Holy Land Revelations Part 1: Great Wall of Prayer

Hi, Friend!

Please forgive me for not telling you about my Holy Land Experience with Lysa TerKeurst and Proverbs 31 Ministries this month. Surprise!

It was one of the most meaningful experiences of my life! For the next few weeks, I’ll show you a few Holy Land candid photos I shot and some of the many, meaningful biblical lessons that soaked deep in my soul.

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It strikes me as I approach the Western Wall–the Wailing Wall–in Jerusalem. There is a hush over this place, except for the sound of some women softly sobbing. Two things connect us all here, no matter our background, our faith, our socioeconomic level, our native language…

Prayer and tears.

I wait my turn to find a narrow place to pray directly at the Wall. One lady covers her face with a veil and backs away from the Wall. I take her place and fall to my knees.

This limestone Wall has become smooth over 2000+ years from the countless hands and foreheads pressing against it, fervently crying out to God.

Many of us from our trip had written prayers on little pieces of paper to leave there. I couldn’t believe it. All the rolled-up and folded papers, all the prayers, stuffed in every crevice of the Wall and on the ground below. .

I whisper my deepest praises, prayers and dreams, as I weep beside a lady wearing a hijab. Our whispered prayers create a soul symphony.

After several minutes of prayer, I prepare to leave. The time is too short but my spot is needed by the next vulnerable soul behind me.

We had been told not to turn our backs to the wall as we left. Several of us slowly back away in silence, savoring this moment of unity and peace.

Our guide told us that each day those prayers on paper are collected and buried on the Mount of Olives. If that is so, how beautiful, how powerful, how perfect that is. The same place where Jesus will return one day (Zechariah 14:4) is the same place all those written prayers are buried.

Friend, whether at this Western Wall, in the car, outside, or in your home, every prayer you cry out to God is heard. God hears you. God sees you. God answers you in His time, in His way.

Reflect:

When is the last time you cried out to God?

Renew:

“As she kept on praying to the Lord, Eli observed her mouth. Hannah was praying in her heart, and her lips were moving but her voice was not heard.” –1 Samuel 1:12.

“Out of the depths I cry to You, O Lord; O Lord, hear my voice.” –Psalm 130:1-2.

“And…the 24 elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp and they were holding golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints.” –Revelation 5:8.

#P31HolyLandTour

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Stretch Marks

Recently I’ve been marinating on Proverbs 31 Ministries and the tremendous way He’s growing us, in faith and in size.

It made me think of stretch marks. Yes, stretch marks.

I’ve had them on my hips ever since the summer before 9th grade, the summer when I grew 5 1/2 inches in one growth spurt. I was bumbly and awkward back then, towering over all the girls AND guys. Yes, I still am a little bumbly and awkward as a tall drink of water.

I remember aching that summer of growing so much. I felt such weird pain. Little did I know they were growing pains.

Mommas, I can only imagine the sensations you feel as that baby is growing inside of you, stretching you.

One definition says:

“Stretch marks are a form of scarring with an off-color hue. Over time they may diminish, but will not disappear completely. They are caused from the rapid stretching of the skin associated with rapid growth or weight change.”

We won’t worry about the weight change part, shall we?

As leaders it is normal to experience stretch marks and growing pains during growth spurts.  The Lord sometimes grows us rapidly, faster than we feel comfortable with.

In 2016, because of the support of our Proverbs 31 Ministries donors, more than:

  • One Million people are digging deeper into God’s Word with the First 5 mobile app.
  • 700,000 people receive Encouragement for Today daily email devotions.
  • 4.6 million people find encouragement and hope by connecting with us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.
  • 3,000 people are getting equipped for their ministry calling through our She Speaks Conference and COMPEL writers training.
  • 6 million women and families are hearing biblical teaching through our Everyday Life with Lysa radio show airing on 1,300 radio stations throughout the US.

These few statistics are humbling. All glory goes to God.

In the middle of “growth” is the word “OW.”

Sometime growth is painful.

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Just like a gardener prunes branches to get a tree to grow better, God prunes us and stretches our faith. He is the Gardener of our souls, tending us.

Whatever growing pains you are experiencing at home, at work, at church, or in the community, embrace the stretch marks. They are beautiful signs that God is faithful.

