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Friday, June 26, 2015

Leadership Part 1: Nehemiah

Many people associate Nehemiah as a prophet or priest, but he wasn’t in the ministry at all. He is like most of us - serving the Lord in a layman’s capacity. The book of Nehemiah opens with Nehemiah in Shushan sometime between 420-455 BC. However, most scholars suggest the book starts around 444-445 BC. Nehemiah’s claim to fame is his re-building the wall around Jerusalem. The temple had ­­­­been rebuilt, but there were no walls to protect or fortify the city. Nehemiah traveled to Israel leading the 3rd journey of Jews back to Israel after being in Babylonian captivity for 70 years. His reputation was of a humble man with an upright character. He led by example as both cup-bearer to King Artaxerxes II of Persia and civil governor of Jerusalem. He exhibited determination and leadership to fulfill the calling the Lord bestowed upon him.


Each one of us is in some type of leadership role. It might be as a minister, a church member, a boss, a teacher, a parent, a politician, or a business owner. Today we are going to look at the first 5 leadership skills using Nehemiah as our model. We can be a masterful leader in the various positions God has called us to whether in the office, ministry, or home. Next week, we will continue with 5 more leadership skills Nehemiah possessed.

Leadership Skills

1. Make your voice and presence known to those who count.
When Nehemiah heard that the wall of Jerusalem had been broken down and its gates had been destroyed, he sat down and wept. He mourned for days and prayed to God. It was the Lord to whom he first made his voice and presence known. Then in the first part of Nehemiah 2, he addresses the King. Notice that when Nehemiah fervently prayed over this need, God put it in his heart to be the person to meet that need. After praying about a situation or issue, often we find ourselves to be the one or part of a group to help with that matter. As with Nehemiah, we all have projects or goals that the Lord has given us or that we want to accomplish. Let’s accept God’s calling and see if we can utilize some of Nehemiah’s strategies to succeed.
"Let your ear be attentive and your eyes open, to hear the prayer of your servant that I now pray before you day and night for the people of Israel your servants, confessing the sins of the people of Israel, which we have sinned against you. Even I and my father's house have sinned."
Nehemiah 1:6 ESV.

2. Spend time planning your project(s).
Nehemiah arrived in Jerusalem with a good reputation from Shushan. His reputation followed him, and the people already respected him. He could have immediately told his workers what to do. But, as a leader, we find him taking the time to evaluate the situation; then spending time planning before approaching others. How often do we involve ourselves in a project without the adequate preparation? Probably too often. In this chapter, we see Nehemiah laying out his strategy for meeting the goal of restoring the wall around Jerusalem.
"I went out by night by the Valley Gate to the Dragon Spring and to the Dung Gate, and I inspected the walls of Jerusalem that were broken down and its gates that had been destroyed by fire."
Nehemiah 2:13 ESV.

3. Stand up for what is right.
While being a Godly man, Nehemiah became angry when he heard about the injustices in Jerusalem. Nehemiah and his men were called feeble. They were being taunted. He personally was ridiculed by Sanballat, Tobiah, the Arabians, Ammonites and Ashdodites. They were angry because God had purposed His plan in Nehemiah’s heart to restore the wall. Nehemiah prayed while his enemies were conspiring to go to Jerusalem to persecute, hinder, and try to stop the progress on the wall. But, Nehemiah was confident in what God had called him and his men to do. He talked to the nobles, the rulers, and the people and made a plan to prevent the injustice from occurring. When on the job, do you ever see injustices? If so, we would be well-advised to follow Nehemiah’s example – to pray – then talk to the right people about it.
"And we prayed to our God and set a guard as a protection against them day and night . . . And I looked and arose and said to the nobles and to the officials and to the rest of the people, do not be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for your brothers, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your homes."
Nehemiah 4: 9,14 ESV.

4. Set clear expectations for performance.
Even while men were conniving against Nehemiah, we can deduct that Nehemiah had his game plan in motion. His men knew exactly what to do. How do we know this? We know this because his men finished the project in 52 days. That was an amazing feat. Nehemiah did not leave his men to fend for themselves without direction. He gave them specific and sensible instructions. The men of Jericho, the Levites, the Priests and the other builders knew exactly what part of the wall was assigned for them to build. These workers enjoyed working for someone they respected and that had clear plans and guidelines in place. As leaders, we also should make our expectations clear to those working with and alongside of us.
"The wall was finished on the twenty-fifth day of the month Elul, in fifty-two days. And when all our enemies heard of it, all the nations around us were afraid and fell greatly in their own esteem, for they perceived that this work had been accomplished with the help of our God."
Nehemiah 6:15-16 ESV.
Wall -Used by Permission from


