Answered Prayer

answered-prayer

A PERSONAL TESTIMONY

“Jesus, I’m in trouble.  Help someone to see me quick.”  Then blackness

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As a child I had two traumatic experiences with water, one at a southern California beach and another during a vacation at a lake.  However at both of those experiences my daddy was there to pull me to safety.  It left me with a fear of water that stayed with me for years.

Not wanting my children to fear water I made sure they had their swimming lessons. Our youngest was three and I figured it was time for her lessons so I signed up all four (the three older children for more advanced classes) at our local city pool. The first day the children saw that they were also offering adult beginner lessons.  They shamed me into signing up!

The next morning there I was, freezing, in the world’s ugliest bathing suit and the first thing the instructor said was “put your face in the water”.  With that I started to cry!  I was 35 years old and couldn’t put my face in the water … not wanting the other four adults to see me crying I began to splash water in my face!!

However, after three weeks I was able to swim, under water and I was ecstatic!  One problem … not being very coordinated I never could (still don’t) have the whole thing down about continuing to swim while lifting my head, turning the same, opening my mouth, grabbing a lung full of air while still swinging my arms.  Just doesn’t happen!  But no problem … being in an Olympic size pool where I could touch bottom I would stop, stand up, get air, back to swimming.  Simple.

A few weeks after my lessons Ronn flew to St. Louis to attend a conference.  A family in our church was going to be gone for several weeks and they lived in a condominium that had a swimming pool.  They invited me to stay there for several days and let the kids have fun swimming.  Sounded good to me so I loaded up the kiddos and Oma (Ronn’s mother who lived with us) and off we went.

The children wanted to swim right away but I said they needed to wait until after lunch (God thing #1).  After lunch we suited up and went to the pool. There was only another lady and child at the pool and later another man showed up.   There were signs posted “No lifeguard on duty” but just that summer the HOA had decided to hire a lifeguard for the afternoons only (God thing #2)  Shortly after we arrived at the pool the lifeguard showed up (God thing #3).  I didn’t know he was a lifeguard … just saw him sitting off to the side about 25 feet away.

I had this brilliant idea to swim across the pool … I had done it during my lessons.  What I didn’t take into consideration was that the Olympic pool was  all one depth and I swam across the width not the length.  I also didn’t consider that I should start at the deep end and go toward the shallow end. So I took off …

I was over the deep end when I realized I needed air but when I wanted to touch bottom to stand up — the bottom wasn’t there.  That is when I knew I was in trouble and I prayed, “Jesus, I’m in trouble.  Help someone to see me quick”.

I remembered the instructor had told us never to swallow water so I closed my mouth tightly but then I remember the burning feeling of taking water into my nose which went directly into my lungs … that is when I blacked out.

The next thing I remember was taking a huge gulp of air and in my mind thanking Jesus for making an air bubble in the water … “Jesus, you are so good … You made an air bubble here for me” … what I didn’t know was by that time I was out of the water!

How did that happen?  The lifeguard saw my children and grandma but didn’t see me and he thought “I didn’t see that lady walk away … where is she?”  At that moment he stood up and saw me flat on the bottom of the pool and off he took and jumped in.

Obviously he (and the other man who ran over) got me out, laid me down, couldn’t open my mouth to give me artificial respiration (I guess I took the instructor seriously when she said not to open my mouth to take in water!) and they stood me up … and that is when I got the huge gulp of air … so now they knew I would live.

I have no idea how long I was “out” but apparently they sat me on a pool side chair and as I began to come to I heard someone saying, “Lady, do you feel like throwing up?”  He asked that several times and I had no idea who was asking, why I was sitting with my head between my legs and why would I want to throw up?  I wasn’t sick!  I kept saying “no”.  Then the voice said, “The ambulance is on the way and you will be going to the hospital”.  That was NOT what I wanted to hear and I said, “Oh no …” All I would think was we have no insurance and I’m going to make a huge bill and Ronn is gone!  Then I heard another voice say with authority, “Young lady, you WILL be going to the hospital!” and as I picked up my head I saw two black shoes which were filled with a police officer and I quickly said, “OK”!

Off I went to the hospital with my daughter, Vonda who was 12, in the ambulance with me … thank God grandma was with us to take care of the other children.

Oh, by the way, I waited until I was in the emergency room and as the doctor walked in THAT is when I threw up … all over him, me, the gurney, the walls the floor!  And again in the X-Ray room all over the equipment!

SO EMBARRASSING!

So what does this story have to do with answered prayer?  That’s the best part! 🙂

Early that morning the Lord awakened my Grandma Kopp (who lived over 400 miles away) with this, “Pray for your grandchildren!”  Grandma asked the Lord, “which one?”.  She said the Lord answered her, “Grandchildren”.  She also said it was a very strong admonition.  Grandma being a woman of prayer began to pray.  She prayed all morning giving this prayer her full attention.  Later she told me that early in the afternoon (remember God thing #1) a heavy darkness and blackness settled over her and she knew it was a spirit of death and she interceded even more fervently continuing to pray in tongues, her prayer language.  Suddenly the blackness lifted and she knew she had “prayed through”, that she had won the victory in prayer.  She then left praying and began to rejoice and praise God because she KNEW that which ever of her grandchildren were facing death had been spared.

It wasn’t until the next day when Grandma learned it was me and a cousin who was having chest pains and pain going down his left arm.  I was rescued and my cousin’s pain left.

