A SUMMER OF PSALMS

In 1975 my thinking about suffering in life was challenged in a profound way.  A film depicting the Ten Boom family during WWII called “The Hiding Place” was playing at a local theater.  Once I saw it, Corrie Ten Boom became my favorite person on the planet.  I’m thankful to everyone involved in the film.  Nobody understands why my favorite movie is about such a horrific time in history.  Well, I suppose it’s because this film taught me about adversity in life and how to react when bad things happen.

We don’t like to think about storms, do we?  And yes, I guess this movie could be considered a “downer” to some people, but I walked away with the thought that if Corrie Ten Boom was able to lean so heavily on God and trust Him to see her through something so unbelievably evil, then I can trust Him for any bad situation I find myself in!  I was not depressed after watching it – I felt a peace and a hope that God is sufficient for any circumstance in life.  He is and always will be enough.

One day a psychologist friend asked me how I’m able to function in life.  We had talked a bit about how bumps in the road of life can affect us in negative ways as Christians.  The first thing people notice about me is that I don’t have children.  They become uncomfortable at that point.  Nobody knows what to talk about with me because the “go-to” subject of any conversation is kids.  How old are your kids?  What school do they go to?  It’s the most predictable conversation people have when they meet for the first time.

But when they ask if I have children and I say no, they’re at a loss.  They have no idea what to say next.  Once in a while I hear, “Oh, then you probably have fur babies then, right?”  Well, yes I did – but we lost our fur baby a while back.  Sometimes I just smile or nod yes to save face.  I don’t want two pity pauses in the conversation.

I was chatting with a friend recently and the subject of childlessness came up and I said something to the effect that I felt like a freak.  She said, “It stinks.”  It’s true – it does!  There’s not a thing I can do about it, but it does!  Sometimes you just want someone to acknowledge the fact that something stinks, ya know?  I felt better after she said that – I felt understood.

When I was younger, it was difficult to be around the women my age who were having children.  I kept thinking it would get easier as I got older, but now those same women have grandchildren and no…  it’s no easier to deal with that either.

The Bible says that children are a reward… which makes a childless person wonder if they are being punished Everyone’s quick to tell me that’s not the case, but that’s not how it feels.  One of my friends told me that the Lord may have saved me from worse heartache because perhaps a child of mine could have had serious health issues or something like that.  Well – I guess that could be true too.  I just don’t know – but I have to trust God.  He knows what He’s doing and I need to accept it.

God does surround me with songs of victory.  He helps me cope with all kinds of loss.  I can’t really explain it except to say I know in my soul that God’s helping me.  When it storms and I’m tempted to give up, I hear that sweet song of victory and I know it will be okay.  The Lord is with me.  Oh, and even though Corrie Ten Boom is no longer alive, she’s still my favorite person.  🙂

A COMMENTARY FROM THE HEART

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Most businesses have a Mission Statement.  It basically answers the question, “Why are you in business?”  “Why are you here?”  A good Mission Statement explains more than just what you do, it explains why you do it.

I saw this posted (no, I didn’t make it up – wish I had).  There was no name on it, so I don’t know who to give credit to, but oh this hit me like a ton of bricks when I read it.  Some days it’s so easy to lose sight of why you do what you do.  This puts it in perspective.

CHURCH is my COLLEGE.
HEAVEN is my UNIVERSITY.
JESUS is my PRINCIPAL.
THE HOLY SPIRIT is my TEACHER.
ANGELS are my CLASS MATES.
THE BIBLE is my STUDY BOOK.
TRIAL & TEMPTATION are my EXAMS.
WINNING SOULS are my ASSIGNMENTS.
PRAYER is my ATTENDANCE.
CROWN OF LIFE is my DEGREE.
AND PRAISE & WORSHIP is my MOTTO.

What an amazing MISSION STATEMENT!  Like all Christians, I’m aware that there is a hell to shun and a heaven to gain, but in this classroom of LIFE, what subjects should we focus on?  What should be our major to get the CROWN OF LIFE degree?

I haven’t lived a long time (well, over half a century – wow, that’s depressing)…  but the longer I live, the more important I believe it is to major in LOVE.  God’s perfect AGAPE’ LOVE.  It is impossible to love like that without God’s Holy Spirit at the helm of your heart, mind and spirit.  It definitely does not come naturally – um…  nope!

It’s so sad that in our world, God’s Agape’ Love is so misunderstood because our society has twisted love and sex together.  Can we not love without sex?  It’s ridiculous – of course we can!  We are here to learn to love God and learn to love people.  To learn all that, we need to attend class – we need to pray for God’s help, guidance and His will to be done in every circumstance and situation.  Attend in prayer and ask the teacher to teach you…  God’s Holy Spirit will give you wisdom, strength, courage and amazing love to deal with difficult people.

We’re here to love God and people.  That’s about it.  We aren’t capable of doing that on our own.  Nope, we need help to be what we need to be.  Study the Bible, attend classes, listen to the teacher and don’t be afraid to ask questions, take the tests and be anxious for nothing, accept help from your class mates and ace life.  Then do it again tomorrow…  and the day after tomorrow.

