Tag Archives: courage

Finish Well

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.

Galatians 6:9 (NIV)

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As much as I like the beginning of a new season whether that is the season on the calendar, school, Bible Study, MOPS, or even the elections, there comes a moment when the end is in sight. I spoke last night with my grandgirlie, Kate, and she had finished a week of very hard finals. A big sigh of relief could be heard all the way from California. Another, Tori, is graduating from eight grade in a few weeks, looking forward to entering high school. Her good news came via text: I MADE SRV CHEER!!!! New school. New adventures.

Sometimes, we slog it out and are glad it’s over. Other times, sadness hits when the last hour ends. But I try and remember advice I received many years ago from the teacher of our Bible Study class. It had been a year of hard study and we were approaching the final few weeks. She encouraged us to “not finish somehow” but to “finish well.”

It’s all about attitude. I want to leave nothing on the table, spend every last ounce of energy, holding nothing back, so that God is glorified and the task completed. Integrity, honesty, and balance enter the picture, particularly if a leader, but also for our own personal satisfaction and enjoyment. Who wants to leave the movie fifteen minutes before the end?

But what if the end is not in sight? the battle is not won? That’s the hard part and the point where endurance begins. Giving up is not an option and this side of heaven, it may never end. But God. He promises strength and courage to keep putting one foot in front of the other.

Looking back over the roads of life, you may see gravel pits where you stumbled, boulders blocking the path, ditches of despair, sand of entrapment, or slippery paths of temptation but God never let go of your hand. You stand erect today with sins forgiven, new mercies, hope for tomorrow, and the joy of a home in heaven.

Don’t give up.

Finish well!

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Stand!

And the Lord told him: “Listen to all that the people are saying to you; it is not you they have rejected, but they have rejected me as their king.”

I Samuel 8:7 (NIV)

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For a political junkie like me, this is an amazing time. Yet, in the thirty years serving in the Republican party, in some form or other, I have never witnessed anything like it. I know what it is like to put every ounce of my time, effort, and money into a candidate and I know the elation of winning and the despair of losing. However in the end, the will of the voters prevails.

The children of Israel watched God do amazing feats on their behalf, rescuing them from slavery and death. But the farther away they wandered from Egypt, the more they forgot how bad it had been. They wanted what they could see—to be just like everyone else. The desert was a dangerous place and they thought a king would protect them and keep them safe.

The prophet, Samuel, was displeased with this request and prayed for wisdom. God reminded him that the crowd was not rejecting his leadership. They were rejecting God, Almighty. He told them to give them what they wanted. But if you read the rest of the chapter, God also told Samuel the consequences of such a decision. They left a life of slavery to become slaves again — this time to someone of their own choosing.

The Pilgrims suffered harrowing experiences to settle in America to be able to enjoy religious freedom. Now, almost 400 years later, Christians are asking for a “king.” Why? Because of anger and fear? No, we have forgotten who is really in charge. We have traded our trust in Him for our own self-sufficiency and we will find it sadly lacking.

Believers in Jesus — this election is a clarion call for righteousness not cowardice. Pray for wisdom, strength, and courage. Don’t follow the crowd. Satan is just rubbing his hands together in delight over the disarray of the church.

”Having done all…stand.” 

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Such a time…

Nothing in all creation is hidden from God. Everything is naked and exposed before his eyes, and he is the one to whom we are accountable.

Hebrews 4:13 (NLT)

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While studying the book of Esther at Bible Study, I noticed that the Jews had chosen to stay in exile in the land of Persia. They could have returned to their homes in Jerusalem but decided to remain with their comfort and familiarity and had assimilated so well that their nationality had become imperceptible to their neighbors.

Enter, the heroine, Queen Esther — a Jew but a carefully guarded secret from her husband and adopted nation. She was so isolated and insulated from the outside world that a potential holocaust of her people couldn’t penetrate her seclusion without the hand of God entering into the story.

The recent shooting at Umpqua Community College in Oregon reminded me of this story. Standing in a classroom with a gun, the shooter asked victims if they were Christians before he shot them. Each person had the choice to affirm their faith in Christ or not. Some lost their lives for their convictions.

ISIS beheaded twenty-one Egyptian men because of their belief in Christ. The Yazidis, a Christian minority in Iraq, have fled for their lives even as women and children have been captured, raped, and killed by ISIS.

