Archive | July 2012

BLT — M-M-M!

I’ve had a new favorite sandwich this summer.  Oh, it’s not really new.  It’s been around for decades.  It’s the classic bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich—so yummy!  It’s my new favorite.  In past years I’d be lucky to get one BLT a summer.  This year I’ve been enjoying three or four a week!  The element that made the difference this summer is my discovery of turkey bacon.  I love the taste of bacon, but very seldom ate real bacon in the past because I always felt like I was eating just big hunks of fat.  I switched from ground beef almost seven years ago to ground turkey, and sometimes eat turkey sausage, so when I found turkey bacon on sale a couple months ago, I decided to try it.  Yum!  Yum!  The flavor is just as good, in my opinion, and wa-a-a-a-y less fat!

When you see a picture of a BLT in a magazine or an advertisement, you usually see little ruffles of leaf lettuce sticking out of the sandwich.  Pretty to look at perhaps, but I prefer the cool crunch of iceberg lettuce.  Big, double or triple layers of it.  Almost zero calories, but when it is stacked high, that sandwich is impassive!  I cut it in half and use toothpicks to hold the halves together, and then you still have to scrunch it down a little and open wide for that first bite!  Am I making you hungry yet?

Then there are the tomatoes…  Now, ideally I would slice into big, red beefsteak tomatoes, homegrown from a friend’s garden (I am no gardener, myself!), but since I have not been offered any homegrown tomatoes yet, I have settled for greenhouse-grown tomatoes from the produce department of my grocery store.  I almost always use roma tomatoes for everything else, but not for my BLTs.  Romas are too puny.  I get the biggest, fattest, ripe but firm tomatoes I can find, and store-bought or not—they taste great in a BLT!

Toast the bread (I use either a dense multi-grain or Italian), put a very thin spread of light mayo or Miracle Whip on each slice of bread, layer on the bacon, then the tomato slices and finally the lettuce—and viola!  A delicious summer treat!  Yes!  Now your mouth is watering for a BLT, isn’t it?

BLT.  I do the happy dance each time I enjoy one!  In fact, I just had one for breakfast this morning since I had all the ingredients ready to go and only had to toast the bread and assemble the sandwich!  It got me thinking about those three letters and what they might represent in bringing joy into our lives and the lives of others.

B—Blessings.   We enjoy the blessings of God in our own lives every day, don’t we?  The big ones that we sometimes take for granted, like home and family, health and protection and freedom; and the little unexpected blessings like a great parking spot just when we need it most, a surprise in the mail, or a little wish granted that we never expected to come true.  We see the hand of God in those things and recognize the blessings with which He showers us!

As He blesses us, so we can be a blessing to others.  When my spouse is nagging or being critical or cranky, and I find myself becoming irritated, I can choose to put away the negative thoughts I am harboring toward him, and instead purposefully think of some little blessing I can bestow that will bring a little spot of happiness to him in the receiving, and myself, as well, in the giving.  Maybe it is something as simple as a hug and a kiss and a “Thank you for all that you do for me and the children to make our lives easier and more comfortable.  I may not always say it, but I truly do appreciate all your hard work.”  Perhaps your blessing may be through his stomach—making his favorite breakfast, baking a cake, just bringing him a cup of coffee when he least expects you to wait on him.

Blessing our children with praise, encouragement, hugs and kisses, playing a game—anything that says “You are precious to me and I want to take the time out to let you know that!”     We can bless our friends and neighbors and church family by taking a plate of cookies or cupcakes to someone who needs a little lift; doing some yard work for someone who cannot do it herself; making an encouraging phone call or sending a card; offering a ride and a shoulder to lean on to someone going through a physical trial.

I cannot think of a better passage of Scripture than Romans 12:10-21 that speaks of being a blessing to others:

10 Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another;

11 Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord;

12 Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer;

13 Distributing to the necessity of saints; given to hospitality.

14 Bless them which persecute you: bless, and curse not.

15 Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep.

16 Be of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits.

17 Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men.

18 If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.

19 Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.

20 Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head.

21 Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.

