Thursday, July 27, 2017

When In A Land of Thistles and Skunk Cabbage

Yesterday, I received an invitation to join a Facebook community of prayer-warriors designed to encourage us to put on our spiritual armor and go to war on behalf of Central African Republic.

We don't hear much in our news about CAR.
Yet the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) is reeking havoc, terrorizing once peaceful communities.
A quick google search, and you will see some horrific images.

I have dear friends, whose hearts beat with passion for CAR.
One-time missionary's children, now turned missionary's.
Kids I grew to love when we served at Rift Valley Academy in Kenya.
Kids-now-adults with tender, concerned hearts, crying out for a people-in-desperate-need.

Here I sit in my cushy, comfortable world.
Of course, I can spend a few minutes several times a day, as the Lord leads, to travel to CAR in my heart, and do battle.

The first prayer request was followed by the picture of a couple.
They weren't old in numbers.
They were old-looking, though.
Aged by hardship...and tribulation...
Aged by living in a land filled with thistles and skunk cabbage (metaphorically speaking).

CAR is a beautiful country.
However, on closer inspection, the potential to get poked and pierced, again and again, is present...
...and that stinks!

This couple in the picture...
Over the past year:
Their son had been shot in both legs by LRA forces.
Then, they were forced to lay on the floor of their home as armed bandits raided their compound.
Then...their cookhouse was burned to the ground...
This destroyed all their food gathered from a year's worth of work...
Then...the church they had begun was burned...
Then...their home destroyed...
All their earthly belongings with it.
Now, this couple, along with 7000 (yes, you have read that correctly) are taking refuge in a nearby village hospital.
All this over the course of a year.

All this, under African skies
Crystal blue
Hand-brushed with a few white cirrus clouds.
The contrast of the peaceful, pure sight of heavens above
To the violence of earth below
It leaves me with the question: How much can the people of countries, like the CAR, endure?

That's when I turned to my place in God's Word.
David's Psalms.
Particularly 55 & 56.
I was reminded that often David found himself in the middle of chaos, uncertainty, and constant pursuit by his enemies.
He was surrounded by violence.
Yet, his words are so certain when it comes to his future:
"This I know...God is FOR me!"
"In God I trust; I shall not be afraid! What can man do to me?"
"This God, I trust...
           He keeps track of my aimless wanderings as a fugitive.
           He holds the tears I cry in a bottle, as if they are precious to Him.
           He writes down my prayers in a book.
           He answers those same prayers, faithfully.
           He sustains me over and over again."


David flings his burdens at the Lord, hands them over to Him, and LEAVES THEM THERE, in BIG STRONG CAPABLE HANDS, hands that will also cover him, nurture him, and infuse him with the strength he needs to endure...

On behalf of CAR (and many others, closer to home), I lift my prayers to the Lord.

And, when the burdens I carry, and trials come to interrupt my cushy, comfortable world, I will remember David's words.


If you're interested in a touching story from my friend who serves in CAR. Follow the link that is connected here: Gunfire, a Blind Widow, and a Bundle of Peanuts

Thursday, July 20, 2017

There's a Witch in My Mouth

My mouth!

It is an age old problem.

I find myself often relating to Psalm 39, which is a prayer of David.

It seems he was determined to guard his mouth...
He didn't want to sin with his tongue.

There is a lot of WILL in that passage.
" I WILL guard my words."
"I WILL protect my mouth as if it had a muzzle on it."
"I WILL hold my peace."
"I WILL be mute."
"I WILL stay silent."

But, WILL is only a word...unless there are actions to follow.

The more David tried, the more his distress grew.
The hotter his heart became.
The more he mused to himself.
Then..................................................He spoke!
As soon as the words left his mouth, he regretted it.
You can tell this is so from his writings.
I appreciate his honesty.

My need-to-speak-distress often gets me in trouble, whether it has just rolled off the tongue, or out the fingers.
I could use David's muzzle.

Instead, I get his example...
...and, his thoughts on the matter.

David specifically uses the word "transgression."
Another word often translated from this Hebrew word is "rebellion."
In other words, David knew better.
I do, too.
He knew that there are times when he should be silent.
I know that, too.
Then, a big "but" gets in the way... "But, it just feels so good to release that pressure valve and let the tongue loose..."
That gets in my way, as well.
When I satisfy self, instead of doing what I know is right...that is rebellion.

As soon as that truth rumbled around in my brain, I remembered:

Rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as bad as worshipping idols.
1 Samuel 15:23's high time to eliminate the witch from my mouth...

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Shade for the Children

When Bay and I sensed God's call to leave Kenya (Oh! My! Goodness! 25 years ago! 1/4 century past, this month!), we had no clue what His next-steps were for us. None! As we prayed, we saw God-given confirmation of the decision to return stateside, but no grand plan was unveiled. The picture we saw in our mind's-eye was a Jordan-River-Kind-of-Crossing...we'd take one step, and the Lord would part the waters for the next step. It almost seemed like we would walk blindly into what would become the next new norm of ministry.

There was, however, one little hint.
It was a four word phrase that settled into my soul.
"Shade for the children."

Somehow, whatever that new-norm-of-ministry, whatever our next season, it would have something to do with those four words.
What it was, at the time, I had no clue!
As God unraveled His plans, I often found myself speechless.
FOCUS Ministries, for God's appointed time, was to be an umbrella that offered a safe space, a gathering place where students from middle school to high school would be given shelter...spiritual and, sometimes, physical...all the while offering those students a "Fresh Outlook Centering Upon the Savior."

