Vickie's Blog

Thoughts Along Life's Journey

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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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Because Of The Water

I visited my sister the other day, and she gave me a bouquet of red tulips. I gently laid them on the back seat of my car to take home. However, on the way I stopped somewhere for several hours. When I finally got home, and picked up my tulips, they did not appear very healthy. Taking them from the paper they were wrapped in, every tulip fell limp, literally hanging toward the floor.

My first sad thought was that I would have to simply throw them away; but they were a gift. I didn’t want to throw them away; therefore, with that thought in mind, I filled a vase with water and placed the tulips inside. The floppy stems bent all the way over causing the tulip heads to lay on the table. It was a very sad and sorry sight indeed. Nonetheless, I left them there.

The next morning when I walked into the kitchen to get my anticipated mug of coffee, I glanced in the living room, and then did a quick several steps back. I was absolutely flabbergasted at the sight before me! Every tulip in the vase was standing to attention, like soldiers ready for a marching parade! Unreserved joy pulsated in my veins and stretched a smile across my lips! I heard myself laugh out loud and audibly say, “I thought you were dead!” As if in answer, each tulip proudly remained tall and straight.

A smile stayed on my face for a long time after the, tulip gone from death to life, discovery. That’s when thoughts about the water stirred in my mind. The tulips could only be alive because of the water in the vase. They drank all night, and as the water rose in their stems, signs of glorious life appeared.

I thought of the conversation that Jesus had with the Samaritan woman at the well. He said to her in John 4:14, “The water I give takes away thirst altogether. It becomes a perpetual spring within, giving eternal life.” To those of us who have taken God’s gift of salvation, by receiving God’s love and forgiveness, only available to us because of Jesus paying the penalty for sin in our place; well, we too, were lifeless, perhaps nearly dying from our own attempts to give meaning to our lives. Then, along came Jesus, offering to us spiritual water from the well of His own life; water that would never dry up.

If there is anyone reading this who is searching for meaning in life; anyone who is feeling life just isn’t worth living anymore; anyone who is caught in an unbearable situation and can see no way out; then, take heart and take Jesus. Only He can give you a living drink of water that will heal your wounds and give you hope through all your days. Then, when life on this earth is over, it is only because we drank of His living water, that we have assurance of life in heaven for eternity. In that place, there will be no more tears or death or sorrow. It’s a beautiful place, and it’s available to all through receiving Jesus Christ.

Here is a glimpse of what awaits us who know Him. It’s recorded in Revelation 22:1-6
“And the angel showed me a pure river with the water of life, clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb, coursing down the center of the main street. On each side of the river grew a tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, with a fresh crop each month. The leaves were used for medicine to heal the nations. No longer will anything be cursed. For the throne of God and of the Lamb will be there, and His servants will worship Him. And they will see His face, and His name will be written on their foreheads. And there will be no night there — no need for lamp or sun — for the Lord God will shine on them. And they will reign forever and ever. Then the angel said to me, ‘The Lord God, who tells his prophets what the future holds, has sent his angel to tell you what will happen soon.'”

If you don’t know Jesus, it’s not too late. Call to Him now. Ask His forgiveness and He will forgive all. He will fill you with living water from which springs eternal life. Why wait? It’s a treasure chest waiting to be opened, but only you can take what is offered. I pray with the sending of this blog, that if you don’t personally know Jesus, that today you will drink of the water He is offering to you — and begin a new life!

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Trusting In The Dark What God Has Promised In The Light

When I get discouraged I often like to read David’s story. His journey in life was truly one of ups and downs. God had promised that he would one day be king of Israel. However, that promise took a long time in being fulfilled. During the wait, we see David running away (many times) and hiding from King Saul, who desired to kill David. We sense David’s deep sense of despair as he shares his heart in Psalm 13. David writes, “Oh Lord, how long will you forget me? Forever? How long will you look the other way? How long must I struggle with anguish in my soul, with sorrow in my heart every day? How long will my enemy have the upper hand?”

I am so thankful for David’s honesty. He’s exhausted emotionally and spiritually. He’s burned out. He feels all used up. David has definitely come to the end of his rope. We can feel the torment of his suffering as he cries out to God, “How long will you forget me?”

Have you ever felt forgotten by God? Have you ever felt like He has not been true to His Word — like He hasn’t kept His promise? We have all faced situations in life; not once but many times, when it seems that life around us has spun out of control. We’re on a runaway roller coaster and we can’t get off. Perhaps we cry out as David did, asking where is God in all of this? Does He really even care?

When we’re going through a difficult time we want it to be over now! Therefore, like David, we may also question God and wonder, “How long must I struggle with anguish in my soul?” Be assured, God has not forgotten you. He knows exactly where you are and what’s happening in your life at all times. You see, while we concentrate on the situation — God is concentrating on you and me. We want Him to change our situation but He wants to change us. God wants to do far more than a quick fix of something uncomfortable in our lives; He wants to design us into a person of strength and courage, of inner peace and joy. Therefore, He waits that we may be refined or as I shared in last week’s blog, He molds us into an extravagant beauty.

Has God made a promise to you? Have you been touched by something in His Word but felt let down because you’re still waiting for that Word to come to fruition? My father used to say, “never doubt in the dark what God has revealed to you in the light.” In other words, choose to trust your heavenly Father in the midst of life’s doom and gloom. How do we make such a choice and stick with it? It greatly helps to praise Him in the most difficult of times, for God is good all the time, and you are always on His mind. David made a choice of trust in the darkness when he wrote at the end of this same Psalm 13, “I trust in your unfailing love. I will rejoice because you have rescued me. I will sing to the Lord because He has been so good to me.” Trusting God in the midst of our despair grows stronger when we praise Him in the darkest of our days.


