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Entries in Trials (6)


Soldiers at War

I fell this week and broke a bone in my knee.  I knew immediately I hurt something but also prayed immediately that God would spare me a broken bone.  He didn’t. So, I’ve spent the week learning to adjust to pain, an immobilizer,crutches, the inability “to do” (on many levels), having no energy and not being able to concentrate.  Wow!  Who knew one broken bone could cause such a ruckus in one’s life. 

Thankfully, because I know the God of the Word, I can rest in the truth that He allowed this to happen and since I know all of His dealings with me are good, I can trust He will purpose this event for my good and His glory.  God’s Word also tells me why trials come,what they produce and how I am to respond (James 1).  Isn’t that awesome?  Because I know these truths, I no longer have to walk around acting as though some strange thing is happening to me as a result of breaking a bone (1 Peter 4:12).

This broken bone hasn't been brought into my life to slow me down or stop me. No!  It’s to test my faith which produces endurance.  I need to learn torun with endurance and how to fight the good fight of faith.  Yes, I need to take care and give my body time to heal.  But, slow down? Are you kidding me?  This week’s news included the fact that without parental consent, 15 year old girls can purchase and take the “morning after” pill and the Air Force announced that leaders of all levels (including chaplains) may not "promote their personal religious beliefs to their subordinates or to extend preferential treatment for anyreligion." The penalty is court-martial.  Slow down?

For far too many years I pursued the things of the world rather than the things of God. Fight?  Hardly.  Because I didn't fight, I'm part of the reason truth has literally stumbled in the streets. Much ground has been lost. So,today as I sit here with a broken bone, I also remind myself I am in God’s boot camp because I need to learn endurance.

Here’s how todaysmilitary.com describes boot camp basic training and combat training.  I think this relates to being in God's army.It says: "Basic training prepares recruits for all elements of service: physical, mental, and emotional. It gives people the basic tools necessary to perform the roles that will be asked of them for the duration of their tour." Yep,this will preach! This is exactly how God intends to use the various troubles and trials that come my way! It goes on to say: "combat training is a journey of self discovery...discovering inner strength and learning valuable skills that will help them succeed as soldiers in the army and in life." Preach it some more! God has certainly used the troubles and trials in my life to help me to discover HIS strength as well as teach me valuable skills that ARE helping me to succeed as a soldier in His army. Oh, how I need to remember that life here is not about me, my comfort, my anything. It's about Him and advancing HIS kingdom. No longer do I want to play the role of the harlot princess pursuing the "good life"and the riches of this world or who whines and complains and wishes she were anywhere other than where God has her. That me didn't even know she'd been recruited into God's army - let alone boot camp. I'm embarrassed that I can say I totally get where Private Benjamin is coming from in the below scene from"Private Benjamin." No more...

I might have a stint in a leg immobilizer but I’m still mobilizing forward! How about you (whoever is reading this)? Are you in or are you out?


Howl it out!

We used to have a white Boxer named Boomer.  Oh, the funny stories I could tell you about that dog.  In fact, if I ever need a good belly laugh I watch a video of Boomer being Boomer.  Before Boomer, I'd never had or heard a dog who howled.  When Boomer howled, the whole neighborhood heard him.  He'd get his boxer snout all wrinkled up and throw that head of his back and out would come this howl.  He only howled when he wanted his condition changed.  Like when it was raining and he wanted in the house (rather than go into his dog house).  Boomer's howl was pitiful and attention getting.  I found this visual on YouTube.

With that visual in mind, think about how we sound when we cry out to the Lord.  In our despair, we howl.  Oh, we don't often have the luxury of throwing back out heads and letting go so the whole neighborhood hears us.  But, what about those times in the shower, the closet, the car...  Or the times when the howl is deep in our hearts and we open our mouths but no sound will come?  In Psalm 18, David shares this:
"In my distress I called upon the Lord, And cried to my God for help; He heard my voice out of His temple, And my cry for help before Him came into His ears.
A beautiful example...in our distress, we can call upon the Lord!  We can howl out for help.  And you know what?  He hears our voice, He hears our howl for help - it comes into His ears.  Oh glory be.  I needed to be reminded of that truth today, didn't you?  And, it does not stop there.  David goes on to paint the most beautiful picture of God responding to our howl out.  He says God rides on the clouds, He rides on the cherub to our rescue.
"Then the earth shook and quaked; And the foundations of the mountains were trembling And were shaken, because He was angry. Smoke went up out of His nostrils, And fire from His mouth devoured; Coals were kindled by it. He bowed the heavens also, and came down With thick darkness under His feet. He rode upon a cherub and flew; And He sped upon the wings of the wind. He made darkness His hiding place, His canopy around Him, Darkness of waters, thick clouds of the skies.From the brightness before Him passed His thick clouds, Hailstones and coals of fire.The Lord also thundered in the heavens, And the Most High uttered His voice, Hailstones and coals of fire. He sent out His arrows, and scattered them, And lightning flashes in abundance, and routed them. Then the channels of water appeared, And the foundations of the world were laid bare At Your rebuke, O Lord, At the blast of the breath of Your nostrils. He sent from on high, He took me; He drew me out of many waters." (Psalm 18:7-16)
Wow!  Listen to Psalm 18 and let the words dance about you, grab your heart and cause your spirit to soar so that the next time you are in distress....howl out before the Lord and then wait for He hears and He will act on behalf of the righteous! Look up - He rides on His clouds.


