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Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Prayer Flags and the RAVENS

Sunday I was watching the Ravens Steelers game with my family. It was great family time. The kind of time I long for and hold close to my heart when it does happen. All of us in the same room for a few hours is an extremely rare occurrence these days.

We had hot bowls of delicious chili made with my secret ingredients and chicken cheese quesadillas. We were all in agreement for once-all on the same page.
We all wanted the Ravens to win.


Now, this might sound like I'm a real avid football fan. But, the truth is I don't really know a lot about football. I'm hoping to pick it up as we spend more Sunday afternoons together . . . just so I can share in the excitement a little more accurately, using all the appropriate football jargon.

Right now I'm limited to phrases like, "Run!  Run Ray run! Run faster Ray! Yay Ray!" That's been working pretty good so far. But, I want to expand.

One thing I really do enjoy is when the ref runs out onto the field and tells his story about who pushed who and who was being unsportsmanlike.
(Shame on you bad boys!)
And then of course, he doles out the necessary consequences for the bad behavior.

I love watching his face when he's all wrapped up in telling the story and pointing this way and that. I can almost see him when he was a little kid.

Can you see him now? He's the one that always raised his hand real high in the air, waving it around, holding it up with the other hand, trying desperately to get the teacher's attention to give her the very important information that Tommy is chewing bubble gum or Susie is picking her nose.

The point is that he is great at what he does. Practice really does make perfect. He makes good decisions and he makes them in a split second. (At least on Sunday he made all the right decisions.)

Another thing that I took special note of is all of the colored flags that are thrown down in the grass--excuse me, I mean, turf.

That caused me to ponder.

What if, whenever we saw a need or someone that could use some prayer we threw down a prayer flag. Different colors representing various prayer needs.
The next Christian that came along would see the flag and immediately be alerted that here is someone who needs to be prayed over. I mean, there are hurting and desperate people all around us every day, everywhere we go. So many times as I'm driving along there in the median is a person with a sign "Homeless, please help." PRAYER FLAG!

 Some of them are so dejected that they have given up on signs and just stand there looking so very sad and lost. My heart breaks for them. What can I do? There are so many of them. I ask myself. The answer is pray.

Pray without ceasing. I Thessalonians 5:17

Without ceasing? That's a tall order. It is, but the more you look around the more you realize that prayer is just what is so desperately needed today.

Whoops....PRAYER FLAG!
A line stretching around a building where there is an employment sign posted, a line of weary, precious people. There are so many problems with no quick answers but in the meantime we can love on these poor souls a little without them having an inkling. They may never know on this earth but God knows . . . and you'll know.

When we pray for others as the Bible commands us to do we are rewarded with that special closeness to God. He inclines His ear to us. (Isaiah 37:17)

We begin to have more of a heart like His. Prayer is a resource that is instantaneously available, access immediately to the throne of God! How amazing is that? What an incredible gift for us, the pray-ers and for them, the pray-ees.

The great thing is no pride can get in the way. We're not going to win a Noble Peace Prize for praying for strangers because no one will ever know except God our Father in Heaven and He will be pleased. His word tells us to. We are being obedient to His word. His reward will far exceed even the Nobel!

Pray for one another. James 5:16

It doesn't say only your family and friends.

Praying for them is one of the very best things I can do. I also smile-look them in the eye--a smile that says I care, I see you. So many times they are even stripped of the dignity of eye contact because we are so uncomfortable.

There is a barely clad woman standing on the street corner of a city block well known for its activites. PRAYER FLAG!

The Lord has heard my supplications. The Lord will receive my prayer. Psalm 6:9

An ambulance goes screaming past my car with lights flashing frantically. Someone is in need. PRAYER FLAG!

We will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word. Acts 6:4

School children going into school this morning being confronted with who knows what. PRAYER FLAG! God knows. He wants us to care enough to pray. We're praying for the future.
Pray for God's hedge of protection around them.

One-legged war veterans, drug addicts, frightened teen-age girl walking into an abortion clinic, the elderly, broken and hurting people everywhere you turn.


