Vickie's Blog

Thoughts Along Life's Journey

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We Give Thanks

This is Thanksgiving time in America; a time when we reflect upon our blessings of this past year, but everyday, anywhere, for anyone, it can be a time of thanksgiving because of this:

“If you openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.  For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by openly declaring your faith that you are saved..”  Romans 10:9-10

“When Adam sinned, sin entered the world.  Adam’s sin brought death, so death spread to everyone, for everyone sinned…But there is a great difference between Adam’s sin and God’s gracious gift.  For the sin of this one man, Adam, brought death to many.  But even greater is God’s wonderful grace and gift of forgiveness to many through this other man, God’s Son Jesus Christ.”  Romans 5:12&15

To anyone, no matter what the sin, if you ask God’s forgiveness, He will wash you clean in heart and give you a brand new life from the inside out. He will be with you for all your days.  He will touch you with His love and peace.  He will give you eternal life with Him when life on earth is done.

Oh, what a time of thankfulness to know you are Continue reading

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In The Presence Of Enemies

To me, one of the worst sounds is a cat fight. The high pitched screams can make my skin crawl. To see the fight, a wild tumble of fur and claw, adds to the terror of the moment! Such a terrible sound came to my ears just two days ago. I ran to the window in time to see an intruder cat jumping on Blackie, our sweet-natured, black and white cat, who had been calmly eating his dinner. Everything went into a blur as the two became one in an entanglement of anger and fear.

I ran outside but the enemy cat was already sprinting away in a quick flash of white and gray. Blackie was no where to be seen until I peeked under the car. There he was, wide eyed, crouching, ready to fight or take flight. I called him. He didn’t move. I talked softly; still, he hunched unmoved in his fear.

I stood and went over to his food bowl. I straightened the towel under his bowl. I poured more food. I stood waiting for several minutes, calling for Blackie. Finally, there was my boy. I petted him, stroking his back. He kept looking around nervously; then he began to eat. Every now and again Blackie would look up, glancing around him. I kept stroking him, speaking tender words. He ate until he was full; stretched, and began his grooming routine. Then I started to walk away, but his eyes turned wild once more. I returned, again petting him, speaking calm words until finally, he was settled even when I turned to go.

When I got back inside, I went to the kitchen window to look out. There was Blackie staring at the window. When he saw me, he began to eat some more of his food. Blackie was obviously taking comfort and courage in my presence. In my presence he had confidence that the enemy would stay away, if only for a time.

Psalm 23 came immediately to my mind. Verse 5 says this, “You prepare a feast for me in the presence of my enemies. You honor me by anointing my head with oil. My cup overflows with blessings.”

Oh, the fears of life that can paralyze us, rendering our minds unable to think clearly, or our wills to move us forward. We gaze about nervously. Perhaps it’s the enemy of worry: about family needs, friend’s in trouble, financial concerns, poor health. Worry is a joy robber. Like Blackie, when it attacks, we freeze, perhaps we hide ourselves away, until we remember, our Heavenly Father is always at home in our hearts. He will give us His own peace in the midst of the things that worry us. He speaks encouraging and soothing words. He gives us what we need today, and promises not to leave us tomorrow. In His presence there is always hope. In His presence we are safe, even in the presence of the enemies that plague our minds.

When the enemy strikes, let’s remember to turn our focus from the enemy of worry, and gaze into the peace and hope of our Father. He will anoint our heads with the oil of gladness, and our cup of need will overflow with blessings of hope and courage.

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The Best Power Tool Ever!

