he did, but because if you are missed, you have touched others’  lives.

obits

We are forever and a day laughing at obituaries that rattle on and on and on filled with clubs and organizations people belonged to as if a resume is needed…for heaven?  I don’t think so.

Bill also reminds us of Romans 8:6 “For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.” (ESV)

Billy Graham, in his book Day by Day, tells us what the Holy Spirit does for us:  “The Holy Spirit illuminates the minds of people, makes us yearn for God, and takes spiritual truth and makes it understandable to us.”

Billy’s daughter, Anne Graham Lotz, in a recent  Decision Magazine said “Learning to recognize the voice of God is critical, not only for our own peace of mind but also for developing a personal relationship with Him and for living a life pleasing to Him.”  There’s the peace found from Romans 8:6.

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Well how exactly do we hear from the Spirit?  Bill gives us five filters to help us test every whisper we receive.  He says, “No matter how confusing, challenging, or unsettling a prompting may be, if it passes the following filters, I obey it every time:

Filter #1:  Is the Prompting Truly from God?

Filter #2:  Is it Scriptural?

Filter #3:  Is it Wise?

Filter #4:  Is It in Tune with Your Own Character?

Filter #5:  What do the People You Most Trust Think About it?”

The best way to learn more about these, in addition to the book, is to watch the below YouTube clip where Bill talks about this whole concept and explains the filters.  It’s only eighteen minutes long.  The testimony included will bring you to tears.

Stormie Omartian, in her book Lead Me Holy Spirit affirms the concept of being rooted in our faith:  “The Holy Spirit is the power of God flowing through you, and that puts you on solid ground, like a house built on rock.”

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Last week we talked about how we want to become rooted like redwoods. All of these  authors we’ve heard from today are textbook examples of Colossians 2:6-7:  “My counsel for you is simple and straightforward:  Just go ahead with what you’ve been given.  You received Christ Jesus, the Master; now live him. You’re deeply rooted in him.  You’re well constructed upon him.  You know your way around the faith.  Now do what you’ve been taught.  School’s out;  quit studying the subject and start living it!  And let your living spill over into thanksgiving.” (The Message)  Don’t miss those last two crucial sentences!

Look at how The Voice puts it in verse seven:  “Let your roots grow down deeply in Him, and let Him build you up on a firm foundationBe strong in the faith, just as you were taught, and always spill over with thankfulness.”

May it be with us…

‘Til next time!

 

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Cling to the KEY of our Christian Faith this Holy Week…

Friends! It’s almost Easter! Please tell me why there are more chocolate candies everywhere you go, than anything relating to our most wonderful upcoming holiday??? Perhaps my nose for chocolate is the culprit…

Chocolate Easter eggs and rabbit on plate, on color wooden backg

I can’t resist reprising the below post which first came out three years ago. A couple of updates before you dive in: Woody’s now nearly twenty-four, married to LT for nearly two years, and I’m thrilled to report of my five friends who became Grandmothers to five granddaughters, all five of those darling little girls have become big sisters!!! (Two of them are about to have yet another sibling!!!)

As you’ll see in the below post, the Resurrection is the KEY to our Christian faith and you’ll find five reasons why. Note our assurance and the resurrection power which is available to us all. You’ll also find the importance of leaving a legacy of faith to your family. Don’t miss this!

Billy Graham reminds us, “It was the resurrection of Christ that caused the disciples to go out as burning young revolutionaries to change the world of their day. They preached, ‘Christ is alive!’ THIS should be our message, not only at Easter, but every day of the year.”

He is not here, He is risen…. (Matthew 28:6)

Cross Against The Sky

Grab a cup of coffee or tea and enjoy this little reminder this Holy Week. Blessings to you and your family for a Beautiful Easter…

 

He is NOT here, He is “Rizzzen”…

Don’t tell me children don’t learn a LOT at an early age!  And watch out, THEY are watching YOU!  And horror of all horrors:  THEY will imitate you!!!  Our third-born son, named Woodford, a/k/a Woody, is a blast.

