We all have situations in our lives that need Godly resolution. We pray and we wait. We wait on the Lord to fix the problem, or fix us so that we view the issue from a different perspective. We try to be still and listen for His gentle whisper, but sometimes, we just cannot seem to hear it and we don’t know what to do. Gospel Artist Smokie Norful has a song that says, “When you can’t hear My voice, please trust My plan.”
Sometimes I feel like giving up
It seems like my best just ain't good enough
Lord, if You hear me, I'm calling You
Do You see, do You care all about
What I'm goin' through?
And then He said, one more day
One more step
See, I'm preparing you for Myself
And when you can't hear My voice
Please, trust My plan
I'm the Lord, I see, and, yes, I understand
I cannot be the only one who has experienced this - an issue so big that we don’t trust ourselves to act on it properly. I’ve even proposed solutions and asked the Lord for a sign to confirm my thinking. Sometimes we look around for someone to advise us, someone like the prophets of the Old Testament to give us a Word sent from the Lord. Hebrews 1:1-2 tells us, “In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, 2but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe.” What shall we do when we can’t hear His voice? I have a few suggestions for when this situation arises.
Consult His Word. I used to think the Bible was all about good people - people who never sinned. I didn’t care to read it because I knew I was a sinner and to read about all of these good people would just serve to make me feel poorly about myself. My thinking couldn’t be further from the truth! There’s only one person in the Bible who never sinned and that’s Jesus Christ. Reading about Him should convict our hearts! I used to think the Bible was not relatable, that it was old and not applicable to the present. I was wrong about that, too! There are stories about hundreds of people, maybe thousands, who sinned plenty, who faced similar situations as we face today, who acted on selfish instincts, who did not heed the word of God! “For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope.” Romans 15:4 When you need to know what to do, go to the Bible. If you need to know what to read, use Google to locate Scriptures about specific topics. Then, don’t just read individual verses, read the passage or read the chapter. Reading just a verse can cause you to take Scripture out of context and lead you to poor decision making.
Know His Character Once we are familiar with His Word we begin to understand God’s character, we can conduct ourselves likewise. We should, however, still pray and read Scripture. You may have a Bible that prints the actual words of Jesus in red letters. Reading the gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John give us insight into Jesus’s actual advice, His examples, and His warnings. Knowing God’s character helps us make decisions and conduct ourselves on a consistent basis that will glorify Him.
Do Everything in Love As you wait on the Lord to speak to you, knowing He speaks in His own time, let everything you do, be done in love. Yes, Jesus said, we should even love our enemies! “‘You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.’” Matthew 5:43-45 Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7, that “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” In every situation, love should be our response. Love is what unites us with God and in relationship with our fellow man. Jesus said, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’[c]; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” Luke 10:27 Do everything in love. Amen.
As a member of the Bible Gateway Blogger Grid, from time to time, we are offered free, advance copies of books and other materials to review. I recently received a copy of the Matthew Henry Daily Devotional Bible. In our home, we have a set of Matthew Henry commentaries, so I was excited to see this new offering. The devotional is hard cover, with a dust jacket, about 1460 pages. I say about because is contains several color pages of historic maps that are not numbered. There are 366 devotions - why 366, I suppose it's because they are taking leap year into account. The devotions are not chronological, but the page number for each devotion is listed in the Table of Contents, and at the end of each half-page devotion, it states where the next day's devotion is found. One thing I didn't expect, is that this is a Bible, that also happens to be a devotional - a great addition a NKJV Bible! I highly recommend this resource.
#BibleGatewayPartner Order your copy today from the Faith Gateway Store or from Amazon.
This week, I took a drive with a good friend and we were not short on conversation. We talked about the three Virginia football players who were shot and killed, the four college students stabbed to death in Idaho; the three teens who killed a man who attempted to discipline them here in Rock HIll; the heavy snow to come for upstate NY; North Korea showing off its missiles; Russia and Ukraine; the fentanyl drug bust in York County; and more! None of these things affect us directly or personally - we didn’t know the Idahoan students nor the man killed by the three teens - but someone does and they are likely experiencing great stress.
While these things are on our minds, we each have our own personal worries, struggles and endeavors that we are praying the Lord will see us through. We all have situations that require our attention. We don’t always know what to do, and sometimes we fear the outcomes. Jesus told us “in this world, you will have trouble.” Trouble is not new and it’s not temporary, we all experience waves of trouble in our lives. My question for you today, is how do you cope during times of trouble?
Jesus told His disciples, and it applies to everyone who believes in Him, “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.” John 14:26 ESV In times of trouble, when we face hurt, grief, anger, uncertainty, strife, alienation, we can pray and the Holy Spirit will remind us of God’s goodness. He will remind us of God’s victories. He will remind us of God’s nature, how He has a plan that may not appear to be a plan for our goodness and His glory, but it always is.
I must credit Bible Study Fellowship for helping me to build my arsenal of Scriptures and stories of God’s faithfulness and glory. Without BSF, the Holy Spirit would be quite limited in what He could bring to my remembrance. He can’t bring something to our remembrance, if we never knew it, if we never knew it. What’s in your remembrance?