Of course, in reality we can't walk around throwing prayer flags in front of people. I'm sure we would get a citation for something akin to littering. But, you get my point. There is something we can do in every situation. Something that matters.

We can be prayers warriors for the helpless and hopeless.

So, okay brothers and sisters out there, get those mental prayer flags ready. Keep them handy, so at a moment's notice you can throw them out.

You don't have to be on your knees in front of an altar. Just bow your hearts before the Lord wherever you may be, in intercession for others.

...His ears are open to their prayers. I Peter 3:12

Feel the joy that being in constant communion with the Father brings.

Then you will call upon me, and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. Jeremiah 29:12

Feel His smile warm your heart.

Dear Loving Father,

I pray for each one reading this blog. You know every one of them, dear Lord. I'm bringing them before Your throne. Whatever their particular need is, whether it is physical, emotional, social, spiritual or mental, I know that You alone, Oh Lord are more than able to help them, to lift them up and most of all to redeem them and light their way to Heaven. Thank You for each one of them and I pray that they will feel Your love, Your Joy and Your Peace and comfort today.
In Jesus' precious name I pray.

For I am the Lord your God, who upholds your right hand,
Who says to you,"Do not fear, I will help you." Isaiah 41:13

(c) 2011 Bonnie Mae Evans

Monday, September 12, 2011

Earthquakes and Hurricanes, and Floods, Oh My!

And the occasional angry wasp! Oh no!

It sounds like a school kid's excuse for not having his homework to say that since I last wrote we've had a 5.9 earthquake, a hurricane named after my grandmother-Irene and unrelenting downpours of rain that have caused awful flooding where I live on the East coast.

Unfortunately it is all true!

Yes, I felt a little like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz. At any moment I expected that my house might be swallowed up by the earth on which it sits, or swept up into a tornado spawned by Hurricane Irene or floated out into the countryside like Noah's ark.
But, none of those things happened.

Thank you merciful Father!

When all was said and done we had very minimal damage or inconvenience compared to so many people living around us.

Many did not fare so well as their property was destroyed, they suffered through major power outages and their families were in harm's way resulting in injuries and some deaths.

For these dear precious ones, I pray. I ask for your prayers for them also.

Dear Father,
I pray that they will lean on and trust in You, the same God that spared me, but has entrusted them with this time of trial and suffering for Your purposes. I pray that they will feel Your loving arms around them and feel Your comfort. When this is over I pray that they will feel how You sustained them and through it they have come to know so much more of Your sovereignty and sustaining love.
In Your precious Son's name I pray.

I have to say that even in the midst of the earthquake shaking my house, and the fierce winds blowing the huge trees that surround my home and the rains pouring down ... and then pouring some more--I did not feel afraid.

I was concerned and took all of the necessary precautions.

(Well, almost all, I totally forgot what to do in the event of an earthquake.)
Being home alone at the time, I started grabbing after my cats, which made them scoot around close to the ground even quicker and totally elude my grasp by running under the bed.

Yeah, you guessed it, they remembered what to do and they acted on it! Just like Lassie they were trying to lead me to safety.
They're genius cats!

As I was saying, I was not afraid. I praise God for that. He gave me  the peace of God that passes all understanding to guard over my mind and heart, as Paul speaks of in Phillipians 4:7.

I remember another time in my life when everything around me pointed towards fear, but I can honestly say I was not afraid. Once again, the peace that only the Lord can give came over me.

The time was several years ago when we were on vacation in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. A cloudless, blue sky stretched out over a gentle blue-green ocean. It was a perfect beach day!
All was well as I sat in my beach chair, novel in hand, munching on a graham cracker.

I can smell the salty air laced with coconut scented sunscreen now! Mmmmmm . . . so peaceful.
Can you smell it?

Occasionally, I'd glance up and find my children happily playing in the ocean with my husband.

I was just getting into my book real good when all of a sudden the piece of graham cracker I had just bitten off gave a furious buzzzzzzz and I felt a sharp sting in the back of my throat. As I opened my mouth in surprise the angry wasp flew out and away down the beach.

