Tag Archives: Kristen Sauder

When You’re Suddenly Awakened at 3:40 in the Morning…(The Kneeling Christian by An Unknown Christian, Helps us ALL with prayer.)

Please allow this quote to sink in for  a minute:  “We are never so high as when we are on our knees.”(From The Kneeling Christian)

 

Given the recent occurrences around us in the States and in France, I believe prayer is our only answer.  Two summers ago I was reading three different books (I know, I can’t help myself).  In all three of them, The Kneeling Christian was mentioned.  Taking that as a divine cue, I marched out and bought a copy.

 

I feel it’s important enough to reprise the post I wrote about the book. (This was in August of 2014, before our younger  little lovebirds were married, just in case you get confused. They’re now going on their second anniversaries.)

 

I pray you’re encouraged by the below post to get down on your knees, not only to pray for your family and those closeby, but for all of the victims, their families, and friends of the latest tragedies.

 

Maranatha.

Drifting off to sleep with a smile, four of our six birds were back in the nest. (Gordy, Woody, Lauren and LT were all staying with us.) This Mamma Bird rejoices when the birds return home.

Suddenly, at 3:40 in the morning, our house alarm started blaring….

The Panel Of The Security Alarm System

John said, “See where it was tripped!!!”

Blind as a bat (Oh, just wait ‘til you see where this goes…), I grabbed my glasses and raced to the alarm panel. “It says, ‘office.’ Maybe that’s the office off of Woody’s room and he and Gordy have set it off?” I suggested.

“Nope,” John said, “It’s the downstairs office.”

By this time, I was nearly on John’s heels as were Gordy and Woody. The girls were still in bed. Naturally, Gracie, the best watchdog ever (!!!), was right on my heels, dashing and simultaneously barking down the stairs.

The three of us bravely stood out in the hallway while Hubster marched into the office. No windows broken, nothing seemed amiss…

“Swoosh!” Something brushed by John’s ear.

“IT’S A BAT!!!!” John yelled.

Bat

“How ‘bout the paddle tennis rackets on the porch?” I asked.

“No! We need longer necks….Where are our regular tennis rackets?” (The man thinks on his feet like no other.)

Tennis Racket

“Hmmm, could be a problem as we’ve not played tennis since we moved in this house four years ago.” I sputtered…

By this time, the bat had moved into the family room. This plucky Mom hightailed it back upstairs. Lauren had come out of her room and I screamed, “Get back in your room! There’s a bat on the loose!” to which she and LT screamed in unison and slammed the door. We are some fine kind of fearless women.

Frightened Woman In Bed

Meanwhile, downstairs, we could hear screams coming from the boys. Dying to say, “Y’all sound like a bunch of girls…” I refrained and valiantly slammed our door shut.

Seems the bat had now entered the kitchen and perched up on one of the cabinets. Woody threw something up at it. It swooped down with all three men flailing their racquets. Akin to The Three Stooges, not one macho man could connect with the beleaguered bat.

MBDALGU-EC003

Finally, the bat chased Gordy down the hallway. More high-pitched screams followed with a resounding “YES!” (Funeral services were not held for The Great Winged Intruder.)

Shall we all sing, “Ding dong the bat is dead!” after our snake story? (Please click on Ding Dong the Snake is Dead—Confessions of a Raging Perfectionist for more info…) And I beg forgiveness for any of you animal lovers out there…

So what does a bat have to do with prayer, you may be asking? Well, not a whole lot, obviously…but the pearl to glean is from having family closeby. Or framed photos of your family if they live far away. This reminds us to pray fervently and feverishly for them.

Please allow me to share a couple of highlights from a book that’s been mentioned in the last three books I’ve read (Whenever that happens, I take that to be a divine suggestion): The Kneeling Christian, by Unknown Christian, originally from 1924, offers powerful pearls on prayer. (Research revealed author is Albert Ernest Richardson. He was a British Anglican clergyman and missionary.)

kneeling christian

The preface grabs you from its’ first page: “It’s not too much to say that all real growth in the spiritual life—

All victory over temptation,

All confidence and peace in the presence of difficulties and dangers,

All repose of spirit in times of great disappointment or loss,

All habitual communion with God

Depend upon the practice of secret prayer.”

He continues, “Our yearning desire is to stir up Christians to ‘take hold of’ God as never before.”

Watch this: “We are never so high as when we are on our knees.”

bigstock-Man-In-Prayer-672503

The author doesn’t pretty things up any, either. Reminding us of the devil’s schemes, he pleads, “Fellow Christians, let us awake! The devil’s blinding our eyes…Do we realize there’s nothing the devil dreads so much as prayer?

Satan laughs at our toiling, mocks at our wisdom, but trembles when we pray.” (What an awesome reminder and motivation for us all to pray, pray, pray.)

Some of you may argue, “But I don’t know what to pray for?”

