Sunday, August 31, 2008

Quiet Moments With God--Care For One Another.

In my reading today, in First Thessalonians Three, a verse jumped out at me. Verse 10 says, "Night and day we pray most earnestly that we may see you again and supply what is lacking in your faith."

Stunning words, considering Paul had fled Thessalonica under threat of his life. He’d suffered persecutions of all kinds. And yet, rather than thinking about himself and his own comfort, his heart was with those he'd discipled. He was living in harmony with God. His thoughts were God’s thoughts. At that moment, he was not thinking about himself, but rather what he could do to serve God’s people.

I long to be like Paul, to serve without thought for my own needs, but I am human and all to often I find myself having to go to God to seek forgiveness for my selfish ways. And as you read Paul's writings he often addressed his own weaknesses. He did not see himself as being better than others, but rather as the worst of all sinners. But that did not hold him back. He spent his life serving others and living sacrificially.

That’s my prayer, to be the Lord’s completely. It's not easy to do. But we can help one another, by being encouragers, by holding one another accountable and by lifting each other up in prayer so we will not be lacking in faith. Therefore, when we go to our Heavenly Father may we never forget to pray for our Christian family and take comfort in knowing they are praying for us.

Grace & Peace to you from God.


Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Tips For Triumphant Living--Forgive One Another

August 14th, my husband and I celebrated our 37th anniversary. It’s almost too many years to imagine. Even more difficult to imagine is that at one time we weren’t going to make it at all. We’d separated and filed for divorce.

After four turbulent years Greg and I had decided being married to one another was not what we wanted. We’d committed unforgiveable offenses against each other. I was not an ideal wife, far from it. Proverbs 19:13 says, A foolish son is his father’s ruin, and a quarrelsome wife is like a constant dripping. I was a quarrelsome wife. And I let my husband down in untold ways. Greg was no piece of cake either. He had a foul temper and a wandering eye.

After discovering he’d been unfaithful, we split. Seemingly there was no way for us to succeed as a couple. We had destroyed the love we'd had when we first set out together. After months of tousling, all that was left to do was sign the divorce papers.

But God had another plan, a better plan. He meant to save our marriage. It began with Christ, and he asked us to forgive. During our separation I discovered Jesus and accepted Him as my savior. I was new person and began to pray for my marriage.

After months, we were miraculously reconciled. Greg came to know Christ and has been a man of God ever since. Only through the power of the Holy Spirit were we able to forgive each other. And God restored our love.

I sometimes think about what would have happened if Greg and I had been unwilling to listen to God and to obey Him. I’m sure I’d have no inkling even of where he was or what kind of life he had lived. But God was gracious and because of His love we are still together, and we are in love and looking forward to many more years together. It took a miracle, but here we are, still the two of us.

Is there something you think is unforgiveable? If so, think about all God has forgiven you. What would happen if He couldn’t forgive you? Where would we all be then?

Forgive one another, love one another and good things will come.

Grace and peace to you from God.


Sunday, August 24, 2008

Quiet Moments With God--Time to Listen.

I think it’s interesting that the title of this blog is Quiet Moments With God and I haven’t yet written a devotional about listening. Maybe that’s because it’s not one of my strengths.

This morning during my quiet time I was reminded of that weakness. In Habbakkuk in the second chapter last verse it says, “But the Lord is in his holy Temple. Let all the earth be silent before him.”

Be silent before him. Simple words, or so it would seem. How often are we truly silent before God? Are we more likely to address our desires, our needs and the needs of others? It’s good to talk with God. But too often we forget to be still and hear what He has to say to us. If we don’t shut our mouths and open our hearts we’ll miss Him.

I encourage you to find a place, any place, but somewhere that’s easily accessible and private, where you can get together, just you and God. Then, go ahead, pour out your heart or pray scripture or worship Him in anyway that suits you and then . . . be still and hear His voice, hear His heart.

He’s always available to us. He’s just waiting for us to make time for Him.

Grace and peace to you from God.


Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Tips For Triumphant Living -- Choose Joy, Choose Life

On August 13th I drove up the winding North Umpqua Highway to witness the unveiling of a road sign. It marks a final step in a process that began nearly three years ago.

As I drove memories swept through my mind—A phone call at 6:30 AM, two days of sitting in my sister’s living room while people called and others filed through, unbelief that seared broken hearts, buckets of tears, and a trip up the North Umpqua Highway to a crash site where my nineteen-year-old niece had been killed the night before.

The driver of the car was drinking. He survived. Crystal did not.

Family gathered at the site along the river bank, trying to comprehend what had happened and why. Some clambered down the steep bank to sit among blood-stained rocks. There were flowers and a cross placed at the spot.

My sister and I stood side-by-side arms entwined. Anguished tears wet our cheeks. I remember that my sister stomped her foot in defiance against what had happened. As if to say, “No! Not my Crystal!

