a Christian

bringing God to the forefront of our daily lives.

Christmas Uncluttered

Every Christmas I try to get creative and think of something meaningful for my family to do. One year, we participated in random acts of kindness by doing things like purchasing a cup of coffee or something special for a friend, or by paying for the person behind us in the fast food drive-through. Another year, we read a book called The Christmas Jar and have been saving change to give to someone in need (I’ve been told that we’re using too big of a jar because it’s taking so long to fill it!). We will get that one done one of these days…Each year is lots of fun and keeps the Christmas season exciting!

That brings me to this year’s meaningful Christmas activity. I decided (just yesterday because that’s how I roll with them) that our family was going to unclutter our lives and embrace the power of giving rather than receiving as we create more room to wait, hope, expect, and prepare ourselves for the birth of Jesus.

This year (starting today), we are giving items (clothes, shoes, toys, etc.) away each day through Christmas Day. For example, December 1, each person will give away one item, December 2, each person will give away two items, and so on. Christmas Day, each of us will give away 25 items. Of course, my husband (the math guy), asks where we will put all of this stuff. “Minor detail” I tell him. Although, his question peaked my curiosity to figure out how many items that would be by Christmas Day. Don’t tell my kids but each of us will have given away 325 items by Christmas Day! And with a family if five, that is 1,625 items that we will have given to someone in need and in turn uncluttered Christmas!

I hope you will join us on our journey to a Christmas Uncluttered. My “give away” box is in the kitchen and already collecting items. It’s going to be so exciting to see what each person chooses to give away each day!

I will keep you posted.

Merry Christmas! Paige

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40 Days to Easter

A NEW 40 Day Challenge for this season of Lent!

I treasure the season of Lent. Not only does it remind me of my Louisiana roots and the traditions of Mardis Gras, it provides for me a time of preparation for the death, burial and resurrection of Christ, a season of spiritual growth, and an opportunity to press into God’s presence and experience Him like never before. Jesus spent 40 days in the wilderness fasting and praying which marked a critical chapter in his life. He was fully tested, but this experience set the stage for his greatest victories over the enemy.

Accept this 40 Day Challenge with me, Margaret Feinberg, and Catalyst leaders to read through the entire New Testament in 40 days to experience some of the most life-giving, perspective-changing, hope-filled days of the entire year!

The New Testament contains 260 chapters. That means reading the it in 40 days requires reading about 7 chapters per day. And if you’re running errands, working in the garage, or have a daily commute, you can listen to an audio version of the Bible (e.g., download Biblegateway or YouVersion on your smartphone). About 30 minutes a day for forty days – and you’ll journey through the entire New Testament. It may sound like a lot to you. But I am confident you can do this as last year many of us read the entire Bible, cover to cover, in 90 days!

“I believe that during these 40 days God wants to speak to you through Scripture. He has words that are written just for your heart, just for this time, and just for what’s coming around the corner.” says Margaret Feinberg, popular author, Bible teacher and speaker at churches and leading conferences.

Click here to download the free Lent 2014: 40 Day Bible Reading Guide. For more information/details about the 40 Day Challenge, visit Margaret’s website.

Some friends are going to join us in this so tweet your progress and experiences with #LentChallenge. You can also check back here with me each Wednesday for blog updates and post your own comments on how God is working in and through you.

I pray that Christ will meet us, reveal Himself to us, and surprise us as we enter this Lenten season with a hunger for Him and lean in to hear His voice more clearly.

Prayerfully, Paige

Empty Your Cup

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” Galatians 6:9

I was talking with a friend the other day about doing something special for a co-worker. As we talked, I was reminded of a session at a recent event given by North Point Community Church Lead Pastor, Andy Stanley. He called it, “Do for one, what you wish you could do for everyone,” because doing for no one what you wish you could do for everyone is detrimental to ministry.

Have you turned on the news lately? It’s easy to get overwhelmed with so much need in the world. And as Christians we feel called to help. Between being overwhelmed and the busyness of life that gets in our way, we find ourselves falling into two extremes: burnout – we’re so busy doing everything for everyone we are spread too thin, or checkout – we shut it all out and do nothing for no one. Burnout tends to leave us bitter and checkout tends leave us cynical.

Sometimes we try to be fair and do a little here and there for many. Never be fair. It’s about doing the right thing. God wasn’t fair. Life isn’t fair. Fair isn’t a fruit of the Spirit. Don’t be fair, be engaged!

