Archive for January, 2009

My Father’s Eyes…

Friday, January 30th, 2009

My sisters and I look very much alike. We hear it all the time. Our brother, Randy favors us to some degree and perhaps a little make-up would cause him to look more like us, but that would open up a whole new set of problems. None of us really look much like our Dad, which is a good thing. He was a faithful servant of God and had a heart of gold. But he was not pretty. We tease our Mom quite often that she must have married him for his money. Ha! That is even funnier than Randy wearing make-up! A mountain preacher of a small mountain church with money? I don’t think so. Where am I going with all of this? I don’t have my earthly father’s features. His eyes were hazel and my eyes are blue. But I pray I have his heart, and I pray I have my heavenly Father’s eyes.

God’s eyes see us with an unfailing love. He doesn’t look at our past, our present or our future. He loves us unconditionally and mercifully. Unfortunately I fear that I love others with many conditions attached. If they do this or if they don’t do that. Not God. His love has no conditions attached. And I also fear that my love for others fails many times. As a matter of fact, I know it does. But not God’s love. It is steadfast without failing at any time. And I assure you that my love is not merciful love. Instead I’m sure I repay to others what they deserve. Mercy withholds from us what we deserve. God is a God of mercy.

“Forgive the rebellious sins of my youth; look instead through the eyes of your unfailing love, for you are merciful, O Lord…The Lord is good and does what is right; he shows the proper path to those who go astray…The Lord leads with unfailing love and faithfulness…” (Psalm 25:7, 8 & 10 NLT).

O Father, may I see others through Your eyes today. May I treat them as You would treat them, and may I love them with Your heart. You left us here to do Your work. May we not mess it up!

Have a fun weekend!

Hope

The Faithful Guard…

Thursday, January 29th, 2009

A good guard doesn’t let anything or anyone get past them. Last year when my nephew’s wife was in labor in the middle of the night there was a guard on duty that took her job more than serious. She was not going to let us sneak back and check on the status of delivery. You can believe we tried! We’d pretend to go to the restroom with intentions of sprinting down the back hall, she’d be waiting on us as we rounded the corner. We’d try to sneak in behind someone else who was entering with permission, she’d be waiting on us. She was not going to let anyone or anything go into the off-limits area.

We were at DJJ Sunday night for our monthly devotional time with the young inmates and the guard on duty was very kind. He was a big boy and he was serious about his position. He was put there to guard those inmates and he was faithful to his assignment. I don’t know whether those young people realized or appreciated the conviction by which he guarded them, but he was very on top of things. I asked him several questions, i.e., how many were “enrolled”, the boys vs. girls ratio, how often other religious groups visit, etc. He knew the answers (or at least came across as if he did). He was a faithful guard.

I’m so thankful that God is faithful to guard what I’ve entrusted to Him. What have I entrusted to Him? My life, my soul, my eternity. There’s much at stake in my life, and God has promised to protect and keep me to the end. I’m so glad! Satan regularly sends his assistants down the back hall to try to sneak in on me. But God is right there ready for Him if I allow Him to be at His post. God is very much aware of my comings and my goings and He is on top of things. He is a faithful guard.

“I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him for that day” (2 Timothy 2:12).

Hope

As a reminder…if you have any prayer requests that you would like for our web friends to pray for, please post them to our Prayer Request blog. We check those faithfully as do our web friends. Thanks so much for allowing us the privilege of praying for your needs!

Hello, Lord? Are you there?

Wednesday, January 28th, 2009

Reading in Exodus 5 this morning I was encouraged by a conversation that Moses had with God. Moses was “in the flesh” with his conversation with the Lord. I’m glad to know I’m not the only one that has a heart to heart with God assuming He needs my opinion. Here is Exodus 5:22 and 6:7ish in the New Living Translation…

“Moses went back to the Lord and protested, ‘Why have you mistreated your own people like this, Lord? Why did you send me?’…’Now you will see what I will do’ the Lord told Moses. ‘I am the Lord. I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac, to Jacob as God Almighty…You can be sure that I have heard the groans of my people…I will free you…I will redeem you with mighty power…I will be your God. And you will know that I am the Lord your God who has rescued you…’” (Exodus 5:22 – 6:7 bits and pieces).

Moses is questioning God’s whereabouts as Israel is struggling under Pharoah’s captivity. God assures Moses that He took care of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and He will take care of him, too. What a great message to you and me! When it seems God is snoozing or falling down on the job, take heart! He is the same God, He will show up and He will make Himself known to our enemy. Keep your chin up, hang in there, and be of great courage. God is God, and to quote Him, “I Am Lord!” And when He does His thing, we won’t have to wonder from whence it cometh. We’ll know God showed up!

Hello, Lord? Are you there? Oh yes, He is!

