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Archive for the ‘Trust’ Category

Several months ago, a sweet friend of mine shared with me that she and her sister were fasting and praying on the first of each month.  The prayer request that drove them to fasting and praying on this regular basis was so earnest that I determined to join them.  Recently, during the appointed fasting day, I realized that the requests that I was praying were downright impossible ones.  Nothing about the requests were humanly do-able.  I can’t change a person’s heart.  I can’t heal an incurable disease.  I can’t make a person stop loving his sin.  I can’t peel off scales of deception.  I can’t fix a mental illness.  Have you ever prayed such impossible prayers?

Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever!  Amen.  Ephesians 3: 20-21

What a relief to know that the God that we serve, the God Who is hearing these impossible prayers, is the One True God.  There is no one else like Him.  And, Jesus tells us that “with men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”  Jesus was telling His disciples how it was possible for anyone to be saved; only through God.  His answer applies to many other prayer requests we lift, though, too.  In fact, the answer to all of our prayer requests is:  “With God all things are possible.”  Who knows how God is going to work in our lives?  It is not up to me to try to figure out God’s ways (see Isaiah 55: 8-9), but I can turn over every single concern and trust that He is a good God whose thoughts towards His children are thoughts of peace, not of evil, and His plans are to give us a future and a hope.  Certainly this is bound to look different than our plans and I pray that we can all determine to believe that God is indeed working all things together for good to those who love Him.

Are you praying impossible prayers?  Or are you giving up before believing that with God all things are possible?  The Ephesians passage reminds me that God can do so much that I cannot even measure His works, not by anything physical like a measuring stick nor by anything in my mind, like a really vivid imagination.

Let’s access His power that is at work in us and ask those impossible prayers.  May God be glorified in us and in the Church forever and ever!

Love, Wendy

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On the way home from AWANA last evening, my little man Tate rode in the front seat with me (yes, the air bag was ‘off’).  He’s my thinker, my joker, my talker, you name it.  I enjoy a good conversation with him.  So, as we made the way from Toledo to our home, I wasn’t surprised that a song from the CD sparked some questions from him.

Why did the Israelites have to destroy the people in Canaan?

Why did the Canaanites worship other gods?

How come they couldn’t live together as friends?

That was just a sampling of the conversation that flowed as Jamie Soles and his family sang about the Old Testament in the background.  These are difficult questions to explain to an eight-year-old because in our human minds it seems “mean” that God would tell His children to do these things.  Yet, as I spoke to Tate, I kept bringing to mind this scripture:

For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways, says the LORD.  For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.  Isaiah 55: 8-9

and this one too:

Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct your paths.  Proverbs 3: 5-6

As I forged ahead in my comments with Tate, I realized how applicable God’s words to the Israelites really are to us today.  How?  Well, some of the biggest spiritual stumbles in the friends I’ve had, and even in my own life, particularly in college, were when we befriended someone who didn’t follow the Lord.  In my case, I began liking people, hanging around them, listening to their ideas, agreeing with their ideas because I liked them, and eventually forsaking my earlier beliefs.  Thanks to the tremendous mercy of God, Christ-followers spoke Truth into my life and my heart was soft enough to return to His ways, but this is not always the case.  Some continue stiff-necked into their own interpretations of the Word…”this person is so sincere and loving!  Surely, God didn’t really mean it when He said…”, and soon they are following their own wisdom and turning from God’s ways.  Like the Israelites, we begin adopting “gods” or “idols” of the culture.  We begin to second-guess what God has said in the Scriptures.  We begin to use our own wisdom in the circumstances.  I see this each and every day among Christians.  We have become more and more assimilated in “our Canaan” and we have begun to believe in our culture’s ways above our God’s.

If they’re happy, then I don’t see why they can’t get married.

They should have legal rights just like we do, regardless of their sexual orientation.

The mother should have the right to do as she chooses and not be told what to do.

God will forgive us.

