THIS IS JUST A PRETEST

THIS IS JUST A PRETEST

Do you like to take tests?

Many moons ago when I attended school our teachers would often give us pretests. Their purpose was to embed the knowledge needed for the final exam. When we sat down to take the final, the answers came quickly to our minds because we had been prepared.

I had a friend who was going through intense trials in her life. She was sharing about the difficult events that seem to be taking place in her life, one right after another. While she was speaking a thought penetrated into my mind or maybe it was my heart. Anyway it was so loud that I knew it was something the Lord wanted me to share with her.

These were the words: “THIS IS JUST A PRETEST.”

She half-heartedly laughed and responded with, “You mean it is going to get harder? I thought this was the test — not the pretest!”

I understood her reasoning because what she was going through wasn’t easy. Yet it was conditioning and equipping her with the knowledge and wisdom she would need to pass a test in her future. It was preparing her to be able to take the next step. One day she will be able to fight giants that are bigger than her pretesting days. She will have the tools she needs to live victoriously. But it won’t stop there. She will become strong enough in her faith to help those around her.

This happened with David, as well. While he tended sheep he killed a bear and a lion. This was the pretest for the next stage of his life. He took time during these events to write songs to his Lord in his quiet hours and to grow in his relationship with God. It prepared him to have the faith to defeat the giant, Goliath. That prepared him for his next steps God had opened for him as he became more victorious in battle after battle. Those battles together with those quiet moments kept him humble, yet unafraid, as King Saul sought to kill him. This prepared him to take the next step –eventually being King of a united Israel.  He was ready for the tests that followed each pretest. He had learned the answers.

A trial or pretest is not easy. Sometimes it feels like we are suffering unnecessarily. But  I have heard it said that we should embrace suffering. When a woman is going through child-birth, she has two choices. Either embrace the pain and flow with it or fight it with all she has. Either way the baby is going to be born. The first way, though still difficult, brings joy in the process of pain. The second way, causes the pain to become unbearable. You see fighting the process of birthing new life is incredibly hard. ( I can say these things from experience. Of course women have more options today.)

But I am talking about fighting life in the spiritual sense. If we learn through suffering, Jesus can birth new life in us. Otherwise our suffering is just that, suffering without a reward.

Paul learned the art of embracing pain and suffering. He writes about his trials in Corinthians Chapter 11. The things he suffered seemed almost impossible to bear –being beaten, flogged, whipped, imprisoned, shipwrecked, deserted and misunderstood among other things. It was incredible what he went through to spread the gospel of Christ. And I am sure there were times he may have felt discouraged.

We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair;  persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.  We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body. So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you.   2 Corinthians 4:8-12 (NIV)

He went on to say:

“I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.  I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:11-13 (NIV)

He learned something that we often do not learn. He learned the art of contentment because he overcame in the pretest. He completed the more difficult tests of life because he knew the answer from his pretesting days. The answer was and is Jesus. He spread the gospel of Jesus Christ throughout many regions and wrote most of the New Testament. Apparently he did it in spite of strenuous circumstances because he discovered a greater purpose and chose to fulfill it.

If we learn through an open book pretest prior to the test, we will have an advantage. Why? Because we will know the answers.  That book is the Word of God. Learning the scriptures and reading them over and over will prepare us when any trial comes our way. I have used the Word of God many times in my life through personal trials as I am sure you each have, as well.

Preparation is the key.

*The winning team of the Super Bowel didn’t win without practice and winning several previous games.

*Many tiresome hours are taken in preparation for any onstage performance, and rehearsal night proceeds opening night.

*First responders do not respond to epic events if they first do not go through hours of training. Then they practice a crisis, learning how to respond in case of a real emergency.

*The military trains in boot camp to become prepared physically and mentally before actually going onto the battle field.

The pretest may seem grueling; but it makes it so much easier for the finals.

How much more should we be prepared as we fight the battles that face our lives. Satan is not sleeping. He is like a roaring lion seeking whom he can devour. (1 Peter 5:8) He and his forces take any opportunity to conquer and divide, even the best of friends.

The pretests or trials that we face in life, about life — whether it is emotional heartache, anxiety, relationship problems, forgiveness issues, attack on our health, financial woes, or deep loss of any kind can be used for our benefit. I know that sounds odd and but if we learn through these situations they can be the very thing that will catapult us into the ultimate calling in our lives. Perhaps your heartache is what can help someone else overcome.

