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?

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

To Young Moms

 

What would I say to a young mother?

I'm watching you young moms out there and appreciate what a hard job you have.  I want to encourage you today.  It's been rolling through my mind as I read Facebook what I'd want to say to each of you if I had the opportunity.  So...I'm taking the opportunity.

Enjoy your children.  I know as you're changing diapers, potty training, trying to get kids to clean their rooms or trying to get teenagers out of bed, it seems like this job will go on forever.  While you'll be a mom forever, this part won't last long in the great scheme of things.  Enjoy it while you're on this leg of the journey.  Laugh...a lot!

Take the time to train your children--it's time-consuming, but the payoff is great.  I remember how hard it was to train kids to clean their rooms.  (I pretty much gave up.)  But training your children how to sit at the table with good manners is huge.  Training them how to be a good friend will have long-term payoffs.  There are so many ways you will train your children.  Just remember that you're investing in our society in a huge way when you train your kids.  And...because there's such a lack of training among a lot of homes, your children are going to really stand out and be leaders.  Remember that.

Relax!  Don't be so hard on yourself or your kids.  Looking back, I spent way too much time trying to impress others with my parenting skills instead of just pleasing God.  He's so much easier to please!   

Remember these are little people with real feelings.  If I'd been thinking of how my words or actions might affect my children long-term, I might not have said or done a lot of them.  You may be rearing the next world-changer.  Take that in mind and treasure their little hearts.  Kids may be resilient, but how many of us look back on our childhoods and can pinpoint one situation that killed a part of who we were?  We have a lot of power as parents.

Take time for yourself.  Make time to develop friendships!!  This is so important.  You need a sounding board or just being away from the fray.  Expect your kids to whine as you leave them with dad or a babysitter while you go have coffee with a friend.  Be strong!  Don't let it keep you home--go get that coffee.  You'll be a better mom when you get home.  Have fun while you're out!

Date your husband.  I can still remember my kids giggling as I told them I had a date with their dad.  This brings comfort to their hearts knowing that their parents enjoy being together.

Spend time with God.  Maybe this should have been at the top of the list, but I know as a mom it was hard to find a time alone with God.  I usually found time during the kids' naps to do it.  God knows how hard this is!  But just make your conversation with him go on all day long.  His Word is hidden in your heart, after all.

Along that line, ask God how to parent.  He's the best parent and knows your children inside and out.  And He's given you the best counselor--the Holy Spirit!

Spend time getting to know each child.  They're all different!  Consider this a privilege with long-term results.  Take them out individually.  Let each of them get to do things the others don't get to do.  (This will also make for some great feuds when they become adults!  Ha!)  Let them know they are each special and dear to your heart.

I know this may look more like a list of what-to-do instead of encouragement.  So if I could sum it up in one word, it would be this--ENJOY!!!  Enjoy those tiny people.  Enjoy each stage.  Purpose in your heart to enjoy the children God has entrusted to you.  Don't strive so hard.  Don't make it a pain. Don't pressure yourself and them.  Just...enjoy.  You're doing great, Momma!  No, really...you're doing GREAT!

Monday, June 19, 2017

Victim or Victor?

 

Victim or Victor?

It's so easy as a pastor's wife to adopt the attitude of victim. "Unless you've walked in our shoes, you just don't understand. I don't even WORK at the church, but there are so many expectations placed on me!  Everything my children do is scrutinized, analyzed, and discussed. People come to me with sweet-sugared criticisms of my husband--and sometimes not so sweet-sugared!"

Is that REALLY who I want to be?  A victim?  Actually, I'd rather be a Deborah. I want the confidence to know who I am and who God has called me to be!  I want to be that person who KNOWS her giftings and walks in them--not manipulated into things I have no desire to do. Deborah was a force to be reckoned with. She sat under a tree--HER tree--dispensing wisdom with which God had gifted her. She was a prophetess and I believe she was fearless. In a day when women were right above the family cow in the pecking order, she was fearless in telling people--even men--what God was saying. She was a judge deciding between right and wrong. And then one day, she sent for Barak and asked him, "Hasn't God told you to take on Sisera?(The captain of Canaan's army who held Israel captive--and had chariots of iron.) Go ahead!  God will deliver him into your hands!"  But Barak makes an interesting comment, "I'll go if you go with me."  My sister gave me insight here. She said she believed Barak knew God was with Deborah and wanted her to carry the presence of God into battle. Deborah agreed to go with the understanding that a woman (Jael) would get the credit for killing Sisera. And it played out exactly that way!  Deborah led the army into battle fearlessly--against strong men with iron chariots--and won!!  

Deborah didn't get sidetracked with the numerous "womanly" duties around her. God called her to prophesy, judge, and lead an army into battle--and even share the glory with another woman who just happened to put a tent peg through the head of Sisera while he rested in her tent. 

Yes, I want to be victorious!  I want to be filled with the presence of God, walk in the ways in which he's gifted me, and go into battle when necessary. I want to be fearless and confident. I want to have laser focus. How about you?

