As I was checking my Facebook page today, I came across several prayer requests. One was for a friend’s mother as she was going through chemo treatments, another for a young family who lost their father in a traffic accident, several prayers for safe travel, a lady who lost her husband and was left in intensive care after a motorcycle accident, another friend who has a blood clot in his leg, and a gunman who had two nurses held at gunpoint in a St. Louis hospital.
Am I supposed to stop and take time to pray for each prayer request I come across on Facebook? Yes, I know they are my friends, and they are asking for prayer, but sometimes the prayer requests seem to overwhelm me, and I don’t feel I have time to stop and pray for each one. But two weeks ago I posted these words on my timeline. “What better use of Facebook than to pray for each other?”
I felt somewhat hypocritical when I was thinking I didn’t have time to pray for all the requests after posting those words. This got me to thinking about prayer requests in general. I am on a church text alert list and seem to get two to three texts a day with people having serious problems who need prayer. Then at church on Sundays we always hear about people who have health troubles and need prayers.
I must admit all these request sometimes fly by with me saying a quick prayer to get it off my list or sometimes I don’t even pray at all. Here’s the saddest part. Sometimes I make a prayer request for myself, a friend or family member. It’s amazing how much I hope the people who get my text alert, or Facebook message or request through church, stop and really take time to ask the Lord to answer my request. Last week I was speaking at Teen Challenge and asked my friends for prayer. As I made that request, I wondered how many of them treated my request like I sometimes treated theirs.
I was sure hoping my friends were offering prayers like Jesus talked about in Luke 11 when He said, “Suppose one of you has a friend. Suppose you go to him at midnight and say, ‘Friend, let me borrow three loaves of bread. A friend of mine on a trip has dropped in on me, and I don’t have anything to serve him.’ Your friend might answer you from inside his house, ‘Don’t bother me! The door is already locked, and my children are in bed. I can’t get up to give you anything.’ I can guarantee that although he doesn’t want to get up to give you anything, he will get up and give you whatever you need because he is your friend and because you were so bold.” GOD’s WORD
Charles Shockley is an elder at my church who has a powerful prayer life. His life is full of answered prayers and miracles. His book The Journey of One Common Man chronicles many of the miracles his prayers have led to. I myself experienced the power of his prayer life when he prayed for my back and it was miraculously healed. I know a healing like that may be hard to believe and I was a “doubting Thomas” myself, before I met Bro. Shockley, but it really happened.
Each Sunday he has people coming to him before and after church requesting prayer, because they know his prayers are answered. I have spent some time with him and noticed how he handles prayer requests. Anytime someone asks for prayer he stops what he is doing and right then prays with them. He does the same thing over the phone. If you call him he will stop whatever he is doing and have prayer for you on the spot. I want to be more like Bro. Shockley to my friends.
I get up each morning and pray through my prayer list. I have many of my friend’s requests on my list, but most of my list is for my needs. Too often I forget to write requests down. I believe in prayer because so many of my prayer requests have been answered since I turned back to the Lord. But I want to be the kind of fervent prayer warrior that James 5: 16 described. “The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availed much.” KJV
Friends joining together in fervent prayer can move God to do great things. Facebook and text alerts are a wonderful way to help enlist the prayers of friends, but we all have to take time to stop and pray for those requests. I confess I have let too many slip by without treating them as I would have treated my own requests.
I’m going to make a commitment to be more like Bro. Shockley and follow Jesus’s Golden Rule found in Matthew 7:12. “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.” NIV
Rev. Andrew Murray wrote With Christ in the School of Prayer. It is probably one of the most notable books on prayer outside of the Bible and he explains that Jesus was teaching us to join him in a ministry of intercession. I want to close by saying thanks to all my Facebook friends that have taken time to pray for my requests. Your prayers have been answered in so many ways and I appreciate them soooooo very much! My goal is to be a better intercessor in 2014. Would you be willing to join me?
Rod Jetton will be sharing his testimony of God’s love and forgiveness at the August 16th Platte City First Baptist Church men’s breakfast.
Rod enjoyed a meteoric rise from a young Marine officer to the second youngest House Speaker in Missouri state history. He was on the fast track to becoming Governor of Missouri, when his personal life exploded as he went through a very public and humiliating fall.
