God’s Peace Plan: P.R.A.Y.

planPEACE PLAN: Remember the spunky Miss Clara in the movie War Room? She narrates: “We fight for power. We fight for riches. And we fight for rights. We fight for freedom. There always seems to be something to fight about.” Yet. . .

“Very few of us know how to fight the right way.”

In this post, war-roomI’ll outline a simple, Spirit-inspired peace plan to pray. Miss Clara prayed in her closet she calls her “war room” and taught Elizabeth, played by Priscilla Shirer, to speak fervently with God about her crumbling marriage.

Is your marriage in trouble? Are your emotions out of control? Is your teen making poor choices? Are you ill? In financial duress? Brokenhearted?

God has a peace plan for the war you’re in. Prayer is your battle cry!

God’s Peace Plan

It’s a four-letter word: P.R.A.Y.

Do not be anxious about ANYTHING but in EVERYTHING, by PRAYER and petition, with THANKSGIVING, present your requests to God.” Phil. 4:6

Read this familiar verse again. Then think on it. Now do what it says: P.R.A.Y. This is your peace plan!

P: Praise

Begin with praise. Praising God puts your mind where it need to be: focused on God. He is the One who not only created to universe, but also knows your hurts and deeply cares.

And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. 1 John 4:16, NIV

R: Repent

To repent is to change your mind and line up your thoughts with God’s thoughts. Repentance is a gift from God, and I’ve noticed in counseling, those who repent make lasting, positive, godly changes the quickest.

The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. 2 Peter 3:9

A: Ask

The Lord invites you to approach him confidently and share what’s on your heart. This is part of deepening your relationship with him. He promises to give you all that is good.

For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so through him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God. 2 Corinthians 1:2

Y: Yield

As you pray, believing that God can handle your problems, your faith will increase, and you’ll become calm and confident.

Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of spirits and live! Hebrews 12:9

Go ahead, PRAY. I will too. Tell me how it goes.

“And the peace of God, which surpasses are comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Phil. 4:7

Sharing Hope with Your Heart,

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ONLINE? Less Negativity, Please

onineONLINE? Facebook, Twitter, and other online sites drip negativity, don’t they? Where are the positive voices? Is this insightful post, counselor Ellen Castillo, listed here in the Heart2Heart Counselor Directory, shares thoughts on how we Christian women can choose winsome speech online. Her article appeared first here and is used by permission. 

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If you spend much time on the internet reading blogs and Twitter feeds and Facebook conversations, you might notice an overwhelming tone of negativity from Christians.

Many Christians use their online activities to express their views about the things they oppose. Lately, it seems easier to find posts that are about what the writer is against rather than what the writer is for. For example:

In the past few minutes, I have found online posts about what the Christian (who is posting on their social media) is against. Here are the topics that I just came across on my own Facebook and Twitter feeds, stating that the writer of each is:

  • against vaccinations
  • against people who are against vaccinations
  • against particular TV shows
  • against a particular Bible teacher
  • against a certain denomination
  • against a politician
  • against the people who are against that politician
  • against a celebrity pastor
  • against those who attend the church of a celebrity pastor
  • against a political party
  • against a company or store for their views
  • against people who share that company or store’s views
  • against people who live different lifestyles than they do

While searching a few moments ago, I also looked for posts about what the Christian writer is for. I noted a few posts simply quoting scripture, and one pro-life meme, but otherwise I found very few examples of redemptive language.

In our current political climate and culture, people don’t have to guess or wonder about what Christians are against. We are quite vocal about those things. I wonder, though, if they know what (or Who) we are FOR?

We feel frustrated because our viewpoints are so often squashed in this culture. I wonder if part of the problem is US, and our tone. Would we speak the same words that we are willing to write? To someone’s face? If so, what would the tone of our voice be, and what would our facial expressions reveal? Would someone see Jesus or just an angry Christian? Consider this:

Our written word should be consistent with our spoken word.

No foul language should come from your mouth, but only what is good for building up someone in need, so that it gives grace to those who hear. Ephesians 4:29, CSB

Redemptive Language

What if we made our tone more winsome, less negative, or more redemptive? Rather than simply posting and commenting and tweeting about what we are against, what if we focus instead on using redemptive language?

Redemptive language would be gospel-motivated and gospel-rich, bringing the reader’s attention to Christ, and to God’s Word.

We have a hope that is far greater than today’s current political, cultural, and moral climate. If we simply state what we are against, without giving a reason for the hope that we have, then isn’t our gospel witness hindered?

I am not suggesting we stop speaking to culture’s downfalls, or speaking against the things that are infringing on our rights. I am suggesting that we be more careful about our tone. Name-calling and nastiness are not winsome, and people stop listening around the first paragraph or at the first nasty remark. Loving and godly concern and hope are attractive, and I think people are more likely to listen and keep reading.

Why Does This Matter?

