Vitamins… For Your Soul :)

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Screen Shot 2015-04-11 at 10.14.14 AMVitamins. I’ve been a regular vitamin taker since 2011. I take a good quality, effective vitamin pack that includes a multi-vitamin with maximum mineral absorption (so much better than over-the-counter brands – and no this isn’t a commercial 😉 ), antioxidant support to fight off free-radicals, probiotic with 10 billion colonies of flora to fight off the bad bacteria and enhance overall digestive health and Omega 3 fish oils to support cardiovascular health and decrease inflammation. The great thing about these vitamins, is when I’m consistent with taking them daily, I. Do. Not. Get. Sick. I really don’t. I have energy. I feel GOOD! However when I don’t take them, I can feel myself start to get run down (life is busy!), start the beginnings of a cold or sore throat, and feel really tired (and with tired comes cranky, moody, irritable – you get the point). When that happens I get back on track and take my vitamins. I try to encourage my family to take them… but they don’t… and they get sick. I try to get my friends to take them but they insist on the over-the-counter stuff or other natural remedies… and still get sick.

This is the same thing that happens in my spiritual life, my relationship with God. To be healthy spiritually there’s things we can do – draw near to Him and He draws near to you (us) James 4:8. Just like my vitamins, it’s the basics… spend time in the Word (sword of the Spirit Eph. 6:17), pray and talk with (and listen to) my Savior (fervent prayer of a righteous person has great power James 5:16), fellowship with other believers (not staying away from worship meetings... Heb. 10:25) and pray for faith (take the shield of faith, and with it you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one Eph. 6:16). And just like when I don’t take my physical vitamins, when I don’t take my spiritual vitamins I get grouchy, edgy and irritable. I may have a lack of faith or be anxious. Again, I try to encourage family and friends (and you reading this) to take their spiritual vitamins as well – so they won’t get sick. Taking these spiritual vitamins make us better equipped to fight off the bad bacteria, attack the free radicals that invade our lives, reduce the inflammations that rise up and encourage overall spiritual health.

Are you off track like I’ve been before in both my physical and spiritual vitamin routine? Are you worn down, on the verge or within the throws of sickness and germs? Start today. Take those vitamins. Not only will you be healthier spiritually, but the goal is to know Him (God)… (Phil 3:10) and glorify Him. These vitamins get you on that right track to know Him, for your spiritual health, for your relationship with God and equip you to walk in the purposes He has for your life.

Joey’s “Belt” Prayer

beltWhen our cute, little, 4-year-old-preschooler needed a belt, he mentioned it to us a few times over the course of a few days. He did need a belt. His pants were falling down his skinny little frame. However, being the stellar parents that we are ~ we pretty much never remembered it while we were at the store. Until one night he prayed. He prayed with the sweetest intensity, taking his ‘need of a new belt’ to the Father in heaven who lovingly hears our prayers. My ears perked and I knew in my heart what I needed to do. 9pm Walmart run.

The next morning, as Joey foggily woke up, rubbing his eyes, he noticed something on his bed. Not a toy he had left out or yesterday’s clothes, something different. Something new.   A belt. The belt he had prayed for.

If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good things to those who ask Him! Matt. 7:11

“Mom! Did you see this?!?” he asked excitedly! “GOD ANSWERED MY PRAYER! He gave me a BELT!”

I didn’t disagree with him. God had provided the belt for him. Our girlies, being a little bit older (and a bit more skeptical) asked quietly away from their brother, “Mom, did you get the belt?!? How did this belt get here? You got this for him, didn’t you?” I simply replied that God had provided the belt for him.

It was true. God provided the belt for Joey that night, but He used his people to do it. No, God doesn’t answer every request in a Santa Claus like response, but He does often use His children to meet those needs, answer those requests.

In July, we arrived in Tampa, FL after being in the Dominican Republic for 6/8 weeks. After we landed, we had to print our closing papers, sign them, get them notarized and overnighted by 5pm. That was a little crazy, but we got ‘er done!   Then, the next morning we got an email with instructions on how to wire the money due at closing. Wait, what? We weren’t supposed to owe anything at closing, but with how the timing of insurance/tax/escrows worked out, we ended up owing at closing. And we just finished up 2 months of mission work, NOT working, no income outside of the support to get us to the DR. So we gathered as a family and we prayed. And God used one of His kiddos to help us with that need at the time.

And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus. Phil. 4:19

Once we got back to Ohio and had to pack up our house in two days after being gone for two months, we had a last minute change to our living arrangements… and we were to move out the next day. So we gathered as a family to pray. And God used one of His kiddos to meet that need.