In America, it’s easy to live each day as if all is well. How long before the isolation and insulation we expect and crave will keep us from an awareness of the holocaust that is going on around the world and within our own borders?

Back to Esther, who had a choice:

If you keep quiet at a time like this, deliverance and relief for the Jews will arise from some other place, but you and your relatives will die. Who knows if perhaps you were made queen for just such a time as this? Esther 4:14 (NLT)

Will you keep quiet? Are you ready to stand up for your faith and are you placed in a position for such a time as this?

Something to think about.

 

 

 

 

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Cutthroat or Cutting Edge

For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline. So never be ashamed to tell others about our Lord.

2 Timothy 1:7-8 (NLT) 

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Have you ever felt just “blah?” As the day wore on with relentless television reports of the murder of two young people doing their job — a TV reporter and a photojournalist — by a jealous, vicious, ruthless, evil man (I can’t even call him a colleague) it made my heart sick and sad. In a cutthroat business to get to the top, anger and bitterness ruled the day. Making it worse, it was filmed and broadcast over social media.

Many reasons are being bandied about to determine the motives of this man and mental illness may play a part. But that in no way condones the actions or gives license for more of this kind of behavior.

Family and friends are hurt and grieving, asking “why?” Out nation continues to see acts of violence so often that everything begins to run together. We become numb and apathetic. It’s so much easier to poke our head in the sand and ignore it.

However, we don’t have that luxury as believers in Christ. We need to be on the cutting edge in our spheres of influence. The battle has been drawn by Satan and we see his inroads every day. We must be at the forefront, ready to enter the fray with courage, assurance, and hope.

Remember, the shepherd, David, won the challenge against a giant with five smooth stones.  He had been practicing his aim out in the fields for years as he tended sheep. He didn’t need or want the King’s armor because he was confident in his weapon and wasn’t afraid. His resume included killing a bear and a lion. How much harder could this be?

We, too, need to be prepared and assured because we have all the power of heaven and earth behind us. Put on the armor of God every day. You will need it. Know the enemy and don’t be charmed by an angel of light. Engage and speak up for righteousness in an era of moral decay.

Take heart:

You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.

1 John 4:4 (NIV)

Satan will never win. The resurrection took care of that.

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Protected

He will cover you with his feathers.
He will shelter you with his wings.
His faithful promises are your armor and protection.

Psalm 91:4 (NLT)

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After living in Arizona for a few months, Mark commented that he had never seen so many birds that would rather walk than fly. Whether it is a roadrunner or a family of quail, we constantly dodge them as we drive around our neighborhood. We have affectionately named all roadrunners, “Jake.” It’s easier. They are busy birds, always seem to be in a hurry, and, much to my surprise, are meat eaters.

We have a resident quail couple that visit a pot in our courtyard each spring. Mama lays her eggs under the geranium leaves after scooping out a hollow in the soil. She lays one or two eggs over several days until there are 10-15. Papa struts on the casita roof attending to his sentry duty, overlooking his future family, ready to squawk if any danger approaches. When all the eggs are laid, Mama sits…and waits. I love it when the babies hatch, hop to the ground, and scurry all around the patio. But the most fun is to watch them line up to cross the street—Mama in the front and Papa bringing up the rear.

Quail babies make perfect snacks for roadrunners. Danger hovers around them until they are grown and can take care of themselves. God, in His infinite wisdom and design, created this family unit with two parents to nurture and protect them until they are able to outwit their enemy.

Danger lurks on every hand for us, too, but God provides the cover that we need in a world that is often scary and out of control. His wings and feathers bear the brunt of the storms in our lives and His promises offer protection for our hearts and minds. We are not alone. He is both our front and rear guard.

Take courage from my little quail family. You are loved and protected.

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Courage

 

We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance.  And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation.  And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.

Romans 5:3-5 (NLT)

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Ebola. Israel. Hamas. Iraq. Ukraine. Crashes. Elections. Obama. Entitlement. Securities. Border.

These are not four letter words but they may cause sleepless nights and fear of the future. Our world is changing and not for the better.

Our pastor prays each Sunday for the elected leaders of our country and state, as commanded — regardless of party or persuasion. But we are headed to a new emphasis on warfare prayer in the sermon series because he is convinced that we need a Third Great Awakening as the only hope for America.

