Preparing a Plan of Attack

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There are two ways to do just about anything – carefully plan or wing it.

Most of the time, I’m a carefully-plan-it kind of girl. I love making lists. I used to write out menus by the month. When planning a vacation, I’ll spend hours online finding the best places to stay, recommended stops along the way and highest rated restaurants. When my kids have a birthday, you can be sure I will create a Pinterest board and hunt the Internet for the cutest party ideas.

When I’m presented with the opportunity for a date night, I search movies and read reviews. I poll Facebook friends for best places to eat and search my closet for just the right outfit.

But somehow when it comes to my prayer life and dealing with those situations that seem impossible, I find myself winging it. Satan will throw me a curve ball, and I wildly swing my bat hoping to make contact.

Today, as I was reading in 2 Samuel about David trying to defeat the Philistines, I found good advice for creating a battle plan to overcome the obstacles in my own life. First David asked God, not his friends on social media, for direction. (Ouch. Let’s move on.)

“…so David inquired of the Lord, and he answered…” 2 Samuel 5:23 NIV

David asked God first IF he should attack the Philistines and then HOW he should attack. God responded, “Do not go straight up, but circle around behind them and attack them in front of the balsam trees.” (2 Samuel 5:23) The Hebrew word used in this verse for “circle around” is sabab. It means, “To go around, surround, encircle, engulf.” It can also mean, “to change direction, to be surrounded, to change.”

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God gave David a plan of attack, but he gives us that same plan. When trials come our way, often we come straight at them and are knocked backwards from the blow because we aren’t prepared. Instead, we need to establish a plan of attack for any obstacle – for your failing health, for your marriage that grows stale, for your mounting bills and empty bank account, for the addiction you’ve been hiding, for the loss of your closest friend.

Friends, it’s time we fight back God’s way. We need to sabab our issues with prayer. Circle them. Engulf them. You see, because its only through prayer, praise and thanksgiving that we can “change direction.” You are not defined by the series of events that have happened in your life.

You are not defined by your diagnosis, your divorce, your size, your upbringing, your financial status or your education.

You are who God says you are. And He says you are chosen. (John 15:16) You are an heir. (Galatians 4:7) You are part of a royal priesthood. (1 Peter 2:9)

Satan will try to distract you and get you off your game. Don’t let him. He’ll tell you you’re not good enough. Don’t believe his lie. Be ready, friends. Arm yourselves for the battle by preparing your plan of attack. You see, in the woods that day when God told David to sabab, or circle around, He also told him to listen for the sounds of marching in the tops of the trees, “because that will mean the Lord has gone out in front of you to strike the Philistine army.” (2 Samuel 5:24 NIV)

Don’t be shaken. Don’t be afraid. The Lord your God, the Sovereign Creator of all things will fight for you. Put on your armor and sabab. The battle has already begun.

Carol

Dominican Mission Trip Day Two

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Thankfully, our Tennessee team arrived a little before dinner on Friday night. So Saturday morning, we woke early and were ready to start the women’s conference. Maria, one of our interpreters, asked me a question the night before.

“How do you get up in front of a big group and speak like that? Don’t you get scared?”

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I told her that sometimes I do get a little nervous beforehand, but usually once I get started, God takes over. When you work in the strength God gives you, good things happen. But I’ll be honest. I was a little nervous Saturday morning. It was so helpful to have Alan with me.

Sometimes when I get in bed at night and am finally still, I struggle with anxiety. I keep scripture in my nightstand at home for nights when I can’t sleep. But one thing that really helps is having Alan touch me. Just a hand on my back, letting me know he is near, can calm me immensely.

So in the apartment where we were staying, Alan and I were to share a full-size bed. It was the bottom of a bunk bed. At home we sleep on a king-size bed, so I wasn’t sure how we were going to fit. But I have to tell you what a blessing that bed was. Every night when I went to sleep, I was touching Alan – I couldn’t help it in a bed that size. But that touch brought me such peace, that I was able to sleep.

