Sunday, February 25, 2018

When you have hard questions...


We met at our mailbox and he pointed his finger toward the heavens. "I have some questions", he said, "for Him."  His wife died a few days ago after a long, excruciatingly painful death from cancer.  I simply listened as he wondered aloud why God would let his wife suffer, since she was such a good person, instead of picking him to be the one to suffer.  In his opinion, suffering should be dealt out based on behavior.  I didn't try to defend God or theologically explain why even good people suffer. After all, God Himself didn't give Job, a man whom God described as blameless, an explanation for all the suffering he had gone through.  Instead, God accuses those who did try to come up with reasons for Job's sufferings as having "words without knowledge." (Job 38:1) I'm sure I've also been guilty of being like Job's friends by trying to wrestle with, reason out, explain away, and defend God's reputation when what I see as senseless suffering occurs. All of us have heard God's people say stupid things in the face of tragedy.  Many of us have said some of those stupid things ourselves. This time, thank God, I held my tongue with my neighbor friend.  I just tried to listen and by doing so, to communicate to him that my husband and I are a safe place to ask the hard questions.

It's strange to me that we struggle so with suffering while lavish undeserved blessing occurs as well, and yet we don't struggle with that. God gives us lavish grace and mercy and undeserved blessing and yet we accept it without question. Why was I born in a land of plenty while others are born into poverty? Why was I born healthy, while others are born with disability? We don't wrestle with reasons for blessing nearly as much as we do with the reasons for suffering. Until that blessing comes to one of our enemies, until someone who has hurt or offended us prospers, and then we struggle and cry out,"Why, God, why?"

God doesn't give Job all the answers for suffering nor for blessing.  Instead, He reveals Himself to Job.  He reveals His strength, His power and His sovereignty.  Then, He asks Job some questions. "Shall a faultfinder contend with the Almighty? He who argues with God, let him answer it." (Job 40:1) "Will you even put Me in the wrong?  Will you condemn Me that you may be in the right?' (Job 40:8)  Job came to the point where he accepted not having all the answers, but he rested and trusted in what he did know.  He knew, by prophetic foreknowledge, that there is a Redeemer Who lives forevermore and that one day He will stand on planet earth. (Job19:25) (Hallelujah! Our Redeemer will make the wrong things right in this sin sick world.)  He knew that God can do all things and that no purposes of God's can be thwarted. (Job 42:2)  And, he knew that he didn't know or understand all things or all of the ways of God and he accepted that fact. (Job 42:3)

Like my friend, I too have had hard questions at times.  During life's darkest hours, when I had more questions than answers, I had to just reach out and let God lead me, questions and all.  I had to trust in the fact of His love for me enough to be honest with Him about my hard questions and even my offenses and anger at Him for what He was permitting me to go through. In doing so, I found that He is, indeed, a safe place for my hard questions, even when He, as with Job, doesn't give me all of the answers. Instead of answers He has just continued to show me more of Himself, more of His steadfast love, more of His faithfulness, more of His strength, perseverance and meekness. As my understanding is growing of Who God is I'm more able to live at peace even with my unanswered questions.

still following,

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Your Cares and Worries

By: Emily Miller


Blessings,

Emily

It is time for the Woman to Woman Word Filled Wednesday Link Up. We desire to connect women of God with one another and encourage each other in Christ. So grab a cup of coffee or glass of sweet tea, sit back and visit a few blogs. Be encouraged and share your own stories in their comments.

Use hashtag #w2wwordfilledwednesday

Three rules to this link up:
1. Must be a {Christian} faith post.
2. Link back to W2W somewhere in your post. (Feel free to use our button if you want!)
3. Visit and comment on at least one other blog in the link up.

Woman to Woman Ministries

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Choose trust...


