Pastor Scotty Smith: A Prayer of Hope

November 6, 2014

A really good, PRACTICAL prayer today by Scotty Smith at his blog Heavenward – what does it truly mean to hope in Christ in various circumstances, versus hoping in our own efforts.  I like his examples…

Here’s an excerpt:

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope. Rom. 15:13

Surely there is a future, and your hope will not be cut off. Prov. 23:18

Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Isa. 41:10

     Dear heavenly Father, thank you for revealing yourself as the God of hope—the one who intends our hope to abound; who promises our hope will never be cut off; the God who is our hope. We praise, bless and adore you.  […]

         We come boldly to your throne of grace today, bringing with us some of our challenging stories into the storehouse of your goodness and faithfulness.

     Father, for our children who have yet to find their peace, rest, and home in Jesus, we declare our hope is in you—not in our parenting skills, our “getting it right”, our groveling over past mistakes, or our anything.

     Father, for our marriages, which need refreshment, reconnection, and renewal, we declare our hope is in you—not in our spouses changing, some “magic bullet” marriage conference, or finding the “perfect” counselor.

     Father, for our own brokenness and weaknesses, we declare our hope is in you—not in our multiplied resolutions, certainly not in beating ourselves up, not in our doing more and trying harder.

Read the whole prayer here


Advent books – links and recommendations

November 6, 2014

I’m working on compiling a list of recommended books to read during Advent, and would love readers to chime in with books you’d recommend.  These could be devotional books for adults, or for children and families…; prayer books, activity books… PLEASE SHARE YOUR FAVORITES IN THE COMMENTS!!!


1.  Here are a few books I personally can recommend, having read them in the past 1 – 2 years.

  • Ann Voskamp:  The Greatest Gift  Recommended for women, especially.  I found this a wonderful meditation on the theme of grace, and very helpful in terms of giving me practical ideas for how to S-L-O-W D-O-W-N in Advent and really keep Jesus at the center of my days.

Note: It looks like John Piper has a new Advent Devotional out for 2014, but I’m not yet sure if the content has changed, or merely the date listed for each day’s reading…  (The PDF version is free at Desiring God).  I’ll check it out and will post more about this separately.  (I’m a big John Piper fan… He’s a “Baptist who gets Advent!”)

  • Watch for the Light: Readings for Advent and Christmas – 40 essays and poems from theological writers such as Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Dorothy Day, Madeleine L’Engle, Martin Luther, Kathleen Norris, Henri Nouwen, Philip Yancey, Karl Barth and Síren Kierkegaard.   – Very meaty stuff.  Not light fluffy Advent reading.  Several of the essays are truly profound.
  • Truth in the Tinsel:  A guide for celebrating Advent with young children (excellent for Sunday school activities, etc.)


2. Here are a few books I’ve bookmarked and am thinking about for Advent this year… This is a VERY varied list.  I may buy one or two of these books for myself, and others as gifts for friends and colleagues…

Note;  in addition to the books listed below, I’ve recently  posted entries on three other family Advent devotional books which look very worthwhile:


Three books on Jesse Trees that might be of interest  (I’ve not read these personally)


Advent Devotional Books (mostly for Adults) that have caught my attention:

  • Billy Graham: The Cradle, Cross and Crown.   A Brand New 64 page Advent devotional from Billy Graham, includes original poetry from his late wife, Ruth Bell Graham.  [Having looked at this a bit more closely, I’d suggest it might make a better devotional for the Christmas season, in terms of its themes…, but I love the poems!!]
  • Max Lucado: Celebrating Christmas with Jesus, an Advent Devotional.  Short excerpts from various of Max Lucado’s devotionals focusing on various individuals’ encounters with Jesus as recorded in the Gospels.  Not really all that “Advent-y” but daily readings from passages in the Gospels and good short reflections that might be helpful to some in keeping their hearts centered on Christ and the wonder of His love and mercy during a busy Advent and Christmas season.
  • R. Scott Hurd – Daily Devotions for Advent 2014 (The Living Gospel) – 99 cents for the Kindle edition.  This is a 64 page “classic style” devotional booklet, with a short opening prayer from the Psalms, a Scripture reading, a short reflection, an application / action, and a closing prayer.  Fairly basic.  The author was an Episcopalian and is now a Roman Catholic priest.


3.  Here are some places you can find lists of good Advent-themed books


You can find all our posts from recent years about ADVENT BOOKS here.

 All our Advent 2014 entries are here.

A Summary of #Ebola Data and Prayer Requests – Nov 5 2014

November 6, 2014

The World Health Organization released a new comprehensive update today (Nov 5) about the Ebola outbreak.

As I’ve done previously, I tried to pick out some of the key data and develop prayer points, and posted a series of Tweets.  Here is the roundup of all 24 of our Ebola tweets tonight:

Read the rest of this entry »

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