What Do You See Outside YOUR Open Window Today?

What Do You See Outside YOUR Open Window Today?
Remember: "When God closes a door, He always opens a window!" You never know what might be out there waiting for you!

Friday, April 30, 2010

So, What's Happening in YOUR Life These Days?

Malachi 4:2 "But to you who fear My name (says the Lord of Hosts), the Sun of Righteousness shall arise with healing in His wings; and you shall go out and grow fat like stall-fed calves."

I feel like I have been hogging the net-waves lately...mostly writing about our son Matthew and the cancer that has assaulted his body, and all of the emotions surrounding such devastating news.  It has been a roller-coaster month.  Thankfully the good news is that the doctors believe they can wipe it out in the course of about a year's worth of extremely aggressive chemotherapy...which started this past week.  The battle plan is quite rigorous and will definitely take a toll on Matthew's body...but we pray that it will do its work and bring about complete healing.  Time will tell...but we are very confident in the power of God to do the healing...as the verse says above, "The Sun of Righteousness shall arise with healing in His wings, and you shall go out and grow fat like stall-fed calves."

Interesting terminology.  I love it...and I claim it by faith on behalf of Matthew.  The vision that imagery conjures up in my mind is one of complete health, mighty in strength and vitality; restored in every way to a full, long, and happy life. Wow! Thank you, Jesus, for this picture You have engraved in my heart tonight! I love it.

So, now...back to my original question in the title of this blog!  "What's happening in YOUR life these days?"  I know that many of you have had your own battles to win, challenges to face, and triumphs to celebrate.  There are some of you who also have family members battling serious illnesses, overcoming tragedies, and who may be learning to walk by faith through treacherous terrain.  I appreciate those who, in spite of their own difficult circumstances, have taken the time to share words of encouragement, comfort, and hope for our family. Maybe it isn't in spite of, but because of these experiences you are able to share such wisdom with us.

This reminds me of a young woman whom I had never previously met, who, when she heard of our son (Matthew, again) having surgery to remove a brain tumor (many years ago now), she came to our home the day before his surgery and brought us a cooler filled with all kinds of snacks, beverages and other things that she knew would come in handy for us while we were waiting at the hospital.  I was overwhelmed by her thoughtfulness, especially when I learned that her husband had a malignant brain tumor, and he passed away shortly after that time. In the midst of her trial and tribulation, she reached out to us with the compassion of someone who truly understood what we were going through.

"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God."  II Corinthians 1:3-4
Thank you, Lord, for friends such as these.  They are Your messengers of comfort to us during the difficult times of our lives. May we, in turn, be the same to others as You direct our paths to cross.  In Jesus' Name I pray, Amen.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

"Do NOT be Afraid...The Battle is the Lord's..."

2 Chronicles 20:15  "...Thus says the Lord to you: 'Do not be afraid nor dismayed because of this great multitude, for the battle is not yours, but God's.'"  Verse 17: "You will not need to fight in this battle.  Position yourselves, stand still and see the salvation of the Lord, Who is with you, O Judah and Jerusalem!" "Do not fear or be dismayed; tomorrow go out against them, for the Lord is with you."

This is a fascinating story in the Old Testament book of 2 Chronicles.  I commend it to your reading...all of chapter 20.  The people of Judah were frightened as their enemies from Moab, Ammon and others were coming in a great multitude to battle against them.  The people of Judah cried out to God for help...they beseeched Him to judge these people (verse 12) because they said "We have no power against this great multitude that is coming against us; nor do we know what to do, but our eyes are upon YOU." 

God responded to them in verses 15-17 as written above...and told them not to fear or be dismayed, and to go out against them on the next day, "for the Lord is with you!"   So the people all bowed their faces to the ground and worshipped the Lord, and then they stood up to praise the Lord God of Israel with voices loud and high. (verse 18-19) 

The next morning they rose early, and Jehoshaphat instructed the people to believe in the Lord...and then "he appointed those who should sing to the Lord, and who should praise the beauty of holiness, as they went out before the army and were saying:  
"Praise the Lord, for His mercy endures forever."
"Now when they began to sing and to praise, the Lord set ambushes against the people of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir, who had come against Judah; and they were defeated."
(verses 20-22)

Verse 30 says "Then the realm of Jehoshaphat was quiet, for his God gave him rest all around."

Wow!  I love this story!  Do you realize that these people went out to face their fierce enemies with nothing more than songs of praise for the Lord?  Look at what happened to their enemies in verses 23-24:
"For the people of Ammon and Moab stood up against the inhabitants of Mount Seir to utterly kill and destroy them. And when they had made an end of the inhabitants of Seir, they helped to destroy one another! So when Judah came to a place overlooking the wilderness, they looked toward the multitude; and there were dead bodies, fallen on the earth. No one had escaped!" 
God had told them exactly right...He told them in verse 17 that they would not need to fight in this battle..."Stand still and see the salvation of the Lord, Who is with you..."   The people of Judah never had to fight one person...their enemies all destroyed each other while the people of Judah were still marching and singing praises to God!

Why do I love this story so much?  Well, first of all, because we so often  feel  helpless when we are up against the enemies of this life...whether it be sickness, depression, family strife, grief, financial worries, ...we  throw our hands up in the air and cry out, "God help us! We don't know what to do!"  I've been there way too many times, especially in the past year.  But I wonder how often we can honestly say that we have uttered the last part of the cry of the people of Judah in verse 12, "But our eyes are on YOU."  I know that I have a tendency to try and figure things out on my own and not consult God first.  I sometimes think of God only as a last resort...when it should be my first choice. 

And what about those people all singing praises to God with voices loud and high?  Actually, I have discovered that when I am feeling afraid, or sad, or confused...when I start to praise the Lord by singing hymns of the faith, I get stronger.  My joy returns, and my faith increases...there is great power in praising the Lord.  No one said anything about having a good singing voice or even knowing all the correct words...sometimes the words just flow, as the Holy Spirit ministers and soothes my heart...the demons of my soul flee away...they cannot stand against the power of a praising child of God.

So remember this story the next time you are frightened or alone or feeling sad...or when you are feeling oppressed by the cares of this world...

"The battle is not yours, but God's!"  "Stand still and see the salvation of the Lord, Who is with you!"

Sunday, April 25, 2010

What IS the Purpose of These Strange Events?

John 11:4 "When Jesus heard that, He said, 'This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified through it.'"

Have you ever wondered why on earth crazy things were happening in the world, or in your town, your neighborhood, your home, your family, or in YOU?  I am certain we have all wondered about such things at one time or another in our lives;  probably more often than not in recent times.  In many cases there just isn't any good reason that we can discover in our human minds and hearts.  Bad things happen, people get sick, people die, countries have earthquakes, tornadoes, hurricanes, tidal waves, wars, terrorists...and the list goes on and on. We hurt, we grieve, we cry.  We wonder why.