I had someone tell me, recently, that he was no good at memorizing Scriptures. I’m not good at this either, and that’s not what Bible study is about. Bible study is about reading the Bible as God’s history of interaction with mankind. It’s about learning man’s situations and God’s reactions, although He already knew the situation would arise, and quite often He set up the situation to cause man to turn to Him. Sure, certain verses stand out in my memory, but I’m not concentrating on memorizing Scripture. My mind is on how God worked in every situation, and how the situations of the past are not dissimilar to the situations we face today. In this week’s study, we read about how there was famine in Samaria and the head of a donkey sold for 80 shekels of silver and one fourth of a cab of seed pods cost 5 shekels of silver. 2 Kings 6:25 This is inflation, the same thing we are experiencing today. A donkey’s head, seed pods - these are not even desirable foods, but they were expensive! But God! He met the need of food, in abundance, after seven years of famine, and four unselfish lepers notified the people of the great bounty. Speaking of seven years of famine…this happened generations before, too! The final chapters of Genesis tell of Joseph, the eleventh of twelve sons of Jacob. Scripture tells us how God foretold of the famine in two dreams He gave to Pharoah, then brought Joseph to the remembrance of Pharaoh's wine servant when Pharoah needed someone to interpret the dreams. God gave Joseph the interpretation of the dreams, and placed it on Pharaoh's heart to put this young man in charge of all the planning and preparations for the 7 years of plenty and the 7 years of famine to follow. God had a plan for Joseph. He elevated Joseph from the death his brothers intended for him 20 years prior, to being in charge of Pottifar’s home until his wife accused him of sexual assault which landed him in a dungeon, to being in charge of the dungeon, to finally Pharoah said to him, “You shall be in charge of my palace, and all my people are to submit to your orders. Only with respect to the throne will I be greater than you.” Genesis 41:40 Who saw that coming? Only God! When I study Scripture, I am reminded of God’s goodness, how He has planned the events of our lives for our good (although it might not feel good…) and for His glory.
What’s in your remembrance? Where are you in your study of God’s Holy Word? You can’t remember something you never knew. I am grateful for all I have learned about God through studying the Bible. I’ll be the first to admit, I need the Holy Spirit to bring to my remembrance all that God has done. Sometimes, the future appears to hold no hope, but if God brought Joseph out of the dungeon, He can and will do the same for you and me. Keep your faith. Pray - praise, repent, ask, and do not fail to yield. Allow Him to have His way in your life. Amen.
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” ~John 16:33 NIV
If you are anything like me, in addition to your actual to-do list, you have things you just need to do. They seem urgent at times, but not pressing. They nag at you from time to time. What am I talking about? Well, my back hedges need to be trimmed, but they’re not in the front yard, so they wait. The carpet needs to be cleaned, but I would have to get quotes, get on someone’s schedule, and move all this furniture…ugh! I wrote a novel in 2020…it’s basically finished, but it needs to be formatted, the cover needs to be finalized, and…it’s just going to take some work. I need to lose weight - and that needs no explanation. I pray about these things, but if my prayer is not accompanied by some steps, no progress is made.
2 Kings 4 begins with the story of a widow who is distressed. Her deceased husband’s creditor informed her that he would take her two sons as slaves to pay off the debt. She went to the prophet Elisha to ask what she should do. Elisha asked her what she had. She said she had nothing except a little bit of olive oil. He told her to go to all of her friends and neighbors to ask for all the empty jars they had available. She was told to fill the jars with olive oil.
Now, when she said she only had a little bit of olive oil, I envisioned that to be like a cupful, or so, not enough to fill jars and jars. That’s where the power of God took over! She and her sons filled jar after jar after jar and when they filled the last jar, Then the oil stopped flowing. 7She went and told the man of God, and he said, “Go, sell the oil and pay your debts. You and your sons can live on what is left.” (v. 6-7)
There is no indication that the widow initially had enough olive oil for a sale, but when she was obedient and went through the steps, the process, the Lord multiplied the oil. He blessed their efforts. She and her sons were able to achieve the goal of paying off the debt, so her sons did not become slaves and they had enough money that they didn’t need to borrow from anyone else. God multiplied her efforts. He multiplied the oil! She had limited means, but He is not limited. She had faith AND did the work.
Someone may read this passage and wonder why the Lord solved the woman’s problem in this way when, as we read in Scripture, His power is unlimited. Maybe you wonder why when she returned home that the olive oil had not been turned into the exact amount of money needed to pay the creditors. Maybe you wonder why Elisha didn’t send the woman home with the amount of money she needed in her hand. Asking questions such as this reveals our lack of faith. God does things the way He decides to do them because He is God. He is sovereign. Maybe there’s something He needs to teach us as we go through the process. Maybe He reveals the steps to us to give us a testimony we can share with someone else who might grow to know Him through following the steps He, years ago, revealed to you! I’ve been through many processes in my years and each has served to make me stronger. James 1:2-4 says we are to “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”
Why would we think God would spare us the steps, the process? Who are we to be spared the process? Jesus Christ, Himself, was not spared the process. He faced trials and temptations on earth. He suffered on earth. He endured a torturous death on the cross. He went through the process to give all of us, me and you, a testimony. Jesus went through the process so we could have eternal life. You nor I will be spared the process. We must pray and be quiet so we can hear the gentle whisper of the Holy Spirit as he reveals to us the steps of the process.
What steps, what process do you need to go through? You’ve been praying about it and every morning you wake up and the problem is still there. What are you worrying about, yet taking no steps towards change? What is it in your life that needs to change, but you just don’t have the energy, the means, the time, to go through the process? Well, until we go through the process, we remain status quo. If the status quo is okay, then stop praying about it. If you really want the change, start the process and let the Lord see you through. Amen.
A few more Scriptures to leave you with for the week:
The Lord will open the heavens, the storehouse of his bounty, to send rain on your land in season and to bless all the work of your hands. You will lend to many nations but will borrow from none.
All hard work brings a profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty.
And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.
14What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? 15Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. 16If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? 17In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.
I was a high school science teacher for 16 years. I brought work home every evening, whether to finalize plans for the next day, to grade papers, to plan a project, complete field trip forms, I worked nonstop. On Sunday, after church, it was time to get back in gear for the work week, boys’ lunches, lesson plans, laundry, changing linens, all of that. After becoming an administrator, I continued to bring work home because some days were consumed by meetings and I didn’t want to be rude and send emails or work on projects during the meetings, so I would bring it home.
For the past 3 years, I have worked with a young man from a different generation and I’ve begun to learn about boundaries. On Wednesday we received an email request from our supervisor, an urgent request, at 4:58pm. He proceeded to pack up and leave, while I was going to stay after to fulfill the request. “Boundaries,” he said. “She asked at 4:58pm. That means send it by 9:00am tomorrow.” I had not considered that, but it’s a helpful way of thinking.
