Part 2 …and You Who Will Pray For Them

Wow, Siestas! Thank you, thank you so much for your participation in Beth’s recent post: For You in Your 20′s and You Who Will Pray For Them.

Our Siesta Mama is hunkered down in Eugene preparing for her group tonight but asked if I would put up this brief post asking for your prayer help again. We were shocked and unprepared for that many of our 20-somethings requesting prayer.  We still have a sizable group left needing partners. (A good many of them beginning on page 13 to the end.)  If you would be so kind, reach out to some of your prayer warrior friends that usually aren’t in our community to come alongside these 20′s with us. We are so grateful. Your prayers matter. We love you like crazy!!

 

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LPL Eugene – Siesta Scholarship Tickets

Ladies! Today Beth and the Living Proof Live team head to Eugene, Oregon for Living Proof Live this weekend. Are any of you headed that way? I know they’re all looking forward to serving the ladies there this weekend.

For this coming weekend, we have 20 scholarship tickets to giveaway to those of you that would love to attend, but just cannot financially swing it at this time. We hope and pray that it will be a blessing to some of you.

If you fit this description, and have been waiting for this post to go up (grin!), please call the office and ask for Kimberly. You can call 281-257-3344 or call toll free at 888.700.1999. She will get you squared and away and good to go! If you happen to call during the lunch hour, please leave a message and we’ll get back to you ASAP.

Also, for those of you ready to get your praying on, our Siesta Mama has a request for you:

Dearest Siestas, at our last Living Proof Live two weeks ago, we had two more members of our praise team miss Saturday in Greensboro over one having to go to the emergency room. That makes two for two with our first 2013 LPL’s. If you would, please cover us a little extra in prayer this weekend because of added spiritual warfare in the Eugene area.   Agree with us that all sickness and emergencies will be bound for the remainder of 2013! Now, off to Eugene I go!

I love you so much!
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For You in Your 20′s and You Who Will Pray For Them

**UPDATE: We are just so happy to have all of you 20-somethings flock to requesting prayer! Our faithful God surely hears, and cares to His core! If you do not see a specific partner reply to your request, know that the LPM Staff have adopted you. We will pray for each of you, joyfully!

One of my favorite things about Twitter is that we can come to really love someone we wouldn’t have even known to like. Someone from an entirely different part of the country or the planet. Someone from a totally different tradition of our faith. Someone in another generation who serves God in a way that is fresh and exhilarating to us. I have a whole mental list of those and just this morning prayed for a number of young women that I’ve gotten to “know” there on that ridiculous stream of social media that I love. It is a young man that I’ve come to appreciate so much, however, that prompted this post. His name is Jefferson Bethke. I didn’t know anything about him until 6 months ago when Melissa, my youngest daughter, told me she enjoyed following him on Twitter. He is a great communicator God clearly has His hand upon and a poet who creates fantastic thought-provoking videos. I’m glad to have the privilege to tell you about him but that’s not why I’m bringing him up today. A week or so ago on Twitter he mentioned sitting on the airplane, moved with emotion over various testimonies he’d been reading of lives dramatically changed by Jesus Christ. It hit me right then that one of the things I loved best about him is that the young man simply has a pure heart. He just flat-out loves Jesus and loves people. It’s consistent in everything he says and writes. I felt an urgency right that moment to ask God to protect that holy passion and sustain it the length of his days.

And that’s when I thought of all of you in his same generation who really do want to honor God and fulfill the purpose for which He planted your feet on this earth.

Here’s what I want to say to you: you really can maintain a pure and fiery heart toward Christ and His mission on earth but make no mistake: you will not do it by accident.

If you want a pure heart, you better be willing to fight for it. You will not keep it any other way.

The first big relief is that we can’t conjure one up on our own. God alone can create in us a pure heart and renew a right spirit within us. (Psalm 51:10) He alone can set it ablaze with holy passion. But out of God’s sovereign wisdom, He determined that guarding the heart He formed and lit within us would, in many ways, fall to us. We’re to own part of that job.

Above all else, guard your heart,
for everything you do flows from it. Proverbs 4:23

Our second huge relief is that we can have a pure heart whether or not we have a pure past. Thank You, Jesus. If not, I and many others would be stuck for a lifetime with dark distorted hearts and deformed desires.

There are many other things more effective voices could tell you about guarding your heart toward Christ, toward people He’s sent you to serve and toward His mission on this planet. Ask them and learn from them. My purpose today is to pitch into the mix a couple of things that I’ve learned – and keep learning – in case any of it resonates with you. I also want to pray for you and call others to do the same. Here goes:

*Your heart will cool off if you do nothing to guard it. Jesus warned us in the 24th chapter of Matthew that “because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold.” (V.12) We’re exposed to so much suffering and violence, pain, pretense, and wrongdoing in the world that, even as a defense against feeling so much, we’ll naturally thicken up. I’m certainly not suggesting we be less informed. Uninformed Christians can be a waste of light in the darkness. What I’m suggesting is that, if you want to keep a warm, feeling heart, you better be prepared to fight like mad for it.

*Over time, you can get really cynical. For one thing, cynicism can be really funny so we get drawn to it. It also tends to be cooler. You have to be willing to be one of those that the cynics could make fun of.

