Even When The Odds Are Not In My Favor, I Am In God’s Favor

fiery-furnaceOver twenty years ago, the odds were stacked against me.  I had gone for a routine exam with the doctor, and suddenly things spiraled downhill.  Without giving a play-by-play of the next three weeks, let me just say it was challenging.  After much testing, the doctor determined I was in the highest of categories to have ovarian cancer, and it had spread to nearby lymph nodes.   The odds were not in my favor.

I knew I was ready to meet the Lord, but I still wanted to see my children get married, and meet my grandchildren one day.  We simply called upon the Lord, asking Him for total healing, and left it in His hands.  For me, that was not a magic formula guaranteeing that I would live many more years.  For me, it was a truth that I was going to be healed on this side, or the other side, but regardless, my life was in His hands.

Today, more than twenty years later, I am a grandmother to six, a minister of the Gospel and a child of God!

In chapter three of Daniel, there is a story of three young men who, from a human perspective, faced insurmountable odds.   These men had a choice, bow and go along with the culture, or face grave consequences.

In the face of such odds, their confession was, “Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered and said to the king, ‘O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king.  But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.’” – Daniel 3:16-18

Because of the present culture, many Christians are fearful because the odds seemed to be stacked against us. Those in power seem to continue to pressure God’s people to bow to the culture.  The heat is being intensified.

When we walk with God, we are not controlled by the “odds.” When Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego stood before a fiery furnace that had been made seven times hotter than normal, the king who was in authority, said, “They are going to die! They will bow to what I say, or they will die.”

Odds were not in the three young men’s favor. But, who ended up being destroyed by the fire? The ones who put the three men in the fire.

Often, as believers, it feels the odds are against us in our society. God is not controlled by odds or the law of averages. In summary: God rules. The process might be uncomfortable and challenging. But … GOD RULES. This I believe.

The odds might not be in my favor, but I am in God’s favor!

This is my confession, “My God whom I serve is able to deliver me from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver me out of your hand, O king.  But if not, be it known to you, O king, that I will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.’”

“What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?” – Romans 8:31

Join Me For A Cup Of Coffee

coffeetalkIf you know me at all, you know I like a good cup of coffee in the mornings.  The coffee pot is brewing within minutes, after I arise for the day.  Coffee just has an anointing on it!  Can I get an AMEN! Panera Bread is a very anointed place.  When people give me Panera cards, I am happy, happy, happy!  If you were to ask me how I take my coffee, I’d answer, “Seriously, very seriously.”

We live in interesting and challenging times.  As I listen to so many people, I hear story after story of situations that are incredibly difficult.  Sometimes I wish I could have a cup of coffee with those who write me notes, or tell me their stories.  Since I can’t do that, let’s have a cup of coffee right here.

To those in pain, what would I say over a cup of coffee? I would say, “God is close even when you are hurting.”

God is not a tyrant sitting on His throne enjoying the pain you go through.  He is not in heaven, trying to chart out when He can throw the next painful event your way.  God has actually promised to bring you through the pain.

 “I am with you always, even to the very end of the age.”  (Matthew 28:20). God is with you when you’re hurting. He says, “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you!” (Isaiah 43:2). 

I know sometimes it seems God is far away, but He is not.

“God, did You see that doctor’s report? Don’t You care? Do You see what a mess my marriage is in? Don’t You care? Do you see how little money we have in the bank? Don’t You care? Do you see my infertility?  Don’t You care?  Do You see the pain I have after the loss of my loved one? Don’t You care? Do You see the division in my family?  Don’t You care?   Do you see the abuse that I suffered? Don’t you care?

I simply say, “God cares.”

When our son Bryan died, it was probably the darkest period in my life.   Some things have no explanation, and for me, this is one of them.  Here we are, almost five years later, and we still miss him so much.  Here we are, almost five years later, and I can say that God has been faithful to His Word, and He has been with us.  He has been close.  He has collected our tears.   He has renewed our joy.

Sometimes when we are in difficult life situations, it is hard to see clearly, and it is hard to sense God.  Job, who was a man of God, went through unfathomable pain, facing sickness and losing everything he had, including his children.  Here is what Job said during his difficult times: “If I go to the east, God is not there; if I go to the west, I do not see Him. When He is at work in the north, I catch no sight of Him; when He turns to the south, I cannot see Him.” (Job 23:8-9)

It wasn’t until much later that Job could testify that God was watching over him, and  that God renewed his life.  Job could testify later, that no matter what he felt, God existed, and God deeply loved him.