“I am the true vine and my father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.” –John 15:1.

Lord Jesus, Thank you for growing our faith, for stretching us,for giving us stretch marks. Every time I look at my stretch marks, I’ll appreciate them much more. Please guide me in the growing, Lord, so I can bear the most fruit for Your Kingdom.

Reflect:

In what areas of my life am I experiencing stretch marks and growing pains?

With God’s guidance, what can you do to prepare for this new fruit that you will bear?

Renew:

“And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God.” –Colossians 1:10

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True Love Confessions

It’s tough being single on Valentine’s Day. As soon as Christmas is over, the stores are full of red hearts, roses, love balloons, and cheesy Valentine’s Day merchandise. Hallmark Channel even plays non-stop sappy Love movies! Yes, I sometimes get sucked into watching each one. Yes, I am a hopeful romantic.

Last Valentine’s Day was different. It was a cold night. I built a cozy fire. I was excited. I was ready. Sitting by the warm fire, it was time to write my Love Letter.  Opening my journal, the following is the Love Letter penned on those pages:

Dearest Lover of My Soul,

Happy Valentine’s Day! Thank you for being my First Love, today and always.

Thank you, Lord,   healing and removing the sin of idolatry I have suffered for a future husband without even realizing it. I had elevated the idea of my future husband much higher than I had elevated You as my Lord and Savior. My heart is changed. Please forgive me.

Holy Spirit, I want to be content in my singleness. Help me.  I am Yours. You are mine.  I am at peace.

My Rock and My Redeemer, Gentle Healer, it is a joy and honor to convey a portion of my immense love for You. No journal, no library can record all my love, dear Jesus.  Thank you for loving me. Every breath is for You, precious Lord.

How may I serve You more? On this Valentine’s Day, I recommit my life to You. It is You and You alone who I need, You alone who I want. 

Right now, make me more of a vessel for You and Your Gospel. I want to be your humble ambassador, Your spokesman who only utters worthy, not worthless words. (Jeremiah 15:19). May it be so. 

 “Speak, for Your servant is listening.”  (1 Samuel 3:10)

I Love You With My Whole Heart,                                                                                                                                                              Danya, Your Daughter of  the King

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Friend, I learned that Valentine’s night that God is the only one to fill my “soul holes.” 

I’m embarrassed to admit this to you. You might think it’s TMI. For a few years I even bought sweet Valentine’s cards for a future  boyfriend  I knew the Lord would bring me.  That night I burned those cards in the fire.  It was liberating to know that Jesus is my First Love. My contentment in Christ alone is there whether I have a man in my life or not.

Since the Bible is God’s Love Letter to me, I had finally written my Love Letter to Jesus. That night transformed Valentine’s Day for me. Contentment came.

I’m so thankful for today as Valentine’s Day. Bring it.

Reflect:

–Are you content in your circumstances? Please comment.

–How can you express your love for God more?

Renew:

“Because Your love is better than life, my lips will glorify You. I will praise You as long as I live, and in your name I will lift up my hands.” –Psalm 63: 3-4 NIV

“‘My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.'” –John 15:12-13 NIV

“I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation. ” –Philippians 4:12 NIV

“Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity.” –1 Timothy 4:12 NIV.

Recharge:

–Write your Love Letter to Jesus today.

–The Bible is God’s Love Letter to us. Please enjoy reading it daily.

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Drops of Encouragement

Hall's cough drop

Recently I bought an economy-sized bag of Hall’s cough drops and found a pleasant surprise. As I was about to throw away my Hall’s wrapper, I noticed the words “A Pep Talk in Every Drop” and the following:

  • “Don’t waste a precious minute.”
  • “You’ve survived tougher.”
  • “Don’t give up on yourself.”
  • “The show must go on.”

I smiled. What brilliant marketing! What wonderful encouragement! I’m so proud of Hall’s.  I will buy Hall’s cough drops just for this reason.

It made me reflect on two questions:  Who have I encouraged? Who was the last person who encouraged me? 

If a simple cough drop wrapper can make me smile and encourage me, imagine what encouragement precious we can offer someone, even to a stranger.

