Prasso Now Available Online

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It has always been our desire to see Prasso used in as many lives as possible. We have received testimony after testimony of how Prasso has transformed the lives of people and given them a better understanding of who God is. It is because of these changed lives that we are excited to announce that Prasso is now available as an online course. This gives people all over the world the opportunity to experience Prasso on their own time and in the privacy of their own homes.

The Prasso Life Study teaches you the truth about knowing God by giving you an accurate account of what the Bible says about him. It answers questions like, “How does God feel about me?” and “How does He want me to feel about Him?” Prasso also tackles the truth about how we think of ourselves, regarding things like self-deception, anger, unforgiveness, pride, performance-based living and sinful thought patterns.

The Online Prasso Life Study will guide you to take an inventory of your own heart. Each lesson will give you practical, biblical illustrations that relate to your life. You will be challenged to think about how you are living, thinking and responding to God, as well as your own life circumstances.

This online study includes 12 video segments where you will learn a practical life lesson and 12 downloadable homework assignments which helps to apply the study to your own life in bite-size pieces. Each homework lesson is divided into 6, one-day segments.

The Bible admonishes Christians to “shine as lights” in the world, not because our circumstances are perfect but because we have an all-sufficient Savior who will never leave us nor forsake us. When we have a Father-filled heart instead of a heart filled with the issues of life, the world cannot help but notice. It is our prayer that the Online Prasso Life Study will be a place to start for a new beginning for you.

Holiday Depression, Part 2

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Chistmas-Depression

All around us are signs that Christmas is almost here. The malls are full and the restaurants busy with holiday shoppers. During what to most is a joyful time, there are those who do not share the same feelings…perhaps because of memories past, tight budgets, illness or broken family relationships. I pray the Lord will use this blog and those that preceded it to be an encouragement and perhaps even to shed light on why you have no joy or pleasure during holiday times.

Our text is, “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil for you Lord are with me.” In the preceding blog I spoke of shadows that contribute to depression. One of the shadows that often brings depression is ‘destructive thought patterns.’ II Corinthians 10:4-5 tells us we must ‘take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.’ Why is that? Because you and I have a ‘tornado in our minds.’ Satan uses what we think about to control us and wrong thoughts act like a tornado. As wrong thoughts take root in our hearts they gather speed and power leading to ultimate destruction.

Scripture says “as a man thinketh…so is he.” Every action is first a thought. Automatic thinking is dangerous, especially if your thoughts are almost always negative or sinful or dark in nature. Our minds must be trained by our will to purposefully think. Purposeful thinking takes practice and it involves thinking on things that are true, according to God’s Word and refusing to think on dark, defeating and hopeless thoughts. II Cor. describes these defeating thoughts as strongholds (strongholds are habitual patterns of destructive thinking or habitual patterns of destructive behavior). These strongholds of the mind can lead to depression or keep an individual in depression.

Examine your thinking! Are your thoughts uplifting or are they defeating? Do you see that learning to re-train your mind takes work and it is work that you must do? Someone else cannot do it for you. You must fight to regain control of your mind. It is spiritual warfare and your weapon is God’s Word.

Another device that Satan uses to bring depression is the unwillingness to forgive. Unforgiveness is a major cause of depression. Holding on to grudges, past offenses, and hurts may seem justified but in reality they put you in bondage. Forgiveness gives you freedom. When you forgive it does not mean that the person is not guilty, or that you will not cry again, or that you will never think of the event again, or even that it will not still hurt. Forgiveness is about obedience to God.

God’s Word says, “If you don’t forgive those who trespass (sin) against you, God will not forgive your trespasses (sins). No offense is worth estrangement from God’s forgiveness. Unforgiveness that lies in your heart will eventually become bitterness and bitterness will become depression. Through unforgiveness we give Satan access to our lives. Through forgiveness we not only obey God but we take back ground that we gave to Satan through unforgiveness.

