Category Archives: Encouragement

Where is god?

 As they abandoned their home surrendering it to the encroaching flames, the husband exclaimed, “Where is God!”, and the wife prayed. Listening to fire reports they knew the house they built by hand twenty years earlier was gone; the shock and not knowing what next began to set in, after all – they were no longer young and able to rebuild.

   There are lots of things that may be concerning us right now: fires, loss, COVID, racial tension, political division, isolation, air quality, distant learning, etc. So much to talk about; my goodness, where does one begin? Genesis states “In the beginning God…”, before the earth was – God was, before the fires – God was, before COVID – God was. On the positive side of our situation – there is God! He was with us before it began, he will be with us through it all, and with us on the other side of it; whatever the “it” is.

   A few days after the ravaging blaze moved through, my friends received a call from a Park Ranger they knew. The surrounding properties were destroyed, even the trees plus other items on their own land burned – the house remained untouched; the Ranger stated it looked like their home had been covered with a blanket. We celebrate the good news yet it leads to the question; why theirs and not others. Is it because they are a believer and the neighbors were not; but then why did other believers homes or a church burn instead of being spared? Some questions in our moment in history are a mystery.

   The song “Though You Slay Me” by Shane and Shane (can be found on YouTube), contains the lines:

“And though You slay me ­

Yet I will praise You

Though You take from me

I will bless Your Name”

“Though You ruin me

Still I will worship

Sing a song

To the One who’s all I need”

“Though tonight I’m crying out

Let this cup pass from me now

You’re still more than I need

You’re enough for me

You’re enough for me”

   Trying times reveal what is inside us, sometimes we like what we see, other times we don’t. When we don’t like what is seen it simply lets us know areas we need Holy Spirit to help us in.  

   Can we strive to, like other heroes of the faith throughout history, now in our present point in time – face what is before us with courage, steadfastness, in faith and surrender, giving worship and praise to God, who has allowed all the concerning matters before us? Can we say as we cry out for this cup to pass from us, nevertheless not my will but Yours’ O’ Lord – and mean it?

   In difficult times may we have strength equal to the challenge; may we find encouragement from Gods’ word, His promises and those around us. May we see from heavens’ perspective and dwell on things that are good.

For Such A Time

worshi - onlineWho knows but that for such a time as this you are here?  We all have a reason for being. God has plans for each of our lives.

   In the midst of her fears and a desire to remain silent, Queen Esther was challenged to take action in dire times, by the words “For if you keep silent at this time, relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?”  Esther 4:14. Rightfully so, Queen Esther was scared; after all, she remembered what happened to Queen Vashti when she stood her ground.

   What would the Lord say if we sat down to ask “What time is this Lord, and what would you have for me to do?”  Let us imagine the scene, a loving Father looking at his beloved child with a proud Papa’s heart, taking delight in our willingness to ask tough questions and willing to act. Would He begin with…

Live, live life, live it to the fullest, let your light shine before men, live without fear of them. Let your life draw others to me. Be a source of encouragement and love. You can speak truth in love; you do not need to be silent for fear of offending people. They need what you carry; the peace you walk in that only comes from me. I have blessed you, be a blessing to others. Be vigilant in prayer. There is a spiritual battle being waged. The fervent prayers of righteous men (and women) avail much. Prayers turn the tide, the inflow of evil is pushed back; like saltwater entering into tributaries is pushed back by the outflow of fresh water, prayers push back the evil tide. Where fresh water is – life flourishes.

   What else would Papa say as we intently listen on?

   What questions could we ask? In such a time as this – what have I come into the Kingdom for?  If I had no fears, what would I being doing in this season of life? What is God stirring within me and what has He placed in my hands to use?

   For such a time as this we are here!  God has plans for our lives.

Good Student

Bible PicAre children the only ones who need to be learning? One might think it a silly question as we are always learning throughout life, though not always in a formal classroom setting. Our learning doesn’t just include what we need to know to live in the physical world, but also the spiritual one – 2 Timothy 2:15 (KJV) tells us “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”

“You’ve got to be kidding me!” said with exasperation and dramatic flair while flopping onto the bed or back in the chair. This is a statement from my grandson now that schooling has transitioned to home;  where he would rather be playing video games or with his dog. So, anyone ever tell the Lord you want to be a good student and ask for help with tendencies to be distracted by other things? If so you’re not alone, the prayer just happened to be mine as I began daily devotions. I have such good intentions to study or be in prayer when I am suddenly bombarded from various angles. The cat wants attention, the phone rings, the birds are chirping, thoughts pop in of things to be done or remembering this and that.  Yikes! Where does it all come from? Does it lurk in corners like dust bunnies just waiting for opportunity?