Hope

 

Lord, work a miracle in me…

Tuesday, January 27th, 2009

My friend, Tommy and some friends wrote a beautiful song entitled, Miracle. Some of the words are…

Oh Lord, I come to thee. Broken down here on bended knee.

I traveled every road. The last one led to thee.

Lord, work a miracle in me, in me.

I was singing that song this morning and was reminded the truths that are in that song. It’s not about God working a miracle in my situation but rather working a miracle in me. I sat with my friend “Jane” for her last round of chemo Wednesday afternoon and once again the Lord opened door after door after door for me to share God’s love and Christ’s sacrifice with her and with her beautiful 18-year-old daughter. They were both so open to hear what I had to say and both of them seemed to soak in every word. Suddenly the daughter interrupted me and said with much enthusiasm, “Would you like to go to dinner with me and my mom tonight?!” It broke my heart to tell her that I had to teach a Bible Study at my church. Sometimes those Godly obligations get in the way! But I promised her that when Jane’s taste buds return we’ll go. In the course of the conversation I found out that the only Bible Jane has is a small one from her childhood and it’s “hard to understand.” The daughter doesn’t have one. So yesterday I went to Christian supply and I purchased for Jane a beautiful aqua and brown Life Application Bible and for the daughter a funky fun green college Bible. Last night I went by their house and visited for a few minutes. When I showed the Bible to Jane, she teared up and said, “It has my name on it!” She ran her hand over it and repeated, “It has my name on it! It is absolutely beautiful!” I assured Jane that every word in that Bible, all the way down to the “it”s and “and”s and “but”s are true. You can believe it all! She just smiled. I shared some of the perks of a Life Application version and made a few recommendations of what books to read initially. The Bible is foreign to her, almost unfathomable to me. We shared a couple of laughs and I gave her a hug. She clung to me for just a moment and I knew that she was so hungry for what only God can give to her. I glanced back through the window as I walked down her sidewalk and she was intently reading something from her new Bible. I prayed for her over and over last night that God’s Word would speak to a place in her heart that no one else has been able to get to.

So as I sang Tommy’s Miracle song this morning while wasting my time pulling my hair straight on a rainy day, I was hit with the reality that the miracle that Jane needs is not to be cured from stage 4 breast cancer, although that would be great! Jane needs a miracle in her – inside her heart. That’s the greatest miracle of all. While I’m all about breast cancer awareness and the many, many, many, corporations that are donating proceeds from product after product after product to the cause, what Jane needs is a miracle of the heart. That reminds me of the plaque that hangs over the window in my breakfast area, “Prayer is not about changing the world, but about changing me.”

Teach me your way, O LORD, and I will walk in your truth” (Psalm 86:11). 

Lord, work a miracle in me today, not in my circumstance. And Father, I can’t wait to hear about the miracle that You do in Jane!

Have a great weekend. I’m going back to my hometown, Bryson City, NC to host a bridal shower for my bestest friend since birth, Lisa. She is marrying one of our high school buddies, Tony and I’m so excited for them. Clay and Jax are driving home to WV for the weekend to visit Poppy and Grandma Ellen. Caleb has Impact Weekend at church which is always fun but exhausting. Another busy weekend ahead but God is faithful to carry us right on through!

Hope

 

How bad do you want it?

Monday, January 26th, 2009

How bad do you really want a close relationship with the Lord? How desperately do you want to know God? I was sitting on the deck at the beach on Saturday reading from The Message and I flipped to Jeremiah 29. I love the paraphrase of verses 11-14! Here they are…

“I know what I’m doing. I have it all planned out—plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for. When you call on me, when you come and pray to me, I’ll listen. When you come looking for me, you’ll find me. Yes, when you get serious about finding me and want it more than anything else, I’ll make sure you won’t be disappointed” (Jeremiah 29:11-14).

Many times I have made the statement that I wish I knew God’s heart on a particular matter, or that I wish I had a closer walk with the Lord. Sometimes it feels like He’s a million miles away (figuratively as well as literally). This scripture provides the means for these wishes to come true. God tells us that we can have the assurance that if we really go looking for Him, we’ll find Him. He’s not playing hide and seek. All we have to do is look! I get the visual of one of the volunteers here at CPC looking for Elizabeth a couple of weeks ago. It was when we were rushing around getting the place ready for the Open House and Elizabeth was being pulled from one room to another. We just couldn’t keep up with her. I’m not sure she could keep up with herself! One of the volunteers weaved her way through the maze and ended up in my office. She dropped her arms by her side, slumped forward, sighed deeply and said, “Have you seen Elizabeth? I can’t find her anywhere!” As big as this place is now by the time she rounded one corner Elizabeth possibly passed behind her. It was a little bit funny to me but I wasn’t about to laugh. I assured her Elizabeth wasn’t hiding from her and for her to just keep looking. We don’t have to do that with God. We don’t have to run from pillar to post asking if anyone has seen God. God tells us all we have to do is seek Him, or come looking for Him, and He assures us He’ll be found. All we have to do is call on Him and He promises to listen.

