God Allows Detours

God allows detours. We are given a freewill. Sometimes we totally miss the perfect will of God for our lives because we are distracted by our wants, needs and the cares of the world. Or perhaps we compare our lives to others. (A dangerous thing to do for it will bring either pride or discontent. Neither is a fruit of the Spirit. )

Last year Ray was having a hard time at the technical college where he taught truck driving. He had taught there for 10 years. He is a “by the book” type of person especially when it comes to the laws and safety guidelines that a truck driver must obey. He saw people being pushed through the classes to “keep the numbers up.” He thought this was irresponsible and he allowed it to eat his lunch. Also, out of the three instructors he was the only one required to train on the tarmac often in 100 plus degrees for six hours a day. It was too much.
He resigned. The day after he resigned his supervisor resigned. The one putting it all on him. (Should Ray have waited? Only God knows.)
He decided go back on the road working for FedEx. Understand we are in 70s and having him on the road was not how I envisioned our golden years.
However, I decided to support him even if he was wrong because  he had supported me in some things I thought were of God.

A big for instance would be the time we went to Africa as missionaries. That sounds goof doesn’t it? However, when you leave behind a 20 year old daughter and new baby and no husband, it certainly wasn’t wisdom. She crahed within the year and we had to come home. It has taken years to restore the damage because I thought I heard God.

I needed to walk this out. If he was to be the head of our family, I needed to follow even if I felt wobbly. It was hard. He was often gone three weeks at a time. He was faithful to call several times a day to keep in touch and tell me he loved me. Still I didn’t think this was best scenario. I just kept going to the Father, not Ray. I tried very hard to never put guilt on him. My relationship with the Father grew in leaps and bounds. I changed.
Long story, short. Ray resigned after 15 months and is returning to the college this Monday. He will be working evenings so no 100 plus degrees. He will be working with more mature adults who generally have 9-5 jobs but want to better themselves instead of the kids who were in class to collect their grant.
Now the twister that he discovered yesterday. The evening position had been open for ONE YEAR. So that opens questions we have discussed:
Did Ray have to come to the end of himself before He saw it?
Did God hold the job for him until he was ready?
We don’t know, but we do know that this new position opens new doors in ways that money can’t buy. Although he will take a significant pay cut by leaving FedEx, we have every confidence our needs will be met “exceeding abundantly.”

Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, Eph. 3:20

I share this story with you to say we don’t understand everything. Fear will drive us to control and manipulate and we will become bitter. When we trust Him, He has something to work with. Don’t focus on what your husband, your adult children, your boss or even your pastor is doing wrong that makes you feel unsafe. Instead run to the Father. Work on your relationship and allow him. to change your response to them. it will impact them in a way you never could.

Change your focus from what is wrong to what the Lord has already done. Praise Him for it.

Desperate for Change

Have you ever been desperate for God to move in your life?

11 And it came to pass, as he went to Jerusalem, that he passed through the midst of Samaria and Galilee. 12 And as he entered into a certain village, there met him TEN men that were lepers, which stood afar off: 13 And they lifted up their voices, and said, Jesus, Master, have mercy on us. 14 And when he saw them, he said unto them, Go shew yourselves unto the priests. And it came to pass, that, as they went, they were cleansed.

Now here they stood afar off. It doesn’t say anything about Jesus touching them. They just cried out and Jesus called back and said, “Go show yourself to the priest.”

I found in the blueletterbible.org commentary: It was the custom in that day in “the law of the leper and the day of his cleansing, Leviticus 13. He is to go to the priest and he’s to show himself to the priest to examine him. If he finds no new skin blotches and so forth, he puts him in the house and he sits there for seven days. Comes back again before the priest, and he looks over him again, and there’s no new eruptions or blotches then the man is proclaimed cleaned by the priest. And he goes out and gets a couple of doves and he brings one in. The priest kills the dove, pours the blood in water basin, he takes the other dove and dips it in this bloody water and turns it free. And the bloody water dove flies away with the blood sprinkling down and the guy is cleansed of his leprosy and he’s able to go back into the community. So that was the first step back to restoration, go show yourself to the priest.”