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One Easter weekend, when Woody was  two years old, we’d just returned home from church.  Scurrying to get a meal on the table, we asked our oldest son to entertain the younger two boys.  Thankfully this wasn’t the year before, which nearly did me in…

That particular year before, John and I chose to take two cars to church since the Easter Bunny’s arrival was postponed ‘til after church.  (Don’t ask me how we explained that one.)  “The Plan” was that I would hurry home, ahead of John, hide the eggs, and be ready for the boys.

Problem is my husband tends to drive a tad speedier than yours truly, so I was barely ahead of them.  Hurrying in heels isn’t a gift of mine either, so I was literally hurling eggs thru’ the air in the back yard.  To top it off, my heels were sticking in the grass, and well, it’s a good thing none of our neighbors were within earshot.

Darned if John and the boys didn’t arrive while the eggs were flying thru’ the air.  Our  oldest son, John Jr., more astute than anyone needs to be, said, “Look Daddy!  It’s raining Easter eggs!”  Well, let’s just ADD to that big web of lies we’d already woven, throwing in one more far-fetched explanation.

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Now while I know there’s not really a “time out chair” in Heaven, I still envision myself spending time there for some of these antics…So sorry, Lord. (Don’t you know He thinks we’re completely crazy sometimes?)

So back to the year Woody was  two:  The boys were playing upstairs and I ran up to get something.  Woody was marching back and forth across the hall, while holding a big plastic telephone, just-a-chatterin’ away.  (I’ve been known to walk thru’ the house while talking on the phone….hmmmm.)

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Woody was shaking his head, back and forth, emphatically saying, “NO!”… pause, pause….”He is not here!” …LONGER pause….”He is RIZZZEN!”, prolonging the ‘s’ into buzzing ‘z’s!

That spectacular Easter Sunday, the Sunday school teachers were teaching the precious children about Jesus’ resurrection.  As Liz Curtis Higgs said in her blog last week about the resurrection, “This truth changes EVERYTHING!  His heavenly Father ‘has raised him to life’ (CEV). Hallelujah!  God be praised!  He who was dead is now alive forever!”… And even two year olds can begin absorbing this.

To read more from Liz, visit her website: http://www.lizcurtishiggs.com

This Easter week, let’s celebrate TWO important points:

First, and foremost, let’s celebrate that the tomb is EMPTY!  Christ indeed has risen!

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An angel of the Lord announces to Mary Magdelene, Mary the Mother of James, and to Salome in Mark 16:6  “Don’t be alarmed…You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified.  He has risen!  He is not here…” (See also Matthew 28:6, Luke 24:6 and John 20:11-18.)

BLOG Three Marys

The Life Application Bible points out the importance of the resurrection by calling it “the KEY to the Christian faith.”  Let’s look at 5 reasons WHY the resurrection is “vitally important.”

 1 – “Jesus kept his promise to rise from the dead, so we can believe he will keep all his other promises.

 2 – The resurrection ensures that the ruler of God’s eternal kingdom will be the living Christ, not just an idea, hope, or dream.

 3 – Christ’s resurrection gives us the assurance that we also will be resurrected.

 4 – The power of God that brought Christ’s body back from the dead is available to us to bring our morally and spiritually dead selves back to life so that we can change and grow.

5 – The resurrection provides the substance of the church’s witness to the world.  We do not merely tell lessons from the life of a good teacher,  we proclaim the reality of the resurrection of Jesus Christ.”

 Don’t miss these truths held within the verbs in each of the above five points:  we CAN BELIEVE…; we are ENSURED ; we are GIVEN THE ASSURANCE ; Resurrection power IS AVAILABLE to us; it PROVIDES THE SUBSTANCE  so that we can PROCLAIM THE REALITY OF THE RESURRECTION….

Let’s take time this week, with Good Friday approaching and Easter Sunday on the horizon , to be still, to reflect on this resurrection power available to us, and perhaps pray about a friend or neighbor who needs to hear this GOOD NEWS.

 Country Church

Which  brings me to the second point:  Let’s all be ever watchful for ways to teach our children, or our grandchildren, or nieces and nephews, or neighbors, about the Lord and His powerful Word.