Think about what Queen Esther had been prepared to do in her lifetime. She was the one person who was able to save her people. Mordecai states, “And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such as time as this?” Esther 4:14 (NIV)

Even Jesus had many trials in his life. Being tempted by the enemy of darkness in the desert after a 40 day fast was one such experience. (Mark 4:1-11) But he also learned the answers while taking  pretests in life. He would face the greatest final exam known to all mankind when he went to the cross. And he would pass with flying colors, not because he was the son of God, but because he surrendered to his heavenly Father.

“Father, if you are willing, please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.” Luke 22:42 (NLT)

If you have not faced a hardship, a trial or a test that seems to have no answer, you will. It is a guarantee! But there is more in store for you than just passing a fiery trial. You can can have peace in the midst of it because you know the answers to the final exam.

“I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” John 16:33 (NLT)

The answers are in the Word of God.
The answer is the Word of God. 
Jesus is the Word of God.
Jesus is the answer.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  John 1:1 (NIV)

Amen and God bless.

 

 

 

This is a new day.

This is a new day.

I haven’t been blogging for some time. So much change is happening in my life that I have not had a moment to sit down and write. Our family has made a major move and we are still in the realm of this transition — and might be for a while.

I have often written about trust, about faith, about remembering the hand of God in our lives, to bring encouragement. We all need hope.

Recently I have had that trust and faith tested as I walk out my hope of the promises of God. We cannot always see with our eyes all the promises that he has made to each of us. It seems the enemy is always trying to distract us with something else, whether it is poor health, poor decisions or just simple daily chaos.

Do you remember the movie, “Patriot“? In one of the clips it appears that the regiment of Carolina patriots are being defeated by the British military. The regiment feels defeated and is about to retreat when Benjamin Martin, played by Mel Gibson, picks up the flag and screams, “Do not retreat.”  He carries the flag as he runs with the last bit of energy he has left. Instead of retreat, the regiment is revived with hope and strength.

When a person feels defeated sometimes they want to retreat. That is when it is important to remember our position in Christ and that we are ALREADY the victor. When Jesus said, it is finished, he meant it. He defeated the enemy. Like a flag flying in the sky, he was lifted on a cross. How much greater of an encouragement is it to serve our Lord who died for our sins and rose from the dead with the keys of death and hell in his hands. We aren’t suppose to retreat- but run as a victor with trust and faith as our guides.

We are soldiers cloaked in the armor of God with the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the shoes of the gospel of peace, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation and the sword of the word of God.(Ephesians 6:14-17) We are marching in victory with the captain of the hosts by our side. And he isn’t a weak defeated captain.

This warrior that fights with us and for us is found in Revelation:

“He was wearing a robe that reached his feet. He wore a gold belt around his waist. His head and his hair were white as wool — like snow. His eyes were like flames of fire. His feet were like glowing bronze refined in a furnace. His voice was like the sound of raging water. In his right hand he held seven stars, and out of his mouth came a sharp, two-edged sword. His face was like the sun when it shines in all its brightness.

When I saw him, I feel down like a dead man!  Then he laid his right hand on me and said, ‘Don’t be afraid! I am the first and the last, the living one. I was dead, but now I am alive forever. I have the keys of death and hell’.” Revelation 1: 13b-17 (GWT)

Sometimes I think we forget who our Lord is. Instead we look at circumstances or the way we use to do things or the way the world would expect us to react and we plan our future with that knowledge, instead of with his wisdom.

I heard an interesting testimony from someone lately which stuck with me. Apparently this individual had a vision. They saw themselves riding on a horse, but instead of facing forward they were sitting on their horse backward. And the Lord asked them why they were riding their horse backward and looking so intently on things in the past?

God does not encourage us to look at our past. He wants us to remember HIS faithfulness in our past but to let go of OUR past, whether it was past mistakes or simply the way things use to be done. Instead he encourages us to look into our future. Though he is the same, yesterday, today and forever, we should not remain the same since he has been working in our lives and taking us from glory to glory.

“No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it (perfection in the Lord) but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God , through Christ Jesus, is calling us.” Philippians 3:13-14 (NLT)

So though I have some great memories and it is fun to reminisce about them and share stories of victory, I do not want to dwell in my yesterdays — good or bad. This is a new day. Instead I want to be as Paul and press on to what lies ahead. I trust that my God will walk me through transition. As a caterpillar is hidden in a cocoon before it has changed into a butterfly that soars in beauty and freedom, so I rest in his goodness and grace as He opens these doors of transition.

