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.”

Ready to Die? Really?

ID-100180787Several years ago, there was a pastor who was having difficulties in his ministry—so much so, that he was moving to another ministry.  At that particular time, we were at a highpoint in our ministry.  I remember one of our children saying, “How can they be so excited about leaving?  I’d die if we had to leave our ministry.”  About three years later, we found ourselves in a similar situation, and that child’s words came back to me.

At the time of the opening scenario, we were fulfilled, prospering, moving forward.  Yes, there were difficulties—there are always difficult moments in any occupation.  (My personal opinion is that they are multiplied in any ministry situation because our enemy more aggressively attacks any progress for our Lord.) But we knew that we were right in the center of God’s will, and we were content to be there.

Three years later, God allowed circumstances which made it nearly impossible for us to stay.  There are several lessons to be learned:

  1. Could I understand the feelings of the other pastor and his family before going through the same circumstance? No, I could sympathize with them, but until I went through that struggle, I didn’t fully understand it.  Now, for any of you who are ministry people: Do know that, Lord willing, you will never go through every trial which your people have to face.  That doesn’t mean that you can’t minister.  We are only the messengers for the Great Comforter!  He has the answers!  Praise the Lord.  But it is true that we can empathize better having gone through trials ourselves.

Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God. 2 Corinthians 1:4

TRIALS STRENGTHEN US AND MAKE US BETTER MESSENGERS FOR JESUS CHRIST.

  1. When the trial comes, God WILL give you the grace to go through it. Before we went through the trial, we couldn’t really understand God’s grace upon that pastor and his family, but their testimony prepared us for “our turn!”

And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 2 Corinthians 12:9

IT’S GOD! IT’S GOD! IT’S GOD!

If you think you can do it apart from the grace of God… well, all I can say is, “Wow!”

  1. Are you ready to die? This is not a salvation post, but as two different suffering women have been recently placed on our prayer list: a pastor’s wife and a missionary’s wife—BOTH AROUND MY AGE—I was very rebuked for thinking that I was ready to die.  I often told the Lord that I was ready for the battles to be over.  I would glibly say, “Yep!  I’m ready to go!”  Yes, I love my husband, and children, and grandchildren, and mom, and all our family and friends, but I truly felt that if the Lord wanted to take me, I was ready.  But as I’ve prayed for these women and their families, and it has become intercessory prayer—putting myself into their place—I’ve realized that I don’t know what I’m talking about!!!

Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge,shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing2 Timothy 4:8

EVEN SO, COME LORD JESUS!

THAT is what I’m ready for—I want Him to return.  I want the battles to be over.  I want all my loved ones to enjoy heaven and the millennium together.  I’m NOT ready to go it alone, BUT if I listen to my own words, I can rest in the fact that if that is His will for my life: that I meet Him in 2016—He will give me the grace to bear it!

I hope that is half the encouragement to you that it had been for me!  Life—it’s worth the living!  Live it for Jesus!

For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. 1 Corinthians 13:12

freedigitalphotos.net by tiverylucky

Get up, Bambi—GET UP!

firebambiAh, if you are an expert in “Bambiology,” you will recognize these words as an admonition from Bambi’s father.  Bambi has just been shot while in midair and lands on the other side of the canyon, safe from the hunters but not from the forest fire.  It is imperative that he gets up! Time is of the essence! Such high drama! He is down!  Can he get up?

Are you down? Is fire raging all around you? Has Satan shot you? Or is he poking you with his two-prong pitchfork: discouragement and depression? Let’s learn from Bambi!

  • He was sorely wounded. It would have been easier to just lie there and let the pain win. Have you ever felt that way? What’s the use? Defeat is just around the corner. I GIVE UP!

NO!  We can’t give up!  The cost is too great! When we choose the “low” road, we have no idea what we may lose: our testimony, our children, our homes, our church, a future… but most of all, we may damage the cause of Christ. AND, we sometimes forget that “we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous:” (1 John 2:1)  AND… “we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. (Hebrews 4:15)   Although the wounds of the spirit do not bleed, those wounds sap our strength just as much as a flesh wound, perhaps worse! Spirit wounds go to the very core of our being! Remember: “…the joy of the LORD is your strength,” (Nehemiah 8:10) so when you are wounded in the Spirit, Satan is like a blood-thirsty lion ready to devour you!  (1 Peter 5:8) He knows that our strength is intrinsically tied to our joy, so he will work hard to destroy it.

  • Bambi had a helper. His father would not leave him, but urged him to get up.  Now, I know some of you think I’m nuts, but there is a lesson here for us. The father continues to order him to get up, and when Bambi finally gets to his feet, he leans against his father.

