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Archive | Salvation

Terror Attack Prayer Guide

Terror Attack Prayer Guide Yesterday – exactly one year after the deadly terror attack in Brussels – terror struck in London.  Although the details are still unfolding, British officials have officially called the attack in and around the Parliament building an act of terror.

Hours after the Brussels attack last year, I wanted to spend some intensive time in prayer, but wasn’t sure exactly how to pray. As I sat with my Bible and journal, God brought very specific prayers to mind. Afterward I shared those prayers here in a guide.

Although the situation in London is not active, many of these requests would still be appropriate. And although I pray we won’t need it again, this guide can be printed and put into your Bible for later use. (Link to PDF printable.)

Terror Attack Prayer Guide

“Lord, hear our prayers!”

Pray for Law enforcement:

  • Good, solid intelligence and information
  • Plenty of manpower and resources
  • Good coordination between agencies, including international
  • Physical stamina

Pray for Medical Personnel:

  • Physical and emotional strength
  • All the human resources, equipment and supplies needed
  • Wisdom to quickly assess individual situations
  • Steady hands and calming presence

Pray for the Injured:

  • Provide the help they need quickly
  • Surround them with believers who will pray and encourage them
  • Overwhelm them with Your peace and ease their fear

Pray for the Families:

  • Comfort for the families of those killed
  • Support for the families of those injured
  • Peace for the families of those waiting to hear
  • Good communication about the situation to all families

Pray for World Leaders:

  • Leaders around the world would rise up against this evil
  • Ability to set politics aside
  • Receive wise counsel from wise people
  • Leaders around the world would unite in a global effort against terrorism

Pray for Rescue workers and First Responders:

  • Protection from further violence as they work
  • Physical strength, emotional stamina
  • Good coordination and communication in the efforts
  • They would provide a strong, calming presence to those they encounter
  • Sustenance, like food and water, they need to keep going

Pray for the Terrorists:

  • Any left alive involved in this attack would be caught
  • Those on the fringe would give information to authorities
  • Any other related plots would be exposed
  • For God to convict them and bring them to repentance
  • For God to draw them to Jesus

Please feel free to add your prayers in the comments below.

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3 Reasons I Plan to Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day

St. Patrick's DayI have a fresh interest in St. Patrick’s Day this year. Since last March 17th I discovered that I’m sort of Irish!

For Christmas, Wayne gave me a DNA kit from Ancestry.com. It was something I’d been wanting to do. Basically, the test confirmed what I suspected – I’m basically a mutt, a pound puppy. But I was surprised by the top percentage. Thirty-one percent of me is Irish!

Perhaps, like me, you’ve considered St Patrick’s Day a fun, but frivolous observance – a day to wear green clothes, eat green food, and listen to Celtic music. However, there’s actually good reason to stop and consider St. Patrick.

A Really Brief History of St. Patrick

Patrick wasn’t Irish. He was born about 387 AD in Scotland. Although his grandfather was a priest and his father was a deacon, young Patrick did not embrace the family faith. Then at the age of 16, Patrick was kidnapped by Irish pirates and taken to Ireland and forced into servitude.

During his years as a slave, Patrick spent large amounts of time alone caring for the herds of his master. This life of slavery and solitude fostered a deep prayer life and Patrick came to true faith in Christ. In “The Confession of St. Patrick,” Patrick acknowledges that God used his time of trial to turn heart toward Him.

After six years of slavery in Ireland, Patrick escaped and returned to Britain where he continued his religious study. But it wasn’t long before a vision of a lost Ireland burdened him with the need to return with the Gospel. God was sending Patrick to a people that the church had decided was too lost to be reached – the pagans of Ireland were just too different.

In his mid-40’s – after becoming a bishop of the church – Patrick returned to Ireland as a missionary. He spent 30 years converting thousands of Irish “pagans” to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Patrick died on March 17th, 461 AD at the first church he built in Ireland.

Patrick is the patron saint of Ireland and although never officially canonized, early Christians consider him a “saint in heaven.”