Jesus said this, “I have come so that you may have life and have it more abundantly.” Take inventory of your thinking. Pray and ask God to reveal to you thoughts that have contributed to your depression. Defeating thoughts do not come from God, they come from Satan. Would you right now ask God for His help? Let me give you something that might be of help in learning to think differently.

You will need a notebook or journal to write in. You will need a pen and Bible, that’s all. In your notebook draw a line down the middle of the page. At the top of the left side of the page write “MY TRUTH” and at the top of the right side of the page write, “REALITY CHECK-GOD’S TRUTH.” Under the heading of “MY TRUTH” start listing every negative thought you presently believe to be truth. They may not come to you all at once. Keep going back until you can think of no others.

Set aside 30 minutes each day to spend time searching out truth from the Word of God. Perhaps you wrote as one of your thoughts under “MY TRUTH,” God isn’t here to help me.” Hebrews 13:5b says, “I will never leave you nor will I forsake you.” Under “GOD’S TRUTH” write out Hebrews 13: 5b. Continue this exercise until you have refuted every negative thought with truth. NOW, every morning and evening read aloud God’s truth so that your mind and heart hears the truth. You are re-training your mind to think truth. Healing is always a process. It will take time. Healing is not about relief, it is “restoring your mind and heart so that you are able to be used by God.” It is about God and His glory.

Friend, I promise you that if you will allow God and His Word to work in your life you will have a blessed Christmas and a blessed year. He came to give you abundant life. Will you do what it takes to experience life abundant? Remember, you cannot change without God and He will only change you if you let Him.

Holiday Depression

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Chistmas-Depression

Are you looking forward to Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s? Does this seem like a strange question? The majority of individuals do enjoy the celebration atmosphere of these special days. However, statistics tell us that about 10% of our population dread the coming holidays. One woman said to me, “Everyone is running around so happy and I wonder why I feel so sad.” For many the holidays are a time “to just get through and be done with!” I wonder, Friend, am I talking about you or about someone that you know and love?

Holiday depression is not uncommon. I spend the majority of my time ministering to women and I have found that depression linked to a holiday is often because of painful memories in their childhood home. Memories of holidays filled with fighting between parents, alcohol induced abuse, arguments over money, intense loneliness, loss of a parent, or some other tragedy. Many love the Christmas season and look forward to big family get-togethers but, for others who have no family with which to share, it is a dreaded time of year.

Would you listen for the next few minutes? Would you allow me to share with you my heart?

Depression is no respecter of persons. We are told that Abraham Lincoln, Winston Churchill, missionary to the American Indians, David Brainerd, Bible translator, J.B. Phillips, the great reformationist, Martin Luther, Charles Spurgeon as well as John Wesley, founder of the Methodist church struggled with depression. As I’ve studied the Bible I see that David the Psalmist, Elijah the prophet, Job, Jonah and even Jesus experienced depression and times of deep sorrow. When Jesus prayed in the garden prior to his crucifixion He said, “My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death.” For those who suffer with depression, that definition fits well the feelings of their heart.

Depression has been described as a heavy blackness, a feeling of emptiness, numbness, and excessive fatigue. It has been compared to being buried alive. Charles Spurgeon likened it to “the horror of a soul, forsaken by God.” He also described it this way, “Depression is a leak through which the soul’s force wastes itself drop by drop.” (Bright Days, Dark Nights, Skaglund) One author said, “The flatness of life feels like it is killing you.” (Edward Welch, Depression)

Whether you suffer with holiday depression or depression in general, you have probably felt that just making it through the day is quite an accomplishment. Depression often brings about an inability to sleep or if you do it is restless sleep, which leaves you exhausted when morning comes. Life has lost its sunshine and your days seem colorless and grey. You seem driven toward isolation. Clear thought patterns seem impossible. You are filled with self-defeating thoughts such as, “I’ll never be happy.” “No one cares if I am here.” I can’t do anything right.” No one loves me.” Negativity characterizes every word that you speak and think.

