I will trust in You

Psalm 56 has been a theme for me lately. We received news that cancer had metastasized into my knee and upper leg bones. Over the course of radiation treatment for that, I began to have serious back pain. An MRI revealed more bad news: cancer is present in several vertebrae. Not at all what we wanted to hear, but even in this God is faithful and kind. It is not in my spinal fluid. There is treatment available for the pain.

Over and over during the past few weeks, God continues to lead me back to Psalm 56.

Psalm 56

For the director of music. To the tune of “A Dove on Distant Oaks.” Of David. A miktam.[b] When the Philistines had seized him in Gath.

Be merciful to me, my God,
    for my enemies are in hot pursuit;
    all day long they press their attack.
My adversaries pursue me all day long;
    in their pride many are attacking me.

When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.
    In God, whose word I praise—
in God I trust and am not afraid.
    What can mere mortals do to me?

All day long they twist my words;
    all their schemes are for my ruin.
They conspire, they lurk,
    they watch my steps,
    hoping to take my life.
Because of their wickedness do not let them escape;
    in your anger, God, bring the nations down.

Record my misery;
    list my tears on your scroll—
    are they not in your record?
Then my enemies will turn back
    when I call for help.
    By this I will know that God is for me.

10 In God, whose word I praise,
    in the Lord, whose word I praise—
11 in God I trust and am not afraid.
    What can man do to me?

12 I am under vows to you, my God;
    I will present my thank offerings to you.
13 For you have delivered me from death
    and my feet from stumbling,
that I may walk before God
    in the light of life.

 

Several portions of this scripture stand out to me.

  1. In verse one “Be merciful to me”. We need God’s mercy every day. In fact we are desperate for it.
  2. From verse three “When I am afraid I will put my trust in you.” I don’t have to be afraid. When I put my trust in the God who holds my future I can relax and know that He has the very best in mind for me and my family. Romans 8:28 says “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” I don’t know how God makes everything work out for our good, but I can trust that He will.
  3. “In God whose word I praise in God I trust; I will not be afraid.” (Psalm 56:4, 10-11) I exhibit my trust in God when I’m in His word consistently and when I am praising Him. Being in God’s word is vital to my belief and trust in Him. His word feeds my soul and encourages my belief. My faith will only go as deep as my Bible Study will take me. The more time I spend in His word the more I am encouraged. It also removes my fear. Praising Him will lift my spirit faster than most anything else. A few minutes of praise will remove the discouragement from my heart.
  4. “I am under vows to you, my God; I will present my thank offerings to you. For you have delivered me from death and my feet from stumbling, that I may walk before God in the light of life.” (Psalm 56:12-13) I can be thankful through all this because God has delivered me from death. God has provided salvation for me through Jesus. He has healed me from my sin which is my greatest disease. While I’m here on this earth I am blessed to walk in His light. I am not stumbling around in darkness. God be praised!

There is nothing God can not handle or heal. He is able to do miracles in and through His people. He is showing me that His plans are better than mine. Sometimes they are harder, but they are always better. I pray that you will trust God with whatever you are facing today. I pray you will immerse yourself in His word and that you will not stumble as you walk in His light.

Posted in Uncategorized | 7 Comments

Update on Perseverance

Several people have asked for an update on my cancer treatments. There is not much to tell. I am taking a chemotherapy drug right now. My last scans had shown a small amount of progression, but praise the Lord it is still not in my organs. God keeps sustaining us through this journey. Sometimes it is a long, uphill all the way, winding road. I am so thankful that God is at work though. When I get down someone calls or shows up to pray with me or “Move” by Toby Mac comes on the radio. I just can’t be discouraged when that song comes on the air waves. Instead I have to get up and dance! Move by Toby Mac

When the road is hard I encourage you to “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” James 1:3-4

If you just can’t “consider it pure joy” yet, then “Consider him (Jesus) who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” Hebrews 12:3

I’ll try to do better about writing on the blog, but the truth is that life is extremely busy with the kids and that is way more fun than sitting behind a laptop. Have a great summer. I hope you will be Abundantly His!

Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments

Captured Moments

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty staring Ben Stiller was on earlier tonight. I always hesitate to recommend a movie because I usually watch them on a channel where the foul language has been omitted. But parts of this movie made me really think. Walter works for Life Magazine. He helps a photographer Sean O’Connell get his photographs placed just right for the covers of Life. Walter spends much of his life in an office surrounded by film and in his imagination. When he was seventeen he allowed his Dad’s death to change his life from an adventurer to a “responsible for everyone” type person. O’Connell sets him free to explore life as he searches high and low from Greenland to Iceland to the Himalayas for a missing picture frame that O’Connell says is the cover shot for Life’s final magazine. During the process Walter begins living life as he should have been all along.

