When God Seems Far Off

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When my husband and I were dating, we had many miles between us. We missed one another desperately, so we did whatever was necessary to eliminate the distance!

One summer I was in Kentucky and he was in South Carolina – not exactly next door! Then to make matters even more difficult, I had planned to travel with my family to Michigan. Knowing that even more miles were getting ready to separate us was an unpleasant thought, so he found a way to make the trip north with us! Being separated from one you love is rough business!

Have you ever felt that the Lord was very far away? That’s worse than feeling distant from any human being. In Psalm 13:1 the psalmist said,

“How long wilt thou forget me, O LORD? forever?
how long wilt thou hide thy face from me?” 

 He was wondering if God had just plain forgotten him, and he wondered why he couldn’t see His face. However, an omniscient God can never forget and an omnipresent God can never be removed from us!

In verse two he said that he has sorrow in his heart daily. Do you feel that way right now? Does it seem like every day you wake up and that sorrow is staring you in the face? Have you discovered the happy device by which you can escape trouble? The answer is in verses five and six.

“But I have trusted in thy mercy; my heart shall rejoice in thy salvation. I will sing unto the Lord, because he hath dealt bountifully with me.” 

 The mercy seat refreshes the weeper. Remembering that fact that God took care of the greatest trouble a soul can face – eternal damnation in hell, reminds me that He is able to take care of every other need that comes into my life. He has truly dealt bountifully with us!

Joys remembered sweeten present sorrows.

Remember what the Lord has done for you.
Has he saved you?
What prayers has He answered in the past?
Has He comforted you in other trials?
Has He worked in the hearts of those you’ve prayed for?
What special blessings has He allowed you to enjoy?

Let those joys sweeten your present sorrow and encourage your heart!

God hasn’t forgotten you; He is very near.

When do you feel most removed from God?

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Stayed On Christ

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If someone asked you where you were staying, what do you think they’re asking? You might be away on vacation and you assume they want to know what motel you’re staying in. Those “stays” are  usually short-lived. You can’t live at a resort after your week’s reservation is over (sad, huh?). As much I always hate leaving a place of rest and vacation, I eventually must go home. My stay is over.

One morning his week I studied Isaiah 26:3 –

Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on thee, because he trusteth in thee.

I thought on the verse all day and then that night I heard a message from a godly pastor from this same verse. He had shared with the congregation that his adult son has cancer. Then he said, “Where are you staying? Right now, I know where I’m staying – I’m staying on Jesus!” He shared that he was having to rest on the Lord heavily and think upon Him while going through this trial. He was keeping his mind, his thoughts stayed on the Lord. Only then can peace saturate our hearts.

The trial won’t last forever, and even after it’s over, we can keep on staying on Jesus, keep on thinking on Him, keep on trusting in Him. As a matter of a fact, when it’s all said and done, you’ll find it easier to “stay” on Him because you’ve seen the benefits and the joy of remaining with Him!

So, today – right at this moment, where are you staying? Are you fretting and worried, or are you staying on Jesus and enjoying the peace that only comes when you trust in Him?

Your reservation is never over! Stay!

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Endurance of a Counselor

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I have the joy of teaching first and second graders in our church Pioneer Club on Wednesday nights.  In this children’s ministry, each club works for badges by learning Bible verses and different skills.  This month I’m teaching them to sew two kinds of simple stitches.  While it’s hard to tell them they have to pull out the stitches they worked so hard on because they’re wrong, they would never learn if I let them go on with their own way of doing it. So, we rip out and they do it again with help from workers.

Have you ever watched someone you knew and cared for slip away from the Lord? It’s even more heart wrenching than a 7 year-old who has to redo a task.  Out of a desire to help, someone steps in – maybe it was you – and tries to give godly counsel. The one going astray is guided to God’s Word but they continue a downward spiral, avoiding the Bible, church, and anyone who points them to God. The frustrated counselor might want to say, “Fine, go your way. You will reap from what you’re sowing! I’m washing my hands of this.”

As we read I Samuel 15 we see how Samuel responded to hearing that Saul had not obeyed the Lord. It says in verse11 –  

“And it grieved Samuel; and he cried unto the Lord all night.” 

His heart was broken for Saul. Samuel had given Saul much instruction, but spite that, Saul chose to go his own way and disobey the Lord’s commands. In verse 35 we read,

“Samuel came no more to see Saul until the day of his death: nevertheless, Samuel mourned for Saul…” 

 Samuel wasn’t afraid to share the truth with Saul; a reminder, I believe, that we don’t just sit and watch someone sin and be afraid to tell them the truth in love. But we must remain broken over their sin. I believe that Samuel continued to pray for Saul, and even though he watched Saul slipping farther and farther away, he loved him and desired that Saul make things right with the Lord.