For some, depression is a life-long battle; for others it comes in seasons that may last weeks or months. The Psalmist, David, wrote, “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, Thou art with me.” (Psalm 23) Friend, depression, most certainly is a valley. It is a dark valley and in that valley are shadows. Have you ever been walking around at night and been frightened by a shadow? The shadow may in truth be nothing more than a tree, a bush, or a reflection of yourself, but your imagination goes wild and you become frightened.

Shadows can lie to you or me but they feel real. The shadow of depression can also lie to you. It can make you believe things that are not true like…”God doesn’t care how I feel” or I must not be saved because Christians aren’t supposed to get depressed” or “my family would be better off if I weren’t here.” These feelings seem true during times of depression but they are in fact lies. Satan, the father of lies, desires to steal, kill and destroy. He will use whatever means he can to accomplish this end. He attacks at the point of your present weakness with the intent of stealing your joy, killing all ability to think truth and destroying all hope.

Several years ago I became very ill and as a result spent 10 days in the hospital and several weeks at home recuperating. One day, while still in the hospital, I picked up a Daily Bread devotional that my husband had put on the bedside table. I opened it and my eyes fell on these words from the hymn, Under His Wings.

Under His wings, O what precious enjoyment

There will I hide ‘til life’s trials are through.

Sheltered, protected, no evil can harm me

Resting in Jesus, I’m safe evermore.

As I laid there, I started to cry. I repeated the words, “No evil can harm me,” over and over again. Emotionally and physically I was very weak but the truth of that song encouraged me day after day. David encouraged himself the same way when he said, “Yea, though I walk through the valley of death, THOU ART WITH ME!” Note that David said “through the valley.” Isa. 43:2 reiterates this truth,

“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;

And through the rivers, they shall not overflow you.

When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned.

When we are in a valley of any kind it feels like a permanent condition and that we are alone. God is saying you are not alone, “I am with you” and together you and I will go THROUGH this valley. You do not have to stay in the shadows of the valley.

When you are in the valley, and the shadows of darkness close in, those shadows can cause you to believe Satan’s lies. I want to share some shadows in the valley of depression.

 

Shadow #1 All Depression Is Sin

All depression is not sin. Depression can result in sin if we allow it to, but our emotions were created by God and are not sinful. If we allow depression to cause us to react in ways that are disobedient to God or in ways that do not bring God glory then our depression has become sinful. Depression, like any trial, is a test. When the people of Israel wandered for forty years in the wilderness, it was a test. Deut. 8:2 says, “And thou shalt remember all the way which the Lord thy God led thee these forty years in the wilderness, to humble thee, and to prove thee, to know what was in thine heart, whether thou wouldest keep his commandments, or not.” Trials of any kind reveal our hearts.

 

Shadow #2 Depression Can’t Be God’s Will

I Thess. 3:3 “God has appointed who shall suffer. Suffering comes not by chance, or by the will of man, but by the will and appointment of God.”  When you are in a trial of any kind, your belief about God’s sovereignty will determine how you react to the trial. If you believe that God is in control of every thing both in Heaven and on earth and that nothing can come into your life unless it passes through God’s hand and Christ’s hand before it comes to you (col. 3:3) then you know it has come with purpose.

John Bunyan, the English preacher, and author of “Pilgrim’s Progress” wrote these words during his twelve year stay in prison, I had not in all my life so great an inlet into the Word of God as now (in prison). Those scriptures that I saw nothing in before were made in this place and state to shine upon me. Jesus Christ also was never more real and apparent than now. Here I have seen Him and felt Him indeed…” He further said, “I have learned to live upon God who is invisible.”

