Archive for August, 2007

Hold on for dear life…

Friday, August 31st, 2007

“Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good” (Roman 12:9 NIV).

“Love from the center of who you are; don’t fake it. Run for dear life from evil; hold on for dear life to good” (The Message).

Let’s talk about Part C of the passage that I shared yesterday. “Hold on for dear life to good.”No one wants to let go of something they enjoy or hold dear to their heart.

What makes it difficult to adhere to this scripture is that quite often we don’t recognize what’s good for us. If we will stay in God’s word and allow Him to lead us into paths of righteousness, then it will be easy to differ between the good and evil paths. Satan would love to snatch away the good things in our lives, our relationships, our reputations, our testimonies. The Bible says he is a thief and he is on this earth to steal, kill and destroy us. Of course he’ll try to rob us of all that is good. But Paul challenges us in Romans 12:9 to hold on for dear life! I rode with my mother to my sister’s house at Lake Bowen this morning and you can believe their were times that I was holding on for dear life. I could have driven myself but Clay and my mom both would rather I give it a few more days. I drove a couple of days this week and I admit it was painful and a tad nauseating. However, riding with my mother is much more dangerous. My nerves were shot by the time I got back home. She was whipping around Lake Bowen Dam Road like it was an interstate. For those of you who are not familiar with that road, it is quite the contrary. Two lane, narrow, winding, and busy due to Woodfin Ridge traffic. I was holding on to the door handle around those curves and trying my best not to say anything. Was I ever glad to arrive safely back in my driveway. I can relate to holding on for dear life! That door handle was a good thing.

When you recognize the good things in life, hold on to them. Don’t allow Satan to snatch them from you by planting bitterness, anger, discouragement, unforgiving spirit, doubt, etc. in your heart. Hold on for dear life to what’s good!

Have a great weekend and a blessed Labor Day.

Hope

Run for dear life…

Thursday, August 30th, 2007

We started our new ladies Bible Study at church last night, “A Woman of Healthy Relationships” and Angie, our instructor, read Romans 12:9-17ish from The Message translation. I loved it! I asked her to let me look at her Bible at the end of the class and I just couldn’t get over how it simplifies the message yet doesn’t take away or add to. One of the scriptures that I later shared with Caleb at bed time was verse 9. Here it is in NIV and The Message…

“Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good” (Roman 12:9 NIV).

“Love from the center of who you are; don’t fake it. Run for dear life from evil; hold on for dear life to good” (The Message).

I encouraged Caleb to dig to the very center of his being and learn to love everyone, regardless of how “different” they may be from him. One day last week during his first few days of school he said to me, “There are a lot of random good-looking girls at school this year.” This is his first year in joint high school, grades 10 – 12. Last year he was at the 9th grade campus so to have all of these “upper classmen (and classgirls)” is a bonus! Anyway, I asked him what qualified the girls to be considered “random good-looking girls.” His answer was, “They’re not the popular girls like cheerleaders that I’m used to hanging out with. They’re just girls that showed up randomly in the halls that I’ve never seen before, and they’re good looking!” I told him to introduce himself and ask from whence comest thou. He gave me the typical “You’re from another plant” look and went upstairs. But last night I brought that up again, not that I want him to approach the random good-looking girls, but I want him to realize that it’s okay to befriend those who are not of the class he’s accustomed to hanging with. Dig to the center of your being and love everyone equally.

Then I harped on “run for dear life from evil”. When Caleb was playing baseball I can remember standing up after he’d hit the ball and I’d always say (or scream) as he’d round the bases, “Dig, Caleb! Dig! Ruuuuun!!!” Then I was reminded of a saying we grew up with in Bryson City. Run for dear life. That usually referred to when you came upon a snake, panther, bear, whatever – run for dear life! We used that phrase quite often. Well, that’s what God wants us to do when it comes to anything evil – temptations of any kind. Turn the other way and run for dear life! I love The Message. When I’m able to drive across town I’m going to Christian Supply and buy me one of those Bibles. You can never get too many versions as long as they don’t take away or add to the scriptures. I can’t believe this is coming out of this mountain-grown King James Only girl’s mouth! My daddy would roll over in his grave (where’d that saying come from, anyway?). Our Mom’s had him flipping over and over for 9 years. Every time we girls say or do anything “questionable”, she’ll pull that one on us, “Girls, your daddy would roll over in his grave if he knew you were talking that way.” Okay, that was a tangent.