So by faith, they started towards the priest. This is huge. They were Samaritans. Samaritans don’t go to Jewish priests for healing/cleansing. But they left their denominational catechism because they were desperate to be healed. Now it doesn’t say they were cleansed immediately, but as they went they were cleansed. They started out in faith towards the priest, and as they headed to the priest, some guy said, “Look, wow, it’s gone, unreal.”

Too often we don’t believe unless we see an immediate result. I have seen people get into the mully-grubs of self-pity because they asked God for healing and it didn’t come immediately or completely. God was healing in that instance in a process. In due season which indicates there was something required of the person needing to be healed. Perhaps it was a change in attitude, forgiveness, humility…

Let’s read further: 15 And ONE of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, and with a loud voice glorified God, 16 And fell down on his face at his feet, giving him thanks: and he was a Samaritan.17 And Jesus answering said, Were there not ten cleansed? but where are the nine?18 There are not found that returned to give glory to God, save this stranger. 19 And he said unto him, Arise, go thy way: thy faith hath made thee whole.

Fell down on his face indicates humility. He recognized it was from God. He gave thanks in humility. How often are we truly grateful? How often in the excitement of gratefulness do we humble ourselves before the Lord knowing every good and perfect gift comes from Him?

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning. James 1:17

For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones. Isaiah 57:15

Let’s prepare our hearts to be soft before Him so revival can start within us. Then let’s do a happy dance before Him in gratitude.

Need to Change Your Filter?

We have been having problems with our well. The filter that should be changed every six moths needs to be changed monthly, because fine particles of Georgia red clay are clogging the line.

Defeat the Giants in Your Life

I have family here this weekend which is a special treat. So I don’t want to write to you but spend time with them. So I want to share a rather lengthy excerpt from a book I am reading. It is called Goliath Must Fall by Louis Gigilio  No matter what obstacle you are facing, this powerful teaching not only encourages you, but shows you that the enemy has duped you.

He explains as a camp counselor in South Carolina [part of his duties was to keep the area free from snakes. It is a vivid description and I praised God I was never a boy who delighted in such a ghoulish task. I own no rights to this story. I do encourage you to get this book.

“Our hunts went like this. Once it got dark (snakes like to move when the weather cools), we’d head out into the overgrown areas between the cabins with a flashlight in one hand and a baseball bat in the other. We spread out about ten to fifteen feet from one another and slowly moved through the ankle high growth. It never took too long before we’d find our prey.

Bingo- a three-foot-long copperhead would cruise through the grass in front of us. Our technique of doing away with snakes wasn’t uber-sophisticated. This was absolutely low-level combat. We were teens and didn’t really think this plan through. For crying out loud, we had on shorts and tennis shoes. No steel-toe boots. No leg protectors. Nope.

Once we spotted the prey, we’d glances around to make sure the copperhead’s brother wasn’t right behind him. Then we’d take our baseball bat and smack the snake on the head. Bam! Then we’d hit iit fifty more times on the head just to make sure the job was done right. Bam! Bam! Bam! Bam! Bam! (It’s amazing how focused your aim can be when a snake bite is likely if you miss!)

Once that snake was good and dead, we’d press the end of the barrel down on what was left of the snake’s head. Next we would grab the snake’s body and yank hard. The snake’s head would snap right off, we’d grind it further down into the sandy soil and bury it with more sand.

Isn’t that lovely?

Now what to do? You can’t exactly leave the rest of the snake lying in the grass. That would cause one of the other guys to panic in a later moment, not knowing the snake was finished. So, we’d swallow hard and pick the headless snake up by the tail. Then we’d go on to look for the next snake. After an hour we’d each have a dozen dead snakes in one hand while we tried to juggle the flashlight and baseball bat with the other.

