Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Giants

The scouts went out and found a land replete with all that had been told to them. This was the Promised Land. After their expedition, they carried a sample of the luscious fruit growing there back to those in charge.

However, in the telling of their story, the appeal of the fruit was overshadowed by tales of giants and their strength.

 



“We seemed like grasshoppers in our own eyes, and we looked the same to them” (Numbers 13:33), they said and spread the news among their people causing a rebellion.

Moses and Aaron had to deal with a real mess. Of the twelve scouts sent into the Promised Land, only Joshua and Caleb stood to recommend the Israelites should proceed.

In the end, Israel would take the land but not with the ones who grumbled against God that day. Years later, their children inherited God’s promise.

As familiar as this story is to so many of us, we still forget it when the metaphorical giants appear. We’ve sensed God’s leading, and yet all we can see in our path are the huge obstacles hovering over us like behemoth bullies. We feel like, well . . . grasshoppers. About to be squished.

We make our excuses. Our really good excuses. We take a step back. Then another. The fear takes control, and in time we’ve convinced ourselves it’s better to stay where we are than take the risk.

All the time, God is ready and waiting to walk forward with us.

The prophet Elisha found himself surrounded by the horses and chariots of the king of Aram. Elisha’s servant expressed his dismay, “What shall we do?” he asked.

“’Don’t be afraid,’ the prophet answered. ‘Those who are with us are more than those who are with them’” (2Kings 6:16).

Elisha prayed God would open the servant’s eyes. “Then the Lord opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.”

God is bigger than any bullies we can see. “Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.”

So, if we’re feeling like grasshoppers, let’s pray God would open our eyes to see His presence overshadowing any obstacle in our path. We are NOT grasshoppers. Let’s walk forward into God’s promise repeating to ourselves that God is more. God is bigger.

God. Is. With. Us. 



 

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Staying on the ship


In recent days, I’ve been troubled about two high profile people in ministry who have now announced they are no longer Christians.

My brain just cannot wrap itself around those declarations.
 
 
I keep thinking of Peter’s words, “Master, to whom would we go? You have the words of real life, eternal life. We’ve already committed ourselves, confident that you are the Holy One of God” (John 6:68-69 The Message).

Early in my life, I drifted to a life apart from God and his principles. I am still living the consequences of the train wreck that ensued. After roaming down those dark roads, I know from experience there is nowhere else to go and no one else to whom we can turn. C.S. Lewis once wrote that God stoops to conquer. He did with me. Only after I had exhausted other avenues did I return to Him. Yet, despite those circumstances, God received me. He reached down to where I was with love, grace, and tremendous mercy.

In our time, it may be possible to become immersed in the trappings of Christian culture and lose touch with the person of Jesus Christ.  We can begin to focus on, among other things, the business of church, social media, the hypocrisy of others (and we all have streaks of it) and simply forget the main point our relationship with Jesus. Sometimes people in ministry can rise to platforms for which they are not prepared. Their level of influence can outstrip their spirituality. That scenario is a setup for a downward spiral.

I also know that when life grows difficult, people may feel abandoned by God. I don’t know if that was the case with the two I referenced earlier, but I know it is true for others because I’ve observed it myself.

As Jerry and I were discussing this, he offered what I thought was a profound insight.  He reminded me that on the Adriatic Sea, after many days of being battered by a storm, sailors traveling with the Apostle Paul intended to board lifeboats and flee. They wanted to avoid being dashed against rocks. Paul said this to those in charge. “Unless these men stay with the ship, you cannot be saved.” So the sailors were directed to cut the lifeboats and stay. And so they were saved.

“You have to stay on the ship,” Jerry said. When life grows stormy, sometimes we have to cut what appears to be other lifeboats. We have to stay on the ship despite the storm and trust the only One who can truly save us. It’s what Peter said, “We’ve already committed ourselves . . . “ All those other options are detours and  will ultimately lead to destruction.

