My Beloved Readers, Followers, Friends, Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
My mother suffered a mild heart attack last night. Please continue to pray for Mom, my sister, and me. Mom is really having a difficult time, with the dementia, loss of independence, and failing health. She must be so scared. It breaks my heart, because I love her so much, and I hate to see her suffering.
My sister also needs your prayers and love. She is carrying a lot on her plate, between caring for Mom, as her POA, and work, and her family. Please pray that she feels the Lord’s love, strength and comfort during this difficult time.
Please also continue to pray for me… I love both my sister and my mom very much, and want to be there for them and help them as much as possible, but pain is hindering me. Please pray for the Lord’s strength so I can be there with them and help them both.
I’m going to try to rest some now – much love to you all. I am so thankful to be a part of this great family of believers, who continue to edify and pray for me though we have never seen one another face to face. Much love to you all!
My beloved friends and brothers and sisters in Christ,
Thank you for the prayers that you are lifting for my mother. We didn’t have a good day today. It started off pretty good, but it soon took a turn for the worst.
Mom became very angry and frustrated, and I became frustrated and hurt too, because she wouldn’t let me help her. She said some hateful things, and I let it get to me… In hindsight, I now know that she was starting to feel worse, and she was getting frustrated, because she wasn’t able to do the things that we all take for granted, like feeding herself and caring for her own personal needs. She was feeling weak and probably frightened, which caused her to snap at those closest to her… my sister this morning, and me this afternoon.
Because of our past history, I took it personally, and missed what was really going on. Tonight, at around 9:30, she went into acute distress, having difficulty breathing. She had to have another breathing treatment, and more tests and meds.
Please continue to pray for Mom, my sister, and me. Pray that the Lord gives me wisdom to recognize what is really going on, so that I don’t take things so personally, when she says hurtful things. I love her, and I know she loves my sister and me too. This dementia can be both a blessing and a curse.
Thank you so much for your continued prayers… I know that the fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much, and if two or more will touch and agree, according to God’s will, it will be done.
Religion and spirituality are man’s attempt to reach God…
Christianity is God looking down on mankind, and seeing that we were desperately lost in sin. Knowing that the wages of sin is death, He reached down to mankind. God knew that there was not one man who ever had lived, nor would ever live who was without sin – no, not even one. So God, who loved the world so much that He gave His One and Only Son, so that whosoever believed in Him (Jesus, the Messiah, the Christ, the Son of the living God), should not perish, but have everlasting life. Christianity is knowing and recognizing that apart from Christ, we are dead in our transgressions.
Christianity is confessing with our mouth, right out loud, for the world to hear, and for us to hear, that Jesus is Lord. It is believing in our heart that God raised Him from the dead. It is having the same attitude that Christ Jesus had. Though He was God, He did not demand and cling to His rights as God. He made Himself nothing; He took the humble position of a slave and appeared in human form. And in human form He obediently humbled Himself even further by dying a criminal’s death on a cross. Because of this, God raised Him up to the heights of heaven and gave Him a name that is above every other name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
To be a Christian is to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith, on whom our faith depends from start to finish. He was willing to die a shameful death on the cross because of the joy He knew would be His afterward. It is knowing that every man, woman and child who was, is and is to become a part of His eternal Kingdom, that is every Christian (who is a true worshiper), is the joy that was set before Him.
It knowing that Jesus is seated in the place of highest honor beside God’s throne in heaven, and thinking about all He endured when sinful people did such terrible things to Him, so that we who love Him, don’t become weary and give up. Christianity is believingthat Jesus Christ, the One who paid the debt that every man, woman and child owed (the debt that I owed), so that we who believe would become His beloved bride, His church (not the four walls of a building, but we, His beloved people), could spend eternity with Him.
Christianity is knowing and believing that the same Jesus who was crucified on the cross, died, and was buried, rose from the grave and ascended into heaven on a cloud. It is believing that Christ is preparing a place for His people… His beloved… His bride… and knowing that if He is preparing a place for us, then He will return for us, so that we may be where He is, reigning and ruling with Him for eternity.
Christianity is sharing this Good News… this Gospel with others. It is loving God, first and foremost. It is loving our neighbor as Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us… It is loving our enemies… If we love Him and obey His commands (to love the Lord, our God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength; and to love our neighbor as ourselves), then we will abide in Him, and He will abide in us…
It’s about 1:15am on Wednesday, January 30, 2013, and I am getting ready for bed, but I just wanted to give you a quick update on my mom. Her fever is down, praise God! However, she still has some “crackling” in her lungs, and she is coughing now. My sister and I are praying and believing that the coughing is a good thing, because it is breaking up the fluid in her lungs.
Please continue to pray for her. She asked me if Dad came to see her last night, and I said no, and then, later today, she asked my sister why Dad hasn’t been to see her. My sister didn’t want her to think that Dad didn’t care for her, so she reminded mom (who has dementia) that Dad had passed away.
Please pray for my sister too, because I know that was hard for her to do, and she really misses Dad (who died more than a year ago) too. I love her. She is a good, strong woman, who has been a good daughter to Mom and Dad, taking care of them on her own, when I couldn’t be there for them. I pray that the Lord will let me be a blessing to both my sister and my mother.
At any rate, this has been a difficult day for Mom. Dementia can sometimes be both a blessing and a curse. It’s a blessing, because Mom is able to forget her grief a lot of the time, but it’s also a curse, because whenever she is reminded of Dad’s passing, it’s as though she begins to grieve all over, and for her, it’s like it just happened.
I need to go to bed now, but thank you for praying, and please don’t stop. We all need your prayers.
I pray that the Lord continues to bless each one of you, my beloved brothers and sisters, for sacrificing your time to pray for my family…
One final thing – although I hadn’t planned to write anything today, the Lord gave me a strong word, which I posted a few minutes ago. Please pray for the word that He released through me tonight, that it will touch the hearts of each one who reads it, and accomplish all that He has sent it to accomplish.
“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’
(Matthew 7:21-23 NKJV)
How well do you know God? I’m not talking about how much you know about Him. There are many people who know a whole lot of Scriptures, but they don’t know God.
Just because you read a book about someone doesn’t mean that you know him/her. Because you read something written by an author does not mean that you actually know him/her. Many of you who read my posts do not know me, even though what I’ve written has come straight from my heart and reveals much about me; while others who read my posts have come to know me very well. How is it that you all read the same words that I have written, and perhaps even follow my blog, and yet, only a few know me?
The answer has to do with relationship and intimacy. Some, who have read my words, respond to me, the author of those words. They talk to me, via their comments, and I respond to them. As we begin responding to one another, we come to know and love one another. We become intimate. As we become intimate with one another, both listening and hearing what the other is saying, we begin to see one another’s heart, and as we open up to one another, we come to love one another.
We also learn to see the flaws that each of us have, because we are still human after all, but those flaws do not change our love for one another. If anything, when we see the sin in our brothers and sisters, we hurt and we ache for our brothers and sisters, crying out for their release from the sin, which like a cancer, can destroy them. The knowledge of the sin in our brothers’ or sisters’ lives does not cause us to love them any less; rather it causes us to love them all the more, while we hate that sin which is destroying them, and wage war against it…
In this same way, many who read and study the Word of God do not know Him, because they fail to respond to Him, the Author of those words. Now some may admire and respect His Word, and may know more about His words than others, but they have missed the most important thing. You see, although they admire those words, they have failed to respond to the Author of those words. Rather than taking the time to respond to Him, and listen to His response to them, they just admire Him from afar.
Some people believe the words that He has written, and they apply them to their lives, just as some have admired Socrates and live by his words…
True wisdom comes to each of us when we realize how little we understand about life, ourselves, and the world around us.
Others admire Ghandi and live by his words…
A man is but the product of his thoughts what he thinks, he becomes.
Still others admire Plato and live by his words…
Good people do not need laws to tell them to act responsibly, while bad people will find a way around the laws.
While people may admire these philosophers and live by what they say, the people do not actually know them. In the same way, while many people know Jesus and admire Him, many even try to live according to the Ten Commandments, this does not mean that they actually know Him personally, and intimacy is the very foundation of Christianity. This is why Jesus said:
“Not all people who sound religious are really godly. They may refer to Me as ‘Lord,’ but they still won’t enter the Kingdom of Heaven. The decisive issue is whether they obey My Father in heaven. On judgment day many will tell Me, ‘Lord, Lord, we prophesied in Your name and cast out demons in Your name and performed many miracles in Your name.’ But I will reply, ‘I never knew you. Go away; the things you did were unauthorized.’
(Matthew 7:21-23 NLT)
So, what does Jesus mean when He says we must obey His Father in heaven? How do we know if we really do know Jesus? He makes it plain for us in His word:
If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love. These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full. This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends. You are My friends if you do whatever I command you.
(John 15:10-14 NKJV)
Do you see that? If we obey Jesus’ commandments, we will abide in His love… By this we will know that we are saved… So what does He command us to do?
This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.
(John 15:12 NKJV)
What is the greatest command that God gave us… the one that all of the Law and the prophets is based on?
Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”
(Matthew 22:37-40 NKJV)
Do you know the Lord Jesus Christ, my friends? Do you love Him with all of your heart, soul, mind and strength? Do you love your neighbor as yourself?
I didn’t ask you if you love church, or the bible, or TBN or the God Channel. I asked if you love Jesus… Do you love Him first and best? Remember, the greatest command is to Love God.
How about your neighbor? You know who I mean… Do you love your lazy co-worker who leaves you to pick up after him? Do you love your nosy neighbor who all the time sticks her nose into your business? Do you love your neighbor who says he loves you to your face, then stabs you in the back when you’re not looking? Do you love your neighbor, who is also your enemy? Remember… Jesus tells us to love one another as He loved us…
Do you know how wide and how long, how high and how deep His love for you really is? Let me remind you… While you and I were still sinners, doing the things that pleased ourselves, without a thought of Christ, He loved us. When you and I turned our backs on Him and rejected Him, Jesus still loved us. When you and I stumble and fall, Jesus still loves us. When we denied Him, He loved us still… In all of the sins we committed against Him, He not only kept on loving us, He forgave us! Not only did He forgive us… He picked us up and cleaned up our mess…
Now, I’ll ask you again, do you love God the Father, Son and Holy Ghost? Do you love your neighbor the same way Jesus loves us?
If your answer to either of those questions is no, then you, my friend truly don’t know Christ, and if you don’t know Him, you don’t know the Father… And if you don’t know them, then when Jesus returns, it doesn’t matter how many good deeds you’ve done, He will say to you,“I never knew you. Go away; the things you did were unauthorized.” (Matthew 7:23b NLT)
It’s up to you, my beloved readers and followers… Do you want to know the Author of these 66 books we call the bible? Respond to Him. Develop a relationship with Him by talking to Him and listening to Him, as He speaks to you through His Word. My prayer for each one who reads these words of mine is that when Jesus returns, He will look at you and say,“Come here, My beloved. I’m so glad we’ve come to know one another, and that you did everything I authorized you to do!”
Please pray for my mother, who is in the hospital. You never realize how much you love someone, until they are sick. I may not be posting much this week due to her illness, but I’ve already written the Share the Lovepost, which I will post on Friday, Feb. 1.
Much love to you all, and thank you in advance for your prayers!
I couldn’t believe it when I heard it on the news. I must have misunderstood what was said. Surely the church of my childhood… the church that held such happy memories for me… the church where I first came to know Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior couldn’t have burned. I hadn’t been there since I was around fifteen or sixteen years old, but I always had such fond memories of it.
I remember the first Sunday I attended Gethsemane United Methodist Church, in Reliance, MD as though it were yesterday. The day before, some stranger and his wife came to visit my mother and father, and invited my sister and me to ride on a church bus to this church. I couldn’t believe my parents said yes! They didn’t even know these people, and they had agreed to let them take my sister and me on this bus.
Although I was only around ten or eleven at the time, I had a vivid imagination, and I was very distrustful of people and their motives. I was certain these seemingly nice people were going to get my sister and me on that bus, then kidnap and murder us. The whole ride to church, as the bus would stop and pick up more and more children along the way, Mr. W. stood at the front of the bus, singing songs about Jesus and laughing and smiling. It was really a lot of fun, but I wasn’t about to let my guard down. I didn’t trust these strangers, not one little bit.
I was surprised and relieved when we reached the church, but I was still suspicious. “They probably brought us here in case our parents call to check up on them,” I thought to myself. “They’re probably going to kill us on the way home from church.” Praise God, they obviously didn’t kill any of us, or I wouldn’t be sitting here writing my story for you. Nevertheless, when we were safely delivered to our house that afternoon, after enjoying Sunday School, church and snacks afterward, I continued to be suspicious of them. Perhaps their plan was to win our parents’ confidence, and then, after several months, they would kill us. I remember, I was so distrustful, that I imagined different scenarios of our kidnapping and murder, and I would daydream, imagining different ways in which we might escape.
Eventually, over the months, I began to let my guard down and trust these people, who seemed to genuinely love us and care for us. I couldn’t believe that they really cared for me… my sister, yes, because she was cute and sweet and everything that I wasn’t. I remember how I hung out with some of the tougher girls, those who at the tender young age of twelve or thirteen had already had many boyfriends — and some of their boyfriends were actually men, not boys. I remember that I envied those girls, because they were so much prettier than me, attracting grown men!
As I reflect on these memories now, I am grateful to the Lord for guarding and protecting me, at a time in my life when I was so vulnerable and needy. I remember cursing and swearing with one of the girls, and going behind the community house to smoke cigarettes, because I so wanted to be cool and fit in… and be liked by the boys. I tried to act tough like one of the other girls in particular, whose name, like mine, was Cheryl, and I would be so disrespectful, because I needed to be accepted by someone… And there on that church bus, was Mr. and Mrs. W., who continually showered their love on me.
No matter how bad or disrespectful I was, they treated me with love. I can remember Mrs. W. looking up at me one time, when I had behaved so terribly, with such a look of unguarded love on her face, that it left me feeling ashamed… She acted like she really loved me, but how could that be? At home, when I was bad, my own parents cursed me and called me stupid, dumb@$$, worthless… But here, at church, when I really behaved terribly, Mrs. W. still acted like she loved me. When I misbehaved, she didn’t act like she was angry with me at all… Instead, she looked at me with her pretty, expressive brown eyes that looked as though she was hurt and ready to cry, and continued to love me.
I didn’t understand these church people, but I admired them and loved them, and I wanted to be like them. I remember one Sunday in church, when I was around twelve or thirteen years old, the minister preached a message, and I was compelled to move forward toward the altar, while the hymn, Just As I Am,was being sung by the congregation. There, at that wooden altar, with the red velvet cushions, I knelt on my knees, and asked Jesus to come into my heart and save me and deliver me from evil.
That afternoon, I couldn’t wait to get off the church bus and share the good news with my parents. I remember running into the house and breathlessly telling my mom that I was born again. That really irritated her, and she told me that if I was going to start acting religious like Mr. and Mrs. W., she wasn’t going to let me go to that church anymore. I was devastated. Mr. and Mrs. W. were good, loving people. Why shouldn’t I be like them? I didn’t talk about Jesus to my mom and dad until many, many years later, when I was a grown woman.
I have such fond memories of Gethsemane United Methodist Church, in Reliance, MD, and although the fire completely destroyed the church on May 11, 1998, my memories of it remain intact. A couple of years later, the church was rebuilt, not on the same site as the original structure, but across the street from it. The new church is quite lovely, and although it is a brick structure, it bears no resemblance to the original. Nor does it invoke the same feelings that the original one did.
I pray that the people in this new Gethsemane will impact the lives of men, women and children as the people from the old one changed my life. To the old structure, I reluctantly bid a fond farewell.
Hallelujah! I’m really excited to start this new project the Lord has laid on my heart. Please check out my new page for Share the Love, which explains this new project. I look forward to sharing the love with you, my readers, and my favorite bloggers…
Much love to you all, as we Share the Love of God with one another, and discover new blogs that bless us.
So encourage each other and build each other up, just as you are already doing. (1 Thessalonians 5:11 NLT)
I got up this morning, planning to get a shower and go to church. It didn’t happen. I was in a lot of pain, and up and down a few times during the night, and I didn’t get enough rest to drive safely. The medication that I take for the pain makes me drowsy, and when I’m in a car, the motion of the car puts me to sleep… not good if you’re planning to drive anywhere. My husband couldn’t take me to church, because he has gout.
I was really bummed out about this. I wanted to go to church so badly. I’ve only been able to go to church a couple of times since Christmas, and I was so disappointed. Sometimes, you need to worship with other brothers and sisters, but I’m hurting so bad that I wouldn’t be able to sit or stand for too long anyway. I felt like crying because I so desperately wanted to go… OK - I did cry.
Now, I’m just exhausted… Be near me, O God… Be not far from me…
O Lord, I will worship You right here… right now…
My heart is steadfast, O God, my heart is steadfast… Praise the Lord… Bless the Lord, O my soul!
And now on to our quick weekend challenge. This weekend, we’re sending you back to English 101 to revisit the concept of literary devices. We want you to give us a 33-word example of personification. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The rocks longed to break free from their silence and shout, “Hosanna,” as palm branches and coats danced together merrily, before falling to rest on the ground as a carpet for the King…
Music has always played a critical part of my life… I am one of those fun (some say annoying) people who has a song for just about every topic or occasion. Shall I share a musical sampling of my life’s story with you? Yes. I think I must…
First of all, I was born in Delaware, the first state in the U.S.A…
My mother and my birth father got a D-I-V-O-R-C-E when I was just a baby…
After that, I could probably count on one hand the number of times I saw my father as I grew up…
When I hit puberty, I fell madly, passionately in love with Donny Osmond…
I was an outcast as I grew up lonely and depressed…
Eventually, as circumstances and life became too much for a young girl to handle, I ended up on the psychiatric ward of a local hospital, due to panic attacks… Funnily enough, this song was extremely popular at the time, and I remember whenever that song was played on the radio, those of us on the psychiatric unit would crank it up and sing along loudly!
Within a few months after leaving the hospital, I met the love of my life, and after dating only 5 months, we married…
Many people said we’d never make it, but we’ve been together for more than 31 years now…
My husband and I had two children together…
I began to take my children to church when they were little, thinking that this was something they needed…
I was right. They did need Jesus, but I discovered that I desperately needed Him too…
When I met my Savior, He broke the chains that bound me…
Like David, I danced for joy when He removed the shackles that imprisoned me…
When He set me free, it was a happy day…
Hallelujah! Now I am free to run…
As I began to walk in new found confidence and joy, I was amazed by the love that Jesus has for me…
As He lavished His love on me, I began to fall in love with Jesus…
The more I grew to love Him, the more I sought to worship Him and enter into His presence…
And when I entered into His presence, I was struck by His holiness, for there is none like Him…
There is coming a day, when every knee shall bow, and every tongue will confess that He is Lord!
I truly cannot imagine a world without music… I am so thankful that the Lord gave mankind this gift of music… Without it, life would be very dark and dreary.
The Lord has been speaking to my heart, and He is leading me to start a new blog page and post entitled “Share the Love.” In this post, each month, I will feature one of the blogs that I follow, and encourage you, my readers to visit this blog, and follow it. The Scripture that He gave me for this project is:
11 So encourage each other and build each other up, just as you are already doing. 12 Dear brothers and sisters, honor those who are your leaders in the Lord’s work. They work hard among you and warn you against all that is wrong. 13 Think highly of them and give them your wholehearted love because of their work. And remember to live peaceably with each other. 14 Brothers and sisters, we urge you to warn those who are lazy. Encourage those who are timid. Take tender care of those who are weak. Be patient with everyone. 15 See that no one pays back evil for evil, but always try to do good to each other and to everyone else. (1 Thessalonians 5:11-15 NLT)
My reasons for “Sharing the Love” with my blogging community is to encourage and build my brothers and sisters up, and to obey the Lord. There are so many wonderful blogging sites that we often miss, because we don’t know about them… Therefore, the Lord placed it on my heart to feature one of those sites that bring me joy and/or wisdom each month.
I’m not totally sure what the format will be as I feature one blog each month, however, since I will begin doing this in February, I’m sure the Lord will show me pretty quickly. I intend to be prayerful in this endeavor, so that I can feature the blog that the Lord wants to be featured, beginning February 1, 2013.
God bless each one of you, my beloved readers! I pray this new feature will be a blessing to each one of you.
