Sometimes I Forget

by Tama Fortner

…Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are Mine!” Isaiah 43:1 NASB

Sometimes I forget who I am. Does that ever happen to you? Oh, I don’t mean I forget my name or where I live. (Though what I had for breakfast or why on earth I went into the kitchen can be a total mystery.) No, what I mean is that I sometimes forget who I am as a child of God.

I venture out into the world, or at least my little corner of it, and I’m instantly bombarded by all these images and messages of who the world says I should be, could be, or most definitely am not. (That’s the one that really gets me.) Not important enough, not experienced enough, not skilled enough. Simply not enough to do whatever it is the Lord is calling me to do that day. And it’s so tempting—it would be so easy—just to creep back inside, thinking to myself, You’re right, world. God must have gotten His wires crossed when He sent that message to me. I’m sure He meant for someone else to tackle that project, teach that class, write that book, speak to that neighbor down the street. There’s no way He meant me.

Right? Wrong!

Liar is not a word I use lightly. It’s a terrible thing to be called. But that’s exactly what the devil is. A great, big, pants-on-fire liar. Jesus called him the “father of lies” (John 8:44 NIV) because he has been murdering truth from the beginning, since that very first time he slithered into the garden and whispered to Adam and Eve. That serpent hasn’t stopped whispering yet.

Are you like me? Do you hear him sometimes too? His lies are enough to make us forget the truth of who we really are.

God doesn’t leave us defenseless against this enemy, though. He’s given us a whole Book filled with the truth of who we really are and who really wins this battle we fight each day. And while it may not matter that we’ve forgotten what yesterday’s breakfast was or exactly why we stepped into the kitchen, it is essential that we remember who the Lord says we are.

We are children of God (John 1:12), healed by our faith in His Son (Mark 5:34), and filled with the power of the Holy Spirit of God Himself (Acts 1:8). That power is not given to us so that we can shrink back in fear every time the devil comes slithering around, whispering his lies (2 Timothy 1:7). No! The Spirit empowers us to live out the plans—the good and perfect plans—God has for each and every one of us (Jeremiah 29:11; Hebrews 13:21). And, yes, that includes you and me.

So let’s step back out into the world, into the mission God has given us. And let’s shine the light of His life-giving truth into a world desperate to escape the darkness of the evil one’s lies. Because when we belong to Him, that’s exactly what He enables us to do.

We just need to remember who we are.

This article is brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).

About the author: Tama Fortner is an ECPA award-winning and bestselling writer with more than forty titles to her credit. As a ghostwriter, she has collaborated with some of the biggest names in Christian publishing to create inspirational books for children, teens, and adults. But her greatest accomplishments happen in a happy little home on the outskirts of Nashville, Tennessee, where she lives with her family and an incredibly lazy dog who doubles as a footwarmer.

Tama’s newest title, Simply Christmas, releases September 28th from Ink & Willow and is available for pre-order now. Catch up with Tama and all her latest book news at www.TamaFortner.com.

Join the conversation: What lies do you hear whispered to you?

Withstanding a Midnight Invasion

by Linda Evans Shepherd @LindaShepherd

It’s late at night, I’m tucked into a backyard cabana, a cute one room house in the back yard of a Hollywood home.  I’m working on homework for a writing class as the clock ticks past midnight, when suddenly something, or someone lands on my roof.  THUD!  More bodies follow.  THUNK, THUD, SCRAMBLE! Is it an invasion from the tent city at the bottom of the hill?

Then the chattering starts.  What is that?

Thought then occurs to me: could it be raccoons? I’m in front of my computer, so I quickly go to YouTube and type, “What does a raccoon sound like?”

A video pops up of a man with a broom; he’s swatting a milk cartoon with a hidden raccoon inside.  The creature peeks out and hisses!  Oh my! Raccoons hiss? The man swats the carton again and the raccoon darts out, then turns around and growls. Raccoons growl? The raccoon starts to walk away, then pivots with angry roar.  Wait…raccoons roar?

The roaring raccoon rushes toward the man…and attacks. Yes, it attacked!  I’m guessing Mrs. Raccoon was trying to protect her babies still inside the carton.  Oh my!

I decide to watch another video to find out what other noises raccoons make besides hissing and growling.  I need to know, because the chattering crowd on my roof is growing.

