Your Word Was Found

I’ve been feeling down about a situation in my life that seems hopeless and beyond my control. (I’ve finally let go of the illusion that I can control any circumstance.)

In the midst of battling negative thoughts and futile attempts to use food to make myself feel better, I decided to clean out a cupboard in the kitchen. In there I found a baggie that had pieces of paper in it. This collection of neatly folded papers had been on that shelf for years.

I remembered that they were Bible verses. Originally I think I may have printed out the verses to encourage myself years ago when I was in a crisis and took one out when it seemed that I had no strength to go on. Also I had used them in a group setting where I had each person pick out a verse to be encouraged.

I certainly needed some encouragement at that moment.

So I decided that for the next week I would pick out a verse each day and apply it to my situation. Here are the verses that I picked out for a week’s time.

Day 1 Is anything too hard for the LORD? Genesis 18:14 NIV

Day 2 Patience. Galatians 5:22 ESV (I remember sticking that piece of paper with that single word on it in the baggie at some point along the way.)

Day 3 I sought the LORD, and He heard me, and delivered me from all my fears. Psalm 34:4 KJV

Day 4 For You will light my lamp; the LORD my God will enlighten my darkness. Psalm 18:28 KJV

Day 5 The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want…He restores my soul…Psalm 23:1 & 3 NKJV

Day 6 Not by might, not by power, but by my spirit saith the LORD. Zechariah 4:6 KJV

Day 7 Greater is he that is in you than he that is in the world. 1 John 4:4

Each verse seemed perfect for the situation and just what I needed that day. Somehow having just one verse presented to me instead of quickly reading a chunk of the Bible halfheartedly seemed to make the verse so special. And something about “reusing” Scripture that had helped me in the best lifted my spirits. I prayed that God would give me grace to receive the promise connected with each Scripture.

Another verse came to mind as I thought about finding these Bible verses in my cupboard—especially since I had been busy eating food in recent days instead of God’s Word to deal with my heartache.

Your words were found and I ate them, And Your words became for me a joy and the delight of my heart; For I have been called by Your name, O LORD God of hosts (Jeremiah 15:16 NASB).

I especially like that this verse from Jeremiah ends with calling God “LORD God of hosts.” I remembered when studying the names of God that “the Lord of hosts” was a name that showed our God fights our battles for us. This is what I found online about Jehovah-Sabaoth—the Lord of Hosts that lifted my spirits even more:

“Throughout Scripture we find this LORD of Hosts as our ever present defender, the Sovereign and Holy God over all the universe who sees us, loves us and moves mountains on our behalf. He fights our battles, wins our wars and is the refuge we can run to in time of need. He is Jehovah-Sabaoth!” (Donotdepart.com) Wow!

Because I felt so encouraged after the week was over, I kept going. Next week I’ll let you know what those other verses are.

How about you? Are you going through a time of feeling discouraged? Why not pick out your favorite Bible verses and apply them to your situation. You might take the time to put them on paper and fold them, so you can look at them one day at a time for encouragement later.

Here is a song that brought me encouragement lately as well. God is so good.

“Hope In Front Of Me” by Danny Gokey (American Idol finalist)

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Missing It

“Aren’t you going to hike with us down to the falls?” I asked a loved one while on the Glen Burney Falls trail in Blowing Rock, North Carolina earlier this summer.

“I’m too worn out,” she answered. “I’ll wait for you here.”

We had been hiking for an hour, and it was true that she didn’t have the hiking experience that I and another member of our group did.

“But the falls is what this hike is all about,” I said.

The Glen Burney falls are not spectacular, but they are lovely to me. Perhaps it’s because they reside in the town I like so much. Also part of the beauty is in the getting there on a trail that at times is rugged, but beautiful as the trail leads the hiker to be totally enveloped in trees and other plantlife.

This was the third time I and another person in our little group had hiked this trail together.

“I’m staying with her,” a fourth member of our group said and pointed to Miss I-refuse-to-go-to-see-the-falls.”

“But the falls…” I tried to coax again.

“Forget it,” they both insisted and sat down on a fallen log to rest.

