Monday, December 12, 2011


Dear friends and followers,
I just wanted to drop in and let you know this blog is on an indefinite hiatus. I'm not sure what direction it will go at this time. I enjoy journaling my devotional time here, but there are days when I'm just out of time.

I may come back here one day, blow off the dust, wipe away the cobwebs and journal again. In the meantime, I've imported all the posts from this blog onto my main site, The Bishop's Wife. They will also remain live here. Please drop by and visit me at my main site and follow me there, if you haven't already.

Thanks for your online friendship and encouragement!


Monday, November 14, 2011

Pause and Reflect

Ps. 100:4 Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praiase: be thankful unto him, and bless his name.

This verse brings back memories. I memorized Psalm 100 in first grade - I believe it was the first memory verse of the year. My teacher, Mrs. Parson, copied it from a large print Bible and gave out the photocopies. Funny how things like that stay in your mind so many years later. This is an appropriate verse to learn for the holidays. A reminder to be thankful.

I am pausing to reflect and give thanks for my life. It's a good time of year for folks to take stock of how they're spending their time, which is their life. Questions I'm asking myself? Is this best use of my time? Is this the best use of my talents? Am I unbalanced in an area? How can I correct that imbalance? What is the Lord's will  for me in (whatever) area?

Some areas I'm reevaluating is the amount of time I spend online. Is this a wise use of my time? Am I being a Proverbs 31 woman by doing this? I'll be honest, lately, I'm getting on Facebook or reading blogs, just to log off feeling defeated. I'm trying to supplement our family income in some way from my home, but blogging is draining what precious "free" time I have in which to cultivate my talents, turning them into a profit. I'm also evaluating several spiritual areas, which were highlighted to me during our revival meeting last week.

Because of this, I've decided to take the rest of November off from this blog to think, pray and plan. I appreciate those of you who drop by every weekday to read. I only have so much life, and I want to spend it wisely, on things that will benefit eternity as well as my family in the present.

Thank you for your understanding. Happy Thanksgiving!

God bless,

Friday, November 11, 2011

Somebody's Watching

Matt. 27:54 Now when the centurion, and they that were with him, watching Jesus, saw the earthquake, and those things that were done, they feared greatly, saying, Truly this was the Son of God.

When I was 17 years old, my pastor's wife mentioned to me in passing one day, that her little girl wanted to wear her hair pulled up in a clip because that's how I wore mine. I remember being so surprised that her daughter, maybe about six years old, even noticed me. I didn't have much interaction with that age group. But, I was faithfully in church, and so was she. She had been sitting in her pew, taking note of my hair, and copying me.

Today, I read about how Jesus was being watched. He wasn't sitting in a pew, though. He was suffering and dying for all mankind. He knew He was being watched, because He is God. His death made a difference in a centurion standing by. That soldier recognized that He was God, just by watching Him.

This verse reminded me that in good times and bad, I'm being watched. By my children, my church family, and others whom I do not know. What are they seeing in me? Do they see Christ reflected in my life? I hope so. Folks are noticing things much more important than my hair style! Things like, how I react to trouble, sorrow, angry words, accusations, lost people, and on and on.

We just finished our revival meeting, and the Lord gave me a laundry list of things I need to work on! I don't know if I'm quite transparent enough to share them on here or not...maybe in time. I'm still praying and thinking on what needs to be changed. I want to change because I want to obey Christ. I want to reflect Him more clearly to those around me. Because somebody is watching.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Thy Will be Done

Matthew 26:42 He went away again the second time, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if this cup may not pass away from me, except I drink it, thy will be done.

Jesus is nearing the time when He must give His all for sinners on the cross. He is Omniscient, He knows about the cruel death that awaits Him. As a man robed in flesh, I'm sure the thought of pain and suffering does not appeal to Him. As the Savior of the world, He longs to offer the way to Heaven for all who will receive it. He prays, "O Father, if this cup may not pass away from me, except I drink it," - He admits that it will be a hard thing to endure. But then He says the words that caught my attention today, "thy will be done". The Lord has been dealing with me about His will for my life for a couple of days now. I realized that I've been "kicking and screaming" (figuratively of course! haha!) to get out of the trial I'm in. I am always looking for an escape. The Lord pricked my heart just yesterday that perhaps I'm in this trial to learn to accept trials; to learn to stop "kicking" and take it like a woman who trusts God and desires His will.

Believe me, I'm not writing this flippantly. It was a bitter pill to swallow, to say to the Lord, "Oh, Lord, yes, I will stay in this trial for as long as you want me here. I will stop kicking, fighting, wishing to be out of it." I thought of the song by Ron Hamilton called "Rejoice, in the Lord". One part says:

"I bowed to the will of the Master that day, then peace came, and tears fled away."

I didn't mean not to bow to His will, but I haven't been. I will admit, it's hard. It's not fun to die to self and bury the hopes I had for the future. I do have hope that my Lord will see me through this trial. I have hope in Him for a better and brighter tomorrow. If not here, then on the other side! Before, I was hoping in my own desires, not His. I do have peace now. I'm still waiting to see if the tears have stopped. They are probably not gone forever, but maybe now they will less bitter!

I'm learning that anyone can say they want God's will for their lives. It's another thing entirely to want it when no one is watching. He has changed my perspective, and my longing is that it stay focused on Him forever.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Light in the Darkness

Psalm 112:4 Unto the upright there ariseth light in the darkness: he is gracious, and full of compassion, and righteous. 

This verse says that the "upright man" will have light in the darkness. Everyone will experience some sort of darkness. In last night's sermon evangelist Tim Green referred to these times as "wildernesses". Darkness, or wildernesses, will come to all: death of a loved one, financial reversal, betrayal, sickness...the list is endless. My natural inclination is to worry about the future, to doubt whether or not I can make it through tough times. I should know by now that I can only make it with my Savior's help, and He will never leave me. But, I'm just dust, so I worry anyway!

I read this and wondered, what does "upright" mean? The Hebrew root word means "straight". Webster's 1828  dictionary says:  Honest; just; adhering to rectitude in all social intercourse; not deviating from correct moral principles; as an upright man. Job. 1. It's kind of all encompassing. An upright man, or woman, is honest in everything, obedient to the laws of God and man. That doesn't mean we're sinless, but it means we sin less! :) A truly saved person wants to follow the paths God has laid out in His Word.

If I'm living in an upright way, I can rest assured that during the darkest times of life, I will have light. It may not be bright enough to light the entire way for me, but it will be enough for me to see my next step.As someone who is in my own personal darkness at the moment, I can say that it's true. He gets me through each day, moment by moment. And that's all I need, isn't it? Just enough grace to face today. My Father has it all under His power. He will always do what's best for my life, and yours. 

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Giving Myself to Prayer

Psalm 109:4 For my love they are my adversaries: but I give myself unto prayer.

In Psalm 109, David is talking about someone who has treated him badly. Obviously, it is someone that he has shown kindness to. Our verse today says that in return for David's love, the people became his enemies. That's always a blessing, isn't it! We treat someone kindly, we go above and beyond for someone, and then they turn against us! As my dad used to say, with friends like that, who needs enemies?

David's words pricked my heart today: "but I give myself unto prayer." Ouch! I'd rather give myself unto complaining. Or eating. Or losing my temper. Or whining. Or all four. Not prayer. Yet, I see the power and truth in David's words. Prayer truly is the answer. Prayer changes things, it changes others, but most of all, it changes me. I admit that my prayer life is one of the hardest things for me to remain consistent on! I don't know why it's such a struggle, I've had many prayers answered over the years, so I know its power. I suppose I'm just lazy. I want to do better in my prayer life; I want to give myself to prayer when life is hard, and when it's good, too.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Anatomy of a Trial

I apologize if my postings here seem to be all on one subject. I suppose, whenever we are going through something, we naturally tend to look for thoughts/encouragement/help from God's Word on that particular subject. Each day, when I open up my Bible, I seem to gravitate toward passages that deal with what I'm feeling.I certainly believe the Lord is strengthening me this way, but I also know that I'm partial; I'm looking for these things on purpose. (And that's okay.) Today, I read a bit from Jeremiah and Psalms. Psalms 107 is a great chapter. I noticed for the first time this morning that the Lord tells me the way trials work right in this chapter. The writer says:

Psalm 107:25-30
25 For he commandeth, and raiseth the stormy wind, which lifteth up the waves thereof. 
26 They mount up to the heaven, they go down again to the depths: their soul is melted because of trouble. 
27 They reel to and fro, and stagger like a drunken man, and are at their wits' end. 
28 Then they cry unto the LORD in their trouble, and he bringeth them out of their distresses. 
29 He maketh the storm a calm, so that the waves thereof are still. 
30 Then are they glad because they be quiet; so he bringeth them unto their desired haven.

Do you see the pattern? This encouraged me so much today! It lays it out for me.
1. The Lord is the one who allows trials to come. (v. 25)
2. He allows them to get bad - very bad. (v.26)
3. The one in the trial suffers, seems to be going crazy! (v.27)
4. They pray, no, they cry! The Lord delivers them.
5. He makes things calm again. (v.28)
6. The sufferer is glad, they have found a solace in the storm. They have survived, and are stronger for it. (v.29)
Then, I'm adding this: Repeat. The process will start over and over until we reach those pristine shores of Heaven. Each storm, each trial is to mold us and make us more like Christ. I am currently in #3 and #4 myself! What a blessing to know that God will bring me through this time. I know I will be glad and I will be in my desired haven someday. I have His Word on that.

Friday, November 4, 2011

He Loves Me Anyway

Psalm 103:12 As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us.13 Like as a father pitieth his children, so the LORD pitieth them that fear him. 14 For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust.