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Isn’t it just like God to work out details like that in advance?

I got showered and dressed early Saturday so I could have a little time to spend alone with God before we left. I made sure I had my notes for my talks, my water, my insulin and my Bible. We drove the fifteen minutes to the church. It wasn’t until I walked into the doors of the church that I realized the one important thing I forgot – my contacts!!

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I could not see! Thankfully, the One Vision missionary, Claudia, offered to take the driver and the bus back to the apartment and get them for me. We started the conference with worship, so she had a little time. And about three minutes before I was to go on stage, she returned with my contacts. Praise God!

I was living out Amazing Grace. “…I once was blind, but now I see.” Ha!

I spoke to the women about how prayer is personal. We each have free access to the Creator of the Universe. He is our personal armor through prayer. The women nodded and responded as I spoke.

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Afterwards, we broke into small groups for prayer. Each of members of our team had a particular topic.
•Marriage
•Finances
•Unsaved Loved Ones
•Children
•Health

Alan and I led the group on marriage. First we played an icebreaker game. The ladies really had fun with that. We had them line up in order of height and then shoe size from smallest to largest, but they only had one minute.

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Then each group leader from the team had provided verses for their particular subject, before the trip, to be translated. So we were able to pass out sheets with a list of verses in Spanish for them to use in their prayers. We had our group read the verses aloud, because we know God’s Word is powerful and active. Then we asked them to split into groups of two or three.

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We spoke a few minutes about how important prayer is in your marriage and then gave them a particular topic. First we told them to pray for communication in their marriage – that lines would be open, that they would be willing to listen to their spouses and would be able to effectively communicate their needs. The groups took a couple of minutes to share their requests with each other and then prayed. We continued with four other topics in marriage.

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Each of the other team leaders was doing the same thing with their own breakout subject. After the breakout sessions, we had lunch. After lunch, I spoke again. This time I shared how prayer is powerful. I gave examples in scripture and in my own life.

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After my talk, we had the breakout prayer groups again, giving the ladies the option to choose another subject this time. So we led the marriage breakout again with a different group of women.

This time our group was smaller, so we decided to get in one big group instead of breaking up in groups of two. The great thing about this was the interaction we were able to have with the women. When they shared prayer requests, Alan and I were able to respond first with some advice and wisdom from what we have learned in our own marriage and from the marriage classes we used to teach. I really enjoyed sharing, and the women seemed to get a lot out of it.

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We ended that afternoon with more worship. I had many hugs and lots of words of gratitude from the ladies. I’m always in awe of the way God works.

We headed back to the apartment to rest before supper. We had a team meeting and prepared for the Sunday worship service and the rest of the conference. Alan played Claudia’s guitar, and we worshipped together and sang songs of praise.

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One of the groups, Rachel and Paula, shared how in their breakout session, the women prayed at the same time instead of taking turns praying together. They got the idea to get in a big circle at the end of their breakout and all of them prayed aloud at the same time. Rachel told us how powerful it was. So she asked if we could do it as a team before bed.

As we each prayed aloud, some in English and some in Spanish, I got chills. It was amazing. Hearing all of those prayers was loud and powerful. Think of how incredible our God must be to be able to hear every prayer that is uttered at the same time all over the world. All praises and glory and honor belong to Him. Amen.

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I’ll tell you about the rest of the conference tomorrow.

Carol

Don’t Trust the President

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I’m sure I’ll take some flak for this post. And that’s okay; I have to share anyway. Now before you go all “conspiracy theory” on me, may I remind you of THIS post? I’m not talking smack about President Obama. This article could be about any president, past or future.

I could’ve even named this post “Don’t Trust Your Mama.” Let me explain.

Today I was reading this passage in Jeremiah:

This is what the Lord says: “Cursed is the one who trusts in man, who draws strength from mere flesh
and whose heart turns away from the Lord.