You thought all you had to do over and over again was go to the gym, didn’t you?  No, your spiritual fitness is dependent on a faithful habit just as your physical fitness is.  As you stay spiritually fit, remember your motto…  PRAISE & WORSHIP!  🙂

 

1 CORINTHIANS 10:13 ON 10/13

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No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.  – 1 Corinthians 10:13

I think we get mixed up sometimes when we talk about trials and temptations.  In the spiritual realm, who is doing what???  Who’s on first, as it were… ???

A trial puts our faith and patience in action and yes, trials are from God to make us stronger.  If we were never given trials, we would be soft and sappy and we’d never know just how much God means to us.  Trials are not fun, but we know that God is faithful through them and that He will make a way for us.

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This verse speaks of temptations – and those are not from God.  The enemy of our soul brings temptations to us – it seems they are constantly in front of us.  Temptations come in so many ways and sometimes we don’t even recognize them for what they are – because let’s face it – the enemy of our soul is good at what he does.

If you’re sitting down – GET UP!!!  It’s time to do our exercises!  This will help your physical health, but it will help your spiritual health too!  🙂

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… and if the devil doesn’t like it, he can SIT ON A TACK…  OUCH!  Ah – I love that song, don’t you?

The devil is sneaky…  to put it mildly.  He offers solicitation to that which is evil, and hence Satan is called “the tempter” (Matthew 4:3).  He tempted Christ in this way in the wilderness.  That temptation was not internal, but by a real, active, subtle being.  Why did Jesus have to endure that temptation?  It was an act of obedience on His part.  I’m thankful it was recorded in the Bible because it shows me that no matter what ol’ split-hoof puts before me, with God’s help, through my Savior, Jesus Christ, I can overcome it.

Temptation is common to all, as this Scripture reminds us – other passages mention it as well (Daniel 12:10, Psalm 66:10, Luke 22:31 & 40, Hebrews 11:17, James 1:12 & 1 Peter 1:7).  Is it a big deal?  Ya think???  YES – temptation is a big deal and it is common to all.  We are human beings living on this earth and we will be tempted.  We’re not in trouble for being tempted – we’re in trouble when we submit to it and subsequently sin against God.

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Does God give us a pass on sin just because we are exposed to temptation every day?  The Apostle Paul would say, “Heaven forbid!”  No!  God’s people are to be on their watch against temptations.  We are told that if we resist the devil, he will flee.  If we tell Satan to leave in the Name of Christ Jesus…  he can’t stick around.

So while we will be tempted time and again…  there is a way of escape in the Name of Christ!  Speak HIS Name in the face of the enemy and He has to flee.  In the Name of Jesus Christ, my Lord and Savior, I command you to leave now, devil!  🙂

 

A COMMENTARY FROM THE HEART

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“But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord,
    whose confidence is in him.

They will be like a tree planted by the water
that sends out its roots by the stream.
It does not fear when heat comes;
its leaves are always green.
It has no worries in a year of drought
and never fails to bear fruit.”  – Jeremiah 17:7-8

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Karley holding her mammoth cabbage… wow!!!

 

That’s a lot of coleslaw…

I have the most COOL facebook friends!!!  Can you believe the size of this cabbage???  She posted this photo the other day and of course it got me to thinking about how much BIGGER our blessings are when we belong to God.

Bigger blessings???  You bet!  God has blessed His own in a big way since the beginning of time.

Have you ever heard the saying…  I’m too blessed to be stressed – ???  It’s true!  When we focus on all of the many blessings from the LORD, we just spend time loving our family and friends – instead of thinking about the things we lack.  With God in our corner, we lack nothing.  We have what we need because we know He provides for our every need.

You know, if there is something you think you need and God has not brought it your way (like, say…  a million dollars) – it’s because He knows it’s not what you need.  How many times do we hear about folks who win the lottery and have nothing but grief after they get all that money?  I’ve heard story after story about tragedy that stems from having too much money and being used – or some even lose their life over it.  God wants the very best for us – we have to trust His wisdom for our lives.

Money doesn’t solve every problem – it really doesn’t.

 The LORD gives strength to his people; the LORD blesses his people with peace.  – Psalm 29:11

Bigger blessings from God – of strength and peace.  Strength to face our daily trials and peace as we keep living.  🙂

GALATIANS 6:2 ON 6/2

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Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.  – Galatians 6:2

There seem to be two extremes…  folks who don’t want to share burdens because they don’t want to be a “downer” – and folks who tend to “over share”.  Regardless of how much or how little folks decide to reveal about themselves, we are obliged to bear one another’s burdens – but what does that mean?  Two words come to mind:  sympathy and empathy.

Sympathy is when you can imagine what someone is feeling or going through.  Empathy is when you have been through the same circumstance and have a personal understanding of what a person is facing.

