Archive | September 2009

A MAP TO FOLLOW

How do we know God’s will? That discussion came up again this week as Julie and I talked over their options in the continuing saga of their house-hunt.
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They’ve found a house – they think. It’s a lovely house in a beautiful setting with a long list of everything that is right about it and only two things that are strikes against it. One is that it is smaller in square footage than they had hoped for, and the other is the price. The smaller size they think they can work with. As long as they can make it work for their family’s needs (adding two or three more children to the family when the adoption goes through, homeschooling, etc.) they have said all along that they willing to accept less than their ideal, if that is what the Lord wants for them. The price they can handle if this is the right house, but they want to be sure that when they resell in a few years that they will be able to recoup their money. They discovered when they sold their house in Shreveport that they had overpaid for it to begin with, and it almost hurt them in the end. They don’t want that to happen again.
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And still, they hesitate. They are not feeling peace about this house yet. “How do I know if we are not feeling that peace because it is not God’s will for us to buy this house,” Julie pondered, “or if this house is God’s will for us, but own human desires, after all, are getting in the way because it doesn’t meet our criteria in these two basic areas?”
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“I don’t know what to tell you, Julie,” I said. “You and David will have to work that out between you and the Lord.”
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“I read Joshua 1:9 in my devotions this morning,” she shared. “You know, that’s the one that says, ‘Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.’ I don’t know if that is the Lord telling us not to be afraid to accept this house, or not to be afraid to go on with the house-hunting!”
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The next day, I was talking to her again and put the phone on “speaker-phone” when Bob joined our conversation. Out of the clear blue sky he suddenly quoted, “Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.” He didn’t talk long, but what he had said stuck in my mind.
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Later that evening when Julie and I were talking again (gotta love that unlimited long-distance calling!) she was feeling rather down, and uncertain. “Be not dismayed!” I reminded her. “The Lord thy God is with thee withersoever thou goest!” It almost felt like a new revelation as I said the words. We started laughing and suddenly our spirits were lifted.
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I decided to look up Joshua 1:9 in its context. In this passage Moses had died and the children of Israel were still in the wilderness after forty years of wandering. The Lord had chosen Joshua to be their new leader. He told him that He would lead them now into the Promised Land and encouraged him with these words, “Only be thou strong and very courageous, that thou mayest observe to do according to all the law, which Moses my servant commanded thee: turn not from it to the right hand or to the left, that thou mayest prosper withersoever thou goest. This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success.. Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.” Joshua 1:7-9
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These words almost seem like a road map to me – guidance in knowing and following God’s will for our lives; not just in certain instances in life, but all the way through our life’s journey. Joshua’s and the children of Israel’s end of the journey was in sight. After forty years of wandering, they would soon cross over the river Jordan and into the Promised Land. Someday we, too, will cross the river Jordan, figuratively speaking, and enter our Promised Land, but in the meantime God has some words of encouragement and a map for us to follow through the journey.
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There are no road signs along the way; no neon arrows pointing us in the right direction. There are basic principles, though, that will help us to ascertain God’s will for our lives and make the decisions along the way that are not so clearly laid out in Scripture. We won’t get into a lengthy discussion today on how to know God’s will for your life, but rather look at a few aspects of it that we see in this passage.
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First of all, we must know God’s Word in order to know God’s Will. His Will will never be contrary to what His Word tells us. God told Joshua to meditate on the law He had given Moses. Some things are written in black and white in His Word and there can be no confusion over them. When we know what the Bible says it helps us to know the direction for our lives – and the paths not to take. The young girl, for example, who says, “Well, he’s not a Christian yet, but I know it’s God’s will for me to marry him.” is deluding herself. The Bible very clearly tells us not to be yoked together with unbelievers and God’s will can never be something that He has already said is wrong. Psalm 119:105 says, “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.” His Word leads us on His path.
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Knowing God’s Word does us no good however if we do not choose to obey it. The Lord told Joshua that they were not only to meditate on His law, but also to “observe to do according to all that is written therein.” We must be willing to do His will and “turn not from it to the right hand or to the left.” When we choose to obey He has promised prosperity and success—“for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success..” This is not a promise for pie-in-the-sky riches, necessarily, but rather the rewards that God has planned for our good. In the case of the children of Israel, if they obeyed they would enter the Promised Land, defeat the giants who occupied it and find a home and new life. The Lord will help us defeat the giants in our lives, as well, and live the life He that is His best for us when we seek to do His Will.
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The third thing I see here is simply to place our trust in God. “Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.” He leads. We follow. When we do not know the way, we begin by taking that first small step of faith and trust that He will then show us the next step, and the one after that, and the one after that.. There will be times when we must stand still and wait on the Lord and that, too takes faith, but to hesitate because we are afraid of where He might lead us, or what He might ask of us, or that we may not have what it takes, shows a lack of faith on our part. He has said “withersoever,” or wherever, we go, He is with us. He guides. He provides. He led the children of Israel and took care of the obstacles in their way, and He will do the same for us. Boldly make a decision and implement it, trusting God.
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Knowing God’s Word, obeying His Word and trusting Him are the keys to finding God’s will in this passage of scripture. There are other things involved in finding and understanding God’s will for our lives, as well:
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Pray fervently and in faith“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.” (James 1:5,6)
Consider which option brings the most glory to God“…let him do it as of the ability which God giveth: that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ…” (I Peter 4:11)
Seek Christian counsel, being careful of your counselor – “A wise man will hear, and will increase learning; and a man of understanding shall attain unto wise counsels” (Proverbs 1:5)
Listen to the Holy Spirit’s voice“And thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, This is the way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left.” (Isaiah 30:21)
Wait on the Lord“Delight thyself also in the LORD: and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart. Commit thy way unto the LORD; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass. Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for him…” (Psalm 37:4,5,7)
Watch for opened and closed doors“and a door was opened unto me of the Lord,” (II Corinthians 2:12) An open door does not always mean this is God’s will, however, and sometimes a closed door simply means “not now.” The Providence of God in circumstances, though, is often an indicator to us whether we are on the right path or not, when we combine it with these other keys to determining His Will for our lives.
Jesus is our example of being obedient in following the will of our Heavenly Father. He said, “For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me.” (John 6:38) and “nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done.” (Luke 22:42)