Our spoken words (and therefore our written words) reveal our hearts. If we tend to be negative and critical online, it is time to get honest about our motives for using the online platform to express our opinions. Many of our posts sound less like hope and sound more like this:

But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart. For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander. Matthew 15:18-19

When we are spoken to negatively, we will tend to remember that feedback more clearly than anything positive said to us. For example, we may feel insecure after public speaking. Ten people said things like “you did great” or “great job.” One person said, “you really should work on your speaking, I didn’t follow it at all.” We will tend to think of that one loud negative voice more often than the ten affirming voices.

It stands to reason that when we post in a negative tone on social media, it will stick in people’s minds more than the occasional post with a positive tone. You may think that you have accomplished what you set out to do – to prove your (negative) opinion is right. What you really did was reveal what you are against, without speaking enough about what you are for. This hurts our witness for the gospel because we are not addressing what, and who, we are FOR.

Offer Hope

Consider using your online activities in a redemptive manner. If you are compelled to share an opinion about something you are against, forgo name-calling and instead offer a winsome and compelling argument that is connected to the gospel in some manner. That will offer the reader HOPE. If we offer hope instead of just criticism, we may keep our audiences longer. If you have any kind of online platform, use redemptive language.

We have a hope that is far better than TV shows, politics, celebrity, and all of our opinions. Jesus is better.

Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works. Hebrews 10:23-24

Consider

Have your written words been more negative than positive lately? How can you correct that? Will you purpose to post with a more hopeful tone?

Sharing Hope with Your Heart,

CANCER: “My Diagnosis Led Me to Worship God”

cancerCancer: A cancer diagnosis surprised Heart2Heart counselor Donna Hart, PhD. Her first question was, “What in this do You want me to learn?” The Lord’s answer: worship. Donna’s article appeared first here on her website and is used with permission. Donna also adds an update below to her cancer diagnosis. To all who prayed for her, thank you. –LAM

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I was doing well and just starting the deeper research of chapter five of my dissertation. The chapter was on endurance. I prayed the Lord would lead me to the best resources for the research.

Not many days later the doctor called to say the results from the breast biopsy tested positive for cancer. I had had these done before all with negative results so when I got the call I was taken by surprise. We know nothing is a surprise for God and that His hand was allowing this for me.

My first question after the fog cleared was to ask our dear heavenly Father,

“What is in this You want me to learn?”

I got a most curious and surprising one word answer, “worship.”

I am “Miss Independent” and very used to caring for other people; I’m very low maintenance when it comes to needing help from others.

God Provides a Friend

The first person the Lord provided to help me was a good friend who happens to be a nurse. She declared that she was going with me to all doctor’s appointments and surgeries. She said it would be important to have another set of knowledgeable ears to listen. At the time, she was walking through her own deep valley of trial: while she was on a road trip a while back, she looked down for a moment and ran a red ligh. This resulted in a fatality.

During my cancer journey, we walked together; she ministered to me as I ministered to her. I learned that trials are more endurable when walk through it with a friend.

God’s provision is so sweet in the loving hands of another.

Through the process of multiple cancer surgeries, my friends would go walking with me because that was the only exercise allowed. They walked with me outside on the miles of bike trail near my home and inside when the weather was inclement. We would talk and grow closer in our relationship.

God Provides Praise Music

The Lord blesses us with His love through the voices of other believers.

The days I walked on the treadmill I would listen to the Vertical Church Band. Do they realize how many songs they have written about heaven? What a gift to me from the Lord to get my heart focused on the right things. I thought, it does not matter what happens, “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21)cancer. I will worship You, Lord.

My treatment included four rounds of chemotherapy, four hours each, three weeks apart. My favorite sisters went along with me for this journey. We sat, relaxed, chatted, and knitted. What a blessed treat from the hand of the Lord: sweet friendships to make a trial a joy.

I did not know I was going to be my own dissertation research on endurance. As I sought references for my paper, the Lord brought me to an article on Counseling Suffering by John Piper, and I shall never forget his words, “The Lord is most glorified when we are most satisfied in Him.”

The world is watching: Are we a testimony that the Lord is good and enough, no matter what the trial?

The Lord was with me every step of this journey, teaching me to be less self-sufficient and more dependent upon Him knowing He works all things together for good.

Life After Cancer

Now years later and cancer free, I celebrate that the Lord is a continued song in my heart. I remember His words to me every time I would get my eys off Him and onto the circumsitons, “Iwhat crucified for you.”

Those words are a memorial reminter that He is with me, and I have nothing to fear. He started a goood work and He will finish it.

And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. Philippians 1:6

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Sharing Hope with Your Heart,

The Amazing Power of Generosity

generosity

The amazing power of generosity. . .heals. 

Has a friend generously listened to you? Who has noticed that you need a helping hand? Or, when you show generosity to a friend or stranger? Perhaps you sent a Get Well card to a relative or wished Happy Birthday to a Facebook friend.

