Prayer Can Transform Faces

As he was praying, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became as bright as a flash of lightning.Luke 9:29 NIV

We’ve all heard that familiar saying that prayer changes things, but can prayer actually change our faces? I think it can.

The Bible gives us examples of faces transformed by prayer. The scripture above refers to the day Jesus took three of his disciples—Peter, James, and John—up onto a mountain to pray with him. Never in their wildest dreams could they have imagined what was about to unfold. As Jesus prayed, his face changed and his clothes turned bright as lightning. A transformation (known to Christians as the transfiguration) took place and the disciples were allowed to see Jesus in his glory. Just thinking of it leaves me in awe.

Moses’ face was also changed by spending time with God. After God met with Moses on Mt. Sinai and engraved the Ten Commandments on stone tablets for the Israelites, the Bible tells us that “[Moses’] face was radiant because he had spoken with the Lord.” (Exodus 34:29 NIV)

Think of Paul and Silas. After they were severely flogged and thrown into prison, they prayed together and even sang hymns as the other prisoners listened to them. Scripture doesn’t mention the expression on their faces, but it’s safe to assume that as their prayers gave way to hymns, the distress on their faces must have been replaced by peace and even joy.

Yes, our faces often reflect what’s going on in our hearts and lives, don’t they? When we pray and tell God our burdens and hopes and as we give him our thanks and praise, our faces will indeed show the peace and comfort, joy and refreshment, and even strength or determination he’s imparted to us.

So is prayer transforming our faces today, this week, this year? Can people see God’s love and care reflected there? Oh, may it be so! Let’s allow prayer—time we spend with God—to change our faces!

“Those who look to him are radiant;” Psalm 34:5 NIV

*When was the last time you felt your face change as you prayed?

*The next issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter, comes out in early November. One lucky subscriber (new or current) will receive a $15 gift card to Starbucks and a signed copy of my book to use personally, give as a gift, or donate to a library. Sign-up is free and to the right! (If you’re on a mobile device, scroll to the bottom of the screen and click View Full Site to find it.) p.s. If you sign up after Oct. 30th, you will be included in all future Life Notes giveaways but not in this current giveaway.

*For info about my book Mother of the Bride check out my Books/My Work page.

*Photo by Radu Florin on Unsplash

A Still Heart: Guest Post by Author Julie K. Gillies

Our minds can easily slip into overdrive when we evaluate all the what-ifs, attempting to figure out every detail and obsessively calculating our next step. It’s a temptation we face when we feel deeply concerned about a direction our life is going, or when we aren’t happy with a situation we’re facing. Some of us are wired this way; we’re natural over thinkers. Some of us indulge when we’re feeling unusually apprehensive. Either way, this excessive mental activity takes a toll, feeding our worries and stirring up anxieties until our peace evaporates completely.

In the midst of this, God invites us to make a decision that goes against our instincts. When everything in us is whirling and calculating, He encourages us to be still, to step away from every worry and all our mental activity and know Him. Be with Him. Rest in Him. It’s a bold step, but not as risky as it may seem, because “the Lord is merciful and compassionate, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love” (Psalm 145:8).

Our hearts can truly rest in Him knowing He is at work so our minds don’t constantly have to be. Psalm 138:8 says, “The Lord will work out his plans for my life—for your faithful love, O Lord, endures forever.” When we still our hearts and minds, meditating on who He is and all His awe-inspiring qualities, our inner beings experience the relief of a quiet, peaceful heart.

“Be still, and know that I am God!” (Psalm 46:10)

Lord, I’m sensing that I need to stop all my mental activity: worry, anxiety, fear, all the what-if’s, and just be still. God, everything in me wants to work it out or else stress out, but instead I am going to still my heart and my thoughts. I am going to allow myself to be in Your presence and rest in You, knowing You are gracious and compassionate. Knowing that You will work out Your plans for my life. Help me to center my heart and my thoughts and my very life on You. Help me to live vitally connected to You and still on the inside, so that I can always hear You and walk in the power of Your amazing peace. In the mighty name of Jesus, amen.

Excerpted from Prayers to Calm Your Anxious Heart: 100 Reassuring Devotions, Harvest House Publishers. Used with permission.

