Florence

eye of the storm image from outer space

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

This week my husband and I were to spend a long-awaited few days basking in the sun and enjoying God’s creation at Virginia Beach. Reservations had been made months ago. Schedules were cleared and, with a bit of trepidation, we packed our bags while keeping an eye on Florence. I also prayed. We serve a powerful God. Couldn’t He just blow from the west and steer that swirling knot of horror away from the coast? Of course, He could! If He could turn the sundial back ten degrees for Hezekiah (2 Kings 20:10-11), He could certainly move a bunch of clouds!

He didn’t. As time moved on, so did our plans. My heart sank as the visions of warmth and sun slowly puddled at my feet! We fought discouragement and confusion.  What should we do? We could just cancel the whole thing, but we both felt a great need ( I was going to say, ‘desperate’ but the poor folks that are in the path of Florence have the right to use that word, not me!) to have some downtime.

I started searching the internet from Maine to D.C. struggling to keep my attitude right. After all…

And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.

we quote Romans 8:28, but do we really believe it? Somewhere in all the confusion and frustration, I discovered a great truth:

LIVING OUR FAITH AND BELIEVING GOD’S WORD ARE TWO DIFFERENT THINGS!

I’d say that most born-again believers would say they believe that God will work all things together for good, but what happens when it goes from a favorite Bible verse to reality? Life is falling apart and we can’t catch all the pieces! How can this be good? What is God doing? Can I know what He’s doing? Can I understand? CAN I TRUST HIM? Folks, that’s what it all boils down to—can I trust God?

Can I trust God? Can I trust God? Can I trust the One who…

  • Created everything I see
  • Controls every aspect of my life
  • Knows the beginning from the end
  • Sees me—all of me, all the time
  • Knows me and still loves me
  • Loves me so much that He
    • Allowed Himself as Son to come to this world
    • Live here in worse conditions than most of us could ever imagine
    • Was rejected by His own chosen people
    • Suffered the pains of the cross and the agony of sin for ME!!!

Can I trust Him? I’m ashamed to even type those words!

And today, as I sit in this cozy spot in Lancaster, PA enjoying comfort and beautiful surroundings, rest and relaxation (and lots of good food!) I am ashamed of my sin of forgetfulness and unbelief!

And I’m reminded of a poem that I wrote a while back about Martha’s similar plight. Take a look, and the next time you are called upon by our dear heavenly Father to LIVE your faith, remember Who He is and that you are not facing those difficult realities alone! Praise God, don’t “keep on swimming,” but pull up the oars and let Him drive!

Dost Thou Not Care?

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Safe Haven for Husbands

michalWhere would that be, a safe haven for husbands? Well… it should be with his wife: Proverbs 31:11

The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her, so that he shall have no need of spoil.

The heart of her husband trusteth in her, And he shall have no lack of gain. (ASV)

The heart of her husband has faith in her, and he will have profit in full measure. (BBE: Basic Bible in English)

The heart of her husband trusts in her confidently and relies on and believes in her securely, so that he has no lack of [honest] gain of need of [dishonest] spoil. (AMPC: Amplified Bible, Classic Edition)

There it is! But what does it look like to have a wife in whom he can trust, have faith in, believe or rely upon? Sadly, I can tell you about the opposite from my own experience. 😦 A husband does not feel safe to trust his wife because…

  • She expects the impossible from him. He doesn’t make enough money. She might not say it right out in plain words, but her complaints about not having this or that say it loud and clear.
  • She does not trust his leadership. She questions every decision right down to the salad dressing he chooses! On a bigger scale, she argues with him over major and minor issues presenting possibly the most deadly situation for raising godly, secure children: a divided front!
  • She doesn’t listen to him. He could NEVER share his heart, his hurt, or his struggles in fear that she will either ridicule him, make light of his difficulties, or explain why he’s not thinking right.
  • She WILL NOT FOLLOW. Even though she complains that he doesn’t lead, often it is the outcome of years of failed following on the wife’s part. If you will not follow in the little things, what makes you think he will lead in the difficult places?
  • She does not share his dreams or vision. If he would ever decide to share his ideas, she looks at him with one eyebrow raised. Words are not necessary.

