The Winner’s Circle.

I’m reading a book called, “The 100 Most Encouraging Verses in the Bible,” by Troy Schmidt. I like what he said here:

“What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?”    Romans 8:31

If God is for you, on your side, cheering you on, what opponent could possibly overcome Him? We want life to be like a blowout in sports. A blowout occurs when one team scores in the opening seconds and continues to pound the opponents with more points, blocking the opponents from ever scoring. 48–0. 76–0. 102–0. 

Life isn’t like that. We face forces that push back and get ahead at times. We’ll score big in a relationship, then lose a job. Or we’ll ace our exam, only to have our car stolen. We’ll see a prayer answered, then get bad news from the doctor. 

During those times we think God has lost His edge, that the enemy found His weakness and we’re doomed to lose. As long as we live on earth, the score will go up and down.

All God promises is that at the final buzzer, all those who believe in Him will win. It might seem like a close game, but it’s not. No matter how difficult life may have been, a believer in Christ will stand in the winner’s circle with Jesus, holding His hand high. You will win because God is eternally for you.

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Recently, my mother had a bad day and I shared that with my sister. She called and asked why this happened after so many good days. All I could think of to say was, “Because this is life. This is what is happening all over the world to everyone.”

I think all North Americans  (including me) expect or want life to be on an even keel – all the time. I’m not sure where we all get this crazy idea. Certainly not from life itself! From books? Movies? TV? Maybe, I don’t know. “Happily ever after.”  I actually believed that.  It didn’t prepare me for real life.

Real life is days of happiness, days of sadness with a little terror thrown in once in awhile just to keep us on our toes. I like the words from a song called, “Lord You are Good,” by Don Moen,

“Where would I be if you had not been by my side? 

How could I rise to meet the morning of the day?

Your tender mercy always calling from behind.

At times I could not see you,

even though you were close by.”  

 

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A Message from God in A Book.

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I just finished reading, “Hiking Through: One Man’s Journey to Peace and Freedom on the Appalachian Trail, by Paul Stutzman. After his wife died, Mr. Stutzman decided to walk the whole of the Appaachian Trail. It’s a wonderful book of his walk. He saw great beauty, met wonderful people and went through dangerous and difficult days.

One of his aims was to get closer to God and try to understand why his wife had died. I don’t think he will mind if I share the account of his meeting with God near the end of his trek. Here is the excerpt:

As I had done countless times before, I asked God why he had taken Mary. “Do you realize the loneliness, the grief, the hurt we’ve endured without her?” A soft voice spoke in my spirit. Paul, I’m coming soon.

 “What? What are you saying?” I asked in bewilderment.  I am coming soon.

“You’re coming soon,” I repeated. “Yes, I’ve read that in the Bible and many people have said that for many years, and nothing has happened.”  My tears started. “Did you take my wife away from me and ask me to give up my job so you and I could meet on this mountaintop and you could tell me this?”

If that were true, then God truly was in control of my life. He had been there all the time during Mary’s sickness.

“But why are you giving me this message? Scriptures say no human can know the actual time you’ll be returning, and your ‘soon’ in Scriptures has already been several thousand years. Why are you telling me this now?”

Paul, I want you to take this message to others. I am coming soon.

“Oh no, not me, God! You’ve got the wrong man. That’s not for me to do. That’s a message for ministers to deliver,” I argued. “I’m a scoundrel. Don’t you remember that silly naked hike?”

But you are my scoundrel. You’ll reach people that ministers will never reach.

“How’s that going to work? How am I going to reach anyone?”

You’re writing a book aren’t you? Put this message in your book.

“Oh my goodness, God. Now you’re messing with my book too!”

I’ll get it into the hands of people who need to hear my message.

“But everyone will think I’m crazy,” I sputtered.