I am not going to attempt to give an answer for all of the world's ills in this short blog...I could give a brief explanation in one sentence, but it would raise a lot of other questions that man has been debated since the beginning of time:  The Fall of Man.  That is the whole reason in a nutshell...read the book of Genesis...that's where it all began...but I am not going there tonight.  That is something for each individual to discover and either accept or refuse to believe for themselves.

What I want to look at tonight is this verse in John's Gospel, when Jesus was told that His good friend Lazarus was very sick.  It says that "When Jesus heard that, He said, 'This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified through it.'"  And then He waited two more days before He went on to visit at the home of Lazarus.  By the time He arrived there, Lazarus had already died.  When Jesus heard that news, He said to His disciples in verse 15, "And I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, that you may believe.  Nevertheless let us go to him."  When you read through this story you see that Jesus truly loved Lazarus and his family.  He was touched by the sisters' sorrow, so much so that Jesus also wept.  But Jesus was on a mission...there was a deeper purpose to this whole scene that goes beyond grief and comfort at the death of a friend and loved one. 

As Jesus was talking to Martha, the sister of Lazarus, He told her something that was extremely important...Jesus said to her in verses 25-26, "I am the resurrection and the life.  He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live.  And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die...."  
And then He commanded that they remove the stone from the tomb where Lazarus, by this time, had already been entombed for four days.  Martha was almost hysterical as she cried to Jesus, "Lord, by this time there is a stench, for he has been dead four days!" (verse 39)
"Jesus said to her, 'did I not say to you that if you would believe you would see the glory of God?" (vs. 40)
Then He called Lazarus forth from the tomb, and it says in verse 44 that "he who had died came out bound hand and foot with graveclothes, and his face was wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, 'Loose him, and let him go!'"  Then it says that many of the Jews who saw the things that Jesus did believed in Him. (vs. 45)

What does this mean to us today?  No, we cannot expect to be brought back to life after being dead for four days...probably not gonna happen today...but there again, if God wanted to do that, He could. He still has the same power today as He had 2000 years ago. But what can He do?  Why is it that in some cases, many days after an earthquake has toppled all of the buildings in a town and crushed many people to death, a child or even an adult is found alive in the rubble?...Or a little girl who lives not too far from here, who was lost in the swampy, mosquito infested, alligator and poisonous reptile laden dense woods for four days is found alive and quite well, considering her situation.  Just yesterday, people in Mississippi hid in a closet or a freezer when a monster tornado took their community by storm, and they survived when the rest of their whole building was destroyed...one man hid under a church pew, and the church was demolished, but he survived to tell the world that God saved him!

We don't always understand why one person lives and so many others have to die...it doesn't seems to make any sense...but in the larger scheme of things...the view from heaven...there is a purpose that goes beyond our ability to understand at this present time.  There is something going on behind the scenes that we can't see or fully comprehend...but there is one thing I do know and believe with all of my heart...God is in control.  This world is NOT our final home...There is a life to come...and the things that happen here are all a part of that Divine plan to bring us safely into the harbor of heaven...
Revelation 7:15-17 tells us of that heavenly home:  "Therefore they are before the throne of God, and serve Him day and night in His temple. And He who sits on the throne will dwell among them.  They shall neither hunger anymore nor thirst anymore; the sun shall not strike them, nor any heat; for the LAMB who is in the midst of the throne will shepherd them and lead them to living fountains of waters.  And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes."
Regardless of what happens here on the earth, good or bad, happy or sad, we have a glorious future ahead.  I will trust and praise God no matter what.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Carry Me!

Deuteronomy 1:29-31 "Then I said to you, 'Do not be terrified, or afraid of them.  The LORD your God, who goes before you, He will fight for you, according to all He did for you in egypt before your eyes, and in the wilderness where you saw how the LORD your God carried you, as a man carries his son, in all the way that you went until you came to this place.'"

"Carry me, Daddy"....I can remember saying to my own daddy as a tired little red-headed girl after a long busy day of play on the farm.  I was too sleepy to walk another step, and I needed someone bigger and stronger to pick me up and carry me up to my bed and tuck me in for the night.

"Carry me, Daddy," I can hear my own three little boys say to their Daddy at the end of a long,  exhausting day of riding bikes and climbing trees and playing cowboys and indians...and finally reaching that point of not being able to make their little legs move any further.

"Carry me, Daddy," I can hear my little grandson say to his daddy, my grown-up son, after a long day spent with his Grandma and Grandpa and Mama and Daddy at the Fryeburg Fair, riding every ride, looking at every cow, horse, sheep, goat, chicken, pig, and whatever else there was to see that he just couldn't bear to miss.

"Carry me, Abba Father,"  I have often said to my Father God at the end of a long, frightening, heart wrenching period of wondering why things were happening the way they were, and what possible good could come out of the difficult trials and tribulations we have often had to endure throughout our lives. 
"Carry me, Jesus," I now hear my grown up son say as he faces an uncertain future, filled with chemo treatments and tests and sleepless nights and concern for his own family's future.

I love what God tells the children of Israel as they faced the giants in the Land of Canaan, the "Promised Land"...
"Do not be terrified, or afraid of them. The LORD your God, who goes before you, He will fight for you...according to all He did for you in Egypt before your eyes, and in the wilderness where you saw how the LORD your God CARRIED YOU, AS A MAN CARRIES HIS SON..."

This same Lord, our Redeemer, Abba Father, Jesus...carries us, just as a "man carries his son"...  Oh! What comfort! What peace...What sweet tenderness...

"Jesus loves me, this I know! For the Bible tells me so.  Little ones to Him belong,
They are weak, but HE is strong!  Yes, Jesus loves me! Yes, Jesus loves me! Yes, Jesus loves me! The Bible tells me so!"

"Carry Me, Jesus."

Thursday, April 22, 2010

"I Smile at My Enemies"

"My heart rejoices in the Lord; My horn is exalted in the Lord.  I smile at my enemies, because I rejoice in Your salvation.  No one is holy like the Lord, for there is none besides You, nor is there any rock like our God."  I Samuel 2:1-2
"For who is God, except the Lord? And who is a rock, except our God?  It is God who arms me with strength, and makes my way perfect.  He makes my feet like the feet of deer, and sets me on my high places." Psalm 18:31-33
Can you smile at your enemies today? Maybe we need to identify some of the enemies that trouble us: Sickness, Joblessness, loneliness, hunger, sorrow, fear, heartaches.
These are all true enemies that nag at our spirit and distress our minds, bodies and souls. I don't think too many of us feel like we can smile at these enemies, and I would be insensitive to suggest that you should.  However, these problems, as serious as they may be, these are not our real enemies.