I'm feeling kinda blah today. It's probably those blessed hormones that we women get to enjoy! ha! I feel extra sensitive about things that normally don't bother me. It's frustrating to know my mind that feeling a certain way is unreasonable and probably even inaccurate, and be unable to change my feelings! I feel weak, like I just can't keep going. I have no reason to feel this way.

Today, I picked up my Bible and opened up to Psalm 103. The whole chapter is excellent, if you can read it today, please do. The verses above where such a blessing. I needed to hear that my Father "pitieth" me, for I certainly fear Him! It's a joy to know that He's forgotten about my past sins, they're forgiven, so why don't I forgive myself? He knows I'm just dust, yet, He loves me anyway! I surly did need to hear that today.

How 'bout you? Are you feeling blah? Maybe you feel like a failure, and you're ready to quit? Whatever your feelings are today, just remember the following:

  • Feelings change. They may not change at will, but they will change! 
  • Feelings can often be manipulated by hormones, so before you give  up on life, ask yourself if these emotions could be hormone driven. I'm not saying to act badly and blame your hormones. I'm saying to consider your actions carefully because of your hormones. 
  • God cares about us, even our feelings, and is always ready to listen to you and me. What a blessing!
We begin revival services this Sunday, so I have a busy weekend planned. I hope you all have a great weekend wherever you are. Please pray for our revival, if you think of it. Thank you.♥

Thursday, November 3, 2011


Psalm 102:17 He will regard the prayer of the destitute, and not despise their prayer.

This verse was good news to me this morning. I may not be "destitute" in the literal sense of the word. It means "not having the basic necessities of life." I have food and shelter and clothing, I have the "necessities". But I feel needy in other ways. I feel spiritually needy. I've been fighting my flesh in a certain area for a while. It rises up, I conquer it. It rises again, I stumble, then conquer it. I'm out of breath, but I keep going. I'm loaded down, but I keep moving, even if it's just an inch. I need help. I need renewal, revival, refreshment...and any other good "re" word! :)

What a blessing it was to see that those of us who are destitute, and in this case meaning, "not having the necessities of spiritual strength" (my own version of the word), can pray. Best of all, God will hear and not despise our prayer! I'm looking for an answer today, and everyday. I need His help.We are beginning revival services this coming Sunday through Thursday. I'm praying for God to do a work in everyone that comes, but especially me. I need Him to work in me.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

I Wish I Could See You

Is. 64:1 Oh that thou wouldest rend the heavens, that thou wouldest come down, that the mountains might flow down at thy presence.

When I was a little girl, I used to wish that Jesus could come down and talk with me, face to face. To tell me that yes, He was there. To tell me what I, specifically do with my life. You know, like, "Valerie, you should become a _________ and marry __________." Of course, in time, He did show me what I should do and whom I should marry! But it would have been nice to have heard it with my ears straight from Him.

Today, this verse in Isaiah caught my attention. It's like Isaiah is saying the same thing I used to say as a kid! In fact, I just told my husband the other day that I wish Jesus could come down and see us in person! I want to cry at His feet (real feet). I want to worship and adore Him (in person), I want to hear from His lips what we should do in the situations we are facing. I wish he would "rend the heavens" and "come down".

The truth is, I can cry at His feet, worship and adore Him, and hear from His lips what He wants me to do. No, none of it is literal, but real enough through the eye of faith. And you know, He just might "rend the heavens" and call His children home to heaven today! Would that be wonderful?! Are you ready? I sure am. He's my best, and often, my only friend. I wish I could see Him, just like I wish I could see some of my real-life friends. It's a blessing to know that someday, I will see Him, and that it might be today. 

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Mind Over Body

Heb. 12:3 For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds.

My Dad had amazing talent. Aside from being able to repair anything under the sun and whistle louder and higher than anyone on earth, he also was not ticklish! He and I would wrestle (translation: he would tickle me mercilessly and I loved it!). I would try to tickle him back, but never got a reaction. His feet weren't ticklish. His side wasn't ticklish. Nothing. "How do you do it, Dad?" I'd ask him. "It's mind over body." He'd tell me. This made no sense to a 5 year old! Now I realize that he was able to think about something else and control his reaction to the tickling.

I never did master the talent of "mind over body" when it came to being tickled. I'm still very ticklish! But, I'm learning to apply that principle in another area. The verse today says that we must "consider Christ" if we are "wearied and faint in our minds." It really is all about the mind, isn't it? Those who accomplish great things in the world often faced criticism and failure. Some past examples? How about Thomas Edison, Abraham Lincoln, or Helen Keller? Just about any person of renown faced tragedy, heartache and ridicule before they achieved success. How did they keep going, till they arrived at "prominence"? They believed in themselves and their ideas. Sometimes, they were the only ones who had faith in what they were doing!

As Christians, our hope for the future doesn't necessarily rest in our own talents or ideas (even though God is the giver of talent and ideas to mankind). It rests in our ideas about Christ. Do you believe Him? Do you claim His promises as your guiding principle? Many read God's Word, fewer actually live it.When I get discouraged and want to quit serving God, the Holy Spirit reminds me of what Christ suffered for me. He didn't give up. He didn't say, "Hmmm, dying on a cross isn't fun, so I'm quitting." No, His love for my soul and yours drove Him forward.

I needed this verse today. I'm a natural born quitter! But that's not the way I should be. Our verse says to remember Christ when I want to give up. I must dig into Scripture and claim a promise!

Let's keep our mind on Christ. In the end, we can claim success!

Monday, October 31, 2011

My Morning Dose of Conviction

Psalm 78:39 For he remembered that they were but flesh; a wind that passeth away, and cometh not again.

Psalm 78 is a concise history of Israel. It rehearses the story of the Israelites as they left Egypt and traveled toward the promised land. During their journey, they complain over and over. They turn back on God over and over. Yet, over and over the Lord delivers them and provides for them.

You know, I've been catching myself complaining lately. I grumble and mumble, mostly under my breath, but it shows on my countenance that I am not content! I was just smitten by the Holy Spirit about it yesterday. Now, today, I read about the children of Israel and how they griped - and I didn't read it in Exodus, oh no! I read it in Psalms! I think the Lord is trying to tell me something. And it is this: stop complaining. I need to just take God at His Word with confidence that He will keep His promises! I know He will, I've seen Him do it over and over! So, this is not a stretch for me to believe. In fact, it should be automatic. But, I am just flesh. I fail. I often make the same mistakes over and over. I grow weary of being in this trial....when will it end?! When I feel panicky, I must turn to God, He will help me. I must guard my mouth for it will not!

I'm so grateful for this verse! I'm so happy that God remembers I'm flesh, that my life is just a breeze that will not come again. So is this trial. Contrary to popular belief, it will not last forever. He will see me through it. I'm thankful for God's mercy and forgiveness!

Well, now that I've been thoroughly convicted of my sin, I think I'll go on with my day. But not in my flesh, in His strength.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Blossoms in the Desert

Is. 35:1 The wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad for them; and the desert shall rejoice, and blossom as the rose.

This verse captured my imagination today! The wilderness and desert shall rejoice? There will be roses blossoming in the desert? I know that there is a really deep truth to this passage. It's referring to the gathering of Israel. Isaiah is a prophet for the people of Israel, his words refer directly to them.

But think about this! Isn't it true that God takes our desert moments, our wilderness experiences, and turns them into something beautiful? God did that for the children of Israel when they were leaving Egypt. They were not in a pretty place, they were not in fun circumstances, yet over and over, God provided in amazing ways! He sent them blessings that they would not have seen anywhere else!

I can say that God has done that for me, too. Because of suffering with PPD not once, but twice, I saw the Lord work in my life in ways others have missed out on. Because of losing my Dad suddenly when I was 26 years old, I've seen God work miracles in my life. I've received blessings from His hand that I would not have gotten if Dad were still here. Do I wish the Lord could have left him here longer? Oh yes! That will never change. But if I have to go through hard times, I'm so thankful I have the Lord to go with me. He sends blossoms in the desert to make the journey easier, and that is a great blessing.

Are you in a personal wilderness today? Is your desert hot and dry? You are not alone! Cry out to your Heavenly Father and request a few roses! He will send them, and even better, He will see you through to the other side. If you don't know the Lord as your Savior, then go HERE for more information, or write me using the contact page above. He's waiting with open arms for you, to see you through and to send you some blossoms in the desert.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

My Prayer

Psalm 71:18 Now also when I am old and grayheaded, O God, forsake me not; until I have shewed they strength unto this generation, and thy power to every one that is to come.

I grew up in a Baptist church where the pastor was bold, and told it like it was! No sugar-coating or treading lightly. He often told us young people that most of us would not stay in church as adults, because we were only coming because our parents made us. It wasn't in our own hearts to be there, in fact, some of us were rebelling inside about being at church. Ouch! I really liked church as a kid, but, in the spirit of being "real", the main reason I liked it was because my friends were there. I loved to talk! :) I remember thinking about his words about church in the car on the way home one night. I wondered to myself  if I would stay in church, or fall out? I wasn't sure.

I have good news for my pastor and all of you! I stayed in church! And, I love going to church! Not because I get to talk to people, either. I really love the preaching of God's Word. The difference in my feelings now compared to as an eight year old girl, is that I'm saved! I wasn't even born again way back when. Another difference is maturity. I didn't understand a lot of the verses and sermons that I heard as a child, but I do now! Well...most of them. ;)

My prayer now, as an adult, is that I would stay faithful to the Lord in all areas of my life: my Bible time, prayer time, church attendance, witnessing, serving in some area, until I die. I pray that I cling to the promises of God's Word until I've shown God's power to my children and the generation to come after me. 1 Cor. 10:12 reminds us that we should never assume we are standing strong in the faith. Just as soon as I think, "I'll be faithful till the end, no problem!" I'll find myself away from God, doing my own thing. Why? Because of pride! I want to stay faithful to the Lord, that's my goal, but I know I can only do it with His help.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Screams of Love

Psalm 69:20 Reproach hath broken my heart; and I am full of heaviness: and I looked for some to take pity, but there was none; and for comforters, but I found none.