After a fairly short trek down, I and my fellow eager companion arrived at the secluded and serene Glen Burney Falls. The sun glimmered on the water and the rocks. The surrounding plant life was a lush green and added to the loveliness of the scene.

“I feel so bad that they are missing this,” I said aloud.

Then since we had to wait for other hikers to get photos of themselves with the falls in the background, I said, “I’ll be right back,” and hurried on the path to where I had left the other two members of our group to see if they were rested enough to join us.

They were gone.

Most likely they had hiked back to the trail head.

I scurried back to the falls, and enjoyed more gazing at them and the scenery all around followed by some photo-taking time.

For the rest of our stay in Blowing Rock what went through my mind repeatedly was, “But they missed the falls,” and “Seeing the falls was what the hike was all about.”

The feeling I had as I thought about this reminded me of the feeling I have when people proclaim to be Christians but fail to experience the love and presence of God by going deeper into a relationship with Him.

This is what the Christian hike (walk) is all about, I communicate to them and urge them to move closer to God. But like my friends on the hike, they hold back for various reasons and miss the best part.

As I pondered this I was reminded of Luke 10:27:

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, andyour neighbor as yourself.” (ESV)

As we do, we experience His love. We draw near to Him, and He draws near to us. (See James 4:8) This brings us to a lovely serene place in our souls where we can experience His presence and His peace.

How sad I feel for those who miss out on all God has for them and lead other to miss out as well.

Some days I am one of those.

Lord, help me to experience all You have for me. I pray for those who are “missing it” that they will continue on the trail until they know You in a deep way and experience Your great love and learn to rest securely in Your presence. Draw me back quickly to priorities when I am missing what the Christian life is all about. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen

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More About Brokenness

Lately I’ve been thinking more on the subject of being broken. Too often I have seen this as a bad thing, but again and again God is convincing me that this is a good thing. Brokenness—if we let it—will help us to grow into a deeper relationship with the Lord.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss writes in her book, Brokenness; The Heart God Revives that “True brokenness is an ongoing constant way of life. Brokenness is the shattering of my self-will, and the absolute surrender of my will to the will of God” (page 53).

I’ve discovered that being in a state of brokenness is a humbling. It’s my opportunity to let go of pride and embrace God’s will and way more fully.

I’ve been amazed by the number of songs there are in which I hear the word “broken.” Other songs center on the subject of brokenness.

There are three songs which have spoken to me in these past few weeks. I am embracing with my whole heart the truths that are in these songs.

I want to move away from the delusion that I know it all, can fix it all, or that I have arrived in any way in my spiritual life. Everything I have—including any victory or progress in my spiritual life–is because of the Lord.

Here are the words God spoke to me recently on the subject of brokenness:

ELAINE, I AM WITH YOU. I AM GROWING YOU. I KNOW THAT IS YOUR HEART’S DESIRE. BROKENNESS IS INDEED A BLESSING. CELEBRATE WHEN I BRING YOU TO THAT PLACE. IT IS A PLACE OF DRAWING CLOSER TO ME. IT IS A PLACE OF BEING FILLED (AFTER YOU ARE EMPTIED), OF DISCOVERING MY PERFECT WILL (AFTER YOU’VE LET GO OF YOUR WILL), AND BEING STILL (AFTER YOU HAVE LET ME CALM YOU WITH MY MERCY AND MY LOVE.) IT IS A PLACE TO BE THRILLED AS YOU SEE ME AS I AM AND SEE YOURSELF AS I SEE YOU. AS THAT SONG SAYS, SO OTHERS WILL SEE AND YOU WILL KNOW THAT YOU HAVE BEEN “BROKEN INTO BEAUTIFUL.”

Here is the verse God gave me this week to go along with the truths about being broken:

For this is what the high and lofty One says—he who lives forever, whose name is holy: I live in a high and holy place, but also with him who is contrite and lowly in spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly and revive the heart of the contrite (Isaiah 57:15 NIV)

Here is how the Amplified Bible elaborates on this verse:

For thus says the high and lofty One—He Who inhabits eternity, Whose name is Holy: I dwell in the high and holy place, but with him also who is of a thoroughly penitent and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble and to revive the heart of the thoroughly penitent [bruised with sorrow for sin]. (Isaiah 57:15)

One aspect of brokenness is bringing me down from thinking I am the high and lofty one and to admitting once again that I am a sinner in need of God’s grace every moment of the day—just like everyone else.  This happens at the moment of salvation, but we need to be brought back to that place of truth repeatedly during our walk with the Lord.

