Just a Taste

chocolate-meio-amargo-alfarroba-melhor-opcao-para-dieta-58878As I face another good-bye, I’m working HARD to keep focused! Our youngest son and his little family have been here for a week now. The Lord has blessed us with perfect weather and wonderful opportunities to pack in the memories! Now, it’s time to get back to “normal.”

Normal—what does that look like? Well, for me, it means one son and his family living 1,292miles away, this son and his family 674 miles living away, and our daughter and her family just down the road eleven miles. Up until March, our oldest son was just twenty miles down the road. We’re a close-knit family. We love to be together. One of my favorite family activities is singing together. We’ve ministered together, and for years that was “normal.” But it’s not normal now, and I’m still struggling to adjust to my new normal. How can I do that?

O taste and see…

I’ve “tasted” that sweet manna of my family all around me, so how do I settle for less? How do I settle for flavored chocolate when I’ve eaten Ghirardelli’s?

Little by little, the pieces fall into place, and I’ve come to realize that part of the healing process in any situation is understanding the pain. Why am I struggling so? Why can’t I just get over this? Why can’t I just be happy with where I am in life? Do you find yourself asking those questions? Well, I have the answers! NOT! But… I do know Someone who does, and He has taught me a few things:

  1. Get the labels right. This new normal is not less perfect than the old normal because it is God’s normal for me! How can a spouse endure the loss of a lifetime best friend unless he or she embraces this thought? How does a person endure a career change when he has lost his dream job? How does a mom deal with an injury that leaves her healthy child crippled? How can we cope when a teen chooses to stray down a deadly path?

O taste and see that the LORD is good…

In Psalm 34, David tells us to “taste and see” that the Lord is good! David wrote this psalm while he was running from Saul. He ran to Gaza, a major city of Israel’s enemies, the Philistines, and ended up feigning madness to escape. Great circumstances, don’t you think? He had enjoyed great success, but now he was a hunted man, and yet he gives us so many nuggets of true faith in this psalm.

  1. Live in the moment. That might sound like worldly advice but it is good advice. When we live in the past or live for the future, we miss today! Another way to put it, which is not original to me, is “keep your mind where your body is.”

Later, when David longed for the waters of Bethlehem, three of his valiant men risked their lives by breaking through the Philistine battle lines in order to grant his request. Longing for the past or hoping for the future can be deadly! At the very least, it makes us miserable today. It can also bring on depression and bitterness—two of Satan’s sharpest and deadliest weapons!

  1. Trust, trust, trust! Do I really believe that God knows best or are they just words?

O taste and see that the LORD is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him. Psalm 34:8

Spurgeon writes this:

“No one knows how sweet honey is till he tastes it, and even so the sweetness of true religion cannot be learned by mere hearing, we must try it for ourselves.  O Lord, help all in this family to prove the power of faith in Jesus, and the efficacy [effectiveness] of prayer to God for themselves.”quote

Trials will taste bitter unless we look past them to the One
who holds the spoon! Then we
see the love in His eyes, and His look sweetens the bitterest pill. We hear the love in His gentle voice, and we know that it is good because He only does what is best. We are blessed because we trust Him!

The young lions do lack, and suffer hunger: but they that seek the LORD shall not want any good thing. (v. 10)

Again, Spurgeon writes:

“Lions are strong, fierce, and crafty, yet they hunger; men of the world are also very cunning and full of self-confidence, yet they are not satisfied.  But humble believers, though often weak, and in the world’s judgment, very foolish, are yet blessed with every needful blessing by their gracious God.”

Can you be a humble believer? Can you yield to whatever God puts in your path?  That’s the question that I ask myself, and I’m afraid to say, “no!” More than that, I don’t WANT to say, “no” because…

The face of the LORD is against them that do evil, to cut off the remembrance of them from the earth.

AND…

The righteous cry, and the LORD heareth, and delivereth them out of all their troubles. The LORD is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit. (16-18)

One last note from Spurgeon, who fought what was called “causeless depression” most of his life:

“What a blessing to have a tender sense of sin.  We have heard of persons dying of a broken heart, but if repentance breaks our hearts we shall live eternally.”

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AWH…CHOO! Sniffle, Sniffle.

ID-100158158Well, for the past four days, I’ve laid around doing nothing.  Wish it could have been on the beach, but it was on the couch with a box of tissues, a bounding headache, and a fever.  Today is the first day that I can actually function!

No one likes to get sick.  We try not to be babies, but I find myself groaning and complaining to my dear husband.  I’m sure at times like these he wishes that his office was elsewhere!

