Monday, August 31, 2009

Stirred, but not Shaken

"None of this fazes us because Jesus loves us. I'm absolutely convinced that nothing - nothing living or dead, angelic or demonic, today or tomorrow, high or low, thinkable or unthinkable - absolutely nothing can get between us and God's love because of the way that Jesus our Master has embraced us." - Romans 8:37-39, The Message

Because I was the product of a teenage pregnancy, I had the wonderful privilege of knowing all of my grandparents and four of my great-grandparents. Two of my grandparents are still living!

My last great-grandparent, my maternal great-grandmother, passed away at the age of 98 in 1997. I was thirty four years old when she died. Since my family lived near her for most of my life, I spent a lot of time with her, and grew to love her. She had lived through two different centuries and was a very colorful character. She was the oldest of thirteen children, and was raised on a farm in West Tennessee. Three of the things that I remember most about her were: a) she loved Jesus b) she was a wonderful cook, and c) she often would share some funny sayings with a truth attached. More than once she made me giggle and think, all at the same time.

One of my all-time favorite quotes from her was, "The more you stir manure, the more it stinks!" The Enemy takes a lot of joy in stirring things up and making things really stink, doesn't he? Take a look around you... It doesn't take much to find out that people are hurting around us. It could be that you are the one facing challenges right now. And if you aren't at the moment, chances are that if you are breathing, you've either had your share already, or you will face them soon enough.

So....What do we do when everything is at stake? What do we do when everything that is precious to us seems to be coming to an end or is being or has been taken from us?

What should our attitudes be when we're up against the wall and it doesn't look like -- on the surface at least-- that there's a way out?

How do we react as Christ-followers to our own troubles or to the hardships that come to those whom we know and love?

I think that as Believers, we have to start with one premise: God is looking out for His kingdom's interests in everything He does. One of the biggest fallacies I think that believers fall for is that we think that God has only our interests at stake. I really believe that is why we often set our own agendas and then ask God to bless them! We tend to believe God is some kind of a glorified genie in a bottle, and if we rub the bottle the right way, or say the magic words, that He'll pop out and make everything right. Just the way we want it to be. Just like magic.

That, my friend, smells of smoke from the pit of hell! It never has been and never will be about us, when God is accomplishing kingdom purposes. It will ALWAYS be about God. And, my dear friends, James 1:2 tells us that we will suffer various trials.

So, I think it's safe to say that:

Every triumph,
Every trial,
Every victory,
Every defeat,
Every success,
Every failure,
Every loss,
Every gain,
Every joy,
Every sorrow....

Whatever it is that God throws across your plate is all about accomplishing God's purposes in your life. I think it's also safe to say that the life of a Christ follower isn't always about rainbows and puppy dogs... Sometimes it includes sailing on some pretty rough seas.

The second thing that we have to remember is that when we belong to Jesus, He NEVER leaves us or forsakes us. (Hebrews 13:5) It's easy to feel as if God is with us on the good days, and to feel like He is walking with us when all is right with the world. We need to remember that He is going to walk as closely with us through the fiery trials that we face, just as He walks closely with us on the good days. He hasn't left us!

Lastly, I think we need to remember to trust in God for whatever the outcome of our days, whether they be good days or bad days. If we are already trusting God on the good days, and He has shown His love and protection for us there, it seems to me that we should also trust Him completely for the times when the road gets a bit bumpy. If He has proven Himself trustworthy during the good days, doesn't it make sense that He will also be trustworthy in the bad times as well?

