The Homeless Veteran: Guest Post by Bobby Hegedish

Engaging with homeless people I encounter has become a joy and a passion for me.  My friend Bobby Hegedish has discovered a similar calling. I think you will love his story of a homeless veteran. Orlando (although a city like Cleveland where I call home) has a much different vibe than most of the cities I have been to. Ethnic, cultural and economical diversity paint the town colors that make it known as “The City Beautiful.” I don’t usually find myself walking the streets of downtown Orlando past 11:00 PM. However, walking the streets recently to where my parked car was located gave me a sense of being small. Surrounded by skyscrapers and people, from wanderers to third-shift workers, I had a sense of being invisible. But in a moment of discrete observation and contemplation, the city around me became like a scene from a good documentary. What happened next would have made a great scene in such a film. Muttered words I could barely understand came from a man passing by on my right, head to the ground and papers in hand. From when I was a child, I have had a particular burden for those who had less and the homeless. Regardless of how they got there, it was their reality. Yet in small suburban Cleveland growing up, there weren’t many people with those situations to interact with. “Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.” (Matthew 25:40) Stopping in my tracks, I turned to the man in a split-second decision to attempt a conversation with him. I’ve tried many ways of serving the poor throughout the past several years: giving money or food, taking them out to eat, giving rides, and even a place to stay. These have been exercises as well as tests of faith for me. However, it is so easy to dismiss and project critical, judgmental thoughts onto folks like this man, who I found out was named David. These initial heart-level responses are inherent: external circumstances which trigger pre-disposed responses. Call it “flight Read more

Write the Vision: Guest Post by Stacey Thacker

  “And the Lord answered me: ‘Write the vision; make it plain on tablets, so he may run who reads it.’” (Habakkuk 2:2) A couple of years ago I found a kindred heart on the pages of God’s Word. His name was Habakkuk. He has a tiny three-chapter book in the Old Testament with his name on it. Maybe I liked him immediately because he wrestled with God. Or perhaps it was because of something God told Habakkuk to do, even though he was feeling fresh out of amazing like me. “What did God tell Habakkuk to do? He told the prophet to pick up the chisel and write the vision on a tablet. God also told him how to do it. The phrase “keep it simple.” Now consider that God had to tell farmer-turned-prophet Habakkuk to keep his message simple. He didn’t have a hashtag, images purchased from iStock, or even colored pens to make his message extra special. He didn’t have a Journaling Bible or a You-Tube video. He had a simple message written on tablets of stone, and God said, “Hey, Habakkuk, just write what you saw. Nothing less. Nothing more.” When God speaks we don’t need to dress it up or make it fancy. His Word, his vision, his instructions are enough. God told Habakkuk to write it down. And he did. I know what you may be thinking: “But I’m not a writer. I failed writing in college. I avoid writing grocery lists. This doesn’t apply to me.” Before you move on, though, let me just put this out there for you to consider: Habakkuk was a farmer. Peter was a fisherman. David was a shepherd. Matthew was a tax collector. James was a carpenter. I am a mom. Write the vision on people's hearts. You don’t have to identify as a writer to write down faith-affirming words inspired by God. You simply have to be willing. And whether anyone sees your words or you tuck them away in a journal like I did for years, your words matter because your soul matters. Writing is indeed clarifying soul work. And isn’t that what we need Read more

Our Loving Bitmojis--Just in Time for Valentine's

We would know we love each other if we never said the words because of the little things we do daily to demonstrate Read more

Lingering in the Word of God Brings Transformation

This is the third post from my word for the year—linger. What does a true follower of Jesus look like and live like? I ask that question often, especially as I read—and linger--in the Word God. Today I was in Romans 12—which is abounding with words that unveil the beautiful, character-growing transformation that God has promised to do in our lives. A Living Sacrifice The chapter is brimming with instructions to encourage us to surrender to God’s labor of love in our lives. So we will take a brief look at just verses 1-2, and hopefully continue through the chapter in later posts. And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. (Romans 12:1-2, NLT) Paul is addressing you and me as well as the believers in Rome: brothers and sisters—all of us! What he wants to say to us is so vital and essential that he pleads with us. Because of all God has done for us, he reasons, we must give our bodies to God. This giving of ourselves is no small matter—we are to give ourselves as a living and holy sacrifice. A living sacrifice? Clearly something different than the sacrifices of animals. What does it mean to be a living sacrifice? (Here’s a hint: We will find out what that looks like as we encounter the verses that follow in the rest of the chapter.) And a holy sacrifice? Me? You? Holy? Only because we have been made holy by the sacrifice of Jesus. And acceptable to God? Again, only because we have been bought by Jesus’ death on the cross. How does our Father receive our very personal sacrifices? As worship. Perhaps this giving of our living selves is Read more

