Why I Have Hope for Katy Perry

My book Praying for Your Prodigal Daughter: Hope, Help & Encouragement for Hurting Parents, is about a prodigal, aka me, raising a prodigal. As I’ve read about Katy Perry’s recent public confessions of why she turned away from her childhood Christian faith, I saw a certain parallel to my life. No, I never became a multimillion dollar, outrageously popular pop star, but I did turn my back on my Christian faith after my divorce and became a very successful businesswoman living a worldly life while raising my prodigal.

Katy’s father is a pastor and her childhood home was faith-filled. In her public therapy session aired on Viceland, she went by her birth name Katheryn Hudson. Faithwire wrote an article from this session, Why Kathy Perry’s Rejection of Her Childhood Faith Should Concern Every Bible-Believing Christian. They quoted Hudson as saying, “I grew up with a lot of born-again Christian beliefs around me, and so I had people around me — like-minded people — and I would say it was a bit of a bubble,” Hudson explained. “I was a very curious person, and the curiosity — sometimes it wasn’t allowed because you had to have faith.”

The article goes on to say that Hudson explained she was “curious about what was going on in the rest of the world, and how they lived, and what they saw as they were living . . . I felt like I was missing out.” She decided to explore her singing career further to “pop [her] own bubble, to get out of [her] own situation.”

“I guess I was just trying to get out of one way of thinking. It was like ‘do as I say, no ifs, ands, or buts. It was based on my religious upbringing… I have so many questions. I ask all the questions in the world, and all the questions in the world have gotten me to where I am at now.” [To read the whole article]

There is so much in that last statement about finding answers in the world, which made her rich and famous, but spiritually bankrupt denouncing her faith and  singing songs with provocative, shocking lyrics and movements that many young girls listen to and imitate.

Why did she turn to the world for answers? Because she couldn’t find answers to her questions in the church. She was raised around born-again Christians, but never actually says she was born-again.

In Forsaken God?: Remembering the Goodness of God Our Culture Has Forgotten, I challenge the church with that same thought: “If we don’t teach our children to follow Christ, the world will teach them not to. Not encumber them with rules easily broken, but guide them toward a relationship they wouldn’t forfeit or jeopardize for anything.” I ask the question: “How many are making sure their children and grandchildren understand, accept, and embrace the Christian lifestyle? How many know, for certain, their children have a personal relationship with Jesus?”

Again I warn in Forsaken God?: “The church failed to reach out to the next generation with a message relevant to the world they live in today, but the secular world was ready and waiting for them. . . .Today, even children from Bible-believing homes may not have the tools or fortitude to equip them to face a liberal world drifting away from the God of the Bible.”

I stress exactly what Katy Perry said she couldn’t get from the Christian “bubble.”

They need mentors and parents to have the tough, honest discussion about abortion, sexuality, sexual exploitation, marriage, same-sex attraction, transgenderism, radical Islam, cults, drugs, alcohol, suicide . . . whatever they’re facing in their world.

My “Katy Perry” Story

When I left my good-girl Christian lifestyle, even though I was a born-again Christian since age eleven, I felt just like Katy that I was missing something “out in the world.” Satan makes sin seem fun and enticing. And there were plenty of people ready to teach me the “world’s ways.” I was naïve enough not to understand how quickly I was being sucked into that lifestyle.

I wasn’t raised in a Christian home like Katy was, but I did have a very devout grandmother who planted the seeds of faith in me. My mother would drop me off at church, but I was on my own. I loved everything about church and did find mentors and “spiritual mothers” to answer my questions until I went away to college and there was no one guiding me not to marry an unbeliever or pray with me about my choices.

What Brought Me Back to the Lord?

After seventeen years of backsliding, I was invited to a Harvest Crusade where Pastor Greg Laurie asked the crowd if they were ready to die that night? The Lord had gradually been bringing me back to Him through attending Pastor Rick Warren’s Saddleback Church, and I knew the answer to Pastor Laurie’s question was, no. I rededicated my life to the Lord that night and God has been using me About His Work ever since.

I think Katy Perry, Katherine Hudson’s, public “therapy” session is her cry for help. I know she feels God on her shoulder calling her back with every provocative move, word, and action she uses to try to separate from Him.

What Can We Do?

Katy Perry’s mother, a minister’s wife, author, and a mentor to many Christian women, has some advice that she shared in an interview by J. Lee Grady, Charisma News, “How Katy Perry’s Mother Praises God Through the Pain.” Grady asks: How does a Christian mother handle it when she sees her daughter drifting so far from the values she taught her?

“The devil definitely tries to steal my joy,” Mary told me. “I sometimes have to fight depression.” A few years ago, Mary anchored her soul to Psalm 113:9, which says, “He gives the barren woman a dwelling, making her the joyful mother of children. Praise the Lord!”

“That verse inspired her to write her 2015 book, Joyful Parent, Happy Home. Mary believes if you want your children to live for God, “You have to get happy and stay in the ‘God zone.’ Mary’s close friends also support her unconditionally. And she asks new friends to agree with her in prayer for a miracle turnaround for her daughter . . . Mary believes parents of prodigals must focus on others rather than wallowing in their own pain. For the past 11 years she has poured her life into women who attend her Arise conferences.” The full interview is at CharismaNews.

Mary also mentioned something important that I share in Praying for Your Prodigal Daughter: show unconditional love to your prodigal, and as much as it is up to you, keep the lines of communication open.

Praise God, both my daughter and I enjoy a wonderful relationship with God and each other. I now have precious grandchildren to help pour into spiritually. I want to make sure I’m not just telling them what to believe, but helping them come to their own conclusions. To feel free to ask us questions and to help them solve their faith problems without giving them the answers we think they should arrive at. To help them develop problem-solving techniques and know where and how to go to the Bible when they question something happening in the world.

When they ask if I know that Katy Perry “used to be a Christian,” we talk about the fact that if she did give her heart to Jesus as a child, she still is a Christian, but she’s not living like one, so let’s pray for her.

The 6/26/17 issue of Time Magazine, quoted Katy’s apology for “criticized acts of cultural appropriation”: “I didn’t know that I did it wrong until I heard people saying I did it wrong. And sometimes that’s what it takes.” Let’s pray Katy hears from God that she’s been doing wrong and apologizes to Him. Someday, Katy could have an amazing testimony and God will use it for good. Pray it’s soon before she influences more young girls and women for the world.

Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it. Proverbs 22:6

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PS I just realized this is the end of June already and should be Love Your Body Monday, but this post was on my heart so I’ll post a Love Your Body blog for the 4th of July week!

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Are You The Woman Today You Want Your Daughter to Become?

If you’ve followed me for awhile, you know I’ve been writing, editing, and proofing a new book, Mentoring for All Seasons: Sharing Life Experiences and God’s Faithfulness. Last week, I turned in my final proof edit to the publishers, Leafwood Publisher, as I anticipate it’s September 12, 2017 release. Then I learned the exciting news that this book is now on Amazon ready for preorders! You can order now, and as soon as it’s in stock at Amazon, you’ll receive your pre-release copies. The more preorders, the more they bring in stock. Will you help me get this book into the hands of mentors and mentees, those wanting to know how to be a mentor or mentee, and Women’s Ministry Directors to guide women in all seasons of their life.

