Faith and “Self” Patience

You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised. Hebrews 10:56

I don’t even know if there is a concept of “self” patience—but the thought that is running through my mind is that the patience, understanding that I have for others, I need to exercise towards myself. My life has been full lately, as I am sure yours is. Full of challenges and good things. I found myself frustrated with myself. I felt our wonderful Holy Spirit telling me to be patience with myself!

This is harder than it sounds, at least for me. Of course, the Holy Spirit didn’t leave it there. He had to probe as only He can.

Holy Spirit: Why can’t you extend patience and grace to yourself?

Me: Ummmm, I don’t know. I don’t want to let you down.

Holy Spirit: That sounds like pride.

Me: I guess it does. I am sorry.

Father, thank you for making things clear! Help us to be patience with ourselves and not let pride stand in the way when we are tired, weary and need a break. You understand our needs, and as we follow you, you lead us in paths of restoration and grace. Thank you. I choose to let the fruit of the Holy Spirit–including patience be my portion for myself. In Jesus Name’ amen.

Faith and Banquets

Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends. Revelation 3:20 NLT.

I received an invitation to celebrate with some dear friends, their transition from being lead pastors for forty years of Joy Church in Medford, Oregon, to be overseers of the other churches Joy has birthed over the years. We have known them for about 39 of those 40 years! I am so happy for them.

After I received notification of this special day, I asked my daughter Elizabeth if she could go with me. It is about a ten-hour drive, and I thought it would be a blessing to have company and she knows these dear folks, too. She talked it over with her husband, Tim, and he decided it would be a great opportunity to expose his family to this legacy blessing. Steve and Kim Schmelzer are releasing their position as lead pastor to their daughter- and son-in-law, Natalie and Riley Aman. I actually met Kim and Steve soon after the birth of their firstborn, Jacob, who is now pastoring in Eugene, Oregon. Each of their four children serve the Lord in some very special ways.

One part of this special weekend is a semi-formal banquet, held at the local country club. I am sure the food will be great, but I am looking forward to the fellowship we will share with those that love Joy and their leaders. It is about the people. I don’t have many occasions to dress up. In fact, the word “semi-formal” kind of through me. But, I want to celebrate with them, so I will comply because it isn’t about me, it’s about the purpose. I found something I think will be appropriate. I don’t want to embarrass my hosts, but give them the honor that is due them.

My pastor has been sharing about this verse, Revelation 3:20, and it’s been good. But the part that he hasn’t gotten to is what happens after we open the door! We get to “sup” with him, as the KJV says. Share a meal with Jesus. Now that is something to look forward to. Every time we hear him knocking and we open the door, we have the opportunity to share a spiritual meal with him. Oh my friends, so many wonderful conversations take place over food.

Thinking back in scripture, there are many types of banquets described. Joseph prepared a special meal for his brothers; Esther prepared one for king and Haman; Abraham had a great feast when Isaac was weaned. These examples were more than just giving bodies nourishment. They set the opportunity for critical conversations to take place. Our Life Group has learned the joy and fellowship of eating together. There is something about sharing food that relaxes people, promotes conversation and strengthens bonds. But how much more is our time of supping with our King?

When I have opened the door and invited Jesus to spend time together, I am changed. Peace comes. Troubles seem to flee and hope is born. He brings the “kind of food you know nothing about”. John 4:32 NLT. It feels like I am at a banquet spread, for one. During our conversations, I can be reproved and corrected, but it is ok. I am left wanting to make those corrections. It is a time where we can taste and see that the Lord is good. It is a time where our lukewarm hearts lit on fire. But, it as the Holy Spirit and our Lord are both gentleman. They will only come where they are invited. We must look, listen and open the door of our hearts and let Him in. Let Him prepare the menu. It is always satisfying and refreshing. A banquet meal takes time to savor.

I know the celebration for my friends would take place whether we come or not. But I know there is a blessing for each side when the invitation is received and accepted. My joy is to celebrate with them, pray for them and be open to encourage those I meet. It’s simple. God will orchestrate the rest, as He wills.

Faith and “Silent Shame”

You will remember your sins and cover your mouth in silent shame when I forgive you all that you have done. I, the Sovereign Lord, have spoken! Ezekiel 16: 63 NLT.

