Growing in the Fruit of Gentleness


When our first son was born, after having 5 girls, it didn’t take long to begin noticing the ways boys and girls are inherently different.  I was amazed by how much bigger his hands were, even as a little baby, and there was a huge difference in strength.  As you can see, big and heavy did not deter him one bit!  He emptied the rack from the dishwasher because the wheels made him think it would make a fun ride. 🙂

Christian with dishwasher rack, resized

Our boys like to be physically active, their play is more loud than the girls, and they like to be rough and tumble.  Early on I noticed it was important to my husband to teach our sons to understand and value a gentle spirit.  When the boys were little, and would get too rough, it was not unusual for my him to take their hands and to show them the appropriate amount of strength to use.  I would hear his voice in hushed tones, all the while telling our boys, “Gentle, be gentle.” 

We teach the boys that God made them strong, and strong is good!  But their strength is not meant to serve themselves.  It is meant to protect those who are not strong, and uphold what God says is right.

Gentleness with Baby

Gentleness is mildness, meekness; by implication, it is humility.

Gentleness is not weakness, but rather, it is strength under control. 


  • Trusts the Lord
  • Submits to God
  • Follows Christ’s example
  • Bows the soul–worshiping God in humility
  • endures ill treatment
  • Is a choice, every day.

Where does humility come from?  James 3:13 teaches that humility comes from wisdom.

“Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom.”

How do we get wisdom?  I like the way the Amplified Version unpacks this verse:

The [reverent] fear of the Lord [that is, worshiping Him and regarding Him as truly awesome] is the beginning and the preeminent part of wisdom [its starting point and its essence],
And the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding and spiritual insight.” Proverbs 9:10

Wisdom is seeing life from God’s perspective and, in humility, responding accordingly.

Jesus is our ultimate example of what gentleness looks like.  Philippians chapter 2 says that he did not consider equality with God something to be grasped (held onto), but he humbled himself and took the form of a man.

Why?  So that He could take up His cross and die on our behalf.  He explained it to his disciples, as he was preparing for his crucifixion, like this:

“Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.” John 12:24

Jesus knew that in order for him to bear many into the kingdom of God, to ‘bear much fruit’, he would first have to die.  In a Spirit of gentleness, He gave up self, and submitted to His Father God’s perfect plan, dying in order to bear us into the kingdom of God.

Remember that gentleness is born of wisdom?  We will always encounter different opinions about what is wise, but James 3 tells us the difference between the world’s wisdom and the wisdom that comes from God.

 But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not be arrogant, and [as a result] be in defiance of the truth.  This [superficial] wisdom is not that which comes down from above, but is earthly (secular), natural (unspiritual), even demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder [unrest, rebellion] and every evil thing and morally degrading practice.” vs. 14-16

How do I know if my responses are born of wisdom, and gentle?

But the wisdom from above is first pure [morally and spiritually undefiled], then peace-loving [courteous, considerate], gentle, reasonable [and willing to listen], full of compassion and good fruits. It is unwavering, without [self-righteous] hypocrisy [and self-serving guile].  And the seed whose fruit is righteousness (spiritual maturity) is sown in peace by those who make peace [by actively encouraging goodwill between individuals].” vs. 17-18

Those verses are full, aren’t they?  When I find myself in a difficult position, and I am weighing my possible responses, unsure of what is best, these are my go-to verses.

Is my response peace loving and gentle?  Am I being reasonable and open minded?  Is my response compassionate?  Is there any hint of selfish ambition or arrogance (looking out for me) in my response?

What if my boss is temperamental and difficult to work for?

What if my co-workers have it out for me?

When I’m in a situation where I’m being treated unfairly?

In 2013, I heard Elizabeth Elliot being interviewed on Revive Our Hearts radio program.  The name of that day’s program was “Leaving Self Behind”.  The show began with Mrs. Elliot asking the question, “Why not just be wronged?”