Remember, Woody was just two years old at Easter time that year, and he clearly  “caught” the Scripture being taught.  We mustn’t forget what little sponges these children are. 

You won’t believe this, but in the past four months, I have five, yes FIVE, close friends (two of which are my sister-in-laws!) who have just been blessed with granddaughters!  (Think pink! ) These are all strong-in-the-faith Christian women and I can hardly wait to see what these little angels will learn about God from their grandmothers.

Look at their beautiful names and please say a prayer for them and their families:  Caroline, Maria, Lucie, Emmeline and Emerson.  I  suspect you, too, may know of a newborn to pray for!  Pray for them and their parents to raise them up knowing the Lord.

grandmother with baby

One of my many sins over the years in attempting to raise these boys is I tend to compartmentalize my faith.  I need this Scripture forever in the forefront of my mind:  Deuteronomy 11:18-21  says,

 “FIX  these words of mine in your hearts and minds;

  TIE them as symbols on your hands and

 BIND them on your foreheads.

 TEACH them to your children,

 TALKING ABOUT them

 when you SIT AT HOME and

 when you WALK along the road,

 when you LIE DOWN

 … and when you GET UP.  

 WRITE them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates, so that your days and the days of your children may be many in the land the Lord swore to give your ancestors, as many as the days that the heavens are above the earth.” (NIV)

 Now you can see what I’m emphasizing above….again the verbs:  fix, tie, bind, teach, talk about when you sit, walk, lie down, get up, and write.  Don’t miss the fact that IF we do these things there’s a promise…”so that your days and the days of your children may be many in the land…”

I pray you and your families have a most blessed Easter and Spring (even tho’ it’s snowing as I type). May we all rejoice that “He is not here, He is risen!” 

 ‘Til  next time!

(This post is dedicated to our youngest whipper- snapper-son, Woodford Lee Hoagland.  And for those of you parents out there who have more than one child and fret over treating each child equally, hang in there, I’ll be writing about our other two awesome sons in the future!!!  John and I are also forever grateful to the ministry of Campus Outreach on UK’s campus which discipled Woody  to focus on Christ, rather than chaos which we all know can come with college experiences.  Checkout www.colexington.org for more information.  I love Campus Outreach’s mission statement: “Glorifying God by Building Laborers on the Campus for the Lost World.”  Amen.  Happy Easter everyone!)

Eliz and Woody

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Practical Insight for 2015 from Anne Graham Lotz, Inspired by her Dear Mother Ruth…

Reverend Billy Graham, his wife Ruth, and their entire family have fascinated me for years. As a little girl, I can remember my parents tuning in to watch Billy Graham at one of his many Crusades. (We had one, and only one black and white television in those days, just to date myself.)

When the Crusades were on, I got to stay up late. I’d like to report I became a changed child on the spot, but sadly, my all-about-me ways stayed put for more than a few more years. Good news is many a seed was planted in my heart.

MustardSeed

Who knew years later I’d have the chance to connect with Anne Graham Lotz? As is customary with her family, she did something beyond generous for our Book Club.

Trying to keep up with technology, our Book Club began Skyping with our authors. This was a huge treat to “meet them” and hear from them on the spot.

I approached Anne’s Assistant and asked if Anne might consider Skyping with us. She knew of our church, Southeast Christian Church (www.southeastchristian.org ), and after a time of prayer and consideration, we gleefully received the green light.

Our selection that month was one of my favorite books by Anne, The Magnificent Obsession: Embracing the God-Filled Life. It’s a must-read. (There’s a companion Bible study with it that’s also outstanding.)

MagnificentObsession

As our time approached for the Skype, I received a frantic email from Anne’s Assistant. Anne’s husband, Danny, because of his frail health, required a procedure on his heart. Docs were able to do it the very day of our meeting, preventing Anne from joining us. Disappointed, yes, but we totally understood.

Only a few days later, I received a mind-blowing email from Anne’s Assistant:

“Because Anne feels so badly for cancelling the Skype, she has made a short video, addressed to your attendees, you’ll be able to show the night of your meeting.” Goodness, how kind and thoughtful of her! I’ll never forget it. We were all so blessed to hear from her on such a personal level. She wrote me a handwritten letter after our meeting.

