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In 1937 Thomas Dorsey wrote “Peace in The Valley” for Mahalia Jackson.  It has been recorded by everyone imaginable.  The lyrics are hopeful, a FINAL day of peace.  It talks about peace in the valley in the future.  Well, my future in Heaven will not be a valley.  And truthfully, the valleys seem to all be in the here and now.  Yet, I can have PEACE in the VALLEY now according to scripture.  God’s word says, th

Psalm 23:4 (NASB)

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.

It seems with every year I have found myself saying on December 31st, “next year will be better.”  I look over what has been and think it cannot get worse, then it does.  The year my parents both had open heart surgery and my oldest brother was in the horrible car wreck that ruined his life, also brought a loss job for my husband, an unfavorable medical diagnosis for myself and several other calamities.  Since then I’ve had a brother killed in a plane crash, more job loses, both parents and a parent in law went on to be with the Lord.  We’ve had a daughter almost killed in a collapsed building during a tornado, a granddaughter needing a stomach pumped, more car wrecks, more illnesses, foreclosure and losing my dream house … heart-break after heart-break.  Sometimes it just seems to keep coming and you think, when will the feasting years come.  In the Bible Joseph had bad years followed by good years.  King Solomon had great years.  So then why can’t we?   We do, we just don’t see it that way because we’re looking at the circumstances.  So many times we look at our lives when we need to look around us, or across the world, to see just how good we do have it in our life.

No matter what you are going through, God doesn’t make mistakes.  With the bad comes His presence.  If you focus on the bad of the circumstance you stumble.  When you look back and see all He’s brought you through you know He can carry you through it all. Remind yourself daily all God HAS brought you through, all HE has done for you.  Don’t let people tell you He won’t give you more than you can handle.  That’s not what that scripture means anyway.  He’ll never allow more to touch you that will cause you to lose your faith and give up.  You might feel like you’re going to, but, He’ll be there and He’ll remind you who He is and what He’s done.  We truthfully have no idea how much we can handle anyway.  I just need to remember that all goes through His hand’s before it ever touches me.

So with this new  year I’ll not worry about if it’s all going to turn around and be great.  Neither will I “borrow trouble” as  mom liked to say.  I’ll take each day as He gives it, thanking Him for all the blessings that satan* tries to make me forget by enticing me to look at the circumstances in life.  This year, 2015, will bring what He allows.  Good or bad does not matter as I can rejoice in Him regardless.  I will soon welcome my fifth grandchild.  Grandchildren are wonderful blessings.  My two daughters are blessings.  We are about to celebrate 38 years of marriage.  I’m looking at a cold and clear blue sky with white puff clouds.  I see a variety of large wading birds out back.  The heat is on and I am toasty, the cat is purring.  Hubby’s casting for that big one.  I may see the bobcat walk by, or the flock of wild turkeys.  God’s creation is beautiful, He cares about every detail.  He cares about me and all my details.  He’s not ignoring them, He’s allowing them. I can take comfort in knowing they will work to my good regardless of whether they or good things or bad.  Blessings are everywhere.

Romans 8:28 NASB

“And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”

I’m looking forward to 2015 Lord.  Help me to trust You each day, keeping my focus on You and not whatever the day brings.  Teach me.

*satan is always lower case in my writings, because he is one.

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Remember in the musical Music Man pickalittlewhen all the older women start chattering like a passel of hens?  They were bent on telling the Music Man about the librarian.  There was probably a little truth in what they said, but mostly it was their jealousies and need for gossip that spewed from their mouth.  We laugh when we watch the scene.

Working in a retail environment since the introduction of cell phones, gossip has gone global.  No longer just in the neighborhood (or church foyer), gossips have worldwide reach through cell phones, Facebook, Twitter and more.  Careless chatter gone out worldwide never to be retrieved.  I have blogged before about careless tongues (O Be Careful Little Mouth What You Say.) Words hurt, they scar and sometimes those scars ruin lives.  It does not matter if you are talking behind someone’s back or to their face, words once out are never taken back.  Like the toothpaste squeezed out, you cannot make it go back in the tube.

