Saturday, June 29, 2013

Working for Eternity

Therefore, my dear brothers (and sisters inferred) stand firm.  Let nothing move you.  Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.  I Corinthians 15:58

Our work for the Lord is not in vain.  Sometimes it feels like it is.  There are times we work and work and work and everything seemingly just keeps going down hill.  Mothers and stay at home dads know exactly what I am talking about.  You get up every morning, make breakfast, clean house and something else gets destroyed so you have to repair or replace it and messed up so that you have to start all over again.  It feels like you are going nowhere rapidly.  What we must focus on is that the work God is speaking of here is the work that affects eternity.  Our most important job isn't trying to impress the world with how tidy and perfect the home we live in is.  It is impressing the world with how wonderfully marvelous our God is by how we rear our children and treat our spouse.
It's about being generous and loving towards our neighbors and all those with which we come in contact.  These are the things that will never be done in vain.  We may not see the results while here on earth for all our efforts, but we will see them in heaven.
Yesterday I woke to pressure on my chest.  I was having an asthma attack.  I reached for my inhaler and the mouthpiece was missing.  I called the pharmacy to get a refill prescription, but the earliest it would be ready was 11:00 am, 4 hours away and right when grandchildren were due to come over.  I hated to do it, but I called my youngest son and asked if he had a spare mouthpiece.  He did, so I drove there and received the medication I needed.  A few minutes later I was on my way home feeling much better.  I wanted to feel really good while my grandbabies were here.  Praise God for my generous children who, though still in bed when I called, were more than happy to provide what I needed.

During lunch one of the children accidentally knocked over his lemonade.  Juice went flying into my granddaughters face and lap, down my curtains (washed and pressed days earlier), all over the table and two chairs and the floor.  I had to make a quick choice.  Do I get upset and tell everyone to get up so I could clean the mess, or stay calm in order to teach them that getting upset doesn't change anything, so we might as well keep doing what needs to be done and stay happy?  I chose the second option.  I admit that my granddaughter made the choice easier.  She started yelling that the juice was in her eye, jumped up and ran to the bathroom.  When she came back she started to complain. I looked at her and asked, "Does getting upset change the fact that you have lemonade all over you?"  She answered, "no," so I went on.  "Then why don't we all choose to stay calm, clean up the mess and go on with our day and have fun?"  She gave me a rather startled look and said, "Okay."  That was that.  When I think back when I was rearing my own children, I didn't react so well every time.  I didn't yell, because I knew that would make my children jumpy at meal time, but I know I didn't make the best expressions and there were many times I would say, "Oh (insert child's name here)."
However, I discovered the other day while at my youngest son's house at lunch, that staying calm paid off with at least one of my children.  His daughter spilled her milk.  He said nothing, but simply jumped up and got paper towels to clean up the mess.  His daughter smiled and said she was sorry, it was an accident.  I told her we knew and that she should be happy she has a daddy that understands and doesn't get angry.  What a blessing that was to me!
Rearing children while trying to maintain a loving and generous attitude toward your spouse can be exasperating and exhausting, but it is well worth the effort and has eternal rewards.  As neighbors watch your children grow and mature with a wonderful attitude toward life and an assurance that they are loved and accepted and a marvelous work ethic, they will want to know how you did it. They will also want to know how your marriage has remained strong, steadfast and happy all these years.   You can share with them, "With blood, sweat and tears, but mostly by grace of almighty God!!"  What a tremendous testimony!
Lord, help us remember, especially in the most trying times of being spouse and parent, that our work is never in vain when done for Your glory.  It all has everlasting rewards that we will understand fully and marvel at when we reach our heavenly home, if not beforehand. 

Friday, June 28, 2013

Forever Family

I remember the excitement of being a new wife.  For the first few weeks it was totally awesome.  Then the first phone bill came.  I had rung up quite a bill for back then by calling my mom long distance.  My husband became a different man at that point.  Suddenly he was upset and telling me how I had to control myself.  He knew I missed my parents, but I was his wife now and needed to concentrate on that rather than on being their daughter.  Woe!  I was angry and hurt.  I cried (but not in front of him) and told God how unfair it was. 
There were other times similar to this that happened over that first year and then, after not quite two years of marriage, our daughter was born.  Somehow, I went from being this well organized neat freak to a person who just couldn't keep up.  I was told I just needed to be more organized.  Less than 2 years later our first son was born.  I became worse and I was told that I really needed to get more organized.  Less than 2 years after that our second son was born and I was asked, "How in the world do you get anything done around here?!"  All comments from my husband.  The last one made me smile outwardly and laugh inwardly.
There were several things that helped me tremendously in balancing being a wife and mother.  One thing I learned that helped tremendously with being a wife was learning that my husband should come first after God in my life.  My children were only a hair's breadth below him, but I needed to remember that without him, I wouldn't have children in the first place.  So, as difficult as it was, I started to listen to what he needed from me and doing it, even if it meant I had to put off having that picnic lunch with the kids for an hour or possibly until the next day.  I always explained why, and then hugged them a bunch. Then I would read over Proverbs 31 as a refresher that I was doing the right thing.  I printed it out by hand and posted it on our refrigerator as a daily reminder.

As for being the best mom I could be, I read Zig Ziglar's Raising Positive Kids in a Negative World, James Dobson's books about child rearing and scriptures about how children are a blessing from the Lord (so I didn't forget when I became totally frustrated.)
Two poems were my mainstay:
Cleaning and scrubbing can wait 'til tomorrow
For children grow up we've learned to our sorrow.
So quiet down cobwebs, Dust go to sleep.
I'm rocking my baby and babies don't keep.
And the ever famous "Children Learn What They Live."
I made many mistakes as a wife and mother, but praise be to God, He looked at my heart and saw that its desire was to be the best I could be, so He looked beyond those mistakes and made our family an eternal one.  I have three children here on earth and they are all marvelous in their own way.  They are all three strong willed, determined young people and I pray they continue growing in the Lord, using that determination to serve Him to the fullest of their capabilities.  He gave me three wonderful children-in-law and 7 grandchildren so far.  But before this, He gave me a man to love me unconditionally, even when I wrecked the car, broke the side view mirror, tore up the kitchen wall, and so many other things.  He's been patient and willing to teach me anything I want to know.
He warms me when having a freezing fit, cares for me when I am ill, does possibly more housework than I do and continues supporting me in each endeavor, even though sometimes he has to caution me that I may be making a mistake and need to take time to pray first.  What more could I ask for?  Only one thing - a closer walk with Jesus every day!!
If I could, I would make it a per-requisite for all couples to read together the following books: For Women Only, For Men Only, The Five Love Languages, Men are from Mars and Women from Venus.  Before they have children I would have them read the books mentioned above and add Five Love Languages of Children.  I know that is a lot of reading, but in the world we live in, we have forgotten that each family member has an individual role.  We try to make each family member behave as we do.  We are each unique and we need to instead learn to cultivate the God given gifts within each of us and utilize them in a manner that makes us a strong family indeed.
Lord, in this hustle bustle world we live in, it seems things would run a lot  more smoothly if everyone simply thought as we do.  We tend to forget that it is individualistic thinking that brings about medicinal cures, innovative electronic devices, new means of transportation and so much more.  Help us learn to appreciate who it is You have created us to be as well as who You have created our family members to be.  Help us to play off each other in a manner that is pleasing to You and helps us develop more Christ-like qualities in our family as a whole.  May we bring You great joy in the sacrifices we make in order to bring this about.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Teaching to Learn

.....teachers of good things.  Titus 2:3

There is a vast difference between being a teacher and being called to teach.  We are all teachers whether we want to be or not.  I have taught this many times over.  We need to think about, mull over and acknowledge that people are indeed watching us and learning from us.  The all too real question is: just what is it we are teaching them? 
Sometimes something can seem so logical to us that we apply our knowledge to a situation only to discover we were wrong.  Just a couple of days ago I was looking for some sheet music.  I remembered placing it on the kitchen table, but where it went from there eluded me.  I searched the house over for it, but it was not to be found.  I cried out to God for help in locating it.  The thought went through my mind, "Look in your mom's box of pictures."  I refused, because there was no way in my mind that it could have gotten there.  That box is in the basement, for goodness sake!  How in the world could my music get in there?