Looking at Christ’s example, she went on to tell the audience that only forgiveness frees us from an injustice.  I am to:

  1. Receive God’s grace (Matt. 18:21-35) God’s forgiveness of my sins through Christ’s sacrifice.
  2. Acknowledge the wrong that’s been done to me (to God)
  3. Lay down all my rights.  Jesus said to lose our life for his sake.  Forgiveness is the unconditional laying down of self.
  4. And the one who wrongs me?  Forgive him.  If he asks, forgive him in person.  If he doesn’t ask, forgive him in a private transaction before God.  Pray for him.  Ask for grace to treat that person as if nothing happened.
  5. Stand with Christ for them instead of with Christ’s adversary against them, even as God, for Christ’s sake, forgave me.

Now, no one is saying that if someone is being abused, or the law is actually being broken in the process of committing a grievance, that a victim should stand by and take it.  In those cases, there must be a separation and the judicial system must intervene.  However, the Holy Spirit working in our hearts can bring about the fruit of gentleness… we can forgive, regardless of how the courts may rule in regards to discipline.

I grew up in a home where people vied for “the last word” and it was important to be heard.  To this end, unfortunately, sometimes the ends justified the means.  The idea of laying down my desire for vindication was foreign.  It made sense, but oh, it was hard.  God doesn’t give me the privilege of having it be known that I was right.

I’ve had to suffer a lot because of my hard head, in order to learn to submit to God’s wisdom.  Estrangement from family in circumstances beyond my control led to ongoing grief, and what I know was {in essence} the desire for vindication that could lead to reconciliation, began to eat me alive.  I was so miserable.  I finally cried out to God and asked Him for help–I couldn’t live that way anymore.  It was killing me.

Immediately (even as I was praying), He showed me that my problem was allowing another person’s opinion of me to be more important than what God said about me.  The yucky, honest name for it?  Idolatry.  Yes, I was a pleaser.

He showed me that by continuing to put my heart out there, looking for approval where I would not receive it (whether right or wrong), I was “throwing my pearls before swine” and allowing myself to be hurt again and again.

Furthermore, if I allowed myself to act on my desire to set things straight, I could actually be interfering with what God was doing in that other person’s heart.   I needed to stay out of the way.

Truth is never affected by our perception of it.  It remains the truth.

I have a choice.  Rest in the truth, or get worked up by other people’s perception of it.

I chose to repent for my out of whack priorities and affirm God’s truth.  With God’s help, gentleness enabled me to be wronged, and forgive in a private transaction before God.  This is how we give grace.

“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” Romans 12:2, ESV

Growing in gentleness truly is a process of renewing our minds.

Strength under control.

Humility before God.

Submitting to His wisdom.

Sowing seeds of peace.

Giving up our rights when we lay down our life for Jesus sake.

Taking up our cross to follow Him.

Willingness to just be wronged.

Following Jesus’s example is counter cultural.

ripples of grace

May the choices we make in response to the people and circumstances in our lives create a legacy of Christ-likeness that will cover the world in ripples of grace.


The rest of the series, Growing in the Fruit of the Spirit can be found HERE.






More Power in Prayer; God Never Makes a Mistake

God never makes a mista

Several years ago, one of our camp counselors become ill toward the end of youth camps.  Once Sarah started feeling unwell, things went downhill rather quickly.  When she explained to the camp nurse that she was experiencing blurred vision, she was taken to the local hospital where they ran a full gamut of tests.  Even so, they could not decide what was wrong.

Eventually her parents got her to a specialist in the cities (that’s Minnesota speak for the Twin Cities: Minneapolis/St.Paul and surrounding areas).  He found damage to the optic nerves that may or may not be permanent. What was certain was that if healing was possible, it would take time.  He sent her home with the diagnosis of “legally blind”.

All this didn’t stop her from serving.  I remember her sister bringing her up for a ladies’ retreat, and even though she was using a walking stick to get around, Sarah was running the big dishwasher while greeting women through the serving window.

God used her to touch a lot of hearts during this time, including a young camper who continued to correspond with Sarah after the summer.  The teen she was mentoring gave herself to Christ just shortly before losing her life in a traffic accident, and afterward God used Sarah to comfort the girl’s mother.