6 That person will be like a bush in the wastelands; they will not see prosperity when it comes. They will dwell in the parched places of the desert, in a salt land where no one lives.

7 “But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him.

8 They will be like a tree planted by the water
that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought
and never fails to bear fruit.” Jeremiah 17:5-8 NIV

People are worried about the future of this country. They are concerned with the way things are going in the White House. They worry about gas prices, unemployment, “entitlement” issues of the up and coming generation. Honestly, they are also worried about zombies and Armageddon. Don’t believe me? Watch an episode of National Geographic’s “Doomsday Preppers” or even better, start a conversation about it on Facebook. You might be surprised how many of your friends are “prepping.”

Now, before you go slamming me, I’m not advocating sticking your head in the sand. I believe it’s your civic duty to keep abreast of such issues. But there is a fine line between keeping up with them and becoming consumed with them. Very fine.

Go back to the passage in Jeremiah and read the first verse. Jeremiah tells us that whoever trusts in man and draws strength from him is cursed. I don’t think God is cursing those people (just my opinion and I’m not a theologian); I believe they curse themselves. Imagine two apples – one good, one rotten. God doesn’t make you choose the rotten apple. He let you choose, and when you chose the rotten one, you cursed yourself.

This is not a dark back alley. Don’t picture me whispering in your ear, “Trust no one.”
This post isn’t a political thriller. It’s biblical truth.

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Humans are just that – human. We are flawed, imperfect individuals. Jeremiah warns not to hinge everything on a person. Don’t expect the next or current president to be the savior of this nation. Don’t expect salvation from your parents, your spouse or even your pastor. Salvation comes from God alone. Period.

The reason we are struggling as a nation is “we” are putting our faith in people. Humans. And because of that, America is thirsty. We are parched as a country and are looking for more. Some search in bottles, in drugs, in brothels, on computer chat rooms and even in work itself. There is another movement of people who are searching for meaning in doing good works.

Part of me wants to applaud and say, “Great job! Way to go!” I’m glad there’s a movement in Hollywood to get involved in saving the world. But hear me, friends. Good works will not provide salvation. Good works are just that. They are good. But those looking for fulfillment in them will, in the end, will still “be like a bush in the wastelands; they will not see prosperity when it comes. They will dwell in the parched places of the desert, in a salt land where no one lives.”

Salvation comes from grace. “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9) If you want to know how to plug into an eternal source of water, of Living Water, look for God. You’ll find Him in His Word. Place your confidence in Him alone, and you will be blessed.

The last part of that passage says, “It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought
and never fails to bear fruit.” It could say, “it does not fear when Armageddon and zombies come.” When you put your faith in God, fear for the future of our nation, of our world, doesn’t consume you.

If you are worried about the future of America, and I hope you are, then it’s time for a shift of focus. Don’t put your trust in the president. Don’t put it in the 30 pounds of sugar and the generator you’ve stored in the basement for the end of the world. Put it in God. Seek Him alone. Let Him change you in such a way that your life has an effect on all those around you.

The change in America starts with you. The question is: whom do you trust?

*photo credit

Carol

Don’t Forget Mighty God

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It’s summertime! You’ll have to forgive my long absences as I’m trying to make the most of the time I have with all my kids home from school. We enjoyed going to the beach with family and now we are maxing and relaxing at home. I’d love to hear what fun things you are doing this summer.

My four-year-old, Grace, is learning to pray. Join me at the Internet Cafe today to hear a great Grace story where she ended up teaching me a thing or two. Click HERE to read my devotion.

Carol

Perfect Present

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I love to Christmas shop! I get great joy in finding just the perfect gift for the people on my list.

Join me at The Presidential Prayer Team today where I’m posting about gifts. Click HERE to read my devotion, and those of you who know me personally – see if you can find the hat tip to two special people in my life. 😉

 

Carol