Sunday, June 24, 2018

Unexpected Answers

"God delights to increase the faith [or condition the faith-muscle] of His children."


A few weeks ago, a good friend of mine asked to come sit on the dock and talk for awhile.  This wasn't unusual.....we sit together on the dock quite often, catching up with each others lives.....but there was something different in her voice this time.  My heart fluttered when she asked if she could come over.  

I was concerned.



As we sat down, she looked me straight in the eye and said, "The doctor thinks I have aggressive lung cancer."  I just sat there.....trying to process what she just said, staring at this friend who means the world to me....who God gifted me with years ago to help me find and get to know Him....and I let her words sink into my soul.

What do you say when someone you love says these words your heart can't accept?  

She was scheduled to go for more tests in a few days which would tell the doctor everything he needed to know.  Family was notified....a plan would be put into place....and a new challenging chapter was staring her in the face.

"We ought, instead of wanting no trials before victory, 
no exercise for patience, 
to be willing to take them from God's hand as a means."

I sat on the back porch swing a long time that evening after she left.  She had told me her prayer wasn't for healing....it was a prayer of "Oh Lord, if it is consistent with Thy will, may I feel Your hand and have peace in this difficult new chapter."  I repeated her prayer many times in the next few days before her tests, "Give her peace, Father....and if it's consistent with Your will, please heal my friend."

Two days later, she went in for the determining tests.  Many of her friends were fervently praying this same prayer that day.....waiting impatiently to hear the results.  When the news came, my friend wrote: 

"My peace this morning passes understanding.  A typo was made of size on first CT scan.  Follow up in 3 months and no COPD was found as originally thought.  Guess you're stuck with me for awhile longer!!"

"I say - and say it deliberately - 
trials, obstacles, difficulties, and sometimes defeats, 
are the very food of faith."
George Muller

Oh friends.....watch.... and wait....for the unexpected answers of God.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

This Means War!



A few years ago, my friend Jill Lowry walked up to my front door and handed me a book called Fervent*.  She knew it would be like medicine to me at that time in my life and it continues to be even today.  

Friends, this book is about the strategies of Satan....and it's about your battle plan against those very strategies.  

Strategy 1 - He seeks to dim your whole desire for prayer, dull your interest in spiritual things, and downplay the potency of your most strategic weapons (Eph. 6:10-20).

Strategy 2 - He disguises himself and manipulates your perspective so you end up focusing on the wrong culprit, directing your weapons at the wrong enemy (2 Cor. 11:14).

Strategy 3 - He magnifies your insecurities, leading you to doubt what God says about you and to disregard what He's given you (Eph. 1:17-19).

Strategy 4 - He wants to disintegrate your family, dividing your home, rendering it chaotic, restless, and unfruitful (Gen. 3:1-7).

Strategy 5 - He constantly reminds you of your past mistakes and bad choices, hoping to convince you that you're under God's judgment rather than under the blood (Rev. 12:10).

Strategy 6 - He amplifies Fear, Worry, and Anxiety until they're the loudest voices in your head, causing you to deem the adventure of following God too risky to attempt (Josh. 14:8).

Strategy 7 - He tries to tempt you toward certain sins, convincing you that you can tolerate them without risking consequence, knowing they'll only wedge distance between you and God (Isa. 59:1-2).

Strategy 8 - He hopes to overload your life and schedule, pressuring you to constantly push beyond your limits, never feeling permission to say no (Deut. 5:15).

Strategy 9 - He uses every opportunity to keep old wounds fresh in mind, knowing that anger and hurt and bitterness and unforgiveness will continue to roll the damage forward (Her. 12:15).

Strategy 10 - He creates disruption and disunity within your circle of friends and within the shared community of the body of Christ (1 Tim. 2:8).

I encourage you to tear this page out of the bulletin and tape it to your bathroom mirror.  You've just been given the enemy's playbook.....now, use God's battle plan to win this battle!


*Fervent by Priscilla Shirer

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Compassion

"God is our merciful Father of compassion and God of all comfort.  
He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others."  
2 Corinthians 1:3-4



There's a line from a great Indian epic, that goes something like this: "What is the most wondrous thing in the world, Yudhisthira?"  And Yudhisthira replied, "The most wondrous thing in the world is that all around us people are dying and we don't realize it can happen to us." 

This past week, I was visiting with a dear friend whose only daughter has been struggling with cancer for many years.  She's young....early 50's....and the bulk of her adult life has been spent in the chemo-chair.  Over the years, about the time the doctors would feel they had the cancer beat, it would show up somewhere else.  My friend and her daughter are mighty Warriors.....they have fought this invasive evil in her body for longer than I've known her.  But as I looked into the face of my friend this past week, I saw the face of compassion looking straight into the eyes of her daughter.

com·pas·sion
The definition of compassion is a feeling of deep sympathy and sorrow for another who is hurting, in pain, or has misfortune and is accompanied by a strong desire to help the suffering.  

It starts with the understanding that everyone we meet is fighting their own battle....a battle you and I know nothing of because they personally own it.  And compassion becomes easier to understand when we, ourselves, have been the recipient of someone having compassion on us.  My friend, she understands this thing called Compassion.  She's been a recipient of it first hand from others.....and she's chosen not to keep it to herself, but rather, to share this gift of compassion with those around her.  And wasn't that exactly what Jesus lovingly and compassionately instructed us to do?

"The parting words of Christ were calling his disciples to action. (Matt. 5:31)
When we feed the hungry, minister to the hurting, we are doing these acts of kindness TO HIM. 
Someday Jesus will place His pierced hand on your shoulder.
What will you do?" 
Max Lucado

Sunday, June 3, 2018

We Are The Pottery

"We now have this light shining in our hearts, 
but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure."  
2 Corinthians 4:7


Each morning, I wake up within the skin of a house on Eagle Cove.  The walls of this house were "pressed on every side by troubles, but were not crushed" (2 Corinthians 4:8) a few years ago by lake water invading its perimeter.   We were "perplexed....we were scared....but never driven to despair...never abandoned by God".  We got "knocked down, but were not destroyed." (2 Corinthians 4:9)

Today's scripture speaks of our fragile human bodies which Paul metaphorically refers to as delicate clay pottery.  Our exterior shell is the holder of this magnificent and great treasure protected within its walls.  Deep within our Soul is a Light....Christ....buried within the confines of this fragile shell.  And just as Georgia and Hal Gibson mold beautiful one-of-a-kind jars out of clay and water by the simple and easily-broken-act of moving their hands, God molded each of us with His very own strong, yet gentle, hands.  We are one-of-a-kind with Christ's signature stamped boldly on us.  We are His walking-talking pottery that carry Him, our great Treasure, boldly with us as we walk through this world.

As I write this to you, I can't help but look around this room I'm sitting in at 89 Eagle Cove.....and remember that within the delicate shell of its walls, hidden behind sheet rock and bead board, is a great treasure.  Scripture.  Words.  Promises.  Touching each stud, each floor joist in this space, beside me and beneath me, are the promises and Light of Christ that many of you helped put there.  

We are the pottery, friends.....flawed and fragile.....given the responsibility of carrying the Treasure buried deep within us to the world.  

"Yes, we live under constant danger of death because we serve Jesus,
so that the life of Jesus (the Treasure) will be evident in our dying bodies."
2 Corinthians 4:11