When David brought the ark into Jerusalem, he was excited—very excited and for obvious reasons. His last attempt had ended in failure and the death of Uzzah (2 Samuel 6:6, 7). For three months, the ark is housed by Obededom and God blesses him.  Meanwhile, David is getting his heart right and makes preparations to move the ark properly—according to God’s law. His heart is clean and his actions are right. He is…

  • Acting with gladness (2 Sam. 6:12)
  • Offering sacrifices every six steps! (v. 13)
  • Dancing “before the LORD with all his might” (v. 14) [NOTE: The film King David (1985) really gets this scene COMPLETELY wrong! They make his dance to be sensual. There is no place for sensuality in worship and it goes against the grain of David’s character to portray it as such. –just my opinion!)

Michal, David’s wife, looks out the window, sees David “leaping and dancing before the LORD” and she despises him (v. 16). There are so many reasons for her to be out of sorts. Their culture was so different from ours, but her words to David when he comes home to bless his household are classic bitterness.

Then David returned to bless his household. And Michal the daughter of Saul came out to meet David, and said, How glorious was the king of Israel to day, who uncovered himself to day in the eyes of the handmaids of his servants, as one of the vain fellows shamelessly uncovereth himself! (v. 20)

Will David go to her again? No. His words are caustic and cruel as well. The chapter ends by saying that Michal never has children. She is not even referred to as David’s wife but as the daughter of Saul. How sad!

As wives, we could certainly side with Michal and list a dozen “yes, but he…” We are not married to perfect husbands and our husbands do not have perfect wives, but when trust is gone, the cornerstone of any marriage crumbles!

Love him! Listen to him! If he has not felt safe with you, dear wife, rebuild that trust little by little and watch your marriage flourish! This might be very hard for you depending on your situation, but try it—what do you have to lose? Remember, Beauty and the Beast:

Tale as old as time
True as it can be
Barely even friends
Then somebody bends
Unexpectedly

Just a little change
Small to say the least
Both a little scared
Neither one prepared

Beauty and the beast

Ever just the same
Ever a surprise
Ever as before and ever just as sure as the sun will rise

Tale as old as time
Tune as old as song
Bittersweet and strange
Finding you can change
Learning you were wrong

Certain as the sun
Rising in the east
Tale as old as time
Song as old as rhyme
Beauty and the beast

Songwriters: Howard Elliott Ashman / Alan Menken

Beauty & The Beast lyrics © Walt Disney Music Company

 

Back to School or Back to Knowledge?

sch-supp3-rockwell3

Thou Hast Rejected Knowledge

BY HENRY M. MORRIS, PH.D.  | FRIDAY, AUGUST 24, 20

“My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children.” (Hosea 4:6)

This lament over the ancient apostasy of Israel embodies an agelong principle that surely applies to those nations today that once professed Christianity but are now dominated by humanism. Our own nation is experiencing an awful scourge of moral anarchy among our children and young people, and the reason why is because their parents and grandparents have largely “forgotten the law of thy God.”

America—particularly its intellectual leadership—has “rejected knowledge,” so its people are being “destroyed for lack of knowledge.” This ignorance exists despite an abundance of supposed actual knowledge (i.e., “science”) in our educational institutions, for such facts are almost universally taught in a secular context. Our teachers have forgotten that “the fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge” (Proverbs 1:7).

Even in evangelical and fundamentalist churches and schools today, there is often too little emphasis on knowledge and too much on experience. Christian faith is not “feeling”; it is a volitional commitment to a true intellectual understanding of the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ. “Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish,” said Christ (Luke 13:5). The Greek word for “repent” means “change your mind!” One can only believe right if he first thinks right, and this requires true knowledge.

Listen again to Hosea’s warning: “The LORD hath a controversy with the inhabitants of the land, because there is no truth, nor mercy [i.e., kindness], nor knowledge of God in the land” (Hosea 4:1). “They have sown the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind” (Hosea 8:7). HMM

 

The Most Beautiful Sight (AKA When Satan trembles!)

white ceramic teacup with saucer near two books above gray floral textile

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This week at our Mom’s Morning, several of the young mothers shared about their mornings—how they got up early (while it was still dark!) and had their devotions. Each one shared the precious wonder of quietness as they drew near to God before little feet began to patter. That is one of the most frightening things on earth in the eyes of our Archenemy. In fact, I can only think of one other thing that would be more frightening to him—fathers having their devotions!