Don’t forget what Paul tells us in Romans 8:26-27: “Meanwhile, the moment we get tired in the waiting, God’s Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don’t know how or what to pray, it doesn’t matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans. He knows us far better than we know ourselves, … and keeps us present before God. That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good.” (ESV)

Happy family

The author succinctly answers questions about what prayer is,

how God answers prayer,

        if He always answers, and

                 obstacles we must be aware of.

In a powerful Bible study called Praying for Your Prodigal: A Journey Through Luke 15, by Kristen Sauder, Kristen also gives us a beautiful list of what prayer is:

“Prayer is:

           A Gift.

                 A shelter in times of storms.

                       A classroom filled with wise instruction.

                             A banquet hall for our inner nourishment.

                                    A place of comfort.

                                            A place of compassion.

                                                   A place of forgiveness.

                                                            A place of renewed strength.

Prayer changes us internally and externally.” Kristen asks, “Does conversation with the Savior affect your countenance?” Ouch….and yet a blessed challenge.

She concludes:

“Prayer …

     Delivers help and hope.

           Enables us to speak directly to the Father.”

Between Kristen’s excellent information on prayer and the author’s pearls in the Kneeling Christian, we must arise and awaken to our surroundings and to people for whom we can pray.

When family is closeby, or even if they’re far away, let them serve as visual reminders to kneel in prayer and storm Heaven’s gates for your loved ones. (Hopefully snakes and bats don’t fit into that equation.) We must also continue to lift up those affected by the recent tragedies.

Please remember:

It is never too late.

We must never give up.

Businessman Looking At Faith Door

The Kneeling Christian concludes: “To pray with all your heart and strength—that is the last, the greatest achievement of the Christian’s warfare on earth.”

And may I conclude with a favorite Scripture: I Thessalonians 5:17 can be quickly memorized and put to daily use: “Pray continually.”

Lord, please keep prayer in the forefront of our minds.  Amen and Amen.

‘Til next time!

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Love for Family With Help from Rob Morgan (Part 3 of 4 in the Month of Love)

Question: Would you agree or disagree with someone if they told you having children is the single-most difficult endeavor you’ll ever, ever experience?

Then in the next breath, that same person will say, “But, having children is the single-most rewarding endeavor you’ll ever experience.”

Parents And Baby. Family Mother, Father And Newborn Kid Over Whi

To add to these lovely pearls of “wisdom”, God has taught me parenting requires a keen sense of humor. Otherwise, we’d all bail.

The teensy fact He blessed Hubster and me with three boys is hysterical. Case in point:  Beloved Hubster’s the baby in a family of four. Nothing bothers him. I’m a very sheltered lonely-only and everything bothers me.

Enter three sons where chaos, comedy and confusion collide. Oh, but how we love, love, l-o-v-e them. Oh, but the stories we can tell.
three boys

(Infer what you wish from the frame. See that sense of humor???)

One story comes from a time when we were adding on to our home. The upstairs of our house was an unfinished attic full of potential. (Where were Joanna and Chip when we needed them??? www.hgtv.com , www.magnoliamarket.com )

Gaines-Web1If you could’ve seen the look on my Mother’s face when we told her we were buying a two bedroom house–she thought we’d lost our marbles….We assured her we’d be adding on soon.

Finally the day came for the addition to begin. Our construction guys, in order not to keep traipsing thru’ the first floor, considerately built an outside staircase for them to come and go, in addition to delivering a precious portalet smack dab out front by the driveway. We’re talkin’ TWO terribly charming enhancement’s to the exterior of one’s home.

Porta Potty

Anyone care to guess which of these was the most fascinating object to our boys? Yep. Literally, every day after school, the boys would bust out of my mini-van, and line-up to use the “outdoor facility”. (Checkout the above moniker pictured: “honey bucket.”)

The story sweetens a couple weeks later, thanks to an embarrassing phone call from Woody’s teacher. Seems his class had gone on a field trip where honey buckets happened to be lined up. Woody proudly and loudly announced to his fellow classmates, “We have one of these in our front yard and I use it every day.”

Naturally his teacher thought he was fibbin’ and felt she should address this problem with his parents. “No, ma’am.” I said, my face turning twelve shades of crimson. “He’s telling the truth.” Then I had to explain about the construction, blah, blah, blah. (S’pose we’d better add that children can humble you faster than you can say, “Well I’ll be…”)

Humility wooden sign with a street on background

Psalm 127:3 reminds us, that at the end of the day,

Children are a gift from the Lord; they are a reward from him.” Yes, they are a blessing to us parents and to so many others.

Most of the time…

But…what about the tough times? My friend Olivia taught me a never-truer-than-this-statement: “You’re only as happy as your unhappiest child.”

portrait studio baby, cry

This week, I highly recommend two resources if you have a prodigal in your family or in a friendship. One’s a book and the other’s a Bible study.

The book is Prayers and Promises for Worried Parents: Hope for Your Prodigal. Help for You by Robert J. Morgan.

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Many of you have read other books by Rob. This one is another one not to miss.