5. Surround yourself with good talent.
After the wall and all the gates were built, Nehemiah gave his brother Hanani (a relative and colleague) and Hananiah (ruler of the palace/court) charge over Jerusalem. But why? He gave them the job because they had already proven they were worthy of handling the mission. Nehemiah was honoring the hard work and trustworthiness he had already observed in them. When we need to ask someone to take charge of a job or project, do you find yourself asking the person you think is the most capable? Most of us do. However, sometimes leaders try to do too much themselves without delegating. When we reach the stage of being an overseer (being in a leadership role), it is time to move away from being the specialist and become the generalist who sees the big picture using the talented people you have charge over. Nehemiah did.
"Now when the wall had been built and I had set up the doors, and the gatekeepers, the singers, and the Levites had been appointed, I gave my brother Hanani and Hananiah the governor of the castle charge over Jerusalem, for he was a more faithful and God-fearing man than many."
Nehemiah 7:1-2 ESV.

Spoiler Alert: Check back next week with Green Pastures by Patti: Inspiring Stories about Prayer and Bible Study for the next 5 leadership traits entitled Leadership Part 2: Nehemiah

  • Acknowledging God as your strength;
  • Correct and admonish when needed;
  • Obey the company or ministry policies;
  • Celebrate the achievements of others; and
  • Define the roles and responsibilities AGAIN.

Bible Verses:

Where there is no guidance the people fall, but in abundance of counselors there is victory.
Proverbs 11:14
Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary.
Galatians 6:9
So he shepherded them according to the integrity of his heart, and guided them with his skillful hands.
Psalms 78:72


Oh Lord, help us to see opportunities to be servants for you. Let us also see areas where you want us to be leaders. Let us follow your leading and be the best leaders we can. Give us your directions, your wisdom, and your skills. Let us live our lives seeing life from your perspective. We love you. In Jesus' Name.

God bless you.
Patti Greene

If you are reading this blog from the official blog page and you would like to receive notification when new blogs are posted, please fill in your email address in the “Follow by Email” block on the upper left portion of the blog.
And don’t forget COMMENTS are always welcome!

Books by Patti Londa Greene
Awaken Me: a devotional prayer journal
God, It’s Me: 181 Days for Young Adults to Become Passionate about Prayer and Bible Study

 “Nehemiah: Who wrote the book?” The Bible-Teaching Ministry of Charles R. Swindoll. [21 June 2015.]

Stedman, Ray. “Nehemiah: Rebuilding the walls.” Authentic Christianity. [June 21, 2015.]

Wallace, Wanda T. and David Creelman. Leading people when they know more than you do. Harvard Business Review. 16 June 2015. Web.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Intercessory Prayer

Recently, my husband and I have been the recipients of “Intercessory Prayer.” Intercessory prayer means that you are offering prayers for others, i.e. friends, family members, co-workers. It is as simple as that. During our need for prayers, we can honestly say we could feel the prayers of others reaching heaven and coming upon us to help us in our situation.  Within us, those wonderful prayers created peace, security, healing, and comfort to particular need.

Whose FACE will you pray for today?

Have you ever noticed that sometimes you can’t pray for yourself or the only thing you can do for others is pray for them? Maybe there has been an accident, an emotional or psychological incident, an unforeseen occurrence, or a spiritual dilemma creating an inability for you to pray. Those are the times to call upon your believing friends so they can lift you up in prayer and support you. There are also times, when you can’t do anything else but pray.

On October 29, 2014, while living in Lagos, Nigeria, an elderly-appearing man knocked on the back seat of the car window when I was stuck in bumper to bumper Lagos traffic. His wrinkles showed a very hard life. His dry swollen hand went up to his dry, cracked, parched lips begging for something to drink. Yes, I had a half Coke Zero in the car, but due to company security policy [due to possible kidnappings and armed robberies which are ongoing in Nigerian cities] we were strongly advised to err on the side of caution and not open our windows or doors for anyone. He stood there for what seems like an extremely long time. All I could do was turn my head away and pray. While I wished I could quench his thirst, I couldn't. There are really times you can't do anything but pray.

