Monthly Archives: May 2011
The book of Esther in the Old Testament is a book of how God works in what can be the worse of situations. If you are familiar with Esther, you know that there is no mention of God’s name throughout the story. Yet, it is a beautiful example of how God intervenes and can use even the worse of situations to His glory.
When I attended the Walk to Emmaus in 1994, I sat at the table of Esther. Looking back, I now realize the significance of being placed at that particular table for the weekend. My Emmaus experience was a time learning how God can use experiences in my life for His glory. It was a weekend of letting go and letting God so that I could be a better servant for God and see God at work in every aspect and experience life brought me. I learned how every experience in my life good or bad could be used for the Glory of God.
In recent days, it seems like each time the news comes on that there is devastation, hurt and tragedy. As one watches these events unfold, one could easily ask ‘where is God in all fo this?” But, as stories unfold and people step up to share, you can see God is at work even in the midst of such devastation. He is at work through the volunteers who come to help those in trouble, He is at work through those who are sending supplies, and He is at work through those people who simply pray for those affected by the devastation. Then, as time goes on, testimonies of faith and a witness of God’s provisions, protection and His grace come out and are shared. These testimonies demonstrate that God is ever so present. Lives are changed not just from what they may have lost or gone through but they are changed from what they have gained through their faith and walk with God. Just like the Jews during the time of Esther felt that God had abandoned them. Yet, as the story unfolds they experience God’s great love and see His hand at work. By the end of the story, God’s children once again have the victory!
Along with the natural disasters that have taken place in recent weeks, our family received devastating news. Our son’s best friend from high school who was serving our country with great pride became missing. He was state side and swimming with a friend in the ocean when he got caught in a rip tide and could not swim out. Being in the Navy, he was trained better than anyone of how to survive in such a situation. Whew! The wind really got knocked out of us on this bit of news.
As I questioned God “Why?”, things began to happen and unfold. The first thing to happen was a new friendship was formed. A friend of this gentleman messaged me and asked what had happened. She had seen things posted on Facebook but had not heard what had happened. She was to meet him over the weekend for coffee. She and I began to correspond and through this correspondence I see a beautiful young lady who has a love for life and others. Through tragedy, a new friendship was formed. Then, I received a beautiful note from this young man’s brother. He shared so beautifully the true meaning of brotherly love, what it meant to stay strong because that is what his brother would want. This brother even went on to say how it is hard to understand what has happened that we have to keep living, loving each other and know in God’s time we will see His answers to it all. Along with the new friendship formed and these words so well written by this young man’s brother, I have seen comment after comment, thought after thought of how this missing brother/son has loved life and those placed in his path. I read how he saw potential in people and how he encouraged them to rise to that potential. Again, just as in Esther, God is at work though we may feel He is absent. Faith is being made even stronger and realization of the importance of loving others becomes even more clearer to the mind and heart.
Sometimes when things happen in life such as the things I have shared, it is hard to want to give God praise and glory. We just want to crawl in a hole and make the world go away. Or, we just keep telling ourselves that we will wake up from this bad dream sometime soon! But, the reality of the situation is still there and always will be. As Christians, we have to be conscious and seek His blessings in ALL that life brings. A while back, I participated in Beth Moore‘s study on Esther. In this study, she shares this thought “God can reverse every negative element in His child’s life and turn it into the positive. He just doesn’t just diffuse the circumstance. He transfuses it.”
In the days ahead, when something happens and you question God, remember God has not abandoned you. He is there and probably doing His best work in the midst of all that is taking place. In the end of it all, there is victory!! Furthermore, believe it or not, as the song goes, “In His Time; He makes ALL things beautiful” and we become all the stronger on our faith journey with Him.
He’s Going To Be Fine
- Come, Holy Spirit (barefootpreachr.org)
“He leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul” (Psalm 23:2) is a scripture I have written in my heart. There is something about hearing a rippling brook, hearing the waves of the ocean, or the roaring sound of a waterfall that puts my spirit at peace. To me, besides waking up to birds singing, these sounds of water are the most beautiful music that God has created for me to hear. The waters I am talking about are really not still but they still my heart and remind me of God’s grace, peace and love for me.
This is an unusual busy year for Jim and me. By the looks of my calendar, things won’t really slow down until late summer or early fall. A lot of what is on our calendar are fun and exciting milestones like our son getting married this summer, my Dad will be retiring, and my niece will marry in late summer. So much to celebrate and yet so much to do and add in with the already busy schedule we live. As I review my daily lists to do and schedule other necessary appointments, I begin to feel overwhelmed. Then, I realize that in a few weeks that I will get to sit by His waters, hear His music and get to breath in a big God breath before the summer proceeds on with all that is ahead.