There is so much more to this story.  How God had been preparing me and helping me to face my fears (there were a few!!!), and the lessons I learned after this experience.  But the point I have often repeated … what if Grandma had not prayed?  What if she had not heeded the voice of God?  I am firmly convinced that I would NOT be here today!

We are admonished to “pray without ceasing” and to me that means a life of communing with God but there are also times when we put ALL aside and pray with fervency!  If God places something or someone on your heart and you know you are to pray NOW … don’t put it off … someone’s life may be depending on your prayers!

Weeds Be Gone

pulling weeds

I am not a yard person!  I can’t even keep a house plant alive!!  I’ve often said that the only living thing I could keep alive was my husband and our four children!  My Grandma Kopp had a green thumb and her yard always had lots of flowers and a large garden plus fruit trees. (Sidebar: grandma also had a hen house and my brother and I liked to gather the eggs!  And her fried chicken dinners were THE BEST!  I still remember her going to the hen house, grabbing one of those hens, wringing it’s neck, chopping off it’s head, hanging it upside down on the clothes line to “drip”, plucking it’s feathers, cleaning it up, cutting it, dipping it in whatever she used and frying that baby up! Yum yum!  Never bothered me to see it killed when I knew how good it was going to taste!).

I have killed many house plants, tomato plants, rose bushes, petunias and who knows what else!  The “green thumb” business skipped my mother and me but my son, RC, inherited grandma’s green thumb … he can grow just about anything.  When he was in high school we had beautiful rose bushes … then he left for college and they died!

We have a house in Arizona near my daughter and the yard is rocks (no mowing there!)  However I have discovered that weeds DO grow up through the rocks!!  Much to my dismay!

This morning I had planned to pull weeds and I almost talked myself out of it.  Why?  Because during the night we had a soft rain which of course would make the weeds easier to pull … so I put on my big girls flip flops and went out “in the soft rain” and pulled weeds.  (I really wanted an excuse to stay inside with a cup of coffee and a good book!)

Someone told me that here in Arizona you need to have your rocks sprayed with “Pre-Emergent” at least once a year to keep the weeds from growing up through the rocks … it doesn’t kill the good plants … only the weeds.  Well, hello!  Wish I would have known that sooner!

So while I was out there pulling weeds I got to thinking … I need to consistently use “pre-emergent” in my life!

The soil of my heart has been watered and planted with the Word of God and my life grows in Him.  However, I am not perfect … yet! 🙂  A long ways from it and that is why I must constantly and consistently come to Him for a fresh watering of His Word, love, forgiveness and confession of my sins.  It is so easy for those little weeds of discontent, bitterness, resentment, gossip, selfishness … to grow.  If we don’t deal with them DAILY, the roots of those weeds will grow deeper in our lives.  It was SO much easier this morning to pull up the little weeds than those that had deeper roots!  The little ones I could pull out with my hands (in my yard gloves!!! saving the fingernails!!!) but the deeper ones I had to use my gardening tool to loosen the roots before pulling them out.

So it is with my life … if God and I can deal with those growing weeds as they show up it is much easier than if I let them grow deeper into my life.  When God has to use His gardening tools (discipline!) on me … it hurts more.

Stay in the Word (it’s the rain that falls), deal with the things in my/your life that are not pleasing to Him and let the good grow and not the weeds!  (I’m still hoping those plants will flourish because the yard man that I’m going to hire knows what he’s doing!)

I went to the computer and sought for some information on what exactly a Pre-Emergent is, how it works and when to apply it.  Here is the comparison that came to me …

(Italics are not word for word but taken from the computer on Pre-Emergents)

Even the most careful and vigilant gardener will have weeds wanting to grow in their garden.  You and I WILL have weeds wanting to creep into our lives.  Doesn’t matter how long you’ve been a Christ follower … you will be tempted and at times those weeds will put down their roots.

The chemical compositions in a Pre-Emergent are to be used BEFORE the weeds take hold so the infant root systems can be killed and keep the weed from growing.  Folks, we MUST stay in the Word.  Jesus was tempted but how did He resist Satan?  He used the Word … “It is written” … so if Jesus knew the Word and how to use it, don’t you think we need to also?

We must “die daily” I Corinthians 15:31; “crucify the flesh” Galatians 5:24; “bring every thought captive” II Corinthians 10:5.

Some weeds that develop thick and persistent adult roots want to re-sprout in a new season and make them difficult to control with a pre-emergent formula and the formula needs to match the need.  Once you have faced temptation and biblically dealt with it … be on guard and watchful because once you think you are safe you can be caught off guard.  “Let him who thinks he stands be careful that he doesn’t fall.”  I Cor. 10:12 (World English Bible).

Timing is important.  Sure ‘nough!  That works for us too!  How is timing important?  Immediate … Confession … repentance … do not delay!

Water is required to activate the pre-emergent to carry the chemical combination down to the root system of these newly sprouted weeds.  Never apply when there is wind that will carry it away and the soil should be workable.  The water we use is the water of the Word, Ephesians 5:25, “that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word.”  Stay in the Word!!! There’s a verse in Psalm 119:9 that applies to all of us, “How can a young man (or young lady, or old man, or old lady!) cleanse his way? By taking heed according to Your word.”

And finally, do NOT let the winds of false doctrine carry you away thinking, “Oh that temptation is not so bad, or that life style is accepted today, or it’s just a little white lie”.  No, we cannot be perfect but we can be holy as HE IS HOLY!  We strive for perfection, we strive to be like Him.  The soil should be workable.  Is the soil of my heart ready to receive?