As I was reading this verse, it caused me to stop and ponder. Silent shame usually comes when we are embarrassed and caught out by our thoughts or actions. It’s the shame that makes you want to hang your head. My silent shame usually occurs when I doubt, instead of walking in faith, and then the Lord comes through and I hang my head in silent shame, embarrassed that my faith was too small, or my actions less than Christ-like.

The Hebrew word for shame, that is used here, is bush. It means to be ashamed, shamed, disappointed, or embarrassed. They derive it from a word which refers to an idol—and according to the New Spirit Filled Life Bible, infers that the idol would ensure that eventually the worshipper of said idol would be ashamed and greatly disappointed by their choice of such an idol. Bush is used for the sense of disappointment one experiences when one’s hope fails embarrassedly; become disgraced. We try to put our “hope” for relaxation, rest or escape in other things. Except what really leads us to life.

Ezekiel is writing in judgment to Jerusalem and their prostitution against the Lord and his ways. They were acting like an unfaithful wife, not trusting their good husband to fulfill his promises. Ezekiel’s words and actions are hard to read. It is amazing to me how gracious and merciful our God is to them and to us. They worshipped other gods and broke his rules, which led to some serious consequences, but in the end, they repented and received his blessing.

What is our excuse? Our eyes get captured by the fleeting idols of our culture, don’t they? The only way we can come out from under any secret shame in our lives is to confess it, and then repent. Often we want to deflect and blame others for our actions—including those things that are our own fault. The good news is if we admit the source of our silent shame, we have a loving Savior who not only forgives us but also can set us free from the effects of this shame. Satan lies to us in several ways, doesn’t he? He may say “it’s not that big of a deal, it really doesn’t matter”…but in our hearts we know it isn’t correct. I am not talking about false shame that he also likes to use against us. This is legitimate stuff. Sinful disobedience that robs our relationship with God and others is real. If we ignore it, and just live with that silent shame, our hearts become hardened and we are even more separated from the Lord, and Satan wins, something none of us want, right? Pride is often the source of our silent shame. We want to protect our image (which is an idol in itself!)

Learning to listen to the Holy Spirit and discover the source of this secret shame is so freeing. Not only for ourselves, but for those who are watching us—our friends, our family, co-workers—those we are trying to influence for His Kingdom. Letting go of our silent shame will influence others to release theirs.

I wonder if, when Jesus returns and every eye will see and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, that those who scoffed and ridiculed believers will hang their head in silent shame, or will there wailing and shock at what they could have had. Probably both will occur. I am so grateful we can trust in the promises of God and His grace and mercy.

Father, forgive us for continuing those things in secret that bring us secret shame. Those things that really do not lead to the life you want for us. Thank you for your mercy. I ask that your Holy Spirit alerts us strongly to those things that we have accepted as ok, but do not lead us to the abundant life you have promised. Forgive us for listening to Satan’s lies in any shape and form. In Jesus’ Name, amen.

Faith and Paths

You will show me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore. Psalm 16:11 NKJV.

I love this Psalm. One day, soon after Darryl, my husband, passed, I came across it. I stopped at the first section—you will show me the path of life. I couldn’t even comprehend the rest of the verse because I was hurting so much. But I personalized that section. I turned it into a prayer. “Father, show me the path of life”. I did not mean the expanse of the universe type “path of life”, but how do I navigate my day-to-day life without my beloved teammate? As I listened, trusted and followed Him, my life began to take a new shape, and it was good. I did not do it perfectly, but it gave me hope. I knew His plans really were higher than mine, and I could trust Him.

It’s been over ten years, and I still rely on this verse. How faithful He has been. As He walked with me through the widow weeds (literally felt like a swampy jungle of weeks to navigate)….I grew braver, stronger and more in love with my Savior. No matter where you are in your life, He knows how to show you your path. The steadfast promise of this verse is that it leads to real life. If we lean on Him, no matter how many swampy areas, no matter how many rocky roads or challenging detours, He always leads us to our best life.