My parents taught me about boundaries in dating, but not as they pertain to what we now call our “work-life balance.” They worked nonstop and I inherited that practice. I am currently involved in quite a few projects. Some of these projects are my own initiatives, others are dictated by work, and a few are things I’ve agreed to help with. I am learning to be careful what I agree to do.
Twice Jeshosophat, king of Judah, agreed to assisting other kings in battles they wanted to start. He didn’t just agree to have their backs if needed, he stated, “I am as you are, my people as your people, my horses as your horses.” (1 Kings 22:4, 2 Kings 3:7) In the first instance, he did say, “First seek the counsel of the Lord.” (1 Kings 22:5) In battle, King Ahab put Jehosophat out on the front lines as a target, but the Lord protected him from harm. In the second instance, when invited to join King Joram, they did not pray first, but in their desperation when they ran out of water they went to see the prophet Elisha for a Word from the Lord. (2 Kings 3)
Setting boundaries is an important practice. We must consider our boundaries as we consider which causes to join, how much time we are willing to spend at home doing work, and which organizations we will align ourselves with. I have had to upset a few people when I could not join their cause. The Lord has given me plenty to do without also taking on the projects of others. This week I was asked to direct a renewal of vows ceremony. I was honored and immediately accepted the invitation. These are two people I know and love and they want to publicly pronounce the continuance of their marriage - yes, I will help! I believe God has a calling on my life and I cannot allow all of my time to be consumed with projects He did not call me to complete. I also have to be careful of delving into projects that pop into my own mind that may not be of Him. He allowed me to take some time off from writing this weekly message, but now He says, I must restart. I wrote a novel in 2020 and have done nothing with it. Now, He says, I must get it out there. He sent me several reminders, as signs, then He sent me a text from someone who desires to make the cover. I say all of this to say, If I tell you NO, please understand. I’m trying to walk in my calling and I must set boundaries. Amen.
Quite often teachers tell me about their difficulties with managing student behaviors. It seems to be one of the reasons they leave the profession earlier than planned. Last week, I assisted a teacher with mock interviews. One of the students, a high school junior, said she wanted to be a pediatrician, because she loves working with children. She said she would not become a teacher because of how she has observed teachers being treated by students. “I wouldn’t be able to handle that,” she said. “They are disrespectful and do not know how to talk to adults. No ma’am. I cannot be a teacher.”
Last week I had a conversation with a teacher, from Kenya, about a recent interaction with a student. He said he asked her to wait in the hallway until she calmed down, but she refused, told him to mind his…business. She was unconsoled by her friends, was hitting them, using profanities, and interrupted him as he attempted to check attendance and begin the lesson. He said he threatened to write her up, but that did not influence her to calm down. After a few more exchanges, he said to her, “I’m sorry, but you really need to shut up.” That, he said, made it worse. He said it got so bad that the students, her friends, turned on her, agreeing with him. He said she finally calmed down, but it offered him very little time to teach the lesson he had planned. I asked if he had written a referral. This was his response, “No ma’am, I did not. I have written her up many times before and she just keeps repeating this behavior. I’m pretty sure she’s dealing with something at home. I don’t know what it is because I cannot talk with her. She received the rebuke of her friends. There is no greater reprimand than rebuke of your peers!
I ask myself what causes children to act this way. I hear this type of thing from teachers all the time. I’ve seen it for myself, in classrooms. Why? Why are our children not grateful for the education they are receiving? Why would they rather disrupt the classroom than learn the information their teacher has prepared to teach? A few years ago I became the sub for a teacher who left mid-year. Each day, it seemed the students wanted me to fight with them and if I won the battle, I would earn the right to teach that day. Several reasons have come to mind and they all are in regards to parenting.
We often refer to Proverbs 22:6 as a verse about how we should raise our children in the fear and admonishment of the Lord. I’ve heard it said that this verse is about helping children to begin using their God-given gifts and talents at a young age. It states, “Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.” I’d like to use this Scripture to point out that children learn from what they see in their parents. We are teaching them inadvertently. They mimic our behaviors and attitudes. If they hear us speaking negatively or disrespectfully about their teacher or their school, they will do it, too. If they sit in on a parent-teacher conference and witness us blaming the teacher or challenging his/her classroom rules, they will do it too. If we start our children off without teaching them the value of school, the value of education, the value of their teacher’s time - they will never know the importance of it. In fact, they may spoil the educational experience for their classmates.
Proverbs 29:15, 17 has more on the topic of parenting. 15”A rod and a reprimand impart wisdom, but a child left undisciplined disgraces its mother. 17"Discipline your children, and they will give you peace, they will bring you the delights you desire.” You may have seen in last week’s news that James and Jennifer Crumbley had their first court appearance. The charges claim that they created a chaotic home life, knew their son needed mental health care, but did not provide it, and bought him the gun that he used to kill 4 of his classmates in a school shooting last year. Parents, what you do matters! Your care and conversation with your children can make or break their future. It can also make or break the future of their peers.
In the OT we read about Hophni and Phinehas, the two sons of Eli. All three were priests of the Lord. Scripture tells us that “Eli’s sons were scoundrels; they had no regard for the Lord.”1 Sam. 2:12 Their sinful deeds went on for a time until “Eli, who was very old, heard about everything his sons were doing to all Israel and how they slept with the women who served at the entrance to the tent of meeting.” He spoke with them about it, but they did not change their behavior. God is patient with his children, and we can mistake His patience for absence. We may think that because He hasn’t punished us, that He won’t. There is folly in that thinking. We don’t know how many years passed, but God did punish Eli for allowing his sons to continue to dishonor the people’s sacrifices. He accused Eli of honoring his sons more than he honored the Lord. (v. 29) He punished Eli’s family with the wage of sin. Death. “...Although good will be done to Israel, no one in your family line will ever reach old age. 33Every one of you that I do not cut off from serving at my altar I will spare only to destroy your sight and sap your strength, and all your descendants will die in the prime of life 34“‘And what happens to your two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, will be a sign to you—they will both die on the same day.” (v.32-34)
Parents, you matter. How you parent matters. You are training up the next generation. Yes, you should teach your children the ways of the Lord, but we must not neglect to teach them and demonstrate to our children the heart of God. The future is in our hands. Our teachers deserve better. They are imparting knowledge to the next generation, our children’s future is in their hands. We must support teachers and discipline our children. Amen.
