Monday, May 15, 2023

I am Mom...?

Last spring, I was in a workshop at a women’s conference on Kingdom Living. At the beginning of the hour, the speaker asked us to write down the answer to the question, “Who am I?” I wrote: Daughter of the King, wife, mom, teacher, defeated/discouraged, sinner. While most of them are fairly accurate descriptions, they do not all define me. There is a big difference between goals, jobs/titles, and our identities, but it is so easy to lose focus (if we ever had it to begin with) and place our identity where it does not belong.


I want to say first that being a mom is a good thing and a great goal to have and achieve, but to find our only identity and worth in that is actually wrong, maybe even sinful. When we start to place our identities in what we do or the positions we hold here on earth, we enter a works-based religion because we are defined by what we do. Unfortunately, it doesn’t end there, because if our identity is based on what we do, then it will naturally be fed by how we do it. If I let motherhood define me, then my worth and value will be based on how good of a mother I think I am which creates a downward spiral because the only way to gauge how good of a mother I am is by comparing myself with other moms. No matter where we are, who we know, or what we do, we will always find people whom we exceed, but there will also always be people who exceed us, if we’re honest. Then we start the top-this/comparison game. I’m sure that I could come up with some way in which I do not measure up to every mother I know.


While I am speaking to moms here, this principle applies to everyone. If Pastor placed his identity in being a pastor, his worth would be based on how many positive reactions he had from his sermons, how many new converts were made each year, and how many people attended each service. If my husband placed his identity in being a logger, then he would define himself by how well he performed his job and how much money he made. This practice leads to spirits of depression (if we feel we don’t measure up) or pride and criticism (if we think we are better than everyone else). Neither of those are godly, and only lead to ungodly attitudes of doubt, insecurity, put-downs, and arrogance because we constantly have to prove that we are good enough, which ironically makes us perform worse than we would if we were simply confident in who we are and not worried about how we measure up.


Sadly, this mentality pervades not only our society but the church at large. I think that the identity of motherhood is especially prevalent in the church. The problem with it is that security and confidence can never be achieved that way. It will cause a young lady to not feel like she is enough because she is single, and to long for the day when she can be married so that she can be whole and will spend her whole life up to that point looking forward and missing out on the time she has. I am not saying there is anything wrong with preparing for marriage, that is good and right, but feeling that one is not good enough being single is not. Finally, the girl is married, but unfortunately does not remain satisfied because she is not a mother. Soon her domestic tranquility is disrupted by the desire for children, and she feels she is not complete or good enough until she has children. Finally, she becomes pregnant and has a child and the joys of motherhood surround her. Sadly, that does not last long because her peace is based on her circumstances. Her baby isn’t nursing well, she’s not doing all the things the people around think she should be doing to raise her child, she is not perfectly and constantly happy in her role, so she struggles and tries harder to be better. The unfortunate result of this is only worry and disruption in her marriage because she is giving so much to her child that her husband feels neglected, so their marital bliss diminishes. Rather than seeing the true source of her dissatisfaction, she thinks she just needs more children. So, she has more, but is no closer to feeling fulfilled or worthwhile. Her husband may become detached or resentful and her children are natural born sinners, not the perfect little cherubs she expected. So, they grow and make mistakes and disobey, and while things may improve, she always questions if it is enough, if she is enough. Finally, the children grow up into successful adults and she begins to feel that she has done well only to have them leave the house to make homes and lives of their own. While she is glad for this, her insecurities and dissatisfaction return because she has an empty home. She is still a mother, but that is not really her job anymore and she no longer feels fulfilled. Often those feelings persist for the rest of her life to some degree unless she is able to find some other job or purpose to fill her life. Ironically, those feelings of doubt and insecurity cause her to “perform” worse than she would otherwise because she is living defeated, trying to earn or prove her worth, rather than living in the fullness God intended for her. Do you see the trend here? Basing our identities in what we do never ends. We are never satisfied with reaching our goal because we are constantly needing to prove our worth, so once we accomplish one goal, we have to find another. What we do is never enough, nor was it ever meant to be.


This story is not confined to motherhood, but could play out in any profession, no matter how noble or worthwhile it may be. I was talking with a friend about this, how women are often viewed as being less-than because they have no children or remain unmarried for whatever reason. Should a woman marry the first scum bag that comes along just so she does not bear the “shame” of singleness? If it is God’s plan for her to marry later in life, should we judge her for being obedient just because it does not fit into our ideology? I know several women who married “later” in life, and none of them would sacrifice the marriage they have in order to have married at a younger age. They consider it a blessing rather than a curse. We discussed the idea of where this view came from, when did it start and what grounds does it have?


            Genesis 3:16-19 NASB

            To the woman He said,

            “I will greatly multiply

            Your pain in childbirth,

In pain you will bring forth children;

Yet your desire will be for your husband,

And he will rule over you.”

Then to Adam He said, “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree about which I commanded you, saying, ‘You shall not eat from it’;

Cursed is the ground because of you;

In toil you will eat of it

All the days of your life.