L—Love.  Blessing others is an outward action; love is what motivates it.  Jesus told us that we are to love the Lord first of all, and then to love our neighbor in the same way we love ourselves.  “And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself.”  (Luke 10:27)  He went on to tell us that we in the body of Christ are to love one another as a testimony to the rest of the world that we are followers of Him.  “A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.”  (John 13:34-35)  Finally He tells us that it is not good enough to simply love God, love ourselves, love our neighbors, love our brothers and sisters in the Lord—but that we must also love our enemies and those who hurt us.  “Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy.   But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;”  (Matthew 5:43, 44)

And what is the nature of love?  It is not merely an inner emotionIt shows up in the manner in which we treat people.  “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.   It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.  Love never fails…  And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.  (I Corinthians 13:4-8a, 13)  Blessings are those things we do for others.  Love is what motivates them and how we do them.

How can we not love our family, our neighbors, our brethren, our enemies when we have experienced the amazing grace and love of God in our own lives.  Love that is so undeserved, so deep, so everlasting—“For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38, 39)

T—Thankfulness.  I cannot go through this life without thinking every day about how truly blessed I am by the Lord.  We don’t always have all the material things we’d like to have, and notice others who are better off financially and materially than we are, but I know this one thing—we are far, far better off than most of the people in this world and I am so grateful to God for the life He has given us.  We have our share of physical trials and health issues, but I know this one thing—there are others who suffer far greater tribulation than we do.  I would love to have my children and grandchildren close by so that I could hug them and do things with them anytime I wanted to, but I know this one thing—I am so thankful that my children love and serve the Lord and are faithfully serving Him where He has called them.  I truly would not want it any other way.  I would love to be able to travel and see the world someday, but I know that most likely will never happen.  However I this one thing I do know—I am so grateful God put me in America where I am free to worship Him, speak my mind, and live peacefully.

When we are discontent, and grumble and complain about our lives, our lacks, or our limitations, we grieve the Lord.  It is a slap in the face to Him who gives us far more than we deserve and who knows what is best for us.  It is saying we are ungrateful and that we do not trust Him.  An attitude of gratitude, on the other hand, blesses Him and brings joy and contentment into our own lives, as well.  Counting our blessings opens our eyes and adds zest to our days, for how can we be discouraged when we are truly grateful for all that God has done for us?  I Thessalonians 5:18 tells us, “In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” This is the will of God because He knows that it is what brings peace and joy to us.

“Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”  (Ephesians 5:19, 20)  Is not that a picture of a happy person—a person who literally has a song in his heart because he is thankful to God!  I want always to be that joyful person!

BLT—letters that say YUMMY!  And BLT—Blessings, Love, Thankfulness.  Letters that spell out the recipe to a delicious life!

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The Mender

The headlines across the nation screamed, “Movie Massacre!”  We woke up Friday morning to non-stop reporting of the gruesome story.  A gunman, dressed all in black SWAT gear, had opened fire in a packed movie theater and shot seventy people, killing twelve and leaving fifty-eight wounded, many critically.  Hundreds of others escaped physical harm, but will bear the emotional and mental scars of the horrific event for years to come.  We remained glued to the television as law enforcement slowly and with utmost caution attempted to defuse the intricate booby-trap the gunman had left behind in his apartment, and breathed a collective sigh of relief when they succeeded.

We prayed for the victims and their families and friends.  We wondered how a reportedly brilliant and nice, quiet guy could so quickly turn from being a normal human being to some sort of monster who sprayed even babies and children with bullets.  As we have done so many times before, we shook our heads and questioned what is this world coming to?

Sadly, it will only become worse until the Lord returns.  Around this dark, sinful world we see man’s depravity to one another in incidents similar to this and even worse.  Tens of thousands die because some dictator orders it so.  Sick, inhumane predators prey on women and children.  Violence rages, morality diminishes and lives and hearts are broken.

Acts of violence occur every day, but most often in our lives, it is the personal tragedies that hit close to home that break our hearts: the loss of a loved one, divorce, a child who strays, financial disaster, life-altering illness… We all have, or will, experience pain and loss in our lives, and there is only one remedy for it—Jesus.