Today is my 39th wedding anniversary. I’ve experienced many times of brokenness in our marriage, but God truly has brought beauty out of brokenness.  He can do it in any area of our lives as we submit to Him. In fact, He delights to do so.

Lord, give me the grace to be filled. Help me to embrace Your will. Let me be still. And free me to be thrilled at all You are revealing to me about You and about myself. Thank You for the gift of brokenness. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Here are the links to those three songs about brokenness:

Sidewalk Prophets—“Keep Making Me”  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u6p7sDtVoZ4

Ellie Holcomb—“The Broken Beautiful”  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J62qayrMcHw

Karen Peck and New River–“Broken Into Beautiful”   http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TqQotayNafw

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Guest blog by Carmille Akande.

Today I have a guest blog by Carmille Akande.

She has this on her blogsite:

This blog is about my journey in Christianity as I strive to follow the commands of Matthew 25. I want to love the “least of these”, just as my Father has loved me. This blog covers my own personal struggles, my encouragement for others in the struggle, and hopefully a challenge for others to join me and others as we strive to love as Jesus did.

This is what Camille posted on August 12, 2014. It really spoke to me. More than ever before I want to be that person. I want to be that place.

Suicide and Pain: What Are We Missing?

This morning I was prepared to write about being a sacred place where others could come for healing, encouragement and restoration. I had no idea Robin Williams committed suicide yesterday. I didn’t hear the news because all evening I was sitting with a friend who is going through one of the most difficult times in her life. I also rushed out the door this morning with two friends on my heart who were also going through a great deal of suffering. It was late morning before I found out Robin Williams passed away. Robin Williams, the great comedian? The one who warmed my heart in Patch Adams.The man who challenged me,through Patch Adams,not to just be a professional, but a professional who cared for people.

I’ve read a lot of post on Facebook about how we (those still living) never know what a person is going through on the inside. I’ve read that a person can be smiling on the outside, but hurting on the inside. While this is certainly true for some, I find many who are hurting tell us they are hurting. In their efforts to reach out, we often shut the door on them. Sure, the first time or two we listen and tell them we are going to pray for them, but then they become “needy.” I don’t know how many times Christians have warned me to stay away from a person because they are “needy” or “too clingy.” I remember one time thinking, “Why wouldn’t they be needy?” I thought this because we both (the commentor and I) knew the horrible situation our sister was in. I couldn’t imagine the pain she was going through. However, this person believed our sister in Christ was being too “needy.”

While I believe that we should never replace God by trying to be the Savior, I do believe we should be a place where those who are hurting can come. A sacred place. Our sisters and brothers (or anyone) should be able to come to us, when they are hurting. A place where they can come to lament, weep, be angry, vulnerable, and real. Our sisters and brothers (or anyone) should be able to come to us, when they are hurting.

I once heard someone say, “If you can’t be transparent in your church, you are in the wrong church.” Pain is real. Pain can sometimes feel unbearable. Pain can make you feel like you can’t go on another second. It happens to believers and nonbelievers alike. Yet, I hear many Christians criticizing those who are hurting by telling them to have more faith or telling them they should just get over it. Or maybe even worse, not say anything at all. They don’t even have time for them.

Relationships are hard. Discipleship is messy. Love takes sacrifice. But I believe, it is what Jesus has called for us to do! Jesus had compassion for others. He cared for those who were hurting. He spent time with people. One of my favorite healing stories in the bible is in Mark 1: 40-45. A leper, an outcast of society, came to Jesus for healing. I know because of his condition, no one had time for him. No one offered him a place of belonging. A place where he could feel loved and accepted. No one offered him a sacred place. But, when Jesus saw him, the bible tells us that He was moved with compassion. Jesus reached out and touched him! He was willing to heal him.

