So many of us are feeling overwhelmed by what the future may hold.
But Jesus is my shepherd. He takes care of me, just like a shepherd cares for a sheep. He provides for me and protects me. He is my constant companion.
“The LORD is my shepherd; I have everything I need. He lets me rest in fields of green grass and leads me to quiet pools of fresh water. He gives me new strength. He guides me in the right paths, as he has promised. Even if I go through the deepest darkness, I will not be afraid, LORD, for you are with me. Your shepherd’s rod and staff protect me.” Psalms 23:1-4
Jesus, you are my home. My safe place. Help me to run and hide in you when I am afraid.
“I am the Lord your God. You were slaves in Egypt. You were bent low from the heavy weights you carried as slaves. But I broke the heavy weights that were on your shoulders. I let you walk proudly again.” Leviticus 26:13 ICB
Have you felt more than tired under a heavy weight? I have. The weight of regret. The weight of sin. The weight of fear. So many weights…
But God is a weight-lifter. Not in a gym—though that would be fun to see—but in our lives! He can carry your burdens. He wants to take them. All you gotta do is turn to him and ask him to take whatever is weighing you down. He will do it.
Jesus said in the book of Matthew, “Come to me, all you who are heavy laden and I will give you rest.”
Do you believe in miracles? I mean, really?…Most people don’t nowadays. I struggle to believe in them too.
But this one really happened.
My mother-in-law has a terminal illness. It’s so bad that she has not walked or eaten or even changed the tv channel by herself for years. And she’s in her 70’s. Not someone you want to get the Coronavirus.
But she got it. And we all prepared for the worst.
She was sent to the hospital a week ago, and—no surprise—no one could visit her. It broke my heart that she was there, possibly dying, all alone.
I started to pray for her. I had a crazy idea and prayed that God would send her an angel—or even Jesus himself—to visit her and comfort her in the hospital. I know, it sounded kinda like a ridiculously big request to me too. I prayed it a couple times over the course of the day and then forgot about it for awhile.
Well, this is where it gets interesting. The next day I asked my husband how she was doing and if he had heard anything that day. He said the nurse had actually helped her call him on the phone. He said she mumbled a few things (normal for her condition) and told him she loved him and wants him to visit. Then he said something interesting…he shook his head and said, “She kept saying something about Jesus being there…seeing him in her hospital room…”
My heart stopped beating for a minute. I had never told anyone about my prayer. Yet his mother specifically said she was being visited by her Savior.
Could this be some kind of hallucination or silly gibberish from a sick woman? I might think so if I had not just prayed that prayer and specifically asked for what she reported.
The truth is this: God is still at work. Miracles still happen. Keep your prayers big and your eyes open.
Don’t stop believing,
P.S…My terminally ill mother-in-law, who’s in her 70’s, is going home from the hospital tomorrow. Not for hospice. No, she is better. She has survived Covid.
As CS Lewis wrote: “Aslan is on the move.” Take heart!
Ok, this is confession time. I have had an affair going on for years—not against my husband but against my Savior. And the only person it’s hurt has been me. It’s not an affair with a man; it’s an affair with something even more tempting.
Yep, this is embarrassing to admit, but I have struggled with this affair since I was about ten. I remember starting my first diet (consisting of trying not to eat the whole family size bag of M&M’s myself) around that time. By the time I hit high school I was committed to daily exercise and only eating 20 grams of fat a day (of course, fat free chips were free game). In college, after purposefully getting myself addicted to Diet Coke, I increased the exercising and graduated to Slim Fast. I was able to keep my weight down until my second child was born (when I was around 30) and since then the struggle has been more obvious (on my waistline).
I’ve realized, however, that the struggle isn’t truly with my weight. And it isn’t really with the rules of my diet. My struggle is with myself.
My biggest problem is that I don’t want to deny myself. I want what I want when I want it.
Ok, yes, I do believe that sugar and carbs are addictive and that I have an emotional connection to food. I know that I am an emotional eater, that I’ve established bad habits over the years and that I would feel much better to go gluten free. I know I get in the shame cycle of addiction and eat more when I feel hopeless because of the four pizza slices I ate last night.
These are all what I would say if someone told me this was their problem. I would “diagnose” them with so many typical eating issues.
But the real problem is my heart. I am a sinner saved by grace, and, while I don’t struggle with stealing or violent crime, I do struggle with saying “No” to myself. This is the age old struggle of humankind: the desire to be our own god. We want to control our lives without God, the “cosmic killjoy,” telling us what to do.
But Jesus tells us in His Word, “If anyone comes after me, let him deny himself and follow me.” (Matthew 16:24) He goes on to say that if we want to save our lives we must lose our lives. This doesn’t really mean dying; it means giving up our selfish desires.
That is my problem. A daily struggle with giving up my desires minute by minute, for what God desires for me.
And we know what God desires for us is good. (If you doubt that read Psalm 34, Jeremiah 29:11 and Psalm 139.)
So, I would appreciate your prayers and comments if you are struggling with this too. Or with anything else pulling you from God’s best. We can fight this day by day with God’s Word in our hands.
Please feel free to contact me if you have a question, comment or need prayer! Lnewsom77@protonmail.com
This is something I’ve learned recently. In this crazy spring. (2020 we will not forget you.)
Fear is everywhere in America. Fear of a virus. Fear of being alone. Fear of not having enough food. Fear of losing a job. Fear of being judged. Fear of being shot. Fear of those people. Fear of that group. Fear of those who should protect us. Fear of people who look different from us. Fear of riots. Fear of economic depression. Fear of a growing divide in our country. Fear of rejection for who we are. Fear of government control. And the list goes on and on…
Fear is everywhere right now.
