Vickie's Blog

Thoughts Along Life's Journey


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Dissecting Jesus

In our world there seems to be a cure-all for all sorts of situations. When our hair turns grey, there is dye to change its color. When wrinkles appear, there is anti-wrinkle cream to help them fade away. When a tummy roll appears, there’s purpose designed diets and exercises to rid us of that excess. There are alleged cures for cellulite, lack of energy, and even pills to help our memory. The world has definitely given us a cure-all mentality.

In our physical worlds, we are disappointed, time and time again at failed cure-all attempts. All too soon, we realize the wrinkles may appear to fade — but in reality, they are still there. Even cosmetic surgery lasts but a little while in comparison to all the days of our lives. Perhaps we hide them away for awhile, but they always make their presence known to us, especially in the mornings!

Is it the same in our spiritual world? Is there a cure-all for our disappointments in life?Indeed, we have hope that never fades. The answer to our spiritual problems, or our emotional worries, lies not in anything temporary, but in the eternal Word of God. Only this week someone told me, “I like to think about Jesus and say a prayer when I’m worried, but I don’t have time to read the Bible and pay much attention to it.” My heart sunk for them. They had missed the whole point; not only of solving difficulties and finding strength to get through them, but of knowing full joy in their everyday lives. Subconsciously, this person is treating Jesus like a daily anti-worry cream to smooth away the wrinkles of their discontent. To say we will think upon Jesus, but ignore the Word of God, is the futile and foolish attempt to dissect Jesus — it can’t be done. How do we know that? Because in I John 1:1 it says, “He is Jesus Christ, the Word of life. Later on in that same chapter, verse 4, it says, “We are writing these things so that your joy will be complete.”

The Apostle John wrote this letter to remind the church of just what we have when we have Jesus residing in our lives. In this first chapter alone we are reminded that Jesus is The Word. Jesus is Eternal Life. Jesus is the Light that dispels all darkness. It is only as we truly come to understand what we have in Jesus, that we also understand and know true joy. Too often, we confuse happiness and joy, believing them to be the same thing. Not so! My father, Dr. Chuck Blair, wrote concerning this matter, “Happiness depends on circumstance — is temporary. Joy depends on relationship — is permanent.” There are many circumstances and situations which will provide us great happiness for a time, but the joy of Jesus stays with us no matter what takes place in our lives. I love the verse in Jeremiah 15:16 which says, “Thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of my heart.” Jeremiah understood the importance of relationship with God and that the very Word is God. One cannot dissect this truth without walking in error which will only lead to temporary happiness, and never to lasting joy.

Now, here’s an important point: Having relationship with Jesus is the key that unlocks the door that leads to joy. However, never forget, that once relationship is made, it is fellowship with Jesus that cements His joy in our hearts. To know Him and ignore Him will not bring joy. To know Him and plunge in to know Him more, all the days of our lives — that is the guarantee to joy, no matter the disappointments and hard times that life gives to us.

Jesus said in John 15:11, “These things have I spoken to you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.” Ask the Lord to help you remember that, it’s relationship and fellowship with Jesus, who is the Word, which brings complete joy. Anything less is only a fading happiness at best.


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Cleaning Out The Closet

I wonder how many reading this have an attic or a basement or a spare room that’s full of — just stuff! It’s easy to fill a room to a point, that in no time at all, it’s so full that we can’t even remember what’s in there. When we do finally take the time to sort through everything that has gathered, we surprise ourselves at having so much clutter. We discover that we have many things that we do not need. So, we have a spring cleaning and we get rid of all that we haven’t used in a very long time. When we’ve finished, we stand back and admire the beauty of the space; all clutter is gone. Then what happens? We begin to fill it all up, yet again, with things we don’t need. Perhaps in time, we clear all the clutter out once more. We repeat this process countless times throughout our lives. Of course, for those who horde, the clutter gets worse and worse until there’s barely anything in the room that’s recognizable or even useful.

We do the very same thing in our spiritual world. It’s our mind that becomes the storage closet where we keep things that we do not need. We throw in worry. We throw in bitterness. We throw in loathing of ourselves and of others, too. We throw in distrust in God. We throw in guilt. The list could go on and on, but you get the idea. Why do we collect so much garbage in both our physical and our spiritual worlds? Worst still, why do we keep it for so long? Garbage will only, with time, rot and stink. When we clutter our minds with garbage and leave it there, our thoughts begin to rot and stink, too. It’s not fun. Garbage covers our peace with the thick dust of despondency.

