not shaken

Even in the Night, I Will Not Be Shaken

Shaken to my Core

If you knew me in my young years, you know that I could have been the Dairy Poster Child. I grew up on a family dairy farm. Once I left the farm, it seemed that there was nothing to talk about but cows. There was nothing like a tall glass of fresh milk right from the bulk tank. It’s what I missed the most, I think. It took me a while to get past the taste of pasteurized milk and I didn’t dare drink 2% milk. When I visited a friend’s home, they offered milk, I would ask, “Is it whole milk?”

So when I learned that I have osteoporosis. It was quite a shock to me. For a day or two, I really could not grasp how it could be that my bones are not strong; that I was at risk for fractures and breakage. Adding this to all my other diagnoses was more than I could bear. Like David, I cried out to God, “How long, oh Lord? I can’t take any more problems. Please no more pain.”

God Speaks

Since I had morning appointments that day, I didn’t get to sit down with the Lord until that afternoon. (Maybe that is why I was so shaken… I had not invited Him into my day yet.) Anyway, God began giving me messages all day. As I did my study with Gracefully Truthful, He said to me, “I will not leave you as an orphan. I will come to you.” (John 14:18) Thank you, Lord, for this reassurance. I began singing this song the rest of the day.

Encouragement from Friends

“Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones”

Proverbs 16:24 NIV

They may have not known that what they shared was for me, but it was. All through the day, I received gracious words just at the right time. Have you ever seen a cross-section of a bone? It’s like a honeycomb. Unless you have osteoporosis… then it’s more like swiss cheese. See National Osteoporosis Foundation

The words of my friends were like a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones. Friends offered up prayers. Sometimes it was just sharing a quote or scripture. They had no idea that God inspired them to share it for my purpose. That night my dear friend at Alabaster Girls post this prayer.

Father, I am loved by You, an extraordinary God, a good, good Father. Your love makes life worth living. Because of You I don’t have to be afraid of tomorrow.

You are my peace.

Thank You for Your grace that truly is sufficient to carry me through the difficult places. I don’t like the difficult places, Lord — You know that. And yet I find You there. You draw near and strengthen me. You pour out Your love on me and it quiets me, giving me strength.Help me keep my eyes on You, Lord.

In Your presence I find joy, courage, and the tenacity I need to keep moving forward.

Bless You, Lord. What a wonderful God You are.

In the Name of Jesus I pray, amen.

Nan Trammel Jones, The Alabaster Girls

But I Still Tossed and Turned for Many Nights

All these things and more I have known since my youth. I know that God will not abandon me. I know He will see me through. But I am tired and my pain has been unbearable lately. Just the pain alone was waking me up and then my mind would start running away wondering what would happen next.

One of the girls from The Alabaster Girls group had friended me earlier that week but I was not “in the mood” to talk with a new person. She was from halfway around the world. And I wasn’t sure of her connection to me at that point. She kept gently prodding me to respond to her. But I like being the encourager and I didn’t have it in me to chat with someone new. Then she sent an audio clip… She sang “Pass me not, oh gentle Savior, Hear my humble cry. While on others thou art calling, do not pass me by.” And tears came to my eyes. It was my prayer. We chatted and I shared a bit of my story. She promised to pray for me.

Preaching to myself

On the second day, I saw the writing prompt for Five Minute Fridays – “STRONG”. I wondered, “Could I write about strong bones when it was so raw to me?” In the past, I have looked through my old posts to see if there was anything I could update and share. And there it was “When I am weak, He is Strong”. As part of that post, I shared an old hymn written by Annie Johnson Flint. I didn’t know it then, but Annie was orphaned as a child, and by her teens suffered severe arthritis and was soon wheelchair-bound. I’m learning more and more that it is those who go through great trials that have the most beautiful poetry and songs. Do you know her hymn, He Giveth More Grace”. That’s the grace God is giving me.

When we have exhausted our store of endurance

When our strength has failed ere the day is half done

when we reach the end of our hoarded resources

Our Father’s full giving is only begun

He GIveth More Grace, Annie Johnson Flint

I Will Not be Shaken

Finally, I stumbled on this scripture which woke me up to realize that God has got this. I do not need to be shaken. It is quite appropriate with words like: “even at night”, “my thoughts trouble me”, “I will not be shaken”, “my whole being rejoices”, “my body rests securely”, “You will not abandon me”, “You will not allow your faithful one to see decay”.

I will bless the Lord who counsels me—
even at night when my thoughts trouble me.
I always let the Lord guide me.
Because he is at my right hand,
I will not be shaken.

Therefore my heart is glad
and my whole being rejoices;
my body also rests securely.
10 For you will not abandon me to Sheol;
you will not allow your faithful one to see decay.
11 You reveal the path of life to me;
in your presence is abundant joy;
at your right hand are eternal pleasures.