 

Shadow #3 Feeling, The Deceiver

When in depression you may want to run or avoid or disappear or die. Though these are common feelings when depressed, you must act according to truth rather than acting on what you feel at the moment. Recently, I read an article from a crisis pregnancy center (It was located next door to an abortion clinic) about a young girl who came in pregnant. She thought she was at the abortion center. When she discovered she was at a crisis pregnancy center she got up to leave. One of the crisis counselors said to her, “Would you like to see a picture of your baby before you leave?” She broke down and cried. That child is now four. The girl’s feelings changed instantly when she was confronted with truth. She had convinced herself that what was in her was just unwanted tissue. If she had acted on her feelings that child would have been destroyed.

Acting on principle or truth is a choice not to believe Satan’s lie. Acting on truth is to believe and act on what God says in His Word rather than on what you feel. You may not feel God loves you at this moment but you can, by faith, choose to believe He loves you because I John 4:10 says that before you loved Him He loved you. The Bible always tells the truth. Your feelings will not always tell the truth. When you live according to your feelings you are usually living contrary to the Word of God 

French O’Shields wrote a book entitled, Slaying the Giant. Mr. O’Shields has several theological degrees, is an ordained pastor and pastored 28 years in Presbyterian churches U.S.A. He had degrees in psychology and also studied psychiatry. He had struggled with mild depression for years.   In 1982 he stopped pastoring churches, due to a voice impairment (laryngeal dystonia). He became clinically depressed. Here is how he described his feelings while in depression.

My concept of myself was so low, I felt I could sit on the edge of a sheet of paper and my feet would not touch the floor. I was convinced I had failed in every aspect of my life: as a son, husband, father, friend, pastor, and a complete washout as a human being.   I developed an uncanny skill to discern something bad in everything. As my depression deepened, so did the desire to withdraw. I had no interest in doing anything. Even the smallest task seemed like Mt. Everest—utterly insurmountable. Even though I was surrounded with love I felt unloved and rejected. I became very introspective. I could think of no one but myself. I was saturated with self-pity. My self-centeredness was obvious to others but I was blind to it. I was filled with anxiety, couldn’t sleep, felt agitated and because of my gloomy shades crying came easily both day and night. I felt alienated from God”

French O’Shields has been free of depression for many years and now gives workshops on overcoming depression. He did not find his answer in his degrees, nor in secular psychology but in the Word of God.   Due to time I will not be able to fully cover all the aspects of depression.   I would encourage you to order Mr. O’Shields book. But, what I am praying for you to see is how Satan uses lies during depression to deceive and to destroy.   The lies FEEL real but they are lies. “Distortion of reality is what depression is all about. There is no better way for Satan to steal, kill, and destroy a person’s life, reducing it to a miserable existence void of hope, joy, peace, and purpose, than through depression.” (O’Shield’s, Slaying the giant, p., 83)

 

Shadow #4 The Shadow of Destructive Thought Patterns

One of the ladies I counseled came from a very distorted and destructive background, not of her own choosing. For year she refused to deal with the pain associated with her childhood. She came to the Prasso class I was teaching at the time and as a result I began seeing her one-on-one. She had a job and was quite successful as the manager of a store but when her work-day was finished she always had 20 other forms of activity going so that each night she would arrive home about 11:00 p.m. I asked her why she filled up every day so full, she said, “so I don’t have to think.” I knew that but wanted to hear her say it.

I asked her to cut back on her activities and spend some time being quiet. She said, “I can’t, my mind goes crazy.” I told her she had to re-train her mind. She said, “How in the world do I do that?” I told her she would have to break out of the cycle of automatic thinking and learn to purposefully think. Purposeful thinking takes practice and it involves thinking on things that are true according to God’s Word and refusing to think on dark, defeating and hopeless thoughts. II Corinthians 10:4-5 describes these defeating thoughts as strongholds (strongholds are habitual patterns of destructive thinking or habitual patterns of destructive behavior.) These strongholds of the mind keep an individual in depression. Listen to God’s plan for victory . . .

