Laying My Burdens Down Repost

Today I’m reposting a blog from this date seven years ago. I pray it ministers to you as it did to me in the rereading. I’ve added a song about laying our burdens down, which I heard for the first time today.

“I’m in a bad place,” I said to Kenn, my songwriting teacher, last Thursday. “Working on a song seems like a hard thing today.”

Not long before I had been in North Carolina visiting a friend. What happened to the peace and joy I felt there? My trip was to be a writing retreat I had decided, but God also turned it into a “righting retreat”–a time to set things right in my heart and soul.

Hadn’t God brought me to a place of feeling I was beside still waters and all was right with my soul? So what had happened since I returned?

“I challenge you,” Kenn said, “when you get home to sit down for 15 minutes even in the midst of this funk you’re in and write a song.”

At home I realized Satan was attacking me. He didn’t want me beside still waters experiencing rest for my soul. I’m sure he was miffed that while on my trip I spent time praising God for every bad thing in my life I could think of and for all the good God brought out of those difficult circumstances.

So I did what Kenn told me to do. With a pen and my journal, I sat in the recliner determined to write for 15 minutes.

A song came. And with the song came truth.

While on my trip, I had laid all my burdens down. When I came home I picked them up again and then some.

So the song was about laying my burdens down. In 15 minutes I wrote the first verse and the chorus. Later that day I wrote the second verse and the bridge. It amazed me since I rarely write a complete song in one day.

The next day I received an email devotion with the title, “Casting Your Cares Upon the Lord,” which included this verse:

 “Cast your burden upon the LORD, and He shall sustain you.” Ps 55:22 (NKJV)

The day after that laying down our burdens was mentioned in another email. Today on the radio I heard a song by the Newsboys called “Million Pieces” that was about yes!  laying our burdens down. A song we sang at church not long ago about the subject has also been playing in my mind.

Praise God for these reminders of this truth:  when I feel weary and worried, it’s often because I’m carrying burdens He didn’t mean for me to carry.

The verses that have been coming to mind since I sat down to write (or rather “receive”) my song are Matthew 11:28-30:

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble of heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (NIV)

Since God gave me my new song I’ve been singing it to myself over and over: “I’m laying my burdens down. I’m laying my burdens down. There’s rest for my soul, and peace can be found…” Once again I’ve given up on trying to control situations that seem out of my control and I’ve abandoned playing God in other people’s lives.

Rest is returning to my soul. What joy there is in releasing all my cares to Him and receiving once again the truth that He cares for me and is in control. I pray for grace not to pick those burdens up again.

What about you? Are you being weighed down by burdens? Listen closely and  hear God whisper, “My child, lay them down.” Then do it.

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Time In Prison

Not long ago a man I know and love talked about his chronic pain. Every day no matter what he does, he cannot escape the pain he feels.

“It’s like being in prison,” he said.

Although chronic physical pain remains something I do not deal with, I can relate to chronic emotional pain. For years I battled severe depression from which I failed for a time to find an escape. I praise God He set me free over many years through counseling by Christian counselors—both lay and professional– and by the Holy Spirit.

During those years, and sometimes in more recent years and months when painful circumstances threaten to shatter my peace, I felt the same way my loved one does, “It’s like being in prison.”

But yet as I thought about the whole idea of pain and prison, Paul’s time behind bars which I read about in Scripture, came to mind.

This directive came too, Do what he did when he was in prison.

I studied Paul’s time in prison—especially in the book of Philippians–and compiled a list of what Paul did while in prison:

He prayed to God. Acts 16:25

He sang hymns of praise. Acts 16:25

He thanked God for others. Philippians 1:3

He prayed for others. Philippians 1:3

He wrote a letter of encouragement: his letter to the Philippians.

