Monday, November 28, 2016

Masks Removed - How to Reveal the Real You

All of us have things we’re not proud of, imperfections in our physical appearance, or thoughts and ideas that sharply differ from those around us. We’ve made mistakes. We’ve disappointed and hurt others and we’ve been deeply hurt ourselves. God wants to use our past for His glory, yet we’ve boxed up our stories, placing them on a high shelf where they can never be reached.
Let's figure out how to be ourselves and use our testimony for God's glory. It doesn't belong on the high shelf; it should be used as part of our story to reveal the love and power of Jesus Christ.
Cathy's post this week is published as a guest post on the Pen Paper Paint website. Please click here to read more, and while you're there, comment and follow!

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Our Words Matter

What We Say Matters

by guest blogger Ailie Baumann

Anxiety weighs down the heart, but a kind word cheers it up. Proverbs 12:25
Perhaps you’ve heard the old saying sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me. I’ve always found this to be an odd saying. Words do more damage than any physical action. They cut to the heart in one of two ways:
1 With conviction, purpose, destiny, and identity
2 With discouragement, hopelessness, increased fear and anxiety, and worthlessness
Our words have the power to bring life or death; blessings or cursing. We get to choose which one we partner with. A great example of the power of words is creation. When God made the earth, he said Let there be light. God spoke and there was light. That’s power right there.
Our words carry life and light. With our words, we can bring perspective into people’s situations. We are also able to bring people into a space where they can walk in who they have been created to be and the plans God has for them.
By reminding them of God’s goodness, faithfulness, and hope. We use our words to point people to God so they may see life and people from his heavenly perspective. We shift atmospheres with our words.

Being aware of the state of the heart

Before we dive deeper into how our words affect the worlds of the people around us, our relationships, and our hearts, we need to be aware of the state of our own hearts. What is in our hearts will flow out of our mouths:
Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. Proverbs 4:23

As a family, we’ve had some tough times this year and a lot more changes than I’d like. I don’t do well with change although I am trying. I tend to become snappy and irritable because I get anxious about the future. My anxiety filters through into the words that I say and the tone of voice that I use.
During these moments, God is walking close by my side, encouraging me to trust him with my family and our future. I still struggle. I need to guard my heart by hiding in the Lord’s presence and allowing his peace to saturate every part of me. Time with God is the best way to align your heart with his.
From this place of peace, we are able to speak words of life, encouragement, hope, and healing into our own situations and the lives of others. This can get challenging when your spouse or other family members are also struggling with stress, anxiety, fears, etc. This is when your words become even more critical.  With your words, you can either encourage the stress or you can partner with God in bringing peace, restoration, and healing.

Our words affect our disagreements

My beloved came home stressed and frustrated from a challenging day at the office; I was irritable and moody because the kids had been squabbling and shouting at each other non-stop since I picked them up from school.
I heard the snappy comments at the kids and my skin began to crawl. I didn’t care that I should keep my mouth shut. Being sensitive….not a chance, not today….Before I knew it and against my better judgment, I reprimanded my husband, the love of my life.
I’m sure you can imagine that for the next while, the atmosphere of our home was strained. He was hurt and I was furiously justifying myself to God and myself. Still, that little niggle gnawed at my heart. My words of correction had conveyed a message of disrespect and dishonor to someone I hold in high esteem and value. An invisible rift had taken refuge in our relationship.
Of course, we made up and apologized to each other. Sometimes I even apologize to my boys for both my words and actions towards their father in front of them. The only way my husband and I reconnect our hearts is through sincere words of compassion, understanding, and apology.
Imagine, how much better our evening would have gone that day if I had kept quiet at the very least. It could have gone a lot more positive if I had spoken kindly to him. Often understanding and empathy open a person’s heart for us to encourage and refresh them.

In tough times uplift others

Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones. Proverbs 16:24
Recall the last time you were feeling anxious, fearful, worrisome, or low. What was it that gave you hope or encouraged your heart? I’m pretty sure that words played a big role in helping you overcome those low emotions.
Many times, this year, I have sat in worship on a Sunday or at home crying because I don’t understand where life is going or situations I find myself in. My heart aches for hope, purpose, and promises to be met.
Often, I have found God answering my cries with words of encouragement and affirmation from family and friends as they remind me of who God has made me to be, His character and nature, and that God has got me and my little family covered. These words have soothed my soul and released me from the clutches of despair and anxiety.
How about you?

4 Practical ways to encourage others with your words

We can uplift the people around us and in our community with our words in a variety of ways. It just takes a bit of imagination, willingness, and conversation with God. Here are some of my suggestions:
1 Write a note or text message for the person you want to encourage. Ask God to guide your words as you write. It may be a Bible verse, a quote, or a word of encouragement.
2 Pray over the person you are wanting to encourage. This may be when you are physically present with them, a voice note or a text message. Maybe you wish to phone them and pray over the phone. In your prayer, refer to God’s character and His love for them.
3 Play a song over them. YouTube has some amazing songs that you can use to encourage people with. You can send them the link via text message or other messenger chats. If you are musical, how about asking God for a song that you can record and send them?
4 Purchase or print a beautiful image with the wording you want to use as encouragement to your friend or family member. This may even include a Bible verse or two. You can give it to them as a gift.

However, you prefer to uplift those around you, choose your words wisely. Value heart connection over being right and focus on keeping your heart pure and beautiful before God. Your words shape the world around you.

