I have been blessed this week by a very good reminder from blogger Jennifer Bagnaschi. It concerns making things easier or harder for ourselves when situations get tough. When you find yourself in the midst of some difficulty, what is the very first thing you do? Do you pick up the phone and tell a friend? Do you complain to the first person you see, sharing all your frustrations? It’s human nature to vent to those around us. Why not? It’s good to let off steam, isn’t it?
I like to share my irritations and annoyances with trusted friends; however, I have been challenged by Jennifer Bagnaschi’s blog this week, to pay attention to whom do I go first? You already know the right answer, don’t you. Our Heavenly Father surely has to be the first with whom we share our troubles. It even plainly tells us that in Philippians 2:14-16, “Do all things without complaining and disputing, that you may be blameless and harmless, children of God without fault…” Our enemy, Satan, loves to hear us complain because it makes us weak. It focuses us on our troubles. Satan doesn’t want us remembering that it is God Himself who can intervene on our behalf. God is most able to fight our battles, whether they be physical or emotional.
Do you remember the story of Moses in the Old Testament book of Exodus? He was leading the people of God out of Egyptian slavery. The people were nervous, scared. Understandable. They faced death if the Egyptian army caught them. What was Moses’ advice to them? We read it in Exodus 14:13-14, “Moses told the people, ‘Don’t be afraid. Just stand still and watch the Lord rescue you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. The Lord Himself will fight for you. Just stay calm.'” I find this piece of advice amazing! It’s so hard to do in the midst of trouble — but completely with good result if we do.
Sharing with each other is a good thing. We help to hold each other up, but never in place of God Himself. The next time a frustration or time of trouble crosses our paths, may we remember — leave complaining to a friend on the sidelines; stand in God’s presence first. Tell Him all about it, then watch Him fight the battle for you.
Never forget — He is your everything to get you through anything.
I am continually amazed at God’s creativity. Tomorrow is International Veterinarian Day. I look back with great joy at the wonderful vets and vet nurses that God has placed in my life. He had a wonderful plan to use them to help spread the Good News of Jesus Christ in Central Asia, even though it was doubtful they would ever go themselves.
There are so many people to mention: Mary in West Virginia – a horse therapy expert, Mary, Ann Allen, and a host of other vets and nurses in central Alabama – teaching me skills in an animal hospital; but today, it’s Jack, Brenda, Wendy, and Michelle, from a small town in southeast Alabama, that especially fills me with great warmth. They were the first to willingly open their hearts, giving time to put me on a path to study and practice veterinary medicine. I could have never dreamed of calling myself a vet nurse without their encouragement.
Dr. Jack Jones and his wife Brenda took the challenge with a huge heart of love to assist in sharing the Good News in a land stretching across the Tien Shen Mountains. They gave the first surgical pack that I excitedly put in my suitcase. I remember the first time I used a pair of hemostats in a nomad’s camp, my thoughts were of them. The first time I drew blood from a horse, my thoughts were of them. The first time I wandered among a herd of goats to administer worming treatment, my thoughts were of them. Even the first time I inserted my arm in the backside of a cow to check for pregnancy, my thoughts were of them.
Dr. Jack and Brenda, with their nurses, Wendy and Michelle, opened a great door. I could not have gone through it without them. Therefore, on Veterinarian Day — I give a special recognition, thanking them, and thanking God for His creativity. Only God could design a plan to share His love through a scalpel and a stethoscope, wandering after goats and horses in a faraway land.
God makes His children a team to spread His love and the truth of His saving grace. He uses any of His children who are willing, taking them to places of His design; sometimes across the road and sometimes across the ocean. Wherever He takes us, His plans are without mistake.
The most joyful thing any of God’s children can say to Him is: Here I am, send me; Here I am, use me. It may be far away or nearer to home, but it will always be an adventure of joy and blessing. He uses each of His children to bless another.
Thank you to every veterinary person who has touched my life, who has joined in sharing the Good News. If you are right now a child of God, may the following words of Jesus captivate you:
“Go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:19-20
Does the title of this blog conjure a feeling of horror? The very idea of things looming large can be a scary thought, especially when it involves looking in the mirror. I should say, especially when it involves a magnifying mirror.
Years ago I was visiting a friend who mentioned she had recently purchased a magnifying mirror. “What a discovery!” she said. I questioned what she meant. “Just wait,” she replied, “I’ll show you.” She then retrieved her magnifying mirror and held it up to my face. I could have screamed! I will spare you details of what gigantic things on my face jumped out of the mirror nearly scaring me to death, but it was a wakeup call. I will admit I immediately went to the store to purchase stronger tweezers and my own magnifying mirror.
There is a verse, not scary at all, in Psalm 34:3 that says, “Oh magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt His name together.” The Hebrew word for magnify means to make great. When I look in the magnifying mirror, I am also making great, what the mirror reveals to me. How do you and I make great the Lord? The rest of the verse tells us: exalt Him or praise Him together. There is power in our individual praise to God. There is magnifying power when we praise Him together.
Haven’t you been in a church service when songs of praise and hymns were being sung to our Heavenly Father? Didn’t your heart swell with the greatest of joy; the sweetest of affection and love for God? To praise His name reminds us of who He is and of all He does for us, even through us. To magnify or make great His name together, brings to the forefront, steadfast assurance that with our God nothing shall ever be impossible. We can swim through rivers of grief, climb mountains of difficulty, remain unmoved in storms of fear.