Then I will fly a bit higher in HIM. Amen

This is the day the Lord has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it. Psalm 118:24 (NKJV)

How can I love?

How can I love?

LOVE is a strong word yet used so freely in our society. Young girls think they LOVE a pop star, little kids think they LOVE candy, a tired employee thinks he LOVES a vacation. (Well that one might be true to an extent. LOL). Expressions and explanations of  LOVE could fill a book. Even website meanings are slightly different as the word seems to evolve and conform to different circumstances. It is like it is alive and takes on many forms.

When I attended a Sunday school class in my junior high years our teacher read the “love chapter” from the Bible. If you have been a follower of the Lord for any amount of time you have probably read it or at least heard about it. It lists what love is supposed to look like and what it is not. The love message is found in the book of 1 Corinthians, chapter 13. The explanation goes from verse 4 through the first part of 8.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love never fails.  (NIV)

After my teacher finished reading the material she asked us to insert our names in the place of love. Well, that was disappointing. I suppose she was trying to prove how far we are from loving others. She did a good job because I fell extremely short.

Eons later and that message has never left my mind. Still whenever I read that chapter I tend to put my name in it and again it seems to have the same effect. I suppose it is similar to the commandments. It shows our humanity and our need for a savior.

The message of love is obviously not contained in that one chapter. It is riddle throughout the Word of God. It is the purpose God created us and sent his son to this earth. (John 3:16) It is the purpose Jesus died for our sins–stole the keys of sin and death from satan– and THEN came back to LIFE. It is the purpose for our lives.

In the gospels we find one of the teachers of the time wanting to test Jesus and asked him what the greatest commandment was. Again the word LOVE appears.

Jesus answered him, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and most important commandment. The second is like it: Love your neighbor as you love yourself.” Matt.22:37-39 (GWT)

What struck me was AS you love yourself. Hmm. How much do I love myself? I mean, I take care of myself, right? The question is: do I take GOOD care of myself? Do I want what is best for me–not selfishly– but do I actually feed myself what is healthy, am I careful what I watch, what I agree with, or who I hang out with? I think the thought of loving oneself has been considered selfish at times. But how can we really love others IF we don’t even love ourselves.

In Ephesians we read that husbands should love their wives as Christ loved the church and gave himself for the church. It continues by stating that husbands are to love their wives as they love THEMSELVES.

A man who loves his wife loves HIMSELF. Eph 5:28b (GWT)

So to love others really we must begin by loving God. Then continue the process by loving ourselves. Out of that will flow love for others. So I regress to the “love chapter”.  Instead of putting my name in place of LOVE, I actually checked to see if I even love myself. I began by stating, “I am patient with myself, I am kind to myself.”  It is obviously important to the Lord to learn to love ourselves so that we can love others.

But back to the greatest commandment: to love God with ALL our heart, soul and mind. That sounds wonderful. And I want to love him. But really even that is a gift from God. We can’t even love without him giving us the ability to do so in the first place.

1 John 4:19 ” We love BECAUSE God loved us first.”

In fact, though we state we love others, things or events those statements are just a show of affection towards something else. Perhaps LOVE is not just a show of affection. Perhaps it just is. Perhaps instead of a verb or even a common noun it is a proper noun.

LOVE = GOD. God isn’t just showing affection. But he IS the affection. It isn’t JUST one of his attributes, but WHO he is. The Word states as much in 1 John 4 :8b and 16b.

“GOD is LOVE.”

So back to “love chapter”. Replace love with GOD.

GOD is patient.
GOD is kind.
GOD is not envious, nor boastful or proud.
GOD does not dishonor others, nor is self-seeking.
GOD is not easily angered, nor keeps record of wrongs.
GOD does not delight in evil, but rejoices with truth.
GOD always protects
GOD always trusts.
GOD always hopes.
GOD always perseveres.

GOD NEVER FAILS.

I know I fall short of the above description of LOVE but I also know that when I surrender myself to my heavenly Father he covers the area of my failures and begins a beautiful work in me. We are always being changed into his image as we allow God to work in our lives. It is a process. (2 Corinthians 3:18)

Lord,
Thank you for your love. Teach me to love as you do. Teach me to love myself. Teach me to love others. And ultimately teach me to love you with all of my heart, soul and mind. Amen.

God bless.