I could be alone in this, but there are a few passages of Scripture that give me a true LOL moment. I came across one this week in the first chapter of 2 Kings this week. Ahaziah, the king of Israel, fell through the lattice of his upper room and had what he thought could be life-threatening injuries. He sent messengers to consult Baal-Zebub, their idol god, to ask if he would recover. Along the way the messengers ran into God’s faithful prophet, Elijah. After asking a clarifying and possibly sarcastic question, Elijah said, “Therefore this is what the LORD says: ‘You will not leave the bed you are lying on. You will certainly die!”
Having an answer to the question, the messengers went back to Ahaziah. Since their trip didn’t seem to take as long as the king estimated it should take, he asked them, “Why have you come bacK?” They said, “A man came to meet us…he said, ‘this is what the LORD says…you will not leave the bed you are lying on. You will certainly die!’” The king asked them, “What kind of man was it who came to meet you and told you this?” They replied, “He had a garment of hair and had a leather belt around his waist.” The king said, “That was Elijah the Tishbite.”
I had to laugh at this! I read it as, “That ain’t nobody but Elijah the Tishbite!” I laughed! That was a rather vague description, but the king quickly and correctly concluded the identity of the man! How? What were the clues - the clothing, the words, or the “coincidence” of meeting up with him?
In 1 Kings 17 Elijah is introduced as he announced the prophecy of drought, “neither rain nor dew,” over the land of Israel. God directed him away from the drought and protected him from those who wanted him dead for three years. God then sent him back for a fiery showdown against the 850 prophets of Baal in the presence of Ahaziah’s father, then king Ahab. Maybe Ahab had told his son about Elijah, or maybe Ahaziah had met Elijah before, but we read in 2 Kings 1, that he correctly identified him from a vague description. (And he did die in the bed.)
Earlier this week, my son’s friend was about to tell me about a situation, then he said, “Zach told me not to tell you because he knows what you will say.” Over the weekend, Nick asked me to pick up a few items in Walmart and due to “supply chain issues,” I had to make a substitution. I heard his friend say, “I knew your mom would do that!” In conversation this week, a friend used me as an example, “If somebody told me Kim did that, I would never believe them, not in a million years would Kim do that! That would be totally out of character for her!” On Monday morning, I borrowed a classroom for a presentation. Someone came over the PA system and asked for the teacher who loaned me her classroom. When I said, “I’m sorry, this is Kim Massey, she’s not here,” the person said, “Oh, Mrs. Massey, someone just called the school to ask us to tell you your dog is loose.” I still don’t know who made the phone call or how I was tracked down, but I’m glad someone who knew me, recognized Bubba, and cared enough to make a phone call, maybe several!
It’s good to be known, sometimes. How are you known? Over the course of a friendship, in marriage, at work, through raising our children, or interacting with their friends, we come to be known. People know us by the ways in which we conduct ourselves, the jokes we thell, the questions we ask, the advice we give, and how we react in different situations. All of these things make up our character. People will expect certain things of us, good or bad, based on our history of past conduct. In Scripture, many of the kings of Judah are described as having done, “evil in the eyes of the Lord and sinned more than all those before him.” We don’t know if the people of Judah knew the sinfulness of their leadership, but we do know that they were led astray, and the kings “aroused the anger of the LORD.” People know us, but more than that, the Lord knows us. Proverbs 16:2 tells us, “All a person’s ways seem pure to them, but motives are weighed by the Lord.” I don’t know who will write my obituary or give my eulogy, but my character will be summarized in their description. Regardless of what they say, I want to hear, “Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!” Matthew 25:21 Amen.
After a very good friend asked me to help her find an apartment, I made a few phone calls. I have heard about the increasing cost to rent and the Fed’s increase in interest rates. Last year when we needed to rent an apartment, between houses, I experienced a bit of sticker shock, myself. In 1998, I rented a 2 bed 2 bath (new construction) apartment in Rock Hill, SC for $575/month. I called that place to ask about current rates for a 2 bed 2 bath and found the rent to now be “$1460/month and it includes water and washer/dryer connections.” I was a bit surprised and also troubled. When I lived there, it was my first year of teaching and my take home pay was less than $1460/month. Fortunately, by the grace of God, my parents had purchased my car, I didn’t have any student loans and I didn’t have any children, so I was able to make it work.
Last year we rented a 2 bed 2 bath apartment at a rate of $1260/month. I called the complex last week to inquire about current rates for 2 bed 2 bath units. “1791/month and it includes stainless steel appliances and a washer and dryer.” Frankly, if that price tag doesn't include 5 acres of land and that payment that leads to ownership in 20 years, I don’t want it! Unbelievable. I do Bible study at a women’s shelter each week and the ladies keep me abreast of rental rates as they are all in need of a permanent place to live.
Last year, when we listed our house for sale, I didn’t agree with the price calculated by my realtor. I didn’t want to be the first home in the neighborhood to cross a certain price point. Of course, the extra money would be awesome, but to me it would set a precedent and the next house to list would list for $5000 more and the next would list for $5000 more than that, and so on. I think home ownership is a privilege and I think every family should, at some point, own a home. I purchased my first home after living in an apartment for 7 months, just before my first year of teaching was complete. I want all young teachers and young professionals to be able to afford such a necessity. I prayed about a list price and also expressed to the Lord that our move was not accompanied by any increase in income (which He already knew). He knew we needed to make an “even exchange” that gave us more land area and potentially less square-footage. Sometimes, I don’t know if the Lord is answering my prayers or if I am praying and arriving at answers myself - maybe you wonder the same! I arrived at an asking price, our house went under contract then we wrote 6 contracts for homes to purchase, and none were accepted. We moved to an apartment, and just a few days later a house listed at the same price as our previous home…I prayed about it, I looked at it, liked it, prayed about it and wrote a contract. The realtor suggested I offer more than asking, which I prayed about and increased my offer, we are living in that house now! Did you catch the part about it being listed at the same price as our list price - that was a definite answer to prayer!