The challenge to our soul is bi-fold. We must choose to trust His path, which in reality is His character. Jesus declared: I am the Way the Truth and the Life in John 14:6. The question that we must ask ourselves is, do I believe it? When the way is comfortable, clear and sunny, it is easy to say yes! But when the way seems long, dreary, and difficult, we often want to quit or take a seemingly easier road. Do I want to submit to His way? What is our alternative? To choose the path of death??? But then we are confronted by Psalm 14:12. There is a path before each person that seems right, but in the end is death. Hmmm, death or life, why do we really pretend there is a choice?

As I seek to follow His paths, I’ve even embraced the second part of that verse! In Your presence is fullness of joy. Looking back, I realize I couldn’t even think of the word “joy”. It just seemed out of reach. I feel foolish, but how did I not know that if He was leading me on this path of life—that joy would be a part of it? It didn’t even occur to me. I have found, as David did, that truly in His presence is the fullness of joy.

We have the promise that at his right hand are pleasures for evermore. I’m still waiting for what that looks like. He may reserve those for us in heaven, and if that is true, it is ok. As a younger person, heaven and its blessings seemed so far away. But as more of my friends and family move there, the closer it seems. Our life here on earth really is short. Denying what seems to be a transient pleasure for what endures is really the wisest choice, but for that, it takes a renewed mind, and a mind that is set on things above, not on things below.

This is a learning journey. I have found as I seek, ask, knock, the doors and path are clearer. Seeking His will and His path not only makes me rely on Him, but it helps develop my relationship with Him, which is a good thing! No matter where you are in your season of life, whether you have been seeking Him and His ways or not—you can begin today. Simply ask. It’s also covered under James 1:5: If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking.

Father, I thank you for your promise that you will show us the path of life. Help us trust that you will and can, and give us the courage and trust to follow you on the path you reveal, no matter the path. We trust that not only our destination is the best for your kingdom; but so is the starts and stops along our way. We need to grow in our trust in these areas. In Jesus’ Name, amen.

Faith and “Guile”

Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward Him, and said of him, “behold an Israelite indeed in who is no guile!” John 1:47

The definition of “guile” according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary: deceitful, cunning, duplicity. When Jesus saw Nathaniel, coming from afar–he knew his character. This past Sunday, drawing on the Asbury University inspiration, our pastor shared his heart for a greater connection with Jesus. With tears and much emotion, he simply shared his pastors heart–wanting each of us to know Him. He wants to lead our church simply and purely as the Holy Spirit leads. No copying others, but letting the Holy Spirit lead as He wills. As he was sharing, I felt the Lord speak to me, “a man without guile”. Tears came to my eyes, and I thought, Oh Lord, we need more guileless men.

Guileless men are men and woman that you can trust. You know their agenda, nothing hidden, no manipulation, just transparency. These are leaders that inspire followers. Their love for God surpasses their need to be seen as perfect. They point to Jesus. They are clothed in humility and His righteousness.

The thought then came to my mind, “what would it look like if God had an army of “men and women without guile?” What could He do, if we simply let go of any duplicity and deceit and simply followed Him? Galatians 5:16 So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves. (NLT) We cannot do it on our own. We must let the Holy Spirit lead and guide us. It will mean we lay down our agenda. It will mean we choose His will over our will. It will mean that we humble ourselves to lift up His name. It may mean we seek the blessing of others over ourselves. We put ourselves second. We let go of striving, and simply walk with our Master. Learning to be content with what He has called us to do.

Maybe it means we get out of our own comfort zone, our own routine and allow His will to lead us down and through some difficult paths for His names sake. But, we can do it. We can do whatever He calls us to. It means we let go of jealousy, pride and selfishness, and we follow Him. It means we allow Him to help us learn to really love others. We let love become our highest goal and are willing to pay the price, no matter what it costs. To walk in “guile” is to walk after the works of the flesh, something does not bear good fruit. But if we allow the Holy Spirit to work in and through our lives, we too can be like Nathaniel, men and women without guile, because we trust Him and His will to be sufficient for us! His will is our best life…why wouldn’t we want to have it?

Father, please help us to learn to be led by your Spirit. To let go of those things that trip us up and lead us away from your perfect will. Purge our hearts today. As we choose to follow Your leadership strengthen us. Deal with any area of our hearts that are deceitful, cunning and duplicitous, in Jesus’ Name.