Psalm 34:18 tells us that “The LORD is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart…”  Jesus Himself said, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised.” (Luke 4:18)

When I pray for these people in Colorado who are going through this tragedy, or folks who have lost their homes in a tornado, or children in Africa who are suffering in drought or famine, I always pray that somehow these circumstances might point them to the Lord; that there might be someone nearby who can testify to them of the love and comfort and salvation of God.  I try to share the peace that passes all understanding through Christ Jesus with those around me who are in pain, and in my own life rest in His comfort.

He is our Comforter, the mender of broken hearts.  I came across this poem some time ago.   The message is beautiful, and at a time like this when once again our hearts break for hurting people in the midst of a national tragedy, I want to share it with you.

THE MENDER

My Savior specializes in mending broken things,
He takes the heart that’s shattered, and gives it songs to sing.

He pieces it together with His sweet gracious touch;
He mends the heart that’s broken because He loves so much.

He mends the broken spirit, then lifts that spirit up,
And pours the oil of gladness into the upturned cup.

The broken lives He reshapes… those lives so wrecked by sin,
When in their crushed condition they turn in faith to Him.

The broken dreams that crumble to ashes at our feet,
That seemed so fair and lovely, that made life taste more sweet.

Those broken dreams He rebuilds and fashions them anew…
Then gives us faith to trust Him to see new dreams come true.

What of the broken plans then? The broken health that comes?
Is He not ever mindful when life’s swift pendulum

Dashes to scattered pieces the plans that we have made?
Above it all, He whispers- “I shall come to your aid.”

He restores broken spirits, binds broken hearts, and dreams,
Repairs the shattered pages of lives that He redeems.

He stands ready to help us no matter what life brings
Because He specializes in mending broken things!

~Author Unknown~

 

This is my comfort in my affliction: for thy word hath quickened me.  (Psalm 119:50)

In the multitude of my thoughts within me thy comforts delight my soul.  (Psalm 94:19)

I, even I, am He that comforteth you.  (Isaiah 51:12)

Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.  (Matthew 5:4)

Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.  (II Corinthians 1:4)

Leaving It All Behind

He was emotional as they waited in the airport for their flight, and quiet for the next twenty-four hours as his homeland, friends and everything he knew slipped away.  She shed tears as she said a final goodbye to her past life and the people in it.  I can only imagine what these two young teenagers were feeling as they left it all behind and headed into the unknown.

Put yourself in their place for a moment and imagine what it must have meant to Oleg and Anastasia as they left everything familiar to begin a new life in a new country, with a new family and a new home:  No one speaks your language.  You listen intently, trying to understand what people are telling you.  You often just tune it out, too tired and frustrated to keep up, and you live silently inside your own head as others around you laugh and converse and communicate easily with one another.  From time to time you gather up your courage and try to step out of your shell, searching for ways to say what you want to get across through the few English words you know, and pantomime.

Your new mama and papa are sweet and you know they love you, but their ways are different than anything you have ever known, and they have a whole new value system different than anything you’ve ever witnessed before.  They seem to truly love God and His Word and praying to Him, but you don’t know Him yet yourself and it all seems very strange.  Even your new brothers and sister live as though they know God personally.  How can that be?  What is it all about?

You long for the tastes of home.  There are some new foods that you enjoy, but many other things—not so much.  What is the American fascination with pizza, anyway?  And spaghetti sauce?  You prefer the noodles plain, thank you very much.  Oh, for some good Ukrainian home cooking!  Mama is trying, but if you want a good bowl of borscht you’ll just have to make it yourself!  Mostly you settle for Ramen noodles.  It’s not Ukrainian but it’s noodles.

The culture in America is new and very exciting; the stores are huge and filled with everything in the whole wide world; and birthdays?  Вот это да!  [Wow!] You’ve never had anyone celebrate your birthday with you before!  “All these presents and decorations and a cake—for me?”  There is a new culture, and traditions and holidays to celebrate—but the colorful costumes and dances and festivals of the old country will be just a distant memory now.