I’ll probably spend some time tomorrow talking about the “Hold on for dear life” portion of this scripture, unless God leads me somewhere else. But that’s my challenge for you today. Put on your running shoes, guys and run for dear life from evil!

Please remember the Holbein family and all the students and families of Oakbrook Preparatory School here in Spartanburg. As Deb mentioned in her update last night, Alex Holbein was struck by lightning while on the soccer field yesterday. The other soccer players witnessed this so there is much healing of hearts and minds to pray for. The coach was also hit but is in fair condition. Today is Alex’s 18th birthday. God has a purpose.

Have a blessed day.

Hope

Eternity could begin Today

Thursday, August 30th, 2007

“For when David had served God’s purpose in his own generation, he fell asleep; he was buried with his fathers and his body decayed.”  Acts 13:36

Just a few days ago Lord, You wrote that scripture on my heart.  You knew that its truth would quickly be brought home to me and our community at large very soon.

This afternoon Lord, late this afternoon, You took another young man from our community home to heaven to live with You.  He was in the middle of soccer practice – he didn’t get to finish practice, he didn’t get to eat his supper, he didn’t get to go home, he didn’t get to tell his friends good-bye, he didn’t complete today’s homework.  His purpose had been completed on this earth and boom – he was gone.  Just like that.  From a sky that had had no apparent thunder or lightning, lightning struck and You transported Alex into Your presence straight from the soccer field.  Tonight at a local community church, hundreds of people gathered to pray, hear comfort and encouragement from Your word and draw strength from each other.  We were, once again, a community desperate for You.  We were seeking You out of our hurt, broken and shocked hearts.

For whatever reason, You allowed me the privilege to go and be there with this body from Oakbrook School.  A friend had told me there was a call to prayer.  It was my blessing to be a part of that gathering.  I watched again as the young people gathered to pray, cry, hold hands and draw strength from one another.  The girls were going home to spend the night together.  We, the church, are one body, we need each other and even more so when crisis strikes.

From the little bit I learned of Alex this evening, he was a young man who had run his race well.  He was the president of the student body.  Tomorrow would be his 18th birthday.  His love for You was unapologetic.  Once more, out of Your mercy, You had chosen one who was prepared for eternity.  You are a merciful God.  Many lives will never be the same again.  Many lives will face the reality of their own mortality when they lay their heads on their pillows this evening.  Once again, You have reminded our community about eternal things – the brevity of this life, the preciousness of each day, the priority of relationships – and most of all our own individual relationship with You.

You amaze me, Lord.  You are covering all the bases.  You don’t leave any stones unturned.    This morning I was privileged to meet with some praying moms from another school.  We talked about Your tapestry, about Your purpose and plan for our lives that cannot be thwarted.  What a precious morning it was.  For me, You have orchestrated this entire day and I am so thankful that I was open to seeing Your hand in it.  What a blessing I would have missed.  Thank You for tendering my heart to You.  And oh, Father, thank You for the healing You are already beginning in the hearts and lives of Alex’s mom, dad, sisters and family.  Oh Father, once again the prayer was that You would be glorified through this seeming tragedy.  Father, You are desiring to capture the hearts of every student at that school and You chose a leader to lead others to Yourself.  The school is established upon the foundation of Jesus Christ.  That foundation is firm and secure.  You will use this to redefine, refocus, and clarify their purpose for generations to come.

This is the generation You are calling out.  Allow us as their parents to answer Your call also.  Yesterday on the marquee at a local church a sign advertising a new study that was beginning soon was entitled “Called Out – a look at I Peter.”  You are calling us out, You are calling us up, You are calling us away You are calling us to be “set apart” for Your purposes.  Help us to be faithful to the call.  Help us to think like You think.  Help us see the bigger picture.  Help us not grow weary and lose heart but strengthen us for the journey.  

And Lord, for this new generation that You are calling out allow them to take to heart Your exhortation in Ecc. 12:1,5

“Remember Your Creator in the days of your youth, before the days of trouble come. . . for man is headed to his eternal home.”

