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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God’s Timing

potiphars_wife-250w-tnJoseph is my favorite Bible character and is certainly a type of Christ. There is no record given in the Bible of any wrongdoing on his part, but he did do a lot of good. For example:

  • He was an obedient child, walking nearly sixty miles as a seventeen-year-old boy when his father told him to check on his brothers. (Just a side, I wonder about Jacob’s judgment. Certainly, he saw the envy and jealousy his older sons felt toward Joseph! Perhaps he trusted them more than he should have—a lesson within a lesson for us!)
  • God favored him with prophetic dreams. Twice, God predicts his future through dreams. Again, it may not have been wise to share those dreams with his brothers and father, but the fact that he did reveals a trusting heart.
  • As a slave in a foreign land, he does his work well, and God blesses even the heathen nobleman, Potiphar, because of Joseph.
  • He bears the flirtations of a married woman, never accusing her to anyone or setting a trap to malign her character, but flees when she seeks to trap him!
  • Now in prison, Joseph once again faithfully does what he is told to do—the work of another! He is not bitter with his God but proclaims Him when pharaoh’s butler and baker come with their dreams.

But think on me when it shall be well with thee, and shew kindness,

I pray thee, unto me, and make mention of me unto Pharaoh, and bring me out of this house:

For indeed I was stolen away out of the land of the Hebrews:

and here also have I done nothing that they should put me into the dungeon.

Genesis 40:14,15

However, the butler did not think upon Joseph or, if he did, he kept silent. I can understand his plight. He had offended pharaoh–so much so, that he was thrown into prison. I’m sure he was treading lightly. But two years later, hi confession tells us that he had forgotten Joseph.

Then spake the chief butler unto Pharaoh, saying, I do remember my faults this day. Genesis 41:9

Have you ever felt forgotten? Does it feel as though your heavenly Father isn’t listening or paying attention? Ten years ago in March, Steam Valley Bible Church’s pastor resigned after 35 years of faithful service. In May, we moved into the area, but it wasn’t until November that we heard about the church’s need of a pastor. Within a few short weeks, we were called to this ministry. Through that time of wandering, we claimed this verse:

And Moses said unto the people, Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the LORD, which he will shew to you to day. Exodus 14:13

 It seemed like forever as we worked in a factory and lived in my uncle’s cabin, waiting to hear God’s next marching orders, but when it came it came quickly!

I often wonder why we couldn’t have skipped the summer and just went straight into this ministry! I still don’t know but God does! Yes, I can see reasons why the waiting was good. God certainly sharpened our entire family. It was a very difficult time, but God was directing the whole thing! The question seems to boil down to this: can I trust God to do what is best?

This weekend our ladies had a retreat, and the theme was The God of the Impossible. We studied the attributes of God. While putting together the devotional booklet, I came across a list of God’s attributes which included a synopsis of each attribute and proof texts. Here is the information about God’s attribute of goodness:

One of the most intrinsic attributes of God is His goodness. God is not good because it is attractive for Him to be so, nor does He follow after some sort of standard for goodness. God is actually so good that He is the source of goodness; He alone is the rule and measure of what we truly know to be good. To the Christian, the goodness of the Lord is a security. The Christian knows well that he has been bathed in the death and resurrection of Christ and now stands wholly righteous before God; and this being so, he also recognizes all that God will work in his life will be for his own good — for a good God would never work circumstances to the peril of the righteous. Romans 8:28 tells that “God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” This is the believer’s rest and assurance. But not so for the unbeliever: the goodness of God demands all circumstances to work together for the bad of those rebellious and hateful towards God. God’s goodness will manifest itself in a wrathful justice against those who are defiled of holiness, for True goodness cannot abide evil.

PROOF TEXTS:

  • Exodus 34:6-7 — The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, by no means clearing the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children and the children’s children to the third and the fourth generation.
  • Psalm 25:8 — Good and upright is the Lord.
  • James 1:17 — Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.

