Storms of Life

storm

Chances are that you are either in one now or about to go through one. Storms. Sometimes we see them coming; other times they spring up. Sometimes they are unrelenting; other times they are quickly broken. No one enjoys them; everyone deals with them. There are various storm systems. They come into our life in the form of health complications. Pressures of life can lead to marital storms. Financial storms or storms within the family can develop. Even now certain forecasters predict that a national storm is brewing.  Storms are an inevitable part of life.

Personally, I love a good storm (as long as we’re talking about the physical ones). Wind, rain, thunder and lightning often contribute to a peaceful night’s sleep for me. Nothing is better than curling up on the couch with a book, blanket and hot cup of coffee in the midst of a storm. But storms of life…those are a different story. They leave my brain foggy. All I want to do is wish them away.

It is easy to become self-focused in the center of a storm. Heavy storms can be so consuming that it’s all you think about.  But just as a good rain storm is good for the land, so can a good life storm be good. They teach us a lot about ourselves, others, and God. Do you remember a story in Matthew about the storm on the sea?

And straightway Jesus constrained his disciples to get into a ship, and to go before him unto the other side, while he sent the multitudes away. And when he had sent the multitudes away, he went up into a mountain apart to pray: and when the evening was come, he was there alone. But the ship was now in the midst of the sea, tossed with waves: for the wind was contrary. And in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went unto them, walking on the sea. And when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, It is a spirit; and they cried out for fear. But straightway Jesus spake unto them, saying, Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid. And Peter answered him and said, Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water. And he said, Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus. But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me. And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt? And when they were come into the ship, the wind ceased. Then they that were in the ship came and worshipped him, saying, Of a truth thou art the Son of God. Matthew 14:22-33

There are so many truths to grasps from this story.  First we learn that Jesus brings us to the storm. He was the one who sent His disciples into the ship and bid them to go across the sea. He knew what was coming. Rest assured, dear child of God, He knows.  Not only does He know, but He brought you to whatever storm you are now facing.

Next we see that Jesus prays for us in the midst of the storm. Did you catch that? Christ sent his disciples into the storm and then went up on the mountain to pray. Who do you think He was praying for? A most comforting understanding, especially in the midst of storms, is knowing that Christ sits on the right hand of God and makes intercession for us (Romans 8:34). In Hebrews we see that, “he ever liveth to make intercession” (7:25).

Then we learn that Jesus comes to us while we are in the storm. Oh, what a glorious thought!  Jesus didn’t leave his disciples alone to endure the storm. He came to them – walking on the water – proving His omnipotence. When the tempest is tossed and all hope seems lost, our Lord comes to us. In those darkest moments He shines His light of peace and whispers to our heart, “Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid.”

Finally, Jesus teaches us during the storm. This is perhaps the hardest for me. There are times that I don’t want to be taught. I just want to get through the storm as quick as possible. But it is imperative that we learn whatever lesson our Teacher wills us to learn.  Peter learned a lot that day out on the sea. He learned that alongside Christ anything (even walking on water) is possible. He learned that the moment we take our eyes off him and put them onto our circumstances we begin to sink. He learned that our Lord is always there to lift us up the moment we cry out, “Lord, save me.”

Are you in a storm of life? Is there a lesson the Master of the Wind is wanting you to learn?  He brings you to the storm. He prays for you in the midst of the storm. He comes to you while you are in the storm. He teaches you in during the storm. Trust in Him.

Seasons

seasonsI know…it’s been months since I have posted anything.
Three months to be exact….
And in all truth I do not have the time to post now. But I want to explain. It is not that have nothing to say, or that I have forgotten about any of you. It is that I have found myself in this season, a season of life that leaves little time for doing some of the things I have always loved to do.

But God is growing me…
molding me….
teaching me….
using me… in ways I would have never expected.  More on that later.

“What seasons of life have you found yourself in? Is this a season of newness for you? Do you have a baby in the home? Are you new to homeschooling? Have you just moved to a new area? Has your husband made a career change? Is it a season of busyness? Do you have little ones who need a lot of attention? Do you have older children who are constantly on the go? Is this season filled with ministry or work? Are you in a season of trials and testing? Are you in a season of rest and slowing down? Or, are you living in a season of abundance and prosperity? It is healthy to remember that to everything there is a season.”

Click HERE to read the rest of the article I wrote called SEASONS that came out in the March/April 2014 issue of Homeschool Enrichment. I hope you will take the time and be blessed!