He saw the good of his prison time—“greater progress of the gospel.” Philippians 1:12

He rejoiced in the Lord. Philippians 1:18

He gave godly counsel. Philippians 2:14

He urged others to rejoice. Philippians 2:17, 4:4

He spoke of trusting God. Philippians 2:24

He reached out to meet the needs of others. Philippians 2:25

He believed Christ would be exalted in his body. Philippians 3:20

He encouraged others to let go of anxiety and to pray. Philippians 4:6

He encouraged others to control their thinking. Philippians 4:8

He learned about contentment. Philippians 4:11-12

He depended on Christ’s strength. Philippians 4:13

He gave glory to God. Philippians 4:20

He encouraged others to take hold of God’s grace. Philippians 4:23

AS I read the complete book of Philippians, I discovered Paul kept his focus on Jesus, shared his faith with others, maintained an excellent attitude and encouraged that in others, and sent life-changing teachings and warnings to fellow Christians.

What he didn’t do was complain, feel sorry for himself, withdraw from God or fellow Christians, or proclaim lies about the Lord and His goodness, IE, “God doesn’t love or care about me anymore,” or “God has abandoned me.”

Since I saw that my loved one and I tend to slip into the above negative behaviors during our “prison time,” my prayer for both of us centers on learning to handle difficult circumstances in a way which pleases God—the way Paul dealt with his time in prison.

The difference between Paul and myself comes to this: I tend to do what comes naturally. What Paul did was supernatural.

God wants me to live a supernatural life, which comes about by being vitally connected to Him. I accomplish this when I abide in Him and depend on the guidance of the Holy Spirit rather than what my mind tells me to think and do.

In the days ahead, as I continue to face various difficult circumstances over which I have no control, I pray for God to help me to be like Paul. I will review the list above on a regular basis and ask God to empower me to live it out.

Doing so will help me grow, will be a powerful witness to those who don’t know the Lord, and will bring glory to God.

I thank God in advance for all He’s going to do in me and through me as I embrace these truths.

“King of My Heart” by Kutless

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-jkMnq2Hfzo

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Guest Blog: Letter To Hugh Hefner

Hugh Hefner died recently. For my blog today, I’m posting a letter someone I’m close to sent to him a number of years ago. She did not receive a reply.

Please pray for the scores of people still in bondage to pornography and those suffering from the damage it does to families and relationships.” God is able to set men (and women) free from the bondage of pornography. Since the writing of this letter, Renee and her husband went for counseling, and he has made great strides toward freedom.

“Dear Mr. Hefner,

It’s ironic I was born in the same city you were, Chicago, Illinois–in 1953, the year you started your quest to capture the hearts, minds, and libidos of men.

Little did you know when you started your business I and scores of other young girls would find  your women hidden in their homes by fathers oblivious to what these images could do to scar little girls’ souls. My father got caught in your trap even though he went to church every Sunday and worked hard to support his family.

So much was stolen from me the day I found those magazines. I thought my father was a faithful husband, but I discovered he wasn’t. This crushed my little girl heart.

Another thing stolen was the sense that someday a man could love me and my imperfect body. I knew I could never measure up to images on those pages, but I vowed to try. I never came anywhere near to attaining a body like theirs, but I wasted precious time and energy on the quest and on feeling bad I failed.

I learned along the way God desires a different kind of perfection–one that has nothing to do with appearance. He wants me to have a perfect heart toward Him—one that is eager to do His will and be all He wants me to be.

When I started to gain weight as a teen I turned to bulimia which lasted into my 20s. I was willing to throw up to try to look like those women. Surely then my someday-husband would not have to look at them.  He would look at me and be satisfied.

But that’s not how it turned out. My husband was captured by you and yours at a young age, and he’s been hooked ever since. We’ve been married 38 years, and whenever I pleaded with him to get rid of his “other women,” he pretended he had or did so for a short time.

I found a quote by you not long ago:  “One of the great ironies in our society is that we celebrate freedom and then limit the parts of life where we should be most free.” I wondered what kind of freedom you meant? Freedom to break marriage vows? Freedom to objectify women? All the men I know and love gained from looking at your women is bondage—not freedom.