(www.blueletterbible.org/faq/attributes.cfm)

Somewhere along the way, Joseph had learned this truth and it served him well. It will serve us well too, especially when the way is dark and dreary with no end in sight! God IS good, His timing is perfect, and all the He is doing is for my good. Can you believe it?

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.”

God’s Footprint

ID-100144966 (1).jpgWe often use the word “footprint” to describe the area over which something occurs or is effective, e.g. the area where a signal from a communications satellite can be received.  So, how big is God’s footprint?  Some folks just believe that He started this whole ordeal called “life on planet earth” and then went on His way.  If so, then does God have any real effect on my life? I’m so thankful for the godly influences I have had right from the start.  One of my earliest song memories is this:

God sees the little sparrow fall, it meets His tender view;

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

He loves me too, He loves me too, I know He loves me too.

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

And that song is based on scripture, which makes it a doctrinally sound little ditty!

Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing?

and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father. Matthew 10:29

That is so amazing! How many sparrows fall to the ground in just one day? He sees them all, and God sees me.  He knows when I need a good price on peanut butter.  He sends His angels ahead of me when I’m driving. (My daughter just drove three hours alone to take photos of a wedding, and had stopped at a rest area for just a moment.  Further down the road, a car was pulled over and had just hit a deer. Her comment, that it could have been her if she had not stopped, is exactly right!)

And if songs and live testimonies aren’t enough, look at Proverbs 16:

  • The preparations of the heart in man,
  • and the answer of the tongue, is from the LORD. (v. 1)
  • A man’s heart deviseth his way: but the LORD directeth his steps. (v. 9)
  • he lot is cast into the lap; but the whole disposing thereof is of the LORD. (v. 33)

Of course, there are dozens of verses which say the same thing, but here are just four examples in one Proverb!

  How big is God’s footprint in your life?

Do you allow Him to affect every part? Do you ask Him to direct your steps? Guard your heart? Guide your words? Some may say that’s a crutch, but I believe it’s the smartest thing we can do as children of God.  After all, if your toddler was heading for the road, wouldn’t you stop him? You see the danger that he doesn’t see, and you gladly intervene even though he doesn’t ask you to! Oh, how big our God is! He is our infinitely all-powerful, all-knowing, all-loving, good and gracious heavenly Father; He sees the beginning and end of YOUR life, and every step in between! Why would anyone ever choose to have his or her own way?

Commit thy works unto the LORD, and thy thoughts shall be established. Proverb 16:3

 Thus saith the LORD, The heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool:

where is the house that ye build unto me? and where is the place of my rest? 

Isaiah 66:1

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When will l learn?

“Do it now, don’t delay,

Don’t put it for another day.IMG_7886

Go ahead begin it, right this very minute,

You better DO IT NOW!!”

For you wonderfully blessed people who grew up with Patch the Pirate singing words of wisdom in the background, you will recognize that little ditty.  So much truth!!  Are you a procrastinator? Some of the best advice I ever received was this:

If it takes less than two minutes to do, do it now!

BECAUSE, if you do then…

  • You don’t have to use up precious brain power to remember to do it later
  • It’s done!
  • You won’t have to suffer the possible consequences of putting it off until later.

As you can see by the photo, my procrastination involved my bird feeders. I know a lot of bird feeders (people :)) stop feeding the little fellas once spring is here. Once the flowers appear and the snow is gone, there’s food for them to eat.  But spring is also the time when a lot of migrating birds pass through.  It’s the season when I have the most variety of birds, so I choose to bring my feeders in at night; and for the past few weeks, I’ve been telling myself to do just that!  Facebook even reminded me by showing the same scenario two years ago almost to the date!  Even last night’s conversation was a reminder:

“Do you really have a lot of bears in this area?” asked Ivy.

“Oh, yes.  I don’t always see them, but I see the results of their prowling!”

