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!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

He Knows My Name by Maranatha Singers

A New Decade of Life...What will it bring?

"To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven: A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck what is planted; A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; a time to cast away stones; and a time to gather stones; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; A time to gain, and a time to lose; A time to keep, and a time to throw away; A time to tear, and a time to sew; A time to keep silence, and a time to speak; a time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace." Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 ~
Yesterday I turned 60 years old. The picture above is of me when I was only about 10 months old, just getting my start in this big old world.  I look at this picture and I wonder, what was going on inside that little mind of mine?  Did I have any clue what my life would be like?  Did I even care? Probably not, as long as my immediate needs were being met...a dry diaper, good baby food and bottles, a nice warm bath and someone to hold me and rock me when I was sleepy or afraid.  That was all I really cared about at that time...and I really didn't worry about it at all.  Afterall, what could I do about it anyway?  I could cry, scream, throw a fit, but that was about it.  I was totally dependent on my Mama and Daddy to take care of my daily concerns, and apparently they carried through with their responsibilities quite well.  I prospered and grew up in health and happiness.  I was a very happy baby, child, youth, and young woman.  When my parents' time of responsibility for me came to an end, my loving new husband took over my care.  He helped to provide my daily necessities as we worked together to provide an income and home for our eventual family. Then the cycle began all over...it was my turn to take care of my little ones and provide their every need until they were able to make it on their own.

Now I am sixty years old, and although I am still thankfully enjoying my good health and "sound mind" (?)...I realize that the day is coming when I will probably become dependent again, only this time on my own children or others who are able to provide that care as needed. But even then, who will really be the One taking care of me?  Will it be my children, or the nursing home, or some other agency?  Or will it be the ONE Who has been taking care of me all along? The same One Who was there when:
"my inward parts were being formed in the covering of my mother's womb...the same One Who knew all about my frame  when I was made in secret, and skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth..."
The same One Whose "eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed...and in His book they all were written, the days fashioned for me, when as yet there were none of them!"  The same One that knows me today, Who searches my heart, and tries me, and knows my anxieties; He knows if "there is any wicked way in me", and He "leads me in the way everlasting."  (see Psalm 139)
Yes, I know that I can look forward with great confidence for my future as I know my Lord and Saviour is already there, guiding, protecting, saving, and loving me, just as He always has, and just as He always will...for He says He is the "Alpha and the Omega", the "Beginning and the End" (Revelation 1:8)...and again He says in 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." 
Therefore, "Because He lives, I can face tomorrow...because He lives, all fear is gone...because I know He holds the future...and life is worth the living, just because He lives!"                      (Bill Gaither...song: "Because He Lives")
Amen! And Praise the Lord!!! 

Friday, September 24, 2010

Have You Eaten Any Feet Lately?

Proverbs 31: 26: "She opens her mouth with wisdom, and on her tongue is the law of kindness."

Oh no! This one's going to be tough! Oh, how I wish I could live up to this proverb! I'm more apt to open my mouth and insert my foot, and I've more than enough times had to "bite" my tongue to keep from saying the unkind thing I was thinking! There's small comfort in knowing I'm probably not alone in this either...very small comfort.

James chapter three talks to us regarding the control of the tongue...and how the tongue
"is a fire, a world of iniquity...it defiles the whole body, and sets on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire by hell." (from James 3:6) James also says in verse 8 that "no man can tame the tongue. It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison." So with that to deal with, no wonder it's so hard for me to open my mouth with wisdom and have on my tongue the law of kindness!

Nevertheless, we must persevere! James tells us in chapter one, verses 5 and 6,
"If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind."
Furthermore, on in chapter 3, verses 13-18, he gives additional teaching regarding the wisdom that is from above:
"Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show by good conduct that his works are done in the meekness of wisdom. (vs.13)...The wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy. Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace." (vs.17-18)

By this I see that if I have the "wisdom that is from above", I will have the law of kindness on my tongue. When I seek the wisdom that only God can give, He promises to give it to me. Therefore, when I open my mouth, it will be with wisdom. He will guard my tongue and exercise control over it when I yield it to Him.