We can't insulate ourselves very long from the hurt, pain, and brokenness in this world can we?  We may be able to forget for a season, a week, a moment, and then we are suddenly reminded of our vulnerability and the fragility of life. All it takes is an unexpected accident, dreaded diagnosis, a job loss, or a horrific news alert and we are forced to face the reality that this world offers us no guarantees of peace, safety or provision.  

A few years ago I took an unexpected tumble down some stairs at a public park.  There were no broken bones but I was a bit cut up and bruised. Worse than the outward scars was the inner realization that I was no longer young and invincible.  I felt fragile and vulnerable.

Three weeks ago I had one of the biggest scares of my life when our second born daughter was hit by a pickup truck while she was out jogging.  Facing the fragility and vulnerability of my child was even harder than facing my own.

This week we all faced, once again, the horrific news of another school shooting.  Over the past several months our nation has been rocked by hurricanes, floods, wildfires, mudslides, turmoil, strife, and even possible nuclear threat. We can't help but realize that even our nation is not invincible.

The way I see it, there are three possible ways to cope with the reality of our vulnerability.

We can just refuse to face it.  We can be like an ostrich and figuratively bury our head in the sand and pretend that the scary stuff "out there" doesn't exist and won't affect our lives in any way. We can bury ourselves in anything that will keep our mind pre-occupied so we don't have to think about it.  We can drug, drink, work, or shop ourselves numb to not deal with it.  There are myriads of ways we try to cope or numb ourselves from what frightens us and to keep ourselves from having to face it.

We can try to control our circumstances. We can drive ourselves to exhaustion trying to prevent our own physical and/or mental decline.  We can spend our whole life preparing for a future for which we have no guarantees. We can prepare for a stock market crash, build as invincible of a house as possible, stock up on reserves of food, prepare for every emergency we can imagine, and insulate and isolate our children from all perceived forms of danger and harm. In other words, we can fail to live our life trying to protect and preserve our life.

OR, we can choose to face the truth that life here on planet earth is a vapor.  We are all fragile human vessels.  We live in a fragile, sin sick world.  That's our reality.  Yes, there are practical common sense things we can do to protect and take care of ourselves and our loved ones.  Ultimately, however, we have to decide if we are going to trust in our own self effort or in some hope that us human beings will one day get our act together, or are we going to put our trust in God at all times, in all situations and circumstance, no matter what we face. When we make a choice to put our trust in God, when we pour out our hearts to Him with all that confuses us, frightens us, or threatens our well being, it's then that we experience the refuge that He is to us. We can rest assured that if there are things He wants us to do and actions He wants us to take that He will give us the wisdom we need to handle it. We come to know with assurance that nothing and no one can separate us from His love. We can be at peace and rest in tumultuous times knowing that He will never leave us or let go of us.  We can face our vulnerability and fragility knowing that He is our shield, strength, and fortress. We don't have to be frightened and intimidated by our vulnerability, because we can trust in God's invincibility. Where we are weak, He is always strong.  When we feel overwhelmed, He always overcomes.  We have a trustworthy Father.  Choosing to trust Him is where we will find our peace, our ability to cope with life's challenges while still enjoying our life, and our victory over fear.

still following,

Friday, February 16, 2018

How to Use a Resurrection Garden for Family Devotions

Today we have a guest post by Sarah Geringer.

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A resurrection garden is a fun, easy, inexpensive project to do with your family during Lent. I’ve written step-by-step instructions on how to put it together, and today I’ll tell you how to use it in family devotions.


The base of the garden reminds us that Jesus came to serve us and teach us to serve. In John 13:3-5, Jesus used a basin of water to wash the disciples’ feet, even the feet of Judas, who would betray Him. Jesus is the King of the World, yet He gave up everything to be with us and save us from our sins.
The pot in the garden reminds us that we are the clay and God is the potter (Jeremiah 18:6). He shapes our lives according to His wise purposes and lets us hold His glory.

The soil represents the state of our hearts, as Jesus described in Matthew 13:3-8. If the soil in our hearts is good, it will produce growth. If it is full of other things from the world or sinfulness from our human nature, it won’t produce good growth. God’s Word waters the soil of our hearts and makes it productive.