Apostle Paul encouraged us in Philippians 4:8 to “Think about things that are pure and lovely and admirable. Think about things that are worthy of praise.” Do you notice that it’s a command? It doesn’t say to try and think about things pure and lovely. It says to do it. In other words, the moment you realize that a piece of garbage has been stored in the closet of your mind — throw it out! How do we throw garbage out of our minds? By choosing and training our minds to think about things that are pure and lovely and admirable. For example, when worry gets thrown in, replace it with reminders that God never makes mistakes and He cares for you immeasurably. When self loathing gets stored in a great big box, replace it with the fact that you are so precious to Jesus, that He willingly died so you could have life. When loneliness ends up on a shelf in your mind, replace it with God’s truth that says He will never leave you or forsake you. God’s Word is the best cleaner of all. It removes every stain and piece of dirt in our minds, and replaces the stink of garbage with the sweet fragrance of God’s love. God’s Word purifies.

Where God’s Word lives, no garbage can survive. Therefore, let’s do spring cleaning all year round. Peace will thrive in an uncluttered mind.


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We Don’t Just Stand There

Everywhere I travel, I meet Christians who are excitedly talking about the Lord’s return. Jesus told His disciples to watch for the signs and be ready because He would come back to gather His own unto Himself. There have always been signs, but today, there are more signs than ever before. As we keep an eye on world events in politics and the economy, moral decline, and even weather conditions, Christians everywhere are feeling an excitement begin to churn within. Could it be? Will He return in our lifetime? Questions swirl in our minds; hope grows in our hearts.

However, even as we anxiously and joyfully await Jesus’ return, let us not make the mistake that so many have made in the past. Although Jesus told us of the signs, He never pinpointed an exact day. Even He said that only His Father knew the time of His return. But the signs! When we see them, what can we do but look up and wait? That’s where the mistake comes. We don’t simply look up and wait; but in our excitement we must — get back to work — while we’re waiting.

Remember when Jesus rose from the dead? Then, after 40 days, He returned to heaven, rising up into the sky as the crowd was watching. It’s recorded in Acts 1:1-11. Look carefully at verses 10-11, “As they were straining their eyes to see Him, two white-robed men suddenly stood there among them. They said, ‘Men of Galilee, why are you standing here staring at the sky? Jesus has been taken away from you into heaven. And someday, just as you saw Him go, He will return!'”

The question the angels put to the crowd is also for us today. We watch for the signs that Jesus is getting ready to return. We want to be ready, living right and holy, so we’re not ashamed and embarrassed at His return; but while we wait, we continue working every day to the best of our ability. We work hard to live as our Father in heaven instructs us. We work hard to share the love of God with those around us. We work hard to let us others know that Jesus is the only way that we may find forgiveness of sins and the promise of eternal life in heaven with Him.

It’s like the farmer. I wonder if there has ever been a more strenuous occupation than that of the hard working farmer. He puts seed into the ground. He waters and cares for the soil. Then — he waits. He believes with all his heart that the seed will grow. Soon, something sprouts from the ground. Signs of produce coming! So, what does the farmer do? Does he stand there, staring, waiting? Of course not! He works hard to keep the fields free of weeds. He works hard to prepare His equipment for harvest. He works hard to make his barn ready to store the produce. He watches the signs with great excitement, knowing that what he waits for will come soon; and while he waits, he works hard to prepare for that moment.

We see the signs around us. We know Jesus could return any moment. Therefore, we work all the harder to keep our hearts ready to meet Him at that most glorious and joyful of moments. As it tells us in I Thessalonians 4:16, when we least expect it, the trumpet will sound, and we will be gathered with Him in the sky. Keep watching — but work hard — be ready!


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Prayers — A Heavenly Collection

Have you ever wondered if your prayers really do any good? Do they matter? Does God truly pay attention to what you pray? The resounding, joyful answer is an absolute — yes! One of the most beautiful reminders of this fact is recorded in Revelation 8:3-4: “Then another angel with a gold incense burner came and stood at the altar. And a great quantity of incense was given to him to mix with the prayers of God’s people, to be offered on the gold altar before the throne. The smoke of the incense, mixed with the prayers of the saints, ascended up to God from the altar where the angel had poured them out.”

If our prayers didn’t matter, there wouldn’t be so many encouragements in God’s Word to do that very thing, and to do it with regularity. Our prayers matter for so many reasons: they keep our own minds concentrated on the holiness and goodness of God, prayers replace our worries with God’s own peace, prayers keep us focused upward on the possibilities of God rather than on the impossibilities of ourselves, prayers give hope in situations that otherwise fill us with despair. Prayer comforts, brings joy,and adds peace in our hearts no matter what winds of trouble blow around us. That’s what prayer does for us.

What does prayer do for God? Our heavenly Father never forces His will upon us. Even when He knows we are taking wrong paths and making unhelpful choices, He leaves the will to seek Him or not, up to us. When we make that choice to ask for God’s guidance and His comfort, we see from the above passage of Scripture, that our prayers are so precious to our heavenly Father, that He collects them. Angels guard them and offer them on the golden altar of God Almighty, where the sweet incense of our prayers waft up to His very presence on His throne. Isn’t that a beautiful picture of just how precious are our prayers to our Father? Isn’t this a lovely reminder that, indeed, our hurts are of great concern to our Father? He loves. He cares. He desires to intercede, bringing His own calm to quieten the storms in our lives.