*You have to realize that guarding your heart means guarding its willingness to love and be exposed out there where it can get wronged or wounded. A couple of years ago I was researching God’s self-disclosure in Exodus 34:5-7 and stumbled onto something that totally changed the way I looked at guarding my heart. Here’s the segment so you can see it for yourself:

5 Then the LORD came down in the cloud and stood there with him and proclaimed his name, the LORD. 6 And he passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, “The LORD, the LORD, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, 7 maintaining love…

See that word “maintaining”? It is a form of the same Hebrew term used in Proverbs 4:23  for “guarding” our hearts. In other words, a huge part of guarding my heart is maintaining love. It was a total game changer for me because somehow I had associated guarding my heart with keeping it sheltered. Try to fathom that God actively maintains His love toward us. He guards it. Using that same concept, He calls us to maintain our love toward other people. If I want to stay in love with my husband, for instance, I better actively practice maintaining it because, left to its nature, it will grow cold.

One of the things that God keeps teaching me to do is pray with everything in me and on an ongoing basis to love Jesus more than anything I can see or touch in this human realm. He promises in Scripture to grant us everything we pray in His will and in His name. (1 John 5:14-15)  Since His greatest command was that we love (Mark 12:30-31), you can pray for it with absolute confidence that He’s going to do it. In fact, every time you ask God for it, go ahead and thank Him in advance that He’s going to accomplish it. He will. Then when He starts doing it, you start guarding it with all your might.

Ask Him continually to stir fire in your bones for His Word and for His mission. Ask Him to sustain it in you and teach you how to guard it through every inch of your lifespan. Only put up with a sense of spiritual flatness for a matter of days. That’s completely normal. But when it begins to turn into weeks, go face-down on that floor and ask God to give you insight into what seems off and to revive your heart. Don’t just accept coldness. Fight for love.

What is it you want from God? Pray for it feverishly! “Pursue love and earnestly desire the spiritual gifts.” That’s what 1 Corinthians 14:1 says.

Also ask others to pray these things over you. That’s what I am hoping this blog post will be about today.

Here’s what I’m asking all of you to do if you’re willing:

*Those of you in your 20′s, tell us at least your first name, where you’re from, and a little bit about you in a comment so that we can personalize our intercessions for you.

*The rest of you choose one of them to pray for (or two, if you have the time), let them know in a reply under their comment that you are adopting them for intercession for the next 14 days. Tell them where you’re from as well. I think they’ll like knowing that, too. As long as every 20-something gets signed-up for, it doesn’t matter if a number of you are praying for the same individual. If they’re like us, they’d be ecstatic to have the extra prayer covering. Pray as you feel led by God but, within that intercession, pray particularly for God to stir up and sustain a holy passion in them for Himself, His mission, and for people on this planet, and that they will be alert and proactive in guarding their hearts to last a lifetime. Ask God forthrightly to deliver them from any area of bondage, strengthen them in temptation, and deliver them from evil. Love them with all your might through prayer.

Let’s partner with this generation and intercede powerfully for them. They are the rising future of the church of Jesus Christ at this tumultuous time on the Kingdom calendar. Let’s pray them out there.

 

Now may our God and Father himself, and our Lord Jesus, direct our way to you, and may the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, as we do for you, so that he may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints.  1 Thessalonians 3:11-13 ESV

 

 

 

PS. To our regular blog community: I put this in a comment but I’m afraid many of you may not see it.

I am grateful beyond expression for your participation on this post. Please move at the same pace that you see our 20-somethings sign up. In other words, if at our first moderation there are 15 of them, see that all 15 are spoken for then, instead of doubling and tripling up on the same small group, watch for others to be posted and claim those. Assume in about 48 hours that we’ll probably have around 80% of the 20-somethings that will end up participating. Still, check every couple of days for about a week to make sure everybody gets covered if you don’t mind. Sisters, this woman right here KNOWS how powerfully you pray. I’ve seen it. I’ve felt it. You are solid gold in the Kingdom of God! Pray for these young people like you’d want somebody to pray for your own children, whether or not you have any. Take them on as blood. Pray with faith and holy fire. Pray like the near future of the church depends on Jesus revealing Himself through them. They are so worth it. JESUS is so worth it.

I love you guys madly.

Beth

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He’s Always Been Faithful

Every night my phone sits perched on an iHome dock that sits on my bedside table a mere two feet from my head. Besides the fact that the iHome speakers can get very loud (which I love when I’m listening to my music), it also doubles as my phone charger and my alarm. I’m not one who wakes up very well to a blaring beeping sound (I find that so disturbing), but I do love a good song to wake up to. I can either set the song I wake up to, or it grabs the last song I was listening to. Does that even make sense? This is really too much information, but bear with me. Anyway, I found it so appropriate when the other morning my phone woke me up by singing Sara Grove’s He’s Always Been Faithful. It had been a long time since I had actually listened to the song, but I must have pressed snooze and it just kept playing the next song, then the next one, and so on and so forth.

So, this is what I woke up to:

Morning by morning I wake up to find 
The power and comfort of God’s hand in mine 
Season by season I watch Him, amazed 
In awe of the mystery of His perfect ways 
All I have need of, His hand will provide 
He’s always been faithful to me. 

I can’t remember a trial or a pain 
He did not recycle to bring me gain 
I can’t remember one single regret 
In serving God only, and trusting His hand 
All I have need of, His hand will provide 
He’s always been faithful to me. 

This is my anthem, this is my song 
The theme of the stories I’ve heard for so long 
God has been faithful, He will be again 
His loving compassion, it knows no end 
All I have need of, His hand will provide 
He’s always been faithful, He’s always been faithful 
He’s always been faithful to me.