Recently I received the January issue of Decision magazine. (It’s a publication by the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. www.bgea.org )

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Anne’s article, challenging as always, is timely for us with 2015 already in progress. I love Anne’s honesty…see if you can relate:

As I reflect on 2014, blessings come to mind. So do burdens.

Prayers that were answered, and other prayers that remain unanswered.

Friends who stood by me, and others who avoided me.

Days when I had health and energy, and other days when I was so tired I felt I couldn’t hold my head up one more moment.

Times to relax, and times of enormous stress.

Hope that filled my heart, and disappointments that crushed my spirit….”

With that, Anne gives us a glimpse into her days with her Mother, Ruth, knowing she, too, “must have had days and weeks and months and years” like Anne’s.

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Ruth had a small gold-framed saying she kept over her kitchen sink, of which she gave Anne a duplicate. It reads:

“Praise, Pray and Peg Away.”

Anne says it’s become her motto for 2015. Her version looks like this:

Praise Him for His Position, Power and Purity.

(Just a few of the relevant Scriptures she suggests are: Isaiah 6:1-4, John 12:41, Philippians 2:5-11, Ephesians 1:20-23, Matthew 28:18, Acts 10:36, John 14:13-14, Romans 10:9-10)

Pray.

(Philippians 4:6-7, Acts 1:6-9,14, John 14:1-3, 1 Peter 4:7, Mark 13:32-33, James 5:16-18)

Persevere.

(Hebrews 10:23-25, Romans 8:23-25, James 1:3-4, 1 Peter 1:6-7, Romans 5:1-5 and Hebrews 10:35-39)

She concludes her article with a challenge:

“As we face another year,

     would you join me

          in claiming and clinging to His promises

                with praise, prayer and perseverance

                     until our faith becomes sight?”

I pray Anne’s and her Mother’s very practical insight blesses you and encourages you to “Praise, Pray and Peg Away”.

For me, and I suspect you, to “peg away”, or persevere, is key.

Of all the verses Anne suggests, James 1:3-4 in the Message really resonates. Eugene Peterson dubs it:

Faith Under Pressure”:

Butterfly

 

Ever the humorist, I’d like to show you Ruth Graham’s tombstone. You can see it at the unforgettable and most moving Billy Graham Library. (www.billygrahamlibrary.org )

“End of Construction—Thank you for your patience”

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Let’s agree with Ruth and Anne to PRAISE, PRAY AND PEG AWAY…. praying for perseverance throughout 2015.

‘Til next time!

 

 

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Don’t Make Me Come In There… The Power of a Whisper by Bill Hybels Makes You Think

Ahhhh…Motherhood…. A time when you finally admit, “Never say never!”

How ‘bout a for instance?

“I’ll never be one of those Mothers who chucks a pop tart in the back seat to my child on the way to school.”  Busted.

 bigstock-Hot-Strawberry-Toaster-Pastry-41906824

“I’ll never plunk my child down in front of a TV and let him/her sit for hours.”  Busted.

 “I”ll never scream and yell like a  possessed person at my child.”  Yeah, right.

To this day, our boys’ favorite seemingly-possessed-style-of-parenting was me shouting “May Day!  May Day!” at the top of my lungs when something really went awry.  As if “the troops” knew I was waving a major white flag?

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After years of experimentation (!!!), probably the biggest attention grabber in my mothering was lowering my voice, in a do-or-die whisper.  Whispering won out way over yelling.  Greatest fear factor:  Whispering “Don’t Make Me Come In There!”

So what exactly do you do when someone’s whispering to you?  You sit still, ears at attention, and you listen

This week I’d like to share some highlights from an intense book by Bill Hybels:  The Power of a Whisper: Hearing God, Having the Guts to Respond.  It had me from its’ title…

Not such a gutsy gal, I prayed this book would give me some gargantuan guts. (I s’pose “Guts for God” sounds better…)

Allow me to share the wealth:

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Bill begins with informing us he’s been on a fifty-year odyssey of hearing whispers from God.  Bill expounds: “Inaudible whispers at that!…My entire journey comes down to a series of unplanned promptings from heaven that have charted a course for my life even I never could have foreseen.”