I've spent my entire life around Christian people. The ones I was closest to, my family, were genuine. They battled the flesh, turned to God's Word, got victory, grew, and then battled the flesh in some other area and the process repeated itself. While growing up, I noticed there were other Christians who never seemed to battle anything. If you talked to them, they were strong in faith, always upbeat, positive and victorious in their Christian lives. Then, a few years went by, and they left church completely for some unknown reason, or they fell into sin and didn't want to get up again. That was that. So much for the constant grin they once had! I try just to be real - let folks know that yes, I struggle. Likewise, I try tell folks that yes, I know where to go for help - the Bible and my Heavenly Father!

When my Dad died suddenly seven years ago, I cannot begin to tell you some of the stupid comments people made to me at the funeral. They meant well, but man! Did they ever hurt an already breaking heart! When I was in the throws of PPD (but didn't know it) a preacher that I believed I could trust blew me off completely. It wasn't long after that the thought of just going on to Heaven was in my mind. I came very close to taking God's most precious gift to me, my life. I didn't know I had a medical condition that could be corrected. I just knew I was hurting, and that I needed someone to care. I didn't dare tell anyone else about my problem after that, because I couldn't bare someone else ignoring my cries for help.

David understands what I'm talking about. In the verse today, he is hurting. He looks for comforters and finds none. No one cares, no one understands. Yes, we as believers have the Lord, but we need each other, too. Sometimes, I just need to "vent". Sometimes, I need to weep. Sometimes, I need someone to listen without judging me.

The Lord has proven to me that He is enough, He's also given me a wonderful listener in my husband and mother and sister. They don't judge me or criticize me, they just care about me. They put up with my ups and downs without keeping track of my failures. That speaks, no screams, "I LOVE YOU!"

This verse today reminded me that there are many hurting, struggling people out there. I want to be sure that I'm a listener and not a critic the next time someone needs to feel loved. In fact, I think I'll look for someone to scream love to. :)

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

But If Not

Dan. 3:17-18 If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king. But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.

It was probably the hardest trial I'd faced in my 26 years of living. I was driving down a main thoroughfare in Lawrence, Kansas, and my car started huffing and puffing, like it was about to die. It had been doing this for weeks. We had two children, lived in a ghetto, and barely made ends meet from week to week. My Dad died suddenly and our car was too iffy to drive the eight hours to the funeral. Our pastor loaned us his vehicle so we could go home and bury my Dad. Right after that, the knock on the door was the landlord, telling us that if we didn't pay our month overdue rent soon, he'd have to evict us.Our car was a  frustrating problem that angered me. In that frustration, I said to the Lord when I was alone, "We're not quitting! It doesn't matter what happens, we're not quitting!" Tears streamed down my face. The truth is, I wanted to quit. I wanted to give up, go back to Arkansas, live in a little house with a white picket fence and try to grow flowers. I was tried of the ghetto, tired of the faulty car, tired of being broke. We worked in the jail ministry, Sunday School, soul winning, choir, and volunteered wherever we were needed. And all of this while my husband was on thirds at work. It felt like the least the Lord could do is keep a roof over our heads and our car running!

That day, I had a choice to make: would I serve the Lord even if He took the roof from over my head? Would I keep serving even if I broke down (right across from KU of all places!) and I had to walk home? Would I serve the Lord if He left me in the ghetto forever? I decided yes. Yes, I would.

I'm not in the ghetto anymore. I haven't been that close to eviction since that day in Lawrence. But, I'm in a trial. I'm weary, I want to quit. I feel forsaken, forgotten, and fruitless. I have a choice to make: will I keep serving the Lord, even if I never see His hand in my life (in a tangible way) again? If I remain alone forever, will I stay faithful to Him? The tears stream down my cheeks, I can't stop them. My heart is heavy with a desire to do more for His cause and tired of fighting Satan who is hindering every tiny effort I make. I'm very tired.

The three Hebrew boys were ready to take God's promises to the bank in the verse above. They said "Our God can take care of this fiery furnace, no problem!" Then, they had to face this stark possibility: what if He didn't? What if they died? We know the ending, but they didn't. And yet, they boldly declare "BUT IF NOT,...we will NOT serve thy gods nor worship thy golden image..." That's courage. That's faith. That's what I want! Everyone wants to serve God when He's allowing souls to be saved in church, or when He's sending us a check in the mail everyday, or when He's answering every prayer we pray.

But, what about when He seems to have moved away? What about the times He says "No". What if He says, "I'm giving you opposition" or "I'm not going to meet that need"? What then? Can we say "I'm serving You, no matter what, Lord!" or will we quit?

By the way, the Lord sent us the money to catch up on our rent through an amazing source. He also sent the money to us to get our car repaired. And, three months after my Dad went to Heaven, the Lord allowed us to move to Texas, out of the ghetto.

Are you ready to give up? Are you so sad today, you can barely stop the tears for a moment? Me too. Let's not give up, okay? Let's keep going! Let's say with faith that God CAN take care of these problems, but let's go ahead and add, "But if not, I'm serving You anyway!"

And then, let's wait for the miracle!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Back to Reality

Psalm 63:1-2 O God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee: my soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh longeth for thee in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is; To see thy power and glory, so as I have seen thee in the sanctuary. 

Well, as some of you may know, I just returned from a whirlwind trip to the windy city, Chicago! Thank you to those of you that prayed for me. I cannot begin to explain how wonderful it was to be at that conference. The people there said I was a blessing to them, but I know for a fact that they ministered to me far more than I did to them. Their friendliness bowled me over, I haven't been made to feel that wanted in all of my life! The music was so beautiful, their smiles radiant, and their laughter contagious. My dry, parched soul soaked it up and wanted more!

It was wonderful to wrap my arms around my sweet babies yesterday afternoon, and of course, get a smooch from the man. ;-) But, I wasn't home long before the dirty laundry, messy floors, and needs of the children (combined with my extreme fatigue) overwhelmed me. I wanted to go back to my Chicago friends, sing songs, laugh and visit. But, I'd take the kids with me this time!. :)

I'm sitting here, amid the clutter that collects when mom is away, reading my Bible, wishing to go back, wishing to feel that "soaking" of joy and love again. But, my Best Friend came to meet with me today. He knew that I'd feel a bit sad and lonely to have left such wonderful people so far away. He knows I'm thirsting for Him in this dry land. He knows I'm longing to see His hand work miracles! Here are some words He said to me today:

Psalm 61:2 From the end of the earth will I cry unto thee, when my heart is overwhelmed: lead me to the rock that is higher than I.

Psalm 62:8 Trust in him at all times; ye people, pour out your heart before him: God is a refuge for us. Selah.

Psalm 63: 8 My soul followeth hard after thee: thy right hand upholdeth me.

I cry out to Him today, I pour my heart out before Him now, I follow hard after Him during these melancholy moments. He gives me strength, He restores my joy, and renews my spirit. He very good to me.

If anyone from First Baptist Church of Sauk Village, IL, is reading, thank you so much for all you did for me at the conference. God used you to help a very weary sister (me). Thank you!!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Where to Take Broken Toys

Ps. 59:17 Unto thee, O my strength, will I sing: for God is my defence, and the God of my mercy.

The excitement and nerves surrounding this trip to Chicago has been a blessed diversion from the fact that daily, I'm in a battle. Problems, temptations and enemies are all around me. When this excitement is over, I will still have these battles to face. What will I do, then? Will I sit down and wallow in it? Will I mope? Pout? I hope not!

This verse today was an encouragement to me. It reminds me that GOD is my strength! HE is my defense and HE will take care of me. I don't run to him often enough, though. I first try to fix things myself, sometimes many times, before I hand the situation to the Lord as a child hands a broken toy to their parents. One thing about children, though, is that they don't try to fix a broken toy, they immediately bring it to their parents! I suppose they realize their lack of ability to repair it, so they take it to the person they love and trust the most, hoping they have the answer.

That's what I need to do. I need to immediately run to the Lord, the one whom I love and trust the most,  for help. I am too inadequate, I can't do anything without Him. I want to be a blessing to the ladies today, but guess what! I'm too inadequate! I'm just flesh and blood, sinful and not smart! I need the Lord to use me, to work through me, to fix me up so I can do this work.

What might it be for you today? Caring for a sick child or parent? More month at the end of the money? Illness yourself? Job loss? Criticism from those whom you though loved you? Loneliness? Whatever it is, take your "broken toy" to the Lord, and let Him fix it. Run to Him for strength and protection. He is only a prayer away.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Fear of...Everything!

Psalm 56:3 What time I am afraid, I will trust in thee.

David knew about fear. Saul, the King of Israel, was out to get him. This means that the armies of Saul were after him, and anyone loyal to Saul. That's something to fear!

When I became a mother for the first time on August 27, 1999, I began the amazing journey of motherhood. Everything about it was fearful to me. What if she caught some terrible disease and I didn't know what to do? What if I didn't feed her enough? What if the house caught fire and I couldn't get her out? What if we had a car accident and I couldn't get her out of her car seat? On and on. Yes, this was exacerbated by terrible case of PPD, but I've felt fear regarding my children since then, too. I fear flying, driving long distances, tornadoes, and so on.

