Unseen Powers and Prayer

With a new poll showing that about 80 percent of the population believes in angels, Jack Graham’s message should be well-received: “Behind every win and every loss…beneath every success and every failure, spiritual forces are at work.”

His new book is entitled Unseen; Angels, Satan, Heaven, Hell… and Winning the Battle for Eternity. That’s a mouthful and a lofty title, but the book doesn’t fall short.

Graham says he didn’t learn much about “spiritual forces” during his youth. Regarding heaven and hell, he (like many of us) was taught that one was desirable and the other wasn’t.

He says, “my plea to you is this: We mustn’t brush this reality aside, thinking that what we don’t know won’t hurt us. What we don’t know absolutely will hurt us, and hurt us in powerful ways.” No wonder Mark Batterson endorses Graham’s book!

In my eye-opening interview with him we talked about fear, Satan’s strategy and the mission of angels. He explains in very simple, common terms what it means to put on the “armor of God” every day.

Graham says that warfare prayer is different from the every day, “God is great, God is good” type prayers. “Warfare prayer is militant praying, aimed solely at dispelling darkness with light, at overcoming evil with good, at advancing the causes of Christ in the world. We need more believers praying this way. We need them fighting from their knees,” he says.

Some of the important ingredients to warfare prayers are faith, humility and a righteous heart. Primarily, warfare prayer is worship.

If you’ve been avoiding thinking about the “unseen” powers that fill the Bible, now is the time to take a look and recognize that you don’t have to see to believe. The battle is raging on around you even if you aren’t willing view it with spiritual eyes.

We can expect to net some huge gains by warfare prayer, such as: power, protection and provision. What have you got to lose? Ask God to reveal the “unseen” to you today and ramp up your prayers to make a much bigger impact.

Share your supernatural experiences and awareness in a comment below. You might win a copy of Unseen.

Getting Unstuck – Jamie George

Jamie George hit the nail (and me) squarely on the head in this post and my interview with him. We all need to be reminded that God can’t use us if we don’t take care of ourselves. Feeling stuck in a rut? Check out this post below and listen to this powerful interview. Don’t forget to comment to win his terrific book Love Well.

Bold Living airs on stations in various cities and for easy on-demand access, subscribe to the podcast on iTunes (search Diane Markins) from my website.  Diane Markins 


The Blessing of Bread

by Jamie George 

Give us this day our daily bread. – Matthew 6:11

In order to steer this vessel toward His glory, we need navigation. 

In order to fuel this vehicle and keep it on mission we need nourishment.We start with the physical:  

“Give us this day our daily bread.”

I forget this.  Often.

My tendency is to help everyone else first.

I can make that an excuse, my willingness to “do the right thing.”

The responsible thing.

Unfortunately, in my willingness to sacrifice for others I am not being a steward of myself.  And if truly honest, not really sacrificing.

I am doing the EASIER and LAZY thing.

Serving myself takes a great deal of effort.

So to pray, “Give us this day our daily bread,” is to pray,

“Give me this day, the motivation to say no to certain foods.”

“Give me the motivation to break a sweat.”

“Give me the awareness that I need to eat the right kinds of food.”

“Give me this day my daily nourishment.”

“Give me this day the stamina to serve myself.”

Our daily need for food is meant to be a constant reminder.

We are not our own source of sustenance.

We are creatures in daily need.

It would not have been lost on Jesus’ hearers that their ancestors looked to God literally, each day for daily bread or something like it…

When the Israelites were wandering around in the dessert for 40 years after their refusal to trust God, He displayed His faithfulness by providing for them manna from heaven.  This manna was unusual.

It was like a bread source that could be used for various dishes in various ways, and provided daily nourishment.  Daily.

Whatever was not used that day went bad.

What was needed would then be provided the following day.

Jesus hearers would easily have made the connection.

Give us this day our daily bread is a declaration of dependence.

Some of us have trouble receiving.

We don’t like asking for help.  It makes us feel weak.

Praying this prayer…  Yep.  It is acknowledging that I am weak.

If you are fully self-sufficient then you have no need for love.

If, however, you are in need, you are in a place of receptivity. You are prepped for love.  Many of us are ambitious about giving love away, but have we learned to be just as ambitious in our desire to receive it?