Sound crazy?  Perhaps.  But…to encounter Bills’ experiences all over the world  immediately hooks and leads us, the readers, to want to learn to listen expectantly and prayerfully.

After citing Samuel’s story, how he became a prophet of God from listening to God  in I Samuel 3, Bill shares a poem one of his teachers gave him which he memorized in the second grade:

“Oh! Give me Samuel’s ear,

An open ear, O Lord,

Alive and quick to hear

Each whisper of They Word;

Like him to answer to Thy call

And to obey Thee first of all.” (A hymn by James Drummond Burns)

Titus 3:5 returned to Bills’ memory when he surrendered his life to Christ:  “He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy.  He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal of the Holy Spirit.” (NIV)

Soon after that, a Christian man offered to buy Bill dinner.  Over burgers, the man asked him a show-stopping question:  “What are you going to do with your life that will last forever?…I’m just curious what you’ll do that will outlive you and all of those earthly accomplishments.”

Oh boy…that’ll make you think, huh?  My husband, John, is always saying upon his death, he just hopes he’s missed.  Not remembered so much for what he did, but because if you are missed, you have touched others’  lives.

obits

We are forever and a day laughing at obituaries that rattle on and on and on filled with clubs and organizations people belonged to as if a resume is needed…for heaven?  I don’t think so.

Bill also reminds us of Romans 8:6 “For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.” (ESV)

Billy Graham, in his book Day by Day, tells us what the Holy Spirit does for us:  “The Holy Spirit illuminates the minds of people, makes us yearn for God, and takes spiritual truth and makes it understandable to us.”

Billy’s daughter, Anne Graham Lotz, in this month’s Decision Magazine said “Learning to recognize the voice of God is critical, not only for our own peace of mind but also for developing a personal relationship with Him and for living a life pleasing to Him.”  There’s the peace found from Romans 8:6.

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Well how exactly do we hear from the Spirit?  Bill gives us five filters to help us test every whisper we receive.  He says, “No matter how confusing, challenging, or unsettling a prompting may be, if it passes the following filters, I obey it every time:

Filter #1:  Is the Prompting Truly from God?

Filter #2:  Is it Scriptural?

Filter #3:  Is it Wise?

Filter #4:  Is It in Tune with Your Own Character?

Filter #5:  What do the People You Most Trust Think About it?”

The best way to learn more about these, in addition to the book, is to watch the below YouTube clip where Bill talks about this whole concept and explains the filters.  It’s only eighteen minutes long.  The testimony included will bring you to tears.

Stormie Omartian, in her book Lead Me Holy Spirit affirms the concept of being rooted in our faith:  “The Holy Spirit is the power of God flowing through you, and that puts you on solid ground, like a house built on rock.”

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Last week we talked about how we want to become rooted like redwoods in 2014. All of these  authors we’ve heard from today are textbook examples of Colossians 2:6-7:  “My counsel for you is simple and straightforward:  Just go ahead with what you’ve been given.  You received Christ Jesus, the Master; now live him. You’re deeply rooted in him.  You’re well constructed upon him.  You know your way around the faith.  Now do what you’ve been taught.  School’s out;  quit studying the subject and start living it!  And let your living spill over into thanksgiving.” (The Message)  Don’t miss those last two crucial sentences!

Look at how The Voice puts it in verse seven:  “Let your roots grow down deeply in Him, and let Him build you up on a firm foundationBe strong in the faith, just as you were taught, and always spill over with thankfulness.”

May it be with us…

‘Til next time!

(This post is dedicated to Senior Pastor Bill Hybels.  You can watch his sermons from Willow Creek via Willow’s website:  www.willowcreek.org or via Bill’s website:  www.billhybels.org  He’s currently preaching a series called Stronger which will bring “laser-sharp clarity to what it takes to grow stronger in key areas of your life.  Growing in your faith by taking action and experiencing God’s power along the way.”

John and I’ve been blessed to hear Bill speak on several occasions. With communication skills extraordinare, he never ceases to amaze us. He always gives God the glory too.