The grass seed is the Word of God that the Holy Spirit plants in our hearts so we can grow in obedience. If we keep the seeds watered, they will take root and grow. If we neglect the seeds, the growth will die. Just like the Resurrection Garden needs daily attention to thrive, so our hearts need daily time with God to keep growing. Also, the grass reminds us that God can do glorious things with the smallest parts of His creation (Matthew 6:28-30).

The path is a symbol of our life’s path. God will guide and lead us on the right path if we choose to follow and obey Him. Jesus will lead us as the Good Shepherd, who protects us from harm, as described in Psalm 23.

The stone reminds us that God is our Rock. We can turn to him for strength and security. We must build our faith on the solid rock of God’s word, as Jesus described in Matthew 7:24-25. Then we can withstand life’s storms and our faith will be even stronger.

The crosses remind us of Jesus’ suffering and death. If He hadn’t suffered and died for us, we would be condemned forever. Jesus’ victory over death allows us to live eternal life as believers. We can celebrate that Good News at Easter and all year round!

I’ve written a free 40 Day Resurrection Garden Devotional that you can use for family devotions. It’s available for free on my website. I plan to use it for family devotions this Lenten season.
You can also use the verses above as keywords to make your own family devotions to go along with your resurrection garden. Simply do online searches or use a concordance to choose verses to study with your children.

Your children will love building their own resurrection garden, spraying it daily, and watching the seeds grow. I encourage you to try it this year and use it as a basis for your family devotions.





Sarah Geringer writes about Finding Peace in God’s Word at sarahgeringer.com and is the author of three books. She’s written a free 40 Day Resurrection Garden Devotional, and you can find it here. Sarah lives in her beloved home state of Missouri with her husband and three children, right in the heart of prime viewing for the Great Eclipses of 2017 and 2024.

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Thursday, February 15, 2018

Out of my comfort zone!

by Debi Baker

I desperately want to be a girl who says "yes" to God.  But saying "yes" to God can get me in trouble!  How?  Because a few months ago, I was asked to do something that is so very far out of my comfort zone!  This weekend I am speaking at a conference!  It's one 1-hour class.  It shouldn't be a big deal.  The topic is right up my alley, I suppose.  See, I am a credentialed pastor in the Assemblies of God.  And, I am female.  So, I was asked to share about how I've been empowered by God and how I've managed to overcome the fears that paralyze me.

The funny thing is...I'm not sure I've overcome anything.  Sometimes I feel like I'm on auto-pilot!  Speaking in front of a group of people scares me to death.  Now, mind you, I have no problems speaking to my congregation every Sunday.  But to go outside the area of my pulpit...that's another story all together.  I've done it before...and I suppose, judging from the comments of others in the crowd, I did it well enough.  But the people who will be sitting in the room where I'll be speaking are other pastors and other people in leadership!

I'm not confident in my own  little world much less in a place where there are people who have been at this longer than I have.  But, as I pray and seek God for the correct message and the confidence to do this, He reminds me of 2 verses.

John 15:5 NKJV
"I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and 
I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing."

Proverbs 3:5-6 NKJV
"Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; 

In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths."

These 2 verses give me such a sense of peace.  I know that I am fully attached to the Vine.  There is no doubt that I can do this because I abide in Him.  I also know that because I lean completely on Jesus, that He will direct my way.  The problem arises when I let my head get involved!  My heart has no doubt; my head, on the other hand, is not so sure!  I guess I'll just have to shut my head down!  I will be spending the next couple of days repeating these verses multiple times each day.   

I just realized that these 2 verses are 2 of several that helped me get through those first months of my being behind the pulpit!  God is the same yesterday, today and forever!!!  What an awesome journey He has me on!

Have a blessed day.  And, if you happen to think about it, please pray for me on Saturday (February 17).  God bless!!