Sunday, September 28, 2014

PRAYING WITH MY PEN! Journaling Your Way to Spiritual Growth

About eight years ago I came across a poem written and submitted by my brother to a hometown church's 136th anniversary celebration program committee.  It accompanied our family's well wishes as several members received early spiritual training there.  It was simply entitled, Praying With My Pen. **  Here are a couple stanzas:

Some go to God on bend'ed knee;
     Others might sit or stand;
But when I have an urgent prayer,
     I take my pen in hand.

Some begin with words of thanksgiving
   Or confession of a particular sin;
     But I don't fuss over sequence
 When I'm praying with my pen. 
                           -Alfred L. Harris, Sr.

This describes so vividly the sentiments of my own heart, for I too pray with my pen using the often neglected spiritual discipline of journal writing.  

I can't tell you how many times I've heard sincere but misguided Christians say, I just don't know how to pray.  As if  there is some profound mystery to it all.  It's not!  Praying is simply talking to God and if you can talk you can pray!  Let me re-phrase that...even if you can't talk you can pray!  You can think a prayer!  You can sing a prayer!  You can even moan a prayer  because we have a Helper! (Romans 8:26)

For all you bible snobs out there, there's no particular verse I can point you to that commands you to journal.  I don't think it's mentioned anywhere in the bible!  It's just one of the wonderful gifts of communication God gives that allows us the freedom to share our heart concerns and requests with Him.  It takes no training.  It has no rules.  It can be done as often or infrequent as you like.  You can write as  much or as little as you want and the cost is virtually free.

Let me share with you from my own twenty plus years of experience, some of its value:

1.  Journaling has health benefits for your entire being (body, soul, and spirit).  It is not only a  wonderful stress reliever (instead of punching out that annoying co-worker, tell it to the Lord in your journal); but it also lessens or helps you manage emotional depression.

 Anger raises the blood pressure, releases harmful toxins into the body and contributes to all kinds of illnesses.  Besides that  it saddens the Lord and stifles our spiritual growth (Ephes. 4:26-30; I Thess. 5:19; Gal. 5:19-22).

 Recording life events and how you handled them spiritually is a great way to stay accountable and measure your progress in sanctification (becoming more like Christ).

2.  Journaling helps you see where and how God is working in your life.  From time to time when my faith gets weak or I think God has left me stranded in my trials, I go back and read old journal entries.  I re-read my prayer requests (what I asked for and the date God answered!) I revisit, briefly the highs and lows of the past months, sometimes years and I see clearly in my past what I'm unable to see in the present...God is constantly working in my behalf!

3. Journaling helps you leave a spiritual legacy for loved ones when you're gone.  (Deut. 6:4-7; 2 Timothy 1:5)  There are some things my children and grandchildren will never know about me and my life until they read my journal!  In fact, I write with that very intent.

 As I share my faith walk with God and the reality of my struggles, all pretense has been wiped away.  They will read of my prayers for them, the joy they have brought me and even the pain endured, but they will not miss  my unconditional love for them and that it was God who got me through it all.  

Here's how to start:

  •  If you're old school like me,  I suggest a plain loose leaf notebook with wide lines so as not to restrict your writing.  Bookstore journals and bible devotional journals generally have a different purpose altogether--to help you meditate on specific passages of scripture.   For my high tech readers, I'm sure there's a journal app or someplace to record notes on your IPad,  Galaxy, Smart Phone, etc. 
  • Find a good pen (one that fits your hand comfortably--not too heavy or cumbersome) and used specifically for this purpose.  Keep it nearby to prevent procrastination which will surely happen until you become disciplined.
  • Journal about anything you like: a thought from the pastor's sermon,  a word of encouragement you received from your devotional and scripture reading.  Questions you have about the bible, prayer requests and answers, praises, your dreams, goals, or simply how your day went.  Just keep writing! 

Your life story is rich, filled with adventure, drama, and romance!  Why not share it with the Lord and take advantage of  the benefit of of self-evaluation and appreciation for how far the Lord is taking you.  Try journaling to revive your prayer life....You just might like it!

Until next time!

