A New Song…

 

I have been a singer all of my life.  But, a time came when I lost my song.  I couldn’t find a reason to sing.

In the spring of 2010, at the age of seventy-four, I retired (kind of, sort of.)  I don’t think I really thought it through.  It just seemed like time for me to live near family.  So, I bought a house, my first house ever, and moved to the Arizona desert leaving behind friends and colleagues of a lifetime.

I imagined my nieces and nephews throwing me a house warming party for my new abode.  My sisters would weep with gratitude at my return after such a long absence, and any church would be glad to have me, wouldn’t it?  After all, I had racked up many years of   experience and wisdom and skills in a variety of ministries.

These were not conscious thoughts, of course.  Certainly they were never verbalized.  They were there, none the less, hiding deep inside my attitude.

What a blow to my ego!  There were no banner headlines, no parties and no rejoicing at my return.  At church, I was just another congregant among a multitude of others.

I was totally lost!  I missed my ministry.  I missed the pulpit.  I missed my friends, and I missed the esteem that I had always been accorded.  I didn’t know anyone, and even worse, no one knew me.  I had lost my identity.

Friends had told me how exciting and how much fun retirement would be.  They talked of travel and golf and leisure, but there was nothing fun about any of this.

I would go to a small church, I decided, so that I could really get involved and be of service.  I would go where someone really needed me.  I tried, but I soon discovered that no one was interested. I was attempting to invade a tight knit church family discovering that they didn’t want anyone else.

After several months, I left whining, “I can’t do this anymore, Lord.”

No one ever called to see whether or not I died.  All that information they had demanded of me, was a total waste.

Following that experience, I went to a large church.  I liked the church.  I liked the people.  The preaching was good, and I liked the way they did things.  But, nothing had changed for me.  I was still lonely and alone, and my heart was devoid of song.

Sitting there on Sunday morning I was tempted to stand and shout, “Somebody!  Put me in charge of something.”   I made myself go to church faithfully and went through all the motion, but most Sunday’s I just felt like crying.

It is wonderful how God knows our thoughts and feels our feelings, and how He arranges for just what we need.

One morning, our sweet worship leader began to sing a song about seasons and how we can always find a reason to sing no matter what is going on in our life.  If I quote the words to that song, I’ll have to pay somebody big bucks.  Song writers are funny about things like that.   So I’ll depend on you to know exactly what I am talking about.

As those around me sang, I suddenly woke up knowing that God was speaking directly to me telling me that no matter how difficult life seemed I had many things for which to be thankful.

I went home thinking about seasons and singing remembering the greatest vacation I ever enjoyed.  I traveled, with friends, to New England in the fall of the year, when the whole world was resplendent with color.  It was impossible to take in all the beauty surrounding us.  We drove up and down the hills in Vermont singing the “Hallelujah Chorus.” It was easy to sing in the midst of all that glory.

Summer and winter, spring and fall are not the only seasons of life.  I found myself in a dry desert season both physically and spiritually.  The Arizona desert is an extremely dry place, but no dryer than my spirit at the time.

No matter what troublesome season you are trying to navigate at the moment, be assured, God has made provision for you.  He has provided rain for the dry places.

Joel 2:23 – 24 says, “…He will cause the rain to come down for you…and the vats shall overflow with new wine and oil.” 

Isaiah 35:1 – 2 tells us, “… The desert shall rejoice…even with joy and singing…”

In the midst of the desert, God put a new song in my mouth, and I remembered a multitude of reasons to sing.

Psalm 40:3, “He has put a new song in my mouth – praise to our God…”

THE SUN WILL COME OUT TOMORROW AND YOU WILL SING AGAIN!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Is It Time Yet???

 

Waiting for a special event can be exciting, but it can also be very trying.  Every parent knows the sound of that persistent little voice asking, “Is it time yet?” “Is it time yet?”

What are you waiting for?  If it’s something good, there is probably a little bubble of excitement bouncing around inside you.  If you are not sure what is coming, there may be a bit of anxiety nibbling away at your peace of mind.

A few months ago, my nephew and his family came from Germany to see me.  The last time I saw Tony he was seventeen years old – just a boy.  That was twenty-five years ago.  Now he was married with a four-year-old son.

I was excited at the prospect of this visit, but I was also a bit uneasy.  Tony and I had exchanged a few phone calls and Christmas Cards through the years, but I really didn’t know this man, my nephew.

With great care and precision, I made all the necessary preparations for my guests.  The house was shining, and so was I.  The beds had been changed.  There was new soap and fluffy towels in the bathroom.  The pantry was stocked and meals planned.  I did everything possible to get ready, and my guests did, too.

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I was standing on my sidewalk when the car pulled up.  Immediately the back window opened.

Little Jay, the four-year-old son, stuck his head out the window and yelled, “Aunt Faye, you’re my Great Aunt Faye.  You’re my Grandpa’s sister.”  Someone had thoroughly prepared this baby for our meeting.  Though he had never seen me, he was free and generous with his hugs and kisses for this old aunt.

In that moment, all anxiety evaporated.  We were family and our time together was flawless.

I’m glad I worked hard. I am glad I was prepared for this visit.

Preparation is important.  It is necessary for almost everything in life.

In the beginning days of my ministry, I worked a great deal with children.  If you have ever had the privilege of ministering to kids, you know that preparation is the difference between success and total chaos.

