Category Archives: Challenge

Ready, Set, Live

Margie - Burney Falls #1   I heard of a gentleman who worked in the library of a newspaper agency where files were kept on people. People were divided on shelves between the living and the dead. One day as he was looking through the ‘dead people’ section spotting a file on Jesus Christ, with no one looking he moved the file into the ’living people’ section.

   As we go into the New Year where do we have Jesus filed? Is he in ancient history, gone the way of the dodo bird, or is He alive in our lives?  Yes, He is the Ancient of Days; yes He died, but His story didn’t end there and neither does ours. There is no tombstone bearing the inscription “Jesus Christ, Son of God…He lived, He died, He will be missed”. Jesus rose from the dead, is alive today, as is his promises.

   Some people are just here; they exist but don’t really live.  In John 10:10 Jesus states “I came that they may have life and have it abundantly”. Abundantly means exceedingly, beyond measure, great plenty, amply supplied. What an offer He has for us! With all offers we have a choice to make, do we accept it by coming into agreement with what the Word says is for us, instead of aligning with the gloom and dread with no hope of something better, that we often hear around us.  I for one lived in that world of no hope for too long, I have no desire to return to it; let’s choose the abundant life as we forward.

    Before we start thinking gold, silver, yachts, expensive mansions, and more money than we know what to do with, I think Jesus’ perspective on abundance is not material possessions. Many people have great wealth and vast possession yet are hopeless and depressed. Jesus is not against money or possessions – after all Psalm 50:10 says “For every beast of the forest is mine, And the cattle on a thousand hills”. Money is a source to meet our needs and a way to be a blessing to others, not the source of our life’s purpose. There are things of greater value than money can buy such as: an abundance of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, true friendships, salvation and eternal life, plus an intimate relationship with the God of the universe.

   This abundance is available through relationship with Jesus, “Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us”. Paul instructs us to “Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God”. Is your life hidden in Christ? If not it can be, refer to “Finding Freedom in God’s Perfect Peace”, in this paper.

   Are you ready for the New Year? Are your eyes set on things above? Are you ready to live, really live?

 

Whose Voice

exotic bird-onlineI was taking a trip to Oregon; having done this countless times I have my route down with a preferred cut off which takes me from the highway over to the interstate I need. The evening before I left a friend asks if I had tried this other route they take, stated it’s a 10 mile straight shot which would put me on the interstate much quicker. Quicker sounded better so I thought I would try it, after all they sounded sincere in their directions.

   The next morning I turned at the designated location. GPS kept giving me a course correction back to the original path I was on; this is normal for a little ways before it recalculates a new course. A few miles into the “straight shot” the main road curved right. The straight road seemed less traveled so I called my friend to inquire about it, I was told to go straight, don’t take the curve. Driving down the straight road I become uneasy as it began looking desolate and foreboding. GPS kept saying turn around. I decide to abandon my friend’s advice and head back for the curved road. After I am on a path that will eventually lead to the interstate I receive a call, my friend looked on maps after my call and was now apologizing for giving me bad advice. They had thought of taking that road but realized they never had: further it did not lead to the interstate as thought.  The supposed shortcut actually added extra time, miles, and hardship to my drive. We were able to have good laugh and learned a valuable lesson.

   How often in life do we listen to a sincere voice only to discover it was sincerely wrong? Satan constantly tries to tell us all sorts of lies, they may sound good on the surface and even desirable, but are not for our well-being; remember the forbidden tree in the garden. The GPS, like the Bible, wants to show us the right way to go. If we go astray it will give guidance on how to get back on the right path. My friend didn’t intentionally lead me astray, however they are not guilty alone in my waywardness – I still had the responsibility to verify their advice instead of blindly following it. The same thing is true when we receive life or spiritual advice – we need to compare it to God’s word to make certain it aligns, so we are not led astray whether intentionally or unintentionally.

   Jesus said, My sheep hear My voice…and they follow Me. The question is – whose voice are we listening to? If it’s not Jesus’, He allows U-turns; He invites us to make a course correction back onto the right path. We were given a road map called the Bible; like any map we need to read it in order to know the way to go.

   Lord, open our ears to hear your voice.

I’m Ready!

Bible PicWhat do you do when your loved one say’s they’re ready to go home – ready to be with Jesus?

   Even when you have heard the doctor’s report, know the test results, and see health declining, it does not fully prepare you for the moment when your spouse says they are ready to stop treatment and to be with Jesus.  It was no more a subject I wanted to discuss then, than I desire to write about now, except that hopefully someone is encouraged. The weight of the statement implied that I would become a widow; something difficult to contemplate. Nevertheless there was a white elephant, figuratively speaking, in the room that must be addressed, to ignore it – though not fully possible, would create its own issues, an uneasy tension, or even shut down communication at a time when it’s needed.  Death is an individual experience, yet, the dying process affects all those connected with the person; and just because they are nearing the end of their earthly life does not mean their feelings and opinions are no longer valid, that they are not concerned for loved ones, or have matters to settle.