“The weapons of our warfare are not carnal, (carnal is the old ways you have used to meet your needs) but mighty through God, (mighty through the principles and truth of the Word of God) to the pulling down of strongholds (remember strongholds are habitual patterns of destructive thoughts or habitual patterns of destructive behavior); Casting down imaginations (destructive thoughts and lies that come into your mind that you dwell on until you convince yourself they are true) and every high thing (could be your belief system or your opinion or your perception) that exalts itself against the knowledge of God (in other words it does not measure up to the truth of the Word of God), and bring into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.”

Do you see that learning to re-train your mind takes work and it is work that you must do. Someone else cannot do it for you. You must put up a fight to regain control of your mind. It is spiritual warfare. Your weapon is the Word of God.

 

Shadow #5 The Shadow of Unforgiveness

When we say, “I can’t forgive, we are really saying, “I won’t forgive” because forgiveness is a choice. Unforgiveness is a major cause of depression. Holding onto grudges, past offenses, and hurts may seem justified but in reality they put you in bondage. Forgiveness gives you freedom. When you forgive it does not mean that the person is not guilty, or that you will never cry again, or that you will never think of the event again, or it will not hurt anymore.

Forgiveness is about obedience, obedience to God. God declares, “If you don’t forgive those who trespass against you, I will not forgive you.” No offense is worth estrangement from God’s forgiveness. Unforgiveness that lies in your heart will eventually become bitterness and bitterness will become depression. Through unforgiveness we give Satan access to our lives. Through forgiveness we not only obey God but we take back the ground that we gave to Satan through unforgiveness.

I have described the shadows found in the valley of depression so that you might see Satan’s deception and the weapons he uses to keep you bound in that dark valley. Depression is about existence. The promises of God are about life. In fact Jesus said this, “I have come so that you may have life and have it more abundantly.” I am going to give you some practical steps to take so that you may experience abundant life during this Christmas season. Jesus came to give you life. He left Heaven to give you life. He was born in a dirty stable so that you may have life and He died on a cruel cross so you may have abundant life. Will you right now say, “Yes, I will take these steps whether I believe they will do me any good or not.”

You will need a notebook or journal to write in. You will need a pen and Bible, that’s all. In your notebook draw a line down the center of the page. At the top of the left side of the page write “MY TRUTH” and at the top of the right side of the page write, “REALITY CHECK-GOD’S TRUTH.” Under the heading “MY TRUTH” start listing every negative thought you presently believe to be truth. They may not come to you all at once. Keep going back until you can think of no others.

Set aside 30 min. each day to spend time searching out truth from the Word of God. Perhaps you wrote as one of your thoughts under “MY TRUTH,” God isn’t here to help me.” Hebrews 13:5b says, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” Under “GOD’S TRUTH” write out Hebrews 13:5b. Continue this exercise until you have refuted every negative thought with truth. NOW daily, morning, and evening read aloud God’s truth so that your mind and heart can hear the truth. I would recommend you read the books of James, I Peter, Philippians, Ephesians, the Psalms. You are looking for truth. You are re-training your mind to think truth. Remember healing is a process. It will take time. Healing is not relief it is “restoration to usefulness for God.” It is about God and his glory.

You may want to download “Changing Sinful Thought Patterns” from myprasso.com to help you through this process.   Each lesson is divided into six, one-day segments. Each one will help clarify the importance of re-training your mind to think truth. God’s Word has a purifying effect on our hearts and minds when applied. Jesus prayed to God, the Father, in John 17:17 and He said, “Sanctify them (set them apart) through Thy truth, Thy Word is Truth.”

The first place Satan targets is your mind. That is why you must take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ. Psychological depression is an outcome of wrong thinking, unbiblical thinking. No one would choose to be depressed but by allowing yourself to park on defeating wrong thoughts you are allowing depression into your life.

John Bunyan wrote while in prison, “The key to suffering rightly is to see in all things the hand of a merciful and good and sovereign God, and ‘to live upon God that is invisible.’ There is more of God to be had in times of suffering than at any other time. (John Piper, The Hidden Smile of God)

Friend, I promise you that if you will allow God and His Word to work in your life you will have a blessed Christmas and a blessed year. He came to give you abundant life. Will you do what it takes to experience life abundant? Remember you cannot change without God and He can only change you if you let Him.