Encouragement is such a gift. It is even considered to be a “spiritual gift.”

“We have different gifts, according to the grace given us…if it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others; let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him to it cheerfully. “ –Romans 12: 6-8 NIV

A man in the Bible named Barnabas had a knack for encouraging people. In fact, his name means “Son of Encouragement.” (Acts 4:36).

Have you considered  smiling at the Target cashier and asking how she is?

Have you thanked your mom and dad for raising you and sacrificing so much for you?

How about complimenting the lady in the  Chick-Fil-A with the well-behaved children?

Or what about telling the adorable, little, senior citizen lady in the grocery store how beautiful her scarf is?

It might be the only positive reinforcement or encouragement he/she may get today.

Today is our day to encourage, to be a Barnabas. Be encouraged, friend.

Reflect:

–What is a recent example of someone who encouraged you or who you encouraged? Please comment below.

–How did that encouragement make you feel? Please comment below.

Renew:

–“May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus, so that with one heart and mouth you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” –Romans 15:5 NIV.

–“Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.” –1 Thessalonians 5:11NIV

PS. Today is also a great day to print out my “Creating Your Personal Mission Statement Template,” which is free by simply adding your email address and subscribing to my bi-weekly blog.  My personal mission statement is “Shine,” based on Matthew 5:16.

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The New Year’s Revelation Revolution

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I love the start of a new year. A blank slate. A blank calendar. A year of hope ahead. Redemption.

Then there is the pressure of forming New Year’s Resolutions. As January 2017 approached, I desired for this year to be different. Why are resolutions so hard to keep?

According to research published in the Journal of Clinical Psychology, 36 percent of resolution-makers give up by the end of January. Ouch.

Webster’s Dictionary defines “resolution” as the act or process of resolving: a :  the act of analyzing a complex notion into simpler ones b :  the act of answering :  solving c :  the act of determining.

I propose a bolder approach.

Instead of forming resolutions, let’s consider life revelations. What’s the difference?

Webster’s defines revelation as “a :  an act of revealing or communicating divine truth b :  something that is revealed by God to humans.”

A revelation comes from God. A resolution comes straight from us. No wonder my resolutions often fail because they come from my flesh, not necessarily from listening to God.

Let’s start a revolution for the new year.

The minor prophet Habakkuk was in tuned to listening to God. Let’s look at how we can relate Habakkuk with our New Year’s revelations today.   We can change our resolutions to revelations.

In Habakkuk 1 he cried out to God. I love his authenticity, his raw emotion with the Lord.

“’How long, O Lord, must I call for help, but you do not listen?…Why do you make me look at injustice? Why do you tolerate wrong?’”

The Lord listens and answers Habakkuk with a wonderful response.

“Look at the nations and watch—and be utterly amazed. For I am going to do something in your days that you would not believe, even if you were told.”

Habakkuk continues to complain and ends it with a declaration:

“I will stand at my watch and station myself on the ramparts; I will look to see what he will say to me, and what answer I am to give to this complaint. “ Habakkuk 2:1

‘Then the Lord replied: ‘Write down the revelation and make it plain on tablets so that a herald may run with it. For the revelation awaits an appointed time; it speaks of the end and will not prove false. Though it linger, wait for it; it will certainly come and will not delay. Habakkuk 2:2

 That’s one of my favorite leadership verses in the Bible.

The main revelation revolution lessons we can learn from Habakkuk are to:

1)Humble ourselves, pray and cry out to God. Even it seemed like complaining, Habakkuk was totally real when he told God exactly how he felt and asked God questions. God has big shoulders and can handle our big problems, our dreams, our desires. God listens and answers in His way, in His timing.

2) Strategize and write your revelation and plans on paper. Make them succinct enough that you (or anyone else) can understand them. I would encourage you to post them in your home so that you can refer to them often.

3) Be patient, work, and wait as God continues to work in your life on you and making your revelations come to fruition. God’s timing is perfect. He is never too early and never too late.

May Habakkuk’s story inspire us to start a revolution of New Year’s Revelations.

Happy New Year, friend. The best is yet to come.

Reflect:

What revelation is God revealing to you?

Reprinted from the Charleston Mercury  “Carolina Compass” Paperzine, January 2017 edition.

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