Not only does my husband seem to find it impossible to let go of your women, along the way he let me go. He reached the point where he had no interest in sexual contact with me—only with them.

Often I felt if I possessed more beauty, maybe I could get him to look at me and desire me sexually. But that wouldn’t matter because I couldn’t be a harem of women, and I couldn’t stay young forever. Because of you and those like you, my husband and husbands all over the world have more interest in interacting with images on a piece of paper or a computer screen than with a real live person.

Our marriage vows talked about “forsaking all others,” but my husband hasn’t been able to do that, although He’s tried. But I’m not sure he’s attempted this because he thinks it’s wrong not to, but just because there’s a part of him that fears I may leave. Often I’ve wanted to, but God wouldn’t let me.

I remember the day we renewed our wedding vows. It was near our 25th wedding anniversary.  I wanted to do it because I thought James was finally free from these other women. We went to a marriage seminar where at the end we held hands and repeated the vows we made on our wedding day. I remember the look on his face as he said “forsaking all others.” He looked so sincere, so loving.

And yet he was telling lies.

It wasn’t long before I discovered his relationship with your women remained stronger than ever.  Once again he pretended to have let them go.

The thought occurred to me that people who were harmed by Playboy magazine could sue you—like the people who sue cigarette companies for not having strong warnings on their products. Where were the warnings on your magazines—that this product could kill desire for sexual intimacy with a real person? That this product could lead to an addiction that could last a lifetime? That this product could hurt your marriage and cause your wife more pain than you ever imagined possible? Where were those warnings?

Mr. Hefner, I have felt I want restitution from you for all the ways you and your women have hurt me and my marriage. But what could you give me? No amount of money could restore what you stole from me—from us.

I praise God He has given me comfort, peace, and hope along the way when I felt unloved and unlovely because of my husband’s obsession with your women.

No, Russell doesn’t just look at Playboy anymore.  That was the starter “drug” for his addiction. You were the one who convinced him there’s nothing wrong with this—that it’s normal—that real men look at porn. Some days I feel he can’t let go of it –of them—because he has tied looking at them in with his masculinity. He seems to think if he lets them go, he’d let go of being a man. That’s all a part of the lie you sold him.

I wonder about living in a society that’s so accepting of you. What if you didn’t have millions of dollars or a mansion? What if you lived in a modest home in my neighborhood or any small neighborhood in America? And what if you invited women into your home to be photographed nude and sold pictures of them around the neighborhood—attaching well-written articles to the photos? Would so people still applaud you?

One reason I’m writing this letter is because my anger and bitterness toward you has hurt my life. God has called me to forgive you for all you’ve done to me and to so many other wives. He wants me to pray for you and for all the people whose lives you affected. I know you and I don’t agree.  You probably believe you’ve done much good in this world. I can’t change your mind on that, but I can forgive you.

Although I can’t get you to say you’re sorry to me and others, I can say I’m sorry to you. I’m sorry I’ve hated you. I’m sorry I failed to pray for you more and have compassion on you for all the hurts that must have happened to you to cause you to live the life you did. I’m sorry I failed until recently to pray for your healing and to pray God would help you to know Him and live for Him. It pains me to think what might have happened if more of us who call ourselves Christians  prayed for you over the years and reached out to you in loving ways. Perhaps we could have made a difference in your life.

Despite my husband’s repeated rejection of me through his devotion to the women you introduced him to, I still love him. Sex is not the most important part of our marriage, so I go on with his latest promise to forsake your women, knowing he will most likely fall again. As I have forgiven him, I feel close again, and I’m praying what the Bible says will come true for our relationship–that God will restore the years the locusts have eaten…(Joel 2:25)

Mr. Hefner, I pray before you die you will get right with God. I feel sad you didn’t use your giftedness for godly purposes, for you truly are a gifted man to be able to persuade so many people to think like you and buy your product—even those calling themselves Christians and attending church every Sunday–like my father and my husband.

