Friday, September 8, 2017

Intensity & Frequency

Have you felt things becoming more intense and more frequent?  I have. It's like I can't catch my breath in between events. The birth pains are coming closer together. No wonder we can't rest!!  Years ago, I was watching a seismograph as a meteorologist explained El Niño--and it hit me!!  It looked exactly like the heartbeat of a baby during delivery. El Niño means baby boy. Last night, someone asked me, "What happens before a baby is born?  The mom's water breaks!"  Could the hurricanes be a picture of that in the natural?  This morning, there was an 8.0 earthquake off the coast of Mexico. The labor pains are closer. 
I Thess. 5:3 says that in the last days, people will be crying 'peace and safety' and sudden destruction will come upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. Did you know the U.N. has declared a Day of Peace on September 21 (the middle of Rosh Hashanah-Feast of Trumpets)?  And the theme is, "Together for Peace: Respect, Safety, & Dignity for All."  And we can't dismiss the terrorization of Kim Jong-un as he tests nuclear bombs. That's not safe.
Many believe Jesus will return during Rosh Hashana--it's the next feast on the Jewish calendar for a major event to take place. (September 20-22 this year)  Plus it says Jesus will return with a shout of the voice of the archangel and the trumpet of God. 
These could all be coincidences...or it may be that God wants us watching the signs and looking up!  Either way, the time is closer.
There will be those who laugh, saying,  "nothing's changed and people have been saying 'Jesus was coming' for thousands of years"--but that's just another sign fulfilling II Peter 3:3-7. 
I've been watching the skies myself.


Tuesday, August 29, 2017

When Hospitality Costs You





As a pastor's wife, we've all been in that situation. Your husband tells you he's invited a committee to meet at your house and will need refreshments served...or someone's coming to speak and will need to stay at your house...or the staff Christmas party will be at your house in two days!  

Hopefully, you and your pastor-husband communicate well and plan ahead. But there are always those times that the unexpected happens...and God uses those circumstances to squeeze us. We have a choice in how we respond. 

God expects us to be hospitable. (I Timothy 3)  The problem is...I don't always feel like being hospitable. And sometimes (most of the time) hospitality costs us--time, money, physical & emotional energy, etc.  

So what's the key?  I've learned a few things through the years. The times I don't want to be hospitable usually turn out to be some of the most meaningful experiences. I remember Andy wanting to invite a family to our home for dinner and money was so tight that I told him the only thing we could offer them was a sandwich. But he still wanted to invite them. I was embarrassed. But they came. That family became some of our very best friends. And the woman confided years later that they'd had nothing to eat because they'd just moved to town and we're waiting on their first paycheck. Our friendship was sealed over a sandwich. 

Hospitality always seems to cost something. But the reason it does is because it's so VALUABLE. Hospitality is God's way of inviting others into our lives. It's the very plan He uses to grow the Church. There's something so important about sharing a meal together!  Jesus did it over and over with His disciples. Eating together opens our hearts to one another. 

I encourage you to be hospitable...even when you don't feel like it.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Job's Wife


My sister, Becky Sanders Dietz and I were discussing the subject of Job's wife, and she had such great insight I asked her to co-author a blog with me.  I'm glad I did!  Here's the outcome of that collaboration...Sandra Langford. 

Job had a pretty good life.  He was, though not perfect, a man devoted to God.  In fact, in Job 2:3 God Himself said of Job, "No one else on earth is like him, a man of perfect integrity, who fears God and turns away from evil.” His reputation was infallible. Job was a man of wealth and a father to seven sons and three daughters.  His family appeared to have a happy and close relationship. They would have a feast "each on his appointed day" (probably their birthday) and invite each other to the parties.  After the feast, Job would offer a sacrifice in case any of his children had sinned in their hearts. 

Then, one day, God looks upon Job and with pride, and asks Satan the life changing question for Job. "Have you considered my servant Job?" With that simple question, Job loses everything, his animals, servants, and finally his sons and daughters.  Everything, that is, but his wife.

I had never considered before why Satan the accuser chose not to kill Job's wife.  But why kill her if you can use her?  Satan first afflicted Job with painful boils all over his body. Then he attacked Job through the words of his wife, "Why don't you curse God and die?"  Satan knows better than we do how powerful our influence is over our husbands.  Her words are actually suggesting treason against God. "Declare a rebellion and insurrection against God and His kingdom!"  

How many of you wives have ever thought, "I could do this life so much better without my husband!"?  I have. This isn't my own thought--but one the Great Insurrector put in my mind. Satan wants to divide us as husband and wife. Every single girl longs to be married and every married woman longs to do it alone. It's Satan's way of spreading discontent and disunity. (And it has been working for thousands of years!) If our marriages are a picture of Christ & the Church, Satan will do everything in his power to destroy it. 