Psalm 16:7-8

I Need to Memorize This Verse and Quote it in my Bed at Night

Interesting that just last year, verse 11 was my verse for the year. I should have read more of the context, eh?

A Word For You

Don’t allow the old devil to get you shaken. Let’s keep our eyes on Jesus for in His presence we have abundant joy!

Mandy

5 Steps Toward Joy in Adversity

It’s easy to lose our joy in the world we live in. 

Originally posted in ggmandy dot com on November 10, 2016 
 

Just watch the news or even just look at your own life, your failures, your unfulfilled dreams, the junk that life is throwing at you, and boom! you’ve fallen into the pit of despair. But I believe that we have a choice whether we stay there in the muck or find joy in the moment. The apostle Paul wrote of that joy sitting in a prison in Philippi. (Philippians 1:3-7) So if he can do it .. we can do it! Right? 

But how can we have joy in adversity? 

That is the question. And that is what I have been searching for this year. Let me share a few steps I am learning to take … 

1. Understand that joy and happiness are NOT the same things. 

You can have both or you can have one but not the other. The difference is the source. Happiness is a result of some outside force. It is dependent on our “happenstance”. We are happy because of what is “happening” to us. We are happy the day we graduate or get married or when we receive a gift. But joy is much different. It comes from inside of us. The scripture says … 

 The Lord is my strength and shield. 

    I trust him with all my heart. 

He helps me, and my heart is filled with joy. 

    I burst out in songs of thanksgiving 

Psalm 28:7 (NLT) 

If you take a look at the context of this verse (as with many of the Psalms) you will find that David was crying out to God. His circumstances were anything but good. He had enemies all around him, yet .. he was “bursting out in songs of thanksgiving”. Wow! Just knowing that the Lord was with him was enough to sustain him, to keep his joy. 

Steps Toward Joy Through Adversity: Understand #Joy and #Happiness are NOT the same Click To Tweet

2. Read a Psalm every day. 

As I mentioned before, nearly every Psalm begins with distress, speaking out the trouble he was in; but before he gets done, he is praising the Lord. There is nothing better for us than having an example set before us and the Psalms are it. Read one every day and you will be reminded of how awesome our God is. How much He loves you. 

3. Praise the Lord. 

We were created for praise. God made us for this sole purpose.

Psalm 148 says ” let every created being praise the Lord.”

Praise opens the door of communication with God. And that is what He desires. Being in His presence, in communication with Him fills us with joy. If we start looking for something to praise the Lord for, we will find it. There is always something to praise him for. I am reminded of a song the Imperials sang many years ago. “Praise the Lord“. It said,

‘When you’re up against a struggle that shatters all your dreams … Praise the Lord.” Every word of this song is on target. 

Praise the Lord by The Imperials

Let’s go back to that prison in Philippi.

Paul and Silas began praising the Lord. What happened next? An earthquake opened the prison doors, broke their chains, and ultimately the prison guard and his family were saved. That’s what happens when others see us being victorious in and through our struggles. We are always wanting God to take us out of the situation, but maybe God has placed us there to bring others to Him. 

4. Additionally, Give Joy to Others. 

shut-in crochet joy in adversity

I recall when I was single and lived far from home and family. I would get lonesome and depressed. So I would call home. Mom told me time and again, to get out and do something for someone else and it would help. You see when you give joy to others it comes right back to you. It’s one of those “reap what you sew” ideals. If we go around complaining and grumbling, we get grumbling and complaining in return. When we start doing for others and see the joy it gives them, guess what, we find that the joy rubs off on us! 

Since my health began to fail, I took up crocheting again. I learn to crochet way back in high school through the 4-H program. Never really got the hang of it. But I decided to give it a try once again. But I need a reason to crochet. So I started looking for who I could make something for. First there was a new baby, then a wedding. Then I decided I would make a shawl for all our shut-ins. That has kept me plenty busy. But here’s the catch … the absolute best part. When I finish a shawl. I can hardly wait to give it away. I am beside myself while I watch them open the package and take out the gift. And it’s not just a blessing that one moment. every time I see them, they speak again of how they love the shawl! And there it is .. abundant joy! 

5. Finally, some practical advice … 

A. Eat right. I know we don’t like to hear it; however, our tendency when we get down is to go eat a bucket of ice cream! Come on , you know it’s true. And I’m not saying that you can never eat ice cream. But do it with moderation. Slow down and eat a few bites. Be sure to enjoy it. And then get right back to eating right. 

B. Get your vitamins. Most of us are vitamin and nutrient deficient. So eat those fruits and vegetables. Resist the grains, bread, sugary desserts. You may need to have your doctor check some of those vitamin levels, such as Vitamin Bs and D. 