Joshua 1:9 will always hold a special place in my heart. We were moving back to Colorado after two years of being on deputation to raise support as home missionaries. We were finally about to embark on our church-planting ministry after many years of preparation. The trip back to Colorado began roughly with a breakdown of the trailer we were pulling. After two days of delays trying to make the repairs and spending all the money we had set aside for setting up our new home on the repairs, we finally got back on the road late in the day and tried to make up a little of the lost time by driving through the night. Right around midnight the weather got very bad and we began hearing tornado warnings on the radio. They were tracking the tornado, and announcing where it was, but our problem was, we had no idea where we were in relationship to it. It was pitch black outside, pouring rain and then hailing and we couldn’t see a thing. When we finally realized the tornado was upon us, it was too late. We pulled over and tried to get out of the car to run for a ditch, but we couldn’t get the doors open. The kids were afraid and crying; we were afraid and praying out loud as we held on to one another; and the car and overloaded trailer were shaking and bouncing all over the place.

It was finally over a few minutes later and we were alive and unhurt, but by that time we were so physically and mentally drained that we couldn’t go any further. We got off at the next exit and found a motel. We walked into our room and the first thing I saw was an open Bible on the nightstand. Someone had opened it to Joshua 1 and underlined verse 9. “Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.” It was just the confirmation and balm to our weary souls that we needed. Though the Enemy might assail us and try to prevent us from serving the Lord, God Himself went before us and with us. That was 23 years ago and I have never forgotten the peace and exhilaration I felt that God had left that verse for us just when we needed it most. The wonder that we had walked into the exact motel, the exact room where that opened Bible awaited us. God is so good!

I have no doubt that Julie and David will figure out what the Lord’s will is in this matter before them. They are strong prayer warriors and their number one desire is to be obedient to God wherever and however He leads them. We shall see how it all works out, and may God be glorified. The best is yet to come!