Maybe my way (rather, God’s way) isn’t the only right one?

As we surround ourselves with the wisdom of the culture, we will begin falling away from God.  We are no different from the Israelites.  Do we honestly think we are?  Do we think that we can hang with the world and remain unaffected?  We are fooling ourselves!  God’s Word says:

And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.  Romans 12: 2

We do live in a different time than the Israelites.  We are certainly NOT to destroy those who are different from us nor are we to never befriend someone who doesn’t know Christ.  However, we must incorporate the wisdom of 2 Corinthians 6: 14 and not be unequally yoked with unbelievers for what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness?  As you befriend unbelievers, have the purpose of sharing the hope of Christ.  Be on guard and pray for protection from the lies of this world.  Be filled with the Holy Spirit so you can earnestly love them.  But, don’t become like them.  There is no eternal hope in that.  The principle remains for God’s people to be holy, to be pure.  Let’s be very mindful of what we surround ourselves with–what are we hearing?  watching?  loving?  believing? If any of it is contrary to the Word of God, cut it off.

Renew your mind with the Truth of the Bible and be strengthened by Him as you build the Kingdom of God!

Love, Wendy

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Recently, while reading the account of Jesus sleeping in the boat while a great storm surrounded him and his disciples, I was struck by the application to my own life.  This narrative of the disciples freaking out while enduring a ferocious storm on a lake always seems to cause people to be astonished by the minimal faith these men possessed.  We read it and say things like this:  “But, Jesus was with them!  How could they have been scared?” or “How many times did they need to see Jesus perform miracles before they figured out that He was going to take care of them too?”  We’re all guilty of being astonished by the disciples’ lack of faith…yet, sometimes, God really speaks to our own souls and our own lack of faith too.

After a day of intense difficulty with homeschooling (wait, I think I meant to say ‘after a year…’), I lay on my bed and silently cried out to God, “Please, give me strength that I do not have!”  I begged for a relief from the arguing.  I pleaded that God would change my circumstance because I didn’t feel like I could go on like this.  My thoughts began to go to the “What if–?” realm.  Fear crept in as worst-case scenarios about my children’s futures bombarded me.  The fact that Jesus was with me, and has promised me that He always would be with me, became merely intellectual as my emotions began to carry me away.  Later, when reading Matthew 8 (and Mark 4), God spoke to my heart as I began to point my finger at the disciples’ lack of faith.  He showed me that my situation with homeschooling was my own “boat in the storm”.  I was crying out to God, yet my anxiety and fears were dominating the situation and preventing me from truly trusting in Jesus, Who was with me all along.

Who among us isn’t suffering at some point in time with fear or anxiety?  What situation in our lives can begin to take over our intellectual belief in God and cause us to act as if we are atheists (not believing He is there with us and powerful to handle this)?  May we learn from Jesus’ response to the disciples, “Why are you afraid?  You have so little faith!” and cry out to God when we, too, are full of fear from the overwhelming storms in our lives.

Father God, You are almighty!  Fill us with greater faith in You.  Give us the courage to face our storms with peace because You are our Protector and our Comforter.  Truly, You are our rock and our salvation, our fortress.  We will never be shaken.

Love, Wendy

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I hadn’t realized how long it had been since last posting on this blog.  I try to write every Thursday or Friday, but my most recent post was December 2012!  As you can figure, January was a very busy month for me.  It was actually a very exciting month for me.  My childhood dream of visiting the United Kingdom finally came true at the end of January.  We visited London, the English countryside and Wales; it was exactly as I’d imagined it to be!  While there, I enjoyed noticing the little differences in the English language, such as “Mind the gap, or mind the stairs” instead of “Watch your step” or “Give Way” was the instruction on the road sign instead of “Yield”.  For me, saying something differently causes me to stop and think rather than just ignore the same familiar statement or warning that I am used to seeing.