Hidden Figures - the work and worth of women at Tim Fall

  For years I have been an advocate for the staff women in our ministry, seeking greater opportunities for them to use their gifts. In more recent years my friend and acquaintance circle has expanded to embrace many women of color. So it's no surprise that I loved Hidden Figures. It is a beautiful story of overcoming prejudice and discrimination to accomplish great things.  And I am grateful that Tim Fall invited me to write a personal reflection on the movie. I hope this "review" will get you up and on your way to see it.. Here's a taste, then head on over to Tim's blog, Just One Train Wreck After Another, to keep reading.   My stomach knotted. Already? Would there be trouble even in the opening scene? Three young black women on their way to work at NASA in the early 1960s stalled on the side of a country road. As the “mechanical one” worked to fix the problem, a police officer pulled up behind them. Cheerfulness turned to confrontation. My whole body tensed as I remembered such encounters in books I had read, in movies I had seen, in stories my friends had related. Gratefully “working at NASA” rescued them and the officer escorted them to their jobs. I attended the showing of Hidden Figures with the global leaders of Cru. It’s become tradition at the annual Executive Team retreat to take a break and attend a current significant movie. I asked why Hidden Figures was chosen, though there were other important films available in the same theater.... Keep reading: https://timfall.wordpress.com/2017/01/23/hidden-figures-the-work-and-worth-of-women/ What about you?  What emotions did this stir? c2017 Judy Read more

Loving a Prodigal

Loving a Prodigal: Learning to Linger

Once a month I write a letter to the wonderful Prayer for Prodigals community I am part of.  Often those letters, though specific to those who love a prodigal, apply to any or all of us in the challenging circumstances of life.   Today we consider an invitation to linger.

Learning to linger

Dear Lover of Prodigals,

“I have a regular phone call with a group of young believers,” the professor from a South Asian nation explained. “These new followers of Jesus need to learn to linger in prayer.”

I was struck by the word “linger.”

My husband and I spent a recent morning at the Bridges Vision Conference at Daytona. More than 1000 international students gathered to explore the person of Christ and their relationship to Him. Some were long-time believers, many were recent followers of Jesus and quite a few hadn’t entered such a relationship with Christ.

Steve and I had the privilege of sharing how God had worked in our lives with several groups of students—a special opportunity. We are grateful.

For me, though, the idea “to linger in prayer” lingered in my mind.

For much of my life, I didn’t linger much.

My husband would tell you that one of my frequent responses to requests to do something would be: “That doesn’t fit in my schedule.”

My younger daughter would tell you that too often as a child she heard her mother say, “Hurry up. We’re late.”

Even Jesus, who lingered often with the Father, would tell us that His disciples couldn’t linger with Him. In the Garden He asked the three closest to him, “Couldn’t you men keep watch with me for one hour?” (Matthew 26:36)

I hadn’t thought much about a word for 2017. I didn’t choose one last year—and God had lots of surprises over the months.

But as I have pondered lingering, my heart and mind have felt increasingly drawn to it. Perhaps that is exactly what I need at this too busy season of my life.

To linger—with my husband who, though surely with more responsibilities than I have, is much more likely to linger with people.

To linger—with my kids and grands. So many good things happen when I do that. And for those of us who love a prodigal it is especially needful for us to linger with them and with other family members who might get neglected.

To linger—with the people who are a part of my life and the ones God brings into my life. For those of us with prodigals, lingering with others in a similar place can encourage them and us.

To linger—most of all to linger with God. Surely to cry out for my loved one. To pray for others in much need. And especially to dwell in His presence, sensing His love and compassion, gaining wisdom and strength and perseverance for this difficult journey.

Whether or not “linger” is your word for this year, I’m sure you would be blessed and helped by abiding with Jesus on a consistent basis. To petition for your loved one, but primarily to be loved by God.

A blessing for your new year:

May you live from a grateful heart, a humble spirit and kind actions.

May you hope in the goodness of God and assurance of His love for you.

May God surprise you with His blessings every day.