These young women gather regularly to study God’s Word as it is expertly applied to parenting by Paul Tripp. (14 Gospel Principles That Can Drastically Change Your Family). They share their struggles and openly express their failures and shortcomings… and Satan trembles.

Raising children has never been easy. Every era has its own set of challenges. We recently watched a movie as children were pulled from their parents and shipped to another location because Hitler’s army was coming. I can’t even begin to imagine the heart-wrenching horror of having to do such a thing. Sadly, in my home state of Pennsylvania, we read once again about the unspeakable abuse of children in the Catholic Church. How do you parent through something like that? Michael Pearl states that “for the first time in the history of the world, Satan has mainline, 24-hour-a-day, intravenous access to the hearts of children… into the brains and hearts of children” (No Greater Joy, March/April 2018 p. 25). With the enemy’s ability to encroach our homes, we must be doubly on guard to protect and nurture our little ones!

But… there are parents who are fighting back! They are building a wall of protection for their children, staying alert to the strategies of a most artful and expert foe! They fill their homes with the sounds of God’s music. They faithfully come to church with their little ones. They guard the eyes and ears of those precious little souls who are in their watch care. But most of all, they are looking inward and allowing God to change THEIR hearts to be more like the Master, and that, my friend, is Satan’s worst nightmare! When moms make the effort to rise before their children to spend time in the Word, Satan trembles. When they not only read the Bible but apply it to their hearts and lives, Satan shrieks. And when they allow the Holy Spirit to use what they have gained from the Word to change to be more like the Master, Satan fumes. They whisper those sweet words of Jesus into their hearts and then into the ears and hearts of their children, and Satan flees! What a beautiful sight!

Are these moms perfect? They would tell you, no! Do they have perfect children? No again, but they are determined to what it takes to mold their children into soldiers for Jesus Christ, ready to do battle against the Enemy when it is time for them to take up their swords.

As Satan’s time of total defeat draws nearer he is ratcheting up his attacks. We can see signs of that everywhere, but I am so thankful for this next generation who are determining to “hold the line.” It truly is a beautiful sight!

I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.3 John 1:4

Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.  Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. James 4:7,8

Press, follow… persecute?

 

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How is your “press” going? Are you “pressing?” I’m not talking about removing a wrinkle in your shirt—I’m talking about checking for a possible wrinkle in your life.

The Greek word for press is more often translated as “persecute” (24 times–the only thing I can figure is, if you are going to persecute someone, it says something about your dedication to a cause!), but it is also translated as “follow” or “follow after” ten times. (I’ll list some of those verses at the end. I thought they were very helpful. Comparing scripture with scripture is one of the best ways to study the Bible and gain a deeper understanding of its meaning.)

Philippian 3: 14 is the only place which translates the word as “press,” and the illustration which Paul is alluding to is that of a runner pushing himself towards the finish line. I’m not a long distance runner (unless you consider running to the mailbox 50 feet away as a long distance!) but I would think that the most difficult part of the race is the middle where you cannot see any signs of the finish line, and isn’t that where we spend most of our time?

people doing marathon

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So, that makes me throw out another question: Can you see the prize? According to Paul, the prize is not just crossing the finish line but a “high calling” or the race itself. Winning the race is not just a single moment of completion but the culmination of hours of running and training!  Commentator Albert Barnes puts it this way:

 

God has called us to great and noble efforts; to a career of true honour and glory; to the obtainment of a bright and imperishable crown. It is a calling which is “high,” or upward—that is, which tends to the skies. The calling of the Christian is from heaven, and to heaven. Compare Proverbs 15:24 (The way of life is above to the wise, that he may depart from hell beneath), He has been summoned by God, through the gospel of the Lord Jesus, to secure the crown. It is placed before and above him in heaven. It may be his, if he will not faint or tire, or look backward. It demands his highest efforts, and it is worth all the exertions which a mortal can make even in the longest life. (emphasis added)

We all need to be “pressing,” diligently seeking to finish well. I’m not sure how that translates for you today. It may mean not hurling angry words at a clerk or fellow driver or thinking the worst of someone who chooses not to do what you think they should. OUCH! Or perhaps for you, dear mommy, it means showing patience to those little gems who are driving you crazy!! (Showing them patience does not mean letting them have their way, but guiding them in the right way with a right heart.)