DON’T FEED THE WEED!  Weeds will grow with no help from you!  Our fight is to keep the weeds from growing by KILLING them!

God Cannot Do Everything!

god cannot do everything 02

HERESY!  No, it is NOT!  There are some things God simply cannot do!

The last few days I have been thinking on various things to write for the New Year, 2020.  I thought I had a good idea and had even started making notes.  Then this morning I was reading the Word and started in Titus.  There in the 2nd verse of chapter 1 something caught my eye (oh yes, I’ve read it many  times before but this time it really made me ponder) … “… God, who cannot lie …”

  1. God cannot lie. Period. Forever. Titus 1:2, God, who cannot lie …
  2. God cannot change … He is the same yesterday, today and forever.  Hebrews 13:8, Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. And Malachi 3:6, For I am the Lord, I do not change.
  3. God cannot deny Himself. II Timothy 2:13, If we are faithless, He remains faithful; He cannot deny Himself.
  4. God cannot be tempted with evil.  James 1:13, Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone.
  5. God cannot break a promise.  Psalm 89:34, My covenant I will not break, nor alter the word that has gone out of My lips.
  6. God’s word cannot be broken.  John 10:34 & 35, Jesus answered them, “Is it not written in your law, ‘I said, “You are gods”’? If He called them gods, to whom the word of God came (and the Scripture cannot be broken) …
  7. God’s law cannot be annulled.  Psalm 111:7-8, The works of His hands are verity and justice; all His precepts are sure.  They stand fast forever and ever, and are done in truth and uprightness.
  8. God cannot stand (bear)  sin.  Isaiah 59:1-2, Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; nor His ear heavy, that it cannot hear.  But your iniquities have separated you from your God; and your sins have hidden His face from you, so that He will not hear.
  9. God cannot despise a broken and contrite heart. Psalm 51:17, The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, a broken and a contrite heart — these, O God, You will not despise.
  10. God cannot be pleased without faith.  Hebrews 11:6, But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.
  11. God’s church cannot be destroyed.  Matthew 16:18, And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.
  12. God cannot be worshipped too much for who and what He is.  Rev. 4:8, The four living creatures, each having six wings, were full of eyes around and within.  And they do not rest day or night, saying: “Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, Who was and is and is to come!
  13. God cannot stop loving you.  Jeremiah 31:3, The Lord has appeared of old to me, saying: “Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love…”
  14. God cannot leave you.  Genesis 28:15, Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land; for I will not leave you until I have done what I have spoken to you. (also Hebrews 13:5 … see #15)
  15. God cannot forsake you.  Hebrews 13:5, … For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”
  16. God cannot sleep.  Psalm 121:4, Behold, He who keeps Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep.
  17. God cannot go unnoticed.  Psalm 19:1, The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament shows His handiwork.
  18. God cannot leave work unfinished.  Philippians 1:6, Being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.
  19. God cannot forget you.  Isaiah 49:15, “Can a woman forget her nursing child, and not have compassion on the son of her womb?  Surely they may forget, yet I will not forget you”
  20. God cannot get tired.  Isaiah 40:28, Have you not known? Have you not heard? The everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth, neither faints nor is weary.  His understanding is unsearchable.
  21. God cannot be silenced.  Matthew 24:35, Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will be no means pass away.
  22. God cannot be imperfect.  Matthew 5:48, Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.
  23. God cannot be second.  Exodus 20:3, You shall have no other gods before Me.
  24. God cannot be divided.  John 10:30I and My Father are one.
  25. God cannot be selfish.   Romans 8:32, He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?
  26. God cannot break His own law.  Psalm 119:89, Forever, O Lord, Your word is settled in heaven.
  27. God cannot have respect of persons.  Romans 2:11, There is no partiality with God.  And Acts 10:34, Then Peter opened his mouth and said: “In truth I perceive that God shows no partiality…”
  28. God cannot be unrighteous.  Romans 9:14, Is there unrighteousness with God?  Certainly not!
  29. God cannot endure wickedness.  Isaiah 1:13, … I cannot endure wickedness …(AMP)
  30. God cannot reject one who comes to Him on His terms. John 6:37, All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will be no means cast out.
  31. God cannot be deceived or mocked.  Galatians 6:7, Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap.
  32. God cannot be slack or lazy.  II Peter 3:9, The Lord is not slack concerning His promise. as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.
  33. God cannot hold back His wrath on unrighteousness or those that encourage anarchy in moral government.  Romans 1:18-31, For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men … (read all the verses); Ezekiel 18:4, … The soul who sins shall die.; Ezekiel 33:12-20, Therefore you, O son of man, say to the children of your people: ‘The righteousness of the righteous man shall not deliver him in the day of his transgression; … (v 20) … I will judge every one of you according to his own ways.”

My daddy always used to say (and I’ve used this before) … that God cannot make two mountains without a valley.

My husband also added that God will NOT make decisions for you!  Each one must make their own decision to ask Christ into their heart.  God will not force anyone to accept Him.  There is the picture of Christ knocking at the door … there is no door handle on the outside.  YOU MUST open the door for Him to enter.

There are two little choruses … My God can do anything, anything, anything … My God can do anything.  He made the earth with all it’s fullness and all that time shall bring … My God can do anything.

God can do anything, anything, anything, God can do anything but fail.  He can save, He can heal, just believe and He will,  God can do anything but fail.

—–

Connie Haus  (All scripture taken from NJKV unless noted)

Second Fiddle

second-fiddle-e1559074205164

It’s not easy to play second fiddle.  Most people want to be the lead person.

