Radical Faith Prepares for Answered Prayer

“And one thing more: Prepare a guest room for me, because I hope to be restored to you in answer to your prayers.” Philemon 1:22 NIV

Radical faith. The apostle Paul demonstrated it on numerous occasions, didn’t he? When he wrote the words above to fellow believer Philemon, he wrote them from prison—a place he frequented because of his bold displays of faith.

Being imprisoned didn’t dampen Paul’s faith as we might imagine. In fact, he made plans to visit Philemon based on his hopes of answered prayers. He encouraged Philemon to act in faith as well. Paul exhorted him to prepare a room for him—to behave as if the answer to prayer had already been granted.

And when Paul told the Corinthians to live by faith and not by sight (2 Cor. 5:7), he not only doled out instruction, he lived it himself. His instruction to Philemon shines as just one example.

What kind of faith are you and I demonstrating in our lives today? Could someone point to us and say, “Look at how she lives by faith. Look at how she trusts God.”

Are we like Paul? Are we living in the hope of answered prayer? Let’s think about what we can do right now to live in expectation and to prepare for the answers that God will send. Let’s show some radical faith.

“Now faith is being sure of what we hope for, being convinced of what we do not see.” Hebrews 11:1 NET

*The next issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter with a giveaway in every regularly scheduled issue, will come out in early May. 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 and also my Wedding Inspiration cards, check out my Books/My Work page.

*Flickr photo by familymwrCreative Commons License

Let Your Life Provide a Well-Paved Path for Others

Pain. Grief. Weakness. Limitations. None of us welcome these unwanted visitors—especially when they take up long-term residence in our lives. Each one causes distress in its own way. And let’s be honest. We all do our best to avoid distress whenever possible.

We don’t like to hurt. We don’t like to fail or find ourselves unable to do certain things. But as we live in these places of pain, we grow and learn lessons. We develop a deep empathy for others experiencing similar sorrows. Each of our painful places has the potential to become a well-paved path to another hurting soul.

In the New Testament, we see that the apostle Paul experienced pain, hardship, and limitations time and again. And while we may feel the chains of weakness and limitations in our lives, Paul dealt with literal chains during the times he was imprisoned for the sake of the gospel.

He didn’t give in to discouragement during those imprisonments though. While shackled and suffering, Paul saw the good that came from his chains. In his letter to the Philippians (1:14 NIV), he said, “And because of my chains, most of the brothers and sisters have become confident in the Lord and dare all the more to proclaim the gospel without fear.”

Surely our chains of pain, grief, weakness, or limitations serve to encourage others as well. Other struggling folks might very well be inspired to persevere through their own trials as they see how God strengthens us in ours.

Whether reaching out to hurting souls going through similar situations as our own or being a beacon of hope and encouragement through the witness of our lives, let’s allow our painful places to result in good. Let’s let our lives be well-paved paths.

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.” 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 NIV

*When did someone provide a well-paved path for you? Our family is currently undergoing a trial that will certainly allow us to encourage and comfort others in the future. Our daughter Kelli is having surgery for breast cancer today. We’d be so grateful for your prayers. 

*The new issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter with a giveaway in every regularly scheduled issue, came out Feb. 2nd. It’s not too late to receive it. 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 and also my Wedding Inspiration cards, check out my Books/My Work page.

*My photo

Guest RJ Thesman: The Invisible Women of Genesis Excerpt

We have only her name, but we know she was a daughter of Ishmael. Esau married her to appease his mother, Rebekah. But what were some of Esau’s mental demons, and how did Mahalath steer her husband toward hope? This is a portion of her story.

I made it my goal to help Esau succeed — to leave his past in the dust of the desert and find joy in the treasures around us.

The children we bore together soon crowded the camp, so Esau and his men moved us to the heights of Mount Seir. From there we watched the sun rise in spectacular texture, heard the bleating of our sheep  and watched our boys cavort among the rocks.

Before she died, Rebekah did relent toward Esau. “You have given me armfuls of children to gladden my heart. I am proud of you, my son.”

Still, the melancholy hung on Esau like moss clings to rocks during spring rains. Every day, I met Esau for an early morning prayer. “What are you grateful for today, my husband?” I forced him to think positive thoughts and focus on what was good in our lives.

He quickly learned how to play our game. “The sunlight in the threads of your hair, the abundant harvest of lands and animals, clear and sweet water from the stream.”

Gradually, happier and gentler thoughts replaced Esau’s nightmares. He awoke with a smile, and I often heard him whistle as he hurried off to check on the flocks.

