Helping the Help Meet

At one point, several years back, March was recognized as “Pastor’s Wife Appreciation Month.” October traditionally celebrates our pastors for their sacrifice and care for our families in the most significant times of our lives. For our family, we have had a pastor present when we decided to follow Christ, when one of us has been in the hospital, when my husband and I got married, when each of our children were born, and when we needed counsel through some of life’s difficulties. Looking ahead to the future, we will need a pastor for our funerals, as well. And for those of us who seek spiritual leadership by faithful church attendance, he is the one who shepherds the congregation and some day will stand before God to answer for how he led. The hours are long and unpredictable, the stress level is astronomical in scale, and the spiritual warfare is very real.

Behind this man stands a woman who knows her husband’s heart, feels his hurts, and experiences her own share of the sting of criticism. She will adjust her schedule to accommodate the unexpected funerals, hospital visits, and late-night phone calls. She will be the prayer warrior that stands in the gap when the matter can’t be shared. She will walk through life with her family on display, all the while doing her best to live out what she knows to be true. She will field criticism and disdain; and watch those who called themselves friends just walk away without a word. This is the unique world of the pastor’s wife. The list of expectations is endless, and perfection is an absolute must, even if it is impossible. She is the help meet to the pastor that we depend on. She has been equipped with wonderful gifts of grace to serve the Lord with her church family, but her most important role will be to come alongside her husband to help keep his weary arms upheld.

In the church I grew up in, my pastor was not married. Perhaps that is why I am so appreciative of the pastor’s wife that I have now. She blesses her husband and serves our church family with joy. They both readily pray for the prayer requests my family brings to them, and they look for opportunities to bless us and others in so many ways. Even though March is no longer recognized as a month to appreciate the help meet behind our Pastor, anytime is a good time to show appreciation to her and our other ministry staff wives. Tangible gifts are surely appreciated, but as believers, we have something far more valuable to offer. Prayer draws our hearts nearer to those we pray for, as well as lifting their needs to the One who can meet every one. Revive our Hearts has a wonderful list of ways to pray, listed out for thirty days of prayer. I put these into a calendar form and keep them in my prayer journal to use throughout the year. I want to do my part to keep my Pastor and his family before the throne of God’s grace, and in some form, give back a little for all they do for our family and church.

Let me know how you show love and appreciation to your Pastor and his family.  I would love to hear your ideas!

A Kansas Song

The Evening Sky

Hues of purple, orange, and fire
Alight the western sky.
Every stroke of Artist brush
Boasts boldly Thy creative eye.

Prairie grasses wild and free
Bow down their slender frame,
As rushing winds assert their praise
And birds wing back refrain.

Boughs of treetops high and low
Wave in revelry;
Each petaled flower from lowly ground
Lifts high its praise to Thee.

Dull and gray the clouds give way
Breaking through the patterned lace
The glorious sunshine of Thine love,
Rejoicing glory of Thy face.

And we Thine people, frail as dust
Reflect our joy to be
Crafted within the Master’s hand,
Created for glory of Thee.

A Pixie Dust Ministry

Leave a little sparkle…

Have you ever had a nickname that really stuck because it fit your personality so well? I have a close friend from college who calls me Tinkerbell, though I’m sure the name fit better then, than it does now. I was quite flighty and overly perky, flitting here and there, leaving a bit of sparkly pixie dust personality wherever I went. If she had other reasons for calling me that, she kept them to herself, which leads me to my own conclusions here. Ha! It’s a fun nickname, and you’ll often find me still sporting some sort of Tinkerbell accessory because it makes me smile.

The disciples in Jerusalem had a wonderful friend named Joses.  There was something so obviously a part of his reputation though, that they gave him the name of Barnabas. The nickname literally translated into the “son of consolation.”  Paraklésis is the Greek translation of the word consolation.

From Strong’s Concordance, I found the definition more fully explained:

paraklésis: a calling to one’s aid, i.e. encouragement, comfort  https://biblehub.com/greek/3874.htm

It’s a very similar word to the one Jesus used to describe the Holy Spirit in John 14:26, as the Comforter who would come along after His death. 

But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.

That word Comforter translates from paraklétos: called to one’s aid.  https://biblehub.com/greek/3875.htm

It goes on to say that “para” means close beside, and “kaleo” means to make a call, as one who is close to the situation and can advocate and help another.