That was the beginning of a journey. And now, a sign has been put up by the State Highway Department that says, DON’T DRINK AND DRIVE. In Memory of Crystal Wall.

Once more we gathered, only this time it was to draw a line in the sand, so to speak, a place from which to move forward. This was a final step in a list of steps. Now it’s time to move on.

All of us have circumstances that try to hold us back, but there comes a day to stop looking back and to begin looking ahead. There are things in life that cannot be changed and all we can do is to keep living.

I asked my sister to share a snap shot of her journey and she sent this letter to help us all better understand that moving on is not done in strides and sometimes not even in forward motion, but it is progress nonetheless.


It’s so hard to put into “steps” the process of my journey since Crystal died. I don’t know if you could actually give a list of steps and number them 1, 2, 3, etc. so instead I’ll just write the process and hopefully that will be helpful to you. Here goes.

Immediately upon receiving the news I chose to say “God is good all the time”. That gave me perspective and caused me to make my stand. Then came the shock, disbelief, calling my kids and sister and mom and friends, the funeral home, writing the obituary, the burial which was more than I could bear had it not been for the gentle words from Mom reminding me of the love of God as she held me so tightly in her arms, the memorial service—and this was just the first week! When I look back at that week, I am amazed I survived. I was surrounded, however, by a cocoon of love from my family, friends, church family and most of all God.

When everyone went home I tried to enter life and find a “new normal”, but that was impossible. Instead I chose to experience my grief, let it in, express it in whatever way seemed appropriate to me and then depend wholly upon Christ. I made the choice to let life stop for a time as I spent time with my family, at church and in the Word. I set a time frame when I would not work and when I would go back to work. I started saying No to people and became more honest about who I am, realizing “its okay for a Christian to not be okay”. I even determined I would not be involved in ministry other than worship for an entire year. As I allowed myself to feel these things, to grieve, I found it was easier to accept them.

Along with acceptance comes surrender. I had to accept the things I can’t change and, in that, ask God how I could glorify Him in this process. I ranted, raved, threw tantrums over the fact that things didn’t go the way I wanted. In the end, however, I had to say “This is what God has given me and I have to learn to live with it or falter completely. Paul learned to be content in all circumstances and I need to as well.”

Working through the grief wasn’t the only thing I had to deal with. I had a “check list” of things that needed to happen. The trial which was postponed three times and then actually cancelled, the sentencing which was a farce in itself because the guy walked out un-cuffed and arrogant, the insurance settlement and the question of do I sue the guy, and then the sign. For me it was like I needed to check all this stuff off before it would be over. Not that it’s ever over but I needed to be able to move on. I moved on a long time ago, but I needed these things to happen to close this chapter in my life and finally let go of Crystal.

The letting go process has been the hardest. I’ve had to let go of my dreams for her, her dreams for her, our dreams for us and my memories. I had to pack her things, clean out her room, decide what to keep, what to give away. If I had my way, I’d keep everything, but then if I had my way she’d still be here and I wouldn’t have to worry about it. I had to choose joy, choose life and often I had to make that choice several times a day. I’m still walking through that process. What’s done is done and I can’t change it. I can, however, let God use it to mold me and make me into who He wants me to be.

When the sign went up yesterday I felt it is finished. It’s done. “Now I can put the lid on the box and put it away. Not that I won’t take it out from time to time to look inside and remember, but now it can be stored away. It’s done.”

Love you,


Life is not easy, but with God even on the most difficult day we are not alone. He gives us strength for the journey. And as we journey we must let go of wrongs done to us, free our sorrows, shed anger, and release heartache. If we allow these things to rule our lives they will destroy the good work God has planned for us. He has an astonishing purpose for our lives if only we will allow Him to reign in us.

And so as my sister said, choose joy, choose life.

Grace and peace to you from God.


Sunday, August 17, 2008

Quiet Moments With God--Run Well

Some verses make me cry, like Second Timothy 4:6-8. It says, As for me, my life has already been poured out as an offering to God. The time of my death is near. I have fought the good fight. I have finished the race and I have remained faithful. And now the prize awaits me—the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge will give me on the day of his return. And the prize is not just for me but for all who eagerly look forward to his appearing.

I don’t know when my day will come to enter the Kingdom, but these verses remind me that while I live I’m running a race, one ordained by God. I’m prompted to ask, “How am I running?”

The Olympics are taking place right now, and it’s easy to see that being a racer is no easy task. To be a true competitor requires discipline and perseverance. As followers of Christ our race sometimes feels like we’re running up hill, legs tiring and lungs struggling to squeeze oxygen from the air. And yet, we are called to obey and to beat our bodies into submission.