Now, I’m out a feeder. What is the cost of your procrastination? You can get a finch feeder for under $10, and believe me, I get the cheapest one I can find! But what if my procrastination is of a more serious sort: I keep putting off building the habit of daily Bible reading. I keep meaning to build the habit of prayer, but there are so many demands on my time.  I would really like to be faithful to church, but… I know I shouldn’t use that language, but the kids drive me to it! I know I should discipline my children, but I’m so tired.

What does it cost us when procrastination invades our spiritual walk? God is eternal and we are as well, but there will be a day when this life is over. DONE! Then, as I stand before my Lord and Savior, all my lame excuses will crumble into meaningless dust.

Is procrastination keeping you from becoming the wife, mother, sister, daughter, child of God that you long to be? What can you do about it? One thing…

Once again, writing this post has been a blessing to my heart!  When I searched for the phrase “one thing,” seventeen verses came up.  Some were unrelated, but look at the following sweet nuggets:

And, behold, this day I am going the way of all the earth: and ye know in all your hearts and in all your souls, that not one thing hath failed of all the good things which the LORD your God spake concerning you; all are come to pass unto you, and not one thing hath failed thereof. Joshua 23:14

One thing have I desired of the LORD, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to enquire in his temple. Psalm 27:4

Then Jesus beholding him loved him, and said unto him, One thing thou lackest: go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, take up the cross, and follow me. Mark 10:21

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. Philippians 3:13,14

But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. 2Peter 3:8

There’s so many blessing in these verses, but we’re trying to focus on fixing our procrastination problem.  Philippians 3:13,14 are the verses that I go to for help. Choose that one area, habit, character trait that you really need to fix.  One thing!  Make it a priority! Do it NOW! Ask for the Lord’s help.  Now, beware: if your problem is impatience, He may send you a “patience-building” exercise which may seem like the opposite of what you think you need! But remember, God is the Master builder.Believe me, I am struggling myself with some of God’s learning building-blocks, but, once again, I fall back on His Word which reminds me that His way is perfect.  Psalm 18:30

And then, be encouraged by the other verses: Joshua reminds us that God keeps everyIMG_7887 one of his promises. David tells us that his “one thing” was to be in God’s house (a worthy goal!); Jesus puts his finger right on the pulse of the rich young ruler and said, “Your ‘one thing’ which stands in the way of truly worshipping me, is your money.” Paul urges us to press on, and Peter gives us an eternal perspective!

Look at your schedule. How did you spend your time? Did “filthy lucre” come in the way of worship? Did self precede family? Did perfection trump precious moments with a child?  Consider the cost of procrastination!

So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom. Psalm 90:12

Proverbs 31:28

Losing Faith

bad-ol-putty-tad-creditsAs I type in this title, I cringe. Why would we ever lose faith in our awesome heavenly Father? He has done so much for us. But if I speak the truth in my heart, I have to admit that I have lost faith, even this week.  We want to sugarcoat it by calling our faithlessness confusion or disappointment, but sadly, it still boils down to a loss of faith. And what does it look like? Do these examples sound familiar:

We pray for the Lord to do something. We pray A LOT and for a long time and we feel really good about it, but the prayer goes unanswered, and we lose faith.  Is God listening?  Why would He not answer our prayers?  We reason that it’s not a selfish prayer; in fact, it’s a prayer for salvation or holiness in the life of someone we love, but it goes unanswered, and we doubt God: lost faith.

We choose to be submissive in a difficult area with our husbands, knowing that our actions will improve our relationship, but instead of seeing a more understanding mate, he’s more difficult than ever, and we lose faith.  We pour ourselves into our children and they make a decision like moving to South Dakota, oops! They make a decision which is not in our plans, and we wonder: God, are You there?

