He’s Only Three, But He’s One Of My Heroes

HeroI am so in love with all of my grandchildren. The joy of seeing their faces light up when Gaylon and I walk into the room, is an indescribable feeling.

My three-year-old grandson Joseph is one of my heroes. Joseph has developmental delays that are fairly significant. To help him move forward in development, Joseph has several therapies each week.

When Joseph first started therapy eighteen months ago, I would often accompany his mother to the sessions. It was hard for him and hard for us. He would begin crying when we drove up to the building. He would look at us as if to say, “Why are you making me do this? Please rescue me.” At times I would get in my car and cry after seeing Joseph in his hard place.

Fast forward eighteen months. Joseph has made significant progress – progress that would never have been made without pushing through the hard places. Joseph is like a different little boy these days. I love the bright smile on his face. I love the new things he has learned. I love the warrior that Joseph has become.

How often we scream and kick in the hard places of life! Oh, I understand! Been there, done that. Did I say been there, done that? “God, rescue me from this place. I don’t want to go through this!” Yet, our Father leaves us in a place where we must learn to press through to victory.

How often we want to rescue people, especially our children. It is difficult to watch our children in painful places. Yet, there are times they need to press through, not be delivered from – but press through! That is also true of close friends and other family members. We are often rescuers by nature, and while there is a good side of that, we need to let people develop growth by learning to press through the hard places.

I have watched Joseph press through hard places, and it has been life-changing for him.

At three years old, Joseph is one of my heroes. I want to be a “presser-througher” like he is.

“I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you. “ – Psalm 32:8

Tears Fall, But Death Is Not The End Of The Story

DeathToday as I cleaned the glass that covered the top of my desk, the tears began to flow. I have a very nice desk in a sitting area of my room, and it’s the place I go to do my serious study. To protect the wood from scratches, I had a piece of glass cut to fit the top of the desk.

The glass was actually a gift from Bryan and Sarah and was given to me the last time I saw him. We had just found out that the baby Sarah was carrying was a boy. Afterward we shared dinner and celebrated a delayed Christmas together. Bryan and Sarah gave me the money to get the large piece of glass, and it was on my desk the next week.

One week after the glass made its way to my desk, my son entered into his heavenly reward.

Grief and loss are hard to explain at times. When it comes to grieving the death of a loved one, there are no definite patterns, no “normal” reactions, no formulas to follow. Each person sets their own pace, and experiences ups and downs. Even as believers, we have mixture. There is the marvelous joy of knowing that we can be reunited with loved ones who have gone to be with our Lord.  Yet, there is the depth of pain and sorrow that we can’t physically touch our loved one, or talk with them. You wish you could say, “I love you!” just one more time.

Bryan has been gone for three and a half years, and I have good news! I offer hope to those facing loss. As I continue walking with God and LIVING life, grief does not cripple me. If you are in the grief process, it’s okay to experience sorrow – tearful sorrow, but the death of a loved one does not have to cripple one for life.

Here are some things that have been key for me:

  • I run to God when I feel overwhelmed with sorrow.
  • I continue living. Live, live, live!
  • I allow myself to laugh. Laughter is good for my soul. I love watching funny videos. When I need a good laugh, I go to Youtube and laugh for fifteen minutes.
  • I spend time with the ones I love, especially those grandchildren!
  • I celebrate eternity – I will be reunited with my loved ones.

I miss Bryan terribly.  I wish I could see him playing with his son and hear his laughter again. I will see those things one day, just not now. Death is not the final word in the life of the believer. Death is not the end of the story.  Now that I can live with!

“For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. 18 Therefore comfort one another with these words.” – 1Thessalonians 4:16-18

After All “I” Have Done For Them!

Glory of God2My husband Gaylon and I love helping others in a variety of ways. What a joy it is to bless people!  In my younger years, this did not come naturally for me, but God has done such a work in my life, and now I love blessing people when possible.

More than once, I’ve had the experience of helping someone, and they did not express any gratitude, and that does not feel good at all!

Maybe this is why the Bible records the story of the ten lepers that Jesus cleansed, yet only one came back to express gratitude. Most of us read that story, and think, “How could they not come back and thank Jesus?”  Jesus certainly noticed it, even commented about it. Jesus replied, “Weren’t ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? No one returned to praise God except this foreigner?”