The Apostle Paul’s letter, written to a group of Christians in Galatians 6:9, talks about how he understands the weariness that comes with caring. Don’t disengage. We can’t be overwhelmed, do it the easy way, or we will miss the opportunity or time God has given us to do something for someone. Over time there is a payoff.

Andy Stanley states:
* go deep rather than wide
* long-term rather than short-term
* go time and not just money

The beauty of “doing for one” will allow you to be engaged rather than disengaged. And when you do for one, you will often do for more than one.

It may not change the world but it will change someone’s world!

I pray you will empty your cup with your one.

Blessings,
Paige

Congratulations!

You have completed the 40 Day Prayer Challenge from Mark Batterson’s book, Draw the Circle! I hope this daily devotion over the last 40 days has been helpful to get you into the habit of prayer. More importantly, I hope you are developing a relationship with our awesome God as this is the beginning of a lifetime of watching God at work in your life.

I speak from personal experience when I say, He will answer your prayers! Never give up. Never stop praying as you may only be one day away from your dream, or miracle. Our God is an amazing and mighty God who can and will do more than we could ever ask or imagine.

100% of the prayers you don’t pray won’t get answered. -Mark Batterson

Keep circling!

Prayerfully, Paige

Day 40 Prayer Alphabet

“Lord, teach us to pray.” Luke 11:1

Have you ever prayed with someone who prayed with such familiarity and authority with God that it made you feel like you barely knew God? I wonder if that’s how the disciples felt every time they heard Jesus pray? I wonder if that’s why they asked him to teach them to pray? They clearly didn’t ask Jesus to teach them to preach, lead, or even disciple. The only asked him to teach them to pray.

Based on my own experiences through prayer, I concur with Mark Batterson when he states, “If we change the way we pray, everything changes. It changes the way we work, the way we parent, the way we lead. It changes the way we prioritize and strategize. It changes the way we think, the way we feel, and the way we speak. Prayer changes everything from the inside out.

“The word prayer often induces feelings of guilt simply because we don’t do enough of it or because we feel inept when we don’t know what to say. For the record, I’ve never met anyone who felt that they pray too much or too effectively! All of us fall short. But instead of feelings of guilt, the thought of prayer should induce unbridled excitement because nothing is more potent than kneeling before God Almighty.

“While my prayer batting average is no better than anyone else’s, I’m determined to get back into the batter’s box because I can’t get a hit if I don’t take a swing. And if I swing enough times, I’ll hit a few homers and accumulate a lot of RBIs. So quit worrying about striking out, and swing for the fences!

“Don’t beat yourself up over past failures or present struggles. Simply do what the disciples did. Ask Jesus to help you, to teach you. Let their simple request become your modus operandi: ‘Lord, teach us to pray.’

“It doesn’t matter how much you know. Do you have a teachable heart? Are you hungry to learn? Are you open to change? Wisdom is knowing how much you don’t know. So you have to start there and ask God to teach you.”

Have you ever gotten to a point where you were praying the same words over and over? Or maybe your worship time felt small or cliched? The lyrics on the screens were like greeting cards? When this happens, we start saying words that someone else wrote but never expressing love to God in our own words. This kind of relationship with God isn’t enough. We must find new ways to worship; our own words to sing. God wants to hear our voices, our words, and our praise.

Batterson writes about, “the story about the grandfather who walked by his granddaughter’s bedroom one night and overheard her praying the alphabet, literally. ‘Dear God, a, b, c, d, e, f, g.’ She prayed all the way to ‘z’ and said, ‘Amen.’ The grandfather said, ‘Sweetie, why were you praying that way?’ The granddaughter replied, ‘I didn’t know what to say so I figured I’d let God put the letters together however He saw fit.’

“Sometimes I feel that way too. I have no idea what to say when I pray. And that’s OK. The first objective of prayer is prayer about what to pray about. Prayer isn’t about outlining our agenda to God; it’s about getting into God’s presence and getting God’s agenda for us.

“If you don’t know where to start, or if you get stuck, go back to the Bible. Start reading, and God will start speaking. That’s when you need to stop reading and start praying. Words, phrases, or verses will jump off the page and into your spirit. You need to circle them in prayer. And don’t be in such a hurry to get through the Bible that you don’t get the Bible through you.

“Prayer is the difference between appointments and divine appointments. Prayer is the difference between good ideas and God-ideas. Prayer is the difference between the favor of God and the luck of the draw. Prayer is the difference between possible and impossible.