Working in retail you hear so much (you wish you did not have to hear) of people’s private lives as they wander around chatting on their phones.  Conversations best kept private are spilled out over aisles.  It seems people think they are in their own private phone booth and because no one is on the aisle with them, then no one can hear them.  And of course their are those that think they have to shout their words across the phone for it to get to the other end of the line.  People just like to talk.  In specific they like to PICK-A-LITTLE, it makes them feel better about themselves to tear others down.  Once started their TALK-A-LITTLE becomes talk-a-lot.  The art of silence has gone.  It is no wonder people do not “hear” what is being said any more.  Their ears are in overload and you have to get their attention.  Recently a father let a loud whistle in the store to get his kids to come.  He looked at my stunned face as if to say “what?”.  His kids don’t listen to their names or him talking, so he’s resorted to whistling for them like a dog.  (Shaking my head).

Wouldn’t it be better to really PICK LITTLE to say, and TALK LITTLE, so that when you did speak others would want to hear what you say? Wouldn’t there be less hurt and less anger if people slowed down and chose their words carefully?   Hmmm, that sounds like a verse from the Bible.

James 1:19 ESV  Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger;”

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A popular logo on sportswear/equipment uses the slogan,

The world sets standards and we push to prove ourselves to the world.  We think nothing of it as we strive to be better than the next person.  Our ego wants us to be better than them in all ways imaginable:  better car, better house, better looking, better kids, better at this and better at that.  The media pushes it at us from every direction; clothing, billboards, commercials.  It is subliminal sometimes and we buy into the mindset.

Yet, when it comes to our spiritual life we become wimps, milk-toast, wall-flowers.  Scared about what His word tells us to do.  Scared to take a stand.  We buy into satan’s* lies and hide.  We cannot DO IT!  We do not know how to DO IT!  Excuses, we have plenty.  The Holy Spirit urges you to spend more time with your family in His word, in worship.  You see a need and you think, “next time”.  That hurting homeless person on the side of the street you see gets a “quickie” prayer, “Lord help them.”  Your child’s classmates need shoes.  The elderly neighbor just wants someone to take time to talk with them.  The Spirit nudges and you keep moving, in the opposite direction … too busy to JUST DO IT.

We are so prone to talk about the things we are going to do when we have time.  A mission trip, the soup kitchen, the coat drive…. making up handouts for the homeless**. Jesus’ first miracle recorded  in John 2, tells of His mother asking for help.  She told the others, “do what He tells you to do”.  And they simply did as they were told.  It would be so wonderful if we would simply do as we are led.   Our cups overflow with His love through His gift of salvation.  He wants you to share His love.  JUST DO IT.

Start each day asking the Lord to use you in His will.  When He shows you a need JUST DO IT.  Do not stop and think you are not capable.

ROMANS 8:26-28  26 In the same way the Spirit also joins to help in our weakness, because we do not know what to pray for as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with unspoken groanings. 27 And He who searches the hearts knows the Spirit’s mind-set, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. 28 We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God: those who are called according to His purpose.

He has a plan for your day.  Open yourself up to the possibilities.  As a parent, grandparent, co-worker, spouse … God uses each of us each day IF we allow Him.  We are not puppets and He is not a puppet master.  It is our choice.  Do not think about it, JUST DO IT!  No matter what He is asking you to do today, no matter what obstacles and trials He allows you to go through, it is for a reason.  He is there through it all, working it for GOOD.

NEVER forget that the day ahead of you carries no task or trial that is greater than the POWER behind you as a Christian.

*satan – I know people capitalize the “S” but, I don’t.  I refuse to give him any status of importance.  He’s a snake, so satan, devil, etc. are lower case, as he is one.

** Homeless handouts: NEVER give cash, but you can carry several 1 gallon zip lock bags (something they can use later when it is empty) filled with: Tuna packet, crackers, snack size nuts, etc..  Include: package of  tissues, comb, trial sizes of hand sanitizer, soap, shampoo, toothbrush, etc.  You can put a New Testament or Christian track in there as well.

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must be a duck … right?  What kind of  “duck” are you?

Duck in hiding ...

Pretend duck

Backsliding duck

Bound by circumstances duck

Popular but hard to understand duck

Robot duck

Just along for the ride duck

In hiding duck (I don't wanna know)

Daffy duck (running around never getting anywhere)

Following duck (struggling but you are trying to get there)

Duck reflection


“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have

passed away, and look, new things have come.” 

2 Corinthians 5:17 (HCSB)

What kind of Christian are you?  Are you a new creation, or another version of the old you?  Who do you reflect?


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Everything in life molds us.  Our trials, our day-to-day life … our ups and downs.  As Christians what we learn as we go through life, and what we do with what we learn, is important.  Sometimes though, we take life and “cookie cut”, or stamp out the result instead of allowing God to work His truths out in our life.  We repeat “ism” statements without ever really thinking through what we are saying and fully understanding the application.