C. Spend some time outside EVERY day. Soak up some natural vitamin D. Take in God’s beautiful world. 

D. Do what your doctor says. Take you medications faithfully. 

E. Exercise. (Did I have to mention that one?)  Sorry. But it can help you feel better! 

Okay. I am #preachingtomyself here. But maybe you can come along for the ride and find your joy too! 

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city on a hill

USA – Are We Still a “City on a Hill”?

In 1630, a ship called Arbella came across the Atlantic and landed at what is now known as Boston. Rev John Winthrop was a passenger along with those whom we know as the Puritans. While still on board, he gave a sermon, called “A Model of Christian Charity“, which was a challenge to the people that they would create a new nation that would be “a City on a Hill” – a light to the world. Winthrop’s sermon expounded that America was divinely purposed by God to “hold world-historical importance”. Their success would only come with “the commitment to a higher cause and the dedication to God”. [Perry Miller]

No politician had turned to this sermon as the origin of America by quoting it until Perry Miller wrote about it in 1960. Then nearly every president to hold office quoted this one thing – We were to be a “City on a Hill”.

Winthrop’s sermon gradually became the key text defining and explaining the development of American literature from its origins to the present day. By 1979, this text opened and anchored The Norton Anthology of American Literature, the most dominant anthology on the market. Countless students still read it today.

How America Became “A City Upon a Hill” | The National Endowment for the Humanities (neh.gov)

But Are We Still a City on a Hill?

We may be still a city on a hill that the world looks to for many things. But what are we pointing them towards? I fear that somewhere along the way, we have left God in the dust. We have returned to our idols and selfish desires.

Sometimes I feel like the weeping prophet, Jeremiah.

    … my eyes will weep bitterly,

overflowing with tears,

    because the Lord’s flock will be taken captive.

Jeremiah 13:17

I look at how far the United States has fallen. My heart breaks at how we have turned away from God in so many ways. We have allowed sex, greed, pride, entertainment, and more to become our gods.

I was reminded while reading Jonathan Cahn this week that there is still hope. Cahn has been writing for years now on The Harbingers, the warnings that God has been sending us. Even before 9/11, God has been telling us that we have turned away from Him. But as He has always promised…

if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.

2 Chronicles 7:!4

The Call is to Christians

Notice that God is not speaking to the sinners here. He is calling His People, the Christians to humble themselves, pray, seek His face. You and I need to get serious about the fate of our country.

city on a hill

We need to:

  1. fall on our faces in prayer.
  2. pray for Christian leaders who will take a stand against sin.
  3. call on our country to pray.
  4. pray for all our leaders that they would turn to God as well.

It’s our only chance for survival.

Cahn points out in his book, Harbinger II: The Return, that it is not too late… yet. Time is short but prayer and fasting have saved this country in the past. It can happen again if we get serious about revival.

Were you aware that the union army was struggling to win until Abraham Lincoln called our nation to prayer?

And that very day, the tide began to turn.

Another Call to Prayer in our Nation’s History

There was another time since then that our nation was saved because the president called the nation to prayer. I remember my parents saying that this president had delayed the coming judgment on our country. Ronald Reagan called us to prayer.

I said before that the most sublime picture in American history is of George Washington on his knees in the snow at Valley Forge. That image personifies a people who know that it’s not enough to depend on our own courage and goodness. We must also seek help from God our Father and Preserver.

Abraham Lincoln said once that he would be the most foolish man on this footstool we call earth if he thought for one minute he could fulfill the duties that faced him if he did not have the help of One who is wiser than all others.

Ronald Reagan, 1982 New York Times
Reagan - city on a hill

Read Reagan’s complete speech in the New York Times

Focus on the Good

Eric Metaxas reminds us in His book, If You Can Keep It, that we must look for the good and stop focusing on all the wrong. We need to be proud of our nation. Love of our Nation needs to take precedence again. Between social media and the news, we are only hearing about the wrong things that have happened or are happening. What if we were to focus on the good things?

Like with our children, if we are constantly saying, “You are bad”, “You won’t amount to anything”. It is likely that they will indeed not amount to anything.” This is not to say that we don’t correct the wrong. But we need to find the good things and brag on those things. Then likely a child (or a nation) would begin to believe in themselves and begin doing more good.

Love not Hate

We need to love our country and the good things it has done. It’s not to say that we are perfect. No! The Preamble of the Constitution says,

We the People of the United States, in order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

Preamble of the constitution

“… to form a more perfect union”.

That is, that we would work to make things better and better; not necessarily PERFECT but more perfect. When we realize that we are doing something wrong, we do what it takes to make them right. I am proud of how far we have come when it comes to slavery, racism, democracy. I am proud of how our country has gone and fought for the freedoms of others in other nations. We have done many things right. And we have led the way towards establishing justice, tranquility, and liberty. Like no other country… EVER.