Years ago, when my husband and I were discussing the concept of the “sinner’s prayer”, he said something that bothered me at first.  Instead of focusing on the need to say a prayer for salvation, Dave commented that he did not like that idea because the journey of salvation was a daily “yielding” of his life.  He understood the concept of justification, but he also was comprehending sanctification, and better than I had been at the time.  See, our conversation consisted of the many people in our lives who had prayed “the prayer” (sometimes with us!), but whose lives did not reveal any changed fruit.  They weren’t living for God, but for self.  After hearing some sermons on the importance of following God all the time and not just getting your “Free Get Out of Hell Card” after saying a prayer, I was deeply challenged by the fact that sometimes the sinner’s prayer was used as an ‘insurance’ of getting into Heaven and nothing more.

I began to dwell on Dave’s comment about “yielding”.  What did that mean?  Yielding what?  And, to whom?  Many years have passed since that initial conversation with my husband and God has been faithful to show me time and time again what I must yield (all of me) and to whom (Him).  Romans 6 and Galatians 2 have been instrumental in helping me visualize what it means to yield my life to God.  I am no longer–I have been crucified with Christ.  I am raised from this death by the glory of the Father so I can walk in newness of life!  Everything must change.  There can’t be any coddling of former sin; I must hate it and ask God to give me repentance.    Does this happen overnight?  Sometimes.  But, oftentimes not.  And, in that process is our constant yielding.

So, while I was in England, and my poor husband was attempting to drive on the wrong side of the road (for us Americans, anyways), the signs that said, “Give Way” caused me to think in a different way about the word “yield”.  Of course I know it means to give way.  But, I began to imagine this in regards to my relationship with God.  Was I giving way to Him when I was full of anxiety about flying?  Was I giving way to Him when I was frightened about a possible medical diagnosis?  Was I giving way to Him when I was jet-lagged and super grumpy?  Or was I standing firm, not budging in my sins of anxiety, fear and rudeness?

Lord, may my commitment to walk in Your ways be firm.  But, may I be quick to “give way” when my ways, my flesh, want to take over.  Only through Your Holy Spirit am I able to walk as a child of the Light.  I lean on You today for that very thing.

Love, Wendy

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Have you ever felt like you’re in a hopeless situation?  We just celebrated Christmas and some may feel let down–or even hopeless– after the exciting hustle and bustle of the holiday season.  Perhaps you’re sitting by while watching a loved one make dreadful decision after dreadful decision and you feel without hope.  Others may find themselves in trial after trial and sensing no relief from the storm.  Maybe you feel this way about our nation, your church, your family, yourself.  Our hopeless feelings can engulf us and leave us feeling like we’re suffocating or drowning and never getting above surface.  What’s left to do but fear?!  Yet, as Women of the Word, I want to challenge us to see the big picture and choose to trust our sovereign God Who is in control of all things.

Examine yourself in the midst of your hopelessness and consider some things.  Do you believe God is the Great I Am Who is sovereign over all?  If you do, then you can begin to truly trust that He is good, as the Word says, and He is working all things for the good of those who love Him.  You don’t know how He’s doing it, but you know He is and you can praise Him in the midst of that.  However, if you ask yourself if He is sovereign over all and come up wanting…then, chances are that you are struggling with the thought that the ultimate solution to this hopeless situation–or any situation–is up to you.  If God is not in control, who is?  The only option is…me.  Consider this.  Is this possible?  Seek God’s wisdom and ask Him to reveal to you if this is your way of thinking.  If He answers yes, then confess that and seek the Word for comfort and realize that He is indeed sovereign and we can utterly depend on Him.

Who is this who darkens counsel by words without knowledge?  Now prepare yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer Me.  Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth?  Tell Me, if you have understanding.  Who determined its measurements?  Surely you know!  Or who stretched the line upon it?  To what were its foundations fastened?  Or who laid its cornerstone, when they morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy?