Ailie Baumann
Hi there, I'm a passionate lover of Jesus, wife, mom of three boys, and author of Pen Paper Paint ( I love to share my life and love for Jesus with others in the hopes of inspiring them toward a deeper relationship with him. I want to share the realities that Jesus is intricately involved in our everyday life. I love chocolate, drawing, music, and sushi. My goal in life is to love others wholeheartedly.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

10 Ways to Pray for a Hurting Friend

When you receive that frantic call, your heart sinks. It’s the call from a friend at her wits end. She needs your help and encouragement. You know that she needs your prayers. But you feel that your prayer life is underdeveloped and that it can’t combat a trial as big as this. When you don’t know what to say to God on your friend’s behalf, you suddenly feel uncomfortable praying. 

A common solution is to reach out to a pastor, Bible study leader, or church friend for help.  And that’s a good solution. But you are the one who knows your friend’s heart. You are the one who knows her needs and shares her pain. In all honesty, you are the one who is best qualified to pray for her whether you feel strong in your prayer life or not. So yes, ask others for prayer support, not to take over for your role as prayer warrior, but to come alongside you as you pray, and don’t neglect to join in the spiritual battle yourself.

When to Pray

We offer profound encouragement to those in need when we pray with them during their trials. Consider how the words, “I’ll pray for you,” offer kindness and relief. Now compare that statement to this question: “Can I pray for you right now?” This ushers in immediate comfort and the Lord’s peace. Hearing the heartfelt prayers of one who intercedes for our trials can introduce healing and encouragement to the most troubling situations.

The Bible instructs us to pray for one another. It also tells us that the prayers of the righteous are powerful and effective. This is compelling motivation for living right before God, because when are confronted with an urgent need to pray, we want powerful and effective prayers.

How to Pray

I’m writing this post for the times when you simply have no idea how or what to pray. It’s not uncommon for us to hear real-life stories that take our breath away or leave us utterly speechless. Instead of standing silent, we can use God’s Word as our script. Here are 10 powerful Bible verses to pray for a hurting friend, along with instruction on how to pray them.

1.     Psalm 9:9-10 The LORD is a refuge for the oppressed, a refuge in times of truoble. Those who know Your name trust in You because You have not abandoned those who seek You, LORD.  (Pray it like this: “Father, be (my friend’s) refuge in this time of trouble. Help her trust in and seek you. We know that you will not abandon her.”)

2.     Psalm 22:24 For He has not despised or detested the torment of the afflicted. He did not hide His face from him but listened when He cried to Him for help.  (Pray it like this: “Please move against (my friend’s) torment. Do not be indifferent, Lord hear her cries for help.”)

3.     Isaiah 26:3 You will keep the mind that is dependent on You in perfect peace, for it is trusting in You. (Pray it like this: “Lord, help (my friend) fix her mind on you. Hold her in Your perfect peace as she trusts You.”)

4.     Isaiah 43:1 This is what the LORD says… “Do not fear for I have redeemed you. I have called you by your name; you are Mine.”  (Pray it like this: “Lord, protect (my friend) from fear. Reveal to her that You have called her by her name and that she is Yours.”)

5.     Lamentations 3:19:22-23 Because of the LORD’s faithful love we do not perish for His mercies never end. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness! (Pray it like this: “Father God, your love is faithful and your mercies never end. Show (my friend) your great faithfulness! Open her eyes to see You in her life and to see Your new mercies every day.”)

6.     Luke 1:45 She who has believed is blessed because what was spoken to her by the Lord will be fulfilled. (Pray it like this: “Father, bless (my friend) to believe that your promises and all that you have spoken will be fulfilled. Help her rest in Your truth.”)

7.     John 14:1 Your heart must not be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in Me. (Pray it like this: “Lord, calm (my friend’s) heart and keep it from being troubled. Help her believe in You and in the power of the name of Jesus.”)

8.     2 Corinthians 1:3 Praise the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort. (Pray it like this: “You are the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort. Lavish your mercy and comfort on (my friend) so she will see your glory.”)

9.     Hebrews 4:16 Therefore let us approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us at the proper time. (Pray it like this: “Lord, help (my friend) approach You and Your throne of grace with boldness – by the blood of Christ – so that she may receive mercy and find grace for help at the proper time.”)

10.  Jude 20:21 But you, dear friend, as you build yourselves up in your most holy faith and pray in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, expecting the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ for eternal life. (Pray it like this: “Father, help (my friend) build her faith through this trial, turn to you in prayer in the Holy Spirit, and be held in love with confident expectation of Your mercy.”)

Why We Pray God’s Word

When we pray the Word of God, we know that we are praying His will as He has revealed in Scripture. Psalm 119 (the longest chapter of the Bible which is about delighting in the Word) teaches us that God gives us life and strengthens us in our grief by His Word. It’s a mighty tool and exceedingly useful when we pray. The Bible is filled with commanding, encouraging verses that are sure to bring comfort, peace, and assurance of God’s will to your hurting friend. Pray them boldly and with confidence.

As you watch with expectation for God to move, know that His ways are higher than ours. As God moves into the situation, He may bring results that look a lot different from what we expect. Remember that God always aims for His glory and our good – and He never misses His aim.

Your Turn:

What encouraging verses did I leave off the list? Which do you commonly pray in times of need?

How have you witnessed the effectiveness of praying God’s Word?

Continue the conversation by leaving a comment below or connecting on Facebook or Twitter

Be Strengthened Today by His Word,
Psalm 119:28