Barnabas, in effect, so poured out the work of the Holy Spirit to all he met that “encourager, comforter, consoler, helper” is what came to mind when they thought of him. What a ministry of encouragement Barnabas must have had!

In Acts 9, Saul who will soon become Paul the Apostle is breathing out threatenings to those who were following the way of Christ. He had stood in approval at the stoning of Stephen, and he was on his way to deliver more believers to prison and to death. But on the way, a blinding light and the voice of Jesus stops him in his tracks and he is gloriously converted to Christ. When he goes to find the disciples in Jerusalem to join their ranks, they are justifiably fearful of his intentions.

But Barnabas took him, and brought him to the apostles, and declared unto them how he had seen the Lord in the way, and that he had spoken to him, and how he had preached boldly at Damascus in the name of Jesus.  Acts 9:27

Barnabas intentionally advocated for Paul’s acceptance into their ministry. Later Barnabas was sent out to encourage and exhort the believers in Antioch who were Greeks, and then he and Paul were set apart by the Holy Spirit to spread the Gospel throughout the Roman Empire. On the way, they welcomed the nephew of Barnabas, John Mark. However, he quickly deserted the team to return home. When Paul and Barnabas prepared to leave for their second journey, Barnabas advocated for John Mark’s reinstatement, but Paul refused, citing John Mark’s desertion on the previous journey. The contention split them into two teams, and Barnabas’ name does not resurface in Scripture. His legacy however, does. Later in Paul’s ministry, he calls John Mark to his side because he was profitable to him for the ministry. (2 Tim. 4:11) John Mark’s life was made profitable because of Barnabas’ continued investment into him.

Barnabas literally built up men who otherwise would have been cast aside and left behind.  He searched out the needs of others, and took upon himself the cost of investment. If it took money, the Bible says he willingly sold everything he had and laid it at the apostle’s feet. (Acts 4:36-37)  If it took time, he gave time.  If it threatened his reputation, he stepped out anyway.  If it cost him the disapproval of someone he loved, he sought the approval of God above it. The desire to invest in others, and to encourage them to love and passionately follow the Lord, drove Barnabas’ life. 

Remember what the two parts of our Greek word paraklésis meant? “Para” means to draw close beside. It requires the willingness to step into the lives of others. It requires time. It requires an intentional effort to get to know someone.

The second part, “kaleo” means to make a call, as one who recognizes the need in someone’s life and steps in to advocate, aid, and encourage them. 

There have been so many who have done this for me. Even now, there are people who continue to encourage and intentionally invest into my life. There are others who reach into my children’s lives and build on what my husband and I are trying to instill in them. It is always such an encouragement to stop and thank the Lord for those He‘s gifted into our lives.

We each have those we are personally responsible for encouraging, building, and investing into, such as a spouse, children, maybe grandchildren. But I am asking the Lord to help me see people outside immediate family to intentionally invest in, specifically those who do not yet know Him.

Perhaps my old college nickname can remind me to leave a little sparkly pixie dust of encouragement and love with whoever I meet each day. Who knows if there is a Saul or a John Mark in need of a bit of a lift? ❤️

Capturing the Rebels

The Caves of Qumran

How often does an unnamed melancholy steal over our souls, leaving us dry and thirsty for something that we can not seem to find that will satisfy? Going through daily motions, we move as through fog, just doing the next task. Even spiritual things that once uplifted and poured life into our souls no longer flow with life-giving water. Have you found yourself in this arid place, if even for a short time?

 As the hart panteth after the water brooks,
so panteth my soul after thee, O God.
My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God:
when shall I come and appear before God?  Psalm 42:1-2

David did.  The Shepherd king of Israel, and the one God calls a man after His own heart, describes the wasteland of melancholy that he found himself in a time or two.  Those around him even taunt his faith, asking him, “Where is thy God?”  He recalls the days of joy in God’s house, and his former heart of praise.  And it begs him to ask the question:

Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted in me? Psalm 42:5a

David searches out the cause of his despondency. 

”To search out the cause of our sorrow is often the best surgery for grief…The mist of ignorance magnifies the causes of our alarm; a clearer view will make monsters dwindle into trifles.”

C H Spurgeon, Treasury of David

Have you considered the reason for your mist?  What unnamed thought must be brought to the surface of your heart and set to conscious prayer?  A dear friend calls these rogue emotions “the rebels that must be captured.”  Once captured, they can be dealt with forthrightly. 