This book will guide and equip women from tweens to twilight seasons in how to biblically mentor or be a mentee! I think it’s the first book of it’s kind written for both M&M’S! One endorser has already said every Women’s Ministry Director needs this book in her library. As the summer goes on, I’ll share more tidbits about this book for all women.  So drum roll please . . . I’m unveiling the cover!

The Mothering Season

When I speak to women about mentoring, I tell them that their first mentoring responsibility is to their daughters if they have daughters or nieces. They’re the role model for these young girls and they’re mentoring to them what it looks like to be a woman today: either a woman of the world or a woman of the Word. And then, I ask the question: Are you the woman today you want your daughters to become because they’re watching you, and as much as they don’t want to be like you, they will probably become just like you at sometime in their life.

In Praying for Your Prodigal Daughter, I share how during my backsliding years, my daughter wanted to be just like me. I realized some of the poor choices she was making were a reflection of the poor choices she was watching me make.

That was a huge revelation to me that I needed to make some changes in my life. When I did rededicate my life to the Lord and start living a godly life, she didn’t want any part of it. She liked the way we were living more by the world’s standards than by God’s ways. And that’s the story I talk about in Praying for Your Prodigal Daughter. I went down on my knees and prayed Scripture for her daily for six years; all the time showing and role modeling for her the blessings of being a rededicated woman of faith.

I’m happy to say our story took a happy turn and Kim did eventually give her heart to Jesus, and she has done a much better job than I did raising her three children in a Christian household. She’s mentored them in character qualities that her two daughters and son are obviously noticing. For a school project, 3rd grader Sienna was to write why her mom should be in People Magazine. I must admit, I was troubled by this teacher’s choice of a magazine that 3rd graders had no business knowing about or writing an article for, so I was relieved when Sienna said she had no idea what People Magazine was, anyway!

But what did impress me were the character qualities Sienna wrote that she saw in her mom. My daughter is a fitness instructor with a fabulous figure, she’s gorgeous, dresses stylishly, and always looks beautiful. So when Sienna decided to write about why her mom should be on the cover of People Magazine, she easily could have talked about these superficial, outward qualities, but at eight-years old this is what she wrote, exactly how she wrote it, no edits from Grammie:

My mom should be on the cover of the People magazine. My mom’s name is Kim Mancini. My mom is medium height, has brown hair, and her eyes are brown. There are so many reasons why my mom should be on the cover of the People Magazine.

One of the amazing things about my mom is that she is trustworthy. My mom trusts me all the time. My mom does not lie. My mom is trustworthy with my whole family. Now you know why my mom is trustworthy.

My mom is the most honest person in the world. She is honest with me. She once said, “Do not be scared that’s not real.” My mom is honest with my grandparents. There is no doubt, my mom should be on the People Magazine because she is so honest.

My mom is so helpful. My mom helps me when I am hurt. My mom helps me with my homework. She helps me get ready for school. My mom should win an award for being the best mom ever. My mom is the best mom in the world.

By Sienna

“The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7

Sienna’s mom, is trustworthy, honest, and helpful. Later she wished she had included hardworking. Isn’t that what every mom wants all her children, not just her daughters, to say about her?! Good job Kim.

What would your kids write why you should be on the cover of People Magazine?

The Mancini family. Sienna is next to her brother

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How to Celebrate a Peaceful Post-Election Thanksgiving

happy_thanksgiving

During our small group prayer request time, a reoccurring request went something like this: Please help us be a light on Thanksgiving with the eclectic group of people attending with differing political and faith beliefs.

Whether it was all family, all friends, invited guests . . . or a combination . . . most were apprehensive how the day would turn out.

In the fragile aftermath of a volatile election, I imagine many of you are having similar concerns and conversations. I remember my mom cautioning that if you want to keep the peace, don’t talk about religion or politics, As a kid, I never understood her warning. Believers are supposed to tell everyone about Jesus. How could we not talk about our Savior, since our identity is in Christ? And isn’t everyone entitled to his or her own political opinion?

Then I grew up and learned that Jesus and politics are indeed quite controversial, but I still don’t think that means we shouldn’t talk boldly about them . . . we just need to be respectful. My first priority in life is being a born-again Christian and all other roles follow after. But as I wrote in Forsaken God?: Remembering the Goodness of God Our Culture Has Forgotten: “Bold doesn’t mean obnoxious. It simply means not being afraid to speak the truth in love, even in the face of adversity: ‘Therefore, since we have such a hope, we are very bold’ (2 Cor. 3:12).” For example, if someone asks what I write, I answer, “Christian nonfiction.” Or I’ll say, “I’m a Christian author and speaker.”

For I fully expect and hope that I will never be ashamed, but that I will continue to be bold for Christ, as I have been in the past. And I trust that my life will bring honor to Christ, whether I live or die. Philippians 1:20 NLT

So never be ashamed to tell others about our Lord. And don’t be ashamed of me, either, even though I’m in prison for him. With the strength God gives you, be ready to suffer with me for the sake of the Good News. 2 Timothy 1:8 NLT

Is Thanksgiving a Religious Holiday?

That could be an awkward question in some circles.

I was with a group of people when I mentioned how I hoped people would set their differences aside on Thanksgiving Day, and one person said, “It’s just a time for eating a lot of food, watching football, and shopping online anyway.”

Me: “I’m pretty sure the first pilgrims who celebrated Thanksgiving didn’t have TV or Amazon.

Another responded: “Well at least Thanksgiving isn’t a religious holiday.”

I asked: “Who then are we thanking?”

Complete silence.

Of course, the answer is: God.

Abraham Lincoln made it an official national holiday “as a day of thanksgiving and praise to Almighty God, the beneficent Creator and Ruler of the Universe.”

The English colonists we call Pilgrims celebrated days of thanksgiving as part of their religion. But these were days of prayer, not days of feasting.

We read in Genesis that God spoke everything into being, and yet, many will be sharing turkey and dressing with people who don’t believe in, or discount, the existence of God. They don’t know where they’re going when they die, or where everything we enjoy on earth came from . . . and maybe they don’t even care. They’ll walk out of the room during prayer before the meal, and may try and start an argument over the election. Maybe after a few drinks, their conversation will turn ugly, even though innocent young eyes are watching and ears are listening to how “adults” interact.

As I prayed and talked to the Lord, here’s a list I hope will help any who might be apprehensive this Thanksgiving. I’d love to hear your ideas too.

Don’t worry about what to say—“Whenever you are arrested and brought to trial, do not worry beforehand about what to say. Just say whatever is given you at the time, for it is not you speaking, but the Holy Spirit.” Mark 13:11 (Jesus was instructing his disciples, but I think it could apply to us too if we felt our faith was being tested or put on trial.)