   It’s prayer time! Time for a frank one on one conversation with the Lord regarding what’s going on, all the wild emotions, concerns, questions, doubts, and fears;  a time to hide nothing and a time to listen. Then to take time to bask in His loving presence, to receive His encompassing peace, being assured of his promises and faithfulness, to gather strength, courage, and guidance to face what is ahead. I find when I’m at peace it’s easier to have the difficult conversations; to clearly address concerns and know better how to pray for and with others.

   Having first settled matters with the Lord, I was able to discuss all that was on my husband’s heart with relative calm. I was able to see from a different perspective, not by looking down from my point of view at the situation, but from a knelling position in prayer and humbleness, looking up to see from his; with God’s grace I found the strength to say it was okay for him to leave if he was ready to go. For some individuals facing the end of life it helps having permission to go, it lets them be a peace instead of struggling between wanting heaven and feeling they have to remain because of loved ones. A hard prayer is – Lord, you know his hearts’ desire, be gracious to him, please don’t let him suffer; keep him in peace.

   Is it easy? NO! But, scripture tells us God will be our strength: ex: Ps 29:11, 10:17, Isaiah 40:29, 40:31, 41:10, 58:11.   In difficult times we must “Trust in the Lord with all our heart and lean not on our own understanding” Prov. 3:5, and believe God works for the good of those who love him…. Rom. 8:28.
What now? Pray, trust God, love unconditionally.

How To Pray?

  Pray - onlinePray? Yes… I believe that as long as there is breath and life there is a plan and purpose.
  We heard the Oncologist report, did not dismiss it, however – wanted to also look for the Lord’s report. My friend Tammy adds a perspective “did God say he had 5-6 months? God is the one who determines when his children enter this world, He number their days. He is the one who determines when they will be with him on the other side of the physical world. It may be five months or five years, each day is to be lived in Him and He will be there for each day.”
   Most of us have heard stories of individuals given a year to live and passed away in one year, some given a few months then in a couple of weeks breathed their last, yet others given two months were still doing well two years later.
   I appreciate doctors and happen to have a wonderful personal physician who is a believer. I value the wisdom God has given doctors; I respect what they do and how they try within their abilities to help.  I am also of the mindset if I am going to follow man’s instructions to take a prescription three times a day – I should also be praying three times a day to the Great Physician for healing; who knows – perhaps the situation we face is the perfect set up for a miracle.
   The question is how to pray, a broad and varied territory. Praying in great faith has not always been easy, when my faith and belief lacks confidence I pray as the father did in Mark 9:24 “I do believe, help my unbelief”. We are all given a measure of faith, it grows by exercising it. Pray how we know and watch it grow.  Find scriptures to pray that apply to the situation at hand.
   Sometimes my prayers are simply those of tears – but the Lord understands them. Romans 8:26 “In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words”.
   With changing prognosis and passing time it broadened my spectrum of prayers, no longer simply for healing but strength equal to the day, for the plans of the Lord to be fulfilled, peace in the midst of the storm, wisdom in decisions, the ability to show grace, to have an understanding heart for what the loved one is going through, to not become bitter or impatient. When at a loss on how to pray there is a powerful but simple prayer Jesus teaches in Matthew 6:10 “‘[Father let] Your kingdom come. Your will be done, On earth as it is in heaven”.
   What do you do when the loved one say’s they’re ready to go home – ready to be with Jesus?
   Next month…

What To Do

Sherry fb picWhen there is an unfavorable diagnosis it’s surreal, after all I believe God still heals today; in April we celebrated the sacrifices Jesus made, Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday. My Bible says that by Jesus’ stripe we were healed. He did it once before but why not, yet, this time? I have experienced personal healing, witnessed others healed, prayed for individuals who received healing, including cancer; so what’s different? It is certainly an age old question but of this one thing I am sure, God’s word is true, he hears our prayers, and does heal.

   God desires to heal as he desires to save. Psalm 103:2-3 “Bless the Lord, O my soul, And forget not all His benefits:  Who forgives all your iniquities, Who heals all your diseases…” We know not everyone is saved but it doesn’t change the fact He desires no one be lost; not everyone is healed but it doesn’t change the fact that He desires to heal. There are some things that may remain a mystery in this life.

    So what to do? That is an enormous question! I can only attempt to offer thoughts that are not all inclusive and based on where I am and have been when a step-daughter and parents passed; facing each one brings different challenges – as it does now with potentially a spouse.

   Trust and hope, a great place to start, even in the dark night hold on to them; even if the outcome is not what we may prefer God promises to always be with us, the thing I have found is I have to let Him into the situation and not hold him at bay or blame him.  One scripture tells us to comfort others as we have been comforted, another says He sent the Holy Spirit to give comfort; if we were never going to need comfort I doubt He would have told us these things. Sometimes his comforting presence is tangible, other times he sends people to us to give comfort, to be strong when we are not. I find being vulnerable in some situations not easy, in part from being in a leadership role or when others need encouragement; I think, but not that they do, they expect me to be stronger and grounded in faith, yet at times I find my eyes moist with a tear escaping; but God can’t help or send me help if I put up a facade that all is well. Hebrews 10:25 is taking on a personal meaning “not forsaking our own assembling together [with other believers], as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another”. I am grateful for my brothers and sisters in the faith, we need each other.  When we face difficulties – it does not always mean it is not well with our soul.