Regarding my own safety, I often think, "Why would God protect me? I'm not doing enough for Him! I'm not worth His protecting!" But that's where I'm wrong. God loves me...that's so hard for me to understand. You see, I know me! I'm flying today to Chicago. I will be away for three days! I haven't been away from my entire family in a lo--- ever! I'm nervous about how they will do while I'm gone. I want to be here to care for them, yet my husband and I feel that this opportunity is from the Lord, so I need to go.

I'll be speaking at a ladies conference during my trip. I'm looking forward to meeting new people, hearing the other speakers, laughing at the skits, and visiting with believers. But, along with that excitement also comes fear: What if something happens on the flight? What if I totally make a fool of myself? And on and on.

What a joy to read today this wonderful verse of comfort! Instructions from the Lord on how to handle fear! Boy, do I need that today! This is proof He loves me, that he cares for me. My fears are not the same as David's, but fear is a powerful force regardless of what we're fearing. It could be fear of the future, fear of financial reversal, fear of sickness or fear of everything!

I'm consciously handing my fears over to the Lord today. I'm trusting Him for strength, and I know He won't let me down.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

A Clean Heart

Psalm 51:3 For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me.

It wasn't too long ago that one of my children came to me in tears to confess a sin. This child had taken some candy and eaten it, without asking the person who owned it - they had stolen! My husband and I would have never known had this child not come to confess. Punishment had to be given, and of course, restitution of the stolen candy had to be made out of their own cash reserves.

I know it sounds strange, but I was so happy that this whole thing happened. I wasn't glad my child had stolen, but I was so glad that they confessed! They could have buried this sin deep within their heart, and no one would have been the wiser, but they didn't. They came, in tears no less, and made things right. Joy was immediately restored to this child's heart. They had confessed, apologized and made things right. It was over and all was well.

That's how I feel when I do wrong. The Lord sees all of the sins I commit, even the ones that are only in my heart. He doesn't require that I make things right but I'm miserable until my sin is confessed and forsaken. After I talk to the Lord about it, joy is immediately restored. It's almost like a physical burden is lifted! Life never looks as wonderful as it does after I've experienced forgiveness.

Recently, I sat in church, feeling horrible. I knew what it was sin! I had sin in my heart - no one knew about it but me and the Lord - but it felt as if everyone could see. I felt the Holy Spirit prompting me to lay that sin down, but on top of the sin in my heart, I also had the sin of pride! Isn't that how it works with sin? We start off when one, then it seems to multiply! I didn't want to admit that I was wrong. I stayed unhappy most of the day. Finally, I acknowledged my sin. I asked the Lord to forgive me and immediately felt relief.

The Lord had forgiven me, but I was concerned that I'd slip back into this sin again. I can relate to Psalm 51:10 Create in me a clean heart, O God: and renew a right spirit within me. I felt as though I needed to be "renewed". I needed a clean heart, free from the guilt of the past. I need to pray each morning asking God for a clean heart.Why? Because sins of the heart are very easy to fall back into. They require no outside activity. You can have a bitter spirit, bad attitude or angry heart without anyone knowing or seeing.

I'm so grateful that the Lord not only has power to forgive me and cleanse me of sin, but He also has the power to help me to stop committing sin. For me, crying out to God daily (or hourly) is the best way to stay clean.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The Formula for Peace

Psalm 46:1 God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.

10 Be still and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, will be exalted in the earth.

I'm a homeschooling mom of five kids and a pastor's wife. This means I live in a fishbowl. Everyone watches me, and most criticize me. No, not to my face. But do I look stupid? Wait. Don't answer that. Forget I asked that, okay? :) I know what people gets back around eventually. It may not be, and probably isn't, their exact words. But it gets around. It gets distressing. Oh, and guilt! Wow! Do I know about guilt! I often think, "Why don't I do that?" "I'm such a bad mom because I don't do that!" "Oh, wow, I blew it there!" And so the guilt mounts.

Criticism + fatigue + guilt = a very distressed me.

These verses today reminded me that when the criticisms come, when the storms of life are raging, He is my refuge and strength. I run to Him! How? By praying and studying His Word!

Then, I get still. This is the hardest part for me. I want to fix the problem. I want to do something. But He wants me to relax and rest in Him. He will handle the critics. He will give me rest. He takes away the guilt by reminding me that I must not compare myself to others. I must do what HE wants ME to do.


I have a lot to do today: Groceries, house work, budgeting, homeschooling...oh and I have to go to the doctor for my horrible asthma. I usually have to wait a long time at the doctor's office, which stresses me. But, I won't let it bother me today! I'm planning to just be still, to wait, to rest.

These verses reminded me of a song with wonderful words. I hope you like them, too.

When the storms of life are raging,
Stand by me (stand by me);
When the storms of life are raging,
Stand by me (stand by me);
When the world is tossing me
Like a ship upon the sea
Thou Who rulest wind and water,Stand by me (stand by me).

Are you in a storm today? Is your life rocking you to and fro, up and down? The One upon whom we call is the One who said this:

And he arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. - Mark 4:39

Monday, October 17, 2011


Psalm 40:1 I waited patiently for the LORD; and he inclined unto me and heard my cry.

This verse gives me hope. Hope that if I keep waiting for the Lord, as David did, I will receive answers to my heart cries. My dad would often say to me the old adage, "It's always darkest just before dawn." Surely our dawn is nigh, though I do wonder. We are saying goodbye to an answer to prayer this week. A family with five children joined our church almost a year and half ago. God sent them just for us! Their children are the same ages as our children. Their oldest daughter was our babysitter! They are a sweet, dedicated family. Then, his job relocated him! We heard they were moving about a year ago now. He works for the post office, and they move slowly. When they told me the news, it was like a punch in the stomach. I walked home, telling the Lord all about it. "Lord, why? Why must they go? They were the answer to prayer that You gave us!" I knew in my heart that God will do that which He sees fit and He knows best. It was as though He said, "Valerie, will you trust me? When things are confusing, will you just trust that I know best?"

Yes, Lord, I will trust you.

I can't begin to describe the pain of the last three years, especially the last few months. I tried typing it all out, but it just seemed too painful to re-live, so I deleted it. The bottom line is that things have been bad, and then worse. But things were bad for David, too. He faced some of the same situations we have. He cried out to the Lord over and over. Finally, we see in Psalm 40 that the Lord heard his cry! Praise the Lord! Help came! He was delivered! That gives me hope. One day, I will be delivered, too. It may be when He takes me home to Heaven. But I think I'll be delivered here, from these problems. I have hope, from the Lord, and that's really all I need.

Friday, October 14, 2011

A Misunderstood Verse

Psalm 37:4 Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.

Part of my reading today was Psalm 35, 36, and 37. The above verse jumped out at me. I first heard this verse misused by a prominent lady in Independent Baptist circles. I was only about 16 at the time, and didn't even realize it was being misused. Since then, I've heard about a half dozen preachers misuse it, as well as several ladies. They didn't mean to misuse it at all! In fact, the way they used it made perfect sense to me!

In the years that have come and gone, I've tried to learn more about God's Word and theology in general. I'm certainly not up to par with my husband, who can seem to wrap his brain around truths that just leave me scratching my head. But, I'm learning, bit by bit, little by little, more about God's Word and His lessons therein for my life.

This verse was often interpreted to me to be saying, "If you delight yourself in the things of the Lord, He will give you those things which your heart desires." If you want a new car, He will bless you with one! If you want a friend, BAM! You got it! Want a new ______ (fill in the blank)? Then you will get it, if you're delighting in the things of the Lord. The inverse was also said to be true: if you aren't getting the desires of your heart, you are not delighting yourself in the Lord.

However, this verse isn't talking about my desires. My desires are fleshly, carnal. That doesn't mean they are bad, necessarily, but they stem from my sinful nature. After a bit of studying, we can see that this verse is saying "Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires that you should have in your heart." He will show you what you should desire. He will give you a desire to know more about God's Word. He will make a part of you want to pray. He will prompt you to witness to that friend at work. He will make us want what He wants. Does that mean if you're wanting a new dress, and you faithfully serve the Lord and pray for one, that He won't give you that because it's a fleshly thing? No, I'm not saying that at all. God frequently blesses His children in very special ways with things that are not necessities of life. In fact, He often gives me tangible blessings even when I'm not faithfully serving and living for Him; even when I fail Him, He blesses me!

The ultimate blessing that a child of God can receive is a relationship with the Lord of hosts, the Creator of the universe! Think about it: He doesn't just save us, He wants to be our very best friend. He wants to talk to us and have us talk to Him. He wants to lead us, comfort us, protect us, and yes, even chasten us. He wants to give us joy, peace, love, and on and on I could go! No carnal blessing can come close to matching that!

To think that God cares about me and wants to show me what I should desire! It's better than a new car! I am of all people most unworthy. I fail Him everyday, yet I long to do better. I let Him down, I know I do, and yet He loves me and forgives me. He helps me get up and try again for Him. Why do I want to do better? Because He wants me to. I'm so thankful for the opportunity to walk with Him. I pray the Lord will help me to walk closer everyday.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

A Willing Heart

Ex. 35:21 And they came, every one whose heart stirred him up, and every one whom his spirit made willing, and they brought the LORD's offering to the work of the tabernacle of the congregation and for all his service, and for the holy garments.

This verse stood out to me today. The word "willing" is used six times in this chapter in reference to people bringing their gifts or offering their service to the Lord as they built the Tabernacle. The phrases "wise hearted"  and "whose heart stirred him up" are used twice. I'm thinking there is a lot to be said for a "willing heart", and our hearts are powerful if they can "stir us up". Everyone has a willing heart for something. People who are good at their jobs are that way because they are simply "willing" to do a good job, and it shows! Kids who do well in school, do so because they are "willing" to give their best and study. People who are great at playing the piano were willing to spend hours sitting at one, practicing. Their willingness to sacrifice their time is the reason they can make it look so easy.