Both thorns and thistles it shall grow for you;

And you will eat the plants of the field;

By the sweat of your face

You will eat bread,

Till you return to the ground,

Because from it you were taken;

For you are dust,

And to dust you shall return.”


This tendency to find our identity in what we do (for women in childbearing but also for men in their work) goes all the way back to the beginning. Shortly after Adam and Eve sinned, they were cursed because of that sin. See this desire or need to be defined by what we do is a result of the curse, not because God created us to be that way, but as a result of sin. It broke that unity and relationship with God where mankind was secure and fulfilled in Him alone. The desire to be self-sufficient and independent of God which brought on sin gave birth to the need to prove our worth on our own apart from God. Because of that brokenness and disunity, we are insecure because we lost that security in our relationship with God. Unfortunately, we try to find that identity and worth in ourselves instead of looking to the One who defines us.


Genesis 1:27-28a, 31a NASB

God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. God blessed them…God saw all that He had made, and behold, it was very good.


This desire to find our identity stems from a works-based religion. I’m sure none of you would say that you believe you must earn your salvation, but do you live that way? If we can’t and shouldn’t earn our salvation, then we can’t and shouldn’t try to earn our identity or prove our worth. Nothing in us is good enough on our own, as it says in Romans 3:10 “there is none righteous, not even one” and God does not love us or choose us because we are better than anyone else.


Deuteronomy 7:7-8a NASB

The Lord did not set His love on you nor choose you because you were more in number than any of the peoples, for you were the fewest of all peoples, but because the Lord loved you.

Ephesians 1:4-6 (emphasis added)

[God] chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved.


While the first verse was spoken to Israel, I believe the principle still applies. He did not choose us because we were so special or better than anyone else, but simply because He loved us. He knew every single person in history before history. Before the beginning of the world, He knew each of us and loved us because He made us, even if we reject Him. His love is so great that He died so that we could be with Him, to repair the damage caused by our own sin against Him.


I read in a book about Acceptable Sins that the best way to defeat sin in our lives is to preach the Gospel to ourselves daily and to memorize verses to that effect. One of the best passages of Scripture which most clearly depicts the Gospel is:


Ephesians 2:1-9

And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging in the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest. But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.


We were nothing before God, less than nothing. We were His enemies. Yet because of His love for us, Jesus died so that He could spend the rest of eternity lavishing us with His blessings! If God did not want us to earn our salvation, if He died so that we could be saved, if He did not require anything of us to become His children, why would He then require us to earn our worth or identity as His children? After all of that would He want us to live for the purpose of proving our worth?


At this point some may bring up 1 Timothy 2:15 which says that “women will be preserved through the bearing of children if they continue in faith and love and sanctity with self-restraint.” But I will argue that this is not talking about salvation or worth. The Bible clearly says we are not saved by works. If we are not saved by works, then it is obviously not referring to salvation.


What does it mean is that we are preserved or sanctified through having children? Sanctification is the process by which we are made more like God. It is something God does through our submission to Him on a daily basis and is completed when we reach Heaven. I’m sure every mother will attest to the fact that raising children and teaching them to be godly only reveals to us how very ungodly we are. Our flaws are very amply exposed in those wonderful little copies of ourselves for all to see, and hopefully it motivates us to correct our own flaws while we attempt to train our children. I love the quote from Little Women when Jo and Marmee are talking about Jo’s anger, which was just like her mother’s, and the way that Mr. March helped her over come it.


“He helped and comforted me and showed me that I must try to practice all the virtues I would have my little girls possess, for I was their example. It was easier to try for your sakes than for my own. A startled or surprised look from one of you when I spoke sharply rebuked me more than any words could have done, and the love, respect, and confidence of my children was the sweetest reward I could receive for my efforts to be the woman I would have them copy.”

 Elisabeth Elliot once said:

The process of shaping the child shapes also the mother herself. Reverence for her sacred burden calls her to all that is pure and good, that she may teach primarily by her own humble, daily example.

Another way in which “women will be preserved through the bearing of children” is in a reversal of the curse in a sense. Because we are cursed by the fall in having great pain in childbirth (I think men got off easy on that one), the joys of having that child are greater for the mother than the father for that reason. The joy of having children offsets the pain of the curse and makes it more bearable. It is not saying that we earn salvation by having children, or that we are of more value for raising children, but that the affects of the curse are lessened through having children. (John Piper has a great article on this verse on His website “Desiring God.”)


Romans 8:35-39

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.


Nothing can change how God loves us. Nothing we do can lessen His love or make it greater.


1 John 4:10,19

In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His son to be the propitiation for our sins…We love because He first loved us.


We love because He FIRST loved us. He loved us before we had kids, while we were still sinners, while we were His enemies. His love is not based on our performance anymore than our love for our children, spouses or family members are based on their performance. If it were based on performance, it would not be love. He created us because He wanted relationship with us, not so we could work and do things for Him. We were created to love Him. Yes, there are many verses talking about how we need to bear good fruit and do good works which He planned for us, but those should be the result of His love, not to earn it.


John 15:8

My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples.


