Thank You, Lord

ID-100193008I came across this “poem”–it’s more of a prayer–the other day and thought I’d share it for Mother’s Day.  Our oldest turned thirty this year!  How did that happen?  As I read the poem, it seemed like yesterday that I was the one in the hospital giving birth.  Tommy arrived at 2:47 am after twenty-two hours of labor and a C-section.  I remember years later, talking to a woman who had had a similar situation, and she said she would never have any more children.  I’m so thankful the Lord gave me the grace to have two more C-sections.  And, as much as I would have loved to live in the colonial days, I probably would have died during childbirth!

Now, after seeing our three children happily married  and enjoying the role of grand-parenting five times over, I dedicate this poem to my daughter, who is ready to deliver our fourth grandson any day, and to our daughter-in-law, who recently gave us our first granddaughter.  What a joy to know that the souls of our grandchildren are in the hands of godly parents, who are determined to do their best to pass the baton of godliness.

 Thank you , Lord

Dear Lord, Heavenly Father

Thank you for Thomas James…

He’s beautiful, healthy and sweet, but Lord thank you too…

  • For the long labor – it taught me long-suffering
  • For the high fever – it taught me to trust You
  • For the sleepless times – it taught me Your ever presence.
  • For Tommy’s struggle to nurse – it taught me patience.
  • For the sins of the world all around me – it taught me to work on my testimony and gave me a passion for souls.
  • For the weakness, and soreness, and pain – it taught me to lean on Your arms.
  • For nine months of pregnancy – it taught me that this body is Yours, not mine.

Thank you, Lord; please keep me yielded to learn more.

January 18, 1985

 Happy Mother’s Day

May you allow the Lord to turn each trial into a classroom, and every difficult circumstance into an opportunity to learn more about your God.

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Shocking Reality

FireBIGAs I observe the times in which we live, I sense almost a dread at the shocking reality of Christian beliefs.  Our times are filled with Christianity, in all shapes and sizes.  Some churches which would place themselves under the umbrella of Christianity deny that Jesus is even God’s Son.  To me, that is a shocking reality; while others pick and choose which teachings of Christ they will embrace and trash the others as archaic or irrelevant.  That is also a shocking reality.

However, the most shocking reality is the beliefs that people embrace about salvation.  There are those who feel that they will safely arrive into heaven’s domain because they belong to a certain church, or have completed a course, or have practiced a religious activity.  And then there are the myriads of humanity which have been “born-again,” and that also comes in all shapes and sizes!

Salvation: What does it mean to be saved, born-again, converted?  Of all the doctrines of the Bible, it is understandable that Satan would work the hardest at distorting this one!  What a price we pay for not embracing the whole truth about salvation!  What do I mean by that?  Read on…

Let’s say that you live in a community that has a wonderful community group, which does a lot of wonderful things.  They are very organized, not just a loosely banded group, and they require members to fill out an application.  You have attended some of their meetings, have even joined in with some of their activities, but you haven’t filled out the application.  Are you a member?  No.  When it would come time for any votes to be taken or any major decisions made, you would not be included.  Why?  Because you did not fill out the application.

You may really believe in their cause.  You may like them.  They may accept your presence happily and wish that you would join “officially.”  They may even give you the application and urge you to join; but for whatever the reason, you just didn’t do it.

Salvation:  Is it just believing in God?  If so, then according to a recent poll 74% of Americans are saved.  If you believe that, I have a great deal on some land in Florida I’d like to sell you!  🙂

Is it asking Jesus to be your Savior?  I would think that most of you would say, yes.

For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. Romans 10: 13

The above scenario about the community group creates the problem concerning someone who purposely did not fill out the application.  The spiritual equivalent: someone purposefully no asking Jesus to be their Savior.  Why wouldn’t you do that?  Maybe you just never got around to it.  Maybe you don’t think it’s necessary.  Maybe you know the commitment it will involve and you’re not ready to commit.  Maybe you don’t believe in that sort of thing. Maybe you think your way or your churches way is good enough. Whatever the excuse, just know that there are consequences for not making that commitment – a big one called hell.

Is it possible to ask Him to be your Savior and still not go to heaven?  Yes – it’s not the words, it’s the heart.  Is it possible to really, really mean it and not go to heaven?  Yes – if you really, really mean it because you just don’t want to go to hell, but you will not admit your sin and forsake it – be saved from it, in Jesus name.  How could someone be saved from sin if they don’t want to let go of their sinful life and seek holiness?