Thanks, Bill, for being so honest with us and your family and your congregation.  One of my favorite books you’ve authored is Too Busy Not to Pray.

Blessings to you for a Spirit-filled 2014!)

PR32010

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Happy New Year! Fun-n-Grace-n-Rooted for 2014…

What’s your favorite memory from 2013?  We have been blessed with several, but one particular evening brings a boatload of laughter for us.

My way-more-patient-than-I-deserve-husband recently had a thirty-fifth high school reunion.  For you Louisvillians, John went to Ballard High School.  For me, growing up in Lexington, and going to Henry Clay High School in the ’70’s (!!!), we were “taught” to rival Ballard akin to how The University of Kentucky rivals the University of Louisville.  (GO CATS—couldn’t resist…)

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Anywho, because John goes to events with me I know he doesn’t really want to attend, I figured I’d best be a good sport and go to this reunion where I’d know basically no one.  To my surprise, I knew a couple of people and greeted them like long lost friends.

To my astonishment and high level of amusement, I realized that every single person I met and talked with had trouble hearing.  Granted the room had lousy acoustics, but this “problem” became comical.  We fifty-somethings were going to need to add “hearing aids” to our Christmas lists!!!  Guessing no one was brave enough to do so.

The most recent Costco catalog arrived yesterday and I said to John, “Oh, looky!  They have hearing aids on sale!!!”   File thirteen it went…

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Moving right along….another fun memory from 2013 includes reading some mountain-moving books. Books that made an impact on me, and, I pray will on you as well.  I plan on sharing some tidbits of these with you over the next few weeks.  We’ll have fun in 2014, soaking in some incredible grace, while learning how to be more grounded, or my new favorite word from our walk today, “rooted” in our faith.

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Here’s a preview of coming attractions we’ll discuss:

 329480_w185The Power of a Whisper—Hearing God—Having the Guts to Respond
by Bill Hybels

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One Light Still Shines—My Life Beyond The Amish Schoolhouse Shooting
by Marie Monville with Cindy Lambert

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To Heaven and Back—A Doctor’s Extraordinary Account of Her Death, Heaven, Angels and Life Again
by Mary C. Neal, M.D.

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Balcony People
by Joyce Landorf Heatherley

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Prayers and Promises for Worried Parents—Hope for Your Prodigal—Help for You
by Robert J. Morgan

In addition to talking about books, we’ll have some interviews of friends and authors who are well-rooted in their faith.  We’ll also talk about interesting road trips and travels, sprinkling in some chocolate treats from time to time.  One always needs incentives to keep one going, doesn’t one???!!!

Finally, for a new thought for the New Year, let’s hear from Billy Graham and Craig Groeschel.  In a daily flip calendar by Billy Graham, Unto the Hills, he tells us, “How many times in your life have you wished you could start all over again with a clean slate, with a new life?  Resolve to allow God to wipe your slate clean by confessing your sins and letting Him give you a brand new start.”

Billy adds a beautiful verse from Psalm 51:10 – “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.”

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Craig Groeschel puts it in layman’s terms:  “For many, it is difficult to accept that the past has passed.  Sometimes, it’s so hard to just leave it there, where it belongs.”

 Oh, we’d best repeat that:  “The past has passed.”  We must “leave it there, where it belongs.”

So, let’s vow to start out this year anew.  Don’t worry about resolutions. (I’m busted already and it’s January the second.) Let’s do strive to grow our faith, to develop strong roots together.  We’ll have fun-n-grace, and will be rooted like redwoods.

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My dear friend Liz Curtis Higgs will be blogging about “50 Favorite Proverbs” this year.  (Click here to go to her blog as she’ll be asking you to send in your favorite proverb.)  I’d like to cast my vote early and show you one of several verses we’ll be marinating in re: rooted.  Look at Proverbs 12:3 from The Message:  “You can’t find firm footing in a swamp, but life rooted in God stands firm.”

‘Til next time!