Speak kind words— “Kind words are like honey— sweet to the soul and healthy for the body.” Pr. 16:24 NLT

For your part, maintain peace—“If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” Romans 12:18

Don’t ask or answer antagonistic questions, walk away or change the subject“Interfering in someone else’s argument is as foolish as yanking a dog’s ears.” Pr. 26:17 NLT

Play with any children present“We will tell the next generation about the glorious deeds of the Lord, about his power and his mighty wonders.” Ps 78:4 NLT

Don’t drink“Don’t be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life. Instead, be filled with the Holy Spirit.” Ephesians 5:18 NLT

Smile, Smile, Smile“Fix my eyes on God— soon I’ll be praising again. He puts a smile on my face. He’s my God.” Psalm 42:5 The Message

Listen“Fools think their own way is right, but the wise listen to others.” Pr. 12:15 NLT

Take a deep breath and think before you speak—“There  is more hope for a fool than for someone who speaks without thinking.” Pr. 29:20 NLT

Less is more—“The more words you speak, the less they mean. So what good are they?” Ecc. 6:11 NLTThere’s “A time to be quiet and a time to speak.” Ecc. 3:7 NLT

Say mind prayers continuously.—Pray continually” 1 Thess. 5:17

Have a secret sign or word between you and someone else that signals: Let’s change the subject or move into the other room.—“Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor.” Ecc. 4:9

Put on the Armor of GodPut on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.” Eph. 10:6:18

If you’re Hosting—Pray and thank God for each guest. Ask to be a blessing and to share joy. Pray over your home and each chair at the table. Pray before the meal as you normally would, your guests know they’re coming to a Christian home.—“Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling.” 1 Peter 4:9

If you’re a Guest—As you walk up to the home, pray you’ll be a blessing and that God will stir up the fruit of the spirit in your heart. If you’re hosts don’t pray before the meal, bow your head and pray over your food as you normally would. — “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,  gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.” Gal. 5:22-23

Thanksgiving is a day for harmony and focusing on God and giving Him thanks and praise in whatever way He leads. Fiction writers have a saying: “Show don’t tell.” Which simply means, you don’t always have to speak Jesus with your words, you can show Jesus with your actions, and people will want what you have!

Enter his gates with thanksgiving; go into his courts with praise. Give thanks to him and praise his name. Psalm 100:4 NLT

Past Thanksgiving Blogs

Here are several past Thanksgiving blogs you might enjoy. I do give thanks for each of you who have followed me on my Monday Morning Blogs, and I pray you have a joyful, peaceful, and God-filled Thanksgiving Day.

Acquiring Overshadows Thanksgiving

What Are You Most Thankful For?

Love Your Body During the Holidays

Thanksgiving Tablecloth Idea

In Forsaken God?: Remembering the Goodness of God Our Culture Has Forgotten I share how to use your tablecloth as a “praise-cloth” to preserve memories for generations to come. Here is an excerpt from the book. I hope it gives you some ideas. I’ll be taking our tablecloth with us this Thanksgiving, and here is a picture of ours. We’re now writing down the sides.

thanksgiving-tablecloth-full

When my breast cancer journey started [2002], I became keenly aware of making memories with my family. At times like that, you think seriously about your mortality and the legacy you want to leave with your loved ones. You appreciate each new day of life. The sun rising every morning is an act of God to celebrate.

            Holidays like Thanksgiving have new meaning. Typically, Thanksgiving is a celebration where family and friends gather for a feast, and everyone says what they’re thankful for in the past year. But after finishing the dishes and putting away the leftovers, how many really remember what everyone said?

The Thanksgiving following my first breast cancer surgery, I had an idea of a Thankful Tablecloth. I purchased a Thanksgiving themed tablecloth with plenty of white space and a box of wash-resistant colored markers. After Thanksgiving dinner, I brought out the markers and asked everyone—kids included—to find a spot on the tablecloth to write what they were thankful for that year, sign, and date it. We traced handprints for the tiny ones with their name and age.

Today, we have years of thankful messages to read every Thanksgiving and remember the many acts of God’s goodness to us and the people who joined us at the celebration table each year. If we go to someone’s house for Thanksgiving dinner, I ask if I can bring our Thankful Tablecloth and markers.

            When I go to be with the Lord, I pray my family will continue bringing out the Thanksgiving Tablecloth as a reminder through the generations of how good God has been to our family and friends. [Excerpt from Forsaken God?: Remembering the Goodness of God Our Culture Has Forgotten]

 

thanksgiving-tablecloth-message

And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful. Colossians 3:15 NLT

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God Does Tell Us How to Vote

Dr. Carson

I remember as a little girl hearing my parents warn: Never get into discussions about politics or religion—especially among family and friends. The basis of their warning was that people differ so much in their opinions that it will only cause disagreements and maybe estrangements. And it did!

That seemed so strange since as Christians of the Great Commission (Matt. 28:16-20), we’re told to go out and tell the world about Jesus. And if Jesus is the most important person in our life, and our whole life centers on Him, how could we be silent? Wouldn’t our faith influence our politics? Wouldn’t fellow believers agree?

The adage of my parent’s time has become the “political correctness” of our time. Don’t offend anyone with your beliefs or they’ll label you a hater and bigot for opposing something the Bible clearly calls sin. Even all Christians don’t agree on what constitutes sin . . . or agree on much else actually.

In our culture, if we mention God, Jesus, or the Bible, we’re dismissed as religious zealots or troublemakers—sometimes even among fellow Christians.

How Is God Forsaken Politically?

In working on the title for Forsaken God?: Remembering the Goodness of God Our Culture Has Forgotten, my husband suggested we put a question mark after Forsaken God? to make us stop and think if this could be true. Many Christians can’t imagine ever forsaking God, but it happens so frequently today—not intentionally, but unconsciously—that we may not even realize we’re forgetting Him. But it is happening right now during the elections. How often do you hear people including God in the reasons for their political persuasions and voting choices?

When I was writing Forsaken God? last year, I had no idea what the political arena would look like this year, or that it would be an example of the premise of the book. But what I did see coming was a steady cultural forsaking of God and embracing of the liberal abandonment of the Bible. Just today, I read about an owner of abortion clinics who said she was sure Jesus approved of abortions because she was raised as a “liberal Christian”—an oxymoron! I wrote in the Generation to Generation section of Forsaken God?:

The next generation is falling away from the church in droves or erroneously choosing a pseudo-gospel of compromise and feel-good theology. Today, even children from Bible-believing homes may not have the tools or fortitude to equip them to face a liberal world drifting away from the God of the Bible.

We cannot assume that all Christians will be voting the conservative agenda in a world that indeed is forsaking and forgetting the God of the Bible. “For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myth” (2 Tim 4:3-4).

God Does Tell Us How to Make Every Decision, Including Voting ….

As Christians voice their political opinions in conversations and on social media and in blogs, I seldom hear the use of Scripture or prayer as the basis for their choices and comments. One exception is Pastor Max Lucado, who broke the typical pastoral nonpolitical protocol to speak out about Decency for President because he’s alarmed at some Christians straying away from our core values and biblical roots as criteria for a presidential nominee.

Like Pastor Lucado, I’ve observed disturbing responses to the current political scene, which I list below, but God provides us an antidote and voting guide when we remember Him and His Word.

  1. We’re angry, disillusioned, want change—which are all legitimate feelings as long as they’re not the sole basis of our decisions or lead us to choices that go against our beliefs and values. We can personalize these verses when we consider how to vote and who we’re voting for:

Character: “Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.” Eph. 4:31

Language: “But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips.” —Col. 3:8

Attitude: “Therefore I want the men everywhere to pray, lifting up holy hands without anger or disputing.” —1 Tim. 2:8

“Nevertheless, each person should live as a believer in whatever situation the Lord has assigned to them, just as God has called them. This is the rule I lay down in all the churches.” —1 Cor. 7:17

  1. I want, I need, I don’t like, I feel, I believe—Self-centeredness is never a good basis for making godly decisions. Try personalizing these verses.