An Extravagant Beauty

I happened upon a TV program this week about someone who has been traveling around the coastline of Ireland. The camera lens revealed some extravagant beauty, especially on the western side of the island. The western side is wide open to the atlantic ocean. For centuries the atlantic has been buffeting the shores with fierce swells. The result? A craggy shoreline of magnificent beauty etched into impressive giant rock, sheltering within its steeps, a myriad of hidden caves and inlets. The entire scene was breathtaking.

The eastern shore has its own beauty, too, but it’s calmer. Green fields spill out across the land until it meets with a much gentler shoreline. The eastern coast faces the mainland of Scotland and England and is protected from the wild waters of the atlantic. Both hold a beauty of its own, but for me, the buffeted rock of the western coast sustains a splendor that captures my eye and my heart.

As I contemplated this scene, the words of I Peter 1:6 came to mind: “Be truly glad! There is wonderful joy ahead, even though it is necessary for you to endure many trials for a while.” So many times in our journey, don’t we wish that getting through life’s difficulties was a whole lot easier? It’s tough, and it hurts to go through trials. Like the rocks on Ireland’s western shore, we feel continually beaten; savage winds assaulting our every hope of peace. We don’t want the battering of life’s turmoil, but if it must be so, we wish it would pass quickly. We spend so much time longing for the winds to subside, that we miss the loving molding of The Potter’s hands.

Our heavenly Father is always working to bring out exquisite beauty in our lives. He desires to adorn us with grace and elegance. He longs for us to stand strong against the savage gales that lash out and pound our worlds; but, how do we stand against such mighty forces? We lean into our heavenly Father. It is He who is surrounding us with His own strength and courage. He is our sturdy post to cling to in any tempest of trial. Therefore, since He is our post, take heart; you will not be smashed to pieces. No, you will be revealed as a mighty man or woman of God, ready to stand victorious and magnificent against anything the storm blows in. When you learn to lean into your Father in the midst of any treacherous gale, you will appear what He has been designing all along — an extravagant beauty. Therefore,“Be truly glad! There is wonderful joy ahead.”

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The One Necessary Thing

The Gospels, the first four books of the New Testament, are records of Jesus’ life on earth. In it we read about many of the miracles He performed. We take note of Jesus, the great storyteller, revealing spiritual truths through everyday experiences and examples. We see Jesus and His busy schedule: teaching His followers, healing the sick, feeding the multitudes, preaching in the Synagogues, debating the religious leaders of the day, casting out demons, even settling disputes among His disciples.

Yes, Jesus was a very busy person, teaching many truths about successful Christian living. However, throughout His ministry, it is interesting to note that Jesus points only to one crucial thing that is necessary to living the abundant Christian life. There is only one thing we must practice in order to know His peace, courage, strength, joy, and direction through all our days.

We have no record that Jesus ever taught a seminar on sermon preparation. There is no record of Him giving instruction on how to conduct a feeding program and helps to the poor. He never gave a lecture on healing ministry, He never suggested a tea cafe to reach the community or a daycare center for the children. There is no record that He gave instruction on conducting a youth camp at the Sea of Galilee. All of the above are wonderful tools today, that when led by the Holy Spirit, the love of God can be shared. Even so, there is no record of Jesus giving any teaching on these matters.

He taught one necessary thing: it’s a tremendous spiritual truth that is absolutely essential in order for any of the above to be effective in leading others to know Jesus. It’s a necessary thing in order for any of us to maintain inner peace in the midst of turmoil. It’s a thing often ignored; it’s often put aside until a later time; it’s often hurried through on the busiest of days. It’s the thing called — prayer.

How to pray is what Jesus taught, and it is what He showed us by His own example. Even on His busiest of days, when He was ministering all day and into the night, it is recorded that “Jesus awoke long before daybreak and went out alone into the wilderness to pray.”Luke 1:35

Jesus tells us how to pray in Matthew 5:9-13. We call it The Lord’s Prayer. It’s a tremendous model on how we should pray. There is another instruction on prayer that Jesus gave us, recorded in Matthew 7:7-8, “Keep on asking, and you will be given what you ask for. Keep on looking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened. For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And the door is opened to everyone who knocks.”

There are those who would read these words and quickly say that they have asked, sought, and knocked, and God did not answer their prayer. Here is an important truth: God always answers our prayers. Sometimes He says, yes. Sometimes He says, no. Sometimes He says, wait a while. In the meantime, we are instructed to keep asking and seeking and knocking. Why do this if the answer is wait or if the answer is slow in coming? Because asking and seeking and knocking is for our benefit. Those actions keep us focused heavenward. When we focus heavenward, our very thoughts take on a more godly attitude. When we take on a more godly attitude, then God is able to build strength of character in us. When strength of character is built in us, then faith and trust in our Father grows more secure.

Too often we focus on that which we don’t understand, and we quit praying. Jesus urges in His teaching to — keep on keeping on. That determination and obedience is what sharpens our spiritual ears to hear Him when He speaks. If we aren’t ready to listen, it stands to reason that we will never hear. When we do not hear, discouragement sets in, and we declare that God doesn’t answer our prayers. It’s a spiritually debilitating circle. It doesn’t have to be so!

Let’s determine today, and each day as we awake, that we will obey the teaching of Jesus and we will pray; we will talk to Him, telling Him quite simply how we feel about things going on in our lives, what we feel we need, perhaps how we are worried about those around us, what we would like to happen in our world, etc. Ask God for help with everything that troubles you or confuses you. Just talk. Pour out your heart in your own words. When we do this, we will grow to understand that prayer is for our very best. We will grow to a greater understanding of God and His ways. We will come to know a joy so great it can never be measured. Remember this — of a certainty, such immense joy can never be found — without the one necessary thing — prayer.


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