(You know where this is going, but I'll finish anyway.)  The next day I searched the house all over again.  I asked God to help again.  There was that thought again!  "Go look in your mom's box of pictures."  I refused again, believe it or not, because there was no feasible way my music could have gotten in there.  Later that afternoon, while our oldest grandson was here watching me, not knowing what I was doing, I prayed again as I kept searching.  This time a memory of working with my mom's pictures popped into my head and the words, "Go look in your mom's picture box."  This time the words sounding rather frustrated.  Well, I finally listened (but it took the reminder of there being a "slight" possibility) and there it was, about three albums down.  I brought my music upstairs and confessed to my grandson what I had done.  I said, "Stupid, huh?"  He laughed and said, "Yeah."  I then said, "God saw me put my music in that box, didn't he?"  He had that ornery grin that says "I cannot believe what I am hearing," nodded his head and said, 'Yeah!"  with that lilt that says, "DUH!" 
We (I) have to realize and grasp on to the fact that God is all knowing and we are not.  I have to fight against pride virtually daily and this story proves it.  I had to immediately go to God and apologize for thinking myself smarter than He.  I am so thankful that He is able to look beyond my (our) faults to the blood of Jesus that keeps me clean before Him and forgive me.  All I need do is ask. 
Asking God's help and then shunning it when given due to our walking in knowledge rather than wisdom is an all too common event.  I could tell many stories on myself and I wish I could say I learned so well from them that it will never happen again.  I do learn something each time, but there is always so much more to learn that I end up doing something stupid again later. 
We will never stop learning and I mean that literally.  I believe that even in heaven we will continue to learn.  We will learn more and more about God daily.  What an exciting and exhilarating thought!!  While here on this earth, we must remember that we are not only learning, but teaching.  If we make a mistake, we must acknowledge and confess it, so that those watching our lives unfold will know that it is in doing so that we become more and more free.  If we see someone making a mistake, we need to speak up when God places the words in our hearts to do so and rescue them.  If they refuse to listen, then they are evidently needing to learn a new lesson themselves.  As hard as it is for us to watch those we love and care about go through such things, we must also remember that God the Father is the greatest Teacher of all and trust Him to get the message across.
There is an old old joke about a man who was on his roof due to a raging flood surrounding his house.  He cries out to God to rescue him.  A raft comes along and the man on it tells the man on the roof to climb aboard.  He refuses because he knows real help is on the way.  Along comes a large boat with the offer of rescue.  The man declines once again.  Along comes a helicopter, but they too are refused.  The man drowns and goes to heaven.  He goes up to God and asks, "God, I prayed for a miracle rescue.  Why didn't You rescue me?"  God's reply, "I sent a raft, a boat and a helicopter and you refused them all!"
Father, You alone are the all wise Teacher.  You are the only One from Whom we can gain wisdom and understanding.  Cultivate our hearts and make them fertile to receive Your wisdom and help us to seek it diligently with all our hearts.  May we teach as You would teach and learn the things we have need of to become master teachers for Your glory and honor.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Words of Worth

.....not slanderers or slaves to drink.  Titus 2:3

People are prone to gossip. We use different words for it to make it sound better like: concern - "I'm so concerned about him.  He seems so sullen all the time.  I wonder if everything's okay in their marriage." worry - I'm so worried that they'll lose their house.  He doesn't seem to care if he has a job or not!"  excitement - "Did you hear that she won first place in the singing contest?  I'm so excited for her!  Of course, if my daughter had participated..."  and so on.

Gossip:  Casual or unconstrained conversation or reports about other people, typically involving details that are not confirmed as being true.

I notice that it doesn't say anything about the comments being negative or derogatory.  It simply says things that are not confirmed as true.  "She had the job interview today.  She's got it in the bag.  I'm so happy for her!"  What happens if she doesn't get the job?  People start congratulating her and she feels worse about not getting it than she did originally.  Sometimes we actually get it in or heads (or is that only me?) that we are being helpful in saying things like this.  We think we are being encouraging, when in fact, we are being hurtful.

The Greek word used in Titus is diabolos which has the short definition of "slanderous, the Slanderer, the Devil."
So when we gossip, regardless if it is what we consider positive or negative, we are evidently acting like the devil himself.  UGH!
I pray we learn to want to sound like Jesus as well as look like Him.  We need to remember to never say anything about another person that you would not be willing to say to them directly.
Here is an old adage that is very wise:
            "Simple people talk about other people.
             Average people talk about things.
             Wise people talk about ideas."

As far as slaves to drink, we should not want to be slaves to anything or anyone except the Lord Himself.  Anything in this world we seemingly cannot let go of becomes an object or worship, an idol, and we become enslaved to it; whether gossip, drugs, alcohol, overeating, exercise, health food, someone we love, etc.  God should be the One and Only object of our worship.

Lord, there are daily opportunities thrown in our paths to bow before the god of gossip and idol worship.  I pray that You would remind us at each one that, if we give in, we are acting like Satan himself.  Lord, we do not want to sound or look anything at all like him.  We want others to not only see You in our behavior, but hear You in the words and manner with which we speak.  Continue making us more like You daily.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

The Age of Honor

Bid the older women similarly to be reverent and devout in their deportment as becomes those engaged in sacred service...Titus 2:3a

Some who read this may think, "But I am not an older woman yet, so what is my role?"  My answer is, "You're older than someone."
I believe Paul wrote about the older women because either there was a problem in Titus' church where they were concerned or they simply felt they had no ministry and Paul wanted Titus to encourage them that they most certainly did.
I really like the NIV translation on this verse:  Similarly, teach the older women to live in a way that honors God.  It is very straight forward in my opinion.  Every woman should live in a way that honors God.  
The word honor is of great importance.  When we do something that pleases a parent, it makes them smile and hug us perhaps.  They may share it with someone, or they may not.  But when we do something that brings them honor, they're ready to shout it to the world! 
The problem is, things that please us are pretty usual.  When my kids cleaned their rooms it pleased me.  When they ate their dinner without complaint it pleased me.  These things didn't make me burst at my seems though.  However, when they stood up to the crowds and refused to go to under aged drinking parties, told the truth when asked about a wrong doing, asked if they could help me or their dad with a big job, strove to give their very best in different activities, these types of things, things that were above and beyond what was simply expected of them as a human being, these made me not only smile and hug them, they made me want to dance and shout them to the world!!
It is the same with our heavenly Father.  We are to live our lives in a manner that brings honor to His name; that glorifies Him and allows people to get a glimpse of just how wonderful He really is.  I have been known to talk to the kids I teach about how Jesus honored His Father and His reason for doing so.  I believe that Jesus was crying out to a lost and dying world, "LOOK!  I want you to meet my Dad!!  Listen and learn all about Him.  Accept My free gift of dying in your place and you will get to meet Him face to face!!  My Father is so wonderful!!  PLEASE! I want you to meet My Dad!"
Jesus brought honor to His Dad out of his own great love and respect for Him.  It is for this very reason we are to live our lives as such.  "If you love Me, keep My commandments."  John 14:15
Father God, make our hearts one with Yours.  Help us understand what is fully acceptable and pleasing in Your sight and help us walk in a manner that is not only pleasing to You, but that brings You much honor and great joy!!

