Archive | November 2009

GRACIAS A DIOS!

Thank you, God. Simple words. Easy for us to say, right? I know you, like I, sincerely say those words every day from hearts overflowing with gratitude to the Lord for all His blessings in our lives. We know that we have much more than we need or even deserve. We know that we have more than most of the world. We know that it all comes from Him. Thanksgiving Day is coming up, but I am ever-mindful of God’s blessings upon our lives and try to live as if every day was Thanksgiving Day! This year I know my eyes will be open even more to how truly blessed I am for I will be celebrating Thanksgiving in a third-world country.
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I will be in Ecuador by this time next week. Excitement doesn’t even begin to describe how I am feeling right now! I finished the last book I was writing, most of the shopping is done, and I’ve actually started the packing. One by one, many of the things on my lists are being crossed off. There is still one thing on my lists, though, with which I am struggling.
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While I am in Ecuador, I will be speaking to the ladies at Laurie’s church. I have been giving some thought to that for weeks now, and asking the Lord to give me the right words to say. Two things have been going through my mind to bring to them. One is that we are sisters in the Lord, and that I, as well as the women in my church and family who have been praying for their church, truly love them as sisters because of the fellowship we have in Jesus. The second thing is to speak about giving thanks to God, referring to our American holiday of Thanksgiving. Somehow, I want to intertwine the two into a message that will be relevant and a blessing to each of them.
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The thing I am struggling with is something that is common to all American missionaries, I am sure, who are trying to reach beyond the cultural and economic divisions to speak to the heart of people who are so different, so much poorer and who often have no hope of anything better in this life. How do I speak about being thankful for the homes God has given us, for example, when many of them live in nothing more than a tiny shack and wash their clothes in the river? How do I speak about being thankful for the way God provides for us when I (obviously) have too much to eat, and they are lucky to live on rice and beans and little else day after day and year after year? How do I speak about being thankful for family when many of them live with husbands who beat them, or who have no husband because he walked out on them and their children many years before, leaving them destitute and struggling? How do I speak about being thankful for religious freedom when for centuries they have lived under the oppression of a church who has ruled with an iron fist of fear and persecution for those who stray from her shadow, and who even now see their government, as well, slowly but surely turning towards communism and the eventual persecution of Christians?
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Are not God’s promises as true for them as they are for me? Of course, they are. He promises to supply all our needs according to His riches in glory. (Philippians 4:19) He promises that just as He cares for the flowers of the fields and birds of the air, He will care for us. (Matthew 6:25-31) He promises that the vary hairs on our heads are numbered (12:7); that He knows us each by name better than we know ourselves. (Psalm 139:17) The differences in how the Lord provides for us as Americans compared to most of the rest of the world is vast, and in some ways is a mystery to me when I know that His promises are the same to all believers regardless of where or when they live.
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All I can think is that we are blessed in earthly abundance far beyond what our actual needs are. Perhaps it is because of the way this nation was founded on the premise that we would follow after God and His principles. Perhaps it is because this nation always has blessed Israel and He promises to bless those who bless Israel. Whatever the reasons for God’s outpouring of earthly blessings upon us, when so many of his children in other countries suffer, we know that He is just and loving and we simply need to trust that He is in control and knows what is best for each of us. And who is to say if all our earthly abundance is the best thing in the long run? Are we as strong spiritually as we would be if we had to suffer for our faith as many do around the world? Are we more, or less dependent on Him alone in our abundance here in America?
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You can see my dilemma, I think. I almost feel I will be ashamed to stand before them and speak on giving thanks when I have so much more than they when it comes to earthly blessings. Praise God, though, He has blessed us all with far more than these temporal things! Here is just a partial list of all the things for which we can thank the Lord:
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That before the world began He had a plan for me – II Timothy 1:9 – Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began.
He loved me enough to die for me even though I was a sinner – Romans 5:8 –
But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
That I am a daughter of the King – Psam 45:13
The king’s daughter is all glorious within: her clothing is of wrought gold.
God’s righteousness and holiness – Psalm 7:17
I will praise the LORD according to his righteousness: and will sing praise to the name of the LORD most high.
All God’s marvelous works – Psalm 9:1
I will praise thee, O LORD, with my whole heart; I will shew forth all thy marvellous works.
My body – Psalm 139:14-16
I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well. My substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them.
God’s guidance and instruction to me – Psalm 16:7a
I will bless the LORD, who hath given me counsel…
The hope God has given me – Psalm 16:9
Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoiceth: my flesh also shall rest in hope.