But look at verse 5, just before this:


John 15:5 (emphasis added)

I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.

Philippians 1:9-11

And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in real knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve the things that are excellent, in order to be sincere and blameless until the day of Christ; having been filled with the fruit of righteousness which comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.


Notice that according to these verses that fruit which we are supposed to bear comes through Christ, through abiding in Him. Abiding is that practicing of being in constant communion with God. It literally means to “remain or stay”. Basically, it is living in Christ on a moment-by-moment basis, intentionally being mindful of Him and staying connected with Him at all times. It is not by trying to be better, working harder or any amount of effort on our part. It is by being in Him in the fullest sense. God’s focus is on our being more than our doing. That is why most of Paul’s letters, including Ephesians, focus on who we are in the first half and then talk about how we should live in the second half. What we do is the natural by product of who we are.


A few years ago, Ephesians 2:10 kept popping up over the course of several days. This usually means that God has a point to make so I prayed and watched to see what it was. I thought God had some new job or “work” for me to do. Two or three weeks went by, and I didn’t find anything. Then one day I read a book where the author quoted the verse in a different translation than I was used to, and it blew me away. The New Living begins the verse this way:


For we are God’s masterpiece…NLT


I realized then that God’s focus for me in bringing that verse to my attention was not in “doing” but in “being.” He wanted me to focus on the fact that I am His masterpiece. My identity and worth are not based on what I do or how well I do it. It is all based on the One who made me. It is based on my relationship with Him as His adopted and beloved child. When I wrote those definitions of who I am at the conference, the title “daughter of the King” was a textbook answer. It was something I knew to be true, but not really how I saw myself. God has been teaching me slowly to see that His definition of me and my worth is the only one that matters.


While most of the definitions I used did describe me in some way, there is one that is completely untrue. That one is “sinner.” Please believe that I am not saying I am without sin. What I mean is that I no longer carry that title. See, sinners are people who are not saved, people in bondage to sin. Once we believe in Christ and give our lives to Him, once we are given the title “child of God”, we become saints. Albeit we are saints who sin, but we are no longer sinners, no longer people bound to sin and unable to love or follow God or turn away from sin. You may think this is a pointless debate on semantics, but it makes a profound difference because as saints we are no longer defined by our sin. We still fall into temptation and sin, but we are no longer controlled by it. We are defined and controlled by God’s Spirit in us. Paul obviously held that view because several of his epistles were addressed to “the saints” in that city.


When we accept Jesus’ sacrifice for our sin, to pay the debt we owe, and are given new life in God, we are no longer bound to sin or defined by what we do. We cannot earn it, but it is ours. It is kind of like having an honorary doctorate, except in this university the test is pass/fail and only perfection will make the grade. So, everyone is trying for this doctorate (which is heaven), but we can never be good enough on our own. None of our efforts will ever be good enough because they are tainted by our sin. The only way to receive this degree is through Christ. If we accept His help, He does the work for us, and we submit the paper written by Him but under our name. Then we are accepted and receive the degree without having done anything to earn it. Of course, we should work with Him and learn what we can for our own benefit, but our work will not affect our grade. That is basically righteousness, having a right standing before God based on Jesus’ perfection.


During a study on Romans, I learned about this symbol. It is the Chinese word for “righteousness” and is made of two characters: lamb over me. When Christian missionaries first arrived in China there was no word in the language for righteousness, but they had this practice with sheep. If a mother lost her lamb and they wanted her to adopt an orphan, the easiest way to do that is to take the hide off the dead lamb and tie it on the back of the orphan. Livestock animals recognize others by their scent, not sight, so when the mother smells the orphan, she will smell her baby and accept it as her own. By the time the hide falls off, the orphan will have drunk enough of her milk to smell like her and the match will be made. It is that way with God. We are born orphans, enemies of God and lost in the world of sin. But Christ, the perfect Lamb of God, died so that if we believe in Him, His blood will cover us so that when God looks at us, He sees His Son and accepts us as His own.


1 Peter 1:18-19

Knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers, but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ.


That is how we are made righteous. It has nothing to do with who we are or what job we have. It doesn’t matter what we have done. God loves us no matter what and if we accept Jesus, He will adopt us as His children. We cannot earn it, nor can we “lose” His love. It doesn’t matter if we have children, how we raise them, or how many times we mess up. It doesn’t matter if we do things the way others think we should, or even if we do everything we think we should. It is all based on His love and sacrifice for us, nothing of ourselves. Our worth and value is all based on what He did for us, in our place. He didn’t even do it because we deserved it. That is the point of grace and mercy. Grace is receiving an underserved gift, and mercy is being forgiven a debt owed. We cannot deserve or earn either. He did it simply because He loves us.


What defines you? Do you live under the cloud of what you do, or don’t do, or have done? Let God define you. Be willing to see yourself as He does. Stop the rat race to prove your worth. Stop comparing yourself to those around you, whether you are doing it to see if you are doing what you should, or to prove that you are better. Don’t let others define you. Let go of the desire and need to prove your worth and let God’s love be enough. Let go of your doubt and shame, let go of your pride and conceit. Both of those come from looking around. Look up. Be ok with not earning or proving anything. Stop living a works-based religion and live in the freedom of His love and grace. Let that freedom fulfill you so that you can fully live out your calling as mom.