Monday, June 24, 2013

Gifted to Serve

I thrive on seeing changes in peoples' lives.  I love to see people grow and learn and grasp new truths.  These are changes I believe necessary and that are fulfilling to me.  There are some changes that I see as nonsensical and therefore rebel against.  The fact that the word desert has been redefined, Pluto being declared a dwarf planet, "friending" being placed in the dictionary, (we already have the word befriend, befriended, befriending so why do we need to alter the word friend?)  needing a different pair of shoes for every single outfit and the need to decorate a house differently every month for a particular holiday and other things I consider unnecessary.  It is not that I find these last two things distasteful.  I'm a woman, so I think it's cute when people wear matching shoes and redecorate all the time, but I cannot find it within myself to rationalize a reason for doing so.  I am VERY particular about words, how they are pronounced and especially how they are used. Therefore, making up new words for the sake of making up new words is frivolous in my opinion.     People have enough words to misuse and abuse, so I say, "Don't give us more!"  (unless there is a new discovery that actually warrants it.)  The money spent on reevaluation of planets and deserts is a total and complete waste of resources in my opinion, and I cannot help but think, "What difference does it really make?  Does it change the course of our future?  Will it bring about cures for diseases?  No, it simply changes wording.  Again, giving people another way to misuse their vocabulary.  And why is it necessary to spend money on evaluating how fast different brands of ketchup flow?  People are going to buy the one they like best anyway!! 
I wrote all of this to show that I am unique....and so is every other person created by God.  If you think those things I mentioned of value and necessary GREAT!  You are not just like me then.  Wouldn't the world be boring if we were all exactly alike?
God has placed in us varying gifts to use in life in order for our personal growth, to help in the growth of other believers and to reach those who do not know Jesus as their personal Savior and Lord.  No matter how many spiritual gift quizzes I take, they are always going to come out that I am mercy motivated and have been given the gift of teaching and shepherding the groups I teach, so I need to develop those gifts and use them for whatever means He reveals to me rather than questioning His wisdom in wanting to use me.
Sometimes we look at others and think how spiritual they seem and how we wish we could be more like them.  What we need to remember is that the person we are seeing in them is actually Jesus in Spirit.  He is the One we should attain to be more like. 
When I read the story of Rees Howell's life and ministry of intercession, I actually prayed and told God I wanted to be more like this great man of God.  I received and immediate response that nearly knocked me over.  I am not exaggerating here.  I actually felt wobbly at how quickly and loudly the words went through me.  "I did not call you to be an intercessor - I called you to teach!"  A feeling of relief went through me as I realized how silly was my anguish over not being like this wonderful man.  I came to understand that there is a difference between interceding for people and being and intercessor.
I wish every true believer would discover the gifts God has given them, put them into practice and stop trying or wishing to be what they were never designed to be.  Imagine the effectiveness of the Church as a whole if we did so.  What if we stopped criticizing other denominations for not being exactly like us in thought and instead worked together to further God's kingdom on earth?  What if we quit trying to do the jobs God has assigned to others and started focusing fully on our own?  How efficient would we become?  How organized?  How dedicated?
Father, awaken Your people to the need to know, understand and use the gifts You have placed within each of us that make us unique for Your service.  Help us take our eyes off each other and focus instead on the work You have placed before us as an individual service.  Make us into a people united by faith, organized by knowledge, servants in wisdom and mercy and dedicated in love and compassion.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Fleeing in Order to Pursue

But you, O man of God, flee these things (pride, disputes over words, envy, strife, reviling, evil suspicions, useless friction, love of material wealth) and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, and gentleness.  I Timothy 4:11

Flee -
  1. Run away from a place or situation of danger: "a man was shot twice as he fled from five masked youths".
  2. Run away from (someone or something): "he was forced to flee the country".

GREEK - (phuego) to flee away, seek safety by flight

To say that we are to flee pride, disputes over semantics, envy, strife, reviling, evil suspicions, useless friction and love of material wealth tells me that these things are more than simple curiosities that could lead to trouble.  Rather it suggests to me that these things are in fact extremely dangerous and must be out to destroy me.  Therefore I must run to safety.  Where is my safety?

My God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation. He is my stronghold, my refuge and my savior-- from violent people you save me.  II Samuel 22:3

I love that this verse tells us that God is the horn of our salvation.  The trumpeter would blow the horn to let the soldiers know where the safe place was in the need of retreat.  They would all turn and flee to that place as the horn was sounding.  God "blows His trumpet" of warning when sin threatens us.  He calls to us to turn and run to Him as our refuge, our shield, stronghold and savior.  So we indeed are to FLEE!!! Flee from sin, but to Him.  Many times we run to others in gossip and anger instead of running to God.  We must remember that He will listen to our complaint with patience, without judgment, without criticism until we are finished.  Then He will gently point us in the way we should go next, how to repair the problem or rest in Him to do the work, guide us to forgiveness and, if necessary, repentance, all the while shielding us from the evil that is trying its very best to overcome, overwhelm and destroy us.

Pursue (MODERN DAY) -

Follow (someone or something) to catch or attack them.

GREEK - Dioko -
to seek after eagerly, earnestly endeavor to acquire

On the other hand, we are to pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience and gentleness.  This tells me that these things are for my good.  They will nourish me and help me grow.  I am not to stand there hoping they will pass by so that I can reach out and grab one of them.  Rather I am to eagerly look for them and when I find them, keep running as I grab and hang onto them for dear life!!
If our child or grandchild were to run towards a busy intersection, we would not stand by watching them do so, hoping they will run past us so we can grab them.  They are too precious to us for that, so we pursue them with diligence and if necessary, throw ourselves on top of them to keep them safe from harm.  This is how we are to relate to our relationship with the Father.  We are to pursue it as precious until we grab hold of it, only we are the ones that will be protected if we do.
18 Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. 19 Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.  Deuteronomy 11

If our children and grandchildren are truly as precious to us as we think they are, we will teach them how to flee sin and pursue righteousness as well.  Mentors we are, whether we want to be or not.  People are watching us, trying to learn from us all the time, especially our children and grandchildren.
Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace to all who are watching my life, struggling to learn and to grow into mature individuals.  May my life reflect Your love and wisdom and if I ever lead someone astray, please forgive them and show them the right path.  Should that happen, I ask You to discipline me and make me right with you in that area once again, so I may come boldly to Your throne of grace in faith believing and never do so again.  Help me walk circumspectly before You, always.  In Jesus' precious name I ask this, knowing that whatever we ask in His name and according to Your will will be accomplished through the presence and power of Your Holy Spirit.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Parent Friends