Salvation – Psalm 16:11Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.
God is great and worthy of praise – Psalm 48:1
Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised in the city of our God, in the mountain of his holiness.
When I was in trouble, God heard my cries for help – Psalm 18:6
In my distress I called upon the LORD, and cried unto my God: he heard my voice out of his temple, and my cry came before him, even into his ears.
Deliverance – Psalm 54:7aFor he hath delivered me out of all trouble…
Mercy and kindness – Psalm 100:5For the LORD is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations.
For not staying angry
with us and not giving up on us – Psalm 30:5For his anger endureth but a moment; in his favour is life: weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.
God’s blessings and benefits – Psalm 68:19
Blessed be the Lord, who daily loadeth us with benefits, even the God of our salvation.
God’s power – Psalm 21:13
Be thou exalted, LORD, in thine own strength: so will we sing and praise thy power.
His faithfulness – Lamentations
3:22-23 – 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.
For the strength and confidence God gives me – Psalm 56:4
In God I will praise his word, in God I have put my trust; I will not fear what flesh can do unto me.
For listening to my prayers
Psalm 28:6Blessed be the LORD, because he hath heard the voice of my supplications.
God’s Word
– Psalm 119:105 – Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.
For being truthful – Psalm 117:2
For his merciful kindness is great toward us: and the truth of the LORD endureth for ever. Praise ye the LORD.
For filling the earth with His love and goodness
Psalm 33:5He loveth righteousness and judgment: the earth is full of the goodness of the LORD.
He is always thinking of me – Psalm 139:17-18
How precious also are thy thoughts unto me, O God! how great is the sum of them! If I should count them, they are more in number than the sand: when I awake, I am still with thee.
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God’s spiritual blessings far outweigh His earthly ones, don’t they, and they are eternal! Those women in Cuenca, Ecuador are just as much the daughters of the King as I am and every bit as rich in spiritual blessings! My earthly blessings could disappear in an instant, but these far greater spiritual riches are the true things for which we should be praising God this Thanksgiving. They are not all about us – my provisions, my protection, my health, my needs –- but many of them are all about who and what HE is!
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And one of the special spiritual blessings for which I will be praising and thanking God this year is the fellowship we have within the body of Christ as one family, brothers and sisters in the Lord for all eternity. I am looking forward to worshipping with my Ecuadorian sisters in the next couple weeks. Can you imagine the joy when we are gathered from every tribe on earth into His presence to worship the Lamb who was slain for our salvation – together as one family for all eternity?
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That is the message I want to bring to my sisters in the Lord. Thank you, Father, for making me your child, a joint heir to all the riches of heaven through Jesus Christ, and a part of Your family for all eternity! You can’t get any richer than that! Gracias a Dios!

PACKING — FOR ETERNITY

Last Tuesday would have been my dad’s 80th birthday. Robbie and I started the day off right. Before I even got him up, we lay there singing and playing on the harmonica some of Grandpa’s favorite songs, as well as “Happy Birthday” which is Robbie’s least favorite song. He tolerated it, anyway, for Grandpa’s sake. I showed him Grandpa’s picture and we talked about some of the funny things Grandpa used to say to Robbie. I asked him, “Do you remember that, Robbie? Do you remember Grandpa?” Robbie didn’t answer, of course, but he grinned from ear to ear! I know he remembers his grandpa.
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Later that morning my mom, Corinne and I went out to the cemetery. We stood by my father’s grave, and oh, how we laughed! We reminisced about some of the funny things Dad would say or do, and brought out some of our favorite memories. We talked about Heaven and how Dad must be enjoying it and waiting for us to join him so that he can show us around and introduce us to the twins and others who have gone before us. It was a comforting, peaceful, happy time for we know where Dad is and that he is better and happier than he ever was here on earth.
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Heaven’s been on my mind all week. A friend of ours is living her last few days right now, and the doctors say she will be gone in less than a week. Her family has asked Bob to preach the funeral when the time comes. She knows, and is prepared. She trusted Christ as her Savior many years ago, and has faithfully served Him all these years. She is looking forward to Heaven and seeing Jesus and her husband, as well, who preceded her to eternity many years ago.