God help me remember when I vote to: “Turn my heart toward your statutes and not toward selfish gain.” —Ps. 119:36 “Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.” —Pr. 16:18

“When you heard about Christ and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.”—Eph. 4:21-24

  1. Don’t talk to me about God or the Bible. You’re placing your faith in a very complex work written over a long period of time.” As Christians, we are to remember . . .

“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.”—Heb. 13:8

“I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.” —Ps. 119:11

“I love God’s Word: I delight in your decrees; I will not neglect your word.” —Ps. 119:16

“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” —2 Tim. 3:16-17

  1. God is in control, just be silent and let Him pick who is going to be PresidentGod never tells us to be apathetic, ineffective, or silent, and He uses His people to do His earthly work. How can He pick someone, if we don’t vote?

God says: “Select capable men from all the people—men who fear God, trustworthy men who hate dishonest gain—and appoint them as officials over thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens.” —Ex. 18:21*

Speak out for Christ: “When he came near the place where the road goes down the Mount of Olives, the whole crowd of disciples began joyfully to praise God in loud voices for all the miracles they had seen:

38 “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!”

“Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!”

39 Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Jesus, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples!”

40 “I tell you,” he replied, “if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.”’

Our part in the elections: “Make your motions and cast your votes, but God has the final say.” —Pr. 16:33 (MSG)

Christ has commissioned His Body, the Church, of which He is the Head, to effectively participate with Him in this world: “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you.” —John 15:16

So What Do Christians Do This Election?

Republicans who stay home

We pray and then we go out and vote remembering that no man is perfect—Moses was a murderer, King David was a murderer and an adulterer, Paul was a persecutor of Christians . . . . But if we vote for the Republican conservative agenda and platform, then God can work through whoever wins the earthly mantel.

Max Lucado wrote a follow up blog post to his Decency for President post and he titled it Worried Enough to Pray?

Pray for God to:

  • Bring unity in His church and His people
  • Put a man of integrity and character who loves the Lord as President
  • Help us do whatever God asks to return our country and our culture back to God
  • God’s will be done on earth as it is in Heaven
  • Add your own prayers:

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 Chr. 7:14

Then we do our civic responsibility and privilege, confident that we have done what we can in the way that God called us to work with Him as Christians:

Now this is our boast: Our conscience testifies that we have conducted ourselves in the world, and especially in our relations with you, with integrity and godly sincerity. We have done so, relying not on worldly wisdom but on God’s grace. 2 Cor. 1:12

*Bryan Fisher Host of “Focal Point” has an excellent article “The Bible Does Tell Us Who to Vote for” in which he explores in detail Exodus 18 and the criteria Jethro told Moses to use in selecting godly leaders. I highly suggest reading this well-written article.

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ForsakenGod.indd

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Guns N’ Bibles

Woman with sword of the spiritMy husband and I give participants of our small groups, family, and friends a handout for Preparing for War from the armor of God in Ephesians 6:10-18. Periodically we’ll ask:

                  “So are you putting on the armor of God we told you about?”

Almost universally, the response is a shrugging of shoulders and “No, we’re not . . . .”

When we were first married, I studied spiritual warfare at Fuller Theological Seminary with Dr. Charles Kraft, and my husband went through a Neil Anderson course on spiritual warfare. God knew the spiritual battles we would incur in our years together, so He equipped us both with the understanding that “our struggle is not against flesh and blood but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Ephesians 6:12).

God warns that the only way for Christians to fight this inevitable spiritual battle is to Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes” (Ephesians 6:10-11).

We are cautioned to Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour (1 Peter 5:8).

No Weapon Formed Against Us Can Prosper

Bible_Gun

For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On  the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.                2 Corinthians 10:3-4

This blog post is not about owning guns, but it is about Christians choosing a gun over the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God (Eph. 6:17).

  • Believers who fear man more then they fear Satan.
  • Believers who put more faith in a gun’s protection then faith in God’s protection.
  • Believers who pack a gun, but don’t unpack their Bibles.

Jesus didn’t protect himself with a rock, a sword, or a knife. He fought evil with God’s Word, the sword of the Spirit, the only weapon He ever used. But sadly, today many of Jesus’ disciples know more about guns then they know how to use the only offensive weapon in the armor of God, the sword of the Spirit. They’re going out every day into the world spiritually naked without the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the shoes of the gospel of peace, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, and the Sword of the Spirit securely prayed in place (from Ephesians 6:10-18).

And Satan gloats. If he can get Christians focused on trying to defend and protect themselves more with man’s weapons than fighting him with God’s weapon, Satan wins.

Do You Have a War Room?

Many saw the movie War Room and I’m sure were impressed with the power of prayer portrayed in this movie. But how many went home and set up a War Room? When I told my 7 year-old granddaughter the name of the movie, she wasn’t sure she wanted to watch it because she thought it would be a war movie. After our family watched it together, I asked her: “Do you know what a war room is now?”

Sienna: “A room where you pray,” she said confidently.

Friends, I hope you realize the mighty power of Jesus we have within us is not just fictional in a movie. Miss Clara in War Room understood how to use that power. She stood up to the assailant demanding her purse at knife point and told him in the “name of Jesus” to put down his knife. And he did. But some will say that’s just in the movies. . . . Maybe not.

Let me share with you a real-life “Miss Clara” story that happened last week to one of my Facebook Friends, Terri Gillespie. I asked Terri if I could share her story with you and she said absolutely.

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Jan 10, 2016 on Terri Gillespie’s Facebook Post

Yesterday, at 1:26 pm I was robbed at gunpoint.

As I type these words, it still feels surreal. And as I process the event, I realize how easy it would be to turn this into a political issue, or a statement on the darkness of this world, but it was so much more than that.

First, what happened: My friend, Cathy and I were traveling back from our writing retreat at the Jersey shore. We decided to stop in Vineland, NJ for some lunch and shopping. We had a lovely experience with the young woman who helped us—she was a Christian and Zionist—and walked back to my car with our purchases.

My vehicle was packed with our bags and other packages from a weeklong retreat. Our clothes hung from the backseat carrack.

I couldn’t find my cell. I opened the back door on the driver’s side, placed my purse on top of a suitcase, and leaned over to search for it.

I asked Cathy to call my cell to see if it was in my purse. I felt something tapping me on my back and thought it was the clothes hangers. Finally, the phone rang in my purse, just as I felt the tapping again. I straightened and turned and there was a young man with a gun. He made sure I saw he had a gun. I remembered thinking two things. One: “Oh man!” Two: “Do glocks come in silver?”

He motioned toward my purse and whispered something. I hesitated, then reached for my little wallet. I remembered a scene from the movie War Room and I turned toward him and said, “Jesus loves you. He wouldn’t want you to do this.”

Cathy asked me if I had found my phone yet. I assured her I had. Thankfully, because of the curtain of clothing hanging, she had no idea what was going on. She only heard bits and pieces of my side of the conversation.

I pulled all the cash from my wallet—$12.00—and handed it to him. I apologized it wasn’t more. He rolled his eyes and asked for my car keys. I whispered, “You’re taking my car? You’re leaving us stranded?”