 

 

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But, I Don’t Have TIME to Pray! (Beating Busyness – Part 2 of 4)

How do you say “no” to one of your children’s teachers?  I was pondering a big “no thank you” when one of our son’s teachers called the parents in and drove a hard bargain.  She asked each of us to sign up for a weekly visit to teach memory verses!   A gargantuan deer-in-the-headlights expression consumed my face.  Problem is, I’ve been known to fear Scripture memory*, much less teach it!

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At the time, these were fifth graders, so what’s the big deal, right?  But…. fifth graders are pretty savvy.  Plus I discovered the simple-but-endearing verse “Jesus wept” had already been taught!  Bust!

Good news:  I Thessalonians 5:17 had not yet been taught, and it too was only two words! (“Pray continually.”)  Powerful verse, pitifully coward-like attempt on my part, I know, but that’s the exact verse I marched in with.

I took blue pieces of paper (to remind us of a blue sky) and taught these little darlings what an “arrow prayer” is.  We all drew arrows pointing heavenward, and recited “Pray continually” together.  We talked about the letter “a” also standing for “ambulance” and how we can shoot up arrow prayers for the patient inside when we see an ambulance.

These astute learners added the  letter “a” also can stand for being on the” alert” for anything or anyone who may need a quick arrow prayer.  They even came up with “a” for “antennae”—as in we should have our antennae up!  Who was teaching who here?!!!

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This week, we’re going to address Beating Busyness by applying margin to our lives in the area of prayer.  Last week we talked at length about margin (But I Don’t Have TIME for a Bible Study!), learning margin is the space between our load and our limits.

When we spread ourselves too thin, we push out God and our closest relationships.  Best news: margin beats busyness and we’re discussing four ways, one each week, to do that.

Many of us claim there’s not enough time in the day to add prayer to our list, but I’d like to show us all it is very possible.  Our friends and family will be blessed!

When asked about the secret of his evangelistic crusades, Billy Graham said, “We have three secrets:  Prayer, Prayer and Prayer!”

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Let’s begin by praying for a friend near and dear to my heart.  Many of you know Kristen Sauder.  She’s my younger-but-wiser friend, is married to Kurt and they have four children.  She’s written excellent Bible studies, hosts a wonderful radio program (“Excellent Things”, weekdays here in Louisville on WFIA FM…), is a gifted speaker, and teacher.  She’s recently been diagnosed with cancer.

Lord, we come before you today to lift up Kristen and Kurt Sauder.  You have gifted them to minister to so many of us.  Please guide the doctors, aid the radiation to diminish the cancer, strengthen Kristen to endure, comfort her family, and enable us to minister to them.  We praise you that you are in control and we trust in you.  In  Jesus’ name, Amen.

 Kristen Sauder

That’s more than an arrow prayer, obviously, but just that paragraph took only eight seconds.  See how this can be done?  We all can help so many by praying for them.  I Kings 8:28 says “God listens to our prayers.”  And Proverbs 15:8 tells  us “God delights in our prayers.” (See below for more Scripture on prayer.**)

Bill Hybels wrote an excellent book on prayer called Too Busy Not to Pray.  In his chapter Slowing Down to Pray, Bill  says “Busyness is akin to something the Bible calls worldliness—getting caught up with society’s agenda, objectives and activities to the neglect of walking with God. ”  Whoa.  Surely we don’t mean to neglect God, do we?

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Therefore, taking time to pray is paramount to our Christian lives.   Bill adds, “Prayer unlocks God’s consistent and prevailing power in our lives. Prayer is a bridge from despair to hope, from fear to confidence, from spectating  to participating.

Bill offers another excellent tool for prayer beyond an arrow prayer.  He highly recommends, as do many of my faithful prayer warrior friends, keeping a journal.  Am I hearing some of you groan?

Journals aren’t for everyone, so not to worry.  However, if you like seeing answered prayer, this is the way to go.  You’ll then realize the value and power of prayer.  NOTHING is impossible with God! (See Luke 1;36-38 in The Message.)

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Journaling slows you down long enough to think about  for whom and for what to pray.  “Journaling  gives the body a brief rest.”  (We’ll be talking more about the importance of “rest” in a couple of weeks.) “Journaling focuses the mind and frees the Holy Spirit to operate, if only for a few minutes.  It’s time to slow down, reflect, and listen.”