Confession time: As you can see, I’m still dealing with having my children and grandchildren halfway across the country! I don’t like it, but does that mean it is not God’s will? The real problem is that my hopes and dreams died. My son was supposed to be our assistant pastor (I guess we should have told him! :)) and take over our ministry while we sailed off into the sunset!  My grandchildren were supposed to grow up serving the Lord with their cousins AND live close to grandpa and grandma—that was my plan, but it wasn’t God’s plan.

Do I see what God sees?

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts. Isaiah 55:8,9

The answer is a very resounding NO!! God knows everything, sees everything, plans everything for our good and His glory… even when it hurts.

We plan, we work, we pray, but it ALL needs to rest on God’s plan, God’s power, and God’s answers.

And why does Satan fight us on the battlefield of faith?  Perhaps Matthew 25:21 will shed some light:

His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.

We all want to hear, “Well done,” from our Master, or we should; and it is our faith, which is the catalyst, to make that happen. So, here’s a few things that I have learned to battle faithlessness:

  1. Know your enemy: Our enemy is tenaciously devious! He will stop at nothing to stop your work for God! Doubts (another word for faithlessness) weaken our ministries, homes, and testimonies, and Satan knows that! Be on guard, and…
  2. Know your weapon: I’m so glad that James 4:7 Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you is in the Bible. AWESOME! Do you see what this verse is saying? We have the only weapon to fight against our enemy, and it works! That’s why your pastor, Sunday school teacher, mentor, etc. press your to memorize Bible verses. they are your arsenal against the enemy. How big IS your arsenal? Quote the Word, sing His praises, and Satan WILL flee!
  3. Know your flesh: We all have weaknesses and Satan know each one, perhaps even better than we know ourselves! That’s because we are good at NOT speaking the truth in our hearts. Right now, I’m not looking at photo albums because my heart is raw, and I know it will take me down a path that is not helpful! Be on guard and remember that we are in a battle. Take your sword, soldier, and keep the faith!  You are NOT a wimp–you became a warrior the moment Jesus Christ entered your heart!  The battle’s on: Go! Fight! WIN! In Jesus’ name!

He that walketh uprightly, and worketh righteousness, and speaketh the truth in his heart. Psalm 15:2

 

Not Me!

easter5.jpg (344×221)Peter answered and said unto him, Though all men shall be offended because of thee, yet will I never be offended. Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, That this night, before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice. Peter said unto him, Though I should die with thee, yet will I not deny thee. Likewise also said all the disciples. Matthew 26: 33-35

Are you ever as astonished as Peter was? Does it shock you how quickly you can deny Jesus?

Never!  That’s what Peter was saying.  Can you see the shock on his face? “I don’t believe it. Lord, you are wrong!  I would never do that!”

Peter trusted in himself. He thought he knew himself better than Jesus knew him.

Does your sin catch you by surprise? Have you been in Peter’s place?  Maybe you didn’t deny that you knew Jesus, but you were certainly not proclaiming Him from the rooftops either. Or perhaps, you did something that you never thought you would do.

When do I deny Jesus? When I argue with His will.  When I complain about my circumstances. When I crumble like dried out dirt beneath the wheel of peer pressure. Oh yes, peer pressure isn’t just a teen thing!

But I would never… You fill in the blank, and then take a moment on this holy day—the day Jesus instituted a new covenant with his disciples–to examine yourself honestly. Nothing makes the day go better, nothing helps your walk with Jesus, nothing feels so good as a heart scrubbed clean by the Word of God!. Speak the truth in your heart, and when you do fall, know that Jesus already knew that you would and is the first to offer a hand to help you up again!

Oh, to walk worthy of our Lord!

Only to be what He wants me to be,
Every moment of every day,
Yielded completely to Jesus alone
Every step of this pilgrim way.
Just to be clay in the Potter’s hands,
Ready to do what His will demands
Only to be what He wants me to be,
Every moment of every day,

Norman J. Clayton

Perhaps you would enjoy reading Peter’s story: I Know Not the Man