May 15, 2017 Reflections

I turn another year older tomorrow so, as usual, I am doing a lot of reflecting. It’s sobering to realize that I probably have more years behind me than I have ahead of me but I really don’t have much to show for it. At times, I remind myself that, if I even reach one person and if my influence and encouragement caused that person to draw ever nearer to the Lord, my life is not wasted. I wonder if I’ve reached that one person yet. I’m not sure.

During this time of celebration, I know that the enemy would like me to become discouraged, defeated, and depressed. I admit that I am a bit discouraged at present but I also know that the fact that I’m alive means that God still has a plan for my life. Every morning I wake up is a new day in which to serve my Father. So I press on.

My heart is burdened for those I know that are not walking close to the Lord, those who seem to be letting the world and their feelings guide their actions as opposed to the Word of God. I feel helpless and yet I know that God is still the same today as He was yesterday. He desires that none perish but that all come to repentance. This begins with me. I feel like this coming year will continue to be one of growth. I pray that I will be faithful. I don’t know what is going to happen with me, my health, my family, my work, etc. But I trust the One who holds my future in His hands. I don’t need to worry because I know that He knows what is best for me, and He will lead me in the way that I should go if I stay close to Him.

I go through times where I really struggle. Depression, discouragement, self-pity, etc. tries to bring me down. Thankfully God always reminds me that it is not an option to just lie down and die. Then He gives me at least a little more fight to get up and keep trying.

The world is full of so much that would distract us and bring us down. I’m so glad that the One who lives in me is greater than the one who is in the world. He will not leave me or forsake me. I simply need to trust and obey.

I want to thank each of you who take the time to read my blog. I know I have not written much lately. This is my busy season so it’s hard to find the time to write as much as I would like. Thank you for bearing with me. I will write again when I can. May you experience God’s peace today in the midst of every storm. He is such a good Father who loves you so much.

Perfect Love

There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear (1 John 4:18).

I was thinking recently how a person’s fear can keep someone else from feeling loved. Too often, we can be focused on ourselves to the degree that we don’t reach out to others. Maybe you’re afraid of making a fool of yourself. Or you worry about what others will think of you. Instead of focusing on how you can bless that other person, you let pride get in the way. I am guilty of this myself at times but it is not a good way to live.

A number of years ago, I made a conscious decision to act more and think less. I realize that, for some, this would not be a good thing; however, it is easy for me to overthink things to the point that I render myself useless. That particular year, when God would bring someone to my mind, I would text or call them. I decided that, even if it wasn’t God’s prompting, it didn’t hurt to connect with friends.  And I was amazed at the times that it seemed like there was a reason that I needed to connect.

I do not always do this perfectly. Maybe that’s why God has been laying this on my heart again. If I desire to be led by His Spirit, I cannot always think everything to death. Sometimes I must step out in faith, trusting that He is leading. If I am wrong, nothing is hurt but maybe a little pride, which needs to be injured a bit from time to time anyway.

No one has ever loved perfectly except the Father, but I imagine that most of us could try a little harder. If you have been thinking of someone lately that you wouldn’t typically think of, or if someone has been on your mind a lot more than normal, pick up the phone and let them know you are thinking of them. If nothing else, it may just be the reminder they need that God loves them and really cares about them. It is such a blessing to be used by God in that way.

Falling in Love With Jesus

When two people are in love, they want to spend every waking moment together. They talk to each other for hours, sometimes staying up late to do so. There is nothing they don’t share with each other. Everyone hears about this “wonderful” person in their lives. There just aren’t enough good things to say about him or her.

The last couple years, I have been thinking about how God desires this kind of relationship with us. If we love Him as much as we say we do, talking to Him and listening to Him would not be a chore. Talking about Him would be a natural flow because He would consume every part of our lives.

It is really sad when people only turn to God when they need something and, yet, the majority of people seem to do just that … if they talk to Him even then! It’s easy to sing, “Oh, How I Love Jesus,” but do we act like it? Does the world believe He’s our first love?

Love is more than words; it is an action. It is focusing on others instead of ourselves. It is going out of your way to please others. It is making an effort to have a close relationship.  All these are things that the Father desires from His greatest creation–people.

As I write this, I am examining my own heart as well. I’m sure I have flippantly said I love the Lord as well, but I don’t want it to be mere words. As God strengthens my body, I want it to be for His glory.  I want my love for Him to grow each day until I am more in love with Him than anyone else in the world. He has done so much for me. True gratitude would be to give Him my all. That includes my hopes, my dreams, my fears, my passions, my ambitions … everything that makes me “me” so that I can become more like Him. Once that happens, I will truly have succeeded in life.

You Are Loved

A friend and I were talking recently about how easy it is for some people to feel unloved. I expect there are more who feel that way than there are those who will admit it, but the fact is that, no matter who you are, God loves you so much. And I expect He’s not the only One. I think the fact that I am single enhances this “unloved” feeling for me and yet I know that one can be married and still have these feelings. Marriage does not cure all loneliness.