With love and gratitude that you are in my life,

Judy

What about you? Do you have a word for 2017?

C2017 Judy Douglass

If you would be interested in requesting prayer for a prodigal loved one, or being a part of our wonderful praying community, respond in comments or write to me at PrayerforProdigals at gmaildotcom.




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Prayers of Hope and Blessing for Christmas

Once a month I write a letter of hope and blessing to the wonderful Prayer for Prodigals community I am part of.  Often those letters, though specific to those who love a prodigal, apply to any or all of us needing hope and blessing in the challenging circumstances of life.   

original1-img_0603

Dear Lover of Prodigals,

It’s that time of year again, isn’t it!

The time to give and receive, to enjoy your family, to celebrate the birth of our Savior, to rejoice with the angel choirs.

Yet, for so many of us with wandering loved ones, it is a time to grieve, to cry out, to weep, to cling to hope…

Today, may I pray for you?  May these blessings encourage you and your prodigal:

Prayers of Hope and Blessing for You and Your Loved Ones This Christmas

May you know that God delights in you
and is crazy in love with you.
(Zephaniah 3:17)

May you be convinced that nothing
can separate you from the love of God.
(Romans 8:38-39)

May you know that God will be with you
when you go through the floodwaters and through the flames.
(Isaiah 43:2)

May you surrender all your fears to Him
so He can fill you with courage and confidence.
(Psalms 34:4)

May you rise when you fall
and come out of the darkness into God’s light.
(Micah 7:8-9)

May you be built up, not torn down; planted, not uprooted.
May you turn to God with all your heart.
(Jeremiah 24:6,7)

May you hope in the future of God’s good plans for you.
(Jeremiah 29:11)

May all the days and years of your life
stolen by the evil one be restored.
(Joel 2:25)

May the comfort, peace and healing
of God bring praise to your lips.
(Isaiah 57:18,19)

May you know for sure that you are His and He is yours.
(Song of Solomon 2:16)

May gratitude be your daily attitude.
(1 Thessalonians 5:18)

May God open your eyes and ears to see and hear
what God has prepared for you.
(1 Corinthians 2:9)

May the light of your life shine
brightly into the darkness around you.
(Matthew 5:16)

May you comprehend that it gives God joy
to always do good to you.
(Jeremiah 32:40)

May you feel cords of lovingkindness
as the Father bends down to feed you.
(Hosea 11:4)

May you forget the former things and not dwell on the past.
May you see that He is doing a new thing.
(Isaiah 43:18,19)

May He turn the hearts of the fathers to their children
and the hearts of the children to their fathers.
(Malachi 4:6)

May you know you are His servant,
in whom He will display His splendor.
(Isaiah 49:3)

May the choices you make and the way you live
reflect that you have been adopted into God’s family and
thus have been transferred from Satan’s dark kingdom into the Kingdom of Light.
(Ephesians 1:5; 5:8)

May God take the hurts and losses of your life
and redeem them in great blessing and healing to many people.
(Joel 2:25)

May this Christmas season be filled with unanticipated hope and blessing.

With love,

Judy

If you would be interested in requesting prayer for a prodigal loved one, or being a part of our wonderful praying community, respond in comments or write to me at PrayerforProdigals at gmaildotcom.




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Loving a Prodigal: Is Life Out of Control?

Once a month I write a letter to the wonderful Prayer for Prodigals community I am part of.  Often those letters, though specific to those who love a prodigal, apply to any or all of us in the challenging circumstances of life.   

Out of control?

Dear Lover of Prodigals,

So which is causing you the most anxiety, fear, desperation these days? The election or terrorism or war and instability around the globe–or your prodigal loved one?

Does everything seem out of control?

Sometimes life, or family situations, or financial needs seem overwhelming. We feel out of control. We can’t help or stop or change things. We can’t control them.

It is good when we recognize this, for then we will hopefully turn to El Elyon, the Most High God.

The literal meaning is “God is the high one.” Synonyms would be sovereign and ruler. In other words, He is in control.

This name of God appears throughout the Old Testament, but most often in the book of Daniel. Here we read the story of Nebuchadnezzar, the mighty ruler of the Babylonian empire.