I am often encouraged by someone’s testimony of what God has done in their life. Such a story was shared with me yesterday. It so inspired and excited me, that I asked permission to include my friend’s story in this week’s blog. Here it is in her own words:

“I lead a group of girls in a home group and we were talking one day about prayer. I kept on thinking that I pray and Jesus answers; however, I do not have much faith when it is something very big, like healing of a serious disease. I shared this with a friend, and went on with my week, just thinking about it, and trying to seek why and how to change that. Then, one morning at work around 4:00am (I work at the emergency room) someone dropped off a dead young man. He was without a pulse and not breathing. We do not know for how long. He was just dropped out of a car and left by the emergency room door. By protocol, we have to do lifesaving procedures (CPR) for 30 minutes, since we don’t know when the heart actually stopped, and since the person is still warm. The whole time I felt uneasy, so I began to pray, and all I was praying was for God to give him one more chance. The guy began to breathe 15 minutes later and another 20 minutes later he was talking! Turns out he overdosed on heroin and this was his 12th overdose. I looked him up on Facebook to find that he is a believer. The next day, I realized God used me to bring someone back to life and this is the biggest power of prayer! I still can hardly believe it! None of the doctors understand how this person came back to life and how he was able to speak so fast after this event. He is now out of the hospital. I secretly gave his name to a pastor who will contact him and try to help. I think about this person all the time. God really showed me that I am silly to think I can do little. Now, tomorrow our group meets again, and imagine how I will tell the girls! However, the most important thing, I really hope that this person will be healed from addiction because Satan is trying to steal him.”

Prayer is a powerful tool. The mind cannot even imagine what all God can do through a praying person. Prayer is the one thing that makes demons tremble. Satan does all he can do to discourage Christians from engaging in prayer. Since evil forces are so aware of the power of prayer, shouldn’t we Christians be aware, too?

The above testimony reminds me of Peter in Acts 9:40. A young woman had died. Peter was taken to the room where she lay. This is what the Scripture says, “Peter asked everyone to leave the room; then he knelt and prayed. Turning to the dead body he said, ‘Get up, Tabitha.’ She opened her eyes and sat up.”

God’s ways never change. Hebrews 13:8 tells us that, “He is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” Peter prayed and someone was raised to life. My friend prayed and a dead heroin addict was raised to life. Like my friend said, it was silly of her to think she could do so little, when all the while, she could make a difference by using the best power tool ever! Let’s challenge each other to use our tool, and then let’s stand tall and watch our God at work!

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Surviving The Storms

Do you remember the story of the Apostle Paul when he was shipwrecked on the island of Malta? The incident is recorded in Acts 27. Paul was actually shipwrecked three times in his life. He was beaten for his faith, arrested, imprisoned. He often went without food and was cold during winter days due to lack of adequate clothing — but Paul was a happy man. He always sensed God’s presence with him. He maintained peace and joy in the midst of every hardship. How could this be?

Many Christians make a grave mistake in their Christianity; the mistake is, they don’t really follow Jesus. Several weeks ago, a Christian said to me, “I don’t go to church or read the Bible very often, but I pray all the time.” A huge smile spread across her face as if praying in itself took care of everything. I felt sad inside. You see, she was building her foundation to face the storms of life on nothing more than sand.

Jesus talks about this in Matthew 7:24-27. It’s the story of one man who builds his house upon a rock. The foundation is sturdy. Then, when the storms come, his house stands strong. Another man builds his house upon sand. Then, when the storms come, his house collapses. We all face storms of life: financial concerns, family worries, health issues, career goals, the list can go on and on. In some people’s lives, when any of the above happens, they crumble. They question if God really cares, they fall into a heap of doubt and fear. You see, they built their faith upon sand.

The Apostle Paul, by contrast, built his faith upon all the teachings of Jesus. The Scripture was near and dear to his heart. He knew the holy instructions in how to live life well in the face of any difficulty. In Matthew 7:24, as a lead-in to the story of the two houses built on sand and rock, Jesus said, “Anyone who listens to my teachings and follows it is wise, like a person who builds his house upon a rock.” We must remember that we can’t follow the teachings of Jesus if we don’t know what the teachings are; hence, studying God’s Word to really know what it says. When we discover the treasures buried within the pages of Holy Scripture, we come to understand that we have at our fingertips, everything we need to get through any storm at all.


