Trust? Really?

ID-100177013Resting in the arms of Jesus – what does that mean?  Trusting in our Lord…completely – how do you do that when life is so full of responsibilities and trials?  Those are good questions which we may answer soundly one day and then need to wrestle down the next!

My first roommate in college was a believer.  At the time, I was saved “so as by fire,” (1 Cor. 3:15) which means that I was a baby Christian.  She was a rock!  She ate meat from the Word and it showed, while I hadn’t even established the habit of reading my Bible!

At the time, I thought she was weak.  She always seemed to lean on someone else for decisions, especially God.  It seemed like a cop-out to me.  But when her father died our freshman year, I fell apart and she rested in the arms of Jesus!

Why must we hold on so tightly to the reins of our lives?  In the next few months, both of our sons are facing live-changing decisions.  Those decisions may also change my life, and I have stewed and worried and begged God to do what suits ME best!  What a nag I’ve been!  I try to couch my prayers with “Thy will be done,” but He knows and I know my heart!! 😦  God is teaching me to rest!

I often think back to our family’s trips to Canada.  We would leave very early in the morning.  My sister and I would snuggle down in the back seat and before we knew it, we were at Niagara Falls, crossing the border.  Why was I able to just sit back and relax?  I never once asked Dad if he knew the way or if the gas tank was full or if he was even sleepy and ready to fall asleep at the wheel.  I TRUSTED HIM COMPLETELY!

What a rebuking lesson for me!  My dad was a wonderful man and was certainly trustworthy; but oh, how much more is my Heavenly Father worthy of my trust?  There’s no comparison!

As I prayed for my sons this morning, I realized once again that I can trust God completely to guide them in the way that  they should go; and how blessed I am that both sons are seeking the Lord’s leading even more than me!   Such a peace came to my heart that I needed to share it with you!  The wonderful thing about spiritual attributes and blessings is that they are available to all who believe!  You don’t have to be rich or smart or talented or important to trust God!  It only takes one thing: surrender!

 

“Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.
In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.” Proverbs 3:5,6

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Duh!

This blog is just the opposite of most of my blogs: the spiritual will be applied to the physical!  After having Nathan home for a visit, I’ve once again put on the pounds!  He tells me not to do it, but I make all his favorite dishes!  Is that one of the five love languages? 🙂

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So, this morning I hit the mat and exercised.  I’m really on the cutting edge: I use an aerobic video that I’ve been using for the past twenty years!  As I was exercising, I realized that if I really want to lose the weight and be in shape, I can’t just be hit or miss about exercising and controlling my eating habits!

Duh!  I know that in my devotional life, why don’t I see it in my physical life?  Actually, I DO see it every time I look in the mirror!

I’m not sure why I struggle so with this. Devotions are like clockwork, but changing my eating lifestyle (I have learned that it’s not dieting!) is so hard!!! I LOVE to eat and bake and cook, but that’s what causes the unwanted extra weight!  So, I’m a winner spiritually and a loser physically!  😦   I WANT BOTH!

So, how are you doing?  Are you spiritually out of shape?  Have you tired of the battle and laid down your arms?  Has the habit of church attendance or devotions or prayer gone our the window?  Are you making excuses or have you just given up?

Here’s an AMAZING fact: no matter how long you have been away from the Lord or how far you’ve drifted, it only takes a single act of repentance (turning around and going the other way!), and our precious Heavenly Father is right there waiting for us, just like the father of the prodigal son!“But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him.”  (Luke 15:20) However, the longer you wait, the more regret you will need to face!

I know I have an overactive imagination, but at times I look at people that have strayed and I watch them drift further and further away; and it’s as though Satan continues to wrap more and more chains about them, weighing them down with defeat until it seems impossible for them to be set free!  Oh, what joy to know that  “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.” (1 Cor. 10:13)

Our Savior breaks the chains and sets us free!  There is no greater joy!  We all stumble and lose our way, but God even uses those defeats and turns them into something good – lessons that we would never had learned otherwise.

So… perhaps I’ll never be a skinny Minnie so that I can keep learning lessons to share with you!! 🙂 Enjoy the Lord’s day tomorrow!

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Oh, that blessed hope!

ID-100126475Awgh!  What a day!  Said good-bye to Nathan at 8:20; taught four lessons; headed for the high school for the Bible study; visited a family from church; and then taught two more lessons!  I’m bushed!  We had planned to go to a soccer game tonight to support one of our teens, but the schedule is just too full.

Why are we running ourselves ragged?  Do you wonder about life?  We are such a busy folk, so thank YOU for taking the time out of your busy schedule to read my thoughts; I hope they are a blessing and an encouragement AND at times a challenge!