In his testimony Rod explains how his hypocritical lifestyle led to his downfall and he points out how pride, flattery, bitterness and paranoia can have terrible consequences for those in charge of companies or organizations. Using personal examples, Rod will warn men about the dangers of letting success go to their heads as well as the destruction that follows when succumbing to temptation. Rod’s candid way of explaining his mistakes and pointing out the dangers of putting his career in front of his faith and family are of great benefit to driven leaders focused on accomplishing their goals.
He will be speaking August 16th, 8:00 am at First Baptist Church in Platte City, Missouri. More info can be found by clicking here
First Baptist Church Platte City
214 Ferrel St.
Platte City MO 64079
I just have to write about yesterday’s service and praise the Lord for His blessings. I had an amazing experience sharing my testimony at the Mid-America Teen Challenge campus in Cape Girardeau Wednesday morning. It was a wonderful service which has given me the faith to believe God can take my past mistakes and make all things work together for His good.
Chris Edmonds from Element 74 had invited me to come and speak, but I had never met the Teen Challenge Executive Director, Pastor James Bolin in person. When I arrived, he explained that the service would start with some praise songs, then I would be speaking for 15 to 20 minutes before he preached. I told him that sounded fine and asked him to give me a three minute warning so I could wrap up my testimony.
We had a wonderful time singing a few praise songs before Pastor James called me up to speak. I had been praying about what to share for the last three weeks and kept feeling I should stress forgiveness and the hope that comes from knowing God has an assignment for all of us.
I talked about my successes and failures while explaining how pride, bitterness and my hypocritical lifestyle led to my troubles. Then I told them about God’s grace in my life and how wonderful His blessings were once I turned back to Him. I spent a lot of time stressing how important forgiving others and myself was to my recovery, plus I did my best to explain that if God leaves us breathing, it is because he has something he needs us to do. It seemed like I only talked a short time and I was watching for Pastor James signal, but it never came.
Once I finished Pastor James said he had planned to preach on the flesh, but felt he didn’t need to. He told the men that when he thought about giving me the cutoff signal he felt God didn’t want him to. He said my testimony was exactly what the men needed to hear that day. He then asked me to lead an alter call. Leading an alter call is a bit intimidating because I am not a preacher, but I asked anyone who was holding bitterness in their hearts against someone or had not forgiven themselves to come forward, kneel at the alter and ask God to take the bitterness away.
I was blown away as men rushed to the alter to pray. The whole front of the church was full of men who were turning to God for help. I joined them in prayer and we had a wonderful time taking our needs to Christ.
Once the service ended Pastor James informed me that I spoke for 40 minutes. I gave each man a copy of my testimony and had many tell me that hearing what the Lord had done for me and letting go of their anger was a big help to them.
One man in particular moved me when he thanked me for giving him hope. I had mentioned how I had considered suicide when my troubles hit and he showed me a scar on his neck where he had tried to take his life. He told me hearing how God left me alive and changed my life gave him hope.
Hearing those words of encouragement from so many good men working to fix their broken lives made me believe that God can use me and my past mistakes to help others overcome their hurdles and avoid the kinds of troubles I slipped into. This is something that has been very hard for me to understand.
God deserves all the praise. Nothing about that service was an accident. Get this! It just so happened that my daily Bible reading yesterday morning was Lamentations 3. During my prayer time I felt the Lord leading me to read it during my testimony. I have read that passage several times before without even noticing it, and I sure never thought about including it in my testimony. I know God was directing me, Pastor James and the men at Teen Challenge yesterday. All these “coincidences” didn’t just happen by accident.
Feeling God’s direction in my life is so refreshing! It provides such a confidence as I take one day at a time, and without Him, there is no way I could share my story. It was hard writing my testimony and talking about my mistakes is embarrassing, but today showed me that good can come from it.
I want to thank all of my friends who were praying for me this morning. God answered our prayers!