He offers an acronym for CALM: “Choosing to Abide in the Lord’s Mercies.” He candidly shares the prodigal he and his wife prayed for is one of their daughters.

He said,

Don’t give up on your kids,

never stop praying, and  

don’t give in to discouragement,

for ALL discouragement comes from the Devil.” 

Man In Prayer

He added, “During our own period of anxious waiting, one primary source of encouragement enabled us to press on: God’s reliable Word.”

Every chapter is full of helpful Scripture verses, many of which are promises to claim. Lamentations 2:19 is a favorite: “Pour out your heart like water in the presence of the Lord for the lives of your children.”

Lamentations 2 19

Rob adds, “During my child’s prodigal period, I also had to deal with my wife Katrina’s debilitating illness, the financial drain we took on with sending our kids to college, and the demands of a growing ministry. One day I searched out verses about strength. That’s when I realized I didn’t have to bear it all. The Lord bears our burdens and imparts His strength.”

“Oh Lord, You are my strength and my shield…

My strength and my song…

My strength and my fortress…

My strength and my power…

You are the strength of my life…”

(Psalm 28:7, 118:14, 18:2; 2 Samuel 22:33, and Psalm 27:1)

Rob includes one hundred and eight chapters, each only a page or two long, short, and succinct. They come under these helpful headings:

Praying,

Trusting,

Weeping,

Waiting,

Leaning,

Learning,

Healing,

Resting,

Hoping,

Striving, and

Singing.

(I’ve highlighted and dog-eared almost every page! You cannot imagine what a helpful resource this book is.)

The other recommendation is a Bible study I can’t quit talking about, written by Kristen Sauder, God rest her sweet soul. Praying for Your Prodigal: A Journey Through Luke 15. It’s a workbook rich in lesson, application, and encouragement I’ve studied thru’ numerous times over the years for numerous prodigals. (www.furtherstillfamilies.org )

Praying for your prodigal

While I’m still praying for some prodigals, many have come to know the Lord. We’re seeing spiritual fruit in their lives. Praises and more praises. God is so very good-n-gracious.

Let’s close with this amazing quote from J.I. Packer:

Patience does not just grin and bear things, stoic-like, but accepts them cheerfully as therapeutic workouts planned by a heavenly trainer who is resolved to get you up to full fitness.”

Fit people working out in fitness class at the gym

Lace up those spiritual shoes of yours and pray!

Press on, dear friends…

‘Til next time!

 

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Filed under Bible Studies, Book Reviews, Family

How Regrets Can Help Your Attitude

Regrets are the pits. Anybody with me on that? I’m gifted at wallowing in pools of regrets and, regrettably (!!!), often have difficulty leaving them behind. I’d be a shoo-in for President of the SWC Club (The Shoulda-Woulda-Coulda Club). Sigh.

One regret I’d sorta put to bed resurfaced this week while on vacation. Now there’s a place you do not want a regret to resurface!!! bigstock-nautilus-shell-on-a-beach-sand-18670310 No regrets, however, for the books I packed in my suitcase (As Hubster rolls his eyes over my ready-to-burst carry on). I’m especially grateful I brought God Seeker-A Journey through Exodus 33 by Kristen Sauder.

WWW.FURTHERSTILLMINISTRIES.ORG

WWW.FURTHERSTILLMINISTRIES.ORG

Before we dive into some of many pearls Kristen gives us in the study, I must share a wave of regret washed over me upon opening this workbook. I realized the first time I did this study, Kristen was my teacher! All of us attendees agreed it was the best of both worlds: having Kristen personally teach us her encouraging material. None of us even considered she might not be with us for the long haul. www.furtherstillministries.com

On 12/12/12, Kristen told us her world flipped upside down. The “C” word, cancer, was discovered in her body after a battery of tests: Lung cancer and she’d never smoked. The Sauders, along with family and friends, and our church members were stunned

Initially very fearful, Kristen says the Lord whispered to her He would help her battle her fear. She began to feel His peace and assurance.

In some of her last words on film, four to five days before she went to be with Jesus in January of 2014, Kristen said, “He is my Rock. The Anchor holds.” (If you’re brave and within reach of some Kleenex, listen to Kristen and savor her message. Don’t miss its’ title: Victory: Kristen Sauder.)

2013 found us praying feverishly while Kristen battled and patiently endured cancer. She overcame hurdle after hurdle. That July I was blessed to serve on the Women’s Committee for the North American Christian Convention (NACC) in Louisville. Kristen was to be one of our workshop speakers.

We knew of her diagnosis and wondered if she’d physically be able to keep such a commitment. She and her family wholeheartedly said, “Yes! We will be able!” More than capable, Kristen delivered an unforgettable talk, armed with God’s strength and anointing. (Don’t overlook the theme of the NACC that year was “Victorious!” Is God in the details, or what?)

So, can a regret help your attitude? Absolutely. Regretful I didn’t know to cherish Kristen’s teachings, I discovered I was more intentional in reading her words in God Seeker. These are part of her incredible legacy.

