It’s the Time of Renewal and Moving Forward

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“There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it” (1 Corinthians 10:13).

“Finally, be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous:” (I Peter 3:8).
“Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, and slow to wrath” (James1:19).

     Sometimes I feel that I walk in the shadows and that isn’t a bad thing when the shadows that cover me are from the wings of the Almighty. The Bible tells us about how he is with us like a shadow. It doesn’t matter what time of day or night we need the Lord, because he is always available to us when we call on his name. Miracles occur in our midst on a daily basis and it can be contributed to the commitment and faith of people who are willing to stand in the gap and pray.
“He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty” (Psalm 91:1). If you are going to be living “in the secret place of the most High”; then, you will abide under his shadow. It won’t be difficult to stay under his protection, but God didn’t save us just for us to sit back and receive his blessings. Being blessed is a part of our worship, true, but this gospel wasn’t meant to end with us. We can’t change our fate: we are all appointed unto man once to die; we must do our best to reach out to those around us.

It’s a sobering thought to realize that we are surrounded by people who cry out for salvation. Who will tell them about Jesus? If we get too involved with our own agendas to listen to their cries, we’ll miss out on the greatest blessing of all: giving the truth. When we understand this concept, we shall not know fear.

The rest of Psalm 91 explains:

I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust.

Surely he shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler, and from the noisome pestilence.

He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust: his truth shall be thy shield and buckler.

Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flieth by day;

Nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness; nor for the destruction that wasteth at noonday.

A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand; but it shall not come nigh thee.

Only with thine eyes shalt thou behold and see the reward of the wicked.

Because thou hast made the Lord, which is my refuge, even the most High, thy habitation;

10 There shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling.

11 For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways.

12 They shall bear thee up in their hands, lest thou dash thy foot against a stone.

13 Thou shalt tread upon the lion and adder: the young lion and the dragon shalt thou trample under feet.

14 Because he hath set his love upon me, therefore will I deliver him: I will set him on high, because he hath known my name.

15 He shall call upon me, and I will answer him: I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him, and honour him.

16 With long life will I satisfy him, and shew him my salvation.

(Psalm 91:2-16).

Living in the shadows has the benefit of having the Lord always available to lead you through the storm. Trust him and he will give you the desires of your heart. He is sovereign. He is the Almighty.

renew-your-strength-through-praise

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Ask in His Name, and He Will Do It

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“Jesus said unto him, If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth” (Mark 9:23).

The Lord is not slack concerning his promises. In the past few weeks I have been praying to see more of the miraculous in my life. The Lord allowed me to pray for it and he also answered my prayer in ways that I didn’t expect. When I think of the miraculous it brings up thoughts of something glorious that is way out there and not easily attainable, but that is not what the Lord has in mind: he is the God of the miraculous in the minor areas of my life also. In the small things that I take for granted.

When was the last time that you thanked God for waking you up on a Monday morning for work? Granted, going to work is something that we all may dread from time to time, but have you ever thought what it would be like if you didn’t have a job to provide for your family? What if you were unable to get out of bed on your own two feet? The next time that the alarm clock blares at you way too early on a Monday morning, breath a prayer of thanksgiving for giving you another day to serve him.

“To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:” (Ecclesiastes 3:8). When we pray for the Lord to work in our lives, sometimes it seems that he doesn’t answer us in a timely manner. We forget that the Lord is working out all things for our good according to his purpose, not our own agendas. Every time you pray for the Lord’s will to be done in your life, your prayers turn heaven and earth upside down in the spiritual realm. Your prayers are offered up to the Lord as a memorial, your praise carries your petitions to the throne of grace and it is there that your answer is prepared.

As you continue to act on faith and believe God to answer your prayer, the Lord sets in motion all of the events that must occur to cause your miracle to come to pass. Looking on this side of heaven, it may seem that everything has gone contrary to the way you prayed. (For example, you pray for provision, and you lose your job.) Don’t despair, the Lord is preparing a better job for you that will provide for your family. When you don’t understand how the Lord is working in your life, then you learn to trust in him and wait.