What a beautiful picture for the born-again believer! Our heavenly Father is there urging, perhaps even demanding us to get up, because He knows that if we don’t, there will be consequences—and He knows what those consequences are, even when we don’t!

  • Slowly at first, but then gaining strength—perhaps from his father or from the raging fire—Bambi increases his pace; and after a hair-raising run and an incredible jump down the falls (really? Is that even possible?) Bambi leaves his father and joins his true love, Feline. Ahh!

Where will you go for strength? Is there anywhere to go but to God?  Are you trying to run the race on your own strength?  Have you found out yet that your strength will never be enough? Do you need to pick up your speed a bit? Are your enemies—the world, your flesh, and the devil—nipping at your heels?  Remember, your heavenly Father is right there to lean on and to draw strength from.  Whether running because of the fear of a foreboding enemy, or because of our love for God, we can do incredible things in the face of trials.

“For the LORD God is a sun and shield: the LORD will give grace and glory: no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly.”(Psalm 84:11)  What a God we serve!!!

 

Is it your time to run? There are times to  “Be still, and know that I am God…” (Psalm 46:10), and there are times to “run with patience the race that is set before us.” (Hebrew 12:1)  Whether we are still, or running pell-mell, the focus is always in one place: Jesus Christ, who gives us the victory!

But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory

through our Lord Jesus Christ. 1Corinthians 15:57

Know ye not that they which run in a race run all,

but one receiveth the prize?

So run, that ye may obtain. 1 Corinthians 9:24

The Ecstasy of His Doings

After the last post, you may think that everything is resolved–life is all rosy.  Not quite, BUT God…

He is ever faithful.  The verse that keeps popping in my mind is:

 And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, IF we faint not.Galatians 6:9

The ministry is not for the fainthearted, or in 2015 vernacular: the ministry is not for wimps!

Nine years ago this month, we came to our little church on the mountain top, after six months of wilderness wandering. During that difficult time, were claiming this verse:

 And Moses said unto the people, Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the LORD… Exodus 14:13

We had our belongings in storage and were living in my uncle’s cabin, waiting for the Lord to open the next door.  When He did, it was shockingly sudden, like the parting of the Red Sea, and we went forward, praising our God for His amazing “goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men!” (Psalm 107)

We long once again for His intervention on several fronts.  In case you haven’t noticed, as born-again believers, we have an enemy that is relentless and NEVER sleeps! BUT, we also “have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.” (Hebrews 4:15)  In plain English: He knows!!!  So, it “just so happened” that in my reading for today, from Oswald Chambers Daily Devotional Bible, I read the following:

Whenever God brings His deliverances they are so supernatural that we are staggered with amazement.  It is one of the most helpful spiritual exercises to reckon what God has done for us already.  When God wanted to make His ancient people realize what manner of God He was, He said, “Remember the crossing of the Red Sea,” and in the New Testament Paul says, “Remember, it is the God who raise Jesus from the dead.” These two things are the unit of measurement of God’s power.  If I want to know what God can do, He is the God who made a way through the sea; if it is a question of power for my life, the measurement of that is the resurrection of Jesus.

“Bring back our captivity, O LORD, …” (Psalm 126:4) I call upon my soul to remember what God has done and it makes me bold to entreat Him to do it again.  It is a crime to give way to self-pity, to be weak in God’s strength when all this God is ours…

 But call to remembrance the former days,

in which, after ye were illuminated,

ye endured a great fight of afflictions;

Hebrews 10:32

Your Living Legacy

defaul17Our lives are ordered by the Lord, and He does this through people and circumstances which He sends our way. This week has been a flurry of activity in a kaleidoscope of directions, which is probably true for most of us; however, dealing with death does not drop into the schedule every week.

A dear friend from our church died yesterday. Her life was a constant challenge to me. She was diagnosed with MS shortly after her marriage, and her husband left her. She has been in a wheel chair for years in a little apartment filled to the brim with penguins—she loved penguins! Whenever we would visit her, we came away with a smile. Dannah had a mission to make everyone smile.

While sorting through her things last Saturday, my heart was heavy. Life would soon be over for Dannah. In many ways, that was a relief. For the past six months, she’s been in and out of hospitals and on deaths door often, constantly in pain.

