Moving Forward

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Sometimes people don’t realize when God speaks. We may think our lives are falling into place because of coincidences. We just happen to be in the right place at the right time. We are “lucky.” Good things just happen to us by accident.

For people of faith, it is different. Sometimes we beg for direction or a “sign” that we are on the right path. Are we taking the right road? We just want to know. If only we would be given a sign.

We grow impatient in the waiting, not understanding that the waiting is required. During the waiting, we may be tested. We can drop lower and lower in despair, thinking our time will never arrive. I know. I have been there, too.

 The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him Lamentations 3:25

The verse above was written by Jerimiah as he cried for the fallen city of Jerusalem. His sorrow was real. He knew the people had fallen away from God and that Jerusalem had suffered because of it. He knew that he would wait for direction from God. He would listen. He would watch for God to show him the way.

For still the vision awaits its appointed time; it hastens to the end-it will not lie. If it seems slow, wait for it; it will surely come; it will not delay Habakkuk 2:3.

In this prophetic verse written by Habakkuk, he writes that he knows he will be given a sign. He knew things would change according to God’s timing. This is the key for our impatience, too. When we are waiting, to know that our time will come is a measure of our faith.

My signs come in everyday experiences. Had I not been aware, I might have missed them. But I believed the time would come, when God was ready. When He was ready, I received a note from a friend that I would hear some amazing news and would move forward with my work. That very day, in the very next email I opened, I received a contract offer for my most recent book.

When I moved to a new town, I received a sign that new friends in Christ would become a part of our lives when a couple enthusiastically walked into a book signing and introduced themselves. They said they felt called to come and meet us when they read the notice in the local paper. We have been close friends since that day.

Several days ago, I wrote a list of upcoming blog topics. The topic of this very blog, written days ago, was the title of my pastor’s service today. Are these coincidences? Or are they messages from God to me that I am to keep working for His church? The answer depends on your faith.

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Count It All Joy

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Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds James 1:2

These last months have seen heartbreak, struggle, physical pain, surgery, and the meticulous chores that accompany moving into a new home. At times, feeling overwhelmed, it was all I could do to read daily devotionals. Maybe you have had days like this. Many days, I played catchup with laundry, grocery shopping, household chores, and Bible reading. The schedule was beyond full.

During these months, my writing turned to longer works. These longer works consumed my days and nights. Since Christmas, I completed two books. One is under contract with a publisher and another has been submitted. Those works will be posted in detail later when publication is near.

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change James 1:17

So now, with a small sense of things being back to “normal”, the blog posting will continue. I am thankful and blessed to be able to write. God gives us all gifts and these are to be used to help others along our way. It may be that you have been given the gift of unbelievable patience, compassion, and strength and share your home with foster children. It may be that you have been given the gift of teaching and shaping young minds to achieve in school. Maybe you are a parent or teacher assisting children to become Christians and productive citizens. You may find you are incredibly good at raising crops or cattle. Maybe your gift is the understanding, skill, and desire to risk your life each day as a first responder or soldier. Perhaps you are a talented builder, banker, doctor, or any other profession in which you can work to mentor others. God, in His wisdom, knows it takes us all to support each other.

Thank you to each person reading this post. To have the blog posts sent to your email, please click on the reply box below and check the box for the blog to be sent to your email. 

Blessings to you!

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But Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible” Matthew 19:26

Jesus said these words to his disciples who doubted that sinful men could be saved. As Christians, we have heard and read about miracles that happened in the Bible. It is easy to become lazy and surmise that miracles don’t happen in our life time. But for Christians, we can open our eyes daily to find miracles. As Christians, we live in the Kingdom of God. Thinking about our tiny planet suspended in just the right place in our solar system, held precisely by gravity, with just the perfect mix of temperatures, gases, and elements for human survival did not happen by chance. We know it didn’t. The existence of humans and other life forms on this planet is mere child’s play for God. Nothing to it.

Water droplets that turn to beautiful snowflakes, seeds emerging from frozen ground, waves echoing their sighs as they come and go on the shore, and galaxies of stars we see each night, remind us of the power of God. We can also open our eyes to see sunrises, the birth of our children and grandchildren, love between spouses that lasts a lifetime, and we know we are witnessing miracles. But, like the disciples, we still have doubts and insecurities about our faith. We pray for signs. We pray for God to work in our lives.

So Jesus said to him, “Unless you see signs and wonders you will not believe” John 4:48

This week, I witnessed a miracle and the true power of prayer. My mother laid with her eyes closed in her hospital bed for four days with “no response”. On the fourth day, the family called on all prayer warriors. Congregations scattered across the state, Bible study groups, friends, relatives, and my Dad’s Marine Corps buddies (more than 500 responded), all asked for God to leave her with us on earth. We prayed that she would pull through. We prayed for strength. We prayed for God’s will to be done, whatever that might be, and that she would feel no pain.

On the fifth day, we entered the hospital room to find Mom not only awake but sitting up! Her speech was intact and, we soon found out, so was her humor! But her first remarks to us were: “A great hand woke me up. I know that I am only here because of prayer; that is all it could be.”

For nothing will be impossible with God Luke 1:37

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I am thankful she is here and thankful for the miracle of prayer. She is still fighting to get stronger and we pray she will be released from the hospital in a few days. And after all of the tears of pain, heartbreak, and joy this week, I cannot help but wonder if the miracle happened, not only to heal Mom, but also so we could witness God’s work and once again have our own faith strengthened.

And whatever you ask for in prayer, you will receive if you have faith Matthew 21:22

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Settling In…

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Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come 2 Corinthians 5:17

Many weeks have passed since the beginning of this new phase of my life. In the midst of packing, loading, unpacking, organizing, and calling a multitude of people for assistance in turning on utilities and changing addresses, we have finally moved in to our new home. Although we are often searching for a missing item that is in a box, we are in the process of “settling in” to our new house as we also settle in to a new year.

A mere four weeks ago, we, along with most people, were stating perhaps unreachable or unattainable resolutions for the new year. As a new year begins, we examine what we have not yet achieved in the past year or years. We resolve to be better, laugh more, love more, and at some level, become more disciplined in eating and exercising.

This time of year can be useful for examining our own Christian hearts and actions. Are there areas in which we are weak? For me, this examination revealed several ugly habits. So many, that to list them all would take up the rest of this blog post. Where do we begin when an honest evaluation reveals so many things we don’t do, things we don’t do regularly, or things we do too much that we shouldn’t do at all?

Thinking always of ourselves before others. Thinking always of ourselves before God. Being too busy to walk closely with God. Avoiding the work we need to do each day. And on and on. An honest examination can be devastating. It can cause us to become uneasy, shameful, and filled with guilt. Don’t go down that unproductive road. That road goes to depression and lack of action. If, instead, we follow the example set before us in the Scripture, we know that we must acknowledge these weaknesses. Ask forgiveness of those who we might have offended or hurt, and ask for God to forgive us as well. And, with all our heart and mental intention, avoid those same bad habits in the future. This is the beginning of a new beginning. This is the process that provides a true renewal.

To put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness  Ephesians 4:22-24

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As Christians, starting over is an important part of our grace. We repent. We ask forgiveness from God who gave us forgiveness and grace through His Son. And, we are truly born again. We can begin again because of His grace. So in this new year, we thank God that it is not through our good deeds or work that we are worthy of God’s love, but through grace, the greatest gift of all, that we can be forgiven and begin again.

And from his fulness we have all received, grace upon grace John 1:16.


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Paying attention…


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This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it Psalm 118:24

This verse from Psalm is a favorite for many Christians. But there are some typical days during the year that, no matter how hard we try, we cannot muster a sense of rejoicing. During the Christmas season, rejoicing comes easier. This season is the rejoicing season. We were given the greatest gift of all. We were given God’s Son here on earth who would take away our sins and certain eternal death. We are reminded of this wonderful gift by the many decorations and festivities around us.

There is definitely something different about the weeks before Christmas, or the season we know as the advent. There will be plenty of chaos, rushing around, last minute deadlines, attending events, and planning of gatherings. Families work hard to be certain that celebrations and traditions are maintained. Churches hold more services and meetings than the rest of the year. There is an abundance of activity.

Yet, with all of the expected hustle and bustle, somehow we have unusually warm and happy feelings during this time before Christmas. We observe with great pleasure the twinkling lights on trees, houses with nativity scenes, and Santas in the yards. We treasure the warmth of fire places. We inhale the delightful smells of cakes, pies, sugar cookies and other seasonal creations.   We sing carols with gladness in our hearts. Maybe we even make an extra effort to attend church activities and services.

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We hear phrases such as “keep Christmas in your heart year round” or “be as generous through all of the year as you are in the Christmas season”. It makes us wonder, “Why do we have difficulty transferring these feelings to other times of the year?”  If we are capable of sensing the love and joy for three or four weeks of the year, shouldn’t we be able to do so any week of the year? Or ALL weeks of the year? What happens after December that prevents Christians from loving in the same way during the other eleven months? Do our hearts just freeze up? Are our hearts hardened after Jan. 1?

Maybe it is because we stop paying attention to others; to strangers; to situations and circumstances. Instead, we focus back on our own small worlds, our work, our own immediate needs. We prioritize, schedule, and plan activities that are centered on our own wants and respond to imposed demands on our time and energy. We no longer feel we are in the driver’s seat. We begin to feel that we are just reacting to the other forces of our life. We lose the warmth and love we felt and extended to others during the holidays. We take our eye off God, off of Christ, and turn inward.

This year, with each gathering, with each service, with each warm encounter with others, imagine holding on to the feeling for weeks or months. Is it possible to internalize the warmth and love for others and keep it there? Jesus commanded that we love others as ourselves (Matthew 22:39). Is it possible to memorize the emotion? To maintain the love toward others? To celebrate life and be thankful for blessings all of the year? Paul instructed the people of Corinth to do just that. He reminded these new believers that no matter what they did, it was all for the glory of God. He instructed the people of Philippi to always rejoice in the Lord. By rejoicing and living our lives to the glory of God and loving others as Jesus instructed us to do, we can move toward maintaining the Christmas spirit during all of the days of the year.

So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God 1 Corinthians 10:31

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice Philippians 4:4

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