A gentle whisper from the LORD...

"Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper." 1 Kings 19:11-12

Sunday, September 30, 2012


“He is always wrestling in payer for you, that you may stand firm in all the will of God, mature and fully assured.”
Colossians 4:12b (NIV)

I am sitting at my dining room table on a Sunday evening…attempting to wrap my mind around the phrase “wrestling in prayer”.  From a small yet very significant mention of Epaphras, we learn of his faithful servanthood to Christ Jesus.  We also read of his current condition at the time of the description “wrestling in prayer”…in prison.  Go with me back to the first century and try to imagine…

How rare it must have been to be able to put into a script your own thoughts and blessings and greetings to a people of distant residence in the first century…especially in prison.  Paul began his letter, “This letter is written by Paul who was chosen by the will of God to be an apostle of Christ Jesus…”  I imagine the quickening of Epaphras’ heart as he heard the words, “This letter is written to God’s holy people in the city of Colosse…”  Colosse!  Oh, to feel home again.  For a moment, the prison walls tear down and Epaphras is back home.  Where would he go first?  Perhaps the church or maybe his childhood buddy’s home.  Just the thought of the memories must have grown a smile across his face.  Or maybe the rush of hot tears instantly stung his eyes and he found himself quickly turning away to hide the emotion.  Regardless, the feeling of home enveloped every part of his being until, instantly, he was back in the world of reality inside the prison walls, hearing his name.

“Epaphras.  Epaphras!  Do you want to add anything to the letter?” Paul tenderly asks as he notices Epaphras returning. 

He responds almost in a scattered brain state, “Uh…sure.  Give them my greetings and make sure they know I am praying for them.”

With that warm smile of Paul, whose heart has softened these past few years, he tweaks Epaphras’ request a bit for he knows the deep and sincere truth.  He doesn’t just pray for them; he wrestles in prayer for them.  His prayers go so deep that, at times, he seems distracted and distant.  But Paul knows him well enough by now to know he is praying earnestly, tirelessly laboring with deep concern for his brothers and sisters back home.  And Paul knows the depth of each act of interceding for it goes much deeper than the physical requests.  His prayers circle around their spiritual well being.  And so Paul continues…

“Epaphras, who is one of you and a servant of Christ Jesus, sends greetings.  He is always wrestling in payer for you, that you may stand firm in all the will of God, mature and fully assured.  I vouch for him that he is working hard for you…”

What a beautiful example of how we are to pray for our brothers and sisters.  We must labor in our prayers in all sincerity and deeply prayer for the heart.  So, I am bringing this meeting with my computer at the dining room table to an end.  But before I close, I must ask, how can I pray for you?

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

A Rock

“Simon, are you asleep? Couldn’t you watch with me even one hour?  Keep watch and pray, so that you will not give into temptation.  For the Spirit is willing, but the body is weak.”
Mark 14:37-38

In the deepest hours of the night, Jesus surrounded himself with his beloved followers, one of which was Peter, the Rock.  Trouble and distress flooded his soul.  In the midst of great danger and trouble lurking in the moments ahead, prayer was the solitary and essential option.  In his plea to God to allow this appalling hour to pass, Jesus called to his closest friends to sustain him in prayer.  Yet, in the midst of chaos and horror, tribulation and evil, Peter, the Rock, slumbered.
“Simon, are you asleep? Couldn’t you keep watch with me even one hour?”
I’ve often pondered why Jesus called him Simon, as opposed to his new name, Peter, the Rock.  I wonder if, at this moment, Peter was not living up to his name and, therefore, Jesus reverted to his old name.  Yet, the next few words haunt me and cause me to speculate about my own life.
“Keep watch and pray, so that you will not give in to temptation.”
Wow.  Jesus spoke these words to Peter, the Rock, moments before his infamous denial experience.  Yet, another thought invades my mind…I wonder if Peter, the Rock, had been alert and in prayer, would he have denied his Savior in the midst of complete chaos and confusion…or would he had stood firm in his commitment to Jesus?  Just a thought….definitely something in which to ponder.
And then, another nudge from the Holy Spirit…
“For the spirit is willing, but the body is weak.”
How many times have I crawled into my cozy bed at night, with wonderful and great intentions of waking before the dawn to pray, only to sleep away the minutes, all the while hitting snooze over and over again?  With every passing minute and every screaming snooze alert, my time with Jesus dwindles.  Time designated for prayer, a necessity to face the day of temptation, fades as quickly as the stars with the rising sun. 
So, my heart hears.  In order to be a rock, I must be awake…and alert.  Prayer is indispensable, even when my body feels feeble and weary.  Morning…noon…night…I must keep watch for the enemy is ready to shatter the rocks to pieces. 
“The Lord is my rock, my fortress, and my savior;
my God is my rock, in whom I find protection.
He is my shield, the power that saves me,
and my place of safety.”
Psalm 18:2

“Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.  Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil.  He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.  Stand firm against him, and be strong in your faith.”
1 Peter 5:7-9

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Pray For All People

"Pray for all people.  Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them."
1 Timothy 2:1

Through the tears of dread and fear, God spoke: Pray.

As I attempted to fall asleep that May night of 2010, thankfulness of the family of God invaded my every thought.  Oh, how God had blessed me.  So many were praying and sending us off to a new land in a quest to follow God's plan.  My entire life had been comfy and cozy, surrounded by familiarity and all that seemed right.  In a matter of days, all I had ever known would become a memory and my new world would become uncomfortable and unfamiliar, surrounded by strangers and unknown places. 

But God continued to speak: Pray.

So many had poured into our lives filling our hearts as a sponge.  But now, our hearts overflowed and it was time to share those heavenly blessings with others.  The time had come to give back. God brought me to the place of conviction through 1 Timothy 2:1..."Pray for all people. Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them."

Through the next two years, God spoke: Pray.

Opportunities arose.  Needs became apparent.  Thanksgivings needed to be expressed.  The list began to grow...pray for her, pray for him, pray on this date...at this time.  And on a Sunday in July, it clicked.  As I listened to the word of God spoken, surrounded by the family of God, instruction came from the pulpit: "All those people you're praying for...double it!"  Once again, conviction tugged and pulled and yanked at my heart as I heard the familiar words of 1 Timothy: ..."Pray for all people. Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them."

God pressed on my heart: Pray.

A vision.  A dream.  A desire filled my heart.  The time has come to allow my prayers to ripple through my world.  However, not just my own world; but hopes that prayers would ripple through the endless waters of people in need or sick or adopting, those grieving or ministering or feeling weak.  Perhaps the lonely, poor or those needing to express joy.

God is urging us all: PRAY.

Please join me!  Listen to that loud whisper of the Holy Spirit and allow your prayers to ripple through your world.  Maybe we'll see results.  Maybe we won't...this side of heaven.  But it is time...for all of us...to double our prayers. 

God desires us to PRAY!!

If you would like to join the "Ripples" team, please contact me at bagraybeal@gmail.com