Grow up!

Back in 2002, Jan Silvious came to my community and talked to us about being spiritual "big girls." In fact, she later wrote her book entitled: Big Girls Don't Whine. The book description says this:

"Do you ever behave like a little girl - pouting, neediness, or manipulation - when you're stressed? Silvious's wisdom-filled book will help you abandon childish ways and become the confident woman God intended! Learn how to resolve conflict peacefully, embrace responsibility, endure life's storms with grace, and more ."
Jan is an awesome teacher and very wise woman. She's also a hoot! I remember laughing my head off as she painted the picture of a NOT so big girl who whines! I laughed my head off while recognizing my own behaviors. Jan has the ability to do that... Slap you up side the head with truth and make you laugh at the same time. But, I left there with a desire to no longer be a spiritually immature child but a woman determined to - grow up into all aspects of Him - Christ (Eph. 4:15). You know, no longer childish in my thinking and behavior, but mature!

Some time around or shortly after this conference, I began to see the above slogan on plaques, mugs, T-shirts and I loved it. After all, it was the perfect slogan for my new resolve to be grown up in my behavior and thinking...to be spiritually mature in my reactions and responses to my situations and circumstances.

As I look back, it seem the years that followed this new found resolve required a lot of putting on my big girl panties and dealing with it. A growing ministry with growing challenges. A loss of hormones brought on severe hot flashes which brought about sleep deprivation. A lack of hormones combined with a lack of sleep equals all sorts of other issues. Which by the way, I still deal with today. Mix in the normal ups, downs and arounds of life and putting on your big girl panties and dealing with it can be a real challenge.

In fact, several years ago I decided I really didn't like this slogan. In the midst of major ministry concerns, we were planning a large conference and so prayerful that it would turn our community of women upside down for Jesus. But, women weren't registering in the numbers we had hoped and since the conference was expensive there were major financial concerns. In the midst of all this, my parents decided to sell everything they owned and move from GA to PA to live with my husband and me. Because we lived in a 2 story townhouse, we would need to find a home with a first floor bedroom for my parents. And, we only had 2 weeks to do so. A week after my parents arrived and right in the middle of all the moving, we found out my mother had brain cancer - dying only 3 months later. In a matter of months, my father lost his home & possessions, the love of his life, his eyesight and independence. The months after my mothers death brought some health issues for my father and were an adjustment for us all. I had the responsibility of a ministry that was still growing, struggling and requiring much prayer, diligence, perseverance and now also the responsibility of caring for my father - who by the way is a dear man. It meant much less time spent with my husband who would have to go back and forth to NYC without me. Since we'd spent most of our married life apart, we had hoped to never have to spend a lot of time apart ever again. But, you put on your big girl panties and deal with it! Yeppers as they say here in PA - getting real tired of that slogan. Sometime during daddy's 40 radiation treatments, his demon possessed dog making every day in my own home intolerable, and ETC...is when I realized that putting on my big girl panties and dealing with it was not humanly possible.

I wasn't sure I wanted to be a big girl about it all and some days I couldn't remember why it was I should be. It was just all too much and a part of me wanted to fall apart. Or at the very least go back to bed, curl up in a ball and leave someone else to deal with it all. What I learned during this time was that every day Jesus got me out of bed and He put my big girl panties on me and He gave me what I needed to deal with it. This is NOT something that can be done - day after day after day - out of resolve or in the flesh.

Life hasn't gotten easier. In fact, just today my husband and I agreed it's harder! Our home's been up for sale for over 6 months and has only been shown 3 times. Tom and I are separated. Thank God he's been provided a warm and inviting apartment at the ministry in which to live but separated from his help mate. It's just not good for man to be alone! His days are long and his responsibilities new. I am beginning to hear the loneliness and discouragement in his voice. We have everything we own up for sale but with the economy the way it is - no one is buying. I'm still struggling to let go of a ministry that God birthed within me and is still a huge part of me. While I have roles and responsibilities at my new job and within a ministry that I love, I'm not sure where I fit yet. I have so much to learn. Plus, I'm here and they are down there. By the time Tom and I touch base with each other in the evenings, we are both brain dead. It's really difficult not being able to share our lives with one another. I show up at my church and people wonder why I'm still around. My days are long and daddy spends a lot of time by himself waiting for his life to be turned upside down with yet another move. And, devil dog is still intolerable. But, God...