For many months we prayed for Sarah, asking the Lord that if would be His will, would He heal her?  During a weekend staff reunion in which the young adults studied the power of prayer, the camp staff and her peers laid hands on her and prayed for her healing during every session.  At the last session of the last day, she said she had come to terms with the idea that her healing was not going to happen at the retreat, and she was okay with that.  But when the closing prayer was said, she opened her eyes and the whole room heard her announce in surprise, “I can see.”

Sarah returned to camp as an intern.  We watched her enjoy a  blooming relationship with one of our local boys, another Camp JIM counselor, and last January my husband had the honor of marrying them.


When I asked Sarah about her story, she shared, “When I went back to my doctor, he found that the damage to my right eye was reversed (medically impossible that a nerve could regrow that quickly) and my left optic nerve was still so damaged that I shouldn’t be able to see anything!”  
 Sarah is a walking miracle, and anyone who knows her would tell you about how God used her story to spur us on to greater faith, and the ways we all delight to spread God’s fame because of his merciful kindness.  As Sarah says, “God gets all the glory!”

It’s easy, when our prayers are answered in the affirmative, to say we believe that God never makes a mistake.  But what about the times that healing does not occur?  When a loved one dies?  When the depression doesn’t lift?  When a child walks away from God?  When the loss is too great.

I cannot even begin to touch the hem of the hurts that you have lived.  Our paths are not the same.

And yet, the Bible tells us that there is one who understands each hurt, every need, every tear.  He knows the beginning from the end, and every moment of our lives in between.  He knows the what if’s, the endless possibilities and the non-negotiables.

His goal is that we reach spiritual maturity by drawing near to Him, and that our lives would become light houses that beckon others home.  In the process, we become vessels who minister to the Lord,

who encourage other believers,

vessels who declare the glory of God–not simply by what we say, but by what we live, because other people are watching, and we exemplify what we believe.

light house

Sometimes it’s the healing that brings about our perfection.

Sometimes it’s the suffering.

The question that begs our attention, when we realize that effectual prayers must be in line with God’s will, is: Are we committed to God’s will?

Do we believe God’s promise, that He works ALL THINGS together for good, for those who love Him?

There is a friend and neighbor of camp who is dying of ALS, otherwise known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.  This insidious disease causes the death of neurons that control the voluntary muscles of the body, causing their eventual failure, but it doesn’t affect the victim’s ability to think and reason.  As their body stops working, they are all too aware of what is happening to them as helpless victims, trapped in their own bodies.  This friend, who I will call D, has lost his ability to walk, and he has to be on a breathing machine already.  Soon he will lose his ability to talk and swallow.  It is heartbreaking for all to watch, especially his family.

Friends from all over the country have been coming every few weeks to visit with D and pray over him, asking God if He will heal our friend.  They stay at camp when they come, and they have included our staff in their prayer vigils.   So far, while D’s disease has progressed more slowly than the doctors predicted, his condition has continued to worsen. 

Why doesn’t God heal D like He healed Sarah?

I don’t know.

Can He?

Absolutely.  D says he will walk over himself to tell us in the event that healing is God’s will.  🙂

But even if God doesn’t heal D, do you know what I see?

I see the Church Body gathering around D regularly to pray for and encourage him.  While they are there he asks them about what they are facing, listens to them, discusses with them, and yes–prays for them.  They are bearing one another’s burdens.

He is interceding a lot these days.  Are you a follower of Christ?  He is praying for you.

People come together to minister to D, but they leave with full, light hearts, realizing that they also have been ministered to.

As we pray for his healing, we are encouraged by the grace and strength God is providing for him to handle what is happening to him.

I see D’s trust; I see the peace he is experiencing, despite his circumstances.

I see God’s faithfulness.

And I am amazed.

What do I see?  I see God working.  In all His mercy, and unfailing, loving kindness, He is working in D and in all of us, and it is a beautiful thing.

Does God make mistakes?


Is it worth it, trusting God’s will?

Emphatic, Yes.

Effective prayer doesn’t always change our circumstances, but it always changes our hearts.

Therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good.”  1 Peter 4:19  ESV


HUGE thanks to Sarah, for giving me permission to share her story and for the use of her wedding picture.  All glory to God!