Put Love into Action

Pastor and mega-author Francis Chan wrote the foreword to Love, Skip, Jump by Shelene Bryan. He said, “Don’t be another person who wastes his/her life by trying to save it. Spend more energy saving lives than saving for retirement. Just comsider the possibility that you might live more if you risked more and gave more. Join my friend Shelene in doing something.”

In my interview with Shelene Bryan, she shares the story of how she began wondering if the kid she sponsored in Africa was actually getting any benefit from the money she sent… or if she even existed. So she did what any crazy, type A woman would do. She went to see for herself.

What she found would change her life forever. So much so that she found Skip1.org, a charity dedicated to providing food and clean water to children in America and around the world.

In the book she talks about how to: Love– with the heart of God, Skip– some of the comforts in life so you’ll have more to give, and Jump into the “Aventure of Yes.”

Shelene has never lacked passion, but through her first experience in Africa, her passion became God’s passion. As with most people who want more from life, Shelene is 100% sold out. Her story is riveting and her sense of humor refreshing.

Listen to the interview. Post a comment and share with friends so they will be inspired to say yes. You might even win a copy of Love, Skip, Jump. While you’re there, subscribe to all my podcasts on itunes and you can listen to the many fabulous guests and impactful topics from Bold Living with Diane Markins.

Bold Living airs on stations in various cities and for easy on-demand access, subscribe to the podcast on iTunes (or search Diane Markins) from my website.  Diane Markins 

Prayer – It’s What Gets Us Through the Trials

We all love a great sermon or speech…as much as we hate a bad one. Meaningful, engaging messages don’t just pop into the mind and out of the mouth. They take a boat-load of effort- and PRAYER. Prayer takes us through the trials of life too. Read this hugely helpful post and listen to what H. B. Charles says about his books It Happens after Prayer and On Preaching.

Bold Living airs on stations in various cities and for easy on-demand access, subscribe to the podcast on iTunes (search Diane Markins) from my website.  Diane Markins 

On Writing Sermon Manuscripts

by H.B. Charles

The pastor left his sermon manuscript in the pulpit. When the janitor found it, he couldn’t resist the urge to read it. He was impressed, until he stumbled over a note in the margin: “Argument weak here. Start yelling!”

Old story.

Timeless truth: Passion is never a substitute for clarity. If you write yourself clear, you won’t have to yell to cover up a weak argument.

I am a manuscript preacher who cheats. Most weeks, I write a complete manuscript. Most weeks, I do not carry anything to the pulpit but my Bible.

I believe both practices sharpen the preacher – writing manuscripts and preaching without notes.

Here are 11 tips for writing yourself clear in sermon preparation.

  1.  This is not a cursory step. You should pray before and throughout your study of the text. And you should pray your way through sermon preparation. You need guidance in what to say and how to say it to your congregation.

Start with a sermon skeleton. Begin by determining the title, theme, central idea, outline, and other elements that make up the framework of the message. Establish the structure of the sermon. Then put meat on the bones.

  1.  You will never write a manuscript if you do not write a manuscript. Don’t procrastinate. Sunday is coming. Starting writing. Write for as long as you can. Get your ideas on paper. Don’t worry about how good it is yet. A bad page is better than a blank page. Just write.

Write it out word-for-word. Type out your introduction, explanations of the text, scripture references, applications, illustrations, and conclusion completely. “The Vacation Story” or “Charles Spurgeon quote” may suffice in your pulpit notes. Not here. Write it all out. After you start writing manuscripts regularly, this practice will also help you to gauge how long your sermon is.

Write for the ear. A sermon manuscript is not a term paper, theological essay, or potential book chapter. It is a transcript for a message you will deliver to God’s people. As you write, think about those who will listen to what you say, not those who may read what you write.

Preach it as you write it. Talk it out as you are writing it down. This will help you communicate clearly and effectively. Some words that are easy to write are not easy to pronounce. That long, run-on sentence that looks so beautiful on your computer screen may be a nightmare to say. Likewise, preaching it as you write it aids memorization.

Strive for clarity. Process your word choice, sentence structure, cross-references, transitional sentences, and illustrations as clearly as possible. If you do, style and creativity will take care of themselves. Clarity is its own style.