We all need encouragement and challenges; and our gracious Lord sprinkles the way with blessings to sweeten the load!  Let me share a ‘sprinkle’ with you:

One of the young men from our church attends BJU where our son, Nathan also attends, and he was coming home this weekend.  I told Nathan about it, but this semester had been chocked full. Working at the WILDS Christian Camp this summer as a counselor was an awesome opportunity, but it didn’t leave him much time to prepare for his senior piano recital (November 16th).  Plus, his choir is going on tour the first week in November, so I put it out of my mind that there was any possibility that he would be able to come.

On Friday, I was pressed for time, and after several delays, I was ready to get going when my husband said I needed to call Nathan.

“Hello, Nathan.”

“Hi, Mom.  Guess what I’m doing?”

“I don’t know.  What are you doing,” I said rather impatiently.

“You have to guess.”

  I could hear that he was in a car.  “”You’re on your way to Wal-Mart.”

“Nope, guess again.”

By then, I was really impatient.  “Well, it sounds like you’re in the car.”

“Guess where I’m going?”

At that moment, I lost it. I couldn’t answer, because my busy mind slammed into neutral as it registered that he was on his way home!   I couldn’t talk for crying.

Hope deferred maketh the heart sick: but when the desire cometh, it is a tree of life.” Proverbs 13:12

Ten verses in the Bible refer to the Tree of Life.  Most of us are familiar with the tree in the garden – that takes care of three verses in Genesis.  Proverbs makes four references: the one above, as well as three others, which proclaim that wisdom, righteous and a wholesome tongue are “the tree of life.” Then three verses in Revelation talk about this magnificent tree which will be “in the midst of the street…and on either side of the river…which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.”  (Rev. 22:2)  Two promises are made to believers concerning this tree: he “that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life” (Rev. 2:7) and “Blessed are they that do his commandements, that they may have right to the tree of life…” (Rev. 22:14)

However, my focus today is on Proverbs 13:12.  My hope was deferred.  I had prayed and hoped that he would come, but the more I talked to him, the more I put that hope completely out of my mind.  BUT, when the desire came, I was truly overwhelmed!  The lesson for me is this: God gave me just a smidgen of a taste of the exceeding great joy and incomprehensible delight that we will experience when we hear His call to come home!  Our hope is sure, but we are certainly not delivered from this “body of death” yet! (Romans 7:24)  The battles seem to get fiercer each day.  Fellow soldiers are falling; some are weary of the battle while others just give in to the enemies many lures.  More and more we are called upon to “dare to stand alone for Christ.”  Oh, to hear the call!  Somehow, just knowing that it WILL come gives us the strength we need to carry on, looking forward to seeing Him face to face and working diligently to hear those coveted words: “Well done, thou good and faithful servant.”

Are you looking forward to that “blessed hope?” (Titus 2:13)  Keep on keeping on!  And keep looking up!

“Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ;” Titus 2:13

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Why Not?

 

ID-10041505For the price of a latte and a sweet treat, you could be enjoying a great adventure!  Have you checked out Twelve Smooth Stones yet? It’s only a click away!

AND, could you just answer ONE question on the poll below?

 

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How to Slay a Dragon

ID-10071121First of all, you must find the dragon and identify what kind of dragon it is.  Then, you must arm yourself accordingly.  If it is a fire-breathing dragon, then be sure to take your fire extinguisher. (Ephesians 6:16) A sword would be good, if you know how to use it.  Obviously, today you may want to take a rifle instead; although the sword would be more gallant.  Somehow, standing over a dragon with your sword piercing its tough skin seems nobler than killing it with a mere shot from afar.

So, let’s get started.  What kind of a dragon are you up against today?  Is it a message of bad news? Does that news affect you by causing fear to rise; hence fear is the real dragon! Perhaps your dragon is disappointment – someone dear to you has let you down or you have let yourself down.  How do you slay that one?  Or maybe your dragon lives within you and comes out as angry words, sarcasm, or just plain old negativity.  How do you slay these beasts?

One sure weapon against them all is THE Sword, God’s Word.  Obviously, the rifle was not a Bible weapon; however, there were other weapons that God could have used as a metaphor for His Word.  Why not an arrow, or a sling, or a javelin?  Do you notice one great difference between these weapons and a sword?  They are all long-range weapons.  You must stand close to your enemy to use a sword! Combat becomes close and personal!  You can feel the hot breath of that dragon breathing down upon your face! Coming face to face with our dragons is essential.  Too often we ignore them or pretend that they don’t exist until one of them singes our eyebrows!

And do you know how to use that Sword?  Are you familiar enough with It that you can be successful in your battle?  It took eleven to twenty-one years to become a knight – lots of time and practice in all manners of life.  If you want to be a successful dragon-slayer, you must know your weapons.