Sure enough, I find a video of a raccoon chattering just like the ones on my roof.  I turn the sound up to be sure.  Yes, those are raccoons above me.

That’s when I realize:  the raccoons have stopped chattering to scramble down the wall to stand outside my door. It seems they’d heard my YouTube raccoon, and they want to come to my raccoon party.

Now I’m thinking about the attack raccoon. Oh dear. Could the raccoons get in? The answer is yes. My windows are open and I can only close them if I go outside. And I’m not going outside, believe me.

I go back to YouTube. Well, if I attracted raccoons with the chattering raccoon video, what might repel them?  First I try a whining cougar.  It seems to only pique their interest. Hmmm.  What about a laughing hyena? Nope, they like that one, too.

Hey, what about dogs?  Raccoons in this neighborhood would know about yipping dogs.  I hit play.

As the sound of yipping dogs fill the air, the raccoons stop chattering. I turn up the volume and can hear the raccoons racing away. Yay!  The barking dogs worked!

Then it hits me. When we are suddenly surrounded by trouble, there is a sound that we can make that will push the enemy away, too. It’s the sound of prayer. It’s the sound of calling upon the name of Jesus, the name above all names. The name of Jesus is a name that no one, no thing, no creature, no demon from hell, can stand against.

Counterfeits are worthless. Only Jesus can set us free, save us, put us into a relationship with God, and push back any gathering darkness. It is the only effective weapon when we are under attack.

The good news: Jesus has given us permission to call upon his name, and when we do, the enemy will flee.  Philippians 2:10-11 says,

“…At the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (NKJV)

TWEETABLE
Withstanding a Midnight Invasion – thoughts on the power of #prayer from @LindaShepherd (Click to Tweet)

Linda ShepherdAbout the author: Linda Evans Shepherd is the author of 34 books including Praying God’s Promises and The God You Need to Know.  She is the CEO of Right to the Heart Ministries and the founder of Advanced Writers and Speakers Association.  She’s also the publisher of Leading Hearts Magazine and Arise Daily.

Linda Evans Shepherd has just released her book, When You Need to Move a Mountain: Keys to Praying with Power. There’s prayer–and then there’s intercessory prayer. What’s the difference? And when we feel called to intercessory prayer, how do we do it? What response should we expect from God? If you’re someone that feels a deep need to pray for others, to bring your burdens and troubles to God, and see God’s clear answers to your prayers, this book is for you.

Join the conversation: Have you ever had to call upon the name of Jesus? Did God come through for you?

 

 

 

March Madness

by Lori Altebaumer @Lori_Altebaumer

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.                                                                              Ephesians 6:12 NIV

Confession time. I’m a Texan, but basketball is my favorite sport. College basketball specifically, and that means March Madness as the NCAA Tournament takes center stage at our house (after God, of course).

My kids played basketball in school, and one thing that always amazed me was how passionate the fans could get. I don’t mean passionate as in “Go Team!” I mean outright nasty about the opposing team, players, and especially the referees.

These were often the same parents who didn’t have a clue about what was on the video games their kids played, or the music they listened to, or the content that came at their kids like water from a fire hydrant through the cell phones that were never far from their reach.

Eager to yell at the referees over a bad call, the players for a bad pass, or the coach for a bad play, but what about the real enemy in their kids’ lives? Where was the passion and righteous indignation then?

Satan is playing an even more important game with our children than anything that will ever take place on a court or field. One where a lot more than bragging rights or a possible scholarship are on the line. It’s a game for their very lives. He won’t play fair. To kill, steal, and destroy—that is his victory—and he plays to win.

The enemy prowls around seeking to devour our kids, and we give him a set of keys—social media accounts, cell phones, the internet—to their hearts and minds, turning a blind eye because…well, what can we do about it anyway. We don’t come out of seats, shaking our fist at the enemy, with veins popping from our foreheads, yelling at the top of our lungs for justice.

But let a referee make a bad call and we’re on our feet yelling every kind of derogatory statement we can think of.

Of course, Satan isn’t fazed by our ranting, yelling, and name calling. We aren’t going to hurt his feelings or shame him into leaving our kids alone. What he is fazed by, though, is the power of the name of Jesus Christ. And by our actions as Christians when we call on that power on behalf of our children. That is the first thing we need to do.

