Vickie's Blog

Thoughts Along Life's Journey


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One Twig At A Time

I walked to our mailbox by the road to see if any mail had arrived.  As I was strolling along I looked up and noticed a bird’s nest balancing on a limb!  I stared in amazement!  There were no leaves to help it stay together, nor was it balanced between two limbs; it just rested atop one slim branch.  The wind was blowing, but there it rested securely.

I tried to imagine the bird that decided to build a home in just that spot. One twig at a time would have been put in place.  I don’t understand how it all came together, but I saw it with my own eyes — a beautiful nest.

As I contemplated further, the thought came to me that, that’s how it is when God puts it in our hearts to do something in particular.  Perhaps we tell ourselves that we’re not skilled enough or perhaps we say that someone else can do the job better than us.  Excuses can go on and on.  We want to do what God has put in our hearts to do, but the fear factor can put our efforts into slow motion.

What can we do?  How about, think of one twig at a time.  That’s how the bird built her nest.  Paul ministered to churches in many countries by traveling one day at a time.  Noah built an ark by putting together one board at a time.  Jesus fed 5000 people, one fish at a time.  John baptized in the Jordan River, one person at a time.  Mary gave birth to the Son of God by trusting in Him, one day at a time.  Peter preached to thousands, one crowd at a time.  David led his soldiers into victory, one battle at a time.

Too often, we scare ourselves with our own imagination.  We try to envision the outcome of our attempts.  It’s too big!  We might fail!  What will people think?  How will we ever accomplish the task we have been given to do?  We will accomplish what God asks of us, just like all the examples before us — one step at a time, one day at a time, one prayer at a time.

“For with God, nothing shall be impossible.”  Luke 1:37

The key to this verse is in the word, “with.”  It’s with God that we can do anything that He asks us to do.


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Why Does God Delight In Us?

“For the Lord your God is living among you.  He is a mighty Savior.  He will take delight in you with gladness.  With His love, He will calm all your fears.  He will rejoice over you with joyful song.”  Zephaniah 3:17

I was reminded of this verse in the middle of the night.  It was one of those nights when I kept waking up and then dozing off again.  Each time I awoke I parted the blinds to have a look outside.  In particular I wanted to see if our cat Blackie was home.  The weather had promised to be cold; I couldn’t help but be concerned for Blackie.  I had taken care to put a fleece in his bed along with a warming stone.  A warming stone is amazing — just heat it in the microwave and it stays warm for twelve hours.  I so wanted Blackie to get into his warm bed.

I peeked out the window several times; there was no sign of Blackie.  Maybe he’s in his house, curled up and fast asleep, I told myself.  Then, what do I see?  Blackie coming out of his house.  Hooray!  He had been inside the warm!  Now he was a little hungry so came out to jump on top of his house where his food bowl lives.  There he was munching away.

As I watched Blackie, I could feel the corners of my mouth lift into a smile.  What a delight to watch Blackie, to see that he was okay, that he had food to eat and a warm bed to sleep in.  It gave me such pleasure.  That’s when the above verse came to me.  If I take such delight in knowing that Blackie the cat is safe and well, how much more does our heavenly Father take delight in us?

Our Father loves us so very much!  That’s why He delights to provide for our needs, and takes great pleasure when He sees us eating what He feeds us and laying down to sleep in peace and comfort.  I’m not referring here to physical food, but to spiritual food.  Our spiritual food is the very Word of God.  It is when we feed on His Words, that we have everything we need to face anything in the day.  When we have God’s own Words in our hearts, then no matter what’s going on in our lives, we rest in peace and comfort because we know our Father is in charge.  He will care for us, guide us, watch over us.

It is when we accept His care that He can’t help but to delight in us.  Just like I delight when Blackie shows his pleasure in the food I give him or in the warm bed I provide for him, God delights when we recognize His care for us.  It warms His heart when He sees us walking along the path of His own perfect design.  He sings over us when He sees us delighting in His Words that give us the spiritual nourishment we need.  He is filled with joy when we rest in His presence, knowing that He has provided for us, and that He will guide us through all difficulties of life.

So, why does God delight in us with all our foibles, our mistakes, our insecurities?  It’s just because He loves us.  Just like I always prepare the food bowl for Blackie, our Father will always prepare a table for us, too, that He may care for and provide for us.  I get disappointed if Blackie disappears for a day or two.  He needs to be home, I tell myself.  Then, when he appears, oh the delight!

