On Red Alert for the Spiritual Needs in France

My heart was heavy this morning as I awoke to more news about the awful terrorist attacks in Paris yesterday. As an American, I couldn’t help but be reminded of the attacks on our country on 9/11/2001.

Horrific.  Senseless.  Pure evil.

Pray for Paris

Where were you when…?

Will this be another day in history that we point to like 9/11 saying, “Where were you when you heard the news of the Friday the 13th Paris terrorist attacks?”

Late yesterday afternoon while waiting in the reception room for a chiropractic appointment, to pass the time I scanned Facebook on my cell phone. As seems to be more and more the case lately, that is where I hear of this sort of breaking news.

Friends were posting updates to pray for Paris. My attention quickly switched to the internet for the latest news, but was interrupted when I was called in to see my doctor for an adjustment followed by a well-deserved massage appointment.

Then late in the day my attention returned to the events across the world while watching a network news show dedicated to this topic. I’m not one to watch these sorts of shows, usually focused on sensational journalism and high profile events. However, this was different because I have a connection to Paris and France in general.

Paris police

My French Connection

Ever since my mission to France last fall, the people and this country have more meaning and significance to me and in my prayer life.

I was only in Paris for a few hours between connections while traveling to Grenoble, France where I stayed with my missionary partners and spoke at their church.

I could’ve bypassed Paris, made a shorter layover, etc. However, when I started booking my travel arrangements, I felt God press upon me to visit Notre Dame and to pray for the people of France.

There were many obstacles that I overcame to do that, including averting the Air France strike while traveling. Through God’s providence and against all physical odds, I arrived on the footsteps of Notre Dame Cathedral five minutes before the noon Mass.

I prayer-walked through the cathedral and through the streets of Paris that day. It was a spiritual high for me.

Notre Dame Cathedral

Notre Dame Cathedral

After having such a spiritual experience in Paris last fall, the sense of darkness hit me again last night as I watched the scenes from Paris: images of people’s bodies lying in the streets covered with white sheets, police cordoning off and guarding areas like armed militia, and hearing eye witness accounts of what happened.

Before I arrived in Paris last fall, I researched the religious history of France. I was aghast at the religious wars that were fought in this country. It led to a huge divide in the country.

Even today there is still animosity and emotional wounds carried down through family generations between Catholics and Protestants in France. This has led to apathy for organized religion in general and a dramatic decline in church attendance.

The Ongoing Battle

Centuries ago, the blood of the martyrs was splattered throughout this country. Yesterday new blood was splattered on the streets of Paris—unsuspecting victims in a new battle.

My heart aches. In my mind I pray more fervently.

Centuries ago the Huguenots fought for their religious beliefs against the kings and queens of France. The battle lines were drawn. There were persecutions, forced conversions, and ostracisms from society.

Today Parisians, Americans, and people across the world are also caught up in an invisible battle for our souls. It is terrorist attacks like the one yesterday that remind us of the evil intentions of cowardly soldiers who secretly plot against our society.

Their tactic is fear. They are being misled by the biggest enemy we have.

You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies. (John 8:44, NIV)

One of many memorial sites cropping up in Paris.

One of many memorial sites cropping up in Paris.

On Red Alert to Pray

As Christians, we are called to put on the Armor of God (Ephesians 6:10-18). Our strategy is to fight our battles in prayer first. Let’s not be misled by the lies of the Enemy.

It is the Blood of Jesus that overcomes the blood that is splattered across the land in countries across the world.

I am praying for the comfort of the families affected by these horrible crimes against humanity. Like a security alert system that sounds a loud signal of imminent danger, I am also on red alert to pray for God’s power to be poured out on the people of France, for a spiritual awakening and renewal of their Christian faith.

Let us all pray as we feel led for the spiritual and physical needs in France.

In times of tragedy, cry out to God. He will hear you.

In my distress I called to the Lord; I cried to my God for help. From his temple he heard my voice; my cry came before him, into his ears. (Psalm 18:6, NIV)

He is listening now to our prayers and petitions for France.

To read about the Paris attacks from the perspective of my colleagues in France, click here.

Was The Sacrifice Worth It?