I will continue to be troubled over those who choose to jump ship but I believe even when they do, God is at work to bring them back.  

So friends, if life is hard right now, don’t jump ship. Stay with the only One who can take us safely to port.

Stay with Jesus.

 

 

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

If you're in the eye of the storm

It's going to be a long week here in the Southeast as Hurricane Dorian churns up the coast. The Bahamas have already seen massive destruction. As we watch and wait I remember this post I wrote a few years back when Matthew passed through. As so many are facing the eye of the storm this week, our prayers go up and we do look to the One who is our hope.

I left a conference in Atlanta where I was volunteering and found because of Hurricane Matthew, many evacuees from the coast were making their way to where the conference was held to stay with family and friends until the storm passed. Evidently, because of this, every Atlanta thoroughfare was jammed to the max.

Despite dire predictions of wind speeds and storm surge, so many that evening were waiting, watching, and hoping  that they’d have a home after the storm passed. People were as we heard often “hoping for the best but preparing for the worst.”
 
The mother of a woman I worked with was in an intensive care unit in Florida where the storm was about to hit. All the doctors and nurses there were under 72-hour lock down. Repeatedly, my friend’s flights to Florida had been cancelled, but she still hoped to get a flight out the next morning to be with her mother.
While volunteering at the registration desk, a  pastor and his wife approached.  ”Could we transfer our tickets to next year? The storm is veering toward the area where we pastor a church and we feel we need to return,” they said, their concern and compassion spilling out. I felt for them driving so far having just arrived the day before.

Another family I know evacuated to the north, but their home sits on a coastal marsh. Any amount of storm surge could destroy everything they owned. This family had already suffered the loss of their only son a few years back. 

My heart broke as I prayed for these folks.

I inched along in the traffic. It was clear I was going to have an extraordinarily long trip home. I turned on the radio and “In the Eye of the Storm” played. Click HERE to listen.


I couldn’t imagine a more appropriate song for those who had left everything and were now stuck on the interstate wondering what the outcome might be. It’s as if the words were written just for them. Now I cried as I prayed.

I wondered about the person who wrote “In the Eye of the Storm.” How could he write such words if he hadn’t experienced loss? When I returned home, I did a little research.


The author, Ryan Stevenson, was a paramedic for eight years, lost his mom early in life, and he and his wife suffered the miscarriage of twin daughters. He said this in a New Release Today interview, “One of the things I've seen as a paramedic is that we all have true, real struggles, ugly parts of our lives that we are dealing with and failures and defeats. In the middle of that, when we feel our sails are ripped out in the battles and wars we are going through, we can feel like we float out to sea where the Lord isn't paying attention to us and He's overlooked us. I want this song to say no to that. His promise to us is that He is the anchor of our being, and He is our only hope.”


Ryan had written the song just as a personal testimony thinking it would never see air play, but God has used it over and over to bring encouragement to those going through hard times. And I’m sure Hurricane Matthew was no exception.


So now as I write, many are digging out. Some have found trees or wind have destroyed their homes or if they’re still standing, water has flooded them. Our prayers go out to those driven from their homes because of the terrible flooding. Sadly, many lives have been lost during the lashing of this storm. So even after the storm passes, there’s so much grief and heartache still to deal with, but we remember that last thing Ryan said: “His promise to us is that He is the anchor of our being, and He is our only hope.”


That works when dealing with the effects of a storm named Matthew or one by any other name, too.
God is a safe place to hide,
    ready to help when we need him.
We stand fearless at the cliff-edge of doom,
    courageous in sea storm and earthquake,
Before the rush and roar of oceans,
    the tremors that shift mountains (Psalm 46:1-3 The Message).

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

When you're looking for remarkably





For some years, I have been teetering on the brink of a medical diagnosis I don’t wantnot the worst thing a person can have but not any walk in the park either. The numbers hovered at the last point on the chart before medications and other interventions would be necessary.