I have been writing out my prayers out in notebooks and journals since 1973! Yes, I know you don’t think I could be that old, but I was 17 years old when I started. I still have all those journals. It is very humbling to look back over my prayers. One day, I decided to look through some of my “prayer journals” and I saw that early in my Christian walk, most of my prayers were about ME and then about ME some more, but as I matured in the faith, I noticed my prayers had started becoming more about other people. Yes, I still pray about my concerns and life, but they seem to be a lot less about me and more for others now. Praise God.

In the Bible we can find many examples of intercessory prayers. Let’s look at three examples.

EZRA - In the book of Ezra, the scribe and scholar named Ezra, discovers an apathy developing among the Jews returning from Babylon to Jerusalem. The officials told Ezra about the Israelites and Levites not separating themselves from the Babylonians people and about their wicked acts and direct violations of God's will which included intermarrying with foreign women.

When Ezra heard this, he rent his undergarment* and his mantle*, he pulled hair from his head and beard, and sat down appalled. He trembled. He sat astounded. But then he arose from his depression and he fell on his knees and spread out his hands to the Lord his God. He then says, “O my God, I am ashamed and blush to lift my face to You, my God, for our iniquities have risen higher than our heads and our guilt has mounted to heavens. Since the days of our fathers we have been exceedingly guilty; and for our willfulness we, our kings, and our priests have been delivered into the hand of the kings of the lands, to the sword, captivity, plundering, and utter shame, as it is today.” [Ezra 9:6-7 AMP] “Now while Ezra prayed and made confession, weeping and casting himself down before the house of God, there gathered to him out of Israel a very great assembly of men, women, and children; for the people wept bitterly.” [Ezra 10:1 AMP] Within this example, we can see the dire pain that Ezra felt toward those returning Jews. He was interceding on their behalf. Have you ever interceded for someone with that much depth and passion before?

Another person who came boldly to God's throne in prayer is Paul. Paul prayed many times for believers in the New Testament. In Philippians 1:9-11 ESV, Paul prayed, "And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God."

Jesus was probably the ultimate intercessor of all times. He prayed for Peter that his faith would not fail. [Luke 22:32] He prayed for believers and His disciples. He prayed for those who crucified him. Many times Jesus prayed with deep cries and tears for those around him. As Jesus prayed, so should we.

But how do we know for whom to pray? There are so many people and so many needs. While not an exclusive list, I have found most of my directions to pray for someone has come from these sources.

  • Seeing a need;
  • Feeling a holy hunch that someone/some issue needs prayer;
  • Hearing about a need and it being brought to my attention; and
  • Discerning a possible prayer need.

Intercessory prayer is powerful. It is like putting yourself in someone else’s shoes, feeling their pain, and praying from God’s perspective. Let’s look around us this week and see for whom God brings to us to pray. There are many faces today that need our prayers. Look for that face in the crowd. And pray diligently and boldly.

In Jesus’ Name.

Bible Verses:
First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people.
1 Timothy 2:1

Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.
Romans 8:26

Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.
James 5:16

Jesus, let us pray in your power and strength. Lord, show us people and issues that need our attention in prayer. Imprint their needs upon our hearts so we can’t let go until prayers have been lifted up for them. Let us pray as you would - seeking God and trusting all outcomes to You. Take our prayers and bring them to the Father. Let your will be accomplished through our prayers. Cleanse us so we can receive Your wisdom and discernment in all we do. Thank you Lord. Amen.

God bless you.
Patti Greene

* The undergarment was a tunic.

* In biblical times, a mantle was typically a large, loosely fitting garment made of animal skin, probably sheep skin.

Breneman, Mervin. Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther: an exegetical and theological exposition of Holy Scripture (The New American Commentary). Holman Reference. 1993.

"What in a mantle in the Bible?" Got Questions Ministries. [15 June 2015.]

If you are reading this blog from the official blog page and you would like to receive notification when new blogs are posted, please fill in your email address in the “Follow by Email” block on the upper left portion of the blog.
And don’t forget COMMENTS are always welcome!

Books by Patti Londa Greene
Awaken Me: a devotional prayer journal
God, It’s Me: 181 Days for Young Adults to Become Passionate about Prayer and Bible Study


Thursday, June 11, 2015


Tony Evans tells the story about the cowboy who applied for health insurance. The agent routinely asked him, “Have you ever had any accidents?” The cowboy replied, “Well, no, I’ve not had any accidents. I was bitten by a rattlesnake once, and a horse did kick me in the ribs. That laid me up for a while, but I haven’t had any accidents.” The agent said, “Wait a minute. I’m confused. A rattlesnake bit you, and a horse kicked you. Weren’t those accidents?” “No, they did that on purpose.” Now that makes us laugh, but honestly accidents do happen.