Have you noticed that people do what they want to do? I recently received a lovely necklace with matching earrings from my sister-in-law. She made them herself! I absolutely love the gift, and I admire her skill! She used her talent for me because she wanted to. I didn't ask her to. I didn't expect her to. She was willing to do it and I'm so blessed because of it.

It's true in our Christian life, too. We read our Bible every day because we want to. We submit to our husbands because we want to. We go to church, serve in some capacity, witness, and on and on only because we want to. No one can (nor should they have to) make us live for the Lord. We should be willing to do it. Christ died for me, the least I can do is live for Him. Am I where I want to be in my walk with God? No way. But I'm working to become better, because I want to.

I'm not sure how many folks in Israel were unwilling to bring an offering or do some service for the tabernacle. Moses doesn't mention them. If we want to make our life count, if we want to be remembered, then we must give and serve willingly.

"Willingness" is the only difference between a cold, lukewarm, or hot Christian. I'm doing a "willing heart" checkup on myself today. How 'bout you?

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

More from Psalms

I felt compelled to begin reading Psalms. About a week ago, that's what I did. I'm also reading Matthew, Isaiah and Exodus. I usually don't begin a new book until I've finished one, but my soul yearned for the comfort of Psalms so I gave in. I have enjoyed it so much. David has ups and downs, struggles and victories. He pours his heart out to the Lord time and time again, and always comes away changed. Terry and I often discuss our "Davidic moments". In our family, that phrase refers to when we start out our quiet time or our day heavy-hearted, ready to quit, questioning God's plan but end up joyful, encouraged, and with increased faith. How does this change take place? GOD! As we read His word and, like David, pour out our hearts before Him, He changes us. Not our circumstances, but us.

If you don't already have a quiet time scheduled in your day to read God's Word and pray, I encourage you begin now. It doesn't have to take a long time, 15 minutes or more, if you have it. Something is better than nothing. :)

Here are some verses that blessed me today.

Psalm 30:5 For his anger endureth but a moment; in his favour is life: weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning. (Oh how I needed to be reminded that joy will come!)

Psalm 31:24 Be of good courage, and he shall strengthen your heart, all ye that hope in the LORD. (Hallelujah! I need "strengthening"!)

Psalm 32:7 Thou art my hiding place; thous shalt preserve me from trouble; thous shalt compass me about with songs of deliverance. Selah. (I'm running to my "Hiding Place" today.)

Psalm 32:10 Many sorrows shall be to the wicked: but he that trusteth in the LORD, mercy shall compass him about. (I need mercy...desperately.)

I'm so thankful for His Word!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Psalm 27:11,13-14

Ps. 27:11 Teach my thy way, O LORD, and lead me in a plain path, because of mine enemies.

13 I had fainted, unless I had believed to see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living. 14 Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the LORD.

Today's verses encouraged me so much. I just want to dissect them a bit, and share how they blessed me.

"lead me in a plain path" - I've always loved this verse. David asks God for a plain, or clear, path. Not an easy path, not a fun path or a path to wealth and fame, but clear. David doesn't want to have any doubt that he's headed in the direction in which God wants him to go. That is my prayer, also. I hate "ambiguous". I like "obvious". :)

"I had fainted, unless I believed" - Sometimes, our faith and belief that God is working is all we have. We can't see Him working. Sometimes, I wonder if He even hears my prayers or knows I'm still alive. Then, the Holy Spirit inside me reminds me that feelings can be wrong. I must trust Him, even when I can't see evidence that He is here.Because He is.

"to see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living." - I often feel encouraged that one day, when I die, I'll be in heaven! Hallelujah! I'll be with the Lord forever and ever! No pain, no sorrow, no tears, no goodbyes, no sin!! But, David says he believed that the he'd see God's goodness in the land of the living. That means, on earth, while he's still alive. I believe I'll see God's blessings now. Today. Tomorrow. Next week. As long as I'm alive, I must believe I'll see the Lord's goodness. I know I will after I die. It's nice to know it while I'm still breathing, too.

"Wait on the LORD" - Waiting is very hard to do for me. I'm an instant gratification kind of girl. But waiting is good for me, and, it's necessary. Not waiting would mean not following God's plan. Bleck.

"be of good courage, and he will strengthen thine heart" - It sounds pie in the sky, doesn't it? Like something I'd say to my four year old to stall her. But, it's true. Just recently I've discovered that if I wait on the Lord and boldly face situations where it would be easier just to run, I get strength. Not enough to last all month or all week, but enough to last all day. Then, the next day, I get more, and so on. Before I know it, I've made it, not just a week, but a month or more.

"wait, I say, on the LORD." - Repetition. Because I'm hard headed and stubborn.

God is good, even when life is bad.

Monday, October 10, 2011

New Strength

Is. 40:31 But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.

I've heard this verse quoted and even sung most of my life. I'd say it's right up there with Psalm 23 and Romans 8:28 in the popularity department. But, most of my life, I really didn't know what it meant.I used to think, "Of course you have strength when you're just waiting! Who's doing anything when they're waiting?" I pictured someone sitting on the sidelines of a ball game, waiting.

But, in the Christian life, there is no such thing as just sitting on the sidelines. Or, there shouldn't be. All Christians are to be busy while we wait upon the Lord's return. A Christian should be busy praying, reading and studying God's Word, caring for our families and teaching our children the Bible, witnessing to friends and family, helping others, and serving in our churches just to name a few. This can get exhausting! Especially when you're waiting on the Lord to send a blessing; to make your efforts bring forth fruit. Because, only God can save someone or help someone to grow in knowledge of Him.

Tick tock, tick tock...when? When will He send His blessings? I've been waiting on the Lord for some time now. I have had so many lonely days when my spirit was restless and I was ready to give up. Then, just recently, I realized that I hadn't given up. In fact, I seem to have more enthusiasm, not less. I have some hope, even if it's not much. I feel like I have my "second wind"; I feel good! Have circumstances improved? Not really. Has God sent that blessing I'm waiting for? Well, not yet, but I think He will soon! Then, I remembered this verse, and I realized that, like all of God's Word, this part is true, too. If I wait, if I stay busy for Him, He will renew my strength and help to keep running, to keep walking, to keep going, for Him.

Thank you, Lord, for the trials. Thank you for the strength to carry on. 

Friday, October 7, 2011

Beginning Again

Psalm 19:12-14 Who can understand his errors? cleanse thou me from secret faults. Keep back thy servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me: then shall I be upright, and I shall be innocent from the great transgression. Let the words of my mouth, and the mediation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength and my redeemer.

As I read this Psalm this morning, my heart cried out in agreement with David's words! Oh how I want to cleansed from "secret faults" or sins that I am unaware that I'm committing. In fact, I want the Lord to make me aware of them. I want to cease all sin, if it is possible to do so.

I also do not want to give in to the presumptuous sins, the ones I know I'm committing. There are times each month when it is easy for me justify a bad temper or ill nature. I don't ever want to justify sin. I can also justify harsh words sometimes, by saying "I was provoked! It's so-and-so's fault!" But the truth is, it is my fault when that happens. I control my tongue, not so-and-so.

Psalm 19:14 is my husband's life verse and it should be mine, also. 99.9% of the sin I commit is either thinking bad thoughts or saying hurtful words. I want to defeat that sin, but I can only do so with the Lord's help. May all the words of my mouth and the thoughts of my heart to be acceptable to the Lord. What is it they say? "The journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step"?

I begin -again - today.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Encouragement from the Lord

Is. 40:29 He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength.

Ps. 16:11 Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in the presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.

What a blessing to be reminded today that the Lord is with me, and He will increase my strength just when I need it. He will direct me on this road of life. I have not felt well for several days. My allergies and asthma are really giving me fits. When I do feel well, I also feel "drugged" from the cold medicine I'm taking. I am thankful that the Lord will increase my strength when I'm faint, both physically and spiritually. When I feel ill physically, it's hard to concentrate on His Word and glean what I need from it. I'm so thankful that when I'm weak, when I'm weary, He will uphold me and keep me going.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

A Matter of Perspective

Psalm 13:1 How long wilt thou forget me, O LORD? for ever? how long wilt thou hide thy face from me?

I admit, that I've felt this way lately. I've wondered where the Lord is, how long must I be in difficult situations, forever? I was eager to read this chapter, which is only 6 verses long, to see the answer that David got. David basically pours his heart out to the Lord for four verses and then stops. Just like that.

Verses 5-6 say: But I have trusted in thy mercy; my heart shall rejoice in thy salvation. I will sing unto the LORD, because he hath dealt bountifully with me. David totally changes perspective. He remembers the mercy that God gave him, and that God is extending that same mercy to others who equally don't deserve it. He remembers that God has blessed him, so he can no longer complain to the Lord, but rather, praise Him, for truly, God has "dealt bountifully with him".

You know, it's true for me, too. I have problems and enemies. Yet, God freely gives His mercy. I know, because I receive it every day. So, I say with David, He has dealt bountifully with me, and I will trust Him. It really is just a matter of perspective.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

My Refuge

Psalm 9:9-10 The LORD also will be a refuge for the oppressed, a refuge in times of trouble. And they that know thy name will put their trust in thee: for thou, LORD, hast not forsaken them that seek thee.

These verses were such a blessing to me today! I just wanted to share them. What a blessing that those of us who know the name of the Lord will trust in him. Why? Because, as verse ten says, he "hast not forsaken us". I'll be honest, sometimes I feel like waving toward heaven and saying "Yoohoo! I'm down here!", because I feel invisible to the Lord. But feelings, as we all know, are not facts. The facts are found in God's Word, and He says He is my refuge and that He has not forsaken me, nor will He ever forsake me.