We never know what our day will bring as I found myself sitting several hours in a hospital waiting room with a friend yesterday. Her husband had emergency gall bladder removal surgery.  It was a strange feeling to be in the same hospital where I have sat for so many hours at the side of my husband, but this time with someone else. As the doctor explained the results of the surgery to her, he shook my hand, too, and called me “Moral Support.” Isn’t that what we all need these days?

Nothing brings that more clearly to my mind as when I think about my grandgirlies. What kind of a world are they headed into? I pray that they will be strong like Queen Esther for “such a time as this.”

Mark asked me the other day what we could do for the Christians being persecuted in Mosul. Pray. Every day. Fervently. Without ceasing. We need to give moral support to those we encounter every day. Speak up and stand up for what is right.

In so many ways, everything looks hopeless. The one thing I know is that a political solution is not the answer. God works through leaders but it is all His plan and His timetable. He is in control. Be courageous. We know the end of the story, WE WIN.

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To-Do List

For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.

2 Timothy 1:7 (NKJV)

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To-Do List:

Dump dirty clothes into the bin in the closet, move clothes to the washer or transfer to the dryer, empty the dishwasher, wipe down the kitchen counters, grab the pitcher of iced tea from the top shelf of the refrigerator, snag Parker’s treat from deep inside the pantry, make the bed. 

I used to jump up and get these done quickly, but sitting in a wheelchair demands a new way and accommodation — sometimes awkward and often more time-consuming.

We do so many of things on auto-pilot, never evaluating whether a change might be a good idea. I like routine and there is safety in familiarity, but am I missing options that I never even considered and now have to invent?

One of the phrases that makes me see red is, “But, we’ve always done it this way.”  I don’t consider myself much of a risk taker but I like to try new things, whether it is a different route home, a foreign cuisine, or a new “techie” gadget. I change the decorations in my house, the flowers in my pots, the clothes in my closet seasonally. I like change.

However, change can be daunting yet manageable, even empowering, when done with courage and determination. God promises to be there when life takes a different turn and we suddenly have to be creative. It is His power that enables us, His love that encourages us, and the mind of Christ that enlightens us.

Ready to try something new?

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Speak Up

Do not be afraid of them; the Lord your God himself will fight for you. Deuteronomy 3:22 (NIV)

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In an election season, the subject of politics comes up in situations that most consider impolite in other circumstances. But why? Because people have different opinions? Why can we differ on who is going to win the World Series and promote our team but can’t talk about the election and our guy?

Our pastor has made a commitment to speak from the pulpit about biblical principles pertinent to this election, just as he prays weekly for the President and leaders. I appreciate his example and willingness to ask people if they are going to vote just as easily as he asks a person whether he or she has accepted Jesus.

The point is, we must not be intimidated to speak up for our beliefs. We are called to be salt and light. Ask questions of your friends and neighbors—many people are just beginning to be aware of the approaching election and are unaware of the importance of our vote for our families.

We could choose to fret and worry as to the outcome but there is no fear. Ultimately, God is in control of this election. Trust Him.

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Hurray!

It has been a very long week. I woke up this morning feeling like Gloomy Gussie (Mark’s affectionate name for me.) As overwhelmed as I feel, I have a new respect and admiration for military families that move often because it requires such strength, endurance, and stamina. Greeting a myriad of boxes at every turn, furniture in the wrong place or wrong room, endless missing parts to the whole, the doorbell ringing with workmen stopping by to fix something – I wonder if my one step at time will bring me to the end of this journey. Yet after five days of searching, Mark did find the missing comforter for our bed in the pile of boxes in the garage and I found the two errant lampshades in a box stacked in the closet. I knew that I needed some spiritual refreshment so I prayed for comfort and encouragement and was rewarded in Psalm 27:

Teach me how to live, O LORD.

Lead me along the path of honesty,

for my enemies are waiting for me to fall.

Yet I am confident that I will see the LORD’s goodness while I am here in the land of the living.

Wait patiently for the LORD.

Be brave and courageous.

Yes, wait patiently for the LORD.

As I read, I smiled to myself because there was His promise, again, to lead me on this path. And my part? It is to be brave and courageous and wait – patiently! It has taken most of the day for the gloominess to lift but tonight I feel encouraged that tomorrow I will be one step closer to order in all of this chaos. Hurray!

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