Prayer is the different between the best we can do and the best God can do. -Mark Batterson

Begin where you are!

Prayerfully, Paige

Day 39 Holy Ground

“Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground.” Exodus 3:5

I just watched the first episode of “The Bible” mini-series today. How perfect God’s timing is, yet again, to see Moses’ life-story and then be reminded of it in today’s devotion from Mark Batterson’s Draw the Circle

“Tending sheep.

“Can you imagine a more monotonous existence? And Moses did it for forty years. He must have felt that God had put him out to pasture. He once dreamed of delivering the people of Israel out of captivity, but that dream died when he killed an Egyptian taskmaster and fled the country as a fugitive. Moses spent the next forty years in spiritual exile on the backside of the desert.

“Then God appeared to him in a burning bush.

“I have a feeling that Moses got up that morning, put on his sandals, and picked up his staff, figuring it would be an ordinary day just like the day before, and the day before the day before, and the day before that. But you never know when or where or how God will invade the routine of your life.

“Jewish scholars used to debate why God appeared to Moses in a burning bush. A thunderclap or lightening bolt would have been more impressive. And why the far side of the desert? Why not the palace or a pyramid in Egypt?

“They concluded that God appeared to Moses in a burning bush for one simple reason: to show that no place is devoid of God’s presence, not even a bush on the backside of the desert. So they gave God a name I’ve learned to love: The Place. God is here, there and everywhere. So it doesn’t matter where you are; God can meet you anywhere.

“There are two moments in Scripture when God gives the same curious command: take off your sandals. The first one happens on the backside of the desert with Moses before God delivers Israel out of Egypt. The second one happens just before God delivers Jericho to Joshua. As Moses’ assistant, Joshua had heard the story of the burning bush a thousand times. But no one can live off someone else’s experience, someone else’s story. We need our own epiphany, our own testimony.

“So why did God ask them to take off their sandals?

“I think it was an act of humility, an act of worship. It was a way of acknowledging absolute dependence on God. It was a way of removing any obstacle that could get in the way of God and Moses, God and Joshua.

“One last observation, because sometimes the obvious eludes us. The holy ground wasn’t the Promised Land. It was right where Moses was standing. Don’t wait to worship God until you get to the Promised Land; you’ve got to worship along the way.

“This is holy ground. This is a holy moment.

“Right here. Right now.

“Take off your sandals.”

The purpose of prayer is not to give orders to God; the purpose is to get orders from God. -Mark Batterson

Are your sandals off?

Prayerfully, Paige

Day 38 Climb the Watchtower

“I will climb up to my watchtower and stand at my guardpost.” Habakkuk 2:1

In Mark Batterson’s Draw the Circle, he writes, “Watchtowers served a variety of purposes in ancient culture – as built-in defense systems in the walls of ancient cities, as built-in pastures so shepherds could protect their flocks from wild animals, and as built-in vineyards for protection form thieves. Watchmen would climb into their watchtower, station themselves at their guardpost, and scan the horizon for enemy armies or trading caravans. The watchmen were the first to see, and they saw the farthest. So it is with those who pray. Intercessors are watchmen and watchwomen. They see sooner and see farther in the spiritual realm. Why? Because prayer gives us a unique vantage point.

“I wonder if that’s how Elijah felt as he prayed for rain on top of Mount Carmel (1 Kings 18:42). God has just answered an impossible prayer on that very mountain. Elijah defeated the 450 prophets (1 Kings 18:16-39) of Baal in a sudden-death showdown on Mount Carmel. The God who sent fire can certainly send rain, right? That miracle gave Elijah the faith he needed to pray hard. And that is one of the by-products of answered prayer. It gives us the faith to believe God for bigger and better miracles. With each answered prayer, we draw bigger prayer circles. With each act of faithfulness, it increases our faith. With each promise kept, it increases our persistence quotient.

“Geography and spirituality are not unrelated. That’s why the Israelites built memorials in places of spiritual significance. During seasons of repentance, they would often return to those ancient altars to renew their covenant with God.

“I have to believe that David revisited more than once the battlefield where he defeated Goliath. That Abraham made a pilgrimage back to the thicket where God provided a ram. That Peter rowed out to the place on the Sea of Galilee where he walked on water – and it renewed his faith. That Paul built a personal altar on the road to Damascus where God knocked him off his high horse. And that Zacchaeus let his grandkids climb the sycamore-fig tree where he had gotten his first glimpse of Jesus.