Does this mean that I will never ever again say the wrong thing at the wrong time? Well, maybe...if I continually yield my tongue to Him, then He will continually have control over it...but when I don't spend daily time with Him in prayer and devotion, and study of His Word, how can I expect Him to be able to communicate good thoughts to me? How can I expect Him to keep control over that which I refuse to commit to Him? Also, if I don't put good thoughts into my mind...how can I expect good thoughts to come out? ("Input-Output; What goes in must come out"...a little song I heard our Children's Choir sing one day...makes sense to me!)

Okay, Lord, I get it...the way to open my mouth with wisdom and have the law of kindness on my tongue is to keep in closer communication with You, my Creator. You designed me, and You gave me this tongue so that I could communicate with love and kindness. Help me, Lord, to yield this tongue to you so that you can fill it with good words...words of love, kindness, and encouragement...rather than words of bitterness, condemnation, and anger. Thank you, Lord, for being always available and ready to give us wisdom...if we'll just ask. Forgive me, Lord, when I forget or get too busy to ask. I pray that the next time I open my mouth to speak to someone you've brought into my path, you will give me the wisdom to share words of kindness. Amen.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Back to the Beginning...a Repeat worth Repeating...and an Update.

Isaiah 43: 18-19 "Do not remember the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I will do a new thing, now it shall spring forth; shall you not know it? I will even make a road in the wilderness and rivers in the desert."

Someone once gave me a plaque to put on my wall that said, "When God closes a door, He always opens a window." I kept it on my wall for many years, although it was often moved from one wall to another as we saw one door closed on that particular home and place of employment, and a window opened in a new location. I finally got to the place where I hid that plaque, because it was beginning to feel like we had a perpetual door slamming shut and I got tired of rehanging that plaque on a different wall. However, the truth I need to focus on is the fact that I did have another wall on which to place it...because God had in fact opened another window. In reality, God has always opened another window whenever we heard that proverbial door slam shut on our hopes and dreams. He has never failed to open another window for us, albeit, perhaps not always a window that we had ever thought of before, or even that we would have considered had it not been for God's supernatural guidance and intervention on our behalf.

Lord, right now I am in one of those places between the slammed door and the open window...and I have no clue where or when that window will open. I know I can trust in You, since You have promised in Your word in Isaiah 43:18-19 that You will "do a new thing" (open a window?) and that You will "even make a road in the wilderness and rivers in the desert." Here I am Lord, ready to travel that road or cross that river, whatever it takes to reach that open window. Thank You for Your message of hope and encouragement today. I can hardly wait to see what window You are going to open next! Amen.

This was my original blog, written way back in February of this year...a bold new step for me....Little did I know on that day just what kind of windows were about to open in my life...at that time I was unemployed and had been for quite a few months.  However, within three weeks of the date of this writing, I was miraculously employed in a position that was better than I could ever have imagined!  God was already working on my behalf even as I sat here at my computer at home wondering what could possibly ever open for me. 

Also, within a week after writing this, I attended a writer's conference, which further encouraged me in my writing pursuits, and now 113 blog entries later, I am enjoying the camaraderie of other bloggers and new writers as we share ideas, prayer requests, and dreams with you and each other.

A not so encouraging event some four or five weeks later, when my 37 year-old son, Matthew, was diagnosed with a very rare and aggressive cancer. This has changed the whole focus not only of my writing, but also of our whole attitude towards life and the preciousness of it for all people.  I am thankful to be able to report that Matt is doing better than expected with his chemotherapy, and Lord willing, we are praying for a full recovery within the year. The key to this joyful possibility was early detection, and a lot of prayers going up on his behalf.  Nothing is final yet on his prognosis, but we are very optimistic and full of thankfulness to our God.

