The Gospel Collective Podcast: Trusting God When You Don't Understand with Bethany Douglas (Episode 02)

Our guest on the podcast today is author, speaker, mother, and retired flight nurse, Bethany Douglas. She is sharing how her experiences with God led her answer the question: do you REALLY believe Jesus is good? Her story of is one of God leading her to own her faith and say yes to trusting God even when it didn't make sense in pursuit of peace. 

Listen to our conversation below or find us in iTunes and subscribe to get the latest episodes straight to your phone! 

Bethany Douglas

Mentioned Links: 
Camp Barnabas
Bethany Douglas
Get Bethany's book here: Helicopter Mom

How To Pray for Anyone: Peace (Part Two)

Welcome to week TWO of our study! I am so prayerful and expectant that God will continue to shed light on the things we are seeking, and will use His Word in our lives in powerful ways. Like last week, I will share the Scriptures for you to seek out on your own. Take notes of what verses stand out to you, who and what comes to mind as you read them. Journal your insights. Finally, pray those specific Scriptures over those people that God stirred your heart about. Think about your family, friends, co-workers, and community. Be intentional about praying peace through the lens of scripture. Write down your prayers with the Holy anticipation you will be back to record the date and ways they were answered. Praying these specific things regarding peace for people could CHANGE LIVES. Legacies. (Don't forget you don't have to get through this all in one day! Take your time. Steep in the scriptures. You have the WHOLE week to meditate on what God has to say about this.) 

Take a few moments before you begin your study today (or each day!) and still your heart and steady you mind. Ask God to make you sensitive to the stirrings of His Spirit and free of distraction. I am praying that as we dive into PEACE today, we all experience HIM in a new way in our lives. I am praying that as week study what God has to say about this ONE thing that we all seem to be chasing, our pursuit of peace leads us to a renewed perspective of who He is and what He longs for us to experience while we each run our race for His glory. 

"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law." 
Galatians 5:22-23

Just as pain and suffering unites people across the world, similarly we are all in pursuit of peace. We long for peace in our world, our workplaces. and our homes. The drivenness of our culture pushes out the margin we could have had for stillness, and the consequence of sin continually wreaks havoc on the steadiness our souls long for. Peace has been an exile since Eden. Forced out of our lives by the choices we often make, and some that are seemingly made for us. What does the Bible have to say about peace? What would it look like if we began powerfully petitioning that God BRINGS IT BACK into our lives and the lives of those we love. The Bible is clear that God does not withhold peace, sin prevents it from having its rightful place in our lives. 

PEACE
Numbers 6:24-26
Psalm 85:8
Isaiah 26:3
John 14: 27
Romans 5:1
1 Corinthians 7:15
1 Corinthians 14:33
Philippians 4:7
Colossians 1:19-20
Colossians 3:15
Hebrews 12:14
Hebrews 12:11
James 3:18
1 Peter 3:11

Number 6:24-26 says that peace is a blessing from God Himself. He longs to give it to us. Peace is an effect of experiencing God in our lives. Peace is a result of seeing God in our lives, seeing who He really is--a friend. A steady, loyal friend who never changes, is never surprised or swayed. Just like Moses experienced Him face to face, when we pray for someone to have peace in their lives, we are praying for them to experience God in their lives, face to face. 

One thing I noticed over and over in these scriptures is that His peace is always a benefit of being in HIS will. The peace of God is motivation to stay in His will and His wisdom. Just like a parent, He knows what is best for us because He wants the best for us. I don't know about you, but just to have some peace in my life is well worth committing to doing my very best to following His advice on how to live to an abundance of it. If I don't have peace--it is not because God hasn't given it. His word promises that He keeps us in PERFECT peace. If we follow it. If I don't have peace in my life, it is because I am not TRUSTING Him, I am not trusting that He really knows what it best for me.

At the end of the day, as believers, peace should be our nature--NOT chaos. However, it does not happen in our lives naturally. Peace is sown. A life of peace is intentional, made choice by choice.  It does not matter if we don't feel like making peace at the moment or pursuing it -- we are CALLED to it. When we resist peace, we are potentially hindering others from experiencing God. We cannot be who we are made to be and do what we are made to do if we are resisting the pursuit of peace, because that means we are resistant to His will for us. If we are not doing everything to cultivate peace in our lives and our relationships, we are choosing a life that is not made for us. It's not enough to just look for peace here and there when troubles come our way. 