A funny thing about dead snakes: the head might be gone, but the snake’s body will continue to squirm a long time afterward. So we’d be walking around in the woods at night with a mess of dead snake bodies crawling up our arms. We all tried to be cool, but it personally gave me the willies. I’d remind myself the snakes weren’t actually alive. Yep, I bonked that snake on the head. I ground its head into the dirt. I yanked the head off and buried it. The snake it dead, Louie; the snake it definitely dead.

But then another body would wrap itself on my arm.

When our snake-hunting expedition was over, we’d walk to the center of camo where the dining room and chapel were. We’d pile up the bodies, and they’d keep writhing in a little headless pile for a while. I don’t remember what we did with them after that. Probably some sort of teen shenanigans. So why do I tell this story? Why am I creeping you out with tales of writhing? There’s an important purpose telling it today, I promise. The danger of dead snakes can actually help us picture some critical truths related to taking down our giants.

A Crushed Snake. An Alive Jesus

When a dead snake’s body squirms, it might make the hair on your neck stand up, but that’s all it can do: give you a little scare. Make your blood pressure spike.

A dead snakes head, however, can still be extremely dangerous. Back on Hilton Head, we buried the heads of those dead snakes. Why? Because there’s still enough venom in the fangs to do serious damage to a person. If you’re out walking around in the woods and step on a dead snake’s head, then it’s likely enough poison is spring-loaded in a fang where any pressure can release the poison into your foot. That’s big trouble.

The danger of dead snakes doesn’t provide an exact analogy , of course, but they picture much of the God-truth we’re trying to unfold in this book. Satan was defeated on the cross. The battle was over. The victory won. That’s all past tense. Thanks to the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus, Christ has rendered Satan powerless. But Satan can still wriggle and squirm and make the hairs on our necks stand up. If we step on Satan’s fangs, he can still poison us and cause serious harm. We’re not in heaven yet, and the Enemy is still prowling around on planet Earth. His body is still flailing about, and he is still dangerous. If we listen to the Enemy, or if we follow his evil schemes, or if we mess with any of the practices he lays claim to, we will self-inject that poison into our lives. The poison will diminish our hope and weaken the abundant reality of what our lives can be in Christ.

So there are two truths to keep in mind. One: Satan was defeated on the cross. Jesus has won the victory. End of story. And two: the snakes will wriggle. The snake still has venom. It’s a now-and-yet reality. Catch the paradox? These two truths Your giant is dead. And yet…Your giant is still deadly.”

Isn’t that a powerful truth?

Your giant is dead. And yet…Your giant is still deadly.

When You Don’t Know How to Pray

There are times when the situation seems so hopeless that you don’t know how to pray. We can certainly pray in the Spirit, but my next go-to card is to pray one of the prayers of Paul. For years as I prayed I was telling God what to do for I thought I could see clearly what needed to be done.  Such arrogance for 1 Corinthians 13 tells us that “now we see through a glass darkly…” We don’t always see the situation clearly. We need to go to the Word.

Paul when praying for the church at Ephesus, prayed:  (Ephesians 3:14-21)

For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, 15 Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, 16 That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; 17 That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; 19 And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God. 20 Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, 21 Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.

All of my children are adults as are many of my grandchildren. This is my heart cry for them and even myself.

Is there someone you can pray this for today? Oftentimes you may be the only one praying for them. Dare to stand in the gap today.

How Are You Living Your Life?

For several years, I wrote a blog called The Loving Gathering.  Then  my daughter, Carrin, was killed in an accident, it was time for me to take time out.
Losing a child, even though she was an adult, is a devastating loss and my world was re-ordered. Less than a year later my husband, Ray, had a quadruple bypass. God was not yet through rearranging the furniture in my heart. Frankly, some pieces needed to be given away and others needed to be trashed. Then we lost our home. All of this plus Ray losing three siblings changed who we were.