Your generosity matters. It helps to heal the hurting. Here’s an amazing story of generosity. Read on.

Homeless. Need Food. Please Help. 

Pulling up to a red light, Kate noticed a young man clutching a sign. It read, “HOMELESS. NEED FOOD. PLEASE HELP.” The icy wind reddened his hands. She knew what she had to do, even though it inconvenienced her.

She drove to a store, bought men’s gloves and returned to the sign holder. She rolled down her window and handed them to him.

And she prayed for his mother.

Kate has a grown son too. Addicted to drugs. Sleeping somewhere. She couldn’t warm her own child but she could show Jesus to a stranger.

Debbie Macomber shares this true story in her book One Simple Act: Discovering the Power of Generosity. A sister in Christ and fiction author, she understands the need to give love. She’s dyslexic and her third grade teacher told her mother, “She’ll never do well in school.” And she didn’t.

But her love of words and her parent’s encouragement, and later her husband’s, gave her the boost to sign up for a writers’ conference in New York, and — to use a cliche — the rest is history.

Finding Hope Through Generosity

This post isn’t about Debbie or Kate. It’s about you and overcoming your struggles in Jesus’ power. I want you to find hope and healing. One thing I learned:

Sometimes to find healing you need to reach out to a hurting soul and help her.

Here’s an example: A woman I counseled by Skype — whom I’ll call Sandy — spied a lady dumpster-diving for food scraps behind a fast-food joint. She maneuvered her car from the drive-thru lane and into a parking spot. Sandy had bought two lunches, one for herself and one for the lady. She handed one bag of food to the lady. She said, “I don’t want your food. I don’t take no charity.”

Sandy put the bag of food just inside the dumpster and walked back to her car, glancing backward to see what the lady would do.

She took the food.

Now Sandy and the lady made a game of sorts. Sandy places food by the dumpster when she sees the lady and the lady eats. Sandy feels she is making a difference. She feels less alone.

Generosity Reveals Jesus to a Hurting World

This simple act of generosity reveals Jesus to a lady and to a hurting world.

You can show Jesus too, like Kate, like Sandy, like the little boy who gave his little lunch to a big Jesus who multiplied it and fed 5,000 men and probably as many women and children. The boy willingly gave what he had and received so much more.

“There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish, but what are they for so many?”  Jesus said, “Have the people sit down.” Now there was much grass in the place. So the men sat down, about five thousand in number. (John 6:9-10, NIV)

This boy’s generosity is forever told worldwide. How blessed he is.

When you and I are kind to others, we are blessed too.

The take-away:

Be generous. Show Jesus. Give thanks. You belong to Someone big who cares. Your generosity takes your eyes off yourself and on Him.

Do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased. (Hebrews 13:16, NIV).

Sharing Hope with Your Heart,

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Self Care Isn’t Selfish


self care

With self care, a woman flourishes. Yet we women often stumble into a dangerous trap: self neglect. 

A while back, I counseled a woman who felll into self-neglect after months of caring for ill relatives, one after another. She ran their errands, took them to the doctor, cooked and cleaned and cared for them. Then she hit extreme exhaustion that brought of depression. Her adult son cared for her!

When you neglect yourself, it’s tough to be the mom-friend-worker-wife God desires. You may become anxious, angry, moody, and self-absorbed. You may also become physically and spiritually weak. Self care is taking care of yourself emotionally, physically, intellectually, and spiritually. It is whole health wellness.

In this short article, you’ll discover:

  1. Self care is not selfish.
  2. 7 signs of self-neglect.

Self Care Is NOT Selfishness

There’s a Grand Canyon-sized difference between selfishness and self care.

As mentioned, self care is taking care of your emotional, physical, intellectual, and spiritual needs with a heart motivation of loving God and loving others. Wouldn’t you agree healthy self care is good since your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit?

Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body. 1 Corinthians 6: 19-20, ESV

On the flip side, selfishness is putting yourself above everyone else. Your needs, your wants, your everything prevails. This is neither healthy nor caring.

Jesus prioritized the most important attitudes and actions:

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind; and love your neighbor as yourself. Luke 10:25-28, NIV

7 Signs of Self Neglect

Neglecting self care may signal a need to show greater care of the temple of the Holy Spirit, and in turn, God. Are any of these true of you?

1. You want to lose excess weight.

2. You have fatigue because you lack sleep and exercise.

3. Your emotions are frazzled.

4. You lack laughter.

5. You spend little meaningful time with friends in real life.

6. Your financial budget spells stress stress and more stress.

7. You think God doesn’t love you or care or is too busy elsewhere.

If you’ve gotten off track, you can choose self care out of love for God. You can lose weight, get great sleep, start walking, have better emotions, laugh again, spend time with friends, get financial peace, and know that God loves you.

God promises to change your heart. Why not choose selfless self-care?

Just for You

Downlself careoad: Get this New Priorities and Planning download.

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Sharing Hope with Your Heart,

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