A Banquet Beckons – Part 1

Let’s go shopping! When given that invitation, what image enters your mind? A large shopping mall? A quaint boutique or eclectic fashion mart? Are you seeking bargains at a yard sale? Or is a flea market more your style?

Today, especially in the United States, our shopping opportunities are limitless. In spite of all these choices, my favorite shopping spree is the open-air farmer’s market. Perhaps that exposes my farm-girl roots, but I love to stroll through the maze of booths boasting their field-fresh produce. I truly feel close to God’s creation and the growers who share their harvest.

Wouldn’t it be grand if the indoor shopping malls fused this wholesome food idea into their food courts? Can you envision it? Instead of fast-food cubicles surrounding noisy eating areas, the shopping mall would provide a true dining experience in an environment of respite. Busy shoppers could enter for an interval of calm and nutritional nourishment.

That’s the picture my mind creates when I think of Heaven’s Storehouse. If there were such a heavenly place on this earth, shoppers would discover products or services to enhance, empower, embellish, or even entertain––not only in the material realm, but in their physical, spiritual, and intellectual beings as well. This great dining hall would hold beautifully adorned and expansive tables laden with natural, wholesome foods from God’s garden––true, pure, and delicious nourishment. The tantalizing aroma from fresh foods, warm-from-the-oven breads, savory spices, colorful fruits, and garden produce would greet all who enter. There would be no man-made imitation foods on this table! The precious time and effort that produced this lavish feast would not go unnoticed. All who enter would sense a serene comfort.

Our Creator Father has indeed invited us to dine at His table in the midst of life’s full and hectic schedules. I’m reminded and reassured of this when I read Isaiah 25:6: “On this mountain the Lord Almighty will prepare a feast of rich foods for all peoples, a banquet of aged wine––the best of meats and the finest of wines” (NIV).

Come back next week to find out how to “set your table” to nourish your family.

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My Prayer Closet

“Life is a succession of lessons which must be lived to be understood.”These words by Ralph Waldo Emerson have proven to be true over and over again during my time hosting a live, call-in radio show in Denver. In those five years, I interviewed high-profile Christian authors who offered insights on overcoming adversity by remaining anchored in faith. I could literally fill a small library with the lessons they shared in their books.

So, I did!

First I had to find the space, which soon became my favorite room in the house. It’s the cozy sanctuary where I get to embrace the words of these inspiring writers on my own time and in my own space. It’s where I shut out the noise of the world and reconnect with God through the lessons they shared on Scripture and His wisdom for every imaginable problem.

Not long after finishing my small library—really a converted closet—a remarkable movie entitled The War Room2, hit theaters. In the film Miss Clara converts a closet in her home, and furnishes it with powerful scriptures. It’s where she goes to pray and fight her spiritual battles. Miss Clara fights for herself and for anyone God sends to her. While trying to sell her home, she meets a young woman fighting to keep her marriage. Miss Clara suggests that, instead of complaining, the young woman devote an hour a week in prayer in her own converted closet or, as she calls it, the “war room.”

As I watched the film, I realized my little favorite room would now have a new name: Stephanie’s War Room. It includes my scriptures, photos of the people I pray for daily, and books written by people who have radically changed our world through faith in Jesus Christ.

Had my life gone exactly as planned, I would never have needed a prayer closet/war room. I was a veteran news anchor, recipient of several awards, and I looked as though I had it all. But God saw it differently and had other plans for me. I was not a dedicated servant of Christ, not living the Word, not praying on a regular basis. I did not have a battle plan! I did not have or feel the need for a prayer closet/war room.

All that changed. Over the course of about a year, everything that once defined me was cut out of my life. Everything! I had never been so profoundly hurt before—or since. The hurt cut deep into every part of my life: family, friends, self-worth, self-image, and career. During that dark time, the story of Job hit home: “I have no peace, no quietness; I have no rest, but only turmoil” (Job 3:26 NIV).

The people I could blame for the wrongdoings in my life probably had no clue what I was going through, and I pray they never will. In my battle, I realized there was no personto blame:“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 spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms”(Ephesians 6:12 NIV).