First, I will be in the Smokies where I will hear wonderful talent at the Gaither Family Festival. A lot of food for the soul will be sung and shared. Along with hearing wonderful musicians and speakers, I will find the time to sit by one of the beautiful streams and hear the rippling of water and allow God to renew my spirit, speak to my heart and simply sit beside me. Then, I will leave from there and will go to another favorite place, Myrtle Beach, SC.
When I am at the beach, I like to find a place on the beach or boardwalk and simply watch the waves come in and go out. They remind me of breathing. We breath in and we breath out. They remind me of what we do each and every day and how God can bring into our lives what we need. God washes away the wrongs and the things that are not necessary. It will be through the ocean breeze I will feel His breath of renewal.
Then, the time will come when I will have to pack up and head back to the world of reality. The lists, the phone calls, the appointments, and other commitments will still be before me. I know that there will be days where I wonder if I can come up for air. But, it will be on those days when I will reflect how He sits beside me by still waters and how He restores my soul. When I envision sitting by the sounds of His rippling brook or ocean waves, I breath in the breath of Christ and I know all will be okay.
When things get too busy in your life, I encourage you to find your place with God. Find your still waters where He can restore your soul. When you do this, you will soon realize the tasks, the list and commitments are not so hard to handle. He is your strength. “He will restore your soul.” (Psalm 23:2 paraphrased) And, be reminded of His wonderful love and grace!
Every four years, we get all excited because the most spectacular sporting event takes place with world-class athletes. This event is known as the Olympics. As preparations are made for the Olympics the excitement and build up to the competitions is the torch being carried from city to city across the world until it arrives at its destination of the host city. Once the torch with the flame arrives to its destination, cheers and applause echo in lieu of what is about to take place in the days ahead.
In the yard of Winterville United Methodist Church, Winterville, Georgia, forty-seven years ago, my Dad accepted a call to carry a torch. This torch was the flame of Jesus Christ, God’s grace, and love. As he took hold of this torch he also accepted the Great Commission of becoming a disciple and in the process making others disciples for Christ. For forty-seven years, my father has taken this torch from church to church and community to community sharing the love and grace of Jesus Christ.
On June 19, 2011, my father will hand the torch over to the new disciples to carry on with spreading Good News! Although, he will be handing over the ‘official torch’, I am confident that Dad will continue to carry the torch of God’s grace and love into the next phase of his life. Just as the Olympic torch is never put out, neither is the torch for Jesus Christ.
Once the ultimate flame for Christ is lit within the depths of the soul, it desires to be shared and passed on. Yes, many years ago my Dad accepted the challenge to carry the torch for Jesus Christ. But, it is not only up to our ministers to make sure the flame for Jesus Christ to stay lit and passed on. It is up to each of us as followers of Christ to carry that flame and light the lives of others with the message of Christ’s love and grace. There is no doubt that there are cheers in heaven each time the torch for Christ is lit and passed to another person’s life and soul.
Just as my Dad accepted his call many years ago in a small church, there are many who are being called to carry Christ’s torch and this will continue until it is time for the most spectacular and awesome event takes place. This event is known as Christ coming back to earth to claim His champions.
Congratulations to my father for his forty-seven years of ministry. May he know that as he says his last ‘official Amen’ on June 19th that his family along with other believers proudly picks up the torch and carries it out into the world continuing to share the love and grace of Christ. There is no greater honor!
- Don’t Give Up Finish The Race
- My Dearest Andrew http://aprilhawk.wordpress.com/2010/010/18/my-dearest-andrew
My Dearest Bethany,
Today, I read Philippians 2:1-5; If you have any encouragement from being united in Christ, if any comfort, from His love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interest, but also to the interest of others. Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus. As I read this scripture, I’m reminded of you . Over the years, I have watched you grow into a beautiful young lady with a beautiful heart. Bethany, you have demonstrated in your Christian walk what it means to have the mind and compassion of Christ.
On May 14, 2011, you will officially become a nurse. By accepting the call into nursing, you’ve also accepted the call to be a vessel for God. As a vessel for God, you will encounter patients who have been unloved and you will love them through the care you give them. You will also encounter patients are feeling down and sad, and you will bring them cheer with your smile, and Christ-like compassion. I am confident that any patient who has you as their nurse will walk away blessed.
Being married to someone in the health profession, I know from experience that there are going to be days where you will not be able to please anyone no matter how much you put your best efforts forward. There will be days when there will not be enough caffeine to get you through the shift. Then, there will be times when a patient will leave our earthly world to go to their eternal home. It will be in these times that it is important for you to know that God is walking even closer with you. He will be embracing you ever so tight in His arms. On days when you don’t think you can’t answer another nurse call button, just hold tight to Philippians 4:13; I can do EVERYTHING through Him who gives me strength. Believe it or not, it will be in those tough times when you are totally relying on Him to get you through that you will receive the greatest blessings.