Craft transitional sentences. Car accidents often happen at intersections, during lane changes, or when making a turn. Likewise, moving from the introduction to the main body, from point 1 to point 2, or from illustration to application can be as dangerous as driving in rush hour traffic. So work on smooth transitions. Don’t say, “Let me say three things about the text.” Give them three reasons to pray or four ways to resist temptation or two benefits of trusting God.

Work around writer’s block. I rarely write a sermon from beginning to end. And I struggle to write my introduction and conclusion first. I write as it comes to me, which may be point two. If I get a mental block, I start working on another part of the sermon. This helps me to keep writing when a section is not yet clear.

Mark the manuscript for preaching. I put the main points in red font, sub-points in dark blue. Scripture references are italicized. Quotes are blue. Illustrations are purple. “Runs” are green. Hymn lyrics are orange. I highlight, underline, and change font sizes. This helps me memorize the message. Or if I have to preach from the manuscript, ideas, sections and transitions pop out on the page.

Edit maliciously. The manuscript is a draft until you preach it. Keep working on it. Explain technical words or choose simpler ones. Shorten your sentences. Take out cliché, well-worn words and phrases. Find a different way to say it. Use one cross-reference, instead of three. Cut out that section that was good study material but doesn’t fit in the message. Eliminate unnecessary repetition. Have the courage to leave some hard work on the cutting room floor for the sake of clarity, unity, and movement.

Boundaries for Teen Girls

I always learn so much more from other people’s mistakes than from their success. Allison Bottke knows this is true so she shares candidly about the countless mistakes she made as a teenaged girl. She was a run-away at 14 and involved in abusive relationships from a young age. She became pregnant, had a child and was divorced before her 21st birthday.

Allison knows that value of boundaries for teen girls and wishes she had been blessed with someone to give her a little guidance during these tumultuous years. That’s why she wrote A Young Woman’s Guide to Setting Boundaries.

In her book, and in my very real chat with her, she talks about how her boundaries were broken as a small child and offers advice to women who’ve experienced abuse from a young age. She offers simple advice about how to leave behind shame and guilt from the past to fully embrace God’s love and the future He has for each young woman.

Be sure to listen to this one and share it with the teen girls you love. Post a simple comment below (“I love this topic”, etc) to win a copy of the book. Your experience and advice is also of great worth, so feel free to contribute.


Got Grace? “Proof” Says that’s Enough

Our culture is so performance-based that it can be a challenge to get our heads around God’s culture that is based purely on grace. Stop striving and start living in the fullness of God’s pleasure. Check out this post below and listen in on the show. Don’t forget to comment to win Proof by Dr. Timothy Jones.

Bold Living airs on stations in various cities and for easy on-demand access, subscribe to the podcast on iTunes (search Diane Markins) from my website.  Diane Markins 

Grace is Enough

by Dr. Timothy Jones

Martin Luther once commented that humanity after the fall is no longer able to imagine any way to be made right with God other than works. Our tendency by nature is to slip into the delusion that our standing before God somehow depends on what we do. Or we overcorrect and slip into another delusion, that what we do doesn’t matter at all.
In the first instance, we diminish the finished work of Christ by living as if God started our salvation by grace but then we have to finish it. In the second instance, we miss the truth that grace doesn’t simply save us, it also changes us.

The purpose of the new book PROOF: Finding Freedom through the Intoxicating Joy of Irresistible Grace is to reawaken believers to the wonder and the beauty of authentic grace–God’s wonderful acceptance of us not because we have earned it or deserved it but because he gives it to us freely in Christ. In this book, we show that the answer isn’t found in trying to balance legalism and license. It’s rather in recognizing that, everything God gives to us, he gives in Christ and that this placement of us in Christ and Christ in us changes everything. United with Christ, we are both captive and crowned, slaves of Christ yet free, already positioned as righteous in Christ yet empowered by his Spirit to pursue righteousness.

*Share your experiences of working too hard, especially to gain God’s approval. Win a copy of Proof.

Customized Parenting

Every parent knows that each child is unique. So why do we use the same methods to teach, motivate and discipline them? I got some new insight from my chat with authors Carrie and Richard Blackaby. If you’ve got a kid that’s not responding to your efforts, check this out and be sure to comment to win a copy of the book.