Other photo credit belongs to Pixabay.


More Power in Prayer; Prerequisite #3 for Effective Prayer

Hello friends!  Thank you for joining me for this series on prayer.

So far, we’ve learned that in order for our prayers to be effective there must be no un-confessed sin between us and God, and we must forgive others.  The 3rd prerequisite, shared by Evelyn Christenson in her book, “What Happens When Women Pray”, is that we pray according to God’s will.

More Power in Prayer #3

Martin Scott, author of “Gaining Ground, Prayer Strategies for Transforming Your Community,” taught that to make a difference within our sphere of influence one has to make a sound that attracts heaven.  With all my heart, I believe that sound is comprised of the voices of God’s people praying for His will to be done.  Jesus taught His disciples to pray that God’s will would be done on earth as it is in heaven.  There is nothing in heaven that is contrary to God’s will.

1 John 5:14-15 gives us this promise concerning our prayers to God:

“And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us.  And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him.”

How truly awesome is that?  We can have confidence in approaching God in prayer, because we know that if what we want from God is what God wants to do, He will give us the requests that we ask of him.  

So many times we hear individuals ask in prayer, either for themselves or for others, and they have a play list.  They say, “Pray for this outcome (specifically); and pray against this outcome.” And even when we say please, our prayers often sound more like demands than requests.

Well, how do we know what God’s will is?   And when we don’t know what God wants, how do we pray His will?

While it’s true that many times we don’t know God’s specific intention concerning the details of our lives, scripture gives us an overview of God’s will.  We know that:

  • God does not wish any to perish, 2 Peter 3:9
  • It is His will that we love Him first and not allow any desire to to become an idol in our lives, Colossians 5:1-5
  • It is His priority that we understand His will and grow in Spiritual maturity, Colossians 1:9,10
  • It’s God’s desire that we walk by the Spirit and be filled with His character, Galations 5:13-26
  • God will complete the work He has begun in each of His children (sanctification–producing the fruit of righteousness in our lives), Philippians 1:3-11
  • and SO much more, if we dig into the scriptures with open eyes.

We can always ask for God’s will in our lives when we pray.  We can ask specifically, citing scriptures like these examples, or broadly, trusting God to do what is best in our lives, in the Church, and for those He brings into our sphere of influence.

But what if God’s choice of methods to bring His will about in our lives is something we don’t want?  So often, it is fear that keeps us from welcoming God’s will.  And, it’s our reluctance that can clue us in to what we are keeping as idols in our hearts… our health, our possessions, our comfort in our present situation, our loved ones…

As long as we hold anything closer than God’s will, we will be controlled by fear and anxious about the future.  Only by trusting God completely can we experience His peace and joy in any circumstance.

And when uncertainty does pressure us?

Jesus left us a powerful example of how to make requests while being submitting to what God wants.  In the garden, while he prayed before his arrest and eventual crucifixion, he battled his humanity, knowing the suffering that lay before him and not wanting to have to walk the road that was prepared.  He prayed, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me.” Luke 22:42

Don’t you love how he said, “If you are willing?”  Even in stating his request, he acknowledged his Father’s Lordship in his circumstances, but then he followed his request in humble submission, offering, “Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.”

Many times we lay our play list out there for God to follow, and then we tack a “if it’s your will,” onto the end.  But I’ve come to realize that unless we approach God in submission, truly seeking His will while we lay our requests at His feet, our last minute “if it’s your will,” is nothing more than a dutiful disclaimer.

What else happens when we are praying for God’s will?

While we do this, we know (Romans 8:26-27) that the Holy Spirit knows God’s mind, and He helps us in our weakness by interceding for us, as He prays God’s specific will on our behalf.

What a compassionate God we have.

Putting out the Fleece

Sometimes, while we are asking for God’s will, we are trying to discern how He would have us to make a particular decision.  In this case, Gideon sets an example for us in Judges 6:36-40. Gideon asked God, “if your will be “this” then please give me this sign,” and God was faithful to do so.  Sometimes it’s simply asking God to open and close doors as He sees fit while we patiently stand ready to take on the opportunities He presents.