If there’s someone you know that has drifted – perhaps a friend, or even a child or family member, ask the Lord to keep your heart soft towards them, as modeled by godly Samuel. May our hearts be as such as would mourn and cry to the Lord all night for a brother or sister that has wandered. Keep praying and lovingly sharing the truth when you have the opportunity. God desires that they return to Him, and it might be due to a Christian friend like you that they will do just that.

I can’t wait to see my club members get their sewing badge at the end of the month! Let’s care enough to share the truth with that one who isn’t walking with God, then stick around to see the results; it will be worth it!

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Looking For a Bandaged Finger

Image result for band aidDwight Marrow, the father of Anne Morrow Lindbergh, once held a dinner party to which Calvin Coolidge had been invited. After Coolidge left, Morrow told the remaining guests that Coolidge would make a good president. The others disagreed. They felt Coolidge was too quiet, that he lacked color and personality. No one would like him, they said. Anne, then age six, spoke up: “I like him,” she said. Then she displayed a finger with a small bandage around it.

“He was the only one at the party who asked about my sore finger. “

Showing a bit of compassion to a person makes a huge difference! Jude 22 says, “And of some having compassion, making a difference.” While we understand that this verse is speaking about using compassion to bring back those that have gone astray in apostasy, it has challenged my heart as to how all ministry is to be done, if it’s to accomplish what the Lord would desire.

There are two ways to do ministry – in the flesh and in the Spirit. When we serve the Lord in the Spirit we will respond in compassionate ways to the needs around us.
Would you really want an uncaring nurse to administer your shots to you?
Would you appreciate your hostess responding to you in a hostile manner when she learns you have some dietary restrictions?
Would you want to be greeted by a cold, unfeeling church member when you’re in the midst of a trial?

We are given a wonderful example of compassion in Acts 9. The character is Dorcas, a follower of Christ’s. She was known by the good works she had done for the widows. After she fell sick and died, the women mourned her death so much that they sent for Peter. Surely he could do something for her! Here’s a lesson in itself. What will others say when you and I die? Would we be missed so much that others would pray for our resurrection? Would our absence in our home, church, and community leave a void? We are each preaching our funeral while we live!

When Peter arrived they spread out the coats and garments that Dorcas had made for them; this was the demonstration of her compassion for these widows. If all our compassionate efforts were spread out in front of others what would we have to show?

  • Would there be evidence that we cared, that we:
    • took time to provide a meal for someone?
    • That we had graciously spent time writing a note of encouragement to someone in the midst of a difficulty?

It’s so easy to get caught up in our own little world that we miss out on opportunities to show compassion. Dorcas made the Gospel believable by her acts of mercy, coupled with a heart that moved her efforts along like the current of a waterfall. Her life was constantly pouring out good works. We know that these works don’t save a person. We could never do enough good to pay the ransom for our soul. Christ did that on the cross. Our works, however, show that our faith is not dead (James 2:26b).

There are many opportunities for us to link arms and show compassion. We can encourage each other  first in our individual homes (sometimes the easiest place to neglect). Our efforts should then run to the church and then our community.

Be alert to the opportunities that the Lord brings your way. Someone out there has a “bandaged finger”; let’s find them and minister to them, and in so doing make the Gospel believable!

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Tips For the Best & Easiest Grilled Dinner

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We’re one of those families who uses the grill all year long.  We grill while on vacation.  We grill in the winter.  It’s just hard to beat dinner cooked outside!  Add a couple perfect sides and you have a dinner you’re glad you stayed home for!  Let me give you a few of my favorite tips for a fast and delicious grilled meal.

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Tip #1 – Shorten the time on the grill

Grilled Chicken is so good with that charred flavor! But it takes so long to cook over the coals that it’s hard to:

  1. Be patient enough to stand out in the sun for an hour.
  2. Cook the meat to done-ness without burning charring it to a crisp.

My favorite way to speed up the process is to use the crock pot or oven and pretty much cook the chicken.  That way I have dinner prepped and on its way, and it’ll only take about 15 minutes to finish the main dish.

At that time, I (which means my husband!) will just heat up the grill and put the meat on long enough to add the  barbecue sauce and get it thick and caramelized. By then it also has gotten that nice grilled flavor!

I don’t do this for most other meats, but it’s a time-saver with chicken! I also like to do my ribs in the crock pot first so they’ll be tender. See pic below!  Mmmm!

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Tip #2 Make the perfect baked potato

If you ever had a potato from Red Lobster, you’ll understand when I talk about the potato skin being crispy and salty.  I never do mine in the microwave, but the method I use is so simple and easy to prep.

  1. Wash and dry potatoes.
  2. Place on a foil-line baking sheet.
  3. Spray the potatoes with cooking spray on all sides. Pierce each with a knife.
  4. Sprinkle course salt over all sides.
  5. Bake at 400 degrees for one hour.

The potatoes will be crispy, salty and delicious!  I prep them and get them into the oven early in the day, then set the oven to auto bake.  It comes on when it’s time and is ready for the table when the meat is being taken off the grill! When I do a sweet potato, I slip it into foil and bake it for an hour at 400.  It doesn’t need the process done for the regular potato.

