My devotion, “Love Letters Only,” is one of 143 other authors who contributed to a book called, “God Still Meets Needs,” compiled by Mark Littleton. Enjoy!
The community around our church needs just as much attention as the community within our church. Prayer Warriors wear athletic shoes.
They walk, pray, and connect. In some churches, I’ve seen prayer warriors stand in the lobby, wearing their name tags, and sometimes they approach. Most times, they wait to be approached. If your church is located in a quiet neighborhood, that’s your only option.
However, if your church is located near busy areas where people tarry and walk, perhaps where festivals occur, then your prayer warriors should put on their walking shoes and leave the church lobby. Let those who are elderly and have physical limitations remain behind to pray with the congregation. Prayer Warriors should reach out every Sunday, meeting up with others in their community, getting updates or new prayer requests. Prayer ministries are more than just people who bow their heads and pray; prayer ministries should be about creating community, too, one handshake and one conversation at a time.
Every week in spite of rejection or acceptance, bone-deep weariness or burn-out, a prayer warrior must reconnect, get updates, and continually pray. It’s not just a polite thing or a political thing to make a church or person seem more caring. It’s a lot of behind the scenes, on your knees kind of work. It’s socializing and conversation. Some churches have what they call a Street Team, but to me, that’s just selling Jesus instead of showing how Jesus has influenced our hearts.
Send your prayer warriors out into the streets to connect with believers and non-believers. Here are some tips:
1: Don’t hide your Bible. Someone said they were taught to keep your Bible hidden bringing it out only when you need it. I disagree. To be authentic, we need to reveal our intentions and be open about what we believe and be ready to answer questions or take insult with a smile.
2: Don’t Sell Them Jesus. You don’t know their background or what they believe. Trust in the Holy Spirit to direct your mouth and feet. Approach a person with pen and paper ready and ask them if there are any prayer requests you can pray over during the week. Tell them what church you attend. It helps if your church gives you a name tag that identifies you are with a prayer team. Your goal is to love and that means you may spend a lot of time listening, conversing, and praying. You might jot down the prayer request and pray over it during the week, instead of on the spot. It all depends upon the person.
3: You Represent Your Church. Keep the conversation focused on prayer requests. In this time of our lives, politics are on everyone’s mind. Some use politics to deflect your request and push you away.
4: Follow-Up. Look for last week’s people—the people you prayed for—and get updates or say hello. Show them they are valued by talking to them, too.
5: Don’t Trade Insults or Get Angry. Jokes are common as are prayer requests for world peace from those who want to put some distance from you. Laugh at yourself. The rewards are keeping connections open in future run-ins. In some instances though, you may walk into a dangerous situation like the girl who was hit across the face with her own bible. She never pressed charges or lost her temper, but it could have gone much worse. Always bring a second person as a witness.
6: Mentoring Youth. Try to get the youth in your church to join you. Mentor them to become prayer warriors. Choose only those who can keep confidences.
And finally, remember the enemy doesn’t like it when people pray. A church should be built on prayer and every prayer warrior is needed in this culture–the ones who pray during the week, the ones who are available on Sunday, and those who pray at home. Prayer is the only effective way to change a culture.
How does your prayer group work? Describe your experiences in a prayer group.
A reality show brings Judge Finney and others, each representing several faiths, and an atheist to Paradise Island. The shows producers however have hidden agendas. The Judge by Randy Singer is a tale of intrigue, education, and a trial that tests all faiths.
Judge Finney and his legal assistant, Nikki Moreno are embroiled in a trial where the suspect uses code to issue a death warrant on a witness. While this trial has no bearing on the story, we get a hint of what the Judge uses farther along in the book to get messages to Nikki Moreno and a young genius, Wellington Farnsworth.
Paradise Island is a secret location in which the contestants are whisked away in a mock trial to test their faiths intellectually and emotionally. There are several political groups against the show, and one of the producers’ father is a pastor who is boycotting the show. Faith on Trial tests each faith. Strangely, all of the contestants become friends and that friendship creates a strong bond in the face of the evil lurking on the island.
Through a series of codes, Judge Finney gets Nikki Moreno and Wellington Farnsworth to investigate the producers and the backers of Faith on Trial as he gets clues that their lives are in danger.
Randy Singer does a great job in putting together a complicated and well researched novel that keeps me guessing. I thought Kareem, the Muslim, was the snitch. What came in the end of the novel took me by surprise.
I like a novel that keeps me guessing. It also educated me on different faiths and the history of codes. I found it fascinating. The different codes made my mind spin. Math isn’t my strength. It caused me to want to read the history of codes or search for the hidden treasure. The novel was very technical. There is no romance in it. The novel was written for the male. What I thought was the best line in the novel was when the producers questioned why Swami wasn’t willing to die for his faith and he replied in essence that a television show was not worth dying over. The swami wasn’t Christian. I kept thinking of what I would do in Judge Finney’s place.
Unless a television show’s results were rigged, I wouldn’t be against defending my faith in a reality television show. In one scene, Judge Finney admitted that science wasn’t his strength and when he had to question a microbiologist, he was pretty weak having no background in it. In the same vein, I don’t think I would volunteer to defend my faith in a setting like that as I’m not quick on my feet. Answers come slowly after much thought.
Even in arguments or tense situations, I always manage to find the best answers long after the opportunity has passed. I like talking to people. With all the books available on different religions, a reality show seems unnecessary. What’s more effective in glorifying God is face to face communication when the Holy Spirit softens a heart, making them open to hearing the truth.
This is my first Randy Singer novel and I am hooked. I gave it five stars.
*Novel given by publisher to review.
“Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.””
Today I and my husband will be going out to gather prayer requests from the community before service. Pray for us.
In “Oh, God Book 2” the little girl receives a message from you in a Chinese cookie. After watching that movie, I often wished when I cracked open a Chinese cookie your message would be on that sliver of paper–a clear direction in a confusing world.
But then, I am reminded what Mondays With My Old Pastor, by Jose Luis Navajo said, “Don’t despair if you don’t understand the meaning of something today. Keep eating the fruit. This is also the message of the cross.” He pointed to the dozen crucifixes that decorated the simple room. “We do not understand what happened there until we visit the tomb and find it empty. Too often we despair and give up in the middle of the storm, when the only thing we should do is trust and wait. The storm will pass, and then we will discover that the waves that terrified us were actually the same waves that served to alter the course of our sailing causing us to dock in the right harbor.”
My Father, I know you don’t speak through a Chinese cookie. I only have to fall back on your Word. You gave us that and the Holy Spirit. You gave us your Son. You gave us you.
Hear my prayer, O Lord,
and give ear to my cry;
hold not your peace at my tears!
For I am a sojourner with you,
a guest, like all my fathers,
Look away from me, that I may smile again,
before I depart and am no more!
– Psalm 39:12-13
So when I eat at a Chinese restaurant, I won’t look for a sign from you in a Chinese cookie. I’ll look on my knees. I’ll look in the pages of your book. You are praiseworthy, my Father.
And I’ll wait and pray, however long it takes.
Love, your daughter
Dear Little Girl Me,
I know you won’t listen to me. You aren’t listening to anyone these days. Do not dismiss what your instinct is telling you. That’s the Holy Spirit talking. Even though you aren’t saved yet, you’re searching for Jesus. First, you thought baptism would save you and if you acted a certain way, dressed in a certain way, maybe God would love you. Maybe you would be good enough to get to Heaven. You got out of that false religion for the wrong reasons and yet it caused you to research that religion. It many ways that was a step closer in the right direction. Then, you lost your way.
That anger inside of you is like a disease.
Trust me when I tell you the anger will eat you up inside, like one of those tissue-eating bacteria you’ve read about. Some days those conversations with the invisible rendition of your birth father behind the closed door of your room are angry; other days they are calm, almost forgiving.
You won’t forgive him until your mid-thirties. This issue won’t go away. You should listen to that instinct that tells you at eighteen to call your birth father even though that will cause problems. There’s always two sides to every story.