Perhaps the verses above sound a bit smug or even too proud...I don't intend them to be that way, and neither did Hannah in the book of Samuel, or David in the Psalms... But the fact is, folks, in case you didn't know it, we are at war...we are in a battle to the death...  You may ask, "Well, who is our real enemy?"  I am not speaking of any earthly enemies here, and neither were the Old Testament writers.  Our enemy is the very same enemy that has been sneaking around ever since the Garden of Eden...I don't need to mention his name...but that old serpent has been trying his darndest to defeat God and all of God's children ever since he got kicked out of heaven.  But guess what?!  He is already a defeated foe...Christ delivered a knock-out blow to our enemy that day on the cross...and finished the job on the morning of His resurrection from the dead... He overcame death and destroyed Satan and his kingdom...and secured our place in Heaven for eternity.  The sad part is, the old devil doesn't want to believe he's a goner, and he keeps trying to take as many poor souls as he can fool into following him to hell...

"The Lord is my light and my salvation; Whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life; Of whom shall I be afraid?  When the wicked came against me to eat up my flesh, my enemies and foes-they stumbled and fell!  Though an army may encamp against me, my heart shall NOT fear; though war may rise against me, In this I will be confident. Psalm 27: 1-3
For in the time of trouble He shall hide me in His pavillion; in the secret place of His tabernacle He shall hide me; He shall set me high upon a rock!  And now my head shall be lifted up above my enemies all around me; Therefore I will offer sacrifices of joy in His tabernacle; I will sing, yet, I will sing praises to the Lord."   Psalm 27: 5-6
 Does this make our sickness, sorrow, heartache or fear go away? Does this solve all our problems? Probably not in the way we would like it to...but one thing inherent in these passages above is the wonderful confidence in knowing that our God is holding on to us...He is shielding and protecting us from this enemy who is trying to rob us of our joy.  We do not have to give in to fear and desperation. 
The Book of Romans, chapter 8:31 says, "If God is for us, who can be against us?"  Verse 35 says, "Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril or sword?"  Verse 37 says: "Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us!"
"For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord!" Romans 8:37-39

If THAT doesn't make us smile at our "enemies",  I don't know what will! 

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Make a Joyful Noise!

"Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all ye lands. Serve the Lord with gladness: come before His presence with singing. Know ye that the Lord He is God, it is He that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are His people, and the sheep of His pasture.  Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise; be thankful unto Him, and bless His name. For the Lord is good, His mercy is everlasting; and His truth endureth to all generations."  Psalm 100
I think this is one of the first Psalms I ever learned as a child...and it seems to me that we actually quoted this in school at a Thanksgiving program or something... I know you think I'm dreaming that one up, but back in those days we could read the Bible in school and even have PRAYER!  Now I am giving away my age...you know I must be old if we actually prayed in school!  We even got paddlings at school...I don't believe that I ever got one, but I know I deserved a few. Those who were unfortunate enough to be on the receiving end of the "board of education" have never forgotten it...and have never been unhappy about it either...they knew they deserved it...and they also knew that the application of the rod of instruction taught them valuable lessons not learned in the reading and writing and 'rithmetic books!

Enough of my reminiscing about the "good old days".  I truly was blessed to have lived in a small town, and to have attended a small school, where I made many, many friends...many of whom are still very close friends to this day. I believe that is one of the reasons I can make this "joyful noise" today;  good friends who cared enough to take time to pray for our family, to send a word of encouragement and hope during a difficult time, and who have blessed my heart with their kindness, thoughtfulness, and enduring friendship. Tonight I just want to say, "Thank you!" 
"For the Lord is good; His mercy is everlasting; and His truth endureth to ALL generations!"

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

There's Dancing in the House Tonight!

"You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; You have put off my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness, to the end that my glory may sing praise to You and not be silent.  O Lord my God, I will give thanks to You forever!"  Psalm 30:11-12

"Praise God from Whom all blessings flow!
Praise Him all creatures here below;
Praise Him above ye heavenly host;
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost." 

The Doxology
Thomas Ken 1637-1711

The Doxology is a familiar song to most of us I am certain...many can sing it totally from memory because we have sung it every Sunday since we were first carried into church as little children..  But I wonder how many have ever stopped to listen to exactly what we are singing?  Do we really believe what we are saying?  Do we actually mean what we sing? As with so many familiar prayers, songs, and affirmations of our faith, we often just say the words without thinking.  Certainly we would say that we believe what we are saying...but do we really?

Tonight I can honestly say that this Doxology of praise to God was the first thought that came to my mind when my son Matthew called to tell me the results of his doctor appointment in Boston. You see, for the past several weeks we have been praying, pleading, and crying out to God to heal our son from the horrible diagnosis that had been pronounced upon him. In the past couple of days, God had filled me with an inner peace that could only have come from above.  In my heart I believed that today's news would be good news, but in my head I was still a bit afraid to fully announce it for fear of being wrong and possibly causing some to doubt God.  But I shouldn't have feared...

The good news is that the Dr. has said that he believes that this cancer has been caught early enough to be able to eradicate it with a year of chemo and monitoring.  He said that he has never seen this particular rare and aggressive cancer discovered this early before, so he feels that Matthew has a very good chance of a cure. 

We are praising God tonight for this answer to prayer! We know that only God could have directed Matthew to find that tumor at such an early stage.  The Dr. said most people don't discover it until it is too far advanced, so he is very optimistic.

Matthew says to please thank everyone for your prayers...but please don't stop now and get too comfortable.  He still has a long, difficult road ahead of him, and will need a lot of prayer support to get through it.  We know that God has His hand on Matthew and his family...and we can only stop and praise Him for His mercy and grace once again.
"I will be glad and rejoice in Your mercy, for You have considered my trouble; You have known my soul in adversities, and have not shut me up into the hand of the enemy; You have set my feet in a wide place."  Psalm 31:7-8

Yes, Praise God from Whom ALL blessings flow!!

The Lord Is My Strength and My Shield

Psalms 28:7 "The Lord is my strength and my shield; My heart trusted in Him, and I am helped; Therefore my heart greatly rejoices, and with my song I will praise Him."

I love the old hymns of the faith...they often express exactly what I am feeling at the moment. So please bear with me as I share with you another old hymn that I find comforting today:

"Jesus, I am resting, resting
In the joy of what Thou art;
I am finding out the greatness
Of Thy loving heart.
Thou has bid me gaze upon Thee,
And Thy beauty fills my soul;
For, by Thy transforming power,
Thou has made me whole.

Oh, how great Thy loving kindness,
Vaster, broader than the sea!
Oh, how marvelous Thy goodness
Lavished all on me!
Yes, I rest in Thee, Beloved,
Know what wealth of grace is Thine,
Know Thy certainty of promise,
And have made it mine.

Simply trusting Thee, Lord Jesus,
I behold Thee as Thou art,
And Thy love, so pure, so changeless,
Satisfies my heart;
Satisfies its deepest longings,
Meets, supplies its every need,
Compasseth me round with blessings;
Thine is love indeed!

Ever lift Thy face upon me,
As I work and wait for Thee;
Resting 'neath Thy smile, Lord Jesus,
Earth's dark shadows flee.
Brightness of my Father's glory,
Sunshine of my Father's face,
Keep me ever trusting, resting;
Fill me with Thy grace.