Hospitality: From Bread To Blessing

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The Shunammite woman spoken of in II Kings 4 was a woman given to hospitality.  Elisha, while passing through Shunam, was invited by what the Bible calls “a great woman” to come into her home and eat bread.  This woman perceived that he was a holy man and told her husband that she wanted to make a small room for him so that when he came by he would have a place to rest.

Elisha appreciated her hospitality and on one visit asked his servant to call the Shunammite woman.  Elisha asked her how he could show his appreciation to her.  She didn’t ask for anything.  He then turned to his servant, Gehazi, and asked him what they could do for her.  Gehazi told Elisha that she had no child and her husband was old.  Elisha then told the Shunammite woman that she would have a baby.  She could hardly believe her ears and told Elisha not to lie to her.

A year later she had a son as Elisha promised.  Can you even imagine her delight? When the child was grown he became ill and died.  This woman didn’t share her sadness with anyone, not even her husband but instead immediately prepared to go to Elisha, God’s Representative.  Her faith was going to the market, Elisha, and she wasn’t going to settle for anything less than a full basket from Elisha.  What faith!  God honored her faith and used Elisha to bring her son back to life.

This is such an amazing story…and it all started with the Shunammite woman being given to hospitality.  Think of the blessings she would have missed had she not been willing to share her bread.   Why don’t you look for opportunities to let your home be used by God to bless another person?
 

Do You Want To Know A Secret?

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Secrets are intriguing, wouldn’t you agree?  When secret plans are being made for a surprise party to honor someone special it’s fun being in on the secret.  Secrets are exciting; secrets are hard to keep; secrets are wrapped in mystery.  Did you know there are “secrets” revealed in God’s Word…secrets to knowing God;  secrets about God; and secrets about God’s “rescue mission” for the wounded heart?

Psalm 25:14 says, “The secret of the Lord is with them that fear Him.”  Psalm 91:1 says, “He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.”  Psalm 27:5 says, “For in the time of trouble He shall hide me in His pavilion: in the secret of His tabernacle shall He hide me;  He shall set me up upon a rock.”

Many secrets about God can only be learned in the shadows of darkness.  Warren Wiersbe, an author and pastor, said these wise words, A faith that cannot be tested cannot be trusted.  In darkness our faith is tested and unless we dwell under His shadow, the “rescue mission” for our soul, our faith can falter.  But true faith always looks deeper than the present circumstances.

A.B. Simpson shared this, “Dear friend, God may send you some valuable gifts wrapped in unattractive paper.  But do not worry about the wrappings, for you can be sure that inside He has hidden treasures of love, kindness, and wisdom.  If we will simply take what He sends and trust Him for the blessings inside, we will learn the meaning of the secrets of His providence, even in times of darkness.”

 

Not until each loom is silent,

And the crossthreads cease to fly,

Will God unroll the pattern

And explain the reason why.

 

The dark threads are as needful

In the Weaver’s skillful hand,

As the threads of gold and silver

For the pattern He has planned.

God Is In Control

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Proverbs-21-1

 

Is God sovereign? Does God order the affairs of men? Does He order your life? Two hundred years before Cyrus was born God announced in Isaiah 45 that the pagan king, Cyrus, would be the deliverer of God’s people, Israel, from captivity in Babylon. God not only named the deliverer but also told how it would be accomplished and the treasures Cyrus would plunder from his victory over Babylon.

God anointed this pagan king for a special mission. God poured out His Spirit on Cyrus and enabled him to subdue nation after nation for one reason, so that he would show kindness to God’s people and would release them from captivity, allowing them to return to the Promised Land. God heard the cry of the people and moved this pagan king to do His bidding.

Proverbs 21:1 says, The king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord, like the rivers of water; He turns it wherever He wishes.”