And, now these three things remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is LOVE. 1 Corinthians 13:13 (NIV)

 

The Warrior

The Warrior

The battle blazes and the fight continues. The warrior looks up and sees another flaming arrow flying towards her and her comrades. Without hesitation she maneuvers her shield high into the air, stopping the arrow from piercing her or those she has grown to love and admire. It almost knocks her off her feet. She is not wounded, but exhausted.

This particular battle has been raging for some time. She has been using all her training techniques but lately she has been distracted by other cares. Her mind is on things that take her thoughts to places that her commanding officer has warned is a distraction. Lately it seems she cannot focus.

She knows she has to learn to think about things that bring hope and not allow thoughts of despair to paralyze her. The commander has warned her to think about things that bring peace, especially while in battle. She must stay sharp.

Whoosh…another burning arrow flies right towards her. Suddenly a shield swoops in front of her and she hears the thud of the arrow bouncing off of it. This time the shield belongs to her friend. She turns towards her friend. They lock eyes. A smile crosses her friend’s face.

“Don’t worry,” she says. “I got this one.”  They nod at each other as they turn to continue the fight.

The warrior thinks to herself, “My commander is right, my thoughts are distracting me. That arrow could have hit me.”

“Charge!” demands the commander.

The orders produce a power that shakes her from within. With no more distracting thoughts filling her mind, the warrior and those with her charge the enemy with all of their strength. The battle turns from defense to offense. The warrior does what is second nature to her and begins the hand to hand combat with her sword. Strength infuses her weary body.

Suddenly the enemy runs in terror. The hooves of horses can be heard pounding away from the battle ground. The warriors holler in unison as they chase the enemy away. The slaughtered enemy that lay at their feet begin to disintegrate into black smoke, then disappear. They are not of human form but come from devilish soil. At that moment a shout of victory echoes throughout the camp. Another battle has been won. 

Joy fills the air where despair once resided.

Tonight there will be a celebration, a celebration of victory and hope. The tired soldiers can rest for a time. The grateful warrior turns to thank the commanding officer for the training and the tenacity he has taught her. As she reaches out her hand, he pulls her close for a huge papa bear style hug.

“Well, done my child,” he says patting her on the back. “Well done. You didn’t give up when you wanted to. You didn’t quit.”

“But I was distracted by despair. An arrow could have hit me when I lowered my shield,” the warrior says embarrassed by her actions.  The commander simply laughs a hearty laugh as if it isn’t a big deal. “But you weren’t hit. Your friend shielded you. That is why you need one another. Besides, I already won this battle. Did you notice how fast the enemy ran?” he said in triumph between deep chuckles.

She did.

“They always run when they see me pull out my sword. They know that I will only allow my children to go through just so many trials. Once I pull out my sword they screech in their tracks, abruptly turn around and run in fear.”

She knows that his sword is extremely sharp and destructive. As he swings it  in demonstration a brilliant light radiates off the metal causing the entire land to flood with the light.

No wonder the enemy runs away with such speed. There is nowhere to hide. They understand they can be annihilated by the commander at any time so they cower at his greatness. 

A thought rushes through the warriors mind. “If  the commander is for me, then who can stand against me?”

As she lets that sink in, peace floods her mind and her heart.

The battle was his all along.

_________________________________________________

That is a synopsis of a moment in the spiritual realm of a warring believer in prayer.

As believers we will always be in some sort of battle. Here are a few things we must remember as we fight in the battle of prayer.

  1. Ultimately every battle belongs to the Lord.
    Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God’s.” 2 Chronicles 20:15 (NIV)
  2. We do not fight people.
    “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the power of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” Ephesians 6:12 (NIV)
  3. We need one another.
    “As it is, there are many parts, yet one body. The eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I have no need of you’; nor again the head to the feet, ‘I have no need of you.”
    I Corinthians 12: 20-21 (ESV)
    “Help carry one another’s burdens, and in this way you will obey the law of Christ.” Galatians 6:2 (GNT)
  4. There is a time for rest.
    “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28 (NIV)

God is merciful but also fierce. He will defend his own. We have to trust him. We may be warriors but we are also his children.  Be strong, fight diligently and rest in his grace.
God bless

What then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?” Romans 8:31  (NIV)

 

“The Warrior is a Child”
Twila Paris

Lately I’ve been winning
Battles left and right 
But even winners can get
Wounded in the fight
People say that I’m amazing
Strong beyond my years
But they don’t see inside of me
I’m hiding all the tears

They don’t know that
I go running home when I fall down
They don’t know Who picks me
Up when no one is around
I drop my sword and cry for just a while
“Cause deep inside this armor
The warrior is a child

Unafraid because his armor is the best
But even soldiers need a quiet place to rest
People say that I’m amazing
Never face retreat
But they don’t see the enemies
That lay me at his feet.