**Praying With My Pen, is from a collection of original poems by Alfred Harris, Sr. entitled "Scarecrows in the Vineyard" (copyright 2005)

Sunday, September 21, 2014


I just read a little book by Andy Stanley.  I mean less than a hundred pages entitled, Since Nobody is Perfect, How Good is Good Enough?  It really started  me to thinking about one of the biggest worries weighing on some
Christians' mind, Eternal Security!  With so many different philosophies and religions to choose from, most that conflict with each other, how can one be sure they've chosen the right one?  Makes you wonder if our best option isn't to be as good as you can and hope for the best!

But the title of the book begs this question:  Just how good is good enough?  I've tried a few strategies of my own, none that have proven very successful, but at least I tried.  Like keeping the Ten Command-
ments (Exodus 20: 3-17). 

 I thought that would be a good place to start, since that's what every Sunday School teacher, I've ever had since childhood assured me would probably do the trick.  But I didn't even get past the first one, Thou shalt have no other gods before me.  It wasn't until I dug a little deeper in the scriptures that I found out that an idol is more than a wooden or stone object one bows down to and worships, but could be something as simple as thinking it okay to skip church and bible study for a few weeks to work overtime for a new bedroom suite I saw at Kittle's!  What a disappointment to read Colossians 3:5 and find out that anything inciting earthly desires or greed and comes before God is also idolatry.

I tried this one too:  Let your conscience be your guide! Another flop for me.  I was doing pretty good for awhile, my mom and others really did a job on me, piling on the guilt whenever I did something wrong.  But then I found out that you really can ignore your gut...or that little voice in your head, if you really want to!  All it takes is a little practice and before you know it you hardly hear it at all.  For Christians, our conscience is activated by the Holy Spirit, but it is possible for us to quench His power and effect in our lives (I Thess. 5:19)

Who could find fault in this last one!  Doing good deeds!  I mean people are helped and you get brownie points from almost everyone once they find out about it!  It also helps with the guilty conscience we talked about above, because to some people ways of thinking if you do enough good things you can actually wipe out all the bad stuff you said or did in the past!  Sorry, this won't get you in the kingdom either!  So just what does it take to know for sure you're going to heaven when you die?  YOUR FAITH IN JESUS!

*You'll never be good enough (Romans 3:10-12; Psalms 14:3; Mark 10:18)
*Any good deeds or acts you perform count for nothing (Isaiah 64:6; Ephes. 2:9)
* The law was never meant to save us but to teach us that we are sinners!(Galatians 3:23-25)

Only by admitting that you are a sinner - NEED
Realizing that Christ is the only sure - WAY
Surrendering your will for His - ACCEPT
Live daily by grace will you get- ASSURANCE


(Hope I see you there!)

Sunday, September 14, 2014

BECOMING A KINGDOM WOMAN, Part 6, Your Potential!

With God...Unlimited Possibilities!  This has long been my mantra for achieving life dreams.  Even when I dare not express them out loud fearing ridicule or when some insensitive dream crusher takes great pains to let me know such is out of the realm of possibility, I never stop believing that God can use me.

How wonderful to know that God does use ordinary women like you and me to achieve great things in the world!  It brings to mind 2 Timothy 2:20-21, But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver, but also of wood  and clay, some for honor and some for dishonor. Therefore if anyone cleanses himself from the latter, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified and useful for the Master, prepared for every good work.  As Kingdom Women, we all started out as shapeless, dirty globs of clay but now we are chosen vessels ready to be used by God!

Chrystal Evans Hurst ended this powerful study with a story of three ordinary women in the bible. They not
only share the qualities we discussed in past Kingdom Woman, lessons but they also share a very common name, Mary!  One was a young peasant girl selected from all humankind to become the mother of Jesus, our Savior.  Another was the quiet but introspective sister of Lazarus, good friend to our Lord as an adult.  And the last one was a female disciple who didn't let her past experiences, gender or low status in society keep her from serving right alongside the other twelve.

So what can these ancient sisters tell us about unlocking potential in the 21st century?  You'd be surprised.  