The next couple of verses tell us that we’ve gotta want a relationship with God more than anything else. We’ve got to be serious about finding Him and long for it! How bad do I want it? I’ve got to want it more than anything in the world. I’ve told Caleb hundreds of times in his life that I love him more than life itself. And I mean it! Do I love God more than life itself? Am I really serious about pursuing a personal relationship with Him? I have got to want it more than anything else. And when I reach that point in my life, He promises to make sure I’m not disappointed! What a great passage of scripture. There is so much hope in these verses!

How bad do you want it?

Hope

What is that in your hand?

Monday, January 26th, 2009

I’m reminded of a sermon by Evangelist David Ring who has Cerebral Palsy, entitled “Moses, What’s That in Your Hand?” The message is very appropriate for David because he could easily have made a lot of excuses why he can’t preach the gospel. He’s crippled, he doesn’t talk plain at all, and I’m sure his handicaps are quite inconvenient. But just as God used Moses in spite of his disabilities, He is able to use David in an amazing ministry.

So it is with you and me. We are studying the book of Exodus on Sunday nights and we’re reminded of how Moses made all kinds of excuses why God should choose someone besides him for the task at hand. But God didn’t want to use someone else. He wanted to use Moses. Moses was holding a staff and God asked him to throw down the staff. When he did, the staff became a serpent. When he reached to take it back up, it turned back into a staff. All God wanted from Moses was obedience.

Maureen, our prayer partner in crime, shared with us this morning a quote from Beth Moore’s study on Esther. I don’t remember the exact quote but in essence the only thing you and I are to be concerned with and the only thing we are responsible for is what God wants us to do. Not the how. How in the world do you expect to accomplish this through me, God? Not our concern. All God wants is our obedience. He’ll take care of the how.

Then I add my two cents worth. It’s also not the why. Why did you choose me for this task? Why did you choose me for this journey? Why have you allowed this to happen to me, to my family, to my friend? Not our concern. All God wants is our obedience. He’ll take care of the why.

Wherever you are and whatever your place right now, that’s the what that God has chosen. Don’t fret over the how and why. Just be obedient right where you are. God’ll take care of the rest. What‘s that in your hand? What is your staff? “Throw it down” in obedience and watch God work.

“Moses answered, ‘What if they do not believe me or listen to me and say, “The LORD did not appear to you”?’ Then the LORD said to him, ‘What is that in your hand?’ ’A staff,’ he replied. The LORD said, ‘Throw it on the ground.’ Moses threw it on the ground and it became a snake, and he ran from it. Then the LORD said to him, ‘Reach out your hand and take it by the tail.’ So Moses reached out and took hold of the snake and it turned back into a staff in his hand…take this staff in your hand so you can perform miraculous signs with it” (Exodus 4:1-4, 17).

Hope

A fun run…

Friday, January 23rd, 2009

I want to expound on one of the verses that I used earlier this week…

“I run in the path of your commands, for you have set my heart free” (Psalm 119:32).

I like the fact that the Psalmist David didn’t (to use one of my Mom’s terms) lolly gag around when it came to serving the Lord. He didn’t drag his feet, mosey around, or saunter about. He RAN in the path of God’s commands. Why? Because God had set him free from his bondage, from his past, from the adultery and murder and lies and deceit. King David now served the Lord with energy and excitement. He RAN in the path of God’s commands. Does that mean he never slipped off the shoulder of the road once in a while? No. Does that mean that the path was straight with no hills and no curves and no bumps? No. It means that when David did stray or come up on an obstacle, he jumped right back on the path and resumed his journey – with enthusiasm. He RAN in the path of God’s commands.

How about me? How about you? Are we meandering to and fro in no hurry to follow God’s commands? Do we follow the path when it’s easy and straight and smooth but step off to greener pastures when things get hard? I like the visual of a path through a beautiful forest with a command of God’s posted randomly along the way, and I’m running – not as in a race but rather a fun run, twirling around, leaping with joy because I’m free! Yet I stay in the middle of the path so as not to be distracted by obstacles on either side that will steal my joy. I want to share David’s enthusiasm and RUN in the path that the Lord has made very clear through His word. Because those commands are not burdensome, but rather they have set me free!