I love it so much. I don’t know a more appropriate song for the week that we have had. Y’all. I think we can all agree that it has been a heavy, bizarre and fearful week for so many people. It just reminded me all the more that we live in a very broken world with very broken people (including me and you) and we need Jesus in the worst way. And not only do we all need Him for the blatantly obvious evil around us, we need Him in our own day to day lives. (And the truth is, we DO have Him, but sometimes we act like we don’t.) We need Him to show up in the details we’ve feared He’s forgotten or pushed aside. Every now and then we need a reminder that He has always been faithful. To me. To you. To us.

As I was getting ready to head to work this morning, I thought what a better day than to share with each other the ways the Lord has specifically been faithful to us this week? Sometimes we just need to reflect, or really look and know that He indeed, has been faithful yet again. Even when we’ve been faithless. Maybe He’s answered an obvious prayer request. Maybe He provided for you in a way you didn’t even know how to ask for. Maybe you got a bit of encouragement from someone at the right time you didn’t know you needed. Maybe He spared you from a hurt. Maybe He protected you from what could have been a huge disaster. Maybe He rekindled an old relationship or friendship you’d been praying about. Maybe He sent you a new friend. Maybe He led you out of an area of tempation and gave you victory for one week in what you thought was nearly impossible.

I don’t know. We shouldn’t be able to count the ways He’s been faithful to us, because He always is, but sometimes we just miss it.

Last week I was feeling really needy in my love tank. I know that’s not necessarily a good thing, but it’s the truth so I was telling the Lord about it and just simply asked Him if He’d show me He loved me through one of my love languages. I realize that may sound really cheesy, and even though the cross was His ultimate sacrifice and love for me, and I know that, I just needed a little affirmation that I had not completely fallen off His radar. Listen, I’m just being completely honest. I didn’t know how He’d go about showing me, but I knew He could if He wanted to and if I’d just open up my eyes and see. My love tank happens to fill up pretty quick with quality time and words of affirmation, so imagine my delight when I got to work Wednesday morning only to receive a hand written letter from someone who didn’t know me from Adam. A letter of encouragement that only the Lord could have known I needed. Lest you think He’s not into the details, be encouraged that He is SO into the details. And if He can work out the small details and requests like that one, don’t you think He has the big things worked out, too? I love Him for that.

He is faithful, Sister.

He always has been and always will be.

So let’s hear it! Let’s build each other’s faith!

How has He showed Himself faithful to you this week?

Happy Friday, y’all!

“So let us seize and hold fast and retain without wavering the hope we cherish and confess and our acknowledgement of it, for He Who promised is reliable (sure) and faithful to His word.” Hebrews 10:23 (Amplified)

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LPL Celebrates 15 Years – A Greensboro Recap!

Girls! It’s Wednesday morning! Which means you’ve made it through half the week! Honestly, I don’t know how time flies so quickly.

BUT, we didn’t want the week to pass us by without sharing the Greensboro LPL recap video!

I’m speaking on behalf of the team since I wasn’t there in person, but I think they’ll agree when I say THANK YOU for your prayers on their behalf. They were heard! We’ve heard nothing but people testifying of God’s faithfulness from last weekend. So, thank you so much! And by all means, please don’t stop now. We’d love nothing more than for you all to press in all the harder with us.

We love y’all so much and appreciate you more than you know.

Enjoy this really fun recap!

Living Proof Live | Greensboro from LifeWay Women on Vimeo.

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2013 Siesta Scripture Memory Team: Verse 8!

Hey, my beloved Siestas!

I am writing you from a bumpy altitude of about 28,000 feet on my way home from the Greensboro, North Carolina Living Proof Live. It’s Sunday early afternoon, a day later than I was scheduled to fly out. When I checked in at the United Airlines’ desk in Greensboro, a screen popped up saying that my itinerary had been altered and asked if I wanted to proceed. I reviewed the itinerary carefully on the screen and compared it to my schedule and could not for the life of me tell any difference. I shrugged my shoulders and carried on with my check-in and never gave it a second thought.

 

I got to Washington DC for my layover and looked at the screen in the bustling corridor for the gate number to my 5:10 PM flight and that’s when I saw it. My flight was so delayed out of Honolulu (seriously?? straight to DC??) that our earliest departure would be 11:00 PM that night and, best-case-scenario, would land us in Houston at 1:30 AM. That translates to a final home-getting out in the sticks where I live at about 2:45 AM. Hmmm. When I checked at the customer service desk to see if there had been any update on the schedule, the attendant confirmed the bad news as delicately as she could and added that the flight was at risk of cancellation and that, if she were me, she’d switch to a flight the next day and run for my life to a hotel. Otherwise I could get stranded in the middle of the night with no plan. So, that’s what I did. My dear and most excellent assistant, K-Mac, hopped on her computer at home in Houston and started finding me a hotel room nearby while I stood in another line to book this flight and waited for the next 2 hours in baggage claim for them to find my suitcase.

 

It all sounds worse than it was because Jesus stayed so near me. Typing those words, I could almost cry. He is so gracious. I’ll get to more of that in just a moment. I tried to call my man a couple of times before I made a final decision but couldn’t reach him. I hated the thought that I was going to cancel out of that flight and come home the next day without even letting him know in advance. When you’ve been married as long as we have, a few days pass and it just doesn’t feel right not to be back together. I started to say, “When you’ve been married as long as we have, you get used to one another,” but I said that not long ago to Keith and he looked at me glibly and said, “Lizabeth, I’m used to my underwear. I love my wife. That’s why I want to be with her.” And it made me laugh.