Oh, we know this familiar response by God to Job in the midst of awful trials.  What a beautiful reminder to us, in the midst of hopelessness, that God is omnipotent!  And, that’s very practical for us today.  When we feel hopeless, we are without power.  Surely, we recognize our human limitations in certain situations and that’s when we “give in the towel”.  That surrender may take on a variety of faces–from complete depression to seeking others to help (this could be useful assistance or help from the wrong places) to giving up on our own “power” and depending fully on God’s true power.  But, if through our own unbelief, we limit God’s power, then we have found ourselves in a truly powerless condition.  Not believing in His sovereignty, not believing in His goodness, not believing in His providence…this leaves us powerless.  And scared.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.  1 Peter 1:  3-5

Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord, as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.  2 Peter 1: 2-4

There is no need to fear our own impotence over frightful and hopeless circumstances.  Do not give in and think there is no way out.  Do not give in and believe what is contrary to Scripture.  Do not give in and just “pull up your bootstraps and try harder”.  But, do give in and depend fully upon the power of God Himself.  This great power that raised Jesus Christ from the dead is the same power at work in Believers!  If this is hard to believe, we can join the father who searched out Jesus for the healing of his son and cried out, “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!”

Love, Wendy

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[This post is a semi-regular reprint each Advent season.]  Can you imagine being chosen by God to carry baby Jesus in your womb?  To raise Him?  To witness His complete sacrifice? As we prepare to celebrate His first coming to the world, may we also be filled with excitement as we anticipate His second advent!

Let it be to me according to your word.  Luke 1:38

Years ago, when I was preparing for a Sunday School lesson during the Christmas season, I re-read the passage in Luke 1 where the angel Gabriel appeared to Mary to announce that she was chosen by God to conceive a Son, Jesus.  God’s Word was certainly alive and powerful as I was reading this very familiar passage because His Spirit gave me a fresh understanding that I carried with me through the rest of the holiday season.   Here are some highlights…

When God called upon Mary to be the vessel that He would use to bring His Son forth into this world in human form, she was:

  • willing to be used.  We can’t underestimate the sheer shock that Mary must’ve had when an actual angel appeared to her, let alone the message he was carrying!  But, Mary was willing–”let it be unto me according to your word.”
  • surrendered.  Mary didn’t respond to the angel with a list of better ideas or contingencies.  She would’ve known the implications of becoming pregnant out of wedlock.  She would’ve known that this would be a very difficult and lonely road to take.  But, she submitted to God’s plan fully.  I think there must’ve been a tremendous amount of faith and trust involved to do that.
  • full of praise!  Mary’s magnificat in Luke 1: 46-56 shows us Mary’s response to the amazing news she had received.  She responded with awe, praise and worship.

We are so blessed to be used by God in His work here on earth.  He certainly doesn’t need us, yet He chooses to use us.  And in that process we grow closer to Him, get to know Him more and get the honor of advancing His kingdom here on earth.  When we are chosen by God for a particular task, we can reflect upon Mary’s response–one that was willing, surrendered and full of praise.  Sometimes we consider a ‘particular task’ to be a big ministry, but as I let these words sink into my heart I am reminded of how God uses me on a daily basis at home with my husband and children.  I pray that I can be more open and willing, more surrendered and more worshipful as I live out the plan God has for me in this life.  I encourage you, too, in this journey as you depend upon God to do the same.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for reaching out to us.  Thank You for Your grace and mercy.  Thank You for the ministries in our homes, churches, workplaces and beyond.  May our senses be fine-tuned to Your voice as You lead us in Your will.  We echo Mary’s words that were spoken many years ago when we say that You are mighty and have done great things for us!  Holy is Your name!  Your mercy is on those who fear You from generation to generation!  In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.

Love, Wendy

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When studying for bible study a few weeks ago, I was digging deeply into Ruth 1: 16-17, Ruth’s vow to follow Naomi out of Moab and into Israel.  It’s a challenging passage as Ruth is giving up everything for what appears to be nothing.  While this passage is commonly spoken at weddings, it really is more of a picture of our baptism.

Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death?  Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.  For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin.  For he who has died has been freed from sin.  Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more.  Death no longer has dominion over Him.

Romans 6: 3-9

Our baptism is a picture of our death to the sinful flesh and our life in Christ’s resurrection power.  Can you imagine how powerful we would be if we merely ‘walked out in our baptisms’?

Going back to my research on Ruth’s vow to Naomi, though.  While this vow has been used in weddings (and could, or should, be used at baptisms), some on the internet would argue that Ruth’s vow to Naomi was actually homosexual in nature.   My eyes have been forcibly opened to how people are interpreting the Bible, both in this passage and many others.  On Facebook, just this past week, I have seen several comments and links to blogs that claim for anyone to deny marriage to homosexuals is akin to denying them of the sacraments of baptism and communion.  In another cyber-location, someone using the Bible to declare that homosexuality was a sin was laughed at, cursed at, accused of repeating the ‘typical hate rhetoric’, among other things.

Did I mention that these interpretations are being done by professing Christians?

Apparently, I needed to get out of my stay-at-home-mom-cave and get a glimpse of reality because I had no idea how hateful some of our culture was towards bible-believing Christians.  In an effort to shut down any talk about our sins (and, believe me, there are many more sins than just homosexuality), we call names and make the bible say what we want it to say.  We have molded an image of God and His Word into something more palatable, more nice, more gentle and more sophisticated.  Yet, we have not been without warning.

Preach the word!  Be ready in season and out of season.  Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching.  For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers, and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables.

2 Timothy 4: 2-4

If you are offended by someone calling something [that you do, or that a friend does] sin, then stop and consider.  Why is it offensive?  Because that other person is being mean and vicious and just wanting to hurt you?  Or because the Bible says it?  If you are offended by what God is saying to you in His Word, then take that up with God.  Why does He offend you?  Is He calling you to something greater?  Regardless of the kind of sin we’re in, we’re in bondage to it.  We are held captive, holding on out of comfort or joy or stubborness, but we are held captive and made slaves to it.  I know our country.  We don’t like slavery.  Yet, why do we allow millions of people to live in slavery to sin every day?  Why do we hold back–and even twist–life-giving scriptures to free them from the sin that dominates them?  Why do we ignore that sin is even there?  Why do we refuse to call something that God so clearly calls sin and re-name it so it is palatable and acceptable?

From a mom’s point of view, I know what happens when I allow my children to persist in their sin.  Their behavior becomes more self-centered, they become assured of their own wisdom and they lean on their own understanding of any situation.  As they get more fixed in their sin, they become angrier at anyone (like their parents) who point out their sin and direct them away from it.  I do not receive any joy from dealing with this kind of situation.  It’s usually quite difficult and ugly, at times.  Yet, I’ve seen the vibrant fruit that results from turning away from sin and following in God’s good and righteous ways.  I’ve seen this in my children and in myself.

So, it may be difficult.  It may be ugly.  But, I want to be ready–in season and out of season–to speak God’s Word clearly and accurately so that sound doctrine may be heard and God may be exalted and glorified.  I will not proof-text (pick one verse out and make it work for my argument), but I will look at the whole Book in its entirety so that God’s character and Truth may be revealed.  All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.  (2 Timothy 3: 16-17)

If you profess Christ, I want you to be ready as well.  Trust in the Lord and lean not on your own understanding.  Even if God’s Word is hard to hear, listen to Him–to His whole word–and receive it without tweaking it for your itching ears.  We must be willing to stop tickling our ears and allow God’s Word to strip us bare and cut our hearts, and then we can be truly healed by the Almighty Physician.

The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me because the LORD has anointed Me to preach good tidings to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound...

Isaiah 61: 1

Thank You, Jesus!

Love, Wendy

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