It is such a blessing to sit here today at my computer and look back over how God has intervened on our behalf in so many ways over these past months.  And not only that, I am further encouraged by other little signs I see developing on the horizon for other possible outlets for ministry in our future.  I can't wait to see what God is going to do next!!! I hope you'll continue to come along with me on this journey!  Thank you for being here thus far!!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

"Back to the Future"?

Jeremiah 29:11 "For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope."

"God knew...amazing the ways He prepares us for our present back when it was still our future." ~ original quote....Pamela M. Steiner, 9/16/2010 in response to a fellow-writer-blogger who is discovering that God is using her previous experiences in mission work to inspire her devotional writings today. (See Marti Pieper at her blog: "Read, Write, Pray" http://blog.martipieper.com/  )

How often have you discovered that the experience gained from your past trials and tribulations, joys and elations, happy times and sad times have popped up in your thoughts, meditations, words of wisdom and advice and reactions today?  Now imagine that if, when you are in the midst of those trials and tribulations, joys and elations, happy times and sad times today, you are actually being prepared for a future event, whether personal or in the life of another loved one or friend, so that you may be better able to encourage, strengthen and give much needed assistance when the time comes. 

I know that those thoughts may be hard to fathom while in the midst of a struggle or heartache, but as many of us have learned through the years, our present situations all have a greater purpose in the whole scheme of life.  When we are able to step outside of our current position and look at the complete bigger picture with the eyes of God's perfect vision...we are often astounded at the beauty and magnificence of the masterpiece He has created.  I have often heard it explained as a tapestry, with all of the fibers of our daily lives, sorrows, mysteries, and joys woven together into one amazing design.  Had we never experienced those things that seemed so difficult at the time, our picture would not be complete...there would be missing threads and gaps that would detract from the overall impact and leave us wondering why it was incomplete. 

So today as we go about our daily routine, if we should happen to come upon a bump in our otherwise smooth road, let us trust God to weave that new piece of thread into our tapestry, and look forward to how beautiful it will appear in the future when we look back upon it.

God bless you and may you have a day of pleasant surprises!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Numbers 9:23a: "At the commandment of the Lord they rested in the tents, and at the commandment of the Lord they journeyed..." (KJV)

Have you ever randomly selected a verse of Scripture and it just leapt out at you in such a way that you knew God was talking to you? I don't recommend that type of Bible reading or study as a general practice, but sometimes I do believe that God uses our random meanderings through His Word to get our attention and give us an important message. Numbers 9:23a was one of those verses God used to prepare me for His will.

Quite a few years ago now, due to circumstances beyond our control (and yet still in God's control), we had taken a step of faith and moved to a location that we dearly loved. Our prior ministry had come to a standstill, and no other doors were opened unto us. We had to make a move somewhere, so we chose to go to a small town where our older sons were attending a Christian college, and where we hoped we would find work at that college. We settled into a nice rented home and the Lord provided secular jobs in the community that would provide the basics until something better developed for us. We were determined to stay there until we got what we wanted--no matter how difficult it would be in the interim working at jobs that were totally out of our field of calling. Our whole family was together; we loved our new town and were starting to make friends. After all, we were living in the town we had dreamed of living and working in for many years. It was like a dream come true.

I had placed a little box of scripture verse cards on the windowsill above my kitchen sink, and each day I would pull out a new card with a verse for the day to read and learn. On this particular day, Numbers 9:23 happened to be the chosen verse. As I read the words I almost dropped the little card like it had burned my fingers, so shocked was I at the message...."At the commandment of the Lord they rested in the tents, and at the commandment of the Lord they journeyed...". I immediately stuffed that card right back in the box and refused to look at it again! Deep within the message struck home...we were not going to be able to stay where we were...we were "resting in the tents" away from the ministry...but the time to "journey" again was coming soon. I didn't even tell my husband. God would tell him soon enough. Sure enough, within two or three days we received a call from a District Superintendent in a far away district asking if we were still willing to candidate for a church position. Even though we had just moved less than a month before, we knew we had to say yes. It seems as though this particular church had been trying to locate us for several weeks, and even the knowledge that we had just made a major move farther away did not swerve them from their desire to meet us. To make a long story short, in just two short months from the time we had moved away from the ministry, God had moved us right back into it.