HERE WE GO — AGAIN

Julie got a rude wake up call early Monday morning—and I mean that literally. It was her landlady. She had returned from Denver and had stopped by to see them—and the house, obviously—a few days earlier. Julie picked up the phone to hear a cold, hard voice say:
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“I want my house back. I know we have a contract and if I have to, I’ll finish it out but I’m just letting you know, I want my house back and the earlier the better. You’ve done a beautiful job with the house, but I’ve moved back here now and I want my house back.”
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Not a shred of apology or concern for them. Just a very nasty tone of voice and a spoiled child, adamant attitude.
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It seems she left her husband in Denver and moved back to Alabama. He is due to be deployed to Afghanistan in March, but apparently that doesn’t matter to her. Just three months after they told Julie and David they were looking for renters that would be willing to stay for at least four or five years, she was telling them that she wants her house back now.
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Of course, their first response would naturally be to say, “We have a lease that is good until the end of May 2010. We’re not going to uproot our family after just putting so much time and effort, not to mention money, into settling in this house. The costs of moving again, in every sense of the word, are just too great.” They love that house. It is so perfect for their family and they felt at home immediately, making the move from their beloved home in Shreveport almost painless.
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So why are they even considering conceding to her demands? Well, they have a problem. The very next day they were to go in for an interview for their adoption and set up a time for the caseworker to come out and do another home study. Being transferred from Louisiana to Alabama threw a kink into their adoption, causing more delays and costing a lot more money in an already extremely slow and expensive process. They must do another home study right now because of the transfer. If they move again in nine months it would mean yet another home study, which means more red tape, delays and money (about $1500 – $2000 for each home study.)
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They are caught in a dilemma. Do they bite the bullet now and try to find another house quickly so they can proceed with this home study and be done with it, or do they ride out the lease and go through their fourth home study in nine months?
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At this point they are out house hunting once again and asking God to give them wisdom and guidance in what to do. They have dealt gently with the landlady, not because she deserves it, but because they have tried to be a witness to her and all her relatives who live around them. They have some firm conditions that they will insist she accept if they let her out of the lease, but they refuse to respond to her ugliness in like manner.
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I couldn’t believe it when Julie called me that morning and told me what had happened. As you may recall, Laurie and Fernando are going through almost the same scenario. After they put forth a huge amount of effort and expense to fix up and settle into a house that is perfect for their family, their landlord, who lives in the States, decided he’s going to sell it out from under them, despite the fact that they had only gone through eight months of their two year lease. Because they had been trying to witness to the landlord’s father, with whom they deal, they did not want to fight it out in court. They have been house-hunting now for a couple months and still have not found a place that will meet their family and ministry needs.
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I guess our first question in both cases is, “Why is God allowing this?” Laurie and Fernando are heavily involved in doing the Lord’s work there in Cuenca. The Lord is blessing their labor in giving much fruit for the harvest. To draw away their time and resources into making another move seems like such a waste and a detriment to the ministry. David and Julie live their lives whole-heartedly for the Lord, and are raising their children to do the same. Their desire to adopt two or three more children stems from loving, generous hearts that want to rescue little ones in obedience to Jesus’ command to care for “the least of these.” Yet another obstacle in the arduous journey to adoption is difficult, to say the least. For both families, it is tempting to question God when we see the homes that they love and that seem so perfect for them taken away.
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To question God. Is it ever okay to question God? I think it depends upon the question. First of all, the question should never be “Why me?” As our Creator and Heavenly Father, He has every right to work however He wills in our lives. The question, rather, should be simply, “Why?” Even then, if we are questioning God’s love for us, then we are off base. He has said, “I have loved thee with an everlasting love.” (Jeremiah 31:3) If we are questioning His wisdom, then we are mistaken. “For the LORD giveth wisdom: out of his mouth cometh knowledge and understanding.” (Proverbs 2:6) If we doubt His motives are anything but pure, we do not know Him. He is not “tormenting” us, as if we were little bugs at His mercy, just for the fun of it. “As for God, his way is perfect.” (Psalm 18:30) When we ask “Why?” we should be asking, “What is God’s good and pure and loving and wise purpose in this? What is God telling me? What am I to learn from this?”
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There are many reasons why God allows us to go through testing and trials. I believe they boil down to seven basic purposes, but today I only want to look at three of them as they seem to apply here.
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The first is that He tests our faith—not for His benefit, but for our own. He already knows our hearts. Laurie and Fernando had to fight off weariness and discouragement when they heard the news that they were going to have to start all over again in moving for the third time in a year. Julie and her family were heartbroken at being asked to give up the home that they had come to love so quickly and rejoiced in every day. In each case they had to make the decision to set aside those very human feelings and choose to trust that the Lord had allowed this to happen for His very good purposes in their lives. They may not ever know the exact reasons, but they know that in His wisdom and love He will lead them when they trust Him enough to follow. In His omniscience He sees the beginning from the end; in His tender lovingkindness He has only their best in His will for them. Abraham trusted God when the Lord asked the ultimate sacrifice from him—the life of his only son, Isaac. “By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac: and he that had received the promises offered up his only begotten son, Accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead…” (Hebrews 11:17, 19) Job said, when God allowed Satan to afflict him, “Though He [God] slay me, yet will I trust in him.” (Job 13:15) It is when we cannot see the reasons for the hard things of life, and when we do not know what to do next that we need to put aside the discouragement and fear and make the choice to take the blind step of faith and simply trust in the Lord. Hebrews 11:1 says, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” We grow in our spiritual maturity and strength as we grow in our faith.
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The Lord’s purposes in allowing testing in our lives may not be for us at all, but for the sake of others. How God works in our lives and how we respond is a witness to those around us. Fernando and Laurie had developed a relationship with the landlord’s father and tried to be a witness to him of true believers. Julie and David had been praying since they first met the landlords that God would show them how they could witness to them and their family who lived in the houses around them. In both cases they could have chosen to assert their rights and put up a fuss, but they decided even losing their homes was not worth marring their Christian testimony. I Thessalonians 5:15 says, “See that none render evil for evil unto any man; but ever follow that which is good, both among yourselves, and to all men.” I Peter 3:11 tells us to seek peace by turning away from the evil others do to us, and do good, while Romans 12:21 says that the good we do will overcome their evil. Then, “Having your conversation honest among the Gentiles: that, whereas they speak against you as evildoers, they may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation.” (I Peter 2:12) Our good response to testing is a witness to unbelievers and an example to other Christians.
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The third purpose I see in God allowing testing and trials to enter our lives is that it gives Him the opportunity to show us and all those around us His mighty power at work. We do not know yet where the Lord will lead my children and grandchildren to live, but I know He has a place for them and when He reveals it, I am sure we will be praising Him for His great provision and love. Psalm 34:8 says, “O taste and see that the LORD is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him.” It is exciting and a blessing to us when we see Him at work in our own lives. “And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power.” (Ephesians 1:19) and when the Lord leads us through the fires and the floods, others are watching. Psalm 106:8 says, “Nevertheless he saved them for his name’s sake, that he might make his mighty power to be known.”
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We do not always understand why the Lord allows some things to happen in our lives, but it is comforting to know that they are there for a purpose and that He is in control. Psalm 92:5 says, “O LORD, how great are thy works! and thy thoughts are very deep” and Psalm 139:17 adds, “How precious also are thy thoughts unto me, O God! how great is the sum of them!” It gives me peace to know that He is always thinking of me. It gives me joy and an eager anticipation to know that my future is in His hands. And it fills my heart with hope to know that He sees the end, and is leading me and my family to His best for us.
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“It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness. The Lord is my portion, saith my soul; therefore will I hope in him. The Lord is good unto them that wait for him, to the soul that seeketh him. It is good that a man should both hope and quietly wait for the salvation of the LORD.” (Lamentations 3:22-26)

