Many decades ago, my grandmother collected green stamps in a little booklet. I enjoyed helping her lick the stamps and place them in the booklet in the correct spots so that when she had enough booklets she could go to the green stamp store and use them to redeem something she was saving for. I don’t remember everything she got, but I do recall the ice cream maker, with the nice sturdy crank, that would make yummy goodness after a few hours of cranking, adding salt and ice. Those little booklets weren’t worth anything until Nanny took them to the store to exchange them for a prize.

Jesus is my redeemer. I didn’t have to save up stamps or go to a special place. He just gave His life for me because He knew I needed to be redeemed, to be exchanged for a better version of me, one that is all cleaned up and ready to stand before the Father in His righteousness. No stamps, nothing I had to do except confess, repent and live for Him. In exchange, I get to spend eternity with Him. It amazes me that Job, one of the men most likely to turn from God turned to Him and recognized this truth, long before Jesus came as a baby in Bethlehem. Job knew with whom his salvation lay, in spite of all he had to go through. I know with whom my salvation lies, and I am thankful for Jesus and His sacrifice every day.

“My Redeemer Lives”-Hillsong Worship

Returning to God

There is a lot of talk these days about a coming revival and the hope that it will bring to a spiritually starved America. However, as in the days of Hosea, I don’t see revival on the horizon. Instead, I see God’s justice which leads to His judgment. We as a nation have turned our backs on God, angrily declaring that we can take care of ourselves and don’t need Him any longer. Of course, those of us who are believers in His grace and mercy and love know that we need Him in our lives daily. But the verse that stood out to me as I read Hosea this morning does much to explain the spiritual condition of our nation.

When what you are doing is so awful that you don’t want to even acknowledge it as sin, then you are not prone to turn to God, but rather away from Him. When the House passed a bill yesterday to establish same-sex marriage as legal in all the states, where was the outrage against their actions? I do believe that interracial marriage is sanctified, but I also believe that same-sex marriage is a sin. Our lawmakers want to “normalize” this sinful act and force us to accept it. They cannot acknowledge God as Lord and justify such an action. The spirit of prostitution that Hosea refers to seems to me to be rampant in the U.S. today, I’m sad to say. The lawmakers have sold themselves to the highest bidder, otherwise known as lobbyists. The voters have sold themselves to the lawmakers who promise them more freedom at the cost of their future legacy for their children. I’m saddened by the state of our nation, but I am not surprised. We got on this slippery slope decades ago and the ride is carrying us faster and faster to the promise of hell, not Heaven.

Am I totally distraught about this whole mess that our nation is in? No, because I have read the end of the Book and we win! It’s just the part of the book in which we are now that I’m not liking because I want God to come swiftly with judgment, but I also want Him to continue His mercy and grace for just a while longer so more can come to know Him. I trust that His way and timing are perfect, and as I see this nation slide farther into sin and debauchery, I cannot help but think that God is just, waiting and saying to His people that a time will come when every knee will bow to His sovereignty.

I hope that you have a blessed day, but remember to pray for our leaders. There are some (perhaps only a few) who are trying to stand strong in the face of great evil and they need our prayerful support.

Not a Fan of Change

I am a person who thrives on routine, the same thing day in and day out. In situations where others might be bored or craving something new, I want the old and familiar. That is just me and it’s also why I’m having a hard time right now.

For the last ten months, my husband and I knew that our oldest grandson had made the decision to forego college and join the military. Recruited by the U.S. Navy, he has been a member of the delayed entry program for all of this time, waiting for his specific specialty to have an opening in a school for him after boot camp. Well, the day is almost here for his departure and this Nanna is just not ready for this change. Harry and I have driven over an hour one way every week in order to take Isaac to his meetings with his recruiter and to take him out to lunch so he gets out of the house for a few hours. His parents both work, so we took on that pleasurable responsibility. In fact, when I found myself in Maryland taking care of the grandchildren there, Harry and I prayed about it and opted to be separated from each other so he could continue to spend time with Isaac. Today is the day we say farewell because tomorrow he reports to leave for Great Lakes Boot Camp. My heart is heavy, not because I don’t want him to succeed or because I don’t believe he can, but because I will miss him so. I have all these photos of him as a small, trusting child and pictures in my mind of when he spent weekends with us when he was younger. There is something so vulnerable about him, a neediness to be accepted. So my heart is heavy because I just want him to find his place in this world and find a journey and peace that only God can give. So, change. I just don’t like it, but I know it’s part of life.

Also this week, tomorrow in fact, I am going to my sister’s house. She lives about an hour away and because of health problems, she has to move to be with her daughter in North Carolina. My sister and I don’t see eye to eye on many things, but she has been a constant in my life since I came to Virginia to live almost twenty-three years ago. In fact, she is one of the reasons that I looked for and found a new teaching job her in Virginia, because I wanted to establish roots near family. Anyway, I am going to town to help her sort and pack her books. We both share a love of reading and she has thousands of books (literally) to go through. Because of her limited vision, she can’t do a lot of the sorting and because of her physical limitations, she can’t pack. But I’m convinced that I can help, so I volunteered. What I did not consider is the emotional toll on me of helping my sister to pack to move away. Change. Again, I don’t like it, but it’s part of life.