I know people who can quote whole sections of the Bible, but their lives are not evidence of the truths they quote.    Hitler was raised with the Bible and had portions memorized.  Even satan* knows the scriptures.  I also know people who can tell you that “Spurgeon says, Chambers says, Piper says, Warren says, Graham says …”.  But it should be all about what the Bible says to US and how we live according to His word.   There is nothing wrong with reading all the commentaries and books out there but when the bottom line is drawn are you somebody’s cookie cutter version of Christ, or are you a hand molded version He has made.

In the past five years my husband lost his job and was unemployed for over four years; my mother fell and broke her hip, had surgery and ultimately went home to be with her Lord; our daughter was buried in a building during an E4 tornado; I have injured my spine with two bulging discs; our home is in foreclosure and the bank is refusing to work with us (still); we had one wedding and two grandchildren born.  I am currently in a wrist/thumb brace from a fall last September.   It has been one  roller-coaster year after another.  Even my precious cat died.  Sometimes it seems like it never ends.  I can look further back in my life to when both my parents had open heart surgery four weeks apart, dad had a stroke on the operating table and was in the hospital  seven months prior to his death.  And to  when my oldest brother was in the car wreck that put him in the hospital for five months.  It is still affecting his life 2o+ years later.  His son died of a brain tumor a few years after his car wreck.   Why so much strife and tragedy?   Why did my middle brother have to be killed in a plane crash?  Why did we lose three children?  Why this, or that?  Why Lord?  Is all life to be bad?  No.  But, satan* would believe it’s because we are out of God’s care, that  He does not care.  The truth is, we have had so many blessings along the way as well.  Unfortunately, we get caught up in the bad and what it is suppose to mean in our lives.  (Odd how we never ask what a blessing is suppose to mean … like we were due one.)

It is easy to get off track.  People ask, “what have you learned?”   Or say things like, “maybe the Lord’s trying to teach you ….”.  So when we reflect it is easy to get our mind all muddled up in these questions.  If you look around at all your friends and what they are going through in their lives, you realize that, although many of your trials may be similar (economic, emotional, spiritual battles), each of us have very specific details to our lives.  Some have smooth sailing, but most of us have ups and downs.  Some have more downs and I wonder if some of that is because it is a harder lesson to be learned (or is it just that life is hard).  Whatever the case, we need to always seek His face and His peace over our life.  Life happens.  We live in a world governed by sin and evil man.  What they do creates a rippling effect that affects our lives, mostly for the bad.  God’s not sending us punishment every time something bad happens.  He allows life to happen, pure and simple and helps us get through it and grow.  Bad things are going to happen.

So as your life of dough is spread over the coming days are you going to let it get you down?  Are you going to let others tell you how to handle life?  Or  will you be hand rolled and shaped by Him instead of a cookie cutter shaped Christian with all the “right” answers?

Jeremiah 18:6 (HCSB)

6 “House of Israel, can I not treat you as this potter treats his clay?”—this is the LORD’s declaration. “Just like clay in the potter’s hand, so are you in My hand, house of Israel.

God allows everything that comes into your life and if you allow Him, He will use everything you face (good and bad) to shape you into the woman/man of God He wants you to be. That way He can use you in others’  lives.

James 1:2-4 (HCSB)

2 Consider it a great joy, my brothers, whenever you experience various trials, 3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. 4 But endurance must do its complete work,  so that you may be mature and complete, lacking nothing.”

2 Corinthians 1:4 (HCSB)

“He comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any kind of affliction, through the comfort we ourselves receive from God.”

*satan – I know people capitalize the “S” but, I don’t.  I refuse to give him any status of importance.  He’s a snake, so satan, devil, etc. are lower case, as he is one.

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Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in Heaven.”  Matthew 6:10

We have all heard the Disciples Prayer from Matthew 6, The Sermon On the Mount.  Jesus teaches His disciples His model for prayer.  Unfortunately, I think many of us fail to  realize it is HIS will that needs to be done.  Not ours.

Webster defines Yield in the following ways:

: to give or render as fitting, rightfully owed, or required

: to give up possession of on claim or demand: as a : to give up (as one’s breath) and so die b : to surrender or relinquish to the physical control of another : hand over possession of c : to surrender or submit (oneself) to another

We get the concept of prayer.  We ask, and we expect to receive what we ask.  Do we yield to His will or are we upset when we have no answer by our deadline?  What if that is the answer?  What if it’s no?  People get angry with God when He does not answer the way they asked.