The past five years have been life changing. We certainly aren’t who we used to be. I know I thought I had so many answers for life only to learn I was pretty clueless. I was simply skimming off the top. When you allow God to do His work in you, and you begin to see His original plan for you, emotions range from “Why did it take so long?” to “I can’t wait to see what God does!”

During this time, I lost a hundred pounds, we moved into our forever home in the country, began this blog,  I had a season of illness, and gained more great-grandchildren.

Life is not static and if you don’t pay attention, it will pass you by. Take time this week to intentionally look at your life and celebrate those special moments like you woke up this morning, someone smiled at you or whatever you are thankful for. The things you can’t fix, give it over to Him. In fact, there are probably some things that you think you are supposed to fix that would actually be better left alone. Give it ALL to Him. Co-dependence is NOT good for your health and neither is self-pity. Plus both show on your face and you look haggard. It’s not a good look.

Be gentle on yourself, but get involved in the lives of others sprinkling joy and encouragement wherever you go. Make a phone call, send a card, take someone to lunch. These simple gestures are life-giving to the giver and receiver.

Paul says in Romans 15, ”

5 May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, 6 that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. 13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.

This is my prayer for you today.

I Praise God for My Life

Ray and I served as missionaries twenty years ago in the small kingdom of Lesotho. This tiny kingdom was completely surrounded by South Africa. When a Basotho gave their testimony in church, they always began with “I praise God for my life.”

A good income was $30 a month. Most had no indoor plumbing or electricity. Their huts were heated by dung fires. Yet they boldly proclaimed, “I praise God for my life. ”

They were thankful for what they did have. They were not murmuring and complaining about their lack.

Someone once said, the root to all sin is a sense of lack. That feeling of not having enough, not have what others have, taking relationships for granted bubbles up out of not being thankful.

For years I struggled with such critical, religious spirits that I could find a fault a mile away, and fail to say thank you for the simple things. When you lose a child, even though she was an adult, your perspective changes radically. If ever there was a person who c.ould see the best in others, it was Carrin. As I recalled her life in the months after her death, I remembered how she made you feel when she saw you. She was always so thankful. She lived through some tough challenges, but no matter what was going on, she was thankful for her husband and daughters.  I could see their shortcomings; she saw their potential. She was as thankful for her trailer in the country as she was her large lakefront home when the girls were teenagers.

She could worship the Lord. Thankfulness comes from a heart of worship. David, a man after God’s heart, wrote 73 of the

The Bible says in 1 Thess. 5:18In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.

Every thing. Everything. How is that possible?

It comes from His Word and trusting Him.

Romans 8: 27 And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God. 28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.

Are we looking at what’s wrong or what is right? Are we truly thankful for what we do have?

Forbes magazine reported in 2013, “The poor in the US are richer than around 70% of all the people extant. The poor in the US are about as poor, perhaps a bit richer, than the poor in other rich countries. It is true that there is more inequality in the US: but this isn’t because the poor are poorer. It’s because the rich are richer.”

There is much to be thankful for. Make a conscious decision to thank God for everything including the things you don’t understand. Worship Him. Allow Him to give you new revelation. Give thanks to all who are in your life.

Let’s live purposefully a thankful life. A cardiac surgeon said I would not live to see 60. I made some journey re=calculations and today I am 72. I praise God for my life!

 

Don’t Abort the Journey

Sometimes things are so painful that we either ignore them or run from them. I have heard well-meaning Christians wail, “But God promised me…” The problem is when we heard that promise we perceived it in the natural. We treated it like we could just go to the store and pick it up. More often than not, those promises are wrought through pain and tribulation.

The process is vividly shown in the Bible through the lives of Abraham, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, David, John the Baptist and Jesus Christ.  Let’s look at Joseph. Before his vision could be realized pride had to annihilated. He had stirred up envy and jealousy in others, He was sold into slavery, imprisoned, and a victim of accusation and lost all he gained when he was imprisoned again. During his journey he repeatedly forgave those who harmed him. He was redeemed and finally realized the dream that God had shown him decades before.