Back to topic, after asking for help in this area I go to read; what do you think the first scripture my eyes see is… Hebrew 12:11 ESV, “For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.” Hmm, is this my day for instruction? Discipline seems painful…but it yields…to those who have been trained. So do I discipline the lurking dust bunnies (distractions) or myself in how to deal with them?

I think there may be wisdom in going into a closet (figuratively speaking) to pray (Mathew 6:6), besides private prayer time, a closet also blocks distractions, it shuts the world out. When time for schoolwork it makes my grandson unhappy when I put the dog out of the room and close the door. He likes the dog with him but he’s a big distraction; running in and out, barking at anything that moves outside the window, chewing on toys, or nuzzling in for attention.

The only way for undistracted study (or prayer) is, for a time – to be separated from distractions.  “You’ve got to be kidding me!” Nope…perhaps it’s another reason we are admonished to – be still and know that He is God. When we are quieted before Him, is it not easier to hear and learn?

Lord, I want to be a good student of yours, help with my tendencies to be distracted. I want to be disciplined that I might know the peaceful fruit of righteousness. Amen

Clearing Focus

The stars, clear and bright, twinkling in the night sky as I gaze through the window; what a delight. To put things into perspective, I live in city, though small, the lights and some pollution do not give the best of views. I have become accustomed to the way I normally see the night sky so having a clearer view is a delight. I see more stars than normal with a blacker backdrop for them with the absence of haze.

   Having this time of rest (aka quarantine) can allow us down time for reflection and refocus. How often do we get caught up in the busyness of life or the journey we are on, rushing here and there – for this or that, that we do not see other things around us as clearly as we ought?

   I was thinking of the Wise Men following the star, we read in Matthew 2 where they stopped in Jerusalem to ask “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East”? After hearing from King Herod “they departed; and behold, the star which they had seen in the East went before them, till it came and stood over where the young Child was.” Why did they stop in Jerusalem, did they lose sight of the star they originally saw in the midst of their journey? Why after a time of rest in Jerusalem, while waiting for the answer, did they once again see the star which took them where they wanted to go?

   I don’t want to suggest anything into the Wise Men’s story beyond what is intended, just comparing it to some of my own journeys where I started with focus only to lose sight of it along the way, then needed down time to gain proper focus again. Some of those times were not of my choosing, caused extra frustration in the beginning, none the less it was needed and the Lord worked it out for my good.

   I’m certain during this time in our history we are all – all over the place, from time home alone, to being extra busy with children out of school, to a wide range of emotions, missing normal socialization, birthday and celebration gatherings. A question to consider – Lord, what do you want me know, to learn, in this time? Who do You want to be to me, or for me to know You as, in this situation.

   Like the night sky which is clearer and stars more visible, possibly due to decreased vehicle traffic, are we able during this time with decreased activities also see more clearly what is before us? Is this a good time to evaluate life, family dynamics, relationship with the Lord, activities, what we can live with or without, where are we headed from here; what do we want to change? How are we letting the Lord use this time for our good?

Exciting Times

Rita - church top  Is this not exciting times? Who would have thought Facebook would be a place you would see an abundance of gospel messages. I rarely looked through facebook streams because of the post content.  Now I see scriptures and encouraging words posted all over, you could almost do a daily devotion from them.  When contemplating this article I chuckled thinking – I could just use facebook posts.

      All of our lives have been affected in some manner by the coronavirus, COVID-19. We as people who follow Jesus have the opportunity to shine, to not let COVID-19 be a bushel over our light.  To walk in peace with calm assurance in our Savior and not give into panic, fear, and irrational decisions; to not consider just our needs and hoard everything for ourselves, instead to reach out to others in their need. It reminds me of the early church, where they were, from their own resources, meeting the needs of each other. It’s an exciting time for the church to be the church outside the church walls.  To demonstrate what we see in the Bible; to not just read it – but to do it. Hmm, have an extra role of toilet paper or bag of rice – drop it on the front porch of someone that doesn’t have any.

   The phones not dead; let’s celebrate its invention and brighten someone’s day with a call. It’s great we don’t have to lose contact with our family, friends, or neighbors. Perhaps it’s time to reach out to those we’ve lost contact with to reconnect. We can let others know they’re being thought of and prayed for; leave them with encouraging words to ponder. Perhaps our own day will be brightened and gloomy clouds dispersed.

   The Lord told us He works things for good; just look at all the churches that are now streaming services online for their congregates, and the world, to watch while staying home.  The internet is being flooded with the Good News, which is going around the world. Is that not exciting! My church had talked about streaming our services but never got there, well…we are now. Adversity is a good motivator to propel us forward into doing things.

   Then there is the prayer. Everyone is calling for us to pray, from the President down. What a time for us to humble ourselves, pray, and seek God.

   As we rise above the negativity, kicking doubt and fear to the curb, we’ll be able to hear God speak more clearly and view things in a better light. This time shall pass, let’s make the best of the opportunities we have.

The Lord bless you and watch, guard, and keep you; The Lord make His face to shine upon and enlighten you and be gracious (kind, merciful, and giving favor) to you; The Lord lift up His [approving] countenance upon you and give you peace (tranquility of heart and life continually). Numbers 6:24-26 AMPC

I Hear Your Prayers

I love you much, I hear your prayers, they do not fall on deaf ears. There is a perfect timing for all things. I am opening the doors before you from long ago prayers and some current ones. As you prepare yourself and are dependent on Me, you are now entering a place where you can operate in those areas without them being too much for you to handle.  I don’t want to give you what will cause you to fall because of not being ready to carry it or walk effectively as you and I desire. Your trainings and preparation time have not been in vain; nor are you through with all you need to learn – it is a lifelong process. Continue searching to know and understand Me, My ways, My heart, and the answer to those puzzling and mysterious questions. Continue with a hungry heart, open ears and yielded spirit. Be careful of being too busy to have time with Me or in My word. You are a delight, I take delight in you.

I Know

Dove and featherI have not forsaken you. I know your plight. Continue trusting in Me and you will see My glory manifested in you.

Why Fret

Lizard BuddiesWhy do you fret? Am I not trustworthy? Leave it in My hands, I know your desires; remember how much better My ways are.

Good Grief

Heart sculpture - onlineNormally when I hear the words “Good Grief” I think of Charlie Brown, not a reference to mourning.
Years ago, I heard a gentleman speak on losing three family generations in one accident: his mother, wife, and daughter. He tells of trying to hold on to the way things were, not wanting to face change, but found it was like chasing the setting sun; no matter how hard you run after it – eventually the sun will set, then you will have to face the dark night. However, if instead we turn to face the night – the dawn of a new day will arrive much sooner. I tucked away those words of wisdom.

My family were emotional stuffers. I never saw emotions over a death and those gone weren’t spoken of afterwards. It was like the person never existed and their life never mattered. I, too, learned to keep emotions in check, not realizing that the suppression of negative emotions also affected my ability to express the positive ones.

Why is it okay to express happy emotions over good things, yet not the sad emotions when hurtful things happen? Both are normal valid responses. To me to deny one emotion would seem to say God didn’t know what he was doing in making us emotional creatures. Jesus felt secure to publicly weep; why shouldn’t we?

I didn’t emotionally deal with my parents’ death for 13 years; once I did a heavy weight was released. With my husband’s passing I reasoned, I didn’t ask for it; But like it or not life will never be the same; that I would face the dark night and do this “grieving thing well”.

How does one grieve well? I have learned we all grieve differently; there is not a right or wrong way, or a designated time period. Grief is normal, natural, and necessary; grief provides a healthy way to cope with loss and what that person meant to us.

I’m learning good grief includes allowing ourselves to grieve, to be honest with where we are, acknowledging the loss – that it hurts, that our world has been turned upside down. I’m learning to embrace the emotions in a healthy way, giving myself time and space to cry, to mourn my loss; freedom to politely say “no I’m not okay” when a friend inquires; to not isolate myself, yet not over commit myself. To allow encouraging safe people in who are supportive; relying on the Lord for help; talking with others, reading encouraging material, attending bereavement and GriefShare classes. To give myself grace when I make mistakes and to well-meaning people who unintentionally say the wrong thing.
Though we may not like this season, let’s try to look forward with hope to the day mourning turns into dancing. Moving forward does not mean leaving the person behind, we take them with us in our hearts and the special memories we hold dear.

Trust the words of Jeremiah 29:11.

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.