If you do not believe in God, if you have not accepted Jesus’ sacrifice for you, will you now? Will you allow Him to define you and give you worth?


WHO I AM IN CHRIST Originally Compiled by Neil Anderson

I AM ACCEPTED... • I am God's child. (John 1:12) • As a disciple, I am a friend of Jesus Christ. (John 15:15) • I have been justified (declared righteous). (Romans 5:1) • I am united with the Lord, and I am one with Him in spirit. (1 Corinthians 6:17) • I have been bought with a price and I belong to God. (1 Corinthians 6:19-20) • I am a member of Christ's body. (1 Corinthians 12:27) • I have been chosen by God and adopted as His child. (Ephesians 1:3-8) • I have been redeemed and forgiven of all my sins. (Colossians 1:13-14) • I am complete in Christ. (Colossians 2:9-10) • I have direct access to the throne of grace through Jesus Christ. (Hebrews 4:14-16)

I AM SECURE... • I am free from condemnation. (Romans 8:1-2) • I am assured that God works for my good in all circumstances. (Romans 8:28) • I am free from any condemnation brought against me and I cannot be separated from the love of God. (Romans 8:31-39) • I have been established, anointed and sealed by God. (2 Corinthians 1:21-22) • I am hidden with Christ in God. (Colossians 3:1-4) • I am confident that God will complete the good work He started in me. (Philippians 1:6) • I am a citizen of heaven. (Philippians 3:20) • I have not been given a spirit of fear but of power, love and a sound mind. (2 Timothy 1:10) • I am born of God and the evil one cannot touch me. (1 John 5:18) • I am a branch of Jesus Christ, the true vine, and a channel of His life. (John 15:5) • I have been chosen and appointed to bear fruit. (John 15:16) • I am God's temple. (1 Corinthians 3:16)

I AM SIGNIFICANT…• I am a minister of reconciliation for God. (2 Corinthians 5:17-21) • I am seated with Jesus Christ in the heavenly realm. (Ephesians 2:6) • I am God's workmanship. (Ephesians 2:10) • I may approach God with freedom and confidence. (Ephesians 3:12) • I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me.

Monday, August 29, 2022

Prayer for the Finish


One of the benefits of prayer is that it increases your heart's sensitivity to God's leading. Over the course of this year, God has called me to step down from almost every ministry that I have been involved in, most recently writing this blog. I don't know why God is calling me to step back, but I do know that I have to follow His direction, even if I don't understand it. I appreciate all who have read and supported my writing, and would appreciate your prayers as I enter this time of uncertainty. You can still connect with me on my facebook page, for the time being at least I will occasionally verses and past articles there.

If you would like to continue the year of prayer journey on your own, here are the prayer points and main verses:

Week 34:Your Will Be Done- Matthew 6:10

Week 35: God's Provision- Matthew 6:11

Week 36: Forgiveness- Matthew 6:12

Week 37: Deliverance and Temptation- Matthew 6:13

Week 38: Current Events (use newspapers to guide prayer)- Psalm 67:2

Week 39: Bearing Burdens (pray for specific people)- Galatians 6:1-3

Week 40: Contentment- Philippians 4:12

Week 41: Include Another (ask someone to pray for you as well)- Romans 15:30

Week 42: Cravings to Prayer (fast one meal a day and allow cravings to prompt prayer instead of eating)- Matthew 6:16-18

Week 43: Prayer for the Home (pray in a different room each day)- Proverbs 3:33

Week 44: Prayer for Family (focus on a different family member each day)- Psalm 101:2

Week 45: Speaking the Word (read Scripture aloud during prayer time)- Deuteronomy 30:14

Week 46: Sharing Your Prayers (write prayers for others on cards to send to the person you prayed for)- 1 Thessalonians 5:11

Week 47: Spiritual Legacy (thank God for those who have influenced your spiritual walk and write notes of thanks to them) -1 Thessalonians 1:2-3

Week 48: The Armor of God (pray through the armor focusing on 1 piece each day +v18 on day 7)- Ephesians 6:10-11,18

Week 49: Thy Will Be Done (ask God's direction and purpose in your life and every decision/action)- Proverbs 19:21

Week 50: Practice of the Presence of God- Hebrews 12:2

Week 51: Pray this Promise- Proverbs 4:11-12

Week 52: Prayer Walk (go to a public place and pray for the people you see as you walk)- Ephesians 1:18

 Prayer points taken from Praying Through Adversity by Jennifer Kennedy Dean.

Sunday, August 21, 2022

Prayer Week 33: Your Father

Father’s are a big part of our lives. The role they play is far more important that most people (fathers and children alike) realize. Without fathers, children are significantly more likely to do drugs, join gangs, and go to prison, etc. Even those whose fathers live at home can suffer from the lack of interaction they have. While the role an earthly father plays is vital, it pales in comparison to the role of our heavenly Father.