You are not playing games about eternity – eternity for any of us could begin even this day.  Allow us to be sober and alert, always abounding in the work of the Lord – for today Lord.  Reveal Your glory, reveal Your presence, reveal Your purpose in this situation even this day.  In the name of Jesus we pray.  Amen and Amen. 

What about our “unanswered” prayers?

Wednesday, August 29th, 2007

As I think of the country song “Sometimes I thank God for unanswered prayers”, I look back on my life and I can certainly say, “Ditto.” What we consider “unanswered prayer” is a prayer when God either says “no” or He doesn’t say anything at all. We consider that as Him not answering our prayers. But the truth is, any answer is an answer. But when He goes contrary to our requests, we may consider that unanswered prayers.

I’m sure through the years you can think back to things that you asked the Lord for and now years later you are thrilled that He knew what was best. I certainly can. I remember my first high school crush, what I thought was my first love. Oh, how I wanted to marry Timmy Walters and ride in his white Ford Bronco for the rest of my life! He was a Richard Gere look-alike and my heart skipped beats every time I was around him. But Timmy lacked the spiritual depth that I needed in a relationship, and I knew that deep down. God knew what He was doing although it was a heart break at the time. There was a job that I applied for back when Caleb was very small and I just knew that it would be the perfect job. I accepted the position and just before resigning from Security Finance, at the very last minute the person that was previously in that position decided to return. It was good money and I was bummed, later to find out that the lawyer retired and the law firm “dissolved.” Then I think of material things that I’ve prayed for and considered “no” to be an unanswered prayer. How stable we are financially thanks to Clay’s financial wisdom and frugal-idity (if judgemenial is a word, Aunt Florence, so is frugalidity). Clay’s “no’s” and God’s seem to be in line quite often. Thank you, Lord, for knowing what’s best for me.

But the “unanswered prayer” that I praise God for the most is the “no” that He gave to His own Son in the garden prior to the crucifixion. Jesus wanted a way out. He wanted God to fulfill His plan in other ways if at all possible. The Bible says in the book of Mark that Jesus was distressed and greatly troubled, and Dr. Luke’s account is that Jesus prayed with such fervency that His sweat became as drops of blood. Jesus was serious about this! He wanted to avoid the cross if at all possible. Here are the two accounts of the same incident…

“They went to a place called Gethsemane, and Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Sit here while I pray.’ He took Peter, James and John along with him, and he began to be deeply distressed and troubled. ‘My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death,’ he said to them. ‘Stay here and keep watch.’ Going a little farther, he fell to the ground and prayed that if possible the hour might pass from him. ‘Abba, Father,’ he said, ‘everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.’” (Mark 14:32-36).

“‘Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.’ An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him. And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground” (Luke 22:42-44).

Oh, how thankful I am that this prayer of God’s own Son was “unanswered.” There would be no payment for my sins had God changed His mind. Without it, I’d hate to think about having to drag Crettie the cow or Lexie the lamb to town regularly as a sacrifice for my sins. He knew what had to be done in order that you and I could be justified, “just as if we’d never sinned.” No sacrifice on my part, just acceptance!

Sometimes I thank God for unanswered prayers…(I can’t sing it like Garth Brooks but I can twist into a timely devotional).

Have a “Well, whatta ya know” Wednesday. Look for God in places and things you’d not expect and then say, “Well, whatta ya know.”

Hope

Thank You Lord for Hope

Tuesday, August 28th, 2007

Thank You Lord for Hope!  Thank You Lord for eternal Hope that is available in Christ Jesus.  Thank You for Hope that is beyond this life, this earth and what we can see with our eyes.  Thank You for the opportunity you allowed Mickey and me to have sharing at Roebuck Baptist Church Sunday evening.  How precious these people of Roebuck have been to us over the last year.  What a precious evening in Your presence with Your people – a little taste of what heaven will be like – unending, unbroken, and perfect fellowship with You and with each other.  “How my heart yearns within me” Job said.  And once again You had orchestrated everything.  Kristen was there to sing – “Unveil me” were some of the words – free me from the mask that we can sometimes hide behind – use the brokenness of my life and my circumstances to reveal Yourself to me.  Kristen has had her own brokenness and You are beautifully using her life to the praise of Your glory.  She sings from a heart that has been broken.  She was a mentor and a precious friend to Hannah.  She came to see us in Houston.  You placed her mother and Joy there to help us at the conclusion of the service.