Whether you sympathize or empathize, in all weaknesses, grievances and trials we are to be a friend – listen and pray with and for them.  It’s not a matter of one prayer and send them on their way.  Trust that God’s Holy Spirit will bring them to your mind so you can pray for them on a regular basis.

This portion of Scripture refers to the custom of travelers, who, when too heavily laden with their baggage, relieve one another by bearing the burdens of the weak or fatigued.  In that manner they show their good disposition toward each other; and so fulfil the law of Christ.

The law of love is His new commandment and the distinguishing mark of His disciples.

THE BAGGAGE CARRIER

Christians know that the real baggage carrier is Christ.  He’s the One who picks up the pain we feel and the suffering that follows.  It’s the truth we share with each other and hope we share with the folks who do not have a relationship with Him yet.  When lost folks ask me to pray for them, I’m more than happy to do that, but fast to let them know that they can know Christ too – and pray for their situation along with me.

Yes, we bear one another’s burdens – but we also understand that Christ is the One who holds us all up!  I gain such comfort from that fact and hope you do too.  🙂

 

A COMMENTARY FROM THE HEART

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And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience…  – Romans 5:3

I’ve asked God to help me keep my sense of humor during this time of waiting.  Have you ever had to wait while in pain, just wishing that things would move along more quickly than they are?  At this point I know I will have surgery – but I don’t know when yet.

God reminded me of something today while I was looking around at a local nursery.  The most beautiful flowers surrounded me, so I slowly toured the open market and took in every little thing.  There were Monarch Butterflies everywhere!

I watched one of the butterflies on a flower.  Butterflies are such delicate creatures, yet when the wind kicked up, it was not blown off the flower.  The wings bent a little with the wind, but the sticky “feet” of the butterfly kept it in place.

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God spoke – “I gave that butterfly what it needs – to do what it needs to do.”

Will God do less for you and me?  Certainly not.

I’ve been a Christian for a long time.  There’s an old joke – you should never pray for patience because if you do, you will be given a trial or tribulation.  I assure you, I did not pray for patience, yet – here I am, dealing with a trial.

ALL I NEED

I feel hopeful now that God will help me through this.  It’s just a rough patch, a tribulation – thankfully, a temporary tribulation.  Pain makes most of us sparkle a little less, though we always want to be a good representative for our Savior.  It’s our opportunity to prove that His strength is perfect in our weakness.

He must become greater; I must become less.  – John 3:30

He knows my frustration in my situation right now, but He will give me everything I need to get through.  I know I’ll feel so much better after my surgery.  I do pray that God will help me in the meantime – and I know He will.  🙂

 

A COMMENTARY FROM THE HEART

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WE PRAY FOR PEACE

PRAY FOR ISRAEL

I doubt I’ll ever get to the Holy Land, but I enjoy the “tours” via You Tube! Israel belongs to God and He will protect His own against evil. Hamas and Jihad are evil. They want to kill and view their own death as gain if they kill others in the process. It’s totally backward to the Christian’s belief system. That’s why we have a difficult time wrapping our minds around it. It’s so messed up!

Our Lord taught us to be loving and forgiving and turn the other cheek. Hamas is all about destruction and they don’t think twice about it. We pray for God’s people. We pray for Israel every day! There have been reports in the enemy newspapers about how Israel’s God protects them. They admit it – and that makes me want to do the Holy Ghost Happy Dance! I love hearing accounts that God intervenes and protects His own! Praise God from Whom ALL blessings flow!

But think about it… it’s just like Jesus to roll the clouds away!

Amen, sister!

The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. – Psalm 23:1-4

I don’t question God’s methods – I don’t know whether He Himself is protecting Israel or whether He has sent angels to do it, but I’m thankful for His mighty hand being there. It’s my prayer that His protection will stay on Israel.

How do we as Christians pray for Israel? We just humbly bow our heads and say:

Dear Heavenly Father,
We pray for peace in Jerusalem. Our hearts are broken when we see the violence and suffering as men, women and children are injured and killed on both sides of the conflict. We don’t understand why it has to be this way, nor do we truly know if war is right or wrong, but we pray for Your sovereign righteousness, Lord. We pray for Your wisdom in the midst of this war and for Your mercy. For the governments, militants and terrorists, we ask for Your kingdom to come and rule over the land. Protect the soldiers and civilians from bloodshed. May Your truth and light shine in the darkness. God, we do not understand the way Hamas and Jihad believe because we have been taught to love and forgive. They have been taught to hate and kill – to the point where they give their own life in the process and see it as gain in the afterlife. We can’t wrap our minds around that sort of theology. Dear God, in this land where only hatred and death are known, please somehow let Your love prevail in their midst! Help me as a Christian to support those who You support, Lord, and to bless those who You bless, my God. In this mess please bring about the saving hope of Your Son, Jesus Christ to the people of Israel, dear God. Bring Your salvation to the whole earth.
It’s in the precious name of Jesus we pray,
Amen.