When my children were little, I wondered if I would ever get a full night of sleep again.  When they reached those preteen years, I wondered if they would ever learn to pick up after themselves.  When they reached teen years, I wondered if I would live to see 50 or have a heart attack instead.  When they reached adulthood, we became friends.  However, I have learned over the past 14  years or so that even after they marry and begin having children of their own, there are times you still have to step in a be a parent.  The day may come when they feel they must act almost as a parent to me, so hopefully I have trained them well and will continue doing so. 
There are times now when I remember their childhood and wonder where the time went.  Wasn't it just yesterday that I held my eldest in my arms, marveling at God's goodness and love?  No, that was over 34 years ago.  Wasn't it just last week my oldest son who was 2 years old broke his brand new train so he could see how it worked?  Didn't my baby just carve his name in my kitchen chairs last month?  Didn't our daughter just throw away her kindergarten papers because she had missed 1 problem the other day?  No. All these things happened many years ago, yet I can almost reach out and touch them, they are so near.  I sit here crying thinking about how frustrated I became with them.  I had to go in my bedroom and pray so that I wouldn't say or do something I'd regret later.  Why did those things matter so much?  They have nothing to do with eternity except in how I handled them.  I learned from my momma that things are just things.  When they are gone, they are gone.  People are eternal. 
Now I am a grandma and I absolutely love it!!  All the mistakes I learned as a parent help me help my children in rearing their children, which is how I believe God intended things to be.  That's why we are called grandparents.  We should have learned enough to make our parenting skills grand by now and hopefully one day they will be greatly grand.
Lord, thank You for the opportunity of being a parent.  May You use the lessons You taught me to benefit others in their child rearing experiences.  Make me into a truly grand parent and one day make me great for Your glory and honor.  May many rise up and call Your women children blessed because we seek to honor You in becoming the woman You describe in Proverbs 31. 

10 Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies.
11 The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her, so that he shall have no need of spoil.
12 She will do him good and not evil all the days of her life.
13 She seeketh wool, and flax, and worketh willingly with her hands.
14 She is like the merchants' ships; she bringeth her food from afar.
15 She riseth also while it is yet night, and giveth meat to her household, and a portion to her maidens.
16 She considereth a field, and buyeth it: with the fruit of her hands she planteth a vineyard.
17 She girdeth her loins with strength, and strengtheneth her arms.
18 She perceiveth that her merchandise is good: her candle goeth not out by night.
19 She layeth her hands to the spindle, and her hands hold the distaff.
20 She stretcheth out her hand to the poor; yea, she reacheth forth her hands to the needy.
21 She is not afraid of the snow for her household: for all her household are clothed with scarlet.
22 She maketh herself coverings of tapestry; her clothing is silk and purple.
23 Her husband is known in the gates, when he sitteth among the elders of the land.
24 She maketh fine linen, and selleth it; and delivereth girdles unto the merchant.
25 Strength and honour are her clothing; and she shall rejoice in time to come.
26 She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness.
27 She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness.
28 Her children arise up, and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her.
29 Many daughters have done virtuously, but thou excellest them all.
30 Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the Lord, she shall be praised.
31 Give her of the fruit of her hands; and let her own works praise her in the gates.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Let's Be Real

When I think back on my youth, I remember thinking how phony girls were in general (myself included at times).  I even spoke this to my guy friends.  Yes, I was one of those who had more guy than girl friends.  I was considered stuck up, boring, and a little on the scary side by the female congregation.  They assumed that I was a narc (someone who tells adults everything wrong everyone else is doing), which I most certainly was not, but the stories flew and I was feared. I admit, I let them think this as it kept me from having to say "no, thank you," when invited to unchaperoned parties, which were prevalent in my youth.  I simply wasn't invited.  So, I cannot sympathize with the niceties women feel they must dish out in conversation when they meet other women.  However, I can sympathize with them when it comes to their reasons for doing so - distrust.  Women tend to be generous with compliments when they first meet due to the fact that they are feeling each other out.  I get that.  I just do things a little differently.  I tend to be quiet and watch how they relate to others.  As soon as I discover they are real people, I will share almost anything they want to know about me with them.  If they are pretenders, then I am cautious.  Why? Because pretenders tend to distort truths to make themselves seem a little more important to others.  The problem is that for those who don't really know the one being talked about, they hurt reputations and then they make themselves look foolish to those who truly do know the other person.  In being cautious, I not only protect the reputation of my household, but keep them from making a big mistake in revealing their dishonesty and insecurities to the world. 
I love the story of Ruth in Scripture for the fact that she and Naomi were so very real.  They did not try to hide the fact that they needed help.  Ruth went boldly out to reap grain.  Reaping was for true widows and orphans who had no one to provide for them.  Ruth was also a hard worker, which I am sure she learned at least partly from Naomi as she had lived with her for so long.  She gleaned all day, only taking short rests for water and food.  Ruth was generous.  She made certain she had more than enough to share with Naomi.  They truly loved each other, which is seen in Naomi telling Ruth she would be remiss if she did not help provide for her by telling her how to proceed with Boaz.  They didn't try to hide the fact that Ruth needed a husband either.  So honest and forthright.  I love it!!!
But the Fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.  Against such there is no law.   Galatians 22-23
Love comes first and all the rest follow closely.  Ruth and Naomi loved each other and the joy, peace, etc. came naturally between them. 
Lord, let Your love flow through me at all times, in every situation, even when the feeling of needing to scream tries to overtake me.  Help me remember that if I really love You, I will keep Your commandments (John 14:15) which are to "love the Lord my God with all my heart, soul, mind and strength; and to love my neighbor (which You show us through the Good Samaritan is every person) as myself." (Luke 10:27)  Help me also remember that the rest of the fruit of Your Spirit will flow through me much easier when I am walking in love.  Love never fails - I Corinthians 13:8.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Crack Sealant

Today I woke with the anticipation of beginning a new study.  I always start with an "Open Windows" daily devotion.  The title of today's is "Friendship Isn't Futile."  I chuckled, because I knew in my heart that God was encouraging me that I was doing the right study at the right moment in time.  The new study is entitled Between Friends...A Woman's Look At Mentoring God's Way.  Just how awesome is that?!

Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labor.  Ecclesiastes 4:9

Friend - one attached to another by affection or esteem
There are several modern day definitions for friend, but I liked this one best. 
The Hebrew word for friend is Çôwdh - 'secret intimate friendship'
The Greek is Philos love, or brotherly/friendship love and describes the love between two people who have common interests and experiences, or a fondness for. Philos steadily grows, like a building being constructed stone by stone.  For this reason, when close friends are separated for a while and reunited, they will often say “it is like we picked up exactly where we left off.”
We all need friends.  Personally, I enjoy being alone quite often, as I get a lot accomplished during those times.  However, I can also become defeated and overwhelmed if I don't take out some time for friendship.
I love the quote from Ruth: "Where you go, I will go.  Where you lodge, I will lodge.  Your people will be my people and your God, my God."  However, some would feel Ruth was more of a parasite than a friend at this point. She could have easily returned to Moab and remarried and allowed Naomi the freedom to do as she pleased.  Yet her love for Naomi was so great, she could not leave her in her loneliness.  She knew that feeling as she was experiencing it for herself in the loss of her husband.  Together they could survive.  Alone, they just might not make it and as I think about Naomi's words to her welcoming friends when she returned home to Bethlehem, I doubt she would have made it without Ruth.
"Call me 'Mara" - bitter - for the Lord has dealt very bitterly toward me...."  Ruth 1:20
When a rock flies up and hits a windshield, a small hole forms.  If it is repaired immediately, it will go no further.  If it is left alone, the tiny cracks that are virtually invisible to the naked eye will start to spread and destroy the windshield.  It will have to be replaced.  Ruth knew she could not fill the hole of no husband or sons, but she could be a friend and fill in the small cracks that threatened to destroy Naomi's life.  That's what true friend's do. 
So, Lord, make me into a crack sealer for those who feel they are ready to split open.  Grant wisdom and insight into their needs.
And Lord, when I feel ready to shatter, provide a sealant for me.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