I don’t know what it’s worth now, but the couple who bought our old house has moved out of it already. They sold it for nearly $100,000 more than they bought it in 2021. I am not ready to leave my answer to prayer!
What’s causing this “housing crisis?” My mind goes to the Scripture that states, ”For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil.” This phrase is only a part of 1 Timothy 6:10, however, and this chapter contains a whole segment about seeking financial gain. 1 Timothy is one of Paul’s two letters to Timothy, a young pastor working in the church at Ephesus. It is sound advice for church leadership, but is also applicable to our everyday walk with Jesus.
Godliness with contentment is great gain. We must get our wants under control. There are all kinds of things this world has to offer, but not all of it is good for us. It’s common to desire something to the point that our minds can make the item seem like a need. Desiring to be like Jesus should be our greatest desire. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Matthew 6:33
For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. Have you ever helped to clean out the home of someone after they have died? I haven’t done this, specifically, but I have been to a few estate sales. We die and leave a lifetime of accumulated clothes, shoes, hobby items, books, then there are furnishings, electronics, cars, etc. Everything is left behind. Jesus said in Matthew 16:26 “What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul?” Our soul is what matters, not all of the stuff we see on Amazon. None of it will go when we go. What we need to focus on is our relationship with Christ.
Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. 10For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs Loving money is a trap. Money is like stuff. It can be helpful in many ways, but it is not the key to heaven. It does not lead to happiness or joy or peace. Loving money can take our eyes off serving God, and make us servants to ourselves. To me there’s something morally corrupt about a landlord who would raise his tenant's rent to the degree the tenant cannot afford it. It’s greedy to set rent prices so high that your tenant cannot possibly pay the rent and save up to be able to afford a mortgage one day. It’s evil to ask so much in rent that few can afford it and every week on the news you see, just like everyone else sees reports about the housing crisis and more and more homeless families.
To those seeking a place to live, pray. Your Heavenly Father knows your need. He will provide for you, in His time. And when He does, let it be a testimony that you share with others, how He provided. Take care of your new home. I used to tell my children “cleanliness is Godliness,” as if it were a Scripture. It’s not, but one way to show our gratitude to God is by taking care of that which He provides. When you move, clean up so that the landlord doesn’t incur any cleaning fees he will then feel justified to pass on to the next tenant. When God provides for you, do your part to continue the flow of blessings. Amen.
We didn't attend church last Sunday. Yesterday, I took about 3 naps...and felt guilty about it, but according to my phone I slept an average of 4hrs 32min each night last week, so... Today we slept in, ate breakfast, missed the first 2 services at our church, but I said, "the devil is a liar - I am attending somebody's church today!" We went to Elevation's 11:30am service, late, but Pastor Furtick was sharing the Scripture passage from which his message was based. Matthew 14:22-36. It was the passage in which Jesus sent His disciples to cross the lake to Gennesaret, it was when Peter walked on the water out to meet Jesus, until he saw the wind and faltered.
Furtick called his message "winded." He talked about how we all get winded, or tired, how we lack sufficient "Christian Cardio." He said no matter how tired we are we must depend on His wind to do His work. He said, and it is very true, "The Holy Spirit does not consult human schedules." If we read the preceeding passages, we see that the disciples and Jesus, Himself, were also tired. In Matthew 14:1-12, Jesus' friend and cousin, John the Baptist was killed. In Matthew 14:13-21, Jesus learns of this, withdraws to a solitary place to grieve, briefly, then another crowd has formed, The disciples want to send them away because it is already late (v.15) but Jesus says no, we will feed them. There were 5000 men, but also women and children (v.21). As the child of a former caterer, I can attest to how exhausting this type of work can be, and with no preparation - they didn't rest up for this, they didn't have their minds right, Jesus said it was to be done and they did it - they didn't even have enough food, but they never ran out. Then they cleaned up after the crowd. "Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd." (Mat. 14:22). So after this huge catering affair, immediately, Jesus voluntold His disciples to get into the boat, and it wasn't a sailboat, but a row boat to head to the other side and the wind was against it (v. 24).
As Jesus walked on the water out to the boat, in the windy conditions, the disciples were afraid both due to the storm and seeing this figure appearing to walk on the water. When He spoke to them they recognized Him, but Peter wanted to walk out and join Him. “Come,” he said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, "Lord, save me!"
So, today at church, I was convicted by this passage and Furtick's message. I am winded. After today's message, I wonder if I may be taking the cultural stance of the importance of self-care too far. During Covid, we all became accustomed to church on TV and after so long, we began to enjoy two, fullI, weekend days. Once churches reopened, using Saturday and Sunday as days of rest had become a habit. When I think about taking on new tasks and duties, I also think about what I am going to give up. I wrote this blog each week for 4 years. In that time, we began to desire a new home, and God provided just that. We wanted a home with some projects to complete - God provided that. I let the stress of the projects convince me that I should take a break from the blog. Now, with the difficulty of finding people to do the work, the projects have been delayed, but God has not rescinded the calling He put on my life. He's waiting, patiently, for me to get it together and be obedient. But how long will He be patient?
He gave me a book to write during the closure of 2020. I wrote it, I've had a few people to proofread it and give me feedback, but I haven't fixed the mistakes they pointed out and I have not published the book. How long will He wait?
In about 2019, I dreamed I was in the pulpit preaching the Word of God to a large and responsive crowd. I dreamed it multiple nights in a row, but I said nothing about it. Finally, I told my husband, who is a licensed and ordained minister. He told me to calm down about that, that being a minister was a whole lot of work, that I should be careful what I ask for. I didn't ask for it. I told my Pastor and another friend who is a Pastor - I asked what I needed to do. Both were very cool about it and advised me to continue to pray. I have. I haven't had those dreams anymore. I have been asked to speak a few times during church service, but here lately, I am not satisfied with sitting having a message shared with me, I know the Word of God for myself and believe I am called to share it with anyone willing to listen. He already told me. How long will He wait?