The praise team sang about Ezekiel and the valley of Dry Bones and it reminded me of Toni and her sharing about standing beside Hannah’s bedside in ICU and praying “sweet, little, nice prayers” over Hannah – prayers easy for us to pray because they don’t really take a lot of faith – be with her, comfort her, etc. when all of a sudden You spoke clearly and loudly to her heart and said to her in her spirit, “Can these bones walk again?”  She, with stunned surprise answered back, “Yes, Lord, they can.”  And they did.  They also sang, “There is no god like Jehovah, There is no god like Jehovah.”  There isn’t any God like unto our God.  And You brought to my heart and mind the scripture, “Who among the gods is like You, O Lord?  Who is like You?  Majestic in holiness, awesome in glory, working wonders.  In Your unfailing love, You will lead the people You have redeemed” from Ex. 15:11, 13.   And then they sang, “How Great is our God” and “How Great Thou Art.”  We will never sing those songs the same again.  We sang them in our living room the day Hannah came to live with You.  We sang them a few days later in the service celebrating her life.  I will never forget the picture I saw later of Mickey’s hands raised in praise to You during her service.  You were allowing him to praise and bless You at the most difficult time of his life.  That makes no earthly sense.  But it makes all the sense when seen from Your eternal perspective.  Praise and thanksgiving are our release – they set our hearts free!   And it just hit me during “How Great is our God” that Hannah has now seen “The Splendor of the King – Clothed in Majesty.”  How amazing is that! 

Mickey shared some wonderful scriptures about our real hope.  Hope not found in our medical advances, hope not contained to our supplements or diet but a hope that is eternal.  He shared how our hope many times would disappoint us when we have it in the wrong place.  Ultimately, the hope of every one of us must be in the person of Jesus Christ.  He read from Romans 5:1-5

“Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand.  And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.  Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.  And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.”

And from Hebrews chapter 6:

“We have this hope as an anchor for the soul; firm and secure.”  Hope – an anchor for our souls – how cool is that – oh, Father how we need You as the anchor for our souls!  Amazing!  “The anchor holds” the song says and it does hold – though tossed, blown and battered – it holds.

A precious evening with many precious people -  Pastor Tim and his wife have the hearts and spirits of gentle giants.  Two of the District board members were there – godly men with a heart for You.  I believe Mr. Lee has been to more athletic events than my husband – and that is a lot!  One precious gentleman came to us at the end and told us he loved us and that he couldn’t talk – he was obviously broken.  We have found that usually means the person has experienced their own deep loss and have identified with us in a way that only they can.  The way You identified with us when You sent Your Son, Jesus.  He came to identify with us! 

And then Lord through all of this pondering of “Hope” and our Sunday evening, You bring to my heart this morning how thankful I am for “Hope” – my sister in love on this earth.  She left me the most precious note this morning.  It meant so much.  We have had some neat opportunities to talk and share recently and it has been such a blessing.  Last Thursday morning we went to her house to pray over the requests of the week for HHM – a precious time of prayer.  I believe the most precious moments we spend on this earth are the moments we are in prayer and communication with You.  We prayed in turn for each of the Board Members of HHM and recounted the incredible way You had brought each into our lives at just the “right” time.  We asked and continue to ask for Your hand of blessing over their lives. 

And this morning I am thinking of Hope and how You have used and are using her life at HHM.  I will never forget the morning that “Uncle Clay” called to tell us that Hope was going in to quit her job that morning.  It was to be a step of faith into Hannah’s Hope Ministries.  We had shared at Bethlehem Baptist Church the Sunday morning before and when he called us, there was no arguing with him.  There was nothing we could say.  Each of us knew that You were doing something that we could join You in or we could miss a blessing.  Hope and Clay certainly stood to lose the most – leaving a great job with many years of service and benefits to step blindly into a ministry that didn’t even exist at the moment.   We had watched You allow Clay to build houses for 2 years – a childhood dream – and then to return to Miliken in the Computer dept. at just the right time – October.  That would put Hope’s provision for insurance back into Clay’s court so that when they took that step of faith in January, You had already taken care of everything.