In due time, all things will work together for good. 

Be encouraged by this week’s Lattereignwhatsoever-you-ask-in-my-name.

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March of Miracles: It’s Time to Tell What the Lord Has Done!

be still and know

“Thou art the God that doest wonders: thou hast declared thy strength among the people.” Psalm 77:14

For too long the people of God have kept silent about what the Lord has done in their lives. I’m tired of hiding my faith under a bushel, in a world where doom and gloom is broadcast far and wide. It was never God’s intention for his people to be fearful, as the scriptures tell us in 2 Timothy 1:7: “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.”

I am a firm believer that I can be as sick, or as poor, or depressed, or discouraged, as I want to be, because it is all in what I choose to receive into my mind; however, I choose to not entertain that kind of thinking, instead, I read in 1 John 4:4, “Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.” What we think or speak, is what we strengthen. So, we can speak life, or death, it is all in the power of the tongue (Proverbs 18:21).

We do not have to live a defeated life. Jesus Christ purchased our salvation at Calvary with his blood. He took stripes on his back for our healing, he loadeth us daily with benefits (Psalm 68:19), yet, I ask you, have you forgotten? Has time and circumstances robbed you of your zeal to be victorious in Christ? There is a constant tsunami of obstacles that try to keep us away from the joy of the Lord, but know this, in 3 John 1:2, it says,”Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth.”

The bible tells us in James 4:7: “Submit yourselves therefore to God, resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”

Sure, I had my days when I felt that God wasn’t listening to me, especially when I was being tested in my faith. It isn’t always easy to be positive, when you are bombarded with circumstances designed to shake the very foundation you are standing on in Christ; but we must stand, as it says in Ephesians 6:13-20:

Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.

Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness;

And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace;

Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.

And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:

Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;

And for me, that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel,

For which I am an ambassador in bonds: that therein I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.

In this week’s Lattereign we are  making-room-for-time-in-his-presence.

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God is Ever Faithful to Give

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“You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hid. No one after lighting a lamp puts it under a bushel basket, but on a lamp stand, and it gives light to all in the house” (Matthew 5:14-15).

“Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths” (Proverbs 3:5-6).

We never had much money when I was growing up, and it didn’t seem to really be that important to me or to my family. We had something that transcended the need for money or material possessions: a trust in each other, and in a God who is Ever Faithful to give to us and supply all of our needs.

It was only natural that when you had a need, you prayed for it, and the Lord miraculously provided the need. It may be through a neighbor, or an employer, but the vehicle used to accomplish the task was irrelevant to us, because we knew who set the vehicle in motion: it was God.

No one ever knew when the cupboard was bare, or when we were down to the last of the last of everything in the cabinets to fix for supper. No one ever ventured beyond the back door of our home, but God knew and he had compassion on a child’s prayer for food.

My dad was a proud man and yet he was humble. He never refused to accept a gift given freely to help meet the needs, and at the same time, he seemed to drink more during the most stressful times because he couldn’t be everything that the Lord wanted him to be.

All I ever wanted my dad to be was a Christian. The fancy clothes that others wore were nice, but I wasn’t as satisfied as I could have been. I longed to have my daddy take us all to church on Sunday morning, and then, escort our family inside for worship, together. Instead, we children learned how to watch over our shoulders as we waited for the church van to arrive: to be unprepared, might have gotten us shot (if Daddy had a flashback to the war).

Today, as I sit in this sanctuary, I realize how blessed that I am to have a God who loved me enough to die for me at Calvary. It is simply amazing to me that he would lay aside all of glory so that he could be beaten and take on the weight of the world’s sin: my sin.

If you don’t know the true and living God, today, you can know Him and be blessed beyond your highest hopes and wildest dreams. I know that the situations that I lived in for so long could have caused me to be bitter and unthankful, but through God’s infinite mercy and provision, He has led me to a secret place of prayer and communion with Him. In the darkness that I have faced, I have found treasure. There is hope to overcome, and I have a God who watches over me.

Give yourself to worship, today, and you’ll discover a peace that passes all understanding.