In divorce, there are no bad guys or good guys, except in abuse situations—it’s just two brokenhearted people standing in the pool of discarded dreams or unrealistic expectations. You’re in the middle, wet with their tears, heavy with their burdens and hurts. Your birth father will nearly die because of heart issues and when you find him years from now, you’ll feel closure and relief that you called him and he was still alive. That’s all you needed anyway. You already know Jesus loves you. As Psalm 27:10 assures you, you have a Father in Heaven, but right now at eighteen all you want to feel is loved. You trade a piece of yourself every time you lie with a man outside the bounds of marriage.
One day you’ll meet the right man and you’ll treat him, at first, harshly, but you’ll marry him and that marriage will be what God uses to bring you to Him. It will be the final chess move and you’ll be stronger. You’ll finally know love. But for now you’ll try to find that love in men, crossing that moral line, and then, you’ll go to credit cards.
You’ll spend money you don’t have and can’t pay back because buying clothes and jewelry makes you feel complete. Coming out with an armful of new stuff, fills for the moment the gap in your soul. It only works for a little while and then the “drug” wears off and you’re restless again. You know something is wrong, but you’re looking in the wrong direction for what you need. What you are looking for is not available. I know you hurt right now and no one is listening. You don’t know how to explain your hurt or anger, or how to express it. You don’t know who will listen. You’re always scared. You’re always hiding behind your books.
You’re always hiding.
It’s time to heal.
And to heal, you need to be brave.
Love, Big Girl Me
Today I am speaking at North Phoenix Praise and Coffee in Anthem, Arizona. Please pray that my message is powered by the Holy Spirit. The message is too important. People need to hear it from one who has experienced it.
And if there are any prayer requests, please do not hesitate to put them in the comments. May we all pray for them.
For more information on Praise and Coffee meetings across the world, click here.
Prescott, AZ Praise and Coffee Speaker: April, 2011
Met: FBC Prescott
Door Prize: The Shelter of God’s Promises by Sheila Walsh
By Jamie Procknow
At sixteen years old, I was living on my own. The Illinois courts had granted me partial emancipation. I worked two jobs and still went to school full time. It was difficult to relate to my peers because other kids weren’t concerned with car payments or rent and all that went along with it. I looked for anyone who would help repair my brokenness. I was trying to figure out who I was, where I belonged and what I believed. I had very little foundation and no one to hold my actions and choices accountable. I based these solely on my feelings. On matters of great importance, I was fairly clueless. One thing I was taught in my childhood was Pro-Choice. It baffles me still how a child in the third grade could be ready for this subject. My mom was passionate about it. She constantly spoke of this with such fire; perhaps she would feel differently if she knew what I did not.
I was never told that it was a life, a little body, with arms, legs and a beating heart. No one explained that some of the procedures would commence by dismembering and severing and taking apart that body or by administering a poison that the little one would try to flee from. They didn’t tell me about the nerves that would have developed by the time I would be “eligible” to abort, and that the baby could actually feel pain. I was never told about the physical consequences to my body; that it would increase the odds of infertility and many other problems with my reproductive system. The baby’s death left an empty place in my heart forever. No one told explained about the emotional consequences.
I had no idea the ache wouldn’t heal with time. Her void left an emotional infection and it would get worse over the years, not better! Not all women who have aborted babies feel this way. I’ve had women tell me “I did what I HAD TO DO!” I feel this is a survival technique. To realize that you are liable for ending an innocent life is a heavy burden. Adopting this attitude helps them cope.
My mom invested a lot in her conviction. All three of her daughters would abort a baby. From the perspective of a once lost and broken child who is now a parent I have conviction too; conviction to make certain that my children know the truth and that I be diligent in seeking truth! My mom didn’t just state a position once. She spoke it again and again about a WOMAN’S RIGHT TO CHOOSE! It was effective. It’s here at the “Choice” where it gets hard! The very word “CHOICE,” implies the possibility and optimism where none exists and it is so instrumental in appealing to the masses who support abortion. My baby also might have liked to have a choice! I know several women who I am thankful didn’t make that choice. My mom would be missing out on the grandchildren whom she loves dearly! The fault lies solely with me. It was the worst choice I ever made to ignore the direction of the Holy Spirit within me! I will never forget my abortion. I have spent years haunted by my so called “CHOICE”.