I cannot recommend the God Seeker study enough. There are so many pearls of encouragement coupled with powerful, equipping Scripture. Even if you’ve taken it before, start it again anew. You’ll be amazed. (You can order the workbook as well as the DVDs  from www.furtherstillministries.org )

The main goal of this study is for each and every one of us to establish a “Tent of Meeting”: A place where we go every day to meet with the Lord.

Kristen shows us what Moses did, serving as our example to follow:

Exodus 33:7 – “Now Moses used to take the Tent and pitch it outside the camp, a good distance from the camp, and he called it the Tent of meeting. And it came about that everyone who sought the Lord would go out to the Tent of meeting which was outside the camp.”

Kristen said, “I’m convinced that pitching a Tent away from distractions and designating a clear purpose will greatly enhance your ability to live a lifestyle, day after day after day, of seeking God.” She offers excellent ideas on how, where and what to do about pitching such a “tent”, even suggesting what to expect.

She includes benefits as well as warnings to heed. I cracked up over one of her warnings which happens to be a Disorder I suffer from. Maybe you do too: SADD, a/k/a Spiritual Attention Deficit Disorder. She says, “When I haven’t been with Jesus, I lose focus, run around like the headless chicken, grow more irritable by the second, show my temper, and live stressed out and independent of the Spirit’s direction.”

She then quips, “When we get thrown off track and stop frequenting our Tent of meeting to seek the Savior, believe me, it is a SADD thing.” Hilarious and oh-so-true!!!

She quotes an older southern preacher, who’s gone to Glory named Vance Havener. He says, “Come apart before you come apart.”

A favorite benefit Kristen teaches us is, “… by establishing a Tent of meeting, solely for seeking God, FOUR different people will be affected:

1 – God will notice.

2 – Others will notice.” Your family for starters. Kristen tells on herself citing this as a huge factor of accountability. She said once their son, Drew, asked, ‘Mom, have you been with Jesus today?’” Ouch!!!

3 – “The Enemy notices. Did you know that Satan cannot read your mind? His perfectly timed temptations sometimes have us believing otherwise, but the truth is, he can’t see inside. He can, however, read our actions. Regular treks to your Tent send a loud and clear message: I AM A GOD SEEKER.” Praying hands on open bible in  black

Kristen challenges, “Let your life be a declaration of your faith by frequenting your Tent for seeking God.” Isn’t that the best??? Wait for the fourth person who’s affected! It’ll convince you if the first three haven’t:

4 – “You will notice.” Kristen says, “I’ve often joked that my husband Kurt looks a lot better to me after I’ve been to the Tent of Meeting.   But, Kurt didn’t change. I did. “

Now, soak in these precious observations from Kristen:

I’m such a long way from where I’m going, but thankfully, I’m such a long way from where I came.

By God’s grace, I am hooked on seeking Him and can joyously testify that He has been found by me. He is the passion of my life, my bedrock.

He gently tends to me in my Tent of Meeting, peeling away sinful layers one by one to make me more like Christ.

His love is overwhelming…

The time you spend alone with your Father in the Tent is multiplied little by little, day by ordinary day, as He transforms your life.”

Stop and consider these insightful words from Kristen which were published in 2007. Fast forward to her funeral in 2014. If I was allowed two words to sum up its’ beautiful, celebratory message, it would be to “Be Intentional.”

May we all be more intentional with our relationships, our faith, and our studying of God’s Word in our Tent of Meeting. When regrets do arise, may they cause us to recalibrate our attitudes, shining for God’s glory.

Hang on to Kristen’s message, “The Anchor holds.” (Kristen’s husband, Kurt, and their children periodically write encouraging posts on their blog which you may access via their website from Further Still Ministries.)

‘Til next time!    

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Filed under Bible Studies, Book Reviews, Life Lessons

When You’re Suddenly Awakened at 3:40 in the Morning…(The Kneeling Christian by An Unknown Christian, Helps us ALL with prayer.)

Drifting off to sleep with a smile, four of our six birds were back in the nest. (Gordy, Woody, Lauren and LT were all staying with us.) This Mamma Bird rejoices when the birds return home.

Suddenly, at 3:40 in the morning, our house alarm started blaring….

The Panel Of The Security Alarm System

John said, “See where it was tripped!!!”

Blind as a bat (Oh, just wait ‘til you see where this goes…), I grabbed my glasses and raced to the alarm panel. “It says, ‘office.’ Maybe that’s the office off of Woody’s room and he and Gordy have set it off?” I suggested.

“Nope,” John said, “It’s the downstairs office.”

By this time, I was nearly on John’s heels as were Gordy and Woody. The girls were still in bed. Naturally, Gracie, the best watchdog ever (!!!), was right on my heels, dashing and simultaneously barking down the stairs.

The three of us bravely stood out in the hallway while Hubster marched into the office. No windows broken, nothing seemed amiss…

“Swoosh!” Something brushed by John’s ear.