WARP AND DISTORT

I’ve had a serious case of the giggles all week! You can tell I’ve got too much time on my hands when I start creating long-distance entertainment for my grandchildren. For example, here is an e-mail I sent to the kids the other day, along with a reply from Gabi:
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Subject: YIKES! Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer!!! :- O

I AM NOT KIDDING!!!
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Grandma got run over by a reindeer, sitting here in my house yester-eve! [Singing]
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We-ell, that’s not exactly how it happened…
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It wasn’t exactly a reindeer — it was George, the mule deer. [Bob’s precious trophy mount.]
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And I didn’t exactly get run over — but I could have been if I had been standing closer! George came flying off the wall last night and I am just lucky I don’t have hoof prints in my forehead!!! Well, if George had hoofs, that is. And, well, maybe he didn’t exactly fly off the wall — it was more like tumbling. And actually, I was sitting in the living room when he took his tumble in the dining room. Still — whew! It was a close call!
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Just saying — I’m lucky to be alive!
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Love you,
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Grandma
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XOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXO
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Gabi’s Reply:
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hahahahahahahaha!!!! That is soooooooooo hilarious!!!!!! 🙂 hehehehehehhee!!!! I can’t believe that happened to you! hahahahaha!!! -sigh- hehehe!!! I can’t stop laughing!!!! lol!! Are you going to hang him back up?! Please do! hehehehehe!!! lol!!! ok… gotta go!