Are you ever troubled that you don’t know the right words to say? Do you ever consider that your prayers won’t be acceptable to God because you are not eloquent in speech? Take heart, because God does not look for smooth-tongued prayers; He looks for genuine cries of the heart. He is not concerned with your expertise, or lack thereof, of articulation; your Father is concerned with what troubles you, and that you ask for His help, and that you develop an inner spirit of true worship of Him who is holy forever, rather than on the things of this world which are temporal, fading away it its despair and futility of living.

Your prayers are precious to your heavenly Father — that’s because you are precious to your heavenly Father. Therefore, never cease to talk to the One who loves you beyond measure. Your prayers make a heavenly difference.


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Dirty Clothes After A Shower?

I love to travel, which is a good thing, because I’ve been traveling all my life. My father’s air force career kept me traveling with my family all through my childhood. In my own adult life, I’ve been traveling to countries across the oceans for 35 years. I love trying new foods, adapting to different cultures, listening to various languages, and observing God’s beautiful creation in every country.

In some of my travels, especially when spending numerous days in the mountains of Central Asia, taking a hot shower is non-existent. Often, changing clothes on a daily basis is also non-existent. These things are all a part of cultural adjustment and adaptation. I have learned, and maintain, that keeping a good sense of humor, helps to get one through these unusual situations with greater ease. Also, travel adventures make great stories, so plunge right in and enjoy cultural differences to the hilt!

As much fun as I might have on my traveling escapades, I confess that, on the return home, I start envisioning the hot shower awaiting me! Oh, how good I know it’s going to feel; hot water — endless hot water, flowing all over! Oh, and to put on fresh clothes that are clean and smell good, too! Now, wouldn’t it be absolutely strange if, upon taking and enjoying, my longed for hot shower, instead of putting on the good-smelling, fresh clothing, I put the dirty ones back on? Would that make any sense at all? Of course not! It would not only be strange; it would be foolish.

Knowing that such an act would indeed be a foolish thing to do, why do we sometimes do that very thing in our spiritual worlds? There comes a time in our lives when we realize what Jesus did for us when He died on the cross to pay the price for our own sins. Realizing that, we accept His gift of salvation, through a prayer of repentance and thankfulness for what He has done. Then, He washes us clean; and not only that, He puts within us a new heart, as Paul affirms in II Corinthians 5:17, “Those who have become Christians become new persons. They are not the same anymore, for the old is passed away, and all things have become new.”The becoming new means that Christ puts within us His Holy Spirit to teach us and guide us; to give us strength to actually keep on our clean clothes. It’s the only way of true joy.

Why then, comes the question again, do we pick up our old, dirty clothes, stepping back into the world from which we have been freed? As Paul reminds us in II Corinthians 4:7, although we are filled with the Holy Spirit, we are also still trapped in our earthly bodies. We are troubled and perplexed, face difficulties, suffer physically, and are tempted on every front to, indeed, put our dirty clothes back on. What can we do?

It’s all a matter of focus. When we fall down, don’t lay there and focus on the failure; look up and focus on the love and forgiveness of Jesus. Focus on the truth of I John 1:9 that promises us, “If we confess our sins to Him, He is faithful and just to forgive us and to cleanse us from every wrong.” Remember, too, this wonderful promise found in I Corinthians 10:13, “Remember that the temptations that come into your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will keep the temptation from becoming so strong that you can’t stand up against it. When you are tempted, He will show you a way out so that you will not give in to it.” Isn’t that an exciting promise?

Therefore, if you find that you have gone and foolishly put your dirty clothes back on — don’t stand there and smell; ask the forgiving love of Jesus to dress you again in the new clothes that He died for you to wear. Did you know that, when Jesus dresses you, you are, as it tells us in II Corinthians 2:15, “…a fragrance presented by Christ to God…a life giving perfume.” Now, that’s a beautiful reason to get rid of those dirty clothes.


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The Joy Of A Song

I’ve always known about myself, that music is like a tonic to my inner being. Music renews me, refreshes me, uplifts me. When I am down, the best way up, is through the joy of a song, but not any song; it must be a song of praise to the One I love so much.

I was reminded of this beautiful fact, just this week, while walking down a dusty, broken sidewalk, during my current visit into Central Asia. I took note of the poor conditions around me: two homeless men sleeping by a ditch, children gathering water for their families from pumps by the side of the road, ladies picking through crates of tired looking tomatoes and cucumbers for the freshest ones. I’m very aware of the financial burdens the people face on a daily basis. They are constantly seeking a way to purchase food, medicines, and pay utility bills. Inflation climbs higher while their salaries and pensions remain the same. Everyone, also, keeps their eyes on political tensions. There have been three uprisings in the last ten years that all resulted in bloodshed. There are rumors of another to come.