Is it by accident that I’m reading through Ecclesiaties right now? I think not! Chapter one says, One generation passeth away, and another generation cometh: but the earth abideth for ever. (4) Chapter two has these words of wisdom: For there is no more remembrance of the wise than of the fool forever, Since all that now is will be forgotten in the days to come. And how does a wise man die? As the fool! (16 NKJV) These verses capture the sense of Solomon’s struggle. Is there anything new under the sun? What is the meaning of life? By chapter three, he’s changed his direction of thinking: To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: And by the end of the book, he’s gained the right perspective: Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. (12:13)

But as I sit here today, looking back over my activities of the week, I have to wonder, or ponder, or think through that big question: What is the meaning of life? Does it lose meaning when it seems to be all drudgery, monotonous, or mundane?
I have found that it helps to think about my grandparents. They were farmers and gardeners, carpenters and housewives. They never traveled much or were “movers and shakers” in their communities. They lived, worked, raised kids and corn and cows, and died. That doesn’t sound very complimentary, but believe me, I’m glad they did live and raise kids, or I wouldn’t be here!

Life is good, even in the worst of circumstances. God is good, and ALWAYS does what is right. I just finished reading Job, and certainly don’t want to be a “miserable comforter,” but sometimes we just need to “stop it!” (You need to watch this little clip of Bob Newhart, and you’ll understand!

God sends us through the valleys and then gives us the strength to reach the mountain tops! Then we rejoice and enjoy the view…and slide back down! (Or Satan pushes us!) But that’s okay, because we are alive! We are living, and life is for the living! Enjoy it, make the most of it! Spend time with people, especially those under your roof! And know that quality time may look like a waste of time to you, like sitting and chatting with your two year old while he eats his lunch!

Make your living legacy count, so that when you’re at death’s door, you can look back down over the trail you’ve forged, and you can rest in the arms of Jesus with no regrets! Wow! That’s a tall order! How do you do that? …one step at a time!

This poem was written by Dannah in 1995.  She still had twenty more years of living to do!  Please, take the time to read it.  It’s long, but it’s a great perspective builder!

At The Road’s End

At the road’s end, there lies a peaceful rest:

A rest that is eternal and better than Earth’s best,

A place that’s sheltered and protected from unrest of any kind,

A place where pain and suffering you will never find,

A place that is cradled in the hollow of His hand,

A place where you can always hear the celestial angelic band.

A place where a medicine chest, upon the shelf so full,

Will never again cause havoc and treat the body so cruel.

Twisted, withered, and missing body parts will be restored,

And never again will I need my shiny transfer board.

The wheelchair that supports me and speeds me along the way,

Will no longer be part of me when I reach that happy day.

That place is surrounded by beauty and quietness,

where naked eyes and open ears will experience the bliss.

No crutches, nor braces, nor aids of any kind.

No surgery, no chemo, or such as the likes you’ll find.

There will be no death or loss of life,

There will be no stress or strife.

A place where true peace will reign among all men,

A place where prejudice and hate will n’er be round again,

A placed where the landscape is covered by pure white,

I can hardly wait to see it, t’will be an awesome sight.

A place that will be illuminated completely from within,

A place that will not be corrupted by death and sin,

A place that is both an ending and a beginning,

A place so perfect in all respects, it sets my mine to spinning.

A place where every race, gender, and nation

Will be reunited with each and every predeceased relation—

Oh, what a joyous celebration will be spread

Without a single worry, fear, or dread.

No need to look backwards over your shoulder,

No need to fret the morrow, for you shall never wax older.

Finally set free, no more irons, no more fetters,

No more hassles with bills, no more vile and hurtful letters.

Never another lonely tear from the corner of my eye shall fall,

As I open wide my eyes to see those dear ones, one and all.

As they approach me, surround me, and welcome me with glee,

I gaze into those loving eyes of the One who died for me,

And suddenly, and awesomely, I finally understand

Just why my grief and suffering was just a part of the Master’s plan:

For every teardrop, hurt, and sorry was tailored for that eternal gain.

And so as I travel those final few feet,

I draw my last breath as my Savior I meet.

Don’t be distraught, you’ll miss me I know.

Don’t be discouraged, instead let your faith show.

Be happy for me, I’m whole once more,

No wheelchair, no tethers, not one little sore,

Please excuse me, I much to explore!!!

Just wait till you get here, you’ll adore it I’m sure.

If you are wondering just where your prayers and thoughts to send,

I have forever established my residence in that place—AT THE ROAD’S END.

1/95 Dannah L Kegler

Please Push Me Off This Ladder, Lord

Would anyone in their right mind pray a prayer like that?  I don’t think so.

Yes, it’s been one year since my husband’s fall.  For those of you who have joined me since that time—and I am overwhelmed by that number—here’s a recap of the accident:

During the renovation of our church gym, my husband, Tom, was standing backwards on a ladder and reaching to pull a nail out from the ceiling. The ladder slipped, taking him sixteen feet to the cement floor below.  He crushed his heel and broke his hip.  Now, he sports all sorts of hardware: two rods, cabling and screws in his leg, and thirteen screws and a plate in his foot.

