PRAYER AND PRAISE

By Lori Willard

If a family member answered the phone and they discovered the person on the other end of the line was Billy Graham, and he was calling for you, would you drop everything to speak with him?  Well…The Lord of the Universe – The King of Kings – is calling for you to exchange words with you.  Will you answer His call?

31 Days of Prayer and 31 Days of Praise by Ruth and Warren Myers have influenced my times of prayer and praise over the past few months.  The prayers and praises are broken down into daily times with God based on the scriptures that guide you.  In the books, they record Bible passages so you can rewrite the prayers if you choose to do so.  A few thoughts from their books have given me new insights or have reinforced ideas already known.  I have modified some of those thoughts to share from my perspective.

The Word and prayer keeps us connected to God – then links our lives with God’s purposes and power.  The Word and prayer bring us into a loving relationship with God.  We also realize through this relationship, how much we need Him so we prayerfully choose to depend on Him.

Praying for others – intercession – moves us from “give me” prayers to partnering with God on others’ behalf.  Philippians 4:6 says that He desires to hear our needs, but wants us to move beyond those prayers.  The Lord’s Prayer has 7 petitions – 6 of them focus on God’s purposes and our spiritual needs – 1 focuses on our practical needs.  God wants us to grow in prayer as we continue to commune with Him.

There are all kinds of prayer, for example:  praise, thanksgiving, confessing our sins, quiet communion, our needs, loved ones and others.  However, God desires us to partner with Him in our prayers.  What does God want me to pray about?  Jesus prays for us in John 17 and Hebrews 7:25.  The Holy Spirit helps us in prayer according to Romans 8:26.  How awesome to join His inner circle of prayer with Him!

Praise and Thanksgiving helps us rise above our self-centeredness to a God-centeredness.  It focuses our hearts and minds on the Lord and makes us more dependent on Him.  God gives us joy, spiritual vigor and an overcoming attitude as we focus on Him.

Praises allows the Lord to turn grief, distresses, and struggles into peace.  Praise during times of blessings and during times of trials enables us to “rise above” because we know that the Lord has promised never to leave us or forsake us – Hebrews 13:5; so we can say, along with David, “I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth.” NKJV

God chooses to use prayer, praise, reading His Word, Bible study, and fellowship with true believers, etc. all to bring us closer to Him.  May we not neglect the most important details of our relationship with Him but instead – PRESS ON, PRAY ON!

Philippians 3:13-16 “Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead,  I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.  Therefore let us, as many as are mature, have this mind; and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal even this to you.  Nevertheless, to the degree that we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us be of the same mind.” NKJV

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The Important Thing!

By Jonni Sliver

We celebrated Mother’s Day last month. Lovely images came to mind – a precious little girl bringing flowers to her mom, a little boy proudly presenting burnt toast to mom for breakfast, the acrid but delightful love offering! But I am long past a precious little girl and it is five years since my mother received her reward; I’ve never had children of my own so I guess Mother’s Day doesn’t have much to do with me. Right? Wrong!

I received a gift that not everyone gets. As an adult I got to live with my mother. For five years mom and I lived in a two bedroom apartment and did just about everything together, from cooking to cleaning to putting together massive jigsaw puzzles (credit where it’s due, mom probably did 70% of them) and telling really silly stories (we were both pretty  good at that!). I got to know my mom as my friend and five years after her passing I still am blessed every day because of what I learned from my mom.

I learned about priorities. Mom didn’t answer the phone or the door for the first hour or so after she woke up (that was o.k., the people who knew her knew not to call then anyways). That was because she had her quiet time, right in her bed, before her feet touched the floor. She had her Daily Bread, her study Bible and a Bible encyclopedia all on the table by her bed. She would begin her devotional but it would quickly become a study as she looked up a city she didn’t know, or a practice she wasn’t familiar with in the encyclopedia. She would separate the verses that touched her heart and look up all of the cross references and then she would share them with me at dinner that night. And then she would pray. She prayed for her children and grandchildren, she prayed for her church family, she prayed for what she saw on the news last night. She had seen God move, she had seen His faithfulness, and she held on the promises of the Father!