Faith During the Hard Times

faithTrials are a part of everyone’s life.  It is not a matter of if they will come, but when.  Jesus told us in John 16:33 that we would have tribulation.  Paul said in 2 Timothy 3:12 that all those that lived godly in Christ would suffer persecution. While this message warning contradicts today’s popular messages of health, wealth and prosperity, it is true. It is in trials and tribulations that we are molded and shaped into holiness.  It is in the refining of the fire that we become pure.

So, how do you deal with trials in your life? Do you complain about the circumstances or rejoice with thanksgiving? Do you advertise your trials or bear them quietly? Do you indulge in self pity seeking sympathy from others or submerge yourself in service to others? I have to answer, yes! I’ve done all of those. Do not misunderstand.  When we go through trials it is no small thing. But it is very easy to complain and become self focused.  While trials are not fun, it is important to remember the many reasons we have them.  Focusing upon the work that God is doing in our lives helps us through trials.

  • Trials humble us.
  • Trials wean us from our dependence of worldly things.
  • Trials make us heavenly minded.
  • Trials reveal what we really love.
  • Trials teach us to value God’s blessings.
  • Trials develop enduring strength for greater usefulness in the Kingdom.
  • Trials enable us to help others during their trials.
  • Trials test the strength of our faith.

It is through trials that our faith is strengthened. My husband always reminds me that the simplest definition of faith is “having confidence in the trustworthiness of God.”

How trustworthy is God? He will never fail me. He is always faithful. He has never left me or forsaken me. And He always does what is best.  Our Father is faithful! 

To learn more about God’s faithfulness, check out Living Out the Word: Faith, a verse-by-verse study through the book of James.

“My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing. If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed,” James 1:2-6.

Looking At The Invisible

“We look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen…”

It’s been an exhausting week!  Every day last week kept me running, and I do not function well when I’m that busy.  I like calm days, an organized and clean home, a pleased husband, happy children, obedient dogs, gentle music, and pleasant weather.  And I do not care for the antithesis of any of that.  In addition to being too busy, little things keep happening that have left me mentally, physically, and spiritually drained.  The starter on my suburban is going out, a minor inconvenience.   My husband had $2,000 worth of dental work done on Tuesday, another slight more than slight inconvenience.  A blood vessel in my eye burst, leaving me red eyed for several days.  My sleep waned last night as I prayed for a family dealing with domestic violence. Then to top it off I turned on the news early this morning.  Thirty minutes was all I could stand.  Let me ask; after watching this stuff has anyone ever walked away feeling good?  It’s depressing and if allowed, all of this can serve as a catalyst for discouragement, despair, and defeat.

But then I remembered the words spoken to my heart yesterday through the various teaching and preaching ministries at my church.  Words were spoken to encourage, exhort, admonish, uplift, and even inspire me to press toward the mark of the high calling.  We all have troubles.  They are just another example of truth spoken in John 16:33.  I know to expect them.  It’s called life.  So, why do I fix my eyes upon them?  My flesh cries “me, me, me,” but the spirit within cries, “Look up, look up!  Be renewed day by day!”  Paul, (who understood troubles quite a bit more than I) said, “For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.” (2Co 4:16-18) Perspective sure changes everything!  I’ll be looking up today and it won’t be at things before me.  I’ll be looking at the invisible.

My Unbelief

I had to call a friend a few days ago.  This particular friend is one I call when I need to hear the truth.  You know the type.  She doesn’t tell me what I want to hear; she tells me what I need to hear.  Perhaps you have a friend like this and can relate.   I am very thankful for our friendship.  It is one that could be summed up by Proverbs 27:5-6, “Open rebuke is better than secret love. Faithful are the wounds of a friend…”  I wanted to have a pity party.  She told me to get my eyes off self.  I wanted to whine.  She told me to rejoice.  I wanted to focus on the negative.  She told me to look at the positive.  I wanted to sit.   She told me to get up and serve.  We’ve had this conversation many times over the years.  Sometimes, like last week, I’m the one who needs the exhortation and sometimes she is.  Either way we have an understanding.  Regardless of our feelings or emotions, the best thing we can do is point each other to the Lord and His Word.

The circumstances are always different, but the outcome is always the same.  It usually goes something like this.  One of us has a problem or small trial in our life.  This should be no surprise.  Jesus said in this world we would have tribulations (John 16:33).  But we still act “as though some strange thing happened…” During the trial we prove that we’re human by worrying and fretting.  After a day or two of self pity one of us will finally get around to calling the other – already knowing exactly what we’re going to hear.

“Why are you worried?”

“It’s just that I don’t see how this could possibly work out.”