3 Reasons I Care About St Patrick’s Day

  1. I’m Irish – Well, at least I’m more Irish than anything else and it’s the closest I will ever get to an ethnic holiday. So humor me.
  2. Patrick faithfully followed Christ no matter the cost – Loyalty to Christ and concern for the eternal state of his enemies led Patrick back to Ireland. He willingly and obediently faced danger to take the Gospel to Ireland. He constantly fought the temptation to leave the mission field and return home. Patrick even shared the Gospel with his old master. That’s bold faith!
  3. Patrick sets the example for evangelism – Patrick wisely separated the Gospel from the Roman culture, something the Catholic Church could not or would not do. Just as many Jewish Christians in the first century wrongly believed Gentiles had to first become Jews before they could become Christians, the church of the 5th century thought the “pagans” had to first become “civilized” before they could come to Jesus. But, Patrick shared the Gospel within the Celtic culture. He did not try to change their culture before he offered the Gospel. His method of evangelism freed him to embrace the areas of their culture that did not break God’s laws of righteousness. Like the apostle Paul, Patrick became “all things to all people so that by all possible means” he might save some (1 Corinthians 9:22). In this way, Patrick showed respect for the Irish and was able to build bridges and relationships that fostered opportunities to share the Gospel. By the way, Patrick used the 3-leaved shamrock to help explain the concept of the Trinity!

St. Patrick’s Day is not just a fun day of all things Irish. For those “in the know,” remembering St. Patrick encourages us to faithfully follow Christ no matter where He leads and to boldly share the Gospel of life with those in our path, no matter how different from us they may be.

How do you plan to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day?

Some helpful articles for more information on St. Patrick:

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May Your Christmas Be Merry and Light!

Christmas celebrates the birth of Jesus. The coming of God to mankind. We needed a Savior. We were stumbling around in the dark and could not save ourselves. We needed a Light.

Then two thousand years ago, the Creator set His rescue plan in motion. The King left His throne in heaven and entered the world as a humble babe in a stable in Bethlehem.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
John 1:1-5

Jesus is the light of the world (John 8:12). Anyone who believes in Jesus will cross from death to life. From darkness to light.

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.  For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.  Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. John 3:16-18

May the Light of the world fill your heart with His joy this Christmas.

The people walking in darkness
    have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of deep darkness
    a light has dawned.

For to us a child is born,
    to us a son is given,
    and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
    Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
    Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Isaiah 9:2,6

From my family to yours, Have yourself a Merry and Light Christmas!

family

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Are You Dead or Alive?

Dead or AliveA couple of years ago, my car battery died and left me stranded in a doctor’s office parking lot. I didn’t get a warning. I had no trouble starting the car to drive to the appointment, but when I came out to go home, the motor didn’t even try to start.

I intercepted a cowboy headed out to his pickup truck and asked for his help. He agreed to do what he could and managed to finagle his vehicle into a position to connect our batteries. But still my car wouldn’t start.

I decided it must be something other than the battery. Maybe the starter. So I called Triple A and my father-in-law. The tow truck took my car to the dealership and my father-in-law took me home.

Later that day the service department called with the diagnosis. It was the battery. What? I asked why the “jump” didn’t get it going? According to the man who understands cars far more than I do, a battery has to have at least some life left in it to respond to a jump. My battery, on the other hand, didn’t have a single spark of life remaining. The only hope left for my car was a brand new battery. One that contained life. So, dead battery out and live battery in. Car started. Amazing.

Before Christ saves us, we’re like my car sitting in the doctor’s parking lot. We might look fine from the outside, but because we’re all sinners, we are all dead in our sin.

All have sinned (Romans 3:23); The wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23); Once you were dead because of your disobedience and your many sins (Ephesians 2:1).

Sin brings spiritual death, cutting us off completely from the Source of spiritual life. We have no power to save ourselves, and no access to the One who does. Sounds like a hopeless state, doesn’t it? Oh, but the grace of God…

 But because of His great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions – it is by grace you have been saved. Ephesians 2:4-5

I am so overwhelmed by what God has done for us in Christ! Because of His love, and mercy, and grace, God replaces our death with His Life. And His Life is Jesus Himself. Eternal life is The Life in us.

“I tell you the truth, whoever hear my word and believes Him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life” (John 5:24).

Are you dead or alive? Has there ever been a time in your life when you received God’s unbounded grace and crossed over from death to life? If so, then rejoice over that life today. If not, then why not receive His life today?

Are you dead or alive? Have you received God’s saving grace?

This post is part of a month-long emphasis on grace to celebrate the release of Kathy’s newest Bible study “Lavish Grace.”

The winner of last week’s Coloring Sheet Drawing is:

Here are a few ways you can join in the celebration!

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God’s Grace Doesn’t Make Sense

Grace Doesn't Make SenseGod’s grace simply doesn’t make sense to me. It is radical. Extreme. Counterintuitive. Free and boundless. It goes against human logic. Maybe it doesn’t make sense to you either. So, why do we have so much trouble wrapping our minds around God’s lavish grace?

For starters, the world we live in operates with different rules. Normally, we reap what we sow. We work hard in order to earn a paycheck. When drive faster than the speed limit, we get an expensive ticket.