Last summer I had the privilege of leading a small group through “What Happens When Women Pray” while we prayed for Camp JIM, the salvation of campers, and each other.  As the summer progressed, and we learned more of the prerequisites for effective prayer, I noticed changes in the way the women approached God with their requests.  Their thanks multiplied and they frequently pointed out God’s will in scripture.  They stopped telling God what they wanted and started asking for His will, even when it meant opening their hands and saying, “Whatever it takes, Lord, for your will to be done in this person’s life” (to bring them to you; to heal their hurts; etc…)… “whatever it takes.”

It was truly beautiful to see this transformation, for it wasn’t just their prayers that were changing, but they themselves.  The way they prayed simply mirrored what God was doing in their hearts.  Evelyn Christenson shared that according to Vine’s Expository of New Testament Words, the word “effectual,” found in James 5:16, means “the effect produced in the praying person, bringing him into line with the will of God.”

“Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.” 

We want our prayers to be effectual, but “The effectual pray-er, then, is a person who is completely committed to God’s will for answers, and not to his own will.” ~E. Christenson

So, what happened in the midst of all that praying this summer?  Statistically, there were more salvation decisions than any other summer in the 14 years our family has had the privilege of serving at Camp JIM.  Praise God!!

As children of God, when we pray according to HIS will, rather than our will, we can have confidence because we know He hears us and gives us what we ask for!  We can also have confidence knowing that wherever He leads us, something good is in the making, and for this we can rejoice! Romans 8:28

Whatever God’s will holds, it is a comfort to know He NEVER makes a mistake, and that is what we will discuss in the next post in this series.

But until then, I invite you to join me on Mondays, as we read from God’s Word and look for God’s will.  We’ll highlight what we see and then use it to actually pray for ourselves, our family and friends, the Church body, and the world.  Meet me here on Monday, February 19th to begin praying God’s will from 1 Thessalonians, chapter 1.  I’ll be studying in the English Standard Version and the New American Standard Version in preparation.

You can read the previous posts from this series by posting on their links at the end of This Post.

Praying God’s will for you,


Growing in the Fruit of Peace

Several years ago, I read Elizabeth George’s book, “Loving God with all Your Mind.”  It was the first time I had read her work, and I was intrigued with the title.  It wasn’t the easiest read.  I had to take it in small bites, and it took me several months, but it was so worth the effort.

Growing in the Fruit of Peace

I had no idea how God was going to use that little book in my life in a very short while.  Ms. George shared about a period of time during which she had struggled with depression, and how loving God with her mind pulled her out of darkness and into precious hope.  Unknown to me, our own young daughter was developing serious anxiety, and it was this knowledge of how to love God with abandon, giving up our rights to worry, that provided a life line to pull our daughter back.

It is still fresh to me.  I cannot hold back the tears as I share this with you, but they are tears of thankfulness as I can tell you with full confidence that even in times of struggle, because struggle we all must, God is so very very good.

As Elizabeth George shared in her book, “A Woman’s Walk with God, Growing in the Fruit of the Spirit,”   Peace is the sacrifice of trust.

Ms. George points out that Peace is:

  • not a result of our worldly circumstances, but in the assurance that we have a right relationship with God.
  • not affected by daily challenges, but remains in the knowledge that our times are in God’s hands.
  • is not dependent on the conditions of our life, but upon knowing that God is all-sufficient.  He will supply our every need, according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus. Phil. 4:19
  • It is “an inward repose and serenity of soul that indicates a heart at rest–regardless of our circumstances–as we place complete confidence in God minute by minute.”  He is continuously with us.  Psalm 139:7-12

Trusting God

Several years ago I met a Christian woman and song writer when she and her husband answered a Craig’s List ad and came to see the van we had for sale.  She and I ended up spending quite a bit of time visiting, and we stayed in touch through email for a long time after.  She asked me to be praying for their family, as her daughter was making what they felt were foolish choices, so I prayed.