You and I may wander, too, from the things of God.  We may ignore the food bowl He has prepared for us.  If that’s you; if you have wandered away — don’t let that keep you away!  Be assured, as soon as your Father sees you taking what He has provided for you — His delight will be immeasurable.  His love is eternal!

 

 


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In Everything Gives Thanks?

Yesterday in America, Thanksgiving Day was being celebrated across the nation.  For many it’s their favorite holiday.  It’s a day set aside each year to specifically take the time to be thankful for the blessings in our lives.  Yesterday, I was particularly reflecting on people who have significantly touched my life.  It was easy to be thankful for the deep love of dear friends.

No doubt, there was a great list of what people were thankful for yesterday, all over America.  Some may have been thankful for good health, or the nearness of loved ones.  Others may have been thankful they have a roof over their heads, or food on their table.  It’s natural to be truly thankful for any of the above; the gratefulness flows from our hearts without reserve.  All the above make being thankful rather easy.  But what about the hard things?

What if your health isn’t good at all?  What if loved ones are absent from your table?  What if having a roof over your head is an uncertainty month by month?  What if you rarely have a variety of things to eat and going to bed hungry isn’t unusual?  What then?  How can we be thankful for situations in life when they are less than pleasant?

There’s a tough verse in the Bible, found in I Thessalonians 5:18, “In everything give thanks for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus.”  This is one of those verses that we often wish wasn’t there.  We would rather read and meditate upon the “nice” verses; the ones that make us feel all loved and hopeful.

When our worlds are turning upside down, reading “in everything give thanks” does not particularly cause fuzzy, warm feelings to appear in our hearts.  We know God is love.  We know God cares about everything happening in our lives.  Why then, does He give us such a command, that seems to be rather heartless in times of great emotional difficulty?

You see, it’s all about the perspective.  Some read this verse and mistakenly believe they are to try and conjure up thankfulness for bad things that happen.  Good news — that’s not what God is saying at all.  We know that by what the rest of the Bible reveals to us about the loving heart of our Father God.  The perspective here is not the bad that happens; but rather, the goodness of God that is with us when turmoil comes knocking on our door.

When sickness comes upon us or a loved one, we don’t rejoice in the disease; we rejoice that God promised to be with us through it.  When loved ones have passed away, leaving an emptiness in our homes, we don’t rejoice in death that took them from us; we rejoice that our God is the greatest comfort.  We rejoice that He holds all our tears near to His own heart.  He cares deeply for the grieving hearts of all who hurt.  When lack of finances makes us wonder how we will pay the bills tomorrow, we don’t rejoice in the poverty of the moment; we rejoice in our Father who owns the cattle on a thousand hills.  We rejoice that He promised to make a way in the wilderness.  We rejoice that He promises to be our everything, through anything.

When we truly know Jesus, then no matter what turmoil or grief comes our way, we know the truth of what Jesus said in Hebrews 13:5, “I will never leave you.”  If He is with us always, being our everything to get through anything — then of a certainty — we can lift up our faces toward our Father, and we can “give thanks in everything.”  


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Like The Changing Of Autumn Leaves

Aren’t the changing colors of Autumn leaves absolutely gorgeous?  The bright reds and yellows against a backdrop of blue sky.  Bronze leaves covering the ground, making a crispy carpet to crunch beneath our feet.  Every year I look forward to the changing of the colors of the leaves.

But wait — what does that mean?  Autumn leaves only happen as a result of death.  The leaves are dying.  That’s beautiful?  Oh yes!  We can see with our eyes that it is indeed a gorgeous sight to observe.

It’s no different in the lives of God’s children.  There comes a time on earth that our physical bodies meet death.  But, for the Christian, it’s like the changing of the leaves; there is a beauty that comes.  Like green leaves changing to bright red, the longings in our hearts changes to “can hardly wait” to go.

I remember having the joy of being with my father during his last weeks on earth.  The very last week especially, was a wonder to behold.  His whole demeanor was peace, joy, and yes, longing to go.  “I’m going to see Jesus face to face,” he would say, a smile of wonder and anticipation so evident.  Like the glory of dying leaves, watching him was a beauty, hardly describable in words.

Many people fear death; it’s an unknown phenomena; not so for the Christian. We know what’s going to happen.  God’s Word tells us in Psalm 116:15, “Precious in the sight of the Lord, is the death of His saints.”  Why?  Because God knows, when it’s our time to leave this earth, we’re in the Autumn of our days.  We’re being changed, being prepared for our new bodies in heaven where there will no more tears and no more death.  Peace and joy will reign in our hearts forevermore.