You knew there was no way Hannah’s Hope Ministries could have begun without Hope.  Our heads were still in a fog but You allowed Hope and Clay to “step up” and lead the way.  Hope was Hannah’s Hope – Hannah loved Hope – she welcomed her with wide open arms into our family – completely and without reservation.  Hannah could share with Hope things she didn’t share with me.  Hope was safe.  Hope shares now how one of the last conversations she and Hannah had was when Hannah asked her if she thought that “God was through with her story.”  Hope told her no.  And today Hope is still telling her story.  You amaze me Lord – even the name – Hannah’s Hope Ministries – has dual meaning.  Hope did indeed belong somewhat to Hannah.

I am blessed to have her as my sister – the one I never had and I look forward to partnering with her in the plan You have for each of us.  Thank You for the blessing she has been and continues to be in our family.

Thank You Lord, for Hope!       

 

 

Give thanks…in advance

Tuesday, August 28th, 2007

After reading my daily update yesterday, a friend reminded me of Philippians 4:6. Several years back my dad had just passed away, I was going through my divorce, adjusting to life as a single mom with a 6 year old little boy, and a dear Christian friend came into my office, sat across the desk from me, looked me square in the eyes with compassion and Godly love and said, “I have a word for you from the Lord. Philippians 4:6 – Worry about nothing, pray about everything. It’s that simple.” and he got up and walked out of my office. Brief and to the point – and did it ever point just to the place in my heart that needed encouragement. I like the New  Living Translation of this verse: “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything.” This must have been the translation that my friend, Terry was quoting.

But last night as I re-read that scripture, another part of the verse spoke to me…

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God” (Philippians 4:6) Emphasis mine.

While this verse clearly backs what I was saying in my update yesterday – that it is extremely important to thank God for answering a prayer once it has been answered - I feel this verse is also reminding us to thank Him in advance. When we approach Him with our prayer and petition, spend time thanking Him for what He’s already done and for what He’s going to do. That doesn’t mean that we pray, “Thank you, Lord, for answering this prayer just the way that I want it because I know that is what you’re going to do” but rather approach Him with thanksgiving for answering it in His way and in His time. “Thank you, Father, for knowing what’s best for me. Thank you that you see the whole picture and You have a finished product in the making. Thank you for answering this prayer according to Your will and Your plan.” That would make our expectations so much more in line with His, wouldn’t it? It doesn’t mean we do not ask for our hearts’ desires. It doesn’t mean that we do not approach Him with boldness. That’s what He wants us to do! But we have to be willing to accept the outcome as His will and we need to thank Him in advance for working it to His glory. How much closer we find ourselves to Him when we thank Him, especially when things do not turn out the way we had hoped.

I want my heart to be in tune with God’s heart, so I purposed last night to practice this verse. Giving thanks in advance for the outcome.

Hope

The Weaver

Tuesday, August 28th, 2007

Lord, my heart is so full and I have known that You would sit me down soon and allow my heart to pour out from the overflow of what You have been doing and accomplishing over the last week.  You know Lord, that journaling for me is very healing and that it keeps a record for me of Your faithfulness.  It is a blessing for me to look back about where we have been together.   I journal for posterity – I want to be able to look back and see Your working in my life during this season.  I have journaled for many years and it is for me that I journal.  As You have allowed me to share some of my journaling over the last year, my intent has never been focused on anyone else.  If there is any way that You would use this as a blessing to someone else – oh, please do.  And Lord, I pray that maybe You can and will use it to be a blessing to someone but even if no one ever reads this journal, it is my journal written from my heart to Yours and I am talking to You when I write it.   I would rather talk to You than anyone I know on this earth and I know that sometimes, Lord, You must just tire of me.  I suppose I have learned through this season more than I have ever learned what it means to “pray without ceasing” that the scripture talks about in I Thes. 5:17. I know that You always listen, You always understand, You always counsel correctly and You are always available to listen to me – the Almighty God of the Universe.  That is as great as it gets – so thank You Father and once again Lord here I go – rambling on. . .

I am going to start with the most current and work backwards Lord, so that I can possibly remember the things I desire to journal from this last week.  You must bring them to my mind, Lord.  Last night I had the opportunity to go to Edwards Road Baptist Church in Greenville and share with a “Sarcoma Support Group” – I must tell You Lord, that it not somewhere I ever thought I would be sharing and I wasn’t at all sure what I was in for.  I had been wondering what You were up to.  This whole thing for us has not been about “sarcoma” but about a journey You were taking our family on – it was the tool You used to accomplish Your purpose.   I didn’t know much about the situation I was going into but You and I have sure been in those places before so I just went with a heart full of what You had written there  and figured You would let me know what I was supposed to say when I got there.  I was countin’ on You.