Through the years we have prayed for many situations and through many circumstances.  Sometimes, the answers were immediate … sometimes we felt we had no answer, we didn’t understand.  We were confused.  However,  God answers every prayer.  He does, He really does.  Prayers are answered according to His will.  Through cancer, surgery, plane crashes, tornadoes… every trial, He has answered. Is it not an answer to prayer when a loved one dies from an illness when you prayed they might be made whole?  Christians know that when they die they go to Heaven and are made whole.  No more suffering, no more pain.  The problem is not God not answering, it is in our praying.

So why pray if He’s going to do what He wants anyway?  Because in talking with God through prayer you learn the character of God, through Jesus by the Holy Spirit in you.  Prayer changes things … it changes you.  It makes you the Christian and the child of God He made you to be.  His will becomes yours.  Prayer is for molding you into Christ’s character.

Can you come to the point in your prayer life that you can truly pray and then honestly end with “Thy will be done”?  In one week we will go before foreclosure mediation.  God knows Phil needs a job.  He KNOWS we need a place to live.  We ask Him to give Phil a job and help us with finances, including our home.  We want to honor our debt.  God KNOWS  There is nothing wrong with the way we are praying, we are not praying amiss. So when we go (and we know God can give us that miracle we have been asking for), we will go asking His will be done, knowing it WILL.  His WILL. So if Phil does not have a job, and if we lose the house has God not answered our prayers?  NO, that is simply His answer.  His word says:

Jeremiah 29:11 (HCSB)

For I know the plans I have for you” —[this is] the LORD’s declaration—”plans for [your] welfare, not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.”

I truly believe God has a miracle for us and am waiting expectantly for Him to reveal His plan.  It may not be the plan and scenario I asked for, but I know that whatever it is, it is good because He says so. 

So I will pray as He leads me, asking that I might receive and always asking Him in Jesus’ name, “Thy Will Be Done”.

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More and more I have people around me ‘talking’.

Talking or Walking?

Many are what I refer to as ‘surface thinkers’, looking for answers.  “Do you have a book on….?” Or, did such and such (their fav author) write on ….?”  Sometimes one person will start talking to another in the store about theology or a translation and others near by jump in …. everyone’s “talking” .  I wish they could stand back and see themselves as the world sees them and hear the comments I hear.

The young girl in her booty shorts, expensive designer top and purse … bare middle with ‘button ring’ dangling wants a book on finding a godly man.   The young mother asks for a parenting book for her younger sister who is expecting her first child,  while her own three children are running unattended in the store destroying merchandise.  The middle age guy who reeks of smoke, impatiently demands attention and wants help to select a Bible for his graduating high school son whom he fears is going down the wrong path … he utters an expletive over the price of a leather-bound.  One of my favorites was the grandmother who was in buying VBS materials because she was ‘in charge once again this year’.  She had two grandchildren with her she could not control and in a few weeks she would be in charge of 50?

God gave us His manual, His Word, the Holy Bible.   Everything that I write and all the books, Bible Studies and resources are tools He provides through His children to help.  Sometimes I just want to scream, “have you read the Manual first?”  Daily, if you read His word then your talk will become your walk.  If you are going to talk the talk, read the Manual first:

Isaiah 55:11(NASB)
“So will My word be which goes forth from My mouth;
It will not return to Me empty,
Without accomplishing what I desire,
And without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it.”
 

The world, your children, other Christians (weaker and stronger) see your walk which can negate your talk.  If you are not seeing the results you want in your job, your children, your friends … maybe your walk is not in alignment with your talk.  Go back to the Manual, searching out other tools is fine but, not if they replace the manual.  Take a serious look at yourself (maybe even in the mirror), what do others see … hear?   What is the reality of your talk?  If you dare, ask a close Christian friend, a spouse, a parent … does your walk match your talk?

Psalm 19:14(NASB)
“Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart Be acceptable in Your sight, O LORD, my rock and my Redeemer.”
 
Philippians 4:8(ESV)
“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”
 
Matthew 9:16(KJV)                                                                                                                                                                            “No man putteth a piece of new cloth unto an old garment, for that which is put in to fill it up taketh from the garment, and the rent is made worse.”
 
Ephesians 4:22-24(HCSB)
“you took off your former way of life, the old man that is corrupted by deceitful desires; 23 you are being renewed in the spirit of your minds; 24 you put on the new man, the one created according to God’s [likeness] in righteousness and purity of the truth.”

 

If your walk is not matching your talk, then you are holding   the ‘old man’.

Walker or Talker?

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