A friend of mine contacted me this week to tell me that her mother had passed away.  Her mother had grown frail in body and mind, but had a desire in her heart to be with Jesus.  Yes, for the Christian, the changing of green leaves to Autumn colors in our lives, brings a deep peace and abiding joy.

Let us live each day to the fullest, enjoying the Summer and Spring of our lives with great gusto — but do not fear the Autumn — it leads to the most beautiful time of life yet — and it’s for eternity!


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Balancing Without Falling

Did any of you watch tightrope walker, Nic Wallenda, on television as he walked between tall buildings in Chicago recently?  He went from one building to another with the rope inclined.  Then he went from one building to another while he was blindfolded.  I kept discovering that I was holding my breath, such was the intensity of his balancing act.  He crossed both tightropes successfully.

Nic Wallenda is an expert, coming from several generations of tightrope walkers.  There is no doubt he has been practicing his craft for years and continues to practice in order to keep his precision.  Practice is a necessity, but I have noticed there is something else he does with regularity.  Whenever Nic is walking a tightrope, he is holding onto a very log pole.  That pole helps him to maintain his balance.  I’ve never seen him walk a tightrope without the aid of his balancing pole.  Therefore, I conclude, since he is the professional, that the pole is an absolute necessity to his success.

I have to further conclude, when I think of successful Christian living, that we too, must hold on to something very important in order that we maintain our balance through the difficulties of life.  Do you ever feel that you, too, are walking a tightrope?  Perhaps your tightrope is one of great stress.  You’re trying to balance important aspects of your life: relationships, church, work,health, a list of all sorts of responsibilities.  Maybe, like Nic Wallenda, you feel blindfolded.  Fear grips you and you sense you may fall.  You can’t keep up the act of balancing the aspects of your life anymore.  Is there a secret to continued success?  Can you keep balancing without falling?

There is indeed something very real we can do.  We’ve already established that Nic practices in his physical world.  It’s the same in our spiritual world.  We must determine to keep practicing, doing the things God has told us to do.  Pray often, worship often, give God your worries every time you have one.  This practice is imperative to successful Christian living.  It’s a habit that must not grow slack.  We may fall if we don’t keep up the practice.

Then, in Nic’s world, there’s that noticeable balancing pole.  He grabs hold and not once does he let go until he reaches the goal.  You will never see Nic attempting to walk a tightrope without holding onto his balancing pole.

It’s no different in our spiritual worlds.  The writer in the book of Hebrews tells us in 10:23, “Without wavering, let us hold tightly to the hope we say we have, for God can be trusted to keep His promise.”  As you and I walk the journey of our lives, we must hold on to our balancing pole, lest we fall.   We must hold tight to the hope we have in God, not letting go, knowing of a certainty, that He can be trusted to get us to our destination in safety.  There may be fear.  There may be uncertainty, but as long as we hold on to our faith in God, choosing to focus on His truths, then of a certainty, we will not fall.  Instead, we will grow stronger in our trust in Him.  We will grow wiser in our use of His Word to strengthen ourselves in times of difficulties in our lives.

The writer of Hebrews says not to waver.  Therefore, don’t do it!  Instead, hold on to all your hope in God!  Are you losing your balance?  Hold on!  Remind yourself that God has never made a mistake in anyone’s life — He’s not going to start with you!  Our trust in God is our balancing pole, promising to get us safely to our intended goal, everyday of our lives.

Keep practicing.  Keep holding on.  It has been critical to Nic’s success in his physical world.  Such determination is critical to our success in our spiritual worlds.


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Logs In The Fireplace

Last weekend, my mother and I had the great joy of spending a few days with dear friends in north Alabama.  I was there to speak in their church.  They live on a wonderful farm complete with horses, dogs, cats, chickens, a one-eyed rooster, a pig named Darla, a goat that no one knows where it came from, and a peacock.

Their log house is surrounded by an assortment of trees with pasture land stretching out for miles around it.  At the end of their road, a mountain looms upward, thick foliage hiding a myriad of horse trails and hiking paths.  It really is what so many would call — a land of dreams.

When we arrived, a fire was already crackling in the fireplace, the first one of the season now that autumn temperatures are making itself known.  Each evening it was sheer delight just sitting, watching the logs turn red in the cozy flames.  Often I would back up to the open hearth, letting the heat warm me through and through.