During that difficult time, which was the worst time in my life, I made a choice to turn to God. He got my attention. What I’ve learned from reading His Word has been my greatest blessing. The Lord’s Prayer has a whole new meaning now: “And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors” (Matthew 6:12 NIV). The hardest thing I’ve ever been asked to do, is the best thing I’ve been asked to do. On the other side of forgiveness, I found peace and blessing. We only hurt ourselves when we dwell on what happened. However, when we release our hurts, we are released from the torment they bring us.

Your heavenly Father values you and loves you so much. I know it doesn’t feel that way some days, but faith isn’t about a feeling; it’s a choice to believe God’s Word. It helps us forgive and believe through prayer that God can change everything!

I love Second Corinthians 1:10–11: “He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and He will deliver us again. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us, as you help us by your prayers. Then many will give thanks on our behalf for the gracious favor granted us in answer to the prayers of many”(NIV).

Don’t hesitate to remind those who are struggling that they aren’t alone—Jesus paid the price on Calvary; the battle is already won! All we have to do is declare it in the name of Jesus Christ!

Imagine a world where, like Jesus, we could check in with headquarters before starting our day, opening our mouths, or making the next move. Now you see the importance of a prayer closet/war room. I didn’t have one during my original battle which brought me to the foot of the cross; but I have one now, and I use it!

Through my brokenness, I found blessings I never imagined! I have new and wonderful Christian friends, true romantic love, a wonderful son who is now a fine young man, and a new hope for the future. Most importantly, if I am targeted by satanic attacks, I am a fortress in my prayer closet/war room. I’m ready to battle, and I pray you are too!

1“Ralph Waldo Emerson,” BrainyQuote.com, Xplore Inc, 2015, http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/r/ralphwaldo103524.html, accessed October 21, 2015.
2The War Room, dir by Alex Kendrick (2015; TriStar Pictures, 2016 dvd).

 

Testimony of Grace

I have been touched by God’s grace all my life. Grace is often defined as the unmerited favor of God; it is a gift that you can’t earn and don’t deserve. I didn’t know it at the time but I see it now in retrospect. As a little girl, I was touched by things of […]

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Faith Doesn’t Take No for an Answer (Part 2)

Even after the Canaanite woman was told she didn’t “qualify,” she continued to worship Jesus and put her unashamed desperation on display. “But He answered and said, ‘It is not good to take the children’s bread and throw it to the little dogs’” (Matthew 15:26 NKJV). Now He has insulted her! Talk about adding insult […]

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Faith Doesn’t Take No for an Answer (Part 1)

Let me tell you a story about a woman who was determined to see her daughter set free, no matter what obstacle tried to get in her way. The story is taken out of Matthew 15:21-28, which tells of a Canaanite woman who went to where Jesus was, crying out to Him to be merciful […]

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A Strong Woman Versus a Woman of Strength

A strong woman works out every day to keep her body in shape… but a woman of strength kneels in prayer to keep her soul in shape… A strong woman isn’t afraid of anything… but a woman of strength shows courage in the midst of her fear… A strong woman won’t let anyone get the […]

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Pastors’ Pearls – She Builds

  If I asked you to think of attributes that would best describe a woman, you would probably be able to think of many things. You might say feminine, sensitive, wise, emotional, multi-tasker, or any one of hundreds of words that adequately express what a woman is. What about the word builder? My guess is […]

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A Spotless Child

I had just finished feeding my brand new baby girl. As she slept peacefully in my arms, I looked at her sweet little face and saw not a spot, not a blemish, not a scar – nothing but beauty. Her skin was like fine, white china, and her dark eyebrows arched perfectly over her sleeping […]

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Embrace Your Place

Again and again, I hear the same questions from women of all ages: “How do I find my purpose?” “What’s my place in the Body of Christ?” I find it ironic that as we are individually searching for our place, the people around us often have very specific ideas regarding what we should be doing! […]

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In His Sanctuary

The stories and accounts in the Bible are divine truth and inspiration with the ability to give our minds living pictures of eternal truth for daily living. As women, we think in pictures all the time as we hear or read something, then we begin to construct a picture in order to process and use […]

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