For years, I’ve said that I would like to preach my own funeral. Maybe that sounds crazy to you, but I’m very serious about that, so when I saw today’s daily prompt, I got excited. No, this isn’t my funeral sermon, which I may share with you someday, but what follows is the eulogy that I hope and pray I inspire others to think of me when my time on earth is through. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Greetings Everyone! In case no one can think of anything good to say about me when I’m gone, I’ve written my own eulogy to be read, so sit back, my friends, and remember me while whoever decided to read this, reads it to you. I know how hard it is for my husband and my children to make a decision about where to go for dinner or what to do on their day off, and I’m guessing that you had a hard time deciding who should read my eulogy at my funeral…
I’ve already taken care of making arrangements so that I can preach at my funeral, which has hopefully relieved some of your burden, and knowing how difficult this decision is for you to make, I want you to get two dice, and roll them, and the one with the highest number is to read my eulogy… As you’ve probably figured out by now, I couldn’t decide who should read the darn thing either, or I would have told you so. I guess the apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree. Anyway, sit back and relax for awhile as I share my memories of me with you…
Oh yes, one more thing before the reader shares my eulogy… You may notice that I am speaking in the present tense, although I’ve passed away, and there’s a very good reason for that. You see, my beloved family and friends, to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord. Although my former dwelling (my flesh, my body) has died, my spirit lives on.
Hallelujah! No more glum faces! This is a celebration, because ever since I came to know the Lord, I’ve longed to see Him face to face. I’ve longed to touch His face, to feel the warmth of His embrace. I yearned for Him to wipe every tear away from my eyes… I desired to touch His nail pierced hands, and put my hand in His side, not to prove that it really happened, but just because I want to honor Him for all of the suffering that He endured for my sake…
The most outstanding thing I can reveal to you about myself is that I truly love the Lord, my God with all of my heart… indeed, my heart beats for Him… Oh! How I love Jesus…
I love the Lord, my God with all of my soul… Every emotion I have comes from Him… He is my joy… He is my peace… I am angry at the things that make Him angry… My heart breaks for the things that break His heart… I yield my soul to Him…
I love the Lord, the King of Glory with all of my mind… Although I had many battles within my mind while I traversed the earth, I can now tell you that the battle has been won! I truly hold every thought captive for Christ… I now fix my thoughts on what is true and honorable and right. I think about things that are pure and lovely and admirable. I think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.
I love the Lord God Almighty, with all of my strength… In my new glorified body, I worship Him in song and in dance… I worship Him in battle — oh yes, my brothers and sisters… those of you who walk with the Lord, and those of you who don’t yet walk with the Lord… The Lord is preparing His saints (hallelujah — yes, I am a saint) for that great and glorious day, when we shall ride with Him, armed for battle, as we are engaged in that great and final battle with the enemy and his demons! My friends, get ready, because the time is drawing near.
Do you remember how I loved to sing — whether it sounded good or not? Do you remember how we would be talking about something, and suddenly I would burst into a song that fit the topic? I used to say that I have a song for every occasion, and it was pretty much true. You should hear me sing now… My voice is beautiful now… it is strong, yet soft and melodious, and guess what? Sometimes, Jesus lets me sing with the angels!
Do you remember how I loved to laugh? Some people loved to hear the sound of my laughter, while others hated it. Do you remember my witty sense of humor? Ok, I thought I had a witty sense of humor, while some thought I was a cornball. Anyway, you know what? I still have that same sense of humor, and I just crack the angels up! The Lord even gets tickled with me sometimes.
I might as well talk about some of my struggles as well. Many times, I was much too quick to anger. All too often, I spoke before I thought. Too many times, I hurt people with my sharp tongue. I know this is supposed to be a eulogy, and it’s supposed to be uplifting, but I always did march to the beat of a different drum. Therefore, since it’s my eulogy and since I wrote it, I can say whatever I want to say in it, right?
So, for every person I lost my temper with… for every one who was hurt by my razor sharp tongue, for every person I hurt, either intentionally or unintentionally, I humbly apologize, and I ask for your forgiveness. There is never a good reason for hurting anyone, therefore, I offer no excuses for my bad behavior. I was wrong to hurt you, and I am truly sorry for everyone that I hurt.
In closing, the most important thing that I could ask anyone to remember about me is this:
Cheryl Showers loved the Lord with all her heart, soul, mind and strength… And Jesus led me all the way!
God bless everyone who took time out of your busy schedule to come and honor me, and please, don’t cry for me I am happier than I ever dreamed I could be! Please, just sit back, listen and enjoy this song, and then go, eat and spend time with one another.
And one more thing… I just have to say this before you bury me. Seek the Lord today, while He may still be found. Call on Him… cry out to Jesus, because I long to see each one of you again. Please don’t harden your hearts!
I love those who love Me, And those who seek Me diligently will find Me. (Proverbs 8:17 NKJV)
I was reading a post today from someone who is seeking spirituality. This person’s cries really touched my heart, and though I responded personally to this person, it made me think of the many others, who are seeking, and what a distorted picture of Christ we give people. I’m not sure where this post will take me, but the Spirit is stirred up within me, and I need to share what He is speaking.
Who was it that said you have to go to church in order to find God? Do you know that I’ve never read that in the bible? Since when does a person have to go to a church in order to find God? Here’s what God says:
I love those who love Me, And those who seek Me diligently will find Me. (Proverbs 8:17 NKJV)
In order to find God, we have to diligently seek Him. That’s not the only place where God says that:
And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart. (Jeremiah 29:13 NKJV)
Does that say anything about coming to church to find God? Does it say anything about following a bunch of rules and regulations to find God?
Please don’t misunderstand me, I’m not saying that we shouldn’t be obedient to the laws of God and man, because there would be utter chaos if we did not. What I am saying is that you will not find God by obeying all of these rules and laws. If you really want to find God, you must diligently seek Him with all your heart.
Doyou want to find God?
Diligently seek Him… This is how diligent is defined indictionary.com:
constant in effort to accomplish something; attentive and persistent in doing anything: a diligent student.
done or pursued with persevering attention; painstaking: a diligent search of the files.
A lot of people say they want to know God, but they never really look for Him. They don’t make much effort. You see, in order to seek God diligently, you have to put forth some effort. You have to be constant in your effort to find Him. You must be attentive and persistent in seeking Him. You must pursue Him with persevering attention. You must be painstaking in your effort to find Him.
Do you remember playing hide and seek as children? There were some children who were “It” and their job was to seek those who hid from them. I used to get irritated with the one’s who were “It,” and after glancing around a little bit, and putting forth very little effort, would just give up and quit – right in the middle of the game! They didn’t even try to find the hiders. If they were “It,” then they would quit. They said they wanted to play hide and seek, but it quickly became apparent, that they only wanted to play if they didn’t have to be “It,” or if they didn’t have to look too hard to find the hiders.
That’s how many people are about God. They say they want to find Him, but they don’t really look for Him. They’re not willing to put forth any effort. They’re not willing to let go of some of their own ideas about finding Him. They’re not willing to let go of their own opinions about how things should be. They’re not willing to look at the bible. They’re not willing to actually live out what the bible says… They don’t really want to know God — they may say they do, but their actions say that they only want to know Him if they don’t have to be “It.”
There were other kids that played hide and seek with passion. Do you remember? These were the ones who left no stones unturned when they were “It.” They would search and search, taking note of the smallest of clues… the rustling of leaves… the slight movement from the midst of a bush… the sound of a giggle coming from behind a tree… They were diligent in their pursuit of the hiders, and they usually found them before they could return to “base.”
In spiritual terms, these are the people who seek God with all their heart. They read the scriptures to find clues about Him. They do what the scriptures say, in order to try the words and see if God is truly in them. They talk to God and listen for His voice. They keep looking and looking, leaving no stone unturned, because they must find Him. These are the people who diligently seek God and find Him.
Often, when the children would play hide and seek, there were those who would try to “help” the person who was “It.” Oh, you know the ones I mean… the ones who would say they saw so and so run that way, when it wasn’t true, sending you off on a wild goose chase. Or they would tell you their opinions… “If I was ‘It,’ I would count faster… or I would do it this way… Those people weren’t really there to help “It.” They were there to make “It’s” job harder.
Sadly, this is true spiritually as well. There will always be those who try to “help” you, by telling you, “Girl, you need to go to church.” Or some might say, “Boy, he needs to find religion.” Then there are those who tell you that you have to say the sinner’s prayer (the bible does’t say anything about that) to find God… They tell you that you can’t wear that short skirt if you want to find God… You can’t have tattoos if you want to find God… If I was you, I would start living right… You better stop cursing… You’ll never change… And that’s just the people in the church, who can distract you from seeking and finding God!
Then, there are those of different faiths, agnostics and atheists… They also do their part in muddying the waters, making it harder to find God by offering their opinions… Where was God when this happened…? If there really is a God, then why…? There are many ways to find God… Christians are intolerant… Christians are too rigid… I have the right to live my life the way I want to live it, without some religion telling me what’s right and what’s wrong…
My friend, do you really want to find God? Do you really want to know the truth? Jesus said:
“I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through Me.” (John 14:6 NLT)
Do you want to know the truth? Go to Jesus. Do you want to know what way to go? Go to Jesus. Do you want to have abundant everlasting life? Go to Jesus. Do you want to find God the Father? Go to Jesus.
My friends, my heart’s desire is that you would know the truth, and that you would not be fooled by the lies that people sometimes knowingly, and sometimes unknowingly tell you. If you want to find God, seek Him and go through Jesus. If you go to Jesus, He said:
“And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:32 NLT)
My friends, I want to encourage you to seek God while He may still be found. My prayer for each one of you is this:
Father, in Jesus’ name, I pray that You will draw each person you lead to read this post, to diligently seek You with all their hearts. I pray, Father, that You would give them a hunger and thirst for You and for righteousness. Lord, I pray that You would reveal to them how deeply You love them. In Jesus’ name, I pray that each man, woman and child who reads this post would come to understand how long, and how wide; how high and how deep Your love for them is. I pray, Lord, that You would give them understanding hearts, and that they would truly understand how much You care for them.
Lord, I pray that You would give these people supernatural wisdom, so that they would not be confused by what “church people” say… so that they would not be confused by what people of other religions say… so that they would not be confused by what people of no religion say… and so they would not be confused by their own opinions of right and wrong… Father, you are not the author of confusion, so I pray that You would speak to the hearts of each person reading this post, and they would come to know and understand You, and Your will…
Father, give each person a heart that diligently seeks You, in Jesus’ name, amen.
Set a timer for ten minutes. Open a new post. Start the timer, and start writing. When the timer goes off, publish. Daily Prompt: Ready, Set Go
So, it’s 12:39am, and I’ve just now gotten home from the hospital with my husband. He had to go to the ER, because they thought he either had a dvt or gout. Praise God, it wasn’t a dvt… Bad news is it was gout, which is extremely painful.
My dad suffered from gout, and when I looked at my husband’s foot this morning, I told him that I thought he had gout. LOL – I could have saved us the emergency room visit, but nobody listens to me. :D Bless his heart, he has been in serious pain today. It broke my heart seeing him struggle to walk to the car earlier today, when we visited his doctor’s office, before going to the ER.
I love that man. He is such a good man, and he’s never mean or hateful to the doctors and nurses, no matter how bad he feels. As a matter of fact, sometimes, he worries that he’s bothering them. God really blessed me with the best husband in the whole world. I think that’s why it hurts so bad to see him hurting.
For those of you who are also believers, please keep my husband in your prayers. Pray that the Lord heals him quickly, and relieves his pain. I really appreciate your prayers, and the prayers of all my brothers and sisters in Christ.
I’m supposed to write for 10 minutes, and since I’ve shared my day with you, I guess the next thing for me to do is to talk to Jesus. :)
Lord, I thank You that there was nothing more serious with my hubby than gout. I thank you that he did not have a blood clot as the doctor feared, and that he will take his medicine and recover quickly. Lord, I thank You for protecting our family, and I thank You for watching over each one of my beloved family, friends, and blogging friends too.
Father, I pray that You would watch over each one of our grandchildren, and protect them from all harm. Lord, Keep them safe, and draw them close to You. Father, I pray for each person who is reading this post, that You would watch over them, and heal any broken hearts. I pray that where there is sickness, You would give them health, where there is heartache, You would grant peace and comfort.
Lord, I pray that You would fill each person with Your love, give them a revelation of how wide, how long, how high and how deep Your love for them really is. Lord, I pray that You would speak to the hearts of men and women, and that You would fill them with an unquenchable hunger for truth and righteousness.
OK – I almost didn’t respond to this prompt, because it is so reprehensible, but then, as I thought about it this morning, at 4:40am, I realized that I should respond to this prompt, just because it is so terrible.
I’m going to approach this from a biblical point of view, simply because that is how I live my life. In everything that I do in life, I try to live in obedience to the God who created me and gives me life. Therefore, when I read this story, I was appalled.
I am well aware that not everyone is a Christian, and therefore, not everyone lives their lives according to the biblical precepts that God has given us. However, even though you may not know scriptures, God writes His law on the hearts of all men, so that all may know what is right and what is wrong. Although not everyone is filled with God’s Holy Spirit, He has given each one of us a conscience (unless your heart has become so hard that your conscience is seared).
Even when Gentiles, who do not have God’s written law, instinctively follow what the law says, they show that in their hearts they know right from wrong. They demonstrate that God’s law is written within them, for their own consciences either accuse them or tell them they are doing what is right. (Romans 2:14-15 NLT)
Therefore, there is something innate, within the hearts of all men and women that is disgusted and repulsed at the thought of killing and eating another human being. This is because God’s law has been written on our hearts, and we know that to murder another human being is sinful and wrong.
Do not murder. (Exodus 20:13 NLT)
This is why cannibalism is sinful and wrong. It is also why abortion, infanticide, and all other types of murder are wrong. We have been given permission by God to eat of any and all other meat in order to survive, but to kill another human being in order to eat him/her is sinful and wrong.
One of the things that struck me as I read the story of Richard Parker and Tom Dudley was the fact that the men in that life boat had not gone without food for a long period of time. Indeed, the very longest that they had gone without any food was seven days at the most. I’ve fasted for much longer than that, and I certainly didn’t suffer!
Therefore, for them to plot to murder Richard Parker, a seventeen year old youth, and justify the murder because they were afraid of going hungry was ludicrous. People do not starve in seven days. There is no excuse for murder.
As far as I can see, this act was nothing more than a selfish, pre-meditated murder, and in answer to the question:
What would you have done?
I would like to believe that I would not even consider such a debased act. As Dudley and Stephens discussed and plotted to murder Richard Parker, it is obvious that neither considered the sanctity of life. Instead of being willing to sacrifice their own lives in order to save the lives of their friends, they sought to sacrifice the weakest person on that life boat. I would never want to be like either of them. Instead, I choose to model my life after that of my Savior, who said:
I command you to love each other in the same way that I love you. And here is how to measure it — the greatest love is shown when people lay down their lives for their friends. (John 15:12-13 NLT)
It is obvious to me that these men had no love for anyone other than themselves… Look at the contrast between these men, who plotted to kill one another and eat one another for their own sake, and Jesus… He set the standard for how we are to live.
Your attitude should be the same that Christ Jesus had. Though He was God, He did not demand and cling to His rights as God. He made himself nothing; He took the humble position of a slave and appeared in human form. And in human form He obediently humbled Himself even further by dying a criminal’s death on a cross. (Philippians 2:5-8 NLT)
Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how He did it. Because He never lost sight of where He was headed – that exhilarating finish in and with God – He could put up with anything along the way: cross, shame, whatever. And now He’s there, in the place of honor, right alongside God. (Hebrews 12:2 The Message)
You see, because of His great unselfish love for us, Jesus willingly laid down His life, so that we could have eternal life.
“The Father loves Me because I lay down My life that I may have it back again. No one can take My life from me. I lay down My life voluntarily. For I have the right to lay it down when I want to and also the power to take it again. For My Father has given Me this command.” (John 10:17-18 NLT)
In the garden of Gethsemane, on the night that Jesus was unjustly arrested, Peter tried to defend Jesus by grabbing a sword and cutting the ear off the high priest’s servant, but rather than trying to run or fight against the enemy, look what Jesus did when Peter cut the servant’s ear off:
When the other disciples saw what was about to happen, they exclaimed, “Lord, should we fight? We brought the swords!” And one of them slashed at the high priest’s servant and cut off his right ear. But Jesus said,“Don’t resist anymore.”And He touched the place where the man’s ear had been and healed him. (Luke 22:49-51 NLT)
“Put away your sword,” Jesus told him. “Those who use the sword will be killed by the sword. Don’t you realize that I could ask My Father for thousands of angels to protect us, and He would send them instantly? But if I did, how would the Scriptures be fulfilled that describe what must happen now?” (Matthew 26:52-54 NLT)
Do you see? Jesus willingly laid His life down for mankind, and He calls those who love Him to do the same… Therefore, as a child of the Most High God, and friend of Jesus, I would rather lay my life down protecting the more than 3000 unborn children who are brutally slaughtered in legalized abortions daily… I would rather lay down my life protecting those who would murder themselves… I would rather lay down my life to protect the many murder victims in this country, and around the world… and yes, I would have much rather laid down my life for young Richard Parker, than to murder him and feed off his body…
You see, mankind was created in the image of God, and every man, woman and child was created for a purpose God only knows, and it is He alone who has the right to give life and to take life… I firmly adhere to sanctity of human life.
When I saw the following troubling video, I was heartbroken… heartbroken for the many women whose lives have been destroyed by abortion…
I was heartbroken for the millions of unborn babies who will…
Never see their mother’s face…
Never hear their mother’s voice singing a lullaby to them…
Never feel the warmth of their mother’s arms around them…
Never press their lips to their mother’s breast to draw nourishment and comfort from her…
Never feel the warmth of their mother’s breath, as she bends down to kiss them and whisper, “I love you” to them…
After watching this video, my heart was filled with overwhelming compassion for one of the women in particular… Although this young woman had changed her mind about aborting her baby, she had been forced to undergo the abortion anyway, and I was inspired to write a parable loosely based on this incident… Even though this parable is loosely based on the incidents that occurred in the preceding video, the characters are not based on any one person but on humankind in general… The message that flows from the story below is the immeasurable value and sanctity of every human life… ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
From a distance, as though they were coming through a black tunnel, she heard voices talking about someone. “She seems to be coming to,” the voice of a female spoke. Although she couldn’t see her through the blackness, she could tell by the sound of her voice that she was a white woman.
“Don’t worry about it,” said an educated male voice. This voice sounded as though it came from a black man. Both voices sounded familiar to her, as though she knew the people who spoke, but her mind was so fuzzy, that she just couldn’t remember where she had heard them before.
Her mind was so… so… cloudy and murky… She felt so nauseated… so dizzy… There was a dreadful ringing in her ears, and the voices whirred around her, becoming louder and louder… “I think I’m going to throw up,” she spoke… or did she speak? Maybe she just imagined she was speaking.
And then she heard another sound coming through the long dark tunnel. It was the thin reedy sound of a newborn baby crying… she fought with all her might to open her eyes, because it suddenly dawned on her that the baby she was hearing was her baby. Tears began to slide down her cheeks, but her arms were tied down, and she couldn’t move to wipe them. Through lips that were dry and chapped, she struggled to speak. “My baby,” she croaked, as she fought to rise to the surface of the shroud of darkness and open her eyes.
Suddenly, as she battled with her heavy eyelids and the nausea, she heard a terrible snapping sound, like the sound of breaking bones, and as her eyes finally opened, she saw her newborn infant, a little girl, twitching spasmodically, as her cries immediately ceased. She watched in horror, as the doctor uncaringly tossed the infant into a trash can, and then unconsciousness once again mercifully engulfed her.
She awakened again, in the same dirty bed, with blood splattered on her sheets and the floor. She was alone in the room except for an office worker, who smiled when she opened her eyes. “Oh good,” she said exuberantly, “you’re awake now. I was beginning to worry.”
“My baby,” the woman moaned painfully. “Where is she? I want to see my baby.”
“Your baby?” the other woman queried. “You had an abortion, don’t you remember?”
“No,” the patient moaned, shaking her head from side to side. “I told you I changed my mind. I said I didn’t want an abortion. You know I did. I told you and I told that doctor that I want to keep my baby.”
“I’m sorry, Sweetie,” the middle-aged office worker calmly replied, “You signed all of the forms, and you didn’t say anything to us about keeping the baby. Now, let me go over these orders with you, so you can go home, and we can lock up for the day. It’s past quitting time, and I need to get home to my family.”