David commands his emotions to Hope. 

HOPEverb intransitive–To place confidence in; to trust in with confident expectation of good.

David placed his hope not in himself.  He did not buoy himself with uplifting inspirational phrases or by confidence in his own strength.  He placed his hope in the unchangeable, faithful God. 

“This is the grace that swims, though the waves roar and be troubled. God is unchangeable, and therefore His grace is the ground for unshaken hope.” –Spurgeon

David chooses to praise, to sing, to pray.

…for I shall yet praise him
for the help of his countenance.  Psalm 42:5b

Yet the Lord will command his lovingkindness in the daytime, and in the night his song shall be with me, and my prayer unto the God of my life. Psalm 42:8

God’s faithfulness still holds.  His mercies spring anew every morning.  His sovereignty will not lose hold of its scepter.  His love never fails, and His presence never leaves the believer.  Even the unbeliever is delivered from the sin that holds him fast, when such a one calls upon the name of Jesus.   

“Praise has the power to lift the soul above all care as if on wings.”  Susannah Spurgeon

David repeats the process.

Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me?
hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him,
who is the health of my countenance, and my God. Psalm 42:11

The rebels will rear their ugly head time and time again with persistent demands.  They do not quietly surrender after the first battle. We must choose to capture and command them with all the authority of God’s Word as often as they take up arms.  Throughout the day, we must school our hearts to thanksgiving and praise.  Writing down three things to be thankful for three times a day turns praise into the habit of our days.  Psalms and hymns and spiritual songs remind us of His grace throughout our days and into our nights.  Unceasing prayer replaces the misty thoughts of melancholy. 

(For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ; 2 Corinthians 10:4-5

My heart needed some schooling this week to capture the rebels.  I’m praying for you as you capture and command yours!

Annihilating Giants

Photo by Immortal shots on Pexels.com

Whither shall we go up? our brethren have discouraged our heart, saying, The people is greater and taller than we; the cities are great and walled up to heaven; and moreover we have seen the sons of the Anakims there. Then I said unto you, Dread not, neither be afraid of them. The Lord your God which goeth before you, he shall fight for you, according to all that he did for you in Egypt before your eyes;  Deuteronomy 1:28-30

The ten men who had gone to spy out the Promised land came back with a fearful report.  Though the land was overflowing with life and sustenance, there were giants there.  The Anakims were much taller than the children of Israel.  They were stronger, had larger weapons, and they had chariots.  In these men’s eyes, they had no hope of defeating the giants.  And so the Lord let them have their way.  They were not permitted to go into the land, and the giants went undefeated for forty years. 

Fast forward to the next generation, and Moses is no longer on the scene.  God has charged Joshua to overcome his fear with obedience multiple times as He equips him to take on Moses’ role.

“Be strong and of a good courage…Only be thou strong and courageous, that thou mayest observe to do according to all the law…This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein; for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous….Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage…for the Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.”  (Joshua 1:1-9)

As the Lord commanded Moses his servant, so did Moses command Joshua, and so did Joshua; he left nothing undone of all that the Lord commanded Moses. Joshua 11:15 (emphasis mine)

Out of Joshua’s obedience followed the blessings God had promised.  The Lord fought for him, even keeping the sun in its place as Joshua and his men continued in battle against the enemy.  And the giants that the previous generation had feared?  They fell to the faithful obedience of Joshua.  One man’s faith secured rest for the entire generation.

And at that time came Joshua, and cut off the Anakims from the mountains, from Hebron, from Debir, from Anab, and from all the mountains of Judah, and from all the mountains of Israel: Joshua destroyed them utterly with their cities. There was none of the Anakims left in the land of the children of Israel: only in Gaza, in Gath, and in Ashdod, there remained. So Joshua took the whole land, according to all that the Lord said unto Moses; and Joshua gave it for an inheritance unto Israel according to their divisions by their tribes. And the land rested from war.  Joshua 11:21-23

Giants of fear are part of our human experience.  My daughters always come get me to annihilate the spiders that are climbing up their walls.  They won’t even enter the room.  And when I say annihilate, I am not overemphasizing the drama of destruction here.  They want to see this eight- legged creature smeared like a pancake across the wall or they are not going back in there.  They are probably one hundred times bigger than this tiny creature, but to them, that spider is one hundred times bigger than they are.  Fear has a way of making things look much bigger than they are. 