A Zealous Life

There will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and righteousness from then on and forevermore.  The zeal of the Lord of hosts will accomplish this.  Isaiah 9:7
The Hebrew word for zeal is qin' ah and means "ardour, jealousy - to excite to jealous anger."
After reading about this, I sat and thought, "What am I truly zealous about?"  The first thing that popped up was my marriage. 
A quick and simple example of this: A couple of years ago I was on Facebook.  I had been for quite some time.  I had a long list of friends and was having fun interacting with them.  The problem?  I was spending WAY too much time with it.  My husband became worried and jealous - worried that my picture was now online and jealous that I was spending what seemed to be more time online than with him.  As I pondered this, it hit me at that moment that my marriage was ever so much more important to me than Facebook, so I deleted my account.  I didn't even take the time to notify friends and family.  I hit delete and then permanent delete, which erases everything.  Some people thought my husband was being overly protective of me and I was being overly zealous for our relationship, but years ago I sat down with God and determined that I would never let anything of this world cause division in our marriage. Was it worth it?  You bet it was!  We are even closer than before, if you can imagine that possibility, but I assure you it exists.
Once again God has brought me back to my relationship with Him being a type of marriage.  Is my zeal for our relationship as strong, or better yet-stronger, than my zeal for my marriage relationship?  Perhaps not, but I want it to be.  The more I study, pray, watch and learn, the more I trust.  The more I trust, the closer we become. 
After 36 years of marriage, my husband and I have people say we look and act a lot alike.  Just another reason to compare our relationship with God with marriage.  The longer we spend time with someone, the more of their attributes we take on. 
Lord, I want to spend so much time with You that I begin to look and act more and more like You until I reach the place where others see only You and are drawn to Your love and compassion through me.  Make me zealous for Your kingdom.

Galatians 2:20 - I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

The Great I AM

God said to Moses, "I AM Who I Am;" and He said, "Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, 'I Am has sent me to you.'" God furthermore said to Moses...,"This is My name forever, and this is My memorial-name to all generations."  Exodus 3:14-15
Do you ever get the what-if's?  This morning I sang "If That Isn't Love" and the what-if's started running through my mind.  Today it was, "What if Abraham had said no when God told him to offer Isaac as a sacrifice?"  Would God have decided that since mankind wasn't willing to go the extra mile for Him, then forget it; Jesus could stay home with Him?"  That may seem moot, and it truly is, because Abraham did NOT say no and Jesus DID come and die in our place, but my mind still wonders. 
The next why had an answer: Why did God ask Abraham to do this in the first place when He knew He was going to provide the ram substitute?  Why not just tell him to offer the ram?
At least part of the answer, the part I can understand, is simple - we learn through seeing, hearing, and doing.  Abraham's experience needed to take place in order for us to get a bit of a grasp of how hard it was for God to offer Jesus in our place.  It makes us think about how awful it would be to be the one to give up our only physical child so that others could live.  Granted, God knew Jesus was coming back.  Abraham knew that God would give him Isaac back as well, because He had to fulfill His promise of making a great nation through him and Abraham knew God never breaks a promise.  Just as Abraham had to suffer his child's cries of, "What are you doing Daddy?  Why are you tying me up?"  As his cries grew louder and more agonizing, Abraham had to want to grab him, hug him and cry out "NO!!  I'll not do it!!"  Instead, he took his knife and would have gone through with it in faith.  
God could have made Abraham go through with it and then simply raised Isaac back.  Look how many times He raised people; Lazarus, the widow's son, the woman's son Elisha prayed over, Tabitha and Jesus Himself, but He showed more mercy in staying Abraham's hand.  He didn't force him to do what he Himself was about to do.  Rather He showed through providing a ram that He would take care of all sacrifice Himself by sending Jesus as the Ultimate Sacrifice for us.  
God still had to suffer Jesus' cries of, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do!"  This cry tells me God was angry at us, not just our sin - which He sent Jesus to deliver us from - but us, for putting His Son through this.  Jesus was crying out for God to forgive us for putting Him on that cross!!  Thank God for listening to those cries!!  But then He had to hear Jesus cry out, "My God, My God, why have You forsaken me?"  God could not look on the sin that Jesus had taken on Himself, so He turned away.  Perhaps there was more to it, like not being able to bear seeing His Son's suffering. When a child in a store wanders from his parent who has looked away and gets lost, he cries out, "Daddy, where are you?" when the child is the one who has wandered, not the dad.  To hear those cries grieves the parent and tears his heart.  Jesus willingly took on our sins which hid Him from God's view, but His cries still must have agonized His Father to the point of His heart tearing with grief, just as the earthly father's heart tears to hear his child in fear and anguish.
God truly is the great I Am.
I AM Healer.  I AM Deliverer.  I AM Love.  I AM Forgiveness.  I AM the Way to heaven.  I AM Truth.  I AM Life.  I AM Fortress, and so VERY much more!!
The song I was singing this morning was one my momma used to sing around the house.  It goes as follows:
He left His kingdom in heaven knowing His destiny was the lonely hill of Golgotha, there to lay down His life for me.
If that isn't love, the ocean is dry, there's no stars in the sky and the sparrow can't fly.
If that isn't love, then heaven's a myth, there's no feeling like this, if that isn't love.
Even in death He remembered the thief hanging by His side.  He spoke with love and compassion.
Then He took him to paradise.
If that isn't love, the ocean is dry, there's no stars in the sky and the sparrow can;t fly.
If that isn't love, then heaven's a myth, there's no feeling like this, if that isn't love.

And love it is, for, "God IS Love!!"  I John 4:8

Monday, June 17, 2013

Worship in Times of Loneliness

Oh magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt His name together.  Psalm 34:3
Father's Day rose with hope renewed.  I went to Sunday School to teach as my husband went to Mom's to clean and hopefully bring her back with him to church worship.  Things didn't work out quite as expected and he ended up getting to worship late.  However, when we got home we had a lot of fun.  All of our children were able to be here, so we had 15 people running around in our little house.  There was a lot of laughter and storytelling during lunch, then the adults went in to watch episodes of "Call of the Wild Man" while the children went with me to make their "surprise" of banana splits.  They each had their own stations.  I dished up ice cream, the youngest offered fresh strawberries and/or pineapple, another offered to cut up bananas, the third had 3 flavors of syrup, the fourth had 3 kinds of crushed candies, the fifth had miniature marshmallows, the sixth had whipped cream and the last had maraschino cherries to top everything off.  There was a lot of picture taking during this event.  Afterwards the adults went back to stories, TV and laughter as the kids went to the basement to play.  Suffice it to say, all went home satisfied and happy.  We had clean up to do, but it was done with laughter as we went over the day's events.  Then came evening.
Around seven pm my man of the hour was called to work.  It was a simple bottom plate, so I expected him home in an hour.  That was not to be.  Another call came and then another; total of two bottom plates and a water main break.  Normally I am fine with this, though I have a little trouble getting to sleep.  When I tried to go to bed last evening though, I felt a terrible loneliness for my husband.  I started to cry and so decided it was time to pray.  I cried out to God to keep him safe and to bring him home early if possible.  The thought ran through my mind, "but the longer he is out, the more money he makes."  I immediately said, "Lord, I don't care about the money!  If it is possible, would You please make it where he can come home much earlier than he thought?  If not, okay, but I would really like him to come home sooner than 2 or 3 am."  After praying, I determined within myself that now I was going to trust God to do what was very best for us, went in and turned the TV on very softly as I curled up in my husband's chair with his pillow and my little blanket.  I dozed off and woke when I heard a truck.  I figured it was too early, so closed my eyes again only to open them to the door lock being opened.  I jumped up as he walked in the door!  It was 12:45!!  I was so happy to see him!  My heart literally sang praises to God as I told him how much I had missed him.  He looked surprised, but pleased as he hugged me.
I am discovering in these past few studies I've done just how exhilarating it is to choose to trust God and watch Him work.  Not everything goes the way I originally thought it should, but it always turns out to be what is right and best.  Even when I don't see all the results, I can know in my heart of hearts that all is well, because He is control instead of me.  He does so many amazing things and is truly worthy of our exalting His name to all the earth! 