The tests are run every two years so I prepared myself as I waited for results this year. There wouldn’t be any reason to expect anything other than the diagnosis I dreaded. Or so I thought.

When I logged on my patient portal, I steadied myself as I read the results. I came to the sentence. “…remarkably stable …”

I sat back in my chair. I loved the doctor expressed his or her amazement that my status remained unchanged. It hadn’t improved, but it had not worsened over a period of two years.

I let those words “remarkably stable” settle into my spirit.

In this health issue, I acquiesced to the idea that a situation in motion tends to stay in motionthat given time and natural progression, I would receive the diagnosis. In my human assessment, I forgot to factor in God.

And He is the biggest factor.

So here I am amazed and remarkably stable. Well, at least in this circumstance. Big smile.

Friend, if you face a situation, which seems to be escalating and you have accepted that it will only worsen, don’t forget the God factor.

Recently, we ran into a police officer who gave a testimony about a police dog who was diagnosed with terminal cancer and expected to live only a few weeks. He showed us an x-ray from a year ago depicting the bones disintegrating and played a video of the dog limping. They prayed. Then he brought up a video made this week of the dog streaking around the yard and playing. Expected to live just weeks twelve months ago, he is now thriving. “God overrides the natural,” the police officer said.

Yes, God does. Remarkably so.

So, let’s step back, see our situation with fresh eyes, and remember how great our God truly is.

“Our Lord is great, with limitless strength; we’ll never comprehend what he knows and does” (Psalm 147:5).

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

At the Anaiah Press Blog today with Sweet Tea and Sweet Love


"We love because He first loved us" (I John 4:19).
 
I took a sip of my lukewarm unsweetened tea. Very different in Massachusetts from the cold sweet tea I loved so much back where we were from in Georgia.

I scanned the group gathered to eat lunchmy husband, Jerry, our eight-year-old Aaron, six-year-old Bethany, and a host of new people we were just getting to know. My husband, a pastor, and I, a worship leader, were here to help lead services at a family camp just north of Boston.

“When does school start for your children?” our new friend, Elizabeth, asked. She had been the person who initially contacted us about coming to the camp.

“We start next week after we return home.” I’d been planning and pulling together resources for our second year of home school before we’d left to come to Massachusetts. Our daughter would be joining her brother for the first time as a home schooler after going to kindergarten in a traditional school setting.
 
 A little voice said, “Mama, I want a desk  like Aaron’s.” It was Bethany... (Read more at the Anaiah Press site)
 
 

 

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

When you don't see a harvest



 
Once more, we tried to have a garden this year.

Neither Jerry nor I are in possession of what some call a green thumb.

He doesn’t care.

I do. I want a green thumb. I plant. I water. I go back year after year and try. It’s in my blood. My parents, grandparents and other ancestors could grow things. I should be able to do it. But alas, year after year I face disaster--drought, worms, critters, soil  so hard it takes a jack hammer to break up.

This year, I told myself, was going to be different. We’d go small―just an 8 x 8 raised bed. We’d be really focused and that was sure to bring a return. We bought the landscape timbers and soil. Who knew dirt could be so expensive? Jerry, God bless him, built the bed. After the soil was mixed, we sank squash, cucumbers, tomatoes, okra, and a few zinnias into the ground. Trying to be proactive because I knew we had rabbits, as the plants began to grow, I covered them in netting. And I watered. When temps hit the nineties in late May, I had a very inflated water bill to show for it.

Then I noticed just as the plants bloomed, the blossoms disappeared. I bought poles and more net, and made a fence all around the bed. But three things told me I had a bigger problem than rabbits. The net fence was pushed over, the tomatoes were chomped, and Lucy was going crazy barking in the middle of the night, which she never does. Jerry got up to check on her one night, let her out in the back yard, and she chased a four point buck back there who  jumped the wooden fence around our yard like it was nothing.

We have harvested a few tomatoes, one zucchini squash, and about six yellow ones. All for the low, low price of $350.

 
 Mercy.