You just amaze me Lord.  You knew I was going, didn’t You?  You had it all planned.  When I got there, there was an older lady there waiting – a beautiful lady with gorgeous white hair and a smile that reflected Your glory.  I knew immediately that You had walked with her through her journey – it shone on her face.  Later in the evening, I was to learn that she had battled sarcoma 11 years ago and at the time wondered if she would be able to see her three sons graduate from high school.  They have graduated from high school, college, are all married and she has 8 grandchildren.  What a praise to Your glory.  She later shared that she couldn’t understand why You would leave her here and take my beautiful daughter.  I shared Isaiah 55:8,9 with her – I sure can’t explain You but I can share what Your word says, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are My ways, your ways, declares the Lord.  As the heavens are higher than the earth so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts.”  We just aren’t thinking like You are, are we Lord?  You are accomplishing things that we can’t possibly fathom in the big scheme of things.  For her, You had delivered her “through the fire.”  You had refined her faith in the process and she was a testimony to Your grace.

You know I had wanted someone to go with me last night – it is just really a great blessing to have a buddy.  It gives me strength to have a fellow sister in Christ walk with me.  After a couple of strikes in Spartanburg, I thought of my dear friend, Beth, that I had gotten to know through Moms In Touch who lives in Greenville.  Beth had walked Hannah’s journey with us from a distance.  I knew she was praying for us, and keeping up with us but I had not seen her.  She was as excited as I was to get to see her.  You had knit our hearts together in prayer and we will always be able to pick back up right where we left off.   I saw her big smile coming down the hall and You immediately knit our hearts once again.  And then she introduced me to a friend of hers – Amy Epting – Thomas’ mom.  We had prayed for Thomas.  His journey had paralleled Hannah’s from May until November.  A precious young man who loved You and honored You.  He had leukemia when he was just four years old.  It went into remission, came back, he received more treatment and when he was fifteen years old, he developed brain tumors as a result of the treatment he had received years previously.  What a journey.  I can’t imagine walking that journey for so many years.  It was my blessing to meet this mother – a mother whose child came to live with You about the same time Hannah did.  I am sure the two of them know each other by now – probably immediately.  I pray for the healing of her mother’s heart.  I pray Your great blessing on her two sons and her husband that have been “left behind.”  Allow her to know You as Jehovah Rapha, the God who heals, as I am asking You to do in my life.  I pray Lord, that maybe one thing I shared could have been an encouragement to her.  I know she was an encouragement to me.  We share the same experience.  Thank You Lord for allowing me to meet her!

And then another Beth came in – the girl who had set up the meeting.  I had called her on the way to ask her about the “logistics” of the evening and if the folks who would be attending were believers or not.  I didn’t know if she had personally had sarcoma or what her connection was to this group.  I was to learn that she is a young married mother of a little boy three years old.  When he was one, she found out that she had sarcoma.  She had wondered if she would live to see him grow up.  She is a patient at MD Anderson and goes back there every three months for check ups.  A beautiful young mother whose desire and heart has been to reach out to encourage others who are on the same journey.  She is doing well and looked beautiful.  She asked about the possibility of taking some of the new DVD’s of Hannah’s Journey back to MD.  What another amazing connection – the same Drs.  I pray for this precious young mother, Lord.   Continue to bring complete healing to her body, and Lord I would ask that she be able to watch her young son grow up.  Bless this support group and allow it to be a blessing and encouragement to those who come. 

And then in come Bell and her father – a PE teacher in Greenville with a beautiful smile.  She had sarcoma several years ago and it has recently reared its head again and she is currently going through treatment.  She has come to appreciate each day as a gift from You.  She is strong as is her spirit.  I was later to learn that her mother had died of cancer several years ago after battling it for 26 years.  I could identify with her father’s heart.  I could identify with watching your child suffer.  I pray for both of them, Lord.  Continue to build Bell up.  Allow the treatment she is undergoing to cleanse her body from every deadly cell.  And strengthen her father, who is a physician, and allow him to draw his strength from you.  Use this journey in his life to allow him to practice medicine with a new level of compassion. 