 

 

Julie K. Gillies is the author of Prayers to Calm Your Anxious Heart: 100 Reassuring Devotions, From Hot Mess to Blessed, and the devotional Prayers for a Woman’s Soul. She is the joyful wife of Keith, mom of three adults and Grammy of five. She loves baking from scratch, any day without humidity, and hanging out with the entire family, especially on days when her house is clean. For FREE resources and to connect with Julie, visit: www.JulieGillies.com

*The next issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter with a giveaway in every regularly scheduled issue, will come out in early November. Sign-up is FREE and to the right! (If you’re on a mobile device, scroll to the bottom of the screen and click View Full Site to find it.)

*For info about my book Mother of the Bride check out my Books/My Work page.

Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

Change Your Outlook: Focus on Pros Instead of Cons

Have you noticed how almost every situation or circumstance in life contains both pros and cons? Sometimes when we’re battling with the cons, it can be difficult to see the pros, but it’s always possible if we try. If nothing else, we can see how the negative situation can help us grow in some way—patience, perseverance, forgiveness, trust in God, etc.

I had to put this principle to work several years ago concerning our neighborhood. If I wasn’t careful, I let a couple of cons—and I don’t mean crooks, I mean negative things—really get on my nerves and suck the joy out living where we do. And it was nothing horrific—just a lack of consideration.

So to keep the negative thinking at bay, I tried to remember the positive things—the pros. When I stepped outside at the right time in the morning, I could hear church bells calling children to school. And nothing says “fall” like being able to hear the high school marching band practicing a few blocks away. We also had some nice neighbors (and still do) and were in a convenient location for the most part. As I looked at the pros, I was reminded how good we actually have it in our neighborhood.

Are you faced with a situation where it might be helpful to balance the cons out with the pros? A situation where some time spent looking at the positive might change your outlook? I’ll fess up to another. I have an ongoing struggle with my attitude concerning our community and all the things it doesn’t have to offer. Maybe I need to make a trusty list and look at the pros, huh?

“. . . if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” Philippians 4:8 NIV

*When has focusing on the positive helped change your outlook and attitude?

*The next issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter with a giveaway in every regularly scheduled issue, will come out in early November. Sign-up is FREE and to the right! (If you’re on a mobile device, scroll to the bottom of the screen and click View Full Site to find it.)

*For info about my book Mother of the Bride check out my Books/My Work page.

*Flickr photo by Wiertz SebastienCreative Commons License

Us: The Little Word That Changes Everything

“…let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us,” Hebrews 12:1 NIV

“Us.” One tiny word—two little letters—with giant impact.

Who is to throw off everything that hinders? Us. Who is to run with perseverance? Us. Who is the race marked out for? Us. Not me. Not you. Us. We don’t have to run the race alone.

Just think of how that one little word changes everything. We can have support. We can have camaraderie. We can have the encouragement of others as we run our races, whether they’re races wrapped up in relationships, jobs, illnesses, goals, losses, or living lives of faith with victory.

In fact, we’re not meant to live the Christian life independent of other believers. Another passage in Hebrews (10:24-25) tells us, “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” Do you see it again? Us. Yes, we need to run together.

Let’s consider each of the races in our lives right now. Do we have running partners or groups running alongside for each one? Do we have those who are spurring us on, encouraging us, and giving us strength to persevere—or are we out there all on our own?

Let’s not forget the little word that changes everything. Let’s not forget “us.”

“Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up.” Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 NIV

*Who are your running partners in this season of life? Thank God for them—and then thank them too.

*The next issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter with a giveaway in every regularly scheduled issue, will come out in early August. Sign-up is FREE and to the right! (If you’re on a mobile device, scroll to the bottom of the screen and click View Full Site to find it.)

*For info about my book Mother of the Bride check out my Books/My Work page.

*Flickr photo by DrongowskiCreative Commons License

Lift Up Your Eyes: Guest Post by Gail Goolsby

Gazing out of the window on my first airplane trip to Afghanistan in 2004, I’d thought the scenery depressing. The decades of war, the desperate need for heating fuel, the years of drought, and the desert climate all contributed to the missing trees and grass. It is all so drab, so lifeless. Where is the green in all this khaki? Yuck.