The patient looked at the woman incredulously, as the truth began to dawn on her. “That wasn’t a dream, was it?” she questioned. “You killed my baby girl, didn’t you?”
This time, the woman looked at her with a look of hatred and contempt, as she replied, “You’d better watch what you say,” she snapped, “or you could easily end up being just another statistic. Wouldn’t it be awful if something happened to you on the way home?”
The patient met her gaze with fear, feeling helpless as she lay there in the filth and squalor of that room, not responding as the woman continued, “Not that anyone would miss another one of you girls if you just disappeared. You and your kind are a dime a dozen. You fool around, get knocked up and then you want an abortion. It’s the same thing, day in and day out. I won’t be surprised to see you right back here in a couple of months, knocked up and wanting another abortion.”
The patient, whose name was Shimera, shook her head silently, as tears slid down her high, milk chocolate colored cheeks, which had a reddish hue, due to her upset and the fever that was setting in. “Now,” Charlotte, the middle-aged office worker stuck her face into Shimera’s. “Here’s a prescription for antibiotics. You’ll probably have some bleeding for about a week or so, and after that, it should begin to lighten up,” she said as she led the young woman to the door, taking her coat off the rack and handing it to her as she pushed her out the door. Grabbing Shimera’s arm, and digging her nails into it, Shimera looked up into Charlotte’s eyes, which were as cold as ice. “Remember, you were the one who wanted the abortion, and we have the forms you signed to prove it. No one is going to take the word of an ignorant young black girl over that of a kind and benevolent doctor and his staff.” With that, she gave her a shove, causing Shimera to stumble and fall to her knees at the bottom of the steps.
Slowly, painfully, in the frigid winter air, Shimera made her way down the street, glancing behind her periodically, to make sure she wasn’t being followed. Tears slid down her cheeks, as she made her way to her Aunt Tessa’s house. They had taken every penny she had out of her wallet, leaving her penniless. Aunt Tessa’s house wasn’t too much farther. A slow rage began to boil within her, as she stumbled along in the cold. Dr. Johnson and Charlotte had made a big mistake in judging her, for although Shimera was poor and black, she was not stupid, nor was she ignorant to the laws of the land.
Finally, shivering from the cold and the fever that blazed through her body, she made her way to Aunt Tessa’s house, and began pounding on the door, and shouting weakly, “Aunt Tessa,” she cried out weakly, please open up. After what seemed like an eternity, Aunt Tessa appeared at the door and opened it, as Shimera crumpled to the ground in a pool of blood.
To read the rest of this parable, please visit the Justice for Shimera page on this website.
If you could choose to be a master (or mistress) of any skill in the world, which skill would you pick? Daily Prompt: I Got Skills ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
If I could be the mistress of any skill in the world, I would choose language. Scripture calls this the gift of tongues, and sometimes, even today, the Lord gives people this gift of speaking in other languages, with no formal training, so they can share the good news with all of the nations of the world…
On the day of Pentecost, seven weeks after Jesus’ resurrection, the believers were meeting together in one place. Suddenly, there was a sound from heaven like the roaring of a mighty windstorm in the skies above them, and it filled the house where they were meeting. Then, what looked like flames or tongues of fire appeared and settled on each of them. And everyone present was filled with the Holy Spirit and began speaking in other languages, as the Holy Spirit gave them this ability. Godly Jews from many nations were living in Jerusalem at that time. When they heard this sound, they came running to see what it was all about, and they were bewildered to hear their own languages being spoken by the believers. (Acts 2:1-6 NLT)
The Lord has given me the gift of communicating with people, but I would love if He would give me the gift of tongues, so that I could speak to people of every tongue and tribe and nation, and share the gospel of Christ with them. I would love to be able to share with men, women and children of all nations the wonderful news that Jesus loves you with an everlasting love. I would share with everyone the hope of glory.
I would be able to say to each one, Come now, let us reason together. Though your sins are like scarlet, They shall be as white as snow; Though they are red like crimson, They shall be as wool. I would tell them, all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and that there is none who is righteous, not even one. Then, after sharing this with the people, I would also share this truth… The wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus, our Lord.
I would tell all, the good news that God loved the world so much, that He sent His only Son to die and pay for our sins, so that everyone who believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. I would say, that while the devil comes to steal, kill and destroy, Jesus came that we might have an abundant life. I would share the truth with all, so that they would know the truth, and the truth would set them free.
The most important thing that I would verbalize with this gift of language is the love of Christ. You see, though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, if I have not love, I would be nothing more than a clanging gong or a noisy cymbal. Even if I prophesied, and knew all things, and could tell you great mysteries and things, if I have not love, I am nothing. You see, this gift of language would profit me nothing, if I do not love the people I am communicating with.
Therefore, in requesting this gift, I don’t want to use it for my own benefit, for that would profit me nothing. I would like to have this gift so that I can share the love of Christ with all mankind… However, since I don’t currently have this gift of language or tongues, what a blessing that God has given me a forum right here on WordPress, where I can share His love to people of every tongue and tribe and nation. I guess this means that I already am the mistress of the skill of language!
Ok, I know I’ve already posted twice today, and this makes three, but my heart is filled with joy, and I just feel the need to share my blessings with all of you.
I praise God, because He has such a deep love for His children, that He moves upon the hearts of others on our behalf. I praise Him, because He has placed each one of you, my readers, into my life. It isn’t by accident that you read and follow my blog. It’s all a part of His design, so that we can pray for and encourage one another, just as it is no accident that I follow people’s blogs.
I just wanted to take a brief moment to thank each and every one of you for taking time out of your busy schedule to read the words that the Lord gives me. I want to thank you for taking the time to comment or like when you’re led to do so. Most importantly, for those who are led to pray for me, thank you. Thank you for listening to the Holy Spirit when He leads you to pray for me. Thank you for loving me enough to pray for me.
And now, as I get ready to close, I want to leave you with a blessing… May the Lord bless you and keep you. May He cause His face to shine on you and be gracious and lift the light of His countenance and give you peace in Jesus’ name, amen.
Give your burdens to the LORD, and He will take care of you. He will not permit the godly to slip and fall. (Psalm 55:22 NLT)
I limped clumsily into the brightly lit local pharmacy, feeling great pain, and more than a little frustration as I went to get my prescription for pain medication filled. On this cold and blustery night, my husband and I had ridden out of town, to several pharmacies, looking for one that had my prescription in stock, at the lowest price, since I no longer have health insurance. I turned the seat warmer on to try and take some of the chill off as we drove around. Finally, after driving all over, I called one last pharmacy, located in my home town, not really expecting them to have my medication either, but wouldn’t you know it? They had my pain medication, for the same price as the out of town pharmacy I had gone to. I could have saved money and time if I had just called this pharmacy in the first place, but I just assumed because of past experience, that this pharmacy would be too expensive. On the way back to our hometown pharmacy, I dozed off, as the seat warmer did its magic and soothed my aching back.
As my husband and I walked into the pharmacy, I hobbled past the rows of grocery items, and the candy shelves, trying to keep my eyes from wandering to the chocolates, which I dearly love, but don’t need. We walked down the book and magazine aisle, on my right, and I briefly glanced at the books, thinking to myself, one day, one of my books would rest on these shelves, in the midst of the flashy magazines and novels.
As we approached the pharmacy counter, a woman who appeared to be in her mid-sixties, with what appeared to be Miss Clairol Nice ‘N Easy ash blonde hair, reddish brown glasses and a warm smile, asked if she could help us. When I presented my prescription to her, she grinned saying, “Oh, you’re the lady I just talked to on the phone.” I smiled back at her and gave her my birth date and my address, and then walked to the brown seats on the left side of the counter, where I gratefully sat and rested my aching back and legs, while waiting for my prescription to be filled.
A couple of minutes later, the same woman called to me, stating that she had a pharmacy discount card for me and she just needed my phone number so that she could hopefully save me some money. I thankfully shared my phone number with her, as I no longer have health insurance, and just this prescription alone was going to cost me nearly $100. As soon as she ran the discount card through, she popped back over to the counter and spoke to me again, saying, “Mrs. Showers, I just wanted to let you know that with this discount card, your prescription has been reduced to $45.”
“Oh hallelujah!” I responded, and my response must have pleased her as she walked away smiling joyfully.
A couple of minutes later, the pharmacist, a slightly balding dark-haired man with black plastic rimmed glasses called to me, as he worked on filling my prescription, asking what kind of insurance I carried. I explained to him that I was no longer employed, and therefore I was no longer insured. He then asked me if I still had my old insurance card. I wasn’t sure, but after looking in my wallet, I found it and gave it to him. He then ran it through his computer system, and couple of minutes later, he returned it to me with a big grin on his face, as he informed me that my expired insurance card had indeed gone through, and my prescription would now only cost me $17.50.
If I wasn’t in so much pain, I would do a happy dance! I can’t even begin to describe to you the joy I’ve found in these months since I’m no longer working. It’s been a hard road… I haven’t received a paycheck since November, and my husband’s business has been extremely slow, and yet, the Lord has continued to meet our needs every step of the way, and I am so thankful. This is just another example of God’s supernatural favor on me, not because of my goodness, but because HE is so good and kind. He takes wonderful care of His children.
My friends, I just had to share this wonderful testimony of what God did for me tonight, and I want to let each one of you know that God loves all of His children equally. He doesn’t love me any more than He loves you… And for those of you who do not know and love God, He loves you too, and He longs for you to turn away from your sins and turn to Him in Jesus’ name, so that He can care for you as well. This is the prayer that I pray for each one of my brothers and sisters in Christ, for those who already are, and for those who will one day become children of the Most High God:
When I think of the wisdom and scope of God’s plan, I fall to my knees and pray to the Father, the Creator of everything in heaven and on earth. I pray that from His glorious, unlimited resources He will give you mighty inner strength through His Holy Spirit. And I pray that Christ will be more and more at home in your hearts as you trust in Him. May your roots go down deep into the soil of God’s marvelous love. And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep His love really is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is so great you will never fully understand it. Then you will be filled with the fullness of life and power that comes from God. Now glory be to God! By His mighty power at work within us, He is able to accomplish infinitely more than we would ever dare to ask or hope. May He be given glory in the church and in Christ Jesus forever and ever through endless ages. Amen. (Ephesians 3:14-21 NLT)
I’ve always been a dreamer. I believe God created me to dream so that I could not only survive the pain of my youth, but also thrive, in spite of many obstacles. From the time I was a child, I was picked on and rejected by my peers, my teachers and my family. I lived in fear and loneliness, and you would think that I would be miserable, but I wasn’t.
You see, God blessed me with hope and dreams. I could be anywhere, in almost any sort of situation, and be able to imagine a better life and a better world. I would dream of ways that I could escape the situation I was in. And the Lord blessed me with perseverance as well. No matter how many times I got knocked down, no matter how many times I was beat or punished, I would still dream of a better life. I still hoped for something better, and I believed it would happen.
At sixteen, life was hard. In order to “teach me” how to drive better, my stepfather would take me for rides in our old green Pontiac Bonneville station wagon, and I would have to sit on his lap, while he gyrated and breathed heavily beneath me. I hated it. Like any teenager that age, I desperately wanted to learn how to drive, but the cost was much too high…
I had all kinds of dreams. I loved to sing, and I would envision myself on stage, singing to millions of adoring fans… I planned to start out as a cosmetologist to the stars, and then Donny Osmond, my true love, would come to me and as I styled his hair, he would fall madly, passionately in love with me, and he would rescue me and marry me, taking me on stage with him… I dreamed that one day, my birth father, my Daddy John, (a man that I had only seen a handful of times) would come swooping in, like a knight in shining armor and rescue me from the life I was living… I dreamed that my mother would stand up for me and leave my stepfather, taking my sister and me away, to start a new life…
Did any of those dreams that I envisioned at sixteen come true? No… not a single one of those dreams came true. However, I got something so much better. You see, three years later, when I was nineteen years old, after spending twenty-one days on the psychiatric ward of a local hospital, I went to work at the jewelry counter of a chain store called Ames Department Store. It was there that I met a hard working young man who became my husband just a few months later.
This young man was my hero… my rescuer. After dating for only five months, we got married, two days before my twentieth birthday. My mother and stepfather predicted that the marriage would never last more than six months… I’m also happy to report that none of their predictions for my life came true either.
You see, I have been married to that same young man, (who is no longer so young) for more than thirty-one years, and he is still my hero. Many times over the years, I have had to face changes, and my husband has been there by my side, encouraging and believing in me. When the Lord led me to go to school and get my associate’s degree in ministry, my husband, who does not yet know Christ personally, was with me, encouraging me to go for my dreams, believing that I could do it. When I told him of my dream to write a book recently, a dream that I had kept secret for many years, he didn’t laugh at me. He believed I could accomplish it.
I’ve faced many difficult times since I was sixteen years old, but I give thanks to God, who has given me hope in the midst of trials… I give thanks to the God, who has given me dreams for the future… I give thanks to the God, who has held me in the palm of His hand, protecting me and guarding me, ensuring that I would become everything that He created me to be.
Now glory be to God! By His mighty power at work within us, He is able to accomplish infinitely more than we would ever dare to ask or hope. (Ephesians 3:20 NLT)
“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’(Matthew 7:21-23 NKJV)
Today, I want to continue to study the Words of Jesus by examining our own hearts to determine if we are truly children of God. You see, just because you may be on the church’s administrative council, or the board of trustees, or a member of the choir, or the choir director, or a Sunday school teacher, or even a prophet, evangelist, apostle, bishop or pastor, does not make you a child of God. These things to not guarantee you or me free admission to heaven. Indeed, even if someone works miracles, and does signs and wonders, this does not grant them the privilege of entering God’s Kingdom.
There are many people in the U.S. and around the world who claim that they are Christians… many who attend church every time the doors are open… many who preach… many who prophesy and evangelize, but they are not who they say and even believe they are. Do you understand that claiming to be something, or someone does not make it true, not even if you believe what you’re saying? There are a lot of insane people who truly believe they are someone else, perhaps even someone famous, but no matter how much they believe, it is not true.
It’s the same with Christians. The Word of God tells us what we must do to be born again and saved…
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life. God did not send His Son into the world to condemn it, but to save it.
“There is no judgment awaiting those who trust Him. But those who do not trust Him have already been judged for not believing in the only Son of God. Their judgment is based on this fact: The light from heaven came into the world, but they loved the darkness more than the light, for their actions were evil. They hate the light because they want to sin in the darkness. They stay away from the light for fear their sins will be exposed and they will be punished. But those who do what is right come to the light gladly, so everyone can see that they are doing what God wants.” (John 3:16-21 NLT)
How do you know if you are a Christian?
You must believe in Jesus Christ – that He is the only Son of God…
Salvation that comes from trusting Christ — which is the message we preach — is already within easy reach. In fact, the Scriptures say, “The message is close at hand; it is on your lips and in your heart.” For if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by confessing with your mouth that you are saved. As the Scriptures tell us, “Anyone who believes in Him will not be disappointed.” (Romans 9:8-11 NLT)
Contrary to what you’ve been told, praying a sinner’s prayer or repeating words after someone will not save you… Scripture says nothing about this… Remember in my post from January 17, 2013, you were warned to “Beware of False Prophets.” This is one of the false teachings that are taught, which lead people to think they’re saved when in reality, they only recited some words, which did not change their hearts…
Salvation comes from trusting Christ – do you trust Him?
Have you confessed with your mouth that Jesus is ***Lord? (see definition of Lord below)
It is by confessing with your mouth that you are saved. Have you confessed with your mouth that Jesus is Lord?
Do you believe in your heart that God raised Christ from the dead? Believing in your heart that God raised Christ from the dead, makes you right with God…
Please note – good deeds, random acts of kindness, giving to charity, following all of the commandments, etc. are not what makes us right with God:
We are all infected and impure with sin. When we proudly display our righteous deeds, we find they are but filthy rags. Like autumn leaves, we wither and fall. And our sins, like the wind, sweep us away. (Isaiah 64:6 NLT)
You must trust Jesus…
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths. (Proverbs 3:5-6 NKJV)
Do you trust Jesus with all of yourheart in all of your circumstances and situations?
Do you trust Him even though you don’t understand Him, and you cannot see how you can accomplish what He has sent you to do?
Do you trust Him even though you see no way out?
Do you trust Him to make all things work for good, even though you see no good in your situation?
Or do you rely on your own wisdom and ability to rescue you?
Or do you rely on others to help you?
Do you acknowledgeJesus in all your ways? Below is the definition for acknowledge fromdictionary.com:
to admit to be real or true; recognize the existence, truth, or fact of: to acknowledge one’s mistakes.
In all of your ways, do you admit that Jesus is real and true, that He does in fact exist, and that He is the only One who gives you true love, life, hope, salvation, deliverance?
to show or express recognition or realization of: to acknowledge an acquaintance by nodding.
In all your ways, in everything that you do, to you show or express recognition… do you recognize Jesus as the Lord of your life?
a person who has authority, control, or power over others; a master, chief, or ruler.
a person who exercises authority from property rights; an owner of land, houses, etc.
a person who is a leader or has great influence in a chosen profession: the great lords of banking.
a feudal superior; the proprietor of a manor.
a titled nobleman or peer; a person whose ordinary appellation contains by courtesy the title Lord or some higher title.
to recognize the authority, validity, or claims of: The students acknowledged the authority of the student council.
In everything you do, in all your ways, do you recognize Christ’s authority?
Do you seek to obey His will or your own?
to show or express appreciation or gratitude for: to acknowledge a favor.
In all that happens in your life… the good and the bad… do you show or express appreciation and gratitude for all that Christ has done for you?
When you accomplish something, do you show or express appreciation and gratitude to Christ, or do you accept all of the accolades for yourself?
to indicate or make known the receipt of: to acknowledge a letter.
Do you make known to others all that Christ has done for you?
My friend, I urge you to pray about the things I’ve talked about in this post, and seek God’s face as well as His word. It is important that you research these things, that you read the Scriptures so that you will know whether I speak words of truth to you or not. Although there are many false prophets who will pay for leading many people astray, understand that each person is also responsible for his/her own salvation. In other words, even though there may be a false prophet among you, misleading many people, each person is responsible to read the word of God to see if what they are being taught is in fact true… (To be continued…)
May the Lord bless you as you search His word for the truth, in Jesus’ name.
This post is for Caddo’s Seven Word Sundays! My seven words are in two parts this Sunday, because that’s what the Lord placed on my heart. :)
(Psalm 103:7a NKJV)
I love this portion of scripture, because it speaks volumes. He made known His ways to Moses… When you’re intimate with someone, you know their ways… You know what each glance means… You know what each smile means… You know the things that please the one you’re intimate with, and you know the things that displease him/her… You know what buttons to push, when you’re intimate with someone…
I’ve been married to my husband for more than 31 years. Because we’re intimate, I know how to put a smile on that man’s face, and I know how to irritate him. I know how to make him laugh, and I know the things that hurt him. Because we’re intimate, we know how to communicate with each other without even speaking. Because we are intimate, we even think alike on many issues…
This is the kind of relationship that God had with Moses. It’s the kind of relationship He wants with us… It’s the kind of relationship I want with Him…
HisActstoTheChildrenofIsrael (Psalm 103:7b NKJV)
The children of Israel weren’t intimate with God like Moses was. They knew the mighty acts He did… how He sent the plagues to Egypt… How He parted the Red Sea… How He led them through the wilderness with a pillar of fire and a cloud… How He sent manna from heaven… They knew all about those mighty acts of God, but they didn’t know Him intimately, nor did they want to. It was enough for them to just receive His gifts… It was all they wanted from Him…
So… what do you want? Do you want to know His ways, or is it enough to only know His acts?
In today’s world, some might not see this as a big deal. In fact, many call it a rite of passage, but the truth is that we are living in a world that calls right wrong, and wrong right. Sadly, many in our culture believe that there are no absolute rights or wrongs.
Destruction is certain for those who say that evil is good and good is evil; that dark is light and light is dark; that bitter is sweet and sweet is bitter. (Isaiah 5:20 NLT)
When I was eighteen, my parents and my sister went away for the weekend, leaving me behind, because I had to work on that Saturday morning. My parents asked my uncle and his wife to keep an eye out for me while they were gone, so after work, I called them up to see if they would mind if I stopped by for a little while, since I had no plans that day. As I recall, (and please remember, this was more than thirty years ago) they said that they would be drinking and partying that night, and I was welcome to join them, but if I thought I would be offended, I shouldn’t come.