They don’t know that I go
Running home when I fall down
They don’t know Who picks me
Up when no one is around
I drop my sword and cry for just a while
‘Cause deep inside this armor
The warrior is a child.

 

 

 

 

The Eye of the Storm

Photo Courtesy - Morris Goen / Palestine Hearal-Press
Photo Courtesy – Palestine Herald-Press Morris Goen

 

I woke up with these words on my mind, “you are in the eye of the hurricane”.   I know that there is a lot of craziness going on in our world and a lot of turmoil. And there are times lately that I have felt I was in a storm, but as I opened my eyes to the new day peace swept through my being.

The eye of the hurricane appears very peaceful, so much so that it can deceive a person into believing all is well, and the storm has passed. Unfortunately the backside of the storm is just behind the deceitful peace.  If a person goes out into the elements without being aware that the storm is not over, they can get broadsided.

I enjoy the Weather channel and watching storm chasing shows. It is amazing how extremely powerful weather systems and nature itself, can be. During a particular weather show the narrator was sharing his adventures via video during a ferocious hurricane.  The winds were horrendous and they were getting quit concerned about their location. Soon the “eye of the hurricane” reached them. It was during that time that he and his crew decided to take cover in a safer location. They were glad they did. When the backside of the hurricane hit they continued to video tape the area where they were originally standing and it was destroyed by the winds.

Have you ever personally encountered a tornado or hurricane? We were hit by a tornado in the fall of 1987 when we lived in Texas.

My family and I just left a restaurant on a warm fall Sunday afternoon. Walking to our car we noticed that the sky had sort of green haze and an ominous quiet filled the atmosphere. Today I would have been more aware that those signs can proceed a tornado.  Then I wasn’t. We casually got into our car oblivious to the impending doom that was approaching our town. One of our sons went home with some friends while we drove out of town to check out a piece of property.

We didn’t get too far down the road when we were caught in an unimaginable hail storm. We had to pull over because we couldn’t see in front of us. Quickly we decided to turn around and head back home. As we entered town we approached a nightmare.  It looked like the town had just been bombed. Semi-trucks had fallen onto their sides, a lumber yard was destroyed and wood was scattered for miles. Gas stations were obliverated and a church was demolished, as was part of the elementary school, a motel and several businesses. Debris was scattered in yards and in the streets. Houses were pulled off of their foundations. Many houses that still stood had no roofs. I heard that the tornado traveled 4 miles and was 1/2 mile wide. I was in shock — what happened?

Of course the main thing on my mind was my son’s well-being. We headed in that direction. The subdivision was thrashed. The national guard was already at work helping people and was not letting anyone enter the area. After I frantically explained that our son was in the neighborhood and probably looked like a crazed woman who was out-of-control, the guard let us pass.  I was overwhelmed with relief when I saw that our friend’s house was still standing in the midst of the debris. My 6 year-old son ran out of the house and jumped into my waiting arms.

We have all seen the images on the news of the aftermath of tornadoes, hurricanes, tsunamis etc. It is devastating. Someone told me a couple of years ago that there was a tornado warning in their area. They were advised to seek shelter as best as possible. She watched the news after the tornado devastated a neighborhood. A woman said in the interview, “There was no warning. This hit us out of no where.”

The individual telling me the story knew that they were warned over and over regarding the intensity of the storm that was approaching.  A thought suddenly entered her mind, “There has been warnings for over 2000 years regarding the return of Christ. But people ignore it.”

Those of us that are looking for Christ’s return will not be caught off guard. But those who think that God is slow or that they have heard this over and over and it hasn’t happened or simply think it is a hoax, will be surprised and say as the woman did in the interview. “There was no warning.”