But that first hour or so wasn’t “God’s time” in her day. Mom found moments all through her day to meet with the Father. She was the leader of our church prayer chain, most of the prayer request went out by e-mail, but there was a good size group of ladies who weren’t online. Mom would call them to share the prayer requests, and they would talk. All of the phone chain were a little older (like mom), many were widows, several had hard times getting out of the house. The calls mom made remind each woman that she was still part of the family, she still had a ministry and that she was loved. It only took mom five minutes to send the e-mail prayer requests, it took, sometimes, hours to do the phone chain, but for mom it was time well spent.

When I get so busy with the “important” things that I have to do that I am irritated by drop in visits, I can just about hear my mom reminding me about what really is important. There really isn’t an age limit to learn from your mother!

 

No Planting, No Harvest

  By Esther Hylden

Jesus said, “Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields.  That they are white unto Harvest.”  John 4:35

Without planting, there is no harvest.  Things have been very busy, hectic and sometimes tense here on the Hylden Farm this Spring.   Rain has delayed planting, day after day, week after week.  In a normal year, planting is usually completed by  May 25th.   Today it is June 17th, and planting is still in progress.  Our family income depends on a good harvest… without planting there is no harvest.

That is how it is with Disciple Making isn’t it, no planting means no harvest?  Without faithful parents, Sunday School teachers, VBS workers, godly friends, godparents and Pastors who pass along the Good News of the Gospel…planting… to children, co-workers, friends and neighbors… there is no Harvest.  No joyful meeting again in Heaven, no help for the weary here on this earth.

Jesus said, “Go therefore and make disciples of all Nations.”  Matthew 28:19.  Today, let us go…to our children, to our neighbor, to our co-worker. Let’s do some planting… and then… let’s Harvest!

Planting Wheat near Park River ND

Planting Wheat near Park River ND

Heaven is for Real

By Velma Amundson

We recently watched the movie “Heaven is for Real”. I really enjoyed it. I have to say, I’m no expert on whether or not this little boy “went to heaven and back”. We know that God took Enoch and Elijah directly to heaven, and we know from Revelation that John was given a vision. I’m willing to leave it at that.

What struck me, though, was the title: “Heaven is for Real”. My first thought was “Duh”. I mean, after all, isn’t that what we hope for, what we look forward to? One of my husband’s favorite Bible passages comes from John 14:1-2, “Let not your hearts be troubled, believe in God. Believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so would I have told you I go to prepare a place for you? (ESV). I think of all the songs we sing, “Beyond the Sunset”, “Mansion on a Hilltop”. The first verse of one of my favorite songs, and I have many, says, “This world is not my home, I’m just a passing through. My treasure is laid up somewhere beyond the blue. The angels beckon me from Heaven’s open door and I can’t feel a home in this world anymore.” There are so many songs which tell us of the hope that we have that God has provided a place for us to be with him for all eternity. What a glorious promise and hope to cling to.

I hope that this spate of summer movies featuring religious themes has given you hope and inspiration. I hope that if someone asks you about it you can say, “Yes, of course Heaven is for real, God promised so it must be”. I hope most of all that as we live our lives we remember that hope and cling to our Lord, Jesus Christ, who made it possible for us to hope.

 

His Eye is on the Sparrow

John, Cris and Family-Jonni Silver Web readyBy Jonni Sliver

I come from a long line of worriers. That isn`t one of the qualities I am most proud of, but I see it popping up now and then (with more “now” than I care for.  Those of you not genetically inclined to fretting are probably already saying to yourselves “what’s the point of worrying?” You are right of course, and we know it, with 90% of our brains, it is the 10% that trips us up. Praise the Lord, He loves his daughters, even when we fret, and His has lovely, precious means to remind us that we really don’t need to fret at all. Cris is a good example.