I will continue to pray for you and for the downfall of your business and others which have brought so much harm to so many. One day your eyes will be opened to that fact. I pray many more men’s eyes will be opened as well while there is still time to save their marriages and heal their souls.

I would appreciate a response from you if you have the time and inclination. May God intervene in your life in a powerful way in the days before you leave this earth.

Sincerely,

Renee Moore” (not her real name)

*****

“My Deliverer” by Rich Mullins

For help for husbands who have this problem or their wives, go to:

http://pinkelephantresources.com/

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My Covering

As I drove to Vero Beach yesterday to visit my parents and see the damage hurricane Irma did to their mobile home and bring encouragement, I listened to the radio.

Tony Evans spoke about David slaying Goliath. He talked about the giants we have in our lives and how one key component, which David counted on, leads to victory every time.

This component is contained in verses 26 and 36 in Chapter 17 of 1 Samuel.

“…who is this uncircumcised Philistine that he should defy the armies of the living God?” Verse 26

“Your servant has killed both the lion and the bear; this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, because he has defied the armies of the living God.” Verse 36

The bottom line is David knew he had a covering from God, and he depended on it. We Christians have that same covering, but we tend to fight battles on our own without depending on our union with the Lord.

Shortly after I heard this truth on the radio, as I drove down the two-lane section of SR 60, a blinding rain pounded down.

Visibility became limited. Although I slowed down, vehicles coming toward me seemed to pick up speed with semi trucks spraying water into my lane, which made my visibility even more limited. I prayed they wouldn’t suddenly skid toward me and slam into my car.

I thought of pulling off, but someone followed close behind me. Besides there was no shoulder, and the grass sloped downward on the side of the road. I slowed down even more and put on my blinkers.

Then I remembered the truth from the radio program.

“You are my covering. I pray for Your protection against this giant of a storm. I’m dependent on You,” I cried out to God.

As I prayed, I drove into a clear patch of highway.

“Thank You, Lord,” I said and heaved a sigh of relief.

Then it came again in a mile or two, (Florida is like that) and I repeated my prayer. I praised God. I prayed He would keep me safe from the vehicles coming toward me, which still seemed to be approaching at breakneck speed. I imagined it was because truck drivers have a schedule to keep, and they’re more accustoming to driving in bad storms than I was.

After another ten minutes of praying and asking God to help me with my driving and them with theirs and reminding Him I was dependent on Him,  I drove out of the storm, and toward a sky with puffy white clouds and a deep blue.

I realized one of the giants I faced as I drove through the storm was fear. This fear flared up because I felt I had no control—of the storm or of the drivers coming toward me. But as I remembered to put God into the equation, He helped me to deal with my fear. He reminded me that because of Jesus, I’m never alone.

Today I feel thankful that no matter what storm, struggle, or stressors I face in my life, God remains my covering, and I can depend on and call out to Him. Daily and moment by moment, I need to choose to do that. When I don’t, I feel defeated. Thank You, Pastor Tony, for reminding me of that truth.

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After The Storm

Note: Although the date at the top of this blog says September 17, 2017, it was posted on Saturday, September 16th. If anyone knows how to fix this problem of the wrong date being posted by WordPress, please email me at emcreasman@aol.com.

Hurricane Irma has come and gone.

As I reflect on the storm, I praise God for bringing me and my family through it.

One thought comes to my mind again and again.

It could have been so much worse.

In our area, it was predicted to be so.

After surviving a storm like this one, all I can think about is how grateful I am.

Here are some gratitude thoughts which came to mind in recent days.

Thank You, Lord, that:

Our home received minimal damage.

Although my parents’ mobile home on Florida’s east coast sustained some damage, their home remains liveable.

All went well in staying overnight at the hospital where I work, and as far as I know, we had no damage to our building. The storm bonded me closer to team members and my boss as we went through the storm together.

Although our power remained off for days, it was restored before the estimated day.

The storm and no electricity caused our family to draw closer together.