“IT’S A BAT!!!!” John yelled.

Bat

“How ‘bout the paddle tennis rackets on the porch?” I asked.

“No! We need longer necks….Where are our regular tennis rackets?” (The man thinks on his feet like no other.)

Tennis Racket

“Hmmm, could be a problem as we’ve not played tennis since we moved in this house four years ago.” I sputtered…

By this time, the bat had moved into the family room. This plucky Mom hightailed it back upstairs. Lauren had come out of her room and I screamed, “Get back in your room! There’s a bat on the loose!” to which she and LT screamed in unison and slammed the door. We are some fine kind of fearless women.

Frightened Woman In Bed

Meanwhile, downstairs, we could hear screams coming from the boys. Dying to say, “Y’all sound like a bunch of girls…” I refrained and valiantly slammed our door shut.

Seems the bat had now entered the kitchen and perched up on one of the cabinets. Woody threw something up at it. It swooped down with all three men flailing their racquets. Akin to The Three Stooges, not one macho man could connect with the beleaguered bat.

MBDALGU-EC003

Finally, the bat chased Gordy down the hallway. More high-pitched screams followed with a resounding “YES!” (Funeral services were not held for The Great Winged Intruder.)

Shall we all sing, “Ding dong the bat is dead!” after our snake story? (Please click on Ding Dong the Snake is Dead—Confessions of a Raging Perfectionist for more info…) And I beg forgiveness for any of you animal lovers out there…

So what does a bat have to do with prayer, you may be asking? Well, not a whole lot, obviously…but the pearl to glean is from having family closeby. Or framed photos of your family if they live far away. This reminds us to pray fervently and feverishly for them.

Please allow me to share a couple of highlights from a book that’s been mentioned in the last three books I’ve read (Whenever that happens, I take that to be a divine suggestion): The Kneeling Christian, by Unknown Christian, originally from 1924, offers powerful pearls on prayer. (Research revealed author is Albert Ernest Richardson. He was a British Anglican clergyman and missionary.)

kneeling christian

The preface grabs you from its’ first page: “It’s not too much to say that all real growth in the spiritual life—

All victory over temptation,

All confidence and peace in the presence of difficulties and dangers,

All repose of spirit in times of great disappointment or loss,

All habitual communion with God

Depend upon the practice of secret prayer.”

He continues, “Our yearning desire is to stir up Christians to ‘take hold of’ God as never before.”

Watch this: “We are never so high as when we are on our knees.”

bigstock-Man-In-Prayer-672503

The author doesn’t pretty things up any, either. Reminding us of the devil’s schemes, he pleads, “Fellow Christians, let us awake! The devil’s blinding our eyes…Do we realize there’s nothing the devil dreads so much as prayer?

Satan laughs at our toiling, mocks at our wisdom, but trembles when we pray.” (What an awesome reminder and motivation for us all to pray, pray, pray.)

Some of you may argue, “But I don’t know what to pray for?”

Don’t forget what Paul tells us in Romans 8:26-27: “Meanwhile, the moment we get tired in the waiting, God’s Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don’t know how or what to pray, it doesn’t matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans. He knows us far better than we know ourselves, … and keeps us present before God. That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good.” (ESV)

Happy family

The author succinctly answers questions about what prayer is,

how God answers prayer,

        if He always answers, and

                 obstacles we must be aware of.

In a powerful Bible study called Praying for Your Prodigal: A Journey Through Luke 15, by Kristen Sauter, Kristen also gives us a beautiful list of what prayer is:

“Prayer is:

           A Gift.

                 A shelter in times of storms.

                       A classroom filled with wise instruction.

                             A banquet hall for our inner nourishment.

                                    A place of comfort.

                                            A place of compassion.

                                                   A place of forgiveness.

                                                            A place of renewed strength.

Prayer changes us internally and externally.” Kristen asks, “Does conversation with the Savior affect your countenance?” Ouch….and yet a blessed challenge.

She concludes:

“Prayer …

     Delivers help and hope.

           Enables us to speak directly to the Father.”

Between Kristen’s excellent information on prayer and the author’s pearls in the Kneeling Christian, we must arise and awaken to our surroundings and to people for whom we can pray.

When family is closeby, or even if they’re far away, let them serve as visual reminders to kneel in prayer and storm Heaven’s gates for your loved ones. (Hopefully snakes and bats don’t fit into that equation.)

Please remember:

It is never too late.

We must never give up.

Businessman Looking At Faith Door

The Kneeling Christian concludes: “To pray with all your heart and strength—that is the last, the greatest achievement of the Christian’s warfare on earth.”

And may I conclude with a favorite Scripture: I Thessalonians 5:17 can be quickly memorized and put to daily use: “Pray continually.”

Lord, please keep prayer in the forefront of our minds.  Amen and Amen.

‘Til next time!