 

The older we get, I sometimes have the quickest shot of panic go through me when I say bye to him. It’s only on occasion. The rest of the time I keep my wits better about me. But sometimes before I walk out the door I touch his tan face, lined handsomely by the years and Texas sunshine, and I permit myself the moment’s agony, “What if I never saw this face again??” Ugh. Even now that wells a lump in my throat. I know I’ll see him again in heaven and throughout eternity but he’ll have his immortal body and not the one I helped heap a considerable amount of age on. And he’ll be my brother and not my husband.

 

That’s kind of a game changer.

 

I left Keith a few voice mails but had been in baggage claim a while after making the final decision when he called me back. Of course, he gave me his blessing and said he’d never want me in a car in Houston after midnight and out to the country at 2:30 in the morning if we could ever help it. I knew he’d say that but I also knew we’d miss each other that next Sunday morning.

 

“And now,” Keith said, “I don’t even have to feel guilty about going to a sporting clay shoot tomorrow.” That right there is vintage Keith.

 

“Honey, you still could have gone.”

 

“Oh, I know, Sweets,” he said, “I was going to go but I’d have to have felt guilty about it.”

 

I laughed. Just when I’m feeling all gushy about him, we get a fresh reminder that he and I are still mostly oil and vinegar (not saying which is which because that depends on the day) but at least we like being bottled up together. Yep. Almost all the time these days.

 

God was so good to us in Greensboro and so spared us the strivings of the flesh with the fullness of His Spirit that I very much did not want to get a bad attitude about the flight drama and 2-hour suitcase search. I also knew that, once I told Sabrina and K-Mac that I was stuck, they were liable to shake their heads as the wonderful, responsible coworkers they are and think again that it’s not the best idea for me to go alone. This is a loving discussion (from all sides) that comes back to the table again and again. They are so dear to me. I have no idea what I’d do without them. The thing is, I love traveling alone. It tends to offer me the strongest sense of Christ’s presence and often seems to amplify His voice to me about the message. But it can on occasion have a challenging side.

 

This was not really one of them. I laugh every now and then with Sabrina that no matter who she could send with me, I’d have more travel experience than any helper would by about 20 years. I say that laughing. At this point, I am fairly well versed in the airline drill as much as a civilian can be. And I truly do love to fly the friendly skies. Our compromise is that I go alone on a LifeWay event (like Living Proof Live) because they have an incredibly good and familiar system once I land in that city but that, if I’m heading to any other event, I take an assistant. Of course, all that is more than you want to know but I am stuck on this long plane ride and in the mood to talk to somebody. And you’re the one stuck with me.

 

About an hour and 45 minutes into the wait in baggage claim, I did almost feel like crying for a split second because I’m so completely drained after an LPL and couldn’t yet see rest in sight. I texted Amanda and Melissa and asked them to press in and pray a smile on my face a bit longer. They did.

 

And I ended up getting more than a smile. Right after that, the United agent in baggage claim told me they’d finally found the suitcase and it would be down in 15 minutes. It was. I cheered when I saw it, both fists in the air, and the agent grinned.

 

By the time I got to the curb, I’d missed the hotel shuttle by a few minutes and would have to wait another thirty minutes for the next one. I grabbed a cab instead. After checking into the hotel (at a good rate, thank you, Expedia.com), I took the elevator to the fifth floor, and began wheeling my cute, light blue briefcase and big ole suitcase down the hall. That’s when I got tickled. Out loud. I may have even bent over laughing. Our subject matter in Greensboro had revolved strongly around increasing our time in the “secret place” with Jesus. I had told them that I was exhilarated by the challenge and could not wait to get started into a deeper secrecy with Him. Let me just say, Jesus took me up on it.  Immediately. I had all evening with Him then all the next morning with Him. Just the two of us. We ate dinner together. Well, we sat at the same table is what I mean. I think He was fasting. But He was fine company indeed.

 

 

(That’s gorgonzola on that beef medallion and the sides are fresh spinach and fried polenta. It was fabulous, especially because I was really hungry.)

 

I missed Bayou City Fellowship and my brothers and sisters at church so much this morning but, thanks to podcasts, got to have my own church service right there in the hotel room. With Jesus. By myself.

 

Then I got on this plane, got into the air, put my headphones on and listened to “Crown Him with Many Crowns” (the Chris Tomlin, and Kari Jobe remix on the Burning Lights CD) and cried over the pure awesomeness of this One who saved us by His own blood. It’s always awkward to cry on a plane with a stranger in the next seat touching elbows with you. I opened to the Book of Revelation in my red soft leather Bible and read the passages about crowns cast at His feet and crowns placed upon His head.

 

Revelation 4:9-11…

And whenever the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to Him who is seated on the throne, who lives forever and ever, 10 the twenty-four elders fall down before Him who is seated on the throne and worship Him who lives forever and ever. They cast their crowns before the throne, saying,

                11         “Worthy are you, our Lord and God,

to receive glory and honor and power,

                        for You created all things,

and by Your will they existed and were created.”

 

 

Revelation 19:11-14…

 

 Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse! The one sitting on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war. 12 His eyes are like a flame of fire, and on His head are many diadems, and He has a name written that no one knows but Himself. 13 He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which He is called is The Word of God. 14 And the armies of heaven, arrayed in fine linen, white and pure, were following Him on white horses.

 

The words kept echoing, “Worthy are You!”