Here are the verses from Lamentations 3: 21- 41
“The reason I can still find hope is that I keep this one thing in mind: the LORD’S mercy. We were not completely wiped out. His compassion is never limited. It is new every morning. His faithfulness is great. My soul can say, ‘The LORD is my lot in life. That is why I find hope in him.’ The LORD is good to those who wait for him, to anyone who seeks help from him. “It is good to continue to hope and wait silently for the LORD to save us. It is good for people to endure burdens when they’re young. They should sit alone and remain silent because the LORD has laid these burdens on them. They should put their mouths in the dust. Maybe a reason to hope exists. They should turn their cheeks to the one who strikes them and take their fill of insults. “The Lord will not reject such people forever. Even if he makes us suffer, he will have compassion in keeping with the richness of his mercy. He does not willingly bring suffering or grief to anyone, crush any prisoner on earth underfoot, deny people their rights in the presence of the Most High God, or deprive people of justice in court. The Lord isn’t happy to see these things. Who was it who spoke and it came into being? It was the Lord who gave the order. Both good and bad come from the mouth of the Most High God. “Why should any living mortal (any person) complain about being punished for sin? Let us look closely at our ways and examine them and then return to the LORD. Let us raise our hearts and hands to God in heaven. God’s Word
Teen Challenge is a program that helps men who are trying to overcome an addiction. They focus on three areas of development: spiritual, academic and vocational. They provide students an environment of learning, stressing, self-discipline and personal growth all centered around a belief that Jesus is the best way to change a person’s heart. This provides students the opportunity to develop job skills and positive character traits they will need face a life free of addictions.
While Speaker I was given results from all types of drug treatment programs and none of them ever attained the success rate that Teen Challenge has consistently shown. 70%-86% of the men who complete the 10 month TC program stay off drugs and out of jail.
What is the major difference in the TC program? Simply, a faith in Jesus Christ!
GOD’S WORD is a copyrighted work of God’s Word to the Nations Bible Society. Quotations are used by permission.
A few weeks ago we did a Google hangout interview with Author Jennie Goutet, who wrote “A Lady in France.” She is such an engaging writer I thought my readers would enjoy learning more about her. So if you missed the video here is the transcript from the interview! You can still watch the video by clicking here
- First, tell us exactly how to pronounce your name?
The simple answer is that it’s pronounced “goo-tay.” There’s a nuance to the “ay” part that I have trouble pronouncing myself, but you can’t go wrong with goo-tay.
- How long have you been writing?
I’ve tried to write before, but couldn’t quite get it right. I was trying to write fiction with absolutely no previous training, and the plot was a bust. I started really practicing the craft five years ago when I began my blog. I slowly gained confidence that way, and when I set about to write a memoir, the plot was already in place, which made the whole thing easier.
- When did you first think of writing a personal memoir?
When I started writing about my past in Asia and Africa on my blog, a few people told me I should write a memoir, but I never took it seriously because I couldn’t see how it all fit together. But when I had a miscarriage, I finally saw the thread that would bind my eclectic experiences into one story – and that was my relationship with God. That was the continual thread, and that’s when I began the memoir in earnest.
The memoir is divided into three parts. “A lady unformed” is about my conversion story – the grief I suffered, my travels to Asia and France, and my slow acceptance of Christ. “A lady hard-pressed” is about the character discipline I received in my walk with God. In this section, I also talk about some of the blessings of following Christ, including marriage to a godly man. There are also a couple of chapters on our missionary life in Africa. And the last section is entitled, “A lady rooted and established” and this details the highs and lows of maturity in Christ, including babies and little cottages, along with church troubles and grief. I think everyone will find something they can relate to.
- You went all the way around the world to teach English as a young college grad. What do you think caused you to want to do something like that?
I think I was simply afraid of being ordinary. I wanted to reinvent myself as a way of finding sophistication and self-worth. Instead, I found God.
- When you were younger you reference your strong pride several times, but yet you were dealing with depression and insecurity. How do those opposite traits co-exist?
This is a really great question. I think that depression is not something we can overcome by will alone. Sometimes it needs prayer, sometimes counseling, sometimes medicine. Often a combination of everything is what does the trick. However, pride and insecurity (which are really the same thing) are both something we can control – something we can work towards overcoming as the Spirit makes us holy. We can choose to believe that our worth comes from Christ’s sacrifice, and that makes us no better and no worse than another. And yet, we are so uniquely precious to God we don’t need to clamor and grasp to be noticed. This sober estimate of ourselves is something we grow in in our walk with God.
