Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Weekly Prayer Focus

It's interesting how so many times I hear, "Well, all I can do is pray" as if prayer is just some off-handed thing. Prayer isn't "all you can do" it should be the first thing you do. Prayer is a wonderful thing, and it's something we should do as often as possible. 

Here on the team blog, I'll give us a weekly prayer focus that we will hopefully all cover in prayer. The idea is to have all of us, from all over, praying specifically for one thing. Of course, do not let this be the only thing you pray about each week, but please include it in your daily prayers. 

Weekly Prayer Focus:
The Financial Concerns of the Team Members
(people who are in a financial crisis, a financial pinch, who need help in managing their finances, who are stressed or worried about finances)

If you aren't sure where or how to start, let this be a guide, but not an absolute. Communicating with God should be from your heart, not just your mouth.

Heavenly Father, 
I thank You, Lord, for this team. I thank You that a body of believers can come together in one place and share openly and honestly with each other. Lord, we are people who get concerned. We worry about things, even though You have told us repeatedly not to worry - that You are in control. Lord, we repent of that worry. We repent of letting the enemy create a foothold in our hearts by making us worry. Lord, we give that worry to You. Lord, we may not know how we're going to be taken care of, but we know that You will take care of us. Lord, I ask that You bless those of this team who are worried about their finances, give them peace Lord. Create in them a clean heart, and renew a right spirit in them. Renew in them Your peace, Your joy that they may know that whatever happens, You are working for the best for them. 
Lord, I also ask that You stir the hearts of us that we may be the hands, doing Your will. Show us what we should do, and give us the strength and courage to do it. In Jesus' name, AMEN. 

I encourage you to pray this prayer, or (any) prayer regarding the financial worries of our team members, daily. 

If you have any answered prayers in relating to this prayer focus, please share those in the comments below. 

Also, if you'd like to pray more for this team, as a team member you can visit our team forums and view some threads regarding prayer needs. You can find all the threads here, and find specific prayer needs here, here and here

Love you all, 


Monday, September 26, 2011

Weekly Devotional : Deny Yourself

'Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it.'" (Matthew 16:24-25, NIV)

What an impossible task. Deny myself? Really? Does anyone hear what myself is demanding?

And yet, Jesus says it plainly and simply: "Whoever wants to be My disciple must deny themselves..." That's a lot to ask, Lord. You see, there are so many many things that want my attention and so many many things that I neeeeeeeeeeed to do! And if I'm going to be honest, I have to be in control. I like being in control. When I'm not in control, everything falls apart. So, really, isn't that asking a little too much? Can't I be Your disciple without denying all of myself?

But it's not a question. It's a command. He doesn't say, "It would be nice if you let some things go and follow Me." or, "Just give Me a little time and money and you can be My disciple. And if you act NOW you can also sit at My right hand in heaven!" He says "DENY YOURSELF." That means I can't be in control. It's not about me.

Denying self means giving up our freedoms. We tend to rationalize that we're pretty decent people who go to church and tithe and occasionally pray for missionaries overseas. But give up my Sunday afternoon football to serve in the soup kitchen? No thanks! That's too much! Give an extra $20 in the offering? That's too much! Do you know how much I have to paint or crochet to earn $20? Stop and ask your widowed neighbor if she needs her lawn mowed today? That's too much! My favorite show is on tonight!  Lord, can't I just do those fun Christian things that bring attention to me? The fear of what we have to give up to follow Jesus is a ploy the enemy only has to whisper in our ear. He has our attention already.

But Jesus lovingly knows that denying ourselves is the opposite of our nature, and He came so that we might have LIFE and have it to the full!

[this devotional is from Tracy at olsentrademarkcrafts]

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Weekly Devotional : Back to Jesus

"'I'm going out to fish,' Simon Peter told them, and they said, 'We'll go with you.' So they went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing." John 21:3 (NIV)
Have you ever found yourself in a place where all your hopes and dreams have fallen apart? What did you do?
Jesus' disciple Peter had betrayed his Lord, and watched Him die. Now Jesus was gone. So what did he do? In John 21, we see Peter going back to what he was doing before he met Him. I sometimes wonder what he must've been thinking as he sat aboard the fishing boat and scanned the horizon.
Did he wonder if it was all just a dream? Did he worry about the future? He had been at a spiritual pinnacle—walking with Jesus, hearing from Jesus, planning for a future that included Jesus. But in the blink of an eye, he and his comrades were back to their old pursuits as though nothing had happened at all.