While staring at a snow leopard that he’s been trying to take a picture of for days says, Sean Penn as Sean O’Connell says, “If I like a moment, me…personally I don’t like the distraction of a camera.” He enjoys the moment without taking the shot and then invites Walter to play soccer.

10-snow-leopard

I think God wants us to be more like that. He wants us to enjoy the moment without distractions, without the to do list and all the hustle of life. Just enjoy the moment. God has moments planned for you this week. Will you free yourself from the pressure to perform, from the distractions of life, from chasing the Jones’ to enjoy those moments? What does he want you to put down in order to enjoy those moments? What does He want you to pick up or put away? Who does he want you to invest in this week? What gifts has God given you to use this week? I hope whatever moments God has for you this week you’ll catch every one of them.

I Peter 4:10-11 “Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.”

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The Hardest Part of Anything

The hardest part of anything is often times not the difficulty, but the emotions that go with it. The anxiety, the sadness, the fear, or other emotions are the worst part of the lost job, the medical diagnosis, or any other loss. Emotions are good though. You and I were designed to experience them. Emotions add flavor to our existence. Yet they can be difficult to process and hard to understand especially when you’re tired or anxious.

So what can you do?

  1. Ponder your feelings a bit. Ask yourself why you are feeling the way you are? Are you tired? Are you needing some down time?
  2. Ponder your situation. Are you unable to see a way out of a situation? Do you need to share your burden with someone? Should you seek wise counsel? Should you see a professional counselor?
  3. As you ponder your thoughts seek out your answers from God’s Word. His truth will guide you if you are willing to listen.

Last night my sister, Elizabeth, and I shared our burdens and then prayed for each other. My burdens were lifted partly because of the sharing, but mostly because of the prayer. When God enters in the equation power is exerted and things change.

This morning as I was reflecting on my “woe is me” attitude I sought the Lord and read His Word and my countenance was lifted again. I pray you will be encouraged by these words as well.

Psalm 54:4 “Surely God is my help; the LORD is the one who sustains me.”

Psalm 54:7 “For he has delivered me from all my troubles and my eyes have looked in triumph on my foes.”

Psalm 56:3-4 “When I am afraid, I will trust in you. In God, whose word I praise, In God I trust; I will not be afraid. What can mortal man do to me?”

Psalm 86 “Hear me, LORD, and answer me, for I am poor and needy. Guard my life for I am faithful to you; save your servant who trusts in you, You are my God; have mercy on me, Lord, for I call to you all day long., Bring joy to your servant Lord for I put my trust in you. You are forgiving and good, abounding in love to all who call to you. Hear my prayer, LORD, listen to my cry for mercy. When I am in distress, I call to you, because you answer me. Among the gods there is none like you, Lord; no deeds can compare with yours. All the nations you have made will come and worship before you, Lord; they will bring glory to your name. For you are great and do marvelous deeds, you alone are God. Teach me your way, LORD, that I may rely on your faithfulness, give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name. I will praise you, Lord my God, with all my heart; I will glorify your name forever. For great is your love toward me; you have delivered me from the depths, from the realm of the dead. Arrogant foes are attacking me, O God; ruthless people are trying to kill me- they have no regard for you. But you, Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness. Turn to me and have mercy on me, show your strength in behalf of your servant; save me, because I serve you just as my mother did. Give me a  sign of your goodness, that my enemies may see it and be put to shame, for you, LORD, have helped me and comforted me.

I added emphasis on Psalm 86 to remind myself and you of who God is. Often times that is all it takes to lift my spirit. Fixing my eyes on my creator instead of my situation reminds me of who holds my future and my hand. I hope you are comforted and encouraged today by the God who loves you!

Cancer update: My most recent scans did not show any metastasized cancer, but only the cancer we already new about. Praise the Lord! I will be starting a new chemo treatment beginning February 8. I will go in for the infusion once a week. The main side effect is a red, itchy rash on the chest and face. YIKES! But, wait before you pray for me not to experience that know that the nurse said that “the worse the rash the more effective the treatment.” So let’s pray for the Lord’s perfect will to be done and for Him to receive the all the glory. He is my healer, sustainer, comforter and friend. He is my God and He alone will I praise and glorify.
Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments

What Brings God Glory?

The other night, before sleep claimed me, I read these words:

“You can ask for anything in my name, and I will do it so that the Son can bring glory to the Father. Yes, ask me for anything in my name and I will do it!” John 14:13-14 NLT

For a person in need, these verses make some high claims. But, let’s examine them a little bit. What stands out to you?