Last year I entered into the Lenten season with much anticipation and reverence as I started to explore Jesus from a more contemplative perspective.  I spent much time in prayer and meditation.  I also fasted from alcohol.  It ended up being the most amazing 40-day spiritual journey of my life.  And so I decided to make many of those changes a permanent part of my everyday life. 
As I entered into the Lenten season this year, I was expecting the same kind of holy ground type of experience.  That’s not exactly what I got though.  I fasted again this year, but this time it was from alcohol and sweets.  I increased my prayer and meditation time which had become a bit inconsistent over the past year.  That’s where the similarities ended. 
lent cross
This year, Lent coincided with a period in my life when I was being called into a major leadership role in ministry.  After three years away from serving in ministry leadership, I had forgotten how prevalent and pervasive spiritual attacks can be.  (A friend told me today that is also why God doesn’t allow women to remember the pain from childbirth.) 
This has probably been the most difficult spiritual journey of my life.  I know that if I hadn’t been heavily investing in my time with God and seeking His will for my life as part of my Lenten practice, that I wouldn’t have fared so well during this trial.  I needed that quality time alone with God to give me His peace and to strengthen me each and every week.
Lent is technically over, but for me the spiritual disciplines of the last 40 days are not.  I did already have a few sweets and my body quickly told me it didn’t like that decision.  And at least for now, the alcohol is still on hold. 
So was the sacrifice and fasting worth it?  Absolutely.  As God continues to call me to serve Him in ways that stretch me outside of my comfort zone, I will continue to seek His wisdom and discernment on how to do it not on my own self-sufficiency, but according to His will.  It’s the best chance I have of living a worry-free life.
On to the next 40 days—and Pentecost!

Sticks And Stones May Break My Bones

Over the past few weeks I have been under an amazing amount of spiritual attack.  The attack actually started a few months ago as we formed a team at my church to launch a Celebrate Recovery ministry.  Initially the attack was in the form of many organizational and logistical obstacles to overcome.  But then a few weeks ago, the attack turned very personal in nature when my motives and recovery were questioned. 
When this first happened, a friend told me that I was being bullied.  That is exactly what it was—only this time it wasn’t being done by some school age kid, it was by an adult.  It was a painful process to walk through.  As I did, I was able to share with my 14-year-old son how to take responsibility for my part in the matter, offer and seek forgiveness and to walk tall in midst of the continuing attack.  I was thankful to be able to turn this into a teaching moment with him.  Like my friend, he recognized it as bullying from the start.
sticks-and-stonesIn hindsight, I can definitely see how Satan used this to throw me off course and to attempt to derail me from being on this team.  Sometimes I even became my own worst enemy in the process.  When I was young, kids used to say ‘sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me’.  As an adult, I know that those words are not true.  Words do hurt people.  And in fact, quite often people intentionally do use words to hurt people.  After all, hurt people hurt people.  Their words can and do stick with you—if you allow it.
The voices from people in our past, including bullies can keep us stuck in the past and prevent us from living the life that God has called us to.  Satan wants us to keep believing those lies.  He puts the bait out there and wants us to get hooked on it.  Once we do, we can easily go down the road of doubt, self-condemnation and becoming a victim.  It is not a pretty sight.  I know because I have been caught up in it in the past and have to constantly be on the lookout for it.
That is precisely the reason I love Celebrate Recovery.  It is all about working through our hurts, habits and hang-ups.  Quite often it is the words that have been spoken into our lives in the past that we don’t let go of.  We repeat them in our mind or we listen to the voices in our head that tell us we are not good enough and that God could never use us or love us after what we have done.  Celebrate Recovery is a safe place to work through those hurts with others who also struggle and have found victory over it through Christ.
I know that Satan is not done with his attacks against me or this ministry.  He knows it is a threat to his dominion.  I also know that God is not done with me yet.  He is using my trials to build me up into a better leader.  I have a group of amazing mentors, accountability partners and prayer warriors around me that have walked this road as well.  I know I am not going down a path that has not been walked before.  I have some battle scars, but will proudly reveal them to those who want to walk this journey with me.
the sword - word of godI have often been reminded of Ephesians 6:12 over the last few weeks.  “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.”  Then God’s still quiet voice also reminds me of his promises as in Jeremiah 29:11: “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
In the face of persecution and spiritual attack, we have a choice to make.  Are you going to let the ‘stick and stones’ lies of the enemy define you or are you going to believe what God tells you about your identity in Christ and His plans for you?  I choose to believe God.  I know He’s got my back.  What about you?
  • WELCOME to my site!

    I'm an author, writer, speaker, mentor & mom. I've struggled to find my voice all my life as I lived in the shadows of a mother with mental illness. Thankfully that was not the legacy that she handed down to me. It took a lot of recovery and deep healing work to rise above it.

    I am thankful to God for Making Me Bold in the process. Now I use my writing and speaking voice to help others on their journey to turn healing into hope.

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