Perhaps you have also gone through periods of "resting in the tents", and maybe right now you're wondering if God will ever again give you the command to journey. One thing I have learned through this experience is that God does not lose track of His children, no matter where they may be resting or journeying. The fact that the Israelites rested in the tents at the commandment of the Lord tells me that God designs those times of rest for a purpose, to better prepare us for the journey ahead, to help us recuperate from the journey left behind, and to give us a time of respite so that we can reflect on His purpose and direction for our lives. Sometimes we need to experience "the real world" for a season to be better servants in His kingdom here on earth. Oftentimes our periods of resting come to us through circumstances that we did not initiate or anticipate...health problems, accidents, incidents of conflict within our jobs or homes, or even an educational sabbatical. We may not always be able to explain to our friends, family, or colleagues just why we need to "rest" or "journey". It was comforting to me to find this verse that explains that it is at the commandment of the Lord that we rest or journey. No matter what the earthly circumstances may be that lead us to make those decisions or have those decisions made for us, it is always at the "commandment of the Lord" that we servants of God make any move to rest or to journey. Thank you, Lord, for your sovereignty in my life.

Have you had any such times of "resting in the tents"...times for which you had no obvious explanation other than it appeared to be your only choice?  Have you looked back upon that time that was in the past, and now realize that it was God's way of preparing you for your present situation...whether it was so you could rest up for the journey ahead...or recuperate from the journey left behind...it was all a part of His plan and design for your life?  Either way...stop and take stock of your circumstances, whether good or bad, pleasant or sad...and consider what God may be doing to help you in your walk with Him through these "detours" in your life. Give thanks...and look ahead...the sun may be rising on a new horizon for you. God bless you and have a great journey!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Who's Holding YOU?

Deuteronomy 33:27:  "The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms..."

Safe in His Arms
Psalm 119:117 ~ "Hold me up, and I shall be safe..."

Psalm 119:114 ~ "You are my hiding place and my shield; I hope in Your word." 

Mark 10:14-16 ~ "Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of God. Assuredly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will by no means enter it."  "And He took them up in His arms, laid His hands on them, and blessed them."

It seems as though the news these days just keeps getting more and more frightening and discouraging...whether it be the state of the world at war, or the state of the economy, the political turmoil in our country, the unemployment rate...wherever we turn, the news is not good.  If we are not strongly grounded in our faith and our personal convictions, we can be tossed to and fro in an angry sea of anxiety, fear and doubt.  We find ourselves surfing the news channels in hopes of finding some good news for a change, and once in a while we may happen upon a good human interest story or some other positive words of encouragement...but not too often.  After a while we begin to wonder why our bodies are feeling so tense and stiff, and why our hearts are pounding and we can't seem to stand in one place for long because we are so filled with dread.  Suddenly we begin to realize that we are allowing the world to hold us hostage to fear and hopelessness, and we have to do something to stem the tide of negative emotions.

God said in the book of Isaiah:51:12-13; 15-16
"I, even I, am He who comforts you. Who are you that you should be afraid of a man who will die, and of the son of a man who will be made like grass? And you forget the Lord your Maker, Who stretched out the heavens and laid the foundations of the earth; You have feared continually every day because of the fury of the oppressor, when he has prepared to destroy.  And where is the fury of the oppressor?"  "But I am the Lord your God, Who divided the sea whose waves roared~The Lord of hosts is His name.  And I have put My words in your mouth; I have covered you with the shadow of My hand, that I may plant the heavens, lay the foundations of the earth, and say to Zion, 'You are My people.'"

