Posts Tagged With: faith

Sonlight

Molly soaking up the sun!My old cat Molly loves to soak up the sun. In the summer months she can be found on the patio, in a flowerbed or on a lounge chair for hours at a time letting the warmth of the sun penetrate her fur. When the cold north winds begin to usher in the below freezing temps of winter she tucks her tail and runs for the warmth of her bed inside. She is a great weather forecaster!

With the slightest rise in temperature, she cautiously pulls herself from the confines of her princess pad and ventures to a spot where the sun is shining. It may only be a small beam on a spot just big enough for her, but she takes full advantage of it. She will stretch out her paws and purr, warming her weary bones until she gets her fill. I notice she never misses an opportunity to get into the light and capture its luxurious warmth.

When the sunbeam fades into dusk, Molly is content to return to her bed indoors until the next opportunity to relish in the light of the sun. During winter’s short days she will be content to grab hold of any ray of light she can, and when summer comes again and she can rejoice in the heat from dawn ‘til dusk every day. She didn’t need lessons for finding sun beams, she instinctively knows to go where the light is.

Winter months can be a difficult time to get through because of the long dark nights and short days. This gloomy atmosphere after the hectic holiday season can pull many into a pit of despair. An excellent remedy for those suffering from the dreary days of winter is to find your own sun beam, and get into the light! Bask in its goodness and enjoy its warmth on your skin. Even in the dead of winter, the sun will find a way to warm its captor, and is a necessary component to good emotional health.

Another element to great emotional wellness is following the SON! John 8:12 says “Then Jesus again spoke to them. Saying, I Am the Light of the world, he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness but will have the Light of life.”

Jesus seems to be saying, “I’m throwing out a beam of light so you can see! Follow me!” It tells me we will have dark and difficult times in life. We need to look for the Light of the world and follow Him so we won’t lose our way!

The Light of the World will never grow dim or burn out, God sent His Son to illuminate our path all the way to eternity. If you’ve grown cold, it could be because you stopped walking! Following Jesus means we are always pursuing Him, and we need to be moving towards the Light! Come on get up and get going, travel into the warmth of the Son, bask in His goodness, enjoy His presence and feel His warmth penetrate your soul.

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Dark Days

We had no reason to expect the same scenario with this new baby. It came completely unexpected. The news that our newest granddaughter was gravely ill, just like her brother had been when he was born, caught me unaware and feeling like an unsuspecting wave was sweeping me out to sea. I was overcome with grief for this family, for their aching hearts and for mine.

I began to question God. Why had He allowed this to happen again?  We prayed on our knees that this baby would be born without incident and we would welcome her into the world with the usual hoopla that most babies are delivered with.  We would all hold, snuggle, and grin stupidly at her as we passed her from one to another wondering who she looked like.

As those hopes and dreams began to evaporate into thin air on that unusually brisk day in the early fall the harsh reality began to sink in. Again! We are going to do this all again!  Really, God?!?!

The suffering was so great, the grief so intense, as we watched this beautiful girl restrained with padding across her chest, headphones to keep out the noise, no touching, stroking or holding. The incubator was completely enclosed with a quilt over the top to add even more darkness.  All the lights were off with a big SHHHHH! Sign on the door. Her mother sat quietly by her side day after day while the ventilator/oscillator filled those tiny lungs with air.  More medicines than I can even recount pumped into her pic line, which had to be surgically inserted.  She was also sporting a thick elastic shoulder brace to protect a broken clavicle and a feeding tube in her belly button. Tubes and tape prevented us from seeing her face for more than 10 days!

Those days were dark days for her and for us.  We watched in disbelief as this little flower from God was kept alive with machines, equipment and medicines.  All of a sudden God didn’t feel so good.  He didn’t feel so loving and kind. All of the sudden I felt abandoned, lonely and disappointed. His Word no longer comforted me.  Let the suffering begin!

When God begins to squeeze us with circumstances in our lives, He is proving us, testing us, to see if we will trust Him in the dark valleys of life.  At those times we begin to see ourselves more clearly.  Our faith is on the front burner now. It is here where we begin to see the pressure of our current situation expose our weakness. Dark days indeed, for more than one reason!

As God burned off the unbelief, weak faith and skeptic that had taken up residence in me, He revealed my heart to me.  Suffering like My Jesus had suffered would be the only way to strengthen my relationship with Him.  I would need to partake in some of what He had experienced for me.

Thank you, Lord, for dying for me.

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Sufferin’ Succotash

 

My 2 ½ year old grandson came to stay with us when his newborn sister was whisked away to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) one hour and forty five minutes away from home.  His mom would stay by her newborn’s bedside for the next 21 days while his daddy went to work and school in between his trips back and forth to the hospital.  It was a trying time for all of us.