Second fiddle is a role played by an assistant or second-in-command to someone else.  Second fiddle is a secondary role, less important or less powerful to someone else.  (Sidebar note … second fiddles are necessary roles AND important roles … not everyone can be a first chair … there has to be supportive roles!)

Mary and Baby Jesus get all the attention at Christmas … obviously!  Where would we be if Jesus had not come?  What if Mary would have said “no”?  I feel confident that just as God chose Mary, He also chose Joseph.

Joseph was a step-dad.  He was “daddy” … he was not “Father”.

I have written before that I believe Mary had a heart after God.  God didn’t look down from heaven and willy-nilly look around, saw Mary and said, “That one!”.  No, I believe God planted in her heart a hunger for Him and chose Mary to be the earthly mother of His Son.

But just as surely, God knew that Jesus was going to need an earthly dad that would help raise Him.  Matthew tells us that Joseph was a just man.  Strong’s Concordance tells us this means “upright, blameless, righteous, conforming to God’s laws and man’s”.

Discovering Mary was pregnant and “what to do?” was not an easy choice for Joseph.  It was difficult for him to understand that Mary was supernaturally pregnant!  Did he believe her at first?  Had she deceived him?  Was he jealous?  Did he know before she went to visit with Elizabeth?  When she returned she was three months along and obviously pregnant.  Is that when she told him?  Or did she tell him before she left and pray that he would use that time to consider what to do?  Because he was a just and righteous man he was inclined to show her mercy … he loved her and was willing to divorce her privately rather than have her stoned but then the angel appeared!

While Joseph was considering what to do, an angel appeared to him “…do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit”.  I personally think that “being a just and righteous” man he knew the scriptures and being a descendent of David he was in the right family to be chosen by God for this role.

Another thing to note in Joseph’s character was that not only did he obey God to take Mary as his wife but he did not consummate his marriage to her until after the Christ Child was born … he was able to hold back his manly passions!

It is an interesting fact that first the angel had to appear to Mary to tell her she was the chosen one and would be carrying the Christ Child in her womb.  After that the angel never appeared to Mary again … it was always to Joseph, the head of the home AND Mary was submitted to his leadership.  She never once said, “Hey, I’m not moving to Egypt … the angel hasn’t told me that … I’m the one that carried Him in my womb, I’m the one that the angel should talk to …”  No, she trusted that Joseph had heard from God and followed his leadership.

The second angelic appearance was after the wise men left and an angel once again visited Joseph and told him to “take the young Child and His mother, flee to Egypt, and stay there until I bring you word …”  What?  He had already left his hometown, his work, went to Bethlehem and now to Egypt?  How long would the family need to stay?  What would he do to bring in money to live on?  (Thank you wise men for giving us gold, frankincense and myrrh!)  But Joseph obeyed and took the family to Egypt!

Then the angel appeared again after Herod died and told Joseph to pack up the family once more and return to the land of Israel.  WOW … another move!  In both going to and returning from Egypt … Joseph obeyed without delay!

The final word from God to Joseph was after they returned to the land of Israel and Joseph heard that the son of Herod was ruling.  Joseph being fearful for the life of the Child, God warned him in a dream and he turned aside where they then settled in Nazareth in the region of Galilee.

How would you like to play second fiddle to God? Trying to parent the Son of God!  WOW!  God entrusted Jesus to Joseph to help raise Him!  Joseph was willing to be lead by God, not by his feelings or desires.

Joseph was a carpenter showing/teaching Jesus how to build … all time time Jesus knowing that in the end He was going to be building people not things!  Joseph did not have a model of how to raise the boy Jesus.  He was living a “never before”!

Joseph had to be a man of character to be willing to stand along side Mary as others sneered, gossiped and talked about her “out of wedlock” pregnancy.  I’m sure that throughout his life he also had to take his share of gossip.

There are songs about the baby, songs about Mary, songs about shepherds, angels, wise men and even drummer boys!  Have you ever heard a song about Joseph?

God chose Joseph and he fulfilled the role God assigned to him … that of protector and guardian of Jesus.  He observed the holy days, went yearly to Jerusalem to observe the Feast of the Passover and took the family with him.  Joseph’s life and the role he played stands as a testimonial to the value of hearing from God, obedience, faithfulness and especially to honoring the entrusted role of fatherhood!

Casting

casting

A number of years ago during Thanksgiving week I was standing on the 5th floor balcony watching my nephew and his 6 year old son fishing in the lake.  I was amazed watching Asher cast his fishing line.  He had strength to toss it far out into the lake.  He was a good “caster”.

It made me think of the verse in I Peter 5:7,Casting all your care (anxieties) on Him, for he cares for you.”  (NKJV)

It is easy for me to be a “worrier”.  I guess it comes with the trade of being a wife, mom, grandmother, friend.  Many times especially in the night I lay in bed and start to “think”.  At times I have had to picture myself “casting” my cares on Him.  That means I pick them up and throw them at Him!

The dictionary definition of “cast” is a verb … “to throw or hurl; fling.” That is not simply dropping my burden, or moving away from it but it is a definitive MOTION … the anxieties I am carrying I need to literally “throw” or “cast” them on Jesus.

As in casting a fishing line … it comes with practice to perfect my throw.

Psalm 55:22, “Cast your burden on the Lord, and he will sustain you.”  David, like all of us, had concerns and fears that he is bringing to God. He wants God to take care of the problems he is facing.  David knows he can trust God because God has proven Himself over and over to David.