"I will lift up my eyes to the hills~from whence comes my help?
My help comes from the Lord, Who made heaven and earth.
He will not allow your foot to be moved;
He who keeps you will not slumber.
Behold, He who keeps Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep.
The Lord is your keeper;
The Lord is your shade at your right hand.
The sun shall not strike you by day,
Nor the moon by night.
The Lord shall preserve you from all evil;
He shall preserve your soul. 
The Lord shall preserve your going out and your coming in
From this time forth, and even forevermore."
Psalm 121

What more can I say?
Perfect Rest.
 Thank you, Jesus.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Who's A Nag?

Proverbs 21:9: "It is better to dwell in a corner of a housetop, than in a house shared with a contentious woman."

Proverbs 21:19: "It is better to dwell in the wilderness, than with a contentious and angry woman."

Proverbs 19:13b: "And the contentions of a wife are a continual dripping."

Need I say more? Old King Solomon "had seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred concubines; and his wives turned away his heart." (I Kings 11:3) So if any man knew about contentious wives and women...I imagine he did! These proverbs that he wrote make me wonder if, with all of his wealth, "wisdom", and wives, he would rather have lived out in the wilderness with the wild animals than in his palace!

Sometimes I've been accused of being a "nag"...especially when company's coming and the house is a mess...and everyone turns a deaf ear to my pleas to help clean up!  It would seem to me that most every woman is accused of nagging from time to time. But is nagging really the same as being contentious? Contentious means "quarrelsome" according to Webster's Dictionary. Some nagging does become quarrelsome, and if it is constant, it could be considered contentious. I like Proverbs 19:13b that says that the "contentions of a wife are a continual dripping." You know, like a leaky faucet? Who doesn't hate that?

How can I avoid becoming a contentious, nagging wife? I mean, aren't some of my contentions justified... afterall, if he would just do what I need him to do, when I need him to do it, the way I want him to do it in the first place...I wouldn't need to nag him. (Isn't that right, ladies?)

In matters of true need and not just "wishful thinking", perhaps it would be better to let your requests be made known to God first, and then as He directs you, share your thoughts with your husband.  "If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him." (James 1:5) Then together you should discuss and pray about the best direction you should take to solve the problem.

However, if your request happens to turn into an argument or heated debate, remember this advice:

"Be angry, and do not sin": "Do not let the sun go down on your wrath, nor give place to the devil." (Ephesians 4:26-27).

In plain English, Don't go to bed mad! Settle your differences before you touch your head to the pillow at night. Don't let Satan get a foothold in your marriage. Once he finds that weak spot, he loves to keep rubbing it in! So don't give him a chance.

Lord, help me to not be like that leaky faucet...that irritating constant dripping. Help me to bring my requests to You first, and seek wisdom from You as to what the next step should be. I know You will lead me in the right direction always. Thank you for this timely advice. Amen.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Some Thoughts for The "Preacher's Wife" ...and those who care about her...

Proverbs 12:4: "An excellent wife is the crown of her husband, but she who causes shame is like rottenness in his bones."

First of all, I am speaking today from the position of a woman whose husband was formerly a pastor...we are not currently pastoring a church...but my years of experience in this position uniquely qualify me to write this particular blog.  However, the thoughts shared here could also apply to any couple, whether in the ministry or not.

Throughout the years I'm certain we've all seen examples of pastors who had to leave the ministry because of their own mistakes or personal issues. However, perhaps less often,  pastors  have had to leave the ministry due to the indiscretions or behavior of their wives. Maybe it's not even a great big immoral sin...but just a case of a wife who couldn't make it in the "fishbowl" kind of world where ministers and their families have to live. Perhaps her attitude changed over the years...maybe she became unreasonably selfish with her husband's time and placed impossible demands on him.  She may have refused to participate in the activities of the church because she didn't like the people or the community, or some other facet of the ministry. Possibly she just plain rebelled against the restrictions placed on her "freedom to be me" philosophy of life. It might be that she could no longer submit herself to the authority of her husband, and ultimately, to God.