Matthew 6:9 New American Standard Bible 1995

“Pray, then, in this way:

‘Our Father who is in heaven,
Hallowed be Your name.

Galatians 4:6 New American Standard Bible 1995

Because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!”

Psalm 68:5-6a New American Standard Bible 1995

A father of the fatherless and a judge for the widows,
Is God in His holy habitation.
God makes a home for the lonely;
He leads out the prisoners into prosperity.


The Lord’s Prayer is a model to help us learn to pray. Many have a hard time seeing God as their Father, either because they had problems with their earthly father or they were taught to view Him in some other way, but I know some who lost their fathers and God replaced that void in their lives so that they did not suffer in the way most do. We need to remember that God is not like man; rather man can be like God. God is the perfect Father, what every earthly father should be.


When we pray we need to remember Who we are really talking to, and let that truth change our attitudes and hearts rather than allowing our experiences to dictate our view of God. For the next month we will be focusing on the Lord’s Prayer, allowing each phrase to impact the way we pray and our relationship with God.


This week as you pray, focus on Matthew 6:9. Think of God as your Father, the best Father. Let that impact (and if necessary change) your view of Him. How does His role as Father in your life affect your needs and desires? Journal your thoughts. Hallowed means to be made holy, glorified. How can His name be exalted and glorified in your life? How can that be evident in the midst of your current needs?

 Prayer points taken from Praying Through Adversity by Jennifer Kennedy Dean.

Sunday, August 14, 2022

Prayer Week 32: Inner Peace

We all want peace. No one really enjoys conflict, especially not when it involves or affects them in some way. We want peace in our homes, communities, countries and lives. That is what we were made for; to live in peace, at peace with everyone. Conflict is the result of sin, whether directly or indirectly. Many cultures have different views on where peace comes from and how to get it. How can we have peace?


Psalm 16:8-9 New American Standard Bible 1995

I have set the Lord continually before me;
Because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.
Therefore my heart is glad and my glory rejoices;
My flesh also will dwell securely.

Isaiah 26:3 New American Standard Bible 1995

The steadfast of mind You will keep in perfect peace,
Because he trusts in You.

Isaiah 9:6-7a New American Standard Bible 1995

For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us;
And the government will rest on His shoulders;
And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.
There will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace,

John 14:27 New American Standard Bible 1995

Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.

John 16:33 New American Standard Bible 1995

These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.


True, lasting peace comes only from God, from trusting, relying and resting solely in Him. As I said the ultimate reason we do not have peace is because of sin. Our sinful attitudes and choices cause conflict with others, but it also causes discord with God. Even if we had no conflict with another person and lived in physical peace, we would still not have “inner peace” because we would be at odds with God. That is why Jesus died on the cross, to pay the penalty for our sins so He could bridge the gap between us and God, so that we could finally be at peace with Him.


It is only through believing and trusting in Him that we can have that inner peace the secular world so longs for. No amount of emptying our minds or positive thinking will give it to us. And no amount of trying to be good and making peace with others will work if we do not have the Prince of Peace dwelling within us. We can only know peace by living in His righteousness (ceasing to strive to be perfect on our own), living according to His commands (which will produce the best outcome in our dealings with others), and trusting Him completely with our lives and circumstances.


The people I know who have the most inner turmoil are those who, instead of trusting God with what is going on, try to manipulate people and circumstances, who try to maintain control over their lives. When this inevitable fails they are filled with worry and anxiety because life is out of their control. Unfortunately, that is the reality of life. No one truly has control over anything, but God has control of everything. If we trust in Him, that He is sovereign (completely in control of everything) and also completely good and loving, we will have peace. We need to trust that God has the power to do everything and that He is working for our good and His glory. We need to trust in His character, that He is a completely and perfectly just, loving, merciful God. We really cannot trust Him truly if we do not believe these things.


This week as you pray, first repent and ask Him to forgive your sins, for we cannot have anything from God, least of all peace, if we are at odds with Him. Then ask Him to help you trust in Him and fill you with His peace. Let go of what is worrying you, what you are trying to control and give it to Him. Feel His peace flow through you. Begin each morning by consciously trusting in Him and relaxing in His arms. Breathe deeply and slowly, and as you breathe out let that peace fill you. Feel your body relax. Enjoy the feeling of peace and restfulness that comes from trusting completely in God. Let thoughts of Him fill your mind and saturate you with His peace.

 Prayer points taken from Praying Through Adversity by Jennifer Kennedy Dean.

Sunday, August 7, 2022

Prayer Week 31: The Power of a Name

What’s in a name? It used to be very common, especially in some cultures, to be very careful and intentional about choosing baby names, and some still carry that belief. For some it is less of a superstition and more a way of blessing their child. They might be named for a dear friend or relative, an historical figure who possessed a quality they valued, or have a meaning that is particularly special to them. For example, the name I chose to write under means “light on a hill” in Gaelic, which is my purpose for writing. While all of these things are nice and special, is there really any power in a name?