I have realized today that we can get winded in a whole lot of ways. We can get winded by our grief. Jesus was grieving the loss of John the Baptist, but He still did His work. I lost my dog this past summer and all yard work ceased - I got winded. We can get winded by delays. We can get winded when the pile of work seems endless. We can get winded by the news - gas prices are about to rise, food prices are rising, the stage for nuclear war is being set, there's a hurricane coming - all of these things can cause us to pull back from the work God has called us to do. I've decided today, and I'm proclaiming it publicly, I'm winded, but I'm willing. Lord, use me. Lord, I am here to do the work you have planned for me to do. And, Lord, I'm ready to do it now. Lead me, Lord. Reveal my next steps.
How long will He wait? In this year's Bible study, we are reading in 1 Kings 11 about the kings of Israel. Solomon, the wisest man to ever live, loved the foreign women. He was told, "You must not intermarry with them, because they will surely turn your hearts after their gods.” Solomon married 700 women of royal birth and 300 concubines. After some time the Lord told him, "Since this is your attitude and you have not kept my covenant and my decrees, which I commanded you, I will most certainly tear the kingdom away from you and give it to one of your subordinates. 12Nevertheless, for the sake of David your father, I will not do it during your lifetime. I will tear it out of the hand of your son. 13Yet I will not tear the whole kingdom from him, but will give him one tribe for the sake of David my servant and for the sake of Jerusalem, which I have chosen.” How long will He wait? We do not know. He gives us Scripture so that we know His character and how He has intervened and provided and punished and protected and loved those who claim to love Him in the past. How long will He wait? That is not for me to know. I know what He has told me and I know that He gives me a choice - to be obedient or not to be obedient. I am choosing obedience. I am winded, but willing. Amen. What about you?
For the Love of a Dog
In April 2020, during the height of the pandemic, we adopted two hound-mixes, brothers, twins, littermates - the largest and the smallest of the litter. The smaller, the one whose photo captured our hearts and summoned us to the Humane Society of N. Myrtle Beach, we named Forrest. The larger, of course, had to be Forrest’s brother for life - “Bubba.” These were not my first dogs, but they were my childrens’ first dogs and my first time having two dogs at the same time.
The dynamics were remarkable. Bubba was immediately the alpha and they both knew it. Forrest would not cross Bubba, or “Bubs,” for anything - not for a treat or even a bite of table food, a rub, nothing. They both knew who was first, always. Both were photogenic, with their brown, black and white fur, but Forrest was smoother and softer, with spaniel-like fur. Bubs’ fur grows slightly more coarse, although both seemed to shed equally.
To say we loved them would be an incomplete summary of our feelings, our devotion, our affections and our care towards them. They were members of our family. Due to the pandemic, we did very little traveling, but they did spend a few days in a hotel room with us when we listed our home for sale and needed to be out of it to keep it ready for “open house.” They spent six weeks with us in an apartment between homes, and they traveled to Myrtle Beach with us on an impromptu trip.
At the end of July 2022, we had another quick trip to Sumter, SC for my nieces’ baptisms and since we were only going to be gone overnight, less than 24 hours, we thought they would be fine at home. We set them up with the door that led from the garage to the backyard propped open. We brought their kennel to the garage and I laid a piece of extra carpet out for them because Bubba required something soft to lay upon. We brought out food and water and tried to ensure they would be comfy and safe. Forrest was a fence-jumper, so he always needed to be connected to a run. I hated to restrict his freedom, but it was for his safety. He would jump the fence and follow his hound dog nose and playful instincts to other neighborhoods, entirely. We connected him to the steps in the garage, but made sure he had enough length to reach the grass in the backyard. We moved everything we thought could pose as an entanglement. We left them outside for about 30min before we departed to make sure they were set for the evening. They had never slept outside, but they had the garage and would be fine.
In Sumter, we had a blessed time with family. Three of my four nieces were baptized. At the same time, our marriage was suffering greatly. The Lord saw fit that the young man who sang at our wedding be present and sing during the service. In fact, the reason we left the dogs home alone was because my husband rarely traveled with the boys and myself. This time, he decided to come with us. Prior to this, on Friday, I asked him if he would ride with me to see a slave cemetary behind a local church and to my shock and amazement, he agreed. 8am we left the house, I was driving, and as we approached a busy intersection, we could see that a car accident had just occurred - a pickup truck was resting on its roof. I asked my husband, a former sheriff's deputy, if he wanted to help as no officials had yet arrived. He said yes. I pulled into the median and he climbed out. He helped the couple in the SUV over to sit on the curb, and the man in the overturned truck climbed out holding his side. He was angry and started yelling at the couple accusing them of causing the wreck. My husband was trying to direct traffic and keep them separated and calm. Then the angry man went digging in his upside-down glove compartment and I feared he had a gun. I put the window down and signaled to my husband, who was looking directly at the man, but seemed not to fear his life. I squeezed myself back into traffic to move to the other side of the collision and at the same time we began to hear sirens - thank the Lord. My husband saw where I had relocated and he came to the car. We came back home. My husband who had been angry with me for 2 months, who had not spoken to me in 2 months began to talk. It was a miracle.