Speaking of blessings, you have been a wonderful blessing to your family. Your smile, caring thoughts, Facebook messages, and being the angel you are have blessed my life. I am positive that there are many others that will say the same thing about you.
My wish for you is that God will bless you in your new career. It is my prayer you will see the face of Jesus in the everyday routines in your life. For, I know others are going to see Jesus in you.
Bethany, congratulations on your accomplishments! Along with the rest of your family, I am very proud of you. Remember, you are a vessel for God and He will fill you with what you need.
Love and Prayers,
Your Aunt April
There is a gentleman that is a member of our church who from time to time will ask you this direct question; “where did you see and/or experience Christ today or in the past week. This question has stayed on my mind for quite some time and it made me more aware of Christ’s presence in the every day life. Then, as time has gone by, I have added a question to this question….. ”Do others see Jesus in me?”
Recently, people have asked me where I come up with my inspiration and thoughts to write. My generic answer has always been God speaks and I write which is very true. Yet, I must be honest and say that it is also being in tuned to God in the every day things that inspire me. It was in the everyday chores and accidentally spilling laundry detergent on the floor when God inspired me to write Let Him Do The Wash. As I wiped up the spill, God spoke to me about how He wipes our sins clean when we confess to Him and ask for forgiveness.
On several occasions, I have encountered Christ through other people. On a very upsetting occasion, a friend came up and gave me a cold cup of water. It was a cup of cold water in the literal sense and it was a cup of cold water in Christ-like compassion. In my post Angel on The Corner of Fifth and Daviess, I share how Jim and I encountered Christ during a frustrating and transitional time in our lives. Along with given a cold up of water and Christ sending someone at a difficult transition in life, I have seen Christ riding the El train in Chicago. Christ has revealed Himself to me through a homeless person on the street corner in dire need of money for food but instead of asking for money, he would say “Smile, Jesus loves you; you’re going to have a great day!” These are just a few examples of many where I have seen and experienced Christ in the everyday life.
Not only have I experienced Christ in many ways, but each day I pray that His light will shine through me. It is just as important to me for others to see Christ in me as it is important for me to encounter Christ. Then, when the day comes to an end, I reflect on my day and ask myself if I displayed a Christ-like attitude in my interactions. It is in our everyday routines and interactions that we demonstrate what is in our hearts. If we have Jesus in our hearts and an ongoing relationship with Him, people are going to see Christ in us.
For the last couple of weeks I have been reflecting on this verse. “You are the light to the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden.” Matthew 5:14 As I have reflected on this scripture and the question is asked about how I am inspired to write, I realized that it is in the everyday living that I encounter Christ. This gives me inspiration to share, encourage and to let my light shine. Seeing how it is the everyday encounters that encourage me, I began to think about adding to my theme. I talked with God about it and He said “do it!” My response as it is always was “let me think it through first.” Then, this past Easter Sunday, God spoke to me loud and clear through one of our ministers. He talked about seeing and encountering Jesus in the everyday. In his talk he used this quote: The sacred moments of miracles, are often the everyday moments, the moments which, it we do not look with more than our eyes or listen with more than our ears reveal only…a gardener, a stranger, coming down the road behind us, a meal like any other meal. But if we look with our hearts, if we listen with all our being and imagination…what we may see is Jesus himself.” Frederick Buchner After seeing this quote up on the screen and hearing it spoken as well, God had my attention. It was then I knew that I had to expand my theme to my web site. So now when you pull up my blog, you will see this in the upper right hand corner; You are the light to the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden.” Matthew 5:14 Experiencing Jesus in the everyday moments.”
Now, I will ask you the questions. “Where have you encountered and/or seen Christ today?” “Do others see Christ in you?” I encourage you on as you journey through the days ahead to carry these questions in your heart. Also, be tuned to God because you will encounter Him, see Him and He will even speak to you in places you never thought! Afterall, I encountered Him while on my knees cleaning up a simple spill in the kitchen among many other unexpected places and people.
- How can Simeon’s encounter with Jesus at the temple be explained (wiki.answers.com)
- Let Him Do The Wash http://aprilhawk.wordpress.com/2010/11/02/let-him-do-the-wash
Angel On The Corner of Fifth and Davies http://aprilhawk.wordpress.com/2010/12/15/an-angel-corner-of-fifth-and-daviess/
One of the few or the many? (jillcobb.wordpress.com)