“For you know quite well that the day of the Lord’s return will come unexpectedly, like a thief in the night. When people are saying, ‘everything is peaceful and secure,’ then disaster will fall on them as suddenly as a pregnant woman’s labor pains begin. And there will be no escape.” 1 Thessalonians 5:2-3 (NLT) 

Perhaps the time it has taken for our Lord to return is for your benefit or for those you love. Peter writes, “Think of our Lord’s patience as an opportunity for us to be saved.” 
Peter 3:15a (GWT)

But there are other storms in our lives that catch us off guard and hit with such intense power that it can be devastating! Other people may not see the storm that you are walking through. What if someone we love dies, we lose our job, we are dealing with an illness or are emotionally hurt by those we trust? Or perhaps things just do not go as planned. Will we be prepared for the storms that hit our lives?

My question: will I be prepared?

I thought about that question when I heard the words, “you are in the eye of a hurricane”.  What do I do to prepare for the backside of the storm or for other storms that are sure to come? What can I do while I am sitting in the “eye of the storm” while there is peace?

I can only run towards safety and hide in a shelter. Where is that hidding place? Where is that shelter? Many places in the Book of Psalms states that the Lord is our shelter, our refuge and our hiding place.

Being hidden with him is walking in the will of our Lord. In his will there is safety and peace in the midst of the storm. It is taking time to know him through reading of his Word, through spending time to talk with him in prayer, through listening to words of hope from other believers and rubbing shoulders with those who speak life into our lives. In that place I am prepared for any storm that may come.

I suddenly realized what the Lord was saying. HE IS THE EYE IN THE HURRICANE.  He was encouraging me. I have found that place of safety and peace BECAUSE I am already seated with him. (Ephesians 2:6)

What a fantastic thought!

We can experience peace though the winds are howling and the mountains give way. We can experience peace though the world is crashing down around us. HE is our EYE in the storm. HE is our PEACE.

Shortly after hearing those words, “you are in the eye of the hurricane,” I heard the song, “In the Eye of the Storm” by Ryan Stevenson.  The Lord promises to never leave us. He will walk WITH us through many storms. I believe there may be stronger storms coming in the days ahead. NOW is the time to prepare our hearts. We do not know what our futures may hold but I rest in him.

Do not be discouraged or afraid because the Lord has your back and the backside of the storm. He IS in control. He is the EYE of your storm.

This is the first few lines to the song. Click the link to hear it in its entirety. It is beautiful. God bless each of you.

In the eye of the storm, You remain in control
And in the middle of the war, You guard my soul
You alone are the anchor, when my sails are torn
Your love surrounds me in the eye of the storm

in the eye of the storm

 

Which path should I take?

Which path should I take?

My husband and I traveled many times in the 80s. One of those times we were in two different vehicles. I was traveling in the first vehicle and he was following as close as he could on the crowded highway. For some reason he thought it would be funny to get off of the highway and surprise me by getting in front of me at the next entrance.

Those were the “good ole’ days” when we had no GPS, no cell phones and no family locator apps. In those days it was just a map and perhaps some good music on a radio. So when I noticed that he wasn’t anywhere to be seen I hightailed it, thinking that somehow I missed him passing me and I was falling far behind him. Unfortunately for him, there wasn’t a simple entrance back onto the highway. It took him quite awhile to find one and once he did he drove like he was in the Indy 500 trying to catch up with me. It is funny now, not so funny then. Eventually we did reconnect as we were headed in the same direction. All was well in the end.

Today we are fortunate to have a GPS in our possession at all times. If during our trip we go slightly off course we will hear our GPS state: make a U-turn. If we don’t follow the U-turn advice our GPS will inform us that we are being rerouted. We may end up taking another route all together. Whichever way we choose to travel, we will eventually get to our planned destination.

Just think: if Moses had a GPS he would not have gone in circles for 40 years in the desert. Or if Jacob had a family locater app on his phone, he could have located Joseph who was thrown into a well and then sold as a slave. The people in Noah’s time could have known using the weather app that an unimaginable storm was approaching and perhaps hitched a ride on the ark.

Of course that is all in jest as the Lord is greater than our current technology of phones or apps.  It is the Lord who leads. It was the Lord that led the children of Israel with a pillar of a cloud by a day and fire by night.  It was the Lord who put Joseph in charge of all of Egypt (in spite of being sold as a slave) to save his people from starvation during a famine. And the people in Noah’s day had already hardened their hearts towards God’s redemption and would not have gone into the ark, even IF given a weather app warning. They were given a higher warning from a man of God and ignored all that he had to say.

The GPS is like the Holy Spirit. He always whispers the way to walk when we have fallen off the path the Lord had intended us to follow. We can make all the plans we want but it is God who will ultimately direct our steps. (Proverbs 16:9) Sometimes the plans that we make seem to fall apart. How many plans have you made that have not turned out the way you first pictured it? Often times that can cause frustration, or discouragement.