Please don't misunderstand me. I am not standing in judgment of any pastor's wife who couldn't take the stress of the ministry. I know what that's like. I've been there too. Let's face it, next to being the "First Lady" of the United States or other public figure, I know of no more difficult position for a woman than to be a minister's wife! But that's not to say it is an IMPOSSIBLE position! For we know that "with God all things are possible." (Matthew 19:26b.)

What I'm talking about is guarding our hearts against developing attitudes of rebellion and unwillingness to serve. It's so easy to fall into that trap. We are only human, after all. And our feelings get hurt, we get tired of all the meetings and "command performances", we get physically ill and have a difficult time recovering because we've just had enough. There were many times when I  found that happening inside of me, and I knew it was time to withdraw awhile from the "maddening crowd" and get alone with God. Even Jesus had to withdraw from the multitudes and pull away to pray and talk to His Father and find some time to rest. If we are to guard ourselves (and our husbands) from getting "burned out", we must take the time to get away periodically and just do nothing but whatever we find restful and relaxing. We need to have peace and serenity...away from the cell phone, computer, television, and hectic pace.

Maybe that can be accomplished by just taking a nice long country ride...we always try to do that at least once a week. We find that it is easier to communicate while driving along a country road away from everything as opposed to sitting across the table from each other in a noisy restaurant. (But we do enjoy going out to eat also...wifey's night out away from the kitchen).  We also try to have quiet times alone as well. My husband seems to sense when I really need to curl up in a chair by the fire (when we had a fireplace) and read a good book...or take a nap. He may even bring me a cup of hot tea to make the setting complete. The whole idea here is this: take time out to rest, recuperate, and "recreate" whenever possible...and make a point to make it possible. If more pastors and their wives would schedule in some quiet time into their busy schedules, there would be less opportunity or reason for any wife to become a shame to her husband (and vice versa). She would stand a better chance of being that "crown" of her husband instead.

So: Maybe you aren't a "Preacher's Wife", but I'll bet you know one or two.  Perhaps you could also help "lighten" her load by offering to do something special for her...babysit so she can get away for a day with her husband, or invite her out to  lunch with the girls...or a fun shopping day.  Surprise her with a gift card to her favorite tea room or bookstore. Take her a pot of mums to plant for fall...or a basket of fresh apples from the orchard if you happen to live near one. Be creative...think about the fact that oftentimes your pastor's wife may be lonely...even though she is always surrounded by people. Be a true friend to her...don't assume she "has it all together" just because she's a pastor's wife.  But whatever you do, allow her to be herself...and hold her confidence no matter what.  From one who knows...becoming a true friend is one of the most rare and treasured gifts you could ever give her. Think about that...and hug your Pastor's Wife the next time you see her. You'll be blessed for blessing her...I guarantee it! Oh, and one more thing: Pray for your pastor's wife daily!  You do not know what burdens she may be carrying on her heart that she cannot share with you or others. If you don't do anything else, please pray for her!

(I wrote this prayer a long time ago, while still serving in the ministry, but it still fits today:) Thank you, Lord, for these thoughts today. I've just come through another very hectic week of work and extra stress from outside pressures. Help me, Lord, to have the strength to keep going, and the time to stop and rest before I get too far-gone. I am reminded of your words in Matthew 11:28-30:

"Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For, My yoke is easy and My burden is light."

  Therefore, I come to you now, Lord. Thank you for bearing my burdens, and helping me to rest in You. Forgive me when my attitude shows the signs of strain...help me to keep my heart tuned into You. Amen.
As an addendum to this blog, The Pastor's Wives I've had the privilege to know have all been super wonderful Christian women. They have shown the love and compassion of Christ to others in their daily walk, and have given the love and support to their husbands that is so greatly needed. They have set a tremendous example before me and others of the kind of woman we all ought to strive to be, whether in the ministry or out. Thank you, dear pastor's wives!!