The storm brought me and my husband closer to our neighbors.

The storm helped me grow in gratitude for the little everyday things I take for granted.

You used the storm to draw me closer to You.

And the list goes on.

As I reflect on Hurricane Irma, I’m reminded of blessings in the midst of storms in my spiritual life. An important one which always happens–if I keep my eyes on Him–is that I’m drawn closer to the Lord.

It’s key that I keep my focus on Him. Otherwise during the storm and afterward, I turn to complaining and being overwhelmed by negative thoughts. I give in to fear and my faith falters.

On the Christian radio station I listen to, I heard a truth before, during and after the storm which says God is my refuge in the time of storm.

I looked up the verse today and thanked God for how true it has been in my life—through every storm I’ve faced—literal storms and those in my spiritual life.

‘You have been a refuge…a refuge for the needy in their distress, a shelter from the storm.” Isaiah 25:4 NIV

Monday evening after the storm when we had no electricity, my husband, daughter, granddaughter and I sat out on our lanai with lit candles on the table and talked, enjoying just being with one another. If the electricity had been on, we would have been watching TV or in separate rooms doing our own thing. I felt so grateful that evening—that God spared us from what could have been so much worse. I also felt grateful for a loving family and all the other wonderful intangibles I possessed in my life.

“The storm” reminded me of what really matters and all I have to be grateful for.

Note: Continue to pray for those in Key West and the Caribbean Islands who have faced devastating destruction. God is able to encourage them and restore their losses. Pray the people will turn to Him as their continued refuge in the storm and in the aftermath of the storm.

You Are My Refuge-Maranatha! Praise Band

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CRmSILC_tJE

 

 

 

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Letting Go of Fear While Waiting for the Storm

Note: this blog was posted on Saturday, September 9, 2017 at 10:54pm. Once again WordPress put on the wrong date, and I have not found a way to correct it.

“Dreading the Worst.”

I read the newspaper headline as I jogged past a newspaper in our neighbors’ driveway.

Many people I encounter in recent days seem filled with dread.

“I’m so afraid,” a number of people said to me today.

What brings on this fear and dread?

Hurricane Irma looms to the south of us and threatens to bring forceful winds, lots of rain, and a storm surge.

I believe in preparation for such storms.

But I reject that fear should be our number one emotional response.

Instead of dreading the worst, I pray for the best possible outcome—for the least injury and loss of life and minimal damage to property.

As I focus on the Lord, He urges me not to join in with the fear and fretting going on around me.

One reason for this is the waiting and not knowing.

But isn’t much of life like that?

As I contemplate the choice of fear or faith in the times of approaching storms—even those with hurricane force winds–I know certain wonderful assets these impending storms like Irma can’t take from me.

Some which come quickly to mind are God’s peace, God’s presence, God’s love, my salvation, joy. Also, storms can’t negate the promises God offers to me from His Word.

Yet if I give in to fear, all of these items on my list can seem out of reach and unreal. I can feel alone and trapped in fear.

I realize one reason people give in to fear as they wait for a hurricane to arrive is they spend the day watching TV and see the winds tear through other areas. Those images loom large in their minds.

Yes, I want to know where the storm is and what to expect, but I don’t have to keep my eyes on the problem of the impending storm all day long.

I can focus on the Lord—my provider in the midst of storms—in the natural world and those storms which threaten my heart and soul.

I think of St Maarten where Irma brought devastating damage. Instead of allowing those images to torment my mind, I thought of how the island could be restored—again. On a cruise several years ago, I visited this island with my husband, and we really enjoyed my time there. We had a bus tour with a wonderful bus driver/ tour guide.

He told of a past hurricane which damaged so much on their island. But the wonderful news was they rebuilt it all and once again welcomed cruise ships and the tourists who provided their livelihood.

Today I prayed for that bus driver–that God would keep him strong and help him to grow in faith during this difficult time.

Yesterday I listened to the radio in my car as I ran errands. Uplifting songs lifted me above fearful thoughts of Irma.