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Sing Praise

Sing to Him, sing praise to Him; speak of all His wonders. Glory in His holy name; let the heart of those who seek the Lord be glad.  Seek the Lord and His strength; seek His face continually, remember His wonders which He has done.  Psalm 2-5
Sometimes I marvel at how wonderful God is and how I tend to take Him for granted.  Every day I should be saying, "Thank You," over and over and over again, yet I just go about my merry way.  It is not that I am not grateful; I am - very much so, but just as I enjoy gratitude from those I set out to help, I am sure, since I am made in His image, that God desires our thanks as well. 
Just the act of waking in the morning and being able to get out of bed, having food that is nourishing to eat, having decent clothing, a well-built house to live in and care for, neighbors who care about me, a garden to tend, a church family to go to with sorrow and joy alike, you all who are kind enough to read the things I write and encourage me with thought provoking messages, and the list could go on to fill a book - all these things are reason enough to shout my thanks to the Lord for all His kind wonders.  So I go back to singing His praises. 
Singing praises has always brightened my day, lightened my load, inspired me, and filled my heart with joy.  I used to go around singing praises each morning when my children were still living here.  They complained that I was too happy in the mornings, yet if I didn't sing, they asked what was wrong.  Now they are all grown and married and I tend to only sing once in a while.  There is no excuse for not praising my wonderful God, so I go back to singing praises.
Tomorrow I am to sing a special during worship.  God has been preparing me to sing this particular song for a while.  It started about a month ago when our then choir director asked me to do a special.  I offered to play a flute solo, but he said he'd really like me to sing. I looked through accompaniment CDs and knew when I saw this one, it was the song I was supposed to sing.  At first I was scheduled for May 26th, but was asked to change it to June 9th.  I agreed until I realized we would be getting home from vacation the 8th and I would have no time to practice and get in sync with the CD.  I asked to change it to tomorrow.  I understand why God arranged things the way He did with this.  I needed time to let the words really sink down into my spirit and become part of me before I sing it.  It is Trust His Heart.  With all that is going on in our church family, the world around me, my extended family, etc. I needed this song.  For those who don't know the words:
All things work for our good, though sometimes we don't see how they could.
Troubles that break our hearts in two sometimes blind us to the Truth.
Our Father knows what's best for us.  His ways are not our own.
So when your pathway grows dim and you just don't see Him,
Remember you're never alone.
God is too wise to be mistaken.
God is too good to be unkind.
So when you don't understand, when don't see His plan, when you can't trace His hand, trust His heart.
He sees the master plan and He holds the future in His hands.
So don't live as those who have no hope.
All our hope is found in Him.
We see the present clearly, but He sees the first and the last.
And like a tapestry He's weaving you and me to someday be just like Him.
He alone is faithful and true.  He alone knows what is best for you.
God is too wise to be mistaken.
God is too good to be unkind.
So when you don't understand, when you can't see His plan, when you can't trace His hand, trust His heart!
Have an extremely blessed day and offer up songs of worship, praise and thanksgiving for His loving kindnesses poured out on us each day!!

Friday, June 14, 2013

Garden Tending

"I am the True Vine, and My Father is the Vinedresser."  John 15:1
After reading this and thinking about all a vinedresser does to keep the grapes healthy and productive, my mind showed me a picture of our current greenbean garden.  I know what I need to at least attempt today - hand hoeing around them to get rid of the weeds.  It amazes me how fast those weeds grow in comparison to the bean plants.  I can look at the garden one day and say, "Well, the weeds are beginning to grow.  I need to get out the hoe."  The next day I will go out to discover that they have practically taken over!
The fire of the Holy Spirit is placed in us to rid us of weeds so that His water can then be poured over us and make us productive.  Yes, the flames scorch and hurt, but the end result is growth and mass fruit production.  We do not like the pain, so we tend to quench the Spirit with the waters (self-protection, self-gratification and all the other "selfs" you can think of) of this world.  If He is quenched, how can He destroy the weeds?  If we are overrun with weeds, how can we produce any truly good fruit?  The fruit will be stunted, diseased and there simply won't be as much of it.  BUT, if we allow God's Spirit to remove those weeds, pull them up by the roots and burn them, then the soil of our heart becomes soft, easily fertilized and soaks up the Water of His Spirit with enthusiasm.  We begin to grow and produce fruit even when we aren't trying.  It becomes automatic due to His work in and through us.

"Still other seed fell on good soil. It came up, grew and produced a crop, some multiplying thirty, some sixty, some a hundred times."  Mark 4:8
Lord, make the soil of my heart fertile.  I want to be productive.  Sometimes it can be scary to think about being productive, Lord.  When we think of all the tasks waiting to be accomplished, to think of something possibly being added to that list can be overwhelming.  But, Lord, you compare us to wheat.  Wheat is planted by the Sower, weeded by the Sower, watered by the Sower and even harvested by the Sower, so why do we fear?  It is You that does all the work in and through us.  All we need do is rest in Your arms, listen to and obey Your voice and we will produce everything that You have placed in us.  Make me productive.  Tend the soil of my heart and help me to stand strong and not quench the fires of the Holy Spirit as He sets out to destroy the weeds that would try to choke me out.  I love You and desire to serve You with all of my heart.  In Jesus' name.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Happy Father's Day

This is a blog I wrote last year, but did not share. I thought that this year I would share it and say thank you to all those dad's out there doing their absolute best to display God's love to their wives and children so that they, in turn, can accept the love of their heavenly Father and choose to serve Him through accepting Jesus as Savior and Lord through the power of His Holy Spirit.  So.........................
THANK YOU!!!!!  And Happy Father's Day!!

