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Devotional, Encouragement, Prayer

“Blind” Faith?

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When was the last time God answered your prayers? When was the last time He answered your prayers exactly as you expected Him to? Have you ever prayed about a situation and things seemed to get worse?

In his devotional book, Experiencing God Day by Day, Henry Blackaby says, “Much of the frustration we experience as Christians has nothing to do with what God does or doesn’t do. It has everything to do, rather, with the false assumptions we make about how we think God will or should act.”

Do you agree with this statement? In theory, Christians believe that God is merciful. Loving. Patient. Forgiving. Generous. Faithful. But what if what He does doesn’t seem to match what He is? Here is where the value of past experience—your own or that of others—comes into play. You may not be able to clearly see what He is doing in your life right now. But try looking back over your life or the life of a loved one. Can you see His hand? His love? His wisdom?

We don’t always understand what the results of today’s obedience will be, but we choose to obey anyway. That’s called faith. But it’s not blind faith, because “we know whom we have believed and are convinced that he is able to guard what we have entrusted to him until that day” (2 Tim. 1:12).

Don’t try to predict. Just trust and rest in His plan today. He’s got this.

 

 

Encouragement, Prayer

The (Apparent) Failure of Prayer

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When it comes to prayer, perhaps you can relate to British novelist Elizabeth Goudge’s character, Parson Hawthyn:

“In the church, Parson Hawthyn sat up stiffly and rubbed his rheumatic knees. He felt cold and stiff and his hour of prayer had brought him no personal satisfaction, plagued as he had been with indigestion, wandering thought, a depressing sense of personal failure, and the growing conviction that Joe would die.”

Ever been there? I have. So I readily identified with dear old Parson Hawthyn’s struggles in prayer. But it was what Goudge said next that gave me pause: “The apparent failure of prayer never disturbed [Parson Hawthyn], convinced as he was both of its hidden worth and of the adorable perfection of the will of God….”

Wow. Are we so convinced of the worth of prayer that we will persevere in it no matter what—even in the face of “apparent failure”? Are we so persuaded that God hears our prayers and uses them to accomplish His divine will that we can’t not pray?

John Wesley said, “God will do nothing on earth except in answer to believing prayer.” We need prayer for our nation and our world now as never before. Will you take time today and pray that God’s kingdom come and His will be done in your community? Your workplace? Your nation? He’s waiting to hear from you.

 

 

 

Devotional, Encouragement, Uncategorized

Welcome!

Thank you for stopping by my webpage. It is my hope and prayer that my books, presentations, and blog posts will remind you that “As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him; for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust.” Psalm 103: 13-14

If you are feeling “dusty” today, I pray that the Lord will heal your heart and refresh your spirit. If you would like to, please leave a comment or a question using the comment box below.

For news about upcoming releases, extra book scenes, and fun contests, please click here to sign up for my quarterly email newsletter.


Coming soon!

Book #2 in my Miss Opal series, Miss Opal is Elected,  is scheduled to be released by the end of April! If you have not read the first book, Miss Opal Makes a Match, you can read an excerpt here or purchase it on Amazon.

I am also thrilled to announce that my first cozy mystery, Make Haste Slowly, will be published by Mountain Brook Ink in November. This is the first in a three-book series of mysteries set in small-town Central Texas.


Devotional, Uncategorized

Riotous Blooms

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My oleander bush won’t bloom. Everyone else’s oleander bushes have a riot of magenta blossoms covering the dark, glossy leaves. I just have dark glossy leaves. Which are quite beautiful in their own right; however, if one owns an oleander, one wants the oleander to bloom.

I have pruned my oleander. I have watered my oleander. I have fertilized my oleander. It won’t bloom. Know why? It doesn’t get enough sun. Whoever planted my oleander, before it was my oleander, likely didn’t reckon on the tree next to it growing quite so large. They didn’t think about how the shade would stifle the oleander’s flowering ability.

My oleander has the potential to bloom. But unless I either cut down the large tree or move the oleander to a different spot, my oleander won’t bloom. Ever. Not even with large amounts of water, fertilizer and tender loving care.

Sometimes, we find ourselves in a similar situation. We need God to cut something down, or we need Him to move us. Neither of these options is particularly attractive. But if we are going to produce what He intends for us to produce, we need to allow Him to do what He needs to do. It won’t be pain-free, but as Paul said in Romans 8:18 NIV, “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.”

God created each of us with the potential for riotous bloom. “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” (Ephesians 2:10 NIV). Let Him do what only He can do.

Devotional, Encouragement

When It’s Okay to Give Up

For me, it happened gradually, like an oak tree losing its leaves in autumn. Sometimes one at a time, floating silently to the ground when the final thread of stem at last gave way; sometimes whole clumps, torn violently by an icy wind and hurled to the frozen ground. It took a long time for me to realize that the limbs were finally bare.

My dreams weren’t farfetched or unusually selfish, I don’t think. But as every last one of them scattered to the wind, I began to examine everything I had ever believed, or thought I knew to be true.

One issue I have to come to grips with daily is loving someone who persists in self-destructive behavior. For years, I tried everything in my power (including prayer and fasting) to see this loved one healthy in body, soul and spirit. I thought that if he would just attend the “right” church or hear that one special sermon or read the one amazing book or somehow have one illuminating moment or perhaps an incredible “burning bush” experience with God, that things would change. Not so.

After beating my head against the wall for years, I finally had a godly pastor say to me, “I’ve seen it before, over and over. This person is not going to change. The habits and thought processes are too ingrained.” Some of you will stop reading this right now, saying to yourself, “That’s not true! God can change any person! Everyone and every situation can be changed by the power of God .” In response, I say a hearty “Amen.” God can and does change anyone who is WILLING to change.

And that’s the rub. Change doesn’t just “occur.” Even with God’s help, real change only takes place when the person submits himself to God and works at allowing God to change him or her. Real change involves having one’s mind renewed by the word of God. True change requires determination, surrender, accountability and plain ol’ hard work.

So, is it ever okay to give up? To say “I quit”? Yep. In fact, I believe God desires for us to give up–give up control, that is. I believed that if I prayed enough, if I fasted enough, if I gave enough suggestions or tried to “fix” things enough, eventually this person would see the light and we could all live happily ever after. Hmmm. Not so much. Did you notice how many “I’s” were in that last sentence? That was the problem. As long as I thought I could accomplish anything, I was fooling myself and adding to my own misery when the situation remained unchanged day after day.

So I gave up. Not that it’s not tempting sometimes to try to make changes happen, but I have learned, more days than not, to leave my loved one in God’s hands. Does his behavior affect our relationship? Certainly. Do I still pray for this person to be made whole? Of course. Does it still hurt? No doubt about it.

But there is peace in letting go. It’s not my job to change another person, and I must rest in that. Micah 6:8 (NIV) says,

He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God.

I think that about covers it.