Isn’t the human body amazing?  Why would a few raised degrees of body heat throw us off so much?  You’ll have to ask your doctor that one, but there is a lesson there for us!  🙂  There is an enemy germ in me, which has thrown my body into attack mode.  It’s working hard to make me better, but in the meantime, simple operations seem impossible—even writing a blog!

That can happen in our spiritual “bodies” as well.  When we allow something to attack our spirit—a  confrontation which leaves our spirits torn, or an ungodly entertainment that soils our souls, an unexpected heartbreak which leaves our hearts shattered—everything goes into “fix-it” mode.  Our minds are clogged with unwanted thoughts; our hearts are clouded with unlovely attitudes, and until we are cleansed, life shuts down.

Sadly, there are times when we have allowed the “sickness” to go on for so long, that our spirit-bodies build a resistance to the Spirit’s wooing.  It’s as though there is this huge tough callous over an infected wound, and we don’t want to deal with it; and at times like these, God may need to get out the “big guns” to get our attention! Unlike an incurable disease, often “spiritual sickness” which was caused by wrong choices just need to be reversed into making right choices.

“You make that sound so simple.  You don’t understand. It’s complicated.”

Have you noticed that that is the popular phrase now?  Life is complicated.  What made it so complicated?  You’re not going to like this…SIN. 😦  Talk to Eve if you want to know about a complicated situation and the devastating consequences of wrong choices!  But Eve did not die.  Yes, her life was never the same, and I’m sure there were many days when she said, “If only I hadn’t…”  But she did, and hopefully she learned from it and went living the life that God gave her in the way that God intended it to be lived.

When God stops us with sickness or difficult situations, we will always benefit by keeping still and looking up!  Take the time to pray.  Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you. (1 Peter 5:7) This verse was the first verse I ever remember memorizing.  It’s a dear, old friend with more benefits that a bowl of hot chicken soup!

And don’t forget Psalm 46:10 Be still, and know that I am God…  In a world that is moving at high gear 24/7, we would do well to stop and “have a little talk with Jesus.” (Just a side note: when we were in Israel, we saw neon signs in the business windows which flashed: 24/6!  They know how to “keep the Sabbath.”)

We often leave off the rest of the verse: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth. Oh, how that needs to be done in this age!  We exalt our God when we obey Him, live clean and holy lives before this sin-cursed world, and travel down life’s bumpy road with the joy of the Lord in our hearts and beaming from our faces!

…neither be ye sorry; for the joy of the LORD is your strength. Nehemiah 8:10

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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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What Will Make the Difference?

ID-10068917Yesterday, we had a baby dedication at church for three new babies.  It’s always a beautiful service, full of meaning and commitment for the parents as well as the church family.

Today, we read in the news about a family of four in our dear state of Pennsylvania who were murdered: the daughter shot her mother, the son-in-law shot the brother, and the father shot the daughter and son-in-law.  So, all that remains is the father.  How could relationships go so wrong that something like this would happen?  In one moment, a man is watching TV with his wife and son; the next minute, an estranged daughter and her husband come to the door – and life is over for all but a father!

Two different scenarios, separated only by a few hours and one hundred miles, but oh how different the outcome!  Three sets of parents pledged the following:

1. In presenting your child(ren) for dedication to the Lord, do you confess your faith in Jesus Christ as your own personal Lord and Saviour?

2. In presenting your child(ren) for dedication do you acknowledge your duty to bring up this child in the fear and admonition of the Lord?

3. Will you present your child(ren) to the Lord by being faithful in personal and family devotions, the regularly and specially scheduled meetings of the church (in particular Sunday School) so that he/she will be exposed to the word of God that it might pierce his/her heart?

4. Will you dedicate yourselves with great concern to the presentation of the Gospel that your child(ren) may be wooed by the Holy Spirit at some point in his/her life to confess his/her sin and place his/her faith in Jesus Christ as his/her own personal Saviour?

5. Will you willingly and unreservedly give your child(ren) to the Lord should He call this child into full time Christian service?

6. Will you willingly and unreservedly give your child(ren) to the Lord should He call this child away from you to some foreign land for His service?

7. Will you willingly and unreservedly give your child(ren) back to the Lord should He call this child back to Himself in death as a child, teen, or young adult?

Will these seven commitments insure these parents that they will never have a child put a gun to their head? ONLY IF THEY PRACTICE THEM!  It’s easy to answer ‘yes’ to a list of questions; it’s another thing to put them into practice.  If there is one “most frustrating” aspect of the ministry, it is this: people want the results of God-loving, obedient, serving children, but they will not make the commitment necessary to accomplish the goal.

Why do I not lose weight – Because I do not make the necessary commitment to accomplish the goal.  For example, if I would count the calories and keep to the exercise program I WOULD lose weight.  How do I know?  Because I’ve done it before!