He motioned the gun toward Cathy and said he would kill her.

I said, “No, please. She just got over cancer. She almost died.” But, I handed him the keys.

I either repeated what I said, or I said that Jesus loved him. Perhaps, both. I tried making eye contact with him throughout. His gaze was mostly everywhere but on me. At this point, he looked briefly at me, then looked down. Cathy told me later that I kept saying Jesus loves you.

The young man handed me back the keys. He paused as though not sure what to do next. I thanked him and patted him on the shoulder and repeated one last time, “Jesus loves you.”

He turned and walked away.

Shaking, I shut the door, opened the driver’s side door, and started the car.

Cathy asked me if I was okay. I think I said something like, just a minute. Frankly, I was afraid that the young man would change his mind and return, so I wanted to get out of there.

Finally, I was able to tell Cathy what had just happened.

Cathy prayed as I drove back onto Highway 55. We thanked the Lord for His protection. We prayed for that young man that God would touch his heart and change his life from that moment on. We prayed for miles and miles. We talked, then prayed some more.

I was so grateful—am so grateful. Grateful for God’s protection of my friend and me. Grateful for the young man’s mercy and that in the midst of evil plans, he made the right choice to stop. Grateful that my friend did not have to see all this happening. Grateful to be able to go home and hug and kiss my husband.

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Terri goes on to explain that she did report the crime, then she adds: “This morning when I first awoke, I remembered to forgive the young man and prayed again for his salvation and that his life would change for God’s glory. I’m sure there is more for Cathy and me to process and I would appreciate your prayers for us and our families as we do this; but please, as you pray, please remember this young man. Pray for him.”

When I asked Terri if she thought they would have all walked away unharmed if she had a gun, her answer was telling:

Do I think the outcome would have been different had I been armed? Yes. And that’s why I was glad I wasn’t. It really forced me to be totally dependent upon the Lord.

Several Facebook comments:

You were saved by using the Word of the Lord – may we always remember that they are mightier than any sword (or gun).”

“He was truly “disarmed” in the Spirit.”

Here’s a picture of my War Room. Let’s flood social media with pictures of our War Rooms and Sword of the Spirit.

My War Room

                   My War Room

My Weapon, The Sword of the Spirit

My Weapon, The Sword of the Spirit

We Have the Same Power!

A couple booked a wedding on our farm. Dale and I prayed that the Glory of the Lord would encounter them. I walked into the bedroom where the bride and bridesmaids were getting dressed and asked if I could pray a blessing over the wedding and marriage. The bride looked at her bridesmaids inquisitively. She said, “Sure.” They gathered close. I put my hands on the bride. I asked JESUS to encounter their hearts… At the first WORD of JESUS-tears streamed down their faces like I’ve never seen. There’s POWER in the NAME of JESUS! I prayed in boldness that the couples offspring would boldly declare Christ as Lord and be warriors for HIM. When the prayer was finished, she held her womb, with tears rolling and hugged me. One day EVERY knee will bow and EVERY tongue confess that He is LORD!I Don’t EVER be afraid to be bold with His NAME!—Facebook Post from Sharon Glasglow shared with permission

We hear songs like “There is Power in the Name of Jesus”, but how often do we tap into that power within us? The words from Jeremy Camp’s song, “Same Power,” ring so true for all Christians:

SAME POWER

I can see

Waters raging at my feet

I can feel

The breath of those surrounding me

I can hear

The sound of nations rising up

We will not be overtaken

We will not be overcome

I can walk

Down this dark and painful road

I can face

Every fear of the unknown

I can hear

All God’s children singing out

We will not be overtaken

We will not be overcome

The same power that rose Jesus from the grave

The same power that commands the dead to wake

Lives in us, lives in us

The same power that moves mountains when He speaks

The same power that can calm a raging sea

Lives in us, lives in us

He lives in us, lives in us

We have hope

That His promises are true

In His strength

There is nothing we can’t do

Yes, we know

There are greater things in store

We will not be overtaken

We will not be overcome

Greater is He that is living in me

He’s conquered our enemy

No power of darkness

No weapon prevails

We stand here in victory

Jeremy Camp and Jason Ingram © 2015 Stolen Pride Music (ASCAP) (admin. at CapitolCMGPublishing.com) / Sony ATV Timber Publishing / Open Hands Music (SESAC) (Admin. by Sony/ATV Music Publishing LL

Dear ones, I’m not so naive to think we will ever have a society without guns, but I am passionate about the number of empty War Rooms in the homes and hearts of fellow Christians. We may never have a government that turns completely to God to guide our country, but that doesn’t mean that the body of Christ can’t join forces in utilizing the greatest power that ever lived, and lives within each of us: the Name of Jesus Christ and the Word of God.

Breastplate of righteousnessI leave you with these important questions to ponder:

  • Do you believe you have the “same power” that rose Jesus from the grave?
  • Are you ready and equipped to use the power of Jesus within you?
  • If so, I beg you to daily clothe yourselves and your children in the Armor of God and set up your Prayer War Rooms! Arm yourselves with God’s Word, the Bible, and be ready to go into action.

Your life and the lives of those you love could depend on it.

Here are links to two versions of Praying the Armor of God that I have on my website Prodigal Support page:

Simplified version of Putting on the Armor of God Daily

Armor of God Personalized and Expanded

If you received this post by email, leave a comment here.

Also a reminder that my new book Forsaken God?: Remembering the Goodness of God Our Culture Has Forgotten releases February 9th. Amazon is taking pre-orders now. Order today to be sure they don’t run out on the 9th.

ForsakenGod.indd

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The Urgent ‘Affluentza’ Epidemic

wallpaper of cross

www.christianwallpaperfree.com

We are an affluent society laboring under the tyranny of the urgent: marketers prey on our “don’t-want-to-miss-a-great-deal,” “gotta-have-it” obsession. If there’s a limited time to buy, then the product must be worthy of our time, energy, and finances. Our culture suffers from an urgent affluentza epidemic that has now invaded our churches and Christian lives.

The Lord recently pointed out to me how affluentza epidemic is transmitted virtually through the numerous emails I receive with subject lines like:

last chance, sale ends at midnight, discount ends tomorrow, only 48- hours left to buy, free shipping for the next three hours, exclusive in-store offer, exclusive online offer, exclusive holiday offer, today only, final days, clearance sale, order now before it’s too late, sale ends, last minute buy, flash sale, today’s deals, one time only, last day, you’ve been chosen, trending gifts going fast, hurry, don’t miss. limited time offer . . . .

You get the picture because you could add to the list. I found these in my email “trash.” That’s what I think of most marketing emails. As soon as an “urgent” sales campaign is over, another one starts.

I remember a friend once looking at the newspaper and exclaiming, “Wow look at all these sales. Maybe we should go shopping before the sale ends.” I laughed and said, “Don’t worry, tomorrow’s paper will be full of more ‘great buys.’”

When we moved to the mountains with no shopping centers, a city dweller said, “You’re going to miss all the sales in town.” I responded: “There will always be a sale going on somewhere any day I’m in town. And I’ll save so much money and time not running all over for the next big deal.”