In this week’s Lattereign we are giving-with-a-cheerful-heart.

 

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If we Could Only Open Our Eyes

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Some days it seems impossible to schedule another single event to our already overbooked appointment calendar, but it’s necessary if we are to be about our Father’s business. At a leadership meeting a couple of years back, we discussed “Priorities: the pathway to success.”

Setting priorities becomes a challenge when we try to balance ministry, family time, work, and personal time. It never fails that personal time often gets sacrificed. Unless we are getting our strength by reading God’s Word and prayer we’ll spend part of the precious time that we do find, being resentful because we don’t have enough time.

If you have ever felt discouraged and are weary in your struggle to live for God, listen to what the Lord shared with me from Psalm 27. He reminded me that he is my light and my salvation, so I don’t have to fear anything. He is also the strength that I have in my life, and the greatest source of protection that I can have, so I don’t have to be afraid.

When my enemies came against me to destroy me, they had to walk over the blood line because Jesus has built a wall of protection all around me. Instead of my enemies getting the best of me, the Lord caused them to stumble and fall.

If I still don’t feel confident enough to navigate the trials of life, and I lose my footing, time and again, the Lord assures me that even if a “host should encamp against me, my heart shall not fear” (Psalm 27:3). We are in a war, but even if the war comes against me, I can still be confident. Why? Because I know that the Lord will give me the desires of my heart, and I desire to seek after Him so that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life.

He promised in His Word that he would hide me in his pavilion; in the secret of his tabernacle; and then upon a rock. Each of these places offers safety and refuge. We spend a great deal of our time trying to do the right thing, and simultaneously the enemy of our soul seeks to steal our joy and our victory.

If he succeeds in taking my mind off of God’s perfect will for my life, I will not have the confidence to set priorities; but, if I’ll do what the scriptures has said, “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof” (Matthew 6:33-34); then, I’ll be able to set priorities, for they’ll be in line with God’s will and purpose for my life.

One day there will be no more time, but until that day, “I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world” (John 9:4-5). That light can shine in the workplace where everyone seems to be in despair; it can shine in the mall when people look so lost from the onslaught of trouble in the world. It can shine into the abyss of the darkest circumstances and lead me out of the pit of defeat. The light of God’s love can lead us home where we’ll find joy and salvation in his presence. May the Lord richly bless you as you find your way back into his presence.

This week’s Lattereign reminds us that we are not alone. if-we-could-open-our-eyes

 

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Waiting and Waiting…It’s Time to Abide

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“Therefore I will look unto the Lord; I will wait for the God of my salvation; my God will hear me” (Micah 7:7).
“They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength. They shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint” (Isaiah 40:31).

I am altogether impatient, Lord. I know it is a sin,
In all my planning and praying, Lord, I’ve forgotten that it takes time to win.
Monday, the mail came my way and it’s bills, never anything good.
“I didn’t win the grand prize,” I lamented, “I just knew that I would.”
So, on I go throughout my day brooding over what never has been

And before I know it,
Tuesday’s here, when will the answer come? When?
It’s prayer meeting night, do I even dare to try, try again?
Before I sleep, “I pour out my soul in the dark still night,
Lord, weren’t you listening to me, don’t you care that all you say is: wait?
On Wednesday, a new hope arises in me, but there’s not enough time to plan
Tonight’s the night for Bible study,
Lord, should I pray for the same thing again?
In your still small voice, (I know it well), you say, “Wait, it’s my will.”
“Oh, Lord, your will?” I cry, thinking about what might have been.

Then, Thursday, came in a rush, and once again I pleaded my case,
And gently, the Lord reminded me that all my sins were erased.

As I knelt down on Friday to pray, He told me his will: to WAIT.

On Saturday, he spoke to me, “It takes work to plan a life, so PRAY.
The toil of breaking up fallow souls, spending time on your knees
Pulling stubborn weeds of doubt, and raking up leaves of despair,
Spares you little time to rest—but rest in me, you must, my child.”
Still, I rushed through…

Finally, Sunday morning, I prepared for my day,
But I forgot to listen to the gentle Master’s wise advice
when I took the time out to pray.
“Take time to build a strong foundation,
take time to build your life around prayer.
Wait, on me when life’s uncertain,
wait when you feel hopeless and heavy-laden with cares.