Even though Job's wife was used by the enemy to try and cause an insurrection against God--and even against their marriage--God used her as part of the restoration process.  When God restored everything to Job, He also gave an increase.  He doubled all he'd owned...everything, that is, except children. He received exactly what he'd lost--7 sons and 3 daughters. But I like to think peace, spicyness, and allure came into his marriage in spades. After all...that's what he named his new daughters!  Job and his wife were the age of grandparents by this time.  That can bring hope into marriages which are in that stage.  I believe the marriage of Job and his wife was completely restored.  I believe it became everything God intended it to be--a picture of Christ & the Church.
--Sandra Langford

Sunday, August 27, 2017

INTIMACY



Tonight, Jamie Shuck led our youth in an exercise of emptying our cups of pleasure and culture (good or bad) at the cross...and lifting our cups and asking God to fill it with Him. It was a powerful moment as I realized how empty I was. 

I know the way to be filled is intimacy with God. It's listening to Him--from His Word and in my heart. And me sharing my heart with Him. Jamie even read Psalm 23:5 to us. "You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; My cup runs over."

As I came home and began journaling what God had shown me tonight, I told God I desired a deeper intimacy with Him--I had let the world and circumstances crowd Him out. I'd lost focus. Immediately, a picture came into my mind of me sitting at the table feasting with Him--intimately. Just like the couple in this photo. I was so enthralled with God, I had no awareness of the enemy around me. This was a completely different interpretation I'd ever had of Psalm 23:5!  

I want to be that enthralled with Jesus!!  I want to be so intimate with Him that the enemy can do all kinds of shenanigans around me--and I only have eyes for my King.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

When the Enemy Taunts




What is your first response when God is putting a plan in your heart and the enemy taunts you?  I'm guessing it's to stop...retreat...cower in fear...listen to the enemy...watch the enemy...talk to like-minded friends about that mean ol' enemy!

That's what the Israelites were doing for 40 days as Goliath sneered at them. Then as soon as David arrived and heard Goliath, God began putting a plan in David's heart. He began asking what the reward would be for the person who killed this giant who was mocking God. And David was eattacked, taunted, jeered, and made fun of--by his own brother, Eliab. 

What did David do?  Very simply...he ignored his brother. Now this brother was his oldest brother--and David was the baby of the family. For David to ignore him shows how powerful this was. I imagine God had been in the process of strengthening David's inner man as he spent so much time alone caring for his father's sheep. God had already told David he would be the next king. God had sent a lion and bear for him to kill and overcome. And David knew it wasn't about him--it was all about God. 

What plan is God putting in your heart?  Has the Enemy taunted you about it?  He may even speak through those closest to you. He may use intimidation you've lived with your whole life. You should have one response...
Ignore it. 

"Eliab: Why have you come down here? Who is watching your tiny flock in the wilderness? I’m your brother, and I know you—you’re arrogant, and your heart is evil. You’ve come to watch the battle as if it were just entertainment.

David: What have I done now? I was just asking a question.

David ignored him and asked another soldier the same question, and the people gave him the same answer. When news of David’s valiant words reached the king, Saul sent for David."

Friday, July 7, 2017

God is Good All the Time by Sandra Langford




I don't think I'll ever forget it.  I won't tell his story because I don't know much of it and it isn't mine to tell.  But a small bit of the story I think is mine.  He had suffered from illness for awhile, in fact, I believe he was diagnosed just a few months before I found out that I too was being attacked by cancer.  The last Sunday that I saw him was probably his last to attend church before he went home to heaven.  He had been talking to my husband, and I walked up to greet him.  His last words to me were simple but heart felt.  He looked into my eyes and with deep peace simply said, "God is good ALL the time."  I wanted to grab his arm and talk to him.  I wanted to share what God had been teaching me thru my hardships - to truly delight in God no matter the circumstances.  I wanted to hear exactly what God had been teaching him because it was apparent he had learned some lessons as well.  However, I could tell his energy was lagging and that he needed to leave, so I simply agreed with him, God is indeed good all the time.

I saw a quote not long ago by Graham Cooke:

“If you are in mourning, you have the opportunity to worship in the most powerful way possible: lamentation. This worship isn’t done in order to have God remove the pain. It simply recognizes that God stands in the moment with us. Lamentation elevates God in the presence of our enemies. It brings out a side of God that other forms of worship simply cannot touch.”