We are Blessed

Psalm 33:12  a city on a hill

God has blessed this country immensely. We have been a “city on a hill” leading the way for so much good. But we have turned and now are leading the way in the wrong direction. (family values, abortion, greed, pride, selfishness) The Bible says “Blessed is the Nation whose God is the Lord.” As a nation, we are failing to keep God as our Lord. I fear there is little time left. We need to get humble, get praying and get right with God before it is too late.

Maybe God will hear and forgive us once more.

JOel 2:14 a city on a Hill

A Call to Repentance

12 “Now, therefore,” says the Lord,
“Turn to Me with all your heart,
With fasting, with weeping, and with mourning.”
13 So rend your heart, and not your garments;
Return to the Lord your God,
For He is gracious and merciful,
Slow to anger, and of great kindness;
And He relents from doing harm.
14 Who knows if He will turn and relent,
And leave a blessing behind Him—
A grain offering and a drink offering
For the Lord your God?

15 Blow the trumpet in Zion,
Consecrate a fast,
Call a sacred assembly;
16 Gather the people,
Sanctify the congregation,
Assemble the elders,
Gather the children and nursing babes;
Let the bridegroom go out from his chamber,
And the bride from her dressing room.
17 Let the priests, who minister to the Lord,
Weep between the porch and the altar;
Let them say, “Spare Your people, O Lord,
And do not give Your heritage to reproach,
That the nations should rule over them.
Why should they say among the peoples,
‘Where is their God?’ ”

Sincerely from a God-loving Patriot,

Mandy

Learn More About the Founding of America

at AMERICAN REWRITTEN

Other Resources

If You Can Keep It by Eric Metaxas

Harbinger II: The Return

Wallbuilders

Teaching American History

National Endowment for the Humanities

God Chose the weak

Be Confident: God Calls the Weak

Our Confidence is in Giving God What we Have

Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. 

But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. 

God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him. 

It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness, and redemption. 

Therefore, as it is written: “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.”

1 Corinthians 1:26-31

God Chooses the Weak

God chose the weak

 Referring to verse 26, Lady Huntington, the rich and influential friend of Whitefield and Wesley, said she was going to heaven by an “m”: it isn’t any noble; instead, it is not many noble. Indeed, Jesus said it too when He expressed the point that it is difficult for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. (Matthew 19:24)

It’s pretty obvious that God calls the weak.

He doesn’t look for the great or the wise. He chooses those who desperately need to depend on Him to make His call happen.

Consider the Patriarchs of the Bible.

  • Abraham was not even serving God when He was called.
  • Moses was a murderer and had a speech impediment.
  • Gideon was the youngest of the smallest and least important tribe of Israel but God used him in a mighty way to save the Israelites.
  • King Saul hid in the baggage when Saul announced him as the first king of Israel,
  • King David was a young boy when Samuel anointed him as the next king. Samuel thought his older brothers would make great kings, but God had other plans.

“But the LORD said to Samuel, “Don’t judge by his appearance or height, for I have rejected him. The LORD doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7

Who Did Jesus Select to be Disciples?

Peter – a fisherman with no education who was always sticking his foot in his mouth. But God transformed him into a great leader and speaker.

James & John – brothers who fussed over who was the greatest. But God used them to write portions of scripture.

Matthew – a tax collector who overcharged his own people for his own benefit until Jesus got ahold of his life.

Who is Wise? Who is Foolish?

1 corinthians 1:17 God chose the Weak
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But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. 

1 Corinthians 1:27

Early in life, I had no confidence in myself. I felt that God could not use me… even though I did have many talents. Surprisingly, when I married my pastor-husband, it somehow gave me “license” to speak; that maybe now as a pastor’s wife people might listen to my teaching. It gave me confidence. After my diagnosis of R.A. and chronic pain, I was again disturbed that now I really couldn’t serve God. But I felt I wasn’t finished. But I did still have something in my hands to give him … my mind, my computer, my knowledge was still available for Him to use.

God will use anyone who is willing. Just give him what you have.

When He called Moses, He asked him, “What do you have in your hand?” Moses replied, “a stick.” And wow! Did God ever use that stick? What do you have in your hand. Give God your stick! He’ll use it!

When God calls you, just say, "YES!" He'll take care of the rest. #confidence #answerthecall #legacylinkup Click To Tweet

-Mandy

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It’s Your Turn

We’re sharing about heros this month. Have you written about anyone who gave the little they had and gave it to God for great results?

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living to please God

How to Live in Order to Please God

Additionally then, brothers and sisters, we ask and encourage you in the Lord Jesus, that as you have received instruction from us on how you should live and please God—as you are doing—do this even more. 