For it’s in the waiting time, I’ll prune your branches;
I’ll pull your weeds; I’ll give you drink; I’ll restore your spirit;
I’ll meet your every need.

Although you may not see me working,
I’ll give you peace when you trust me and wait.
It’s while you’re praying, that I’ll till your soul;
it’s while you’re interceding, that I’ll pour on my balm;
it’s while you’re waiting on me, that I’m working on your behalf.

Keep on praying, child; while you wait, I’ll give your rest.
Trust me, I’ll never fail.”

Follow this link for this week’s Lattereign.  abide

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Renew Your Mind; Seek Simplicity

renew-mind

A few years back, I was praying, and overwhelmed with the clutter in my house. I had a choice to make: I could close the door, (which I did more than I really want to admit, but no matter how many times I closed the door, the thought that the room was cluttered would never leave my mind); or I could approach the project as a way to discover hidden treasures. Every day, I made a point of going through either one shelf, drawer, or box. Many of the items I had held on to, only weighed me down with sorrow, but after a while, I was able to let them go. Reading through old manuscripts, and journals, helped to draw me back into writing, again.

Now, it’s time to renew our minds and to start 2017 with a fresh vision. What do I want my life to look like? One of the most important things to me is to find peace in my home, even if the world is chaos, so, I have been on a quest, once again, to reduce the physical clutter in my life, to help me to focus on the more important things in my life.

Why is it that as a society we get trapped in things? For most of my life, things have dominated; I’m afraid. It’s almost like it’s a security blanket to be surrounded by things. Yet, those very things cause anxiety, as we try to organize them into something manageable. It is a slow process to dig deeply into the recesses of our very existence, to release the past regrets and burdens, and feel confident that we can breathe new life into our present by learning to treasure a less complicated lifestyle.

The only way that can be accomplished is through Jesus Christ. Sometimes we have to shut out the distractions of clutter, both mental and physical clutter, to allow the Lord to work and reign in our lives. It’s time that I remember to nurture the spiritual part if my life. My relationship with Jesus Christ should be at the top of my priority list.

Living for God is not complicated. It is probably the most clear and concise plan that you will ever need to follow in your lifetime. Unfortunately, many Christians make living for God difficult to do. Upon conversion, they think of all of the many pleasures of sin that they must give up in order to follow Christ. No longer will there be any fun, because after all, what in the world can a Christian do for fun? No alcohol, no drugs, no immorality, no ungodly entertainment. What they fail to understand is that after a person commits his life fully to the Lord, the things that once brought such great satisfaction (a bold lie of the devil) no longer appeals to them.

When you have been baptized in Jesus’ Name, you put on that name; when you are filled with the Holy Ghost and speak with other tongues (that’s Jesus in you), there is not any room for the pleasures of sin that leave a person vacant and condemned to eternal death. We do have a free will, and while we can do what we want to do, everything changes when we become a new creature in Christ. We have the power to overcome sin and defeat the devil.

Before I repented and was baptized in Jesus Name, my life could be compared to a series of storms. Everything was chaos. I searched for something to bring me peace of mind and heart. Many times I would find myself longing to go back to the way things were when I was a young girl. I went to Sunday School, and I took the time to talk to God. We’d take long walks together through the fields behind my house to a clearing by the creek.

Through that clearing, his light would shine on me while I prayed. I remember being so confused with what I was supposed to be doing with my life. Surely there was more to life than surviving through my dad’s alcoholism. Somehow, just being able to get to the clearing to pray and spend time in communion with God made me so much better prepared to handle the life that I faced at home.