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I used to suffer these terrible nightmares.  I stood on the platform half clothed, in front of hundreds of out of control kids.   The pianist hadn’t shown up, my visuals were still backstage, the projector was inoperable, and the puppets were nowhere to be found.

 

It was so   real I could feel my heart thumping, and I woke up in a cold sweat determined that this would never happen to me.

Preparation was the key.

We expend an enormous amount of time, energy, and money preparing for a plethora things and events while many of us totally neglect the most important aspect of our life – that is our eternity, our life after this life.

If you ever visit the rotunda of the Library of Congress, you will see a series of plaques above the pillars that support the dome.  Written on these plaques are gold lettered quotes.  One plaque reads:  “One God, one law, and element, and one far-off event to which the whole creation moves.”

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These words are from the epilogue to Alfred Lord Tennyson’s “In Memoriam.”  The Poet is thinking about the brevity of this life and the inevitable end of the world as we know it.  Tennyson reminds us that our world is moving toward one God-ordained event that will bring history to a close.

Though this thought may be disturbing to some, we need not fear the future, for God has given us detailed instructions, so that we may be prepared for this end time event.

Jesus is coming!

In Revelation 3:11 and 22:20, Jesus Himself tells us he is coming.  First, he says, “Behold! I am coming quickly!  Hold fast what you have, that no one may take your crown.”  Then He tells us again, “…Surely I am coming quickly…” He really wants us to know.

The fact is, no one knows when Christ is coming.  Matthew 24:44 says, “…you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.”

            How do I prepare for His coming?

First:  I must be sure that Jesus is my Savior, that I have surrendered my life to Him.

Second:  Hebrews 12:1 tells me that I must get rid of everything that hinders me and live according to God’s plan.

Third:  I must keep my eyes on Jesus.  He is my example.

Fourth:  I must be watchful.  Matthew 24:42 says, “Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming.”

  I WANT TO BE READY!

BUT—REMEMBER , until He comes, THE SUN WILL COME OUT TOMORROW.

 

                                                                                                                                                                      

 

 

 

 

 

 

AN ALL SEEING EYE

“There’s an all seeing eye watching you. Every step that you take His great eye is awake. There’s an all seeing eye watching you.”

When I was a little kid, we used to sing that old song in church. Those fearful words petrified me. Lying in bed, in the middle of the night, I could see that giant eye, one eye only, an eye with 20/20 vision, moving slowly back and forth, carefully watching everything I did, noting every little piece of mischief, and every scrap of disobedience. There was no way to escape that terrible eye.

However, as an adult, my thoughts concerning this “ALL SEEING EYE,” have totally changed. For now, I understand, and that truth that caused me nightmares, as a child, now blesses the socks off of me. Think of it! I am never out of God’s view or out of His mind. At any given moment, He knows exactly where I am and what I am doing.

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Now, I grant you that fact is rather disconcerting to an unrighteous man, who doesn’t necessarily want God to look in on his life. But to the one who loves and serves God, and longs after Him, God’s awareness of every detail of life is, to him, like Linus’ security blanket.

What a wonderfully assuring thing it is to know that God has my life in view!

Psalm 139 has always been a marvelous encouragement to me. First, David tells us that God is “acquainted with all our ways.” He knows every word we speak before it is ever uttered, and David continues by saying, “He has laid His hand upon me.” Think about it! As unbelievable as it may seem, God’s divine hand has touched your life. He has touched my life.

Just writing about it brings such wonder to my spirit.

In verses 7 – 10, David says, I can’t get away from you, God. “Where can I flee from your

“If I ascend into heaven, you are there; if I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there Your hand shall lead me, and Your right hand shall hold me.” By this time, David must have been dancing a gig shouting “GLORY! HALLELUJAH! HE IS MY GOD!”

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In verse 16, we read that every day of our life was planned before one of them ever came to be, before we ever existed. I cried the night before I flew off to Poland declaring that I wouldn’t go a step. That was in the days before “THE WALL” between the east and the west came down.

 

I was taking a bunch of religious materials for my teaching assignment. I had no idea what would happen, when the authorities searched my luggage. Perhaps I would be thrown into prison never to be seen again. I‘d heard stories like that.

When I entered the terminal in Warsaw, they already had my number. The loudspeaker was blaring, “Will the American woman from flight so and so please come to window number three?” I must admit, in that moment, this gal, who claimed never to be afraid of BUT GOD! God knew of this moment in my life before time began. He had already made all the arrangements. I haltingly answered the official’s questions, and he let me go without ever opening my luggage. God walked me through that terminal and sat with me and my belongings in an illegal taxi (What did this dumb girl know?) until I was safely at the domestic terminal ready to continue my journey.

Psalm 124:1 says, “If it had not been the Lord who was on our side,”

God was on my side that week in the city of Cieszyn, Poland, as I taught people who were eager to serve Him. When it was time to return to Brussels, all flights were cancelled because of a political uprising in Warsaw, and, yes, God already knew about that. So, with my translator, we suffered a wild taxi ride through a cold, snowy February afternoon to the railhead, where we boarded an overcrowded, no seats available train, for a five hour trip to Warsaw. Yes, God knew about that too.

On Monday evening, I flew back to Brussels with an overwhelming joy at the knowledge that God watched every step of the way.

Dear Reader, like it or not, “There’s an all seeing eye watching you.” He knows exactly what your day holds and the difficulties you will face. He has already provided for your victory.

Let the knowledge of his care draw you nearer to Him.

REMEMBER, THE SUN WILL COME OUT TOMORROW!

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!