Christian growth · Christian Life · trust

This Trial Is Killing Me!

Not long ago I had the blessing of a lovely summer afternoon in the swimming pool. I grabbed a pool noodle, sat on top of it and floated and drifted a couple of hours away. Had I worn a device to track my exercise, it would have only marked my steps into the water. There was little effort or difficulty in my afternoon. It was leisure that I loved, though it had little bodily profit!

A day later I saw a You Tube video of a woman showing how to make the pool a place of exercise. With the guidance of a coach, she did several kinds of swimming strokes, making long, difficult laps the length of the pool. She kicked, bobbed, and pushed her way through a regime that literally took her breath away. She did everything the coach was telling her to do. At one point she said to him, “You’re killing me!” It was hard work but it was truly profitable to her!

The contrast of those two pool adventures reminds me of how life is for the believer. There are times when we float along, enjoying the refreshment of God’s grace, yet we aren’t stretched or changed by those careless hours. It’s in the time of trial when we find ourselves kicking, bobbing and pushing; clinging to God’s instruction and listening to His voice that change really comes. When the bodily movements are not resisting the Lord and what He wants to do, it will truly benefit our Christian life!

Proverbs 12:28 says,

In the way of righteousness is life; and in the pathway thereof there is no death.

God knows that we need seasons of difficulty to strengthen our prayer muscles. Our heart muscles of faith in His Word may need to be greater. The very breathing in of our knowledge of His character may require stretching, so He brings resistance and difficulty. We may cry out, “You’re killing me!” because we’re tired. We want the straining and hardship to be over. We would rather be floating on a raft, gazing up at the clear sky, than being splashed in the face of our own weakness. But when we call out to the one in charge, our sovereign God, who loves us and wants us to grow and change, He comforts. He marks out a pathway of life – deep, strong, eternal life that is far better than the weak one we would choose if we might.

If you’re in the midst of the hard laps of trial right now, look beyond the poolside and see the change that will result if you listen to the One who is guiding you. He’ll know when it’s time to allow you to float again. And when you see your reflection shining back at you in the water, you can be sure that it will look so much more like Christ!

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Christian Life · Encouragement · God's character

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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Christian Life · trials

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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Christian Life · God's character · Heaven · trials · trust

The Storm Will Pass

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An hour before I took the picture above, a real spring storm blew through our area. It blew in from a completely different direction than most storms. The winds were really whipping, causing debris, porch pillows and vegetation to blow and bow down.  Earlier in the day I had heard we were in for storms, but it seemed unlikely at the time, because it was lovely in the morning.  But sure to the prediction, they came in just as they said.  I was glad I had secured things outside, and I was especially glad that I was inside where it was safe and dry!

I went about the work I was doing, and kept an ear and eye on the outside, for safety sake.  It wasn’t long, though until I looked through the window and saw the clouds clearing.  Then I saw the sun hitting the backyard.  I stepped onto the back porch and everything was cool, refreshed, and though dripping with the drops of the precipitation, it was evident that the storm was over.

I know many people who are going through storms in their personal lives.  I would have to add, that the storm is in their personal Christian life.  It’s a storm sent by the Lord for His purposes.  As I watch, I see the pressures of the trial causing them to bow, just like the trees in my front yard bent as the wind pushed against its branches.  They are bowing with the ache and the pain of the trial, but they are not broken.  They are trusting the God of their life to do His work, and they are firmly planted on His Word, even when their hearts may want to waver or ask why.

We’ve all been warned that trials will come to us.  Maybe you’re one who is experiencing one right now. Perhaps your trial is just around the corner. It’s easy to get caught off guard because the “sun is shining” today and we can’t imagine that dark clouds may be ahead.  We must prepare now for the storm that will come.  Like my friends, we must anchor our hearts in the Scriptures.  We have to know God’s character because we know His Word.  His Truth will keep us from breaking.  Knowing the Sender of the storm will remind us that He is there with us. And though we may never know why God sends or allows difficulties to come our way,  we can be sure that they went through His sovereign hands before they touched our lives.

When we find ourselves in the storm, we need to also remember that they won’t last forever.  There will be an end.  If not here, for all eternity, there will only be peace.  We may feel like quitting and throwing in the towel, but we must endure so we can see the joy of the blessings of the storm. When I was waiting out the storm yesterday, it didn’t last for long, really.  I’ve been through worse spring tempests.  We need to remind ourselves of the truth that though it seems that this trial is going on forever, there is a day when it will be over.

Hopefully when the storm is over, we won’t forget the things we’ve learned.  The lessons will be like the water droplets on my roses – little reminders that the storm was there.  There will be a freshness, a newness, and even sunshine in our hearts afterwards if we prepare for the storm, endure the storm and remember the storm.  