And, we know we don’t deserve grace. We don’t deserve a saving relationship with Jesus. Yet, He pours it out on those who don’t deserve it. God lavishes His grace on those not seeking it. And after our conversion, through times of rebellion, complacency, grief, and struggle, God gently draws us back to Himself with cords of love.

And still, the grace keeps coming! Through times of trial and suffering, it overflows our lives to provide comfort, encouragement, and strength. God extends His lavish grace to us every moment of every day.

What is Grace?

The best, condensed definition of grace I can give you is this: “Grace” is God’s divine favor and merciful, loving-kindness.

The Greek word usually translated as “grace” in the New Testament is charis. The definition of charis in The Complete Word Study New Testament includes these facets:

  • Closely related to the Greek word we translate as “joy”
  • Divine favor, kindness, acceptance
  • Favor bestowed on the undeserving without expectation of return
  • Absolute freeness of God’s loving-kindness to men
  • Motivated by the bounty and heart of the Giver
  • Unearned and unmerited favor
  • Forgives sin and affects a person’s sinful nature, shaping her to be used for God’s good purposes
  • Results in joy and gratitude in the one who receives it

Grace flows constantlyGod’s grace flows from His heart. It’s based on His bounty, His character. We do not merit His grace. We cannot earn it. Yet in His loving-kindness He freely pours it out.

Grace begins and ends with our gracious God. It’s all about Him, yet you and I benefit. Isn’t that amazing?

I still don’t understand God’s grace. But I will forever rely on its lavish abundance.

How have you experienced God’s lavish grace this week?

This post is part of a month-long emphasis on grace to celebrate the release of Kathy’s newest Bible study “Lavish Grace.” Here are a few ways you can join in the celebration!

 

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My Southern-Fried Faith

In the south, we fry anything and everything. If it walks, runs, jumps, swims, or flies we will roll it in flour or cornmeal and drop it in a skillet or Fry Daddy. In addition to the commonly known fare, I’ve also eaten fried alligator, squirrel, dove, rabbit, and crawfish.

Side note for context: I was born and raised in northern Louisiana. And yes, watching Duck Dynasty is like attending a family reunion.

FaithIn many places in the south, “fry” is the default method of cooking. Unless otherwise requested, your meat or vegetable and sometimes even your bread and dessert get baptized in boiling oil. It’s simply assumed. After all, everything is better when it’s fried.

When I was growing up, I internalized the “fry principle” and a host of other southern assumptions. For instance, tea is always iced, right hands go over hearts when a flag passes by, pick-up trucks are perfectly acceptable prom night transportation, and good people go to church.

From infancy my parents faithfully took me to Sunday School, worship service, Vacation Bible School, and Wednesday night prayer meeting. I memorized Bible verses, earned high attendance pins, and wore wire hanger angel wings covered with gold garland in the Christmas pageant.

Church service and attendance wove through the fabric of our family. The question of whether or not we would go on any given Sunday was never raised because we were a “church family.” This faithful commitment to church hindered my faith.

Please don’t misunderstand me here. The family my husband and I raised could be described as a “church family.” And I would not want it any other way. But while both might look the same on the surface, a drastic difference exists between my childhood church attendance and my adult faith.

Inside-Out Christianity

During the first half of my life, I attended church because I was what a “good Christian girl.” To me, Christianity meant saying the right things and doing what everyone expected. And that’s exactly what I did. In fact, my brother sarcastically dubbed me “Sister Mary Kathryn.” And although Mary Kathryn is indeed my given name, I’m sure my parents never meant it to be used as a synonym for Miss Goody Two-shoes.

Although I accepted Jesus as my Savior when I was eight, I experienced little to no spiritual growth. The rich relationship I wanted with Christ eluded me. Something vital was missing. Connected to church, I still felt disconnected from God. I had no real sense of God’s presence. I could see the kind of passionate, dynamic faith I longed to have in other’s lives.

But despite many weak attempts to pump up my own faith, it remained dry and flat. Even though I had been taught differently, I had internalized that faith was what you do. I missed the part about it being all about Who you know.

Relationship of Faith Over Religion

“Doing” is a human’s default setting. We like to make lists and check off the items, proving to ourselves that we have accomplished something. We can perform the outward motions of faith without actively pursuing the object of our faith.

Religion cannot satisfy. Unless our works of faith flow naturally out of a vital relationship with our Maker it is merely religious ritual. We were created for relationship, not outward trappings of religion. Faith that does not produce these kinds of works is dead and useless (James 1:20). But religious works performed from a sense of duty or habit only sap our spiritual strength, leaving our faith dry, weak, and flat.