One verse the DJ read reassured me: “He caused the storm to be still, So that the waves of the sea were hushed” (Psalm 107:29).  This verse reminded me my God looms so much larger than this or any storm.

At any moment with one word or with one breath, He could dissipate the storm. But for some reason, it seems He allows most to take their course.

But this I know: even when the storm rages around me, He can cause my soul to be still in the midst of the storm, and He can hush the waves inside of me which threaten to mess with me and my life.

The DJ encouraged listeners to continue to tune in throughout the time we waited for the storm to arrive and to let go of fear.

I like what He said at the end of his pep talk to Christians in Florida facing Irma’s arrival: “Let’s trust Him as we go through the storm together.”

That’s exactly what storms do—the hurricane kind and the kind which threaten to ravage our souls—they teach us to trust God.

As I wait for Irma to reach my town, that’s exactly what I’m determined to do—to let go of fear and trust the Lord.

This verse comes to mind: “What time I am afraid, I will have confidence in and put my trust and reliance in You” (Psalm 56:3 AMPC).

I pray for grace to keep obeying this life-changing directive.

I look forward to all the ways God will continue to assure me in the midst of this storm and others I will face in the future.

No matter what happens, He remains faithful.

 

My Anchor – Christy Nockels & Passion

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fCymt6cZY5w

 

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We Fall Down

I fell a little over two weeks ago–while I ran.

I fell hard on the cement sidewalk, and hit my knees, my hands, my jaw, my chin, my teeth. It felt like my brain shifted around inside my skull. My sunglasses flew through the air.

I felt startled by the sudden change of position. One moment I jogged along enjoying the morning sun and slight breeze. The next I found myself in a prone positon with pain in many parts of my body.

I cried out, “Lord, help me,” and wondered about broken bones.

I fell several other times over my years of running—each time because of a rise in the sidewalk I didn’t notice. On each occasion I suffered no broken bones. As I got slowly to my feet, I realized once again my bones remained intact. However, I felt pain in my face, my jaw, my hands and especially my knees.

I put my hand to my face, and drops of blood trickled into it. A large scrape on my left knee bled some and hurt.

One thing I knew. I wanted to keep going. I had been doing so well with my running schedule. So despite the pain, and even though I fell near the beginning of a six-mile run, I determined not to abandon it because of a fall.

So I picked myself up and kept running.

Young people passed me on the way to school, and a little girl said cheerily, “Good morning. I hope you have a great day.”

I felt so encouraged by the enthusiasm of her greeting. She didn’t seem to notice the blood on my face or knees. I hurt some, but as I ran it seemed my body dealt with the pain—probably because of endorphins which release during exercise. Once again I returned to enjoying the scenery and my time with the Lord. I thanked God for sparing me any serious injury, any broken bones, and that I continued to be blessed with a full set of teeth.

After two weeks, my knee still hurts and the wound there seems slow to heal. But I have kept up my running schedule and continue to rejoice that when I fell, I picked myself up and kept on going.

My physical fall got me thinking about falls in my spiritual life. Sometimes I’m tempted to give up when I fall and not keep moving on. But just as I picked myself up off of that sidewalk and immediately returned to running, I learned it’s essential to do that in my spiritual life. The enemy whispers to do otherwise, and he attempts to bring shame over the fact of a fall just as I felt a bit ridiculous for not paying closer attention to the rise in the sidewalk and the unfortunate result.

One thing I know about spiritual falls: the Lord wants to assist me to move on after I have one.

A verse I found that speaks of that is Psalm 145:14: “The LORD upholds all who fall and lifts up all who are bowed down.”

I could have made another decision after my fall. One choice would be to say, “I never want to run again; I refuse to risk another fall.”

But every worthwhile pursuit in life involves falls and failures. The key is to pick myself up and move on.

I’m so glad God helps me to do just that.

“We Fall Down” by Donnie McClurkin

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3A5s2feN6Yk

 

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