It’s time to go sit outside and enjoy the sunshine.  The storm is over.  To my friends who are experiencing difficulties today, I say, your storm will pass and the sun will shine again and God’s presence will refresh your spirit through it all.  

This won’t last forever.

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Are you going through a storm?  I’d love to pray for you.  Just leave a note asking for prayer – no need to share about the trial – God knows.


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Christian Life · Uncategorized

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Recently while making my bed, I sighed and thought what a blessing to have a comfy bed and lovely bedroom in which to rest each night.  I thanked the Lord for His gift of rest and even of this bed that had once again, given us the sleep needed for the day’s activities that were ahead.

But you know, sometimes that same bed finds me holding my pounding head when I’m dealing with a migraine.  Other times the sheets have been twisted and strewn all over the place, due to a stomach bug.  On those days and nights, as well as the days when we jump up feeling rested, we can (and should) have praise on our lips to our God.  On a sickbed, we can remember:

~He has our days in His hands.

~He has grace sufficient for each trial.

~He will be with me.

~He will perfect that which concerns me.

~He will comfort me.

~He desires to use this time to conform me to His likeness.

It’s good on the days of health to think ahead and get a jump on praise for the sick days.  Store up praise in your heart by rehearsing these truths.  God never changes, and these Truths won’t either!  Whether we’re rising from a good night, from a fitful night, or even a very sick night, in our inner most being, let’s resolve to give God the praise that is always due His name.  Here’s what David said in Psalm 149:5

Let the saints be joyful in glory: let them sing aloud upon their beds.

Well-bed, sickbed or deathbed, God is always worthy of praise!

With praise,

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Christian Life

None To Help

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When I think back to some of the hardest times in my life, I cannot say that I ever felt alone.  As far as I can remember I’ve always had someone alongside me to encourage and pray for me.  But yesterday as I was reading II Timothy 4, I read that Paul had been forsaken by Demas.  Alexander had done him much evil.  He then adds,

“No man stood with me; all men forsook me.”

I think it’s notable that he said all MEN forsook him.  For even when we do feel like we are alone, we have to realize the truth that Paul states in the next verse…

Notwithstanding the Lord stood with me, and strengthened me;

In other words, Paul says, “No matter that men may have forsaken me, the Lord never left me!  He gave me strength!”  He says that the Lord delivered him out of the mouth of lions.  He’s likely referring to Nero and his wickedness.  God protected Paul, even though there was no human help in sight!

What are you facing right now that makes you feel so alone?  Don’t keep your mind there.  Move on to this truth – the Lord is standing with you if you know Him as your Savior.  He will give you strength!  If you don’t know Him, then allow this trial to run you to Him as your Savior, then your Anchor in this trial!

We are never alone; the Lord is always present to help!  Acknowledge Him and see watch what He will do for you!


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Christian Life

When Your Tinsel Loses its Twinkle

Tinsel a.jpgWe’ve all probably experienced it – you drag the Christmas boxes out of the attic or basement so you can decorate the tree. After what seems like forever, the tree is finally upright and standing proudly in the middle of the room. Now it’s time to load it down with strands and strands of Tinsel and Twinkling lights. You open up the box with last year’s light strands and sadly realize two things very quickly:

  1. The strands of lights are twisted together like spaghetti noodles in a stock pot.
  2. Half of the lights aren’t even lighting up.

Your tinsel has suddenly lost its twinkle.

But there’s another kind of tinsel that loses its twinkle in our lives, and that’s just the spark that gives us the desire to put our feet on the floor each day; the zest for life and what we’ll be facing today. All we want is peace – peace in our heart, our home, our life, yet it seems unattainable, and darkness has filled our life, as much as we hate to admit it.

Our quest for peace can make us turn in several directions – looking for a new strand of “tinsel,” if you will. We lay down the darkened strand and pick up a new one that might include:

  1. Preoccupation – We may decide that if we just do something we’ll feel better. So we fill our calendars with every activity and party we’re invited to, yet the end result is more stress, rather than peace!
  2. Prescriptions – Our doctor may suggest a little energy boosting pill that will help put a spring in our step. Or perhaps the temptation to take prescription meds that will numb us might present itself, but that only brings a whole new set of problems, and simply masks the turmoil and darkness that is hidden below.
  3. Position – The temptation to pour ourselves into our career is another route to hide the darkness of our heart. We wonder if advancing our position at work, or increasing our financial status could help, but it, too, reveals more knots in the “tinsel.”

Sounds pretty discouraging, doesn’t it? But wait! Jesus Christ, knowing our hearts and the darkness of our lives, came to this earth to bring to us exactly what we need. Right before He was going to the cross, He said to His disciples in John 16:33

These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.