There is a difference between accidents, mistakes, and sin. Accidents happen unexpectedly and unintentionally. Mistakes usually occur by judgment errors, misinterpretations, or by not paying attention to details. Sin occurs when we disobey the moral and Biblical instructions put forth in the Holy Bible.

Bicycle racks in front of Den Haag Central Station, The Hague, The Netherlands

Sometimes accidents kill. If you are reading this blog and you have experienced that type of accident with someone you know and love, I am so sorry. Three weeks ago my nephew’s good friend Adam was hit by a car when the driver failed to yield to the motorcycle he was on - killing him. My nephew was speechless that something like that could have been so easily preventable. We just don’t have the words for it.

But, today we are going to look at suffering and pain from the viewpoint of accidents, i.e. running into a concrete wall during basketball practice, being hit by lightning, electrical accidents. We are going to look at accidents that fortunately are not unto death. We must first understand that accidents do happen! They can happen because of risky behavior or they can happen without warning - with or without any ability on our part to avoid them. While we or a loved one may be in unrelenting or searing pain, the results are left in God’s hands. We know this because Jeremiah says, "For I know the thoughts and plans that I have for you, says the Lord, thoughts and plans for welfare and peace and not for evil, to give you hope in your final outcomes." 

Nowhere in the Bible does it say that we will be free from accidents. Mistakes and sins we can avoid, but not accidents. Sometimes accidents can’t be explained. Other times they are for a purpose - to test our faith – to keep us from evil – to increase our character - to help someone else in their faith walk.

A few years ago The Bama Group Research did a survey asking people what they would like to ask God. The number one question was that people wanted to ask God is “Why He allows pain and suffering in this world.” People usually ask that question when they are in the midst of a crisis situation or they are philosophically looking for an answer to the question. Either way, the question is asked frequently.

As a believer, when you are encountering pain and suffering due to an accident, how should you react to it?

-       Start by having others pray for you. You may need to have a family member or friend contact believers to pray for you. [You may or may not be in any condition yourself to be praying at this point and that is okay.] Having others pray for you is importance for two reasons. Others are encouraged to enter a season of prayer, which they may or may not have been utilizing in their Christian walk. And secondly, God hears the healing prayers of the righteous.  On a practical note, I love the phrase I have heard by Aaron Armstrong in Blogging Theologically. He says, “If any among you are sick, pray and get them to a doctor.”

-       Recognize that Jesus understands our pain, because he suffered himself.

-       Thank God for the strength to keep going – hour by hour, day by day, week by week, or month by month.

-       Don’t blame God for your accident. Accidents happen unexpectedly through tragedies, disasters, and untimely incidents.

-       Work hard NOT to become like King Ahaz in the Old Testament whose distress made him become more unfaithful the Lord. (2 Chronicles 28:22)

-       Recognize that God allows everything for his glory.

During and after a time of pain and suffering, many have said they have become more confident in their walk with the Lord and they feel a deeper compassion towards people. When explaining the Godly results of suffering, Mary J. Yerkes states it best in her article When We Suffer: A Biblical Perspective on Chronic Pain and Illness. Yerkes states:
- Suffering produces intimacy with God (Job 42:5)
- Suffering equips us to comfort others (2 Corinthians 1:3-5)

- Suffering refines us. (Isaiah 48:10)

- Suffering produces growth and maturity (James 1:2-4)

- Suffering conforms us into God's image (Romans 8:28-29)
Brovono Hospital, The Hague, Netherlands

Let’s all try to look at accidents in this way from now on. As I mentioned accidents will happen. Your child may fall off a balance beam and break their arm; you may swallow some money; or you may flip your bike doing wheelies. Whatever it is, let’s remember that God knows what has happened and He is there to get you through your pain, and to show you His intended purposes.
God bless you.
Patti Greene

Bible Verses:

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.
Romans 8:18 ESV

Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.
1 Peter 5:9-10 ESV
Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.
Romans 5:3-5 ESV

As I look back over fifty years of ministry, I recall innumerable tests, trials and times of crushing pain. But through it all, the Lord has proven faithful, loving, and totally true to all his promises. 
David Wilkerson

I am not a theologian or a scholar, but I am very aware of the fact that pain is necessary to all of us. In my own life, I think I can honestly say that out of the deepest pain has come the strongest conviction of the presence of God and the love of God. 
Elizabeth Elliot

