Monthly Archives: January 2014

10 Prayer Points for Our Military

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 The psalmist who penned Psalm 91 depicts God as our Refuge, a Shelter, and a Protector when we become fearful. He traded his fear and insecurity about his future for the security only God can offer. To exchange our fear for faith, it requires an established practice of an abiding relationship with Jesus. Psalm 91:1 says, “You who live in the shelter of the Most High, who abide in the shadow of the Almighty…” (NRSV). This verse reflects a devotion for the Lord that is already present in his life. Likewise, if we form such a relationship with Jesus, it becomes the foundation that establishes our trust that who we pray for God will be present in. Here are 10 areas to pray for our loved ones serving in the military:

 1)    Pray for a Sound Mind: Ask God to shield him/her from Satan’s lies so he/she can discern God’s voice from the enemy’s voice. Ask the Holy Spirit to keep his/her mind clear of negative thoughts. Pray that anxiety doesn’t steal his/her peace. Pray he/she will thirst for God’s Word to refresh his/her faith and “be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might” (Ephesians 6:10).

 2)      Pray that all Plans of Evil be Exposed: Pray that no weapon that is fashioned against our military members prosper. Ask God to reveal evildoers and their wicked plans. Pray that they are caught before any destruction happens. May our enemies be as “insignificant as “grass atop housetops” (Psalm 129:6) and be turned backward. Ask God to “cut the cords of the wicked” (Psalm 129:4).  

 3)    Pray for Foresight: Pray that your beloved service member has wisdom in the decisions he/she makes. Pray that they seek Your Word and trustworthy and honorable counselors for right decision-making. Pray the Holy Spirit will reveal what has been unknown. “Plans are established by taking advice; wage war by following wise guidance” (Proverbs 20:18).

 4)   Pray for Humility: “…you who are younger must accept the authority of the elders. And all of you must clothe yourselves with humility in your dealings with one another, for ‘God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble’” (1 Peter 5:5). Pray that those who are older, in positions of leadership, will lead by a righteous and honorable example and pray that those who are under them will respond by following in their example with respect. Pray that pride and being headstrong doesn’t get a foothold, which leads to dishonor. Pray that humility is a character trait in your service member. Pray that he/she is willing to learn from those in leadership. Humility brings favor from the Lord. “Toward the scorners he is scornful, but to the humble he shows favor” (Proverbs 3:34). Pray that your loved one will desire humility so he/she receives God’s favor.

 5)   Pray for Strength, Endurance and Stamina: Ask the Lord to grant your service member the strength to do his/her work for their country. Ask God to give them the stamina to overcome challenges that test their resolve. And ask God to give them the energy and will to complete their duties honorably. When exhausted or emotionally fragile, ask God to extend His muscle and might. “For who is God except the Lord? And who is a rock besides our God?–the God who girded me with strength, and made my way safe” (Psalm 18:31-32).

 6)   Pray for God’s Compassion To Be on Them: For those serving in war zones, death and destruction is often before their eyes. This can skew the perception of our world making their missions seem pointless. However, God offers us fresh mercies each day. “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness” (Lamentations 3:22-23). Pray that your service member experiences a fresh anointing of God’s compassion. Ask God to show your loved one His faithfulness every day that provides the hope of His promises later. “As the eyes of servants look to the hand of their master, as the eyes of a maid to the hand of her mistress, so our eyes look to the Lord our God, until he has mercy upon us” (Psalm 123:2). The writer of Psalm 123 lifted his eyes up to God for mercy. He waits and trusts that God will act and bring mercy to those who wait for Him. Ask that God would bless your loved one who is faithful, good, and upright in his/her heart.

 7)   Pray for Righteous Leaders: Pray for God to raise up godly leaders and equip them to act according to His Word and will, and that our country’s government and military leaders will make decisions that please God. Pray that military leaders will restore our country’s faith in God back in the ranks of our military and make spiritual readiness a high priority for all military personnel.

8)   Pray for God to Defend our Service Members: “if it had not been the Lord who was on our side, when our enemies attacked us then they would have swallowed us up alive…” (Psalm 124:2). Pray God will always provide a way out–that He will show Himself mighty on behalf of those who trust in Him and seek Him daily for protection and relief. Ask God to show your loved one that God is on their side–even when the situation appears overwhelming–He will destroy those who seek to destroy them. “I will rescue those who love me. I will protect those who trust in my name” (Psalm 91:14-16).

 9)   Pray for God’s Protection: “Those who trust in the Lord are like Mount Zion, which cannot be moved, but abides forever. As the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the Lord surrounds his people…” (Psalm 125:1-2). Like Mount Zion, which is unmovable, pray that God will make your loved one serving in harm’s way steady and unmovable. Ask God to daily surround your loved one from potentially life threatening encounters. He or she may be thousands of miles away, but they are never far from the Lord’s protective care. “Our help is in the name of the Lord…” (Psalm 124:8).