If you are like me you listen to the world news and it is easy to think there is no hope. We look at our leaders and our nation and think, “Is God really in control?” I think when you and I stand in the grand temple of eternity our perspective will drastically change. We will then see how the architect of not only our lives but also of all that happened throughout the world worked seamlessly together to carry out God’s plan.

Whatever you are facing today, however you are being squeezed by God in your valley of difficulty you can know God is in control. One day you and I will laugh with delight when in His presence we see the true beauty of His plan.

Chance has not brought this ill to me;

It’s God’s own hand, so let it be,

For He sees what I cannot see.

There is a purpose for each pain,

And He one day will make it plain

That earthly loss is heavenly gain.

Like as a piece of tapestry

Viewed from the back appears to be

Only threads tangled hopelessly;

But in the front a picture fair

Rewards the worker for his care,

Proving his skill and patience rare.

You are the Workman, I the frame.

Lord, for the glory of Your name,

Perfect Your image on the same.

Selected

All Through The Night

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Imagine the Israelites, having just left Egypt where they had been in bondage for 430 years, now standing before what appeared to them to be an impenetrable problem…the Red Sea.  It was night.  They were no doubt tired and hungry from travel and now this!  They knew the Egyptians were coming after them and fear gripped their hearts…and it was night!  They complained to Moses accusing him of bringing them out in the wilderness to die.  Moses said to the people, “Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the Lord…the Lord will fight for you…”

The Lord instructed Moses to tell the people to go forward.  He then told Moses to lift his staff and to stretch out his hand over the sea and the sea would divide.  The Bible says that when Moses did this that God sent a strong east wind all that night and the people walked through on dry land.  (Ex. 14:21)

God worked all that night for the benefit of His people.  You and I will face “Red Sea challenges” during our lifetime.  We need to heed the instructions that Moses gave to Israel…”Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the Lord…the Lord will fight for you.”  The times of darkness, the times when our faith is challenged, the times of weeping are opportunities to feel God’s sweet presence and His faithfulness to His promises.  Isa.45:3 says, “God will send treasures in the darkness.”  I often feel that we fail to recognize God’s treasures until we go through times of disappointment, sorrow or heartache.

My husband, Buzz, went to be with the Lord on December 2, 2013. We were married 51 years and more in love than when we first married.  These are difficult days but I am seeing the treasures God promised in darkness…the love of friends and family…the provision of needs…the comfort of the Spirit…the reality that God’s promises never fail…the peace that His Word brings and the sweet assurance that, as He worked “all that night” for Israel, He will do the same for me.  I pray that you also will see God’s precious treasures as you face the “Red Sea challenges” in your life.

Handfuls On Purpose

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Have you ever cried out to God and said, “Lord, are you there? Are you listening? Do you see the pain I am going through?” I’ve been in that difficult place many times over the years and I read a helpful verse that is now underlined in my Bible. It’s Psalm 86:17 and it says, “Lord, give me a token of good that those who hate me will be put to shame, for you, O Lord, help and comfort me.”

Do you remember the story of Ruth who, at the suggestion of her mother in law Naomi, went to glean in the wheat field belonging to Boaz (a relative of Naomi)? When Boaz saw her he told his workers to leave “handfuls on purpose” for Ruth to glean.

There have been days I have needed a tangible hug from God. I needed a “token of good” or a “handful on purpose” from His hand to assure me that He was there and that He cared for me and my need. He never failed to send just what I needed whether it was a note of encouragement from a friend, a loaf of bread from a neighbor, a phone call, a warm smile from a stranger or perhaps a visit from a friend who “just happened” to say words I needed to hear.

The words to the following song explain why God would take the time to reach down and touch my life and yours, never chiding us for needing His assurances . . .

Could we with ink the ocean fill,

And were the skies of parchment made,

Were every stalk on earth a quill,

And every man a scribe by trade;

To write the love of God above

Would drain the oceans dry;

Nor could the scroll contain the whole,

Though stretched from sky to sky.