We can often fear problems in our lives in the same way.  I’ve heard many statements over the years, and wrestled with some myself,  of how fear keeps us from doing what we know is the right thing.  “If I tithe as God commands me to, I may not have enough money to pay my bills.”  “If I submit to my husband the way the Bible instructs me to do, I will just become a doormat.”  “If I obey my parents in all things, my life will not turn out the way I think it should.”  “If I let go of this relationship to this unsaved friend, I may never find another relationship like it.”  “If I talk to my neighbors about Jesus, they are going to think I’m really strange.” “If I forgive as Jesus forgives me, there is no end to the hurt they will cause me.” There are so many giants that can get in the way of doing what we know to do that is right.  And it keeps us from rest.  It doesn’t just affect us either.  We can keep those around us from rest too. 

As I was studying the word “courage,”  I came across the Greek word for power in the New Testament.  I won’t attempt to write it in Greek, but the transliteration of it is “dynamis.”  It’s where we get the word dynamite.  What a powerful word, right?!  It’s the word that is used for the miracles and mighty works that Jesus did throughout the Gospels.  In fact it is used 120 times in the New Testament to convey the power of God’s ability at work.  It is the same word Jesus used to describe how the Holy Spirit would come upon the disciples at Pentecost. 

But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.  Acts 1:8

It is the same power that miraculously saves us from our sin.

 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.  Romans 1:16

It is the same power that raised Jesus from the dead, and will raise us up in the resurrection.

And God hath both raised up the Lord, and will also raise up us by his own power.  1 Corinthians 6:14

Joshua had God’s promised presence when he obeyed the Lord, but he did not have God in the form of the Holy Spirit dwelling in him.  We, as believers, have the incredible, resurrection power of God in the Spirit dwelling within us.  When the giants of our lives taunt us to doubt our God’s promises, He is there reminding us of what His Word says.  We will hear His voice until we quench Him.  And when we make the step to follow in faith in obedience, those giants can do nothing but fall before the mighty God we serve.  They may loom dreadfully large when we begin, but they cannot stand before the power of the God who dwells within us.  What giant in your life is threatening your obedience in doing the next right thing?  Ask the Lord for wisdom, and then proceed to obey in His “dynamis.”

Here are some more references, if you’d like to continue in this fun and powerful study.

Romans 15:13; 1 Corinithians 1:18, 24-25; 2 Corinthians 4:7; 6:7; 2 Corinthians 12:9; 13:4; Ephesians 1:17-23; Philippians 3:10; Colossians 1:9-14,27-29; 2 Thessalonians 1:11-12; 2 Timothy 1:7; 1 Peter 1:5;  2 Peter 1:3-5, 16; Revelation 11:17, 12:10, 15:8, 19:1-2

Peace for the Battle

The Garden of Gethsemane

There is a jeweled treasure box full of the richest of human emotion found within the Book of Psalms in the Bible.  Most of these treasures are penned by David, but all of them were breathed by the Holy Spirit of God into the pens of the men who inscribed them to paper.  And while God never intended  the pages of His Word to be used only in case of emergency, He certainly included every answer to every need within those pages.   One chapter in particular has been a personal treasure to me.  If you don’t write in your Bible, please forgive me for this, but I have written next to the words below, “The Panic Chapter.”

Give ear to my prayer, O God;
and hide not thyself from my supplication.
Attend unto me, and hear me:
I mourn in my complaint, and make a noise;
Because of the voice of the enemy, because of the oppression of the wicked:
for they cast iniquity upon me, and in wrath they hate me.
My heart is sore pained within me:
and the terrors of death are fallen upon me.
Fearfulness and trembling are come upon me,
and horror hath overwhelmed me.
And I said, Oh that I had wings like a dove!
for then would I fly away, and be at rest.

Terror, Fearfulness, Trembling, Horror, Overwhelmed…. Psalm 55 leaves no panicked emotion out.  David’s words were most likely written when his son Absalom stormed Jerusalem and took over David’s throne.  One of David’s longest and dearest friends, Ahithophel, became Absalom’s counselor.  David’s anguish over this treason is overwhelming and very real.  He draws the reader into the depths of his pain as he cries out to God.  He takes all of his raw emotions to the One who made them, who understands them, and who one day far in the future, would in His human lifetime, experience all of them Himself.  The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge cross references Jesus’ agony in the Garden of Gethsemane to the fifth verse of Psalm 55.