Marketers use our desire to think we’re getting a great deal with a limited buying window to seduce us into buying things we don’t need with money we shouldn’t be spending for things that often end up stashed away in the garage or back of the closet.

What is ‘Affluentza’ Epidemic?

If you’re wondering if I made up the word affluentza, I did. But I couldn’t think of a better word to describe how salesmen, companies, and marketers entice us to think their product or gadget is something we can’t live with out, when you only have to drive by a garage or moving sale to see how many of those things were actually worthless.

We live in one of the most affluent countries in the world, but we always want more. This need to acquire–the affluentza epidemic–started with the most affluent couple in the Bible: Adam and Eve. They had everything in the world, and wanted for nothing. So how did Satan tempt them? With the only thing God told them they couldn’t have: to be like God.

And man has been in a power struggle with God ever since to: own more, make more, acquire more . . . .

The next time you see one of those adds that entice you into thinking this product will bring you contentment, joy, peace, happiness, wealth, a better life, health, wisdom . . . ask yourself: Is this from Satan or God?

There’s Only ONE Urgent Offer That Matters

This Christmas, don’t buy into the urgent affluentza marketing hype. There’s only One truly urgent offer; it’s free and you’ll never want again. . . but it’s an offer that won’t last forever. We don’t know when Jesus will return and we don’t know the number of our days. We all have friends, family, neighbors, workers, mentees . . . who don’t know Jesus . . . that’s the ONLY “time-is-running-out,” “must-have” offer that should get our attention.

There are people in our sphere of influence who have passed away without believing in Jesus. Maybe they were even affluent in earthly possessions, but they were spiritually bankrupt, and we didn’t seize opportunities to create a sense of urgency for them to make decision for Christ. We thought there was time, but there wasn’t.

That may be a sober way to look at Christmas, but in the wake of the senseless, random killings in our world today, how could we think of Christ’s birth any other way? He came to earth to offer the One and Only Gift worth our time, energy, resources, and urgency because this salvation offer does have a time limit . . . an hour, the next three hours, today only, tonight, last chance . . . with our last breath or Jesus’ return to earth.

If you’re a Christian, God chose you to do everything in your power this Christmas, and every day, to share Christ’s free Gift of Salvation with a world where the end time could be near.

I appreciate each of you who follow this blog, and I pray your Christmas makes a difference in someone’s eternity.

Merry CHRISTmas!

Here is a poem that I wrote a few years ago, and many ask me to share it every year because it has an urgent message we need to apply in our lives every Christmas and every day!

Time To Sit With You

Lord, so many things to do,

No time to sit with you.

There’s presents to buy,

And I must bake a pie!

But isn’t it all about Me?

What’s closed your eyes to see.

The purpose of Christmas day,

Isn’t how much you pay?

Lord, each year we hear that said,

Yet, still it comes with dread.

Anticipating all to do,

No time to sit with You!

This is MY day.

Don’t I have a say

In how you spend your time?

Remember, you are chosen…Mine!

But Lord, relatives will soon be here,

And the lawn Santa still needs reindeer!

There is so much to do,

Still no time to sit with You.

Relax and enjoy Me this season,

Let your activities have a reason.

This is My Birthday celebration,

And all I want is your attention.

Oh, Lord, we’ll make it all about You.

Do You think we should have fondue?

We’ll read the Christmas Story,

And give You all the glory.

Sit down and read My Word.

Your craziness is absurd.

Come spend some time with me,

Forget the Christmas tree.

Oh, Lord the cookies are all baked,

I have such a headache.

I know I need to pray,

But I’ve had such a day!

Lives are waiting to be saved.

Did you hear Me when you prayed?

It is certainly no wonder

Your world is all asunder.

No, God, I didn’t hear a word,

I was busy stuffing the bird.

I want to just slow down,

But I feel I’m losing ground.

You’ve made it all about you,

And all your parties too.

My message to the lost,

Overshadowed by homemade cranberry sauce.

Lord, that’s not true,

You know I do love You.

It’s just I feel a call,

To make this the best Christmas of all!

You’re wasting your time.

Do you think you could top Mine?

I had a virgin birth,

As my entrance to earth.

Oh, Lord, I’m beginning to see,

How You want to use me.

Telling Your story to all who will listen,

Is the true Christmas mission.

Spending time with Me,

Is the only way to flee

The world’s strangling control

On your time and very soul.

Oh, Lord, Your music softly plays,

As the candle glow displays,

The beauty of time spent

With our Gift heaven sent.

You’ll go against the flow

Taking time to help a lost soul.

But when the day has come to end,

You’ll have the joy of a new friend.

Oh, Lord, forgive me please.

Help me put down my car keys.

It really is so true,

There’s ALWAYS time to sit with You.

If you receive this in email, please comment here.

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Want a New Start in 2015?

New Start 15 theme verse-1

 My friend and fellow author/speaker, Kathy Howard, is inviting you and me to join her in a search for holiness and a deeper walk with the Lord in 2015! In her guest blog today, she tells us more about New Start 15 and how to get involved. If you’re wondering why my Bible Studies are not listed on their Resource List, I’m writing fast and furious on a new book and wasn’t able to be a contributor for New 15, but I support it 100%. You can also consider starting 2015 with one of my Bible studies to do on your own, with a friend/M&M, or in a group.

New Start 15 by Kathy Howard

New Start 15 by Kathy Howard

I love the “undo” button on my laptop. You know the one – that little arrow that curves to the left. When you click it, the last thing you did magically disappears.

Sometimes I wish life had an “undo” button. I could click it to magically erase the unkind words I blurted. Or wipe out my selfish behavior. Or eliminate that wrong decision. To “undo” all those things that brought unwanted consequences or now weigh heavy on my conscience.

Yep. In fact, sometimes it would be great to start over all together. To get a clean slate. To get a complete do-over.

Guess what? If you’re a Christian, that’s exactly what you got when you entered into a saving relationship with Jesus Christ. And sister, if things have gotten a bit off track since then, it’s not too late to undo and start new. In fact, now is a great time for a NEW START.

New Start 15

If you’d like to “undo” a few things or even start new on a bigger scale, consider joining me for “New Start 15.” During January, a few friends and I will be leading a month-long journey into holiness. Together we’ll explore what it looks like to become a “new creation in Christ,” to practically live out the set-apart, holy life to which God calls us.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! 2 Corinthians 2:17, NIV

The “old” life looks like the world around us. And it’s burdened with the weight and consequences of worldly living. But the “new” life is radically different from the world, holy and set apart to God.

There is glorious freedom and joy in living a life of holiness. Freedom from the weight and consequences of sin. And joy in a deeper intimacy with our holy God.

Do you like the sound of freedom and joy? The chance for a New Start? Our God is the God of second chances, clean slates, and do-overs.

 

Participation in New Start 15 is simple.

Here are a few ways you can get involved:

 

  • Use the New Start 15 Bible Reading Plan in your personal quite time January 5 – 23. (Free download)
  • Like the New Start 15 Facebook page to keep up with daily devotional blog posts, get words of encouragement, and share thoughts from your own journey. (You can also download the New Start 15 bloggers list and schedule.)
  • Follow the New Start 15 “blog hop” January 5-23 (weekdays only) as the New Start 15 team blogs about living the new, holy life in Christ. (List of New Start 15 Contributors)
  • Check out the New Start 15 Resources List for books, Bible studies, blog posts, printables and more to help you on your journey. (Free Download)
  • Invite your friends to join you in the New Start 15 journey by sending them the link to this post.