Some months later she sent me an update.  “I had a dream,” she told me.  She and her husband were rowing frantically in a small boat with their daughter, as a storm blew and crashed upon them.  “But then,” she said, “it was like a camera in a movie panned back, and I could see that we were actually rowing inside a fish bowl.”  The bowl was being carried by the hands of God himself, and it was this very act–being carried–that caused the waves that they were struggling to row against.  Just knowing that God was in it brought her peace.

If God is carrying your boat, He is taking you to a better place.

You have to believe that.

You have to have confidence that He will not waste an iota of your struggle.  He will use it to draw you deeper with Him, to grow your faith, and open eyes to His glory.

If God is carrying your boat

Hes taking you to a better place

The word God uses for peace also means rest and tranquility~”of Christianity, the tranquil state of a soul assured of its salvation through Christ, and so fearing nothing from God and content with its earthly lot, of whatsoever sort that is.”`

“Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” Romans 5:1

Just like joy, and all 9 of the fruit of the Spirit, our peace is positional.  Because of Jesus’s work on the cross we have peace with God.  We are no longer enemies of God.  We are His beloved children.  Because of this, we can rely on all God’s promises, and we can be content in any and every circumstance.

The Secret to Experiencing Peace

In Philippians chapter 4, Paul tells us the secret to experiencing God’s peace.  We also continue to see how all 9 of the Fruit of the Spirit are to be present in a believer’s life, and are interdependent.

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice!  Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” verses 4-7

Did you catch that?  Loving God with all our hearts involves making the conscious choice not to wallow in unfavorable circumstances, but rather, to rejoice in the Lord.  Choose not to be anxious, but instead pray and tell God what you need, trusting in His ability and His desire to meet those needs.

Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.” verse 8

Loving God with all our minds involves meditating on the right things.  How often does anxiety overtake us because we allow ourselves to dwell on the “what if’s”?  My daughter will tell you it is a slippery slope, once you allow yourself to visit there.  What about the “if only’s”?  How often do we lose our focus and take a ride on an emotional roller coaster because, like Lots wife, we look back longingly on the the past that is behind us, or allow the present opportunities to slip through our fingers because we’re dwelling on unrealistic hopes for the future?

All these things: the what if’s, the if only’s, the past, and the future are not “whatever is true.”  The past was true in it’s time, and the future is unknown to us.  Dwelling on them will not provide peace, but is likely to steal it away.

What we do know is that God has plans for us right now today.  He promises to work all things together for good for those who love Him.  And He wants us to trust Him with all our hearts, leaning on His understanding, acknowledging Him (rejoicing in Him and trusting Him!) and He promises to make our paths straight… Proverbs 3:5,6

He has your back, no matter what storm you encounter.  He is the one carrying your boat.

 The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.” verse 9

Paul is always saying that, isn’t he?  Follow my example because I’m following God, and God will be with you!

…for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need.  I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” verses 11-13

We quote that last part a lot, don’t we?  “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.”  Many times, we take it out of context.

Paul said he knew how to be content in ANY circumstance.  He knew how to get along with little, and he knew how to live with much.  The secret of being filled and going hungry… having an abundance and suffering in need!

How did he do it?  How did he go on through poverty, being stoned, being the recipient of hate talk, being ship wrecked, living under house arrest for many years, and eventually losing his life for the sake of Christ?  All the while, he remained content.  He knew God’s peace.

“I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.”  Paul didn’t have to experience anxiety or worry, doubt or discouragement.  Jesus would empower him to stand firm through anything while experiencing contentment, and we can have this same confidence, because as verse 19 tells us,

And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.”

Sometimes we experience wonderful peace in our own storms, but watching our loved ones struggle, that can be harder.  Giving them to God can be a greater exercise in trust, and we need to hold our loved ones with open hands.  God loves them more than we do, and His plans for them are every bit as wonderful and good as the plans we know He has for us.

When our daughter was struggling the most, we did some practical things to help her.  I was able to provide her with Bach Flowers that were helpful for her emotional state.

We used accupressure to help remove the strain that the anxiety placed on her body, and in return, her anxiety was lessened.