When I choose to worship God, delight in Him, and give thanks to God in times of hardship, in times of grief and distress I believe it sends a very strong message.  A message that my church friend sent loud and clear.  It is a message that  the world, our church, our youth and children need to hear.  This ability to sincerely declare "God is good!" even during difficult circumstances proclaims to the world that God is worthy of our praise no matter what. It shows our children that God still stands with us and loves us and is truly trustworthy.  It magnifies Him.  This declaration helps people see that He is worth following for a lifetime. I think the enemy is fearful of this kind of worship because it is powerful.  

There is another powerful time of delight and worship that I think brings equally deep fear to the enemy.  A time that makes a very strong statement of God's power, love, strength and glory.  It is a time that seems to make people so uncomfortable that I've seen them gently reprimand others for it.  When God shows up and shows off with power and people declare "this is what God did for me! God is good!" well meaning friends will respond "God is good all the time" as if to say, "don't declare God's goodness during your celebration - it will make those who are going thru hard times feel bad."  (I know that isn't what all who say that mean, but many do!) Frankly, this as a lie of the enemy.  In fact, I think it is because we hesitate to declare God's miracles, His greatness in the good times that our children, our world, and yes, even our church fail to see God's power.  I think it is one reason our youth and young adults don't continue to attend church after they leave home.  Why would they follow a god that they see as powerless and unable?  Those who are grieving, in distress, and floundering NEED to be reminded that God is still in the miracle-working business, they need that hope!  I know I did and our friend reminded me even in his pain.  Let's cut the enemy off at the knees, bring satan to a place of cowering in fear because of our declaration of God's power.

Let's begin to celebrate freely!  Let me declare the works and recount the illustrious acts of the Lord. (Psalm 118:17)   After all, My God IS good ALL THE TIME - yes, even in my celebration.  How sad is it that I hesitate to tell good news because of other's discomfort in declaring God's glory?  Look at God's work in my life! See what He has done!  He is all powerful!  He is my Delight  in good times and bad.  He is Jehovah Rapha - The Lord Who Heals.  He is El Roi - The God Who Sees!  And this time He has seen fit to see me, to heal me!  My doctors were so sure that cancer had again attacked my body that they had plans in motion for treatments after my surgery.  BUT GOD.  On my way to the appointment to see the surgeon after surgery, I received the call that the pathology report showed no cancer.  I believe God healed me.  Since He can see me, work miracles in my life and love me, He can do the same for you -no matter your circumstances.  Just as God walked with our church friend and carried him though his time of illness, God walked with me.  God was good then and He is good now.  Praise HIM!  If I could talk to that friend again, I would thank him for so gently reminding me when he knew I was waiting and hurting -  "God is good ALL the time."

One of my favorite stories in the Bible recently has been the story of Moses in Exodus 33.  Moses was pleading for God's favor for the Israelite people and then he asks God, "Show me Your glory!" God tells Moses to come to the cleft of a rock and  passes before him, protectively covering Moses with His hand until He had passed by.  As God took His hand away Moses could see the back of God.  In Ex. 34:6-7  "Then the Lord passed by in front of him, and proclaimed, “The Lord, the Lord God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness and truth (faithfulness); keeping mercy and lovingkindness for thousands...."  I've always pictured this in my mind as God solemnly walking past Moses somberly saying "The Lord, the Lord God, compassionate.....".  Then I recently heard it described another way.  Probably much more accurately than I had pictured it.  What if instead of solemnly walking by,
God was jumping up and down, dancing - perhaps throwing his hands in the air celebrating Himself as He delightedly declared to Moses, "The Lord, the Lord God, compassionate and gracious...!!"   My challenge to you is to not be hesitant to declare God's glory in fear of hurting others, but to be like God Himself, celebrating His glory and goodness.






Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Who am I?

 
"Who do people say you are??"  Have you seen that game on Facebook where you write one word to describe a person and post the first gif which comes up?  It's pretty telling. People are seeing what others think of them. Now here's the second question..."What do you WISH people said about you?"  

I asked these questions in Sunday School before I taught on Judges. And then we looked at what God said about each judge.
Othniel--went to war
Ehud--left-handed judge who killed a king
Deborah--judge, prophetess, liberator, carried the presence of God, led army to victory
Gideon--mighty warrior, led people into idolatry
Jotham--prophet
Tola--judge, defender of Israel
And the list goes on and on...

If your life was reduced to one or two words, what would it be?  Would you be remembered as a warrior?  A good mother?  A businessman?  A sports addict?  

What do you WANT your legacy to be?

Now...are you pointed towards that target?  Or do you need to adjust your aim?