10) Pray for Healing: “He heals the brokenhearted, and binds up their wounds” (Psalm 147:2). War creates injuries–to bodies and to souls. Ask God to heal your loved one’s broken body, broken emotions, and his/her mind. Pray that God would comfort and heal their heartache from the realities of war and the distress from dreadful memories that linger. Pray that God would encamp around their hurting hearts. And if the need is there, pray they would be willing to seek out the help of a specialist.

 

 

Faith At Work – Taking God At His Word

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Was there a turning point or an event in your life that makes you the military wife that you are today?  Was it a single event or perhaps something profound? Or maybe it wasn’t just an isolated event, but instead a season in your life in which God allowed you to experience something so unique, personal and incredible that it gave you a genuine God-encounter.

Long before I met my sailor husband, God allowed me to experience something that would later serve me well as a military wife. I was seventeen years old at the time and living in Kansas. My parents had divorced years earlier and I often flew back and forth from Kansas to California for visits with my dad.  If it wasn’t for the fact that he worked for TWA (Trans World Airlines) I  probably wouldn’t of had the experience I had that helped me to understand a key point about faith–taking God at His Word. I had flown to many parts of the world during my teen years and in all the thousands of miles logged, I hadn’t encountered something so sinister that it would ultimately put my faith to the test.

I was returning home following a week-long visit with my dad. I boarded a plane at the San Francisco International Airport, once again bound for Kansas City. On this particular flight, everything seemed normal enough. This flight path had become so routine over the years that I became familiar with the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. I knew them by sight from my window airplane seat. However, it wasn’t long before I sensed something was off. The plane was flying unusually low over the Rocky Mountains. And we still had another hour and a half of flying time before arriving in Kansas City. I grew more and more uneasy as I waited anxiously to know what was up.

My intuition was soon confirmed. The captain announced over the intercom that someone back in San Francisco reported placing a bomb aboard my flight forcing the plane to make an emergency landing at Denver International. What had been a quiet flight was now filled with nervous chatter from the other passengers. Suddenly, a desperate need to get off the plane overwhelmed me. If there was any comfort to be had, it was the fact that death would be quick.

Flying alone, I left my seat several times to make tearful distress calls to God in the airplane’s lavatory. The possibility that every second could be my last nearly paralyzed me. I didn’t know many Scripture verses by heart which only fueled my inner terror. Eager to put my feet on solid ground, I kep checking my watch, marking off every minute that passed.

As I peered out my airplane window down at the mountains rising up at me, I said what parts of Psalm 23 I knew. “Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I fear no evil; for you are with me; your rod and your staff–they comfort me” (v. 4 NIV). I thought of my family, my friends, my own life, and about the things I hoped to still do. What I didn’t contemplate was the possibility that God could call me home. Sitting in my seat, possibly in the clutches of evil, I reasoned that I could either succumb to fear and torment or place my trust in Him and take God at His Word–that He is truly with me as Psalm 23 declares. I had to settle the issue in my heart that God is still in control and know that “my times are in your [His] hand;” (Psalm 31:14-15).  I continued to pray asking God to help me to hold it together.

Another hour passed. Now completely dark,  I knew we had to be getting close to the Denver airport. And suddenly there they were!–the brightly lit runway lights! How comforting those runway lights were–like a channel that leads a boat into the safety of the harbor, those runway lights were beacons of hope for me.

In what seemed like eternity the wheels of the plane touched the runway and the heaviness I felt eased. Safety was now in sight. The plane at last came to a stop at the end of the runway. The captain hastily gave us the emergency directions and ordered us to leave behind our carry-ons. Like a disturbed herd of sheep, we scurried out the tail end of the plane and down a ladder into airport buses. Rushed to the terminal, we were put under heavy guard while bomb sniffing dogs scoured the plane. Four hours later we were given the all clear signal and allowed back on the plane and continued on to Kansas City.

As a seventeen-year-old, my faith took a turn that day. I no longer thought of Jesus as simply a Savior, thereby securing my spot in heaven, but instead God had revealed Himself to me in a whole new dimension–that of my Protector and Helper. Not because I was now safe, but because when I was in those desperate moments, there was no one else to place my hopes in. All I could do was take God at His Word, trusting that He was with me like His Word promises.

Later, when I became a Navy wife, I often thought about that harrowing experience and what God revealed to me because of it. There were other situations that came up as a military family over the years that beckoned me to take God at His Word. And believe He will do what He says He will do.

Post Script: I thought that landing safely in Kansas City was the end of my harrowing experience, but that was not to be. Incredibly, later that same night I encountered another dreadful adventure–this time on a 4-seater commuter flight caught in a terrible storm. To read it, enter your first name only and email address at the top right of this page to download my free Fifteen Day Devotional with that story. And if you have a story of your own to share how God prepared you for the military lifestyle, please share it. I’m looking forward to connecting with my readers.

Did You Know?

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Resolve–A Godly Attribute

 Did you know that Daniel and his three friends, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were teenagers when they were taken into Babylonian captivity? Just picture four highly educated teens, strong in resolve and known for their integrity and discipline, deported to Babylon. They may even been separated from their families. King Nebuchadnezzar had a practice of taking the most valuable and wisest of people, including youth, back to Babylonia after conquering a kingdom. Daniel and his three friends were among these captives. The king’s motive for doing this was to allow the Babylonian culture to have its desired effect over time. He even changed their names believing it would help them to integrate into the Babylonian culture.