All this reminds me of a few ministry experiences we’ve had. We planted, we watered, we tended, and after a very expensive and lengthy investment, the return was not what we hoped. So frustrating.

I guess we think if we follow the plan, do what we’re supposed to do, there’s going to be a guaranteed return. There’s not.

The return is up to God.

As my husband is fond of saying, “We’re in sales, not in management.”

We have to remember, people have choices, and also, whenever we’re investing in the kingdom, the enemy is going to wage war against that work. He will target the Achilles heel and is relentless in his onslaught. Even though we may engage in spiritual warfare through prayer, sometimes there will still be disappointments.

But here’s the thing. We cannot give up hope. We have to keep planting, and tending, and watering. Because who knows what one of those seeds might turn out to be. A dry good salesman once agreed to teach a Sunday school class of teenage boys. Burdened for one of his students, he went to visit him at his place of work where he sold shoes. There in the back of a shoe store, the young D. L. Moody gave his life to Christ. It is said D. L. Moody was used by God to win more than a million souls to Christ.

But the story goes on. Here’s how one writer put it, “Through his ministry, Moody was responsible for a London pastor named F. B. Meyer coming to faith. Meyer was responsible for J. Wilbur Chapman coming to faith, and Chapman influenced Billy Sunday, another prominent evangelist of the 20th century. Billy Sunday was integral in a man named Mordecai Ham coming to faith. And Mordecai Ham was the preacher responsible for leading . . . Billy Graham to Christ.”

You may right now be planting a seed, which could turn out to be a D.L. Moody. So don’t give up, friend. Do your part and leave the results to God. Only He knows what they will be.

As for me, I’ve already started thinking about next year and how I’m going to deal with my gardening issues. I will not be defeated.

Is it wrong to hope someone else in the neighborhood gets the gardening bug, too, and maybe gives the wildlife another feeding area?
 

 
 

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

In the wake of El Paso and Dayton



 

My phone buzzed Saturday night, as did many of yours. I picked it up and read the news. My heart sank and that all too familiar sick feeling started in my stomach like seasickness as waves crash hard. I hated to tell Jerry, but I did. 

“Another shooting,” I said. “In El Paso. Looks like many casualties.”

Of course, in only hours the tragedy in Dayton unfolded. For a flickering moment, the fight or flight kicks in.  What to do, where to go in the wake of these events?

Beth Moore, a Bible teacher I respect so much, has been taking a bit of a Twitter break. Sometimes our souls need a rest from the fray. But I knew she would weigh in on this. I was right.

She tweeted yesterday morning, “It is in this evil world we must stand strong. It is in this madness we must think soundly. It’s amid these dangers our hearts must neither melt nor harden. It’s here and now we who follow Jesus must be brave and bold in love and truth, defending the defenseless and not the indefensible.”

Her words “neither melt nor harden” bore into me. That’s it, isn’t it? The horror of it all threatens to either melt us or harden us, but neither of those is an option. Somehow, we must find a way to live in these times without growing callous to atrocities or be destroyed by them. The only way to do that is by clinging to Jesus and His word.

The Psalmist realized it when he wrote, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging “( Psalm 46:1 -3).

He is our refuge. He is our strength. In the wake of any tragedy.  

This week Christianity Today published a piece by Taylor Schumann, a shooting survivor. She offers powerful advice on how to pray for those affected by these tragedies HERE.
 
Not melting.

Not becoming hard.

Joining with you in prayer, friends.

 

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

If you're wondering if the prayers matter and what we found in the sawdust

Jerry recently spent a week preaching at another campmeeting and witnessed a wonderful work of God while there. I visited for a day and was reminded of a story from when our kids were little. I’m hoping some mom who has prayed long will find encouragement from it.


I found the sawdust trail alive and well in a campmeeting in North Georgia when my husband was asked to preach there when our kids were little. Begun in the mid-nineteenth century, it was virtually unchanged from that time with the exception of a few modern kitchen appliances in the tents (small cottages) and electric lights. I was made aware by family members that my father, grandmother, and great-grandmother attended this campmeeting as children. For this reason, as we began our experience, I felt I was claiming something that was mine in some way.

The second year there, we were especially excited. We knew what a wonderful time we had the year before spending a week sleeping between little stalls in wooden tents where you could see through the cracks in the planks. Maybe that doesn’t sound like fun, but it was. My nine-year-old son came especially equipped for major water gun battles but the second night of camp he came home angry. 

Into this Eden had crept a snake. He had an altercation with two fellows a little older than him, which involved name-calling and physical pain. My son was home schooled so in some ways he hadn’t experienced this level of rejection before.

Jerry told him sometimes God allows our feelings to be hurt so we’ll pray for the other person. Still, my son’s plans seemed to be smashed because of this incident and he was destined to days of moping around the tent and playing alone.
 
But God was at work.
 


 Wednesday night those same two boys who acted out earlier made their way to the altar after an invitation for salvation. My son was sitting beside me and when he saw them at the altar, he looked up at me with great sincerity and said, “Mama, I prayed they would get saved.” A tear rolled down my cheek as my husband made the invitation for those who would rededicate their lives to Christ, and my son joined the others at the altar. 

The next days were filled with such joy, as these young fellows became frequent visitors at our tent. It was wonderful to see the change God wrought in my own son, as well.
 
The night we returned home, I had a dream in which I saw my father’s mother, and she was in a kitchen preparing food. In the dream, I looked at my children who were standing beside me and said, “See your great-grandmother has prepared this wonderful meal for you.”

My devotional reading for the next morning just happened to be, “one generation will commend you works to another; they will tell of your mighty acts.” Psalm 145:4
 
I sensed God saying through the dream and the scripture that in the sawdust of that campmeeting my children discovered a treasure, a treasure left there through the prayers of a great- grandmother they had never known. I sensed God’s wonderful work as I realized she prepared spiritual food for my children through her prayers, which have nourished their souls and my soul, that indeed one generation was commending the mighty acts of God to the next generation. 

Many of you women who are mothers have long prayed for your children and grandchildren. There may be those of you who are wondering if God is hearing because of the circumstances your precious loved ones are in. I pray God would give you a new perspective and in the middle of those difficult situations you would hear God speaking in a fresh way―that you would experience a peace that passes all understanding as you give those situations over to him. In ways we can’t imagine God is bringing about the answers to our prayers not only in this generation but also in the ones to come. 

Could I offer this prayer? Dear Lord, we thank you for your watchful eye over our loved ones, that because you “neither slumber or sleep” we can rest knowing the ones we care for are in your hands. I pray for that wayward child or grandchild that you would bring a harvest in their lives from the seeds sown into their souls by praying mothers, and grandmothers. We remember from your word, “Those that go out weeping carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with them" (Psalm 126:6). In Jesus name. Amen.

May we all leave a legacy of prayer that will stand through any earthly circumstance. I pray those who follow us would indeed find themselves standing in a Godly heritage because of mothers who prayed.

 
Available HERE.
 
 

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Holding on to hope




Something remarkable happened in the last few days.

I was in a ministry situation that appeared would be a big disappointment. But as God calls us to be faithful, those of us in that circumstance pressed forward and continued with what we came to do.

Things began happening. Amazing things. Marvelous things.

I left with such a strong sense of God’s saving power and presence.

It reminded me of this story Terry Tekyl tells in his book, Most Wanted. “I held a New Year’s Eve service in my small country church. . . my first pastorate. With a steady drizzle falling and temperatures hovering just above the freezing mark. . . it was a night to stay home. My wife, my three kids, my sister-in-law, and I were the only ones in the tiny chapel. I decided to give a short message anyway, however, and when I was finished, my sister-in-law came to the altar. She said she wanted to give her life to Jesus to start the new year off right.”