- I was drawn to the descriptive way you write. How did you learn to describe emotions and your surroundings so well? Were you born with that talent?
Actually, this was probably a direct result of strong “encouragement” from a friend to put more meat on the bones. I sent her my initial draft of the memoir, and she said it completely lacked sensory descriptions. She wanted to feel like she was living it along with me. Once I figured out what she meant (by asking her for examples), I basically started from scratch and added the sensory descriptions that made the reader smell, taste, see, feel the things I did – all of which brought the story to life. Definitely not born with that talent.
- You describe several invitations you feel God sent your way. What do you think caused you to finally accept an invitation? I mean sometimes its trouble that drives us to Christ, what caused you to change from an agnostic person to a total God person?
In my case, I do think it was trouble that brought me to Christ. I was heartbroken over my parents’ divorce, traumatized from a car accident, and deeply scarred from my brother’s brutal suicide. I’m not sure I would have reached out for God if those event had not occurred. But what won me over to God in the end was simply the Bible and the love I found there. It was miraculous and easy to read. Full of answers, and more importantly – comfort. It saved me.
- What did you find hardest about surrendering to Christ?
Ha ha. My will. My stubborn will. I want things to happen my way all the time, and that is simply not part of the package deal we get when we surrender to Christ.
- You write about the challenges of purity in the book. What advice would you give parents or teenagers growing up in today’s world on premarital sex?
I’m sure you can speak much more eloquently on this subject, having gone through it . . . but I think setting the example by being super non-judgmental and completely open and approachable (i.e. not shocked when it doesn’t prove as easy for them as we think it should) – that coupled with actually talking about purity as something beautiful and worthy and admirable is what I find to be essential.
I mentioned in the interview that I also think it’s important to love (and treat naturally) those who are not living a pure lifestyle, whether it be people who are in a homosexual lifestyle or people who are “together” but unmarried. What works against purity, in my opinion, is criticism, judgment and hate because those things are not attractive and they will not attract our children to Christ.
- You talk about your realization that you drank too much and leave readers with the impression that you stopped. Do you still drink? How hard was it to stop?
It was surprisingly easy to stop because of the church culture I was in at the time. It was a little harder coming to France where wine and water are the two drinks offered at the table. But my husband doesn’t drink either, which helps a lot. We serve non-alcoholic wine at communion, and we don’t have alcohol in the house. So we are of the small non-Muslim minority in France that doesn’t drink.
- Your mission efforts in Africa sounded so hard and seemed to accomplish so little. What do you think you accomplished and what is the biggest lesson you and your husband learned from that experience?
It’s true that a lot of our time was spent twiddling our thumbs waiting for government approval, or waiting to return (from Kenya) to Somaliland post- 9/11. But we did accomplish quite a bit in those last 3 months in Hargeisa, opening the maternity hospital and improving the conditions at the orphanage. And I would say that even if I had done nothing for an entire year but sit on my hands, except for the one morning I held a baby orphan as he died, as I was quite likely the only person who had ever loved him in his short life – if I had done only that then the entire year could be counted as a success.
- You mentioned that you were a very successful teacher. Why didn’t you go into that once you returned to America?
Unfortunately, teaching isn’t my passion. It was fun when coupled with an adventure living overseas, but it wasn’t something I could see myself doing as a career. I greatly admire teachers and I am very grateful for them, but I am not one of them.
- I’m a guy who has never been depressed that I know of. How exactly did depression effect you? And you mentioned in the book that the medicine helped. How did it help? I mean how did it make you feel?
Depression is not something you can control. I have a pretty strong personality and if it were something I could just will away, I would have. From my (non-medical-degree) understanding, depression is due to a low level of the naturally-occurring serotonin, found principally in the intestines, and also in the brain. All medicine does is to bring that level up to normal. It doesn’t make you “happy” per se. It just gives you the will to participate in life again and the ability to find solutions to ordinary problems.
- Do you have any advice for couples on how to deal with or overcome postpartum depression? I mean for a guy what can we do to help with that sort of thing?