But more than anything else, she memorized scripture, taped it up all around her bed, and recited it whenever she felt the temptation to allow her thoughts to go where she knew they shouldn’t.  Instead she reminded herself to love God with her mind and meditate on His truth.    

She continued to rejoice in the Lord, recording the good gifts He has placed in her life in her special notebook… 3 things she’s thankful for each day, and the record is well into the thousands today.

We talked about what God says is true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, of good repute, excellent, and worthy of praise!

And we prayed, often, asking God to give her His peace.

Our daughter still sometimes experiences worry, but it is temporary because she knows where to go, and instead of being paralyzed by anxiety, she is freed by trust.  It was hard to understand, when we were in that difficult place with her, why she was going through that storm, but when I hear her talk about it today I believe God will someday use her to lead others to peace.  She is uniquely equipped to show true understanding and compassion to others.  God won’t waste her pain, and He won’t waste yours… He will bring it to good.

Praise God for giving us so many reasons to trust in Him, and for making contentment in any circumstance possible!

“Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid or tremble at them, for the Lord your God is the one who goes with you.  He will not leave (fail) you or forsake you.” Deuteronomy 31:6

“The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid. What will man do to me?” Hebrews 13:5-6

“For I know the plans that I have for you’, declares the Lord, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope’”  Jeremiah 29:11   God had just caused His people to be carried into Babylon for 70 of exile.  They were looking for deliverance and He told them to build houses and have families and make a life there—they were being disciplined for their good.

God is good.  His love for us endures forever.  He is faithful.  And not a single thing that will ever happen to us isn’t filtered through His loving hands first.  And everything that he allows, even the tough love, is for our ultimate good and for God’s glory.

Psalm 136 is the all about Giving Thanks to God.  “Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good, For his lovingkindness is everlasting.  {His love endures forever.}

“And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28

“Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?  Just as it is written, “For your sake we are being put to death all day long; We were considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”  But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us.  For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:35-39


More Power in Prayer, Prerequisite #2 for Effective Prayer

More Power in Prayer, Prerequisite 2

When I was in charge of coordinating the Women’s Events at Camp JIM, I once booked a speaker to share at a retreat on the subject of Forgiving.  The speaker had several talks she had prepared for events and she told me, in all the years she had been traveling, I was the first to ask her to use this seminar.


When the topic is the heart warming reminder of our own forgiveness, we’re all over it; but, no one wanted to trudge through a weekend of emotional sludge to let go of their own grievances.  Ouch.

However, we can’t afford not to.  Forgiveness is a prerequisite to to more powerful, effective prayer.

There are several occasions in the New Testament when God promises to hold us to our own standards.  In Matthew 6:12, Jesus is teaching His disciples how to pray,

“And forgive us our sins, just as we have forgiven those who have sinned against us.” TLB

The King James Version says, “forgive us our debts as we have forgiven our debtors.”  We all know a debt is something we owe, but did you know that debt, offence and sin can be used interchangeably?  It changes our perspective, doesn’t it?

Do we want to be forgiven “as” (in the same way) we have forgiven others?

Mark 11:24-25 says it even more clearly:

“Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.  And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.”

God wants us to pray for one another in intercessory prayer.

And we’ve learned that if we want God to hear our prayers, we have to confess all known sins, and seek His forgiveness.  But these verses take that even further by saying that we also need to forgive anyone against whom we are holding a grievance.

Isn’t it easy to hold a grievance?  Without even realizing it, we can nurse it along, holding onto it like an old friend.  It becomes a part of who we are and we may not even realize we’ve developed a critical spirit toward that person who hurt us.

God says forgive.

It is a required of us in order for God to listen to our prayers.

Many years ago, on a Good Friday, tragedy snuck into our family unannounced.  On Saturday my husband took me to see “Passion of the Christ” in the dollar theater in his home town.  Ugh.  I have never been so torn by a movie.  Christ’s suffering was so large on that screen, I know I was swollen and blotchy and pathetic when we came out of the theater and into the light.  I was burdened afresh with the opportunity to meditate on the message of Easter, that Christ’s passion was to save me. It was my sin that brought Him all that pain, but I could rejoice because He is risen and I am forgiven.