As scary and difficult as it was to leave their old life behind, both Oleg and Anastasia knew it was for their best.  Their futures in the Ukraine loomed even more dismally than their pasts had been.  When they were allowed to choose American names as part of their adoptions, Oleg chose to begin his new life as James, while Anastasia added Hope to her name—a fitting choice for a new beginning.

Anastasia has blossomed in the month since she has been here—a different child than the one she was back in the orphanage.  James has only been here a couple days, but according to Julie, has not stopped grinning from ear to ear and walks around with stars in his eyes, thrilled with what has happened to him.  Both of them hug and kiss David and Julie over and over daily, returning their love and thanking them for rescuing them.  Yes, leaving all they knew was difficult, but facing the unknown with courage, and trusting this loving couple with their futures has changed their lives.

I am often amazed at the story of the Israelites after God led them miraculously out of Egypt. He parted the Red Sea and saved them from the pursuing Egyptian army.  He fed them daily with manna—bread from heaven—in the mornings and quail at night, and provided water in the wilderness.  Lying before them was the Promised Land—a new and better home, theirs for the taking if they would only trust Him and be faithful.  I Corinthians 10 tells us that they were an example to us—of what not to do!  Moreover, brethren, I would not that ye should be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; And were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea;  And did all eat the same spiritual meat; And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ.  But with many of them God was not well pleased: for they were overthrown in the wilderness.   Now these things were our examples, to the intent we should not lust after evil things, as they also lusted…  Neither murmur ye, as some of them also murmured, and were destroyed of the destroyer.  Now all these things happened unto them for examples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come.” (vs. 1-6, 10, 11)

After all the Lord had done in guiding, protecting and providing for them, they dared to murmur and complain and question God’s motives!  They yearned for the leeks and onions and cucumbers of Egypt, the land where they had been held in slavery for hundreds of years, rather than focusing on the land of milk and honey that lie before them.  Because of their lack of trust and their disobedience, a whole generation of Israelites did not live to see the Promised Land.

We wonder how the Israelites could have been so foolish when right before their eyes God had done one miracle after another for them.  How could they have been so foolish as to long for their past life of bondage when He promised them a new, prosperous life?

We, too, have the promises of God for a new life, a new home and a new future.  We are new creatures with new names when we trust in Christ for our salvation.  “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.”  (II Corinthians 5:17)  “He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it.”  (Revelation 2:17)

There is much work to be done yet for the entire Sanchez family in blending their new family together.  James and Anastasia especially have much to learn in the weeks and months and years ahead of them, beginning with English.  We pray, though, most of all, that very soon they will come to know Jesus as their personal Savior and begin not only their new earthly life, but a new eternal life, as well.  Being teenagers, they will not forget their past life in the Ukraine, and we would not want them to, but we pray that they will come to embrace their new homeland, their new family and this new life with all the love with which it has been offered to them.  Leaving the past behind, whether it be a past of pain and disappointments, or one filled with successes and happy memories, we must all press on for what the Lord has in store for us next.  Philippians 3:13, 14 says, “Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.”

God has called us on to new and better things with Him, but we must let go of the past in order to reach for the new.  It may be a scary thing, it may not be easy, but “Faithful is He that calleth you, who also will do it.”  (I Thessalonians 5:24)

Shedding Some Light on the Situation

 I walked into the living room a couple weeks ago to find Robbie sitting with the table lamp in his lap and his head under the shade!  Apparently he had partied hearty while I was out of the room!  It would have been hilarious if I hadn’t been scared to death that he would be burned by the hot light bulb inside—and miffed that the lamp shade was being damaged even more than it already was.  Robbie had grabbed it before and pulled it to him, resulting in several large cracks.  I rushed over to him and pulled the lamp away.  Fortunately, he had not been burned.  Though the shade was in sorry shape already, it wasn’t any worse than it had been.  Perhaps I should just break down and buy a new shade, but I hesitated knowing Robbie would probably do the same to a new one.