For the last couple of weeks though, I've been thinking about that slogan that I don't like. And you know what? I get it in a whole new way and that is VERY exciting. I WANT to put on my big girl panties. Sure, it's for the same reasons as before after hearing Jan Silvious speak...no longer childish in my thinking and behavior but spiritually mature. I want to grow up in all aspects to Him - Christ. As Jan says, I want "embrace responsibility, endure life's storms with grace, and more." But, my motivation is totally different. But it's more than that too. Today, right now, in the midst of all uncertainty and the betwixt and between - I WANT to "embrace responsibility, endure life's storms with grace and more" because I want others to know and see that putting on my big girl panties and dealing with it proves that Jesus is:
...And so much more

I want others to KNOW that Jesus is the reason I WANT to put on my big girl panties and deal with anything. It's not out of some duty or sense of obligation. No, it's because I've experienced the truths from the Word of God about Who He is and what He says about Himself to be absolute truth! It is because I KNOW that during the most difficult times in my life He is the ONE who wakes me up, gets me out of bed, puts my big girl panties on me and gives me the ability to embrace life no matter what AND with grace plus more. Jesus IS my reason for living and He alone is worth living for...

If you've never heard the CD by Anne Graham Lotz and Fernando Ortega you'll find it in the back of Anne's book called "Just Give Me Jesus." It's been on my heart all week and I dug it out and listened to it. I tried to post it on my Facebook but couldn't. It's probably just as well as I'm sure that's illegal - even for purposes of encouragement! You'll love it and your spirits will lift as you hear Anne call out the names and character of Jesus. JESUS - JUST GIVE ME JESUS - and God has! Amen?


Danger, danger!

This past weekend I traveled to CA, attended various meetings & gatherings and to assist Miss Kay. On Friday night and Saturday morning, she spoke at a conference hosted by Friends Church where over 1200 women (and a few men) attended. Right from the get go, she challenged us by asking: "Do you really want God to speak to you or do you want to bury your head in the sand?" Then, went right into the idiom of the ostrich burying its head in the sand...making its very large back side a very large target! Oh yeah....I've definitely resembled that remark!

Yes, I did really want God to speak and speak He did. Our handout was Chapters 1-4, 11 & 12 of Hebrews and boy did I learn alot. I was also reminded in a fresh and powerful way of why studying the Bible inductively is the ONLY way to study! I have "read" Hebrews so many times. While doing other inductive studies, I've even studied certain chapters in Hebrews. But, it's only in CAREFULLY observing the WHOLE book did I get the WHOLE picture.

For instance, as I read through Hebrews, I circled every reference to you which made the details about the people being written to JUMP OFF THE PAGE. You know what I found out from doing this? These folks were:
...Working for the Lord
...Ministering to the saints (6:10)
...Had endured a great conflict of suffering (10:32)
...Been made a public spectacle through reproaches & tribulation (10:33)
...Been imprisioned
...Shown sympathy to prisioners
...Had their property seized (10:34)

BUT, I also learned they were in danger! They were in danger of:
...Drifting away (2:1)
...Falling away from the living God (3:12)

Boy, did that ever get my attention. How is this possible? Well, asking the 5 W's & H questions once again showed me. They
...Had become dull of hearing (5:11)
...Ought to be teachers/mature but needed milk; couldn't handle solid food (5:12-14)
...Had need of endurance (10:36)

Wow - details so easily missed. Had I not been reading asking who are these people and how are they were described, I'm absolutely convinced that once again I would have missed these very important facts.

Now, I really get Hebrews 11 - the faith chapter. Because they were in danger, they needed to be encouraged to keep the faith and to hold fast until the end. Now, I understand why the author went into such detail about Jesus as our high priest. They needed to be reminded that not only did Jesus understand but He symphatized. AND, they could draw near with confidence to the throne of grace and mercy and find help in their time of need.

Oh my - listen to this....because their attention was no longer on Jesus but on their situations and circumstances, they weren't growing spiritually. They were in danger of falling away. If that happened, it would prove that the word they had heard (the gospel) had not been united by faith. That's just plain scary.

It was REALLY interesting and attention getting to note that the author kept reminding them of what they had heard, were hearing and the importance of what they did with what they heard - how they responded to what they had heard. HERE'S THE BOTTOM LINE:

They heard the word. Week after week I hear the word. They....me....will respond in one of two ways.