Yet I could not ignore everything God had been teaching me on this hike. Did I really believe the things I said I believed? Did I believe God told Pilgrim to let his hair grow long? Wasn’t I telling folks that God would speak? Hadn’t I admired the bravery of those farmers in Shay’s Rebellion? What about my courage? In the face of probable ridicule, would I sink into cowardice?

 So, I was a scoundrel; I might as well also be a fool for God.

Our conversation had brought me to the top of Eph’s Lookout. I dropped my pack and fell facedown on the rocks, weeping. “God, if that’s the message you want delivered, I’ll do it.”

I stood up, picked up my pack, and took in the surrounding views. Four little words brought me freedom, like new life breathed into me. I am coming soon. It is a message from God that assures me he is in control. There is so much anger and hatred everywhere, and greed and corruption are out of control. But nothing that happens is a surprise to God; He is right on schedule – his schedule.

To everyone who wonders what this world is coming to, God says, I am coming soon.

God is not telling us to sit around and waste our time waiting. He doesn’t operate on our timetable. I am coming soon is a message to live, a message of healing and a message of peace. When all around you is despair and chaos, God is in control and will be your refuge and fortress if you trust him.

I am coming soon. That message gave me new hope. When I was a teenager, those words struck me with fear and despair whenever I heard them; now they filled me with comfort and peace. I knew I was free at last from my guilty bondage to dos and don’ts. I knew Mary was okay, and I knew I was going to be okay. It was almost as if I could hear her say, “Paul, live!”

Your Prayers For Me.

Thank you very much for your prayers for me. I woke up this morning and I felt better. The clouds had lifted by the power of God.

This morning, I woke from a dream. In the dream there was a large round table. There were about 10 people sitting around the table with playing cards in their hands. I sat down in an empty chair. My cards were face down in front of me. I could see the cards of the other players. Everyone had a 3 in their hand. I looked down at my cards and thought, “I need to have a 3 also so I will be like all the others.” I picked up my cards and I did have a 3. I felt happy, then I woke up.

I would guess the dream represents how I feel around people, even family. I need to be like them to fit in. Everything I do should match up with other people so they will love me. I don’t want to be different. I want to fit in. I want to please people, and if I don’t, I feel devastated.

I’ve known this about myself, but I guess I need to face it and pray about it. It was frightening to make a mistake when I was young because my father could become very angry. He never believed me if I said I didn’t know something was wrong. He would say, “Don’t give me that. You know better.” I didn’t really. He always thought I was lying about things and when I was a teen he called me a slut. I had not had sex with any boy at the time, but after that I decided I didn’t care anymore because he already thought I was having lots of sex. The only kind of sex I’d ever had was with him when I was younger.

Joyce Meyer says, “The only way out is through.” She said that about her sexual abuse. She didn’t want to deal with it, but God showed her she needed to. I’ve dealt with mine too, I think. But there are always going to be after-effects of our childhoods. No one gets completely away from that. It is a large part of who we are.

Thankfully, God tells us, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”

I am a new person compared to the person I was before I met Jesus. Giving my life to him was the best decision I ever made. He has made many parts of my life so beautiful. My most precious dream was to have children. He gave me two daughters and now 7 grandchildren. I feel most blessed, my dream came true and he multiplied it. One day I will live with God in heaven – my most precious dream now. 

He never sleeps

He never slumbers

He never tires of hearing our prayers

When we are weak

He becomes stronger

So rest in his love

Cast all of your cares on him.

From “He Never Sleeps,” by Don Moen.

Jack-in-the-Box.

My brain feels broken. I can’t believe this is happening. I’ve had so many weeks of coping well since my mom broke her hip. Mental illness is like a Jack-in-the-box. The music plays, I am coping well, I dance to the music, then, without warning, the evil clown pops up. The music stops and I’m afraid.

I thought the clown was gone.  I thought I had dealt with him and found the secret to happiness and coping well with life in a consistent manner.  I thought God and I had this at last.

The problem is my brain beats me up any time I make a mistake. As an example, this morning I poured myself some coffee and remembered the time I made some coffee for my daughter and it was terrible and she poured it down the sink.