The testing came Easter Sunday, when the silent offence came screaming into the light and tore the cover right off my heart.  You know those movies that show a person in shock, experiencing the moment in slow motion, and every sense is cranked up to high?  Too many individuals were affected for me to share the details.  Suffice it to say, no grievance against oneself ever comes close to the pain you enter into when the grievance is against your child.

When the weekend had ended, my heart finally quieted, and my eyes ran dry.  I’m sure God orchestrated our weekend so that I would watch that movie at that exact time.  I knew the choice I faced was no choice at all.

No matter how grieved I was by this offence, a perfect God was more offended, and yet Jesus died to forgive that person who grieved our family.  He died once and for all, for all people, just as much as He died to forgive me.  He loves us all the same.  So how could I refuse to forgive?

How dare I refuse to forgive?

Isn’t that what it boils down to?  The parable of the unforgiving servant in Matthew 18:21-35 depicts it perfectly.

So we make the choice to forgive.

We don’t wait until we feel like it.  Emotions are fickle, and we could wait an eternity without ever “feeling like forgiving”.  Make the choice, even if it means choosing daily.  Healing is a process.

But now comes the awkward, and how do we act when we encounter this person again?

This is where the rubber meets the road.

In her book, “What Happens When Women Pray?” Evelyn Christenson shares that once we commit to forgive, God expects us to illustrate follow through.

Now if anyone has caused pain…  For such a one, this punishment by the majority is enough, so you should rather turn to forgive and comfort him, or he may be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. So I beg you to reaffirm your love for him.”  2 Cor. 2:5,7,8

Paul is writing to the Corinthian church regarding a brother who has grieved the congregation, most likely received church discipline, and has repented.  Paul tells the church to not only forgive him, but to comfort him… and reaffirm their love for him.  What this person has been through has been hard, and feeling ostracized by the church could overwhelm him with grief.

Don’t we do this, as parents?  When our kids have a quarrel, and we mediate, we make sure they reaffirm their love for each other.  “Now give each other a hug!”  I have just about cracked up when scowly faced children say, “I forgive you,” but can barely bring themselves to touch each other.  And yet, once embraced, the tension drains from their bodies, is replaced by a genuine smile, a REAL hug, and fast friends return to play.

confirm forgiveness

It’s easy to say we forgive, but the proof is in the follow through.

Maybe it’s time for a heart to heart, a hug, and tears all around.

Maybe the proof is in doing something to serve this person who has grieved  you.

Perhaps, like our family and the church in Corinth, it is bringing him or her back into your fellowship.

What if they’re not sorry?

The grief and subsequent bitterness will eat you alive if you choose not to forgive.  In Evelyn’s words, your prayer life will become “like straw”.  And as Paul warned the Corinthians, forgive, “so that we would not be outwitted by Satan; for we are not ignorant of his designs.”

For Christ’s sake, and for yours, you still need to forgive.  Lay it at the foot of the cross.  Pray how God wants you to confirm your love. Perhaps it is as simple as sending a ‘Thinking of You’.  Or, perhaps God has another opportunity prepared for such a time as this.

What if they don’t want anything to do with you?  Then honoring their wishes in keeping your distance may be the best way to confirm your love.  Even if they never know, God will know, and He will give you His peace.

That your prayers may not be hindered: (page 40-41 of “What Happens When Women Pray):

*  Ask God to remind you of anyone whom you need to forgive.

*  Ask forgiveness for the sin of not forgiving that person.

*  Forgive that person, even if you need to ask God to enable you to do so.  He will provide you with the strength and ability.

*  Ask God for as much love as He wants you to have for the person who grieved you.

*  Ask God how He would have you to confirm your love for them.

*  Wait in silence for His answer.

*  Pray, promising God that you will do whatever He has told you.

*  Go do it!

“Lord, forgive me for holding onto grievances.  I forgive ______________ for _____________________.  Give me the heart you want me to have toward him/her.  Show me how you desire for me to confirm my love for them, and give me the strength to follow through.”

You can find the rest of the posts in this series at the end of this post.  Thanks for reading!