...Harden my heart (do not believe by faith)
...Accept by faith = live by faith

These truths became so clear to me. So simple. So black and white. And, they cut right to my heart! Just like the author of Hebrews says...."the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart." Hurts so good!

You know what? If they were in danger then I am too. Fixing my eyes on Jesus...

"Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfector of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross..." Hebrews 12:1-2


His eye is on the sparrow

Part of being in God's boot camp is being told "how to" and then given a chance "to do". You know what I mean? Let me explain it this way. As I left last Saturday's seminar, I was armed with truths that I have had to "take up" often this week. Here's how my week played out.... When I got up Sunday morning, it was to an awful sore throat. I immediately started begging God for relief while at the same time taking Air Bourne, Ziacam and Dayquill/Nyquill! You see, as a part of my new job responsibility with Precept Ministries, I was scheduled to fly to Dayton, OH on Wednesday where I would join Kay, Jack & David Arthur at the Call2All Conference. In order to catch my 6 AM flight, I set my alarm for 3:30 AM. At this point, let me just say that I stepped out in faith believing God would give me the grace to make it because I knew my body was not cooperating. My husband had told me that Kay was not feeling well and had almost no voice. So, Miss Kay was my example to follow! I arrived in Dayton mid-day and was told they had a room ready. HALLELUJAH! I checked in, got unpacked, set up my computer, had two phone meetings and tried to get some work done. Honestly, though I think when I look on Monday morning, I'll have to redo anything I think I did. It was probably mid-afternoon when in my mind I began to whine before the Lord. By 5:30 PM, I gave up trying to accomplish anything and determined in my mind that there was no way I was going to be able to do my job! I whined to my husband, a dear friend and on Facebook and knew I had dear friends praying for me! Around 6:30 PM the Arthur's called saying they had arrived and that Kay was feeling awful and had no voice. As I prayed for Kay, I trusted that God had brought her to Dayton, had a message that He had for her to give and would give her the grace she would need to make it. I went to bed early reminding myself who am I to whine, focus on Miss Kay, the goal of the trip that God knows...

When my alarm went off at 6 AM on Thursday morning, my first thought was "Thank you Jesus!" My teeth didn't hurt. In fact, I had no pain in my forehead or cheeks either. While I still had a lot of congestion, I felt like I could make it! In fact, when I fell into bed at almost 1 AM on Friday morning, I had made it! Thanks be to God, I managed to serve with joy, energy, strength and very little nose blowing. God gave Kay voice enough to passionately speak the Word of God at two sessions (almost 1,000 people). So why am I going into such detail? Because God was speaking volumes into my heart. You see, all day long I was marveling at how God was providing. I was reminded that He doesn't remove the hurdles and difficulties but as we step out in faith and obedience He gives us the grace we need to make it THROUGH!

When my alarm went off on Friday morning, I hadn't allowed for quiet time with the Lord. Instead, I had to get dressed, packed and downstairs so I could catch my ride to the airport. But, as God would have it, I finished a little early and had time to sit with a cup of coffee before the Lord. I walked over to the window and pulled back the blackout shade to find the most glorious sunrise. "Oh, thank You God for drawing me to this window at just this time so You could show me Your glory. You are glorious - this is glorious and I stand in awe of YOU." It was such an awesome touch and reminder from the Lord Himself that He is ever present, all sufficient, and personally involved in my life. He wanted me to see that and He wanted me to enjoy it with Him and He wanted me to be aware of His presence in EVERY detail of my life. God is amazing. But that's not all!

When I got to Cincinnati for my plane change my ears were killing me, my nose running like a faucet and once again I felt like I'd have to die to feel better. I decided to seek relief and comfort in a cup of hot tea. The terminal had lots of glass and metal beams. As I approached a water fountain I saw a sparrow fly down, land on the edge of the water fountain in search of some beads of water. I was captivated. I tried to capture the moment with my camera but by the time I got it out someone else walked by and the sparrow flew back to one of the metal beams. In that short 1 to 2 minutes God preached a sermon into my heart! Yes, it was based on Luke 12:6-8 and yet God also showed me how adaptable that little sparrow was to his surroundings and trusting of God to provide. The Scripture and the song below immediately came to mind! OH GOD, I LOVE YOU AND I THANK YOU FOR REDEEMING ME AND CALLING ME YOURS!

Are not five sparrows sold for two cents? Yet not one of them is forgotten before God. “Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear; you are more valuable than many sparrows. “And I say to you, everyone who confesses Me before men, the Son of Man will confess him also before the angels of God. Luke 12:6-8