Tip #3 Microwave the corn.

I know there are some good tips to cook corn on the grill, but for ease, I started using this microwave method a couple years ago.

  1. Shuck the corn and wash ears.
  2. Remove silks.
  3. Wrap a paper towel around each ear. Run it quickly under water to wet the paper towel.
  4. Place corn in the microwave and cook about 1-2 minutes per ear – depending on your microwave.

 

Tip #4 – Put foil on your grill racks.

This tip is only if you like keeping a clean grill, but hate scrubbing the racks.  You’ll still get good grill marks on your food, and you’ll have far less clean-up!

Tip #5 – Spray the foil with cooking spray

This obviously helps the food not stick.  Meat does tend to stick to the foil, so this just keeps it from making it difficult to flip the food over to grill the other side.

These tips make grilling out so much easier, and you just can’t get any better than a menu of

Barbecued chicken or ribs 
Baked potato  
Corn on the cob!!

What is your best tip for grilling out?
Have I used the word “grill” enough in this post?!! Ha!  We love it!!  So go and GRILL something!

With love from my country kitchen (and patio),

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Best Friends in Marriage

The posts have been about friendship this week, we can’t forget our BEST earthly friend and the importance of maintaining  our relationship with him!

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Yesterday found my husband and me in the basement going through some boxes of “stuff.” Stuffed animals, old toys, pictures, school annuals, dolls, dishes, and books were sorted through. I was down there for several hours – not because I got so much accomplished, necessarily, but because when I go through old things it brings back memories and I have to stop and reflect! My husband and I passed many pictures back and forth to one another. “Oh, remember this?” “Look at us! How hilarious!” (You will not be seeing any of those pictures posted here!) Not only did we recall many special times from our past, but it was a sweet time together recounting good memories and numerous blessings.

I also leafed through a couple of the books that I hadn’t read in a while. One book was on marriage and there was a chapter on being best friends with your mate. The highlights were how important it is to spend time together having fun, talking, sharing your heart, and being open with one another. I smiled – we had done that even in a cool basement on Memorial Day when most of our neighbors were probably out at the lake or at the park having a picnic with their extended family. We had shared secret memories of times and places when notes were found written in our handwriting. We’d laughed. We’d talked about times when our girls were growing up. This is what friends do.

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After we’d had our grilled hamburgers later in the evening, we headed out for a drive through the countryside. Opening the sun roof on the car, the warm air blew through as we pointed at beautiful homes, the clouds over the mountain or a row of flags in a front yard. We even stopped for an ice cream at Dari ace – so cute! It was a great end to a fun day spent with my best friend.

Are you still best friends with your husband? Are you spending time together? I don’t mean time living – I mean time just being together. What tone of voice do you use when you speak to him or repeat an answer to his question? Is it the tone that one would use with their best friend? God gave Adam a wife so he would have a companion. Are you and I being the best kind of completer that we could possibly be? Best friends give each other the benefit of the doubt, love when no one else loves, and enjoy just doing little things together. Is your husband the one you spend that kind of time with? Don’t replace his companionship with that of your girlfriend, sister or parents. That is not God’s plan for a married woman.

I am planning on re-reading that book I found. It was a good reminder for me. We all need to be encouraged in what a godly marriage looks like. I’m thankful for a day in the basement that helped me to be refreshed in the friendship part of our marriage!

With love,

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P.S. I believe the book I was referring to is, The Ministry of Marriage, by Jim Binney.

Refresh Yourself With Fellowship

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A week or so ago I found myself at a surprise birthday party for a friend.  Because it was a surprise, and everything was “hush-hush!” I had no idea who else had been invited.  I was delighted to find several other good friends were also there.  We were able to sit together and enjoy the fun of some fellowship that probably wouldn’t have happened otherwise!  We had a great time celebrating our friend’s birthday AND getting to share an evening together!  It was a reminder to me that we need to schedule those times of encouragement! 
When was the last time you got out and had fellowship with a friend or two?  Women tend to be so busy with life that they seldom make time for fellowship that will encourage and strengthen them as a Christian woman.  We need each other.

I love what Paul says in Philippians 3:17, 18 – ‘

Brethren, be followers together of me, and mark them which walk so as ye have us for an ensample. For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ.  

This is a warning not to fellowship with the wrong people, as well as an encouragement to fellowship with the right people!  Paul is saying, “Walk with people like me and steer clear of someone who will take you down the wrong path!”  This is a reminder to me that we need the influence of strong believers in our lives.  

What a blessing it is to get together with another Christian woman, who loves God, loves His Word, and loves doing the things that will honor the Lord!  Can I encourage you to schedule time to get with a godly friend in the next week?  Share a cup of coffee and talk about what you’re reading in the Word. Share your burdens with one another.  Pray together.  It will refresh your heart and hers!

Be refreshed by a friend,

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