It’s been a long and, at times, weary road.  As we look back, it’s amazing to see what the Lord has done in the past year!  Perhaps the greatest blessing from it all is the love which was poured out on our lives: cards, gifts, meals, acts of kindness.  When a pastor can’t preach, who preaches?  Who turns out the lights, turns on the heat, cuts the grass?  Who visits the sick?  There are so many little jobs that a pastor often does—especially when he lives right next to the church—that are done without notice, until they are not done!  Watching our people rally behind him brought joy unspeakable!

Trials—we certainly do not ask for them, but it is good to understand that they do not happen without God’s attention.  They don’t hit us while He’s not looking, because He sees all!  And so, the oft-asked question is:

Why does God allow bad things to happen?

My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials,

knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.

But let patience have its perfect work,

that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. James 1: 2

It is true that we do not ask for trials, but we do ask for patience.  We do want to be “complete” or approved of God.

Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season,

if need be,

ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: That the trial of your faith,

 being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire,

might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ:

1 Peter 1:6,7

Peter knew, James knew, I would say the majority of the first century Christians knew that the trials which plagued their lives also empowered them to be the salt and light that they needed to be in a totally godless world.  (And if you are looking for inspiration, try reading Fox’s Book of Martyrs—just a buck on Amazon for a Kindle!)

Here we are, in another godless age, perhaps on the brink of facing the worst persecution Satan has yet to dish out; how will we face the trials?  Peter encourages us to allow them to grow our faith and ultimately bring praise and honor and glory to our Lord. That may be easier said than done, but I was recently reminded in a sermon, that with every trial a battle rages:  Satan wants to destroy us and our testimony, and God wants to grow us and make life more precious!

Tom now walks with a limp.  Pain is a frequent reminder of his year-old trial, but overall we praise God for allowing him to heal and to live!  To God be the glory!

WOW! Look What God Did for Me

102

Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think,
according to the power that worketh in us, Ephesians 3:20

I know many of you don’t really know me, and this article isn’t about me; however, in praising my God, I’d like to give you a glimpse of who I am and how my heart and mind works! We are on vacation, which hasn’t really happened in two years due to recitals and graduations and weddings. (My husband would remind me that we were away from home, and that’s a vacation; but I would remind him of the scheduled events and the harried pace we were keeping—not a vacation mode!) This vacation at Myrtle Beach was directed by our son and his wife’s residence in Columbia, SC. After their departure from PA in July, mama-bear was ready to see her baby cub!

As usual, I did the preliminary hunting for a place and was pleasantly surprised at the prices and selection having never been here before. Sixty miles of beach–WOW! So, we booked a place and for the first time since our honeymoon, dear hubby and I are alone for FIVE nights! And although we think of our children and grandchildren often—thinking about how much they would love this—Tom still has me to squeal with delight and act like a kid! I’m loving life!

Our room was very nice. It had a few issues, but it was clean and comfortable, and the people were wonderful; however, when our TV died and the DVD player didn’t work, we were a bit disappointed. We wouldn’t normally watch a lot of TV, but it has rained for three days straight! When the technician couldn’t get the new DVD player to work, a call came from the desk: Sorry for the inconvenience; would we rather a discount and no TV, or an upgrade? We took the upgrade, and I’m now sitting in a beautiful room with full length windows on two sides of the living room, a balcony off the bedroom, and another balcony off the dining area overlooking the pool, whirlpool, and lazy river!

Now unto Him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think!!!

I just want to praise our awesome God for turning a very minor inconvenience into a beautiful blessing! Isn’t it often the case: The trials, albeit small, start stacking up, and like the “little foxes that spoil the vines” (Song of Solomon 2:15), they slowly try to steal our joy. The temptation is to pout and complain. Why all the rain, God? You could make the sun shine? We haven’t seen the sunrise yet, Lord! You know how much we love to enjoy the ocean! We serve You faithfully all year long—two years long! Who ever heard of three straight days of rain in South Carolina? Don’t we deserve sunshine?
The answer is, “NO!” We don’t deserve anything but hell! That may sound a bit harsh, but it is true. We get so focused on our little piece of the world, that we forget how big and awesome and perfect and all-knowing and all-loving our God is. He knows just what we need: three (actually, it looks like it may be four!) days of rain! Is He testing our patience? Probably. Does He want to see how we’ll react? He already knows! He wants us to see how we will react!!! I’d like to say that we haven’t been disappointed, but that wouldn’t be true. Spoiled brats!  I just want to praise Him for His PERFECT way!

As for God, his way is perfect; the word of the LORD is tried:
he is a buckler to all them that trust in him.
God is my strength and power: and he maketh my way perfect.
2 Samuel 22:31,33