And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground.   Luke 22:44  http://tsk-online.com/TSK/Psalms/55/5

In our deepest struggles, and in our rawest emotions, God hears, He sees, He knows. When we take our tangled, confused, overwhelmed feelings to the God who created us, He knows us better than we could even begin to know ourselves.

Spurgeon writes of Psalm 55:2 (Attend unto me, and hear me: I mourn in my complaint, and make a noise…) Groanings that cannot be uttered, are often prayers which cannot be refused.” Even when we cannot fully comprehend our own fears, sorrows, longings, pain, and anguish, He can make sense of our lack of words. His Spirit communes on our behalf, and brings our speechless petitions to His throne.

As David pours out his heart to the Lord, his emotions of panic soon turn to purposeful prayer in verses 16-17.  And before he sees a resolution, God’s peace takes over the internal battle of his heart.

As for me, I will call upon God;
and the Lord shall save me.
Evening, and morning, and at noon, will I pray, and cry aloud:
and he shall hear my voice.
He hath delivered my soul in peace from the battle that was against me:
for there were many with me.
 

 It is no coincidence that David ends this chapter with his decision to trust in God’s sovereignty and judgment of evil.  Panic is overcome in David’s heart by his choice to focus his thoughts and emotions onto the unchanging, stabilizing God that he knows well.  He chooses to place the circumstances soundly at God’s feet to work through as He sees fit.

 v. 22 Cast thy burden upon the Lord, and he shall sustain thee:
he shall never suffer the righteous to be moved.

There is peace for the battle-worn and overwhelmed. These burdens of fear and sorrow need not be carried on our own, but placed firmly at the feet of the One who draws near to us in our needy complaints. These burdens are often the very things that He uses to draw us to Him.

Here are a few more of my favorite Scriptures to refocus and redirect the overwhelmed emotions that stir to life every now and again:

Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace,
whose mind is stayed on thee:
because he trusteth in thee.
Trust ye in the Lord for ever:
for in the Lord Jehovah is everlasting strength:

Isaiah 26:3-4

Fear thou not; for I am with thee:
be not dismayed; for I am thy God:
I will strengthen thee;
yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.

Isaiah 41:10

What are some of your favorite verses?

Rest Through Every Season

Photo provided by the talented Preston Hoiseth

Seasons are a part of life.  They breeze into our lives, especially in Kansas where breezy is generally an understatement, and then they quietly give way to a new one.  Some seasons are more enjoyable than others.  I much prefer the sunny, mild days of spring to the harsh, icy days of winter.  But every season provides the needs for the next, and there is beauty to be found in each one.  These are the rhythms, constant and reliable, that we depend on.  

The seasons of life are constantly changing, as well, though not quite as predictably.  My teenagers are preparing for adulthood, my middle schooler for high school, and I am preparing for an empty nest in just a few short years.  It could not possibly be that long ago that I had 3 tiny tornados under the age of 5, creating masterpieces of dry noodles and glitter.  And it will be an equally short glimmer of time, if the Lord doesn’t return soon, that the winter of my life will make its way toward its close.  Life is full, but it is short; just a breath, really.  Imperfectly beautiful in its season until it gives way to the long season of eternity.    

Before eternity, there are so many needs that must be filled, purposes that must be worked out, dreams to pursue, and work that must be done.  I spend much time focused on the day to day tasks, and rarely check everything off of my to-do list.  The challenge for me is not hard work, however. Type A personalities rarely struggle to find better, more efficient ways to work.    The challenge is to seek rest in the midst of all the crazy.  God knew there were some who would need a command to rest.  So, the God of all Creation, who needs nothing, carved out a day of rest for Himself to serve as an example to His limited, very needy creation. 

Exodus 20:9-11 Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: But the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.

I found that this command goes deeper than just making people slow down and take the time to breathe, however.