Psalm 9:10 New American Standard Bible 1995

And those who know Your name will put their trust in You,
For You, O Lord, have not forsaken those who seek You.

Jeremiah 33:2-3 New American Standard Bible 1995 (emphasis added)

Thus says the Lord who made the earth, the Lord who formed it to establish it, the Lord is His name, ‘Call to Me and I will answer you, and I will tell you great and mighty things, which you do not know.’

Matthew 1:21 New American Standard Bible 1995

She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.

John 20:30-31 New American Standard Bible 1995

Therefore many other signs Jesus also performed in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name.

Acts 2:38 New American Standard Bible 1995

Peter said to them, “Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”


There is only one name that truly has power: the name of Jesus. Because He is God, his name carries with it an inherent power that will send the enemy scrambling. It can bring light into the darkest hole and peace to the most troubled heart. It even has the power to bend the will, for one day at the name of Jesus every knee will bow. This is not some theoretical fluff. It is true and real. Speaking the name of Jesus audibly has power. The other names of God can also have power in our situations:



Malachi 3:3 New American Standard Bible 1995

He will sit as a smelter and purifier of silver, and He will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, so that they may present to the Lord offerings in righteousness.

God With Us

Matthew 1:23 New American Standard Bible 1995

Behold, the virgin shall be with child and shall bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which translated means, “God with us.

The Light

John 1:9 New American Standard Bible 1995

There was the true Light which, coming into the world, enlightens every man.

Bread of Life

John 6:35 New American Standard Bible 1995

Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst.”

Good Shepherd

John 10:11 New American Standard Bible 1995

“I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep.

Teacher and Lord

John 13:13 New American Standard Bible 1995

You call Me Teacher and Lord; and you are right, for so I am.

The Vine

John 15:5 New American Standard Bible 1995

I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.



Each of these names is significant and portrays part of God’s character. They can have power in our lives, not as much as the name Jesus, but to encourage our hearts and remind us of His character and the promises He has made to us. Knowing the names of God helps us to know God Himself, and using them in prayer deepens our relationship with Him.


This week as you pray focus on one of these names each day. Think about what that names means to you this day in this circumstance. What promise does it hold for you? Let Him show you your need or desire illuminated by that name. Let this week enrich your prayer life and relationship with God.

 Prayer points taken from Praying Through Adversity by Jennifer Kennedy Dean.

Sunday, July 31, 2022

Prayer Week 30: Your Legacy

Most people want to be remembered, especially a certain way. What will they say about us at our funerals? Will we have a lasting impact on future generations? Will we leave our mark? What we don’t realize is that it is usually the small, every day things which are the most important. A friend just shared that she learned as a counselor at summer teen camp last week that we need to dream big, but live small. The dream of reaching thousands is huge, and not unrealistic, but it starts with one person, being intentional in our interactions. And we never know who that person might be that is most influenced.


Psalm 102:18 New American Standard Bible 1995

This will be written for the generation to come,
That a people yet to be created may praise the Lord.

Deuteronomy 31:19 New American Standard Bible 1995

Now therefore, write this song for yourselves, and teach it to the sons of Israel; put it on their lips, so that this song may be a witness for Me against the sons of Israel.

1 Corinthians 10:11 New American Standard Bible 1995

Now these things happened to them as an example, and they were written for our instruction, upon whom the ends of the ages have come.

Psalm 78:6-8 New American Standard Bible 1995

That the generation to come might know, even the children yet to be born,
That they may arise and tell them to their children,
That they should put their confidence in God
And not forget the works of God,
But keep His commandments,
And not be like their fathers,
A stubborn and rebellious generation,
A generation that did not prepare its heart
And whose spirit was not faithful to God.


The people in the Bible did not know that their story would ever make it in a book, that people thousands of years later would know what they did or learn from their experiences. They may have acted differently if they had. With the exception of Abraham, most had no clue that they were part of a bigger story. They were just living day to day like us. Some of those stories are positive and inspiring, while others show a good example of what not to do.


The point is that every person has a story, an experience to share, a testimony to witness to the goodness of God, but most don’t realize it, or think that it is not important. We all make an impact for eternity. The question is what kind of impact will that be? Given the option, what would we choose to share?


This week as you pray, write a letter to those who will come after you. Write a little bit each day; it could be a paragraph, sentence, or just a thought. It doesn’t have to be elaborate or profound. Just think about what you want to pass along to those who come after you. What kind of spiritual legacy do you want to leave? Not only will this help you become more intentional, but it will also help clarify what God means to you, which will in turn stir up genuine praise and thanksgiving.

 Prayer points taken from Praying Through Adversity by Jennifer Kennedy Dean.

Sunday, July 24, 2022

Prayer Week 29: This Day

13,353. That is how many days I have been alive, give or take a few leap years. 13,353 opportunities to meet with God, to give the day to Him, to appreciate the days He has given me. Unfortunately, I have not taken advantage of most of them. That many days roll together so that it just becomes the same ol’ same ol’, running through the motions. We rarely take the time to appreciate something we have that seems to be a given, or to be intentional or eternally minded on a regular basis. It usually takes something drastic, even tragic, to wake us up so that we make the most of the time we have, but even that doesn’t last very long.