Oh, love of God, how rich and pure!

How measureless and strong!

It shall forevermore endure—

The saints’ and angels’ song.

Frederick M. Lehman

I pray that these words might be your “token of good” your “handful on purpose” from God today.

Superhuman or Supernatural?

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hands-reaching-out

A number of years ago my husband taught a Sunday school class. He often would say to the class, “our lives should demand a supernatural explanation.” Throughout 2012 and 2013 God allowed numerous health challenges in my husband’s life. He spent many days in the hospital and his body became weak and tired. Despite these personal challenges he was constantly looking for ways to be a blessing to the nurses, the doctors, and his family. He often asked me to send a number of books out during those hospital stays because “a certain person he had just talked with really needed encouragement.”

He wasn’t superhuman. There were hard days and even days of weeping, but he always believed that our lives should demand a supernatural explanation. My husband, Buzz, went to be with the Lord a little over a year ago. I am so thankful for the life he lived and the legacy he left behind. His words, “our lives should demand a supernatural explanation” have challenged me to not quit but continue faithfully in the ministry to which God has called me.

God has a purpose in what He allows and day-by-day has promised grace to meet every challenge. Charles Spurgeon, the Prince of Preachers, had so many physical challenges he was out of the pulpit a third of his years of preaching. His response, “I would go into the deep a hundred times if it meant I could cheer a downcast soul.” His life demanded a supernatural explanation.

“Thanks be to God, who in Christ, always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us, spreads in every place the fragrance that comes from knowing Him. For we are the aroma of Christ to God. II Cor. 2:14-15

“Lord, may I be a walking channel today to spread the fragrance of Your love and grace to those who may need encouragement. Make me Your mouthpiece, Your hands and Your ears to touch people with Your compassion.”

To Live Without Sin

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Living-Without-Sin

In 1860, at the age of 58, James Smith recorded the following words in his diary . . .

I am weary of myself, ashamed of myself, and often turn with disgust from myself! And yet I find a great deal of self-love, self-esteem, and self-pity working within me! I sometimes get into such a state of confusion, into such misery and wretchedness, that I cry out, “Oh, what a wretched man I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death!” Romans 7:24

I feel that I am too carnal–too much like the generality of professors. I do not follow the Lord fully. I am not wholly set apart for God. But I am ashamed of complaining, I have done so–so often, and it has ended there. I need more life, more savor, more love in my religion; and to be more energetic and self-denying in my ministry. I need–alas, what do I not need? I am only a mere skeleton of a Christian. I can keep up the outward form pretty well, but the power–the power is what I need! I want to be like Jesus. Oh for a Christ-like spirit, temper, and course of conduct! 

I am obliged to renounce self entirely–all that I do, all that I feel, and all that I say–and build on Jesus Christ, and on Him alone.

This is very mortifying to poor, proud human nature–but so it must be. The creature must be nothing–that the Savior may be all in all!

 How swift-footed is time! Soon, very soon–it will land me on the shores of eternity! Well, to die will be gain. I shall then be with Christ–with Christ forever! Then all my trials will be ended, all my sorrows will cease–and I shall sin no more! If I could but live without sin–I would not care how long I lived. Nothing grieves me like sin–and yet I sin daily. I grieve the loving heart of Jesus, and wound the tender bosom on which I lean. What a pleasant thing perfect holiness will be!

My dear friends, again I am reminded of who I truly am…a sinner saved only by the grace of God.  As I stated in my last blog…think what it will be like to love the Lord with a sinless heart. What a day of rejoicing that will be. These poor frail, carnal bodies will be utterly changed…BRAND NEW!

“Lord, I want more than the outward form of godliness.  I want the power that can only come from Jesus.  Help me today to wholly live for you, in thought and deed. Help me to want your glory, not my own.  Help me to quickly recognize my sin and confess it to you.  Thank you for loving me.  I love you Father.  I love you Jesus.  I love you Holy Spirit.  In Jesus Name, Amen.”