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It’s been a busy week in many ways. I started packing for my trip to Ecuador which is now 12 days, 19 hours and 37 minutes away. Just packing is a big job in itself, for I am taking much more than my own clothes and toiletries. Laurie and Fernando had a shopping list for me; others have given me things to take for the family; there are supplies for the ministry; and Christmas gifts and little surprises for the kids. Anything that is new must be removed from its packaging and have the tags cut off. I need to have all the receipts handy, though, in case they try to charge me duty so that I can prove what I paid and not be over-charged. The hand-me-down clothes for Matthew must be put in space bags and condensed so that they don’t take up so much room. I need to distribute things evenly in my suitcases as far as weight, and also so that the seven dozen of each of the goodie bag “goodies” I am taking to give out to poor Indian children as gifts don’t look like things being imported to sell.
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Packing is complicated, and as I look over the stacks of “stuff” I am taking, my mind whirls. I can’t help worrying about the weight limitations. I’m pretty sure I’ll have room for everything, but surely I’m not going to go over the 140 pounds I am allowed – am I? I ponder which things I can leave behind if I have to, and how I can eliminate even more weight. I plan to have my bags packed several days in advance so that Bob can take them somewhere and have them weighed. I don’t want any nasty surprises at the airport!
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It’s hard enough packing for two weeks in another country. I’m so glad I don’t have to worry about packing for an eternity in Heaven! the thought occurs to me one day. We came into this world with nothing; we will leave it with nothing, as well.
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I’m trying to keep my clothes to a minimum, figuring I can wash down there. But still, I need a variety of outfits – and shoes – for a variety of activities. There is only so much cutting down that a girl can do!
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No need to pack clothes for Heaven. Christ has already clothed me in His righteousness and when I get to Heaven He will furnish a white robe for me. ”After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands.” (Revelation 7:9)
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Can’t forget my prescriptions and diabetic supplies, all in their labeled bottles and meeting air transportation requirements. Oh – I need my glasses and contact lens supplies, too!
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No need for any medications or contacts in Eternity! How glorious to have a perfect body with no illness, defects — or fat! “For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God… Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.” (Romans 8:18, 19, 21) I Corinthians 15:51-54 also tells us, “Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.”
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I have to think about what I will eat on the journey. I will be traveling from six in the morning until ten-thirty at night. Being diabetic, I need to think ahead and plan what and when I will be able to eat and how I will take my insulin. Only one meal is furnished by the airline. I will have to either pack a lunch with me, or be prepared to buy food in the airports or on the plane.
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No need to worry about food in Heaven! Jesus is preparing a feast for us upon our arrival – the marriage supper of the Lamb. “And he saith unto me, Write, Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb…” (Revelation 19:9) And for all eternity, our every need shall be supplied. “And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.” (John 6:35)
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Checking off everything on all my lists… Preparing everything to go into the suitcases… Arranging and re-arranging to try to get it all in, in the most efficient and organized way… Hoping and praying I can take it ALL!
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No need to pack a THING for an eternity in Heaven! There is only one thing that I need and that is my TICKET. My ticket, which I cannot hold in my hand or pack in my carry-on, but which is already bought and paid for with the precious blood of Jesus Christ. “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” (John 14:6) “For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.” (Matthew 26:28) “Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold… But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.” (I Peter 1:18,19”
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I may not have finished packing for Ecuador yet, but I’m all packed and ready to go whenever the Lord calls me Home for eternity! My bags are packed with nothing – nothing but my faith in what Christ did on the cross for my salvation! No need to add a thing to that – no good works, no membership in the right church, no correct upbringing or heritage, no wealth, fame, popularity or earthly success.
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Jesus has already done it all and my ticket is stamped “Paid In Full.”

THE BEST CATALOG EVER

Bob lost his job this week. The company went through another round of lay-offs and this time Bob was caught in the crossfire. It did not come as a huge shock. Bob had been warning me for almost two months that it still could happen, but still, when he gave me a heads-up a few days earlier, I have to admit, a prickle of fear went down my spine and the hair on the back of my neck stood up. Tuesday he called and said it had indeed happened, and he was on his way home.
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By that time, I took it pretty well. Oh, I got a little teary-eyed when I called a couple people to tell them, and they, of course, were very sympathetic. That tone of voice does it to me every time! We live by faith, however, and it was time to put my money (or lack of it, I should say!) where my mouth is. Besides, when my husband leads the way and proclaims, from his heart, that he is excited and looking with expectancy to see what God is going to do next in our lives – where He will lead us, how He will provide – then, it is an encouragement to me to just let go, and let God work.