Now, I could run with this emphatically saying to all of us, that we need to have a heart of gratitude. That is so very true! Count your blessings, name them one by one.

Yet, there is something else that stands out to me. Jesus doesn’t say, “I’ll never help anyone again! After all I did for them, they didn’t bother to come back, so that’s it! I’m done being nice to people.” We don’t see that Jesus rescinded their healing.

Jesus did not let their ingratitude stop Him from continuing to be used by God to bless others.

Not long ago, I did something for someone. After a long period of no acknowledgement of what I had done, or no flowery words telling me how wonderful I was, I was a bit miffed. I was a little annoyed!

Then, God spoke to my heart and asked, “Did you do it in my Name or your name, Barbara?”

“But God, after all I have done for them, they could at least acknowledge it.”

Again, I sensed God saying, “Did you do it for My glory or your glory, Barbara?”

SELAH

“So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” – 1 Corinthians 10:31

Who Was That Woman?

Not who I wasRecently someone from wayyyyyy back found me on Facebook. She asked to be my friend, and I had no idea who she was. After a little research I finally figured out she was a teen when we in our first pastorate. I was actually not much older than she was when we began as pastors of that first, small congregation.

After accepting her friendship, she wrote me a private note thanking me for the seeds sown in her life during that time. I wrote back, thanking her, and then I wrote this, “That was our first pastorate and when I look back, I cringe now at how green we were!”

I am just not the same woman I was over forty years ago when we began our pastoral ministry.

Change has not always been easy for me. I used to make excuses for my tart tongue, my outbursts of anger, my gossip, my comparison of myself with others, my quitting when someone upset me, my prayerlessness  … and on and on. I thought that if other people would straighten up, everything would run smoothly.  I thought that what happened to me as a child entitled me to “show out” when things got difficult.

Eventually God helped me to understand that He is in the life-changing business, but I had to desire life-change. His question penetrated my heart, “Do you want to change and become more like my Son?” After much soul-searching, and acknowledging that my own flesh needed to die, I finally answered, “Yes.”

At times, it was beyond hard, and I certainly wanted to scream more than once and quit more than twice!  This old song became my heartbeat:

Change my heart oh God, Make it ever true.
Change my heart oh God, May I be like You.

You are the potter, I am the clay,
Mold me and make me, This is what I pray.

While I certainly have not “arrived,” I can join the Apostle Paul in saying,It’s not that I have already reached this goal or have already been perfected, but I pursue it, so that I may grab hold of it because Christ grabbed hold of me for just this purpose.– Philippians 3:12

One of the most powerful prayers that we can pray, and truly mean, has just three little words: “Lord, change me.”

Sometimes I look back and say, “Who was that woman?”  I am so glad I am not who I was in our first pastorate!

“Now that you realize how kind the Lord has been to you, put away all evil, deception, envy, and fraud. Long to grow up into the fullness of your salvation; cry for this as a baby cries for his milk.” – 1 Peter 2:2

Jesus Was Busy, But He Was Never In A Hurry

hurryupTraveling in ministry is something I did not originally dream of doing, but God blessed me with the call and the opportunities. I love what I do.  I often say, “Wow, I can’t believe I get to do this!”

Back in the early days of travel, I was invited to speak in Kokomo, Indiana. I could hardly wait to get there. On the day I was to leave, I hurriedly got my things together.  I really didn’t pause to be sure I had what I needed to fulfill the call that weekend. After all, I was in a hurry.

When I arrived in Kokomo, I had all the right clothes, my hair was done, my nails looked good … yep, I was set to go. As I settled in my room that morning,  I reached for my notes to spend a little time reflecting on the word I was to bring. I could not find my notes! I searched for an hour and was in full panic mode. I called my husband to check if the notes were in my office. Yep! The notes for every session were right there on my desk, hundreds of miles away. This was in the days of fax machines, not email attachments. My husband had to fax many pages of notes, and I had to pay the hotel for each page that was faxed.

There was a big emotional and financial price tag attached because I was in a hurry!