I decided that since my life had thus far been pretty boring, that I would join the party. I remember that this happened in the summer time, because it was still light out for a long time. When I walked into the house, many, including my uncle and his wife were already drinking exuberantly. They were loud and obnoxious, and in my foolish sight, they were pretty awesome. They asked if I wanted a tequila sunrise, and I said yes… and yes again… and again… and again…
Before long, I was feeling woozy. Everyone was laughing and having a great time, and they were laughing at me too. I felt everyone’s approval, and for the first time in my life, I felt like I was the life of the party. Therefore, when they asked if I could keep a secret, I immediately agreed. I wasn’t going to spoil anyone’s fun, and I liked being so popular with everyone.
That’s when they brought out the bong. I’d never seen one before, and I had no idea what we were going to do next, but I thought it involved some kind of party game. I was pretty naïve, but as they began deftly rolling joints, and lit the bong, I was soon up to speed on what was going on. They offered me a toke, and said I didn’t have to do it if I didn’t want to. It was cool, but I was drunk and enjoying my new party girl status, so I toked and smoked with the best of them.
Then, at some point, as everyone was laughing and partying, it was decided that we would take our party to one of the bars everyone loved to frequent at the beach, some forty-five minutes away. My uncle loaded his vehicle with several of his closest friends, and I was left to ride in another car, with his other friends. The crew I was riding with were pretty rough and scary looking, and I was beginning to feel really woozy, and a little nauseated.
On the drive to the beach, my nausea was increasing at an alarming rate. At some point, in an effort to stop the nausea and the spinning in my head, I laid down on this woman’s lap and closed my eyes. It didn’t help. “I’m going to die,” I moaned as she gently rubbed my hair and assured me that I was going to be okay. Her touch was comforting, but I really did feel as though I was going to die… and then, “I’m going to be sick!” I said as I began retching. They quickly pulled the vehicle over, and gently opened my door and helped me lean over, as I threw up all over my feet. I can’t remember if I got sick in the vehicle or not. I only know that I was miserable, and that these strangers (including this great big burly man, who was really scary looking with tattoos and a red bandana), who I did not even know were so gentle and kind as they cared for me.
Meanwhile, my uncle and his wife kept their distance from me, leaving the strangers to care for me. I was really hurt by that at the time, but I was also so grateful to the strangers who gently cleaned me up, as my uncle and his wife looked on from about fifteen or twenty feet away, so as not to be touched by the stench of the barf. After cleaning me up, the gentle giant and his wife helped me back into their vehicle, laying my head gently on his wife’s lap, and speaking to me kindly and soothingly, as we continued on our way to the beach. Needless to say, I drank no more alcohol that night, for fear of getting sick. Instead, I stuck to Cokes for the rest of the evening… This certainly was not a night that I was proud of…
So, in answer to the question asked, “Were you burned, or did things turn out for the best?” from my lawbreaking evening, I say yes. Was I burned? Yes on a couple of different levels… Firstly, I got so dreadfully, horribly sick, which took away my desire for alcohol and a party life… Secondly, my conscience was pricked.
Even when Gentiles, who do not have God’s written law, instinctively follow what the law says, they show that in their hearts they know right from wrong. They demonstrate that God’s law is written within them, for their own consciences either accuse them or tell them they are doing what is right. (Romans 2:14-15 NLT)
For months, I carried this secret shame within me, while it gnawed away at my conscience. I knew that what I had done was wrong, and every time my mother would tell me how proud she was of me, because I could be trusted while she went away, I would feel intense guilt and self-loathing.
Finally, one night, probably around six or eight months following that shameful night, my mom came to my room for something. It’s been so long ago, I don’t remember the small details, but I do remember the larger details. Mom sat on the side of my bed talking to me and telling me how much she loved me, and how proud she was of me, while I wept like a baby. I was so ashamed, and finally, I couldn’t take it anymore, and so I told her why she should not love me or be proud of me, and I told her every detail of that horrible, wretched night, when I had gotten drunk and high.
Knowing our past relationship, I fully expected my mother to beat me mercilessly, and curse me, and tell me how worthless I was. Then, I could feel some justification for my sins… but this time, she fooled me. She looked at me, and with tears in her eyes, she hugged me and told me how much she loved me, and that she forgave me. I tell you, I felt such an overwhelming love for my mother that night, and I still do, as I remember that.
I am so thankful for the love she shared with me when I confessed my sin to her. So you see, yes I was burned, but not by the law. I was burned by my own conscience, as God’s Holy Spirit convicted me of my sin, and yes, it did indeed work out for the best. You see, I was able to understand that despite our rocky, abusive relationship, my mother does love me, and I love her deeply. I also learned that drunkenness and being wasted are not the fun that everyone thinks they are. Quite frankly, they only serve to harm and destroy us.
And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose for them.
Hi and welcome to a look inside Israel today. Our sis in Jerusalem shares some of what is going on in her country and in her heart! Thank you for reading and praying! Now, here she is . ..
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
I greet you from Jerusalem, where we are preparing for Elections this coming Tuesday. It has been a grueling battle as our notorious political system exhibits its ‘colorful’ nature. That is a nice way of putting it I guess. The display of some 37(?) (I lost track.) political parties battling it out in the mud is something that grieves me. I try to listen to enough to be informed, but even more so to bring it to Him and find His direction, for certainly He cares about this country… these countries (yours and mine)…and we try to be good stewards…walking in the world but not being of…
I remember taking swimming lessons about six years ago, when I was 45 years old. I don’t know what possessed me to take swimming lessons, after all of these years of not swimming, other than the fact that my work place had offered the lessons for free to the first ten people who signed up for it. I’m a sucker for things free, therefore, I was among the top ten…
Now, you must understand that I took swimming lessons as a child, and while I learned and grasped the technique in my mind, when it came to actually swimming, I just couldn’t do it. I did learn how to float on my back, quite well, if I do say so myself, however actually swimming required something that I was both unable and unwilling to force myself to do… It required getting your face wet… Now, lets fast forward thirty-some years to my adult swimming lessons.
This was the most challenging, frustrating thing that I’ve ever attempted. You see, it turns out that after all of these years, swimming hasn’t changed much. You’re still required to get your face wet, and lo, these many years later, I have maintained my aversion to getting my face wet… In case you’re wondering, I have figured out how to shower without getting my face sprayed… I use a washcloth to clean my face, but I never willingly stick my face in water, or allow the shower to spray my face… Sorry, I digress…
Back to the subject. Aside from the “get your face wet” requirement, adult swimming lessons required a few added components, which made swimming lessons difficult for me. Unfortunately, I was so blinded by the free swimming lessons, that I hadn’t stopped to think that I would actually have to wear a bathing suit in front of other people that I know… my peers and co-workers…
You see, I’m overweight… I don’t look like I did when I was a 103 lb young adult… I have jiggles and wrinkles that I don’t even like to subject myself to seeing in a mirror, let alone my co-workers. Therefore, when I showed up for my first swimming lesson, I made it clear that I was not removing my tee-shirt, and if they required me to remove my tee-shirt, I was out of there. (I was secretly hoping they would not agree to this, but they very kindly allowed me to take my lessons in my tee-shirt.)
Every week, for the next six weeks, I forced myself to show up for swimming lessons after work. I borrowed a bathing suit from a friend, because I didn’t have one of my own, and since these were free swimming lessons, it would have defeated the purpose if I went and actually spent money to buy a swimsuit for the free swimming lessons. I faithfully showed up to each of the lessons, because when I commit to something, whether I like it or not, I follow through with it, however, I refused to stick my face down in the water. (There are just some things I’m not willing to do, regardless of whether it’s free or not!)
Finally, the last night of swimming lessons arrived, and we had been told the week before to wear clothes and shoes that we did not mind getting wet, because we were going to jump into the deep end with our clothes, so we could see what it was like, in case we were ever on a cruise ship and fell overboard. Presumably, by experiencing this, we would learn what to do, in order to keep ourselves from drowning… We would also be required to jump into the deep end and remain afloat for one minute in our bathing suits.
I showed up for that final night, and I really intended to follow through with this… But then it hit me! If I jumped into the deep end, my head would go under the water until I came back up to the top… If my head went under the water, my face would get wet! What was I thinking? Everyone went to the edge and one by one, they took their turn and jumped into the deep end, except for one woman, who had quit swimming lessons the first week due to her fear of the water, and then it was my turn to jump in.
I looked at my instructor and the other students, and I very calmly told her that I would pass on this part of my swimming lessons. She began to cajole me, urging the other students to “encourage” me as well, and in her attempt to goad me into jumping in, she said, “Look, Cheryl, everyone else did it, and you won’t pass your swimming lessons if you don’t jump in.”
What not to say to me. This only enforced my resolve not to jump in, as I replied, “I am 45 years old, not a teenager, and I do not cave in to peer pressure. Thank you for your lessons, and fail me if you must, but I will not jump into the deep end.”
In her final attempt to sway me, she said, “But Cheryl, what will you do if you’re on a cruise ship and you fall overboard?”
To which I laughingly replied, “I get sea-sick, and I don’t make enough money to go on a cruise anyway. Therefore, this part of the swimming lessons is totally unnecessary for me, but thank you for your concern.” With that, I left the facility…
So, my dear readers, I leave you with this final thought… The best things in life are not always free.
The news was devastating. How could it possibly be true? What had started out as a simple stomach bug had turned out to be something so much worse.
I was so excited when after years of obesity, the pounds seemed to melt away. After years of failed dieting attempts, I went from a size 22 to a size 14, and I was still losing weight. For the first time in my life, I felt pretty, and now, people were always complimenting me and telling me how pretty I am.
A small whimper escaped from my lips as I fought to maintain my composure. I would much rather have all of that weight back and have people think I’m fat than to hear this news. I was sorry now that I hadn’t asked my husband to come with me to the doctor’s office. After all of the tests they had run, I figured the news wouldn’t be good, that I probably had stomach ulcers that would require surgery. We had talked about it last night, and I’d insisted that he go to work instead of coming to see the doctor with me, because we really needed the money, and would need it even more so if I had to have surgery.
“I’m sorry Melanie,” Dr. Chaffinch said as she leaned forward, and took my hands into hers. “Why don’t you let Jen give your husband a call?”
“No,” I forced out. “No — I’ll be fine. I need to tell him alone. So, what’s the prognosis?”
“I’m afraid it isn’t good,” the doctor replied gently. “It’s already spread to the bile duct and the liver.”
I swallowed hard, trying to rid my throat of the painful lump that was throbbing, and fighting to control the tears that were threatening to spring forth. I looked around the doctor’s office, taking in the dark walnut paneling, with my doctor’s many medical credentials, licenses and awards. I continued with my sweep of the room, taking note of the clock on the wall. Could it be that I had only been here for a total of seven minutes? It seemed like an eternity since I had entered this room. My eyes looked past the clock and settled on the bookshelves loaded not only with medical journals and such, but with many of the great classic novels and books, coming to rest on “A Grief Observed,” by C.S. Lewis. How ironic. Shaking my head, I focused my gaze on the pictures that hung on the wall, of Dr. Chaffinch and her family.
A lone tear slid down my cheek as it suddenly dawned on me that I would never bear Alan’s children. We had only been married for a little over a year, and had just started trying to have a baby. “Oh God,” I silently prayed, “how do I tell Alan that we’ll never have a baby… that we’ll never grow old together?”
“Melanie,” Dr. Chaffinch spoke with concern. “Please, let me call Alan. You shouldn’t have to deal with this alone, and I know he would want to be here with you.”
Again, I drew in a deep breath and sighed, shaking my head. “No, please. This is difficult, but I can handle it.” I smiled uncertainly. “After all, how many times have I said, ‘To be absent from the body is to be present from the Lord,’ or ‘To live is Christ; to die is gain?’ Now, it seems I’ll be tested on that very foundation of my life.”
Now, it was Dr. Chaffinch’s turn to look away. It wasn’t supposed to be like this. The patient was the one who was supposed to be in tears and in need of comfort, not the doctor. She brushed her tears away, somewhat surprised to see them.
“So, Doc,” I stated flatly, “you still haven’t told me the prognosis.”
Dr. Chaffinch drew in a deep breath and began, “Pancreatic cancer has three stages,” she spoke sadly and softly. The first stage is resectable, and in this stage, the tumor nodules can be removed. The second stage is locally advanced, which means the cancer has spread to areas surrounding the pancreas, such as tissues or blood vessels. The third and final stage of pancreatic carcinoma is metastatic, which means that the cancer resides in multiple organs. Because a tumor can grow in the pancreas for quite a while without any noticeable symptoms, more often than not, when it is discovered, the patient is already in the advanced stages of the disease.”
“It’s in the final stage, isn’t it?” I asked bluntly.
Dr. Chaffinch nodded, still warmly clasping my hands within her own. I sensed that she longed to offer me hope, yet all of the test results made it clear that barring a miracle, there was no hope. “I’m sorry Melanie,” she said softly.
Even though I didn’t feel very brave, I still managed to smile as I worked up the courage to ask, “How much time do you think is left?”
Dr. Chaffinch gulped, then said, “Maybe three to six months if you’re lucky, and I pray you are.”
I felt as though I’d been punched in the stomach. “I see,” I responded after several seconds, which felt like a lifetime, had passed. “What about surgery, or chemo and radiation?” I queried.
Dr. Chaffinch shook her head as she responded, “I’m afraid it’s beyond that.”
“Whoa. I see. Will… will it… will it be painful?” I stammered. “Duh! What a stupid question. The pain is what brought me here.”
“It is painful, Melanie, but we can put you on pain meds to combat the pain, so that you can have as much quality time as possible. You’ll also want to contact Hospice as soon as possible, or we can contact them for you if you like, because they will be able to provide you with palliative care.”
I laughed shakily, “Hospice – that’s crazy. I’m only twenty-four years old.” Then, seeing the pained expression on my doctor’s face, I got up from my chair and embraced Dr. Chaffinch, comforting her, as the tears spilled from both of our eyes.
After leaving the doctor’s office, I drove to my favorite spot by the river. Because it was winter, I had the place to myself, as I got out of my car and walked to the river’s edge, sitting on an empty park bench. There, on that bench, with no one else there besides the Lord, I allowed myself to mourn. I cried out loudly to the Lord, seeking His comfort and His peace. For three hours, alone by the river, I poured out my grief for me, my husband and the children we would never have now, and when I was finally spent, I sat there quietly, waiting for the Lord to respond…
And as I sat there quietly, I felt the gentle brush of His Spirit, as He wrapped His arms around me and began to comfort me. “Fear not,” He whispered in the stillness. “From everlasting to everlasting, I am the Lord your God, and I have loved you with an everlasting love, therefore, with lovingkindness, I have drawn you. Though you walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will be with you. I will comfort you with My righteous right hand. Just as I was with you before you were born,” He spoke, “so I will be with you when you come home to Me. And just as I am with you, so I will be with Alan. Therefore, fear not,” He gently spoke, “for My love for you is eternal.”
How deeply the Lord loves His children! So many Christians never venture into the Old Testament, because they say it’s too difficult to understand, but I love the Old Testament. If we take the time to study the Old Testament, it will help us to understand the New Testament better. When we study the Old Testament, we see the character and the nature of God. Think of it this way:
The Old Testament is the prequel
The New Testament is the fulfillment of the Old Testament
The life we are living is part of the sequel.
Therefore, let’s take a look at this first chapter of Isaiah. We’re going to study this chapter a little at a time.
These visions concerning Judah and Jerusalem came to Isaiah son of Amoz during the reigns of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah — all kings of Judah. (Isaiah 1:1 NLT)
The first verse is packed with information.
The first thing we learn is that a man named Isaiah, had visions concerning Judah and Jerusalem.
The next thing we learn is that Isaiah was the son of a man named Amoz.
The final thing we learn is that Isaiah had these visions over a long period of time (see Kings’ reigns below)…
King Uzziah (788–736 BC) Reigned 52 years
King Jotham (758–742 BC) Reigned 16 years
King Ahaz (742–726 BC) Reigned 16 years
King Hezekiah (726–697 BC) Reigned 29 years
2 Hear, O heavens! Listen, O earth! This is what the LORD says: “The children I raised and cared for have turned against Me. 3 Even the animals — the donkey and the ox — know their owner and appreciate his care, but not My people Israel. No matter what I do for them, they still do not understand.” (Isaiah 1:2-3 NLT)
Right away, Isaiah calls the heavens and the earth to listen to what the Lord says. You see, although the children of Israel are God’s chosen people, His word is important for all to hear… those in the heavens… the angels… the cherubim… the seraphim… the devil and his demons… all who live on earth…
Do you notice in that verse that Isaiah is crying for the earth to listen? He didn’t say, “Listen, O Israel!” That means that this message is important for all who dwell on earth to hear. Do you see? This is a message that is not just for the Jewish people. God’s word is timeless. It’s not just for the people of long ago. It is for the people of today as well. Therefore, my friends, I cry out to you, “Hear, O heavens! Listen, O earth! Listen to what the Lord says!”
This is what the LORD says: “The children I raised and cared for have turned against Me. 3 Even the animals — the donkey and the ox — know their owner and appreciate his care, but not My people Israel. No matter what I do for them, they still do not understand.”Can you hear the voice of the Lord as He cries out? Do you feel His sorrow?
If you’ve ever raised a child who turned against you, even if only for an instant, do you remember the pain you felt? Do you remember your grief, when your child rejected you? Did you try to reason it out in your mind? “This child I raised and cared for has turned against me.”
I remember how I felt when my children rebelled against me. It broke my heart. I remember thinking of the love that I had lavished on my children, only to arrive at that moment when they rebelled against me. And I can remember thinking and saying something very similar to what God says here. “Even the dog appreciates me, but not my child. After all I’ve done for them, they still don’t get it. No matter how much love I’ve given them… no matter how much I’ve sacrificed… they still don’t understand.”
For all of the men and women who are parents, I’m sure you can understand these feelings. It’s very likely that you’ve experienced them too. When you’ve gone through that experience with your children, did you ever stop to think of that time when you rebelled against your parents? Did it occur to you that, “Oh my goodness! This is how I made my parents feel”?
Has it occurred to you that this is how your heavenly Father feels when we rebel against Him? He spoke those words, because His heart’s desire is that you would understand. Do you have any idea how much God loves you… how much He has sacrificed for you?
He loves you so much that He poured His life out for you on the cross, and all He asks from any of us is that we would return His love and obey Him. Isn’t that all you’ve asked of your children?
Think about it… why does a good parent discipline his or her children? Isn’t it because we want them to grow up to be responsible adults, who are equipped to succeed in life? When you require obedience from your child, isn’t it because you know the dangers that could come to your child if he/she disobeys?
Is it possible that God calls us to obedience because He knows the dangers that we will encounter in this life, and He wants to protect us from them? Is it possible that as any good parent, He wants us to grow up to be the men and women He created us to be, so that we will succeed in life?
Hear, O heavens! And listen, O earth! The Lord says that He formed you in your mother’s womb. While you were hidden from view, God carefully knit you together in His image, and before you ever drew your first breath — indeed, before the foundations of the earth were laid, He knew you and had a plan for your life. His plan was for your good. He wanted to give you a wonderful future filled with hope. He wanted to adopt you and be your Daddy, and all that He’s ever wanted from you, is that you would be His baby and love Him with all your heart, soul, mind and strength. He said that if you love Him, you will obey Him. Therefore, I ask you, my beloved friend, Do you love Him?
I just finished reading Maria Tatham’s THE QUEEN AND THE HANDYMAN, and I just had to share it with my followers. The opening lines in the prologue quickly captured my attention, and I was drawn into the story. The writing style and the fantasy genre were reminiscent of C.S. Lewis’ classic Chronicles of Narnia. However, Maria had her own tale to tell, and it was captivating.
The dialogue between the characters quickly transported me into the seventeenth century, while the descriptions created vivid visualizations in my mind’s eye. The main characters, the queen and her handyman were both believable and endearing. What made them so appealing to me was their humanity. The main characters were Christians, but though they were both hero and heroine, they weren’t without flaws, which made it easy to relate to them. Another quality that I loved is that the lines between good and evil were clearly definable, while still making room for God’s mercy and grace.
When I finished reading this novel, I found myself looking forward to more. My prayer is that this would be the first in a series of novels. Beloved friends, I encourage you all to check out Maria’s website to find out more about her novel, and to read some of her blog posts. Some of my favorites are the fairy tales that she has revisited and given them a whole new tale to tell.