Though he acknowledged the power of Daniel’s God, he still believed he was in control. Thus God’s word to him: “You will be driven away from people and will live with wild animals…Seven times will pass by for you until you acknowledge the Most High is sovereign over the kingdoms of men…”

And that is what happened. After seven years of living as an animal, the King looked to heaven and was restored. He said, “Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and exalt and glorify the King of heaven, because everything he does is right and all his ways are just…”

Where is your life out of control?

A child on drugs? Lost a job? A pregnant daughter? In foreclosure? A son in jail? A cancer diagnosis? Or just myriad small details adding up to one big mess?

Then it is time to acknowledge, in reality, life is out of control. And to turn to this Most High God who is, in reality, in control. No surprises, no indifference, no “oops” for Him. He knows. He cares. He is able.

His name is a promise. You can depend on Him to be in control.

This powerful God has invited you to bring all the confusion and pain and lostness to Him. He says, “Come. Let’s talk.”

Here are some possible things to talk with Him about:

  1. Help me to believe that You are in control and You can bring good from this chaos and confusion.

2. I am angry at you, God. Why don’t you do something about ___?

3. I need wisdom to make wise decisions toward some possible solutions.

4. I am filled with fear and I could really use some peace.

5. I feel like giving up.

Add some more of your own:

1.

2.

Thank You, Lord, El Elyon, to you higher than all, that you do know and you truly care and you are absolutely in control.

As we keep loving,

Judy

What about you? What do you need to hand over to God’s control?

c2016 Judy Douglass

If you would be interested in requesting prayer for a prodigal loved one, or being a part of our wonderful praying community, respond in comments or write to me at PrayerforProdigals at gmaildotcom.




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Loving a Prodigal: Immersed in His Mercy

Once a month I write a letter to the wonderful Prayer for Prodigals community I am part of.  Often those letters, though specific to those who love a prodigal, apply to any or all of us in the challenging circumstances of life.   

Mercy

Dear Lover of Prodigals,

What was the last thing your prodigal did that really exasperated you?

Lied to you? Stole from you? Drove high or intoxicated? Moved in with a girlfriend/boyfriend? Refused to go to school? Did something foolish and dangerous? Yes, and there are many more possibilities.

What was your response?  I will let you name your own.

What was the last thing you did that might have frustrated God—or saddened Him?

Probably not the obviously destructive things your prodigal might have done.  But God is saddened by many of our choices in response to our loved ones or to other events and circumstances in our lives: anger, hurtful words, harsh punishments, fear, deceit, lack of kindness or compassion, unloving, impatient.  It could be a long list.

And what was God’s response? Here are some of Jesus’ responses:

The woman at the well: Jews always avoided going through Samaria, but Jesus “had to go through Samaria.” Why? He had an appointment to keep, with a sinful woman. Five husbands, now living with a man not her husband. Jesus knew all this. Yet He talked to her—a Samaritan, a woman, a sinner. The shame of it. He told her what He knew, but He didn’t condemn. Instead He offered her living water and a changed life. (John 4)

The thief on the cross: An evil man, certainly, to have earned crucifixion as punishment for his crimes. Yet, even as he is dying, he asks for mercy from Jesus. Jesus could have said, “It’s too late. You have lived a terrible life. You are only repenting now because you are afraid.” But no, Jesus said, “Today you will be with me in Paradise.” (Luke 23:38-43)

The woman caught in adultery: They surely had set up the “caught in the act” shaming of this woman.  Dragged from her bed apparently and thrust at the feet of Jesus, she awaited His condemnation—and her own death.  “Let him who is without sin throw the first stone,” He said.  She cringed, anticipating. Nothing but the sound of stones dropping to the ground and feet shuffling away.  “Has no one accused you or thrown a stone?” “No, Rabbi, no one has,” the amazed woman replied.  “Neither do I,” Jesus said gently. “Go and sin no more.”

And you and I? Surely we too often find ourselves crying out to God for mercy as David did after his sin with Bathseba:

“Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions…” (Psalm 51:1)

We are grateful that our God is like the merciful father in Luke 15: As the prodigal wanderer returned, before he could even speak his repentance, the father ran to him, threw his arms around him, kissed him, put a cloak and a ring on him and threw a party.

Our God loves mercy.  And He is willing to immerse us in His mercy:

“But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.” (Ephesians 2:4-5)

Yes, God is opposed to sin. And sin generates consequences—some that are the natural result of choices made, others that we impose.

But our primary response should be one that flows out of the love and grace we have received. Even as we have been immersed in the mercy of our God, so should we give mercy to our prodigals.