Psalm 118:24 New American Standard Bible 1995

This is the day which the Lord has made;
Let us rejoice and be glad in it.

Ephesians 5:15-16 New International Version

Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.

Colossians 3:1-3 New International Version

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.


God does not want us to run through life moving from one moment to the next as if the physical and temporal are all there is to life. He doesn’t want us living for ourselves as if nothing we do really matters that much. God wants us to be intentional about everything because even the smallest action, choice or even inaction makes a difference and affects someone somehow. We need to be wise in our lives, not just in the big life choices, but in every choice, in everything we do. We need to be aware of the impact that everything we do has on eternity.


"Recently I asked a group of students, “What can people create that lasts the longest?” They paused, reflected, and they gave a few different answers including archaeological remains such as the Egyptian pyramids and Machu Pichu.

Then I followed up with another question: “Can humans create anything that lasts forever?” They reflected again for a brief period, but all agreed that the answer is no. After all, they said, everything eventually falls apart. Even though I pressed them for an answer, they concluded that humans are incapable of creating anything that lasts forever.

I simply replied, “I think you are missing something. With God’s power, humans can make something that lasts forever––other human beings.”

I went on to explain to them that God made humans as both body and soul (Matthew 10:28). Physical things in this world do fade away, including our present bodies, but each person has a soul that will never cease to exist, which will be joined to a new body in the resurrection. In fact, after a trillion, trillion, trillion years from now, you will have just as much time left in eternity as you do today. Mind-boggling.

This is why, as my friend Jeremy Pettitt observed, “Sex is the most powerful creative act in the universe. When a man and a woman come together in a sexual relationship, the possibility of creating an eternal soul/spirit arises. At the moment of conception, a new immortal soul/spirit has entered into eternity.”

Pause, and let this point sink in. Seriously, re-read the last few sentences and make sure you don’t miss that. God has created human beings with the capacity to create something that lasts forever—other human beings."

This excerpt is from Sean J McDowell's book Chasing Love.


If something so seemingly insignificant as sex has that kind of eternal power, what impact do our words and attitudes have? What about our choices and our capacity to influence others by what we do?


This week as you start each day, begin it by thinking “this is the day God has appointed for me. He has given me this day.” Embrace everything He brings into this day, every difficulty, disappointment, joy, victory, every circumstance. Consider them as a faith lab (for the negative) or a gift (for the positive) from God. Start each day determining that you will rejoice and live this day for God. Take the opportunity to be intentional about every thought, word, choice and interaction. See how you can make an impact for eternity every moment.

 Prayer points taken from Praying Through Adversity by Jennifer Kennedy Dean.

Sunday, July 17, 2022

Prayer Week 28: Deep Cleaning

Spring cleaning, deep cleaning, purging are common practices people do when “the fit takes them.” The idea of getting rid of old or unused items and cleaning everything are good, useful and healthy, helping clear our homes of clutter and filth. I recently cleaned my fridge for the first time in years. I hadn’t noticed before that it was very dirty, but it looks and smells so much better now! While the common trends are on cleansing the home, how often do we focus on cleansing our soul?


Psalm 139:23-24 New American Standard Bible 1995

Search me, O God, and know my heart;
Try me and know my anxious thoughts;
And see if there be any hurtful way in me,
And lead me in the everlasting way.

Job 31:6 New American Standard Bible 1995

Let Him weigh me with accurate scales,
And let God know my integrity.

Psalm 26:2 New American Standard Bible 1995

Examine me, O Lord, and try me;
Test my mind and my heart.

Proverbs 17:3 New American Standard Bible 1995

The refining pot is for silver and the furnace for gold,
But the Lord tests hearts.

Psalm 51:10-11 New American Standard Bible 1995

Create in me a clean heart, O God,
And renew a steadfast spirit within me.
Do not cast me away from Your presence
And do not take Your Holy Spirit from me.


While our emphasis is cleansing what can be seen by others, we often ignore and even avoid cleansing what is hidden. The deep places of our hearts are areas we don’t want anyone to see, or even to acknowledge that they exist. However, God knows everything. He already knows what is in the recesses or our souls and minds, and only He can cleanse them. Unfortunately, this is a painful, and sometimes humiliating, process. It requires admitting what we want to deny, revealing what we want to hide, and removing what we secretly hold tight.


Only God can accurately assess our hearts and reveal what is inside. Our hearts are deceitful and want to make out that they are better than they really are. We are misled into believing that we don’t have anything to deal with, that our sin is taken care of or not really that bad. We are fooled into believing that we are good enough. Only God sees us truly as we really are without the screens and facades we hide behind. Only He has the power to remove what has us bound, to release the chains of sin and free us to live like Him.