When I left home, I left it all, for a season, but life was so complicated and confusing to me. As I struggled to survive day to day, I could never completely forget the clearing and the communion with God—I didn’t know about the Truth; I didn’t know that you could live a decent and moral life and be happy—so I continued to search for a way to fill the void in my life. The Lord never forgot me, and I never felt the peace of the clearing until, the Lord moved heaven and earth so that I could find my way back to him. I will present my body a living sacrifice, holy acceptable unto God, which is my reasonable service. Life is crystal clear now; the way of the Lord leads to life. It is as simple as this: Jesus loves me and he forgave me. I am truly blessed. Today, he is offering you life and forgiveness. Will you receive it?

“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to the world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God” (Romans 12:1-2).

In this week’s Lattereign we are reminded that there is nothing that is too hard for God to accomplish. His will be done in our lives.  is-there-anything-too-hard-for-god

 

 

 

Credits: Here is the link to the image used in this week’s postimage of renew mind

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It will Take More Than Wishful Thinking

tire-swing

It will take more than wishful thinking to see the Lord move in our lives; he requires active faith. When I was only eleven or twelve years old, we had to activate that faith. For this week’s Lattereign, I decided to share a selection from my memoir, Wild Irish Ties.

Tell me what you think in the comment section, at the bottom of the page. You may have to scroll down to see it. We can do amazing things when we add faith to our works. 

Believing for Spring

I’ll never forget the winter of 1971. Glee club tryouts had been postponed for the third time because snow had cancelled school for over a week; we were almost out of firewood; and the cold wind was relentless. Every winter, we moved the living room furniture into the kitchen closer to the fireplace and the stove. After hanging blankets on the doors, we snuggled under Nonie’s quilts. I loved those quilts because they reminded me of Nonie and how much she had embraced prayer. I remember sitting under her quilting frame. The more fervent her prayer, the more passionate her stitching had become, so it was a blessing to have the “prayer quilts” as she called them, with us, now, even if she couldn’t be with us.

At night, the fire would glow and cinders would pop out onto the hearth. While everyone watched the flames, I watched Mama. Every night, without fail, she’d sit at the kitchen table and read passages from the Bible: She would say: “If we have faith as a grain of mustard seed, we can move mountains, you know. Don’t fret none, ‘cause God will provide. He is our shepherd, we shall not want, it says right here in Psalm 23.”

I often wondered how she could be so positive that God would take care of us, because all she had to do was look around and see that we were falling into a deep pit. It didn’t seem like God remembered us, or that he wanted what was best for us; nevertheless, Mama, always trusted God to make a way.

   With the help of Mr. Johnson, our landlord, the Lord did provide us with all the fallen limbs that we could gather from his pine grove that grew dense beyond the cornfield. There was only one problem. In order to get the wood, we had to drag our wagon through the mud. Our wagon groaned under the heavy burden of firewood. Mama wasn’t physically able to walk through the fields, so she waited in the yard to chop the limbs into smaller pieces. Each journey down the corn rows required dogged determination, but we were cold and that settled it–we gathered every stray twig that we could find.

We tied army blankets to left over tobacco sticks, and fashioned a harness from worn belts so that we could carry the load on our backs. That solved the problem of weight on the wagon wheels, but after a few days of being human beasts of burden, our backs ached from the constant assault, and the limbs became scarce. When Daddy hauled a load of sawdust and scrap wood from work, and unloaded it near the back porch, we were in heaven. All we had to do, was pick through the wood. It didn’t last. The pile grew smaller, and my greatest fear was the weather forecast that said we’d have yet another snowstorm. It was only a matter of time before there wouldn’t be anything else left to sacrifice but the quilts, but for now, we still had old clothes to burn.

In spite of the cold, burning clothes required opened doors. By the end of February, every available item was ashes in the fireplace, and we were still cold. Being a mature teenager, I offered my tire swing and rope to burn. At first, daddy hesitated, but he later consented when his glass of water turned to ice after he left it on the counter for a while. “If construction workers can burn tires in big barrels to keep warm, why can’t we burn tires in the fireplace?” he reasoned. After taking a lingering swig of whiskey, daddy retrieved the tire swing, broke up the ice, and stopped long enough to compose himself, fighting back his tears and the icy winds.