A pursuit of peace means we've got to run after it like our lives depend on it. Because at the end of the day, they do. There is far too much at stake to live this life without a steady anchor to keep us from going off the deep end. The water around us may be unsettled but we cannot afford to be. 

QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION:
Do you find that it is easy or difficult to pursue peace in your own life? What verses stood out to you? What did God reveal to you about peace in your own life? How can you pray one (or more) of these verses over people in your life? Share you thoughts in the comment section, we are all in this together! It is SO important that we talk about what we are seeing God do and hearing God say. I can't wait to hear from you! 

Grace and Peace, 
Rachel

how to pray for peace

The Gospel Collective Podcast: Episode One with Shawn Freeby

Podcast guest Shawn Freeby shares his perspective on joy and why that is important continually cultivate a lifestyle of gratitude in our families, our workplaces, and in our faith. 

Listen below or check it out on iTunes and subscribe to get weekly podcast episodes straight to your podcast library. 

Finding Joy

Questions for reflection:

How you cultivate joy in your life? What are some ways you personally create a lifestyle of gratitude in your family, workplace, or hard circumstances? Have you ever prayed for God to cultivate joy in someone's life? What was the result? Let us know your answers in the comment section, we read every comment and can't wait to hear from you! 

How to Pray for Anyone: Love and Joy (Part One)

Hey friends! 

I am so excited to dig into the very first part of our series on the fruit of the Spirit, specifically how we can use Galatians 5:22-23 as a guide to pray boldly and sincerely for anyone in our lives. We are diving this week and we're going to make our way through the various traits, in concordance with the ESV.

Here is the layout for this shin dig πŸ˜‰:

Every week I'm going to kick off the blog post by sharing the two verses we are building this study around, so we remember where we've been and where we are headed. Since we are only taking this week by week, each post will be composed of two elements at a time. Each week, I will layout specific Scriptures and insights God revealed to me during my own time and study over these topics that I feel are instrumental in our task. My hope is that you spend sometime time over the week, either a little every day or all at once (you do you, boo!). Additionally, my vision for this was that each participant would WRITE down their prayers for their people, using the Scriptures we studied or whatever else God has used in regards to this study. I am going to try to keep my words SHORT (I know--I am just as doubtful as you are, HA!πŸ˜† But I am going to TRY) so that the Spirit has room to move and you are equipped to take the material and apply them to your own prayers closets and lives in whatever way the Spirit prompts you to do so. 

Let's dive in! 

 "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law." Galatians 5:22-23

I'm going to take a  second to be real here. When I began this study there were some very tender relationships in my life. (As I am assuming are in yours too! At least one if we are honest ;)  When I got into the Scripture we are going to work through today, it made me want to WEEP. Like, ugly cry in my kitchen. God did some tremendous heart-work through these first few verses to remind me who He is and how He feels towards me. Which, in turn, led me to a time of serious repentance on my part. Which supernaturally cultivated a change of perspective for these people and God's heart towards them. My prayer is that you experience the same. It was LIFE CHANGING. And it was only day one! 

LOVE
The Greek word for this specific type of love is "AGAPE". In Strong's Hebrew and Greek dictionary, it is defined as this: "Spoken especially of good will toward other, the love of our neighbor, brotherly affection, which the Lord commands and inspires."
Love that God commands. 
Love that God inspires.


 Colossians 3:14-15
Matt. 5:43, 19:19, 23:39
Luke 6:32
John 15:13, 17:26
Romans 13:10
1 Corinthians 13:1
2 Corinthians 2:4,8
2 Thess. 1:3
Hebrews 6:10
1 Peter 4:8
1 Jn. 4:7

Questions for reflection: 
Is there evidence of the kind of love inspired by Christ in YOUR life? What does that kind love look like? One a scale of 1-10, how well do you think you are doing on loving people well? 