I think the most important thing a guy can do is to not freak out. Postpartum Depression (PPD) is normal – a large percentage of woman experience it after childbirth. It can cause you to have thoughts of harming the baby or harming yourself. Someone who has always had a stoic (or even sunny) disposition can find themselves weeping all the time with no hope. The best thing a husband can do is to get her help – call the local PPD group and get someone over there who can relate and give her the tools to overcome. Often the very act of calling will simply be too much for the mom, so this is a very supportive act on behalf of her husband.
- Your church sounds so wonderful. Can you explain how important it has been to your faith and has it recovered from some of the troubles you wrote about?
I have a very strong conviction that our faith is not meant to be lived out alone. It is meant to be lived out in a group. For one thing, all of the conversions in the Bible happened in the presence of other people. For another, all of the epistles were written (mostly by Paul) to churches of believers that were all connected through relationships. Sometimes there was exhortation and sometimes rebuke, which is only effective if you are in people’s lives. Our heart is too deceitful to try and remain righteous on our own strength. It just doesn’t work. And that’s where the importance of the church comes in.
Our church has never been perfect, but I would say that we have recovered from a lot of the problems of “hyper-vigilance” and nitpicking over people’s sin, and I think we are the better for it because discipleship is still the forefront of the movement. In the end – after salvation – we are all individually responsible for walking in holiness and righteousness. I’m not sure this is a very coherent answer, but bottom line is – I do love my church and I wouldn’t be where I was at spiritually without it.
- What do you hope readers take away from A Lady in France?
Oh, I have to say I hope they will love it! J I hope they feel kinship – that they’re not alone in their struggles – and that they will see what a glorious God we have in heaven.
- What is your writing process? Do you have to have complete quietness and be alone? Do you need a beautiful view or music? What gets your creative juices going?
Yeah. I have three kids. And a dog. If I can grab twenty minutes while they’re plunked down in front of the TV, I’m golden. My standards are so low. But some peace and quiet really does help with creativity, along with the occasional vacation to renew my sense of wonder.
- What are a few of your favorite books?
Apart from the Bible, which I almost don’t mention since it’s more than just a book, I was very influenced by Dickens’ Pickwick Papers and all of Jane Austen’s books, notably Pride & Prejudice. I love Georgette Heyer – The Unknown Ajax to choose just one of her 50 books. I giggled through Mark Twain’s Innocents Abroad and loved The Idiot by Dostoevsky. There are so many – I like to read.
- What is your next project? Are you writing anything now?
As a matter of fact, I am. I took a huge plunge and am doing a book-length series on my blog, called The Viscount of Maison Laffitte. If you feel like getting lost in my little fictional romance/mystery, you can read it for free, starting with Chapter One http://aladyinfrance.com/um-chapter-one/. I plan to publish it when completed.
To tell you the truth, I’m not sure I can pull it off (the whole not-good-at-plot debacle) but this is a good way to keep me accountable and keep me writing.
Readers can get a copy of “A lady in France” by clicking here:
And… since we are talking to “A lady in France,” I thought a Tour de France photo would be fitting!
After I lost that monster smally I was disappointed. He was so close and he got away, but when you are fishing, as in life there is only one thing to do- keep casting. You can’t catch a fish staring at into the water with your pole across your lap.
We kept hugging the shoreline and throwing our lure into every crag and good-looking fish hideout we could see. Dad and I led and Courts and Grant followed. We did catch server nice Pike that we knew would make for a tasty fish fry that night but no big small mouths.
Our goal was Bald Eagle creek and we were getting closer. It was still a cloudy and overcast day and the fish were biting so I was excited about getting to Dad’s “secret” spot where even Mom had caught big fish. When we finally saw the creek I changed lures to a giant yellow rooster tail (Mom said that’s what she caught all her fish on there in 1980,) as Dad gave me the final instructions on being ready to catch fish. He said Mom almost caught a fish on every cast 20+ years ago, which added to my pressure.
As we started up the mouth of the creek there was a huge rock on our right side and Dad said, “We always catch one here.” Right after he said that I made a perfect cast to the edge of that rock and sure enough hung a nice Pike. That made me a believer on how much of a honey hole Bald Eagle Creek was.