Bold Living airs on stations in various cities and for easy on-demand access, subscribe to the podcast on iTunes (search Diane Markins) from my website.  Diane Markins 

Don’t Jump off that Cliff!

by Carrie and Richard Blackaby

Co-authors of Customized Parenting in a Trending World

“If all of your friends jumped off a cliff, would you jump too?” Generations of parents, desperate to discourage their child from yielding to peer pressure, have used this immortal parenting advice.

The verdict is still out on whether their logic has ever prevented a child from taking that fateful leap.

The irony is that parents have been copying others while simultaneously discouraging their children from doing the same.

The truth is, people are unique and far too complex to be treated like a product on an assembly line. No two people are exactly alike, yet society regularly pressures people to think, act, and look like everyone else. For secular society to behave this way should not come as a huge surprise, but for Christian parents to act in this manner is not only disappointing; it is dangerous.

There are many reasons why parents treat their children like clones. First, parents resort to the same techniques their parents used. We default to what we know, even if it didn’t work on us.

Second, parents resort to “conventional wisdom.” These are commonly accepted beliefs and practices embraced by society at large and especially by parents we respect. Then again, for centuries, conventional wisdom suggested bloodletting was an effective way to treat illness. Just because other parents are jumping off a cliff in raising their children doesn’t mean you should too.

Finally, parents are seduced by success. Parents who succeed with their first child often use the same method on the following children. Of course, parents know their offspring are different from one another, yet they assume the same approach will be equally effective.

It takes courage, work, time, and money to customize your parenting. It requires that you truly understand what makes each child “tick.” It may involve rejecting commonly accepted practices. In short, it means embracing your God-given calling to be a parent and designing a home in which each child can thrive.

Facing Life’s Challenges with Faith, Friends and More

Hard times, challenges, struggles and disappointments are a certainty. When they hit us we need an arsenal to battle back to solid ground. I chatted about what we need to get through with Michele Howe, the author of Faith, Friends and other Flotation Devices.   Comment below to win a copy.

Bold Living airs on stations in various cities and for easy on-demand access, subscribe to the podcast on iTunes (search Diane Markins) from my website. .Diane Markins 

Appreciation: A Truly Humane Art
by Michele Howe

“The difference between appreciation and flattery? That is simple. One is sincere and the other insincere. One comes from the heart out; the other from the teeth out.”
Dale Carnegie in How to Win Friends & Influence People

There is something wonderfully enigmatic about sensing that another person notices your efforts, weak attempts though they may be, and kindly expresses such recognition with even a single word of thankfulness. One paltry word, even? Yes. A mere word can make or break a person’s spirit, depend upon it. On any given day, individuals, young and old, from every life background have an inner (frequently unidentified) longing for a bit of expressed goodwill. All people have this need to realize a sense of validation for their accomplishments, their purpose, and their very person.

Cynics may grouse that there’s a fine line between appreciation and flattery. Well, it isn’t so. Flattery is simply verbal manipulation that benefits the speaker alone. The words may true or not, that’s not point. Appreciation runs deeper. It marks another’s actions or attitudes and sees the benefit in the attempts…no matter how insignificant. Real appreciation also alters both the speaker and the recipient, for the good. It spawns renewed vision, encourages continued efforts, and lights a fire for ongoing perseverance toward excellence.
Perhaps the most significant difference between flattery and appreciation is that one offers life (in abundance) while the other signals an inner death knell to the listener.

People instinctively know if they’re being schmoozed and it’s always unattractive. The question then is how to offer praise genuinely when someone is glaringly lacking from every visible vantage point. Drawing from Emerson, Carnegie reports, “Every man I meet is my superior in some way. In that, I learn of him.” Wise words and utterly true.

In short, as we practice the art of identifying people’s strengths and offer words of consistent appreciation, we will take part in their success, which will naturally spill over positively affecting countless others. Today, begin focusing on the strong points of people and then commit to communicating daily sincere appreciation to all. These few powerful words, which cost us so little, will be treasured by the recipient long after we’ve forgotten them, and there’s nothing insincere about it.

Build appreciation into every personal encounter.

Adopt a learner’s mentality. With friends and strangers alike, view every person you interact with as someone you can learn something from…and then do it.

Focus on meeting the needs of others by learning what is important to them. Ask intelligent questions, listen carefully to their responses, and spend more time discussing your friend’s interests than your own.