In my world I sometimes wonder if I’m running the right race. When people all around me receive accolades and awards and some produce bestselling books, I can get trapped in a mindset of self-service. I say, “I want that!”

Earthly rewards cannot be what I’m about. My heart needs to be set upon the Lord and His will. Only then will I be capable of running to win, for the Lord.

We’ve all been called to serve. God knows our hearts and He seeks those who will step out and accept His calling, seeking no reward except for the joy of pleasing our Heavenly Father. Humble hearts create fertile soil where good works produce an abudant harvest.

Being entrusted to serve should be reward enough. To be called is to be blessed. The prize awaits me—the crown of righteousness. So I press on with a glad heart. And I pray that one day I will hear, “Well done thy good and faithful servant.”

Grace and peace to you from God.


Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Tips For Triumphant Living--Pass On Your Faith.

Today, I watched while my daughter and her husband baptized two of my grandsons. The event took my breath away. It reminded me of another day, fifteen years ago, when my husband baptized our two daughters.

The Lord tells us that as parents it is our responsibility to pass on our faith to our children. We can’t rely on Sunday school teachers or pastors or youth leaders. It is our responsibility . . . and our privilege.

My husband and I took God at His word, and believed that He would bless our obedience. We lived out our faith in front of our kids, even the ugly stuff when we looked anything but faithful. They got to see God’s grace and his power in the midst of our weaknesses.

We shared His Word with our brood having faith in the words of Hebrews 4:12, which says, For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.

Our family has faced many trials. We’ve had tumultuous seasons. Our children have not always walked the “straight and narrow”. And yet, they all believe. Faith and obedience has produced fruit.

I'm blessed by God who loves me and has graciously rewarded my efforts to surrender my life to Him. Even now as I envision my grandsons’ professions of faith and their joyful faces when they were lifted up out of the water tears come.

God truly is good . . . all of the time.

Grace and peace to you from God,


Sunday, August 10, 2008

Quiet Moments With God--Total Surrender

What must we give up to follow Christ? Everything. When the rich man came to Jesus he was told to give everything he had. He walked away.

Luke 9:57-62 talks about surrender. Jesus says “Come follow me.” Each man who had professed to be a follower had something else they needed to do before they could join Christ in His ministry. Christ says in verse 62 "No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.”

At first glance this seems harsh. Aren’t people and projects important? How about my family? My finances. Time with loved ones, my career, my ministry, my . . . There are too many my’s to list. However, none of “my” needs or desires are as important as seeking after Christ, following Him, and then telling others about Jesus.

I don’t believe Christ is saying we’re supposed to throw away our families and our jobs, but we need to look closely at where our priorities lie. What do we put most of our time into? Is there time for God and His Word? Do we make time to serve?

There are no excuses. We either surrender to Him or we don’t. Wholeness comes in absolute surrender. The world pulls at us and we often go where it leads rather than where Christ leads. How can we be useful to the Lord if the world’s voice is louder than His?

I long to be all His all of the time, but I fail. However, I haven’t given up on myself or Him. And on occasion I close my eyes, block out the world and look at Him only and listen to His voice, and then He speaks with clear, gentle authority. Angst and sorrow fall away. For a time thoughts of self flee. And when I listen with my whole heart and sift out the trivial things in this world then I am truly in His presence. I am His disciple and the joy I feel is long remembered.

And I continue to pray, “Your will Lord, not mine.”

Grace and peace to you from God.


Sunday, August 03, 2008

Quiet Moments With God--They will know us by our love.

I just returned from the Oregon Christian Writers Summer Conference. If I were limited to using only one word to describe what I experienced it would be, LOVE.

My first encounter with the summer conference was in 1992. I remember being overwhelmed. There was so much to learn. But what really took me by surprise was the open, giving hearts of the people who offered their time and gifts to eager students. At the end of a long day some of the writers took my short stories to their rooms to critique my work. They taught me so much, not just about writing but what it means to live out our faith. John 13:34-35 says, “So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.”

Christians have many opportunities to be witnesses to unbelievers. The writing world offers unique opportunities because it's a competitive business. Yet I can’t remember even one instance when a Christian writer betrayed another just to get ahead. In fact, I’ve seen the opposite. My experience with Christian writers is that they want to help and encourage one another in any way they can. Our Lord fills us with a love that outweighs our desire for personal success.

I’m not saying Christian writers are perfect. Of course we’re not. Like everyone else, we struggle with sins like envy and frustration, and sometimes we may even get angry about someone else’s success. However, we belong to God’s family and as heirs of the King we're held to account, and straying hearts are brought back into submission to Him. God loves a humble heart.

It is God in us that enables us to sincerely love one another and to lift up each other even when it means setting aside personal goals. So, let us draw close to God and allow Him to reign in our hearts. May our example draw others to Christ where they will find rest for their weary souls just as we have.

Grace and peace to you from God.