He is unchangeable, so from where He sits, tomorrow will be no different from yesterday or today. (Hebrews 13:8)

He is still God.
He is still Faithful.
He is still True.
He is still the Creator of the Universe.
He is still the Ancient of Days.
He is still the Great Physician.
He is still the Lover of your Soul.
He is still the Ancient of Days.
He is still the Bridegroom of the Church.
He is still the Father to the fatherless.
He is still the Husband to the Widow.
He is still the Author of Salvation.
He is still The Way, The Truth and The Life.
He is still the Vinedresser.
He is still the Great Shepherd.
He is still the Mighty Fortress.
He is still your shield in the midst of a storm.
He is still the Rock of Ages.
He is still the Creator of the Universe.
He is still the Resurrection and the Life.
He is still the Gate.
He is still Lion of Judah.
He is still the Prince of Peace.
He is still Wonderful.
He is still Counselor.
He is still the Almighty God.
He is still the King of All Kings.
He is still the Lord of All Lords.
He still LIVES in YOU.

And He is still head-over-heels crazy in love with you!

Nothing will change that.


Did you get that???


Not one blessed thing will change His love for you.

And He will never, ever leave you.

Not ever.

Not in a bazillion-trillion years.

You can bank on it.

So... when your back's against the wall, remember Who is in charge. Leave your days -- whatever they may be, along with the outcome, to God. Because with Him, you have Hope. And Hope does not disappoint. (Romans 5:5)

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

You Have Made Me Glad

"Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need." - Hebrews 4:16

I just came home from a Wednesday night church orchestra rehearsal. That's nothing unusual for me. It's been my routine on Wednesday nights for a number of years now. And every now and again, I will come home with a particular song from the upcoming Sunday's worship set that sticks with me. Tonight, it was a song by Darlene Zschech that is popular among our congregation called, "Made Me Glad" that I have been singing all night after returning home:

I will bless the Lord forever

I will trust Him at all times

He has delivered me from all fear

He has set my feet upon a rock

I will not be moved

And I'll say of the Lord

You are my shield, my strength

My portion, deliverer

My shelter, strong tower

My very present help in time of need

Whom have I in heaven but You

There's none I desire beside You

You have made me glad

And I'll say of the Lord

You are my shield, my strength

My portion, deliverer

My shelter, strong tower

My very present help in time of need

Most of this song came straight from the scriptures! David wrote many, many of the Psalms and gave many of these same titles to the Lord as He was running from Saul. The guy was being chased by a madman, running in and out of caves and yet he still managed to call God his strength... his portion and deliverer.... Don't get me wrong here. He also made it clear that he wanted God to get rid of his enemies, but in nearly every single one of the Psalms, David still managed to come back around to God.

He knew that God could and would handle every single situation that He found himself in regarding Saul and his men.... even when Saul was absolutely crazy!

We're no different from David today, are we? Ever been falsely accused? Been in a situation where you've gotten a lot more month left than you do money? What about your marriage? Ever run into some disasters there? David sure did! He actually caused some major issues there! But he also learned the forgiveness of God. (Ps. 51) And he was quick to tell Him thanks. What about your health? David was in the midst of some pretty severe depression in some of those caves.... Yet, he found a way to talk to God about it and gave Him praise.

Think about that a minute! How often has God pulled your feet from the fire?? How often has God made you glad???

Is He your strength?

Your shield?

Your shelter?

Your deliverer????

Like you, I have plenty to praise the Lord for! For example, I know that when my husband was going through his cancer treatments two years ago, things were really very stressful at our house. We had been living in Tennessee and our former home in another state hadn't yet sold, thanks to the current economy. We then had to deal with a misdiagnosis and prognosis for his cancer, and then had to deal with expensive treatments. But during it all, God provided every single penny that we needed! And He answered our prayers with a correct diagnosis and with a what has been a clean bill of health for going on two years.

Our minister of music reminded us tonight that it is easy to forget that we need to say thanks to God for all of the wonderful things He has done for us. He's right! After the new wears off from the miracle, we seem to go back to the status quo.

Remember September 11, 2001? Do you remember how churches were packed full after the planes hit the towers? About a month later, things went right back to normal and the politicians were back to bickering, churches went back to their regular crowd sizes. Six months later, we were no longer enthralled by the giant hole in the middle of New York City now known as Ground Zero. What phrase seemed to be the rallying cry after that? Do you remember? It was, "We Will Never Forget!" And ironically, it almost seems that we have.