I called to the Lord in my distress, and I cried to my God for help. From His temple He heard my voice, and my cry to Him reached His ears. Psalm 18:6

After a few weeks in our new place, I had some really bad Chikungunya days (ongoing joint pain). I cried out to the Lord, “I don’t know if I can do this.” And by cried out I mean crying… real tears. Although very thankful for the Lord providing this place for us to stay, we were living in a basement and everything else in the house was upstairs (bathroom, kitchen…), and stairs can be a challenge when your joints (knees, ankles, wrists, elbows, fingers) hurt :(.  A few days later we got a phone call. One of God’s kiddos had been praying and the Lord impressed on her heart to offer their house for us to use until we go to Language School. Wait, what? We had prayed, and He used His children to answer that prayer.

Even before they call, I will answer; while they are still speaking, I will hear. Isaiah 65:24

These examples are all of prayers we’ve prayed and how God used His children to meet a need in our lives, and that is amazing. But it is also incredible when God impresses something on our hearts and used us to meet a need/provide encouragement/answer a prayer in someone else’s life.

As a missionary, it is humbling and an honor when people “show faithfulness” to the Lord by letting Him use them to be a blessing. The housing, the “loan”, the missionary vehicle, the prayers, the support… John summed it up best:

Dear friend, you are showing faithfulness by whatever you do for the brothers, especially when they are strangers. They have testified to your love in front of the church. You will do well to send them on their journey in a manner worthy of God, since they set out for the sake of the Name, accepting nothing from pagans. Therefore, we ought to support such men so that we can be coworkers with the truth. 3 John 5-8

When You Can’t Hear His Voice

If you’re a believer, you’ve probably had times where you hear a slight whisper in your spirit and you know that was God. Or every message you hear, every song on the radio, every circumstance in your life and/or every time you open your Bible God is SHOUTING something to you or pointing you to something. Or maybe you’re worshiping Him (privately or in Church) and you just feel His comfort. His presence. His peace.

But what happens when you don’t? When His presence seems a million miles away. When you’re desperate for answers but you don’t hear His voice. His whisper.

First of all, know that you. are. not. alone. Yes, God is always with you, but that is not what I’m talking about. You are not alone in feeling this way.

I have felt this way. Other Christians I know have felt this way at one time or another. David felt this way (recorded many times throughout scripture). Yes, King David. Check out his plea in Psalm 13:

O Lord, how long will you forget me? Forever?

How long will you look the other way?

How long must I struggle with anguish in my soul,

With sorrow in my heart every day?

How long will my enemy have the upper hand?

Turn and answer me, O Lord my God!

Restore the sparkle to my eyes, or I will die.

Don’t let my enemies gloat, saying, “We have defeated him!”

Don’t let them rejoice at my downfall.

But I trust in your unfailing love.

I will rejoice because you have rescued me.

I will sing to the Lord
because he is good to me.

~ David

There are many reasons we may not be hearing from God.  It could be because of sin in our lives, a busy schedule and no time to be still, chaotic circumstances or times of crisis. But sometimes, there’s no particular reason. So what do you do when you can’t hear Him?

Trust His Word: Even if we don’t hear God’s whispers or clear SHOUTS in our lives, we can trust His Word. It is His unfailing, continual and everlasting message. It is the MAIN way that He speaks regardless if we can feel Him or not.  His word is TRUTH. He is faithful and trustworthy so His word is faithful and trustworthy. Make a list of some promises of God you know off the top of your head. Memorize (keep 3×5 cards of) scripture with the TRUTH of God’s Word for this season of your life. This IS Him speaking to you. The word of the Lord holds true. Psalm 33:4

Pray His Word: The same truths from scripture that you are trusting, pray them. Put them in 1st person and cry out to God with His word. Write them. Speak them. Pray them.

Praise Him Anyway: The last line in Psalm 13 is David declaring He will continue to sing to the Lord because He is good. Praise Him. Praising God takes the focus off of us (our problems, our lack of hearing from him, our whatever) and puts it on Him ~ His love, His faithfulness, His righteousness, His greatness.

When you can’t hear His voice, Trust His word, Pray His word and Praise Him anyway.

Seeking God’s Will

So many times we are looking for God’s will.  What is God’s will for:questionmark

  • What college I go to
  • Who will I marry
  • What profession to pursue
  • To have kids or how many to have
  • Which church to go to
  • Should we have spaghetti or tacos for dinner 😉  I jest.
  • Fill in the blank……

Seriously though.  So many things we ask God for His will, when maybe He just wants us to ask for Him.  Hmmmmmmm.

Matthew 6:33  – a familiar verse – “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you.”