As the above thoughts were racing through my mind as I walked along the broken sidewalk, something else brought my feet to a stop. It was the singing. Singing, from above. No, not a host of angels appearing, but a flock of sparrows chirping and singing their little hearts out. Oh, what beauty to my ears, and what a tonic to my heart!

Do you remember the example that Jesus gave his disciples in Matthew 6? The example about the birds and the lilies of the fields? Jesus pointed out that, even the birds and the flowers didn’t worry about the troubles around them. Therefore, Jesus encouraged, if you and I are loved more than the flowers and the birds, then why don’t we simply trust our Father, too? If He cares for nature, and He does, how much more does He love and care for you and me?

Beneath the trees, the world is broken, hurting, and suffering deeply; but above, the world is full of rapturous song! It is the song of the Father that lifts our hearts in times of pain and suffering. As the Psalmist wrote in chapter 96:1,11-12, “Sing a new song to the Lord! Let the whole earth sing to the Lord! Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice! Let the sea and everything in it shout His praise! Let the fields and their crops burst forth with joy! Let the trees of the forest rustle with praise before the Lord!”

Never forget — while the world around you may be dismal, to those who know the Father, there is a song of gladness to soothe all wounds. Let us learn from The Creator’s creation, the joy of a song!


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God’s Circle Of Truth

Have you ever found yourself in a tough spot; it seems there’s no way out, and you find yourself wondering, why isn’t God helping me? You certainly wouldn’t be alone if those thoughts have entered your mind. It can be hard to understand why God seemingly leaves us to our own devices to get out of our troubles. Let’s take a look at that and delve into some truth.

You see, truth or the promises of God, is what we must determine to stand on at all times. For example, when you feel that God is not helping and has left you alone, then remind yourselves of His promise in Hebrews 13:5 where He says clearly that He will never leave us. It’s easy, but not the best, to rely on our “feelings” rather than on God’s truth, but it’s relying on God’s truth that helps keep our faith strong. Our feelings have nothing to do with faith. Pastor and writer Ron Dunn once said, “Emotion is but the echo of an experience and destined to fade into nothingness.” Don’t rely on wishy-washy feelings: rely on the truth of God.

Did you know that God actually gives us our faith? It’s not something we emotionally whip into being. II Peter 1:1 tells us, “I am writing to all of you who share the same precious faith we have, faith given to us by Jesus Christ, our God and Savior who makes us right with God.” It’s an interesting and vital circle to our spiritual effectiveness, to recognize God’s key to faith. God gives us faith. We may choose to initially receive that faith or not. When we choose to receive His gift of faith, then the next step to take is to get to know Him better. Peter tells us this, too, in II Peter 1:2, “May God bless you with His special favor and wonderful peace as you come to know Jesus, our God and Lord, better and better.” We get to know Him in the same way that we get to know anyone — by spending time with Him. Read His words of truth and promise, of comfort and guidance. Talk to Him about everything.

As we get to know Him better, something essential takes place: we develop a strong desire to do everything He says. We want to obey Him, and we find it a joy to do so, because we have learned to trust Him. How did we learn to trust Him? By knowing Him better. All of us find it difficult to trust someone we don’t know very well, but as we know a person and see their goodness and integrity, then we find it easy to trust what they say. God always has our best interests in His heart — always. As we come to know that as truth in our hearts, too, then we can do what He says to do with great joy, which will result in us following His guidance, which will result in our faith growing stronger. Do you see the wonderful circle of truth here? God gives faith to us, we accept His gift of faith and choose to learn more about Him. As we learn more about Him we discover that we trust Him and what He is allowing in our lives because we trust His love and His plans for us. Therefore, we do whatever He says to do, and what happens? Faith continues to grow stronger.

II Peter 1:3-4 says, “As we know Jesus better, His divine power gives us everything we need for living a godly life. He has called us to receive His own glory and goodness! And by that same mighty power, He has given us all His rich and wonderful promises.” Isn’t God’s design to keep our faith strong absolutely wonderful? When we get to know Him, learn to trust Him, then our faith keeps us focusing on His goodness, rather than on our troubles of the day. The troubles of the day will fade as we grab hold of the truth that He will never leave us, nor forsake us. Get to know Him better and see for yourselves whether this is true or not. I know you won’t be disappointed because knowing God and trusting Him only brings peace of heart. When God’s peace reigns in your heart, you will never again ask, why isn’t God helping me, because you will see that He has planned a path that you can trust, even in the difficulties of life. God is love — all the time — that’s truth we can trust.

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