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Road Trip to Lexington Brings Blessings Twofold – Part 1 of 2: Seventeen Year-Old Preaches With Power…

Two  stellar events, in one day, in the same town, right around the corner from each other, within a manageable time frame, could only have been orchestrated by our Good and Glorious God.  I was the blessed recipient of these events, and I pray you’ll be blessed by hearing what happened!

This week I’m reporting on an astonishing young man by the name of John Stein, who attends Lexington Christian Academy, (LCA) in Lexington, Kentucky (http://www.lexingtonchristian.org/).  John was the speaker on this particular day for his High School’s Chapel Service.

John Stein

As a bonus, I got to sit with our middle son, Gordy, at Chapel and his girlfriend, Lauren (who recently became his fiancée!!!), as well as Lauren’s Mother, Pam, and Lauren’s Grandparents, Carol and Bob Sparks.

The young man speaking was none other than Lauren’s younger brother, John.* He is a Junior at LCA and is only seventeen years old.  Gordy had coached John for this talk on prayer which made it a double bonus for me to hear him.

After meaningful worship, John was introduced.  A hush came over the audience and John began by addressing one of the problems of our culture:  multi-tasking.  Case in point was the newest update by Apple.

bigstock-Group-of-people-texting-on-the-32615255

This lovely new app prevents us from focusing on one thing, and enables us to do many things simultaneously.  John added emphatically, “Relationships suffer because of this.”  He showed a fast-paced clip to illustrate this point, giving our brains quite a workout.

He then posed these questions, “What does Jesus say about prayer? Do we grasp that prayer is really about our relationship with God?”  Anybody need a relationship check?

One of many favorite aspects of John’s talk included his use of Scripture to back up his points.  He began with Luke 5:16 where Jesus withdrew to pray.

bigstock-Praying-3554961

John advised, “ We ALL need a time and a place to retreat with God.  THAT is where He will restore our soul. Therefore….We must be intentional about our quiet time with the Lord.”

Kristen Sauder wrote an excellent Bible study called God Seeker—A Journey through Exodus 33.  It emphasizes the importance of having our own “tent of meeting” as Moses did.  That is, a special place where we meet with the Lord daily (www.furtherstillministries.org).

god seeker

Another point John made came from Luke 11:1 where the disciples asked Jesus to teach them to pray.  “Their desire to learn how to pray is KEY.  Don’t you want to talk with God?”

John showed us that with desire comes future blessings.  He asked, “Do you want to talk with God?  Your HEART will follow what you love.”  It’s a natural progression:  When you love God, you talk with Him.  Talking with Him equates to prayer.  And prayer builds relationships.

bigstock-Paper-Heart-Hanging-On-The-Clo-41127535

John added, “Look at Matthew 6:6.  We are supposed to find a quiet place to pray.  The Lord will reward you.  Our reward?  Christ.”  Next we looked at John 14:20-21 where Jesus says, “…If you love me, my Father will love you too, and I’ll show myself to you.”  What a privilege!

One thing I really appreciate about John is he allows himself to be vulnerable.  When he asks questions, he puts himself right in there with us, which in turn brings us into the picture.  You suddenly realize, “Well, if he’s concerned about this, obviously I should be too.”

So here’s where he nailed us:  “Every single day, God gives you and me the opportunity to meet with Him, anywhere, any time.  It is up to us to join Him, enjoying His presence.”  Wow….please tell me why we forget this?

This reminded me of a bracelet I wear every day which is engraved with the last part of  Matthew 28:20 on it:  “And lo, I am with you always.”   Even with it dangling on my wrist, I still forget.  Forgive us, Lord…

bracelet

In closing, John gave us a couple more Scriptures:  One to reassure us and one to challenge us.

He reassured us by showing us John 16:33 where Jesus says  “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace.  In this world, you will have trouble. But take heart!  I have overcome the world.”  We can cling to His peace.

As our Good and Glorious God would also orchestrate, this very week, my lesson for a Bible study I attend by Liz Curtis Higgs (www.lizcurtishiggs.com) called Bad Girls of the Bible–And What We Can Learn From Them is about Rahab.  She had a bit of a past. (Understatement of the century!)  Liz says, “If God can turn a harlot into a holy vessel, entrusting her with the very genes that would one day produce the King of Kings, surely those of us with a past can leave our shame in the rubble and walk away, fixing our eyes on the One who washes us white as snow.”

2013 Bad Girls of the Bible COVER 300x450

She brings up the Apostle Paul who also had a bit of a past….as in “persecuting the Christians–and then becoming one!!!”  Paul is the one who said, in the very verse that John gave us for a challengeRomans 1:16:  “For I am not ashamed of the Gospel, because it’s the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes…”.

John asked, “So, how much more are you willing to give of yourself?  I am not ashamed of who saved my soul…I need a Savior and I want to know Him better. Do you?”

When the aim of your life is to affect everyone in your life for the Gospel of Christ, you need prayer…

Friends, revival starts on your knees.”