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Astounding Boldness

The moment of truth, sending chills down their spine, haunted the scene.  This was the moment in which the words and encouragement drilled into their minds from the ministry of Christ would come through to save them or sink and drown them in the threats of the men who stood before them. 
There stood elders and priests and scribes eagerly awaiting the response to the life or death question.  “By what power, or in whose name, have you done this?” (Acts 4:7)  Peter and John stood at a crossroad: Open their mouths and allow the Holy Spirit to speak for them, just as Jesus promised or completely cave in to the astute beings hanging on their every word.
There were elders…role models and highly respected men in the single most religious city of Jerusalem.  Men whose every thought and motive and belief was grounded in many years of religious experience.  These strong pillars loomed over the young and “inexperienced” disciples of Christ. Then there were priests.  Their lineage stretched to the earliest branches of the Israeli heritage.  No one knew more than the priests of the operations of the Holy temple.  No one rose above them in their knowledge of sacrifices and the history of the desperation of bloodshed in order to cover the multitude of sins.  Lastly, standing before them, were the Scribes…the academics of the group.  Well trained in writing and interpretation of the ancient Law, merely their presence had to have brought out the worst intimidation to these untrained men.  The Scribes were the lawyers of the day and experts in legal document, recording deeds and copying Scripture. 
So there you have it.  The best of the best…the cream of the crop…each prestige leader fervently waited for these simple men to respond to the million dollar question.  And answer, they did!  “Filled with the Holy Spirit…” and with great boldness, Peter informs the high arch’s  that their previous healing was performed in the name of Jesus Christ.  He continues to enlighten them that it was they who crucified Jesus and it was God who raised him from the dead.  He even supports his argument with Scripture, astounding the prideful teachers.  The elders were not accustomed to the younger men standing up to them with such audaciousness.  The priests must have been floored by their revolutionary declarations.  They “….were amazed when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, for they could see that they were ordinary men with no special training in the Scriptures.  They also recognized them as men who had been with Jesus.” (Acts 4:13)
No matter your background or training or education or, even lack thereof, when we have been with Jesus, the Holy Spirit can and will fill us up and equip us in mighty ways.  Peter and John were bold but only after they were filled with the Holy Spirit.  They were equipped for they had spent much time with Jesus.  Be encouraged by Peter and John.  Spend time with Jesus regularly.  And prepare yourself for colossal results! 
“But when the Father sends the Advocate as my representative – that is, the Holy Spirit – he will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I have told you.” John 14:26

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Thinking Strategies

My sweet four year old deeply loves his naps…still.  As he prepares for the afternoon slumber, he can hardly contain the giggles motivated by excitement.  Nothing soothes like a cuddle quilt and a window with a perfect view of the northwestern evergreens.  Rain or shine…it’s a cozy place. 
On this particular day, my mind swirled and tossed and drowned in thoughts.  The thoughts brought my heart to a state of depression.  On and on…showing no mercy…my thinking took over my soul.  And before I realized it, my day had become a “Woe is me!” kind of day.  Tucking in little Benjamin, untouched by his joy and excitement of nap time, my heart broke.  “We’re so far away from his grandparents and cousins and aunts and uncles.”  “I can’t handle another ‘on call’ day on my husband’s schedule.”  “The WHOLE family is gathering for Easter…everyone except for us.”
Without a word spoken, my eyes must have screamed out the ache in which I felt.  For out of the blue, completely unprompted, Benjamin raised his tiny finger to the sky, pointing upward, and simply said, “Trust in him.”
“You have taught children and infants to tell of your strength, silencing your enemies and all who oppose you.” Psalm 8:2
In a most tender and quiet moment, with three words spoken in a whisper from a child, God silenced the enemy.  The truth Benjamin spoke penetrated into my soul transforming my heartbreak to strength and peace.  The Holy Spirit reminded me that we “take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” (2 Corinthians 10:5)
Strategically, the enemy creeps into our thoughts without our knowledge much of the time.  We must pray that God will reveal to us the areas in our thinking where we have become POW as a result of the enemy’s schemes.  What thoughts are seemingly harmless or insignificant just might be stealth bombers in this spiritual warfare which surrounds us daily. 
Yet, there is hope.  And I leave you with God-inspired words of strength and power.
“Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.  Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil.” (Ephesians 6:10-11)
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you.” – Jesus Christ

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

I've Made My Choice

To explain the choices I made today, one must take a look back to the evening prior to this day to view the beginnings.  It was a late night for my husband for he came home from work as the hour hand of the clock approached 11:00 pm.  Exhausted from his day and my day, straight to bed was the right move. 

A choice was handed to me and I chose: I'm so sick of these late nights.

Yet, 11:00 was a bit late before a 5:00 am alarm.  And, sure enough, against my wishes, the morning came. 

I made my choice: I hate alarms.

Not much further into the morning, the house began to dance and hop and run and shout all from the beautiful children that inhabit this home.  Yet, if you have ever lived in the same vicinity as myself, you will completely understand me when I tell you the choice I made:

My choice:  Be quiet!  It's morning!  (FYI: God did not gift me as a natural morning person.  I arise only out of complete necessity.)