For you know what commands we gave you through the Lord Jesus.

For this is God’s will, your sanctification.

1 Thessalonians 4:1-3a

What does God’s Will; Your Sanctification Mean?

God’s desire, His will for us, is more than just forgiveness. It’s more than fire insurance saving you from Hell. He wants to restore us to His image. God created us in His image. And while that was ruined by the fall of man, God still instructed us to “be holy as He is holy“; God still wants to restore His image in each of us and He offers that to all who are saved. (Colossians 3:9-10

Colossians 3:9-10 Living to Please God
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Sanctification is a big, confusing word. It can also be translated as “holiness” or “set apart.” Thus, God’s will for us is to live holy lives to be set apart. When we live holy lives, we are becoming more and more like Him.  

His Holy Spirit Helps us

Upon salvation, His Holy Spirit enables us to “participate in the divine nature” of God. (2 Peter 1:3-4) Peter urges us in the following verses to do our part… “make every effort to respond to God’s promises. Supplement your faith with a generous provision of moral excellence, and moral excellence with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with patient endurance, and patient endurance with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love for everyone.” 2 Peter 1:5-9 NIV and again to “make every effort to confirm your calling and election…” (2 Peter 1:10-11)  If we are “to make every effort”, then certainly there is a part for us to play in becoming like Him.

Through salvation and out of thankfulness and humility toward God, we should want to live holy lives; doing our best to exemplify the character of Christ. His Holy Spirit directs us and gives us all we need to do this. When we participate in His work, we are then READY to enter His Kingdom. 

 “For in this way, entry into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be richly provided for you.” 

2 Peter 1:11

Defining the Big Words About Salvation

Defining big Christian Words; living to please God
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We receive many graces when we are saved. The first of these is justification – the forgiveness of sins. I like to explain it this way… It is “Just as if I’d never sinned“. Romans 5:9-18 

But grace does not stop there. The next thing God does is give us new life! We call this regeneration. Easton’s Bible Dictionary explains regeneration as a change of heart. (Titus 3:4-8); becoming a new creature in Christ Jesus (2 Corinthians 5:17); a renewal of the mind (Romans 12:1-2). This is nothing man does but rather it is the work of the Holy Spirit within us. 

Thirdly, God adopts us as His child!  (John 1:12-13We are His heirs

Finally, we are given the Holy Spirit, who teaches us to live more and more like Jesus. As we grow in Him, this holiness (sanctification) becomes the doing and living of our salvation. Dr. David Jeremiah, Turning Point, says “it is the proof of our faith… the example of our faith… and the action of our faith.” (Crosswalk) 

Surrendering everything to Him is the best way to live a pleasing life for God. Years ago, I learned that we must give the “Unkown Bundle” to God. That is, we give him our yesterdays and our today, but also our tomorrows. Like signing a contract without getting to read it. We sign an empty page and hand it to God to fill it with His will for us. We say to God, “Whatever You want, is what I want”. Like Jesus said in the garden, “Not my will, but yours”. Luke 22:42

Will you Give Him the Unknown Bundle of Your Life?

~Mandy

*This devotion is excerpted from a study of 1 Thessalonians, written by Mandy for Gracefully Truthful – a Women’s Online Bible study journey. You can read it in it’s entirety on the website.

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IT’S YOUR TURN

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Stop, Look, & Listen SLOW

It’s Time to Slow – Stop, Look & Listen

Published February 25, 2017 on my closed blog ggmandy dot com

Inspired by FMF prompt: SLOW

Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.” 

Matthew 11:28-30 NLT 

Have you ever felt like you have been run down by a speeding train? 

photo by Malventosa @ Pixabay 

Did you know? “There’s an app for that! 🙂 When I was a kid, we were taught that when you come to a railroad track, STOP, LOOK, & LISTEN. Trains can only go where there are tracks, so pay attention. Don’t proceed until you come to a complete stop, then look and see if anything is coming, then listen for anything that might be coming down the tracks.

I wonder … 

Do you

STOP, LOOK  AND LISTEN before you proceed into your life?

The scriptures are full of examples and admonitions for us to slow and spend time with the Lord. Right from the beginning, God came in the cool of the day to speak with Adam (Genesis 3:8). Even before that God Himself rested after 6 days of work (Hebrews 4:4). Even Jesus would often withdraw from the crowds to pray. (Matthew 14:13-21)

And yet, we act as if we don’t really need to slow down. 

We jump out of bed in the morning, throw on some clothes, down a cup of coffee, and run out the door. Never once thinking of even a quick hello to the Lord or an invitation to Him to walk beside us throughout the day. It’s no wonder, we feel worn and weary.  