This was not the first time we had been to this NICU and as unfortunate as it was we already knew all the staff in this specialized care facility for newborns.  You see, the little guy that was smiling up at me every day asking for “a bite of” was in this same facility during his first month of life as well.

Even though our time together was unexpected we made the best of it, and like any good “Meme” we got caught up on our Looney Toons episodes!  One day, as I watched these old familiar cartoons, Sylvester the cat said “sufferin’ succotash.”  I thought, “That’s it!  This suffering is for a reason, it is meant to help me understand how much Jesus suffered for me.”  In this light bulb moment I realized I had wanted my salvation and all the goodness that comes with that, but I wasn’t willing to suffer like my Savior had.  I wanted my cake and to eat it too!

Reality set in and I began to question my faith, my belief in God, and I think even lost my hope for a time.  God began to show me some things I didn’t really want to read or hear about.  We must be willing to suffer like His Son did.  Jesus was lonely, hungry and tired. He had no home or income.  Once it was discovered he could heal people Jesus was hounded and called upon until it made it very difficult for him to spend time alone with his Father.  He was persecuted, ridiculed and laughed at before he ever got to the cross.

I began to ask myself: could I trust God even when I couldn’t see?  Did I really believe He was the God of all comfort?  Was my faith strong or weak?  I honestly was not very proud of some of my answers.

1 Peter 4: 12-13 – Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you; but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing, so that also at the revelation of His glory you may rejoice with exultation.

“The Good News” comes with a price.  Jesus suffered and died for our sins so we could have access to the Throne Room.  We must be willing to partake in the sufferings of Christ to really know and experience the glory of God.  Let me ask you today – are you willing to share in the sufferings of Christ? Can you trust when you cannot see?  Will you hold onto your hope in Christ when things look bleak?

One interesting side note:  When I googled suffering succotash I found the following information on the term:

In the mid-1800s, during the Victorian era, there was a rejection of all profanity and so the common people developed a wide variety of malapropisms to avoid swearing on Holy names. Soon, one could hear “cripes” and “crikey” replace “Christ” and “dangnabit” replace “G*d damn it”; and “cheese ‘n’ rice” replace “Jesus Christ.” The phrase “suffering succotash” replaced “suffering Savior.”

 

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Reveal, Repent and Renew

Psalm 51:10 – Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. David wrote this after his good friend; Nathan told him what he needed to hear. David was sinning against God but had rationalized it in a way that didn’t “seem so bad”. His friend, Nathan pointed it out and then David realized he was not walking with God. He repented and asked God to forgive him so he could renew his close relationship with His Creator.

We all need to bury this scripture in our hearts so that each time we struggle with temptation or rationalizing something that is against God we can immediately repent and return to our Father.

As simple as this topic seems it can be the one thing that trips all of us up. We can get in a rut and not realize we are sinning because what we are doing has been rationalized either by us or by our family and friends. We all need good friends to tell us the truth from time to time. This is something we don’t usually like but sometimes necessary to get us back on the right track.

Could you be a good friend and tell someone the truth of their sin? Could you be on the receiving end of this and accept a gentle criticism or rebuke? A good friend will not intentionally hurt your feelings but want to cautiously correct your wrong.

We are meant to help each other along in our faith. Pointing out a sin can be part of that. I’m thankful for Nathan’s story in scripture but I am equally thankful for David’s response to the correction. He didn’t take it out on Nathan he went immediately to God for restoration.

A great example for all of us!

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A friend called Faith

I have a friend who often uses interesting one- liners to get her point across when communicating. One of the most humorous is “she could worry a wart off of you”. It causes a grin every time. Now, I know what she means by her analogy and I bet you do too. God also has quite a few analogies in His Word and this is one of them. “And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life?” Mathew 6:27

It is not at all hard to understand what He is saying in this verse, the visual is clear. However, accomplishing this not worrying thing is hard work in the world we live in. We worry we will not have enough money to pay our bills, we will lose our job, and we will have a long-term illness… I will just stop typing for a moment and let your mind take it from here.

Now that you have your own list, let me suggest that worry is nothing more than fear of the unknown. If you take that one-step further, the fear of the unknown could be considered lack of faith. After all faith defined, is a strong unshakeable belief in something without any proof or evidence. Ouch, did that hurt your feelings as much as it did mine? I don’t like to think of myself lacking faith but if I am constantly walking around in fear worrying about the unknown then my faith is very weak.

Let’s agree together to get rid of this person called Worry and become best friends with Faith.

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Stormi

As promised I am sending an excerpt from a letter that was recently sent to the ministry. This woman was one of the first ladies we ministered to at McCracken County Jail over twelve years ago. When we met her she kept her eyes on the ground barely lifting her shoulders even to walk. She would take a seat in the back of the room just sitting and staring. After a few visits she began to open up to one of our volunteers. Her life was riddled with tragedy, drug use and abuse. All had taken their toll on her. She was not clean or even coherent at some points. She admitted to us she had gotten involved in witchcraft, which she practiced regularly. When we encouraged her to accept Christ as her personal Savior and leave evil worship behind she expressed extreme anxiety. She simply shook her head at us and said she couldn’t. We were finally able to drag out of her what was causing this strong emotion. She told us she had experienced a horrible nightmare in which Satan had visited her and told her if she ever gave her life to Christ that he would never allow her children to survive. This fear had paralyzed this woman.

Stormi kept coming to the classes and eventually she turned her life over to Christ and began to trust Our Great God. It has been a long road for this woman but as you can see from the note below, she has begun a new life in Christ and is living in our society free from abuse, drug use and witchcraft. She is now a mother and grandmother living her dream. It is more than she could have ever hoped for.

This is a sample of the things that Our Lord has revealed to us over the years. We don’t always know just what He is doing but from time to time He reveals snippets of goodness to refresh and revive us as we march in the mission field week in and week out.

From Stormi December 2011

“Yes, Christmas was good. All my girls and grandkids are in Paducah now.”

I do hope you know how much that class has helped the people at MCCJ. It’s made a difference in many lives and even in the jail itself. While the ladies go to the class, they feel more for each other and work towards a better tomorrow.

“My life has become ALMOST everything I ever dreamed it could be. Last summer we bought a little pool for the grandkids, with toys and had a cook out. My yard was FULL of our kids and grandkids. It was the moment I realized things were almost perfect…I was as close to being like my grandmother as I think I could ever be. I had reached Nirvana.”

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Set your captive free

Jesus GAVE himself up FOR you. If Jesus wanted to be selfish he could have denied the road to the cross; instead he freely traveled the road to death. He was willing to trust His Father even when things did not look good. He could have gotten defiant like children sometimes do. He could have stomped his foot and said “No, I will go this far but no further!”

This picture of my Savior walking the road to certain doom convicts me when I am tempted to withhold forgiveness from a fellow Christian, co-worker or any person who has wronged me. Jesus held on to what he knew about his Father even when he was tempted, beaten and ridiculed. He decided not to look at the environment around him allowing his emotions to take over. Jesus decided to trust His Father.

Jesus GAVE himself FOR you and for me. God’s Son endured the cross of Calvary where they hung him up to die! He experienced separation from his beloved Father in heaven for us. He GAVE himself FOR us. He FORGAVE us then GAVE his life FOR us.

Doesn’t it seem like a small thing to erase a transgression in light of all we have been offered? Next time you are tempted to hold a person hostage for their sin towards you, won’t you think about Jesus? Release your captive, let them go, you will be glad you did.

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THE WORD

John 1:1- In the beginning was the WORD, and the WORD was with God, and Word was God. Therein lays the simplest vocabulary the New Testament has to offer. Yet, this short sentence provokes deep thought about the WORD.

It is amazing how God had John pen these words to illustrate the completeness of His WORD. The WORD has always been in existence. The WORD has walked among us; The WORD is now complete in its written form and free to communicate to us through God, Jesus Christ and The Holy Spirit.

That is indeed a lot to consider from the simplest vocabulary. God has provided us not only, His Son’s death and resurrection to cover our sins but the person of Holy Spirit to dwell within if we believe in Him causing a communion that testifies to us thereby allowing The WORD to do the work God intended it to do.

Sometimes the simplest things can be the hardest. All of us would do well to return to the beginning and review our elementary truths from time to time. They are filled with power and truth giving us strength for every day. In the beginning was the WORD and it still is….

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There’s a war going on!

Spiritual warfare is real and all around us.  I have learned this in a very upclose and personal way since I began ministering to female inmates.  Satan has worked hard to derail this ministry and its volunteers. I often say “the visual for the mission of this ministry is going to edge of hell and grabbing hold of these women by their ankles and pulling them back from the fire!”

Mission work is hard.  Getting in the trenches is tiring and mentally exhausting, it will keep you up at night, it brings tears of frustration and days when you feel completely defeated.

When I am feeling that way I turn my eyes upon Jesus and look full in his wonderful face and the things of this world will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace!  Those old hymns help me so much, they remind me that I am not the first nor the last to spread the good news on the front lines and that Jesus has sent me a Helper.

Today, if you are struggling with defeat let me encourage you to turn your eyes upon Jesus!  Let his glory envelope you and chase away the darkness.  He has plenty to go around.

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How I got behind the wire

Honestly, this was not my idea!  I was at home minding my own business living the dream with my husband, three kids, dog and cat.  I was a church going, bible studying woman living in the bible belt until I was invited to visit the female inmates at the local prison.

I cannot explain all that happened to me on that day but God was certainly preparing me for much more than I could have ever imagined.  Over 12 years later I am blown away at the way God has orchestrated things to accomplish His plan for me and for these women I am privileged to minister to each week.

I will continue to update with devotions, personal writings and musings from my experiences behind the wire.

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