The tire swing stuck out on the hearth about a crescent moon, and its rope twisted as the flames touched the frayed ends. The boiling glob of rubber bellowed up the chimney. We sprayed water on the treads to keep the flames down, and the stench of smoldering rubber bubbled and blopped puffs of black smoke and flames that scorched the paint underneath the mantle. We were all grateful that we hadn’t lost the mantle to the tire, and for a while we forgot all about being cold.

Mama asked Daddy, “Dan, what are you doing?”

“I’m gettin’ somethin’ to burn, I’m cold!”

“There’s nothing left to burn but sheets and wearing clothes.”

“Well, that’s somethin’. I’m cold.”

Mama knew that if Daddy got his mind off of being cold, he might go to sleep.

“Dan, why don’t you come to bed, we’ll save what’s left to burn for in the morning.”

“Got some thinkin’ to do yet.”

Daddy found a ragged shirt on the couch and put it on the cinders; it flamed up for a short time then quickly died down again. “Got to get some wood.”

“Maybe it will dry up a little by tomorrow so we can get through the field,” Mama offered, trying to ease his mind.   Reluctantly, she told us that it was time for bed, since we needed to be ready in case we could go back to school. She looked at Daddy and said, “Try not to stay up too late.” I saw Mama’s concerned look. She was a beautiful woman, but lately the worry lines and gray hair had really become more noticeable.

Daddy slurred “I won’t; I’ll keep the fires goin’.” How could she sleep knowin’ that he could end up burning the house down like he almost did the day before with the tire?

I heard Daddy opening each dresser drawer one by one. He dumped the contents out on the floor. Daddy always said two sets of clothes was all we needed anyway–one set for washing, and one set for wearing. It was late when I finally dozed off to sleep.

The next morning, the weather had cleared enough so we could go to school, and it was also the day for Glee Club tryouts. I was confident that if I felt good about myself, it would help me to sing better, so with some of money that I made working last summer, I had bought a new poor-boy jumper and had saved it for this special occasion. It was time to get ready. Things don’t always turn out as we plan, but I still remember the sick feeling in my stomach, when I looked into my bare closet, that day. “Where is it?”  I could feel my heart beating in my throat as panic washed over me. Every closet I searched gave me the same results. I didn’t want to know, but when I saw Mama’s eyes, I knew. They were puffy and red, as if she had been crying all night.

“Daddy was cold, and he burned some old clothes. I’m so sorry, but he threw it into the fire before I could stop him. I’m sorry.”

I felt lost, as if some mere piece of cloth could have solved all the world’s problems, and now, it was gone. Nothing that I could do or say would change the sorrow that I felt, but I was used to disappointment, and I didn’t know why I expected today to be any different from all of the other days that left me abandoned emotionally. All I could do was stand in front of the fireplace and stare into it, as if staring into it might miraculously change the past. I was mesmerized with the fire all through breakfast, and nothing was left in it but embers—slowly smoldering embers that seemed to keep holding on to vibrant life.

In that moment, I had an epiphany: nothing has any true value, because in an instant it can become ashes in a fireplace and be lost forever. Showing any display of open disappointment, would serve no other purpose than to hurt my mother, who already felt bad enough over the situation. Besides, it wouldn’t bring back the beloved poor-boy dress. I helped Mama clear the table.

“Mama, it was brand new.”

She took my hand and said, “I know sweetheart, I know.”

Soot covered the yellow wall of our kitchen, and mom sat down one last time at the wobbly kitchen table to read. She found the verse, John 3:16, which says, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” “We believe,” mama said, and with a heavy sigh, she started to unscrew the table legs, and knew what to burn next.

 The Lord is never late or unconcerned about the things that concern us. He will meet every need. Sometimes we must endure great hardships to be prepared to receive his provision, so it is important that we learn to trust God to deliver the promise when it’s the right time.

I remember the incidents in this story as if it happened yesterday. It will be etched in my mind for years to come because it holds the key to finding favor with God: trust. Don’t lose hope. Your answer is on the way.

This week’s Lattereign continues the discussion of faith-with-works.