One of the first things You allowed me to share was a poem that Ms. S brought me from across the water a couple of years ago.  It had caught my eye the other afternoon and seemed to fit the message You had placed on my heart.  It is called “The Weaver” and it goes like this. . .

 

“My life is but a weaving Between my
Lord and me, I cannot chose the colors He worketh steadily.

Oftimes He weaveth sorrow, and I in foolish pride Forget He sees the upper and I, the underside.

Not till the loom is silent And the shuttles cease to fly Shall God unroll the canvas And explain the reason why.

The dark threads are as needful In the Weaver’s skillful hand As the threads of gold and silver In the pattern He has planned.”

Oh Father, even now as I type these words, I stand in awe of their truth and power.  You are not a God who is in the business of “fixing” everything for us.  You are the God who is weaving a tapestry that we can’t see from here.  We see the threads only so many times and we can’t see the “top side” but oh Father, someday we shall and we will understand it all then.

You placed upon my heart some scriptures about our purpose and Your plan on this earth for us. . .

Psalm 138:8  “The Lord will fulfill His purpose for me.” 

Psalm 33:11  “But the plans of the Lord stand firm forever, the purposes of his heart through all generations.”

And a new one Shelly shared with me this week that I continue to ponder – Acts 13:36

“For when David had served God’s purpose in his own generation, he fell asleep; he was buried with his fathers and his body decayed.”

You know Lord that pretty much sums it up, doesn’t it?  We are and were created for Your purposes.  And You alone can see the reason behind each of our purposes.  You are trustworthy, Lord and I thank You.  Thank You for allowing me to journal these truths – write them on the tablets of my heart in the name of Jesus, I pray, and Amen.

 

  

Praise the Lord for answered prayers…

Monday, August 27th, 2007

It is very important to thank the Lord for direct answers to our specific prayers. It is easy to forget to do that! We ask Him for specifics and when those blessings come our way, we just go about life taking them for granted. I’ve been guilty of that myself so many times. On Friday I posted a “world wide web” prayer for God to send us rain. While yesterday’s storms were hit and miss in Spartanburg County, North River Hills was in the “hit” section. We had at least three serious rain showers in about a 2 1/2 hour span. Our yard and porches look like the fall of the year. The dead leaves from the oak trees in the front yard were blown all over the place. Clay had worked so hard in the yard on Saturday pulling weeds, trimming, edging, etc. then in one good storm the yard and porches are a mess. But just like Clay said last night, we’ll take the mess! We needed the rain and I thank God for answering that prayer, as I’m sure many in the Upstate are doing the same.

Another specific prayer that God answered yesterday was for strength for me to attend church. The quartet that Clay and I sing in with Todd and Carmela Rice was on schedule to sing in both morning services yesterday. The verses were my solo, so as time drew near I began thinking, “Where was my mind when I agreed to sing only 2 1/2 weeks out from major surgery??” But I arrived at 8:00 a.m. and was there 4 hours. We sang in both services and God was faithful to give me the strength that I needed. While the pain was there and the discomfort was quite evident during the song, I made it through and God was gracious. I was very tired all afternoon but I had asked God for a boost of energy to get me through those hours and He provided just that.

So there’s my challenge to you today. Be very aware of answered prayers in your life. We don’t seem to have a hard time asking Him for things, but we often forget to say “Thank you.” It makes me very proud when I do something for Caleb and he thanks me. I get quite irritated when he asks for something, I give him specifically what he asks for, and he just goes on about his merry way unaware of my need to hear the words, “Thank You.” Of course I say to him just like I did when he was a toddler, “What do you say?” And I get the “Oh, sorry. Thanks!” How I wish it were an automatic response. God longs for the same. Give God the glory and honor that He deserves.

“Come and listen, all you who fear God; let me tell you what he has done for me. God has surely listened and heard my voice in prayer. Praise be to God!” (Psalm 66:16, 19, 20a).

The entire 66th chapter of Psalm is a great prayer of praise. It teaches us to point out specific things that He has done for us. He merits our praise! He covets our praise! He alone is worthy for from Him only do blessings come.

Praise the Lord for answered prayers…Have a blessed Monday!

Hope

I wish it would rain!