“Where we pray is not insignificant. The Israelites pitched the tent of meeting outside the camp for a reason. Jesus prayed on mountains, by water, and in gardens for a reason. We need to find a place where we are free from distraction, where we get good reception, where we can focus, and where our faith is strong.”

As mentioned in previous posts, there is nothing magical about circling something in prayer, whether literal or figurative, but there is something biblical about it. There are times when we have to mark God’s territory; to take a step of faith and pray a perimeter around a promise that God has put in our heart.

Going back to places of spiritual significance can help us find our way forward again. -Mark Batterson

Do you have a place to pray?

Prayerfully, Paige

Day 37 Prayer Contracts

“Whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven.” Matthew 18:18

Mark Batterson’s Draw the Circle states, “The word bind has a legal connotation. It means ‘to place a contract on something.’ This is precisely what happens when we pray in the will of God. Our prayers place a contract in the spiritual realm.”

As previously emphasized (see post Day 31 Spell it Out), the purpose of prayer is not to get what you want; the goal of prayer is to discern what God wants, what God wills. But if your prayer is in the will of God, then it is backed by the full authority of the King and His kingdom.

“A.W. Tozer wrote, ‘What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.’ So let me ask the question: When you think about God, what images come to your mind? For most people, I suspect the dominant image is Jesus hanging on a cross. That gruesome cross is the most beautiful picture of what true love looks like. But let me make and observation that may sound a bit sacrilegious. You aren’t praying to a God who is hanging on a cross; Jesus is seated on the throne, and the earth is His footstool. All authority is His. And if you are His, then His authority is yours.

“We grossly underestimate the authority that is ours because we are children of God. And we desperately need a vision like the one Isaiah had (Isaiah 6), who saw the Lord high and lifted up.

“I think Tozer was right when he stated that a low view of God is the cause of a hundred lesser evils and a high view of God is the solution to ten thousand problems. Our biggest problem is our small view of God. God is so much bigger than our biggest problems (see post Day 8 One God-Idea). God is so much better than our best thoughts. He is infinitely wiser and more gracious and powerful than anything we can imagine.”

When we dream big, pray hard and think long, God pushes our limits and stretches our faith. And we steward the miracle by believing God for even bigger and better miracles.

“We tend to view the goal as the goal, but in God’s economy, the process is the goal. It’s not about what we’re doing at all; it’s about who we’re becoming in the process. It’s not about doing great things for God; it’s about God doing great things in us.

“After explaining the binding nature of our prayers, Jesus explains the power of prayer circles. If two of you agree (Matthew 18:19-20) on earth about anything that they may ask, it shall be done for them by My Father who is in heaven. For where two or more have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst.

“The word bind means ‘to tie together.’ It’s the same word used to describe marriage vows. Just as the two become one flesh, when we agree in prayer, the two become one spirit.

“Something powerful happens when we agree in prayer. Our faith isn’t just added together; it’s multiplied. If we are praying in the will of God and for the glory of God, then agreeing with someone in prayer is like getting our prayer contract notarized.

“Finally, the word bind means ‘to chain.’ There are more than 3,000 promises in Scripture, and according to the apostle Paul, all of them ‘are yes in Christ’ (2 Corinthians 1:20). Our most powerful prayers are chained to the promises of God. Don’t just pray your words all the time; pray the Word of God because His word does not return to Him empty (Isaiah 55:11).

“Chain it to your mind through memorization. Chain it to your heart through meditation. Chain it to your past, present, and future through prayer.”

Agreeing with someone in prayer is like getting your prayer notarized. -Mark Batterson

Are you bound in prayer?

Prayerfully, Paige

Day 36 Senior Partner

“Store up for yourselves treasures in heaven.” Matthew 6:20

Guess what? No matter how hard we try, we cannot outgive God.

We are introduced, in today’s devotion, to a friend of Mark Batterson’s named Stanley Tam. Stanley is the founder of the United States Plastic Corporation. More than half century ago, he made a decision to make God his Senior Partner and gave his business over to God believing that God would bless his business, as he wanted to honor God from the start. Feeling convicted, Stanley transferred every share of company stock to his Senior Partner and became a salaried employee of the company he had started. Since that day, he has given away more than $120 million.

During a memorable meal between Mark and Stanley, Mark was blessed with a lifetime of wisdom. He says, “Stanley discovered the key that unlocks the joy of generosity: what we keep we ultimately lose; what we give away we ultimately get back. So Stanley said, ‘I just send it ahead by giving it away.’ Stanley also puts it, ‘A man can eat only one meal at a time, wear only one suit of clothes at a time, drive only one car at a time. All this I have. Isn’t that enough?’