Do you long for deep intimacy with God? Do you desire for your life to please and glorify Him? Do you want your life to point others to Jesus? If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, then New Start 15 is for you! Join us in January as we dig into God’s Word to find out what He says about living the new, holy life in Christ.

 

Are you ready for a New Start? I’d love to hear your thoughts and comments. Or simply let me know you’re in! Happy New Year!

Kathy Howard

Kathy Howard

 

 

 

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A Glimmer of Hope for Your Prodigal

Watching child struggle through life

 

“Moms, you know how it feels when you see any glimmer of hope in your prodigal.” —A praying mom

Moms of prodigals will identify with that glimmer of hope. I know I did.

Praying Mother Alice’s Story

I recently received an email from a mom who had shared her story in Praying for Your Prodigal Daughter: Hope, Help, & Encouragement for Hurting Parents. On page 178 in the chapter “Confronting Our Own Mistakes,” Alice said:

*My daughter, Liz, has chosen to cut off her relationship with me. I made many wrong choices that hurt her. I’m so sorry and have apologized many times, but Liz refused to forgive me. I’m saddened by the wall she’s built to protect herself from being hurt emotionally again.

My guilt over Liz plagued me; I felt captive by her refusal to forgive me. I’ve beaten myself up for not being the perfect mother and not saying or doing the right things. Truth is I make mistakes all the time. I hurt people—not intentionally—but it happens when I’m thinking of myself and not of how my words and actions affect others. With God’s help, I’m working on changing that part of my character. In the meantime, I continue praying that God will soften Liz’s heart so she’ll be able to forgive me and any other person who has hurt her.—Alice

Alice sent me her heartbreaking story of the estrangement from her daughter eight years ago. I know many who identify with her pain and regret and the deep desire to restore her relationship with her daughter and to receive her daughter’s forgiveness.

Last week, I received an email from Alice with the subject line: Update on Prodigal Daughter “Liz.” Following is Alice’s update shared with her permission. I hope Alice’s openness and vulnerability encourages those of you who are still praying for a reunion with your prodigal.

The separation started 27 years ago when my “prodigal daughter” had completed college. She didn’t need my financial support or close personal connection anymore.

The separation gap widened four years ago when Liz told me she needed a break!

The break I imagined was time for her to sort things out that were plaguing her: divorce negotiations that dragged on, the decline of her dietician business with fewer clients, stress of raising a son as a single mom, and then there was “me.” I was the mother she felt was not there for her as a teenager when she was having major issues with her stepfather. It turned out that Liz wanted a permanent “break” from me.

My heart ached to see her and talk to her. That wasn’t an option open to me. What I could do during these past four years was to pray and wait until my daughter was ready to connect again. I prayed for a softening of Liz’s heart. I also prayed God would help me understand why my middle daughter wanted no part of my life.

As I wrote in my journal recently, I asked the LORD to give me a better understanding of what I was dealing with. He answered me with a clear example of my daughter as a person encased in ice—unable to move, feel love, or reach out for help. Liz was stuck in a frozen place where anger, resentments, and bitterness imbedded her mind and heart. She could not free herself.

My son sensed my pain of rejection and separation from Liz. Out of his compassion for me and the desire to have his nephew, Bobby, know his grandmother, he arranged a luncheon meeting at a restaurant this month to celebrate my 76th birthday. As the date grew closer, I prayed more intently that I would keep the attention on my daughter, her son, and my other two grown children who were to attend. I wanted to let our get-together be all about them—not me.

On the day of the family meeting, I brought peace offerings. I baked my grandson’s favorite Christmas cookies and took several pages from a photo album that had elementary school pictures of my three children when they were Bobby’s age. It turned out to be an “ice-breaker.”

As we met, my heart pounded then rejoiced when Liz was friendly toward me and open to conversation. After lunch, as Liz and I made our way to the restroom, she said that her son, Bobby, wanted to see me more and she was sorry that it had not happened before. She invited me to come to her home this coming Christmas for a few days to bake cookies with her son. Words eluded me but my heart sang for joy.

It took my prayers, the efforts of my only son, and the desire of Liz’s little boy—my grandson—to spend time with me that brought about a change of Liz’s heart. “And a little child will lead them.” Isaiah 11:6

Never Stop Praying

You’ve heard me say it before, and I know it’s so hard to do when your heart is breaking and you don’t see any change in the situation, but never stop praying for your prodigal. Alice prayed for 27 years. I prayed for six years for my prodigal. Previous blogs from prodigal Alycia Neighbours related how long her parents prayed for her return: Never Stop Praying for Your Prodigal! and After the Party for the Returning Prodigal.

As Alice said above, many times prayer is the only thing you can do when everything else is out of your control. In the chapter on Praying Biblically in Praying for Your Prodigal Daughter, Alice told how she prayed scripturally for her daughter, which is how I also prayed for my daughter. It’s simply personalizing and paraphrasing God’s Word as a prayer back to Him (See 40 Days of Praying Scripture for Your Prodigal on page 313). Here’s how Alice said she prayed Scripture:

*I’ve learned to pray for my daughter by praying back the Scriptures to God. For example, I pray Ezekiel 36:27-29 for Liz’s heart to soften and for her to return home: “God, give my daughter Liz a heart of flesh to replace her heart of stone toward spiritual things. Through Your Spirit, move her to follow Your decrees and carefully keep Your laws. Help Liz to return home. Allow her to live in the land You, God, gave to her spiritual forefathers; may she be Your child, may You be her God. Save her from all her uncleanness.”

What has helped you maintain a “glimmer of hope” while waiting for your prodigal to return?

*Excerpts from Praying for Your Prodigal Daughter: Hope, Help, and Encouragement for Hurting Parents.

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The Wonders of Prayerful Handholding

You’ve probably noticed that I’ve had guest bloggers the past three weeks while I was on vacation and participating in our churches VBS with my grandkids. A big thank you to Julie Sanders and Stephanie Shott for their great guest blogs. In the coming weeks, I’ll be sharing the many God wonders from our vacation and VBS adventures, starting with today’s blog post.

Many, Lord my God, are the wonders you have done, the things you planned for us. None can compare with you; were I to speak and tell of your deeds, they would be too many to declare.—Psalm 40:5

 

The Wonders of Prayerful Handholding!

“Bless you both,” I heard as my husband, Dave, and I opened our eyes after praying over our dinner in the Seattle airport food court. I looked up to see an elderly gentleman and his wife beaming at us from the next table. In an instant, we all knew that we shared something in common—God! When we acknowledged the husband’s comment, his wife gleefully added, “And I said to my husband, ‘Look they’re holding hands while they pray!’”.

As we chatted with the couple, we learned that they were waiting to board a plane to Orange County, our former home, and they were traveling from Canada. I later told Dave that I have always wanted to acknowledge others praying over their meal when we’re out to eat, but I never knew exactly what to say that wouldn’t be intrusive—now I knew exactly what to say!