Cris has been living in a house on the Miriam Home/Bible school campus for six months now. She is a precious young mom, born in the Philippines, married to a mighty North Dakotan, John, who happens to be an engineer working on international oil rigs. Through his job he got to know the AFLC churches in Brazil, and he decided to bring Cris (7 months pregnant when they arrived) and their two year old daughter to get to know this lovely country. The only problem was that John is six weeks on the ship and six weeks off. He was here just a short time before he left for his on ship time, because he wanted to come back in time for the birth of his daughter. Cris is a pretty brave young lady, being in a new country, with a language she was just starting to learn and a very active little girl. She fit in wonderfully to our family, and her little Leota won everyone’s hearts.

During the six months John had to do two shifts on the ship, but they were planned so he would be back to take his little family home. The timing was important because not only did Cris and Leota’s visas run out the beginning of June, but Cris had to be back in the U.S. by June 6th or she would lose her green card.  But plans don’t always work the way we want them to. Problems came up on the ship and John’s return kept getting postponed. By the middle of last week it was clear that John wouldn’t be here to accompany Cris and the girls home, but Cris is spunky and wasn’t intimidate.

Then Tuesday came – just two days before Cris and the kiddos were to take off, I received a call from Pr. Silvio, on vacation in the north of Brazil. He remembered that Cris would need authorization to travel outside of Brazil without John. This document required a notarized statement from John, hard to get in the middle of the ocean, and would normally take at least a week to be approved. But, since Cris is living on the campus of the Miriam Home our administrator, Surai, was able to ask for the help of the juvenile court judge. Based on his respect for Surai, and the fact that Cris had copies of every birth certificate back to her great grandma, the document was ready by today, Thursday morning. Four hours later she was in the van, on the way to the airport, with everything she needed in her carry-on bag.

His eye is on the sparrow, on Cris and on me. Why worry?   

Michigan District WMF Retreat

Held April 25-26, 2014

Michigan Retreat 0414--LW--web ready

 

The cold temps did not keep the Michigan women from coming to Lake Ellen Bible Camp near Crystal Falls, Michigan!  They were tucked into cozy rooms and comfy great areas to learn more of “Loving God’s Abundant Life” from John 10:10.

 

Carol Mackey--LW--web ready

 

 

Carol Mackey was the MC and had us giggling despite the recent loss of her mom.  Much reflection took place as we “examined ourselves”, allowed the Lord to do “heart surgery” on us, learned how to study the Bible on our own, shared how the Lord abundantly blesses us as we spend time with Him and learned how we can, in turn, share those blessings with others.

 

One of the participants wrote:
“Thanks so much for all you have shared with us here at Lake Ellen.  It was no accident that I came this weekend.  All you have shared from God’s word and what was on your heart has blessed me and was just what I needed to hear.  God is good!  I am so glad that you and your friends were willing to give of yourselves to encourage and bless me more than you know.  Your love for Jesus and a desire that others do too radiates from within you.  My life was so blessed in a mighty way today.  God bless you as you continue the work for the sake of the Kingdom.”

Another wrote:
“Thank you so much for coming all this way to spend today with us!  What a blessing to be among sisters in the Lord, and be encouraged and challenged.  We are in a rough season of life, and I often find my “tank” dry.  To be in God’s presence without the stressors, spending time drawing strength from His Word is absolutely essential, to be able to go back and face the battle head-on!  God IS good, and it will be HE that brings us through.  Thank you so much!”

And to that we say, “To God be the glory!”

If your ladies’ group desires for a National WMF Board Member or representative to encourage your women in the Word or would like to learn more about WMF, please contact:

Dawn Johnson
WMF Executive Secretary
2991 30TH Ave., Wilson, WI 54027
(715) 772-4454
ctk@wwt.net OR wmf.es@aflc.org

Michigan Retreat Waiting--LW--web ready

Seeing the Redeemer Through the Rain

by Vicki Johnson

Have you ever wondered about those people? You know, the ones who seem to get the blessing all the while they’re complaining and grumbling? I was thinking about this as I was doing housework on a rainy day. The verse from Matthew 5:45 that says,  “…He causes His sun to rise on {the} evil and {the} good, and sends rain on {the} righteous and {the} unrighteous.” Sun and rain, in their seasons are blessings. Some blessings, in various forms, are given to all simply because our good God has prescribed it. But sun and rain out of season can cause grief and pain. So, my thoughts, as they tend to do, wandered and paused on a book from the Old Testament: Job. If it EVER rained torrentially or scorched a person to the bone, it was Job.