Matthew 11:28  Slow
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How Do We Slow Ourselves to Rest?

And what about our Sundays?  

When I was growing up, we did only what had to be done on Sundays. Even when the hay was ready to bale, it stayed on the ground for a day. Sundays were for attending church and resting. The most we ever did was maybe a “Sunday afternoon drive” or visiting family. 

I recall asking Dad once, 

cow  slow

“Why couldn’t the Lord allow the cows to give twice the milk on Saturday so that we wouldn’t have to milk them on Sunday as God did with providing manna to the Israelites?”  

His answer pricked my heart. 

“God might be willing to do that if we were willing to REALLY give Him the Sabbath.”  

You see, what I wanted was to be able to go and play and have fun, not to actually take the day to slow down and worship God. It seems that when we “slow down” we are still filling our lives with stimulants that do not allow us the opportunity to rest and to fellowship with God.  

There is little to no room for God.  

We come home from work or play and immediately, we turn on our radios, TV, and internet. 

No quiet for him to even get a word in edgewise. 

Take a look from a practical point of view. Phyllis Korkki, at the New York Times, says 

 “A growing body of evidence shows that taking regular breaks from mental tasks improves productivity and creativity — and that skipping breaks can lead to stress and exhaustion … and may even lead to bad health.”

I know for myself when I was working, I would get where I seemed to not be making progress in my work. The best thing I could do was to go take a walk around the block.  Breaks are helpful, so long as we aren’t using them to procrastinate. 

What about meditation? 

Studies show that regular meditation is a very beneficial activity. Anastasia Stephens lists seven benefits of meditation :

  • Increased Immunity 
  • Emotional Balance 
  • Increased Fertility 
  • Relieves Irritable bowel syndrome 
  • Lowers blood pressure 
  •  Anti-inflammatory 
  • Calmness 

Now, who couldn’t use a few of those benefits!  

God told Joshua, 

“Study this Book of Instruction continually. Meditate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it. Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do.” 

So, if we want to prosper, we MUST spend time meditating on the Word of God. 

Musical Rests

rest slow

WHAT if THERE WERE NO RESTS IN MUSIC?

What kind of song would we get if only notes were played without regard to rests? 

I was a percussionist in the high school band. While the bells were my favorite, I also played the timpani. But many times there were long measures of rests between notes. This was no fun. Just counting beats.  

But these rests left time for tuning the instrument to the right note

And THEN, at the right moment, what an awesome timpani sound rolled out. 

We need these times of rest in our lives as well to tune ourselves to the drumbeat of God. 

John Ruskins said, 

“If we sorrowfully say to ourselves, ‘There is no music in a rest,’ let us not forget that the rest is part of the making of the music. The process is often slow and painful in this life, yet how patiently God works to teach us! And how long He waits for us to learn the lesson!”3 

God can only speak to us in the quiet.  

stop, look, & Listen  slow
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If we never slow down and listen, there is no chance for God to minister to us.  

Oh, how He loves us and wants us to come and fellowship with Him. He wants to tell us so much.

If we would but stop, look and listen

Mandy

journey with chronic pain

How I Found Refuge as a Chronic Pain Warrior

This God—his way is perfect;
    the word of the Lord proves true;
he is a shield for all those who take refuge in him.

2 Samuel 22:31 You really need to read the whole chapter

Where are my Friends?

When we are hit with a trial, our first response is to run to a friend or someone’s shoulder to cry on. We may experience loneliness; friends don’t come to our aid. For me, those shoulders (my parents, siblings, life friends) were many miles away… literally in different states. I wanted one of them to be near me, but there was no chance of that. They had their own lives, jobs, families to take care of. I know they wanted to be near me, but it was not feasible.

But would they have been able to give me true comfort?  

What I needed was to run to God.

2 Samuel 22:31 refuge

During those first few months, I spent a lot of time really getting to know God in a real way. There was nowhere else to go. And He was so attentive to my needs. He showed me that He knows what pain is all about. He knows my pain, physically and emotionally. I learned that it doesn’t really matter what the trial is….


“Jesus has been there done that.”


Jesus has felt physical pain. He has been rejected. He has been ignored. He’s been broke. He’s had no place to live. You name it, He’s been there. And through that, He became my closest friend. He was the only one that could truly understand what I was going through.

My Immediate Family Are Rare Jewels

Yes, I had my husband and my children who were there with me 24/7. They were there serving me. Wow! Did they ever serve me.

Every morning, my husband gingerly helped me to the bathroom and helped me with all those personal hygiene items. (We’ll talk about the loss of dignity later.) Then took me back and propped me up in the bed so that I could read while he and my daughter prepared my breakfast. Michael moved us down to the first floor of our home to our guest room because I couldn’t go up the stairs. He served me selflessly for months until I was able to do some of these things myself. He did all this while continuing to preach 3 times a week and even took on some of the things I did for the church. Tears come to my eyes as I type this that he would care for me this way.