When God’s people were wandering in the wilderness, He gave them the command for rest on the Sabbath. What did they have to do to prepare for the Sabbath day? At that time, their bread was manna, a sweetened, cracker-like substance that God left on the ground for them to gather each day. They were to gather two days worth of manna on the sixth day. In order for them to have a comfortable rest on the Sabbath, preparation according to God’s command needed to be followed. And so it is with every season of our lives. If we want our marriage to have rest, there is work that must be done to prepare for that rest. If we want our children to give us rest, there is labor involved in training them and teaching them to help and to obey. If my teenagers want to have successful, peaceful life, the decisions they make now, and the work they put into their education, will have lasting effects on their future. If we want to know for sure that heaven is our home after we die, preparation must be made now to accept the work Jesus did on the cross on our behalf . True rest always requires preparation.

RESTnoun 

1. Cessation of motion or action of any kind, and applicable to any body or being; as rest from labor; rest from mental exertion; rest of body or mind. A body is at rest when it ceases to move; the mind is at rest when it ceases to be disturbed or agitated; the sea is never at rest Hence, 2. Quiet; repose; a state free from motion or disturbance; a state of reconciliation to God. http://webstersdictionary1828.com/Dictionary/rest

“A state free from disturbance…” 

So what disturbs our rest?  What keeps us from enjoying the rest that God knew we would so desperately need? 

And to whom sware he that they should not enter into his rest, but to them that believed not? So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief. Hebrews 3:18-19

There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God.  For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his. 
​ Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief. Hebrews 4:9-11

Unbelief, the one thing that prevented God’s people from entering the Promised Land they had so longed for after their escape from Egypt, hinders our rest, as well.  Note that Hebrews 4:9 points out that we have to cease from our own works.  When we accept salvation through Christ alone and His work on our behalf on the cross, we are acknowledging that our works are not enough.  We are agreeing with God that our good works are as filthy rags, and that we need Jesus to wash us and make us right with God through Him.  We enter in His rest by believing His Word. 

So it follows then that once we’ve entered our Christian life, rest will follow in every season of our life that we cease from our own works and ways, believe His Word, and obey Him.  I love how Jesus always words things so precisely and in perfect order.

Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. Matthew 11:28-29

Life wears me out, and burdens weigh me down. There are still areas of my life that do not have rest. Where can I go to find solutions? Where can I find peace in the chaos of the ever-changing seasons?

Jesus says, “Come to Me.” I have yet to find a permanent solution in man’s wisdom. Netflix, social media, sports, or hobbies can only distract me, not give me any answers. There is no end of self-help books written on every aspect of life, and yet, they are still being written, because they are not enough to solve man’s problems. But Jesus offers real rest. He says “Take My yoke upon you,” before He adds, “And learn of Me.” “Put your yoke down, walk My way, and learn of Me as you do.” And out of that relationship with Him, He promises true rest for our souls, no matter which season our lives currently reside.

There is much more in His Word to explore about finding rest for our souls, and this post just barely scratches the surface. I may get to delve a little deeper in the next one, but here are a few passages that you can study on your own.

Psalm 4:4, 37, 38:3, 62:5, 94:12-13, 95:10-11, 116:7-9, 131:2, Isaiah 28:10, 30:15, Jeremiah 6:16, Hebrews 3 & 4, 1 Peter 2:21-23. ❤️

Exploring the Depths

The Dead Sea, the lowest point on Earth

The Dead Sea is an incredibly unique body of water.  Water flows in from the Jordan River, but it never flows out.  Signs around the water’s edge remind swimmers to seek help if water is swallowed or splashed in the eyes.  The brackish water leaves a pungent smell on clothes and shoes.  “No fishing” signs are unnecessary in this area.    Nothing thrives in that much salt, thus the moniker of the “Dead Sea.” 

Sunset on the Sea of Galilee

In contrast, the waters in the Sea of Galilee brim with life. Birds flew around our boat, and fish leapt from the waves surrounding us. The salty air smelled refreshing, and many villages surrounding the water attested to the life that thrived here. The Jordan flows into the Sea of Galilee, but unlike the Dead Sea, it flows back out into the Jordan. Jesus spent many hours teaching around its banks. He loved a good picture to drive his teaching home.