I looked over at the other large table lamp in the room.  I loved that lamp.  It was a light blue, over-sized and heavily textured ginger jar topped with an equally over-sized shade.  It, too, had been tipped over a couple of times by a certain grandchild of mine who shall remain nameless.  The shade itself had withstood the abuse, but the metal stem inside the lamp was bent so that the shade hung way off-center and no matter what we did, we could not fix it.  Sigh.  Bob had been saying for years that we needed to get rid of our mismatched lamps but I just couldn’t seem to let go of that pretty blue lamp.

The subject came up again this week.  “How old are these lamps, anyway?” Bob wondered.

“Hmm, we got them in 1986…twenty-six years old!” I answered incredulously.  “Wow!  Maybe it is time we get some new lamps!”

That turned out to be my mission for the day.  I ran from store to store to store (six in all) on a 99° day looking for the right combination of lamp bases and shades in the right sizes.  I found the bases at the very first store (on sale and with an additional coupon off!) but when I brought them home, the shades looked too small.  Out I went again, until I finally came home with shades that really worked and that pleased both Bob and I.  I bid my blue lamp a sad, fond farewell as Bob carried the old lamps out to the alley.  Within an hour or two they had disappeared as one of our neighbors confiscated them.

We wondered if Robbie would notice that we had new lamps when he woke up.  Oh, he noticed, alright!  He’d only been awake a few minutes when I turned my head away and a few moments later, when I turned back to him, there was Robbie with his fingers curled around that new lamp and pulling it toward him!  I had to scold him strongly, hoping it would sink in that he was not allowed to touch the lamps!  We’ll see how long that lasts!

I’m not surprised that Robbie is attracted to the lamps.  We all love light.  Whether it’s the fireworks we enjoyed this week, a bright full moon, a beautiful sunrise or awesome sunset, cozy candlelight, the toasty blaze of a campfire, or simply a night full of stars—there is something about light that draws us to it like moths to a flame.

It is no wonder Jesus compared Himself to light.  Despite the sunshine and other lights of our physical environment, we live in a spiritually black world.  John 3:19 tells us that we needed to be rescued from the darkness, “And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.”  The good news is that Jesus is that light.  He said, “I am the light of the world.” (John 8:12)  He went on to say, “He that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.”  Christ came into the dark, sinfulness of this world in order to lead us out of its blackness and into His eternal light and life.  He said in John 12:46, “I am come a light into the world, that whosoever believeth on me should not abide in darkness.”

His light shines in our hearts and opens our blinded eyes to the glory of God.  “For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.”  (II Corinthians 4:6)  His Word continues to act as a light in our lives, guiding us in His way, according to His will.
“Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.”  (Psalm 119:105)

Furthermore, when we have His light in our lives, He wants us to be lights, as well, in this dark world.  He has said, “Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.   Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house.  Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.”  (Matthew 5:14-16)  As our family, friends, neighbors and co-workers see Christ shining steadfastly in our lives, they will be attracted to that Light.

May it be our desire always to be reflectors of the light of Jesus Christ to the glory of God and for the salvation of others.

The Niggle Worm

Day after day after day.  We prayed fervently—and every day the situation remained the same.  No ID number for Oleg today, thus no passport today.  David and his new son sat in a tiny, sweltering apartment in Kiev, frustrated and upset with the bureaucracy that held them prisoner there.  Oleg just wanted to leave and begin his new life with his new family in his new home and his new country.  David’s concerns were far greater.  Yes, he desperately wanted to get home to the rest of the family.  He had been there for two and a half months already and he felt like he was missing out on his children’s lives.  Julie had been home with Anastasia for three weeks and was reporting that their new teenage daughter was already blossoming and was a new child from the girl they had adopted in the Ukraine.  Benjamin, Joshua and Hannah were missing him terribly and just wanting the whole thing to be over and their family reunited once more.