 

It’s almost more than my heart can bear. Amid the brevity of this vaporous earthly life, we will all soon see the face of the One who is so worthy of our worship and the priority affections of our hearts and the focused attentions of our minds. The One worthy of our faith when we cannot see our way.  Worthy of our taking the way of escape when temptation beckons us into a whirlpool. The One worthy of gracing others because He has forgiven us at so high a price. The One worthy of counting on when the world calls us fools. The One worthy of taking at His glorious Word.

 

Don’t you on occasion find it slack-jawing astonishing that this same Jesus seeks us out and wants to be with us? It’s happened to you just like it’s happened to me. If you’ve known Him long, you’ve unexpectedly found yourself alone and lonely only to realize that He has temporarily isolated you just to be with you. And you realize you’ve never been less alone in your life.

 

Most of the time I accept the thought of His pursuit of us with genuine appreciation but with a certain amount of familiarity. I’ve read it enough in Scripture to believe it and receive it and want it in the worst way and enough to feel weird and worried if I go too long without sensing it. Other times, I’m thrown facedown over the wonder of it. I’m there right now. All of us in this community get why we should yearn and press past every obstacle to get to a place alone with Jesus but, seriously, why on earth would He yearn to do the same with humans? It’s just too much to wrap my mind around sometimes.

 

“He yearns jealously over the spirit that He has made to dwell in us.” James 4:5

 

Sister, Jesus is hemming you in. If He’s backed you into a corner, it’s not to isolate you but to freshly exhilarate you. He loves you. He’s seeking you out. Slow down and let yourself be caught by this holy jealous-for-you love that will not let you go. We are not just tolerated. We didn’t make it in by the skin of our teeth. We have been planned for and pursued. We are the deep desire of Someone’s heart.

 

Did you think I’d forgotten why we’re on here today? Smiling.

 

Nope. It’s just taken me a while to hash out my selection this time around. I know we’re supposed to stick mostly to one verse each 2-week period but I just can’t help myself. Some things can’t be sliced up with a knife and fork and taste the same way on a tongue.

 

Beth, Houston. 3 When I look at Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars, which You have set in place, what is man that You are mindful of him, and the son of man that You care for him? Yet You have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor.  You have given him dominion over the works of Your hands; You have put all things under his feet. Psalm 8:3-6 ESV

 

You, Lord, YOU crowned us??? What were You thinking?? You have multiplied, O Lord my God, Your wondrous deeds and Your thoughts toward us; none can compare with You!” Psalm 40:5

 

Jesus, we long for the day when You will split the sky like the veil before the Holy of Holies and bound through the heavens on horseback, Your crimson robe whipping in the wind behind You. Every eye will see Your glorious face. And on Your head will be many diadems.

 

Crown Him with many crowns.

 

Awake, my soul, and sing.

 

Let’s have those verses, you Scripture-memorizing women of God.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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LPL Greensboro – Siesta Scholarship Ticket Giveaway

Good Thursday morning, lovely ladies! Shockingly, it’s a dreary, rainy and slightly cold day here in Houston, but that’s not going to stop any of the team from heading to Greensboro today for Living Proof Live this weekend. In fact, I think of all weekends, this is the one you’ll want to be at.

So, I think it goes without saying that we have 20 Siesta Scholarship Tickets to giveaway! We’re so pumped!

If you have the desire to attend this weekend, and are anywhere near Greensboro, but just don’t have the financial means to do so, then please call the office and ask for Kimberly. You can call 281-257-3344 or call toll free at 888.700.1999. She will get you squared and away and good to go! If you happen to call during the lunch hour, please leave a message and we’ll get back to you ASAP.

We love y’all so much. Really. And if by chance you didn’t see Beth’s post yesterday asking for prayer, please, go back down and read that one. Be blessed!

Happy Thursday, y’all.

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Needed: PRAYER.

Hey, Everybody! We are super excited about this year of ministry both on the road and off the road but it occurred to me in Phoenix two weeks ago that it might be time to ask you prayer warriors to really press in if you’re willing.  I know your plates are all full just like ours are. I also know that your intercessory list is probably a mile long. None of us can cover everything but, if God makes room on those knees of yours for our Living Proof staff and the ministry He’s assigned to us, and for my family and me, we would try not to let a single second of it go to waste. We would actively receive with gratitude and humility and with much praise to God for you.

Things have really heated up around here. We were blessed out of our minds to have a fresh sense of God’s presence in Phoenix at our last LPL but, boy, did we ever have some obstacles. It truly was uncanny and caused us to realize that we can’t just approach the coming year like the previous year. At our last LPL, many of us on the team got sick almost instantly upon arriving. It’s one of the few times in all these years that I taught so hoarse that I was afraid I’d lose my voice completely before the event was over. Just so you’ll know how unusual that was, I literally have not been to the doctor in over three years for any kind of sickness. God has really blessed me in this season will wellness but my experience in Phoenix reminded me not to take that for granted. One of our praise members ended up in the emergency room twice that weekend. It was just nuts. Add to that the warfare and we were truly in the hornet’s nest. We LOVED the group! They were fantastic and God was gloriously faithful but He called us to vividly fight for the victory at that event.