Much of the time we worry over things that are not in our control.  We can do our best and still not get the results we had anticipated.  We can’t dictate results to our best efforts.  We can’t make someone happy or healthy simply by the force of our own will.  When we try to force outcomes we carry a burden too heavy for our shoulders to bear.

Worry is a form of pride because it involves taking concerns upon oneself instead of entrusting them to God.

What a relief it is to cast all our cares on Him!  To finally learn to “let go, to throw, to hurt, to fling, to heave” our worries onto the only One we can trust to take them!

He promises to carry them, to sustain us and we know that He will work on our behalf.  Why? Because He CARES for us!  The faithful then must learn to wait on Him and His timing!

So work on perfecting your arm! Smile.  Learn to cast your troubles and worries so far out onto your Heavenly Father that you will be unable to pull them back in!

There’s an old song…

Leave it there, leave it there
Take your burdens to the Lord and leave them there.
If you trust and never doubt, He will surely bring you out.
Take your burdens to the Lord and leave them there.

 

(OK, Connie … you have now preached to yourself!)

A Place

a place

Can you remember where you first met your spouse.  Do you remember your first dorm room?  What about the place where you applied for your first job?

Do you remember the place where you gave your heart to Jesus?  For those of you who are married, do you remember the place you were married?  A church, a park, on the beach, a golf course, in an office?

How about the hospital where you were rushed to after an auto accident or where you delivered your baby?  Your first car?  Where you were when 9/11 happened?  The Federal Building in Oklahoma?

I remember where I was when I gave my heart to Jesus … in my bed with my mother praying with me.  I remember the place where I first saw my future husband.  I remember each hospital where my children were born and I also remember the place where I got my first ticket!

Places, both good and bad, are imbedded in our brains.  I remember children around an altar seeking God in the church where we were youth pastors. I also remember the place where I fell across the bed and said, “Jesus … at any cost!”

I recently read an article by Gloria Gaither on her blog that brought tears to my eyes …

In the article she recalls sitting with a long time christian friend who was going to have her 12 year old grandson visit for two weeks and this child had never been inside a church.  This lady had been a christian nearly all her life and had raised her children in a christian home but somewhere along the line this boys parents had never taken him to church.  So this lady told Gloria she was going to take him to the church and show him where his parent had been raised.  The place where we sat, the altar was the place where we knelt and prayed, this is the place where we say our vows in marriage, this is the place where we say goodby in death, this is the place where we can learn about God and celebrate in communion.

“Places” are important to look back upon, places where we build memories and memorials.  That place where we made our commitment to serve God.

Calvary was a place.  The tomb was a place.  The Garden of Eden was a place.  The pool of Bethesda was a place.  Solomon’s temple was a place.  All of these can evoke memories of places we’ve read about or even visited.

Do our children and grandchildren have memories built around God’s church?  Oh, I know we can meet God at any place in any circumstance but it is important to build good memories in the right places.   I know our church buildings look different today than they did in the past but we can still show our children and grandchildren the important places that put us in a good place to meet God.

I recommend that you read Gloria Gaither’s blog and listen to the powerful song written out of this encounter.

Youtube: Gaither vocal band … This is the Place

 

Hymn: There is a place of quiet rest
Near to the heart of God
A place where sin cannot molest
Near to the heart of God

 

I Need A Drink

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I’ve never been a drinker.  I would be called a teetotaler!  I’ve had less then ten (small!) “for the stomach’s sake”.  But I know there are those who can’t start their day without a drink or get through their day with one, two, three or more.

However, I could say that there are often days when I say, “I NEED A DRINK!”  The Apostle Paul was also often in “thirst”.  What am I thirsty for?  Alcohol? Coke? Water? Coffee?

But if I drink of the above, I WILL be thirsty again, and again and again!

The Psalmist cries out (42:2), My soul thirsts for God, for the living God”. Psalm 63:1, O God, You are my God; early will I seek You; my soul thirsts for You; my flesh longs for You in a dry and thirsty land where there is no water.”  Psalm 143:6, My soul longs for You like a thirsty land.”

Oh … that describes so many today … thirsty, but for what?  They are in a barren, dry land and need a drink but either don’t know what they are thirsty for, don’t know where to look, not sure where to find drink or what it is that would quench their thirst!

Isaiah 55:1 gives us a clue.  Everyone who thirsts, come to the waters”.  What?  Where?  Whom?  If we don’t find the right kind of drink … we will die.

God has promised to pour water on him who is thirsty(Isaiah 44:3).

Jesus said (John 7:37), “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink.”

JESUS is the water of life! If we drink of Him … we will NEVER thirst again!  How do I know that? John 4 … Jesus met the woman at the well as she came to draw water.  Jesus asked her for a drink and she, being a Samaritan, was astonished that He, a Jew, asked her for a drink because Jews have no dealings with Samaritans(v 9).

But Jesus answered, If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water … whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst.  But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.”

Living water?

When we drink of Him, we will have eternal life!  Our thirst will be quenched.  Oh, in the natural we will be thirsty again … for water … and in our spiritual life we will be thirsty  also and that is why we need to drink of Him every day!

If we go without drinking natural water we will become thirsty and eventually die if we don’t drink.  The same is true of the Living Water, Jesus … if we don’t drink daily, we will become dry, parched and begin to shrivel up.

The Bible is our fountain from which to drink, so draw from the fountain of life.  