Isn't that wonderful news?! I've been oppressed lately from various angles. I'm weary, I feel beaten up. These are truly troublesome times. What a comfort to know where to go in times like these - to the feet of my Lord in prayer; to the pages of His Word. My Lord is my refuge and I run to Him today. Would you like to come, too? There's room for all.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Dust and Sin

James 1:25 But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.

Dusting is always the chore that I put off until last. I only dust when it's bad enough to write your name in it! At least then I can see the difference after I dust! It looks shining and beautiful. I dust our ceiling fans once a year, and the blinds...well, about once a year. Periodically, I dust my kitchen cabinets and the corners of the ceilings in all the rooms where cobwebs like to gather. I never thought about the walls, until one day, the door to our school room was open and the light from those windows shone perfectly on the wall of our darkened entry room, where I was standing. The light revealed a layer of dust and even cobwebs clinging in lines across the wall! I was shocked! How could a wall get so dusty? How could I let it get so dirty?

It immediately made me think about how I feel whenever I look into the perfect law of liberty, God's Word, or hear a sermon and the light is shone on my sin. I'm shocked! How could I let that sin in my life? Perhaps it's envy or anger or bitterness, sins that only I know about.

I'm thankful for the light of God's Word that reveals the things I need to "clean out" of my life. I'll be cleaning the dust off the walls and the sins from my heart.

Friday, September 30, 2011

He is Real, and He is Here

Matt.11:5 The blind receive their sight, and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached unto them.

John the Baptist is in prison. He began to doubt if Jesus was Christ. He wondered, "Art thou he that should come, or do we look for another?" in Matt.11:3. The man who baptized Jesus, heard the voice of God say, "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased" and saw the Holy Spirit descend like a dove, wondered if this was, in fact, the Christ.

Is it any wonder then, that I, who am nowhere near the Christian that John the Baptist was, sometimes question and doubt what I'm living for? I'm trying to make right choices everyday. I've made every major decision of my life based upon God's Word. I married my husband because I believed it was God's will. I chose to stay home with my children and even homeschool them because I believed that's what the Bible taught .But sometimes, friend, I wonder why I'm doing it all? I'm tired of the criticism, the lack of funds and the inferiority placed upon me by the world. I've asked the Lord, "You are there, aren't You? I am doing right, aren't I?"

When John questions Jesus from prison, Jesus gave John a message. He didn't go to him in person or send an angel to talk to him, he just sent word. He said, Go and shew John again those things which ye do hear and see: 

The blind receive their sight, and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached unto them. (Matt.11:4-5) Jesus didn't condemn John for his lack of faith, after all, it was a momentary thing. John had suffered great things for the cause of Christ and was in prison when he began to doubt. Jesus understood that John was human. (Ps.103:14) Instead, He reminded him of the many great things that had happened. Only God could do such miracles!

He doesn't condemn me when I doubt, either. He also doesn't send a great miracle to convince me He's there. Instead, He reminds me through His Word, like He did today. He sends me a rainbow, a hummingbird or a beautiful sunset. He shows me through a friend's kind word, e-mail or note. He reminds me of past miracles that He's performed in my life, and provides for me from day to day. Only God could such miracles! And then I am comforted. I know that He is real, and He is here.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

My Ministry

Matt. 8:15 And he touched her hand, and the fever left her: and she arose, and ministered unto them.

It seems we have two extremes in Baptist churches today. We either have churches where there is much activity and many people working, or churches where absolutely nothing is going on. The first one is the right one. Churches should be busy reaching the lost and helping other believers. However, have you noticed that most of the time, it is women who run or work in the ministries of the church? Most Sunday School teachers, Children's church workers and bus workers are women! Many Christian school teachers are women! I'm not saying it's wrong for women to serve in these ministries, but often, they get overloaded with "church ministry" and fail to do well at their "God given ministry" - the family.

In the verse today, we see Peter's mother-in-law is ill and Jesus heals her. She immediately begins her ministry again - serving her guests! Hospitality is almost a thing of the past, yet, we are told in God's word to be hospitable. (Rom.12:13, 1 Pet.4:9) Why is this? Because we're busy working in other "ministries".

As a Pastor's wife, I know everyone has expectations of me. Recently, a women informed me that a former pastor's wife used to sit with a different family in the church each Sunday. She said this as though I should do the same. I'm glad that she was happy with that other lady for her choice to sit somewhere new each week, and I think that was fine for that pastor's wife to do so. But it is not something I can do. I have to serve in the ways that my husband wants me to. I have to be careful that I please God and my husband, not man.

The same is true of all women. Our ministry is our families! They come first and church work comes second. I know. This sounds like I'm saying to put off church work, or quit doing it entirely. I don't mean that at all. As women, our tender hearts can allow us to try to fill every need we see. Most of us can't do everything without experiencing frustration and burnout. We must learn to prioritize. We can't all do everything, but we can all do something.

Speaking of family, I better tend to mine! Have a wonderful Thursday!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

He Gives Good Gifts

Matt. 7:11 If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him? 

I'm having severe allergy trouble today, so I'm not feeling thing best, but I wanted to pop in and share this verse. It really encouraged me! I have so many needs, and it thrilled my heart to read this. If my earthly father, who was flesh and blood and sinful, could give me good gifts (and he did), then how much more would my perfect, sinless, Heavenly Father! I can boldly bring my needs, and even my wants, before him, and He wants to help me!

Praise the Lord!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The Difference

Is.29:13 Wherefore the Lord said, Forasmuch as this people draw near me with their mouth, and with their lips do honour me, but have removed their heart far from me, and their fear toward me me is taught by the precept of men:

This verse reached out and grabbed me today. I think it could be describing Christianity today. We have so many people filling up Baptist churches all over America, yet it's hard to "spot" a Christian in the real word. Everyone is the same - so few are vibrant, excited to share the Gospel with others! They come to church and say they are saved, they say they love God, they even say they fear God. But, do they? If you love the Lord, you'll obey Him (John 14:15) To truly fear God, you have to believe that He is God, you have to realize that all things are under His authority; you have to believe on Him and know that one day you will stand before Him. It's not a fear as in "I'm shaking in fear", but a fear as in "I know His power and I respect Him for it."

The best way, or rather, the only way to know His power is to have experienced His salvation. Probably many folks lack a true love for and fear of God because they don't really know Him, they merely know of Him. There is a difference.

I grew up in a Christian home. My parents, brother and sister were the real deal: what you saw on Sunday, was they were on Monday-Saturday. I remember as a five year old, wanting what they had, but not knowing exactly what it was. I bet I prayed to ask God to save me two dozen times! I didn't get saved, however, because I didn't understand. I didn't even know I was a sinner, or what sin was! The day I got saved, June 12, 1993, I experienced a change! It was not a feeling - I didn't cry or anything - but I knew in my mind and heart that I was born again! No doubt about it. There was something different now. I no longer searched or tried to imitate my parents' or siblings' walk with God. I had my own.

Perhaps you've never truly met Jesus for yourself. It's not too late! If you already know Him, then you've seen the difference for yourself.

My prayer is that others will easily see the difference in me.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Wonderful and Excellent is He!

Is. 28:29 This also cometh forth from the LORD of hosts, which is wonderful in counsel, and excellent in working.

I really loved this verse this morning. The verses before it are about the prediction of the Assyrian takeover of Ephraim. Ephraim's fate is a warning to Judah. To wrap up this chapter, Isaiah says that all of this is from the the LORD. He is wonderful in counsel and excellent in working.

Is is just me, or does it seem like a strange time to praise God? Isaiah's "forecast" for the tribe of Ephraim is not a pleasant one. He begins chapter 28 with "Woe to the crown of pride, the drunkards of Ephraim, whose glorious beauty is a fading flower, which are on the head of the fat valleys of them that are overcome with wine!" It surprised me to read the final verse, which clearly gives praise and glory to our Heavenly Father.

Why does that surprise me? Probably because I'm the last person in the world to give thanks and praise to the Father while going through a trial. Probably because a lot of my prayers sound whiny to the Lord, or panicky. Probably because I want only fun and happy things in my life. But, I know from experience, or rather, experiences, {plural} that it is through trial and heartache that I see the Father's power the most. It is in the storms of life  where I become the closest to Him. I receive miracle-type blessings from Him everyday, but especially in the lean times.

You know, that's something to praise Him for! Yes, I can say with Isaiah, "This [blessing or trial] also cometh forth from the LORD of hosts, which is wonderful in counsel, and excellent in working."
I give thanks and praise to my Father, for wonderful and excellent is He!

Friday, September 23, 2011

I Practice Mind Control

Is. 26:3-4 Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee. Trust yet in the LORD for ever: for in the LORD JEHOVAH is everlasting strength.

I try to read my Bible each day until I "get" something from Him. It's not always (or ever?) a profound Bible truth or a goose-bump giving promise, but it's something. It may be a verse that I think would be good to memorize, or a reminder of something I need to work on. Or, it might be seeing an "old friend" - a verse I underlined sometime in the past. I was so pleased today when I opened right up and immediately heard from the Lord.

The verses above have been quoted hundreds of times. I have Is. 26:3 memorized and have had it memorized for a while now. Yet, as I read it today, along with verse 4, I heard the Savior gently calling to me, telling me that I was not heeding these verses.

If I dwell on negative thoughts, troublesome situations, hurts of the past and so forth, my countenance falls and the tears flow. Soon, my words follow my heart and I begin to pull others down by sharing my heartache with everyone. I get lost in my depressed world and snap at anyone who disturbs me. When one comes along to encourage me, to remind me of my blessings, I get resentful and I fight for my right to remain blue. Basically, I'm wallowing in self-pity. And it all began with my mind!