Don't let the first Mary's meekness fool you.  Meekness is not weakness!  Yes, she was young, but she was also courageous.  A child out of wedlock was a death sentence in her day (Deut. 22:13-21).  Yet she accepted her divine assignment with determination and total confidence in God.  This  is so unlike the counsel of top life coaches of our day.  Many will tell you to put your confidence in your skills and abilities. Assert yourself against the competition when opportunities arise. Never leave an interview with unanswered questions, in fact come prepared to ask some of your own!  Mary's potential for greatness was not in an impressive resume but in a humble demeanor and quiet confidence in God! (Isaiah 30:15b)

Mary of Bethany, the second Mary had two qualities that are essential for a Kingdom Woman's success:   Scripture discernment and the ability to set priorities. Even under the scrutiny and criticism of close relations, Mary chose that which was important, availing herself of the Word of God before setting about daily affairs. How many hours have you sat in so-called success seminars; career workshops, and when possible at the feet of perceived gurus hoping to be mentored to power and acclaim!  All at the expense of personal time with the Lord; praying and reading His word!  Mary never ceased marveling at the Words of Christ.  Two thousand years later Christ is still honoring her decision.

Many miss just how radical Jesus was for His time until you take a close look at His relationship with Mary Magdalene.  She was in my eyes, a fully formed Kingdom Woman! In the vernacular of today, she was FIERCE!  She had her own money, in fact, a woman of means as she traveled with and supported the ministry of  Christ (Luke 8:3).  She was a leader among the women, her name being mentioned first whenever female followers are named (Luke 8:2-3; Matt. 27:56, 61, 28:1).  And while most of the disciples hid away in fright she was a faithful witness of the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ. In  fact it was she, whom Christ chose to first to reveal Himself!  Mary was a servant above all else! How great is that! Wasn't it Christ who said, whoever is great among you shall be your servant (Mark 10:43).   Mary always showed up to serve and so should we!

Yes, our Kingdom woman study has ended but our influence, power, and reign will continue through our legacy.  Just remember what the three Mary's taught us, like a Chosen Vessel:

1.  Be Clean  (Holy and acceptable to God)
2.  Be Empty (Humbly receiving His Word)
3.  Be Available (Hands open for service)

Until we meet again!


Sunday, September 7, 2014


Legacy, an inheritance, a gift bequeathed to others after a person's death. 

There's an old adage that says, behind every great man there's a great woman. I know that's meant to be a complement, but quite honestly, I'm not buying it! Great women do not stand behind great men.  They stand on the shoulders of other great women!  And talking about great women...Tony Evans' family sure has a boat load.  But if you look close enough you'll find some in your family too!

In week five's session, our study groups heard from First Lady, author, mother, and grandmother Dr. Lois Evans.  She is the wife of Dr. Tony Evans and proud mother of Chrystal Evans Hurst the co-author of Kingdom Woman. She began with a poignant recollection of her mother and grandmother, great women in her life and encouraged us all to look deeply within ourselves to find that same greatness to pass on to others!

What an inspirational message!  But wait a minute...did she really say there was greatness in me?  Indeed she did because this greatness originated not in degrees, accomplishments or the accolades of man, not on circumstances but in a relationship!    If you know Christ as Lord...You have an arranged, authorized, accrued, legal, literal, unconditional, everlasting, eternal official relationship with Greatness!  You're already a Kingdom Woman!  Christ's death bought it all for us.  Our task is simply becoming more of who we already are positionally (Ephesians 2:10; I Peter 2:5; Galatians 3:26-29).

Take a look at this wonderful affirmation:


Having a little trouble wearing that Kingdom crown?  Encourage yourself with the blessings of Deuteronomy 28:1-10.  You will find that fruitfulness and bountifulness is yours! Your enemies will be defeated and honor and respect for you will not be denied.  There's but one condition...You must listen to and obey God's commands carefully.  Trusting Him in total surrender!  Not a bad deal is it?

Here's the point:  When we die we're going to leave some kind of a legacy!  Will it be heartache, turmoil, financial debts, some generational curse OR will it be faith, compassion, gratitude and perseverance?  The choice is entirely up to you! (Prov. 13:22a)

Leaving a Legacy is simply this:  To live today with Tomorrow in Mind! (From the book, Resolution for Women, by Priscilla Shirer)