Our minister of music had us just say a word of Thanks to God tonight for all of the great things He has done. And I wanted to ask you to take the time to do the same thing. Take the time now to recall those things that God has done, and say thanks.

Has He set your feet upon a rock? Tell Him!

Do you have a Provider in Heaven? Thank Him!

Has He been your Strength when you have been tempted? Give Him praise!

Has He been your Shelter when you have been in the middle of a storm? Exalt His name!

From what has He delivered you? Remember! Give Him Glory!

Has He made you glad??? Ooooooohhhhhhhhhhh!!! Shout it, friend, shout it OUT! HE IS WORTHY... AND HE HAS MADE ME GLAD!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Facing the Not-So-Jolly Green Giant

"A champion named Goliath, who was from Gath, came out of the Philistine camp. He was over nine feet tall." - I Samuel 17:4

We all know the story of David. He's the kid that was in the field tending sheep that was anointed to be king.... In I Samuel 17, we read of a story from David's life, when he was faced with challenges.

At the time that this particular story in David's life took place, Saul, Israel's first king was still on the throne. Saul and the Israelites were at war with the Philistines.

David's dad, Jesse, had eight sons. David was somewhere in the middle of the lineup of the siblings. He had three older brothers and four younger brothers. The three oldest brothers were following Saul and were hanging out with the rest of the Israeli army. David had been spending his time caring for his father's sheep and had been going back and forth between the sheep pen and taking messages and food to his brothers.

The two parties at war were on opposite hills from one another, with a valley in between them.

One particular day, Jesse sent David to his brothers, to take them some food.... When David made it to the hillside, he found Goliath, a giant of a man taunting the Israelites. This obnoxious bully was yelling across to the Israelites day and night... He was challenging the Israelites to a battle. This would be a winner takes all battle. The loser would have to bow to their enemy. And this had been going on for forty days! No one would dare step up to face the giant.

Imagine what our hero, the teenager David thought when he heard the giant taunting the Israelites.... If he was like a lot of teenagers that I have known over the years, he could have had a little bit of cockiness about him. Or maybe he was a little naiive. Whatever his emotional state, he couldn't believe his ears! He was going to stand up for the God of Israel. And he was not going to stand for this smart-mouthed bully.

Can you imagine what the crowd around him thought when he said, "I can take him"? His brothers pretty much thought he was crazy! They tried to talk him out of it. Saul even tried to give him his armor and his sword. But it was too big. I can imagine that it probably looked like a little kid playing dress up or something. So David just used what he knew best.

Here was this kid who was going to take on this beast.... Now, granted, David was accustomed to fighting lions and bears off from the sheep pen, but this guy was over nine feet tall! The tip alone of his spear weighed 5000 shekels. I am sure that David probably looked like (and felt like) the little green sprout in comparison! Goliath was HUGE!

Can you say "overwhelmed" ??? This was a GOD-sized problem David had here. And it required a GOD-sized faith. If he failed, the Israelites would have had to submit to the Philistines. I am betting that the entire crowd could hear David's knees knocking!

But David knew God was with him, and told the big bully as much. And that in no uncertain terms, he was going down... pretty much because God was gonna take him down.

We know the rest of the story.... David picked up five smooth stones, grabbed a slingshot and planted one right between Goliath's eyes! In one shot, the gargantuan beast fell to the ground. The crowds roared and little David became an instant hero!

We all face giants of one kind or another in our lives. I know that I have faced plenty of them in my lifetime. And I have a few on my plate right now. Chances are that you do, too.

Make a mental list of the giants that are in your way right now. You make yours. I'll make mine. Got your list? Good!

Now. How do you and I act when we are faced with something much bigger than us??? Or do we react??? What happens when there is a GOD-sized challenge before us??? Do we remember to Whom we belong and trust Him to face the challenge/fell the giant? Or do we automatically cower in defeat?

