Serving on staff at The Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN) is an enjoyable and fulfilling experience. I get to connect with people from all walks of life, in multiple countries, and on many different levels. I create financial partnerships with our supporters and pray over a variety of topics—spanning from a mother’s prayer for the healing of her child who skinned their knee to a prayer of desperation for much more significant healing in a stage 4 cancer patient. Whether you’re calling the CBN prayer center to pray for a loved one or to let us know that you’ve just prayed with Gordon or Terry to follow Jesus for the first time, there is undoubtedly a Spirit-filled anointing of life with each conversation.
One of my favorite prayers is with Christians for their unbelieving family members, neighbors, and friends. Many times, the prayer request goes something like this: “My dad is a truly good guy. He’s caring, generous, very kind, and supportive, but he just doesn’t believe in Jesus.” We all long for our loved ones to know Jesus as we do!
New life is born every day in hospitals around the world. And new life is also established in holy matrimony, where two become “one flesh.” But the ultimate new life is being born again—new life through a spiritual birth in Jesus, which is available to all.
A difficult truth for some to embrace is that Jesus didn’t die to make bad people good. He didn’t die to make good people better. Instead, He died to make dead people alive!
Consider this passage in Ezekiel regarding a future salvation for the Jewish people:
“This is what the Sovereign LORD says to these bones: I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life. I will attach tendons to you and make flesh come upon you and cover you with skin; I will put breath in you, and you will come to life. Then you will know that I am the LORD”
(Ezekiel 37:5-6 NIV).
Just as it was prophesied that new life will be breathed into the Jewish people (Ezekiel 39:27-29, Rom 11:25-27), so also, will new life be breathed into all who believe (Ephesians 2:1-5).
In reading Ezekiel 37-39, I can’t help but see God’s character revealed as the God of love. The God of grace. The God of mercy. Multiple times God says through the prophet Ezekiel, “I will gather you” and “put my spirit in you.” When we look back from the beginning of our day, it is easy to overlook the many drops of mercy that drips from God’s hands.
Whether dry bones of the Jewish people as foretold by the prophet Ezekiel, or a simple, yet powerful, surrender and embrace by anyone believing the message of the Gospel at a neighborhood church service, the method of salvation is the same. Our God breathes new life into our bones, a supernatural reality to all who believe. This is a fantastic reason for us to rejoice today!
So, join me in celebrating this new birth all over the world, the salvation of our souls. From death to life!
Christmas Depression and Christmas Cookies
Wendy Speake, crosswalk.com
And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6, NIV).
Friend to Friend
I love holiday traditions. Each year my family dresses up and goes out together to a special Christmas concert in the days leading up to December 25th. Whether it’s at our local church or the theatre downtown, we get dolled up for Jesus. Okay, let’s be honest: my husband and children do it for me. And every year I hope and pray for one really good family picture of us together, with the boys wearing argyle sweater vests, and their hair combed back. Not a dozen pictures, mind you, just one special keepsake of a treasure where we all look happy. Happy is the goal.
I struggle with happy sometimes—especially around the holidays. Which feels ridiculous because we’re all singing, “Tis the season to be jolly…” But all the falalalala-ing in the world can’t hide the fact I struggle with depression each December.
There are plenty of reasons and I can’t list them all, but I’m going to list and few because I know I’m not the only one. I’m not a psychotherapist here to explain them all, just a sister in the Holly-Jolly trenches, humbling sharing what I go through, and pointing you to the One who knows it all.
Here are a few of the pressures that press in on me at Christmastime.
– Super high expectations. Expectations of what our tree will look like (and how fun it will be to decorate it), how lovely our porch and centerpiece will be this year, not to mention those family pictures, can cause ridiculous amounts of stress. Trips to take the kids to see Santa end in tears (theirs and ours) while everyone on Instagram and Facebook looks like it truly is “the most wonderful time of the year!”
– Family stress. Family pressure over where we’re going to be Christmas morning, and therefore where we aren’t going to be, can steal our focus and rob our joy as well. Whose turn is it to host; which in-laws will we be with; and how long will we stay before we leave for the next stop on the Christmas train? When what we really want is to be home with our stockings and eggnog, watching Elf by ourselves. The guilt compounds the sadness. It’s Christmas after all.
– Unrealized desire to feel close to God. The pressure to focus on “the reason for the season” amidst all the hustle and bustle, can make us feel terrible too. Feelings of failure when we only read the first three chapters from our advent devotional is the straw that often breaks the camel’s back. Speaking of camels, I’m reminded now that I never even got my nativity set out of storage and onto the mantel this year.
– The sugar. While many of my most favorite traditions are packed with sugar (then dusted with powdered sugar), the truth of the matter is that sugar doesn’t help me when I’m hurting. Sugar doesn’t make me sweet when I’m sad. Sure, it lifts my Christmas Spirits for a Merry-Moment, but before I know it I’m crashing down again. It is simply what sugar does. At Christmastime especially, with all the special treats, we can feel like we’re riding a teeter-totter on a merry-go-round. We want to be happy, but we’re dizzy and tired. We want to get off, but we can’t. We need another piece of peppermint bark with our white chocolate mocha to bring us back up again.While sugar seems like the most unspiritual of all the bullet points above, the reality is that God is the only thing, the only One, we should run to when we’re in pain — at Christmastime or anytime. We need to stop reaching for the next sugar high and start reaching for the Most High. We must learn to run to the Great Comforter rather than comfort foods.
Streams in the Desert – November 30
- 202230 Nov
And seekest thou great things for thyself? Seek them not: for, behold, I will bring evil upon all flesh, saith the Lord: but thy life will I give unto thee for a prey in all places whither thou goest (Jeremiah 45:5).
A promise given for hard places, and a promise of safety and life in the midst of tremendous pressure, a life “for a prey.” It may well adjust itself to our own times, which are growing harder as we near the end of the age, and the Tribulation times.
What is the meaning of “a life for a prey”? It means a life snatched out of the jaws of the destroyer, as David snatched the lamb from the lion. It means not removal from the noise of the battle and the presence of our foes; but it means a table in the midst of our enemies, a shelter from the storm, a fortress amid the foe, a life preserved in the face of continual pressure: Paul’s healing when pressed out of measure so that he despaired of life; Paul’s Divine help when the thorn remained, but the power of Christ rested upon him and the grace of Christ was sufficient.
Lord, give me my life for a prey, and in the hardest places help me today to be victorious.
–Days of Heaven upon Earth
We often pray to be delivered from calamities; we even trust that we shall be; but we do not pray to be made what we should be, in the very presence of the calamities; to live amid them, as long as they last, in the consciousness that we are, held and sheltered by the Lord, and can therefore remain in the midst of them, so long as they continue, without any hurt.
For forty days and nights, the Saviour was kept in the presence of Satan in the wilderness, and that, under circumstances of special trial, His human nature being weakened by want of food and rest. The furnace was heated seven times more than it was wont to be heated, but the three Hebrew children were kept a season amid its flames as calm and composed in the presence of the tyrant’s last appliances of torture, as they were in the presence of himself before their time of deliverance came. And the livelong night did Daniel sit among the lions, and when he was taken up out of the den, “no manner of hurt was found upon him, because he believed in his God.”
They dwelt in the presence of the enemy, because they dwelt in the presence of God.