We should be less like the Pharisees dragging in the woman caught in adultery and more like the very-wronged father who ran to his prodigal son.

May we live in this truth: “Mercy triumphs over judgment.” (James 2:13)

In His mercy,

Judy

What about you? When have you received mercy, given mercy?

c2016 Judy Douglass

If you would be interested in requesting prayer for a prodigal loved one, or being a part of our wonderful praying community, respond in comments or write to me at PrayerforProdigals at gmaildotcom.

 




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Prodigal Prayer Day 8: An Anchor for Hope

Will your anchor hold in the storm?

This is the eighth post in a weekly series of mini-devotionals on HOPE, which is the theme of the 2016 June 2 Worldwide Prodigal Prayer Day. This letter goes to the members of the Prayer for Prodigals community, but it is true for all of us   

anchor

Dear Lover of Prodigals,

My son Josh and his wife, Lesley, love to fish.  Before they moved to their little farm, they owned a small boat and spent many hours in the ocean off Cocoa Beach, and in the shipping channel running by a substantial rock jetty.  The fish were usually biting by the jetty.

So they would pick a spot near the jetty, on the edge of the channel, and drop anchor—and fish for hours.  Unless, of course, the anchor didn’t hold. Which happened occasionally because of the rocky bottom by the jetty.

Josh describes what they had to do:  “I had to drop my pole (hopefully in the boat), run up to the front of the boat and start pulling the anchor in. Lesley would quickly start the engine and turn us away from the jetty—or we could have a big hole in the hull.”

His anchor didn’t hold, which could have been disastrous.

An anchor that holds

But we have an anchor that will hold:

We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, where our forerunner, Jesus, has entered on our behalf….” (Hebrews 6:19-20)

Hope is an anchor for our souls—firm and secure.

We have a tendency to place our hope in our prodigals—that they will come to their senses, repent, return, be restored.  And they may, but not because they are a dependable anchor.  Most of us have seen returned prodigals relapse or turn back to old friends and former patterns.

A dependable anchor must be able to hold to any kind of undersea terrain, strong enough to resist the wind and waves.

We have that kind of anchor. God Himself, revealed in Jesus: “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul. “Therefore I hope in Him!” (Lam 3:24).

Hear God’s Word for you in Isaiah 49:23. “Then you will know that I am the Lord; those who hope in me will not be disappointed.”

Receive the prayer of Paul in Ephesians 1:18-21. “I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe.”

Storms ahead

As we enter into the war room on behalf of our prodigals, as we accept God’s invitation to come to His throne of grace, we can do so with confidence that our Hope will hold even in the storms. Jesus is the anchor who is solid and dependable.

On June 2 we will pour out our hearts’ desires.  We will cry out to our God.  We will beseech Him to woo and win, to rescue and restore. We will ask Him, for our own loved ones and all those we have agreed to pray for, to lavish them with love, immerse them in mercy and embrace them with grace.

We know the God of Hope is our anchor, and our anchor will hold.

We will join with Micah in proclaiming: “But as for me, I watch in hope for the Lord, I wait for God my Savior; my God will hear me.’ (Micah 7:7)

We will lay hold of this prayer from Paul, our theme verse: “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 15:12-13)

As much as we pursue, pray for, adore, give mercy, persevere, never give up—and so much more in pursuing redemption, restoration, reconciliation, relationship with our loved prodigals—infinitely more does God do all those for us, and for our loved ones.

Thus we can hope.

Holding to hope,

Judy

P.S. June 2 is just a few days away. Please make sure your friends and neighbors who have prodigals know that we will pray for them and their loved ones. Forward this letter to them. Invite them to join with you on Thursday to pray. Gather at your home or a friend’s home, in a church, at lunch at work—anywhere you can. Even pray with a friend over the phone or online.

Our group usually meets for two hours. The first hour is spent telling why we are there or updating the latest on our prodigals.  And praying for each other. Then we spend an hour praying over the list (almost 3000 names) so that every one is named before the Lord.

I usually fast that day, and take time throughout the day to pray, naming every name on the list.

You can do as little or as much as you want.

Be blessed, my praying friends.

What about you? Will your anchor hold?

c2016 Judy Douglass

If you would be interested in requesting prayer for a prodigal loved one, or being a part of our wonderful praying community, respond in comments or write to me at PrayerforProdigals at gmaildotcom. 




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