The Profit


Marcus Lemonis stars as The Profit on CNBC.  I stumbled upon this reality TV show recently and it has reeled me in.  Marcus is a real-life millionaire (billionaire?) who rescues failing businesses with a financial investment, taking over a percentage of the company, and declares, "I am now the boss."  The rest of the hour is a summary of how he brings about change to make the company solvent.  As I began to watch episode after episode, some things began to stick out to me.  Some things which are common to life...not just business.  So I took some notes and these are the things I've learned from The Profit.  As you read the list, don't just think about business...think about life!

  • You can't grow if you resist change.  In fact, you may be destroyed.
  • You have to have emotion for your business to succeed.
  • People fear loss of control.
  • When people refuse to change, they become argumentative (at the least), manipulative, subversive, divisive, and destructive (at the worst).
  • Someone must be in control--someone who knows how to grow the business.
  • You MUST get rid of the old to make room for growth and change.
  • A good leader acknowledges where you are, asks questions, LISTENS, but stays focused on the vision.  He's not afraid to speak truth to get you where you need to be.  
  • A business should know their numbers.  If they don't, they have no plan for success.
  • A leader must be able to see what is wrong.  They see weaknesses but play to the strengths.
  • A business should know their strengths and capitalize on them.
  • A business should surround themselves with people who are different--to fill in the holes of their weaknesses.
  • A business must VALUE their employees.
  • A business should reward faithful and helpful employees.
  • Negativity will kill a business.
  • There MUST be quality control.
  • You must admit mistakes and rectify them.
  • Strive for happy customers.
  • Be organized!
  • Make the most of your space.
  • Your business should be pleasing to the eye.
  • Praise a job well done.
  • Honor employees.
  • Prove you're better than expected.
  • Fix what's broken.
  • Make your name visible.
  • Don't be a know-it-all.  Be teachable.
  • Expand wisely.
  • Deal with your past and your hurts in order to move forward.
  • Expand wisely.
  • Get counsel from people who can see your blind spots.
  • Put "like" products together.  Get rid of products which have nothing to do with your business.
  • Have the right people in their right places.
  • Be willing to let go of perceived strengths when they actually may be a weakness which is killing your business.
  • LISTEN!!!
  • Don't waste money with unnecessary jobs, misused space, or products which have nothing to do with your main business.
  • Make a plan.
  • Observe.
  • Learn from successful businesses and people.
  • You don't have to understand product to understand the business of the product.  But you CAN research and learn!
  • Be efficient.
  • Obey laws.
  • Use the right equipment.
  • Create partnerships when you can and when it's wise.  If you already have a partnership, don't try to be a Lone Ranger.  
  • Believe in yourself!  Listen and receive the praise and encouragement others give.  It may lead to a new understanding of yourself.
  • Work hard to leave every customer satisfied.
  • Don't undervalue your product.  You've invested yourself in this product and it has value.  Believe it!
  • Don't leave anything on the table.  Give 100%.
I always find it interesting that people will call Marcus needing help to rescue their business and they know change is imminent.  But then most of them resist him every step of the way.  WE DON'T LIKE CHANGE!  But it's a rule of nature....if you're going to grow, you're going to have to change.  Change is all around us.  God even created us so that we have to change.  So when we resist change, do you think maybe we're resisting God?  God is the only one who never changes. He designed it this way so we have a point of reference--a focus--in the midst of our change to keep us balanced. Change is inevitable. Resisting change slows you down...and can even destroy you. 

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Threads of Suspicion by Dee Henderson

 

David & Evie are appointed to a task force by the governor to solve cold cases. They have no idea how close and personal Evie's case will become. Five college girls have been missing for years and they all seem to have one connection--they all attended a Triple M concert starring David's girlfriend, Maggie. David & Evie partner in closing in on the killer--which involves a dangerous and life-threatening situation for Maggie. 
Dee Henderson is one of my all-time favorite authors. She knows how to create suspense in a believable way and keeps me guessing the whole time about whodunnit. This book is no exception!  I loved the book and I'm already anxious for the next in the series!!
I'd give this book 5 out of 5 stars!

Thank you to Bethany House for providing this book for review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Evergreen Church & all of us

 

"Will I be welcome?  Will I sit in the wrong place?"  These are both questions I ask myself when going to a new church. Believe it or not, I am an introvert. I hate walking into new situations--which is exactly where I found myself last Sunday. I had Zach & Shanna's children and took them to their church--where Zach is worship pastor. It's usually not uncomfortable for me because I have Zach & Shanna to sit with. But I was solo Sunday!  I walked in (with very few people knowing me) and at least 5 strangers greeted me before I ever entered the sanctuary. Then as I was seated and the songs began, a woman next to me leaned over and introduced herself to me. She asked me my name and instantly recognized my last name (there are two Dietz's on staff) and told me she loved my family. I settled into the service feeling welcomed, loved, known. 

Isn't that what we all want--and we fear it isn't waiting for us at church?  It also encouraged me to up my game!!  How about you?  We need to welcome each person who walks into our churches. We need to ask people to sit with us...ask questions...get to know our visitors. We need to take guests to lunch!  I can do those things--even as an introvert, which is no excuse. 
If you live in the Tulsa/Broken Arrow area, I highly recommend Evergreen Church!!

Let's love our guests--and long-time members--tomorrow!!!
@Evergreen_Tulsa