I'm going to practice mind control today. I'm going to try to keep my thoughts on my blessings, for there are so many! I'm going to cry out to my Father for strength when I am weak, for our verse says through Him, we have everlasting strength! That's certainly what I need!

When I feel myself sliding down the slippery slope toward woe, I'm going to cry out to my Lord for help. Too often I pray in the morning and then no more the rest of the day. I want to talk to Him often, and rely upon Him each moment of my day.

I wish you a very blessed weekend!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Epic Fail

Rom. 7:18-19 For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do.

Rom.7:24-25 O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord...

I recently saw a tee shirt that said "Epic Fail". It had an arrow that pointed to the right, presumably at whomever was standing there. Those words, "epic" and "fail" are widely used now days.

I cannot think of a better way to describe my Christian life at times: "Epic Fail." I seem to get caught up in the same sin over and over and over, like a hamster on a wheel. I know that I have a weakness. I pray about it. I read God's Word to get strength and wisdom to defeat it. Yet, in a momentary laps, I slip back, and into the same sin. I have no more tears to shed over it, I feel numb and hopeless. Why would God forgive me again? Why would He even want to help me? I keep failing. There's that word again, fail. That's me: Valerie, the epic failure.

I won't bother you with the details of my faults. I've been working on it for a while now, even going to the point of saying "Wow, I'm so glad I'm aware of this sin in my life. I won't do that again, now that I know!" HA! Famous last words. I don't do it intentionally, but then, I never have. Today, I read how Paul struggles with the same thing I do: failure. I read chapter 7 and 8 of Romans, searching for a way to cure myself of committing the same sin over and over. I wanted to find something like "If thou dwellest in the precepts of the Lord daily, thou wilt not sin." Or, "If thou produce meekness all the days of thy life, thou wilt be perfect." But, I didn't find those words. It appears to my very un-trained mind that the answer is this: keep going. When I fail, get up and go again. That's what Paul did. He died to his flesh and kept going for the Lord Jesus. Paul says in Rom.8:15 that we have been adopted and we can cry out "Abba, Father." That's a term of endearment. When I fail, I can cry out to my Heavenly Father. He forgives me, He picks me up, just like my earthly father would do. He comforts me, He corrects me, and He sends me back out to try again.

What a blessing it it to know that when my Heavenly Father looks at me, He doesn't see me for what I am, an epic failure. No, He sees the blood of Jesus upon my life. And Jesus never fails.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Lessons from Tests

Matthew 4:1 Then was Jesus led up of the spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil.

After Jesus' baptism, but before His earthly ministry began, He was tempted by the Satan. Just want to jot down a few thoughts about it.

  • Jesus was tempted after he had fasted 40 days and 40 nights. He was "hungered". (Matt. 4:2) It seems we are all tempted when we are "hungry". For example, we are tempted when we are physically weak, or spiritually. The devil knows when we are most vulnerable.
  • The Devil wanted Jesus to sin. If Jesus sinned, then He could no longer be our Savior, He would have been an unfit sacrifice. It would have ruined everyone's life. It seems Satan goes after those in the Christian life who have the most influence. No, no one is the same as Jesus, but think about it. If Satan can pull down a pastor or a prominent church member, he's brought down several people with them, mostly those weaker Christians we mentioned earlier. If you stand up and teach a class, you'll sit down with a target on your back.
  • The Devil's method of bringing Jesus down was pride: He wanted Jesus to sin by having pride, by feeling the need to "prove himself" to Satan. Satan scorns, "If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge over thee:..." How many times have I fallen into that pride trap, wanting to "prove my point" and losing my testimony in the process! I'm so glad my Lord and Savior didn't fall for that. Another interesting point is that Satan knows God's word! How handy! He can twist it and mangle it till that weaker Christian is convinced that their un-scriptural way is, in fact, scriptural.
  • Jesus wins by knowing God's Word inside and out. He quotes it, He lives it. We cannot be perfect, but we can all win the battle by knowing and living God's Word. Read it, memorize it, study it, live it. 
  • It seems that we all must endure some testing before God uses us. Notice that in Matt. 4:17, after the temptation, Jesus began preaching. If you are facing a time of trial, keep in mind that God could be preparing you for a ministry. The temptation or trial you are in is not the end, it's the beginning!
Whatever the test we face, our hope is the Lord and His Word.

But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.  1 Cor. 15:57

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

I Just Can't Wait!

Rev. 22:20 He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus.

Well, I finished the New Testament. I'm not sure how long it took me, because I don't follow a schedule. I just pick parts of the Bible I like and read a chapter or two or four each day from them. I am going through the Gospels again now. I'm reading Exodus and Isaiah each day as well. When I finish a book, I decide on a new book to start.

Every time I read the verse above, I get kind of emotional. I get excited, thinking, "Yes! I cannot wait for Him to come!" and I get a bit sad, thinking "Wow, I'm already to the end. I wonder how John felt as he penned these last words?" After all, if anyone was longing for the Savior's return, it would be John! He'd been tortured, boiled in oil they say, and exiled to Patmos. I find it interesting that God came down and gave John the book of the Revelation while he was alone, probably thinking he'd been forsaken and forgotten by God. Boy, howdy! He couldn't have been more wrong! God showed John things in that dark place that He'd never revealed to anyone.

Right after my dad died, some seven years ago, I had a dream about him. I dreamed about him often, but in this one, I dreamed that Dad came down from Heaven just to tell me he loved me, and he was all right. He started describing Heaven to me! When I awoke, I thought "Was that real?" But everything Dad said to me in my dream came straight out of the Bible; nothing new. It got me excited about Heaven, though!

How wonderful to end the Bible with the plea from John the Beloved to "come, Lord Jesus."! I feel that way, too. I'm ready for Him to come. I can honestly say that I'm more excited at the thought of seeing Jesus than my dad right now. Jesus has been with me in so many dark and lonely times for so many years. I remember crying to Him when I was nine and my sister went away to college. Over the years, His song has filled my heart with joy. When no one else on Earth was with me, He was with me. He has always given me just what I've needed when I've needed it. I love Him so much! I'd like to close with the chorus of one of my favorite songs about my Friend:

Jesus, sticks closer than a brother, every moment He is near.
I know He never will forsake me, He has conquered all my fear.
Jesus sticks closer than a brother, on His love I can depend.
King of Kings! Lord of Lords! Conquering Son!
Though all of these, He's my very best friend. 

- from "My Very Best Friend" by Ron Hamilton

I just don't know what I'd do without Him. 

Monday, September 19, 2011

He Deserves It

1 Peter 3:7 Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, diving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered.

Rev. 20:1-3 And I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years, And cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more,...

It seems like I have a target on my back lately. I find myself being irritable, quick tempered, a worrier (more than normal). If there is a problem in our family, I've noticed that lately, it begins with me. I'm the one who snaps at the children, putting everyone on edge; I'm the one fretting over this problem and that problem, causing my husband's stress level to increase; I'm the one who can't go on (or so I think, anyway). My family hasn't had to sit down with me and have an intervention, telling me how much I've been failing. The Holy Spirit holds a daily "intervention" with me each morning from the pages of God's Word and in my prayer time. I feel that He is grieved, and I don't like that feeling. I want to be strong during times of hardship; I want to trust more when things are looking bleak. When I do the opposite, I hate it.

I recently told my husband that I really feel that Satan is "gunning for me" during these hard days. If he can affect me, it's pretty certain that I will affect the rest of the family. Logically, an enemy would aim for the weakest point in a battle. God's Word tells us that women are the weaker vessel in 1 Pet. 3:7. This doesn't mean we can't do anything for ourselves, it's a comparison. We are weaker physically compared to a man, as well as emotionally. As a woman, I am sensitive. It doesn't take much to bring me low emotionally. If the Devil can drag me down, he's got everyone else, too. I asked my husband to be extra patient with me right now, to pray for me even more, and to help me fight Satan's attacks.

I was so pleased to read about Satan's ultimate demise in Rev. 20:3! I cannot wait for the day when my Savior will put Satan away! After all the trouble he's caused, I can say with confidence that He deserves it!

Friday, September 16, 2011

God's Boundary Lines

Ex. 19:12 And thou shalt set bounds unto the people round about, saying, Take heed to yourselves, that ye  go not up into the mount, or touch the border of it: whosoever toucheth the mount shall be surely put to death:

In Exodus 19, we see Moses preparing to receive the law from God on Mt. Sinai. The Lord tells Moses to set up bounds around the mountain, because anyone who touches it will die. God is truly a loving God, not wanting to hurt people. If He'd wanted to kill people, why would He have told Moses to set up a boundary around the mountain? The boundary line was a warning sign "Stop! Go no further!" The people could roam anywhere they wanted and be perfectly happy. If they crossed the line, then their happiness, or rather their family's, would be gone.

As I thought about that boundary around the mountain, I thought about how God's Word sets up boundaries. Again, not so that we can be miserable, but so that we can be happy and safe. I was just trying to explain to my children two nights ago that God's "rules" are meant for our happiness. I used marriage as an example. If they choose carefully  and prayerfully in marriage, and keep their vows, then their children will never have to see their homes broken. It grieves me so much to see how so many kids these days get shuffled back and forth between parents and grandparents. Most of it could have been avoided if saved people married saved people. That's a "rule" given in 2 Cor.6:14. That's not given so that we won't be happy in marriage, but so we can be. How happy I am to go to church as a family! How wonderful it is to all gather round the dinner table each night and laugh and talk, to spend every holiday together, to enjoy sweet fellowship at breakfast and bedtime! It truly is a wonderful life, and it's all because of God's boundaries, the Bible. This fellowship can only be broken if I or my husband decide to ignore God's rules for marriage, if we are unfaithful to one another. As long as we "don't cross the line", or happiness, including our children's, remains in tact.

I have no idea what your marital status is, and I do not at all mean to sound critical if you have been divorced. If you've been down that painful road, then you can agree whole-heartedly with what I'm saying: Be careful in marriage! Perhaps you did marry right, yet it ended anyway. We are all sinners, and we can certainly suffer because of the sin of others. God knows who did the wrong, and He will take care of it. Keep going and keep serving, knowing that you are loved by the Lord. He has a plan for your life. Remember, you can only stay in the boundaries for yourself. 

There are many other "boundary lines" in God's Word. And let me say, I struggle to stay within some of them. But I want to, for I know that obedience to God's Word will produce wonderful fruit in my life. May we all stay within God's boundaries; may we stay in His Word.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Even I Can Do It!

Ex. 17:12 But Moses' hands were heavy; and they took a stone, and put it under him, and he sat thereon; and Aaron and Hur stayed up his hands, the one on the one side, and the other on the other side; and his hands were steady until the going down of the sun.

Exodus has been such a blessing to me the past few days. It's as though the Lord is speaking directly to me through His Word. Oh wait! He is! Isn't that wonderful? I hope you are enjoying your time in His Word each day, also.

Today, I was reminded that no one can (or should) make it through life alone. We all need each other. I was driving home from the store the other day, thinking and listening to my favorite hymns CD. I was worrying about going to Chicago in a few weeks to speak at my first ladies meeting. How can I go up there and say anything worthwhile? What do I know? I suppose I could speak on "How to Get that Foot in Your Mouth...All of It!" or "How to Apologize after Saying and/or Doing Something Really Stupid." What if people think I'm just a know-it-all, or just a kid, or both? That won't help anyone. Then, I had this thought, and I believe it was from the Holy Spirit: Why don't you just go up there and try to be an encouragement? Isn't that what you need now and then? You don't need someone to walk up to you and preach to you, you just need someone to have some compassion, some love, some understanding. Why don't you just go up there and be a friend?

I realized that that's right. I just need to be a friend, a smiling face, a listening ear. No one expects anything great from me, but we all expect something great from God, and He can do great things! It's true. I'm a "nobody" in the ladies-conference-speaking world. My last name isn't Hyles or Hutson or Rice. (Famous Baptist preachers who are now in Heaven.) I'm just me. In our verse today, we see two men came along and held up Moses' hands during a battle between Israel and Amalek. When Moses' hands were up, Israel prevailed, when they were down, they didn't. These two men, Aaron and Hur, were not holding up Moses' hands because they were extra talented, or because everyone got together and voted on who was the best hand-holder-upper. They simply saw a need, and ran to meet it. We can all do that in some area of the Christian life.

Last week, I received a "surprise box" from a friend and a lovely homemade card with encouraging words written inside. I needed that encouragement so much! I needed to have my "hands held up" at just that time. We all do, and we all can. I'm not as thoughtful as I should be, I get caught up in my life, my problems. I need to do better. And by God's grace, I will.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Praising or Pouting?

Ex.16:8 ... for that the LORD heareth your murmurings which ye murmur against him: and what are we? your mumurings are not against us, but against the LORD.

I've never been a fan of the show, Jon and Kate Plus 8. I watched a few episodes only to grow weary of Kate's constant complaining and criticism of all things, especially of her husband. When I stood in a mile long line at the grocery store this week, I picked up a copy of People magazine because it said that her new show, minus Jon, had been cancelled! I was kind of surprised. I read the article out of curiosity. That, and the fact I had a spare 20 minutes to kill waiting to put my items on the conveyor belt. In the article, she whined and cried about how she didn't know how she'd pay for her 2 million-dollar-plus home on 24 acres, or how she'd pay for her kids' private school. She moaned about how her kids wouldn't get to take anymore trips, or be on TV anymore! Of course, we all know how she feels. Didn't you just hate it when your TV show was ripped off the air with nary a warning? No? Oh, wait, we live in the real world! The least of my worries is all the trips we don't take. She ended the article by saying she really wanted a talk show. I can see why, since she can relate to the masses so well. {sarcasm} I was never so happy to come to the end of an article in my life. I went ahead and finished it, hoping there might be a glimmer of humanity, love,  or perhaps some appreciation to her fans for letting her sour mouth last this long on TV! I was disappointed. She sounded selfish and spoiled to the very end.

I know, you're thinking, so, what's the point? Well, as I read that whiny article, and then this verse and other verses from Exodus about Israel's griping, I realized how disgusting whining is. I also realized that, *ahem* I do it, too. {blushing} Yes, it's true. Occasionally, I moan and gripe and whine. It's not pretty. In fact, it's annoying to people nearby, but especially to the God who loved me enough to send His only Son to pay for my sins. He's given me so much: A home in Heaven, His Word, the chance to talk to Him day or night, friends who pray for me, my family, protection, a home, food, luxury items - no, not a 24 acre mansion - appliances! A running vehicle! Hot water! An inside bathroom! Furry socks in the winter! A ceiling fan in the summer! Coffee! Vanilla creamer! Trash bags! A lap top! Marshmallows! Ben & Jerry's ice cream! (once in a while, of course.) INTERNET! The list goes on and on! Why, oh why do I gripe?

Yes, there are those who gripe at me, as well. I'm not very long-suffering about it, either. I get weary. I'm just trying to serve the Lord. Yes, I fail a lot, but I'm trying. Why must there be constant complaining? Then, I read the end of the verse above. When folks complain about matters from God's Word, they are not upset with us, they are upset with God. And He will have to handle that. I have my hands full watching my own gripe-prone mouth!

I'm going to work on praising with my mouth, rather than pouting. Yes, I have my work cut out for me!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Let God Do the Fighting

Ex. 14:14 The LORD shall fight for you, and ye shall hold your peace.

This short little verse caught my attention today. The Israelites were being pursued by the Egyptians in the preceding verses. The Israelites were cornered, so to speak, since they were stopped by the Red Sea. It looked like the end. Moses tells them, don't worry, the LORD will take care of you. First, the Lord created a barrier between the Egyptians and His people all night long. (Ex. 14:20). Wow! That alone is pretty amazing, but He did even more! We all know that He parted the Red Sea and they crossed over (approximately 2 million people) on dry ground! (Ex.14:21-22) What a miracle! God took care of Israel, and not one arrow was shot, not one stone was cast or punch thrown!

 Don't worry, I'm not thinking about fighting anyone, but I often think about ways that I can solve my own problems.I want to call so-and-so, and try to make a plan and work my plan. I don't want to "stand still and see the salvation of the LORD" as Moses tells Israel in Ex.14:13. I want to "Run around like a chicken with my head cutteth off and create mine own salvation". I really need to stop, to stand still, to pray, and then wait on my Father to save me. He probably has a barrier around my enemies right now, protecting me, and I don't even know it. I think I'll thank Him for that right now.

Monday, September 12, 2011

He Knows Best

Ex. 12:23 For the LORD will pass through to smite the Egyptians; and when he seeth the blood upon the lintel, and on the two side posts, and will not suffer the destroyer to come in unto your houses to smite you.

Ex. 13:17-18 And it came to pass, when Pharaoh had let the people go, that God led them not through the way of the land of of the Philistines, although that was near; for God said, Let peradventure the people repent when they see war, and they return to Egypt. But God led the people about, through the way of the wilderness of the Red sea: and the children of Israel, went up harnessed out of the land Egypt.

Is anyone out there like me? Do you ever scratch your head and wonder what God is doing? I've been doing that a lot lately.  I wonder, "Lord, why are doing so-and-so? It seems like this other way would be so much better." Or, "Lord, why is this happening now? Could  you make it go away, or at least take the pain away?" Usually, the Lord doesn't solve the problem immediately,. or take the pain away. I have noticed, however, that He pours out just enough grace to get through the day, the week, the month, and so on.

Yesterday was a hard day for me. To be honest, going to church wasn't what I felt like doing. I wasn't feeling well physically, and I felt very alone for some reason. I dragged myself to church and the Lord helped me so much. We had a visiting singer come through, Bro. Tommy Drewett. He wasn't scheduled to be with us, but due to some sudden changes, he had the opportunity to come by. Every song he sang was just what I needed! I think I had tears in my eyes during the entire time he sang. I have several of his CDs, but I wish I could have had a recording of those five or six songs he sang. I'd like to listen to them over and over and over. That's how much it blessed my heart. I prayed as he sang, saying "Thank you, Lord, for being here for me today. Just for me." Now, He was probably there for many people in a specific way. I hope so! But I know He was there for me. I think the Lord had him pass through just for me. I hope that doesn't sound selfish or prideful, I just mean that the Lord loves us enough to do big things like that for us, and I believe that yesterday, He did it for me.

In my reading today, I see that God provided a way for the children of Israel to be protected from "The Destroyer". He's done that for me, too, through the blood of Jesus! I'm forever protected from the punishment for sin! Praise the Lord! I also see that He led the children of Israel the long way out of Egypt. We see why in verse 18. He wanted to protect them from war. Once again, God is taking care of His precious children. If you've read Exodus before, you know that the Israelites murmur and complain numerous times. They don't appreciate what God is doing, probably because they don't know.

I don't know what God's doing in my life, either. I do know that I've given it to Him, 100%, so why do I worry or fret about it? I should just trust and relax. For all I know He's using difficult circumstances to protect me. He knows best and He is with me, whether I understand His plan or not.