The dusty, colorless environment fit my overall mood those first few months after my arrival in 2005 to serve as the principal of the soon-to-open International School of Kabul (ISK). I missed my young adult, semi-launched children back in the States and all my friends and my comfortable Missouri home, complete with gardens, paved streets and sidewalks.

When the rain came, the billowing dust turned to sticky mud. The mess was worse than the dust, but the rains brought relief through cleaner air. I could actually see vibrant color on trees and plants when the showers removed the dusty camouflage. But only briefly, as the high desert sun dried the ground quickly and the dust always returned.

Ah, but out of the dust rose…the mountains.

Like Denver, Kabul has several mountain ranges encircling it. They aren’t tree-covered like the Appalachians or Ozarks, or mighty granite peaks like the Rockies, but they are majestic in their own way. Walking down the dusty ISK street, I would lift my eyes to see the sunny blue skies outlining the mountains on every side and feel momentarily pleased with my surroundings. Sunrise and sunset photos over the hills were popular postings by staff on social media and undeniably breathtaking. Many fit foreigners loved to hike the stark inclines of Kabul’s mountains.

Ugliness at Every Corner

The Kabul chaos bothered me far more than bombs and guns, which were real threats, but not my daily challenge. Living in an overcrowded, unorganized city was draining to a lifelong suburban dweller like me.

Contrast too few resources (water, heat, power, internet, roadways, housing and work for returning refugees) with too many taxis, bicycles, pedestrians, beggars, flocks of goats and sheep (with their droppings), and horse-drawn carts all vying for the same travel space. Traffic was crazy with few yellow lines or stoplights. Drivers went where they liked, even in the opposite lane, confronting the coming stream of vehicles until somebody gave way.

Add to that the disregard/disrespect for women which hit me personally and professionally as I dealt more with men than women (who had limited English) in maddening, sometimes scary moments. Groups of Afghan men appeared throughout the city and seemed to stare holes in foreign women in eerie, disconcerting ways.

One October morning that first year in Kabul, I heard my husband call to me as I got ready for work. “Gail, come see this.”

I stepped outside, noticed the white powder on our marble patio courtyard, and then looked up.

Wow. My mouth fell open.

God Shows Up

When I saw that first autumn snowfall on the many peaks surrounding Kabul, I was enraptured. The transformation from a dusty, bland city was powerful. The sparkling white frosting on the brown mountain tops made a picturesque contrast. As a December birthday girl, I have always loved snow and yearly hoped it would appear as a special gift on my day. Now, it served to lift my spirits even higher, to remind me again, that God was present and able to enter any bleakness in wonderfully personal ways.

Psalm 121:1-2 (NIV) says: I lift up my eyes to the mountains—where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.

When I purposely opened my eyes and looked carefully all around me, I could find delight, wonder, love, purpose and beauty in a seemingly desolate, vacant place.

What is hindering you from recognizing beauty and hope in your life right now?

*This article contains excerpts from my award-winning book Unveiled Truth: Lessons I Learned Leading the International School of Kabul. You can purchase a signed copy at: gailgoolsby.com/buy-book/ or online: books2read.com/gailgoolsby

 

 

Gail Goolsby holds master’s degrees in Professional Counseling and Educational Leadership. She has over 25 years educational experience as teacher, school counselor, and principal, including the K-12 American school in Afghanistan. Her award-winning book Unveiled Truth: Lessons I Learned Leading the International School of Kabul details the experience with challenging applications for all readers. As a counselor and ICF certified life coach, Gail believes there is support and encouragement in God’s Word to help us all learn to live well.

Gail and her pastor husband have been married 41 years and have three grown children, two sons-in-law, and four spunky granddaughters. They live where the wind blows over the prairie in south central Kansas and there really is no place like home.

Find her on her website: gailgoolsby.com  and social media: facebook.com/  Twitter

*Photo by Khalid Ahmadzai, used with permission.

*The next issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter with a giveaway in every regularly scheduled issue, will come out in early August. Sign-up is FREE and to the right! (If you’re on a mobile device, scroll to the bottom of the screen and click View Full Site to find it.)

*For info about my book Mother of the Bride check out my Books/My Work page.