Friday, August 24th, 2007

Wow, do you remember it ever being so hot and so dry in our area? I don’t, not in my 43 years for sure. I don’t ever remember it being so dry that the trees start dying in August. The woods behind our house leading to the river are beginning to take on the look of Fall. Pine trees in our neighbor’s yard have all died and shed their needles as if it were November. But the temperature isn’t close to November! How much we need rain!

I remember a message that I heard on the need for the rain of God’s Word in our lives. Without His Word to water our souls, we will eventually start to “dry up” as Christians. We’ll find ourselves thirsty for His water, and if neglected long enough we will begin to lose our bright color of the effects of the Son in our lives, the sharp greenery of His love that He wishes to pour on us daily, and eventually we will no longer bear the fruits of the Spirit.

The difference in the drought that we’re experiencing in Spartanburg and the drought that we experience in our Christian walk is that we can control the latter drought. All we have to do is soak in His Word every day. Allow God to water the fruits of the Spirit by showering you with His love through His Word and through prayer. I want to bear much fruit, how about you? The dull grass, brown leaves and dead needles are not a pretty sight. The same is the affect of a Christian who is dried up in their relationship with Christ.

There is a Southern Gospel song entitled “I Wish It Would Rain” referring to God’s blessings and mercy and love. That should be our prayer every morning. Oh, Father rain down on me today and fill me with your cool water. Shower me with blessings that I cannot fathom and wash me in Your fresh love. And, Lord, we sure do need literal rain in South Carolina! Relieve us of this drought as we know that all things, ALL things, are in Your control. We ask all of our requests in Your Son’s name, Amen.

“Let my teaching fall like rain and my words descend like dew, like showers on new grass, like abundant rain on tender plants” (Deuteronomy 32:2).

“So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. (Galatians 5:16, 17, 22 & 23a).

Have a great weekend.

Hope 

Positive enforcement…

Thursday, August 23rd, 2007

So many scriptures that I’ve been reading the past few days have been promises with conditions. You know, that’s how God works. He has so many promises in His word, and all we have to do is meet the conditions. I remember reading Bringing Up Boys by James Dobson when Caleb was just a young lad. I knew right away that he was strong willed, independent (fiercely independent), one with great opinion, etc. So I was eager to read Bringing Up Boys. You would think Dr. Dobson lived in my home and used Caleb as a case study! One of his points in the book is to use positive enforcement rather than negative. Rather than saying, “If you smart off to me one more time you are on restriction for the rest of your life!” I tried the positive approach, “Caleb, if we can go an entire afternoon without you having to have the last word, we’ll go to McDonald’s and get a Happy Meal toy”. (That was a few years back. I have to promise bigger and better things now.) This past Saturday instead of saying, “Caleb, if you don’t do the four loads of laundry for me that are piling up in the laundry room, you’ll be spending your Saturday evening at home”, I said “Caleb, if you’ll wash those four loads of laundry for me you can spend the rest of the afternoon and evening hanging out with your buddies”. That actually works! Well, God seemed to know the power of positive enforcement long before the good Dr. learned it. Let me throw some promises with positive conditions to you…

Matthew 7:7…

“Ask…and you shall receive”. Condition: Ask; Promise: Receive

“Knock…and it shall be open”. Condition: Knock; Promise: He’ll open the door!

Matthew 6:33… “Seek the kingdom of heaven first in your life and everything else will fall into place”. Condition: Seek heaven first; Promise: direction for all areas of your life.2 Chronicles 7:14…“If my people which are called by name will humble themselves and pray, seek my face and turn from their wicked way, then will I hear from heaven, will forgive their sins and heal their land”. Conditions: humble ourselves, pray, seek His face, turn from sin; Promises: forgive our sins and heal our land. Now this one is a biggy! The answer to all of this world’s issues lies in this one verse. The conditions are really not difficult! It’s all about putting God first in our lives.

Jesus challenges us to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength. Love our neighbor as ourselves. Then He basically tells us to hang all of the other rules and regulations on those two commandments (Matthew 22:37-40). This makes so much sense! If we love the Lord with all that is within us, all of the other commandments will take care of themselves. An old theologian once said, “Love God and do anything you want!”

Get in God’s word today and look for His conditions and promises. The Bible is infested with them! God wrote the first book on positive enforcement.

Hope