Dragons can be big.  (Actually, dragons may well have been leftover dinosaurs!)  Anyway, some dragons are just too big for one lonely person.  You may need help!  Find yourself a strong, Bible-believing, Bible-PREACHING church.  (Notice I said strong, not big.  God’s measuring stick for success is a totally different standard than ours!)  And GET INVOLVED!  Then you can slay dragons together!  Did you realize that by just sitting in Sunday school, you are sharpening your Sword (if you’re plugged in!) ?

That still will not be enough for most, if not all the dragons we will face.  Without the power of God, it will be impossible, especially for those “older” dragons that have been haunting us for years!  They have fortified themselves within our own flesh, and slaying them can not only be difficult, but painful!

Hebrew 4:12 says that “the word of God is quick (alive!), and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner  (It, or the Writer knows) of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”  What a powerful weapon.  It is the only weapon that can go beneath the skin, deftly slicing and dicing our own hearts without killing us!

Oh, to think of life without any more dragons!  That day is coming, but until then, get out there and slay a few, for the kingdom’s sake and in the name of our King Emmanuel!

(We are reading a set of books called The Terrestrial Chronicles by Ed Dunlop.  It is a set of eight books, geared for children; however, they have been a wonderful source of encouragement to us.  Prince Josiah faces a myriad of enemies like Sir Discontent, Sir Covetousness and Captain Pleasure, aided by Sir Wisdom and Sir Dedication, all under the banner of King Emmanuel!  Check it out!)

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God’s Ultimate Creation – Our Ultimate Sacrifice

The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork. Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge. There is no speech nor language, where their voice is not heard. Their line is gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world.  Psalm 19:1-4

What would you name as God’s ultimate creation?  Many of you know how I love the stars. If I go down behind the house, the lights from the church street sign and the business next door is shadowed, and I can see a slice of the evening sky in total darkness.  If you stay out there long enough allowing your eyes to adjust, more and more stars appear; and when looking through binoculars – the sight is breath-taking: literally billions of stars dot the sky like something out of an astronomy textbook!  Are the heavens God’s ultimate creation?  Or is it the beauties of our earth: crashing waterfalls, breathtaking summits, or the myriad of unique creatures in the animal kingdom?

Although all these are wonderful creations which shout of their Creator’s existence, God’s ultimate creation is man.  Though he cures God, denies His existence, and goes his own way, man is made in the image of God; and only man carries a living soul within his body. (Genesis 2:7 And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.)

At times, this ultimate creation requires the ultimate sacrifice on our part: the death of a loved one.  This summer, we witnessed the amazing faith of Dr. and Mrs. Phelps and others in their congregation as they were interviewed by the local press concerning the loss of their son, daughter-in-law and unborn grandchild in a horrific bus accident.  Other lives were lost as well, but because of their loss, many souls of God’s ultimate creation were saved.

Just this morning, I heard of another death: a retired missionary in Mexico.  After a weeklong visit with her grandchildren, the wife came home to find that her husband had been bound and beaten to death.  My first reaction was, “Why, Lord,” especially because he was the brother of my dear mentor who just lost her husband several weeks ago.  “It’s too much, Lord,” my heart cried.

How do we square the idea, that God is always good and always does what is best when we face the ultimate sacrifice?

Years ago, while visiting in a nearby neighborhood for our church in Greenville, SC, we finished a newer development and then started walking down a dirt road that led out of the back of the development.  We literally crossed over the tracks into what I can only describe as a shanty town: a row of ramshackle houses lined both sides of the road.  As we walked up onto the porch of the first place, we were careful to miss the holes in the flooring and knocked on the two-room shack.  From inside, we were called to come in.  A black man who looked to be as old as time itself spoke to us awhile before he motioned us to the other room. “She’d like to hear what you have to say,” he said.

In the adjoining room lay his wife on a bed.  The sheets were gray, and although it was warm outside, the place was stifling because of the wood stove that was burning in the living room.  As she beckoned us in, the first thing I noticed was her missing teeth, but then I noticed that both her arms were missing as well.  It was one of the hardest visits I ever made, but it was also one of the most rewarding.  As we spoke to her, she became the one with the “Good News” that ministered to our spirits.  I can still hear her quoting Job 1:21: “…the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.”

How can these people “stay the course” in the face of such difficulties?  Once again God gives us the answer through His Word and His Spirit working in and through His people. Hannah Whitall Smith states:

“We may make out of each event in our lives either a Juggernaut (a very large, heavy truck) to crush us or a chariot of God in which to ride to heights of victory.  It all depends on how we take things – whether we lie down under our trials and let them roll over and crush us or whether we climb up into them as into a chariot and make them carry us triumphantly onward and upward.” (God is Enough, October 2)

The ache is still there, the vacant place still haunts us, and there are times of defeat and discouragement; but our anchor WILL hold if we don’t let go of the chain!