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Love you! xoxoxoxoxooxxooxx
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-Gabi-

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Ahh! Just the reaction I hoped for! It had me laughing all day! Hannah got so tickled with my “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer” story that she decided to pass the hilarity along. They got word that morning that David is being promoted to lieutenant colonel, so Julie and the kids decided to throw him a little celebratory lunch. The kids made congratulations cards for him. When David opened his card from Hannah it said, “Daddy Got Run Over by a Reindeer!” You can imagine his confusion when he opened the card and that came out of left field at him!

Okay, I admit, my little story was a slight exaggeration of what really happened. A little distortion of the truth, you might say. But a slight bending of the truth is okay when Grandma just wants to make her grandbabies laugh—isn’t it?

A few days later Grandma was back in the distortion business again. I do a lot of work in my Print Shop program on my computer. It enables me to illustrate my books; make cards and calendars; design CD covers, announcements and all kinds of projects for my church; and edit photos, just to mention a few of the things I can do with it. There is a function in the photo editing section of Print Shop called “Warp and Distort.” I had never done much with it, so the other night, just for fun, I started playing around with it.

Oh, how I laughed! I ended up with a collection of family pictures that I labeled “Fun House Photos.” Warp and Distort can take a beautiful portrait of someone, and bend and twist it in six or seven different ways to make it a crazy, hilarious, silly caricature of that person—or maybe a monstrous version, depending on how you look at it. (I’ve included a photo of myself so you can see what Warp and Distort can do. I cannot believe I am actually posting this on the worldwide web! Oh, the sacrifices to my dignity that I make for the sake of this blog and your entertainment!)
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Laurie called me last night and said she had just heard shrieks of laughter, howling and excitement coming out of the schoolroom. She went in to investigate, and found all the kids gathered around the computer looking at the Fun House Photos I had e-mailed to them of themselves and other family members. The girls were laughing hysterically, but poor little Matthew was traumatized! He was screaming in fear—especially, Laurie said, at the pictures of Grandma! Of course, then I felt terrible, and promised him Grandma would send some “nice” pictures just for him!
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Well, enough fooling around. I’ve been suffering through a severe case of writer’s block this week, and didn’t get much writing done, so now that I’ve had my fun and taken a little break I can buckle down and get back to work. Sometimes stepping back helps to clear the thought processes.
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The words “warp and distort” had me thinking, though. I remember seeing a poster when I was a teenager that illustrated a paraphrase of Romans 12:2. The KJV says it like this: “And be not conformed to this 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.” The poster had a cartoon of a little guy all smooshed and twisted inside a bubble and it said, “Don’t let the world squeeze you into its mold…” It made an impression on me (must have, since I remember it almost forty-five years later) and it pretty much signified a part of who I was and am.

Even back then as a teenager, I tended to march to the beat of my own drum. For example, all my friends loved the Beatles. Not I, though, and it was probably for that very reason. If everyone else was doing it, I wasn’t going to be a sheep and follow after. It was another of those little lessons my mother taught me. She had always been a non-conformist, as well.
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The Bible tells us that we are created in God’s image. That beautiful creation was marred by sin, however; it was warped and distorted into something that was no longer clean and pure and beautiful, but sullied and separated from its Holy Creator. God had a remedy for that, though—the precious blood of His beloved Son. When we trust in what Christ did for us on the cross, our sins are covered by His blood and we become a new, and once again, beautiful creation.