It was my big secret, except for the person who gave me a ride to the clinic. What would people think of me? Ugly adjectives and harsh judgments would dodge my steps. What if they asked about the father? How could I deliver a child? Would they be white or a mix of races? Who would even want to be around me? I didn’t even want to be around me. Also, I had finally just met a nice guy. He was trying to go about dating me the proper way. Would this mess it all up?! He’d drop me like a bad habit! My selfish reasons make me sick to my stomach now. I remember the people who tried to stop me as I went in and something inside me wanted to listen. Inside the clinic, I was handled coldly and abruptly. It still stings today. Of course, I felt that I deserved it all! Etched into my mind is the shock of having the doctor make a derogatory remark to me just before the procedure!
For many years when people heard of my different roles like foster/adopt mom, advocate, volunteer, etc. I would be given a lot of great feedback. It’s nice to hear complimentary things. Do you ever hear mean things in your head? Does someone say you look pretty and then you hear in your head, except that extra 15 pounds I’ve gained; or someone says, you have such a lovely family, and suddenly you think, They should have seen that fight my husband and I had last night; what do these people know?! When someone says, Wow, it’s great that you give these children such a great home! Suddenly from out of nowhere I hear something not audible to anyone else, Yeah, they think you’re so nice. Did you tell them you are a murderer!?
At the time I was initially asked to speak on this at Parkside Church, I had just become the proud mother of what would be my first and only biological child. Joshua was my sixth pregnancy, but the only one living. As is the case for many women who abort I suffered many problems in the aftermath. I lost four other babies besides my aborted child and had many other reproductive health problems too. The doctors diminished all hope after my second ectopic pregnancy. They told me that my problems were too severe and I needed a full hysterectomy.
My procrastination turned into mercy and grace in the form of Joshua. God knows me so intimately! He knew the longing of my heart to produce a child whose heart would beat outside of my body and may perhaps have features I could identify as mine or my husbands. I had fallen into that awful trap of feeling that God was punishing me. This was one of the largest of my spiritual battles. God blessed me with yet another little miracle in Joshua, and all the circumstances surrounding the pregnancy would leave God’s fingerprints all over it! I gave birth to Joshua only one year (almost to the date) before the possibility of conception would have been gone even more so than before because of the cancer that would be discovered in my ovaries.
As a result of this, I was able to look into the face of this little blessing that was ever by my side or in my lap as I began writing about this choice. Sobbing commenced as I wondered if my aborted child would look similar to Joshua. Would the baby have been a boy or girl? Would she know from her place in heaven how sorry I was and that I actually love her? How could I possibly destroy something so amazing?! How could I not have known? I looked down at him as I was nursing. What sin have I committed, what dysfunction in my life, or what self-centeredness, could possibly merit depriving the world of this life! There is no such thing!
Self examination can be a painful process. Looking through the lens of truth can be ugly. Many don’t like to even enter into this process, but it is a critical piece if we desire growth. As I was engulfed in my reflection something strange happened, I realized that I had primarily regarded my baby as an infant. Suddenly, I understood how far away I was from that time in my life and only then realized that my child would have entered their teen years. I began to wander down a mental path of a life extinguished before it began and all the “what ifs” that came along with it! I sincerely understand that I am forgiven but just as it is with many other sins, there are consequences on earth.
A poster on a pro-choice site showed an egg in a frying pan, a silk worm, on oak tree nut, a sperm and egg that are just getting ready to become an embryo. It reads, “This is not a chicken, this is not a dress, this is not a tree and this is not a baby.” How clever and yet horribly misleading! The egg in the pan had not been fertilized; neither the dress nor the tree would ever have a beating heart; the egg and sperm have not come together yet. They wouldn’t want to show the fetus because it is human and takes that shape and form right away and has a heartbeat before a woman even realizes that she is pregnant. Just a slight twisting of truth and suddenly you have found justification to label murder as a procedure. They downplay it so drastically. Has anyone ever gone on YouTube to watch an abortion? My story can save you the trouble. I wonder how many pro-choice have seen it! We should be fully educated, especially when so many children are paying the price of their very lives, because we choose ignorance (sometimes, just so we can be comfortable). Isn’t ignorance nice? We choose it for abortion, world hunger, poverty, AIDS, elder and sometimes child abuse. What do we turn a blind eye to so we can sleep at night?