This Father's Day I awoke, groggy from having had surgery three days prior, but intent on teaching Sunday School, when this thought went through my mind:  This is your first Father's Day without a dad on either side of the family.  My husband's dad passed away 9 years ago and mine did in October of 2011.  I teared up, but then smiled at the thought that they were having a wonderful Father's Day in heaven with their heavenly Father and that it would seem like only a moment before I get to see them again compared to eternity.  Thank you to Dad for rearing a son to know the unconditional love of his earthly father so it was easy to accept the unconditional love of his heavenly Father.
Thank you Daddy for rearing me in the admonition and fear of the Lord and revealing His unconditional love through your actions toward me.  Never did a day go by that you did not reaffirm your love for your children.
I am amazed at God's goodness and grace towards me.  I know just how rotten I am inside, yet he continually pours out His blessings on me.  He has given me the most wonderful husband a woman could ask for and all I had to do was say yes.  I didn't and don't deserve such a wonderful man, but He gave him to me anyway.
When we were dating, I was a spoiled brat and when God laid it on my heart that I was to marry him, I knew I would obey, but I just HAD to argue the point for a while.  I thought I had to check and make sure God knew what He was doing.  I didn't realize this at the time, but I see it VERY clearly now.  I was scared He might be making a mistake.  Talk about spoiled and prideful!  I am so VERY grateful that I obeyed.  I am still spoiled, but recognize the fact that it is love from my Father through my husband, family and friends and I no longer simply expect to be treated so well, thinking I deserve it, because I definitely do not. 
My husband is the most generous, self-giving, thoughtful, caring man and I would never have had the intelligence on my own to choose him for a husband, because not only was I spoiled in my thinking, I was self-centered and prideful.  After 35 years of marriage, I look at him in awe of my Father's love, fore-knowledge, grace, mercy and wisdom.  How could there have possibly been a better match?  When I have needed discipline, he has been there to dish it out, but always in love.  When I have needed encouragement, he is there to not only say what needs saying, but to help out physically in each and every situation in some way or another; whether it is hanging decorations, cutting out pictures, making a prop I can't figure out how to make, coming up with a better and easier way to do something, etc.  When I need a shoulder to cry on, he holds me and reassures me that all will be well in the end.  When I am in desperate need of a laugh, he MORE than accommodates.  As a father, he loves our children unconditionally, desires what is the VERY best for them even if it means giving up comfort for a time, is there to lend a helping hand each and every time needed and has reared them with a great work ethic that causes today's society to stand in amazement.
As a grandfather he goes well beyond what is expected.  He plays with them, cooks with them, lets them help with job details that would be MUCH easier to do on his own, walks in patience and takes over for me when babysitting when he sees I am feeling stressed, hugs and kisses them and teaches them without effort.  I sit back and smile as I watch him with them as each thing he does with them is an educational experience without them evening recognizing the fact, because he makes it so fun!
I cannot wait to see what the Lord has in store for us over the next several years and rejoice in knowing that however long or short the time may be here, I have all eternity to spend with him as He is God's child too!
Happy Father's Day, Handsome!

Hurdle Jumping

For I am the Lord your God, who upholds your right hand, who says to you, "Do not fear, I will help you."  Isaiah 41:13

up·hold  /ˌəpˈhōld/

  1. Confirm or support (something that has been questioned): "the court upheld his claim for damages".
  2. Maintain (a custom or practice).

support - sustain - back - maintain - second - back up

The above is the modern translation.  From the Hebrew word found in Isaiah there is a deeper meaning - support, sustain, establish, strengthen, comfort.  It is nice to have someone back you up in something, but even nicer when they comfort you regarding the obstacles you've just been forced to hurdle.
This morning I dreamed I was in a store with my husband.  He had to leave, but would be back shortly.  While he was gone, a tornado developed.  All the women moved to the women's restroom and the men to the men's.  I looked out the window and the tornado was headed straight for the women's restroom.  I offered a swift prayer, including that I trusted God for the best outcome, even if it meant my death.  In the dream, the tornado indeed entered the building, but it simply caused the walls to bulge and look as if they were going to split open.  We held our breaths as we watched it continue on, leaving our room in tact.  When all was over we walked out to find everyone fine and the sky clear as a bell; a beautiful blue with only wisps of white clouds in the distance.  My husband turned up a few minutes later and I told him what had happened.  He was skeptical to say the least.  Our associate pastor's wife was there.  He asked her what she knew about it.  She smiled and said she was hanging on to the picture I had given.  I turned to the girls who had been with me in the restroom and asked if they had seen the walls bulge.  They all started talking at once about how yes, they had seen and how scary it was.  My husband hugged me and all was well. I woke up and knew immediately what the dream was about - the turmoil in the church since our pastor's death. 
Last evening we had a business meeting that lasted 2 1/2 hours.  Our associate pastor started the evening reading reminders of how we are instructed by God to be in unity with no division.  Wise move.  Many, many questions were asked, but there seemed to be no real anger or bitterness involved.  There was disagreement, but no ugly or harsh words.  I left feeling relieved it was over and we were all still in tact emotionally, though I know of some who were most likely wrung out due to the roles they had to play. 
This morning, as I sat down to write this, the words our associate pastor's wife spoke in my dream, "I want to hang on to the picture she described," rang in my ears.  I believe God is telling me to cling to that picture over the next several months as we go through the process of regaining a lead pastor.  It will not only help sustain me, but it will be a great comfort until that great day.
Lord, help me remember that there is no storm too great, no hurdle too high, no battle too strong that You cannot handle it and bring about the victory.  As a matter of fact, You have already won the victory through Jesus.  Our job is to stand strong in faith, knowing You are there upholding us with Your right hand.  Keep us strong and courageous in Jesus, through the power of Your Holy Spirit.
Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”  Joshua 1:9

Wednesday, June 12, 2013


The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous runs into it and is safe.  Proverbs 18:10
As I read this chapter, insurance popped into my mind.  I thought about all the towers we try to build through it.  Dental, life, death, health, car, house, property, rental, flood, disaster, eye, and, even though I cannot think of any more of them off the top of my head, I am sure there are many more types.  These insurances are supposedly designed for our protection.  When you really think about it though, how much money do we put into them compared to how much we use?  We spend $2100 per year on car and home insurance; not that much compared to some folks.  However, the cost has gone down as our vehicles depreciate in value, so I can't give a true amount as to what has been paid over the years.  When I think about the fact that in 36 years we have used car insurance about three times total, and twice it was for broken windshield, I shudder to think how much money could have been placed in savings.  We have used homeowners twice, once for a new roof damaged by hail and once to do minor repairs when a tree fell against our house.  Why then do we continue paying?  Just in case and because the government tells us we have to with even a threat of jail time if we do not.  These safety nets we have built for ourselves are not even completely dependable. 
Once our eldest son was making a left hand turn and a young lady ran a red light and totaled his car.  The police came and when they saw his car expected to find someone extremely injured or dead.  However, our God truly is a strong tower and no one had a scratch.  The insurance, on the other hand - not so dependable.  Since the young girl had the same insurance as my son and there were no witnesses (in their opinion), even though the passenger with my son told what happened and the police report was (in their opinion) inconclusive because they did not see the lights change, they decided to fault our son and the girl equally.  This balanced things out for the company and they didn't lose any money.  My son, on the other hand, had to pay $2000 to finish paying off his car and pay extra for one month on his insurance to compensate them.  I'm not sure what they were being compensated for, but that's the law.
God charges nothing for rescuing our son and his passenger or the girl ever.  He simply asks for gratitude and love.
I wonder just how many strongholds I have built up in my life.  Insurance is easily recognized, but what about the walls I try to build to protect my heart, my life, my desires, my loved ones and so on?
Father God, You truly are a strong tower and my righteousness.  I need to learn to run to You at every turn in life rather than build walls to try to keep myself running in a safe direction.  Your walls of safety are all I need.  The world has drawn us into its lust for self preservation so deeply that it is difficult to recognize the danger in it.  Forgive us and open our darkened eyes to the light shining in Your tower of safety and grant us the wisdom to run to You rather than worldly ideas of protection.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Shield of Stone