Wait,” you might think, “what happened to MY plans?”  God then intervenes, reminding us that he is directing each of our steps.

I thought that life would include a white-picket fence. I thought that the hills would be gentle and the roads would be paved. I didn’t count on winter white-outs or storms to confuse my focus. Think about the pilots who fly through storms and trust in their instruments.

On our last flight our plane was delayed because of mechanical purposes. The pilot reassured us that he would not take flight if for any reason he wasn’t completely sure that the plane was safe. This was his livelihood and he was confident that when we lifted off the ground we would get to our destination safely. And of course we did. In the meantime my daughter was allowed to go to the cockpit and see all the instruments that were used. She was amazed and wondered how the pilots could figure it all out. When they were in bad weather it was these instruments that would lead them home safely.

 

The Holy Spirit is like that, as well. Though I cannot trust the things that I see at times, I focus on his voice. I ask which way I should turn or which path I should follow. At times I make a wrong turn or make a wrong choice. Sometimes I hear him clearly — he says in his own gentle way–“make a U-turn or rerouting”.

Other times there are storms that I cannot see through. Like the pilots, I focus on the instruments that the Lord has put in front of me. It is His Word that guides me when I cannot see the right way with my own eyes. It is His Word that I lean on and trust. It is His Word that gives me strength. Some days that is all I have.

Trust the GPS that is placed inside of you. Trust the voice of the Holy Spirit when he says to jump and you do not see the ground beneath your feet. He will be sure to catch you. He will be sure to guide you in the right direction just as the pilots were able to trust their instruments. You may have gotten off the path for a moment, but be sure that the Holy Spirit will lead you back onto the right path once again.

Each of us will take a different course for our lives. Though we are all part of one body ultimately we each need to work out our own salvation with fear and trembling. (Philippians 2:12) Some of the avenues will be rocky and others will accompany streams of water with green grass by the path we walk. Jesus reminds us that he is the only way, truth and life and that no one can get to the Father, except through HIM. (John 14:6). Whichever road you must travel, it is through Jesus that we will reach our heavenly Father.

At the end of our travels we will meet up at the same place. When we eventually make it to our final destination I hope we each can say with Paul,

” I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race. I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me- and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.”
(2 Timothy 4:7-8 NIV

God bless.

29497309_10216069519513379_1479884621683359744_n

Celebrations of victory on the altar of my life.

Celebrations of victory on the altar of my life.

To those who may use FACEBOOK you might be familiar with the “On This Day” memories. They are memories you posted on your account the same day a year or more before. It is fun to view the change in your life or memories shared from year to year.

Some monumental moments may be that of a wedding, a birth or even the memory of a loved one who has gone on before us. Other memories are those of individual victories; perhaps the day your son took 1st place in a track meet or your daughter took her first step.  I followed a couple whose daughter was seriously injured. Thousands of people stood with them in prayer and watched her progress as she began to miraculously recover. That victory was celebrated by total strangers.

Like FACEBOOK, there are memories that come up year after year in our lives. Some memories are filled with moments of God’s miracles. If we took a personal inventory of what the Lord has done for us in our individual lives, we might be surprised of his greatness and compassion and love.  I could write a book of his faithfulness in mine; how he came through for me in hopeless situations, how he miraculously healed those around me, how he supplied my needs when my pockets were empty and delivered me, even from myself.

These personal inventories are testimonies that inspire us and ignite hope in our hearts.

One of those times was during our futile attempt to sell our house. It needed so much work. Either we needed to have a lot of money poured back into it or sell it, as is. It seemed simple enough but I felt trapped because we were paying on a mortgage for our house while living elsewhere. The day it was sold was so exhilarating.  I felt like heavy chains were broken off of me. I knew the Lord had a hand in leading a buyer to us who was willing to buy it, as is.

Each March I remember that miracle and I thank God again for his provision and goodness. It is a celebration I place on my altar of remembrance.

Another time we had a car issue. Since we bought our car new, we assumed it would be trustworthy for several years. Vehicle hunting was exhausting but necessary as we were without transportation. My husband and I came to a compromise. He wanted a pickup and I wanted an SUV so we decided on a car that we both liked.

Not long after we purchased it, it quit when I approached a stop sign. I mean it completely shut-down. I didn’t think too much about it as it started again. We brought it to the shop anyway. They didn’t see anything wrong with it. Then it happened a couple more times within the next couple years. Everything would simply shut down at once, without warning.