I’ll admit it most of the time when I have read these sentences it has been the beginning and end of these verses that catches my attention, “ask for anything in my name, and I will do it”. Anything? Really? Yes! The catch is found in the middle of these two verses. “I will do it so that the Son can bring glory to the Father.” You see Jesus doesn’t do anything that doesn’t glorify the Father. Never, not even once has he gone against that Father. His entire time walking this earth was in submission to the Father. Glorious, loving, honoring submission that is what Jesus did as he was in the garden praying for a way out of the cross. “Abba, Father,” he cried out, “everything is possible for you. Please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.” Mark 14:26

Oh, to get to the point in my prayer life where my words are not for my will but His!

But what brings God glory? Take some time and make a list. I believe it will improve your walk with him if you know what to focus on to be more like Jesus.

Here are a few of the things I came up with:

  1. Salvation of lost souls
  2. Humble spirit
  3. Repentant heart
  4. Kindness shown
  5. Obedience to the Holy Spirit
  6. Loving others

What else would you add?

After saying all these things (to the disciples), Jesus looked up to heaven and said, “Father, the hour has come. Glorify your Son so he can give glory back to you. John 17:1

I brought glory to you here on earth by completing the work you gave me to do. John 17:4

My prayer is that 2017 is that I bring glory to the Father and give all glory to Him for He is worthy! I pray that for you as well. Let’s focus on the things that really matter this year.

 

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Similar to the Wise Men

It confounds me when I see a Nativity set that features the Wise Men. After all they were not there that joyous night. Yet, this Christmas I find myself desiring to be more like them. Most of us have a few things in common with the Wise Men. However, there is still more that we can do to imitate their offerings of praise.

  1. Preparation – Anyone who is going to set out from the east and follow a new star has to be prepared. In America we too prepare for our Christmas celebrations. Two things that I especially enjoy this time of year require great effort, preparation and fortitude. I don’t participate in the performing of either of these tasks, but the joy that Christmas cards and Christmas Cantatas bring me is often unmatched by the lights and the other trappings of the season. Our church choir and orchestra put forth more hours than I can imagine in preparing the most awe inspiring musical I have ever enjoyed. I left that Sunday night filled with wonder of how God in the flesh, the Word, the Light came and dwelt among us. Also, every afternoon one of the kids runs to get the mail so they can be the one to open the Christmas cards. Then I stare, often with tears in my eyes, and marvel at how big your kids have gotten and at how blessed I am to have family and friends who love us enough to not only send a yearly picture, but often an encouraging note too. Please don’t ever take us off of your mailing list just because I do not send out cards. We love receiving them. It takes effort to be prepared for Christmas. I pray you will be as prepared to follow Jesus as the Magi were to follow the star. I pray you will remember that the focal point of your preparation is Jesus.
  2. Pilgrimage – They not only prepared for their journey with what they packed, but they also made the passage. Millions of Americans will travel this holiday season. I was relieved for those flying out of Charlotte today that flights were on time except for those flying to Minneapolis and it only had a thirty two minute delay. The travel plans for the Wise Men were somewhat different than ours today. We have no idea how long it took them exactly, but some seem to think that Jesus was a toddler when they arrived. Sometimes, when you travel with an infant, it feels like your baby will be a toddler before you arrive. I remember when Grace was three weeks old we decided we’d travel at night to help the kids sleep the whole time. It didn’t work. It took us an hour and a half to go three miles before we even left Charlotte. If you’re traveling this year remember to be patient. It will be busy out there. Traveling is not always easy, but we do it every year. Why? Because the people we are going to visit matter to us. They are important. The Wise Men traveled to see the most important person who has ever walked this earth. Why? Because they desired to worship Him. It was a pilgrimage of sort for them. I doubt they realized the significance of this new baby King’s birth completely. I also know it will be easier for you to just stay home, but I hope you will travel this Sunday to church to worship Him with other believers. If you are in the Charlotte area I invite you to join us at University Hills Baptist at 10:30. I pray you will desire to honor Him in worship and adoration.
  3. Presents – Finally, we prepare by purchasing presents.We spend hours, and often too much money in search of the perfect Christmas gift. As a friend recently told a sales person, about me, “she finishes and then keeps buying.” It’s true. I like to shower people with love in the form of stuff, but not just any stuff…the perfect stuff. The gifts the Wise Men brought were the perfect gifts to give a king. Gold, a precious of metal, was a sign of great wealth and royalty. Incense and Myrrh used for medicinal purposes in nature were precious gifts as well. We have a box that sits empty under our tree. It is the first present that we give each year. It is our gift to Jesus. I’ve mentioned it before in a blog. But every year after the tree is decorated we talk about what we will give Jesus for Christmas. After all, it is His birthday which we celebrate. Then I give each of our kids a Christmas decoration for their future tree or home. I want them to remember Christmas as a special time of celebration. I want them to know that God came to earth in the form of a baby to be the Savior of the World. I pray you will know Jesus as Savior and Lord and be extravagant in your gift of worship to Him.