Setting Assumptions Aside

 Over the years, I’ve learned that some southern assumptions of my childhood were accurate and some needed a bit of adjustment. For instance, while a few things are indeed glorious fried, the flavor of most food is best appreciated when it is grilled, sautéed, or baked, and a mug of hot herbal tea soothes a sore throat on a cold day. But, I still cover my heart in respect for the flag and my son took his date to the prom in his pick-up.

Although the Bible Belt culture of my north Louisiana childhood is less influential today, religiosity can still hinder true relationship with Jesus. I had to set religion aside and embrace relationship with the One who died to save me. Religion alone is as dry as yesterday’s toast. But relationship with the living Savior is exciting, satisfying, and yes, passionate.

Have you ever struggled to move past religion into a real relationship with Jesus? If so, how did that go??

This post is an excerpt from Kathy’s book “Fed Up with Flat Faith: 10 Attitudes and Actions to Pump Up Your Faith.”

 

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We Are Not “All God’s Children”

All God's ChildrenI hear it all the time: “We are all God’s children!” Sounds good, doesn’t it? That would be great! All humanity united in one family. With one Father.

Just one problem with that. That’s not what the Bible teaches.

Yes, all humans are creatures of God. We all belong to Him because He formed and fashioned us. We were made by Him and for Him (Colossians 1:16). Made in His image (Genesis 1:26-27). Made for His glory (Isaiah 43:7).

And yes, God loves all people (John 3:16). He longs to be in right relationship with each and every individual (2 Peter 3:9). He desires that all people come to eternal salvation through Jesus Christ (1 Timothy 2:3-6). In fact, He desires this so much that while everyone was still in utter rebellion against Him, God sent His Son to die to save us (Romans 5:8). That’s how much He loves us. That’s how much He loves you.

But not all people are children of God.

The Bible makes a clear distinction between those who are “God’s children” and those who are not. Only those born by God’s Spirit through faith in Jesus are children of God (1 John 3:1-10, Galatians 3:26, John 8:34-41).

“To all who received Him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God – children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.” John 1:12-13, NIV

The Bible also tells us what a child of God looks like. How they will behave. Here is a short list of some of what God’s Word says.

5 Characteristics of a “child of God”

  1. They love Jesus (John 8:42).
  2. They believe that Jesus is the Savior (1 John 5:1).
  3. They love God’s children (1 John 3:10, 5:1).
  4. They are controlled by the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:9, 14).
  5. They obey God (1 John 2:29, 3:7-9).

Are you a child of God? You don’t have to wonder. God longs for you to receive His gift of salvation and be assured of eternity (Find out more here.) And there are so many benefits in being a child of God!

8 Benefits of being a “Child of God”

  1. God’s children have been “redeemed,” set free from sin and eternal death by Jesus’ sacrificial death (Galatians 4:4-5).
  2. God’s children are His heirs, inheriting spiritual rights and privileges and eternal life (Romans 8:17).
  3. God’s children have direct access to their Father (Galatians 4:5-7)..
  4. God’s children have a special intimacy with their Father (Galatians 4:6).
  5. God’s children will grow to become like Jesus (1 John 3:2).
  6. God’s children have peace, unity, and equal status with each other (Galatians 3:26-29).
  7. God’s children will experience a future resurrection (Romans 8:11).
  8. God’s children have the presence and confirmation of the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:16).

Have you every heard the incorrect statement “We are all God’s children?” Maybe you’ve said it. Why is it important that we understand the truth?

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Where is Peace?

peaceOur country is in turmoil. Peace alludes us. One group pitted against another. Hatred, violence, and fear feed an ongoing stream of tragedies.

Thursday night, snipers fired on police officers during a protest in downtown Dallas. Twelve were shot, five of them died. Two more police officers were ambushed Friday in two separate incidents in Georgia. Philando Castile killed by police in Minnesota. Alton Sterling killed by police in Baton Rouge under questionable circumstances. And these things happened just last week.

One sinful act fosters another. Grief, pain, and loss overwhelm us. We seem to be caught in a downward cycle with no escape. What is the answer? Where can we find peace?

In America today, tension and even open hostility exists between races, political parties, economic groups, and faiths. But this is nothing new. Divisions and hatred like this have existed since creation in every generation.

When Paul wrote the book of Ephesians, there was no stronger example than the hostility between Jew and Gentile. But even with them peace was possible.