 Goodness, gracious, let’s look at that again:  REVIVAL STARTS ON YOUR KNEES.

bigstock-Man-In-Prayer-672503Whoa.  Just re-reading my notes and writing this out for us, I am convicted.  Let’s vow to practice His presence, praying to Him, talking with Him.  The Lord knows our hearts.  May we have hearts to know and love Him. May we be bold to proclaim Him.

Y’all be praying for young John Stein.  He’s going to set the world on fire, one soul at a time.

If you’d like to see this passion-filled delivery, you can find it on YouTube.  Go to:  www.youtube.com and then type in “John Stein 2013”. Turn up the volume!  (I only hit the highlights, you’ll want to hear more!)  Oh, that we may hunger for God’s Word like John so enthusiastically communicates.

Next week, in part two of my escapades in Lexington, I’ll share what transpired at a fun lunch gathering of many authors.  Another slice of Heaven…

‘Til next time!

* Disclaimer:  While you can see I should be ultra-biased since John and I are practically or soon will be related (!!!), I can honestly say all my comments are upfront and truthful.

(This post is dedicated to Master John Stein.  He’s piercing hearts for Jesus every step of the way.  Not only has God gifted him with the gift of speaking/preaching, he’s an amazing athlete, a dedicated student, a devoted friend to many, a super son, brother and grandson.  I’m delighted we’re about to be related!  Keep the faith, John!  We are so very proud of you. May God Bless you abundantly.)

From Left to Right:  John Stein, Dr. Bob Sparks, Gordy Hoagland, Lauren Stein, Carol Sparks and Pam Stein

From Left to Right: John Stein, Dr. Bob Sparks, Gordy Hoagland, Lauren Stein, Carol Sparks and Dr. Pam Stein

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The North American Christian Convention is HAPPENIN’ in Lousiville THIS WEEK!!!

Here’s just one more reminder to head downtown to the Commonwealth Convention Center if you are anywhere near Louisville, Kentucky this week!  The North American Christian Convention (NACC) begins this Tuesday night, July 9th and runs until noon on Friday, July 12th.

There are multiple sessions with phenomenal speakers/authors/preachers.  You can find the schedule by going to www.gotonacc.org

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The theme of the NACC is “Victorious”.  No telling what the Lord has in store for all of us!  I plan on taking lots of notes and will be sharing some pearls with you in the near future!  Neat exhibit booths will be plentiful as well.

Don’t miss this opportunity! Here’s a sampling of the keynote speakers and workshop leaders:  Matt Proctor, Jon Weece, Kyle Idleman, Aaron Brockett, Eric Metaxas, Wayne Cordeiro, Ken Davis, Joni Erikson Tada, Kurt and Kristen Sauder, Nancy and Matthew Sleeth, Les and Leslie Parrott, and Ann Voskamp, just to name a few.

I am blessed to be helping with some of the Women’s Ministry portion of the program.  The offerings for women alone are outstanding.  We have our sweet friend, Judy Russell, to thank for this.  She has thought of every single detail (and then some) to make your experience more than worthwhile!  Come see us at the Women’s Ministry booth.  It will be right next to the Registration Desk.

Judy and Eliz

There are only a few tickets left for the Women’s Luncheon with Ann Voskamp (www.aholyexperience.com) as our featured speaker on Thursday, July 11th.  Ann will also be leading a workshop on blogging following the luncheon!

One Thousand Gifts

Another spectacular offering is for breakfast on Friday, July 12th  at  7:30 a.m.  BOTH Matthew and Nancy Sleeth will be speaking. (www.blessedearth.org )

Almost Amish Sleeth

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Last I heard over eight thousand people had registered, and that was over a month ago.  You do not want to miss this convention!

Please keep this week’s event in your prayers, down to the last detail.  Please pray for attendees, for health, for the speakers, for the volunteers, for all details to flow smoothly, and most of all, for God to be glorified in every event and every conversation.

‘Til next time!

(This week’s post is dedicated to my very devoted friend who has a huge heart for Women’s Ministry, Judy Russell.  She said a few years ago she would not chair this part of the convention again, and here she is!!!  I believe it’s because the Lord gifted her for this and she knows what it takes.  She makes our heads spin…and she makes things happen.  Blessings and thanks go to you, Sweet Judy!  God Bless You!)

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Encouraging Perspective on Death—When it SEEMS too soon…

Two words spewed by my math teacher used to cause me to hyperventilate…

Two words included in our homework helped me find an excuse not to complete the assignment.

Which two words equate to a guaranteed nightmare?

Story problem…

Ah well, some of you are laughing.  Some of you love story problems.  That’s your problem! Just means you’re a great deal smarter than this math-phobic-girl.

I forgot how much I detested story problems until our boys got to be old enough to have them in their homework.  Thankfully hubby John loves math.  Opposites attract, obviously!