Many blessings to all of you and thanks for checking this out. You won’t be disappointed.
“Beware of false prophets who come disguised as harmless sheep, but are really wolves that will tear you apart. You can detect them by the way they act, just as you can identify a tree by its fruit. You don’t pick grapes from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles. A healthy tree produces good fruit, and an unhealthy tree produces bad fruit. A good tree can’t produce bad fruit, and a bad tree can’t produce good fruit. So every tree that does not produce good fruit is chopped down and thrown into the fire. Yes, the way to identify a tree or a person is by the kind of fruit that is produced.” (Matthew 7:15-20 NLT)
There are so many preachers and teachers on television and in the church who tell us what we should and should not be doing. There are good ones and there are bad ones. The bad ones are the ones who claim to be Christians, and yet they preach and teach lies and false doctrines, and there are many poor unsuspecting people who are led astray by these false prophets.
The world has had its share of psychos who claim to be men of God, those who persuade a few to go the wrong way, like Jim Jones, David Koresh, or Fred Phelps of Westboro Baptist Church. These men are so crazy and off base, that while they may lead a small group of people astray, not too many people will follow them, because their teachings are so bizarre.
What really concerns me, are the men and women on television and in the church, who preach false doctrine that feels and sounds good, and leads many people astray. That’s why Jesus said,“Beware of false prophets who come disguised as harmless sheep, but are really wolves that will tear you apart.”Do you know how to recognize these false prophets?
Jesus didn’t want any of us to be confused or misled, so He told us how we could recognize false prophets. He said, “…the way to identify a tree or a person is by the kind of fruit that is produced.”So, let’s break this down.
When scripture talks about bearing fruit, it is speaking about our character or our nature. You see, those who do not walk in the Spirit, walk in their flesh or their sinful nature. While those who do walk in the Spirit, have a new nature.
What this means is that those who become Christians become new persons. They are not the same anymore, for the old life is gone. A new life has begun! (2 Corinthians 5:17 NLT)
So, when Jesus tells us that the way to determine whether someone is a true man or woman of God, or a false prophet is to see what kind of fruit they bear, what He’s telling us is that they should not be living according to their old sinful nature.
When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, your lives will produce these evil results: sexual immorality, impure thoughts, eagerness for lustful pleasure, idolatry, participation in demonic activities, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, divisions, the feeling that everyone is wrong except those in your own little group, envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other kinds of sin. Let me tell you again, as I have before, that anyone living that sort of life will not inherit the Kingdom of God. (Galatians 5:19-21 NLT)
The apostle Paul makes it really clear what kind of fruit is produced by those who are not walking in the Spirit… This is the kind of fruit that a false prophet produces…
Sexual immorality – How many people, claiming to be men and women of God are involved in sexual immorality, which includes fornication, adultery, homosexuality or pedophilia? It also includes pornography. And though it may seem harmless to some, flirting is included in this category as well, because it can stir up and awaken feelings within the one being flirted with, that should not be awakened.
Impure thoughts - A man or woman of God should not harbor impure thoughts.
And now, dear brothers and sisters, let me say one more thing as I close this letter. Fix your thoughts on what is true and honorable and right. Think about things that are pure and lovely and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. (Philippians 4:8 NLT)
Eagerness for lustful pleasure- Look closely at the man or woman who wants to instruct you. Who are they trying to please? Whose will are they fulfilling? Is it their will, or the will of God? Do they indulge themselves? Or are they willing to forsake their own desires so that they can accomplish God’s will for their lives?
Idolatry - Does the man or woman who is teaching, preaching or prophesying worship any idols? Look closely. Idolatry can come in many forms… some worship money (do they frequently preach about the need for more and more money?)… some worship themselves (do they constantly need to be catered to, rather than serving?)… As you listen to this man or woman speak, does it cause you to put them on a pedestal?
Participation in demonic activities – This would not only include Satan worship, but also numerology, astrology, drug abuse, alcohol abuse…
Hostility -Is this person hostile against those who don’t agree with him or her?
Quarreling- Does this person get in arguments? Does this person start arguments? Does this person always have to have the last word? Is this person willing to admit when he or she is wrong?
Jealousy- Does this person get upset if you go to another church? Does this person get upset if you don’t come to church every time the doors are open? Does this person demand to know where you are, who you’re with, etc.?
Outbursts of anger- Does this person have outbursts of anger when things don’t go his or her way?
Selfish ambition- Does this person spend more time promoting the gospel, or does he/she spend more time promoting him/herself and his/her products, books, cd’s and dvd’s? Does this person only minister in large venues, where he/she can get the most notice and/or money?
Divisions- Does this person cause divisions in churches, families and friendships?
The feeling that everyone is wrong except those in your own little group- Does this person think that all other denominations are all wrong, except for his/her own?
Envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other kinds of sin - Does this person envy the success of others? Does he/she have or participate in wild parties? Other kinds of sin includes false teachings…
Do you know if the person who is teaching or preaching to you is speaking truth? Do you understand that it’s your responsibility to examine the scriptures so that you will know for yourself if what you’re hearing is the truth or a lie? A true prophet, teacher, evangelist, pastor or apostle will bear this kind of fruit:
But when the Holy Spirit controls our lives, He will produce this kind of fruit in us: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Here there is no conflict with the law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to His cross and crucified them there. (Galatians 5:22-24 NLT)
My friends, whose teaching do you listen to? Who are you following? Someone who produces the fruit of the Spirit or someone who yields the fruit of the flesh? Beware of false prophets. They’re everywhere, and they can easily lead you to hell.
Heal me, O Lord, and I shall be healed; Save me, and I shall be saved, For You are my praise.
(Jeremiah 17:14 NKJV)
I’ve been in a lot of pain lately. For the last two years, I’ve suffered chronic back pain, and my back seriously hurts all the time, except for a few days, that could probably all be counted on one hand. It’s been — well — painful. As I’ve said before, I’ve had to stop working because the pain has been so great.
But last month, things took a turn for the worst. My chronic pain became acute pain. Whereas before I suffered from frequent insomnia due to pain, I now suffered from constant insomnia. The pain would not let me rest. But God!
I don’t want to write something dark and gloomy, nor do I want to make my pain any more or less than what it is. I thought my pain was pretty horrible up until a month ago, when suddenly, for some unknown reason, it became more acute than before, and this time, instead of the pain radiating on my left side, it moved to my right side. It was a sharp, constant burning/aching pain. It’s been horrible.
At any rate, Friday, my church was having a special service, with an Evangelist that I had never met before, and I wanted to go — especially since I hadn’t been to my own church in more than a month. Therefore, I called my pastor to come and pick me up, because I was not able to drive with the pain medication I’ve been taking. It causes drowsiness, and I didn’t want to risk falling asleep at the wheel and killing myself or someone else.
I was in a lot of pain when my pastor picked me up, but I was determined to go to the service. As the evangelist was ministering, she suddenly stopped right in the middle of her message… right in the middle of a sentence, and she said, “Oh, ouch. I’ve never felt like this before. Oh the pain. I’m feeling a sharp burning pain in my back, like a pinched nerve, but it’s not my pain. Someone here has terrible pain in their back. I feel it. It’s sharp, like a pinched nerve.” I listened closely. I knew in my spirit right away, who she was talking about, and she mentioned it a couple of more times as she was preaching, but I said nothing to indicate she was talking about me.
You see, I figured if the Lord had a word for me, He would reveal to her who it was that had the pain. As soon as she was finished preaching, she walked over to me, and began to pray that the Lord would heal my back. She was for real. After she prayed for me, I sat down. I was still in pain, but the Lord whispered this scripture in my heart, and told me that I need to speak it over myself…
I went home that night, and I was too wired to sleep. Again, I felt no improvement, but I knew that the Lord had put that scripture on my heart, and so I repeated it to Him… Heal me, O Lord, and I shall be healed; Save me, and I shall be saved, for You are my praise.When I finally went to bed at around 2:00am, I slept until 12:30pm. That’s the longest I’ve slept in months!
Then, when I got up that day, the acute pain was gone. Yes, I still have this nagging, chronic pain, but I can deal with that. I couldn’t deal with the acute pain. I can’t even begin to describe how debilitating that was for me, but now, the Lord had delivered me from that acute pain. It’s now Tuesday night, and yes, I’m in pain, but the acute pain is still gone. Hallelujah!
And since the Lord put that scripture on my heart, I’m one who likes to dissect the word and see what it means… Therefore, I’m going to break this down — as much for me as for you.
Heal me, O Lord and I shall be healed…the original Hebrew word for Heal is Rapha‘ (pronounced raw-faw‘), which means:
to heal, make healthful
healer, physician (of men)
When I pray this, I am telling the Lord to heal me, make me healthy, and I believe that when I speak these words, I shall be healed. If God put it on my heart to pray this prayer, would He then not do what His word says He will do?
He also tells me Delight yourself in the LORD; And He will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the LORD, Trust also in Him, and He will do it. (Psalm 37:4 NASB)So, let’s be clear on this. I am supposed to delight myself in the Lord. If I’m going to do this properly, then I need to know exactly what it means to delight myself in the Lord.
The Hebrew word for delight is `anag(pronounced aw-nag’), and that means:
to be soft, be delicate, be dainty
to be delicate
to be of dainty habit, be pampered
to be happy about, take exquisite delight
to make merry over, make sport of
Therefore, to delight oneself in the Lord is to have a soft spot for Him. When you’re in love with someone, have you ever had a place within your heart that’s just like mush for him/her? And when that person looks at you, or whispers an endearment to you, you know how your heart does a little flip-flop? Sometimes you feel weak in the knees? You feel sort of shaky and breathless? That’s how God wants us to feel about Him.
You know how it is when that one that you love starts walking to you, and you get all giggly and excited? You’re extremely happy that he/she is coming towards you or calling you or texting you… Have you ever felt like that? This is what it means to delight yourself in the Lord. You get all giddy as you read His word, and as He speaks to you. There’s an excitement and a joy within you that’s palpable. This is how it is when you delight yourself in the Lord.
When we delight ourselves in the Lord, it moves Him, because He delights in us. Did you know that? Check this scripture out — it’s one of my favorites!
The LORD your God is with you, He is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing.
(Zephaniah 3:17 NIV)
Do you see? It’s when we delight ourselves in the Lord, that He is delighted in return, and He then gives us the desires of our heart… He quiets us with His love…. Sometimes, I need to be quieted, when my body is wracked with pain… When my heart is broken, and I just can’t seem to get past it… When I’m angry… When I’m fearful… These are the times, that I begin thinking on the goodness of the Lord… and as I do, He begins to quiet me with His love.
As He rejoices in my love for Him, He begins to sing over me… Sometimes, if you listen closely, you can almost hear His voice as He sings His songs of love for us… And as I delight in Him, He gives me the desires of my heart…
Heal me, O Lord, and I shall be healed; Save me, and I shall be saved, For You are my praise.
(Jeremiah 17:14 NKJV)
Save me, and I shall be saved…The Hebrew word for save is Yasha` (pronounced yaw-shah’) and it means:
to save, be saved, be delivered
to be liberated, be saved, be delivered
to be saved (in battle), be victorious
to save, deliver
to save from moral troubles
to give victory to
What binds you? What holds you captive? Is it sex? Money? Drugs? Alcohol? Bitterness? Unforgiveness? So many people try to make deliverance more complicated that it is. If the devil, the enemy of your soul can convince you that it’s impossible, then deliverance from these things will be impossible. Deliverance is really very simple, but people have bought into the enemy’s lies, and so they repeat those lies to you… “You’ll never change”… “My whole family is like this, and I can’t help it. It’s in my genes”… “I tried Jesus, and maybe that works for you, but it doesn’t work for me”… “Well, God knows my heart. He knows I want to quit ____, but I just can’t.”
Have you bought into those lies? Let me tell you the truth. Jesus is not just something you try for a while to see if it works out for you. He is the Son of the living God, not a new soft drink or recipe that you try to see if you like Him or not. Don’t fool yourself. He does know your heart, better than you do, and He knows if you sincerely want a relationship with Him or not.
Do you know that when I married my husband more than 31 years ago, I made a vow to love him for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health, for better or worse, until death parts us? Let me tell you, he’s had a lot of sickness. He’s had five surgeries that I can think of right off the top of my head (I think more, but can’t remember them all)… He’s had numerous hospitalizations. I haven’t seen the richer part, but I’ve sure seen the poorer… We’ve had some wonderful times that would classify as for better… And we’ve had some worse times, times when my flesh wanted to call it quits, but the Lord kept reminding me that I made a vow to love him, even when he was being unlovable. (And for the record, my husband has gone through some poor times, some sick times and some worse times with me, but he made a vow to love me, and he has kept that vow.)
I shared all of that to say to you, it’s not enough just to “try” Jesus and see if He gives you what you want. I made a vow to Jesus that I would love Him for richer or poorer, just as I did with my husband, and I’m not rich in material things, but I am rich in love, and in mercy and grace. I don’t care if I have to scrape my next meal out of a dumpster, I will still delight myself in the Lord, because I trust Him to take care of me, and if I die, hallelujah! To be absent from my body is to be present with the Lord.
Until I am completely healed, or until He takes me home, I will continue to delight myself in the Lord, because He makes all things work together for my good — even the pain — because I love Him and He has called me according to His purpose. And what is His purpose? He came to heal the brokenhearted, to preach the good news to the poor, to proclaim liberty to the captives and the opening of the prison doors.
Until I am completely healed, or until He takes me home, I will continue to declare the goodness of God, and I will also continue to pray:
Heal me, O Lord, and I shall be healed; Save me, and I shall be saved, For You are my praise.
(Jeremiah 17:14 NKJV)
Are you sick and tired? Are you lonely and brokenhearted? Are you deaf, mute, blind or lame? The same Jesus who worked miracles over 2000 years ago still lives, and He still works miracles. Why don’t you cry out to Jesus? Don’t just try Him, commit yourself to Him… delight yourself in Him, and watch how He changes your life.
What follows is a story very loosely based on the women that I’ve ministered to. The woman in this story is not based on any particular one, but rather on many. Also, the “church woman” in this story is not me. She is only a reflection of the woman I would like to be. God doesn’t call Christians to stay within the four walls of a building they call “church.” Rather, He calls Christians to be the church, and to go and minister to people where they are… in the malls… on the streets… in the bars… in the crack houses… not in condemnation, but in love, sharing His love for the lost.
Create in me a clean heart, O God. Renew a right spirit within me.
I felt so dirty as I soaked in the tub. I laid there so long, the bubbles were all but gone. I had scrubbed and scrubbed and scrubbed and scrubbed… and no matter how hard I tried, I just couldn’t get rid of the stench of having sex with all those men. “Oh God!” I whimpered as I slid down in the tub, placing my feet on the wall, in an attempt to hide my private parts that I no longer wanted to see… those parts that I had sold to four men last night for $80.
For some reason, my “career” left me feeling… filthy today. I was almost okay with it until that church woman had shown up. What was a church woman doing out on the streets, anyway? Didn’t she know how unsafe that was? But this lady was different from any church woman I’d ever met before.
When she drove up next to me, rolling her window down, asking how much I charged, I figured she was just into women. The woman agreed to pay the price, so I got into the car with her. It was a nice car, white with black leather seats. “Are you cold?” she asked, as I nodded. I was freezing because I wasn’t wearing much, in order to attract business. She turned the heat in the car up, and then she turned a seat warmer on. Oh man! This was luxury. “Are you hungry?” the woman asked.
I looked at her suspiciously. “I’m out here to earn a living, not spend my money on food,” I replied.
She laughed joyfully, and said, “If you’re hungry, it’s my treat, and don’t worry. I’ll pay for your time as well.” I looked at her closely, trying to figure her out. “Well?” she asked again. “Are you hungry?” I was about to answer her, when my stomach growled and answered for me.
“Great, we’ll have to go to Denny’s, because they’re the only restaurant open at this time of night,” she said cheerfully. I studied her as she drove us to Denny’s. She was different from most of my clients — I mean besides the fact that she’s a woman. Most of my clients are sort of dark and creepy, you know? But she seemed like she was full of light and really happy. She seemed like she should be in a home with a family, not on the streets late at night picking up hookers.
When we got to Denny’s, she requested a booth in the back. I walked behind her, observing her blue jeans, and a sparkly purple top that seemed to flow as she walked. She was really very small. She looked like a tiny angel with her top flowing as she walked.
After we placed our order, she leaned forward with her hand out and said, “My name’s Joy.” I shook her hand, shaking my head. Tricks normally like anonymity. “And you are?” her bluish gray eyes seemed to peer into my soul as she waited for my answer.
“I’m Julie,” I found myself answering. Now what’s up with that? I never shared my real name with my johns, but it just slipped out without me meaning to let it slip.
She smiled warmly at me and said, “Julie, I didn’t pick you up to have sex with you. I want to talk with you, then I’ll pay you when we’re done talking, okay?” I looked closely at her, not quite sure what was going down.
“Oookay,” I replied, looking at this little woman as though she was crazy.
My look didn’t seem to faze her in the least, as she continued, “The Lord says that He’s heard the cries of your heart, and He knows how desperate you are to get enough money to pay your rent and show that you can support your son, so you can get him back from the foster home he’s in.”
My jaw dropped and my heart started pounding. “Who told you that? And who are you really?” I blurted out fearfully.
“I told you, I’m Joy, and the Lord told me that He’s heard your cries, and He loves you and wants to help you, but you’ve been running from Him for years, Julie, when all He wants to do is help you.” She took a sip of her soda, as I sat there trying to digest what she was saying.
“What do you want?” My heart felt like it could jump right out of my chest it was beating so hard.
“Nothing,” she replied, “but God wants your heart. He said that if you will delight yourself in Him, He will give you the desires of your heart.” I stared at her dumbly.
“How old is your son?” she asked, and I found myself opening up and sharing that Troy was almost four, and that he was a special child. He has Downes Syndrome. She listened with tears in her eyes as I shared all of the trips we had made to the hospital when he was first born, because his little heart was so weak. I told her that I had been married to a lying, cheating loser.
She put her hand on top of mine, telling me how sorry she was for my pain, and I couldn’t help it… tears began to run down my face, and the next thing I knew, I was sobbing like my heart was breaking all over again, and you know what? I think it really was, only this time, I wasn’t by myself, and this woman seemed to care more about my pain than my own mother did.
I told her how my ex had gone into a rage the last night I saw him, when we argued about his other woman, and how Troy kept crying. I told her how Billy kept yelling and screaming so loud that the neighbors called the police. And then he slapped Troy’s mouth, causing him to cry even harder.
Then the police showed up, and when they saw that someone had hit Troy, it was Billy’s word against mine, and we were both arrested for child abuse. They took my baby away from me. I had no money, and no one who cared enough about me to bail me out, so I stayed in jail until the trial. Billy and I both were found guilty of child abuse, and I spent the next year in jail.
When I got out of jail, I had nothing. I had no home to go to, and no job, because no one wants to hire an ex-felon, especially one who’s been found guilty of child abuse… “So I became a working girl,” I finished, looking at her, stunned to see tears rolling down her cheeks. This woman who didn’t know me seemed to care more about me than my own family ever did.
“Julie,” she spoke softly through her tears. “I’d like to help you, if you’ll let me. My church has a home for women who have been through hard times. While they live there, we mentor them, teaching them how to care for themselves and their children. We help those who are interested get their GED, and if they’ve already completed high school, we help them get into the local community college so they can get a good job when they graduate. We also work hand in hand with social services, and many women who have lost their children to the foster care system, are able to reclaim them once they’ve been in our program for six months. Would you be interested?”
I broke down. I couldn’t believe her kindness. I couldn’t believe that God would love me enough to send this woman into my life. I accepted her offer, and I’m gonna drain this water and scrub myself once more. Then I’m gonna go downstairs to meet the rest of the women and children who live in this home. And in six months, I will bring my little Troy here.
I visited the Fox News website, and as soon as I saw the following headline, I knew that I must participate in this prompt. The link below will take you to the fox news website, where that article can be read.
American Pastor Imprisoned In Iran To Go On Trial Next Week
What follows is my telling of this story, but before I continue, I want to cry out to all of my brothers and sisters in Christ to please join me in praying for this young Pastor, Saeed Abedini, as well as for other Christian men, women and children throughout the world who are being persecuted for their faith in Jesus Christ, the Son of the Living God.