“But I believe that God will accept me just the way I am.  That’s just your interpretation of the Bible.”   Another shocking reality: God loves each of us more than we could ever understand.  His love is completely unconditional – I can’t do anything to make Him love me more or less.  In fact, He loves us SO MUCH that He willingly sent His Son to die in our place – He, God the Father, placed every one of our sins on God, the Son – His ONLY Son!  Wow!  That’s beyond my comprehension!  And then someone will say that God would accept a person because they are good, even though they refuse to bow the knee and ask forgiveness – asking Jesus to save them?  The shocking reality is that many people think that way.  How do I know, because I see lives that talk the talk but they don’t walk the walk.  There’s no sense of “God” in their lives except when they are in church, IF they even go to church.

Am I talking about sinless perfection?  No, just a heart for God, the rest will follow!  We, as born-again believers, all have a walk to walk.  God knows what it is that He wants us to do to glorify His name.  What a wonderful thought!

If the Holy Spirit is urging you to make a decision for Christ, don’t continue to ignore Him!

Revelation 22:7 And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.

Complete in Thee! no work of mine
May take, dear Lord, the place of Thine;
Thy blood hath pardon bought for me,
And I am now complete in Thee.

Yea, justified! O blessed thought!
And sanctified! Salvation wrought!
Thy blood hath pardon bought for me,
And glorified, I too, shall be!

Complete in Thee—no more shall sin,
Thy grace hath conquered, reign within;
Thy voice shall bid the tempter flee,
And I shall stand complete in Thee.

Complete in Thee—each want supplied,
And no good thing to me denied;
Since Thou my portion, Lord, wilt be,
I ask no more, complete in Thee.

Dear Savior! when before Thy bar
All tribes and tongues assembled are,
Among Thy chosen will I be,
At Thy right hand—complete in Thee.

 Aaron Robarts Wolfe (1821-1902),James Martin Gray, chorus (1851-1935)

If you have never made that commitment to Jesus Christ, and you don’t quite understand what salvation is, maybe it would help to read “What is Salvation” at the top.

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!

Can I Trust Him?

ID-10079748A week ago, we were on our way to South Carolina for the main purpose of hearing our son Nathan’s piano recital.  We stopped in Virginia for a short visit with Tom’s family and then arrived at our destination on Friday afternoon.  After a wonderful visit (and AWESOME recital!!!), we drove the twelve hour trip home on Monday.

Before we left, I knew that I would be substitute teaching Tuesday through Friday, and I did my share of worrying before we left – wondering how I was going to survive!  I know many of you work full time, but for me, it overflows my plate. (Plus – do you remember what YOU used to do to those subs?!  STRESS!)

Why can’t I simply trust the One who created the universe and keeps every star and planet in place, to order my days according to His purpose?  He knows what I can do and not do.  He  is completely aware of my shortcomings and limitations; although, at times I do believe His opinion of my abilities is too high!

And now for the rest of the story:  what did my gracious Father do?  He sent a snowstorm Tuesday night and Wednesday which delayed school by two hours; and today is a half day!  God is SO good!

Remember, dear reader, remember!  Psalm 143 starts out with David’s reminder to God that his enemies are getting the upper hand, and his reaction is so similar to ours today: “Therefore is my spirit overwhelmed within me; my heart within me is desolate.” (v. 4)  We cry and complain, moan and groan…even whine a bit.  We remind God of all our troubles – troubles that He has directed our way – as if He didn’t know what is going on in my life!

Oh, to be like David!  He remembers: “I remember the days of old; I meditate on all thy works; I muse on the work of thy hands.” (v.5) Remember past victories and lessons from the Lord – they are the stuff that keeps us going!  They build our confidence in God and give us the courage to trust Him!

Again, David says it so well: “It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in man.” Psalm 118:8  And just in case you don’t get it, he says it again with even more emphasis: “It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in princes.” (v.9)

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Spirit-controlled Mind-controlled Body

IMG_3004Saturday morning’s sunshine and light snow begged for a walk, so I leashed Pepper, put on my ‘dungarees’ and off we went.  The sights were absolutely gorgeous!  With about eight inches of fluffy snow, the trees were blanketed with white beauty, and an extra bonus was that the road had not been traveled.  However, as I trudged along I realized that even the fluffiest snow causes resistance and soon I was puffing.  My body said, “Turn back, this is too hard; but my mind reminded my body of the sticky bun binge last evening.  At the mere thought of the delicious treat my mouth started to water.  There are several left and I’m dreaming of a nice cup of coffee to go along with them!  My mind says, “Keep walking, fatso!”

Now that that battle is over, the scenery before me turns my heart to my Maker.  How awesome is His Mighty Creative Hand!  Every moment of every day He is sending out reminders across the universe of His amazing power and my spirit sings His praise.  Suddenly, I realize that the walk isn’t so strenuous.  My mind reminds my body how good it is to hit that target heart-rate, and for once, my body agrees.