My all-time favorite comic from The Far Side shows a pitiful, bewildered looking man speaking to an angel at the pearly gates.  The angel informs him, “Okay, now listen up…  Nobody gets in here without answering the following questions:  A train leaves Philadelphia at 1:00 p.m.  It’s traveling at 65 miles per hour.  Another train leaves Denver at 4:00…Say, you need some paper?”  It’s entitled “Math Phobic’s Nightmare”. 

train guard

Today I’d like to tell you about a discovery of the best-of-the-best kind of “story problem”.  This excerpt I’m about to share with you will encourage you, especially if you’ve lost a loved one and their death seemed too soon.

Chris and Kerry Shook have written an excellent book called, One Month to Live—30 Days to a No-Regrets Life.  It’s a resource to read over and over.

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They tell of a pastor from Owensboro, Kentucky named Jess Moody.  Some of my relatives knew him.  Jess became friends with a young couple in his church.  One day the husband came to his office and was clearly upset.

He said, “Jess, I’ve just heard the most awful news.  My wife has terminal cancer, and it’s spread all over her body.  The doctors have told us she has only weeks, not even months to live.  Jess, she’s at the hospital.  She’s asking for you.  We don’t know how to handle this.”

Jess went to the hospital immediately.  The young wife and mother asked him, “I remember in one of your sermons you said a thousand years is like a day to God and a day is like a thousand years.  Is that true?  Is a thousand years like a day to God?”

Jess answered, “Yes, it’s in the Bible.”

2 Peter 3:8 says, “But do not forget this one thing, dear friends:  With the Lord a day is like a thousand years and a thousand years are like a day.” (NIV)

Psalm 90:4 parallels this, “For a thousand years in your sight are like a day that has just gone by, or like a watch in the night.” (NIV)

The wife then said, “Good, because I’ve been doing the math, and I figure if a thousand years is like a day, then forty years is like one hour.  I’ll be leaving my husband and the children soon.  He may live another forty years, but that will be just like an hour to me in heaven.  When he gets to heaven, I’ll greet him and say, ‘Where have you been for an hour?  Did you just go to the office, or were you running errands?  I’ve missed you.’

My children may live another seventy or eighty years, but that will be like two hours to me.  When they get to heaven, I’ll greet them and say, ‘How was school today?  Mom misses you when you’re gone for a couple of hours.  I wonder how you are doing, because mommies don’t like to be away from their children long.’”

Jess Moody said two weeks later she went to be with the Lord, and the last thing she said to her husband was, “I love you.  Take care of our children.  I’ll see you in an hour.”

Heaven religion concept - sun rays and sky

Now that’s an eternal perspective! (This story can be found on pages 218-219 in the Shooks’ book.)

That’s the best kind of story problem for two reasons:

1 – The precious young wife and mother did the math for us!!!  Biblical math! Heavenly math!

2 – It gives us an encouraging eternal perspective along with the reminder that God’s timing isn’t ours and we must trust in His sovereign will.

Last week we talked about dealing with a sudden death.  Click on… Losing a Loved One Overnight…  We are still reeling over losing Stuart Thompson. But, we know we will see him again.

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Pictured from left to right:  Frank Thompson, Stuart Thompson, Woody Hoagland and Jonathan Slevin on June 20th, 2013.

As my friend Cynthia Kragthorpe said during hard times, “Last time I checked, God was still on the throne.  We cannot question His timing.”  She really encouraged me then and I’ll never forget her words.

I pray you may find encouragement to press on today, thanks to the Shooks sharing the young couple’s story of facing a death that seemed to soon.  There are countless ones of you out there who have endured a similar scenario.

Sweet Kristen Sauder, who I’ve talked about before (www.furtherstillminstries.com ), wrote a wonderful Bible study called Praying for Your Prodigal—A Journey through Luke 15.  As God would orchestrate, my reading for today says, “Securing a spot in God’s family doesn’t change the fact that you and I must keep hoofing it.

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Kristen gives us three great Scriptures encouraging us to press on:

Ephesians 4:1b says, “…I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received.”

Colossians 1:10 says, “And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy  of the Lord and may please him in every way:  bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God.”

I Thessalonians 2:12, “encouraging, comforting and urging you to live lives worthy of God, who calls you into his kingdom and glory.”

Let’s not forget to keep Kristen in our prayers as she is patiently enduring cancer.  Her weekly blog not only has updates, but great faith-building words. (See her website above.)

Share this excellent Heavenly “story problem” with your friends and family!  Be encouraged.

Have a Happy, Healthy, and Blessed Fourth of July!!!

‘Til next time!

(This week’s post is dedicated to two very dear friends and mentors of mine.  Both of these gals endured the tragic loss of an adult child.  They encourage me each time I’m with them to press on.  Their faith is their rock they cling to daily.

Please join me in praying for Betsy Heady, whose son, Paul, died at the age of forty.  And my friend in Indiana, Shirley Garwood, whose daughter Susan, died shortly after delivering her precious daughter Emma, Shirley’s beloved granddaughter, who’s now eight years old.

May God continue to bless you, Betsy and Shirley, and hold you tightly as you shine the light of Christ on us and many others.)

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