And when the Lamb broke the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of all who had been martyred for the word of God and for being faithful in their witness. They called loudly to the Lord and said, “O Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long will it be before You judge the people who belong to this world for what they have done to us? When will You avenge our blood against these people?” Then a white robe was given to each of them. And they were told to rest a little longer until the full number of their brothers and sisters – their fellow servants of Jesus — had been martyred. (Revelation 6:9-11 NLT)
In July 2012, Saeed Abedini, a 32-year old Pastor and United States citizen, was arrested in Iran while working on an orphanage project that was not affiliated with any religion. However, because Mr. Abedini, a former Iranian citizen, had been deterred and interrogated in Iran once before, in 2009, for converting from Islam to Christianity in 2000, and for helping to create a network of underground churches in Iran, he is now being held for trial, which is to begin on January 21, 2013, for trying to convert Muslims to the Christian faith, which is punishable by the death penalty.
My friends, this is a gross injustice and a violation of Mr. Abedini’s human rights. Let us not forget that while Saeed was once an Iranian citizen, he abdicated his citizenry to that country, and is now a citizen of the United States of America. It saddens me greatly that the United States government has remained silent regarding this matter. There has been no action from any of the U.S. government agencies on Saeed Abedini’s behalf. It’s as if he doesn’t exist.
This man is not only a Christian, but a husband and the father of two children. Surely he deserves our prayers at the very least. It has also been reported by Mr. Abedini, in a letter (please click link to read)that was written to his wife, that he has been abused by his captors.
When I first determined to write this Daily Prompt, it was just another opportunity for me to share the gospel in my writing, but as I’ve been researching this story, it has become more than that to me. This is a very personal issue. Men and women of the United States, do you realize how very blessed we are to live in a country where we are free to worship as we choose? Whether you are Christian, Buddhist, Islam, Atheist or whatever religion you are, if you live in the United States of America, you have been granted your God-given right to practice your faith in this country. I don’t care what your faith is or is not, every U.S. citizen who reads about Mr. Abedini’s imprisonment should be outraged by it.
And if you are not a U.S. citizen, but you have been granted the freedom to worship as you choose, you too, should be outraged by his incarceration as well. For those who are living in a country that does not afford you the right to freedom of religion, please know that my heart goes out to you, as well. No one should be imprisoned, beat, tortured or put to death for practicing your faith in God.
I’ve never before written a post where I asked people to take action, but I strongly feel in my spirit that I must do so now. Saeed Abedini’s case has been turned over to Judge Pir-Abassi, and his court date is next Monday, January 21, 2013. His trial date and the charges against him were withheld from his attorneys until less than a week before his trial. He desperately needs our prayers and action now.
Therefore, I am doing something I’ve never done before. I am asking every person who reads this article to sign the petition, and you have my permission to either reblog what I’ve written, or copy from it. I don’t care or worry about any copyright infringements on this article. What matters most is that we unite together as human beings to free this man of God, who was simply trying to start an orphanage for Iranian children when he was arrested.
Many thanks for reading this, and many more thanks and blessings to all who take action. May God bless you all!
In this week’s writing challenge, we’re asking you to write a short piece of creative writing (fiction/poetry/prose poetry/freeform mindjazz/whatever floats your boat) on the theme of Starting Over. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Earlier today, I was listening to this song in my car, and a story began to formulate within my brain. Then, I came home and saw that the theme was Starting Over, and it all came together…
They think I’m crazy, Kara. Hmph! I’m crazy like a fox. Just because I’m old and I sometimes forget things does not mean that I’ve gone mad! I know plenty of young people who don’t remember things, and nobody calls them crazy. They just say, “Oh, they have a lot on their mind.” Well, I’m ninety-six years old – I’d say I have a whole lot more on my mind than they do – ninety-six years of memories and thoughts!
They brought me here to this nursing home ten years ago ’cause your momma, my precious Kelley couldn’t take care of me anymore. She had cancer. She was the only child I had left. I don’t mind telling you, it left a great big empty void in my heart when she went home to the Lord. My sons, Miles and Jeffrey had been gone more than ten years and my husband, Charles, passed on more than thirty years ago.
So here I am, left in a nursing home, and I don’t mind telling you, I’m tired… real tired. Most of the staff are very kind and caring, but there are some who aren’t. There’s some, like Carly and Tina, that scare me, and I want ask somebody to help me, but I’m scared. If I tell somebody and they find out it was me that told — no! I don’t even want to think about that.
But I can talk to the Lord, right? He won’t get me in trouble with those girls. See, if I don’t “cooperate,” the nurses here give me this medicine that makes my mind fuzzy, and that’s why I can’t think straight sometimes. I don’t want to put nobody out. I just need help sometimes, and some of the girls, like Pearl and Barbie, get real angry if I bother them, so I try to keep quiet, unless one of the nice ones is on.
You want to know about one of the nice ones? Well, my favorite is Emily. She works on the day shift. When she comes into my room of a morning, she always has a smile. A real smile, ya’ know? Not one of those fake I couldn’t care less smiles. She always says, “Good morning, Sunshine!” to me, and she walks straight over to my windows and opens the curtains, ’cause she knows I like to look outside and see what’s going on.
Then she comes over to check and see if my bed is dry, and I’m ashamed to say it’s usually wet. Old age is hard on the bladder, but Emily doesn’t make me feel dirty or embarrassed about it like some of the others do. Some of ‘em holler out in the hallway, “Miss Ella’s wet the bed again. Can someone bring me some more pull-ups?” It’s so humiliating. And some of ‘em get mad at me for having an accident, and they make me sit in it — even if it’s a b.m. until the next shift.
I get a lot of rashes and ulcers, and I’m sure that’s why. I don’t like having to depend on others to take care of my personal needs like that, ya’ know? And what’s really bad is when one of them will take me to the toilet and forget me. I sat on the toilet for two hours one day and it left a blistered ring around my backside. The nurse said my skin broke down. She asked me which aide left me there, but I was scared to tell her it was Marge, ’cause she’s a friend of hers, and I didn’t want ‘em to get mad and hurt me worse, so I just pretended I didn’t know.
I thank the good Lord that I’ve still got my wits about me and I can talk and think, (except when they give me that medicine to make me behave), which is more than some of the other folks that live here can do. I still have a lot to be thankful to the Almighty for. You know, I try to share His love with the old people in here, ’cause some of them don’t have much hope left in ‘em.
There’s poor Mrs. Stanley. Her family brought her here six years ago, and they haven’t been back to see her once! She cries and she cries everyday for them, but they never come. It breaks my heart for her. I usually try to save her one of my cookies when we have them, ’cause it cheers her up and lets her know somebody loves her.
I try to share His love with everybody I see, even the mean hateful ones, ’cause Jesus said to love your enemies, and I tell you what — some of them are my enemies. There’s the hateful ones, which are bad enough, but then there’s those that like to laugh at us old people. They’re the worse. They treat us like we got no dignity. They have no respect for their elders, and when I try to tell ‘em so, they just laugh at me and make fun of me, like I”m stupid.
But that’s okay, because things are about to change here. See, I’ve been writing this letter, and it’s almost finished. Forgive the shaky, crooked letters. I used to have beautiful penmanship, but arthritis makes it harder to write, as I’ve got older.
Still, I’ve talked to the Lord about this, and He told me to write this letter and address it to my granddaughter, and once I’ve finished this letter, I’ll be gettin’ me a fresh start. Yep. He said He’s gonna take me home when I get finished with this letter, ’cause I told Him before I go home, I wanted to help the other old folks here, who can’t stand up for themselves. Then, once my granddaughter gets this letter, she’s gonna take it to the authorities, and they’re gonna investigate this place so that all the other old folks here will get a fresh start too, at someplace that will love them and take better care of them.
My fresh start will be when I cross over the Jordan and see my Savior and my Father. I’m almost finished with this here letter, Kara, and once I place it in the sealed envelope, the Lord said I can come home and start over. I can’t wait. Ninety-six years is a long time. My body is tired and weak.
Kara, honey, don’t cry for your old Nana, ’cause I’ll soon be home and I’ll be free from all my sorrows and all my pain. I’m gonna start new and fresh — gonna trade in this old worn-out body for a strong new one. And my precious Lord Jesus is gonna wipe every tear from my face, as He gathers me up in His arms and carries me to the Holy of Holies.
Honey, the time’s comming soon, I can’t hold this pen for much longer, and I must seal it in the envelope if I want to be sure you get it. Please take this to the authorities, baby. Help my old friends get a new start too.
Psalm 27 was written by David, likely at a time of danger as implied by verse 12 - Do not turn me over to the desire of my foes,for false witnesses rise up against me, breathing out violence [Psalm 27:12]. Perhaps the background of this psalm is this – David was greatly distressed because the men were talking of stoning him; each one was bitter in spirit because of his sons and daughters. But David found strength in the LORD his God [1 Samuel 30:6]. Perhaps it’s somewhere else – David had many dangerous circumstances in his life. The essence of faith is at times best shown through patience. When there is nothing else you can do, when you know that the situation is…
Explore the room you’re in as if you’re seeing it for the first time. Pretend you know nothing. What do you see? Who is the person who lives there? Daily Prompt: Clean Slate
“Oh my,” I think to myself as I’m greeted by the short overweight woman’s friendly smile and she invites me to sit at her dining room table, which is covered by a gaudy lime green Christmas table-cloth covered with red and white striped candy canes. The table-cloth matches nothing in the room… It doesn’t match anything in the entire house, but this woman doesn’t even seem to care.
Directly across from me sits a pellet stove atop a beautiful deep dark red brick hearth, which is approximately five feet by five feet. It looks very old fashioned, and the lovely brick hearth rests in the right hand back corner adjacent to the kitchen and climbs the two walls around five and a half feet in height. The hearth is capped by a brick mantle about six inches wide, on top of which rest black framed photographs of the woman’s many grandchildren.
Above and beside the hearth is unfinished drywall. It’s as if someone began a home improvement project that was never completed, but again, the woman who sits at the table across from me doesn’t seem to mind it. Next to the hearth is a single window, which is covered by white mini blinds, which are closed. The woman explains that the window and pellet stove are on the north side of the house, which is the coldest, and receives the most wind in the winter, so the mini blinds stay closed. “Besides,” she grins at me, “it’s not like there’s a great view. The window overlooks my neighbor’s driveway and house, and I don’t want them to think I’m spying on them,” she laughs gaily.
In the next corner is a lovely beech wood china hutch, which sits caddy corner, holding her husband’s great-grandmother’s china, which consists of white plates and bowls with turquoise and red willows, lined in silver trim. The sugar bowl, and the coffee cups have turquoise exteriors, and white interiors, again, lined with silver.
All in all, the hutch and the china are lovely, which is what makes the next wall seem completely out of place. On the next wall, which faces the front, west side of the house, are twin windows, side by side, covered with white mini-blinds, which are closed. These blinds are also kept shut year round, because they are drafty in the winter, and in the summer, they allow the air conditioning to escape. The wall on either side of the windows is a beautiful, aged knotty pine wall. Directly in front of these windows sits a dusty, plush green recliner that has clearly seen better days, and is loaded with books and dvd’s. The woman laughingly explains that her husband and son-in-law forgot to load the chair when they went to the dump a couple of months ago, and so there the chair remains, collecting books and dust.
Beside the chair is the woman’s printer, computer tower, and a telephone with a very short cord. Above the computer rests a cordless phone. Again, the woman laughs as she explains that the cordless phone no longer works, and the corded phone was given to her, and since she can’t afford to buy another phone right now, she makes do with the short-corded phone. I’m not sure why the broken phone remains hanging on the side of the woman’s bookshelf, unless, like the green recliner, her husband and son-in-law forgot to take it to the dump also.
Next, is the spot where the woman says she spends most of her time. The combination desk with bookshelves is built into the knotty pine wall and is also knotty pine. The prior owner from many years ago had built this, and it is quite lovely. I note right away that this woman must be an avid reader, as the shelves are filled to the ceiling with books. Also, as I look at the books on the shelves, as well as the ones in the green recliner I see at least ten different bibles.
I look at the woman in askance, “Why so many bibles?” I question.
“Oh, I love to read the different versions,” she replied. “Sometimes the wording of one translation speaks to me more clearly than another might.”
“But don’t they all say the same thing?” I question.
“Sure they do, but even though they say and mean the same thing,” she replies, “the wording of one translation may bring things to light in a clearer way.”
I nodded. That makes sense. Anyway, continuing, I notice that most of the books are religious. I ask the woman about that, and she smiles and says, “I’m a Christian, and I love the Lord with all my heart, soul, mind and strength. He is my passion, and I love to talk about Him, read about Him and study His word.
“Do you see that chair in front of the desk?” she queries, then continues when I nod in acquiescence, “I spend a lot of time there. Sometimes, I waste my time and play silly computer games, but other times, I write. I write posts for my blog. I write poetry, and I work on writing my book. I also spend a lot of time burning worship cd’s which minister to me and to others.” Indeed, as I look closer, I see that she has a stack of cd’s on the stand next to her desk.
As I look around, I also can’t help but notice that the woman has papers strewn about in various places, and I have to ask, “How can you find anything?”
Again, she bursts into gales of laughter. “Sometimes I can’t,” she replies. “If you ask me to find something on the computer, you will find that I am extremely organized. Everything is organized in files and folders. But alas!” she says dramatically, “I’m horrible with paper. I just can’t seem to organize myself. I try, and I will go through like a whirlwind and clean things up, but within a short period of time, I will again have this disarray to contend with.”
As I look around the room, and then look behind me into the living room, I’m struck by the contrast, and I question her about it. “My husband is just the opposite of me,” she replies. While I have a very abstract-abstract personality, my husband has a concrete-concrete personality. I think he has OCD,” she confided. “He has to have things very neat and organized, or it throws him off kilter, while I, on the other hand, am simply scattered. Therefore, in order for him to have some semblance of peace, I’m careful not to leave a mess in the living room.”
Again, she grins mischievously, “At least I try most of the time. There are too many occasions when I miss the mark, but praise God! I’m married to a good man who is very forgiving.”
I peruse the room one final time before I must leave, and in spite of the clutter, despite the seeming chaos of papers, there is a warmth here and a peace that I am loath to leave. “You’re welcome to stay awhile,” the woman lovingly invites, and as she offers me a drink, I find myself accepting her offer. “That’s what it is,” I think to myself. “The warmth I feel in this house is love. I believe I’ll abide in the warmth of this woman’s abode for a little while longer.”
And the most important piece of clothing you must wear is love. Love is what binds us all together in perfect harmony.
Who is this King of Glory that pursues me with His love And haunts me with each hearing of His softly spoken words My conscience, a reminder of forgiveness that I need Who is this King of Glory who offers it to me
Who is this King of angels, O blessed Prince of Peace Revealing things of Heaven and all its mysteries My spirit’s ever longing for His grace in which to stand Who’s this King of glory, Son of God and Son of Man
His name is Jesus, precious Jesus The Lord Almighty, the King of my heart The King of glory
Who is this King of Glory with strength and majesty And wisdom beyond measure, the gracious King of kings the Lord of Earth and Heaven, the Creator of all things Who is this King of Glory, He’s everything to me The Lord of Earth and Heaven, the Creator of all things He is the King of glory, He’s everything to me
It’s almost 4:00 in the morning, and I’ve been wide awake and unable to sleep. I should be tired, but I’m wide awake and haven’t been to bed yet. I think I’m all turned around because I’ve been up all night every night for the last month, due to acute pain. Tonight is different, though. The acute pain has subsided. Praise God!
I’ve been suffering from chronic, constant back pain for the last two years, and I let me tell you, I DO NOT LIKE PAIN. Okay, so most people don’t like pain, but I just needed to get that off my chest. Anyway, I’ve been in constant pain, due to spinal stenosis, spondylosis, spinal arthritis, bulging discs, and scoliosis, and it has been getting progressively worse. On various occasions throughout this time, I’ve also suffered from flare-ups, when the pain would become sharp and relentless.
It’s been so bad that I am no longer able to work, because I’m no longer dependable. Those who know me, know that I am a very responsible, dependable person. If I say that I will be somewhere at a certain time, you can count on me being there a few minutes early. It was the same with my job. Prior to my chronic back pain, I was always at work on time, and for the most part, I enjoyed my job. However, as time went on, I began to lose sleep at night, and it was harder and harder for me to get up at 5:30am and get ready for work. As the pain continued and especially during flare-ups, I began missing work, and I found it increasingly difficult to be on time.
Walking from the parking lot, down the stairs to the time clock and then to my office became a constant struggle, during which I would pray, “Lord, please help me. Lord, please let me be able to take the next step…” I went back and forth to see my doctor, who in turn sent me for x-rays, an MRI, lab work, and physical therapy. When the therapy failed to work, she then sent me to a pain management clinic, and they gave me spinal injections, which helped at first, but eventually, like the therapy, they were no longer effective.
This has been a real struggle for me, and I’ve battled with depression off and on, but thank God, the depression never lasts for long, because the Lord is with me, speaking to me and encouraging me throughout this ordeal. I wondered if my pain could be an attack from the devil, but the Lord spoke to me and let me know that He is in control, and that my pain is not an attack from the devil, but part of His will, and that this is something that I need to walk through with Him.
Now, that may be a difficult concept for people to grasp, that a loving God would not only allow one of His children to suffer from pain, but that He would even ordain it. However, I want you to consider this… Jesus is God’s only begotten Son. Sure, those of us who are born again Christians are His children, but Jesus was His beloved Son, in whom God was well pleased, and yet… God ordained Jesus’ suffering. He ordained His pain. Indeed, God ordained Christ’s death. And we know that God had a good plan and purpose for ordaining it.
For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.
(John 3:16 NKJV)
God wanted to save the world, and the only way to do that was to allow His Son to suffer, bleed and die a horrible death on the cross, and out of the depths of His love for mankind (you and me) He ordained it, and Jesus gladly went along with this plan. Isn’t that amazing? Jesus knew that He was going to have to suffer the most horrible pain that we can imagine, and He not only agreed to do it, He joyfully, willingly allowed Himself to be the sin sacrifice for all of mankind.
Though He was God, He did not demand and cling to His rights as God. He made Himself nothing; He took the humble position of a slave and appeared in human form. And in human form He obediently humbled Himself even further by dying a criminal’s death on a cross…
(Philippians 2:6-8 NLT)
Can you imagine that? The King of kings and the Lord of lords, left all of His splendor, all of His glory and riches behind, to become the Son of a peasant woman, who had no riches. He chose to be born at a time in history when there was no running water, no indoor plumbing, no air-conditioning in the summer, no heat in the winter. He chose to be born in a rough, dirty stable, rather than in an accredited hospital. And He was willing to do all of this because of the joy that would be His afterward.
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily hinders our progress. And let us run with endurance the race that God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, on whom our faith depends from start to finish. He was willing to die a shameful death on the cross because of the joy He knew would be His afterward. Now He is seated in the place of highest honor beside God’s throne in heaven.
(Hebrews 12:1-2 NLT)
Do you know what His joy was? He took great joy in knowing that because of His suffering and death on the cross, I would be saved. He took great joy in knowing that men, women and children throughout the ages would hear about what He had done for them, and they would turn away from their sins and cry out to Him for salvation. Isn’t that wonderful? He did all of that for us! Sure, He knew that some of you wouldn’t want anything to do with Him. He knew that some would completely reject Him, just as many did when He hung on the cross, but still, He gladly did it, knowing that one day some of us would come to know Him, love Him and serve Him.
So what does all of this have to do with my back pain? If God ordained that Jesus should suffer, why do so many people think that we should be exempt from it? Think about it… Peter, James, John and all the rest of Jesus’ disciples suffered greatly for the cause of Christ. They were tortured mercilessly, and suffered horrific deaths. According to church history:
Peter was hung upside down on a cross.
Paul was beheaded.
James was put to death with a sword. (He was likely beheaded)
John was put in a cauldron of boiling oil, though this did not kill him
As you can see, the early Christians suffered terribly. Indeed, Christians in other countries around the world are persecuted and suffer terribly, so how is it that American Christians have come to believe that they are exempt from suffering? Indeed, whenever someone suffers from chronic pain, diseases or other illnesses, some self-righteous Christians question whether the person who is suffering has sinned or whether they do not have enough faith.
I submit to you that these Christians who claim that it isn’t God’s will for Christians to be sick or to suffer do not know what they’re talking about, because sometimes it is God’s will for some people to suffer for reasons that we don’t know. You see, God doesn’t think like we think.
“My thoughts are completely different from yours,” says the LORD. “And My ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts higher than your thoughts.”