Needless to say, we are in a “hurry-up” world – get it done, and get it done now! The question is, “Has that thought-pattern crept into the walk we have with God?”  Our hair looks good, our clothes look good, but somehow in the hurry-up of life, we are emotionally, spiritually and financially spent.

Jesus was busy about His Father’s business,  yet there doesn’t seem to be any indication that Jesus rushed into anything. He spent time with His Father, and from that place of intimacy, He walked His life in the power of the Holy Spirit. He did not allow the needs of people, the crowds or the culture cause Him to rush into a pace not set by God.

J.B. Phillips said: “Christ’s task and responsibility might well have driven a man out of his mind. But He was never in a hurry, never impressed by numbers, never a slave of the clock. He was acting, as He said, as He observed God to act – never in a hurry.”

I know life is complex and has many demands. Because of that, we must understand our biggest demand – time with God. My life, with all of its complexities, issues and decisions, demands that I walk in pace with God.

Jesus was busy, but He was never in a hurry. SELAH

Psalms 27:13-14 I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living! Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the LORD!

How Do I Get There From Here?

addtext_com_MTEwNjQwMTczMzcIt is not unusual for someone to say to me, “How did you get where you are today? I feel the same call on my life, yet nothing is happening, and no doors are opening.” My answer is, “I was faithful in the nursery.”

When God clearly spoke to me and called me to ministry outside of my local church, I thought it would happen soon. Not! It was quite a while before doors began to open for me, and it was not my job to make them open. It didn’t mean I was now too spiritual to do the things I had done, through the years, in my church. This included things like nursery duty, bathroom cleaner, children’s ministry, office assistant, wall painter, shrubbery weeder, Sunday school teacher, worship leader and pulpit speaker. All of it was God’s work, and should be treated as such.

When David was first anointed king, he was not rushed right to a throne, and no crown was placed on his head. What happened next? He was sent right back to the field to take care of the sheep. He didn’t scream and yell, “But … I am a king. How dare you send me to the fields for such menial tasks!” No, David just keep walking with God, tending the sheep, writing worship songs and being “normal.”

David continued to walk with God today, because he believed what God said about his tomorrow.

For us, as with David, there will tests, betrayals, battles and obstacles along the way, but God is not limited in His ability to get us where He has called us.

Wherever you are today, walk faithfully in that place. Do all as unto the Lord. Believe what God has said about your tomorrow.

“He who began a good work in me will be faithful to complete it.” – Philippians 1:6

When You Are Discouraged

addtext_com_MTAzNzAzMzIzOTk5Right now I am not being oppressed by discouragement, but that has not always been the case. I could tell stories of times when discouragement pleaded to be my best friend, and pleaded daily.

There are two schools of thought on discouragement. Some say God’s people should never be discouraged; after all, they are God’s people. Others believe that there are times of discouragement that will come, and as God’s children, we must choose to stand on the Rock.  I embrace the latter.

While I know that God is with me, sometimes fierce battles seem to drag on, with no end in sight,  and it gets discouraging. In scripture, the devil is sometimes referred to as the “dragon.”  If the word “dragon” is divided it would look like this:  “drag-on.”   The dragon  wants to discourage you, and cause you to give up.  When battles drag on and on, it can cause discouragement to pelt against us day after day. Sometimes we find ourselves asking what the Psalmist asked, “How long, O Lord?”

Ephesians chapter six gives us a list of armor that God has provided. At the end of the list, He says when you have done all you can do, then, just stand! That is encouraging to me. God is saying that there will be times when we have done all we can, and at that point, just stand in what God has provided.  What a secure place in times of battle!

God has given us all the resources we need in order to stand in times of discouragement. He can’t make us stand. That is our choice. But, He has given us the needed tools to stand firm, tools such as His promises, His Spirit, His armor, His presence, His people, His love, His strength and many other things.

Are you discouraged today? Use the tools and choose to stand. Speak aloud that God is in control, and He is for you! Talk with someone and ask them to pray with you. Choose to stand!

“Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all to stand.” – Ephesians 6:13

You Know What They Say

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“They” say:

  • You should wear your hair this way.
  • You should weigh this much.
  • You should dress this way.
  • You should never eat at this restaurant.
  • You should discipline a child this way.
  • You should change your color décor to this color.