Living the rest of our earthy life as a Christian is no walk in the park, though. This beautiful, new creature is under constant attack by Satan, constant pressure by the world, and even constant battle with the lust of our own flesh. I John 2:16 says, “For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.” We are tempted, actually bombarded, daily with attempts to draw us into the world’s mold.
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The world would have us to believe that we must be socially savvy, politically correct, trendy, fashionable, keeping up with the Joneses, preaching a social gospel, ecumenical, embracing diversity, tolerant, progressive, broadminded, world-wise, current, rejecting the old-fashioned “myths and legends” of the Bible, accepting scientific theory and human “wisdom” as fact, and yada-yada-yada… When we choose not to be these things, we are looked down upon as ignorant, bigoted, divisive, old-fashioned, misfits, fools, narrow-minded and so on.
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Maybe little Matthew had it right after all. There’s something very wrong with this picture; something very warped and distorted. There is nothing beautiful or righteous or good about following after the crowd, the broad way that leads to destruction. In fact, the Bible tells us to “enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.” (Matthew 7:13, 14)
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God Himself, in His holiness, is intolerant of sin and calls it an abomination to Him. Much of what is glorified and touted today as “in” is an abomination. “And he said unto them, Ye are they which justify yourselves before men; but God knoweth your hearts: for that which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God.” (Luke 16:15) Romans 1 could be describing our culture today when it says in verses 18 to 32, “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness; Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things. Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves: Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen. For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet. And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient; Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful: Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.”
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He has said when we follow after the truth we will be divided from even our loved ones who do not believe. “Suppose ye that I am come to give peace on earth? I tell you, Nay; but rather division: For from henceforth there shall be five in one house divided, three against two, and two against three. The father shall be divided against the son, and the son against the father; the mother against the daughter…”(Luke 12:51-53)

My little “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer” story was a harmless distortion of the truth meant only to entertain the kids. The world, though, is full of distortions of the truth that try to diminish the real truth of the Gospel. It is full of downright lies that blind the eyes of the unsaved and mislead the spiritually weak. The Bible gives us a very clear picture in II Peter 2 of what we are seeing today—“But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of. But these, as natural brute beasts, made to be taken and destroyed, speak evil of the things that they understand not; and shall utterly perish in their own corruption; And shall receive the reward of unrighteousness, as they that count it pleasure to riot in the day time. Spots they are and blemishes, sporting themselves with their own deceivings while they feast with you; Having eyes full of adultery, and that cannot cease from sin; beguiling unstable souls: an heart they have exercised with covetous practices; cursed children: Which have forsaken the right way, and are gone astray.” (vs. 1, 2, 12-15)
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Man’s so-called human wisdom is foolishness. While we are looked upon as ignorant fools, God says in I Corinthians 1:18-29, “For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God. For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent. Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe. For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom: But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness; But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God. Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men. For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: That no flesh should glory in his presence.” It is unsaved man in his human wisdom, pride and ignorance of the Truth who is foolish and weak.

Let the world call me an ignorant, old-fashioned, narrow-minded fool then. I don’t care. I will believe what God says is Truth. I will follow His narrow way. I will be intolerant of the sin of which He is intolerant. The world may try to warp and distort God’s Truth, and stand it upon its head, saying black is white, and up is down, but I choose His Way. Jesus said, “… I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” (John 14:6) and “…If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” (John 8:31, 32) Freedom—without warp or distortion.

Get the picture?

PATIENCE, MY CHILD!