It's easier to let the circumstances of our lives and our own self-sufficiency to dictate whether we can follow God, isn't it? (Case in point: Ever let the things you have in your hand dictate whether you can obey God? What about the clock? Or your calendar? Your checkbook?) It's easier to bow to the idea that something God has put in front of us that may be bigger than us is better left undone than calling on the One to help you Who called you in the first place.

The sad truth is, most of the time, we'd rather back down from the fight with the giant than to consider that God may actually have something far greater than we ever asked or even imagined in store for us, if we'd just obey Him. We respond to His challenges with, "This just isn't doable, God. I can't."

And God simply answers with, "You're right. You can't. But I can."

Our God is a God Who majors in the impossible! He is a God Who is bigger than any circumstance that you or I may have. He is fully capable of equipping those whom He has called to the purposes for which they were called. He felled David's giant. And He can certainly knock down yours and mine, too.

Remember this old chorus by Don Moen?

God will make a way
When there seems to be no way
He works in ways
We cannot see
He will make a way for me.

He will be my guide
Hold me closely to His side
With love and strength
For each new day
He will make a way.

God will make a way.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Ministry Update

I wanted to pass along an update to my blog readers on how things are going in the Mourning into Dancing ministry group. God has brought some amazing people to us in the group and I am thrilled at how He has worked thus far.

Since the group has primarily only been advertised through word of mouth and through connections via facebook, I am thrilled at the response we've had thus far! We've been fortunate to be mentioned in a couple of prominent blogs by some wonderful friends as well. My college roommate, Renae Brumbaugh, mentioned us on her blog, "Morning Coffee with Renae" ( Also, Vonda Skelton, a new friend that I met a few months ago (funny story there), mentioned us in the kudos section of her blog, "The Christian Writer's Den" ( I am thankful for both of these ladies and their terrific support in getting started!

Since our beginning in late April, we've had eleven girls to be a part of the group. They hail from literally all over the US. In the past three weeks alone, God added five new girls to the group.
We hail from Coast to Coast... which is really amazing to me. Thank You, Lord, for the world wide web!

Some of our girls are really new to widowhood. Please pray for them as they experience some of the many things that come with that first year -- holidays and birthdays without their spouses, the first time they pass their wedding anniversaries, even the first anniversaries of their spouse's death and all that goes with that. The first year is often the worst because of those reminders that someone is missing.

I am impressed with the walks that so many of these girls have with God! It is really encouraging to know that so many of them are relying heavily on God and His grace to get them through these tough days.

We've already had opportunities to encourage the young women in our group, which is what we are entirely about. Please pray that God will continue to provide opportunities for the group members to encourage one another as well. It is my hope that they will befriend one another and begin to lean on one another as they learn more about all of the things that they have in common. Beth Moore says that we girls love comraderie... I believe she's right. I am hoping that the things that link this particular group together will allow us to be an encouragement, praying for one another, sharing together and so forth.

The blog has had just over 930 hits or so, since its beginning in late April. Since there have only been nineteen posts since the start, that means we're averaging about 200 hits per post. We also have fifteen people total who are publicly following the blog (for those who are wondering, Network blogs count the administrator as a follower - that's why the total I give is different from the one they do.) Our goal is to share Jesus constantly and consistently in a real faith way, so that all can understand and believe... So every time we get a hit on the blog, we know that it is one more time that we know we have told folks about a real Savior, Who saves in the real world...

So I guess what I am saying is, Thank You, Lord! Reminds me of this old hymn, "To God Be the Glory".... Sing it with me, will you?

To God Be the Glory
Great Things He Has Done
So loved He the World
That He gave us His Son!

Who yielded His life
An Atonement for Sin
And opened the Lifegate
That all may go in!

Praise the Lord!
Praise the Lord!
Let the Earth hear His voice!

Praise the Lord!
Praise the Lord!
Let the people rejoice!

Oh, come to the Father
Through Jesus the Son
And give Him the Glory
Great things He hath done!