This happens to me daily. Something happens and it reminds me of a mistake I have made. When I have made a lot of mistakes in a row, I start losing it. I listen to good music, but it doesn’t help as much as it usually does. I’m praying, yes. But prayer feels different. I’m too full of myself and not enough of God. I go from prayer to thinking sad thoughts. Sad thoughts move into despair. I shake them and they come back.

The one thought that helps me is that I have been through this before and worse. By God encouraging me, I have made it out of darkness into the light. I know this will happen again. I cling to this thought.

Meanwhile, I am cleaning the house, taking care of my mother and making dinners (my nemesis). I don’t share how shaky I feel, because there is no point. No one but God can help me and I know that. I don’t need to make everyone else feel bad.

One small thing that bothers me is not knowing if I can make it to the dentist next week. Will I be able to leave the house?  I’m getting more and more afraid of leaving the house unless someone comes with me. I feel like just giving up and canceling the appointment like I have done over the last year and a half.

It has been a hard 6 months. My mother fell, broke her hip and then all the trouble with the hospitals and rehab facility. Then my sweet nephew died. My husband is not happy lately about his life. Nothing I say helps him. I guess it is a miracle I am still coping – sort of. If you can call this coping.

Well, enough of that. I’ve been wanting to write about a beautiful verse on how God makes his footsteps a path for us to walk.

“Righteousness will go before Him and will make His footsteps into a way.”  Psalm 85:13

“Righteousness and justice are the foundation of Your throne; Loving-kindness and truth go before You.”  Psalm 89:14

The lyrics from the song, “Feel Your Love,” by Don Moen and Frank Edwards have helped me too.

It’s in your name that I found love.
I give you praise for all you’ve done.
You call me by my name, I wll trust in you.

I feel your love surround me.

Where I Buy My Books.

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Hello Everyone, 

I wanted to share with you where I get the books I read. I don’t have enough money to go to a Christian book store and buy those lovely books I write about.

When e-books first came out, they were cheaper than paperbacks or hardcovers. That made sense, because with e-books the publisher has little cost involved in putting it on the internet. No paper, no binding etc.  But as with a lot of products, e-books were cheap at first and then went up and up. I decided not to buy them anymore because of this. I went back to buying used books, either at a book store or online.

But then I joined BookBub. It is a place where you can get books at very low prices, or sometimes just borrow and read. I also joined, at $10 per month, Kindle Unlimited at Amazon. Kindle books can now be downloaded to any device you have by using their free app. I have found many Christian books there that are wonderful. I love memoirs, and Kindle has a lot of memoirs to choose from.

I think most cities have e-libraries. I used to borrow from our local library through the internet. When the due date comes around, the book just disappears from your computer. All you need is a library card number.

I also get free books from Project Gutenberg.  (www.gutenberg.org)  They let you download any books for free; they do ask for donations, if you can do it. They deal in old books that have no copyright any longer. There are books of sermons that I enjoyed very much.

There is a wonderful book store online called, Abe Books.  (abebooks.com)  They deal in used books and ship free. The books themselves cost anywhere from $1 and up. The books I order from them are usually $4 – $6. That is a terrific price for a book. It works very well and it is pretty exciting to get a book in the mailbox. They ship all over the world. Most of my books come from England.

So, these are the places I buy Christian books. I just wanted to help some of you out in case you didn’t know about these places.

Hurt Feelings? Tozer has the Answer.

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Since my last post, I’ve been thinking and talking with God about the rage I felt against a person I am close to. I wanted to know why I felt that way and what to do about it so it wouldn’t happen again. I know God loves me as I am, but like Paul, I strive to do better.

I’ve been reading, “The Pursuit of God,” by A.W. Tozer. One of the chapters is on meekness. I knew God said Moses was the meekest man on earth and I knew Jesus called himself meek. They both had strong personalities and were leaders, so I wasn’t sure what meekness was. But Tozer explains the “Meek Man” and from that, I could see my problem.