This week as you pray, open your heart and mind to God. Ask Him to do a deep clean on your life, clear out the clutter and expose anything that is getting in the way of your relationship with Him, preventing you from experiencing His abundant life. Don’t resist this process. He wants you to be fully and completely His, free from the bondage of sin and the tentacles of the world that still cling to you. He wants to deliver you from anything that weakens His power in your life. Keep a journal of what He brings to mind and actively seek to remove those things. Ask Him to help you clear the closet and set you free!

 Prayer points taken from Praying Through Adversity by Jennifer Kennedy Dean.

Sunday, July 10, 2022

Prayer Week 27: Be Still

In our busy, fast paced world we have a hard time being in the moment. We are more intent on taking selfies or sharing what is going on than actually enjoying what is happening. We have lost the art of “being present.” This not only disrupts our relationships with others, but also with God. It is hard enough to be “with” someone sitting across from us, let alone someone whom we cannot see or feel.


Psalm 46:10 New American Standard Bible 1995

“Cease striving and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”

Exodus 14:13-14 New American Standard Bible 1995

But Moses said to the people, “Do not fear! Stand by and see the salvation of the Lord which He will accomplish for you today; for the Egyptians whom you have seen today, you will never see them again forever. The Lord will fight for you while you keep silent.”

Psalm 62:5-6 New American Standard Bible 1995

My soul, wait in silence for God only,
For my hope is from Him.
He only is my rock and my salvation,
My stronghold; I shall not be shaken.

Psalm 37:7 New American Standard Bible 1995

Rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him;
Do not fret because of him who prospers in his way,
Because of the man who carries out wicked schemes.


I think the progression of Psalm 46:10 is important. Before we can know or acknowledge God, we have to cease striving, be still. We cannot be aware of, let alone know, Him if we are too busy or agitated to notice. The word translated for “know” is the Hebrew yada which denotes an intimate knowledge. It is not superficial content we skim from the internet, but personal, experiential, and deep. We can’t have that when we are focused on everything else, if we aren’t making time to be alone with Him. Interestingly, the word for “be still” literally means to slacken. We need to loosen up, relax, sink down into the loving arms of our Creator and let Him take care of our worries.


If we do these things God will be praised by all who are around us. Why? Because when the world sees that we can go through distressing, even traumatic, circumstances with a peace and joy that passes understanding, which can only come from God, they will not help wanting to know where it comes from and how they can get it, too. However, it all begins with each of us individually being still and relaxing in our Savior’s presence, knowing Him intimately and trusting Him with our troubles.


This week in your prayer time, focus on being in the moment with God. Let the words of Psalm 46 envelope you. Feel the power of His presence, allowing it to fill you with peace, joy and confidence. Each morning write down what it means to you that He is God.

 Prayer points taken from Praying Through Adversity by Jennifer Kennedy Dean.

Sunday, July 3, 2022

Prayer Week 26: Fully Known

Do you hide from God? Is there a part of you or your life that you think He doesn’t know or doesn’t care about? These are common misconceptions for humans in general because God is not physical. It is hard to view Him as being omnipresent when we can’t see Him. Deeper than that is the idea that God couldn’t love us like He does if He fully knew us.


Psalm 139:1-6 New American Standard Bible 1995

Lord, You have searched me and known me.
You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
You understand my thought from afar.
You scrutinize my path and my lying down,
And are intimately acquainted with all my ways.
Even before there is a word on my tongue,
Behold, O Lord, You know it all.
You have enclosed me behind and before,
And laid Your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
It is too high, I cannot attain to it.

God is everywhere. He knows and sees everything, even our thoughts. This is not an abstract, objective, indifferent kind of knowledge. God intended for knowledge to be intimate and part of relationship. That is why the Old Testament referred to intercourse as “knowing.” Unfortunately, sin ruined that. That is why God didn’t want Adam and Eve to eat from the tree of knowledge, it was knowing without relationship, head knowledge that either puffs up or creates distance and even fear. God’s knowledge of mankind didn’t change after the fall, our relationship with and perception of Him is what changed.


Sin caused knowledge to be acquainted with fear instead of security. Sadly, now it is “natural” for us to fear being fully known, which is why we hold back even with God, even though being fully known is what our souls crave. We need to fight that fear (for fear is not of God) and work to be open, especially with God, but also with others whom we can trust, like our spouse.


God seeks to know us. He searches us because He wants that intimate, relational knowledge of us. He already knows all of our actions, even before they happen. He even knows our every thought. Even the deep recesses of our hearts and minds are not concealed from Him. His knowledge of our actions is not abstract. He studies us to understand our personalities and quirks, not to criticize but to love us. He doesn’t know us to shut us out but to protect us. He is not tyrannical, selfish or malicious like worldly authority figures. He does not want to use us. We were created to have relationship with Him. This knowledge, knowing about His perfect, infinite, complete knowledge of us, is too wonderful to grasp. We cannot fully understand it in our sin stained, finite minds.


This week as you pray, focus on these six verses. Slowly read through this passage and think about each phrase. Concentrate on one verse each day and make it a personal prayer. Let God speak to you through it. Repeat it to yourself throughout the day and pray it into every situation.

 Prayer points taken from Praying Through Adversity by Jennifer Kennedy Dean.