Let’s think about how to address the darkness that you may be experiencing. To do that, we’ll make analogies with strands of Christmas lights that are dark and what we have to do to get them to light correctly.

  1. Read the directionsWith Christmas lights you may need to read to see what the directions say to do. You may have missed something. You may need the reminder that the directions have in writing. “Oh, these aren’t meant for outside lighting…” We then must obey the instructions!

As a believer, our “instructions” are in God’s Word. Have you neglected God’s Word recently? Is that what is causing your lack of enthusiasm for your Christian life? Often the thing we know we need to do is the last thing we actually do. We must give it more than just a glance. Spend time pouring into Scripture and listen to what the Lord is saying to you.

Psalm. 119:130 – The entrance of God’s Word gives light. The Spirit of God speaks to us through His Word. He’ll tell you what you need to hear – it will be what no one else can say into your heart.

Psalm 43:5 Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me? hope in God: for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God

Casting off our miseries often only requires remembering God’s mercies.

  1. Change the bad bulb. One DIY site said, IF YOU’RE LUCKY, SIMPLY PLUGGING IN THE MINI LIGHTS WILL REVEAL A BAD BULB. Change the bad bulb and boom – you’ve got lights!

In a believer’s life, a “bad bulb” is unconfessed sin. Is there sin you need to confess?  I John 1:6 says to believers,

If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth:

An unbeliever out of fellowship with God is a poor testimony! Our words and our life don’t match up!

Sometimes the reason for the darkness is due to the fact that we’re out of fellowship with God. The farther we get away from God, the darker our world gets. Pray – plug into the Source and ask God if there’s something burned out – sin in your lifeCall it what God calls it. Is there something you need to obey? Do it. Are you doing something that is directly against Scripture? Stop it. Confess it. I John 1:9

  1. Get a right perspective. In a month, will one dead strand of lights really matter to you? Will the dark strand be your outstanding memory next year? I seriously doubt it. Let it go; it isn’t that important.

Realize that for a believer, this hard situation you’re dealing with is as bad as it will ever get for you. “In this world you will have tribulations – reminds us that this world is fleeting. One day we’ll be with Christ, and trouble will be over.

Revelation 21:4 And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.

  1. Perhaps you need to simply exchange the strand of lights! If the strand is dead, it’s never going to have light. Take it back to the store and exchange it for good lights!

Friend, Are you sure you’re God’s child? Eph 2:1 And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins; You cannot have light (peace and joy) outside of Christ! If you’re trying to get through on your own, you’re never going to get there!   

Years ago when our daughter was still hoping for Santa to come visit her on Christmas, my husband thought it would be great fun to take her little jingle bells outside her bedroom window after she’d gone to bed, and give his best, “Ho! Ho! Ho!” to make her think Santa was passing by.

She was tucked in bed tightly and I was seated in the living room across from her bedroom door, watching with anticipation as my own “Santa” slipped into the darkness. He gave it his best with a few shakes of the bells and roof-lifting Ho, ho, ho’s. In a matter of seconds, our three year-old was in my lap screaming at the top of her lungs in sheer terror.  #goodideaturnedbad

We tried to console her by telling her it was just her daddy. He even dressed her in her coat and took her to the spot where he had stood outside her window. She was not buying that! Nor was she buying sleeping in her room that could at any moment by visited by Santa! Instead, what she had to have was her sister’s company. Her toddler bed was moved into “Sissy’s Room”…for the next two months.  #parentfail

It seemed ridiculous to us because we knew that in that darkness, her father was just outside the window. He knew what was in the darkness.  He wanted to comfort her in the darkness, but she refused.

Oh, that story reminds me of myself! How often in “dark times” the Lord, my Heavenly Father, was just outside “my window,” yet my terror or wrong perception of the darkness drove me from Him, when what He wanted was for that to drive me TO Him.

God allows the darkness so that we might understand that He is very near, that He loves us and desires that we come to Him in our darkness and exchange it for His light!

 John 8:12 Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying,

I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.

For an unbeliever, this life is as good as it will ever get. These hard days are the best you’ll have if you don’t trust Christ as you Savior, but Jesus said, In me ye will have peace. The only way we have peace is in the PERSON of Jesus Christ!

Jesus told His disciples to “TAKE COURAGE!” Why? He has defeated the world! Christ died on the cross for you because He loves you! He wants to give you eternal life.

Think of exchanging out your tangled, dark Christmas tinsel, which represents your lack of peace, and exchanging it for the Person of Jesus Christ – the Light of the World! No more confusion! No more darkness!

So what do you need to do…

  1. Read the directions?
  2. Change the bad bulb?
  3. Get a right perspective?
  4. Exchange the strand?

Let Jesus Christ bring the light back into your life!