The same God who helped Stanley is the same God who can accomplish the plans and purposes He has put in your heart. As Mark says so well, “If it’s God-ordained, it’s inevitable.

“Few things are as inspiring as seeing childlike faith in a very old person. That’s Stanley Tam. He is the youngest oldest person I know. He simply takes God at His word. And when we take God at His word, God stands by His word.

“One of the biggest mistakes we make in reading history, whether biblical history or history in general, is thinking that those who lived before us were different from us. They weren’t. If God did it for them, He can do it for us. And if we do what they did in the Bible, I’m convinced that God will do what He did. Nothing has changed. God wants to renew His deeds in our day. But we need to pray the price. Leonard Ravenhill put it this way: ‘One of these days some simple soul will pick up the Book of God, read it, and believe it. Then the rest of us will be embarrassed. We have adopted the convenient theory that the Bible is a Book to be explained, whereas first and foremost it is a Book to be believed (and after that to be obeyed).’

“The greatest legacy a person can leave is a complete surrender of their life to the lordship of Jesus Christ. If we don’t hold out on God, God won’t hold out on us. Take God at His promise as expressed by the psalmist: ‘No good thing (Psalm 84:11) does He withhold from those who walk uprightly.’ And these good things will pass from generation to generation and become great things. God will answer our prayers in the lives of offspring we won’t meet until the Father’s family reunion at the marriage supper of the Lamb. But every prayer we pray, every gift we give, every sacrifice we make, and every step of faith we take is an inheritance left to the next generation. And our prayers live on, long after we die, in their lives.”

What we keep we ultimately lose; what we give away we ultimately get back. -Mark Batterson

Are you leaving an inheritance?

Prayerfully, Paige

Day 35 The Longest Lever

“Do not despise these small beginnings.” Zechariah 4:10

A friend recently came to me saying that she’s been praying during our 40 Day Prayer Challenge but things don’t seem to be getting much better. I know it’s hard to pray and wait on God (see post Day 23 Not Now) but small beginnings is where we must start. And if we continue to pray like the members of the early church (Acts 2), Pentecost can happen anytime, anyplace!

Mark Batterson reminds us of the value of small beginnings, “In Zechariah 4, the Jewish remnant who returned to Israel are getting ready to rebuild the temple. It is an overwhelming undertaking. But the Lord encourages them with these words: ‘Do not despise (Zechariah 4:10) these small beginnings, for the LORD rejoices to see the work begin, to see the plumb line in Zerubbabel’s land.’

“The plumb line was an ancient measuring tape. All they had done at this point was measure! That’s it. But God was already rejoicing over them. Like a parent that celebrates a baby’s first step, our heavenly Father rejoices when we take the smallest of steps in the right direction. And those small steps become giant leaps in God’s kingdom. If we do little things, God will do the big things. But we have to do the little things like they are big things.

“We cannot worry about what we cannot do; we have to simply do what we can. We have to be exceptional in the ordinary things. And if we do the ordinary, God will add an extra to it.

“Prayer is our plumb line. It’s also the true measure of a person. No one is greater than their prayer life. Our potential is directly proportional to our prayer life. It is the single greatest indicator of our success in any endeavor.

“Archimedes of Syracuse is famous for his quip, ‘Give me a place to stand on, and I will move the earth.’ He was referencing the lever, one of six simple machines identified by Renaissance scientists. A lever amplifies the input force to provide a greater output force. Simply put, the longer the lever, the greater the leverage.

“Let me borrow a simple statement and substitute one word: Give me a place to kneel on, and I will move the earth. In the kingdom of God, humility equals authority. Call it bold humility or humble boldness. That is our lever. If we try to exalt ourselves, God will find a way to humble us. But if we humble ourselves, God will find a way to exalt us. There is no leverage like kneeling in prayer. If we hit our knees in humble prayer, God will extend His mighty hand on our behalf. He will leverage us in ways that are humanly impossible.

“Humility is how we get out of the way of what God wants to do. And if we stay out of God’s way, then there is nothing God cannot do in us and through us.

“There is nothing magical about kneeling, but there is something biblical about it. Posturing our bodies helps us posture our hearts. Bowing our hearts in reverence before God is what really matters.”

If we do the ordinary, God will add an extra to it. -Mark Batterson

Is daily prayer your plumb line?

Prayerfully, Paige

 

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