Revelation 7:16 They shall neither hunger anymore nor thirst anymore”.

Revelation 7:17, For the Lamb who is in the midst of the throne will shepherd them and lead them to living fountains of waters.”

Proverbs 25:21 If your enemy is hungry, give him bread to eat; and if he is thirsty, give him water to drink.

Isaiah 21:14, bring water to him who is thirsty

We need water to live, to bathe, to drink, to cook, to grow food …  drink often, drink deeply, share willingly of the eternal life-giving water!

A Matter of Purity

Purity

The first public message I ever gave was a Mother’s Day when we were pastoring in Vallejo, California … Church on the Hill.  This would have been in the early 70’s.

I never wanted to be a public speaker.  I always wanted to marry a preacher and be in the ministry but felt my ministry was to my husband, children and home.

Ronn had asked our women’s ministry director at the church to plan the service for Mother’s Day.  Then she did the unthinkable … she asked me to deliver the message! I did the “proper” thing and said I would pray about it.  I could say that because I felt safe in knowing that the Lord would not require that of me!

A couple weeks before Mother’s Day she asked me if I was prepared and I said, “Oh, no … that is not something I can do!”  Then she looked me in the eye and said, “Have you really prayed about it?”  Ouch!  I knew the answer to that one!  I really had NOT prayed about it because my mind was made up.  So I told her I would pray one more time!

I was working part time in the church office and the next day or so it came to my attention that two married people in the church were having an affair.

I was so angry and upset over this that I left the office, got in the car and went off on some errands crying as I went.  I was asking the Lord, “Why? How can this happen with Christians?”  And as plain as day the Lord dropped into my heart … “It’s a matter of purity.  Purity of mind, heart and body.”  I almost stopped the car as I responded to the Lord, “Lord, that’s not fair!  You just gave me a sermon outline and now I know I have to speak on Mother’s Day!”

Well, perhaps it wasn’t a normal “Mother’s Day” message but here is how the Lord helped me to flesh out that message …

As I look at the church today I don’t see much difference from the worldly way of doing things.  Yet in Ephesians 5:27 (KJV),  Paul tells us that Jesus wants “…a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish.”  Can any of us qualify?

The Living Bible puts Psalms 96:9 this way, Worship the Lord with the beauty of holy lives.”  Hebrew 12:14, Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord.”  The Bible consistently tells us to be holy even as He is holy.  How do we stay “holy” in this sinful world?

In some churches and in some places holiness is considered to be how long our hair is, how long the clothes are, no make-up and lest you guys think you are getting away with this … I knew a preacher once who thought it was unholy to wear a tie because it was an adornment!  But being holy is so much more than that.

God would not have commanded us to be holy if it was impossible to do so.  In ourselves it IS impossible but with Him He makes all things “Himpossible”.

Eve’s first sin was not that she ate of the forbidden fruit.  She listened to a lie (that being what Satan told her was not what God said or meant) and then she entertained that thought and bought the lie. If Eve had immediately refused the thought the act of sin would never had occurred.

So right there entered MIND IMPURITY.  All of us will be temped and threatened with impure thoughts.  Even Jesus had those in the desert when Satan came to tempt Him.  But Jesus DID NOT think upon those things.  He immediately used the Word against Satan’s temptations.

Proverbs 23:7, For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he.”  If you begin to think upon the thought, as you entertain it in your mind then it slips down into your heart.  Once we begin to let our mind dwell upon the evil suggestion from Satan then it enters our heart or soul.  Matthew 15:19 then tells us, For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts.”  Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh!

We cannot stop evil thoughts from entering our mind because there are impure images, sinful suggestions, sexual innuendos all around us.  Satan is the prince of the power of the air and he is going to do all he can to make us sin.

So our first responsibility lies in the area of the mind … put on the mind of Christ, resist the enemy, bring into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.  Be careful what we watch, where we go, what we read … garbage in, garbage out!  What you put inside your mind will come out!

Now that it is in our heart we are facing HEART IMPURITY.  We criticize, complain, bicker, gossip, envy, jealous, fantasize, impure sexual thoughts  — the list could go on and on but you get my point.  Our hearts get hardened and we reach a point where what we once believed was sin no longer condemns us. We think we can get by with sin.

Matthew 15:19 (ESV), “For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander.

Others may not know the things that are in our minds and hearts, but God sees all.  Mark 2:89 tells us that “Jesus, perceiving in his spirit that they thus questioned within themselves …”  Psalm 95:8 instructs us not to harden our hearts.  When we consistently disobey the voice of God then our hearts do become hardened to the point where we don’t see anything wrong with the way we are or the things we are doing.  Just because no one sees the cancer inside us doesn’t mean it isn’t hurting us.  Maybe you don’t even know you have a weak heart until suddenly you slump over with a heart attack.

God demands total repentance … Joel 2:12, 13 (ESV), “Return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning; and rend your hearts and not your garments.

God’s heart cry is, “O that there were such an heart in them, that they would fear me, and keep all my commandments always, the it might be well with the, and with their children forever!” (Deuteronomy 5:29, KJV).

Have you ever considered the effect of your sins on the lives of your children, grand children and even great grand children?  The Bible speaks of the sins of the parents being passed on even unto the third and fourth generation!  Oh, what a responsibility we carry!

There is victory if we repent … Jeremiah 24:7 (KJV), “And I will give them an heart to know me, that I am the Lord: and they shall be my people, and I will be their God: for they shall return unto me with their whole heart.