I think the words “God loves you” has become overused so that people miss out on the magnitude of that concept. This week leading up to Easter is the perfect time to think about the love of God.

He left the splendor of Heaven
Knowing His destiny
Was the lonely hill called Golgotha
There to lay down His life for me

When I think about the love God has for me, I am amazed. Not only does He never leave me but He has blessed me with brothers and sisters, both physical and spiritual, who lift me up when I am weary. He sends the Comforter when I am down. But I think what amazes me the most is that He called me–a shy, sad, insecure teenager who would have been voted least likely to succeed–and He said, “Follow Me.” Then He placed me in a ministry, allowing me to work with my family, and He has given me a platform to be able to do something I love for His glory, and that is to write. I also get to travel and spread God’s love to others. I’ve been a bit “down” this week but, in reality, I am so blessed.

No matter how low you get, never believe the lie that you are unloved. I expect there are people in your life who may not say it for whatever reason but who really do care about you. And even if everyone around you really has given up on you, you have a Father who longs for you to run to Him. He will never leave you nor forsake you. He is there to hear your every joy, heartache, concern, victory, and anything else you’d like to share. That alone should be enough to put a smile on your face. Think about that these next few days. You are loved!

Are You Ready?

Death is one subject a lot of people don’t want to think about. I think about it a lot. How will God take me? A car accident? Plane crash? Cancer? Heart attack? Will I live to be old, or will I go in the next few years? Only God knows the answer to these questions but what I do know is that my day will come, and I pray to be ready.

Last week, another legend of southern gospel music went on to his heavenly Home.  I was not a huge fan of Ben Speer’s voice but I had to smile at his exuberance on stage. I still see him on one of the early Gaither Homecoming videos in his Hawaiian shirt, grabbing the microphone periodically to encore a song or say something. I’m sure his family is reminiscing about the things they loved about him or the quirks he may have had.

There are times when one wants to give up but, for a Christian, that is not an option. We have all been chosen to run this race called life. Many are reaching the finish line before me but I will reach it one day too if I keep running. If I will look straight ahead and not turn to the right or left, I know my Savior will pick me up when I grow weary, and He will carry me down that narrow path.

The older I get, the more I realize how important it is to have a close relationship with my Father. There is so much that wants to distract me but I desire to hear His voice. I long to walk in His ways. I don’t want to be the one who says on Judgment Day, “Lord, didn’t I do all these things in Your name?” only to hear Him say, “Depart from Me. I never knew you!”

Whether my time is near or far, I want to be ready. I pray that you are ready as well. Don’t think you have forever. The fact is, you don’t know.

CD Review: Here For You (Tribute Quartet)

Earlier this year, I reviewed my favorite CD for 2016. The latest CD from Tribute Quartet may not be my very favorite, but it’s definitely up there.

Here For You is an uptempo song of encouragement. You can find love, grace, mercy, forgiveness, joy, faith, everything you need to make it through. All you need to do is join the family of God.

Another encouraging toe-tapper is Never Forsaken.

We all need reminders that this world is not our home, that these trials will not last forever, etc. Somebody Sing Me That Song.

Riley Harrison Clark blows the roof off with When the Prodigal Comes Home.

The tempo picks back up with Meeting in the Middle of the Air.

I’m so thankful that I serve the God of the Storms.

Everybody Come See Jesus is just a song about Jesus and how wonderful He is.

Anthony Davis is featured on That’s How I Know.

Grace at Its Best is still the cross. I love that!

Jesus Saves is an old song written by Connie Hopper and Geron Davis.

Nothing Stops the Savior’s Love–I needed to hear this today. “Fear may rule the day, but hope–it always finds a way to reach us where we are, to give us life that’s more than what we dreamed of.”

Random Thoughts 4-7-17

My dear readers, I am so sorry that it’s been a while since I’ve written. My site was down for about 6 weeks and then I was on the road for 2 1/2 weeks. This week, I’m home but have a lot of work to do in between catching up on rest.

It amazes me how easy it can be to “forget” the goodness of God. We get frustrated with the Israelites as they grumble and complain whenever things don’t go their way and yet we are often like that as well. I know, for myself, I often have to consciously remind myself of God’s goodness. Not that I ever really lose sight of that but I sometimes find myself focusing more on the negative instead of praising Him in all circumstances like I should. I have been blessed beyond measure and there is no excuse for self-pity and negativity.

I’m thankful for Brothers and Sisters who encourage me and bear with me when I am down, but I don’t want being “down” to define me. If I let discouragement define my life, then Satan begins to win and that discouragement will quickly become depression, which can be difficult to break out of. Therefore, I choose to say that God is good regardless of what is going on in my life. He is worthy of my praise. His plan is perfect whether I see it right now or not.