Each of us has a race to run, and every born-again believer’s race should include a local church. OUCH AGAIN! (I’d better stop all the toe-stomping or no one will read my posts!) Seriously though, there are shut-ins, doctors, and other occupations that just cannot be in church on a Sunday morning but too often, we make all kinds of excuses for missing out on the best part of the week! Here’s the last question:

Can you honestly say that you are running your Christian race well and not be involved (concerned, occupied, implicated, immersed, enmeshed, entangled, aboard, participating, on the team, with us, on our side—all synonyms!) in your church? A very famous preacher said this:

Today thousands of local churches are dying because of Christians who are unwilling to serve. They sit on the sidelines as spectators, and the body suffers. God calls you to a service far beyond anything you could ever imagine. He created you for a life of good deeds, which he has already prepared for you to do (Ephesians 2:10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.). Whenever you serve others in any way, you are actually serving God.

I can certainly “Amen” that statement! Do you need to follow the Nike motto and “Just Do It?”

Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before,

I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.

Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded: and if in any thing ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you. Philippians 3:13-15

Here are some of the verses that use theGreek διώκω (diōkō) translated as “follow after:”

Rom 14:19 Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another. (This verse actually had the Greek word in it twice.  I’m not a Greek scholar, but it looked as though you would say, “Let us, followers, therefore follow…”)

1Co 14:1 Follow after charity, and desire spiritual gifts, but rather that ye may prophesy.

Phl 3:12 Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after,  that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus.

1Ti 6:11 But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness.

LOVE My Garden!

0721181019a.jpgThis has been the perfect growing year—good amount of rain and hot days. As you can see, I pack A LOT in my little garden. It’s enough to give us fresh cucumbers, beans, tomatoes, lettuce and snap peas for our dinner. I’ll purchase tomatoes to make into sauce, tomato soup (new “original” recipe last year and delicious! If you want it, just ask), and salsa—another tried and true recipe.

I find myself looking out my kitchen window, admiring the straight weed-free rows and healthy plants. It brings me such joy! I guess the saying is true: you can take the girl off the farm but not the farm out of the girl! I must admit a bit of pride in my heart as well, which is really dumb because…

  • God makes the seeds grow
  • God allowed me to grow up in a farming/gardening family to gain gardening knowledge
  • God gives me the strength to weed the garden
  • God even allowed someone to invent the Liquid Fence that keeps the critters out!

So, my pride needs to be all about Him—my gracious, glorious heavenly Father! As I am writing, I’m watching the yellow finch at the feeder which makes me think of the children’s song:

God sees the little sparrow fall it meets His tender view

If God so loved the little sparrow, I know He loves me too!

What a thought! He sees me, but even more than that, His heart is tender towards me. He protects me, leads me, strengthens me, and feeds me with His Holy Manna—the Word of God. He cares for ME! WOW!

When I look at my garden and experience the joy and satisfaction of a job well done, I think as well of God’s view of me.  Is He pleased? Am I growing straight and tall? Does He see that the little seeds of conviction are sprouting and bringing forth fruit in my heart? Am I “weed-free?” Am I tilled up and pliable in His hands? Am I bringing forth fruit for His kingdom and glory?

My husband loves to see a tree in the middle of a field where it can grow freely, not all trimmed and chopped because of power lines.  He will say, “That tree is doing exactly what God intended it to do.” That is what I want God to see as well when He looks at my outward life and my inward heart-garden! Oh, the joy to think that I can bring such joy to my Master Gardener!

Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. {ungodly: or, wicked} But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night. And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper. Psalm 1:1-3

I love conflict!