JOY
Mathew 2:10; 13:20, 44; 28:8
Luke 1:14: 15:7-10
John 16:20
1 Peter 1:7-8

(Here are some places that were discussed as the grounds for joy, the occasion for JOY. I found it FASCINATING.) 
Luke 2:10
Philippians 4:1
1 Thess. 2:19, 20
James 1:2
2 John 4

Here's what blew me away about JOY. 
In the Bible, the most intense joy described is often located near a significant point of despair. It also is the one thing that make all else pale in comparison. JOY is the seemingly the key to eternal perspective--it is HOPE for really matters. I think it because of the hope that we have anchored in Jesus, and His victory that is ours by birthright. In JOY we have a tiny taste of heaven, of what our souls were created to dwell in. 

It makes circumstances endurable. Trials worth sustaining. Good things better. Joy is the avenue to eternal perspective. Joy is not the same things as happiness. Happiness is fleeting, circumstantial. Joy is contentment despite circumstances, because of the anchor of hope we have in Jesus. Joy is gratitude for what God has done and what He will do. 


It is JOY that shines the brightest in every dark season. Joy is the security in the promises of God and who He is. Joy has the power to change everything for us now, because Jesus changed everything for us on the cross. 
Β 

Questions for reflection: 
Where in your life have you experienced the most JOY? What is close to season of heartache? 

How do you cultivate JOY in your life, without relying on happiness? Another way to phrase this would be how do you cultivate joy when circumstances are not "happy"? 

How can you pray LOVE and JOY over people in your life? Write these down in your prayer journals. You don't even have to come up with your own words. PRAY THE SCRIPTURES over the people God has laid on your heart. Your friend. Your sister. Your neighbor. Your enemy. But don't forget to ask God to shine light in your own heart where you need Him to grow these things in your life as well. If you don't have that kind of love in your heart, ASK HIM to give it to you, and teach you to give it freely to others. If you can't muster up an ounce of JOY in your own life, ask God why. And ASK HIM to open the floodgates of heaven to rain joy straight into your soul. He's waiting to do it for you and for those He loves. 

I'm praying for you guys! Let me know what verses guided your prayers this week! I would so love to hear what God is speaking to you throughout this journey. Remember, HIS Word will NOT return void! 

Grace and peace, 
Rachel

Love and Joy

From the Outside Looking In: How to Sincerely Pray for Anyone in Your Life (Introduction)

Four years ago, I was part of a mentor group that changed my life. The things God did in that season have been imperative in where I have found myself today. I hope to never get over what God did for me through that group of wise, authentic, God fearing women. I had prayed for about three years for God to send someone to help me navigate this place, and man did he answer that in my friend and mentor, Judy. From the day I met her I knew she anointed with a wisdom that only comes from the Lord, she had a kindness in her eyes that spoke of compassion and lessons learned but wasted no words or moments with things that were not asked of her by God. 

One evening at one of our monthly meetings, we were discussing how often we find it hard to pray for those around us, especially those that have hurt us. We walked through the notion that we have the desire to pray for them, even forgive them, but in our prayer closets those prayers often would feel hypocritical. We didn't mean it. And that meant we were lying to the Holy Spirit while seeking the presence of God. A BIG no-no.

The more we talked, the more we realized that we often would similarly want to pray big things for those we love, but would get stuck in knowing the most effective way to pray for God to do big and beautiful things in their hearts. So then we would find ourselves settling for half-hearted prayers put together with shallow, common words and phrases of well intentioned wishes (rather than prayers), on behalf of those that have our whole hearts because we weren't up for the work that it takes to figure out to how pray boldly and sincerely. Also a BIG no-no. It's like praying for God to bless your friend with a good day, when in the same time you could have petitioned that God would breathe fresh life into her lungs, show her something new, heal something broken. In both situations, it really just came down to a lot of missed opportunities for power-packed prayer on the behalf of others. 

Then, our mentor offered her experience. What she shared has changed my life in such tangible ways that I was never able to shake it. She looked at us and said, "If I have an enemy, there is no way that I am going to ever be able to sincerely pray for God to bless them financially. I'm just not. And if I say that I am, I am lying to the Holy Spirit. BUT, what I can do sincerely, is pray that God would cultivate the fruit of the Spirit in their life. I can pray that would experience love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control in their life. And I will mean that with my whole heart, every. time." 