Merry Christmas from my family. May you be prepared to be filled with joy and wonder as you celebrate the birth of Jesus, the Lord of Lords and King of Kings. For He is worthy of all of your planning and preparation. He is worthy of your worship too.

O Come Let Us Adore Him!

img_1326-2

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized | 6 Comments

Done with Sin

I Peter 4:1 says “Therefore since Christ suffered in his body arm yourselves with the same attitude because he who has suffered in his body is done with sin.”

I have often wondered what it would be like to be done with sin. To be completely obedient to Christ would be amazing, would it not? I am beginning to understand better the desire not to sin. In my early years I didn’t think of sin as sin. I usually just did what I wanted to do without much thought to it. As I grew in my faith I’m afraid that there were still times when I didn’t think of my sin as sin. But even worse there were times when I would fully know that God didn’t want me to do something and I would do it any way in order to please people or myself.

is done with sin” is a beautiful phrase. To be “done with” means “to stop, pause, make an end. Used chiefly in the middle, pauomai, meaning to come to an end, to one’s rest a willing cessation. Contrast the passive voice, which denotes a forced cessation.” (Key Word Study Bible notes #4264) Making a choice to be done with sin often happens while undergoing a trial. A person under persecution and suffering draws closer to the Lord than one who’s life is without danger. The more we need God, the closer we draw to God therefore recognizing His divine nature. Seeing His holiness and His love more closely causes us to desire to please Him in everything we do.

“because he who suffered in his body” refers to any suffering that happens while you are alive. Which we know from Revelation will be the only suffering a believer faces.  James 1:2 encourages us to “consider it pure joy… whenever you face trials of many kinds”. Every person will suffer in some way or another. Jesus encourages us to take heart because He has overcome the world.

“arm yourselves with the same attitude” causes me to picture the Roman soldier on the back cover of Priscilla Shirer’s Armor of God Bible study. He stands tall with his helmet of salvation on in order to protect his brain. His breastplate of righteousness is being held up by the belt of truth. His shoulders don’t hold the weight of his own righteousness, but Christ’s righteousness is securely protecting his heart and the weight is bore by God’s truth. His feet are shod with the gospel of peace. That is depicted by shoes that have spikes on the soles and leather straps working their way up the soldier’s calves. He’s ready to move out to areas unknown where the terrain may be difficult. Finally, his sword is sharp and ready to be wielded at the enemy as the truth of scriptures are able to go out and do damage to the enemy’s advances. Be ready for your enemy seeks to kill, steal and destroy you and everything you hold dear. He would love nothing more than to run wild and free in your life and mine, but if we will arm ourselves by putting on the full armor of God and walking in obedience the enemy will not make near as many advances. I get all of that from the word “arm” and the rest of the phrase cannot be ignored because the verse is not talking about the full armor of God, but instead about arming ourselves with the attitude of Christ which is best described in Philippians 2 and Isaiah 53.

Philippians 2:5-11 encourages us to take up Christ’s attitude.
1. Do not consider yourself equal to God. Now some of you are thinking, “well, I never!” But in actuality we do it every time we make a decision to sin. We make ourselves our own lord.
2. Instead, humble yourself now and seek His forgiveness. Make yourself nothing not for the sake of winning the humility award, but for the sake of serving God.
3. Humble yourself and obey God. No matter what He asks you to do, decide in your heart that you are going to obey.
4. Christ has been honored because He was obedient unto death and He has been exalted to the highest place. We don’t serve God to receive a place of honor, yet I Peter 5:6 promises that if we humble ourselves God will lift us up in due time. Motivation matters. Our goal cannot be exaltation or our attitude will not be the same as Christ’s. He considered himself nothing.

Therefore since Christ suffered in the body” are seven extremely powerful words when strung together. He suffered ridicule, beatings, rejection, the most painful death imaginable, loneliness in ways that we can not even fathom and so much more. This Christmas take some time to read Isaiah 53 along with the Christmas story. It details all that Christ suffered in order that we might be healed from our greatest disease: sin. Consider the life, death and resurrection of Christ for it was the purpose of His birth.

Let’s choose to be done with sin. Let’s commit to each other that Satan will no longer control our thoughts, words or actions. Instead let’s line the walls of our minds and hearts with God’s word and let’s obey His voice.

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments