THE BIG BAD WOLF…

When Sir Walter Raleigh’s expedition first landed ashore on Roanoke Island, North Carolina in 1584, the white man’s 400 years war against wolves, in the new world, began. This 400 years battle nearly wiped out the wolf population. Now, after all these years, the wolves are being reintroduced into that area of the country. Why? Because, it was discovered that the wolf was not nearly the predator that he was thought to be. He is instead, a shy and secretive creature more apt to run away from man rather than to attack.

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We often create real fear out of imagined circumstances. And fears always have catastrophic expectations attached to them. I have a friend who reads all the fine print on medication bottles. Every possible side effect, even if it has never been exhibited, is listed.

 

My friend has decided that she will surely be the one exception, so the medication is flushed down the toilet.

Fear is a terrible thing. It eats away at our innards and nibbles away at the edges of our soul. If gone unchecked, it can develop into paranoia bringing suspicion of everything and everybody, and total ruination to a life.

When I married Cecil, I became a passenger. Until then, I had always been the driver. Now I sat on the right hand-side of the car. To tell you the truth, Sweet Cecil’s driving sometimes scared the waddin’ out of me. He was a very observant man always exclaiming, “Oh, look over there,” or “Did you see that?” He had a penchant for driving toward whatever he was looking at, while I chewed my nails down to the knuckle.

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I was the gal who had never been afraid of anything. I had traveled the world alone getting myself into this and out of that without a great deal of help from anyone, except God, of course.

I well remember my first trip to India.

 

I arrived in Calcutta at 5:00 a.m. with a connecting flight to Bangalore at 8:00 a.m. However that flight was delayed until 5:00 in the afternoon. What would I do? I was saddled with a great deal of paraphernalia, which I dared not take my eyes off of. It could disappear in a flash. It was finally arranged that I would rent a room upstairs, where I could rest a few hours.

Lying in that humble little cot feeling alone and a little bit sorry for myself, I whined, “God, nobody in the world knows where I am right now.”

God answered, “I do.” With that reassurance, I fell asleep and awoke refreshed ready for my continuing flight.

That’s the way I handled things. That’s the kind of gal I was.

Now, every time Cecil was three minutes late arriving home, I was sure that something catastrophic had happened to him. That kind of fear was new to me. I kept reminding myself that I was no longer alone. But then I had never been alone, had I?

“Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf,” is a song written by Frank Churchhill in 1933 for the Disney film “The Three Little Pigs.”

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The wolf was the villain who terrorized The Three Little Pigs and blew down their houses. His big eyes and big teeth and treatment of grandmother also brought great fear to Little Red Riding Hood. Truth is there is a BIG BAD WOLF around every corner, if we are so inclined to entertain him.

Instead of expending our energies trying to defeat the wolf at our door, we are better served by leaning upon the infallible Word of God.

In Psalm 56:3, King David said, “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?”

Again, in Psalm 27:1, he says, “The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear?

The Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?”

The Word of God totally defeats the wolf. He has not one word to say in his own defense, but must turn tail and flee.

The apostle Paul wrote to Timothy saying in chapter 1:7, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”

If I understand this passage, it simply means that I have been given the ability to understand what fear really is, and I have been given the power of God to overcome it.

For according to 1 John 4:18, “…perfect love, (God’s love,which has been given to me,) casts out all fear…”

REMEMBER, tears, sorrow, fear may endure for the night, but JOY, SUNSHINE comes in the morning.

BECOMING REAL

Cecil had some books he had read nine million times.  However, he loved them so much that he wanted to share them with me, so we often read together.  I shared with him my favorites from childhood:  “The Pokey Little Puppy,” “A Child’s Garden of Verses,” and “The Velveteen Rabbit.”

One Sunday afternoon, when we laid down for our nap, I took “The Velveteen Rabbit” to bed with us and read it to Cecil.  It is a story about a beautiful plush toy rabbit that is fiercely loved by a child until most of its hair is rubbed off, its eyes are missing, it is loose in the joints, and very, very shabby.  Somehow, over time, the child’s fierce love made that little rabbit real.

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I couldn’t help but compare myself to the shabby little rabbit.  Here I am a new bride at the age of seventy-seven.  My hair has thinned, I have had cataract surgery, and my joints don’t always cooperate, but I do work very hard so as not to appear shabby.   I told Cecil, like the child and the rabbit, his love had made me real.  His love added a new dimension to my life that I had never known before.  My short comings didn’t seem to matter anymore.

The little rabbit said, “When you are real, shabbiness doesn’t matter, and you can’t be ugly, except to those who don’t understand.”  I like that!

I learned something else from this little book.  Becoming real doesn’t happen all at once.  YOU BECOME!  It takes a long time.  “That’s why,” the little rabbit said, “it doesn’t often happen to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept.”

Someone has coined the phrase, “The intimate stranger,” simply meaning that I know a lot of people that I do not know at all.  I sit near the same people at church every Sunday.  We shake hands and smile.

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“How are you,” I ask.  “Did you have a good week?”

“Oh, I’m fine, and you?”

“Yes, yes, I am well.”

If someone asks me, “Do you know Susie Brown?”

I answer, “Oh, yes, I sit beside her at church every Sunday.  But do I really know her?  Do I know what she loves? Do I know her hopes and dreams?  Do I know the problems that she has faced this week?  I do not really know Susie, because she keeps all those things to herself, and I have never bothered to draw her out.

Being transparent is a risky business.  Being real makes us vulnerable to all kinds of hurts and disappointments and disillusionment.

Many people live in masquerade all their life never daring to allow a look into the depth of their soul.  The mask is securely attached keeping our true identity a secret to everyone but God.  Sometimes we even believe that we have Him fooled.

It was a child’s fierce love that made that little velveteen rabbit real.  Just so, it is love, the love of our Father God that makes us real.  Can you imagine a stronger, fiercer love than that demonstrated by God, when He sent His only Son, Jesus?

According to Ephesians 2:1, when you turn from your sins and trust in Christ as your Savior, you finally, for the first time, begin to live.  He makes you alive.  He makes you real. He’s the only one who can do that.

2 Corinthians 5:17, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.”

This morning, as I opened my Bible to read, I wondered, “What in the world would I do without God?” He has been my life since childhood, and I am still in the process of “becoming real.”

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It takes a lifetime.  I sometimes see older couples, who have been together for so long that they can read each other’s mind, they can finish the other’s sentence, and they actually look alike.  That’s what happens when you walk with Jesus.  You become more and more like Him, more and more real.  For the “realest” you can ever be is to be like Jesus.

Ephesians 4:22-24 says that we must put off the old life and put on the new.  I like the way “The Message” says it.

…everything—and I do mean everything—connected with that old way of life has to go.  It’s rotten through and through.  Get rid of it!  And then take on an entirely new way of life—a God fashioned life, a life renewed from the inside and working itself into your conduct as God accurately reproduces his character in you.”

This world needs to see a real you.  Remember when you are real shabbiness doesn’t matter.

THE SUN WILL COME OUT TOMORROW

FINDERS KEEPERS – LOSERS WEEPERS

Finders Keepers, Losers Weepers” is an old English adage sometimes used by children.  It is a child’s way of saying, “You lost it, I found it, and I’m going to keep it, so you’re out of luck.”

Several years ago, Cecil, his wife Peggy and I, along with several other friends, played games together on Friday night.  I like to win, but I really didn’t mind losing, as long as I didn’t lose to Cecil.   For some reason I hated it when he won.

Isn’t love amazing?  After we married, we often played games in the evening.  I found myself holding back cards to avoid winning.  It wasn’t fun to beat him anymore.  We laughed at our silliness when I learned that Cecil had been doing the very same thing.

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I am an avid fan of the Food Network.  I especially enjoy “Chopped” and the other competitive shows.  Each evening I schedule my dinner around “Wheel of Fortune” and “Jeopardy.” I love pitting myself against the contestants just to see how much I know.

Imagine my surprise when, after our marriage, Cecil refused to watch those programs with me.  When I asked why, he said, “Someone always loses.  I feel sorry for those who lose.”

Old hard-hearted me, I laughed.  Hugging him close, I said, “Honey child, that’s life.  Someone always wins and someone always loses.”

Losing is difficult, I grant you.  I have always shied away from the Stock Market.  Had I been a little braver, I might be a millionaire by now – a neurotic, nail biting millionaire.  I did have a little chunk in the market at just the right time, when everything went bust.  After I lost all the interest I had gained plus part of the original principle, I closed out that account and spent the money.  I don’t like to lose.

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Our culture tends to label everybody and everything a success or a failure, a winner or a loser.  I wonder how that one winner and the thousands of losers in the Boston Marathon feel about that.

 

 

I can’t imagine even one of those runners, after running more than 26 miles, thinking of himself as a loser.  To run the race well, to cross the finish line is to succeed.  If I understand correctly, only a hand full of runners actually hopes to win.  The goal of every other contestant is simply to finish the race.

To run the race well, to cross the finish line is to succeed.  If I understand correctly, only a hand full of runners actually hopes to win.  The goal of every other contestant is simply to finish the race.

No one wants to be labeled a loser!  BUT!  Let me tell you, “There are no losers in the family of God.”  If you belong to Jesus, if you love Him and are trying your best to follow and serve Him, you are not a loser.

We are prone to look at ourselves through the eyes of others.  “If he thinks I’m a loser, I must be a loser.” Carried to extremes, that thought will destroy you.  We judge ourselves by what we see on television, by the latest fads and fashions and the current philosophy of this world.  No wonder we feel like losers.  Remember that’s all a bunch of paint and cardboard and bright lights.  There’s nothing real about it.

This life is a race – a long stretch like the marathon.  But there is no competition. True believers are all going to win!

You may be running like the wind today passing the whole pack.  Tomorrow, because of people and circumstances, you may barely limp along.  Will you ever cross the finish line?

The writer of Ecclesiastes 9:11 said, “The race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, nor bread to the wise, nor riches to men of understanding, nor favor to men of skill; but time and chance happen to them all.”  Life happens!

This doesn’t mean that you can use circumstances as an excuse to do less than your best.  Stay in the race giving God all that you have.  Don’t be sidelined by anything.

Hebrews 12:1, “…let us lay aside every weight and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.”

Again, the Apostle Paul says, in 1 Corinthians, that we must run in such a way as to obtain the prize.

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In ancient Greece, Olympians were crowned with Laurel wreaths.  I don’t know what my crown will be made of, but 2 Timothy 4:8 says, “…there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord will give to…all who have loved His appearing.”  Peter talks about a Crown of Glory and John speaks of a Crown of Life.

One day I will wear a crown, but the real prize will be the joy of spending eternity with my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  We all will obtain that prize.

The world judges us by our looks, our education, our wealth, but God judges by two things only:  OBEDIENCE AND FAITHFULNESS.  Do what He says and stay on course.  The finish line is just ahead.

If you are limping today, remember, THE SUN WILL COME OUT TOMORROW!

HUMPTY DUMPTY HAD A GREAT FALL

 

“All the king’s horses and all the king’s men couldn’t put Humpty together again.”  We have always pictured Humpty Dumpty as an egg.  The implication is, when Humpty fell off the wall, he was shattered into smithereens; beyond hope and beyond help.  Even the king with all his resources could not restore him.

Shortly after Cecil and I set up housekeeping together, I heard a crash in the kitchen.  Cecil had kindly volunteered to do the breakfast dishes.  When I went to investigate, I found him standing in the middle of the room with shards of glass all around.  He looked like a little boy doomed for punishment.

“It’s just a coffee carafe,” I assured him.  “We can replace it.”

Can you imagine trying to put it back together? This piece goes here and that piece goes there, and these millions of little shards don’t fit anywhere.  Just throw it away.

Broken things are easily disposable or replaceable.  Broken lives are another matter.

We all suffer brokenness sooner or later in this life.

When the doctor said surgery was impossible and I should take Cecil home and enjoy him for the days given us, something inside me shattered into nine million little pieces that flew off in every direction.  There was no way to put me, the me I had always known, back together again.  When he breathed his last precious breath, people came with sympathy, food, hugs, prayers and advice.

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While I appreciated everything offered, I discovered it wasn’t sympathy or food or advice I needed.  I needed Cecil.  I needed to go back to yesterday, when life was sweet and the future promised everything we had dreamed of.

“Nothing else can make me whole again,” I thought.

“Nothing else can make me whole again,” I thought.

Someone said, “Well, what about praising the Lord?”

“Well, what about it?” I answered.

Perhaps that would have been considered a noble thing, but I was in no condition to praise anyone.  I just wanted to know “why.”  Why did God allow this?  What did I do wrong?

I did pray.  My prayers consisted mostly of a dreadful howl, “O God, I need, I need you!  Please help me.”

AND HE DID!

Over a period of two years, as I stumbled through the days crying out to the Lord and trying my best to concentrate upon His word, piece by piece my life came together again.  I don’t know when the restoration began, and I wasn’t aware of its progression, but I do remember the morning I crawled out of bed and KNEW that life was going to be good again.  What all the king’s horses and all the king’s men could not do, God can and did do.  He did not reproduce that same gal, who was a bit arrogant and self-assured, but just as the potter did, He made me again into another vessel, as it seemed good to Him – a better, stronger vessel.  There will always be a place in my heart where Cecil fit perfectly, but I am ready to sing again.  I am ready to live again, doing whatever God wills.

Perhaps you are hurting today.  Something in you is broken.  You’re life is in ruins.  Divorce has taken its toll, your beloved child is gone, the doctor has just pronounced your death sentence, or you’ve lost your home.   Maybe your brokenness is simply the result of your own foolish mistakes.

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With the Psalmist you are saying, “I am forgotten.  I am like a broken vessel.” You are thinking, “Nothing will ever be the same again.”  You’re right.  It won’t, but –

I am here to tell you that life can and will be better, because God is a God of complete restoration.

Remember Job?  When he lost his seven sons and three daughters, all of his great wealth, and finally his health, he said, “Even if God kills me still I will trust Him.”  In Job 42:2 – 3, he said to God, “I know that You can do everything, and that no purpose of Yours can be withheld from you.” In other words, God can do anything He wants to do.

He wanted to restore Job, and He did.  Job had seven more sons and three more daughters.  His wealth was doubled, and his health restored.

Jesus wants to restore you.  He came and died on Calvary to fix ruined lives.

David said, “The Lord is near to those who have a broken heart…” Ps. 34:18, and again in Ps. 147:3, “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.”

In Luke 4:18, Jesus, Himself, said, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me,…He has sent me to heal the brokenhearted.”

 

You need not live in despair.  Jesus is tomorrow’s SONSHINE!

THE SUN WILL COME OUT TOMORROW!

 

 

 

 

Promises, Promises!

 

Have you ever broken a promise?  Of course, you have.  We all have.  We break promises for a variety of reasons.

Sometimes a promise, made in good faith with every good intention, is broken because unexpected circumstances prevent the keeping of it.

Some promises are broken, simply because the person making it changed his mind.

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Others promises are broken, because, the person who promised simply lied.  He had no intention, from the beginning, of keeping his word.

Early in our relationship, I asked Cecil to make me a promise.

 

I don’t remember now what it was about, but he laughingly refused.  Only later did I learn that, from his childhood, He was taught he must never make a promise to anyone.

That teaching was based on Matthew 5:33 – 37 and James 5:12.  Both references give the same admonition telling us that we must not swear at all.  Those who influenced Cecil, interpreted this to mean that we must never make a promise at all, for we are incapable of keeping promises.  Only God can do that.

Well, don’t you know, this caused a bit of an uproar before our wedding.

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When I showed my sweetheart the wedding ceremony that my brother had written for us, Cecil said, I can’t do that.  I can’t make that vow!”

I was flabbergasted!  “You can’t promise to love me, and cherish me, and be faithful to me,” I asked in astonishment?

 “You know I will,” he said worriedly, “but I can’t say it that way.”

My creative brother found a way to rewrite that part of the ceremony to accommodate my worried groom.  To my way of thinking, it was only a matter of semantics.  I knew Cecil would do exactly as he said because he was a truthful man.

However, avoiding promises, because you might break them, is not the issue.  The issue is one of truth because God witnesses every word we speak.  When we lightly commit ourselves to something without any real guilt at our failure to follow through, we treat people unjustly and deceitfully no matter how trivial the promise.  What if the broken promise is important enough to wreck havoc in life?

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Years ago, I watched a segment of the Oprah Winfrey show. She prefaced her program by saying that America is in trouble because we have become a nation of liars.   Earlier, she had provided a diary for certain people in her audience asking them to record each time they had lied during the previous week.

She began to question the audience asking, “How many times did you lie?”

“Thirteen,” came a reply.

“And you,” she asked?

“Thirty-five times.”

“What about you?”

“Twenty-seven.”

With each response, the roar of laughter increased until the audience was totally out of control.  For some reason, it was hilarious, the fact that their friends and neighbors were liars.

If honesty prevailed among us; if we were not inconsistent and hypocritical, promises would never be necessary.  A truly good person can live by the truth of his sayings and the reality of his actions.  He need make no promises.  His “yes” means “yes,” and his “no” means “no.”

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So, you will agree with me that promises are often broken, and broken promises often do great harm.  Perhaps someone has broken his promise to you.  Maybe it was a wedding vow or a financial contract.  You can put your broken promise in the blank.  Whatever it was, it was life changing inflicting unbearable hurt upon you.  Be encouraged today.

There is still one who always keeps His promises.

It is impossible to count the promises of God contained in the Bible, though some have tried.  It has been estimated that there are between 3,000 and 8,000 promises, and, according to Romans 4:21, God has power to keep them all.  Hebrews 10:23 says He will do just that.

In Numbers 23:19, we read, “God is not a man that He should lie, nor a son of man, that he should change His mind.  Does He speak and then not act?  Does He promise and not fulfill?”

1 Kings 8:56 says, “…Not one word has failed of all the good promises He gave…”

2 Corinthians 1:20, “For no matter how many promises God has made they are YES in Christ.”

“His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by His own glory and goodness. Through these, He has given us His VERY GREAT AND PRECIOUS PROMISES so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.”

EVERYTHING THAT WE NEED TO HELP US LIVE A GODLY LIFE HAS BEEN PROMISED TO US.

NOW, THAT’S A BRILLIANT RAY OF SUNSHINE!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sticks and Stones

 

“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.”

Remember that one?  Well, nothing was ever farther from the truth.  For, words possess   great power.  They wound or heal; they save or destroy – great power!

Cecil and my brother Paul first met on the telephone.  Cecil called to ask Paul to perform our wedding ceremony.  Paul had been a pastor for close to sixty years and had performed nine million weddings, so we figured he was the one to tie our knot, not that we ever intended to untie it.

As a part of the ceremony, my brother shared with us a few words of advice.  I really don’t remember most of what he said, but one word of admonition made a lasting impression.

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“Don’t ever say anything at the expense of your spouse,” he counseled.  “That is pure meanness.”

I tried so hard to live by that advice.  I never wanted to hurt or belittle Cecil.  You see, I know myself.

 

I know that I am sometimes prone to poke a little fun or call attention to another’s weakness.  It’s only words after all.   It’s just a joke.  But when I examine my motives, I’m not always pleased at what I find.  People sometimes say, “You never have to wonder what Fayrene is thinking.”  I have decided that is not necessarily a compliment.

At Bible study, one day, a lady came in, piled all of her knitting supplies on one chair, and pulled out another to sit in.  I saw another gal looking for a place to sit, so I said to the knitting lady, “Can you move your stuff?  So and so needs a seat.”  She ignored me, so I asked her again.

“I heard you,” she replied.

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“Well, do it.” I said thinking that I was being funny and cute.

She did it!  She picked up her stuff and left never to return again.

An apology did not help.  I have never been able to shrug off that one.

Does your mouth ever get you into trouble?  Do you ever say something in the moment that you later regret?  We all do, I fear.

The Apostle James says, “If anyone is never at fault in what he says, he is a perfect man, in perfect control of his life.”

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The tongue, our tongue, is a little member of the body, but it can create great havoc when not controlled.

James 3:5-6, “It only takes a spark, remember, to set off a forest fire.  A careless or wrongly placed word out of your mouth can do that.  By our speech we can ruin the world, turn harmony to chaos, throw mud on a reputation, send the whole world up in smoke and go up in smoke with it, smoke right from the pit of hell.”

James 3:7-10, “This is scary: You can tame a tiger, but you can’t tame a tongue—it’s never been done.  The tongue runs wild, a wanton killer.  With our tongue we bless God our Father; with the same tongue we curse the very men and women He made in His own image.  Curses and blessings out of the same mouth.”  WOW!!!

During the Second World War, Americans were warned that “LOOSE LIPS SINK SHIPS!”  It is amazing the damage we can do with our tongue.

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I can hardly contain my laughter when I read the story of the fall of the wall of Jericho.  In Joshua chapter 6, Joshua gives the Israelites directions for their march around the wall.  In verse 10, he says, “Do not give a war cry, do not raise your voices, DO NOT SAY ONE WORD until the day I tell you to shout.  Then shout!”

“DO NOT SAY ONE WORD!”

Jericho was not a large town covering only about nine acres.  None the less, can you imagine the people of Israel marching thirteen times around that city without saying one word?  It must have been the effort of a lifetime for most of them.  That seems to me a greater miracle than the fall of the wall.  I have no doubt that had they been careless in their speech, as they marched, the victory would not have been realized.

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God’s Word gives us some good and simple advice.

Matthew 5:37, “…Just say ‘Yes’ and ‘No.’ When you manipulate words to get your own way, you go wrong.”

James 5:12, “Just say yes or no.  Just say what is true.  That way your language can’t be used against you.”

We would do well to adopt David’s prayer found in Psalm 19:14.  “Let the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable, in your sight, O Lord my Strength, and my Redeemer.

That wouldn’t be a bad way to start the day!

REMEMBER, WE WANT THE SON TO SHINE UPON US.             

 

 

 

STAYING AHEAD OF THE STORM

 “What are our options?” I demanded of the emergency room doctor.  “Well,” she said, pausing for a moment.  “We will admit him and he will die here.”  “It’s all right, doctor,” my Cecil responded.  “I am ready to go.”

“It’s all right, doctor,” my Cecil responded.  “I am ready to go.”

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Of course, he was ready.  I knew that!  But I was in no way ready to give him up.  However, in retrospect, I had to appreciate his quiet demeanor in the face of the doctor’s ultimatum.   I could see his calm expression and feel the peace flowing from his heart.

 

Each morning Cecil came to the breakfast table with his Bible tucked under his arm.  After we had eaten, he opened the Word and we read together.  Then, holding hands across the table, we prayed.  We spent time worshipping inviting the presence of the Lord.  Then we talked to Him about those things which concerned us knowing well that He heard our cry.

It is my belief that most people, including many believers, never really pray until the sky falls.  Then, in desperation, we run to God crying out for His attention pounding on the door of heaven wondering why God doesn’t do something RIGHT NOW.

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Please know.  God is merciful and patient.  As our loving Father, He does hear our pitiful pleas.  The problem is not with God.  The problem is with me.  Having neglected my relationship with Him calling upon Him only when trouble arises, I have no faith to believe that He hears my prayer, and it is certainly beyond me to believe that He will do anything about it.

Why can I not believe God?  Why does my faith suffer?

I do not believe God, because, in truth, I do not know Him.  Oh, perhaps, I know Him as my Savior, but that is about it.

You see, I don’t trust the stranger, who lives across the street because I do not know him.  I have never spent time with him.  It’s that simple!  The more time I spend with God the better I know Him, and the more I can trust Him.  When prayer becomes a daily habit in my life, I can come into My Father’s presence with assurance knowing that He hears and will answer.

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Hear this!  Knowing God makes it possible to face even a death sentence.  That explains Cecil’s calm assurance.  He was prepared for the storm long before the wind started blowing.  He knew God!

 

 

So, how can I know God?  I know Him through daily prayer and the study of His Word.

Jesus is our great example in prayer.  He was in constant communion with the Father.

In John 5:30, Jesus tells us that He could do nothing by Himself.  He never made a decision without first hearing from His Father.

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Wouldn’t that be something?  Think of the hurt we could avoid, if we first talked to God about everything.

“BUT, I don’t have time to pray,” you cry.  I get up, yell the kids out of bed, make breakfast, fix lunches, push the kids out the door, go to work, come home, prepare dinner, do the laundry, help with homework, and  that’s a good day.  Tomorrow it begins again.  I’m barely keeping it together.  There’s no time to pray!

Listen to me!  There never will be time to pray.  I MUST MAKE TIME.  YOU MUST MAKE TIME!

Look at Jesus’ example.

Mark 1:35, “Now in the morning, having risen a long time before daylight, He went out and departed to a solitary place; and there He prayed.”

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Luke 5:16, “So He Himself often withdrew into the wilderness and prayed.”

Luke 6:12, “Now it came to pass in those days that He went out to the mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer.”

 

“How do I find a solitary place in this zoo,” you ask?  And, are you suggesting that I get up earlier than I already do?”

ABSOLUTELY!  That’s exactly what I am suggesting.

Answer me.  Would you do it, if it meant a world of difference in your life?  Would you do it, if you were convinced that it would produce the solution to your problem and the miracle that you need so desperately?

IT WILL!  I guarantee it!

If Jesus needed to stay in touch with the Father, isn’t it a bit arrogant for me to believe that I can get by on my own?

IF YOU ARE LONGING FOR THE SUNSHINE, SPEND SOME TIME WITH THE SON!

The Magical World of Couples

Today I am thinking about couples and remembering that I was a couple for a few short months.

I used to watch couples. I saw them after church talking together deciding where they would go to eat or offering an invitation for Friday night. I saw them in restaurants sitting together. I watched them, as they walked down the street holding hands. I listened to couples, in whose home I was a guest, as they talked quietly after retiring or first thing in the morning. I never knew what they talked about, but I imagined they were planning their day or discussing their children or talking about bills. It didn’t matter what. It just seemed so sweet and intimate.

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Even when I was totally contented with my life, I always thought it would be wonderful to be a couple – to be part of that intimate, sharing relationship – to be the most important person in the world to someone.

 

 

Yes, even when life is good, I believe there is a certain undefined, perhaps seldom acknowledged loneliness that nibbles away at the edges of one’s existence surfacing occasionally bringing just a bit of sadness. Then it is buried again under the busyness of life.

After seventy-seven years, I was ushered into that magical world. I remember the first time I was truly aware of this important transition. Cecil and I went to a Luau, when we were on our honeymoon. We were in the middle of hundreds of couples and we were part of them.

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No one said, “Oh, look! Fayrene is a couple now.” I was the only one feeling as I did. Cecil wasn’t even aware of it. After all, he had been a couple for fifty-seven years. He was used to it, but not I. I was so enamored of the whole thing.

 

When an old acquaintance of mine met Cecil and discovered that we were engaged, she said, “We need to get together. We need each other.”

I couldn’t help but think that in more than thirty years of acquaintance we had never “needed” to get together before. But I didn’t hold it against her. I was actually thrilled and more than anxious to “get together.” And we did.

At the end of that fun evening, my friend said, “I am kicking myself wondering why I didn’t really get to know you all those years ago.” I wondered too.

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After Cecil died I wondered about a lot of things. What happens when you are no longer a couple? During my husband’s illness, the phone rang off the hook. I remember thinking that I hated Alexander Graham Bell. Couples came bringing food and encouragement and stayed to visit and pray.

Then the phone stopped ringing and the people stopped coming. I was no longer a couple, but I liked being part of that scene. Do other couples know that? And, of course, I wondered whether or not my longtime acquaintance, my new friend, would still “need” to get together.

I am a widow now, something I never wanted to be, something I never planned to be.

However, though it was not my plan, it must certainly be part of God’s plan for my life. So, I am single again. Before Cecil appeared, I was an expert at being single. I could go most places and do most things on my own, without fear. But, I am no longer the same single woman I was.

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Something has changed. I do what I need to do, what I am expected to do, but somehow my self-confidence has suffered. I’m not sure where I belong. Going alone to social events is difficult. Recently, at a church dinner, I asked a woman, if could sit at her table.

“Oh, no,” she said. “There are only couples at this table.”

“I used to belong there,” I thought.

I feel a little hesitant in writing this blog. However, I have been made super aware of the many lonely people among us.

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1 Peter 4: 8 – 11, (The Message) “Most of all, love each other as if your life depended on it. Love makes up for practically anything. Be quick to give a meal to the hungry, a bed to the homeless – cheerfully. Be generous with the different things God gave you, passing them around so all get in on it: if words let it be God’s word; if help, let it be God’s hearty help. That way God’s bright presence will be evident in everything through Jesus, and he’ll get all the credit as the One mighty in everything – encores to the end of time. Oh, yes!

Let’s not leave anyone out. Let’s spread the sunshine, “God’s bright presence.”

Partner vs. Boss

Driving along with the beautiful blue Pacific far below, we were captivated by the lush scenery. The clear sparkling waterfalls gamboled down the mountain side and the Flame trees were a riot of color. Even the intermittent rain showers seemed to add a richness to our surroundings.
We had stopped at a roadside stand to buy fresh coconut candy and macadamia nuts, so we were well provisioned for our drive to the north shore of the Island of Maui. In mid February, it was colder and windier than we had anticipated, but we were in honeymoon mode, so nothing could make us unhappy.

winding roadBeing with Cecil was never boring. There was always something to talk about or laugh at. I don’t remember the gist of our conversation that morning, but it was often interrupted as we exclaimed over the glorious sights. At some point during all of this, Cecil did make a statement that I do remember.

I am sure it was appropriate to the conversation, but still it gave me pause.He said, “I am your boss, you know!”
My boss! I hadn’t had a boss since I left my mama’s house. Oh, I was accountable to God, to my denominational leaders, sometimes I was accountable to a local pastor or a very close friend. But a boss?

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That word holds a negative connotation for me. It implies that someone is giving me directions looking over my shoulder making sure I do everything perfectly without fail. If not, there are consequences.
I am a “self starter.” If there is work to be done, I just do it.

 

No one needs to crack the whip.
I thought a moment.

Then I said, “Sweetheart, I don’t need a boss. I need a partner.

chair (1)Now I know what the Apostle Paul says in Ephesians 5:22-24. Wives are counseled to be subject to their husbands in everything. My friends will never believe this, but I really don’t have a problem with that as long as a little common sense is exercised. In fact, I wanted Cecil to be in charge. In particular, I wanted him to be the spiritual head of our home.