   Pray? Yes!

   Pray how?

   …continuing next month

Looking Beyond

meerkat-onlineI had a dream last night in which I was telling a neighbors daughter, who was helping her mom clear the abandoned garden, that I liked dead veggies. After a while of laboring she asked if I really liked dead veggies, she was thinking it would reduce her work if able to give me the seemingly worthless vegetables.

   Some toss aside a cabbage or head of lettuce when they see wilted leaves, yet when the outer layers are removed exposing the inner leaves there is good to be found, there is still value in what outwardly seemed worthless.

   Isn’t that what the Lord does with us? He looks beyond the outside appearance to what is inside. Consider the sons of Jesse, one would be anointed king. Samuel kept looking at the outside, but God looking inside rejected each until the one son, who was not even considered by his family, or even called in from the field, was brought before him, that was the one God chose. Inside the boy was a man of strength and courage who killed a lion and a bear, who would one day kill a giant who dared to defy the God of Israel; a shepherd boy who would be a man after God’s own heart.

   When we see others are we looking at the outward person measuring them to our expected norms, acceptable appearance, mannerisms, and contribution to society? What about the person on the street corner holding a sign asking for money? Do we see a panhandler, a lazy person, an irresponsible deadbeat, or perhaps an unkempt drug addict? Do we take the time to stop and hear their story or just brush them off, or look away not even acknowledging their presence?

   A few years back I was in Sacramento for meetings rushing from the parking garage to my location several blocks away. There was a man who looked like he had not bathed or washed his clothes in some time and appeared to be sleeping on the sidewalk next to the building. I gave a weak smile, a little nod and faint hello never slowing my pace, but his words “thank you for acknowledging me”, nearly stopped me in my tracks, they struck a nerve; is that not what we all at the core want, to be recognized? Our existence acknowledged in some small way; a kind word or look that says we matter. I think of the lepers, tax collectors, harlots, and other non-acceptable people in society, that Jesus had no qualms speaking with or even touching. He took the time to look beyond the exterior that caused others to pass by on the other side of the road, and underneath He found there was something of value; He found you and me.

   Jesus tells the parable of the Good Samaritan in Luke 10, He ends it saying “Go and do likewise”.

   Let’s peal some leaves and look beyond for the good…

What’s On My Mind

Bengal Cat in the SunYou ask Me “What is on Your mind?” There is lots on My mind, everything in the universe and beyond; each one of my children, and all of creation. For you, however, it’s to say I love you, glad you have come to spend this time with me. Today is going to be a special day, I have plans for you in it, plans your eyes, spiritual eyes that is, need to be open to see. So many times what I have for my children is missed as they only see with natural eyes and not their spiritual ones.

Hold Tight

hands heldReach out and take My hand, hold it tight; you will need Me and My strength in the way you are going – for you have not been there before. Some aspects may seem familiar but do not be complacent, changes are taking place for you have been seeking me, avenues are opening before you, a stretching opportunity is at hand. No need to fear, be excited – your prayers are coming to pass. It may not look like you expected, just trust me in this, it will be good; but you won’t be able to do it without me, so hold my hand and listen with understanding to what I say.

Press Forward

Sherry Flower - yellow.As you press forward you are not alone, others like you are pressing in to know me better, and the way they should go. Band together and journey forward encouraging one another, challenging each other to deeper levels, together you will go farther than one can alone. This is what family is, they hope for the best, they help each other through the desert experiences, they pray for and lift each other up. As my family I watch over you and I am there for you each step; you can turn to me in any situation, trust me to lead you. Dine together on my word, gathering together to talk about me, pursuing wisdom, knowledge and understanding.

What Will We Hear

Sherry - purple online   “I am looking for those with open ears and hearts willing to hear what I have to say, to take my words to heart and run with them as their own; for those who are yielded in spirit and truth, desiring clean hands and hearts and to live a life of holiness [not perfection]; for one who is surrendered and dedicated to me. Are you one? Do you know where others are? Take My message to like minded ones, stoke the fires of passion burning for righteousness, fan the flames, open the doors of the heart that a fresh breath of heaven can enter unhindered. Today is the day of revival in individual lives for those that welcome Me with sincerity. I have longed for this day of open invitation, I will dine with those who invite me in and make My ways known to them, to give them greater insight of what has been considered the mysteries of heaven. Those who have eyes to see – let them see, those with ears hungering to hear – let them hear, those with a mind set on understanding – let them understand. Those who desire the way, truth, and life – let them come to Me – they will find it.”