While that season of ministry has passed, and we are now in another new-norm-of-ministry (we realized why that is when we had our church youth group over last weekend for capture the flag and a variety of other fun...we were EXHAUSTED by the end of the night), I was drawn back to that phrase: Shade for the Children.

The umbrella of shade I now hold covers my own circle of loves (at last count 24 adults and small treasures, but that number is still fluctuating upward). The umbrella of shade I now offer looks more like a prayer covering.

That is where I left off last week, and with this verse:

And, now, what does the Lord ask of you? He asks only that you fear the Lord your God, and live in a way that pleases Him, to love and serve Him with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength. And, to obey His commands...for your own good.
Deuteronomy 10:12-13

The Lord is renewing my passion for specific Scripture-centered prayer that covers each one of my Adults and my Grand-Treasures. A prayer leading them to all that is GOOD for their lives. A prayer that will hold their feet steadfast to faith in a world where Christianity is often misunderstood, and everything could change in a snap.

Here's what is written on the umbrella that will be their shade in days to come:

Fear of God.  

Lord, may ____________ (name) always be in AWE of You. Open ________' eyes to see glimpses of Your glory, and to recognize Your hand always at work behind the scenes. May _________' worship always begin with wonder as __________ comes to know you more intimately.

Walk Pleasing.  

May _____________(name) seek first Your will and plan for ___________ life. May ____________ remember that Your plans are to prosper and not to harm; that You have prepared ____________ for every good work; and that You will make __________'s way straight as ___________ trusts in You.

Love & Serve. 

May ____________ remember that at Your core, You are love...and Your love is perfect, driving out all fear. May _______ see Your love made manifest each and every day; and, as a result, serve You out of an overflowing heart. May _________ be Your hands and feet to those who need to know You, or need to be encouraged by You. May __________ speak often of your wondrous deeds, and tell the stories of Your power and might.


In a world that pinches it's nose against anything that reeks of legalism, may ___________ remember that Your ways are higher, and Your commands perfect, often reviving the Spirit. May _________ desire to follow after your law of love more than much fine gold; and, may _____________ find your commandments sweet to the soul. May ___________ remember, abundant life is often found in the middle, between law and love. 

Above all, may ____________ find Hope in You; may _________ wait expectantly in remembrance of all You have done and are yet to do.


Friday, July 7, 2017

Awaiting the Miraculous

Whenever I ask my nephew Andrew about work, he responds with his lazy drawl, "Well, Aunt Peg, I'm at least two days ahead of schedule!"

Wow! Two days! I can't imagine!

I must be my mother's daughter, because I tend to be, and I quote her, "A day late and a dollar short." However, with inflation, make that at least ten dollars short.

So goes the story of this particular's a day late.
For those of you who checked in yesterday, please accept my apologies.


Recently, I've spent some significantly wonderful time with some of my adult children, and some of my grand-treasures. I've said it before, and I make no apologies saying it again - these people are my happy place. How I love each and every one of them.

Because of time spent with these enjoyable people, my mind is on them as I've been reading through the Old Testament.

Especially in the stories of the Kings.
Have you ever noticed how many of them started out well, walking closely with the Lord, standing strong in their faith, then began to falter...?
Bring that down to today, have you ever noticed how many (even, sigh, pastors!) start out well, walk closely, stand strong, then seem to follow suit...?
I've talked recently with many mom-friends who are hurting more over some of the doings of their adult children, far more than when their kiddos were small, or in those "rebellious teen years."
Those aren't my stories to tell.
Yet, as we all know, just because our kids make it to adult-hood, there are no guarantees...

It's reminded me of the importance to keep good prayer coverage.
I relied heavily on prayer when my children were young.
I'm so thankful for a local Mom's-In-Touch group, which allowed me to gather with like-minded mothers who met weekly just to pray specifically for one-hour for our kids and their schools.
Those prayers were passionate and intense.
Answers were often miraculous!

However, it dawned on me this week, maybe, just perhaps, I had developed a temporary-prayer-mind-set.
Almost as if the intensity of my prayers need only be for a season.
If I could just get my children to adulthood...
Then...their walks with Jesus would be smooth sailing to the end...

Don't get me wrong, I knew their lives wouldn't be easy.
I have always prayed for them, particularly about life situations...
Yet, it's almost as if where their Jesus-Stories were concerned, in this season of life I could breathe a little easier.
As if I'd taken for granted that their Jesus-Walk was guaranteed.
That's not true for any of us, and some of the stories I've heard and read about lately, have caused me to take pause and do some re-thinking, re-structuring, re-wiring of my prayer-priorities.

That's when the Lord dropped this little gold-nugget of a verse in my lap this week...right when I was pondering these things.

And, now, what does the Lord ask of you? He asks only that you fear the Lord your God, and live in a way that pleases Him, to love and serve Him with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength. And, to obey His commands...for your own good.
Deuteronomy 10:12-13

What a laser-beam prayer focus!
These words - this is what I desire for my children, and now my Grand-Treasures - because what I want more than anything is for them to finish strong in Christ Jesus. Because, what I want is exactly what the Lord wants: their own good!

So, this is as far as I've gotten this week.
Next week, I hope to generate a very specific prayer based on this passage that will be my prayer-outline, as I pray God's words back to Him regarding those that make up my happy place.
I'm returning to a more specific, intense season of prayer for my children....and grand-treasures....and I'm anticipating the miraculous.