HE WAS WILLING TO GO THROUGH THE PROCESS. Why are we always looking for an escape route from the process? Why do we give up on the calling of God on our lives?
I think it is because we are not willing to go through the pain.

The key to reaching His high calling is patience, thanksgiving and an intimate knowledge that God is true and will keep His word. We have to trust God. There is no other way.

In Romans 4:20-21 Paul writes of Abraham:

20 He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God;21 And being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform.

That word stagger means he did not hesitate through want (lack) of faith. The key to receiving His promises is faith. To have faith you must absolutely surrender your agenda and trust Him as if your life depends on it for it does.

Don’t abort the journey. There will be pain, disappointments, betrayals, and afflictions.

Paul said in Acts 20:24 I know that I face afflictions but “But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God.”

Selah.

Making Yourself More Important Than You Are

Those were the words that came out of the mouth of a dear friend when I questioned why a friend wasn’t seeking help when the solution was so clear.

His indecisiveness was causing me angst, because I had gone into false burden bearing even though I knew it was his life, his sovereignty.

Then this morning, I repeated her words to myself again. “You are making yourself more important that you are.”

Then the huge “aha” moment: Making yourself more important than you are is indeed pride, but it, also, self-idolatry.

Well, a open rebuke is better than secret love. I had not realized I was participating with false burden bearing. much less self idolatry and pride.

When I shared this with a friend she saw she can now I can choose to not go there. Funny how once we see it, it is easier to not go there, but until we see it for what it is, it just continues to operate with our full co-operation!. (My people perish for lack of knowledge…)

Isn’t it amazing things revealed in one relationship allow us to recognize it in other relationships as well. That is why building relationships is so important.

I have found that I often pray, Father, help me to see it the way you see it. For often my vision is skewed by fear,  hurt, betrayal or judgmentalism. That is not my heart.

My heart is to love as God loved me, mess and all. When I don’t I am not living fully, but held back by something that isn’t from God.  1 Corinthians 13 closes with:

11 When I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child. But when I grew up, I put away childish things. 12 Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely.13 Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love.

My Father’s Eyes

 

 

Where Are We Finding Delight?

Ray and I had a fun-filled weekend with two of our granddaughters and two of our great-grandchildren. Saturday we went to a water park at Jekyll Island. The possibilities for adventure were abundant. Kylee, 5, and Luca, 3, quickly settled into a children’s water area replete with slides and dunking stations. I lost count of how many times they repeated the slide. It never got old to them and I never tired of watching them as Ray, Caitlin and Sarah went on slides that were six stories high and other adventures.

Later that afternoon, Caitlin was concerned that I had done nothing. I told her I took great delight in watching and listening the little ones. They live over five hours away and I just don’t see enough of them. I was totally entertained as I watched them and heard, “Look, Nana, look!”

They finally coaxed me to the Frantic Atlantic pool, but truly I was delighted to just watch the babies.

Father God wants us to have that same rapt attention towards Him as well. We sometimes take for granted all that He has done for us personally and corporately. We no longer marvel at the diligence of the hummingbird or the boisterousness of a thunderstorm. We take Him and His creation, including others, for granted.

Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart. Commit thy way unto the LORD; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass. Psalm 37:4-5

To delight means to totally surrender. It means being soft and pliable. To be glad in anything. To make Him our everything. When we do that we will find that sometimes the destination changes.

It is a conditional promise. We delight and He gives us the desires of our hearts IF I trust Him and commit our ways to Him and trust Him and rest in the process/

Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for him: Ps. 37:7a

It is a journey to cut out the things in our lives that do not reflect Him. No destination is greater than the journey for it is the journey that determines our character, our integrity when we cross the finish line. The destination brings joy unspeakable and peace that passes all understanding. It is well worth the pain, detours and challenges of the journey.

Where is our pure joy focused?

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