Job was described as blameless, upright, fearing God and turning away from evil and the greatest of all the men of the east. What a guy. He had numerous sheep, camels, oxen, and donkeys. A host of servants.  Ten children whom he loved and prayed for continually. And one wife.

This blameless man was chosen to prove that God was worthy to be worshipped, even if all earthly blessings were stripped away. So it began. One by one, all he possessed and loved were taken away, eventually, even his health. Except for his wife.

Mrs. Job has only one thing to say to her hubby and she muffed it. “Do you still hold fast your integrity? Curse God and die!” This woman, the mother of his children, also benefitted from Job’s wealth and prestige as his wife. But she also suffered the loss of her children as well as the rest of their earthly riches. Sun and rain for both.

Integrity is easy to hold on to when life’s good. It’s the testing of integrity that determines how deeply it goes. Though Job struggles to understand why he is suffering at every turn, yet he clings to the one absolute truth that keeps him drawing breath, “As for me, I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last He will take His stand on the earth. Even after my skin is destroyed, yet from my flesh I shall see God;” (Job 19:25-26) Job, because he is a righteous man, came to a point of humility saying, “I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear; But now my eye sees You; therefore I retract, And I repent in dust and ashes.” (Job 42:5-6)

Job’s intense suffering comes to an end. God restores his fortune twice fold. He father’s 10 children: seven boys and three beautiful girls. He lives another 140 years, seeing his sons and grandsons. No mention of a new wife, so Mrs. Job partakes of the restored blessing also. But, where is her proclamation of faith and confession? Her life had its ups and downs; sunshine and rain. But how did she fare in her relationship with the Lord? Her terse comment to her boil-ridden husband is the last we ever hear of her. Truly a sad and faithless epitaph to have on one’s gravestone.

On the other hand, Job’s righteous testimony and tenacious trust in God has stood the test of time and served as a beacon of hope to countless generations.  He understood that the sunshine and rain would cease; his security is founded on neither.  No, Job’s true hope and joy was anchored in the Lord of Life, his Redeemer through the rain.

Done with Chemo party

Written by Esther Hylden

“Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.”
Romans 12:15

 

Carol Hensrud and Maxine Larsonweb ready

 

 

 

 

Bethel Free Lutheran WMF, Grafton, North Dakota, hosted a “Done with Chemo Party” last Thursday for two dear ladies, Carol Hensrud and Maxine Larson.  In the early autumn days of 2013, both were diagnosed with cancer, and faced a long winter filled with chemotherapy.   Their church and WMF friends watched as their faces grew pale, their hair thinned and fatigue became the way that they started every day.  We sent cards, called with words of encouragement, offered rides…but felt helpless as we watched our dear friends struggle with yet another round of chemo.  How many weeks left, we would ask?  Eleven more weeks, nine more weeks…then finally one more week!   At last they were done, and we rejoiced!  However…we wanted them to know just how much we loved them, and how happy we were that their chemo was completed.  So, we decided to “shower them with love” at our May WMF meeting.  The Fellowship Room was decorated with flowers and balloons.   We brought cards and presents…and waited for them to walk through the door.  “Surprise!” we yelled as they entered.  “What is going on here,” they gasped as they looked around.  “We are having a Done with Chemo Party,” we told them.  The room was filled with laughter as they looked around in disbelief.  WMF opened that evening with a rousing chorus of, Count your Blessings, Name them one by One.  We looked at each other as we sang…and know that each was a blessing…and that friendship was a gift.  As we studied God’s Word that night…each verse…each comment…was precious.

Carol Hensrud shared Isaiah 43:2 with us, “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you.  When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.”     “Ladies,” she said, “notice that it says when you pass through the waters…not if.”  “We have all been through hard times, be it chemo, the loss of a loved one, a job, trouble at home…but God is here with us…even in the hard times.”  We nodded our heads in agreement …we had all been through hard times…and yes…God had been with us. We closed with this verse…a benediction…a prayer… “May the God of Hope full you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him.”  Romans 15:13