Here is an excerpt from that chapter:

“The heart’s fierce effort to protect itself from every slight, to shield its touchy honor from the bad opinion of friend and enemy, will never let the mind have rest. Continue this fight through the years and the burden will become intolerable.

Yet the sons of earth are carrying this burden continually, challenging every word spoken against them, cringing under every criticism, smarting under each fancied slight, tossing sleepless if another is preferred before them. Such a burden as this is not necessary to bear. Jesus calls us to His rest, and meekness is His method. 

The meek man cares not at all who is greater than he, for he has long ago decided that the esteem of the world is not worth the effort. He develops toward himself a kindly sense of humor and learns to say, “Oh, so you have been overlooked? They have placed someone else before you? They have whispered that you are pretty small stuff after all? And now you feel hurt because the world is saying about you the very things you have been saying about yourself? Only yesterday you were telling God that you were nothing, a mere worm of the dust. Where is your consistency? Come on, humble yourself and cease to care what men think.”

He (the humble man) has accepted God’s estimate of his own life. He knows he is as weak and helpless as God has declared him to be, but paradoxically, he knows at the same time that he is, in the sight of God, more important than angels. In himself, nothing; in God, everything. That is his motto.

He knows well that the world will never see him as God sees him and he has stopped caring. He rests perfectly content to allow God to place His own values. He will be patient to wait for the day when everything will get its own price tag and real worth will come into its own. Then the righteous shall shine forth in the kingdom of their Father. He is willing to wait for that day. 

In the meantime, he will have attained a place of soul rest. As he walks on in meekness he will be happy to let God defend him. The old struggle to defend himself is over. He has found the peace which meekness brings.”

After reading this a few times, I could see that what I wanted was for the other person to think well of me. I want him to think I’m terrific, and when I feel he doesn’t then I freak out. I’m way too sensitive of my ego. I depend too much on what others think of me. It is enough that God thinks a lot of me. If I have that clearly in my mind, I think that I won’t care what others say to me. I can just keep living happily in the light and joy of my relationship with God.

Rage and the Christian.

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Today, I felt rage flooding up inside me. Someone said to me, “Why didn’t you ask me to help you earlier? I’m tired now.”

I did ask you earlier. The thing is, there is no good time to ask you. Any time is the wrong time. Everything I say is the wrong thing. Everything I do is done wrong.

That’s what the rage was saying to my heart. It feels weird to be that angry, to feel your body actually get hot. I say, “I asked earlier.” You say, “No, you didn’t.” There is no winning this argument. The argument itself is a dead loss. Nothing will change. I know that, yet sometimes I’ll keep arguing anyway.  I only shut up today because I felt God there in the room with us.

I thought about Jesus. What would he do if someone was finding fault with him all the time? He would be patient, loving and not take offence. Did he feel anger and have to deal with it? Yes, I think so. The Bible says he was tempted in everything as we are. It isn’t a sin to feel anger, but it is a sin to let it make you do wrong. It is a sin if you nurse your anger and let it turn to hate.

(Of course, you are only hearing my side of things. The other person doesn’t write a blog and blab about everything.)

I was listening to Don Moen’s song, “Be Still/Know I am God.” It is my favorite song. It helped me once again in seeing I needed to soar with my Father above the flood of my emotions. I needed to be still and know he is God. He can lift me above anger and resentment. He can lift me above sadness and depression. He can make me act how Jesus acted when he was here. He can give me peace and joy in place of a troubled mind.

Be Still  (Lyrics)

By Don Moen

Hide me now
Under Your wings
Cover me
Within Your mighty hand

CHORUS:
When the oceans rise
And the thunders roar
I Will soar with You
Above the storm
Father You are King
Over the flood
And I will be still
And know You are God

Find rest my soul
In Christ alone
Know His power
In quietness and trust

Be still and know
That I am God

I am the God
That healeth thee