How often we worry about what “they” say or what “they” think!

People pleasing is older than the Bible! I know it’s not a newsflash, but we must get to a point that we stop living to please people, or worse try to please everyone. Even God cannot please everyone! Jesus said, “I only seek to please Him who sent me.”

I confess that I do try to live my life by what “they” say… that is if “they” are the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. As long as I am walking a life that pleases God, that is all that is needed.

Wait, you mean we can disregard people? Not at all!  Am I talking about living to please myself, and living a self-centered life? No way!

As long as I am walking in a way that pleases God, it will affect how I treat my husband, my children, my grandchildren, my friends, my co-workers, my pastor, my clerk when I checkout at the grocery store and even those with whom I disagree. I’m sure you get the picture. Not being a people pleaser, in no way is a license to be hurtful, hateful or harmful.

Don’t spend all your energy trying to make people like you. Choose to follow God’s Word and plan for your life. It is one of the most freeing things I have ever done for myself. It would be nice if “they” all liked me, but that is not going to happen.

I choose to walk my life not being imprisoned by others, but freed by God to be all I can be in Him.  Which “they” will control your life?

“Does this sound as if I am trying to win human approval? No indeed! What I want is God’s approval! Am I trying to be popular with people? If I were still trying to do so, I would not be a servant of Christ.” – Galatians 1:10 (Good News Translation)

Do You Have Any True Friends?

addtext_com_MDk1NzE1OTAyMDcAs believers, we all need people in our lives that are trusted friends, friends who will laugh and cry with us, but, who will also tell us when we need correction. Second Samuel, chapter twelve, records a powerful story. King David had committed sinful acts, and tried to cover them up. When the Prophet Nathan came to him, Nathan told David a “hypothetical” story of a sinful man who had done egregious things. Those things were eerily similar to what David was hiding. After hearing the story, David was quick to say, “Kill that man!”  Nathan’s response, “You’re the man!”

It’s interesting how David could not admit to, or even see his own error. The Prophet Nathan was not there to bash David, but to speak the truth of God to him. End of story: David repents, and gets his life back in order.

Nathan cared enough about David to speak the truth in love, risking the relationship he had with David. He was willing to take that risk, so he could help David move to a right place with God and with others. Thank God David was wise enough to accept the correction!

Who do you have in your life, that you will allow to say, “You’re the man/woman. You’re out of God’s revealed will?”  That’s a true friend.

“As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend.” – Proverbs 27:17

Get Up And Glow

CandleAfter dinner one evening, my husband and I were cleaning the kitchen together. As I was cleaning all the counter space, I noticed a flaw about two inches long. I was mortified. How did that terrible place get on my nice Corian counter top? I knew I didn’t scratch the counter, so who could have done this? Only two of us live in this house.

I asked Gaylon if he remembered messing up the counter. No, he didn’t remember.

I scrubbed the place with vinegar and water, but it stayed the same. Gaylon began to scrub.  At one point he stood at a different angle, and immediately the spot was gone. It wasn’t a spot at all; it was the sun peeking through the blinds at a funny angle.

I had tried and tried to get rid of the light that was shining on the counter.  No matter how hard I tried, I could not extinguish the light.

We are in strange times in the United States. There is much darkness, and I personally feel there is great spiritual warfare against the message of the Gospel. Our beliefs are under attack, and we are often ridiculed and mocked.

What’s the answer? Rants on Facebook and Twitter? Hiding? Staying quiet so we won’t upset anyone? The answer is light. “In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”

The Church of Jesus Christ has always flourished in the face of adversity. Now is the time to stand tall and shine, shine, shine. Don’t let fear overtake you, causing you to think the Church will be destroyed. That is not going to happen.

You can’t wipe out light or scrub out light. Light just keeps on shining. My Corian taught me that!

It’s time to get up and glow.

“Arise, shine; For your light has come! And the glory of the LORD is risen upon you. For behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, And deep darkness the people; But the LORD will arise over you, And His glory will be seen upon you.” Isaiah 60:1,2