This New Year:
Pray, Pray, Pray

This poem was written by dad (Ralph Snyder) on December 31, 2008 as he looked toward our family gathering the next day to celebrate New Year’s Day. At that time he looked back over the past year and saw the path that he and his family had traveled. 2008 had seen many challenges in our family. However, he also made sure to look forward. His focus was putting Christ first. His desire for himself, my mom, his children, and his grandchildren was for each of us to focus on God no matter what paths our life journey took us on. Through the highs and the lows, he wanted to make sure we prayed. What better way to keep our eyes focused on God than to pray to God, seeking Him first and foremost in our lives.

What better way to face a new and unknown year than to pray to the One Who is the author of that year. He is our Creator and the One Who knows what is going to happen. Why not give all of everything over to Him and give Him control

Make sure this year to take time to pray, pray, pray.

 

If you need to kick start your prayer life this year, check out Project Prayer or the Project Prayer Resources.

7 Ways to Serve the Lord with Gladness This Christmas

“Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth!
Serve the Lord with gladness!
Come into His presence with singing!
Know that the Lord, He is God!
It is He who made us, and we are His;
we are His people, and the sheep of His pasture.
Enter His gates with thanksgiving,
and His courts with praise!
Give thanks to Him; bless His name!
For the Lord is good;
His steadfast love endures forever,
and His faithfulness to all generations.”
(Psalm 100 ESV)

Many times throughout scripture we are told to “serve the Lord.” How fitting it is that at this very special time of year we think about serving God. There are many ways, large and small, that we can serve the Lord. We are going to look at just 7 of these as our countdown to Christmas continues.

1. Offer to babysit free of charge.
Many young couples need time. They may need to finish shopping, have a date night, spend some time decompressing from all the busyness of the season. Offer to take their little ones for a few hours as your gift to them. What a great way to show God’s love. You can take time with the kids to do something special (like making cookies) to make memories for them also.

2. Offer rides to the elderly or those who can’t get out themselves.
There are always those who can’t drive but yet would like to go get those last minute gifts or even just go for a ride to see the lights in the neighborhood. This would be a great time to get to know these folks a little better as you fellowship in the car. If you are taking them shopping, give them time to shop. Many don’t have this time to leisurely shop. They always feel like they need to hurry because someone is waiting for them. Give them the gift of time.

3. Hold a door open for someone who is struggling.
Give someone a gift of kindness. We’ve all seen those with walkers or canes trying to get a door open and get through it with their walking aid. Holding a door for them may take you all of 30 seconds to a minute, but it could make a huge difference in their life knowing that someone would take time to help them.

4. Make cookie trays for your neighbors.
This is a great outreach for your neighborhood. Choose 5 or 6 homes around yours to take cookie (or goodies) trays to. As you walk around handing them out, you will have an opportunity to wish them a Merry Christmas and give them the gift of yourself. Don’t forget to wear that smile.

5. Visit a nursing home and/or retirement home.
Many folks in nursing and retirement homes feel very alone this time of year. They just need someone to talk to. Take an afternoon or evening to spend a couple hours visiting and listening. Let them tell you their favorite Christmas memory or story. Give them the gift of friendship.

6. Invite extra people for Christmas dinner.
There are many people that are alone on Christmas. There may be any number of reasons why they are alone. This is a very difficult time of year for them. They struggle and are lonely. Look for one or two that may need that extra gift of belonging. Be sure to include them in the family fun time. They may enjoy playing games with you or in watching a Christmas movie. If you open gifts while they are there be sure to have a little something for them also. It will make a world of difference in their life.

7. Help serve at a Rescue Mission or some other “soup kitchen” type of place.
There are many homeless people on the streets. During the winter it is especially difficult and they are looking for some place warm to get a bite to eat. Offer to help serve food. It will help those serving get a new perspective. We hear so much about “what we want” for Christmas. This will help us focus on what we can give. We have been given so much. Let’s share God’s love and give the gift of warmth.

These are just a few ways that we can share God’s love with others as we serve God this Christmas. We would love to hear some of your ideas also.

May God bless each of you with a very joyous and blessed Christmas season.

Check out the rest of our Countdown to Christmas posts here.

Taking Care of Those who Take Care of You

There are all types of Christian leaders. We have pastors, elders, Sunday school and Adult Bible Fellowship (ABF) teachers, kids’ ministry leaders, women’s and men’s study leaders, youth leaders, worship leaders, and last, but certainly not least, missionaries.