David’s situation at work was even more crucial, though.  A lieutenant colonel in the Air Force, his responsibilities and duties were great.  Earlier in the year he had been laid up and on leave for months due to a back injury, surgery and recovery time.    He had barely recovered when the time came to go to the Ukraine for the adoptions of Oleg and Ukraine—a process that was supposed to take about five to six weeks.  Now here he was—totally out of leave and still “trapped” in a system that seemed to not want to let his boy go.  What made things even more complicated and dire was that he was due to be transferred to California in only three weeks.  The out-processing for such a transfer normally takes 45 – 50 days to complete.  He was down to less than 20 days if he went home immediately.  David was very concerned about his career.  If he didn’t get out to California on time, there could be dire consequences.  Not only that, they still had to get their house on the market, and it wasn’t even ready to be put on the market.  Julie and the kids, including the two new children, would have to stay behind until the house sold and try to blend together as a new family without him.

All this weighed heavily on David.  They were praying urgently and fervently that God would move the bureaucracy and release them from this situation.  Hundreds of others were praying with them.  The process was turning into a nightmare and sucking all the joy out of what should have been a wonderful experience for them all.

When the ID number finally came through, there was still no passport.  Someone had made a mistake somewhere, and still today that passport is floating around somewhere in limbo.  David finally had to take Oleg back to the orphanage until the passport comes through, while he hopped a plane and came home yesterday so that he could be back at work Monday.  Julie will fly back as soon as they get word that their lawyer has the passport in hand, and finish the steps that must be taken before Oleg is free to go home to America with his new mama.  We all continue to pray that that will happen in the next few days and maybe, just maybe, by next weekend the family will all be together again.

All along we had reaffirmed to one another and in our hearts that God is in control; that He sees the big picture; that His timeline is perfect.  We knew that God does not always answer with a yes or no, but sometimes with a “wait.”  We knew that we could trust Him completely, and that He has promised to be faithful in completing whatever it is He calls us to do.  We knew that He hears our fervent prayers and cares; that we should be still and know that He is God; that we could simply rest and wait on Him.  We knew that the delays had a good reason, and might very well be for someone else’s benefit.  All these things we knew beyond a shadow of a doubt—and yet that old liar, Satan, tried to tempt us (well, at least me) to doubt.

Deep down in my heart, I felt a little niggling doubt, like a cancerous worm, trying to rear its ugly head.  “Is God really hearing you?” it sneered.  “Why is He not helping you?  Why did He allow it to turn into this terrible mess?  If He can move mountains, why can’t He move the bureaucracy in the Ukraine?”  Quickly I stomped it down.  No, I know God cares and is working for our good.  I know that He is trustworthy and faithful and will see David and Julie through this trial for His glory.  And I know you, Satan, hate to see the souls and lives of these two beautiful children slipping through your fingers as Julie and David seek to rescue them and lead them to the Lord.  God will be glorified and though we may not know all the reasons why, I will trust Him!

David put a devotional on Facebook this week that really hit home for me.  It began with the Scripture Mark 9:21-24: “And he [Jesus] asked his father, How long is it ago since this came unto him? And he said, Of a child. And ofttimes it hath cast him into the fire, and into the waters, to destroy him: but if thou canst do anything, have compassion on us, and help us. Jesus said unto him, If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth. And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief.”

Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief.  God knows our frailties.  He knows that we have moments of weakness and discouragement—and even sometimes moments of doubt.  I believe He gave us examples in His word of some of the greatest men and women in the Bible who had those times when in their hearts they might have cried out those very words, “Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief.”   Abraham and Sarah, David, Elijah, Peter—these are just a few of the pillars of our faith who at times became so discouraged that they questioned and even doubted how God was working.  If people such as these face those moments, we should not be surprised when we do, as well.

The devotional, written by Dr. Paul Chappell, had a paragraph I would like to share.  It reads:  “Each of us faces difficult circumstances at times in our lives. There may even be days when we see no way out of the problems we face. But when God is involved, nothing is impossible. No obstacle you face challenges His strength and resources; no decision you must make challenges His wisdom and knowledge. If there is a problem, it is not with God’s ability but with our faith.”

Being tempted to doubt is not a sin.  Giving into that temptation and allowing it to grow within our hearts, is.  Our prayer when faced with such temptation should be, “Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief.”  He has promised in I Corinthians 10:13, There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.”  God is faithful and he will strengthen our faith when we call out to him with a sincere heart.