My beloved family and I could also use some added prayer right now. Please know that God is showing such faithfulness to us and revealing Himself in multiple ways. He reminds us continually that He is committed to us. Where would we be if He were not?? I don’t want anyone worrying. I just want to make sure I’ve humbled myself and asked for a solid prayer covering. As James 4:2 says, we have not because we ask not. The first thing on the prayer docket this week is the Greensboro, North Carolina Living Proof Live. We are ecstatic to be heading there and ask that you request such a revelation of Christ’s presence and power among us that we never forget it. Two weeks later we will be in Eugene, Oregon for Living Proof Live and we can hardly wait. I have a feeling Jesus has something special for us there. In mid-May I have the LifeWay taping for the next Bible study series (won’t be on the shelves for a year though!) and trust me when I tell you that we will be getting VERY specific with you about prayer mobilization for that week. For now, just get that on your radar. We will be desperate for your prayers and very dependent upon them.

I love you so much that I always feel a little reluctant to ask something more of you. You are the most giving, serving community I’ve ever experienced. I do not take one moment of your time for granted. Every time a sister tells me that she prays often for me, I am moved to the core. Faith-driven intercession takes effort. You could give us no greater gift. We deeply want to please God and have pure hearts and clear minds and servant-attitudes. And above all else for me personally, pray that I will love Jesus more than anything in this entire world. Pray the same for my whole family and for this ministry staff as a whole. Pray that for Travis Cottrell, my co-laborer and spiritual son. When you don’t know exactly how to direct your prayers for any of us, PRAY THAT! All else hinges on that one thing. We want to love Jesus.We NEED to love Jesus. Loving Him is the only thing that cleanses our hearts and makes them whole enough to love others well.

Thank you, dear sisters. You are so dear to me.

Here are a few links that will connect you to mobilized prayer here at LPM for those of you who are willing or interested:

This link will take you to our interactive prayer board on our website. It is very user friendly and an encouragement to the many people who use it.

 

Then, if you feel led by God to do so, you can click here to sign up to be a part of our prayer team. We are so grateful.

 

Sisters, in closing, I’d be so honored to pray for each one of you. I hope you’ll enter into it individually and take it personally. It is heartfelt.

My faithful, most holy Father and my God,

With tremendous love I lift my sister to you. You know what stirs in her heart, what awakens her at night, what causes her to shudder, and what seeks to devour her. You have seen her in the secret place and you know her longings and her questions and her dreams and her hopes. You know the very place that doubt seeks to swallow her and deceit desires to seed in her. Spring her eyes open to cleansing, delivering Truth. Minister to her in such a personal way throughout the coming days that she is floored once again by Your all-knowingness and complete attentiveness. Sprout signs of harvest in a field where she has sown so faithfully and seen so little. Help her to see that her labor is not in vain. Soak the fleece in such a way that she’ll know You are with her.  Send someone to encourage her in such a specific area that she’ll know You alone could have prompted it.

Grant her a heart to love You with an abounding affection that could only be supernatural and cause her to feel her heart teeming with love toward someone who is loveless toward her. Protect her heart and heal her mind where it may be bent or twisted. Take all shame off of her and cast out her self-loathing once and for all and lift her chin to see her redemption drawing near. Give her faith enough to believe that she has truly been forgiven and that You who began a good work in her will most assuredly complete it. Put a new relationship in her life that brings much joy to her in You and revives her faith-walk and makes her laugh. Healthy friendships, Lord! Help her to finally release a relationship that You have clearly brought to an end and to do so without resentment or bitterness, trusting You entirely with the future. Be radiant upon her face. Tell her forthrightly how lovely she is to You and how significant. Quiet that part of her that seeks to perform for acceptance. Give her joy in a more honest version of herself. Reveal Your gorgeous self to her, Lord Jesus. Let every false Christ in her life bow to the One and Only True so that she can see it is You. Make every competing voice hush to Yours.

In Your beautiful, saving, redeeming Name, Jesus, I bring these earnest requests.

Amen

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Sadness and Madness

Saturday shortly after noon, I filled up the dog bowl on the back porch with water and pitched dishes in the dishwasher so that I could head out with Melissa for a bite to eat and maybe a little shoe shopping. She’d spent the night with Keith and me in the country and we’d had a lazy Saturday morning over coffee and conversation. I’d set out my purse and keys and decided to wipe down the kitchen counter before we walked out the door. Just as I sprayed the cleaner and grabbed the dishtowel, Melissa walked in staring at the screen of her phone with the oddest expression.

“Mom, I don’t know if it’s true or not but I’m seeing references on Twitter to Rick and Kay Warren losing a son.”

She was ashen. My stomach flipped and, over the next few minutes as she read to me bits and pieces of breaking news, we feared the worst. I felt a hot sickness in my throat. My relationship with the Warrens is the same as most of yours. I have simply been served and led well by them. Although I had the joy of ministering to women on the Saddleback campus some years ago, my stay was brief and our schedules were wrapped entirely around the event. I have not had the opportunity to get to know the Warrens in the way that personal friends know one another but I always knew in my heart that I’d like them so much. We’re similar ages and in similar seasons with our families. Meanwhile, I have  loved them and esteemed them in Christ as faithful and mighty servants of the living Lord Jesus Christ. And quite possibly, among the mightiest to ever serve this generation.

Within an hour of Melissa walking into the kitchen with those first pieces of news, someone very close to the Warren family confirmed the tragedy on Twitter. We were heartsick and not for media personalities or even public servants. We were heartsick for a family of real people with breakable hearts. And we wept. Many of you undoubtedly did as well.