What do all of these have in common? They are our spiritual leaders. They study for their messages and lessons. They minister to their “flock” (kids and adults). They get called out at all hours, day and night, and they have their own personal lives and struggles.

They care and minister to the people–to us. But, who takes care of them? When they have marriage conflict, financial struggles, personal struggles, loneliness, sickness, and death in the family, who do they turn to? Yes, they turn to God. But, did you know that God can use you to minister to them?

Maybe you’re saying, “How do I minister to these leaders? What can I do? I don’t know the Bible nearly as well as they do.” My friend, there are so many ways to minister. (Let’s not forget their families, too. Being the spouse and children of someone in ministry means you are in ministry also.)

Let’s look at a few practical ways to minister:

1. Pray for them. Pray for them. Pray for them. Pray for wisdom in their ministry. Pray that they would remain faithful to God and His word. Pray that they would make, and hold dear, their family time. Pray that they would be men and women of integrity. Pray that they would remain healthy. Pray that they would rest on God for all their needs. Pray for their families that God would protect them, use them, and encourage them. Pray that they would take time to allow God to minister to them also.

2. Realize that this is full-time (most pastors and full-time missionaries). They don’t just get up on Sunday, preach, and that’s it. There is much time and effort that goes into their ministry.

3. Give them space for family time. Most leaders have a scheduled day off; let them have this. Unless it is an emergency, try not to bother them on their day off.

4. Bless them with a meal. Contact them as to what they can and cannot eat (allergies), and either bring them a meal or have them over. They are in need of fellowship also.

5. Send a note of encouragement. There are times that they are discouraged and just need a little “pick me up.” It’s so encouraging to know someone cares.

6. Thank them for what they are doing. The task is not simple. There are attacks on every side, and sometimes the feelings of giving up become strong. God tells us in His word, “Let us not be weary in well doing; for in due season we will reap if we faint not.” (Galatians 6:9 KJV) Sometimes though, the way is tiring. Sometimes, while they don’t look or ask for it, our Christian leaders need to be thanked. Yes, they are doing it all for the Lord, but they need to know they are making a difference.

7. Remember, not all those in ministry have families. There are many who are single. Make sure to care for them also. Sometimes, they need family time. Maybe include them with your family from time to time.

These are just a few ways to help take care of our Christian leaders. Let me challenge you to look for ways to encourage and take care of those in leadership. Don’t forget those on the mission field. These same principles apply to them also. You may not be able to have them over for a meal, but you can send them a care package. With the world we live in, we can minister to missionaries through emails. How wonderful to see you have an email and read words of encouragement.

Be creative and have fun ministering to those around you but especially to those who have been chosen by God as ministers of God and His word.

Let us hear (in the comments below) your ideas for how to take care of those who take care of you spiritually.


Praying for Christian Leaders 
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Let’s Pray?

Prayer. What is it? What importance does it serve in our lives? Why pray? Does God even hear and answer our prayers anyway? I’m not that important. Why would God want me to talk to Him? How do I pray? Sometimes I don’t feel like my prayers go any higher than the ceiling. I tried praying once, but God didn’t give me what I asked for.

Have any of these thoughts ever crossed your mind? Have you ever questioned prayer? Have you ever made any of those statements?

We are so very excited to introduce you to a site-wide project on prayer. We will be exploring some of these questions and so much more. We will be exploring the prayers of Jesus, why pray, different prayer models, visual prayer, praying for those who minister, and more. There will even be a prayer challenge.

We are thankful to have you join this journey with us. Like any journey, it will be quite the adventure. Please feel free to share your questions on prayer and your answers to prayer as we take this journey together. We want to hear from you.

Our prayer for you is that, whether you are a prayer warrior, a casual pray-er, a novice in prayer or someone who questions whether prayer is a real thing, that you will grow in your prayer life. We pray that prayer will become a priority for you and that you will draw closer in your relationship to God.

Peter Deyneka, founder of Slavic Gospel Association, started the mission, ministered daily, and lived his life based on the concept of “Much Prayer, Much Power.” To this day (over 80 years later), this is still the basis of the ministry of SGA. Does prayer have this kind of impact in your life? Do people see you as a prayer warrior? Come, let’s go on this adventure together.