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Take a Deep Breath, and Start Afresh in 2017.

new-year-2017

Maybe you didn’t accomplish all of the goals that you had on your to do list in 2016, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t take a good look at what you did accomplish and make a new list for 2017.

Even when I fall short of the mark, I still want to keep striving to do my best. We can’t change the past mistakes or regrets; however, we are totally responsible for the choices that we make in the present and for our future. Do you feel as though you can’t get anything accomplished? You are in good company; many people feel that they have not completed the task. If you have done your best, then that is all that the Lord requires. It may be that the timing is off; God doesn’t work on our schedules; he works through his perfect will.

It’s time to focus on one goal or (obstacle) at the time. Usually, the greatest block to our success, is our own attitude. We say that we want to do x or y, then, we start listening to all those voices in our head that say, you know that you can never do x or y, because you didn’t even do so great on a or b. To all those naysayers that march around in my mind: maybe God didn’t want me to accomplish a or b, because doing so may have led me away from his presence.

Have you noticed that when life is great and everything is going splendidly, we tend to pray less, and get lackadaisical in our worship? It’s as if we believe we can put God lower on our list of priorities, because everything else under the sun, is more important in the moment. How can the Lord continue to allow that to happen? Before you know it, trouble comes, to remind us that we do need God.

Whatever it takes to get us back on track, so be it.

I don’t have a crystal ball to see what 2017 will bring; however, I know a God who watches out for me, and he told me to trust him and to lean not to my own understanding. When 2017 is but a memory, what would I like to have accomplished?

First of all, I would like to draw closer to the Lord, as he is our only hope.

Then, I want to do God’s will in every area of my life. He will guide us if we will allow him to do so.

Finally, I want the Lord to restore the joy of living for him. After time, we need to be refreshed and reminded of where the Lord brought us from, so that we can once again appreciate the place that he is taking us to. I desire that the Lord will give me a hunger for holiness, in this year, so that no matter what this year holds, I am prepared to rise above it, and maybe, be an encouragement to others who could be struggling to find that place of rest.

In this week’s Lattereign, we look at today-is-a-brand-new-day .

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Christmas Day

ornament-in-tree

Merry Christmas. What is so difficult about saying, merry Christmas? It used to be so automatic when you were out and about, a greeting, or maybe the last thing you heard when you were ready to leave a store or a friend’s house. Now, it isn’t heard as much, because of fear to offend. In all of my years, I recall how warm it felt to hear those words. There was anticipation, thankfulness, and maybe sometimes there was also stress when we tried to over plan each and every second of the busy time of year. So much to do, so much shopping to be completed, so few hours left before the big day: but then, the day after came, and it was such a release that many times we felt deflated, a little sad, hesitant to pack it all up.

It wasn’t the decorations, or the lights, or even the wonderful food that we overindulged in that we would miss. I realized that what we really would miss is the times spent with family and friends, who usually acted a little bit kinder in the Christmas season. Was it the giving? No, I believe that it was not how many presents you received or gave that mattered. Tell me if you can, one present that you got last Christmas. Without all of the build up of material things, all that we had left was the love that we had for each other, and the hopes that we could show how much we cared, with the few thoughtful gifts we did receive.

I remember when I was growing up, there was nothing artificial in our house. We actually did go out to the woods to chop down a pine tree. I remember the smell, and how we had to shake off the snow from the branches before we brought it inside. We did string popcorn, and make paper chains for the tree, and built a truck load of memories that I cherish. I remember, Daddy waking us up at 3 in the morning because he couldn’t wait for us to open presents. He always went back to sleep, but we had a hard time getting back to sleep. We all had an apple, orange, hard candies, and nuts, and maybe a chocolate snowman in our stocking.

My wish for you this season is to remember the joyful times, and draw from the memories that you cherish. Both of my parents are now gone, so this time of year can be bittersweet, until I catch a glimpse of certain traditions that I still practice, and know that even though they are gone, there is one place that they will never be erased, and that is from my heart. One of those most important traditions is greeting people we may meet with the precious words: Merry Christmas, and have a blessed new year.

my-commitment-is-for-eternity

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