 My daughter who was a home school student gave up many things during her entire high school years so that she could cook, clean, and do the laundry for our family while continuing her schooling. As I was able to get out, she became my chauffeur. While she and I grew to have a wonderful friendship, she gave up all the normalcies of teenage life.

No one can REALLY understand the pain

But with all that, they were at a loss because they couldn’t feel my pain. They didn’t know how to help. They didn’t know what to do for me to ease my pain. Their hearts ached because there was nothing they could do. When they did try to help, many times it was painful. But Jesus knew my pain.

Jesus became the one I ran to in trouble. Those months and years developed a routine to finding Him first each day. Now I still start my day with Him and I take Him with me throughout my day as my shield. Sort of a portable refuge, if you will.

Learning to Establish a Relationship with God

What I learned was I need to establish a relationship with God, the Friend, the Healer; the Protector; so that, the first place I want to run was to Him. Building a relationship is a two-way street. I talk to Him; He talks to me. This is called prayer and meditation with Him.

prayer Loneliness Chronic Pain
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God is My Refuge 

Finding a refuge entails, getting down behind the protector.

  • get down on your knees to hide.
  • You get quiet so that the enemy cannot find you.
  • You listen for your ally.  

This is called prayer.

Through this ordeal in my life, I have found him to be a refuge … a place to run to … but also now as I return to a new kind of normal; He is my shield. And because He is my shield, I don’t have to run to a refuge. He, The Shield, is my Refuge.

Where or Who is Your Refuge?

-Mandy

Are you Caught up on Mandy’s Journey w/Pain?

Keep Eyes on Jesus

Confidence Comes With Eyes on Jesus

Fix our eyes on Jesus the author and finisher of our faith.

– Hebrews 12:2
Eyes on Jesus Hebrews 12

Peter’s Confidence

Peter was sailing and in the middle of this storm he sees Jesus out on the water. He gets excited, The Lord of Life is coming! And he jumps out of the boat and onto the water and starts running toward The Truth. Then, his run slows and stops. His eyes lose sight of The Way and he sees the turmoil of dark storms behind Jesus. He looks to his sides and the waves are giants at war around him. As he looks back to the boat. He begins to sink.

I can’t blame Peter for this. I do the same so many times. But I have been made alive by the grace of God. I have in the past 11 years been to the ER more than 30 times, have had 5 surgeries, hospitalized 9 times, lost jobs, had several cars, I have migraines, neuralgia in my ribs as well as my leg, have wires with a battery in my ribs to help me breathe, and have lost a baby due to a miscarriage 8 years ago. It is hard when life is so unpredictable and we just do not know what is going to happen next in the middle of all that is happening.

Hearing Loss

Recently, my hearing loss was noted by my doctor and the specialist, the ENT. Last month I found that my hearing has drastically dropped in my right ear alone. I needed a hearing aid. Like, oh great, another thing has broken in this body. Just as I was finding my resolve in Christ, who alone keeps this mortal instrument held together by his love and grace for some reason, I get a call from the ENT.

‘Jon, I am worried about your hearing loss and the pain you have been experiencing on your right side of your head.’

(Nice, right, I already deal with major migraines that plague my left side. Now, my right side.)

He continued, ‘I would like you to have a CAT scan done to check for a tumor.’

I’m like well, ‘okay’.

A few days after this I get a call to schedule this CAT scan… about four weeks away. Nothing sooner available. Uuugh. Not knowing kinda sucks. My mind races through ‘what ifs’.

Stressors Tug at my Confidence

Consequently, everything around me: all the stressors of my five children being homeschooled, my masters classes, and yet more car problems start turning my little world darker. The blankets that I sleep under become so tossed and turned at night that it looks as if I slept in a tornado.

Where was my confidence in Christ then?

I am supposed to be a Christian, right? I know the truth.

Oh, wait! I know the Truth!

Yeah, it slips my mind at times and I have to remind myself that come whatever the doctors say God is my God who loves me.

Come whatever scenario that washes over my mind, God has got me.

Come whatever breaks down in this body. God holds me together.

Come what may God has my wife and children and me.

What is Confidence?

Let’s consider it. Confidence is a kinda funny word. It comes from Latin, meaning ‘have full trust.

In giving trust I ponder who it is I am focusing on.

Is it myself?

Am I one of those people who walk through the world with my chest full of air and carrying oneself with trust in one’s temporary place in this world?

Or do I fix my eyes on God, the author of me?