Be a Sonflower

I recently learned about sunflowers and it got me thinking about how they reflect the relationship we should have with God. Let me explain.

Sunflowers need the sun to display all their beauty. When it is not sunny they droop. When it is sunny, they perk up and shine their faces for all to see. They are a happy flower. It is amazing to see a whole field of happy sunflowers. As the earth rotates around the sun, these happy flowers follow the sun. Their heads are focused on the sun, not hanging down focusing on the ground and what is around them.

So, my friend, it is for us. In order for us to shine for God we need to focus on Him. We need to follow the Son and not get dragged down by all that is around us pulling us down. I like the amplified version of Hebrews 12:2:

“[looking away from all that will distract us and] focusing our eyes on Jesus, who is the Author and Perfecter of faith [the first incentive for our belief and the One who brings our faith to maturity], who for the joy [of accomplishing the goal] set before Him endured the cross, disregarding the shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God [revealing His deity, His authority, and the completion of His work].”

Did you catch that? We are to look and focus our eyes on Jesus. It is a command. Like Peter, when he jumped out of the boat to walk toward Jesus. While he kept his eyes focused on the Son, he did great. Once his eyes came off of the Son, he started to sink. We need to keep our eyes focused on the Son. We need to follow Him continuously.

Isaiah 26:3 (AMP) reads “You will keep in perfect and constant peace the one whose mind is steadfast [that is, committed and focused on You-in both inclination and character], because he trusts and takes refuge in You [with hope and confident expectation].

Sunflowers need the sun to help them stay upright and beautiful. They are totally dependent on that. We need the Son to help us stay on the right path and shine beautifully for Him. See, we have a major advantage that the sunflowers do not. Our advantage: Jesus is always there for us. He promises to never leave us or forsake us. (Hebrews 13:5b) We can always follow Him. He is always there.

Are you walking down a dark path of despair, fear, anxiety, uncertainty, change or any other hard times? Remember, He promised He won’t leave us. He wants us to stay focused on Him. Like the happy little sunflowers focus on the sun, stay focused on the Son and be a Sonflower for Him.

 

Scripture taken from the AMPLIFIED® BIBLE, Copyright © 1954, 1958, 1962, 1964, 1965, 1987 by the Lockman Foundation Used by Permission. (www.Lockman.org)

 

Following the Directions

Photo by Alvaro Reyes on Unsplash

Raise your hand if you have ever used some electronic GPS type of device to get to your destination.

Today my mom and I were going for a ride, and I needed one such device. The point of these devices of course is to get from Point A to Point B without getting lost. As we drove we were remembering a time or two that we thought we knew better than the voice giving us directions. Well, you probably know how this story finishes. We got lost. The voice in the box kept recalculating how we were to go based on our wrong turns. He tried to get us on the right path, but we kept ignoring still thinking we knew better. Finally, we had no choice but to listen to that voice and follow the directions. We finally reached our destination. While we enjoyed the sights and the adventure, we wasted much time and gas.

How like our daily walk is this? We so often think we know what is best for our lives. It’s like we say, “God, I know what is best for me. I’ll seek you if I get lost, but I’ve got this.” We walk our own path, do our own thing, seek our best interest, and Get Lost! Then, we ask God where He was, why wasn’t He helping us, and why didn’t He take care of us? The answer….we didn’t listen to His voice.

“God, I know what is best for me. I’ll seek you if I get lost, but I’ve got this.” We walk our own path, do our own thing, seek our best interest, and Get Lost! Then, we ask God where He was…

Proverbs 3:5-7 reads, “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths. Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the Lord and depart from evil.” (KJV) Peter, in the storm when Jesus was walking on the water, said if He was the Lord to tell him to come. Jesus did and Peter stepped out of the boat and started walking on the water also. However, Peter took his eyes of Jesus and what happened? He started to sink. (He got lost.) Peter cried out to Jesus, “Lord, help!” Jesus reached His loving, caring hand to Peter. Peter had to follow and reach for Jesus’ hand.

“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.”(John 10:27, KJV)

“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.”(John 10:27, KJV) We need to trust the Lord with our whole heart. We need to hold His hand, follow His voice.   God’s voice will never, ever lead us astray. Cling to His hand, dear friend. Follow His voice. Keep your eyes focused on God. You won’t be sorry and it won’t ever be a waste of time or anything else. It may not make sense to you at the time but following God will never disappoint. Trust Him.