Faith and Lamp Vs Pitcher

No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light so shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven. Matthew 5:15-16.

Lamps are outstanding things. They work so well to help us see. When you are in darkness, any light will do. But this morning, I feel like God gave me an interesting picture. I saw many lamps being held in one hand with a water pitcher in the other. People were lighting their lamps, and then inadvertently putting out the flame with the water in the pitcher. As I meditated on the “picture”, I saw these were genuine hearted believers, who sincerely wanted their light to shine forth in the darkness, but unfortunately, through their actions put out the very flame they were trying to light.

We often do that, don’t we? Our flesh is so fickle. We love and lash with the same voice. Jesus gives us some very clear instructions in Luke 6: 27. But to you who are willing to listen, I say, love your enemies! Do good to those who hate you. Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who hurt you. If someone slaps you on one cheek, offer the other cheek also. If someone demands your coat, offer your shirt also. Give to anyone who asks; and when things are taken away from you, don’t try to get them back. Do to others as you would like them to do to you. The question arises—are we willing to listen? Or do we go, “”nope I’m not willing.” I want to stay angry, bitter and slap first! I will keep my own hard earned things, thank you, and if anyone asks me for something, I will simply tell them I have a no helps policy. Justifying my selfish ways,and unfortunately pouring water on any light I have tried to be.

I wonder how many young people today could even quote the “golden rule” much less even consider living by it. Have we allowed our “me first” culture to infiltrate our hearts and our actions? So many social media posts deal with how they got people back, or no way would I give up my seat on an airplane so someone could sit with their young family member. We seemed shocked and surprised when we need a “Be Kind” campaign in our schools. Has our selfish “don’t bother me”? I am on my phone, or playing video games. Has society warped our caring and compassion? Impatience, judgement and anger have taken over patience, grace and love. Are we willing to be the light in our world? The light illuminates the person holding the lamp first! Our strengths and flaws are both exhibited. How much we need God’s grace, mercy and His love flowing through us.

Oh my friends, these are simple things to adjust until we meet someone who is arrogant, or belittles us or hates us. Then we need to draw on the fruit of the Spirit to touch their lives. If it was important enough for Jesus to encourage us in it, then shouldn’t we make it a priority? Begin praying today for those who “despitefully use you,” as the KJV version states in Matthew 5:44. It isn’t easy. Our flesh doesn’t like it. We may protest “it’s not fair”, but who knows what you will purchase if you walk it out like He asks. First, you will please Him, isn’t that enough? Maybe they will choose to follow Jesus and become your neighbor in heaven! It is really in His hands, but I have found doing things God’s way is always worth it.

Father, I thank you for helping us to do unto others as you would have us do. I thank you for giving us the grace and vision to understand that you were not mistaken when you ask us to live a life for others. Turning the other cheek, praying for those who despitefully use us causes us to rely on your love, your grace and your strength. Teach us how. In Jesus’ Name, amen.

Faith and “It’s not about Me”

For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. Matthew 16:25 ESV.

It’s been a busy week in my life… and I am sure I am not alone! The good news is that most of the busyness was for good things. Planning and prepping for a baby shower, studying for our School of Ministry class, attending our church’s team appreciation dinner, helping my sister and mailing off some of my books—squeezing in a dental cleaning as well! But, the Saturday before this busy week—my thoughts and emotions were a bit jumbled. Anyone else get overwhelmed?

As I was praying and trying to sort out my thoughts and these emotions, a very quiet voice spoke to me, “it’s not about you”. Oh, yes, Lord. It isn’t. It is about You and Your people. I found myself taking a deep breath and letting the anxious anticipation of the week go. When things become all about ourselves, we get muddled, anxious, and stressed. There is usually an element of pride that comes in and the peace of God disappears. When it becomes “all about me, “, not only do we lose our peace, but our joy as well.