The people that we see everyday may not have leprosy, but they may have some type of pain. They may be going through a difficult time and need someone to have compassion on them. A place to receive love. A place where someone will listen. A place where they don’t receive scriptural formulas, but a heart poured out for them. Can you be that person? Can you provide a place? Will you be that place?

We are all broken in some way. We all need encouragement from others. Let us all strive to be a sacred, healing presence for others. We will never have all the answers about suicide, but we can certainly start by making time for others. Not to lecture them, but to provide a sacred place for pain.

Posted byCarmille Akande at 9:59 AM

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Dealing With Brokenness

“Lord, I’m worn out by my job, and I’m weary of the evils in this world,” I proclaimed to the Lord yesterday.

It especially hurt to think about how the evil in the world was affecting my family members and loved ones.

I had been attempting to live in the present instead of ruminating over the past and dreading the future. But the truth that bombarded me was this: there is pain in the present.

As I thought of all that was happening in the present and my inability to change the circumstances as well as my weaknesses in handling hard situations, the word that came to mind was brokenness.  

At the core of my brokenness was this truth: “I’m not all that I desire to be, those I love are not all I desire them to be, and there’s nothing I can do about it. “ At first sadness concerning this overwhelmed me.

But God whispered Romans 8:28 to my soul:

 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. ESV

I could see how He had brought good out of so many difficult situations in my life. My childhood hurts had led me to help others overcome theirs and work in mental health. Difficulties in our marriage had led to me write numerous articles to help others find healing through the Lord as I called out to God in the midst of hopelessness.

The Lord reassured me that the difficulties I was presently facing were also working together for good—even though I couldn’t see how at the moment.  

Today I turned on Youtube and listened to songs that had to do with brokenness. I was reminded that brokenness can lead me to a better place in my Christian walk.

One site online presented this on the subject: “Genuine brokenness realizes its dependency on Christ and humbles itself to repent and follow hard after God.”

I realized I spent too much time trying to fix situations instead of fixing my eyes on the Lord. And I had been doing this for years and kept slipping back into it.

But on the other side of repenting of this—again—I experienced joy. Tears of joy streamed down my face as I embraced the fact that God knows my weaknesses and loves me anyway. He is not surprised by my tendency to want to do things my way and try to make something happen. And He is there to comfort me and lead me on when I feel broken over how I haven’t been dedicated to His way and to trusting Him.

One good thing I’ve learned over the years is that when I feel broken over my sinfulness, I need to move toward the Lord instead of away from Him. He is always there to embrace me in His arms of mercy. This promise from Scripture is beautiful:

…a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise. Psalm 51:17

How about you? Are you willing to come to the Lord in the midst of brokenness? What joy you will experience as you turn to Him.

Here is a song I heard for the first time today. It expresses so well where my heart is right now. I pray you will be blessed by it as well.

It is “In Brokenness, I Come To You” sung by Esther Mui  

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=opBeDVq2CSA

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When Someone Points To The Past

Not long ago I wrote about how God has continued to deal with me in the area of living in the present instead of having regrets and resentments about the past and fears concerning the future.

This has been the theme of a number of pieces I’ve written over the past several years. One reason is because I keep failing in this area. I do believe God is trying to bring me a vital truth and is also urging me to pass this truth along to others.

So lately as I’ve been determined to live in the present, I ran into something that can keep me focused on the past. That is when people bring up something I did wrong. It can be an action from yesterday or some way I failed a decade or more ago.

That happened recently when my adult daughter recalled out loud to me what I did wrong as a mom many years ago. She didn’t do it to be mean, but was just thinking back to her growing up years and told about an incident that happened which she didn’t like.

It had to do with food. She said (and I don’t remember this) that I tried to feed her and and my other daughter some meat that was past its prime and seemed like it was spoiled.

I confess that I hate to waste food, and it might have happened that I determined after eating some myself that it wasn’t spoiled and urged them to eat it.

I apologized, but still that comment brought me back to the past and thinking about all the ways I had fallen short as a mom. Regret began to creep in and threatened to ruin a nice day and special time with family.