I pray each of you will have a great weekend. Clay and I are going with a few of our friends to the beach for the weekend just to get away. Caleb’s feeling much better and though we found out he has a strange type of strep, the strong antibiotic is doing the trick and he has more energy than he’s had in about a month. We’ll leave him and Jax to take care of things around the house this weekend. That should make for an interesting return on Sunday…

Hope

You cannot amputate your history…

Thursday, January 22nd, 2009

Maureen, one of our prayer partners, was sharing with us this morning a statement from Beth Moore’s study on Esther. Beth says, “You cannot amputate your history from your destiny.” Oh how we wish we could just amputate, sever, cut off things from our past and not be affected or reminded of it ever again. But that is not possible. Instead, God uses our history to mold our destiny. Everything significant that happens to us will come back to us, prayerfully in a positive manner. If we allow our circumstances to teach us, to grow us, to “learn” us, then we’ll be able to use them to help others. This includes something as bad as child abuse, sexual abuse, drug abuse, etc. God is the Master of taking things and situations that satan intends for destruction and turn them into good. They will show back up in some manner because we cannot amputate our history. What we do with it determines what role it plays in our destiny.

God does not comfort us to make us comfortable. He comforts us to make us comforters. So take whatever bad things that have happened to you and use them to help someone else that may be going through the same thing. Our experiences and bad times can either make us bitter or better. How much more abundant our life will be if we allow the latter.

You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives” (Genesis 50:20).

Hope

 

Free at last…

Wednesday, January 21st, 2009

Caleb and I had the best time with Jax yesterday during the Inaugural speech. I had taken Jax’s collar off to wash it, and just as President Obama started his speech, Jax kicked in to hyper mode and literally ran laps around the living room, zig zagging in and out under the coffee table, behind the recliner, under the piano stool, and repeated that same route over and over and over. Caleb said Jax must have been an Obama fan and he was celebrating change and being free at last (no collar). That was too funny.

Then last night we were watching the new Gaither Vocal Band Reunion DVD where Michael English was sharing about his past and how God had forgiven Him and set him free from all guilt. In 1993 Michael was at the peak of his Christian music career when he confessed to an affair. Just as quickly as he confessed, his career came to a screeching hault. Since that time, he has dabbled in pop music, contemporary Christian music, etc. but now almost 16 years later he has rejoined the Gaither Vocal Band. Michael has allowed God’s grace to restore him and he has been set free from his poor decisions. He sings this song on the DVD and I’ve been singing it all morning…

I’m free from the fear of tomorrow

I’m free from the guilt of my past

I’ve traded my shackles for a glorious song

I’m free, praise the Lord, free at last

I love that! Through Christ we are free from the fear of whatever we’ll face tomorrow. I remember right after we found out Hannah had cancer Mickey sharing “I will not fear bad news” from Psalm 112:7. To say we will not fear bad news doesn’t mean we’ll never receive bad news. It means when we do receive it we won’t be afraid of it. The rest of that verse says that if we trust in the Lord, our heart is steadfast. Our emotions may be all over the board, but our heart will be steadfast when we place our trust in the Lord. We’re free from the fear of whatever tomorrow holds.

“He will have no fear of bad news; his heart is steadfast, trusting in the LORD” (Psalm 112:7).

Then the next line in that song makes you wanna shout! I’m free from the guilt of my past. I will not be held in bondage because of things I’ve done. I will not be held back and placed on an unfruitful shelf because I made some pretty poor decisions. Christ has set me free from that guilt and I’m not going to let man tie me back up! Much like Jax without his collar, I’m free, praise the Lord free at last! I’m not free because Obama’s in or Bush is out, I’m not free because of any hope I may place in the government, I’m not free because of any inside connections I may have in any area of my life, I’m not free because of anything good I’ve done on my own. I’m free because Christ paid my debt for me and set me free to roam about the cabin. I’m free, praise the Lord, free at last!

“I run in the path of your commands, for you have set my heart free” (Psalm 119:32).

“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery” (Galatians 5:1).

Hope

Cold to the bone…

Tuesday, January 20th, 2009

Do not be deceived by the beautiful blue skies and the bright sunshine. It is cold to the bone outside! We received a little less than an inch of snow at our house – just enough to call off school and slow traffic for the first part of the day. And when the clouds rolled away and the sun came out, it looked nice and warm outside. So when I took Jax out for his mid-afternoon potty time, I didn’t put on a jacket. Big mistake! It was cold, cold, cold! I rushed Jax and quickly ran back inside by the gas logs.

That’s just how it is with Satan’s schemes. He lures us by making things look so beautiful to the eye. They seem so warm and inviting. Yet when we step into his trap we find his plans are cold to the bone. They will freeze us to a spiritual death if we stay in them. Don’t do it! Turn around and go back where you know it is warm and cozy – in the will of your Heavenly Father. He will protect you and keep you from getting a serious case of frost bite from the master deceiver if you dwell with Him.

“If you make the Most High your dwelling— even the LORD, who is my refuge, then no harm will befall you…” (Psalm 91:9 & 10).

Hope