God never allows pain without a purpose in the lives of His children. He never allows Satan, [n]or circumstances, [n]or any ill-intending person to afflict us unless He uses that affliction for our good. God never wastes pain. He always causes it to work together for our ultimate good, the good of conforming us more to the likeness of His Son (See Romans 8:28-29). 
Jerry Bridges


Dear Lord, Give refuge and strength to me (or a loved one) as I (she/he) have encountered a difficult blow leading to tremendous pain and suffering. You alone are my fortress and my rock. Be my comfort. Let me see light soon. Heal me. Show me the purpose in my suffering. When I am healed, let me be used by YOU in a new and mighty way. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.
If you are reading this blog from the official blog page and you would like to receive notification when new blogs are posted, please fill in your email address in the “Follow by Email” block on the upper left portion of the blog.
And don’t forget COMMENTS are always welcome!

Books by Patti Londa Greene
Awaken Me: a devotional prayer journal
God, It’s Me: 181 Days for Young Adults to Become Passionate about Prayer and Bible Study

Thursday, June 4, 2015

How to Pray for your Children

In October 1985, I found myself at Cypress Christian School* in Cypress, Texas where my daughter attended a once-a-week Mother’s Day Out program. It was there I picked up a sheet of paper that changed my life and more importantly the life of my children. At the time, I had a 3 year old daughter, a 1 year old son, and I was pregnant with my third child. This mimeographed page became my guide for how to pray for my children. These guidelines have been written in my Bibles, copied for friends, stored in my computer, and more importantly prayed over.

My Bible
This week I just feel led to share these with you. While I don’t know what your particular situation is or how old your children are, these guidelines may be the one thing that steers you to focus on praying for your newborn, preschooler, elementary age child, pre-teen, teenager and even older. When addressing the Lord over the years, some of the prayers below have been more important than others. For example, when my children were young, I would pray #1 mightily. When they were teenagers, I would pray #12 continually; and all through their life I would pray #9. Praying #3 is a little scary now that they are all adults, but hopefully by praying this when they were little, there is little chance of being in a precarious situation.

But, here is the deal. Praying God’s Word and protection for your children is essential in training them and fostering a healthy and God-centered life. When we become parents, we are in it for the long haul, so no matter what the age of your children, never stop praying for those whom God has given you care over whether they are your own children, your step-children, your God-children, or any child God has entrusted into your care. And remember, praying for your children does not stop once your children become adults. Parenting and praying is a lifetime commitment. 
And, if you haven’t been praying for your children, it is not too late. I implore you to start now cultivating a Godly character in your children and their children through your prayers.

1. That they will know Christ as Savior early in life. Psalm 63:1; 2 Timothy 3:15.

2. That they will have a hatred for sin. Psalm 97:10.

3. That they will be caught when guilty. Psalm 119:71.

4. That they will be protected from the evil one in each area of their lives: spiritual, emotional, and physical. John 17:15.

5. That they will have a responsible attitude in all their interpersonal relationships. Daniel 6:3.

6. That they will respect those in authority over them. Romans 13:1.

7. That they will desire the right kinds of friends and be protected from the wrong friends. Proverbs 1:10, 11.

8. That they will be kept from the wrong mate and saved for the right one. 2 Corinthians 6:14-17.

9. That they, as well as those they marry; will be kept pure until marriage. 1 Corinthians 6:18-20.

10.That they will learn to totally submit to God and actively resist Satan in all circumstances. James 4:7.

11.That they will be single-hearted – willing to be sold out to Jesus. Romans 12:12.

12.That they will be hedged in so they cannot find their way to wrong people or wrong places and that the wrong people cannot find their way to them. Hosea 2:6
All Grown Up!
Photo by Lindsay Elizabeth Photography
Bible Verses:

Praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints.
Ephesians 6:18 ESV [Praying always]

Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving.
Colossians 4:2 ESV [Continue in prayer]

Pray without ceasing.
1 Thessalonians 5:17 ESV [Pray without ceasing]

Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.
Romans 12:12 ESV [Continue steadfastly in prayer]


Dear Heavenly Father, let me always remember to pray for my children and those under my care. Give them protection, security, and love as they mature and grow into the person You want them to be. Nurture their character so they will be honest, good, and sensitive to your Holy Spirit. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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*Source: Unknown

Books by Patti Londa Greene

Awaken Me: a devotional prayer journal
God, It’s Me: 181 Days for Young Adults to Become Passionate about Prayer and Bible Study