Then came a message that threatened to change everything. Jacob was advancing, with hordes of oxen, sheep, and a great crowd of pilgrims — presumably, his family.

The old patterns recurred as harsh words spilled from my husband’s lips. “What does he want now, Mahalath? This is the brother who stole so much from me. Will he also steal my goods, take my wives and children?”

It took all my mental strength to devise cunning ways to turn Esau back to hope. “Perhaps God has sent him with a message of cheer. He wants your opinion on land in the area, so he can settle with his people. Jacob will see what a great man you are and how prosperous you have become. He will be the one who feels jealous this time. He will be sorry for the sins of the past.”

All that night, I stayed awake and prayed for Esau. I could feel his trepidation and spoke gratitudes to the Creator God. Surely the Almighty would keep my husband safe and thus secure the livelihood of us all.

The next morning, we watched as the two brothers — both mighty men — rode toward one another and then dismounted. A few seconds passed while my heart thundered. Then, a miracle. The brothers advanced toward each other and embraced. The years of emotional struggle fell away and only a bright future remained.

*If this excerpt from RJ Thesman‘s The Invisible Women of Genesis encouraged you, find the book on Amazon and be blessed by the rest of it!

 

 

 

With her 17th book, RJ Thesman digs deeply into the book of Genesis to discover the invisible women hidden in scripture. Writing coach, editor and author — Thesman is also a trained biblical counselor and a Stephen minister. She writes from the heartland of Kansas where she lives with her adult son and a spoiled cat. Other books Thesman has written for the Christmas market include The Women of Christmas and Holiday Tips for Caregivers. Connect with RJ Thesman on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and her YouTube Channel: RJ Thesman – Coaching for Writers.

*The new issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter with a giveaway in every regularly scheduled issue, came out yesterday. It’s not too late to receive it. 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 and also my Wedding Inspiration cards, check out my Books/My Work page.

*Top image from Pixabay

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.

Guest Blogger Jane M. Tucker: Better Days to Come

I went to bed feeling fine and woke up with a pain in my leg so acute I could barely walk. How did I injure myself while sleeping?

“It’s probably bursitis,” my doctor said.

Bursitis? Isn’t that an old people’s word?

On days like this, when my body lets me down, my thoughts sometimes turn gloomy. Will this pain last forever? I wonder. Is it a foretaste of misery to come? Getting old is not for the weak!

My earthly body is my home in this world. It’s the means by which I process all my experiences. Without it I would not be human, and if I weren’t human I would not know the Lord Jesus. I’m grateful for my body, but I know it’s not going to last forever.

In First Corinthians 15 the apostle Paul addresses the Corinthians’ doubts about the resurrection. It’s true, he tells them. Jesus’ body was resurrected, and ours will be too. Our resurrected bodies will be different from our natural ones, just as a seed planted in the ground is different from a stalk of wheat. “The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body.” (I Cor 15:42-44 NIV)

The promise of an imperishable body makes my current imperfect one bearable. Someday eyeglasses and allergies and random bouts of pain will end for me. Maintaining my health becomes a means to serve the Lord, not the focus of my life.

The promise of a body raised in glory and power makes me look differently at my appearance. I do what I can to be neat and attractive. But I don’t see any reason to put time and money into looking younger than I am. Someday I’ll look much better than I do right now. I can wait for that.

The promise of my natural body being raised a spiritual body reminds me of my purpose on earth. I’m not here to glorify self, but to work hard for the glory of the Lord.

Friend, are you struggling with the aches and pains of growing old? If you know the Lord Jesus, you have every reason to hope for better days to come.

“We . . . would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord.” 2 Corinthians 5:8 NIV

Jane M. Tucker is a lifelong writer and reader with a deep love for the art of storytelling. Her Midwestern roots inspire the stories she tells, both in her books and on her blog, Postcards from the Heartland. Jane is the author of the Lottie Braun series, about an Iowa girl with a big gift for music, and the family she loves with all her heart. Lottie’s Gift, Lottie’s Hope, and Lottie’s Freedom are available at Amazon.com and Crossrivermedia.com.

Follow Jane on Social Media:

Website: JaneMTucker.com

Facebook: Jane M. Tucker Author

Twitter: @JaneMTuckerAuth

Instagram: JaneMTucker

Thank you, Jane, for sharing your encouraging thoughts with us this week!

*The next issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter with a giveaway in every regularly scheduled issue, will come out in early May. 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 and also my Wedding Inspiration cards, check out my Books/My Work page.

Photo used with permission from Picmonkey.com Stock Photos