Dad kept paddling and advising me on where to cast and I kept catching fish. The water was really shallow and we could easily see the bottom as we headed upstream. The grass and lily pads were thick against the edges and the Pike were sitting underneath them and attacking my lure with each cast. The trick was to cast as close to the grass as possible without getting hung.
We tried to stay quiet and cast without snagging but there were several casts where I threw to far and caught the brush. Each time Dad would have to paddle over to my snag and he would say, “You can’t catch fish getting hung up,” or he would add, “Your as bad as your Mom at casting, can’t you cast any better than that?”
Courts and Grant followed us up the creek and Grant was having a ball while pulling them in. I don’t know how many we caught but we started throwing the “small” ones back. We finally reached a point where the water was so shallow we had to stop and Dad parked our canoe so we could hike up to Beaver Creek and check out the Beaver Dam.
It was only a few hundred yards to the Beaver Dam but there was no trail and it was an adventurous hike through rocks, brush and millions of mosquitoes. I took my pole hoping to catch a monster fish in the Beaver Pond and when we reached the dam it was a beautiful pond that looked like it should be full of very large fish just waiting to be caught by an adventurer brave enough to blaze and trail through the brush and mosquitoes. Unfortunately, I didn’t get a bite.
We headed back to our canoes, stretched our backs and headed back down Bald Eagle Creek. After a very long day sitting in the canoe it felt good to get up and walk around, but the mosquitoes were so bad I wanted to get out in the breeze over the water where they didn’t bother us as much.
We had another fun time catching fish all the way down the creek and we were almost back to the big rock with Courts and Grant in front of us when Grant hooked his biggest fish of the trip. He was trying to pull it in and his drag was screaming while Courts and Dad were coaching him on the finer points of fish catching. I took the camera out and got the whole thing on film.
It was late in the day so we headed back along the same shoreline for our campsite. Dad kept paddling and I kept fishing but I was anxious to get back to the spot where I had hung my monster small mouth. I wanted another chance at him and thought maybe he would bite again or his wife or his bigger daddy would be there to jump on my line. Dad caught a few Walleye and I hooked a Pike or two as we got closer to the “spot.”
A couple of coves up when we were really close to shore I made a short cast off the point of a cliff that didn’t look very special and hooked a fish. I was trying to reel him in, but my drag kept slipping and Dad looked at me and said, “Son, you need to tighten that drag some or you’ll never get these fish in.”
I was thinking he was right and about that time he exploded out of the water and I understood the reason the drag was slipping, I had another ginormous smallmouth on the line. As soon as Dad saw him he told me to get the net. This time the handle was out and ready and I wasted no time in getting the net and scooping up my trophy small mouth!
He was BIG and I was happy!! All the disappointment from losing that other smally was washed away. I very carefully put him on the stringer and after that all I wanted to do was get back to camp and show Courts and Grant. Of course after I calmed down I told dad that even as big as my current smally was, the one that got away earlier was even bigger.
It was a somewhat uneventful trip back. Dad caught another small walleye and we had to paddle against the wind across the last part of the lake to get to our campsite but I wanted to weigh and measure my fish.
Dad left his fish scale at home because he thought it would be too heavy to trek in. At his age every ounce was a burden so we didn’t have an accurate way to weigh my monster. I got a 5 Pound bag of potatoes that Mom had sent and held them in one hand and my fish in the other. They seemed about even to me and Courts double checked my accuracy and confirmed the weight. It measured almost 19 inches and we estimated it was 5 pounds.
I can tell you it made for a giant fish fry. I love fish and I have eaten a lot of good fish in my life, but I don’t think fish can ever be as good as they are after a long day on the Boundary Waters. There is something about frying some fresh fish that were just caught out of a lake that is so clean you can drink the water straight out of it. Frying up fresh fish in pure coconut oil that have been dipped in Mom’s secret cornmeal mix is as good as it gets!
Click here to watch video of Dad Frying Fish
We had a wonderful evening sitting around our campfire and ate fish till we couldn’t eat any more as we watched the sun set in one of the most beautiful and peaceful places on earth. It was the perfect ending to a perfect day. I learned that when the wind blows out of the West and it’s a cloudy overcast day, GO FISHING because fish do bite best when the wind blows from the West! Next year I will volunteer to carry the 2 oz fish scale into camp.