I had enjoyed enough independence to last three lifetimes. I was tired of making all the decisions, and trying to solve all the problems. I was tired of worrying about the car, and I was tired of changing light bulbs.

lightbulbI was almost certain I didn’t need a boss. You know, we never talked about it again. We were real partners in everything. We were friends.
Ecclesiastes 4:9 – 12, (The Message)
“It’s better to have a partner than go it alone.
Share the work, share the wealth.
And if one falls down, the other helps,
But if there is no one to help, tough!

Two in a bed warm each other.
Alone, you shiver all night.

By yourself you’re unprotected.
With a friend you can face the worst…”
I loved being a partner. I loved being a couple. If you have a spouse, cherish him. Cherish her.

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Perhaps your partner is gone, or maybe you have always been alone, as I was for many years. Let me tell you. You can live an abundant, joyful, fulfilled life with Christ by your side. He is you partner.

 

He will pick you up, when you fall. He will be your co-worker, your protection, and He will warm your heart with His great love. Years ago we sang a simple chorus. “He’s all I need. He’s all I need. Jesus is all I need.” And He is!
One more thing, don’t forget that He is a God of surprises. You never know what will happen, when the SUN COMES UP TOMORROW.

The Courtship Dance

One morning, while I was putting breakfast together, Cecil called, “Come, Hurry!”  I joined him at the dining room window.   Looking out on the back yard I saw the most amazing sight.  Four or five fairly large male blackbirds stood in a circle with their tails fanned out.  They were dancing.  To the right and to the left they circled their heads held high and their steps precise.  There was no music, but it seemed they were keeping time to an unheard melody.

“What in the world are they doing?”  I asked turning to Cecil.

“They are courting,” he whispered.  “Look at the fence.”

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There on top of the block wall was a plain little female bird black with brown markings.    Nothing apparent marked her as beautiful or special or desirable.  And yet, five handsome males were seeking her favor and working very hard at it.  This courting dance continued for some minutes until the little female made her choice by some unobservable signal.  Then one of the dancing birds broke rhythm, flew to the top of the wall, and soared away with the plain little female; his new mate.

WOW, every girl’s dream!  Think of five guys vying for your attention at the same time.

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When I was still a missionary living in Belgium, periodically, I received news from my church denomination.  Sometimes there were sad notices about some preacher’s wife, who had died.  Though I insisted that I had long since forgotten about romance and marriage, I couldn’t help thinking about this or that preacher, who was no longer attached.  He was the right age, and I had always wanted a preacher.  Maybe, just maybe, I could get home in time to snag him.  After all, if the birds can choose, why couldn’t I?  It didn’t take long to find out that men get married again before the body is cold.  So, I put my dream back in storage and went on with my life.

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Then there was Cecil.  When he declared his love for me, it scared me to death.  I didn’t love him.  Sometimes I didn’t even like him.  Surprisingly, he understood.  He was willing to move slowly.  He courted me.  I love that word.  It is sort of archaic, but then so am I.  Courting is a much nicer word than dating.  It harkens back to a sweeter time, a more peaceful, kinder, slower time.  Its main purpose is to give the couple time to get acquainted, and sometimes in some cultures, it lasts for years.  I guess I’m grateful it doesn’t last so long for me.

Truth is I didn’t really know Cecil.  Though I had been acquainted with him for more than twenty years, it was a surface kind of relationship.  So he courted me.  He wooed me.  He drew me closer and closer to him.  Courtship by long distance is not necessarily what I would have chosen, but perhaps after all, it was the best way.  For, we were not distracted by things or people or the physical presence of each other.  Night after night we talked and talked about any and everything.  We prayed together and sang together.  He was always a gentleman careful of my feelings.  I fell in love with this man on the telephone.

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I can’t help but compare Cecil’s courtship to the working of the Holy Spirit in my life.  As a child, He courted me, wooed me; He drew me to Jesus.  And He is still courting me drawing me into God’s presence like a moth to a flame.  Remember courtship is the time to get acquainted.  We must never feel that we have arrived, that we know all we need to know, that we are as close to Him as we need to be.  For, there is yet an abundance in Him that we have never experienced.

Hosea 2:14-15, “Therefore I am going to allure her; I will lead her into the desert and speak tenderly to her…and will make the Valley of Achor a door of hope.  There she will sing as in the days of her youth…”

That is God’s promise to you as you listen to His alluring voice.  He will speak tenderly to you.  He will renew your hope, and you will sing again.

THE SUN WILL COME OUT TOMORROW!