Jesus, I am resting, resting,
In the joy of what Thou art;
I am finding out the greatness
Of Thy loving heart."

"Jesus, I Am Resting, Resting", by Jean S. Pigott, 1845-1882

Thank you all for your prayers for our son Matthew today, as he travels to Boston for his appointment with the medical team at Dana Farber Cancer Institute.  Today he will be learning what level this cancer has supposedly reached in his body, and what the treatment plan will be.  We are praying that God has already gone before him, has prepared the way with Doctors who are knowledgeable, compassionate, and highly skilled.  We are also praying that they will be astounded by what God has already been doing in Matthew...and that they will know beyond a shadow of doubt that God has already touched his body and brought healing.  We are trusting and resting in Jesus today.  Regardless of the outcome of these reports, we will trust our God.  We KNOW that HE is in control, in all things.  Therefore, I can rest in Him today.
Thank you, everyone! 

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Perfect Peace...The Calm in the Middle of the Storm...

Isaiah 26: 3-4 "You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on YOU, because he trusts in You.  Trust in the Lord forever, for in YAH, the LORD, is everlasting strength."

"Far away in the depths of my spirit tonight
Rings a melody sweeter than psalm;
And in heavenly strains it unceasingly falls
O'er my soul like an infinite calm."

"Peace, Peace, Wonderful Peace,
Coming down from the Father above,
Sweep over my spirit forever, I pray,
In fathomless billows of love!"

"I am resting tonight  in this wonderful peace,
Resting sweetly in Jesus' control;
For I'm kept from all danger by night and by day,
And His glory is flooding my soul!"


"And I think when I rise to that city of peace,
Where the Author of peace I shall see,
That  one strain of the song which the ransomed shall sing
In that heavenly kingdom will be:


"O dear soul, are you here without comfort and rest,
marching down the rough pathway of time?
Make Jesus your friend ere the shadows grow dark;
Oh, accept now this peace so sublime!"

"Peace, Peace, Wonderful Peace,
Coming down from the Father above,
Sweep over my spirit forever, I pray,
In fathomless billows of love!"

("Wonderful Peace", by W.D. Cornell)

I really don't need to add anything to this tonight, except to say that this represents how I am feeling
in regards to our current family situation.  I was starting to allow myself to get panicky, thinking about our son's upcoming meeting with the cancer specialist at Dana Farber Cancer Institute in Boston this Tuesday.  But our grandson Noah, age 10 1/2, reminded us of something that we need to remember: "We have a secret weapon...prayer"...
"Now when He (Jesus) got into a boat, His disciples followed Him.  And suddenly a great tempest arose on the sea, so that the boat was covered with the waves.  But He (Jesus) was asleep.  Then His disciples came to Him and awoke Him, saying, 'Lord, save us! We are perishing!'  But he said to them, 'Why are you fearful, O you of little faith?'  Then he arose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm.  So the men marveled, saying 'Who can this be, that even the winds and the sea obey Him?'" Matthew 8:23-27
"Peace, Peace, Wonderful Peace,
Coming down from the Father above,
Sweep over my spirit forever, I pray,
In fathomless billows of love!"

Friday, April 16, 2010

Who's Taking Care of YOU?

Psalm 27:10  "When my father and my mother forsake me, then the Lord will take care of me."

Have you ever felt forsaken by your mother or your father?  I realize that this is a loaded question, for I know there are many out there who have experienced this in the extreme sense of the word "forsaken"...and it is not my intention to stir up feelings of sorrow or anger tonight. Please bear with me...

Whether or not we were actually literally forsaken by our parent(s), we have all  felt that way at one time or another.  Oftentimes it was not an intentional desertion on their part, but instead a gulf that was there due to circumstances usually beyond their ability to control...perhaps due to illness, whether physical or mental, or possibly due to relationships that were torn apart by war, battles of the will, divorce, or distance because of financial restraints and difficulties brought on by the national economy or joblessness. Whatever the reason, the pain of separation affects both the child and the parent, whether or not they ever express it. 

Right now I am the parent who is feeling very frustrated and sad because I am not able to be with my son who has been diagnosed with a very rare and aggressive cancer. I feel like I am the one forsaking him, but it is certainly not intentional.  I know that I will be there with him as soon as is reasonably possible, but I want to be there right now. My mother heart wants to fly right up there and stay beside him and "kiss all his boo-boos away", like I did when he was a child. However, he is an adult now, a married man and a daddy, with a wonderful wife and an equally wonderful son.  It really isn't my place to take care of him as before. 

I know that our son does not really feel like we have forsaken him. He knows we want to be there and that we will be going as soon as possible.  But as I read this verse today, I thought to myself, "Yes, even when we are not able to be there with our child...or even if we were there with him, it is the LORD who is taking care of him." 

You see, when our children were infants, and actually before they were born, we committed them to God.  We prayed for them even before they were conceived, and while they were being formed in the womb we continued to pray for them and sang spiritual songs to them. We rejoiced at their birth...and as soon as we were physically able, we took them to church and stood before the Lord and dedicated them to God.  We understood the fact that our children were not really ours...they were each a gift from God to us, to love, to care for, to instruct, and to give back to God for His service. All the while it has been GOD who has been taking care of them...not us.  We did our part in obedience to God, but even if we had not, God would have taken care of them.

Isaiah 49:14-16 says, "But Zion said, 'The Lord has forsaken me, and my Lord has forgotten me.'
(Then God responded to him):  'Can a woman forget her nursing child, and not have compassion on the son of her womb? Surely they may forget, yet I will not forget you.  See, I have inscribed you on the palms of MY hands; your walls are continually before Me.'"

I believe these verses can be taken personally as well as in the context of God talking to the children of Israel.  I especially am drawn to the part where the Lord says that He has inscribed us on the palms of His hands.  I think about the nail prints in the palms of the hands of our Savior, Jesus Christ.  Those scars are there because He loved us so much He was willing to die for us...that tells me that He cares for us much much more than we could ever care for our children or each other. And why was He willing to die for us? So that we will one day be able to spend eternity with Him...He loves us that much...He wants to be with us forever and ever. 
"Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the Lord your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you." Deuteronomy 31:6

Thank you, Jesus, for this reminder tonight.  This gives me great comfort. I know that You will not forsake our son...You have him inscribed in the palms of Your nail-scarred hands. I know that I can trust the One who died for me..and for him. Amen.

So dear friends, I ask you, "Who is taking care of YOU?"  Think about it...pray about it...and believe...

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

I Love How God Works

Psalm 94:17-19  "Unless the Lord had been my help, my soul would soon have settled in silence.  If I say, 'my foot slips,' Your mercy, O Lord, will hold me up.  In the multitude of my anxieties within me, Your comforts delight my soul."

I wasn't going to write tonight. I was feeling pretty blue...and I just didn't have any words to share with you.
Then Matthew called...he had some words of cheer...and now I have something to say.

Earlier today Matt had called and said that he was having a lot of pain, so much so that he needed to take medication.  Obviously this created great anxiety within me.  Here I sit in Florida and Matt and his family are about 1500 miles away in Maine.  I can't just run up there and take care of him like my mother heart wants to do.  Besides, even if I could, I can't take away his pain.  That's only something God can do.  I have to trust God to do what He has promised to do...take care of my son. I'm not very good at that. I still want to be in control of this situation...

However, tonight Matthew sounded encouraged...and this is why:  A friend of his called up today and wanted to know what Matt's plans are for October!  Matthew quickly told him that he didn't know if he'd even be here in October.  His friend said, "No, Matt, we're making plans for October. I want you and your son Noah to go hunting with me and stay at my camp.  We're going to be optimistic and keep making plans!" 

Just these enthusiastic words of hope, encouragement and optimism totally changed Matt's attitude and perspective on this whole situation.  He, in turn, was able to share this encouragement with us, which also resulted in helping our feelings and bringing us a measure of comfort tonight.  I needed that especially tonight.  God knew that I needed that...He knew that Matthew needed that...
"In the multitude of my anxieties within me, Your comforts delight my soul."
Don't ever hesitate to share positive thoughts and visions of a happy future with someone who is facing a difficult situation.  Perhaps some might scoff or even get angry about such "ideas"...but deep inside we all need a dream to cling to.  I have no doubt that God inspired that man to call Matt tonight and share his ideas and plans with him. I, for one, thank God for this friend.

Lord, help us to always be ready to obey your nudges to offer a word of hope and encouragement to another who may be struggling along the way. Thank You for so many who are already doing just that.  Amen.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

To All the "Barnabas'" in My Life...

Read Acts 4:32-37...Particularly verse 36-37..."And Joses, who was also named Barnabas by the apostles, which is translated Son of Encouragement..."

This morning my facebook friend "Pam" shared a story with me about a young woman named Angela who has a brain tumor.  Angela's family made a wonderful suggestion for a way to remember Angela in prayer each day.  Find a box, or a basket, or any special container...could be elaborate, could be very simple...and write Angela's name on a card and place it in this box.  Each day set aside a time to pray for Angela...open the box, lift out the card with her name and pray specifically for her by name.  I like that idea...and I pass it on to you, our prayer warriors...perhaps you could also do this for our Matthew, and the girl named Angela, and any others you may know who are in need of an extra blessing in their lives right now. When I pray for Matthew, I will also be praying for Angela.

I know there are so many people out there with similar stories and equal pain. It is always amazing to me how many we discover when we are going through some type of crisis...we are never alone. God sends people to us who have already walked this road before and can help shed some light along our dark path. We thank God for each and every one...and for all the children and people before our Matthew who have already suffered and perhaps died from this horrible disease.  Through their sacrifice they opened the door and shed light on this disease so that more research would be done and doctors like Dr. Morgan at Dana Farber Cancer Institute would have the necessary experience to be able to care for Matthew and possibly even lead the way to a cure. Matthew's story may actually lead to the cure for another person yet to come...who doesn't even have this disease yet.

We are definitely not alone on this road...there are many others with us...Friends I call "Barnabas", Sons and Daughters of Encouragement, carrying the torch, leading the way, cheering us on, and offering drinks of cool water as we pass by. You are one of them...thank you, and God bless you dear friend.

Monday, April 12, 2010

"He Who Began a Good Work in You Will Be Faithful to Complete It!!!"

Philippians 1: 6 "Being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.."

Do you sometimes find yourself wondering if anything good will ever be accomplished in your life?  Have you ever felt like giving up and calling it quits before you barely got started on some major project or plan because you felt inadequate for the task at hand, or you envisioned insurmountable odds looming against you? If so, you are in good company!  I believe we have all been there at one time or another in our lives...sometimes during the minor events...but mostly at the times of serious circumstances or monumental decisions that could change the course of our whole future.

I am thinking about David, the Shepherd Boy, who, when he was just a young lad, was anointed to become the King of Israel.  If we were able to look back in time and get a  picture of David at the time of his anointing, we would probably scratch our heads and wonder what God was thinking in choosing someone of his stature to be King.  But I love visualising David standing before the Philistine giant Goliath...this is the  David that God could see...a young man who could stand before a giant with just five smooth stones and a sling, and declare to him,
"You come to me with a sword, with a spear, and with a javelin.  But I come to you in the NAME OF THE LORD OF HOSTS, THE GOD OF THE ARMIES OF ISRAEL, whom you have defied.  THIS DAY THE LORD WILL DELIVER YOU INTO MY HAND, and I will strike you and take your head from you.  And this day I will give the carcasses of the camp of the Philistines to the birds of the air and the wild beasts of the earth, that all the earth may know that there is A GOD IN ISRAEL.  Then all this assembly shall know THAT THE LORD DOES NOT SAVE WITH SWORD AND SPEAR; FOR THE BATTLE IS THE LORD'S, AND HE WILL GIVE YOU INTO OUR HANDS!"  (I Samuel 17: 45-47)
If you ever went to Sunday School as a child, you know how this story ends...yes, David slays the Giant with his five smooth stones and a sling, but primarily he accomplished this amazing feat with his faith and trust in the Lord...it is that confidence that slew the giant. 

If you are up against a giant of a struggle in your life today...where is your confidence?  Is it in your own ability to persevere and stand strong...or do you recognize the fact that your own strength is small in comparison to the obstacle you may be facing?  I know for myself, in my own strength I can do nothing.  My abilities are weak at best...I want to lay down and quit all too often...but this is the confidence that I have:

"Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might." Ephesians 6:10.
"Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand...." Ephesians 6:13
And finally: "I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me."  Philippians 4:13 

Lord, We are up against a giant right now in our family...but we know that through Christ, we can stand strong in the face of this enemy.  We know that You are our shield and our defender, and there is no enemy who can withstand Your power.  In the Name of Jesus, our Healer and Defender, we claim victory over this enemy today.  We give You praise and glory and honor, for Who you are...and we commit this battle into Your mighty hands. Amen and Amen.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Who Holds the Keys to YOUR LIFE?

 Revelation 1:9-18 and Psalm 118:13-21 Read all these verses, but in particular Rev. 1:17-18 "Do not be afraid; I am the First and the Last. I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive FOREVERMORE. Amen. And I have the keys of Hades and of Death."

Psalm 118:13-21 "You pushed me violently, that I might fall, but the LORD helped me. The Lord is my strength and song, and He has become my salvation. The voice of rejoicing and salvation is in the tents of the righteous; the right hand of the Lord does valiantly. The right hand of the Lord is exalted; the right hand of the Lord does valiantly...  I SHALL NOT DIE, BUT LIVE, AND DECLARE THE WORKS OF THE LORD. THE LORD HAS CHASTENED ME SEVERELY, BUT HE HAS NOT GIVEN ME OVER TO DEATH! Open to me the gates of righteousness; I will go through them. And I will praise the Lord. This is the gate of the Lord, through which the righteous shall enter. I will praise YOU, for YOU have answered me, and have become my salvation!"

Lord, we claim this by faith today on behalf of our son Matthew...in Jesus' Holy Name, Amen!!!

How comforting these words are to me today...  As many of you are aware, our son Matthew has been diagnosed with a very rare and aggressive cancer: Desmoplastic small round cell tumor.  This week he will most likely be going to see specialists in Boston to determine the course of treatment.  Our first reaction to all of this was shock, confusion, and amazement.  We are still in shock, but I think we are all ready to start fighting this thing!  Satan has been trying destroy our son since before he was even born...
  • While in the first trimester of my pregnancy, my body threatened to miscarry...but God intervened and we got through that.
  • At the seventh month of pregnancy, I developed a kidney stone. At first the Dr. thought I was going into labor.  Thankfully, the kidney stone delivered itself instead of the baby.
  • In the eighth month, Matthew was born, 3 weeks early.  He was jaundiced and had respiratory distress. It was a very difficult labor. The Dr. told my husband that he most likely had some major problems, either Down's Syndrome, or Hydrocephalis on the brain.  Neither was true.
  • At eighteen months, Matt was hit by a car and suffered a skull fracture and concussion.  He miraculously recovered in record time and it was only by the grace of God that he was not injured more severely.  My husband was attending Bible College to prepare for the ministry at the time. Satan tried to derail us through this incident, but it didn't work.  We went on into the ministry anyway.
  • At age seven Matt fell down a flight of stairs and hit his head...scared us all senseless, but the emergency room Dr. pronounced him just fine and very lucky.  God was there all the time.  BTW, we were in Seminary at this time, preparing further for the ministry.
  • Somehow he got through adolescence without too many incidents...His guardian Angel stayed close by watching, I am certain.
  • At age eighteen, Matthew was diagnosed with a brain tumor.  He had to have surgery to resect the majority of the tumor, and a radioactive iodine seed was placed on the remainder to dissolve it over the course of a year. Had it not been for the miraculous intervention of a dear friend at the exact right time prior to this surgery, calling the Head of Neurosurgery at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, MI, the wrong procedure would have been done, and Matthew's memory may have been destroyed in the process.  God was there supervising and guiding the Dr. and Matthew came through with flying colors and went on to college that fall.  He had some residual short term memory issues, and, as a result, was not able to complete college, but he went on to have a successful career as a draftsman anyway.
  • A year later another tumor appeared in his brain.  The radiologist report stated that it was large and possibly inoperable.  He was sent back to Detroit for surgery. While we waited in the pre-op holding area for the surgeon to take him to surgery, the surgeon finally appeared in her street clothes, disconnected Matt from the IV, removed the halo that was bolted into his head, and said, "I have good news for you...Matthew does NOT have a tumor!"  She really couldn't explain what had happened...but we all knew...God was there...again....  
  • A year later Matthew married his lovely wife Nicole and lived a wonderful, healthy life...with the exception of a ruptured appendix on return from their honeymoon. The poison traveled up the shunt tube that remains in his brain, and was close to entering his brain before they could do the surgery. He was rushed to Maine Medical, where he stayed for several weeks recuperating on extremely strong antibiotics.  He fully recovered after about six weeks of antibiotic therapy.
  • A few years later Matt and Nicole brought Noah Matthew Steiner into the world.  A beautiful, healthy, extremely bright little boy! (9 lb. 13 oz)
  • Now, at the age of 37, Matt has been diagnosed with this serious, rare, aggressive cancer.  My first response was..."God has already performed so many miracles in Matthew's life...is there a limit on how many miracles one person can have? Is there a limit on God's mercy and grace?"  So many people have responded to this question that there is NO limit on God's love and mercy and power to heal and save.  I believe that with all my heart...Matthew's life has been one of great praise and a testimony to the power of God to heal and work miracles in the world today.  Satan does not want that message to go forth.  Why he has chosen to pick on Matthew in the way he has is a mystery to us...but Satan is a defeated foe. He cannot win...Jesus Christ has conquered death by His resurrection from the dead...so whether Matthew lives or dies physically...his life and his testimony continues on for eternity.  Through Christ, we are all victorious over death and the enemy of our souls. 

Psalm 118:22-24 says: "The stone which the builders rejected (Jesus Christ) has become the chief cornerstone.  This was the Lord's doing; it is marvelous in our eyes. 
This is the day the Lord has made;
We WILL rejoice and be glad in it!"
Lord, "I will praise YOU, for YOU have answered me, and have become my salvation."

Saturday, April 10, 2010

"Has the Lord's Arm Been Shortened?"

Numbers 11:23: "And the LORD said to Moses, 'Has the LORD'S arm been shortened? Now you shall see whether what I say will happen to you or not.'"

Poor Moses.  He was in a predicament...a very tight spot...a tough place.  If you ever think you've got too many problems, or too much responsibility, or overwhelming issues...take a look at Moses.  I won't go into the whole story of the travails of the people of Israel and their sojourn in the desert and the wilderness after their escape from their captivity in Egypt...but suffice it to say that Moses had a huge problem.  He never wanted this responsibility in the first place...to be the leader of these stubborn, rebellious, cranky, complaining group of people whom God had chosen as His own special nation.  Moses felt under-qualified, ill-prepared, and unequipped for the task he had been given.  He would gladly have given this "great honor" away to another and gone back to being a shepherd.  But God had other plans for Moses...God had great confidence in him...God specifically chose Moses for this purpose even before Moses knew who God was.

So in the eleventh chapter of the book of Numbers, the thousands of Israelites are hungry. They are sick and tired of eating manna...it was like eating cornmeal or flour for every meal.  They had no meat or fresh vegetables. They had no dessert or snacks.  Just manna, every day, every meal.  And they complained and cried and moaned and groaned, so much so that Moses just wanted to die himself rather than deal with their complaints any longer.  He poured out his misery to God and in verse 15 he said, "If You treat me like this, please kill me here and now..."

Have you ever felt like that?  Those of us who have had children, or who have been leaders of large groups of people or employees, know what it feels like to feel helpless and frustrated when we can't take care of everyone's needs.  Or perhaps when we are overwhelmed with pain, sickness, sorrow, anxiety for our future or our loved one's future...we cry out in anguish and fear to God just as Moses did, in verse 14, we wail, "I am not able to bear all these people (or illness, or financial burdens, or attacks from the enemy-you fill in the blank) alone, because the burden is too heavy for me."  And like Moses in verses 21-22, we question God's ability to provide for our needs...we doubt His authority over our circumstances, we fear we will not be able to accomplish exactly what He has ordered.  But look at God's response to Moses in verse 23:
"Has the Lord's arm been shortened?"

Sadly, because the people of Israel continued to be so rebellious and disobedient to all that God had commanded them, they suffered greatly. They refused to trust in the One who had already opened the Red Sea for them so they could escape Pharoah's army...He had shown them His power and mercy and great love over and over, and they continued to rebel and complain.

I don't know about you, but I don't want to be like the children of Israel in the wilderness.  I want to hear His voice, I want to trust His Word. I want to enter "The Promised Land". 

Lord, In my heart I know that You are all-powerful, all-wise, and all-loving.  In my heart I know that You love us so much that You were willing to give Your "only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life." (John 3:16)  In my heart I know that the thoughts that You think toward us are "thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give (us) a future and a hope." (Jeremiah 29:11)
"Lord, I do believe. Help my unbelief!"  (Mark 9:24)  Amen.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Cast Your Net on the Other Side of the Boat

John 21: 5-6 "Then Jesus said to them, 'Children, have you any food?'  They answered Him, 'No.'  And He said to them, 'Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some.' So they cast, and now they were not able to draw it in because of the multitude of fish."

What has catching fish got to do with anything that's going on in your life today?  Well, let's think about this story.  The disciples had just come through the devastating experience of seeing their Master crucified on the cross, leaving them with many doubts, fears and questions about their own future.  Then all of a sudden, they learn that He was not dead, but alive! 

This was amazing news...but also perplexing.  They weren't too sure just what all this meant for them and the purpose for their lives.  So they went back to doing what they were accustomed to doing...they went fishing.  They fished all night long, but they caught nothing.  When they were obviously tired, frustrated and ready to call it quits, who comes along but Jesus, standing on the shore and asking them if they had any food. The Bible says the disciples did not realize it was Jesus at this point. When they told him that they did not, He told them to cast their nets on the other side of the boat and they would find some fish.  I have a feeling their first thought was, "We've been out here all night long, and we've done everything we know how to do as professional fishermen, and the fish just aren't biting! We hate to disappoint this man, but we know this just isn't going to work...but we'll try it anyway..."  

Can you imagine their shock and amazement when their nets became so full of fish that they could not even pull them in...and then they realized Who it was standing on the shore giving them instructions.  Then they were so excited they couldn't wait to get to shore to see Him!  Simon Peter even jumped overboard and swam to shore he was so thrilled.

Now, how can we compare this story with our situation today?  I don't know about you, but I can see myself in these fishermen.  When things get difficult in life, and when I become frightened or discouraged I often want to throw up my hands and quit.  I can't see how anything good could possibly come out of such painful, stressful, frustrating, agonizing and horrendous situations that I may be facing. It is hard for me to "see the forest for the trees" when I am feeling lost and abandoned.  But Jesus comes along and calls to me from the edge of the forest..."Here is the way...walk ye in it..."   
"Your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, 'This is the way, walk in it...Whenever you turn to the right hand or whenever you turn to the left.'"  (Isaiah 30:21)
When we pay attention to the message that Christ is giving us, whether it be through reading the Bible, or through the wisdom of friends and loved ones, or Doctors and spiritual guides, we are often amazed at the peace that takes hold of our hearts and minds and we find the directions for which we had been searching so diligently. 

Thank you, Lord, for the peace that passes all understanding as I yield to Your Divine wisdom and guidance. Help me let go of my self-directed plans and ideas, and trust more completely in You.  I know I will stay on the right path that way... and maybe even catch some real "fish".

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

The Righteous Cry Out...and the Lord Hears...

Psalm 34:17-19  "The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears, and delivers them out of all their troubles.  The Lord is near to those who have a broken heart, and saves such as have a contrite spirit.  Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all."

Today was not the best day of my life.  For those of you who have been following our journey over the past few days, you know that we have been praying for our son Matthew, who had a biopsy on enlarged lymph nodes in his abdomen on Friday.  The preliminary report on Friday was that it looked like "lymphoma".  However, the actual biopsy report today was much different, and took us all by surprise.  According to the report, Matthew has something called "Desmoplastic Small Round Cell Tumor", which, according to what we've been able to discover on the web is a rare, highly aggressive tumor.  It is more common in males and usually affects children, adolescents, and young adults.  Matthew is 37...which seems a little beyond this age bracket, so we have a lot of questions. 

In thinking about all of this we thought of some positive things in which God has already prepared the way to help:

  • Matt has been taking Tae Kwon Do lessons for the past year, and has gotten into very good physical condition as a result.  Actually, a week ago he performed in a tournament and won 1st place for his age.  This regimen and discipline has helped prepare him physically for the ordeal ahead.

  • His wife Nicole has a very responsible position, and her work is pretty demanding. However, her boss has already told her that they are standing behind her 100%, and whatever she needs to do, they will work with that.  They even gave her the option of working from home if necessary. (She is a computer "guru" for a large insurance and banking corporation in New England).

  • Nicole has also been building her strength as she has become a volunteer firefighter, and has been taking training and classes for the past couple of years, which has been very good for her physically.

  • Noah, Matt and Nicole's 10 year old son, is at an age where others can help take up the slack regarding his after school activities.  This is going to be challenging, but they may find that they have more friends and neighbors than they realized before.
I had been wondering what direction this blog writing was going to take...and I certainly never dreamed or thought it would be like this...but even this is a blessing in disguise.  I believe that God has already established a strong support group here for us, through Facebook and other means, that we didn't have a few months ago. Even my new job is providing a source of encouragement and prayer support that I didn't have a month ago. 

So, the Lord works in mysterious ways...we don't always understand the why's and wherefore's of the circumstances that are beyond our control...but we are thankful for the ways in which God provides for our needs even before we knew we would be needing such support. 

We are trusting God for the very best possible Doctors, Hospitals, and new acquaintances who will become a part of our family's life in the upcoming days.  This is going to be a different kind of journey...certainly not one that any of us would have chosen, but if we have to embark on this journey, at least we know we are not alone.

"Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me?  Hope in God; For I shall yet praise Him, the help of my countenance and my God."  Psalm 43:5 

Monday, April 5, 2010

Getting Caught Up...and Resting in HOPE

Tonight is a "catch up" night for me at home...so I think I will have to take the night off from writing...We do not have any news as of yet concerning Matthew's biopsy report.  Perhaps tomorrow he will hear something. Please keep praying and sending your good thoughts his way...It has been very encouraging to hear from so many who know someone who has been given a similar diagnosis...and that they have progressed very well. We are trusting God for the very best possible scenario...and we know that regardless of the outcome...Matthew will be in good hands...

Psalm 16 is a good passage upon which to meditate tonight:  Below are a few selected verses...

(1,2) "Preserve me, O God, for in You I put my trust.
O my soul, you have said to the Lord,
'You are my Lord,
My goodness is nothing apart from You.'"

(7,8) "I will bless the Lord who has given me counsel;
My heart also instructs me in the night seasons.
I have set the Lord always before me;
Because He is at my right hand
I shall not be moved."