Laurie and I had a conversation about patience the other day. They have been house-hunting for several weeks now, and so far have not found anything that will work for their large family, meet their home-schooling and ministry needs, and fit their budget and location requirements, as well. They’ve come close a few times, but always there is one lacking element—no study for Fernando, too few bedrooms, too expensive, too far out of the city and so on. The one house that seemed to have it all required a huge security deposit which was a problem for them. Someone else agreed to the deposit and so they were accepted and Laurie and Fernando were rejected. Laurie and Fernando were a little disappointed, of course, but still they know that apparently that is not the house the Lord has for them. He has something better for them, and in His time He will lead them to it.
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They would rather not move at all, but their landlord is putting their house up for sale. It is just the right size for them, and they have fixed it up a great deal, but they are not in a position to buy it themselves. The house-hunt goes on, therefore, and I must say, they are having a very good attitude about it, even though this is the worst time it could come when they are so busy in their ministry and it is so frustrating (not to mention expensive and a lot of hard work) to have to make their third move in one year. They are trusting the Lord to put them in just the right place for His purposes.
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Laurie said to me a few days ago, “I just wish we would find something, though, so this would not be hanging over our heads anymore. It’s hard to make decisions for the family or ministry when we don’t know when, if, or where we will be moving in the near future.”
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“Well, Laurie, the trying of your faith—“
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She laughs. “I know, Mom! ‘The trying of our faith worketh patience!’ You say that every time we talk!”
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“I know. And I know you know these things already,” I say. “I guess we just have to realize that when we can’t see the path ahead of us with all its twists and turns and obstacles, the Lord is looking down on the whole path from beginning to end and sees it all. We just have to have the faith and patience to leave it all up to Him and just take the next step on the path, and then the step after that, and step-by-step let the Lord lead us.”
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“Yes. And to tell you the truth, I am so glad we can’t see what lies ahead! We might be too overwhelmed to take the next step if we knew the things that were in our future.”
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“That is what is so great about living by faith. We can see life as a great adventure, if we have faith that God has great things in store for us, and that He will carry us through the hard things.”
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This whole conversation had me thinking about patience and faith for the next few days. I have been praying for Laurie and Fernando in their search for their next home, and for Julie and David as they are on the long, hard road to adoption, that God would give each of them the patience and faith to just rest in Him. Faith and patience go hand in hand. When we patiently wait on God, we are actually trusting God to act for our best in His time; having faith in Him to work it all out. “Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience.” (James 1:3)
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I have always prayed, from the time that I was a teenager, that I would be a woman of faith. My mother was a godly example to me of this. What I have learned about faith, though, is that it is not something I can earn or develop on my own in my life. I Corinthians 12 and 13 tell us that faith is a gift from God and is not something that I can boast in. I am not a woman of faith because of ME, but because of HIM. True faith is not a result of my spiritual maturity, or dependent on my strength, or a testament to my spirituality. Quite the opposite. We can have faith in God because He is:
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F aithful – He is always there for us. “…for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor
forsake thee.”
(Hebrews 13:5)
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A ble – He can do anything. “…with God all things are possible.” (Matthew 19:26)
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I nfallible – He is incapable of error, dependable, reliable. “As for God, his way is
perfect.”
(Psalm 18:30)
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T rustworthy – He always keeps His promises, He does not lie. “For all the promises of
God in him are yea, and in him Amen, unto the glory of God by us.”
(II
Corinthians 1:20)
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H oly – Everything He does is good and righteous and perfect. “The LORD is righteous in all his ways, and holy in all His works.” (Psalm 145:17)
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Think about it. Jesus said in Matthew 18:2-4 that we must have childlike faith: “And Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them, And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” What kind of simple faith does a little child have, say, for example, in his relationship with his mommy and daddy? He takes it for granted that mommy will always be there for him. Daddy is superman—he can do anything! Mommy and Daddy know everything. He knows they will keep their promises and wouldn’t lie to him. Daddy and Mommy are the best!
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Of course, it doesn’t take long for us as parents to stumble off our pedestal, does it? All it takes is for the first time that little one gets lost, or sees Daddy give up on some task, or have a question that Mommy doesn’t know the answer to, or to find out the truth about Santa Claus. We are humans, and humans fail. Thank goodness our kids love us anyhow!
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God, the Creator and Master of the universe, and our loving Heavenly Father, will never fall from His pedestal, though. We can have that simple child-like faith and know we will never be disappointed in Him. We can have the faith that does not depend on what we are or do, but solely upon Who He is, and when our faith is tested and tried we learn patience. James 5:10, 11 says, “Take, my brethren, the prophets, who have spoken in the name of the Lord, for an example of suffering affliction, and of patience. Behold, we count them happy which endure. Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy.” Job endured testing and trials that none off us will ever endure, but he said, “Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him.” (Job 13:15) It was that faith in all that God is that fueled his patience.
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Hebrews 11, that great chapter on faith, tells us “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” (vs 1) “Living by faith” would not be living by faith if we could see what lies ahead. When we choose to believe God is at work for our best and He will reveal His will in His time, we can rest patiently in Him and all that He is. What a blessed and exciting way to live!
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“Patience, My child! I am working in your life. Be still and know that I am God. I have loved you with an everlasting love. All things work together for good to them that love Me and if you have faith in Me you will see it come to pass. Have patience. Have simple, child-like faith, for I am your Heavenly Father and I love you.”