At times, we deceive ourselves in spiritual matters, convincing ourselves that they are different from physical matters.  How do we get God-loving, obedient, serving children – by leading them in our example.  “Just say yes!”  When God calls, just say yes, whatever the task, no matter how great or small.  It works!

My husband and I were thanking and praising God this morning for His hedge about our family.  There are times when I feel guilty for the blessing He has poured upon me; but may I say that GOD’S WORD WORKS!  The following is two quotes from a dear friend’s book, (Song for all Seasons – Wilma Sullivan pgs.37,39):

I’ve learned to say a little phrase that has helped me to turn over the control of things in my life to the Lord. It’s simply “It’s okay!”  “It’s okay, Lord, that that person doesn’t respond the way I want.”  “It’s okay, Lord, if I can’t buy that thing I think I need.”  “It’s okay, Lord that my plans for today must be cancelled.”  “It’s okay, Lord, whatever that group thinks of me.”  “It’s okay, Lord, that I can’t control these circumstances in my life.”  “You, Lord, are in control of all these things.  May Your will be done.” When I consciously and willingly respond in such a way, I deny my “self,” giving over my rights to God’s control.

 

God’s Holy Spirit does live in us, and by His power – not ours – we can habitually put to death the promptings of the flesh.  Our flesh cannot control our thoughts and actions unless we give in to it.  We must make the choice.  By letting Christ reign in our hearts, we can then claim the power of God to tell our old flesh to “drop dear” when it tempts us to sin. We can rest assured that, “The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations” (2 Peter 2:9a)

Take the time to be holy – you will never regret it.  In fact, you will rejoice with your Savior and your children and children’s children throughout all eternity; and what’s seventy-odd years compared to that?!

The Most Beautiful Impossible Weed

008Isn’t that a beautiful sight?!  Sorry it’s a little “screeny” but I took it from my kitchen window.  Do you want a tour?  Starting on the right side, there is asparagus that we haven’t enjoyed yet –  just planted last year.  Then there’s cauliflower and cabbage, five rows of potatoes, a new row of beans because all the rain earlier in the season drown the others.  Next is one row of carrots (should have planted more, but they are such a pain!); then three half rows of beans/corn. You really can’t see my blight infested tomatoes or onions, but you really don’t WANT to see them!

The garden is 95% weedless and this morning I raked it.  I guess I’ll always be the farmer’s daughter, but there is nothing so beautiful as healthy plants against newly raked ground!

So, what’s the Most Beautiful Impossible Weed?  MINT!  Somewhere in the past before I inherited this “parsonage garden,” mint entered into the ground.  At first, I wasn’t sure what it was.  I knew I had never seen a weed like it before.  I did notice the nice smell it produced as I pulled it from every inch of the garden!  After some inquiries I learned that it was indeed mint.

Corn may come and go, potatoes may rot in the ground, tomatoes may be blighted to death but NOTHING will rid this plot of mint!  If the Lord would have asked if He would find mint instead of faith when He returned, the resounding answer would have been, “YES!”

I suppose it’s not any more impossible than the other weeds – they’re all pretty faithful at returning!  Perhaps it’s because man put it there and not nature that it’s such a bother in my mind.

So is there a spiritual parallel?  Weeds most generally portray sin to me.  Our sin nature is much like most of the weeds in my garden: they are part of the curse from the beginning of time.  (It’s amazing to me that Satan is so “unoriginal.”   He’s still using the same lie that he told Eve: God isn’t good; He’s not really on your side; my way is so much better….)

But mint is different – it has a purpose.  I love to make mint tea with my mint.  It has a lovely smell and the plant is pretty!  To me, mint is like our excuses against salvation or sanctification (growing in Christ-likeness).  What is that sin-weed that you cherish – the one that keeps you from God?  Perhaps it’s independence, or free-thinking. Or maybe it’s religion or tradition.   None of these are bad things, but they become deadly when they push the truth from us.  What is that “pet sin” that you keep making excuses for in your life?  I could leave the mint alone, justifying its existence, but all I would have then is a garden of mint – no other fruit or vegetable could stand against it.  The same is true about sin that we refuse to surrender to our Master.

I may never get rid of the mint, and if that paralleled our encounter with sin, we would be of all men most miserable!  Oh, what a burden to never be able to rid ourselves of sin!  But, what can wash away my sin – nothing but the blood of Jesus!  Praise His Name!

I pray that if something came to mind – your mint-sin-weed, that you will surrender it to God and let Him pull it out of your garden of life.  On this one, NIKE has the best saying: JUST DO IT! You will NEVER regret it!  (By the way, did you know that Nike was the Greek goddess for victory?  Just a piece of useless trivia!)

 If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable. 1 Corinthians 15:19