In Sumter, with full stomachs and dreading the 2-hour drive home, our next door neighbor messaged me to ask if we were okay because our dog had been barking since about 11pm. We knew that was Forrest. Bubba was not easily agitated, and rarely barked. We hurried to pack our bags and get on the road. I was driving. My husband called his daughter to ask if she would go to our home and check on the dogs. She was in a Zoom meeting, but said she would go as soon as it ended. About 30min later she called and spoke to her dad. I wanted him to put the phone on speaker, but he didn’t. He kept asking clarifying questions to help her distinguish which dog was which. Then he hung up…and said nothing. Finally I was like…”are you going to tell me what she said?” He sighed. “She said she thinks Forrest is dead.” Even to type that now, over a month after the fact, I cannot take it. Everything, every emotion, my whole world comes crashing down, even now! No, not my baby! Not my Forrest! What! Why! How! We weren’t gone 24-hours. I couldn’t believe it. I couldn’t believe Ariah. Maybe Ariah didn’t know what a dead dog looked like! How? What possibly could have happened. I sobbed while speeding up the road. He asked me repeatedly to pull over. I didn’t want my son to know, but I was sobbing loudly, so he had to know something was bad wrong. Then my older son’s girlfriend called to ask me what was happening because my son in the backseat had texted his brother and he was hysterical. I couldn’t talk, but told them I would call as soon as I knew something for sure. We pulled into the yard and I ran to the backyard and immediately knew my baby dog was dead. I couldn’t fathom it and still cannot today. My husband and our neighbors buried him and our neighbor brought a cross with his name on it.
It’s a blessing that in my lifetime, thus far, I have not experienced much death. I still have my parents, my children, my sisters, nieces, nephews, friends, etc. All of my grandparents are deceased, but all lived good, long lives. My 1st cousin, Ken, however, in 2000 took his own life and it took me years to heal from that. I felt like I should have seen it coming, I should have called him more, I should have continued writing to him when I knew he was stressed. Years. While Ken’s death was sudden, I was removed. I was not the person responsible for him. I did not set him up for the night and try to make him comfortable and safe. My dog was like a child to me. Forrest was a dependent, more dependent than Bubba. Without us protecting him, Forrest would have hurt himself long ago. I’ve asked God why. Why he couldn’t have just been exhausted, why He couldn’t have given him 1 more hour of life, why he had to die without his people, why he had to die in distress. He became tangled around a large, heavy flower pot and couldn’t get into the garage where it was cooler and where his water was located. In true Forrest form, he barked, got upset and barked some more. I think he had heat exhaustion and physical exhaustion because knowing him, he was probably also trying to take off his collar, chew through the leash, all of it. I miss my baby dog everyday.
In the month since losing Forrest, I’ve come to realize that God is God and I’ll never fully understand His ways. We grieve because we love. If we do not love, then we would not grieve loss of life. Our days are numbered. We must make the most of everyday the Lord gives us on the earth. We must tell those we love how we feel because tomorrow, nor next weekend, are promised. I’ve realized that God is gracious to those who love Him. For me, He enabled me to figure out Forrest’s cause of death. He knew that not knowing this would have driven me mad. He took Forrest, but did it in such a way that I could pinpoint the time and could easily see the cause. It does not make me feel better to know that if I had moved that flower pot or if I had checked to see just how far he could reach, that he might still be alive, but I don’t have to wonder. I thank God for that. I typed into my notes app on the evening of Forrest’s death: “When you love and care for something or someone, the last thing you ever want is for it to die.”
While there is absolutely nothing that would have eased the pain of losing Forrest, I do live a fairly transparent life on Facebook, and I wanted to post about it. This was not because I wanted the sympathy or the comments, actually, I wish Facebook had a feature in which we could disable comments. I wanted to post because there would never be another picture of Forrest posted and I wanted everyone to know why, generally, at least. I couldn’t post because 3 days before Forrest's death, my friend woke up to find her husband dead in the bed next to her. How could my grief compare to hers - not that I was comparing. Hurt is hurt. I couldn’t post because while I likened Forrest’s death to losing a child, both of my children were alive and well. I attended the funerals of 2 friends' young children last year. Forrest was just a dog…but I loved him dearly. The day after Forrest died, one of my friends who had buried her daughter in December, sent me a text - out of the blue. She said I had been on her mind all day and she felt the Holy Spirit prompting her to reach out to me. This is an example of love from the God we serve. I was trying to minimize my hurt by telling myself Forrest was just a dog, but He sent someone, also grieving, to comfort me. While I immediately realized the connection the Lord had made, I replied to her thanking her for reaching out, but didn’t tell her of my situation. I felt the love of the Lord, but didn’t want her to think I (or even God for that matter) had the audacity to compare my dog to her daughter.
I’ve realized in the month that has now passed:
1) Death is final, no amount of bargaining, thinking what if, what would have, could have or should have happened can change it.
2) It hurts. It’s the worst feeling ever. It is the polar opposite of joy or love or peace.
3) We can do everything right and still meet death.
4) Comments like “I’m sorry,” “My condolences,” “May the peace of God be with you,” are not helpful at all. The only true consolation is time.
5) God is in control. Our lives and all of the creatures He created are in His hands. When He decides to call us home, we are going - we don’t get another day, another hour, or another minute. Within 2 hours of his death Forrest’s body was in the ground. For Jesus to have been dead - dead - for 3 full days and rise again and live, is truly a miracle that only God can perform. If you do not believe in Jesus, as Lord and Savior, the time is now. The only way to live an everlasting life is to believe in the One who died and lived again. If you don’t believe in Jesus, you are spiritually dead right now. The only way to know true joy and love and peace is through Him. Won’t you give your life to Him today?
Dear Lord, I want to know You. Lord, I want to dedicate my life to you. Lord, please forgive me of my sins. Lord cleanse me of my sinful thoughts and desires and ways. Lord transform me into your child, forever.
If you prayed that prayer, you need to find a Bible-based church to join so that your new faith in Jesus can be nurtured to grow. If you desire my help, please don’t hesitate to send me an email at email@example.com. I don’t know why I shared this, but I’m told I have a way with words. Maybe my story of grief will help someone. Amen.
I have kept quiet on the matter of abortion nearly my whole life because I feared I would offend the Lord if my view was not 100% ProLife considering Scripture clearly says, “Thou shall not kill.” On Friday, when the US Supreme Court decided to overturn the prior Roe vs. Wade precedent, I was in the presence of two female friends. The three of us each voiced our thoughts and it may have been the first time I had ever participated in an abortion conversation. Later, as everyone took to Facebook to voice their opinions, it became clear that if you are not on the ProLife side of the argument, you must be on the ProDeath team - I disagree.