ID-100122418Just thought I’d get your attention! Seriously though, I don’t know how many times I’ve heard someone say that they hate conflict when in the midst of a struggle.  It’s often a statement which is actually saying, “I don’t want to get involved.” Who likes conflict? There are certainly people who like to shout their opinions or goad you into a verbal debate, but most of us are not wired that way, or shouldn’t be—especially professing born-again believers!

Conflict. Resolution. How do you get from one to the other? What I have learned…

Scenario:

  1. Party A does or says something that offends, riles, aggravates, disturbs Party B
  2. Party B REACTS by becoming angry, cynical, nasty, rude, quiet
  3. Party A then REACTS against Party B’s reactions. In J. Allan Peterson’s booklet Your Reactions are Showing, he says, “We may at any given moment pride ourselves on right actions and yet be reacting with jealousy, or resentment, or anger, or hatred, or fear or self-pity. To react in one or several of these ways when things do not please us will be very harmful to us.”

Poor reactions are the sand that stops the engine of resolution from working properly. Wrong reactions take the focus away from the real issues and add more conflict. So, before the original problem can be resolved, the reactions must be dealt with. The problem is that the reactions are showing deeper character issues. Peterson explains, “Were a person to watch my actions, he would not really know me. My actions would not reveal to him what I really am, because my actions might be planned and practiced for his benefit. But is it our reactions – our spontaneous, unconscious, unscheduled reactions – that reveal what we really are.” OUCH!!!

If, in the above scenario, all the reactions could be peeled away, the real issue could then be dealt with. It may be as simple as a miscommunication or misunderstanding. Perhaps, Party A didn’t realize how important the issue was to Party B. In a situation where a mom is cleaning out a child’s closet after repeated warnings, she may throw out all the “junk” and feel satisfied with a job well done.  However, when Junior comes home and finds that all his “treasures” are now in the trash, we have a conflict. A wife who makes a purchase that seems extravagant to her husband, a sister who twits her sister about her looks in front of other teens, a teacher who calls down a student for a wrong answer—all these are potential conflicts with added out-of-control reactions depending upon what is in the heart of each person involved.

Solving conflict is a part of every relationship and the methods of resolution are as varied as the people involved in those relationships, but several things are absolutely necessary for any conflict to move into resolution:

  1. LOVEAnd now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love (1 Corinthians 13:13 emphasis added). We quote this verse so often, but do you see what it is saying? Love is greater than faith?! How can that be? Love is greater than hope?! I want to “chew” on that a little more, but I’ll try to stay focused! The point is that love is the greatest thing, for out of it comes all the other necessary ingredients:
  2. TRUST—stepping out on a limb for the sake of the one you love and giving them the benefit of doubt. It is so crucial in every relationship.
  3. FORGIVENESS—When those ugly words fly and open old wounds, can you forgive? When the only response you can muster is, “How could you?” and the hurt goes to the core of your being, can you forgive? When it happens over and over again, can you forgive?
  4. CONVERSATION—talk, talk, talk! But be sure to keep the law of kindness in your tongue! That is SO hard to do, but it is possible by the grace of God! Sometimes a little space is needed to cool our jets, but when the motor of self-justification has cooled and the reactions are once again under control, talk… and LISTEN—you need both to call it communication.
  5. CHANGE—Conflict happens to teach us to change. “No man or company of men, no power in earth or heaven, can touch that soul which is abiding in Christ, without first passing through Him [God], and receiving the seal of His permission.1” Nothing catches our loving heavenly Father by surprise. Can you accept the conflict as a tool from your Father’s hand to help you to grow in His likeness?

We can learn so much from our Savior and His ultimate conflict on the cross.

  1. He never complained
  2. He went willingly
  3. He was humbled, thinking only of us and making a way to resolve our greatest conflict!

Looking at the cross always puts every conflict of life back into a right perspective!

So, press on, dear reader. Conflict is a part of life. We all hate it, but resolution is so sweet! It is true—making up is almost, ALMOST, worth the fight! 🙂

1The Christian’s Secret of a Happy Life, Hannah Whithall Smith (p,41)