“So, this just gives God a chance to prove Himself strong.”

“I know….but there is no human solution.”

“Hasn’t God always provided for you?”

“Yes, but…”

“Hasn’t He always been faithful?”

“Yes, but this time….”

“Has He ever let you down?”

“No, never.”

“Then don’t you know what the Scriptures say?”

“I do.  Just yesterday I was sharing God’s Word with a lady who was having trials of her own.”

“Then it boils down to whether or not you’re going to believe.  The bottom line is this.  Are you going to have confidence in the trustworthiness of God?”

And so, this was just what I needed to hear.  I knew the truth.  I still do.  I have never had a reason to doubt God’s Word.  It says that God will provide for His children (Matthew 6:33).  We are told that He will meet all of our needs (Philippians 4:19).  It says that He will direct our paths (Proverbs 3:6).  And we are promised peace if we will trust in God (Isaiah 26:3).  Not only are these things so, but time and time again – without fail – God has proven it true.

I do believe…..

But Lord, help my unbelief…….

Sometimes I feel like the father in Mark Chapter 9.  Do you know the story?  This man had a demon possessed son.  If you want to talk about trials and troubles, this man had them.  Look at how the father describes his son with this evil spirit, “And wheresoever he taketh him, he teareth him: and he foameth, and gnasheth with his teeth, and pineth away… ofttimes it hath cast him into the fire, and into the waters, to destroy him: but if thou canst do any thing, have compassion on us, and help us,” Mark 9:18a, 22.   The mother in me wants to weep for this man.  I cannot image the pain from seeing his child like this.  So in desperation, the father takes his son to Jesus’ disciples for help.  Yet, they cannot help him.

How many times do I go to everyone but the One who can and will help me?

When Jesus arrives He offers perhaps the first glimpse of hope this poor father has ever had. He says, “If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth,” Mark 9:23.

How many times has the Lord whispered these same words to me?  “If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed…nothing shall be impossible unto you,” Matthew 17:20.  “For with God nothing shall be impossible,” Luke 1:37.  “And he said, The things which are impossible with men are possible with God,” Luke 18:27.

So this father, as honest and transparent as he can be, with tears in his eyes cries out, “Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief,” Mark 9:24.

I think I understand what he was saying because I have been there many times.  In fact, I’m still there.  I have faith.  I believe.  But I know that my faith is not as strong as it should be.  My faith is weak.  It is imperfect.  It is flawed in its exercise.  So, like this father who does believe, I too add a prayer for grace, mercy, and strength.  Lord, Please help the weakness of my faith.   Help me to confidently rely upon You.  Show Yourself strong on my behalf and be glorified through my weak flesh and failures.  I believe Lord, just help me in my unbelief.

Just What Kind of Wife Am I?

Last Sunday we began a new small group study from the book of Job.  I am sure most of you are familiar with the tests, trials, and temptations Job faced.  As you read in the first chapter you see the dialogue between God and Satan that initiates his afflictions. 

 “And the LORD said unto Satan, Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil?” Job 1:8.  

 Satan accuses God of creating a hedge of protection around Job.  In response, God allows Satan to take all he has (except Job’s life, Job 2:6).  Satan takes the lives of his 10 sons and daughters, takes all of his wealth, and eventually his health.  Job is left with nothing but accusatory friends and his wife.

 I have always found it interesting that Satan did not take the life of Job’s wife.  It would seem to me that would be the quickest way to destroy a man.  But as the story unfolds we see one potential reason for leaving her behind. In the midst of affliction, the advice Job’s wife gives her husband is rather dreadful.  “Then said his wife unto him, Dost thou still retain thine integrity? curse God, and die, But he said unto her, Thou speakest as one of the foolish women speaketh. What? shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil? In all this did not Job sin with his lips,” Job 2:9-10.

 However, before we are too hard on Job’s wife, we should remember that these troubles came to her as well.  Imagine losing all your children, in addition to your wealth and security.  Job’s tragedy was her tragedy.  So I do not want to be too judgmental.  But what I do want to look at is how she was used as an instrument of Satan.  Satan’s intent was to destroy Job, his life, and his faith.  In his attempt, he took all Job had.  Satan had the authority to take the life of Job’s wife, yet he left her behind.  Could it be that Satan knew she would be more of a hindrance to him alive than dead?