Break it down. What is the Kingdom of God? Jesus.  The reign of God in your (my) life.   He wants us to SEEK the reign of God in our lives.  Seek HIM.

What do you mean, ‘His righteousness’? Pursuing righteous living, God’s way of living.   He wants us to SEEK His way of living, a righteous life.

And all WHAT things will be provided?  Mark 10:29:30 says, “I assure you,” Jesus said, “there is no one who has left house, brothers or sisters, mother or father, children, or fields because of Me and the gospel, who will not receive 100 times more, now at this time – houses, brothers and sisters, mothers and children, and fields, with persecutions,  – and eternal life in the age to come.” So, what will be provided? Blessings in this life (but with persecution… that’s another blog post) and blessings/rewards in eternal life.

The thing is, God is NOT going to force His will on anyone.  He gives us free will.  He is not going to make you or me seek Him, pursue Him or righteousness – but He will reward you for it, in this life and for eternity.

So instead of fretting about what God’s will is, simply seek Him.   He’ll take care of the rest.

iPray

It seems I use my iPad for just about everything… devotional, reading (Kindle app), games, social media, email, weather, calendar, Bible, note-taking during church (or meetings), music, reminders, travel, news, work, play. I can’t get it to cook or clean yet, but I’m consulting with Apple on that :).  Recently I discovered a new app, “PrayerNotes“.

When someone shares a prayer request and I say I’m going to pray about it, I almost always pray RIGHT THEN.  The problem is that I may forget to pray again for the request. I’m not happy that is the case, but it is the truth.  In the past, I have had prayers journals or written prayer requests in my notebook – but never quite got the knack of keeping up with requests that were answered and what to keep praying for.  Nothing quite fit into my Type A organizational box :).  Until now…

Here’s some things I already like about PrayerNotes:

  • I can organize my prayer requests by categories!  Oh, I love organizing and oh, I love categories!! (NERD, yup!)  Right now, I have the categories of General, Health, LifePoint, Provision.  We’re just getting started ya’ll :).
  • Then, under the category, I can put the Title (which shows up in the list) and there’s a place for more details if I want to put those in which I can see when you expand the request.
  • Next to the request there’s a CHECKMARK.  When God answers the prayer, I click the checkmark and the request goes into the ANSWERS section.  How awesome is it going to be to review the answers section and see all God has done?!?

One benefit already is it is helping me to be more specific in my prayers. Instead of praying “Lord, bless my church (or family or all the missionaries in Africa)” I can pray for specific requests.  Yes, there will be some generalities in prayer or ongoing prayers (help me to grow in You, give me/____ the strength to withstand temptation) but I want to checkmark when He answers!! I’m going to make a category for Salvations and each person I’m praying for is going to get a checkmark when they get saved!  When I pray for God to provide for a specific need and He meets that need, it’s going to get checkmarked.  When God performs a miracle of healing, CHECKMARK!

Lord, thank You for this tool to be able to bring requests before Your precious throne and for Your faithfulness in hearing and answering us.  I love You!

Lazarus Prayers

We were blessed to attend two wonderful churches yesterday in the Atlanta area.  At Passion City, Pastor Louie is preaching a series called “Wide Awake” based on John 11.   It’s the story of Lazarus being sick and Mary and Martha sent word to Jesus that he was not doing well… They needed Jesus. They needed a miracle.  Jesus didn’t make it in time and Lazarus died.

Have you ever felt like that? You’ve called out to Jesus, but He didn’t answer when you want or in the way you want?  In fact, it feels like He isn’t listening or that His lack of response may make you feel, even if just for a moment, that your prayer isn’t a priority to Him.

Of course, we know the rest of the story.  Lazarus died. But even death doesn’t stop our Jesus. He arrived and Jesus woke Lazarus up. He wasn’t going to just heal Lazarus from an illness, He was going to raise him from the dead.

In the meantime, Mary, Martha and the others were mourning the loss of Lazarus.  They mourned what could’ve been.  They mourned Jesus not answering when/how they wanted.  They didn’t realize the story wasn’t over and He still had a plan.

We have been praying a Lazarus prayer. Actually two.  In fact, I would say we are even mourning the fact that Jesus hasn’t shown up yet with a miracle (or two).   Despite that, we do know that in His sovereignty, God knows the rest of the story and has a plan.  Like Louie said, “When you walk with Jesus, you know it’s going to be ok.”

Would you pray with us that God will bring the miracle?  Will you pray for us that if it’s not in the time we want or in the way we want, we’ll trust Him and His plan?

Romans 8:28 We know that all things work together for the goodof those who love God: those who are called according to His purpose.