Now, I am not allergic to insect stings, but my medical knowledge as a nurse immediately kicked in. I knew that because of the highly vasculated area in the throat where I had been stung and the swelling the would surely follow I would most definitely be in trouble very quickly.

I began to gather our things and we started for the condo where I had an antihistamine that I always traveled with like a good nurse . . . just in case of emergency.
By the time we reached the condo door my tongue was already swollen to twice its size. My daughter ran in ahead, quickly grabbed the bottle of antihistamine as she poured the liquid that she had expected to be pills into her hand, I could see real panic on her face. Fear was in my son's huge brown eyes as well. My husband started calling to see where the closest emergency clinic was.

The following part I am not proud of, but I must tell it to show how God provided for me.

I immediately began to get into the shower . . . yes, I was in a life-threatening emergency situation and I felt compelled to get out of my salty, sandy swimsuit and shower before going for help. (Please don't ever pull something like this!)

The modest part of me could not bear showing up in front of a doctor in a swimsuit and the vain part of me took one look at my salt-stiff hair and said, "No Way! If I'm going to die it's not looking like this!" By the way, God is working on the vanity part of me with each passing year. He's getting His point across.

Everyone was upset that I was taking a shower, so I was going to take the fastest one ever. The unusual fact that there was no hot water, just icy cold pouring down on me assured that it was the fastest on record.

Before we left I stopped to hug both of my children telling them with a tongue too swollen to form understandable words that I loved them and no matter what happened it would be fine.

The emergency clinic turned out to be quite a bit further down the beach than we had anticipated. As we hit red light after red light my throat began to swell more and more. At last, by the time we pulled into the clinic and stood in front of the front desk to register I could no longer say anything and could only get a very small amount of air past my swollen throat and trachea. I had to hold my head way back and breathe very calmly and slowly and accept what little bit of precious air I could get in. Needless to say, one look at my huge tongue protruding out of my mouth sent the receptionist screaming in the back for the doctor.

Skipping lots of boring emergency procedure details. I will say that I remained at perfect peace. It was surreal. Everyone marveled. I knew if I died Heaven was waiting and God had a perfect plan for my motherless children and if I lived He had another kind of perfect plan which included me being alive on this earth. Either way I had His peace and assurance.

When my husband relayed the part about the ice cold shower to the doctor, he said that cold shower probably saved me by constricting my blood vessels. (Look how God provided for me.)
BUT- he said, we should have gone in the other direction straight to Grand Strand Hospital because if I had a rebound reaction that sometimes occurs with this type swelling he did not have the necessary drugs to save me.

Well, the adrenaline and steroids did work without rebound and we were soon on our way.

In my heart I knew that for whatever reason we were where God had sent us for His purposes. Perhaps the doctor, his receptionist, other patients or his nurse needed to see that peace that only He can give. I'll leave that up to Him. I definitely know that my peace during a very scary time for my children left a lasting impression on them.

I'm not saying that I always experience "perfect peace." There are other incidences where I find it harder to just give it to the Lord and be washed over by His peace. These situations have left me hungry to abide in that peace.

They have taught me to seek Him in all things. Praise God!

How about you dear one, do you have the peace to rest in whatever happens, whether you live or you die that all will be well with your soul?
Do you trust him during the storms of life that come on us so suddenly leaving things a wreck?
What will your witness be?  One of peace in the Savior or one of fear and insecurity?

If you are in need of peace first get rid of the fear in your life.

Meditate on this verse in 2 Timothy 1:7

For God hath not given us a spirit of fear but one of power and of love and a sound mind. (or some translations say stability instead of a sound mind)
Keep claiming that verse. Write it down. Take it with you. Memorize it. Whenever you feel fear creep up on you repeat this verse. Rebuke satan because he is the originator of fear. Ask God to replace it with His peace. Keep at it. Satan is persistant, but believe me God always wins!

God is our refuge and strength,
an ever-present help in times of trouble.
therefore, we will not fear, though the earth give way
and the mountains fall into the sea.
Psalm 46: 1-2

Praise Jesus!!
In Him we are more than victorious!

(c) 2011 Bonnie Mae Evans