The influence of a wife is great.  A wife can make a good man greater or bring a good man down. The Bible explains it this way. “Every wise woman buildeth her house: but the foolish plucketh it down with her hands,” Proverbs 14:1.  One of the easiest ways to destroy your husband, your marriage, or your home is with your words.  Proverbs 18:21 says that, “death and life are in the power of the tongue.”  What power the words of Job’s wife must have held.  There is much we can learn from the example of Job’s wife.  I must ask myself, if Satan were to set out to destroy my husband, am I the kind of wife that could be used in his devilish plot? In the midst of tests, trials, and temptations am I a wife that is a help or a hindrance to my husband.  Am I building him up or tearing him down? 

 Job was under spiritual attack, just as all Christian men are under attack.  As spiritual leaders, Satan wishes to destroy their life, testimony, and family.  It is during these spiritual attacks in a man’s life that he needs the loving support from his wife the most.  Often times, Satan will use the troubles of this world to divide husband and wife.  Our eyes become fixed on our problems; words get spoken in haste and fighting begins.  Sometimes it may even seem that our husband is the enemy.  But it is important to remember that believers do not fight against flesh and blood but against “principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places,” Ephesians 6:12.  Recognizing this, when we face those hard times husbands and wives need to come together in unity and not fight each other but together fight the Evil One.  

 So, just what kind of wife am I?  Well, you would probably have to ask my husband to get the truest answer.  But I can tell you what kind of wife I desire to be.  My greatest desire is to be a true help meet (Genesis 2:18) that is as a fruitful vine by the sides of his house (Psalms 128:3) and a virtuous woman (Proverbs 31:10) that is a crown to her husband (Proverbs 12:4) whose words are edifying and only minister grace (Ephesians 4:29).

A Light in the Darkness

 A couple of weeks ago we were having some car trouble. Our suburban was running rough. Since our suburban is paid for we are very careful to keep the maintenance up. Let me correct that statement. My husband is very careful to keep the maintenance up. This thing is old. With over 250 thousand miles on it we are convinced that it is held together by angel dust. (But don’t get me wrong, we’re thankful to have this paid for vehicle and we give God all glory.)

So back to a few weeks ago…Because the suburban was running rough Dana spent a day working on it. At first he thought it was bad gas we picked up in Arkansas but after giving it gas treatment and running most of it out he figured it must be something else. He then replaced several parts. Forgive me if I get these wrong but I think he replaced a fuel filter, some kind of cap, and then cleaned the spark plugs. He probably did some other stuff because it took him most of the day. But at the end of the day there was no improvement and he was rather frustrated.

We had cottage prayer meeting that night. (Do any of you know what that is? I learned a couple of years ago.) While there my husband was sharing with the men his car troubles. A few of them went to look at it and right away they figured out the problem. You see, it was dark outside. Therefore, it was very easy to spot the short in the spark plug wires. They could see the flash of light that only the darkness could expose. So, the next day Dana took the spark plug wires (that thankfully have a life-time warranty) and in a matter of minutes replaced them with new ones. The suburban was as good as new! Okay, as good as new as a truck of its caliber could be.

There is a deep spiritual truth here that I learned one week later. It was during our revival services. The preacher preached from Isaiah 50. “Who is among you that feareth the LORD, that obeyeth the voice of his servant, that walketh in darkness, and hath no light? let him trust in the name of the LORD, and stay upon his God.” There are times in every Christian’s life of ordained darkness. These are times that we are walking with the Lord in obedience. We fear Him with a filial fear. Yet God in His perfect sovereignty chooses to conceal His light for a time. WHY? We ask. It is because there are some things that can only be learned in the dark! Think back to some of the darkest times in your life. Most believers will say looking back that those were times of unyielding spiritual growth. While the darkness is painful and hard, spiritually it can be the most profitable.

Perhaps you are going through that ordained darkness even now. You are in the will of God. You are serving Him. You are living in obedience. You fear Him in reverence but there is no light. What do you do? The scriptures say “let him trust in the name of the LORD, and stay upon his God.” We LEARN to trust Him. We LEAN upon Him. We LEAVE it with Him. It is simple, just hard. The following verse also gives a warning to those during this time. “Behold, all ye that kindle a fire, that compass yourselves about with sparks: walk in the light of your fire, and in the sparks that ye have kindled. This shall ye have of mine hand; ye shall lie down in sorrow,” (Isa 50:11). Often during these times we want to light our own fire and walk in it. After all, no Christian likes the dark times. But God warns us. Do not walk in your own light. Learn to trust Him. Lean upon Him and patiently leave it with Him.

I pray that if you are going through a dark time in your life that you will be blessed by God’s Words. Trust in Him, dear child. He loves you with an everlasting love!