Twice I was on the highway when it “shut-down” and once I was almost hit by a semi-truck. Each time we brought it in nothing was ever found wrong with the vehicle. We couldn’t claim it under the “lemon law” because we had to have an issue repaired first. The problem was that there seemed to be no issue to be repaired.

We still owed money on the car and though we just wanted to trash it, we couldn’t.  I wasn’t sure what I was supposed to do. It was my only vehicle but it seemed dangerous. Each time I drove it I felt like I was gambling with my life and whoever was riding with me.

I prayed about it for some time and felt that I was supposed to go to the dealership and speak with one of the managers. I visited with him and explained my situation. He was very understanding, so much so that he had it thoroughly gone through without any charge. Again nothing was found.

I sat in his office, knowing that I could not leave without something being done. We both looked at each other in contemplation. I was praying under my breath while he sat quietly in thought. Suddenly he asked me if I would like to talk to the sales manager.

I knew we weren’t currently at a place to purchase another vehicle and I explained that to him. He still was convinced that was my best option. He had me sit in his office while he spoke with the sales manager. I thought, “Ok, God, I really don’t know how you are going to work this out, but I trust you.”

After I told my story again to the sales manager, he explained that he was going to do a miracle for me. “Okay”, I thought. He then asked me what kind of car I would like. I was assuming he was going to lead me to the used cars on the lot. I answered, ” I want one that doesn’t quit on me while I’m driving.” He laughed. “No really, what do you want?”

I boldly told him that I wanted a SUV. (Remember I had wanted that in the first place.) He left me in his office for a moment. Then he returned and brought me out to the new cars in the lot. Parked right in front of me was a brand new SUV.

“Do you like this color?” he asked. I couldn’t believe it. He was offering me a NEW vehicle. I was flabbergasted!

“Really? But..I don’t have the down payment.”

He asked again, ” Do you like it?

“Sure!”

I don’t know how it happened but I walked out of the dealership that day with a brand new SUV! NO down, NO credit check. I was amazed.

20180312_220828.jpg

It was during the Christmas holidays and I knew it was my Christmas present from the Lord. I didn’t deserve it, but God heard my pleas and met my need. Actually he went over and above what I thought I needed. My husband laughed when I pulled up in my new SUV.

“Well, I guess you got what you wanted after all,” he said in disbelief.

Each December I remember that miracle, placing another celebration of victory on the altar of my life.

There are several occasions mentioned in God’s word when an individual or a group of people marked a certain event in their lives. As a reminder of his faithfulness and their victory, God had them build an altar or mark the event with a day of celebration.

In Genesis 35, Jacob built an altar to the Lord because God had heard his pleas of help when he was in trouble. He wanted a reminder of God’s faithfulness and goodness.

Most people know the story of Moses leading the children of Israel onto dry ground across the Red Sea. That was a significant time of celebration, remembering God’s power and faithfulness. But God did a similar thing when Joshua crossed the Jordan river. It was such a miraculous event that the Lord told him to set up an altar to remember how he opened the river for them.

Joshua 4:6, ” This will be sign for you. In the future your children will ask you, ‘What do these stones mean to you?'”

Each time they looked upon the altar they could remember the time the Lord miraculously made a way for them and could explain it to their children.

There are many more monumental events scattered throughout the Bible. The Jewish faith if scattered with days of celebrations and feasts to remind them of God’s miracles and his deliverance in their lives.

As believers, we take part in communion to remember Jesus’ greatest sacrifice. He encouraged us throughout the gospels to continue to take communion in remembrance of HIS sacrifice and of OUR victory. That is why the cross is so extremely important to believers. It is a reminder of God’s victory in our lives.

We need to REMIND ourselves and those around us of the faithfulness of our Lord. He promised that he would never leave or forsake us. He will meet our needs no matter how small or how big. I have several testimonies of God’s goodness. I thank him each time he has met my needs or given me my heart’s desire. It encourages me as I look into my unknown future. What he did before, he will do again. He is a faithful.

How about you? What miracles has he performed in your personal life?  Celebrate his goodness. When you remember what the Lord has done for you or for others it can give you strength during the times when you feel frustrated or overwhelmed.

Remind yourselves of his faithfulness in the past as you walk through the doors of the future.

“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever! Amen.” Ephesians 3:20-21

God bless.