If our minds and hearts are impure it won’t be long until the BODY follows.  Even in the Christian community there is sex before marriage, pregnancy  out of wedlock, alcohol and drug abuse, all kinds of sexual sins, physical abuse, etc.  And we wonder WHY?

The body does not act independently of the mind.  Your body does not suddenly shoot your spouse, rob a bank, start an affair.  The thought comes, the thought is entertained, it flows to the heart and if not repented of the body will act.  We cannot think one thing and expect fruit of another kind.

Romans 6:6 says, “Knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with,  that we should no longer be slaves of sin.” (NKJV)

I Thessalonians 5:23 (KJV), “And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Romans 13:14 (KJV), “Put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfill the lusts thereof.

There are tragedies to the impure life … after Miriam spoke against the man God had ordained as leader, she became leprous.  After David had his adulterous affair with Bathsheba he saw his child die. Ananias and Sapphire made a joint decision to lie and their death was immediate.

How can we triumph over impurity?  Christ came to set us free but freedom is not the right to do what we want but the POWER to do what we ought!

After David’s sin with Bathsheba he cried out to God, “Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.” (Psalm 51:10 KVJ).

To live triumphantly we need to hide God’s word in our heart so we won’t sin against Him (Psalm 119:11).  There is a quote that I have often used when talking about the Bible, “This book will keep you from sin or sin will keep you from this book.”

God’s Word is our BEST PROTECTION against sin.

There are rewards for a pure life … Psalm 24:3,4 (KJV), “Who shall ascend into the hill of the Lord? … He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart …”.  Matthew 5:8 (KJV), Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.

And finally, Galatians 5:16 (KJV), “Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.

Be filled with the Spirit … live your life to please Him!

Cell Groups

cell groups 00

Dr. Paul Yonggi Cho of Seoul, Korea made the model of cell groups popular for churches.  With a church of several hundred thousands I’m sure it was needed for the people to feel connected.  Many churches around the world have taken that cell group model and adapted it to their use.

Some churches have made their cell groups into geographical or neighborhood groupings.  Others into “like interest” i.e: parents with young children, parents with teenagers, seniors, business leaders/owners, teachers, etc.

I got to thinking about biblical cell groups and wondered if I truly even wanted to be in one!  The first one that came to mind was Paul and Silas.  Now that was truly a cell group!  Only two.  Oh, wait … there were three … Jesus was there!  Don’t know that I would want to be in that group.  They had been beaten and thrown into the prison cell.  Not just thrown but had feet in stocks.   What would they have done with a cramp in their leg?  BUT … their group was quite successful in that they got out of their cell group!  How?  They prayed and sang to the Lord and the other prisoners were listening to them.  I wonder if they were thinking “how can they sing in this situation?”!

Suddenly there was an earthquake and all the doors were opened and the bonds were loosed!  I wonder, did they sing THAT loudly? They didn’t use this as a means to escape but as an opportunity to minister! (Acts 16).

Then there was Peter in his cell group (Acts 12).  He was alone, well, not quite.  There were sixteen guards watching over him plus a few angels who were keeping quiet until everybody fell asleep.  I guess maybe it might be OK to sleep in a cell group meeting?  Well Peter did! And so did the guards.  I don’t think that was proper guard duty but they weren’t too worried… Peter was sleeping between them, bound with chains and sentries at the door!  Nap time.  Now it’s quiet.  Dark.  Perhaps some snores.  THEN an angel of the Lord stood next to him, a light filled the cell, the angel struck Peter on the side waking him up, told him to get up quickly and Peter obeyed! Yeah for Peter!  Then the chains fell off (guards were sleeping soundly!!) … the angel told him to get dressed quickly and to put on his shoes because they were going to go for a walk and get out of jail free!

Peter didn’t even think he was awake.  He thought he was having a vision!  They walked right past the first and second guards and then came to the iron gate leading into the city.  The gate opened by itself, they went down one street and the angel disappeared.  WOW!  That was some cell group escape!

Let’s see … then, there was Joseph’s cell group.  Goodness he had been having quite a streak of bad “luck” for several years!  Now he finds himself in prison and he’s the only believer.  But he didn’t sit down and think, “I’ve no one to fellowship with so I think I’ll just give up!”  No, he found others that he could help.  Even in his cell the “Lord was with Joseph and showed him steadfast love and gave him favor in the sight of the keeper of the prison.” (Genesis 39:21, ESV).  The Lord used Joseph IN the prison cell “until the time…”.  God had a purpose for Joseph in his cell group and He had a time for his release.

Then there was Jeremiah in his prison cell and finally thrown in a dungeon of mud (Jeremiah 37 & 38).  Daniel in his cell of lions (Daniel 6)!  Samson because of his disobedience was in a prison cell but there he repented and brought about a great victory for the Israelites in his death (Judges 16).

If we truly want to follow the biblical example for cell groups maybe we should all be put in prison?  I have concluded that for me … maybe I don’t want to be a part of a biblical cell group!  I might want to stick to one that teaches me how to live for Jesus right here on this planet until He comes for me!

(Most of my “Connie’s Contemplations” have been serious thoughts on my part.  Some of them however (such as this one!) is a little more on the humorous side such as was my “God’s Tattoos”.  So this was written with tongue in cheek!)

Bad Dads, Good Dads

bad dads good dads 01

It is not easy being a parent!  We all wish we had the “perfect” child … always  quick to obey, doing things the way we want them done, never causing us a moment of unrest or worry.  Won’t happen!