BAM. And just like that, she had equipped me with a Biblical perspective that kept my prayers aligned with God's will for not only my enemies, but for those I love. For anyone that God laid on my heart to pray for, regardless of circumstance or situation, I could make the most of my petition for them. 

Fast forward to a few months ago. I was chatting with a close friend and she share that she had found herself not even praying anymore because she was so resistant to praying for this person, she knew that she couldn't do it sincerely so she had been wrestling the temptation to stiff-arm prayer entirely. She told me that she knew that the enemy was the one leveraging this specific relationship, this one hang up, to isolate her from communion with God and others. One of Satan's favorite lies is to tell us is that if we can't do it perfectly, why even try? If we can't do one thing that we know is good for us, or that one thing God is prompting us to do, then we just need to take ourselves out of the game entirely. 

We've all heard it from him. And I would probably be willing to say we've all believed it for a hot minute at least at some point in our lives. 

I can't commit to a full hour of Bible study and prayer in the morning so I'm just not going to do any of it until I can. (LIE--One minute with the Holy Spirit has the power to change more in your life that one million sermons on Sundays.) 

I know I'm not going to be able to serve every single weekend (or I don't want to) so I'm not going to say yes to ANYTHING. (LIE--Serving is not a one size fits all. Just say yes and God will give you opportunities for your availability. ALWAYS.) 

I can't commit to a healthy lifestyle because I have (XYZ) this weekend so I'll just wait until it's a better time. Or a new month. Or a Monday. If it could be the 1st on a Monday that would be GREAT. That's when I'll start. ;)  (LIE--there will never be a better time.)

I can't say yes to pouring into someone else because I don't have time to meet with them every week so I'll just wait until I am RETIRED. (LIE--you don't retire from the Great Commission)

I'll start spending time with God every day when the babies start sleeping, when my shift changes, when life is not so crazy. (LIE--You will never dedicate more time to things that are "optional" than you do now. Even if you are 105 you will fill your time with what is important to you.)  

___________________________________
(Fill in your own excuses here) 

If we can't do it right every single time, why even bother.

That's what he wants us to believe. Thats what he wanted her to believe. She had been wounded. Satan was using her love for this person against her and as a resource for building a wall between her and her intimacy with God. And she was OVER IT. 

So we started talking about how this was actually something SO MANY of us have struggled with at one point or another, if we are honest. The legalistic approach to faith is fatal. Because there is power in just faith every singe way other than legalism. And at the end of the day, if we are not authentic in our faith and in our prayers, we are legalistic. Hypocritical. And we have ALL BEEN THERE. So if you're feeling quilty right now, that isn't from the Lord. But conviction, that feeling that leads us to repentance? That totally is. Lean in. Hear me when I say this: we may be legalistic every once in a while because we are SINNERS. But we are ALWAYS loved by God. And His kindness leads us to repentance. So, like my wise friend shared, that may be the way we are feeling, and maybe for legitimate reasons. But it is not ok to stay there. 

So, how do we get unstuck in our prayers for others? We look inside. We refuse to let the outside symptoms become strongholds in our lives and in our petitions for others. We invite Christ to allow the cross do its work in us and pray for the Spirit to do His thing in all of us. I shared with her what Judy had taught me. and how it had changed my life. We decided together to begin praying and studying through the fruit of the Spirit, and await God's movement. As we were talking, I immediately felt God prompt me to share what we were learning here in this space, as a resource for anyone else looking to take their faith and prayers to the next level.

Over the next 8 weeks we will be walking though a series on the Fruit of the Spirit. We are going to dig deep into God's Word and ask Him to teach us to pray these things over those He puts on our hearts so we can make the most of our prayers and invite Him to cultivate His will in our lives along the way, so as we bear the name of Jesus on our foreheads, we may also bear the fruit of what He has done for us in our lives. 

Are you IN?! Let me know in the comments below so I can be praying for you as we go through this together. ALSO: This is the FIRST EVER group I am inviting to do this specific study with (YAY!) Fun fact: I recently was invited to partner with YouVersion (!!!) and THIS STUDY will be the first Bible plan I offer on the YouVersion app as we conclude! So please, please share what God is showing you, teaching you, and how He is moving in your life throughout this journey. Who knows, maybe your feedback will make it into the study! I think it would be SO COOL to share snippets from you guys that participated this round.  I have a holy anticipation that He is awaiting to hear from us and is ready to do what He does best. 