In 2006-2007, I was expecting my second child, a son, and I was praying about whether I should have a tubal ligation after the scheduled C-section. I had always wanted to be the mother of 2 sons, and with the second son due June 2007, I believed he would complete our family. I was 31 years old, so I still had quite a few more reproductive years, and the options were pills, an IUD, an implant or a tubal. If you know me, you know that I am talkative, always gathering information, and I love to hear people’s thoughts, opinions and experiences. As I shared my desire to have my “tubes tied,” a couple of people told me they thought the procedure was immoral, that I should have as many children as God wanted me to have. While I respected their opinion, it was my choice.
It was a HUGE decision for me. The “what-ifs” ran rampant through my mind. I know plenty of people who have a 3rd, 4th or 5th child they said was a “surprise,” and I didn’t really want a surprise of that magnitude. I was married, but it wasn’t a great marriage. I was a teacher, so pretty much on a fixed income. Two sons were what I wanted and God blessed me to have 2 sons - I couldn’t fathom why I would need more! I prayed and I cried, and I cried and I prayed. I didn’t even confirm with my doctor until he had laid 7lb 10oz Nicholas on my chest in the operating room. He asked me for the last time - “Tubal?” I nodded and was again, emotional. The nurses took Nick for his newborn regimen, and my fallopian tubes were tied, burnt, etc. Nick turned 15 last week, and I’m yet to regret the decision to have my tubes tied. It was my decision. It was a choice. It was what I thought was best for me, my family and our situation. I honored the Lord every step of the way. I asked His opinion, and I waited for Him to speak, I looked for signs from Him. The moment arrived and the decision had to be made.
While the decision to permanently sterilize oneself is not the same as the decision to end a pregnancy already in progress, I imagine similar emotions would be involved - similar prayers would be prayed. Many say, well, a tubal can be reversed - I suppose it can be, but it’s difficult, rare and could damage the reproductive system. Tubal Ligations can also fail. As I write this, I am still reproductive. I could become pregnant. If I did, I probably wouldn’t be happy about it, at least at first! It would be a shocker, to me, but nothing surprises the Lord. I would carry the baby and raise a third child, maybe grudgingly, but I would do it because that’s what I would believe was in God’s plan for me.
Everyone’s situation is different. Some women have health conditions that would endanger their life or the baby’s life. They may no longer be married to, or in relationship with the unborn baby’s father and they believe it takes two parents to raise a child. Some women may be experiencing financial difficulties and not want the additional burden. I read recently that based on 2022 dollar values, it costs $272,049 to raise a child in the United States from birth to age 18 - and this does not include college costs. For someone in a difficult financial situation, those numbers can seem astronomical. Sometimes a pregnancy can result from rape. While you may say that child could be given up for adoption, that’s not a simple process! For someone who just wants to put painful memories of sexual assault behind them, abortion may seem like the better option.
We all know someone who has children, but does very little parenting - right! Child-rearing is a choice. If anyone asks my opinion on whether they should abort their unborn baby, I would tell them NO - and I have had this conversation a few times in my life. I’ve shared about the joy of motherhood and the infinite gifts and talents God gave to my children. I’ve quoted Scriptures about how all human beings are made in the image of God (Genesis 1:27); how God knits us together in our mother’s womb; how we are fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:13-14). I’ve talked about how Jesus loves little children (Matthew 19:14). I’ve prayed that the women who have asked my opinion would choose to continue their pregnancies. I also respect the fact that some have not. It was their choice. While I gave all the reasons I could think of, they were looking at their own situation, the feasibility of the new addition to the family, the coming years, and they just did not believe it best to have a(nother) child. It makes me sad, angry even, but it’s not my place to pass judgment. I shouldn’t condemn someone for a decision they made for themselves.
As we all continue to navigate the abortion landscape, a few things to keep in mind.
Someone may not be ProLife, but that doesn’t mean they are ProDeath. It means they are ProChoice - they respect a woman’s right to choose what is right for herself, her family, and her future.
The decision to have an abortion is a major decision. I would imagine it to be a difficult and painful decision, as well! Women don’t choose abortion like they choose a hair color, as some would have us to believe.
The United States is composed of people with different beliefs, backgrounds, experiences, morals, etc. While you, reading this message, may believe the Scriptures, everyone does not. Even those who profess Jesus as Lord and Savior don’t share the exact same walk with Him. Some people have been walking with Him for longer and they may see His wondrous Creation in every direction they look. I may believe that “in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose,” (Romans 8:28) because I’ve seen that to be true many times. Someone else may not believe that because they have not experienced it. Those who believe are supposed to be making disciples (Matthew 28:19). Without faith, people make decisions based on their experiences and current reality. If we want to be effective at helping those considering abortion, we must not only be sharing the Word of God, but a living example of faith.
Sin comes in many different forms and we are all guilty. Remember, the Pharisees knew the Scriptures and the Law of Moses, but they failed to consider the human factor where they applied it. We read in John 8:1-11 the story of the woman who was caught in the act of adultery against her husband. The Pharisees and teachers of the law brought her to Jesus, and to trap him, they reminded him that the Law of Moses indicated she should be stoned - “what do you say,” they asked. Jesus told them they could stone her, but the one of them who had never sinned must be allowed to throw the first stone. The men left the scene. They knew they had sinned. Jesus said to the woman, “neither do I condemn you; go now and leave your life of sin.” Jesus knew the woman’s situation. He did not attack her because of her sin. Rather than attacking women who consider or choose abortion, let’s love them. Rather than judging them, let’s work with them to help abortion not be such a serious consideration. Rather than quoting the Scripture “Thou shalt not kill,” (Exodus 20:13) let’s live the Scripture, “‘Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 22:39) AMEN.
I appreciate you taking the time to read this week's message. It's been a while since I shared a message, but this was necessary for me to share. I hope everyone has a blessed week.