It’s not a long walk, but today it does seem longer than usual: the snow is deep; the wind is nipping my nose.  My legs are cold.  My body says, “Maybe we should turn around.”  But my mind says, “Keep walking, and my spirit says, “Remember?”

What pushes me to keep going more than the necessary target heart rate?  I know what is waiting for me at the end of the road: the view!  I will try to describe it.  The woods give way to a panoramic view of several mountain ranges.  Probably a field at one time, the ground before me is covered with brambles and low bushes, each trimmed in white; and the edge of the field is lined with pine trees that look like sentinels laced with snow –  a scattering of junior sentinels stand before them.

The closer hills roll and tumble across the scene and the distant mountains are hazy blue due to the falling snow.  It isn’t snowing much, just enough to finish off the beauty – in fact, the sky is a patchwork of blues and dancing clouds.  Awesome!  It was worth every step.

O Lord my God! When I in awesome wonder
Consider all the works thy hand hath made,
I see the stars, I hear the mighty thunder,
Thy power throughout the universe displayed;

Then sings my soul, my Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, how great Thou art!

When through the woods and forest glades I wander
and hear the birds sing sweetly in the trees;
when I look down from lofty mountain grandeur,
and hear the brook, and feel he gentle breeze;

Then sings my soul…

As I turn to walk home, I’m once again praising God.  My heart is full; that’s when my eyes see our paths: Pepper’s and mine.  My path is straight while her path zigzags all over the road.  It’s comical to see, but My Heavenly Father has another lesson for me!  His way is perfect, if only I’d follow His steps; but my desires seem to tempt me from it like the many scented tracks that Pepper follows shortly, only to be pulled back by the leash.

I’m thankful for God’s “leash” on my life.  I trust Him to know what’s best and ask His forgiveness when I strain to go as far as I can from Him.  How foolish; but I know that someday, that struggle will all be over.  The world will hold no fascination for me, I will be like Him!  Oh what a day!  Oh, what a promise!

“As for me, I will see Your face in righteousness;

 I shall be satisfied when I awake in Your likeness.”  Psalm 17: 15

Bear Choices

Choices – we make them every day. Years ago (like 15!),  I remember telling my senior high Sunday school class during prayer time that I wanted them to pray for our family because we had an important decision to make.  I can’t remember what the decision was but I do remember one of the young men asking, “What, you’re changing peanut butter brands?”

It is Monday morning and for you non-ministry readers, that is the preacher’s Saturday.  Tom and I had already planned to have a date today instead of doing the usual “off-day type” errand runs.  At 7:05, the phone rang with a serious difficulty.  At 7:30, phone rang again.  I had decided to do my aerobics but the TV wouldn’t work.  In the fifteen minutes that we were together, two “conflicts” occurred.  So, we regrouped and made some tactical choices because we know from experience, that Satan loves to ruin our off days! I decided to walk instead of doing the aerobics.

I love to walk our dead-end dirt road and usually take Pepper, our fierce little cocker spaniel with me; but after last nights torrential downpour, I go it alone.  As I’m walking, I’m thinking about the bear that one of the men saw last night on the property – a big bear, he said.  Should I turn around? I’m picturing the bear I saw last night on facebook.  (Thanks, Joan for the photo!) Yes, I turn around; but then I decide God can protect me.  As I continue to walk, I’m thinking though all the worst scenarios.  Dying by a bear attack wouldn’t be pleasant!  So I stop and talk to God, and  as I look down both ends of the road, I realize that this is exactly what we do when we make choices.  This choice is driven by two thoughts: fear and common sense.  I fear the bear and it’s foolish to tempt God.

The other alternate route is down Route 184.  Now we are in the epicenter of the gas drilling.  There are trucks coming in every direction, SO… I decide to jump the little stream and walk through the neighboring business’ front yard.  There’s a small incline and as I jump I feel something pop in my foot.  As I’m hobbling home, I’m thinking again, “Great, Tom and I just decided to walk the PA Grand Canyon today!!!  I should have opted for the bear!”

Have you ever made a choice – prayed about a choice, and then everything seemed to go wrong?  We all have.  Did I make the wrong choice?  I don’t believe so.  Well, maybe the choice to jump the stream was a wrong choice!

“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.” (Pro 3:5,6)

coupled with Romans 8:28

“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,”

are the two guideposts in helping us to make and accept wise decisions.  It was a small decision, but I did pray there in the middle of the dirt road and sought God’s guidance.  I was trusting God and not leaning on my own understanding.  I acknowledged him, and I believe He directed.  Now, after a day at the doctor’s office and the hospital for x-rays instead of the quiet walk in the woods (which was also to include Bible reading and prayer), I lean on Romans 8:28.  Was it the day I would have planned, absolutely not; however, choosing to go through it while continuing to acknowledge my God and keep a smile on my face WAS God’s will for me in this one!