(Isaiah 55:8-9 NLT)
I’m not even going to pretend to understand why God has ordained me to suffer with chronic back pain, or for how long I will have to deal with it. I don’t know if this is temporary, and it will pass, or if it will continue for the rest of my life. Either way, I will continue to love and serve God. Maybe this sounds strange to you, but when the Lord spoke to my heart that He had ordained my suffering, and that I would have to walk through it, I found great solace in that.
You see, although I HATE being in pain, when I learned that God had ordained it, I realized that this was not some terrible random thing that has happened to me. When I learned that God had ordained this pain, I knew that my back pain is part of His plan for me, and even though I don’t know why it has to be this way, He can be trusted, because He will make this work out for my good, because I love Him and I am called according to His purpose. When I realized that God had ordained my pain, I realized that I am not alone. He is with me, and He can be trusted to take care of me.
This post didn’t go where I thought it would go, but I believe this is what God wants His people to understand. Are you a man or woman of God? Are you suffering from an illness, or disease, or pain? If so, don’t just assume it’s an attack from the devil. Sometimes we give him more credit than he deserves. Ask God if your pain, illness or disease is ordained by Him, for His glory? If it is, rejoice in it, because that just means that He’s got a marvelous plan for the furtherance of His kingdom.
In closing, I leave you this final scripture to hold in your heart:
So if you are suffering according to God’s will, keep on doing what is right, and trust yourself to the God who made you, for He will never fail you.
your occupation (including students), or anything else that you spend your time doing
your relationship to others (e.g. I am the daughter of so and so, or I am the friend of so and so)
anything that you own or possess
Your answer has to define who you are from the inside, not with reference to anything external, including other people (or pets!), or how you pass time.~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
I am a Spirit-filled woman of God, who has been saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ, not because of my own goodness (because I when I met Him, I was anything but good), but because of His goodness and mercy. I was created, as all people are, for the glory of God, and it is when I am glorifying Him, that I am most fully who I am… the Spirit-filled woman of God… me.
I am a woman of great joy, as is anyone who has been set free from a prison of fear and pain. I walk in that joy at all times, even in the midst of physical pain, because even in the midst of all that pain, I know that it will pass… that there are others who have suffered far more than me… that one day, I will feel no more pain… that in my weakness, His strength is made perfect… This is who I was created to be, and joy is an integral part of who I am, again, not from my own merit, but because this is who God created me to be.
I am forgiven and forgiving. Because I have been forgiven much, I am able to forgive much… There are times when I am extremely angry… when someone hurts me or someone I love… when I see the victims of tragedies… when I see injustice… when I witness sin in me or in someone else… when what is right is called wrong, and what is wrong is called right… But I am able to forgive the men, women and sometimes even children, who commit these sins and atrocities, because I too have sinned and fall far short of God’s glory, and if He forgave my sins, then how can I not forgive the sins of others?
I am loved and loving. Because God loves me, I am a woman of love. I love those who love me back, and I also love those who hate me. I love those who treat me kindly, and I also love those who have hurt me, abused me, rejected me, cursed me and treated me unfairly. I don’t like what they have done to me, but I love the people, not because I’m a great person. Believe me, if you knew me, you would see my flaws, and how I have struggled to love those who have “done me wrong.” I am a woman of love because I am loved by God. Do you know that even when I was in the midst of my deepest, darkest sin, He loved me? Oh, and get this… He didn’t just tolerate me or say He loves me. No, He loves me passionately, knowing what I’ve done, and what’s been done to me. He loves me with a love that is indescribable, and He wooed me with His love, and I couldn’t help myself. He sent His only Son to pay my death penalty for the sins I had committed. I fell head over heals in love with Him, and the funny thing is, the deeper my love for Him grows, the deeper my love for others grows.
In summation, who am I? I am a Spirit-filled, joyful, forgiving and loving woman, because Christ changed me from a spiritless, melancholy, unforgiving and bitter woman when He gave me new life.
If you could read a book containing all that has happened and will ever happen in your life, would you? If you choose to read it, you must read it cover to cover. Daily Prompt: This Is Your Life
What a great prompt! What if I was to tell you that there really is a book written about me, you, and every other person who has ever existed, including those who don’t yet exist?
You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in Your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed.
(Psalm 139:16 NLT)
Before anyone is even conceived in their mother’s womb, God already knows us, and has a plan for each life.
“I knew you before I formed you in your mother’s womb. Before you were born I set you apart and appointed you as My spokesman to the world.”
(Jeremiah 1:5 NLT)
It really amazes me when I think about it. And for those of you who may think that this allows us no opportunity to make our own decisions, think again. You see, God in His Sovereignty has indeed created each and every man, woman and child with a specific purpose, tailor made just for that person. He has placed longings and desires within each one of us, and given us dreams and visions for what could be.
He has gifted each and every person that He has made so that they are equipped to accomplish all they were created to accomplish in their lives, but then, He throws something else in there, which has the potential to either fulfill or destroy our destiny, depending on what we choose to do with all that He has given us. You see, man, who was created in God’s image, has been given a free will, by God, so that we can choose our own destiny.
“Now wait a minute,” I can hear some of you saying. “You just said that He recorded every day of our life in His book, and that each moment of our life was laid out before a single day passed, so how does that account for free will?”
Thank you for asking. Just because God, who is omniscient(all-knowing), knows what you are going to do before you actually do it, does not mean that He has rigged you to do something. For example, have you ever watched a television show, and known what was going to happen, before it happened? Did your foreknowledge cause that to happen? Of course not.
In the same way, God knows our hearts, better than we ourselves know them. In fact, before the foundation of the earth was laid, He knew us, and just like you knew what would happen on that television program, He knows every breath we will take, every move we will make, and every thought we will think. When He created us, He had already recorded our life in His book, because He had foreknowledge of what we would do, and what would be done to us by others. Some of us will fulfill the destiny we were created for, while many others, will fulfill their own destiny, that they create for themselves, and because of His great love and respect for us, God will allow each one to choose which destiny they fulfill.
Therefore, if you could read a book containing all that has happened and will ever happen in your life, would you? If you choose to read it, you must read it cover to cover. My answer is yes, because as I said before, there already is a book written about me, and in order for me to read that book, God would have to open it up for me and reveal it. I trust God, so if He wants me to know what will happen, He must have a good reason for it, and I will gladly read it.
Actually, there are times, when He reveals things that are about to happen to me, things that He’s recorded in His book about me, and then there are many other times, when I am completely surprised by what is happening to me or around me, and that’s okay. Whether I know in advance what is going to happen, or whether I’m taken completely by surprise, I find it comforting to know that God is never surprised or taken off guard by what is happening, because He had already seen it happen in His book about me.
In the end, when it’s all said and done, I’ve decided to fulfill the destiny that God created me to fulfill, rather than my own destiny, because there is abundant life in Him, and my plans just can’t measure up to His. My plans will eventually kill me. And just look at the plans He has for us:
“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the LORD. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.”
(Jeremiah 29:11 NLT)
As long as I stick with the plans that He has for me, even without reading the book He has written about me in advance, I know how it will end…
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 NIV)
In order for someone to truly grasp just how precious freedom is, he/she must also understand how dreadful bondage is. There are three types of bondage, physical, emotional and spiritual. Slavery is a horrible, despicable crime against mankind. Many people wrongly think that slavery ended with the civil war, and Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation, they are wrong.
Slavery is rampant throughout the world. In Sudan and other Muslim countries, Christians are beaten, tortured, murdered and kidnapped to be sold as slaves. Men, women and children throughout the world, on every continent are forced into labor against their will everyday. Men, women and children throughout the world, including the United States of America, are sold into prostitution against their will.
In addition to that, we must also include men, women and children from many dysfunctional families, who are enslaved by an abusive parent, spouse, or child. These people can be living right next door to you, and seem like very nice people, while behind the closed doors of their home, they hold their very own family members, the ones that they are supposed to love and care for, as their personal slaves who must cater to their every need, and if they don’t do as they are commanded, they are often tortured, both verbally and physically.
And let us not forget those who are held in spiritual bondage, as our nation has become the breeding ground for people like Jim Jones, David Koresh, Joseph Smith, Brigham Young and Fred Phelps, the leader of the Westboro Baptist Church. The list goes on and on.
So, what does freedom mean to me? I’ve lived in bondage and fear. I know what it is like to walk in constant fear of being molested, of being beaten, of losing all that you love and hold dear. I know what it’s like to hear the footsteps coming to your door, as you pray that they will just pass by and leave you alone. I know what it’s like to try to please the one who rules over you, and I know what it’s like to suffer the consequences of falling short of his/her expectations of you. Being enslaved is to live in constant, tormenting fear.
I know what it’s like when you break free from your slavery, but mentally, emotionally, and spiritually, you are still bound, as you live in constant fear of someone discovering the truth about you… Sadly, you want to be free from all of the pain and the fear, and yet by keeping the secret, you subject yourself to remain in that vicious cycle, because although you are now physically free, there are still invisible chains around you, that have to be broken. You see, even though I was physically free from the abuse I suffered as a child, once I got married, I still had a slave mentality that kept me bound.
But praise God! Though I once was enslaved, I have been set free. You see, when I came to know Christ, and His word, He loosed the chains that bound me, with these words…
“And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:32 NLT)
You see, people who are enslaved to other people are often enslaved by lies. I was told that I was stupid, that I would never amount to anything, and that I was too lazy to breathe. I was called all sorts of names that I don’t care to write, as well as being told that I was worthless. And I believed every single lie that was spoken over me, because Mommy and Daddy wouldn’t lie, would they?
But the Lord spoke the truth over my life, telling me that I was fearfully and wonderfully created in His image, therefore, since I am the image of Christ, I cannot be stupid, because the Creator of the universe is very intelligent. He told me that I can do all things through His strength, therefore, I would amount to something. He told me that the Spirit of God has made me, and the breath of the Almighty gives me life,therefore, I can’t be too lazy to breathe, because I am alive. He told me that I am more precious to Him than jewels, and that Christ died for me, therefore, I am not worthless. I am worthy of Almighty God’s love and affection. As the Lord spoke life over me and broke the chains made out of the lies that I had once believed, I began to taste freedom for the first time in my life.
What does freedom mean to me?
Freedom means that I can sleep at night, without worrying that someone will come and wake me from my sleep to beat me and curse at me.
Freedom means that I don’t have to live in fear anymore.
Freedom means that no matter what my circumstances are, I can be at peace, knowing that God makes all things work together for my good.
Freedom means that I can breathe.
Freedom means that I can worship my God, anywhere and anytime.
Freedom means that I don’t have to worry about my children being victimized and enslaved.
Freedom means that I don’t have to carry the weights and burdens placed on me by other people.
Freedom means that I can live.
I praise God for all that I’ve been through, for it is because I have lived without freedom, that I can truly appreciate the freedom I now have.
O Israel, how can you say the LORD does not see your troubles? How can you say God refuses to hear your case? Have you never heard or understood? Don’t you know that the LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of all the earth? He never grows faint or weary. No one can measure the depths of His understanding. He gives power to those who are tired and worn out; He offers strength to the weak. Even youths will become exhausted, and young men will give up. But those who wait on the LORD will find new strength. They will fly high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint.
(Isaiah 40:27-31 NLT)
Do you ever feel as though you’re in the midst of a storm like the little bird in the picture? When I saw the picture of this little guy, it just touched my heart — probably because I feel just like that sometimes… When the bills are mounting, but the income has dried up… When the pain is great, and the medication doesn’t touch it… When it feels like you’ve lost your very best friend… When fear surrounds you… Sometimes the storms just rage against us and we have trouble on every side.
Have you ever been there? Are you there now? I am. The winds are raging and howling all around me, and like that little bird, I’ve hunkered down and bowed my head, as the rain, the snow and the sleet pelt against my skin like shards of glass, cutting me and tormenting me.
And it’s right there, in the midst of the storm, as I bow my head, that something begins to change, though the storm still rages on every side of me. In the instant that I bow my head to my God and my Savior, and admit to Him that I am weak and unable to survive this storm on my own, that He begins to softly speak to me, encouraging me, blessing me and giving me hope.
“… “Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you. I have called you by name; you are Mine. When you go through deep waters and great trouble, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown! When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you.”
(Isaiah 43:1b-2 NLT)
Do you see that? Even though I may feel as though I’m all alone, like that little birdie, He is with me, loving me, ransoming me, protecting me from the storms of torment, the rivers of difficulty, and the flames of destruction. He’s there for you too, if you will call upon Him. He continues to speak to me, telling me that He never grows faint or weary, and if I will just wait on Him through this storm, that He will renew my strength, and I will mount up with wings like eagles. Ha! Did you catch that? If I will just wait on him, this little birdie will mount up with powerful eagle’s wings, instead of my puny little sparrow wings.
He tells me that I will run and not be weary… It’s been a long, long time since I could run, but I sure would like to run again. He says that I will walk and not faint… It’s been so terribly long since I could walk without it sapping every bit of my strength, leaving me crying out sometimes because of the pain… And all I have to do is wait and ride this storm out, keeping my head bowed to the One who made me, like the good little birdie in the picture.
As I keep my head bowed in the midst of this storm, I’m honest with my Lord. He tells me that He is renewing my strength, but I tell Him the truth of how I really feel, “Lord, I know You said that You are renewing my strength, but I don’t feel strong. In fact, I feel very weak.” He’s not insulted or angry when I tell Him this, not at all. He just gently smiles at me and says:
“Beloved… My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness…”
(2 Corinthians 12:9b NKJV)
Salvation is not just about going to heaven. Salvation begins here and now, on planet earth. Salvation includes healing and deliverance. Sometimes He heals us physically, and sometimes not. I don’t know why. His ways are not mine, and neither are His thoughts. You see, He’s much smarter than I am, and much more loving and kind than I am. He sees the big picture in the whole scheme of things, while I only see tiny fragments of it.
I do know that He is always willing to heal our spirit and our soul, if we will allow Him to do so. The problem with that is that oftentimes, He has to lance our wounds, which is very painful, so that He can squeeze the infection of sin (both our sins and the sins others have committed against us) out of us. In order for us to completely heal, we have to be willing to walk through pain and suffering again, as we face those things that have long tormented and battered us… That’s why the waiting is so difficult.
Maybe you’re thinking to yourself that all of this is okay for some people, but God doesn’t really care about me. Oh Beloved, I understand those feelings, because that’s how I thought and felt for many years, but I was so wrong about that, and so are you. He does love you. That’s why He led you to read this post about the little birdie. Read these words that Jesus spoke to His disciples over two thousand years ago… the words that He is speaking to you right now:
“Don’t be afraid of those who want to kill you. They can only kill your body; they cannot touch your soul. Fear only God, who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Not even a sparrow, worth only half a penny, can fall to the ground without your Father knowing it. And the very hairs on your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are more valuable to Him than a whole flock of sparrows.
(Matthew 10:28-31 NLT)
Beloved, look at that little bird in the picture again. God loves that little sparrow, and He made it strong and resilient, so that it could withstand the storm that is pounding against it. Now, if He cares that much about a little sparrow, how much more does He care for you? Jesus said that YOU are more valuable to God than a whole flock of those little sparrows!
This is a post for the Picture it & Write Blogging Challenge at Ermiliablog! ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
“What are you looking at?” she snarled, when she saw me staring at her. I couldn’t help it. She was just a little girl — she couldn’t have been more than eleven or twelve, but she was hard as nails. The bitterness and hatred that sparked in her eyes broke my heart. I knew her, all to well, and now, my challenge was to reach her before it was too late.
“Oh Lord,” I silently prayed, please don’t let it be too late for her. “Give me the wisdom I need to reach her, Father, before it is too late.”
“Well?” she brazenly demanded. “I asked you a question.”
I smiled at her, and answered her question. “You know very well what I’m looking at, or should I say who I’m looking at? I’m looking at you. Are you Candi?”
Giving me a hard look, she took a deep, exaggerated drag from her cigarette, then slowly exhaled the smoke from her nostrils before she answered me, “Who wants to know?” she replied, as she flicked some ashes on the ground.
I couldn’t help myself. I burst into laughter as I walked up to her and took the cigarette out of her hand, dropping it to the ground and stamping it out. “I’m Jenny,” I replied as she gave me a dirty look. “Don’t you know those things are bad for you?”
“Who cares? Why did you do that? Those things are expensive, you know!” Fire was flashing from her blue eyes, and if looks could kill, I wouldn’t be here now.
“I care,” I replied, looking her right in the eye. “That’s why I’m here. We need to talk.” The other children, presumably her brother and sister were staring at us with eyes as wide as saucers.
“Why should I talk to you? I don’t even know you,” she replied angrily, crossing her arms in front of her chest and stomping her foot on the dirt road. Her unkempt blonde hair flashed in the sunlight, as she shook her head at me.
I bent over, until I was eye to eye with her, and I told her why she should talk to me. “You need to talk to me, because I’m here to help you. You need to talk to me, because you want to protect your brother and sister, but you can’t do it alone. You need to talk to me, because I’m probably the only one who doesn’t think you’re just a brat. You need to talk to me, because I care about you and your brother and sister, and I want to help you.”
As I was speaking to her, I saw fear flash across her face briefly, before she quickly hid it behind that hard, cold mask she was wearing. “Why do you want to help me?” Candi asked, looking me up and down. Not for the first time, I wished that my job didn’t require me to dress as a professional, in my navy blue pant suit, with a white shell, and a pair of bright red shoes. My auburn hair was tied back from my face with a red scarf, which completed the outfit. It would have made my job as a social worker so much easier, if I could have worn my faded jeans and a tank top, so that children like Candi could relate to me better.
“Candi,” I responded, “I want to help you, because just a few years ago, I was a lot like you.” She eyed me in disbelief, as I continued. “Look, kid, don’t let these fancy clothes fool you. I didn’t always have nice clothes. I didn’t always have a home either, and when I did have that home, I wished I didn’t have to live there. Living on the streets was better than living with my mom and all of her boyfriends, ya’ know?”
I could see her guard beginning to drop a little, and after instructing her brother and sister to go ahead and continue playing without her, she followed me over to my car, and joined me as I sat on the hood. “So what do you want to know?” she whispered as we sat side by side.
Turning so that I could see her face, I softly replied, “I need to know everything. Listen, I don’t want to hurt you or get you in any trouble. I just want to help. I need to help you. Do you want to know why I studied to be a social worker, Candi?” Her big blue eyes focused on mine as she nodded, and I continued, “I wanted to be a social worker so that I could rescue girls and boys like you, girls and boys who were like me when I was your age.”
Candi nodded, and gulping, she asked, “Did your dad ever –?” She looked away, struggling to get the words out, but terrified of what might happen if she spoke them out loud.
Taking her hand in mine, I lifted Candi’s chin up so that she could see my face, as I nodded yes to her question. I didn’t try to force her to speak, because I knew that she was almost ready, and if I tried to push her or rush her, she might never speak those words out loud. “Do you have a brother or sister?” she asked me.
I nodded, and replied, “I have a little sister, like you do.”
“Did your dad ever… ever… did he ever do that to your sister?” a lone tear slid down her cheek.
“I don’t know for sure. I only know that I tried to protect her, but we never talked about it, ya’ know?” She nodded her head.
“I think my dad is… is… I think he’s going to hurt Reba if I don’t stop him.” She looked earnestly into my face, as the tears began to flow freely, leaving a dirty wet trail down her cheeks. I took my scarf off and handed it to her so she could dry her tears and blow her nose. I never think to bring tissues with me, but the scarf could be replaced. My heart ached to see her pain, but I knew that I couldn’t hold her yet. She wasn’t ready to be held yet.
“Can you help us?” she whispered softly.
“I can,” I answered with all seriousness, “but you have to tell me everything.” Haltingly, over the next forty-five minutes, Candi shared the torment that she had endured at the hands of her father. Such things should never be.
After she shared her story with me, I explained that the police would be here shortly, and she and her brother and sister would be removed from their home, and placed in foster care. I told her that I would do my best to keep them all together, but there would be no guarantees. Then, we called her brother and sister to come to us, so that we could prepare them for the change that was about to occur in their lives.
Throughout the entire process, I couldn’t help but admire this woman-child. She was old beyond her years, comforting and caring for her brother and sister, as though she was their mother. I felt confident that given the right environment and the right set of circumstances, this young woman would not only survive her tumultuous childhood, she would thrive and overcome the pain of her past.