Dear Brothers and Sisters, life is short. Don’t waste it focused on yourself. Look up. Thank Him for sunshine. Thank Him for life. Praise Him for every bit of strength you have.

He didn’t promise my cross would not be heavy,
But He did say that He my load would bear,
He didn’t tell me He’d grant my hopes and wishes,
But He did say He’d hear my earnest prayer.    ~Dottie Rambo

Be Faithful

Many a man proclaims his own steadfast love, but a faithful man who can find? The righteous who walks in his integrity—blessed are his children after him!   ~Proverbs 20:6-7.

When I was a child, I was amazed at how many adults did not keep their word. They would promise, “One day, I’ll _________” but, alas, that day never came, and I would be disappointed.

When I was a teenager, my mom hired a man to tune our piano. I enjoyed watching him, and he talked to me as he worked. In the course of conversation, I mentioned that I like southern gospel music. He told me he would take me to a concert sometime. At that time, I’d lived long enough to know people often said things they didn’t mean so I didn’t figure I would ever see him again. A short time later, however, he called and asked if he could take my brother and me to a concert. This was over 25 years ago, and I still remember his kindness. He could have gone to the concert by himself, and I would never know, and I probably wouldn’t remember him but he took time to honor his word, which still blesses me today.

It is sad to me how many young people walk away from the Lord or never embrace Christianity, even when they have grown up in church and in Godly homes. I’ve fought to understand why, in order to be able to stop this trend. I believe a big reason for this is due to the hypocrisy they see in their parents and others in the Church. I know this is not the only reason an adult child will rebel but I expect it is the case in many situations. Young people pick up on whether people are real or phony, honest or crafty.

Even as an adult, I want to surround myself with people I can trust. I get so tired of dishonesty, backbiting, double lives, etc. I pray often that God will help me to be faithful. I want to be dependable, loyal, and trustworthy. I want to be faithful to point others to the Lord, not only in word but also by example. I believe if the world saw more faithfulness in God’s people, they would desire to know this God as well.

Be Real

When I was young, it was discouraging to me how difficult it was to get close to people. Everyone would put on their best face and was always “fine” when asked how they were doing. This was not my reality but I followed suit. It seemed like no one wanted to really know what was going on in others’ lives anyway, unless it gave them something to gossip about.

The last few years, I have been encouraged by the people God has brought into my life who will be real with me. Now, being real does not mean being down and complaining all the time. If you can never testify to God’s goodness in some area, you are being no more real than those who try to convince you that everything is “fine.” Being real does, however, mean admitting when you are struggling, being willing to lend a listening ear or a helping hand to those who are down, not pretending to be someone that you are not. In the past, I have seen myself as a strong woman but sometimes I’m just not.

I struggle with not wanting to bring people down and yet not wanting others to think I am someone I am not. I am a Sister who loves the Lord and wants to serve Him and encourage others but there are days when my focus turns to myself and I have to fight to not be discouraged or self-centered. I want my emphasis to be more on God’s goodness but I don’t ever want to be too proud that I can’t ask others for prayer or encouragement. I believe God will help me with this as I keep seeking Him.

I encourage you, my readers, to find people you can be real with and who will be real in return. It’s a lonely existence when there is no one who will help to bear your burdens.

CD Review: Life is Good (The Hoppers)

My first CD review this year goes to my favorite CD of 2016. It caught my attention after hearing a few songs off of it. When I got the CD, I was not disappointed. I ordered a copy for a friend right away and, thankfully, he shared my sentiments. It was five years in the making for The Hoppers but definitely worth the wait.

I believe Jesus, the One was their first radio single. This was the only song I wasn’t really wild about when I first heard it but it’s grown on me.

Life is Good is my new pick-me-up when I’m having a rough day.

Connie sings the lead on Grace Will Get to You. No matter what you’ve done, God’s grace will find you.

“If He asks you to walk a mile with him, Walk Two. If He asks you to lend an ear to Him, listen the whole night through.” The world is full of people who will grudgingly do the bare minimum.  God needs people willing to wholeheartedly go above and beyond the call of “duty.”

I love their arrangement of Brethren We Have Met to Worship. It will make you want to “have church.”

Another song I really like is If We Ever Gotta Look. I saw them do this in concert and loved it immediately. “If we ever gotta look at what’s waiting up there, we wouldn’t want to stay down here.”

The tempo slows down as Claude sings an old Rusty Goodman song: Until You’ve Known the Love of God.

Song of Moses is a song of hope. “All your battles, He won at Calvary. Shout the message of Moses’ song.” If you know the story of Moses, you will recall the stories of victory, hope when all seemed hopeless.

I’ve enjoyed seeing Dean & Kim’s daughter Karlye on stage with her family this year. She sings the lead on My Ransom.

The tempo picks back up for By and By.

Before the Sun Goes Down is the perfect ending for a thought-provoking CD. “Before I reach the end of day, I’ve got to know I’ve walked Your way.” A song to ponder as you listen carefully to the words.

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