The scripture that precedes Tekyl’s story is this, “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see” (Hebrews 11:1).

When we pray long and see no results, when we labor day after day, year after year, and the fruit appears nil, when we face closed door after closed door, that is the time to be diligent in what God has called us to do. Because in our acting and hoping, we express our faith.

I believe the events of the past days will help me reframe future circumstances. In a bleak situation, instead of thinking, “Oh, no. This is going to be awful.” I can now think, “Oh, wow, I wonder what God is going to do.” As the prophet Isaiah wrote, He wants to gives us “beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.”

So friend, if you’re where I was, scanning the situation and wondering--press on and be encouraged. Who knows what the Lord may do in His perfect time?
 

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

When they're far away and what she said

My sister handed me an envelope. “Patsy gave these to me. She found them while going through old photographs.”

Our friend Patsy’s mom and ours were friends and coworkers when young. I opened the envelope and found a picture of my mom I’d never seen, which had to have been taken during the mid 1940’s judging from her age.

Interesting that after more than seventy years, the picture came to me at this particular time.

Here's why. Someone I love is working in London for a month. It’s an opportunity of a lifetime with all expenses paid. Such a blessing!

Yet, may I admit in a very unsophisticated way that it’s a bit challenging when people I care for are on another continent.

My mother always liked to keep the people she loved close, too, so when Jerry and I announced we were embarking on a Wesley studies tour in England, she was none too happy. After a few days of wrestling with the idea, she called me. “I guess I’m going to have to trust God with you.”

What she said.

Yes, I guess I’m going to have to trust God for my traveler.

Why does it seem I’m surrounded by people with huge adventuresome spirits. My writer friend Darrell Huckaby has a daughter they nicknamed, “Danger.” I understand that. It could apply to many I know starting first with Jerry, that plane flying, quarterback sacking, swamp wading hunter- gatherer I married.

When this picture showed up of mom with her hand on her hip, it’s as if she were saying, “Uh, huh. Now, you know what I went through.” I had to laugh.

That trust thing, well, I’ve written about it so much.

I don’t imagine anybody I know will suddenly decide to hole up somewhere (and I don’t want them to), so I guess I’m going to keep writing about it and hopefully doing it.

At present, I am reading Max Lucado’s book, Anxious for Nothing. In it, he describes a practice he uses which I find helpful. “On my good days I begin my morning with a cup of coffee and a conversation with God. I look ahead into the day and make my requests . . . Then if a sense of stress surfaces during the day, I remind myself, Oh, I gave this challenge to God earlier today. He has already taken responsibility for the situation. I can be grateful, not fretful.”

Gratefulness, not fretfulness. Don’t you love it? That one practice has changed the way my days go. I pray in the morning, and then the rest of the day I rely on Him and give thanks.

I’m convinced God allows these situations where we’re totally out of control to occur so we’ll look to Him alone. If you’re facing one of those yourself, pray over your day, and then trust that He’s got it.

So, thanks, Patsy, you had no idea how meaningful those pictures would be.

Praying the words the Lord spoke to Joshua for those close to me, “. . . for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9).
 

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

When things don't turn out the way you hoped

Waiting for the edits for my new book A Plan for Everything to come in, and taking a bit of a break. I reached into the archives for this post with the hope that it helps someone who's dealing with disappointment today.


According to Mr. Webster, to disappoint means “to fail to satisfy the hope, desire, or expectation of.”

We speak of times of disappointment in sentences which begin with should have or could have.

I’ve found disappointment to be one of the most finely honed weapons in the enemy’s arsenal, because if we’re not watchful, disappointment can lead to a root of bitterness which can quickly establish itself in our lives. And bitterness is like a cancer, eating away all that’s good.

When disappointment leaves me protesting, “I didn’t know it was going to turn out like this,” I have to make a choice not to embrace toxic thoughts by electing to replace those thoughts with God’s word.