But, ya know what? We don’t have to give in to it. We don’t.
Fear is a choice. And we don’t have to choose it.
You see, fear is Satan’s trademark. It is his operating system. He wants it to be like the WiFi in your house: everywhere…you can’t see it, but any moment you can hook right up to it.
For most of my life, fear was like oxygen. I just breathed it in and out constantly. It was always with me, even when I wasn’t aware of it. Sometimes I would forget and feel happy, but wait a minute or two and that fog of fear would be around me again.
Reading my Bible and singing praise songs have the best affect on making that fog leave. However, two things that have really made a difference lately have been a book I read and a comment my pastor said.
The book is Fear is a Liar by Daniel B Lancaster. In his book, Lancaster refers to the verse “Perfect love casts out fear.” (1 John 4:18) He says that believers in Jesus can claim this verse , knowing that God is Love. We can either choose to walk in the path of love or the path of fear. Love is right there to keep us safe and free, but we so often ignore it and choose to walk in fear. From that moment on, I chose to walk on the path of love.
The comment that impacted me was when my pastor pointed out the other day that Jesus often said, “Take courage!” (Matthew 14:27, Mark 6:50, and so many more times.) My pastor, Steve Gaines, emphasized that we have to take courage. He said, “Take it! Pick it up! It’s right there for you to take!” It’s a choice.
Both of these instances made me realize I don’t have to sit there, overwhelmed in fear! I’m not a victim. I am a victor! I can choose the path of love! I can choose to “take courage” and trust the Lord! After all, He is faithful. He is sovereign. I have nothing to fear. My Father rules the universe!
Fear is a choice. Choose courage. Choose faith. Choose love.
I was flipping through my coloring Bible today and I came across the page where I had colored in a drawing of Psalms 118:24.
“This is the day the Lord has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it.” Psalm118:24
We used to have to sing this song every week at the little Christian school I went to for grades 1-5. We got so tired of singing it over and over, and it seemed to mean nothing.
But as I’ve gotten older I’ve realized that this verse is not just a comforting truth (that God designed this day); it’s also a challenge.
It’s a challenge to us to see every day—with its good and bad parts—as a blessing appointed by God. Sometimes it doesn’t seem like a blessing—some days seem full of curses–but many bad times are blessings in disguise. God promises us that he works out all things for our good (see Romans 8:28); therefore, all our days are blessed days, whether or not we can see the blessing in it yet.
Would you join me in this?
The This is the Day Challenge!
I challenge you to post this verse somewhere you can see it each day and to either write down or post a picture of something you found to be a blessing that day! Something you found that was rejoicable! (Is that a word?)
Let’s see if we can make a difference in this broken world. Or at least in our attitudes.
If someone asked you to make a list of the people who you really, truly love, how many names would you come up with?
Ok, now answer this question: How many of those people would you still love if they betrayed you? Or hurt someone you loved? Or caused you to lose your job? How many of them would you still love if they publicly rejected you? If they tried to turn everyone against you? If they became absolutely unlovable?
Most people would take a few names off the list. Some might even throw the whole list away. Not many people would continue to show love to someone who hurt them like that. It wouldn’t seem logical to consider those people worthy of our time.
Most people have a maximum amount of abuse they will take before considering the other person unlovable. The average human would feel it’s more than reasonable to turn their back on someone once they’ve reached this point. I admit I sometimes feel completely justified in treating these people less kindly, or at least giving them the cold shoulder. Most of us definitely wouldn’t go out of our way to be nice to them. Nobody would look down on us for defriending them on Facebook or even for telling everyone how much they hurt us.
Lately, however, I’ve been thinking about how God views things so differently. When my husband really hurts my feelings, I want to ignore him all day. (Not that chill type of ignoring; more like the really obvious, slamming doors kind of ignoring!) During our worst fights I’ve even struggled with wanting to take the kids and leave.
But God has been teaching me something lately about love. I’m not really living his love until I’m loving the unlovable.* It’s easy to love people who are nice to you and cute little babies (except when they wake you up at 4 am). Jesus loved beyond our earthly, shallow love. He loved us at our worst, and his love was action, not just words.
“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8 NIV
Jesus Christ didn’t tell us to get our crap together and maybe after we were living like “good Christians” He’d consider sacrificing for us. He gave His life for us without strings attached. He knew all the bad things you and I would do in our lives (cuz He’s God, He knows everything!) and He still made that choice. That’s love.
In his book, Love Like You’ve Never Been Hurt, Jentezen Franklin writes, “You have to love like you’ve never been hurt. You have to refuse to be bitter. You have to refuse to get angry. You have to refuse to get even. When you love in this way, God will raise you up and use even the worst that has been done to you for His glory.”
This is real love. Love that chooses to be kind, forgive, serve, stay married, show up, etc. Even when that person doesn’t deserve it. Especially if that person doesn’t deserve it.
So I’ve realized that before now I wasn’t really loving my husband. I was only showing love when I thought he deserved it. God wants to transform our marriage and use it to bring joy to us and others. In order for that to happen I’ve got to love like Jesus. He’s the one who taught me how to really love.
*(Note: I’m not saying you should endure abuse. There are times you have to love people from a safe space and pray they get help they need. If you are in a relationship where you are afraid of what someone will do next—physically or mentally—get out, get to a safe place, and find some safe people! I’ve been there before, and God does not want you staying in danger like that.)