In all of this, I have learned confidence in looking beyond the veil of ice-piercing pain, beyond the thunder cracking its whips in my ears, and I see Jesus. Even when the waters under my feet are pulling me down, I know Jesus and I find myself fixed in determination beyond the condemnations of this world and broken body to trust in the one who gives me real life.

I fix my eyes on Him who is the God of this storm.

Who do you trust in your storms?

-Jonathan Thorne

P.S. How do you find confidence. Come write about scripture that gives you confidence today. Contact me or click to learn more about guest posting for us at Mandy and Michele – Just Holding it Together.

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What if Blessings Come Through Raindrops?

*Originally Published on GGmandy dot com July 1, 2017

What image first comes to your mind at the word “blessings”?

Do you think of these blessings…

family

financial gain

health?

But let me ask you, where does that leave the one with no husband or children, no bank account or bad health?

This thought became real to me …

when I lost my health, and then my husband lost his job, and subsequently our home.

Are we no longer blessed?

Or is this when the true blessings became a realization?

Early on in my journey with chronic pain, my son introduced me to Laura Story and her song, Blessings. She proposed through song that the blessings were not tangible things but divine things. I venture to believe that she is right.

In our pain and loss, we actually found the TRUE BLESSINGS of God.

Hymn of the week - Blessings
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We found His PEACE that passes all understanding,

His PROVIDENCE for our every need,

we found His GRACE to walk through the valley, and so much more.

The greatest thing…

… I found was a deep, DEEP RELATIONSHIP with the God of the Ages.

I found His LOVE for me so sweet.

His tender FORGIVENESS for leaving Him behind in the dust as I “ministered to others in His Name”. You see, I really wasn’t doing it all in His Name.

I wasn’t leaning on Him FOR GUIDANCE and DIRECTION. I had taken hold of the reigns and was running the show myself.

But, oh the JOY, I found in being still before Him.

(In my case, literally still. I couldn’t move without excruciating pain.)

I found HIS WORD so fulfilling.

What an amazing God we have.

And so many do not even see it.

Do YOU see it?

Count Those Blessings!

So blessed!

Tybee Isalnd, GA

excerpt

‘Cause what if Your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You’re near
What if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise

blessings by Laura Story

How Are Christians the Salt of the Earth?

Jesus said [with confidence] {my words}

“You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt should lose its taste, how can it be made salty? It’s no longer good for anything but to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet.

Matthew 5:13-16
Salt of the Earth
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Salt

The shaker on our table is what we bring to mind, but in Jesus’ day, salt was a valuable commodity. It was sometimes even used to pay one’s salary. Jesus called the disciples salt because they were as important to the Gospel as salt was to the society. Have you ever eaten a French fry without salt? Just a little salt makes a world of difference!

Impact

Consider the impact the disciples made on the world once they were anointed with God’s power through His Holy Spirit. Just twelve men initiated worldwide change as a result of God’s power! (Acts 2)

Savor

As powerful as salt is, it can lose its savor if it is mixed with other additives. RealSalt.com says salt will never go bad, but common table salt has agents added which degrade over time causing the salt to lose its savor. Society in Jesus’ day was mixed with many sinful impurities. If Christ-followers were not careful, their lives would be overrun with the effects of sinful choices.

Preservation

This leads to a need for preservation! In ancient times, salt was added to prevent food from spoiling. When the disciples began spreading the Gospel, they were keeping the world from decaying without the Hope offered through Jesus’ offer of forgiveness. Salt can go both ways. If we allow society to rub off on us, we will lose our savor; but if we rub off on society, we hold out the life-giving freedom of Christ! 

How can you and I effectively be Salt of the Earth?

By choosing to engage those around us with the hope of Christ! If we have accepted Jesus as our Savior and allowed the Holy Spirit to guide and direct our lives, we HAVE Christ’s power in us to be salt to the world and we will WANT to season the world. 

Examine Your Heart

If you don’t have the deep desire to be a Salt of the Earth disciple, it would be wise to follow the apostle Paul’s teaching and examine your hearts “to see whether we are in the faith.” (2 Corinthians 13:5-6) 

Have you ever known a person who rubbed you the wrong way? Comparatively, have you known someone who always blesses a room when they enter? This is how we season the world. A preacher once asked, “If you record yourself, what would you see/hear?” This challenged me and still does, to take special care in what I do and I say, making sure I’m surrendering myself to the Spirit’s power alive in me. 

Showing love, kindness, compassion, and forgiveness is how believers share their Salt with the Earth. (Ephesians 4:29-32)

Let’s begin our days with King David’s prayer,

Let the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, oh Lord. My Rock and my Redeemer.” 

*excerpted from my writings at Gracefully Truthful

click the image below to read about “Being a Light to the World”

gracefully truthful
www.gracefullytruthful.com/blog

Sources

Enduring Word Commentary by David Guzik