March 14, 2018

Heroes of My Faith

I didn’t grow up in church. I didn’t learn the stories of David and Goliath or Joseph and his coat of many colors, or his brothers who plotted to kill him. I didn’t know about Abraham and Isaac, or Daniel and the lion’s den. I didn’t know about Baby Jesus in a manger or Paul meeting Jesus on the Road to Damascus when he was still named Saul. I didn’t know about the Israelites crossing the Red Sea or about Noah and the ark or Jonah in the whale.

But I learned these stories after I was saved and reading my Bible. I also heard them in the context of messages in church and Sunday school classes and other Bible studies. They are not mere stories. They are true accounts of men and women that God has chosen to place in the Holy infallible scriptures for our benefit. We are to learn from them.

I have my favorites. I call them the Heroes of my faith. Their stories and struggles, their victories and faith have taught me the most. We all need heroes. Here are a few of mine: 

When I need courage to face a giant, I remember David. 
1 Samuel 17:37 Moreover David said, “The Lord, who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear, He will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.” 

When I need to forgive when others hurt me, I think of Joseph and the injustices he endured. 
Genesis 50:19-20 Joseph said to them, “Do not be afraid, for am I in the place of God? But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive. 

When I can’t see the next step of my journey, I remember Abraham. 
Hebrews 11:8 By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to the place which he would receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. 

When I struggle with contentment and joy, I think of Paul. 
Philippians 4:11-13 Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.  I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. 

When I don’t understand anything in the face of hardship, I think of Job. 
Job 1:20-22 Then Job arose, tore his robe, and shaved his head; and he fell to the ground and worshiped. And he said: “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return there. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; Blessed be the name of the Lord.” In all this Job did not sin nor charge God with wrong. 

The greatest Hero of my faith is Jesus Christ, because He is my Savior.
 John 3:16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

Joining Counting My Blessings Linkup.

March 11, 2018

Looking Through Faith's Eyes

Isaiah 55:8-9
“For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
Nor are your ways My ways,” says the LORD.
“For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
So are My ways higher than your ways,
And My thoughts than your thoughts.”

Our faith must be the eyes we use to see what we cannot see. The unseen, the unknown, the questions without answers…

(If God had put every answer in the Bible, we wouldn’t need faith, and our Bible would be so big we couldn’t carry it!)

God told us what He wanted us to know and called on us to believe by faith as we look at who He is, and what He did tell us, and what He has already done. We can do this by studying our Bible and also by recalling His work in our lives and those around us.

We just have to open our eyes to see Him and remind ourselves He is in control. He is working what we cannot see. We need to look through faith’s eyes.

It is hard though because our questions can be difficult.

Why didn’t you get that job?

Why did you get that diagnosis?

Why did that business deal go south?

Why did the door close to such a great opportunity?

Why didn’t that relationship work out?

Why did that relative turn away from God?

Why doesn’t God answer this? Why isn’t He moving to change things?

Maybe we can’t see the answer for which we so deeply long…

Instead, maybe what we can choose to see—is that the answers are in His hands. The timing is in His hands. The way, the when, the how, are all in His hands. God is still on His throne. We can stay strong in our faith and understand that answers don’t have to come in our time, but may slowly unfold in ways we never imagined. Maybe we need to open our eyes and see all the possibilities on the horizon and trust that God knows best.

March 7, 2018

Let's Take Insecurity Off The Table

This story happened many years ago and I was far past the age that it should have bothered me but it did and that makes me think, maybe I am not the only adult who still sometimes dreads walking into a gathering feeling unsure of myself and feeling insecure.

Oh, that table is full of friendly looking ladies. All laughing and smiling and engaged in conversation around the table. What about me? Where do I sit? Will I fit in if I end up at a table with strangers?

Yes, I still have those thoughts even now and I can always trace it back to an event that triggered what I call adult insecurity.

Before I was a writer and was going through the phase of trying different things because every spiritual gifts test I took was wrong, I was trying my hand at helping the team that organized a Women’s Conference in our small church.

After running around to make sure the refreshments were served as planned before the first speaker began, I finally had a chance to slow down and take a breath. And find a seat.

The auditorium was full in the front and middle and a little sparse in the back. I chose the second from last row and was the only one in that row. There were a few ladies in front of me and a few behind but I had this row to myself. I looked forward to someone joining me soon.

The door opened behind me and in walked two women together. I knew them and hoped they would see all the empty seats in my row and sit with me.

They didn’t. They went to the ladies in the row in front of me.

The door opened again. Someone that I knew came in and sat in the back row behind me. And another lady came in and joined the group in front of me.

That is when I started feeling sorry for myself. That is when all the negative thoughts came rushing in. That is when I felt like a younger version of myself declaring no one likes me. The conference began and I was sitting in a row by myself. No one in my church chose to sit by me.

I couldn’t let the hurtful thoughts go. I couldn’t understand why I was left sitting alone. Yes, I overreacted, but I was experiencing a genuine pain and its name was insecurity.

I don’t remember paying much attention to the speaker who stood up front. My thoughts turned to a conscious decision I was making that if I ever notice someone sitting alone at a future event, I will sit with them. I want to be the welcoming person at a table that says come and sit here!  It is not a difficult concept. Let’s take insecurity off the table by bringing everyone to the table. Let’s not leave anyone on the outside looking in! We are better together.

Ecclesiastes: 4:9-10 Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their labor. For if they fall, one will lift up his companion. But woe to him who is alone when he falls, for he has no one to help him up.

March 5, 2018

The Oasis at Women's Bible Study

I warmly recall a particular evening when I was facilitating a ladies Thursday night Bible study at church due to the peculiar snack food that was brought and the response the ladies had to this peculiar snack. It taught me a lesson about the sacrifice and dedication women of all ages and walks of life make to attend a women’s Bible study. I learned this lesson from a beef jerky incident.
The lady who had signed up for snacks said she forgot about it being her night and grabbed the only thing she had at her house at the last minute, which was—strawberries, cheese crackers, and beef jerky, of all things!
Strawberries and cheese crackers are always good, but beef jerky? She really brought a large bag of sometimes hard to chew beef jerky? I have to admit, I have never seen beef jerky brought for snacks, and I thought to myself, she will be taking that back home. The strawberries and crackers will be eaten, but the beef jerky will be passed by.
But no, these ladies were hungry. The beef jerky completely disappeared. Every single hard to chew bite was consumed.
The lady who brought it was very surprised and shared with me that she thought for sure she would be bringing the beef jerky home again, and almost didn’t bring it in the first place since it would be such an odd snack.
It turned out that no one had time for lunch at work that day and didn’t get to go home before Bible study. I listened to ladies describe barely making it to Bible Study on time, coming straight from work and not having time to eat, husbands getting home from work late, barely in time to be there with the kids so mom could go to Bible study, and I found myself very moved by their dedication.
Beef jerky opened my eyes to tiring schedules and genuine hunger, and yet it was obvious they were definitely hungry for more than food. They came with their prayer requests and burdens, and they came with their Bibles and notebooks. They came with a need for fellowship, and many of them came hungry.
For these ladies, Thursday night Bible study was an oasis of fellowship, studying and learning about God’s Word and it came at the end of a long, long day. They needed refreshment in more ways than one.

For He satisfies the longing soul, and fills the hungry soul with goodness. Psalm 107:9