John laid out the immensity of God’s love pictured in His very actions. In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 1 John 4:9-10

God reminds us that nothing could possibly separate us from His love in Romans 8:38-39 For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Paul’s prayer in Ephesians 3 conveys his passion for God’s people to understand the depth, height, length, and breadth of God’s limitless love.   For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God. Ephesians 3:16-19

The Mediterranean Sea

These verses barely skim the surface of this subject. Meditating on His love, or as Paul put it, knowing the love of Christ, fills us with the fullness of His love. The picture that springs to my mind of God’s love is always an ocean, especially to this Kansas girl. The first time I laid eyes on the shores of the Pacific, the vastness and power of the water rolling as far as the eye could see was both terrifying and beautiful at the same time. In the middle of the deepest part of that ocean, if we were to dive in, there would be no escaping the amount of water all around us. And we who have called on His name are constrained by His love, just as if it were the depths of the mighty, rolling sea; perfectly held within the palm of His hand, forgiven, accepted, holy and without blame before Him in love. (Explore Ephesians 1.). These are just a few of the effects of His amazing love He lavishes on us without measure. How perfectly then the Sea of Galilee could picture the life of a child of God, thriving with life and God’s love splashing out of its fulness.

But there have been times when my  banks have ceased splashing or thriving.  All of God’s love was fully available and pouring into my life, but silt and boulders and gravel blocked the outflow.  It wasn’t pretty, and it certainly didn’t smell any better.

Have you been there, my friend? Has sorrow and disappointment ever silted up the river beds of your heart? Have pain and suffering left rocks blocking the channels where joy once flowed freely? Has confusion at the circumstances left you lost amidst the dry creek beds? The sin and troubles of this life constantly tempt us into thinking that the outpouring of love from a faithful, constant Father may have been diverted outside of our banks.

These words of Amy Carmichael, a single missionary to India in the early 1900’s, will hopefully encourage your heart as they did mine.

Let us end on a very simple note: our Lord speaks simply: “Trust me, My child,” He says.  “Trust me with a humbler heart and a fuller abandon to My will than ever thou didn’t before.  Trust me to pour My love through thee, as minute succeeds minute.  And if thou shouldst be conscious of anything hindering the flow, do not hurt My love by going away from Me in discouragement, for nothing can hurt love so much as that.  Draw all the closer to Me; come, flee unto Me to hide thee, even from thyself.  Tell me about the trouble.  Trust Me to turn My hand upon thee and thoroughly to remove the boulder that has choked thy riverbed, and take away all the sand that has silted up the channel.  I will not leave thee until I have done that which I have spoken to thee of.  I will perfect that which concerneth thee.  Fear thou not, O child of My love; fear not.”

His love meets us where we are, walks with us, leads us, guides us, completes us. Find in Him the provision for it all, and let His love flow once again through you to comfort those who will one day walk where you’ve been. It’s a sweet journey when we walk with our hand in His. ❤️

The Relief of Truth

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She brushed back the sweat from her brow and hefted her water pot back up to her shoulder.  How she would love to go to the well in the morning with the other women, but the rocks and spit flying her way last time deterred her from trying again.  She raised her head a little higher and ignored the trickles running down her face.  She refused to give it one more minute of thought.  But who was sitting at the edge of the well in the middle of the noonday sun?  Better to not look at him, fill her waterpot, and get home. 

                “Give me to drink,” the Stranger said to her. 

Her head snapped up to take in his attire, and her puzzled thoughts tumbled out of her mouth. “How is it that thou being a Jew, askest drink of me, which am a woman of Samaria?  For the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans.”

                “If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water.”

Perhaps the heat had made his thinking fuzzy?  She looked around again to see if he had something to draw water from the well, but she found nothing.  She voiced her concern and added, “Art thou greater than our father Jacob, which gave us the well, and drank thereof himself, and his children, and his cattle?”

                “Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again:  But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.”

The compassion in His eyes assured her that His words were true.  She would never have to make the trek back to this well in the dreaded heat again.  “Please, Sir, give me this water.”

                “Go, call thy husband, and come hither,” He replied calmly.

Her heart was anything but calm.  Maybe she could get around this little obstacle with vague information.  “I have no husband.”

“Thou hast well said, I have no husband: For thou hast had five husbands; and he whom thou now hast is not thy husband: in that saidst thou truly.”

She winced and fired back something that would hopefully distract him from the truth of her situation.  She was a religious woman, after all.  “Sir, I perceive that thou art a prophet.  Our fathers worshipped in this mountain; and ye say, that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship.”

                “Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither worship in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father. Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews.  But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him.  God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.”

Her heart pounded as the words escaped her mouth as quickly as she thought them.  “I know that when Messias cometh, which is called Christ: when he is come, he will tell us all things.”  “Would he know more than this man already did?” she wondered to herself.