I keep coming back to this quote, “Can it be that, that which seems to oppose the will of God actually is used of Him to accomplish the will of God? That which seems evil only seems so because of perspective, the way the eyes see the shadows. Above the clouds, light never stops shining.” —Ann Voskamp
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Often, faith only begins to flex its muscles in times when the darkness settles in around us. Faith is “our handle on what we can’t see” (Hebrews 11:5 The Message).

Even in times of great disappointment, through faith, we can fix our eyes on Jesus. Whatever situation left our hopes, desires, and expectations wanting, we trust will be used by Him for our good and His glory.

“…those who hope in me will not be disappointed” (Isaiah 49:23).

“We continue to shout our praise even when we’re hemmed in with troubles, because we know how troubles can develop passionate patience in us, and how that patience in turn forges the tempered steel of virtue, keeping us alert for whatever God will do next. In alert expectancy such as this, we’re never left feeling shortchanged. Quite the contrary—we can’t round up enough containers to hold everything God generously pours into our lives through the Holy Spirit!” (Romans 5:3-5 The Message).

“And hope does not disappoint us…” (Romans 5:5).
 
(edited repost)
 
 
 

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Fireworks, Fear, and Faith

We attended a Fourth of July celebration in an Atlanta neighborhood where our daughter was working for the evening. What we didn’t know is our seats were just yards away from where the fireworks would be set off. We had Lucy with us.

The Aussiedor had never shown any reaction to fireworks before, but again, we’d didn’t realize we were so close.

When the pyrotechnics began, Lucy went into panic mode and shot out pulling Jerry over in his chair then proceeded to clear a path in her wake. I ran through the crowd fearing we might never find her in an unfamiliar place like this if she became lost. Thankfully, a man seeing my situation stepped on her leash as she passed and stopped her.  By then, Jerry had caught up with us, and we couldn’t get out of there fast enough.

Since then, fireworks really get Lucy going and around the Fourth, we have lots of fireworks in our town.
 
 
For the past few nights, the Big Guy (Jerry) sleeps with her beside him. She likes that. A lot.


It reminds me of Mason, the son of friends.  As a child, he had a hard time staying in his own bed and getting to sleep at night because of his fears.  One night, his dad put him back in his bed again and reminded him as he had many times before that God was with him.

The little fellow said, “I know, but I want somebody with skin on them.”

Don’t we all?

Don’t we just crave the presence of God in skin? Someone we can touch, hold, and lean against.

I know I do.

But then there’s this thing called faith, the “evidence of things not seen,” wrote a man who dealt with fears of his own.  The apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthians he was with them “. . . in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling” (I Corinthians 2:3).

But God told Paul in a vision one night, “Do not be afraid; keep on speaking, do not be silent. For I am with you, and no one is going to attack and harm you, because I have many people in this city” (Acts 18:9-10).

Whatever God calls us to do, he will equip us for it. We don’t have to be afraid. I’ve repeated those words to myself as I’ve stood before the locked doors of a prison gate before being admitted to do ministry there, as a plane touched down in a faraway place on a mission trip, or as I’ve struggled for the words when praying for a seemingly impossible situation.

Yes, like Mason, we want someone with skin on them, and like Lucy, we want to climb up beside the Big Guy and feel him next to us.

But Jesus, God with skin on Him, told us around eighteen times in the New Testament not to fear. In all, “Fear Not,” appears 365 times in the Bible.

God calls us to walk by faith, not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:70.)

Today, that little boy, Mason, is a pastor, so I believe he’s latched onto that walking by faith thing.

May we all.

Praying with you, friends that God would give us all we need to do just that.

Meanwhile, for what it’s worth, Lucy will be wearing her thunder vest for a few days. It works a little, anyway.

I found a printable with all the “Fear Not” references on it HERE.
 
edited repost
 
 

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

When you're trying to do one of the most difficult things

Today, Anaiah Press author, Laurie Wood guest posts with a powerful piece on forgiveness. A Canadian author, she's written  about a polar bear scientist in her fascinating book, Northern Deception. Welcome to One Ringing Bell, Laurie.