This isn’t always a “one and done” type of thing. I usually have to keep reminding myself a few times, before it changes my perspective. Currently, I’m reading through the book of James. He has some good things to say: If you are wise and understand God’s ways, prove it by living an honorable life, doing good works with the humility that comes from wisdom. James 3:13 NLT. As I meditated on that scripture, I realized how pride can so subtly sneak in and become our motivation. Then I read further, But if you are bitterly jealous and there is selfish ambition in your heart, don’t cover up the truth with boasting and lying. For jealousy and selfishness are not God’s kind of wisdom. James 3:14-15. Ouch. If we are to walk in God’s wisdom, we must examine our own hearts. Who wants to admit they might be bitterly jealous or have selfish ambition? But they both could lurk in our sinful hearts. But our dear brother James does not stop there—He says: For jealousy and selfishness are not God’s kind of wisdom. Such things are earthly, unspiritual and demonic. James 3: 15. Another ouch! If we want to be useful to God’s kingdom, we must walk in His wisdom, which we know is higher than ours! He speaks plainly. It is definitely humbling to admit that not only is my wisdom earthly, but unspiritual and demonic? Yikes… sort of scary.

But then there is more! For wherever there is jealousy and selfish ambition, there you will find disorder and evil of every kind. James 3:16 Oh my, it opens the door to disorder and evil of every kind. That doesn’t sound productive, does it? It doesn’t just affect me, but others, too. Oh, Father, please help us.

Bless James, there is more. He tells us about the positive. But the wisdom from above is, first of all, pure. It is also peace-loving, gentle at all times, and willing to yield to others. It is full of mercy and the fruit of good deeds. It shows no favoritism and is always sincere. And those who are peacemakers will plant seeds of peace and reap a harvest of righteousness. James 3:17-18. NLT. Isn’t this what we want? To plant sees of peace and reap a harvest of righteousness? When we lay down our own ways and pick up His ways, we can’t help but produce those kinds of fruit. There are many other scriptures that deal with bitterness, selfish ambition and lying. I think God is serious about this stuff. We need to take heed of them if we want to bear much fruit. They should not be a part of our life, but it is a process, isn’t it? This really is a serious aspect of our walk with the Lord. Letting Him work in our character so we understand that it really isn’t “all about me”.

Father, thank you that you work in and through imperfect people, but you don’t want to stop there. We want to agree with James 1:4, and let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. Thank you for working in us both to will and do your perfect will. In Jesus’ Name, amen.

Faith and Trials

So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you have to endure many trials for a little while. These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold–though your faith is much more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong, through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world. I Peter 1:6-7 NLT

Trials–not fun, especially if we are talking about legal proceedings, but we aren’t. These trials Peter is talking about are a test of our faith, patience, or our stamina. Do we have what it takes to really run our race. We all have this type of trial. So many people I meet lately are going through their own “something”. It could be health-wise, financial, relationship, grief—they come in various forms and they are things that we have to “endure” as the above scripture says. Endure: suffer (something painful or difficult) patiently. The word endure, to me, implicates something that is difficult or painful, lasting longer than I would like! Although our actions might have led to our “trial, ” it then becomes something out of our control.Normally, we don’t have control when they stop. The good news is that they can serve a good purpose if we approach it right! Instead of moaning and groaning, can we count it all joy when they come? And they come.

Peter is honest when he uses another word that is also difficult: many. It’s not a one and done kind of thing. Trials appear often and regularly in this life. The good news is they are, according to Peter, “a little while”. Our definition of a “little while” may differ from our wonderful Heavenly Father’s. If we keep our eye on the trial or on the clock, I find it just makes them harder to endure.

So if we are going to experience them, how are we encouraged to get through them? Peter clarifies that they have a purpose. The purpose is to test our faith. They are part of God’s process to purify us. God desires us to reflect His beauty and image. We can only do that if the impurities are removed. Not easy. Have you ever met someone who has endured their set of trials–but were full of joy and grace? Those are the disciples who allowed the Holy Spirit to work the process. Although, I never met Corrie Ten Boom, reading about her life is so inspiring. They arrested her and her sister after the Nazis discovered they were hiding Jews during World War 11. After their arrest in February 1944, they were transferred to the Ravensbruck concentration camp. They ministered to their fellow prisoners, sharing the gospel as they could. It was a sad day, December 16, when her sister Betsy died. Miraculously, Corrie was released on Christmas day, 1944. She later discovered it was because of a clerical error. When she was freed, she became a “tramp for the Lord”, and shared her story. It is inspiring and amazing. By God’s grace, she forgave the guards who mistreated them. Her story is real and transparent. The lessons learned were genuine. Her faith came shining through Testimonies like hers help me keep perspective on my own trials. If you haven’t heard of her, it’s worth the read.