                “I that speak unto thee am he.” 

She barely saw the twelve men dressed like him join them there. With a sharp intake of breath, she dropped her water pot and ran back to town. Caring little for the stares of the women laughing at her disheveled appearance, she found the men that she regularly spent time with.

“Come, see a man, which told me all things that ever I did; is not this the Christ?”  They followed her back to the well to meet the man she spoke of with such incredulous wonder.  Because of her testimony, many of those from the city believed on Him that day. 

The truth of her situation was known to Him.  He knew her, and still offered her Himself: the source of living water that would satisfy her every need. 

                Every person that has ever lived is in need of that living water.  There is no other source for the water that satisfies for eternity.

Have you found the one who told you all that you ever did?  I’m so thankful for the one who told me about Him.  Who can we find to exclaim, “Come, see a man which told me all things that ever I did: is not this the Christ?”

(You can read the whole account of this true story in John 4.)

A Place to Belong

Having someplace to go is home

Having someone to love is family

Having both is a blessing.

My husband loves to surprise me.  While I was away at a week of camp with our teenagers,  he arranged for some sweet friends to paint and decorate our new home, and this saying was printed on the sign by my fireplace.  It is still one of my favorites. 

God’s provision for relationships began all the way back in Creation. When He created Adam without an Eve, it was the only thing He declared “not good.” We were created with a need for relationship.  

 Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labour. For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow: but woe to him that is alone when he falleth; for he hath not another to help him up. Ecclesiastes 4:9-10

God promises to meet all our need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:19). He promises never to leave us or forsake us. (Hebrews 13:5) He promises to be a Father to the fatherless (Psalm 68:5). He has adopted all who have called upon His Son for salvation as His own sons and daughters (Galatians 4:4-7). But in His infinite understanding of our need for tangible, personal relationships, He sets the solitary in families (Psalm 68:6). “…Now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased Him.”(1 Corinthians 12:18)

Local, Bible-preaching churches are His perfect provision for our need for relationship, encouragement, and growth from others who are learning and growing along with us. He doesn’t just drop us in church families randomly, just as He didn’t put our families together accidentally. When we accept His gift of salvation, He abundantly overloads us with many more gifts. His Holy Spirit moves into our lives and works out of us the purposes for which we were created. Your gifts, and you have at least one of them, are absolutely necessary for your church family. I have heard more than once that if there is a glaringly obvious need in your church, you are more than likely the one God placed in that body for that need.

How does your spiritual gift and God-given personality build and edify your church family? How do you best bear other’s burdens and thus fulfill the law of Christ? (Galatians 6:2) Are you prepared to both edify others and receive the gifts that others have to give? Here are just a few of them defined from Webster’s 1828 Dictionary:

Prophecy (Pastor):  Preaching; public interpretation of Scripture; exhortation or instruction. 

Teacher:  An instructor; a preceptor; a tutor; one whose business or occupation is to instruct others.

Helps/ Ministry: To aid; to assist; to lend strength or means towards effecting a purpose; To assist; to succor; to lend means of deliverance.

Government/ Organization:  The exercise of authority, direction, and administration.

Exhortation:  The form of words intended to incite and encourage. Advice; counsel.

Generosity:  To afford; to supply; to furnish;  a disposition to give liberally

Mercy:  Pity; compassion manifested towards a person in distress.

When a church member walks through a trial, he might receive the preaching of the truth of his situation from the Pastor or another with the gift of exhortation. Someone with the gift of mercy might notice his distress and immediately reach out with a word of compassion and prayer. The one with the gift of organization might seek to set up long term help with many people getting involved in the effort. The one with the gift of teaching might be able to break down the concepts needed to move ahead through the trial. The generous giver would look for a way to meet a financial or tangible need the person might have. The helper would look for a way to be a help long-term, as needed. This is just a simple illustration that gives an idea of how our many gifts come together to build and encourage one another.

If you’re just beginning to grow in your faith, and you haven’t gotten involved in a local church, seek the Lord for wisdom and direction. He has just the perfect place for you. Don’t be discouraged if you feel like a square peg in a round hole for a while. He will use the necessary tools to shape you and mold you to fit into the place He has for you. And your gifts will be tools that mold and shape those around you to fit together. Your church family is a good gift from a great God who truly provides for every need, including a place to belong. 💕