God was still at work, but during this time He let Peter and the other disciples go back to fishing. He let them have those days of wondering and worrying. He allowed them to scan the horizon looking for Him—and find nothing. For a time He allowed them to feel alone and even forsaken.
When we feel that way, we tend to go back to what we knew before. We might go back to old habits or old friends who weren't necessarily the best for us. We might go back to old pursuits or old crutches that once propped us up. We might be like Peter and find ourselves sitting in a place we never thought we'd see again.
And yet, this time, something is different. This time there is that glimmer of hope that—while we might have gone back—we don't have to stay back.
I love that this story ends with Jesus on the beach waiting for Peter and his friends to stop fishing and come to Him. And, when Peter saw Jesus, he jumped out of the boat to get to Him.
Perhaps you've walked away from your own dreams and returned to what is familiar. Maybe disappointment or failure has left you wondering where God is. I hope you will cling to this story today. I hope that as you scan your horizon, you will see God waiting for you to return to Him. And when you do, you will run towards Him as fast as you can.
He may have let you go through an alone time. He may have allowed you to wonder if He was still there. But in that time, I pray that the flicker of hope did not die out for you. You may have gone back to "fishing," but He doesn't want you to stay there. He's got so much more for you to do. He is still at work. His plans involve going forward, not going back.
Dear Lord, I have felt alone and forgotten. I have wondered if any of my spiritual experiences were real. I've gone back to what's familiar because it was all I knew to do. But I know You don't want to leave me there. I want to see You when I scan the horizon. And when I do, help me to have the courage to run toward You as fast as I can. I trust that You still have a plan for me. And that plan involves going forward, not going back. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

This devotional is by Marybeth Whalen and can be found on 

Monday, September 12, 2011

Weekly Devotional : Blindness

Mark 8: 23-25 (NKJV)
So He took the blind man by the hand and led him out of the town. And when He had spit on his eyes and put His hands on him, He asked him if he saw anything. And he looked up and said, "I see men like trees walking." Then He put His hands on his eyes again and made him look up. And he was restored and saw everyone clearly.

Last year I was diagnosed with a devastating eye condition called "severe keratoconus with corneal ectasia" (now that's a mouthful!). The condition developed as a result of complications from laser surgery to correct poor vision  I had 10 years ago. The deterioration was gradual so my brain compensated for my vision loss -  so much so that I didn't know there was a problem. You can imagine my surprise when, at my checkup, the eye doctor said, "Tracy, you are virtually blind. You will never see correctly again without the help of RGP contacts (the hard, uncomfortable ones) or a corneal transplant. And even after a corneal transplant, you will most likely need  RGP lenses. Glasses can't fix this, soft contacts can't fix this. I am so sorry. There is no cure."

Blindness that I didn't even know I had. I had "gotten used" to it and accepted it as normal. Until I was shown the truth, I didn't really think there was a problem. How like our lives! Even as Christians we can so easily slip into patterns, rationalize "little" sins, let things slide, and avert our eyes so slowly from Jesus and the Truth. Before long we are patting ourselves on the back, comparing ourselves to other Christians ("At least I am not commiting THAT sin!") or to the world ("Those people are disgusting and going to hell - I would never be like them!"), and becoming less and less like Jesus. We start to see "men like trees walking" - enough for us to just get by.

I believe Jesus cured this man "partially" at first for our benefit as much as the man's. He wanted to show us that we can think we are living according to His Word and teaching - but without ALL of Him, we are blind. When we embrace Jesus and surrender our lives to Him, we, too, are restored and see clearly.


Heavenly Father, in this day and age where we are pulled, drawn and tempted on all sides by things of this world and even spiritual endeavors, we ask that You help us to SEE Your Son, Jesus - remind us when we are looking away from you, when we are focusing on ourselves and when we are slipping. Keep us close to You, open the eyes of our hearts to Your Truth, and show us those areas in our lives that don't please You so that we can be restored and can become more and more like Jesus. 

In Jesus' Name, Amen

{This weekly devotional is from Tracy of olsentrademarkcrafts.}

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Team Blog Poll

Hi everyone! It's time to update the team blog! Fall is quickly approaching (or here for some of us) so we have a new updated look to the team blog. Don't you just love Autumn!?!

But now it's time to update the content of the team blog as well. What would you like to see on the team blog? Fill out the poll to the right. You can select as many (or all) as you wish. If you have any other suggestions, please leave them as a comment in the team blog. 

If you would like to help with the team blog, please email Regina at livedelightfully (at) yahoo [dot] com. 

Thanks and have a wonderful day!