Backing up a bit…earlier that morning, Dave and I had again held hands and prayed as we sat in the Boise airport anticipating a long travel day with a seven hour layover in Seattle on our way to Maui. We asked God to use our long waits and travel times to His glory and that He would have us encounter the people He wanted us to meet. As we said “Amen,” I heard a familiar voice calling my name and it was the sweet receptionist at our Garden Valley Clinic. She was on her way to Texas, and as we chatted together she told us of her friend she was going to help move back to Idaho, and we were able to share with her about a group we are starting in our home that might help her friend.

After sixteen hours of travel and a four hour time change, we finally made it to the beautiful island of Maui ready to enjoy a week at the Love Song Couples Getaway at the Grand Wailea Resort. Since it took us a day of travel and we arrived late at night, we had decided to go two days early and spend our first two nights before the Getaway started at a less expensive hotel near the airport on a different part of the island than the Grand Wailea.

Our first morning in this “tropical paradise,” we headed down to the hotel’s restaurant for my favorite Hawaiian breakfast: pancakes with coconut syrup.  While savoring every bite, I noticed that a couple who had just been seated at the table next to us were holding hands and praying before their meal, as Dave and I had done before they arrived. Here is my chance to try out my acknowledgement greeting.

So when I heard “Amen,” I said to them “Bless you both.” They looked a little surprised at first, but as the conversation ensued, it turned out they too were from Orange County and were also headed to the Love Song Couples Getaway, and like us, had decided to come in two days early and stay near the airport! What are the chances of that? Hmmm, God was really answering our prayer to orchestrate who He wanted us to meet.

The next day at the same restaurant for breakfast, I noticed another couple sitting next to us and they were finishing their meal as we sat down. Dave and I ordered and then held hands and prayed a blessing over our food. As the couple got up to leave, I noticed the husband gave us a kind acknowledging smile.

Later that day, we checked out of our hotel and checked into the Grand Wailea, where the Love Song Couples Getaway was being held. And who should we see in the lobby but the same couple we had seen that morning at breakfast! It turns out that they had watched us pray over our meal and the wife had said to the husband, “Why don’t we hold hands while we pray?”

Thousands of tourists are on the island of Maui ever day…what are the chances that we would meet two couples going to the same retreat we were who were staying the first two night on the same part of the island that we did, and that we would eat breakfast in the same place at the same time, and that holding hands while we prayed would be our connecting factor.

We became great friends with both of these couples while we were at the Getaway and thanks to Facebook and email, we’ll stay friends across the miles. As other couples asked us how we met each other, it gave us another opportunity to share our story of the wonders of God using handholding while praying.

I have so much to tell you about the Love Song Couples Getaway, which I will in upcoming blogs, but let me salt you with saying it was the best, God-filled vacation we have ever had and we’ve already signed up to go next year to the Bahamas with them. This vacation was better than our expectations and a wise investment of our time and resources to enhance our marriage and draw us closer to each other and God.

Do you hold hands with your spouse when you pray?

Dave and I have held hands praying since before we were married…we hold hands whenever we pray whether it be in church, over a meal anywhere and everywhere… yes even over pizza…and when we pray together at home. We also hold hands with our friends, family, kids, grandkids, visitors . . . whoever is in the circle of breaking bread together when we pray over a meal. There’s a unity that comes from clasping our hands in another’s and lifting your heart to the Lord together. And who knows….God just might use it as your witness and help you make new friends!

You might enjoy looking over some tips for Praying as a Couple that I included in Praying for Your Prodigal Daughter.

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40 Years of Love!

“I’m sorry, but you’ll never have children.” Those were the doctor’s words to me at a post-op visit after surgery for a ruptured ovarian cyst. “Your ovaries look like those of a 90 year-old woman.” I was a twenty year-old, newly engaged college student. My life was over. Or so I thought.

After three years of marriage, I was thrilled to hear another doctor congratulate me: “You’re pregnant!” My mother called it a miracle, but I just wanted to be like any normal woman who could get pregnant and have a baby.

The last week of pregnancy, when my baby was a week overdue, everyone kept calling to see if I was “still home.” I enjoyed every moment of those 9 months and one week, and even steeled myself through a natural, long delivery, but nothing could prepare me for what it would feel like to hold my baby girl—instant, unconditional love.

I was a mom at last! But I had no concept of the life-changing responsibility I was undertaking or the importance of my being an exemplary role model for her. After all, she was just an infant and I would have so many years to work out all the details of mothering.

Where did those years go? This week, February 26, my baby girl, Kimberly Michele, turns 40 and she is a mother herself of three precious children. I remember the day I turned 40 and it doesn’t seem that long ago.

Kim and I didn’t have the life journey I anticipated upon first looking into her dark brown eyes. When she was only 2 years-old, her dad and I divorced, and I would spend the next seventeen years as a single mom juggling motherhood and a career. To the outside world, I did a great job as I moved up the career ladder of success; but as I moved further into the world and father away from the Jesus I asked into my heart at eleven, I role modeled the world’s ways to Kim.

Kim loved our life and all that I was able to provide her, even though she often cried that she missed me, as I headed off on another business trip. But we had time, right? She was still young and eighteen years is a long time…. I’ll make up to her the time we’ve been apart.

But in a blink of an eye, she was sixteen and dating. Then within moments, she was nineteen and declaring she was going off to college to live with her boyfriend, and she didn’t care what I had to say about it. I had recently rededicated my life to the Lord and was now trying to tell her this lifestyle was wrong, but she wasn’t buying it.

I mistakenly thought that when I changed my life and returned to God, she would follow right behind me. Wrong! That’s when the Lord assured me that, yes, I had let the first nineteen years of her life slip by without including Him in the parenting, but it wasn’t over yet. And so I began praying—daily, biblically, expectantly, persistently, sacrificially, unceasingly, and thankfully—as I describe in the first seven chapters of my book Praying for Your Prodigal Daughter.

I’d like to say that she instantly changed her ways, but it would be another six years of daily praying before she returned to me and to the Lord.

The Lord graciously restored the years the locust had eaten. I had the opportunity to do what I should have done from the day she was born: mentor her in how to be a godly woman. Today, I am so proud of the woman she has become. We’re now speaking together as “Two About His Work,” and she’s giving her testimony in a few weeks at her MOPS group.

Even through the difficult years, my love for Kim never faltered. She knew I didn’t condone her behavior, but neither did I condemn her. Our relationship has endured and grown stronger in spite of divorce, single parenthood, a traveling mom, both our prodigal years, my remarriage and blending a new family, my breast cancer, her infertility, and all the trials and joys of life.

I thought I would feel terribly old the day she turned 40; but instead, I feel blessed with the 40 years God has given me to love my precious daughter, and I’m grateful that the work He has done in my life will carry on through the work He is doing in her life. She’s my legacy, and I have given her the most valuable of inheritances: belief in Jesus Christ. 40 years is nothing in light of spending eternity together.

Mentoring Words to Moms:

  • Are you the woman today you want your daughter to become?  You’re the closest role model and mentor your daughter has.
  • It’s never too early to pray daily for your children. Pray for them before you have a problem.
  • Praying personalized Scripture—God’s Word back to Him—keeps you praying God’s will and not your own.
  • Enjoy every day of your children’s lives—they never get younger and neither to do you. Make each day count.

Janet-and-Kim

My daughter Kim and I speak together as Two About His Work.

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