One of many favorite books on prayer is Catherine Martin’s Passionate Prayer—Discovering the Power of Talking with God.  Catherine really feels strongly about taking the time to pray.  She says, “Step away from the life of hurry and find the rhythm of walking and talking with Jesus.”

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She talks about “When someone asks how we are doing, our response of ‘fine’ really means:

“Fine”  according to the  world:  Freaked out, Insecure, Neurotic, and Emotional.”  Uh, that would be me on occasion.  You?

“Fine”  according to our prayer livesFaithful to God, Inspired by Him, Nourished by the Word, Empowered by the Holy Spirit.”  Slight difference, huh?

Savor these words from the Apostle Paul in Philippians 4:6-7:   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.” (NIV)

Dave Stone, Senior Minister at Southeast Christian Church preached an excellent sermon recently on the above verses plus a few more.  He maintains our focus is key to navigating this world.  He showed us in Philippians that Paul did not allow the world to change his focus.  (To watch the sermon, “Live With It:  Focus”, go to www.southeastchristian.org )

The Life Application Bible says, “Paul’s advice is to turn our worries into prayers.  Do you want to worry less?  Then pray moreWhenever you start to worry, stop and pray.”

Catherine Martin adds, “When we pray, the world can see the change in who we are and what we do.  Enriching our lives of prayer is WORTH the time and energy.”

Next time you tell yourself you don’t have time to pray, take a second, literally, and ask God to help you.  Talk  to Him.  See from James 4:8** below that when we draw near to Him, He draws near to us.

Finally, let’s return to that hammock picture from last week.

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Look at it, picture yourself lying in it, swinging back and forth with a lovely warm breeze in your hair.  Now,  enjoy this visual from Ole Hallesby, a Norwegian theologian:  “To pray is nothing more involved than to lie in the sunshine of His grace, to expose our distress of body and soul to those healing rays which can in a wonderful way counteract and render ineffective the bacteria of sin.  To be a man or woman of prayer is to take this sun-cure, to give Jesus, with His wonderworking power access to our distress night and day.”

Next week, we’ll be discussing the need to diligently guard our calendars.  White space in your calendar equals more margin in your life.

‘Til  next time!

(Today’s blog post is dedicated to my prayer warriors:  Becky Pippert, Jane Chilton and Doris Bridgman.  They’ve taught this “Doubting Thomas”  the power of persistent, unrelenting prayer.  Numerous times over the years, they’ve been a life-preserver to my sanity, all by simply offering to pray.  Thanks, girls!  Love y’all.)

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*Three  great resources on Scripture memory:

Ann Voskamp, author of One Thousand Gifts  is memorizing one hundred and eleven verses from Matthew 5,6, and 7, plus has the Romans Project on Chapters  1, 8, and 12.  She’s giving us, the readers, great ways to do this on her blog:  www.aholyexperience.com plus she shares about a new i-phone app called Scripture Typer.  Check it out!

One Thousand Gifts

Rob Morgan has authored an excellent book 100 Bible Verses Everyone Should Know by Heart.  Billy Graham talks about Rob and this book in his book, Nearing Home.  Both are powerful.

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 Kristen Sauder, whom we prayed for earlier, wrote a super neat Picture Scripture:  Bible Memory Like You’ve Never Seen it Before notebook with excellent visuals, depicting lots of Scriptures. Great  way to memorize. You can find this via www.furtherstillministries.org

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**A few favorite Scriptures on prayer:

 James 4:8a  “ Come near to God and he will come near to you.” (This and all the below Scriptures are in the  NIV version.)  The NLT from James 4:8a says, “Come close to God and he will come close to you.” And the NKJ says, “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.”

Ephesians 6:18 “And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all  the Lord’s people.”

Luke 18:1  “ Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up.”

1 Peter 5:7 “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.

Matthew 18:20  For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.”

Colossians 4:2   “Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.”

James 5:16  “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.”

Romans 8:26 “In the same way, the spirit helps us in our weakness.  We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express.”

 

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