An odd mix of feelings overtook me with increasing force through the afternoon and into the early evening. The sadder I got, the madder I got. Mad at an astonishing satanic force that stoops viciously and swoops in unscrupulously to attack children and to prey on their weaknesses as they grow up, shooting so relentlessly at one spot that they can barely get to their feet between arrows. I’ve been that child and many of you have, too. Madder still that the devil in all likelihood delights in nothing more than targeting the children and dearest loved ones of true servants of God. Nothing tries our faith like the suffering of our children. At the end of the day, our faith is what the devil is after most. Without it, it’s impossible to please God. This is why Paul could say with relief nearly palpable on the page of his final letter, “I have fought the good fight. I have finished the race. I have kept the faith.

We’ll all finally make it to our finish lines but the cliffhanger along the way will be this: will we keep our faith? That isn’t the same thing as keeping our salvation. I don’t believe my salvation is something I can give back. I received it by grace through faith from Christ Himself and my works don’t secure it no matter how my woes obscure it. His grip never loosens. Nothing can snatch us out of our Father’s hand. What’s at risk is our active belief in who God says He is, what He says He is like, and what He says He can do.

Is He good? Is He faithful?

So the enemy sets out to knock the feet of our faith out from under our walk. And there is nothing more effective toward that end than targeting the ones we love most on this planet.

I don’t say that to scare you. I say it because I believe it is the hair-raising truth. No, we are not abandoned here as victims on this damaged sod. We are not abandoned at all. Our God is with us. The Spirit of His Son is in us. We are more than conquerors through the One who loves us. We are not at the mercy of Satan. We are at the glorious, life-breathing mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ, a mercy that leads, as Jude 21 says, to eternal life and will ultimately spill like a river into a sea of reality where no sufferings of our past will compare with the glory of our present. In the meantime, greater is He who is in us than he who is in the world but make no mistake. This is a vicious world we’ve been left to serve. One God still loves or we would not still be here.

And then, in that mixture of emotions Saturday afternoon, I got madder and madder at the bullies in the Body of Christ. I thought how much it turns out that the Warrens have been through personally and, if they are like most leaders, all the while putting out fires and putting up with a bunch of trash-talk from people who would call the same Jesus Lord.

God help us. In the words of James, These things should not be so, my brothers and sisters.

I don’t believe one of us here in this community thinks that leaders should be immune to questions, constructive criticism, and accountability.  That’s not the kind of thing I’m talking about here. I’m talking about bullying. There are Scriptural means for going to a brother or sister to reason with them about matters we genuinely consider to be off base, misleading, or in error. You and I both know that much of what happens out there in public forums is the furthest thing from biblical.

It is slander.

I went on a walk through the woods Saturday late afternoon and did something I don’t often do. I cried angry tears. I got so mad that I could have hit somebody. I kept thinking how believers attack one another and sling stones at each other like the other can’t bruise or break. And all the while that person may be in so much personal pain that it’s nearly unbearable. I’m not transferring this to the Warrens. I do not know them personally. I’m telling you what I know to be true about most people out there. Most of us are in significant pain of some kind. That doesn’t mean defeat necessarily. It just means pain.

Life is hard enough without hatefulness rife in the Body of Christ. We are called to carry one another’s burdens, not pile relentlessly on top of them. We can still hold one another accountable. We can still ask questions. We can still disagree. But we can do it with respect.

I’m sick of the bullying. The mud-slinging and the meanness. I’m sick of careless, idle words thrown out there in the public square and professing believers in Christ standing on the necks of their own brothers and sisters to sound smart and superior. As if it’s not enough that we are surrounded in this culture by Christian haters, we’ve got to have our own hater-Christians. It’s insane.

When we turn people into caricatures, everything’s game. The moment we depersonalize them, our consciences harden and we can mock and slander at will and have a blast doing it. Snide blogs and tweets and Facebook posts about various leaders can also be effective ways to jump in their spotlight. Bullies aren’t just mean. They’re self-serving. They’re platform-hunting. They have to borrow one to perform.

No, I don’t think that saying all of this will change it much but some things still need to be said. Sometimes we need to speak up and call something wrong. There’s a bigger issue in the Body of Christ than immorality. It’s hatefulness. If the greatest priority Christ assigned to us was love, the gravest offender is hate.

Just about the time cynicism threatens to overwhelm us and turn us into the very people we can’t stand, genuine love – the real thing – erupts right here on this earth like concrete breaking open to a spring. Compassion and tremendous affection are pouring forth from the Body of Christ for the Warrens right now. It is right and it is lovely. We have been served well by them and have learned so much from them. To respond with expressions of love, comfort, and intercession is our honor and privilege. We must and we will.

But even now at the hardest moment of their lives the Warrens can teach something vital if we are willing to learn. Their heartbreak demonstrates what has always been true but has never been more profoundly overlooked: these who serve us publicly also suffer privately. They are not caricatures. They are not just personalities. They are people living on a painful planet with the rest of us.

The Warrens will come forth like gold. The enemy will not win. They will fight the good fight. They will finish the race. They will keep the faith.

I love the Body of Christ. I don’t want want to get cynical. I don’t want to sit around and hate the haters or I become one. But this morning I just want to say this. We can love each other better. Let’s do. People have enough hurt. Let’s be careful with one another.

 

 

 

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Hurry Up and Wait

And panic.

A week ago I had jury duty. I realize that it is my civic duty, or rather, my civic honor as they kept explaining to us, but it felt more like a duty and less like an honor. While I went to college in the land of prisons and criminal justice, I’ve never had the burning desire to be put on a panel of jurors, so to me the whole concept makes me sweat bullets.

You may have heard my sigh of relief when, after four hours of literally doing nothing but waiting, I was finally released to go home. No jury for me. At least this time.

Anyway, the entire day was a hurry up and wait kind of deal.