Instead of falling into the trap of being filled with regret about the past, I asked God to bring me back to and keep me in the present.

And when He did, this is what happened.

I remembered that this same daughter had also complained a number of times that I had many outdated bottles in the refrigerator. Some days when she was over visiting she would go to use something and ask, “How old is this?” She’d look at the date and say, “Mother, you have to get rid of this old, outdated food.” Sometimes she’d throw a bottle or two away.

I’d be surprised when I looked at the product since it would seem that it was only weeks instead of years ago that I had bought it.

So in the present, I dealt with the issue that was brought up from the past.

The day after my daughter’s comment, I went through every product in my refrigerator and dumped out the contents of each into the sink if it was outdated. (Of course I had to save the bottles for recycling.)

In all there were at least 15 bottles of salad dressings, mustard, marinades and other outdated food products—some more than two years past their “best by” dates. I determined that I would use up food products I bought instead of letting them languish in the fridge.

And I felt better after doing that. I reported my “present” actions to my daughter, and she was pleased.

As I was busy doing my dumping into the sink, I thought of three things that keep me in the present. They are praises, prayers, and promises. As I praise the Lord for all I have right now, pray to Him about the present concerns of my heart, and also embrace the promises in His Word which apply to this present moment, I am able to live in the now.

One promise I’m reminded of that I love is from Psalm 16:11:

“In Your presence is fullness of joy…” AMP

I have access to God’s presence only in the present, so it is also true that in the present there is fullness of joy.

Thank You, Lord, for bringing me this life-changing truth.

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Letting Go of Fear of the Future–Again

As I’ve been examining my thought life in recent days, I notice how often I am thinking fearful thoughts about the future. Here is a blog I first posted in June 16, 2010. Even though I wrote this over four years ago, the truths are ones I needed to be reminded of again. I pray that they also minister to you.

Lately as I’ve been dealing with fears, I see that many of them have to do with fear of the future. When I think of family and finances, worries about whatwillhappen in these two realmscan plague me.

When I think of politics and employment, it’sthe future of both that can cause me to get strangled by what ifs.

When I contemplate my church life and my writing life, it’sfear about the future of these two entities that can cause me to want to give up hope on bothandconsider pursuing a path of self-gratification instead.

As I pondered my battle with fear of the future, God whispered a truth to me–that these fearsgenerally don’t originate with me. He brought me back to theY2K scare where Christian groups I was a part of were in a panic about crises that would happen when the year 2000 arrived. They talked about stocking up on food and buying generators.Often they reprimanded me for doing nothing and for not joining them in being afraid.But I was convinced there was nothing to fear. Still they wanted me to “catch their fear.”

The same goes on these days with politics and finances. Christianstry to convince me Democrats are ruining the financial world and the world in general. They insist I must do something–at the very least be very afraid. Rarely do they tell meto do the thing God has called us to do.

“I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone–for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior…” 2 Timothy 2:1-3

I confess I’ve sometimes succumbed to fears that orginate with others–even though I believe God is in control and will lead me through any difficulties that may arise. And yes, He may call me to do something, but out of obedience, not fear. Also, hard times can cause people to become more hungry to receive Jesus as their Savior, which is a good thing.

Now that I’m aware of this passing on of fears, I’m better able to resist it. One way is to deletecertain emails and avoid various TV and radio programs. I also change the subject or say, “Let’s pray about that.”

God wants me to stay focused on Him and not on problems in the world or in my family or church family, or at my job or in my writing life. Repeatedly He reminds me of this verse:

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” Jeremiah 29:11 NIV.

Often I tell those who try to pass along fears that I believe God is in control, and nothing man does can change what God has planned–either for me, the body of Christ, or our nation. I remind them God has taken care of His own all these years, and He’s not going to stop because of what someone is doing in Washington or anywhere else in the world.

And I hold to what my 6-year-old granddaughter, Destiny, said to me one day, “I will not let fear ruin my life.”

Is there someone in your life that is trying to pass along fear to you? Determine to deal with the situation God’s way.

The following song reminds me that God is in control of my future.

“Already There” by Casting Crowns. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s099Omqw1_E

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