Remember The “If”

I once met a young woman who was going through some difficult times. Her marriage was crumbling, she lost her job, money was melting away with all the bills to be paid. She lamented for her children whom she called, “innocent victims in the middle of my mess.” I learned of all her difficulties when she asked to speak to me, desiring to share the pain that lived in her heart.

As I listened, she told me that Monday thru Friday was spent hitting the pavement, going from one business to another, hoping to be hired; any job would do. Saturdays were spent with her children, trying to make up for their own pain as they listened to their parents argue about their troubles. “Sometimes,” she told me, “I just make a plate of sandwiches and we go outside to have a backyard picnic.” My heart went out to this woman who obviously loved her children and her husband. She was in quicksand and could not dig her way out.

“What do you do on Sunday?” I asked her. She brightened as she told me, “Oh, I always send the children to Sunday School.” “You don’t go yourself?” I asked. “No, that’s the time I do things like wash all the clothes and get our house cleaned for the start of the week. I send the children because I want them to know about God,” she continued, “but deep in my heart, I’m not sure He really cares.”

As gently as I could, I began to talk to her about how much God loves us; He knows our needs, and He longs to provide all the strength and peace and wisdom that we need to get through the anguish of hard days. “Then why doesn’t He help me?” her searching eyes longed to know. “Have you remembered the if?” I asked her.

There are so many times in all of our lives when troubles come to us, and we wonder why God doesn’t help, but we have forgotten the “if.” Let’s look at Matthew 6: This is a beautiful chapter. Jesus tells us how to pray what we call “The Lord’s Prayer.” He gives us many encouragements like, “Store your treasures in heaven, where they will never become moth-eaten or rusty and where they will be safe from thieves.” He says, “If God cares so wonderfully for flowers that are here today and gone tomorrow, won’t He surely care for you?” Further down in this chapter we come to verses 32 and 33. Jesus says, “Your Heavenly Father already knows all your needs, and He will give you all you need from day to day…” That’s where we often stop reading. We concentrate on how God will take care for us. We like that part. Then, we are confused when troubles only mount higher and higher. Why? We forgot to pay attention to the rest of the verse. We forgot to read the “if.” Let’s read on: Jesus is telling His listeners that their Heavenly Father knows all their needs and will surely provide for them, “if you live for Him and make the Kingdom of heaven your primary concern.” The “if” in this sentence is vital.

It’s impossible to leave God out of our lives, and then expect Him to be our everything. God is a perfect gentleman. He will not force Himself into any situation. He must be invited in. The woman in our story above had forgotten the importance of “making the Kingdom of heaven her primary concern.” She was making her daily troubles her primary concern. She was on a wheel of no end, spinning faster and faster, out of control. There was no way off, until she stepped to the middle of the wheel, asking God to be the center of her life. As she began to lean on Him, and learn His ways, she began to sense the peace she had longed for. She began to have clarity of mind to recognize God’s own wisdom as He led her. She had a renewed courage that she had long ago forgotten she ever had. Life took on a joy, even in the midst of troubles, that she never thought possible.

Let’s not forget the “if.” It makes all the difference in the world.

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When We Don’t Understand

This week I’ve been reading in the book of Matthew. There is an interesting exchange of words between John the Baptist and Jesus. It’s recorded in Matthew 3:13-15: “Then Jesus went from Galilee to the Jordan River to be baptized by John. But John tried to talk Him out of it. ‘I am the one who needs to be baptized by you,’ he said, ‘so why are you coming to me?’ But Jesus said, ‘It should be done, for we must carry out all that God requires.’ So John agreed to baptize Him.”

John’s argument was plausible. There he was, an ordinary man serving God. Then, who should appear before him? None other than the Son of God Himself! We can easily understand why John was astonished that Jesus should request to be baptized. The Son of God? The Holy One? How could an imperfect man baptize the perfect Son of God? John could make no sense out of the request; that is, until Jesus gave the reason — because obeying God, whether we understand or not, is always the right thing to do.