(9) "Therefore my heart is glad,
and my glory rejoices;
My flesh also will rest in hope."

(11)"You will show me the path of life;
In Your presence is fullness of joy;
At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore."

Amen and Goodnight
Sweet Dreams

Saturday, April 3, 2010

God Has a Plan!

Exodus 14:13 "And Moses said to the people, 'Do not be afraid. Stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord, which He will accomplish for you today.'".... and in verse 14, "The Lord will fight for you, and you shall hold your peace."

This morning I was reading in my devotions the above verses, and was struck by the powerful message it contained for our present circumstances. Actually, it never ceases to amaze me how God directs my reading to exactly whatever message He has prepared to encourage me for that particular moment.  But that is just how God works...I could read the same passage everyday and it would be fresh and new and pertinent, because that is how God ministers to our hearts. 

Right now all of Christendom is waiting...waiting for Easter sunrise...waiting for the angel to proclaim the astounding message, "Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but is risen!" (Luke 24:5-6)  On this, the day after the crucifixion, Jesus' disciples were hiding and afraid. They did not understand what was happening, even though Christ had tried over and over again to tell them what was going to take place, but their hearts were broken, their eyes were still blinded by doubt and confusion, and they just couldn't see how anything good could come out of His death.  They did not realize that God had a plan!  And oh, what a plan it was! 

Tonight I am where the disciples were over 2000 years ago...we have had some shocking news regarding our son's possible future...a diagnosis that strikes fear into our hearts and causes us to ask, "Why Lord? What good could possibly come from this assault on our son's body?  Hasn't he already had enough health issues? How many more miracles is he allowed to have in his life?"  I don't know what kind of plan God has...and as a mother, to be honest, I really don't want to see our son have to go through all of this.  It just doesn't seem fair.  But don't stop reading here...

In the book of Exodus, God had a marvelous plan to help the children of Israel escape the cruel Egyptians.  The passage above is talking about when God parted the Red Sea and the Israelites crossed over on dry land.  Then, as the Egyptians were pursuing them, the sea closed in on top of them and they were all destroyed, and the children of Israel were safe on the other side...and free from their hundreds of years of slavery.
Exodus 14:30 says, "So the Lord saved Israel that day out of the hand of the Egyptians.." 
Fast forward about 1450 years, and to the book of Matthew 1:21, which is talking about the birth of Christ,
"and she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.".... God's plan for the salvation not only of the children of Israel, but all of humanity...for all who would believe.

What about our situation?  God has a plan...yes, for our eternal salvation, and also for our lives here on earth...there is nothing that happens in our lives without a purpose and a plan.  We may not always understand at the moment...we may not even like what we have to go through and may feel that it isn't fair...but if we can just wait until Easter morning...if we can just trust God enough to walk dry shod across the Red Sea...if we can stand still and watch...we will see the salvation of the Lord...we will sing with Moses and the children of Israel:

"I will sing to the Lord, for He has triumphed gloriously! The horse and its rider He has thrown into the sea!  The Lord is my strength and song, and He has become my salvation; He is my God, and I will praise Him..."
Exodus 15:1-2

Okay, Lord,...I will trust You and wait for You...I know You have a plan...

Friday, April 2, 2010

It's Definitely "Good Friday...But Easter is Coming!"

Dear Friends and Family,

Many of you have already been praying for our son Matthew this week if you saw my posts on Facebook regarding him having a biopsy today. On Wednesday he had a CT Scan to see what type of lump had been discovered on his lower left abdomen. The CT Scan revealed that he had an enlarged lymph node, and also several other enlarged lymph nodes throughout his torso. A biopsy was scheduled for today to determine the reason for the swelling. The preliminary results today per the Dr. are that it appears to by lymphoma. They will not have the final results until next week, probably Tuesday, which will show more definitely what type of lymphoma, and what stage.

Obviously, this is not the results we were hoping for, but God is already at work in this situation. Matthew feels fine, and the only reason he discovered this lump was because he had some stomach cramping on Sunday, and felt the lump. He thought it might be a hernia, so he went to the DR. on Monday...and the rest is history. Hopefully they have discovered it early enough so that the treatment will be effective and curative. We will definitely be praying to that end.

Please keep Matt, Nicole and son Noah in your prayers, as this will be a difficult time for all. Please also pray for us, as we are here in Florida, which is much too far away from Maine.

We know that God is able to do "exceedingly abundantly above all that we could ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and eve. Amen."
Ephesians 3:20.

Thank you for your prayers.


Pam and John Steiner

Thursday, April 1, 2010

O Holy Night...

"He is despised and rejected by men
A Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.
And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him;
He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.

Surely He has borne our griefs
And carried our sorrows;
Yet we esteemed Him stricken,
Smitten by God, and afflicted.

But He was wounded for our transgressions,
He was bruised for our iniquities;
The chastisement for our peace was upon Him,
And by His stripes we are healed.

All we like sheep have gone astray;
We have turned, every one, to his own way;
And the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.

He was oppressed and He was afflicted,
Yet He opened not His mouth;
He was led as a lamb to the slaughter,
And as a sheep before its shearers is silent,
So He opened not His mouth.

He was taken from prison and from judgment,
And who will declare His generation?
For He was cut off from the land of the living;
For the transgressions of My people He was stricken.
And they made His grave with the wicked..
But with the rich at His death,
Because He had done no violence,
Nor was any deceit in His Mouth."

Isaiah 53:3-9

I have written tonight from the prophet Isaiah, which was written in the 8th century B.C....over 700 years before the birth of Jesus Christ.  There is no clearer picture in the Old Testament of the Messiah than what has been written in the prophecies of Isaiah.  I am not a theologian or a great Bible scholar, but it doesn't take much education to see the clear picture of Christ's death foretold in this passage.  There are so many other pictures of Christ in the Old Testament, that it would take 39 books to find them all. 

Another portrait of Christ foretold in the Old Testament is in the Book of Exodus, Chapter 12...the story of the Passover.  The spotless lamb that was slain, and the shed blood that was placed on the doorposts of every Hebrew family as a covering, so that when the Angel of the Lord passed through the land of Egypt on that night, killing all the firstborn in the land of Egypt because of their refusal to free the people of God; when the Lord saw the blood on their houses, He passed over those homes, and the plague did not touch the inhabitants.  When Christ, who was the spotless lamb of God, was slain on the cross...the blood that He shed was a covering for our sins, so that we would not be condemned to die in our sinful condition.

Tonight is a holy night...Christ knew that He would have to die the next day...He knew that He would have to suffer many tortures for the sins of the world.  But He did it willingly...for you and for me...because He knew there was no other way to cover our sins.  There was no other way to bridge the gap between earth and heaven...His cross became that bridge, enabling us to cross over into heaven when that day comes. There is no other way.

Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." John 14:6

"Surely He bore our sorrows, and by His stripes we are healed."
So be it, Lord.