“Forgiveness does not erase the bitter past. A healed memory is not a deleted memory. We change the memory of our past into a hope for our future.” Lewis B. Smedes - Theologian



Forgiving those who’ve hurt us is one of the most difficult commandments Jesus gave to us. It’s so difficult to forgive people. I’m willing to bet most of us gloss over it during that part of the church service when the pastor or priest calls us to remember our time of confession. And yet, in Matthew 6:14-15, Jesus told us: “For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sin.”

Jesus is being black and white here. There’s no wiggle room! So, how can we deal with those things that seem unforgiveable?

As a young adult, circumstances surrounding my parent’s divorce caught me by surprise and I found myself dealing with unforgiveness.

Many Christian friends harped at me–yes, I felt “harped” the right word choice–to forgive. And to do it instantly.

I remember some days were so hard--an extremely emotional situation.

My response was to throw myself into my Bible and do a word study on “forgiveness” in both the Old and New Testaments. I determined that I would seek out commentaries and concordances until I absorbed what the word meant and could use it to help heal my heart.

First, I learned forgiveness is a process. While Matthew makes it a commandment, Jesus knows how hard it is, and He knows we’re human and aren’t always going to do it instantly.

Psalm 130 says: “Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord; O Lord, hear my voice. Let your ears be attentive to my cry for mercy.”

The first part of the forgiveness process is to give the situation to the Lord. Tell him about your hurt, your suffering, your inability to forgive on your own. Pray about it or journal it out and leave it on the page. This will get it out of your mind and “out of your system,” as a wise friend of mine told me at the time I was going through my parent’s divorce.

The second part of the process is seeing if you can repair the situation with the person who’s hurt you. This may not always be possible, especially if the situation involves abuse of any kind. But see if you can meet with the other person to talk through what’s brought you to this hurtful situation. You will know quickly if the relationship can be repaired.

The third part is the realization that the other person may not care about your feelings or the harm done to you at all. And you may have to live with that knowledge and the consequences of the other person’s actions on you. If you need to get outside help to deal with that, please do! There’s no shame in it. God works through other people to heal our hearts and minds.

Finally, realize that you may never, ever, hear an apology for the wrong done to you. The healing part of the process is that when you forgive someone–the burden of how they’ve hurt you will be lifted from your shoulders. They may carry on as they are, and they may carry on without you in their lives, but YOU will be the stronger person for it.

In Northern Deception, Kira Summers has an enormous amount of forgiving to do–both of herself and for someone else who’s done something terrible to her. She runs away from her situation both physically and emotionally and misses out on years of what God had planned for her.
Northern Deception available at Amazon

Reunions can be deadly.
 
After a savage attack in university, Kira Summers fled to the safety of northern Canada and her work as a polar bear scientist. But when her whistleblower brother dies in a mysterious car crash, she must return home to bury him and pack his belongings. Unaware she’s carrying explosive evidence someone’s willing to kill for, she has no choice but to rely on the one person she never thought she’d see again.
 
Lukas Tanner, a widowed single father of a special needs toddler, moved to Churchill five years ago. As the proud owner of Guiding Star Enterprises, a wilderness tour company, he and his daughter lead a simple life. But when Kira comes crashing back into his world, he realizes God has other plans. Now, Lukas and Kira must confront a merciless killer as their past and present collide in a deadly race—a race they must win if they have any hope of a future together.

Laurie Wood is a military wife who’s lived across Canada and visited six of its ten provinces. She and her husband have raised two wonderful children with Down Syndrome to adulthood, and their son and daughter are a wonderful blessing to their lives. Over the years, Laurie’s books have finaled in prestigious contests such as the Daphne du Maurier (twice), the TARA, the Jasmine, and the Genesis. Her family lives in central Canada with a menagerie of rescue dogs and cats. If the house were bigger, no doubt they’d have more.

LinkWithin

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...