But You, O Lord, are a shield about me.  Psalm 3:3
Several years ago I was driving our van we had at the time.  I was traveling along Richardson Road, but I don't remember where I was headed.  What I do remember is how that vehicle simply quit on me.  Not only did it die, but the power steering went dead, so I had to really work to get it onto the shoulder.  No sooner did I get it there than a police car drove up and stopped behind me.  An officer, and not a very large one, got out of the car and came to my window.  He asked if he could help me.  I told him that if I could just get the van into the parking lot ahead and down a hill, I could call my husband to come get me.  He told me to put the van in neutral.  I did so and he pushed the van, with no hesitation whatsoever, up a slight incline, down the hill and perfectly into a parking spot.  I was amazed at how quickly and smoothly it all went.  I got out of the van and saw a pay phone.  The officer came to me and asked if there was anything else he could do for me.  I thanked him "so much!" and said I would go use the pay phone.  He asked if I were sure.  I said yes, smiled and started to walk toward the phone.  After a few steps I turned back to thank him one more time.  Somehow, in those few steps, he had managed to climb back up the hill, start his car, drive away and be completely out of sight.  No sign of man or car.  I proceeded to call Michael, who immediately left work to get me, but as I waited I could not help but wonder if I had just encountered an angel.  I kept looking at the landscape wondering how in the world he could have gotten away so quickly otherwise.  I intend to ask when I get to heaven.
This event, and several others, has caused me to wonder just how many times God has been my shield and I didn't realize it.  I have been most likely protected too many times to count and will never know about them until I reach my heavenly home.  I look forward to the amazement of that day.
"Lord, open my eyes of understanding.  Help me to recognize Your protection not only in my life, but my family and friends' lives.  Help me remember that You WANT to protect us.  You desire to be our Shield and Defender.  Help us learn to depend on Your resources rather than our own."

The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge. He is my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.  Psalm 18:2

Monday, June 10, 2013

Celebrating Righteousness

I will give thanks to the Lord according to His righteousness and will sing praise to the name of the Lord Most High.  Psalm 7:17
Last week was our anniversary week.  We've now been married for 36 years.  While I feel like my husband has always been part of my life, at the same time it doesn't seem possible that 36 years has passed.  They say, "Time flies when you are having fun," and I've been having a blast.
All throughout this amazing week I have marveled at God's generosity to me.  He has given me everything I will ever possibly need through Jesus, yet He keeps pouring more blessings on me so that they cannot be contained.  That is nice, because I must share then, or burst. 
We started our week visiting: Momma, my aunt, and one of my sisters and family.  Next we moved on to our traditional anniversary celebration in Branson.  While there, we received a surprise at nearly every turn. 
Once we were in a shop and one of the workers chose to talk to me.  She whispered in my ear that there were some candle holders on the counter that they had just reduced from $12.99 to $3.88.  I went to look at them and had an inspiration to use two of them in our bathrooms.  Talk about surprise savings!!  I believe my Father laid it on this lovely woman's heart to share that with me.  I received it as a gift from Him. 
The day of our anniversary we were surprised to be given a bottle of sparkling grape juice by the hotel owners.  They also placed a small refrigerator in our room to use all week.  What a nice surprise!  I thought I was going to have to give up my yogurt for the week, but now I was able to enjoy it!
There were several other events I could share with you, but suffice it to say, our God is FULL of surprises!!  When I read this verse this morning my heart sang His praises, for all He has done and all He is planning to do in our lives.  Then I read on and came across this verse: God, "made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him." II Corinthians 5:21
Jesus, perfect as a newborn babe and more so, took every sin that has and ever will occur and claimed it was Himself.  It was God crying out that He was taking the blame Himself for our sins.  It was as if He were saying, "Satan, I gave them freewill to choose, so I take responsibility and am paying the price."  I am sure this thrilled Satan, as he thought he had won a great victory.  However, in his great victory was utter defeat.  Jesus paid the price through death; "The wages of sin is death..." and brought eternal life through His resurrection from the dead; "but the free gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord."  Romans 6:23
People are always crying out that God should take responsibility for all the wrongs in the world.  The absolute Truth is...HE DID!!
He didn't have to.  We chose to sin, He didn't force us to.  As a matter of fact, He gave us rules to live by that would keep us from it, IF we obeyed.  We chose disobedience.  He could have wiped us out and started over, or simply chose to forget us.  He chose to love us instead, chose to become sin for us in our place, chose to pay the penalty and chose to give us His life in exchange our ours if we will simply ask Him to do so.
So once again I look back at that first verse and I declare, "Lord, Your righteousness is so far greater than we can ever imagine.  Thank You for deciding it right and just to pay the price of sin for us.  We did not deserve it by any means, but You did it anyway out of love for a filthy, decaying, smelly, dying people like me.  Thank You for bathing me in Your own righteousness, because I had none of my own.  Help others see Your righteousness in me and desire it for themselves.  Grant me words of wisdom and actions of grace to draw others into Your loving embrace.  In Jesus' precious name!"

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Make me Quick!!


  1. Make or become faster or quicker: "she quickened her pace, desperate to escape"; "I felt my pulse quicken".
  2. Spring to life; become animated: "her interest quickened"; "he looked with quickening curiosity through the smoke".

accelerate - hasten - speed up - precipitate - expedite

Quicken us, and we will call upon Thy name.  Psalm 80:18

Before I could write anything here, I felt led to reread John 3:1-21.  As I did so, I noticed that Nicodemus came to Jesus obviously with a question on his mind.  However, he never asked it.  Why?  Did they leave out part of the conversation?  Possibly, but I rather think that Jesus simply knew what Nicodemus needed and plunged into the answer before the question was asked.  The Father had already quickened His Spirit with what to say to Nicodemus and He said it.  There was no need for the question to be uttered.
Jesus was 100% obedient to His Father's voice. 
The definition of quicken says it all.  Not only does God's Spirit make us feel alive again when he speaks to us, but He makes us quickly capable of doing what He asks of us. 
When I was 12 years old, I heard the flute for the first time in my life.  My heart was lifted up.  I became excited and knew this was an instrument I needed to learn to play.  I had not yet turned my life over to God's control, but knew I would understand one day and do so.  Evidently that is enough for God.  He knows our hearts and our futures and placed a quickening in my spirit to play the flute.  I wanted this so desperately that I didn't follow the instruction of the band director when he told us to start with just the mouth piece and learn to make a sound.  The flute is one of the most difficult instruments to get a pure sound from, but I was determined.  The funny thing is, I had no trouble.  I picked it up, put it together, blew and voila!  I played through the first half of the first book in a week.  This inspired our director to tell the rest of the band that the standard had been set and they needed to pick up the pace to keep up.  I practiced for more than an hour every night (until my parents said to stop and come eat.)  What normally takes three years or more to accomplish, our little band accomplished in a year and a half.  We were moved into the High School top band.  By my sophomore year I was first chair.  I loved (love) the flute!  God not only quickened (sprang to life) my spirit to play the flute, He quickened (hastened) my ability to do so through obedience.
Father God, quicken my spirit to obedience to Yours in every area.  Oh, to be obedient to Your voice at every turn.  Forgive me in my failures and don't give up on me.  Continue to speak and may your servant hear and obey.