The Bible gives instructions on how to be a good dad.  Unfortunately there are some men who are anything but.  Look at some of the examples in the Bible that I would call “BAD DAD’S” (or at least not the best dad’s!) …

JACOB

He was a deceiver from the beginning.  Deceived his brother out of his birthright, tricked his dad into thinking he was someone else, had to leave home to save his life and tricked his father-in-law when he left the family business!

With his own children he favored (really spoiled!) the son of his favorite wife which caused all kinds of hard feelings from his other sons.

However, the instance that really troubles me is when his daughter, Dinah, was raped he didn’t defend her!  It was two of her brothers that took up her cause … now that’s another issue we won’t deal with here!

So as I look at Jacob he doesn’t win the “Father of the Year” award.

As a side bar though, at least he did something right in teaching Joseph about God because Joseph stayed true to God in his captivity!

ELI

We don’t know a whole lot about Eli as a priest.  We do know that he had difficulty discerning between a broken hearted woman and a drunk!  We don’t know why his priestly influence didn’t extend to his two sons but we do know that they were not good men!  They served as priests but I Samuel 2:12 calls them “sons of Belial (the devil); they knew not the Lord”.  These sons refused to obey the Lord, they took the flesh from the sacrificial offering for themselves, they committed adultery with women who came to the door of the tabernacle and they refused to obey truth and quit sinning even when found out.

You might be saying, “but this was the sons … not Eli”.  True, in reading I Samuel 3 we do see that he did talk to them about their behavior but verse 13, “he restrained them not

It IS a dad’s responsibility (and mom too!) to bring discipline and correction and teaching of God’s laws to their children … we cannot force them to believe but Eli should not have let them continue in their role as priests.

I have to hand it to Hannah who trusted God with her dear son to give him to a lousy dad to raise!

KING DAVID

King David was called “a man after God’s own heart”.  He was a mighty warrior and blessed of God.  Again, however, in the parenting department he wasn’t so great!  Three of his children come to mind quickly … Tamar (II Samuel 13) who was raped by her brother and David did nothing.

It is also amazing the reaction of King David to his son Absalom.  Absalom was the one who took the responsibility of dealing with his brother Amnon (the one who raped Tamar) and killed him!  Absalom fled the country and II Samuel 13:37 says, “And David mourned for his son every day.”  No mourning over Tamar!

Going on in the story of Absalom we know that he betrayed his own father and tried to usurp the throne away from his dad.  In the ensuing war David told his men not to harm Absalom if they found him.  But his warning was dismissed and when Absalom was found with his hair caught in a tree, he was killed.

David’s reaction is found in chapter 18:33, “And the king was much moved, and went up to the chamber over the gate, and wept; and as he went thus he said, O my son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom! Would God I had died for thee, O Absalom, my son, my son!” 

David had another son, Adonijah, who was Absalom’s brother and he also tried to usurp the throne.  I Kings 1:6 says this of David, “And his father had not rebuked him at any time …”  Doesn’t speak well of being a dad!

Finally in the “Bad Dad” department we must mention the worst father of all … satan!  John 8:44, “… he is a liar, and the father of it.”

God is ALL truth … satan is a liar!!

We are not going to end there … I want to mention a couple “GOOD DAD’S”

JAIRUS

Jairus was an important man in the Jewish community during the time of Jesus’ life on earth.  He was one of the rulers of the synagogue and most of them were not enthralled with Jesus!  But he threw his position to the wind when his only child, a daughter, lay dying.

Jairus went to seek out Jesus and “when he saw Him, he fell at His feet and besought Him greatly, saying, My little daughter lieth at the point of death: I pray thee, come and lay hands on her, that she may be healed; and she shall live.” (Mark 5:22, 23)

He KNEW Jesus held the answer for his daughter … Jesus went with him and brought life back into the child.

ABRAHAM

This is a hard one because God was asking Abraham to offer his son as a sacrifice to Him.  Abraham had waited years and years for the birth of this boy and he LOVED him!  There are many lessons here but that is for another time!  What I want to show is that Abraham proved he loved God more than he loved his own flesh and blood.

The Bible does not give us Abraham’s reaction to God’s command but we do know he obeyed and God gave Abraham back his child.

The best Father of all …

GOD

John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

God cannot look upon sin.  He will not allow disobedience to His Word to go unpunished.  When Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden of Eden, He drove them out of the garden.

But He did not leave them alone … in God’s great foreknowledge He already had a plan for deliverance, for salvation and a way for them to come back into fellowship with Him.  The cross was God’s plan!

From eternity God had a plan of redemption.  Jesus left heaven, came to earth born of a virgin, lived as God/man, sinless in perfection, was crucified, buried but ROSE AGAIN that we might have eternal life in Him.  Why?  Because of His great love for us … the Best Dad ever!`

I hope no one who reads this feels that you can’t measure up in the parenting department.  We ALL make mistakes and none of us are perfect! Maybe you feel “I’m a bad parent” …

A number of years ago we were ministering in Japan and at the close of the service Ronn was praying for some missionaries who were from Finland.  Ronn sensed a dark cloud over one of the ladies and spoke to her privately.  She told him that she didn’t feel worthy of serving as a missionary because one of her children was far from God, living with someone outside of marriage and had left the faith.  Ronn felt the Lord saying something to him which he passed on to her … “God was the only perfect parent and he had two children who went wrong!”

So don’t beat yourself up!  Keeping praying, keeping seeking God for His wisdom in the parenting department and He WILL help you.