God leads us along paths that sometimes make no sense to our human understanding. Most likely, everyone has at one time or another asked, “Why, God?” The road we travel can be a rocky one. We want a path that’s smooth. We want a path that doesn’t require great effort to walk on. “Why, God?,” we want to know, when we believe we see a better way than what God is requiring. “Isn’t there an easier way, God?” we plead, because the way ahead, as far as we can see, is scary. There is a corner ahead and we can’t see around the bend. “Do I have to go there, God? I can’t see what’s there.” God answers, “You can’t see around the corner, but I know what’s there; I’m going to use what you find, and what you go through, to make you even stronger. I’m going to mold you to be like me. You will thank me, my child. Trust me.”

Doing what God says to do, going where He says to go, being what He says to be, is the right thing to do because: God never makes mistakes, He loves you at all times, He is the Master Potter molding you and me into a character that is courageous, strong, full of peace and joy, and He blesses those who determine to obey Him. Why does He give us certain commands? Why does He lead us along paths that are sometimes difficult to walk on? Because He loves you so much that He designs a way to make you the best you that you can be.

Determine to trust everything He says to do and walk in the direction He says to walk. It’s the right thing to do because it’s the only way to grow God’s own peace, and a fearlessness inside you that can face all obstacles. Who doesn’t want that?

Like the old hymn says, “Trust and obey, for there’s no other way, to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.”

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Washing The House

In order to begin writing today’s blog entry, I looked up the dictionary definition of “pervasive.” It means: “an unwelcome influence or physical effect spreading widely through an area or a group of people.” What I was doing yesterday and today involved something that had become pervasive and it was definitely unwelcome. It was sticky brown dust and green algae — all over the house!

My mother’s house is covered in white vinyl siding. When it was first put up years ago it was brilliant white. Then, as the year came on, so came the dust and algae. How did it get there? Basically, farmers plow their fields, and north winds blow cold that produces algae in places where the sun doesn’t shine all that much.

The grime creeps up slowly. It’s barely noticeable until one day the streaks of brown and green scream out! It’s been building up throughout the year, but it seems to have arrived overnight. Well, I tackled it good: a spray bottle of bleach and a garden hose to wash it away took care of the problem. The bleach eats the grime and in minutes it’s all pretty again. There was a section of the house that didn’t look so bad. I nearly left it until I stepped back to look at the whole house. Wow! That put it all into proper perspective. When I looked at what was already cleaned, the part that I thought was okay actually stood out in its obvious dirt! I quickly applied the bleach, and now the whole house is gleaming white.

Don’t we do that in our spiritual worlds? When we invite Jesus into our lives and ask Him to forgive us of all our sins, He applies the blood of the cross and cleans us up perfectly! We’re gleaming clean and forgiven! Of course, we still live in an imperfect and sinful world. Therefore, we get our feet dirty. Perhaps that’s the obvious grime. What if we cleaned our feet everyday but ignored the rest of our bodies? What if we asked forgiveness for some sins but ignored others? Of course, when we take time to step back and see ourselves as God does, it puts things into proper perspective, and we clearly see that our minds and our hearts need cleansing. All sins must be dealt with because just one left will leave us still dirty. Even if we consider it a “little” sin, if left unattended, it will grow, and when it grows, it will choke our joy. Sin left unattended will keep us from reaching our full potential in Christ. Why, therefore, do we try to hang on to sin? It’s destructive! It’s not pretty. It is of no value to us.

Let’s not do that to ourselves. Let’s not lie to ourselves, saying that just one sin doesn’t matter. Jesus died for that one sin; it matters. Let Him wash it away. Then, walk free and full of joy. The only other choice is to walk around dirty.

Let’s come to Jesus everyday to be washed and forgiven. He never refuses a repentant heart. Read His loving words in Isaiah 1:18, “Come now, let’s settle this,’ says the Lord. ‘Though your sins are like scarlet, I will make them as white as snow. Though they are red like crimson, I will make them as white as wool.'” Go ahead, get your house washed today and bask in the beauty of holiness.


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