For instance, you have to be there at 8:00 AM or they’ll shut the doors on you, lock them and throw away the key. However, when I arrived at 7:15 in a slight panic not knowing what the day would hold, I made my way to the jury courthouse, got checked in, found my seat in a frenzy among 1300 other jurors, then proceeded to sit there until 8:45 AM when they actually shut the doors and locked them.

You see what I mean? Hurry up and wait.

And in my case, panic and sweat for fear the day might not end up in my favor.

When all was said and done, my state of panic was worthless. Thank you, Lord.

However, it stirred up in me something greater.

I don’t know about you, but that is how I always find myself waiting.

I wait in a panic.

A few summers ago during one of the Siesta Summer Bible studies, one of the questions on the first evening was to go around and share one word that describes the current season you were in. When it got to me, I didn’t even think twice before I blurted out the word “waiting”.

Nearly two years later, if asked the same question, I’d be inclined to share the same word.

Because I am, after all, in a season of waiting.

I’ve said it before and I’’ll say it again, waiting is the one thing God has used in my life to make me more like Him. The relief that statement alone brings me makes me thankful for the way He holds me in places that makes me more like Him. Far from easy, and even sometimes lonely, but at least I know He has a purpose for me in the waiting. I didn’t always think like that.

Since I get the joy of moderating the comments that come through this blog, that means that on SSMT days, I’m seeing a lot of scripture. It is impossible for me to read each and every one, or I’d be here for days, but on those days I’ve become a pro at skimming them. However, on this last SSMT post, at the top of nearly every page moderated, Psalm 27:14 popped up, “Wait for the Lord;
 be strong, and let your heart take courage; 
wait for the Lord!” It wasn’t the verse I’d chosen, but I took it as a sweet reminder from the Lord.

That as He keeps me in a season of waiting, it’s not to bully me, but to strengthen me.

I’m no scholar, but I do see a theme in scripture when the Lord speaks of waiting, He often speaks of strength.

“Have you not known? Have you not heard? 
The Lord is the everlasting God, 
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
 He does not faint or grow weary;
 his understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the faint,
 and to him who has no might he increases strength. Even youths shall faint and be weary,
 and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength;
 they shall mount up with wings like eagles; 
they shall run and not be weary; 
they shall walk and not faint.” Isaiah 40:28-31

I think of a bride getting ready to see her husband at the end of the aisle. I’ve not yet been a bride, but I’ve been in my fair share of weddings and I think we all know the length of time it takes for the wedding party (particularly the girls) to get ready for the ceremony, and rightfully so. We spend all day primping (while the guys play golf and then get ready in 30 minutes tops!), then, about an hour before the ceremony, all of the sudden everything comes to a complete halt and we sit, and wait. And often have a moment of panic. All of our hustling and hurrying and scurrying around all day, to sit and wait. That hour before the ceremony is the hardest hour of the day, in my opinion, but the expectation of what’s ahead brings unspeakable joy. She waits with expectation.

Often times, I’ve noticed my weariness in the waiting comes when I am tempted to manipulate things to go my way. I get lonely, so I try to replace that with busyness. Then I get burned out. Or, I get antsy, so I try to manipulate relationships, only to watch them fall apart. Or maybe I need a job so bad I take my first offer, only to realize it was a terrible fit, instead of just trusting in God’s perfect provision. My timetable looks terribly different than His, so when I try to push my timing on others, whether it be people or things, I’ll always end up selling myself short. The moment I lose sight of the true prize, I fall.

But most times, our waiting is much longer than any of us like to think or wait, but if we only knew what He had in store for us, we know the waiting would be worth it.

My sweet coworker KMac said it best, “We wouldn’t appreciate ANYTHING without a little delay and anticipation.” And all the people said amen.

That’s why in the waiting we wait with hope.

We wait with expectancy.
We wait in patience.
We wait in prayer.
We wait in strength.

Most times, the waiting really isn’t about the waiting, it’s about becoming.

“And therefore the Lord [earnestly] waits [expecting, looking, and longing] to be gracious to you; and therefore He lifts Himself up, that He may have mercy on you and show loving-kindness to you. For the Lord is a God of justice. Blessed (happy, fortunate, to be envied) are all those who [earnestly] wait for Him, who expect and look and long for Him [for His victory, His favor, His love, His peace, His joy, and His matchless, unbroken companionship]!” Isaiah 30:18 (Amplified)

Those who wait win the prize.

But know that even when you become tired in the waiting, the Lord is still working out every little detail.

“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, knows our pregnant condition, 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.” Romans 8:26-28 (The Message)

You and I are waiting on the Lord to move in different ways, provide different things, and surprise us along the way. Instead of growing weaker, let us grow stronger. If you find yourself in any kind of waiting season, find things that stir your affections for Christ and pursue those.  Maybe the Lord’s given you a gift you’ve let get dusty, pick it up and start practicing that craft. Whatever you do, don’t put your life on hold. Panic and worry do nothing but drain us of any energy or hope we may have had.  This may sound harsh, but is there anything more unfulfiling that becoming selfish and living for yourself in our season of waiting?

And lest you think I’m writing this to preach to you, I’m writing this to preach to myself.

I recently saw this quote, on twitter of all things, by Charles Spurgeon, “The Lord’s “quickly” may not be my “quickly”; and if so, let him do what seems good to him!”

Expect, look and long for Him, dear Sister. At the end of the day, if you wait on God, no matter the outcome, I’m willing to bet by His promises alone, that the odds will always be in your favor.

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