Here's to powerful prayers, real faith, and changed hearts and lives beginning with US. 

With so much gratitude, 
Rachel

How to Pray for Anyone

ONLY GOD

New Season

Hey friends! 

I am beyond thrilled you are here! I have been waiting so long for you to join me in this journey, and to fill you in on all that God has been doing! Over the last few months, I have been taken some time to pray and ask God to establish our next steps in this ministry. As many of you know, I have been writing for about two years now, released I Know Him last October (eek!) and have since then followed God's leading to host a podcast, deliver radio broadcasting, teaching workshops and speaking engagements. 

In this season of my life, I have said on multiple accounts that if there was a "motto" for my life right now it would be this: ONLY GOD. And friends, I am prayerful and hopeful that this continues to be what my life looks like for this next season. My deepest desire is for anything that God allows me to put my hand to simply be the vehicle that reveals that it is only by His doing, for His glory and for the good of others. So far, He has been answering this prayer in abundantly beautiful, unexpected ways (as is often His way!). 

Over the summer, I have been praying and reading, seeking counsel and asking God to establish our steps. The words God put in my heart for this season are "fruitful" and "sustainable". I am here for the long haul, fully surrendering to the calling He has put on my life and the fire in my bones with which He made me. I have an urgency to preach the Gospel, to see God move, and to see those He loves running hard after Him, experiencing Him at every turn and and forever changed as a result.

I don't know that I've ever share this before, but from the time I was in 5th grade I knew that I was made to share the Gospel with my whole heart and my whole life, even though I never knew what that meant or what that even looked like. Being so young, I kind of just let that happen and moved on, not really knowing what else to do with it. Then when I was 15, God lovingly and kindly snapped me out of what I call "life fog", and through several instrumental people and His Word, He shined His brilliant light straight into my heart and on my purpose and I've never looked back. The verse that God used to affirm what He had done in my heart and changed the direction of my life that year was this: 

"But if I say, β€œI will not mention his word
    or speak anymore in his name,”
his word is in my heart like a fire,
    a fire shut up in my bones.
I am weary of holding it in;
    indeed, I cannot." Jeremiah 20:9

I remember reading that when I was wondering what in the ever-loving world God was doing and I heard God speak: "THIS IS HOW I MADE YOU. This urgency, this overwhelming desire to make every moment count is not an accident. MY Word will be a fire in your bones, because I AM A CONSUMING fire." 

So with every ounce of passion, every fiber of my being, every wave of conviction, I am brought back to the roots of my mission. His Word is living and active, His presence is in our midst. 

The realization that experiencing God and talking about what He has done is single-handedly the most powerful way we can share the Gospel and overcome darkness has only added fuel to my fire. We live the lives we were created for when we make the most of every single moment in our lives, pursuing nothing but the fullness of God. That is why I spend every moment I have creating resources and sharing messages that equip women to run hard after Jesus for the rest of their lives, for the glory of God and the good of others. 

The Words of our testimony partnered with the blood of the Lamb is our strategy. The Sword of the Spirit is our weapon. The present moment is our advantage. 

This space will be one of the ways I try to do my best for Jesus. In an effort to be wise and better steward the things God has asked me to do, I am streamlining all the different pieces on this site. The blog is where you will find what God is teaching me, and what He has laid on my heart to share with you all! There is also a resources page where you can purchase Bible studies, books, and other resources to equip you in your faith. The podcast will continue to be utilized to talk about what God is doing in the lives of believers around the world, but will additionally go a step further and intentionally equip listeners with tangible, applicable ways to go deeper in their faith, run harder in their race, and experience God in new and powerful ways. 

Here is to a new season full of things only God could do! Thanks for running this race with me. I really would love this to be a place of sharpening, encouraging, and edifying conversation. Let me know you are here and how I can best be praying for you, what God is doing in your life, or maybe even some resources that would be helpful to you! 

Grace and peace, 

Rachel