See people with fresh eyes. Familiarity can bring with it a lack of gratefulness. Look closely at others’ gifts, talents, and abilities….and thank them for the difference they are making in your life and in others.

Be open hearted by sharing friendships. Welcome newcomers into your circle of friends and acquaintances with warmth. Genuine hospitality begins in each individual heart and works its way outward in ever-widening circles.

Why Pray if God Doesn’t Listen? Nothing Gets past Him!

The trials we go through are on God’s radar. Nothing gets past him. Cindi McMenamin shares some sharp insight below and on the show.

Bold Living airs on stations in various cities and for easy on-demand access, subscribe to the podcast on iTunes (search Diane Markins) from my website.  Diane Markins 

Why Pray if it Feels Like God Isn’t There?

By Cindi McMenamin, Author of When God Sees Your Tears

Do you know what it’s like to ask God for something and to keep waiting for an answer? It’s difficult to imagine how God can have a purpose or happy ending to our life’s story when we’re right in the middle of longing for something more or missing something we once had. But God sees our story from beginning to end and He knows exactly what He is preparing us for even if we can’t imagine He’s doing anything on our behalf.

As I wrote my book, When God Sees Your Tears, I was encouraged by the story of Hannah in the Bible who wanted a baby so badly she offered to give him back to God if He would just give her a son. She didn’t get that son immediately, but “Scripture says “in due time” God gave her a son who would be one of Israel’s greatest prophets and priests and who would help turn the nation’s heart back toward God.

I’m encouraged through that story that while Hannah just wanted a baby, God wanted to give her a legacy. While Hannah was watching the clock, God was watching a country, getting ready to release a bigger plan. And when Hannah offered back to God what she longed for most, she received even more than she had requested.

If you’re in the frustrating phase of trying to get God’s ear, I want to encourage your heart with three sources of hope in the midst of what might seems like unanswered prayer:

1. Hope in God’s Word – Did you know that God cannot contradict His Word? While He has guidelines in Scripture that are not necessarily promises, there are passages that contain promises that hold true as we obey Him. For example, 2 Corinthians 1:20 tells us, “For all the promises of God in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen, to the glory of God through us” (NKJV).

2. Hope in God’s Character – God also cannot contradict Himself. So when He says in His Word that He causes all things to work together for good to those who love Him and are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28), He will do just that. He will take care of what You put into His hands. The more you get to know Him, the more you will trust Him. The more you trust Him, the less you will doubt, worry, fear, or give up.

3. Hope in His Timing – God knows exactly when you are ready to receive the desire of your heart, and He will not act a moment too soon or a moment too late when it comes to doing what is eternally best for you. When you are in the long haul of waiting and you aren’t getting a yes, will you trust that what you might think is a no might really be His wait? He knows best. Therefore His timing is always perfect.

Keep hoping in Him, my friend. He can be trusted with your heart. And He sees your tears.

*Share times you’ve prayed and not felt like God was hearing you, you might win a copy of Cindi’s book.


Worry is a Killer

Did you know that about 40 million Americans suffer from some form of anxiety disorder and that surveys say 80% of people feel stress about their jobs? When you add the worry of parenting, driving, paying bills and home repair, it can become a pressure cooker in your brain.

Stress will (not might) impact your physical health. From weight (loss/gain), interest in sex and sleep patterns to serious illness, stress can kill you. Relationships, job performance and joy are often impacted as well. Even your relationship with God can take a big hit.

While most people don’t have to fend off wild beasts like our Neanderthal ancestors, the “fight or flight” response is a part of our genetic makeup. A strong-willed toddler, a demanding boss or an unkind neighbor can trigger a massive surge in adrenal glands, leaving you depleted and exhausted.

Now for the good news. You don’t have to live like this. Michael Ross (award-winning journalist and editor formerly with Focus on the Family) shared some great tips on how to make transformative choices based on medical, as well as Biblical research. His book (coauthored with Dr. Arnie Cole) is called Worry Free Living; Finding Relief from Anxiety and Stress for You and Your Family. This might be the prescription you’ve been waiting for… and you can win a copy if you comment below. How do you manage stress? What toll has it taken on your family?

Listen to my interview with Michael Ross. Bold Living airs Saturdays at 11:05 AM MST on FaithTalk 1360 AM and for easy on-demand access, subscribe to the podcast on iTunes and from my website.  Diane Markins