As I sat today, with tears and a heavy heart, thinking of all that people are going through, God reminded me of all He has brought me through:  childhood abuse, poverty, miscarriage, a child with cancer, hurt from Church folks, unfairness in life, near bankruptcy, grandchildren facing pain and the death of a son.   He reminded me that He never left me, and He never will.

Do I have all the answers?  NO!  Do I wish I could stop everyone’s pain?  YES!   But, the reality is that I cannot.  We all suffer grief.  We all suffer pain.   Don’t judge God or the remainder of your life, by what you are experiencing today.

I didn’t invite you to coffee so I could say I have all the answers; I just came to testify!  I didn’t come to make little of life’s pain; I just came to testify!  I can truly testify that God is faithful to meet us in the mess and in the pain.

“The Lord blessed the latter part of Job’s life more than the former part.” – Job 42:12

What’s The Big Deal About Profanity?

profanityIn the third grade, I was not one of the popular girls.  I was poor, dirty and lived on the wrong side of the tracks!  I didn’t seem to have a lot going for me, but I was a good athlete compared to many of my peers.  Every day at recess, we divided into teams and played kickball.  Usually all the popular girls would be on a team, and the rest of us were on a team. We always lost!

One day I was appointed to be captain of a team, so we began to choose people to be on our team.  To the dismay of many, I did not do the normal choosing.  I began to actually choose people who could play kickball.  This meant that there was a mixture of “popular” and “unpopular” on each team.  One girl got so mad at me, and gave me a piece of her mind.  I looked at her and said,  **** you, and I don’t really care what you think.”  I threw in a few more ****s.  She was utterly shocked.

In 1960 foul language was not the norm.  Oh, it was the norm at my home, so I was an expert “cusser” at a very young age; but, still, almost no one just went around cursing in public.  Even I did not, and I knew it was inappropriate!    I paid the price!  I was in soooooo much trouble at school, and my seat was taught that my mouth needed to control what it said.

When I met Jesus Christ as my Savior, one of the first things I did, was work on my language.  I knew that it just did not represent Christ well.  It was a hard habit to break, but with God’s help, and my determination, it was a struggle I overcame.  I did not want my mouth to negate my ability to honor God and represent Him well.

While I don’t expect this to be my most popular blog, I think it’s time to discuss the issue.  What issue?  The issue of believers using profanity.  There was a time when language that we now hear in groups, in movies or posted on social media, would have been totally unacceptable.  Even presidents and politicians think little of throwing out a good old four-letter word.  The culture, over time, has shifted; and now any words are just fine!  Once again, I hope we realize that we are allowing the culture to influence us, rather than God’s people influencing the culture.

Although the Bible doesn’t explicitly ban the use of profanity, there are scriptures that seem to discourage it.

Here are a couple of those scriptures:

“Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.” Ephesians 4:29 (NLT)  “Avoid worthless, foolish talk that only leads to more godless behavior.” 2 Timothy 2:16 (NLT)

There are many others.  Just do some research on talk, mouth, tongue, language, etc.

Let’s be honest.  If at my next speaking engagement, I dropped a &*#@!  while teaching, there would be shock waves across the auditorium, and my influence level would drop significantly.  You might say, “Yes, but that’s in Church, and that is unacceptable.”  We so easily compartmentalize life, yet God should govern all parts of our lives.

Long ago, I knew that foul language was of no benefit to me as a Christian.  The Bible is very clear about the power of words.     I want my words to honor God, and bring life to people.  For me, profanity does neither.

By the way, there are many other wrong uses of the tongue, and I do realize that many non-cursers, say hateful, bitter, demeaning things.  That needs to be cleaned up also!

Although I’m convinced that “cussing” isn’t glorifying to God, let those of us who have cleaned up our mouths, realize we are all still overcoming things as we walk with God.  So, let’s not be all self-righteous because we don’t use profanity.  This blog is not meant to condemn anyone, but it is meant to encourage believers to give a good look at the subject of the mouth, and how it is used.

“Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.” – Ephesians 4:29