But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by setting aside in his flesh the law with its commands and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace, and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit. Ephesians 2:13-18, NIV

Lasting peace is not possible outside of a saving relationship with Jesus. Our sinful humanity keeps getting in the way.

Plus, peace is not simply a state of being. It is a Person. No matter how vast our differences or great our hatred, all people can find commonality and peace in Christ Jesus. When individuals are reconciled to Jesus, they are also reconciled to each other.

When we enter into a saving relationship with Jesus, His Spirit begins to transform our hearts and minds. He begins to chisel away the hatred, fear, and pride and fills us with His love, security, and selflessness. Walls break down. Relationships form.

Yes, let us both preach and practice peace. Let us reach across the aisle with hands extended. But let us also share the Gospel message of Jesus. Because without Him there will be no lasting peace.

 

 

 

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This isn’t Real Life

Real LifeMy favorite soda is Coca-Cola. Don’t try to give me some substitute cola. Some generic thing. Or Pepsi. Definitely not Pepsi. I will not settle. Only the “real thing” will do.

But how often do I – do you – settle for substitutes for life? This physical life we’re living is not real life. It’s merely a shadow. Yet we often live like this physical world is the end all, be all. We focus on things that are temporary. We invest our energy and resources and time on things that don’t last.

In the book of Colossians, the apostle Paul encourages us to immerse ourselves fully and completely in our real life:

“Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory.” Colossians 3:1-4, NIV

Our real life is our relationship with Jesus and our citizenship in the Kingdom of God. Everything else is a poor substitute. Yet so often I act like this shadow life is the real thing. What about you?

7 Signs you may be missing out on Real Life:

  • Trying to “follow all the rules” (Colossians 2:20-23).
  • Struggle constantly with the old sin nature and its desires (Colossians 3:5-7).
  • Relationships with other Christians are superficial and/or tumultuous (Colossians 3:8-11).
  • Fulfillment and contentment seem just out of reach (Colossians 3:15).
  • You worry excessively about your physical needs.
  • Your calendar rules the day.
  • You rarely have time to linger over God’s Word.

We don’t have to miss the real thing! Paul Doesn’t just give us the characteristics of living a shadow life, he also gives us practical tips for living our “real life” now.

5 Tips for Embracing Real Life:

  • Purposefully “put on” the character and attitude of Jesus (Colossians 3:12).
  • Form and keep a vital connection with a local church (Colossians 3:13-15).
  • Practice gratitude (Colossians 3:15).
  • Immerse yourself in God’s Word (Colossians 3:16).
  • Commit everything you do to the glory of Christ (Colossians 3:17).

Are you living the real life God has for you? If not, what can you do today to step into His real life?!

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Rusty Mailboxes, Aching Bones, and the Overcomer

OvercomeMy parents still live in the house where they raised my brother and me. When we moved onto Dianne Street, I was eight and my brother was just five. That was 46 years ago.

Every time I make the four-hour drive to visit mom and dad – particularly these last few years – I am keenly aware of the passage of time and the toll this physical life takes on physical things.

For instance, just a few days ago, when I was there for a visit, I noticed the mailbox. I mean really took note of it. It’s the same mailbox they’ve had for decades. The same one I mowed down with my mother’s Lincoln when I was a young driver. Even then, Dad didn’t replace the box; he just replaced the narrow iron post with something a bit sturdier.

Today, that mailbox bears the wounds of standing unprotected for decades at the end of the driveway in all kinds of weather. Although the numbers, 6-4-1-3, still bravely cling to the side, rust dominates the exterior and the lid doesn’t quite close all the way.

Of course my parents have aged as well. Combined, they bear the marks of more than 150 years of living. Joy and grief. Success and failure. Fullness and loss. Just like anyone who lives in this world for very long. And today, they both struggle with physical ailments that only new bodies can fix.

Every visit home is bittersweet. I love spending time with my parents, but I wish I could really make things better. Or turn back the clock.

Today God reminds me that none of this takes Him by surprise. He well knows the effects this broken world has on His children. Sin has subjected this physical world and all that live on it to decay. We all groan inwardly while we eagerly wait for the fulfillment of God’s promises to His children (Romans 8:20-25).

We could replace the rusty mailbox with a new one, but it would rust again. The world would still get the last word.

But, praise God, the world does not get the last word in my parents’ lives. Or my life. The world does not have to have the last word in your life.

God gets the last word. The victory will be and is His. Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Son of God, everyone born of God (1 John 5:4-5)! We are overcomers!

Are you an overcomer? Have you been born again by the Spirit of God? If not, why not today?

Want to be an overcomer? Find out more about a saving relationship with Jesus?

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