We yell at the players on our team to “D-up” meaning go into defensive position against their opponent. But are we teaching them how to D-up in their everyday life? Do we tell them to D-up on their way out the door to school or to watch a movie with their friends? Teaching them how to D-up for themselves is the second thing we need to do.

Then we need to constantly watch for wolves. In the basketball league our kids played in, a “wolf” was an opponent sneaking up in a player’s blind spot to steal the ball. In the game of life, Satan is a wolf lurking everywhere, eager to attack and cunning in the way he gets close.

When we yell at a referee over a call we don’t agree with, but look the other way at the lies the world is selling our kids…well, it feels a little like suiting up for the enemy’s team.

Instead of giving the game more importance than it should have, I think it may be time we get out of the stands and start channeling our anger at the real enemy who has the power and the desire to steal, kill, and destroy our children.

TWEETABLE
March Madness and Preparing Our Kids to Face Life from @Lori_Altebaumer on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Lori AltebaumerAbout the author: Lori Altebaumer is a writer and editor who only half-jokingly tells others she lives with one foot in a parallel universe. She is a wandering soul with a home-keeping heart and a love of words and story. Lori loves sharing the joys of living a Christ-centered life with others through her writing. Now that her nest is empty, Lori enjoys traveling with her husband and visiting her adult children where she can rummage through their refrigerators and food pantries while complaining there’s nothing good to eat here (payback!). She blogs regularly from her website at www.lorialtebaumer.com, and can also be reached on her Facebook page @lorialtebaumerwrites.

Join the conversation: How do you help your children to D-up against the enemy?

Distractions and Pickpockets

by Linda Evans Shepherd

One sunny December day in New York, my friend Eva and I were in town to explore the city. I was ready for anything, especially with my huge, blue tote bag I’d stuffed with everything I might need; an umbrella, my coat, snacks, bottles of water, all piled high on top of my wallet.

I slung my bag over my shoulder and Eva and I caught the subway from our hotel so that we could walk down Canal Street to take in the sights. We browsed through the faux designer purses and fingered the bright wool scarves and smirked at the fake Rolexes on display. As we strolled, we were caught in a throng of tourists who flowed down the street like a slow moving river.

As I walked along gawking at the sights around me, a pretty, young woman appeared beside me. She turned to face me and with her arms opened wide, she side-skipped to my steps as if she was trying to block me from turning right and walking past her. What in the world is she doing? I wondered. I craned my neck for a better look and she seemed to disappear. Where’d she go?

Suddenly I snapped my head to the left, and there she was, her arm rammed deep into my tote bag as her fingers groped for my pocket book. I instinctively jerked my tote away from her and instantly she disappeared into the crowd.

It seemed I’d just encountered a New York City pickpocket. But what struck me about the experience was the pickpocket’s maneuver to distract me–to cause me to not only take my attention away from my tote, but to place my focus in the opposite direction so that she would be free to snatch my wallet, something I’d wanted to hang onto throughout my New York adventure.

As I thought about it, I could see that distraction is exactly how the enemy tries to steal from me in an effort to keep me from living my life with joy, peace and the presence of God.

Distractions can zing toward me like fiery arrows of worry, stress, offenses, and frustration as the enemy takes aim at my peace.

I may not be able to stop the fiery arrows, but if I focus on trusting God, then the enemy’s arrows will not stick but will bounce off of me.  Otherwise, the enemy’s arrows can wound my heart.

Proverbs 4:23 says, “Guard your heart more than anything else, because the source of your life flows from it.” To live distraction free means I must guard my heart, trusting God as I let go of offenses and open my soul to more of God’s peace.

When I do that, God’s peace will shield my heart so that the enemy cannot steal my joy or wound me with worry so God’s spirit will continually flow into my life.

“You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You.” Isaiah 26:3 NKJV

Linda ShepherdAbout the author: Linda Evans Shepherd is the author of 33 books including When You Don’t Know What to Pray and Winning Your Daily Spiritual Battles.  She is the CEO of Right to the Heart Ministries, and the founder of Advanced Writers and Speakers Association.  She’s the publisher of Leading Hearts Magazine and Arise Daily.

Linda has been married over thirty years and has two grown kids.  She loves to travel and bring the word to groups and events across North America.  You can read more about Linda at Arise Speakers.

Join the conversation: What distractions are stealing your peace?