This morning, after less than stellar sleep last night, I arose seeking the Lord as I generally do. Of course, He met me at the place where I needed Him and pointed me to scripture verses to comfort and lead me through this new part of my life. I’m sharing them with you so that you, too, can take comfort in a God who is merciful enough to provide just what we need just when we need it.

So, I’m off to have a blessed day, taking our grandson to lunch and praying for his success and God’s blessing on His new life. He is looking forward to this new chapter and as the Scripture says, I plan to trust God and be faithful to Him, knowing that Isaac is in the palm of His hands.

Have a blessed day, filled with peace and the knowledge that although all around us may change, God does not change and is always there.

Why God Loves Us

In my devotional this morning, the speaker, Mark Hall from Casting Crowns, said something so simple and yet so profound. He said, “God doesn’t love me because I’m good. He loves me because He is good.” That was a “wow” moment for me. Now, don’t get me wrong. I don’t consider myself self-righteous and/or good. In fact, I have always been in the camp that believes that I can never be good enough to earn salvation. After all, it is a free gift from God. We just celebrated Christmas, the time when we rejoice in the free gift that God sent to the earth, His Only Son. Why did God send Jesus? Because of His love for us. Because God is good. Yes, I already knew that, and so did you. However, today, this word got into the deep parts of my soul, creeping into the places where there has been doubt and fear. He loves me. He is good. Nothing will happen today that I can’t handle because God is on my side. Almost fifty years ago, I stopped running from God and accepted His free gift of salvation. The road since then has been rocky and twisted. I’d like to think that I have never doubted God’s love for me, but if I am honest, that is not true. When I was feeling all alone in yet another new place, I can remember having pity parties for myself instead of turning to God and His love. In the middle of those parties, God would reach down, pluck me out and tell me what He wanted me to do so that I would feel better. That was His love, continually reaching out for me. In less than two weeks, many in the U.S. will be celebrating the inauguration of a new President. I am already mourning this new government because it means change. I don’t like change; I have never liked change because it is…well, different, unexpected and frightening. But God keeps telling me that He is in control. I have been “lost” in my fear and God spoke to me clearly this morning that He knows what is going on with me, why I cannot stand to watch a news broadcast or hear the sound of the voice of the incoming President. He knows my heart, the heart that He created. He has spoken to that heart that He loves me and I’m going to be okay. That won’t be because the new administration promises hope and prosperity. It will be because God offers that hope, in His Word as I study it daily. I pray that you realize today just how much God loves you, not because you are good and deserve His love. No, He loves you because He is good and will always want what is best for you. God is good, all the time. Blessings, my friends, for a day filled with love, joy and laughter, knowing that the King of the Universe loves Y-O-U!

Strategy to Influence the Current Culture

This information is from Dr. Denison’s article today.

A five-fold strategy for changing culture 

Evangelical Christians are not the only losers here. 

If we delegate cultural authority to an “enlightened few” who reject biblical morality, the culture is the loser. People deserve to know what God says about the issues we face. In fact, the more they ignore or reject biblical truth, the more they need to hear it. 

As a result, rather than accepting the “new consensus,” we need to redouble our efforts to speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15). To this end, let’s adopt the five-fold strategy employed by the Apostle Paul, the most effective cultural missionary in history:

  1. He wrote letters that were read across much of the Roman Empire (cf. 2 Peter 3:15–16). How can you use email, social media, media platforms, and websites to write biblical truth?
  2. He spoke in synagogues (cf. Acts 13:5) and the lecture hall of Tyrannus in Ephesus (Acts 19:9). He addressed the Areopagus in Athens (Acts 17:19–34), kings in Caesarea (Acts 26), and Christian elders in Miletus (Acts 20:17–35). How can you use YouTube and other means to speak biblical truth?
  3. He engaged personally with Athenians (Acts 17:16–18) and Pharisees (Acts 23:6), Gentiles (Acts 28:28–31) and Jews (Acts 18:1–5). How can you use your personal relationships to share biblical truth?
  4. He prayed fervently for those to whom he ministered (cf. Acts 20:36Colossians 1:9–12). How can you intercede for people to follow biblical truth?
  5. He modeled his message by living out his faith in ways others could emulate (cf. 1 Corinthians 10:31–11:1). How can you live for Jesus so fully that others will see the relevance of biblical truth for their lives?

You can read the entire article here: Dr. Denison July 17, 2020

Good lessons for those of us who believe in the truth of the Bible and want to continue to stand for it. God bless you with wisdom and influence that is God-centered!

Circumstances Don’t Change Who God Is

Everyone talks about it. It’s on all of the social media pages and the news daily. The global pandemic is changing the world and how people in the world live and operate. Businesses have been forced to close and file bankruptcy. People are in long lines to get food from food banks. Elderly people are dying in nursing homes without saying goodbye to their loved ones. And the latest news is the new strain of the virus that affects young people. All bad news! Nothing good is being talked about.