We must praise His name in our alone times to know the sweet intimacy of His presence with us, and we must magnify His name together with our brothers and sisters, to overflow in blessings of greatest joy and courage that lives in the midst of praise.
The execution is recorded in John 19. Jesus was whipped with a lead-tipped throng of leather straps until the flesh on his back lay open. Thorns, twisted into the shape of a crown, were pushed into his head. He was made to carry His own cross. Nails were hammered into His hands and feet. He heard the sobs of His mother. He heard others mocking Him. Then, His Holy Father who could not gaze upon sin, turned His face away as His Son paid the penalty for every sin of every person in the whole world. Unlike the other two prisoners being executed with Him, whose legs were broken to hasten their death, Jesus had already died when the guards came to Him. Even so, a spear was thrust into His side spilling forth blood and water. It happened on a Friday. Why was this a good day?
If Friday’s death had not happened, there would be no Sunday Resurrection. Resurrection meant Jesus had conquered death. Jesus had conquered sin. Jesus, innocent, had paid a penalty which was ours, guilty, to pay. If His payment is accepted by any of us, then forgiveness of our sin is granted, being already paid for, and we are promised eternal life after death with Jesus forever. In the City of God, there are no more tears, or grief, or sorrow, or pain, or sickness, or death. In the City of God there is peace and joy for ever and ever and ever.
“For God so loved the world He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him, will not perish, but have everlasting life.” John 3:16
That’s why today is celebrated as ‘Good Friday.’ Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:6
If you don’t know Him personally, I hope today you will call out to Him. He will forgive any sin if you just ask; and then, He makes you into a new person filled with endless hope and peace no matter what falls upon your path. All of this because of — Good Friday.
The unwanted surprise came yesterday. I was moving things around in the fridge to make room for something when I spied the cream cheese. It was hiding in the back on the top shelf behind the butter. How long had that been there, I wondered. I had forgotten all about the cream cheese which I love to spread on toast or bagels. I shouldn’t have been so quick to pop open the lid, for there to greet me was a smear of blue fuzzy mold. Gross! I snapped the lid back on and threw that thing away! Why did I let that happen, I asked myself. What a waste of something so delicious. I didn’t mean to let it go bad. I just forgot it was there.
It was then I thought about the state of our spiritual hearts. Our desire is to keep them clean before God. We don’t mean to ignore the condition they may get in. We don’t want our hearts to become tainted by anything ungodly. We want to be holy, not just appear that way on the outside, like the shiny plastic container of the cream cheese. We don’t want to be found with the mold of sin on the inside. We want to be filled with the Holy Spirit. We want sensitive ears to hear His voice when He informs us we’re going the wrong way, behaving unloving, forgetting the ways of our Father. We want the right things, the holy things, the things that please our Father and fill us with the greatest of joy of peace.
We crave it, but how to have it? The Apostle Paul shares the secret to keeping a clean heart. It’s found in Romans 12:1-2, “And so dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all He has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice — the kind He will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship Him. Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.”
Every morning when we wake, an effective prayer can be: Father, I give you all of me today. By Your Holy Spirit, guard my thoughts. Let my words be pleasing to You. Guide my feet. Fill me afresh, Holy Spirit. In Jesus’ wonderful name. Amen.
Today I’m thinking about two women who were both told something extraordinary. In the Old Testament, Sarah, Abraham’s wife, was told she would have a child. She found this unbelievable because she was already well past the age of child-bearing. In the New Testament, Mary, who would be mother to Jesus, was told she would have the Christ-child. She found this amazing because she was a virgin. Two women, understandably, finding such a declaration very hard to believe.
In response to Sarah’s unbelief, the Lord asked in Genesis 18:14, “Is anything too hard for the Lord?” In response to Mary’s astonishment, the angel Gabriel said in Luke 1:37, “For with God, nothing will be impossible.” Sarah and Mary each gave birth, in the midst of human impossibility, just as God had planned.
There have been times in all of our lives when anxiety fills us because we cannot see the way forward. We try to peer through the unknown, but all we see is darkness ahead; and yet, God tells us to walk that way. Walk into the darkness? When we can’t see ahead? We’ll stumble! We’ll fail! We can’t do it, comes a cry from deep within, where fear brews an uneasy discontent for being given a task that’s impossible! How can we go forward if we can’t even see the way! We brood. Peace fades.
Reluctantly, as doubt casts shadow over hope, we choose in our bleak moment to look into our Father’s love letter. Please, God, we call out, give some comfort! Something stirs in our thoughts. Yes, we remember, as fingers quickly turn pages. There it is! A smile forms on lips as God’s peace calms churning waves of apprehension. Our Father’s Words comfort us. We read in Psalm 119:105, “Your Word is a lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path.” The way ahead often appears in darkness until we make the first step, for then comes the light to guide the way.
Deep inside, we want to obey God, to trust His leading. The desire is there but the path appears too hard. Questions of doubt shatter our resolve. The unknown looms large. In our own anxious moments, may this be our prayer:
“Show me the right path, O Lord; point out the road for me to follow. Lead me by Your truth and teach me, for You are the God who saves me. All day long I put my hope in You.” Psalm 25:4-5