However, the parents of Daniel and his friends taught them well in their faith. They saw to it that faith, prayer, and convictions were a vital part of their lives and relationship with God. As a teen, Daniel probably never contemplated a fate that included being a captive. And he could of easily conformed to the Babylonian culture. He had favor with King Nebuchadnezzar. But Daniel was a young man strong in resolve. Resolve means to be steadfast or dedicated to a principle or belief. His life reflected devotion and dependence on God. Daniel’s spiritual foundation was based on a resilient and solid faith in a sovereign God provided him with the determination to resist the ways of the Babylonians. And who is to be recognized for this? Daniel’s parents. They not only taught him well in the faith, but trained him well enough for staying true to his convictions while a captive of the feared King Nebuchadnezzar. And God took notice.

We also live in a culture that lives in opposition with our Christian principles. Every day we’re bombarded by pressures to compromise our beliefs or convictions. If it’s hard for us, think how hard it is for our kids. It’s easier to adopt the world’s way than it is to stand for God’s way. Like Daniel, keeping our resolve to obeying God is the way to remain true to our faith. Like Daniel’s parents, is there training going on in our homes to cultivate our children’s faith well enough in case they’re confronted with something difficult they never contemplated before?  Daniel found the right arrangement of adjusting to his new Babylonian culture and keeping God’s standards. If you have a unique way of inspiring faith and teaching godly principles into the hearts of your children, please share. What is one way that you used that inspired faith in your children?

Five Tips to Make the Transition from Deployment to Home Easier

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Wife and SoldierEven though it was welcomed news to learn that the overall divorce rate among military marriages dropped during the fiscal year ending on September 2013, it is probable this is due to the military operation in Iraq concluding combined with the drawdown of forces in Afghanistan. The military community understands that when the enormous stress of repetitive deployments slows, so also does the associated stress levels in the marriage and home. This is not to say that all stress disappears once our loved one returns home from deployment. A certain amount of stress is normal and expected as the family moves through the deployment cycle. Here are five tips to help make the post deployment transition a smoother experience:

1. Don’t Over Plan – We all desire those first couple of months our spouse is home to be reminiscent of our honeymoon, even conjuring up a mental list of things we want to do as a couple or family. However, being an eager beaver to return to pre-deployment normal too fast can backfire. Over planning can overwhelm the returning military spouse. He or she may be stationed on a ship, but it was certainly no leisure cruise or a wildlife safari excursion if your spouse is a soldier. Their life has been on a demanding and strict regime for many months prompting the need to decompress without unrealistic or unreasonable expectations. If possible, prior to your spouse deploying or returning home, (via e-mail, port calls home, or snail mail) discuss your expectations with one another.

The rhythm of each military home is different. In traditional non-medical family reunions, some spouses may be able to integrate back into his or her role in the family sooner or later than anticipated. The key is to be patient with your spouse. When my husband returned home from deployments I avoided committing him to plans as a couple or family the first two weeks. Every family is different in what is sensible and wise, but the idea is to find what works best for your military family to achieve a doable transition.

2. Lower Expectations – This can go both ways–for the spouse returning home and the spouse upholding the home. Having unreasonable expectations on each other, as we discussed above, can trigger tension in the home. Have you ever felt like things were out of wrack or sync with your spouse just after a homecoming? Relax, that feeling is normal. During deployments, growth happens. Deployments have inherent factors that develop and change us over time. This is especially true for the children of the home. However, if this “out of sync” feeling persists, and doesn’t get better over time, there’s nothing wrong with counseling as a needed first step.

3. Don’t Wait, Get Help – Returning from a deployment can also mean new challenges. If you and your family are experiencing unforeseen stress such as emotional or physical, it’s important to seek counseling right away. Part of the reason for the drop in the divorce rate during fiscal year ending September 2013 among military marriages is the improvement of family programs. Contact your nearest military family support center for programs targeted for meeting the unique needs of military couples and families. They are eager to support you.

4. Control Spending – This may seem like a small matter, but most stress in a family is over financial worries. It is natural to want to celebrate your loved one’s homecoming, but over spending can amplify financial concerns. Too many nights out over dinner with a movie can wreak havoc in an already tight budget. Determine ahead of time a homecoming celebration budget that doesn’t hamper the overall health of your family budget. By sticking to a pre-determined celebration plan, you gain a sense of accomplishment and control by celebrating responsibly.

5. Don’t Rush Romance – Depending on how well your deployment experience was, whether or not it went better than expected or worse than expected, don’t rush intimacy. Even the smoothest deployments have their unique challenges, and this calls for caution. Physical closeness may not come as easily as expected, if it was especially difficult or overwhelming. A couple that fosters unity, patience, and understanding creates a safe environment to express feelings, fears, inadequacies, and failures.

Deployments teach us many things about ourselves, our spouses, and our marriages. I discovered through my husband’s deployments, that the military lifestyle in general is one long transition with many revolutions–each deployment provided opportunities for personal growth–investments made for future deployments and future successes as a military family.