More logs would be added as the old ones burned and turned to ash.  That’s when a thought hit me — we who call ourselves a part of God’s family should be like logs in the fire.  In Hebrews 10:24 we read, “Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works.”  The next verse instructs us to “not neglect our meeting together, but to encourage one another.”  When there was only one log in the fireplace, it didn’t take long for the room to noticeably grow cooler, but when several logs were added, it was equally noticeable the warmth that displaced the cold.

It’s the same for those of us who call ourselves a part of the family of God.  When our church attendance lessens, and we keep ourselves apart from other Christians, it’s much harder to stay warm to the things of God.   Throughout the Scriptures we are reminded that we are to pray for one another, love one another, encourage one another, bear each others burdens.  God made us to need each other.  When we do as the Scriptures teach, and meet regularly together, we naturally, like the logs in the fire, burn brighter.   When we meet together, we have opportunity to worship together, learn Biblical truth together, and support each other.

When we separate ourselves from regular fellowship with Christian brothers and sisters, it won’t take long at all before we’re doing lone log imitations, growing colder toward the things of God.  Then, if we remain alone, we’ll become as spiritually useful as ash in the fireplace that gets swept away at the end of the day.

Never forget the joy and the comfort that comes from following God’s instruction to “meet together, encourage each other, thinking of ways to motivate each other to love and good works.”  Doing so is as wonderful and cozy as enjoying the warmth of logs crackling in the fireplace.


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When We’re Going Through The Fire

To those of you who know  the story of Job in the Old Testament of the Bible,  you will know that he had a tough time in life.  There will be no argument when it is said of him, “Job went through the fire.”  Job had every reason known to man to get mad at God for allowing the terrible times he endured in his life.  Yet, Job made a choice to keep on trusting God. Even his closest friends did not understand that trust.  Feeling alone in his situation couldn’t have helped; even so, Job clung to his decision to trust God with the outcome of all he was going through.

No one on earth is exempt from going through the fires of trouble in this world.  It’s the attitude we maintain that gets us through unscathed, emerging even better than when the troubles began.  We can learn something most valuable from the words of Job.  You see, Job did not rely on his feelings, and that’s a good thing, because Job felt rather abandoned. These are his words, recorded in Job 23:8-9, “I go east, but He is not there.  I go west, but I cannot find Him.  I do not see Him in the north, for He is hidden.  I turn to the south, but I cannot  find Him.”   In other words, Job felt all alone in this world — alone with his troubles.  But here’s what we learn from Job.  He made a decision not to operate in the realm of his feelings.  He operated within the realm of what he trusted.  Let’s read the next verse and we see the attitude that Job took, “But He knows where I am going.  And when He has tried me, I shall come forth as gold.”  Job chose to trust in God’s care for him, even when, at the moments of his greatest trials, he could not even sense God’s presence with him.

Have you ever had opportunity to watch a blacksmith at work?  Metal is put into a blazing fire.  If you glimpse into that fire, what you see is not pretty.  It’s just a blob of molten nothing.  However, the blacksmith is skilled.  The blacksmith molds and cools the metal; what emerges is something beautiful.  If left a blob in the fire, it would never be useful, but the master blacksmith knows just how to handle what’s in the fire.  The blacksmith knows that what will come forth is something fit and useful.

It’s the same when we trust our lives into the proficient hands of our heavenly Father.  Like a skilled blacksmith, when the fires of trouble turn us into a blob of nothing pretty, our Father’s loving and caring hands are molding us.  He knows that if, like Job, we choose to trust Him even when the fires of trouble hurt the most, we are going to emerge better than ever.  We are going to be something beautiful, and more useful than we could have ever imagined possible.

When we, like Job, take on the attitude of trusting almighty God, when it doesn’t feel like He’s around; when we keep our eyes on Him, even when it seems all the light of any joy has faded away; then, we can proclaim with the certainty of all hope, that — My God knows where I am going!  He knows I’m in the fire.  He knows what He is molding me into through these great difficulties.  Therefore, I know — I know — I know — I will emerge triumphant, full of joy, and blessed to overflowing!  That’s how my God works!

When that certainly becomes the attitude of our hearts, we will know, that whatever comes across our paths, whatever tries to burn us and hurt us, our God is constantly watching over us.  Our God is taking anything the world meant for bad, and He is turning it into our good.  That’s the Father heart of God.  He loves to bring His children through the fire and present them blessed and joyful to the world!

May the attitude of Job live in you and in me — the attitude of absolute trust, even when the troubles of this world have set us on fire.  Then, we will be blessed in the joy of hope fulfilled; we will, as Job proclaimed, “come forth as gold!”

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