Well, I’m here today to offer hope and encouragement. This pandemic did not catch God by surprise. He did not say, “Well, I’m taking some time off and just letting these sinful humans work out how to survive this pandemic on their own.” Not in the least! God is the Lord of all, including this world that is suffering though a viral crisis. The God who came to the earth in the form of man and who was crucified, dead and buried and then resurrected is the same. He has not changed! Whatever is going on in our lives, God is still God and is close to those who call on His Name.

One of the things that we should be talking about is our testimony of what God has done for us. It is in this way that we encourage one another. For me, He saved me when I had no idea that I was lost. I was just starting a new job as a teacher in a new place, on my own for the first time. I had moved into a tiny one bedroom apartment, but it was the first time I had been alone, so it was a big deal to me. My next door neighbor, a lady named Verna, talked to me daily outside our adjacent entrances. Daily, she spoke to me about Jesus and salvation. She ended up giving me a copy of THE HOLY BIBLE and told me that I should read the Book of John. Well, as everyone who knows me could tell you, I am an avid reader, but I had never thought about reading the Bible. Nevertheless, it was Friday night, and I was all alone, so I went into my bedroom and began reading. I can’t tell you exactly what happened, but by the end of the Book of John, I was on my knees and sobbing before the Lord, repenting of my sins and asking for His forgiveness. The next day, I told Verna what had happened and she invited me to church with her. I accepted the Lord as my Savior on February 28, 1973. That was the day that I was born again and my life changed. What is your testimony? How did your relationship with the Lord begin? Every story has a beginning, and that was mine.

God didn’t just leave me there, alone in that apartment. He allowed me to develop a loving relationship with my husband and to have three healthy children. He has brought me a long way from that little apartment in Smithfield, Virginia! I have always been shy so it has been difficult to meet new friends and to go to new places. Guess what? My husband was in the military, and we moved twenty five times. This girl who hated new places learned to depend more on God each time we moved. I had to come out of my shyness shell and speak to people in order to find my way around in my new world. You see, what generally happened when we moved is that my husband would be deployed for training or a military excursion soon after we arrived. And there I would be in a new place, with children to take care of and no family there. So, I did what God was giving me the courage to do. I went to a church and I met people there. I told them I was alone, and I met other wives who were like me. I stepped out of my comfort zone and introduced myself to new neighbors. God did not ever leave me to do a solo flight in a new place! He was there the whole time! When has God shown you that He is there with you, in new places or challenging times? God doesn’t change and He isn’t bothered with new places and new faces!

I have also had health challenges my entire life. I was born with asthma, so that means that I have difficulty breathing sometimes and I get bronchitis and pneumonia easily. In fact, when we lived in Maine, I got pneumonia six times in the four years that we were there, resulting in multiple hospitalizations. However, God took care of me. He taught me that He breathed life into me to begin with and He was giving me the breaths that I needed each day, each hour, each minute. God was faithful to me during some of the weakest times in my life! When I had my stroke three years ago, the school nurse tried valiantly to reach my husband so that he could come and ride with me in the ambulance. Not able to reach him, she and the school resource officer helped load me into the emergency vehicle and reassured me that I would be okay. I was feeling anything but okay. I couldn’t move my right side at all and I couldn’t speak. So, as the paramedics did their thing with IVs and instruments, I was praying. That, I still could do…silently between myself and God. I didn’t know how or what to pray, but the Holy Spirit did and so I prayed during my very fast ride to the nearest hospital. My husband met me there and the diagnosis was a massive stroke. We had my daughter on the phone and the neurologist who was diagnosing me via Skype said that I could receive the TPA clot busting shot. It could kill me or maybe help me. We prayed together (me silently still) and I decided to have the shot. Well, the shot was a miraculous answer to prayer. I can do everything now that I could do before the stroke. I am a little slower at some things, but I can do them! God was right beside me, in the hospital, in rehab and during the long months of recovery. He never turned away from me and told me that I was a lost cause, that I had too many health issues for Him to deal with. He was there for me, and I’m sure that you have a testimony of all the times that God was there for you.

God has always been my provider, too. As a teacher, moving did not correlate well with my vocation. Each state that we moved to, I had to pass a new test and get a new teaching certificate. Discouraging? Well, honestly, yes. But there was never a time when I wanted to teach that God did not provide a job for me. In the state of Maine, there is an enormous county named Aroostook. In that county, there was one Spanish teacher. “Coincidentally,” he retired the year that I arrived in Maine with my family, so I was able to teach there for the next three years. I put “coincidentally” in quotation marks because I know, and I hope that you do, too, that God prepared the way for me.

I have written today’s blog just to remind everyone that God does not change. The world changes. The circumstances in our lives change. But God does not change. He is with us all the time, no matter what we’re going through. He doesn’t always calm the storm happening in our lives, but if we ask Him, He will calm us so that we can hear His voice telling us what we are supposed to do next. During this pandemic, I hope that you are listening to His voice and remembering all that He has done for you. The Lord God is sovereign and He can get us through this crisis, too!

Ever Be by Aaron Shust

He Is With You by Mandisa