“Lord,” I silently prayed, as the police arrived, and I loaded the children into my car, “watch over these beautiful children, and give them the chance that they deserve. Set them free, Father from the pain and the sorrow that has been inflicted on them. In Jesus’ name, let them know peace.”
I chose the foster family to care for these children. I knew them personally, and they were good, caring people… the people who had once cared for me not so long ago, and raised me as though I was their own child.
Do you see that little girl in the picture? Don’t judge her — love her!
You’re locked in a room with your greatest fear. Describe what’s in the room. Daily Prompt: 1984
Isn’t it funny how the Lord works? I wrote this post in the wee hours of this morning, before the Daily Prompt was mailed, and in it, I talked about fear. Since the Lord set me free from fear (see the post below), as unbelievable as it might sound, I have no fear. Does that mean I never get scared? Yes, there are times when fear will creep in, but they’re usually short-lived. Anyway, please see the post below, which dealt with my fear once and for all! ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
What was your most spiritual moment?
This post is in response to the question above, raised by Tilda Swift, at Swift Expression.
I’ve had many spiritual moments since I began walking with the Lord, and the one that I’m about to share with you now is only one of many. How do you rate an encounter with God? Every encounter with the Almighty God, Creator of the universe, Father of Jesus Christ, His only begotten Son, through His Holy Spirit is powerful and exciting, as well as transforming.
This encounter took place around sixteen or seventeen years ago. (I’ve had many other encounters since, but this is the one that the Lord placed on my heart to share with you) At the time, I was dealing with many issues from my past, and I was in a lot of pain. I was also held prisoner by a spirit of fear, that had enslaved me since childhood. I know this may sound crazy to some, but I’m sure others of you may be able to relate to this. I lived in fear of what might come in the mail.
From the time I was a child, I lived in fear of the mail. Do I sound like I was a little bit crazy to you? Perhaps I was, but teachers sometimes mailed letters to the parents of their students, and more often than not, those letters were not letters of praise, but of condemnation. I was not a model student, and so I lived in fear and dread of what might show up in the mail and get me in trouble.
Therefore, I used to pray that my mother hadn’t come home for her lunch break at work and gotten the mail before I could check it and intercept it if need be. I had learned to forge my mother’s signature quite well, and if I got home and found a letter from one of my teachers, I would open it and sign it if necessary, to avoid beatings and punishment. I’m not proud of my actions, nor do I condone them, but I was a scared little girl, living in a constant state of fear and anxiety, and rather than risk getting a beating and facing the wrath of my parents, I chose to lie and cheat.
You see, I had a spirit of fear, and it had become a stronghold in my life from the time I was a child. And here’s the thing about spirits — the longer you carry a spirit, the stronger it gets, and the more powerless you are to overcome that spirit, and one spirit will also invite others to take up residence within you, which is what happened with me.
As the spirit of fear grew stronger in my life, I opened the door to the spirit of deception. I became a chronic liar. I told so many lies while I was growing up, to my parents, my teachers, the children at school and even myself, that the line between fact and fiction became blurred, because I lived in constant fear.
When I was around seventeen or eighteen years old, I began having panic attacks. I was even admitted to the psychiatric ward of a local hospital right before I turned nineteen. Of course, the psychiatrist who saw me at the time, was a quack, who told my parents that my problem was just immaturity. I knew that it wasn’t safe to confide my fears to him, and so whenever I had to meet with him, I would sit there in stony silence, while he stared at me, like a cold fish, notepad in hand, writing who knows what, until our hour was up. Then he would collect his money and send me on my way, while he reported what had transpired to my parents.
Anyway, I got married two days before my twentieth birthday, and I figured once I left that fear-filled environment, I wouldn’t have to be afraid anymore. I was wrong. That spirit of fear had attached itself to me, and it wasn’t letting go. Even after having two children, and seeing that the man I was married to was a good man who loved me very much, I still lived in fear. At that time in our marriage, I was the one who took care of paying the bills that came each month.
I remember a time, when there wasn’t enough money in the accounts to pay a bill. I panicked. What was I going to do? I look back on this now, and I can see how irrational and foolish I was back then, but my life was spinning out of control, and I couldn’t see anything past my fears. Logic and reason tell me that I should have gone to my husband right away, the first time this happened, but I didn’t. Instead, I did something stupid. I hid the bill.
And each month, for many months, the bills kept coming, until we owed over $700. Now, more than sixteen years later, I can’t even remember what bill or bills caused me such anxiety. All I knew is that I loved my husband, and I didn’t want to lose his love. As crazy as it sounds, I was afraid that he would leave me, and I would be forced to return to my parents’ home to live, and I just couldn’t risk that happening.
Now, somewhere, in the midst of all of this, Jesus began to woo me with His love. I was drawn to Him, and I wanted to please Him. I wanted a chance to pray to Him, and worship Him alone, without any distractions from my husband or the children. So, one Saturday, I left the children at home with my husband, while I went to the church. I believe that was my first attempt at fasting, and I went upstairs to my Sunday School class, and sat there alone with God and my bible, and I began to pray.
Then, in the midst of my prayer, I felt the Lord’s presence, and He spoke to my heart, reminding me of the $700 we owed, and urging me to tell my husband about it. I remember telling Him that I loved Him and I wanted to obey Him, but couldn’t I do something else for Him? Couldn’t I do anything else rather than confessing to my husband that I had been lying to him for months about the money we owed? Holy Spirit was very firm, as He urged me to confess to my husband. I remember crying, and telling the Lord that I really did love Him, but I just couldn’t tell my husband.
I felt the presence of the Lord so strongly, and yet I just couldn’t do what He was asking me to do. I was too weak. I was controlled by fear. I went home from that encounter with God, feeling severely depressed. I felt like a loser and a liar. I felt like I just wasn’t worthy of God’s love or anyone else’s love.
Two days later, on Monday morning, I had to take my husband to have an endoscopy. When I brought him home that day, he was feeling really nauseated, and I remember him laying his head on my lap while I sat on the sofa. A fierce wave of love for my husband washed over me as I sat there smoothing his hair, while he rested on my lap.
Suddenly, my husband’s eyes flew open, and he looked me straight in the eye and said, “I love you, Blondie.”
Guilt washed over me as I told him that I loved him too.
“No,” he said, “you don’t understand. I really, really love you Honey Doll.”
Now, I have to tell you, my husband doesn’t usually verbalize his love for me. It was totally out of character. He verbalizes now more than he used to, but back then, he usually only told me he loves me on special occasions, and then, he seemed embarrassed and awkward as he said it. He prefers to show me his love by doing things, but this day it was different.
He continued, “You’re the best wife any man could ever have.” Tears began to rain down my face, as I told him to stop it. “Why?” he asked. “It’s true. I’m really lucky to have you in my life. You’re always honest with me and –”
“No I’m not,” I wept. “I am a terrible wife. Please stop saying I’m good.”
“What’s wrong Honey Doll? I love you and you are a good wife.”
“No, I’ve messed up so bad,” I blurted out, as the tears were freely flowing, and fear kept trying to squeeze the life out of my heart. I was having difficulty breathing, as I confessed our $700 debt to him, fully expecting him to demand a divorce on the spot.
But he didn’t. Instead, he sat up and held me in his arms and proclaimed his love for me, telling me that we would work things out, and that I should never be afraid to talk to him or tell him anything.
And while he was speaking his words of love to me, I felt the presence of the Lord, and the Lord spoke these words into my heart…
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.” (Proverbs 3:5-6 NKJV)
I began to see just how much the Lord cares for me. He was showing me that if I will just obey Him, He will watch over me and take care of me. Then He spoke these words to my heart as well, loosing the chains of fear that had bound me for so long, and setting me free from fear, and for the first time that I could remember, I no longer had any fear.
“There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love.” (1 John 4:18 NKJV)
That was more than sixteen years ago, and my life has changed entirely. For several years after that, in order to ensure that I did not revert back to a life of fear, I would not retrieve the mail from the mailbox, lest I fall into temptation and open the door for fear to return, by hiding something. I also stopped taking care of the bills for a while, again, so that I would not open the door for fear to return to my life.
Perhaps, as you read this, you think that I’m loony. That’s okay, because fear makes a person loony, but the Spirit of the Lord gives us liberty. That day, I got a glimpse of God’s love for me, as He set me free from the spirits of fear and deception. That’s just one of my most “spiritual” moments.
Tell us about a teacher who had a real impact on your life, either for the better or the worse. How is your life different today because of him or her? Daily Prompt: Teacher’s Pet
My first response when I read this prompt, “Oh, you’ve got to be kidding,” as my mind flew back to unpleasant memories of grade school. But then I thought, “Wait a minute! This didn’t say anything about a childhood teacher. This just said to talk about a teacher who had a real impact on my life.” Suddenly, this prompt didn’t seem like such a chore.
I remember the first time I saw him, in September 2001. I had enrolled in Christian World College of Theology, established by Dr. Ray Chamberlain, and I was very excited for my first class. The Lord had led me here, and I was anxious to see what would come of this.
My friend Jean and I had arrived a few minutes early, because I am one who likes a front row seat because, firstly, I don’t want to miss anything, and secondly, I’m very distractible. If I sit behind anyone, I’m likely to pay more attention to the people in front of me rather than to the instructor. Also, generally, people who sit in the back rows tend to chat more, and that completely wrecks my concentration. Therefore, we arrived early, and got front row seats.
As I said, I was really excited about this new endeavor that the Lord had led me to, until I saw the elderly white-haired gentleman step up to the podium. My heart sank. “Oh Lord,” I prayed, “please don’t let him be our teacher.” Now, instead of excitement, I had a sense of dread. I was expecting a younger instructor, one with some fire and passion for the Lord in his blood. This pale older man with the red rosy cheeks didn’t look like he could have much fire in him. I was afraid that I was destined to spend the next three hours in boredom.
I know how bad that sounds, but I’m just being honest about my feelings. The older man walked to the podium and told the class to gather together into groups of 5-10 people and begin praying. Wow. I had never been a part of a prayer group like that before! Everyone asked if there were any needs to be prayed for, and then, holding hands, everyone began crying out to God all at once. This was no quiet circle, where each person takes a turn praying, and then the next one and the next one, so that everyone has a chance to think up a nice sounding prayer to offer up. Ascending up to the heavens were the heartfelt cries of men and women seeking the Lord.
Coming from a very conservative Methodist church, this was quite an assault to my senses, and yet, I felt strangely warm inside — and hungry for more. After that time of prayer, my hopes were dashed as the elderly gentleman called the class to order. Silently groaning inside, I got my pen in hand, preparing myself to try to stay awake and take notes. I was now secretly sorry for choosing a front row seat because I have this problem. When I get bored, I tend to fall asleep. I try to fight it, but for some reason, when I am bored, my eyelids get extremely heavy, and to make matters worse, I’ve been known to snore in public…
The elderly gentleman, who reminded me of Santa Claus with his white hair and rosy red cheeks, introduced himself as Dr. Ray Chamberlain, founder of C.W.C.T., and then opened his mouth and began to teach with more fire and passion than I had ever witnessed in any younger preacher or teacher. I was enthralled as he taught us, hanging on every word that he spoke. I had to remind myself to write notes, because I was so mesmerized by his passion and his instruction. I also had to repent for judging a book by its cover.
The three hours of class slipped by so quickly that I was both surprised and disappointed that it was over. I couldn’t wait for the next class, and the next and the next and the next… During the two years that I sat under his tutelage, I learned and grew strong in the Lord. I soaked up the biblical history like a dry sponge soaks up water, and I absorbed the ways of the Lord and His word better than Bounty® Paper Towels absorb spills.
There is one subject area that Brother Ray (this is what he liked to be called, rather than the more formal Dr. Chamberlain) taught that changed my life forever. It was the section on Praise and Worship. Now, maybe that doesn’t sound like a big deal to you, but it was to me, because it forever changed my relationship with God. You see, I loved God, but this class would change that love, as I began to fall in love with Him. He opened the class with a song, and his love for our Savior was clearly evident, as tears rolled down his cheeks and he sang, “Without Him.” I am truly not a Southern Gospel fan, but something about the lyrics, something about his love and passion for the Lord spoke to my heart.
Without Him I could do nothing Without Him I?d surely fail Without Him I would be drifting Like a ship without a sail
Without Him I would be dying Without Him I?d be enslaved Without Him life would be worthless But with Jesus thank God I’m saved
Oh Jesus, oh Jesus Do you know Him today Please don’t turn Him away Oh Jesus, my Jesus Without Him how lost I would be Without Him how lost I would be
Then Brother Ray began to teach about the difference between praise and worship, and where they could be found in scripture. And as he talked, something inside of me awakened. I had to have what he had. I needed it desperately and I couldn’t rest until I got a taste of it, and so, the following Sunday, I attended Brother Ray’s church for the first time.
I’ll never forget it. I was fine as I walked inside, but the instant I stepped into the sanctuary, I felt the presence of the Holy Spirit so strongly that I began to weep. No one had said or done anything to me, it was just that the presence of the Lord was so thick in there, that I couldn’t contain myself. I wept through the whole service, but they weren’t tears of sorrow. I’m sitting here weeping even now, as I type this, because they are tears of joy. Oh what joy there is in the presence of the Lord!
When I left the church that day, I determined in my heart that I would visit again the following Sunday. I wasn’t planning to leave the church that I had been a part of for seventeen years — I just needed to taste of this joy again. The following Sunday, I came to church with my son, daughter and her friend in tow. Again, though I had made up my mind not to react as I had the previous Sunday, as soon as I set foot into the sanctuary, the tears began to flow, as I was enveloped by the Holy Spirit.
And then, while sitting in the pew, waiting for the service to begin, I heard the audible voice of the Lord saying, “This is your home now.”
“But Lord,” I silently replied to Him, “I can’t come here. What about my Sunday School class?” I was a Sunday School teacher at the church that I had been a member of for seventeen years. “This is a big church, Lord,” I continued to argue. “I need to have a ministry.”
“Your ministry will be here,” He replied to me.
“But Lord,” I silently spoke to Him again, “my children won’t want to come here. My daughter would never agree to leave our church, you know hard it is for her to be around people she doesn’t know.”
At that point, the praise and worship music started, and my daughter turned to me, beaming and said, “Mom, I don’t care if you ever want to come here again, but I do!” She didn’t know anything of the conversation I had been having with the Lord, but He had moved on her heart as well as mine. My son also confirmed that this was where he wanted to worship as well.
My arguments with God seem so silly now. You see, God has called me to be a worshiper, and He led me to this church so that I could learn how to worship Him freely, and my life has never been the same.
I live and I love to worship the Lord, in spirit and in truth, and it all began because of a very special teacher and pastor, Dr. Ray Chamberlain, who has since gone home to be with the Lord. Words cannot even begin to express my gratitude. Thank you, Brother Ray. I look forward to seeing you and my Jesus again very soon!
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~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Here I am again, Lord, crying out to You. O God, I need Your mercy and Your peace now more than ever. Father, give me the wisdom I need to face each day, and help me to be a blessing to others, and not a curse. Give me words of life to speak to others, words that will edify and encourage, rather than tearing them down and destroying them.
Lord, when I got up at 1:00 again, this morning, it was not my intention to write a post, nor was it my intention to spend this time pouring my heart out to You. I suppose this was Your plan all along, and I have to say, that I am so thankful for that.
I praise You Lord, for every person You lead to read this prayer, and I ask You to speak to their hearts, Father, in Jesus’ name. For those who are sick and in pain, Lord, touch their bodies as they read this prayer, not for my glory, but for Yours. For those with a spirit of heaviness, Lord, in Jesus’ mighty name, I ask You to loose those chains of heaviness, so that they may know that You are the God of deliverance.
Father, in Jesus’ name, I ask You to lavish Your love on each and every person who reads this prayer. Let them know that You truly are the God of love, and that You care so much for each person, that You’ve even numbered the hairs on our heads. For the ones who are mourning, grieving for the loss of loved ones, whether that loss was by death or abandonment, please, wrap Your loving arms around each one. Send Your peace, and calm the storms that are raging in so many lives, just as You calmed the wind and the waves so many years ago, when You said, “Peace! Be still.”
Lord, I love You with all of my heart, and it is my desire to lift You up, because You are worthy of all praise glory and honor. Amen.
Helplessness: that dull, sick feeling of not being the one at the reins. When did you last feel like that –- and what did you do about it? Daily Prompt: Helpless
It was Friday, August 31, 2012. I had applied for intermittent FMLA due to chronic and acute back pain, which frequently rendered me unable to work. I remember speaking with my boss that Friday afternoon, before I went home for the day. At that point, she wasn’t sure if I would be approved for intermittent FMLA, or whether I would be forced to go out on disability, because company policy does not allow for modified schedules and workloads unless it is a workman’s comp injury, which this was not.
In my heart of hearts, I knew what the outcome was going to be, and I don’t mind telling you that I was fearful and a little sick to my stomach. If I was forced to go out on disability, I would receive a short-term disability check for 60% of my current pay for no more than 3 months maximum, but likely, for a shorter term, since I had already been out for 30 days that year due to the back pain. For someone who lives from paycheck to paycheck already, the prospect of receiving only 60% of that pay was overwhelming… And the fact is, I didn’t foresee any likelihood of improvement if I was out for the full 3 months. In fact, I suspected that if they chose to place me on short-term disability, I would likely not be returning to my job, and that in 3 months or less, I would have no income.
It was all disheartening and frightening, and I drove home that day feeling very gloomy, as I shared the news with my husband that this may have been my last day of work. I am so thankful that the Lord has blessed me with such a good and loving man, who simply said that we’ll just do the best that we can do. During this whole ordeal, he has shown me love and patience when I am not able to do the things that I need to do.
Shortly after 5:00 that evening, I got the phone call that I had been dreading, and I was informed that effective immediately, I would be receiving short-term disability, and that I was not allowed to return to work until I was released by my physician and could resume my full duties. Light duty was not an option. I won’t lie. For the first month, I battled with depression. The pain has been bad, and at this point, I have no income at all coming in, as the short-term disability ceased in November.
I like to be in control of things, but this is all out of my control, and I have had to learn to really trust in the Lord. That’s a nice sentiment, and so easy for us to advise others to do… “Trust in the Lord to take care of your needs.” How many times have I told others to do this? And now, what could I do but trust in the Lord?
After allowing me to have a month of feeling sorry for myself, the Lord spoke to me around the beginning of October. He told me to stop feeling sorry for myself and to begin writing again. He told me that I was to write everyday for 30 days. I hadn’t written in oh so long, because after working all day, in addition to the other activities that I’ve been involved in, there wasn’t time to write, and I just didn’t have the gumption to do it. However, now, there was no excuse for not writing.
So now the question was what would I write and where should I write? The thought that immediately came to my mind was that I need to start a blog. Ha! I wasn’t 100% sure what a blog even was, but a friend of mine from church has a blog, and so I looked her blog up, saw that it was on WordPress, and signed up. On October 9, 2012, I began my blog and submitted my first post. Since that time, I have submitted 148 posts… This one will be 149. I have been blessed with an outlet to share my hopes, my dreams, my loves, my dislikes, and myself.
I’ve learned a valuable lesson during this time. While I cannot control my circumstances, I can place my trust in the Almighty God who loves me with an everlasting love, because He alone controls my future. So far, though things have been extremely difficult, He has provided for every one of my needs. I am thankful, because even though everything seems to be spinning out of my control, He holds my life in His hands, and He comforts me with His word.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the LORD. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. In those days when you pray, I will listen. If you look for Me in earnest, you will find Me when you seek Me.” (Jeremiah 29:11-13 NLT)
Though this is out of my control, and there’s absolutely nothing I can do to change it, I know that while I was surprised by the circumstances, God knew about it long before the foundations of the earth were laid. He knew that this would happen in my life long before He placed me in my mother’s womb. He knew, and He had a plan for it — a good plan.
And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. (Romans 8:28 NLT)
Just knowing that calms me. I have peace. I don’t know where my next penny or dollar may come from, but God does… You know, I love my children and my grandchildren more than anyone could ever imagine, and there is nothing that I wouldn’t do for their good, if it was in my power. And this is how my heavenly Father feels about me. He loves me even more than I love my children and grandchildren. He loves me beyond measure, and there is nothing that He won’t do for my good, including this.
I don’t understand why or how, because His ways and thoughts are not mine, but I trust Him, because He’s never let me down, and He never will… So, what did I do about that helpless feeling? I rested in the arms of my Savior, and I’ve cast all of my cares on Him, because He cares for me.