My foster daughter tells me that while she was pregnant, she felt the weight of people’s judgmental stares. Accountability is most effective when done in LOVE! All of us need grace, accountability and love. Again, this is why I urge you to be transparent and glorify the God who loves you and has forgiven your sins too! Embrace the teen mothers who are doing their best, encourage truth, and spare no detail. For a girl who goes through an abortion, the details WILL NEVER spare her.
If you would like to contribute to Community Pregnancy Center to help mothers with options and care, click here for details.
Too many people have wrong ideas about Mary, the mother of Jesus. She was just a teenage girl betrothed to Joseph. Not a deity. Not someone to be worshipped. A quiet girl. Her deep-down reverence for God has always left me pondering my own spiritual state.
Her attitude when discovering that the Holy Spirit would conceive a child in her belly was recorded in Luke 1:29-38:
Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.”
“How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”
The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called[b] the Son of God. Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be unable to conceive is in her sixth month. For no word from God will ever fail.”
“I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Then the angel left her.
I think there are many lessons we can take from Mary’s story. Imagine the long journey she took to Bethlehem, then to Egypt to escape Herod after Jesus’ birth. I have to wonder if we would still retain a quiet and accepting nature after suffering so much. She honored God with her words and actions. Mary’s personality is quite the contrast to today’s culture. What happens when we get busy?
In this hectic holiday season, let us sit quietly in the manger and ponder as Mary did the holiness of God.
And Mary said:
“My soul glorifies the Lord
47 and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
48 for he has been mindful
of the humble state of his servant.
From now on all generations will call me blessed,
49 for the Mighty One has done great things for me—
holy is his name.
50 His mercy extends to those who fear him,
from generation to generation.
51 He has performed mighty deeds with his arm;
he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts.
52 He has brought down rulers from their thrones
but has lifted up the humble.
53 He has filled the hungry with good things
but has sent the rich away empty.
54 He has helped his servant Israel,
remembering to be merciful
55 to Abraham and his descendants forever,
just as he promised our ancestors.”
The commercial came on followed by lines of fine print. I know legally they have to show that fine print, but unless you hit the pause button, who can read it? The wisest person knows when something is too good to be true. They seek out the motive behind the offer. We’ve built our culture around advertisements and trained people to expect results in the time it takes for high speed internet to download a web page. So when our prayer team ventured out into the community to ask for prayer requests, it didn’t surprise me when people were startled, or looked upon us with suspicion. Some responded in anger because God didn’t give them everything on their wish list.
People are looking for the fine print—the strings that tell them of our motives. Jehovah’s Witness and Mormons peddle their cult down there while Potter’s House stands on the corners, shouting through a bull horn judgment and condemnation. Even some Christian churches stand on the corners with good intentions holding up boards about Jesus’ coming. Each of them are trying to sell something whether it’s a cult, a product, or our church, we’re trying to stand behind them like a football team or a product we believe in and use. Especially awful are the churches that change the Bible to gain more people and sell Jesus a little easier. Not every Christian church is like any of these examples. So it’s understandable that people view us with distrust.
What are we trying to sell? They see the black book in our hands and shrink back, throwing up the walls. How do you break them down? How do you show your sincerity?
The prayer team shows up nearly every Sunday and ask the same question: “Hello. We’re from that church over there and we are wondering if there is anything you would like us to pray over during the week?” We give them our email address to give us updates and if we see the same person from the previous week, we ask for an update.
There are no strings or fine print. We’re not trying to sell our church. If you go here, we’d welcome you and offer you a coffee or something. But all we want to know is: (1) Do you know Jesus? (2) Do you believe in only the Bible? (3) Do you believe He died for your sins? (4) If you have a church, we’re glad for you. (5) How is your walk with Jesus? (6) Do you need us to listen to your pain?
Being a Christian means you are a member of a greater body—a family. It’s a family that’s imperfect with a mixture of personality and races. Our Father heads that family. He gave us His Son. He gave us the Holy Spirit. He gave us the Trinity. That’s comfort you won’t find in the fine print of a television advertisement; its comfort you will find in the fine print of the Bible. There are no strings attached, and God makes us wait for a reason.
Do you read your Bible?