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It wasn’t three hours later when the Lord had something wonderful to say to me! The mail came, and as is usual at this time of year, there was yet another catalog in the mail. How I ever got on so many mailing lists I’ll never know, because I almost never order from catalogs. I enjoy looking at them, but when it comes to actually parting with my money and – horror of horrors! – paying shipping and handling, I can never quite bring myself to do it. But here was a new catalog – one I had never seen before.
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Hmm, this looks different, I thought as I sat down to take a quick peek at it. “Samaritan’s Purse Gift Catalog.” They must be selling things made by people around the world to help support themselves. I wonder what neat little trinkets are in this catalog.
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That’s not what that catalog was about at all. As I thumbed through the pages I began to see that it was not filled with things that I could buy for myself, or my friends and family. Rather, its pages featured things like a dozen baby chicks, emergency medicine, Bibles, a fishing boat, dairy animals, a month of Bible training for a future national preacher, water filters, blankets, mosquito netting, fruit trees, food to feed a family for a month, milk to help a baby for a week, and so on… Forty-eight different things I could “buy” to make a difference in someone else’s life, physically and/or spiritually, who has nothing by this world’s standards.
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I began to bawl like a baby as I looked at that catalog. The Lord was saying to me, “You see – you have so much compared to the rest of the world, Cindy! You have a warm roof over your head. You have food on your table – too much food. You have clean water. You have health care available to you. Even without a job now, you and Bob have help available to you and you will get through this. You have the love and support of family, friends and your brothers and sisters in the Lord. You have My Word freely and abundantly available to you! And greatest gift of all – you are My child through the salvation freely given in Jesus Christ! Do you see how rich you are? Do you see how I have blessed you?
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There is not a day that goes by for many years now that I have not praised the Lord for how He has blessed us, and realized that by the standards of most of the rest of the world, we are very rich, indeed. On this day, though, when the temptation was great to be fearful and worry about how we would pay the bills, I really needed that visual message to take the focus off of our problems and to just praise the Lord for His blessings in our lives. That little catalog brought comfort to me that day.
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It also brought conviction. My first inclination was to regretfully think, Oh, I wish I could “buy” some of these things! But with Bob losing his job today, we just can’t. Of all the days for this catalog to come! We will have to be careful with our money now. We already support two missionaries as well as our church, and we are determined that their support will not suffer. Whatever the Lord brings in, we will give from that, even if it is just the “widow’s mite.”
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The Lord had something more to say to me, though.
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Give to these who have nothing EVER. NOTHING day after day, for year after year. Give out of gratitude for all that you have even in your poorest moments.
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Give out of faith that I will provide your needs and even many of your wants for as long as it takes. Depend on Me – not job security.
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Give because you love Me and I have commanded you to give to those in need so that they may see My love in their lives, as well.
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Give beyond what you are giving now. Give and watch Me give back – watch with excitement and expectancy! You cannot out-give Me!
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And so we will pick something, or several somethings, from this little catalog to give to someone who has nothing.
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I do not share this looking for praise for ourselves, but as a praise to the Lord, and as a reminder to all of us to take the focus off our own problems and seeming “lacks,” and rather remember how truly blessed we are and that out of our abundance, we can surely give a little more.
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Some of the Scriptures I found in the “best catalog ever:”
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But you see the trouble and grief…The helpless put their trust in You. You defend the orphans. Psalm 10:14
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Help Him to defend the poor, to rescue the children of the needy. Psalm 72:4a
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He will rescue the poor when they cry to Him; He will help the oppressed, who have no one to defend them. Psalm 72:12
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For He satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things. Psalm 107:9
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But You are a tower of refuge to the poor, O Lord, a tower of refuge to the needy in distress. You are a refuge from the storm and a shelter from the heat. Isaiah 25:4a
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He ensures that orphans and widows receive justice. He shows love to the foreigners living among you and gives them food and clothing. Deuteronomy 10:18
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Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress. James 1:27
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It’s been a great week! Within hours of Bob losing his job, we began to see how the Lord would provide for our needs. We’ve been praising the Lord! We have actually been worry-free. Wow! Who would have “thunk it!” We ask for your prayers, though, for we know we are human and the seeds of doubt and worry could start creeping in, but we pray we will just keep trusting the Lord and living by faith day by day, not in word only, but truly in deed.
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And just in case you would like to take a look at this “best catalog ever,” you can receive a copy by calling Samaritan’s Purse at 1-800-353-5957, or you can download it at
www.samaritanspurse.org