As mid morning approached, about the time my brain began to arise, I found myself sitting in the waiting room of the orthodontist office.  I'm sure, by this point, you can probably guess the type of choice that was mulling around in my head...

For goodness sake!  At the orthodontist with an 8 year old!  There are NO other children that young around here!

I'm sad to say, the rest of the day continued on this same downward spiral of self pity and doom.  Woe is me!  I feel so sorry for myself...all choices I made completely on my own.  At a single moment in the afternoon, the house rested and all was calm, even if only briefly. I fell into my over sized chair to attempt to focus on some Bible study.  At least this was a choice headed in the right direction, for once today!  After being instructed to find a verse in Philippians, I found myself reading verses that had nothing to do with the question I was to answer.  I began to realize I landed in the wrong chapter.  However, it became quite clear that God was speaking...specifically to me...about the choices I had wrongly chosen. 

"Always be full of joy in the Lord.  I say it again - rejoice! Let everyone see that you are considerate in all you do.  Remember, the Lord is coming soon."  Philippians 4:4-5

Oh, I get it!  Joy is a choice!  We choose joy...for the Lord is coming soon and nothing else matters compared to this truth!!

How my heart wishes I could rewind this day and choose once more.  But then again, maybe I'll try...

I'm thankful my 8 year old is getting an early start with his orthodontist care.  At least it will help him down the road...and spread out the cost, too!  ;)

Sure those kids are loud but isn't it lovely?!  And what a gift to rise on this early and beautiful, rainy day!

Yes!  The alarm!  Another day to serve the Lord!

I'm so thankful my husband works hard, is helping the sick and hurt, and that he arrived home safely!

We have a choice to make: self pity and doom...or joy.  I choose joy!!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Wisdom From The Ark

I did not compose this and neither do I know from where it comes. But I thought it was great and wanted to share it with you. Blessings!

Wisdom from the Ark – Genesis 6-9
1. Don’t miss the boat.
2. Remember that we are all in the same boat.
3. Plan ahead. It wasn’t raining when Noah built the ark.
4. Stay fit. When you’re 600 years old, someone may ask you to do something really big.
5. Don’t listen to critics, just get on with the job that needs to be done.
6. Build your future on high ground.
7. For safety’s sake, travel in pairs.
8. Speed isn’t always an advantage. The snails were on board with the cheetahs.
9. When you’re stressed, float awhile.
10. Remember the ark was built by amateurs, the Titanic by professionals.
11. No matter the storm, when you are with God, there’s always a rainbow waiting.

Friday, January 27, 2012


The eventful week ahead begins to bombard my thoughts.

Do the kids’ school work…keep the house decent…don’t get behind in the laundry…balance the budget…and this and that, here and there.

Completely distracted by the “to do’s” of the upcoming week, I become oblivious to all those surrounding me and all the happenings taking place beside me. There are even times that I quietly sneak out a scrap of paper, dig for a workable pen and jot down the nagging notions running wild in hopes of finding some relief.

My mind may not be present but physically I am right alongside of everyone else, doing the right thing. Humbly, I must admit that my heart scarcely can take in a moment for the distractions overwhelmingly take control. I look good. I’m doing my part. Yet my heart is not in it.

But suddenly something eventually rips me away from my thoughts. Maybe it’s a change in the melodic key or a favorite song or perhaps simply an instruction, “You may be seated” coming from the stage.

And then I remember I am in church.

I am in church doing the good deeds, doing my part…yet it’s all an empty sacrifice.

The Lord stepped on my toes this week as I read His Word:

“I hate all your show and pretense – the hypocrisy of your religious festivals and solemn assemblies. I will not accept your burnt offerings and grain offerings. I won’t even notice all your choice peace offerings. Away with your noisy hymns of praise! I will not listen to the music of your harps. Instead, I want to see a mighty flood of justice, an endless river of righteous living.”
Amos 5:21-24

Oh Lord, forgive me.
Rid me of showy rituals.
Prepare my heart for true worship through righteous living.