So, how do we successfully endure our trials? By looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:2 KJV Our Savior endured his painful execution on the cross, and the separation of His Father for our benefit. He took on himself the sins of this world (including yours and mine) so it would restore our relationship with God. So much more painful that what we must go through here on earth. My friends, when going through your trials, do not become bitter, weary, or quit. Lean into Him, lean onto Him and trust Him. Choose to allow your trials to make you better rather than bitter. As it is a “trial of your faith, “choose to grow in your faith. Take the time to follow Jesus’ words in Matthew 11:29; Take my yoke upon you and learn from me. Seek Him during your trials, knowing He wants to teach us how to walk through them. This is where the fellowship of our suffering can come into play.

This is a perfect time to remind us. We ought not compare ourselves among ourselves as 2 Corinthians 10:12 exhorts us. We are not to judge the whys or the wherefores of other’s trials, our job is to pray for those going through them. We can’t rate the severity of one another’s trials (she has it worse than I do, or nobody has it worse that me); but we need to stand together interceding for them. Trials are here to stay as long as we draw breath, let us allow the Holy Spirit to make the most of them, right?

Father, I thank you that we can trust you to bring us through any trial that comes our way. I thank you that you use these trials for our good–that the trying of our faith is more precious than gold. Remind us, when we want to quit, just how you endured the cross, for our sakes. Teach us your ways, for we want to not only learn of you, but to know you more. In Jesus’ Name, amen.


Faith and “Senior” Life”

Do not cast me off in the time of old age; forsake me not when my strength is spent. But I will hope continually and will praise You yet more and more. Psalm 71: 9, 14

For years my husband and I used the familiar motto: “The Best is Yet to Come” regarding our hope of growing old together and enjoying long life. As I move into this season, alone, without him, I realize the “best is yet to come” applies more to heaven than years here on earth. I am writing this, not to make anyone fearful or concerned for me (or those like me!) but to shed some light on this topic.

Some folks think I am old, others who are older than I am think I am just learning about old age…hmm it is a matter of perspective. At 73, my body has begun to let me know that I have used my bones for 73 years. They are stiffer than they used to be and as the Psalmist has written, “forsake me not when my strength is spent”, because it takes me longer to replenish my strength than when I was younger.

A few years ago, several Church leaders I know across the U.S. went through health challenges. Some passed away from them. At the time, Darryl and I were strong and healthy. My heart hurt for them and their families. My perspective, we need to pray for them (but secretly I was glad it was them, not me!)Then April 2010, Darryl suffered his heart attack and massive stroke, and I entered what I call “a school of suffering”. After 2 1/2 years of caregiving, he passed. Our “the best is yet to come”, ended. God entered me into another “class”, the class of widowhood. Neither of these classes were electives, but required if I wanted to move ahead.

So far, in my “senior” journey, I’ve learned to adjust my expectations of what I think (or thought) life would be, or should be. Leaning into and onto my relationship with our God has been essential. Through the mysteries of life (like all the “whys”) I choose to trust His character. Watching many deal with health issues (including mental deterioration) is so sad, and I openly admit, has caused me a bit of anxiety when I wonder if that will be my situation. If I let myself, I wonder if I will become a dependent burden on my children. I choose to simply pray and do my best We have to decide that God is good. That He is working all things together for our good and no matter how easy or difficult our trials, we will choose to pray and praise Him.

I can not speak for every senior. My friends parents celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary this year, but the wife had dementia for the past few years and had to be in a facility. Not easy, but her Dad loved his wife well till the end. Some of these trials are not about us, but they are to show forth the glory of the Lord, and leave a legacy of faith for those coming after.

My friends, no matter what stage of life you are in, you need to grow in faith. Whatever “school” you are in (marriage, parenting, leadership or employee etc.) those lessons will help prepare you for your “senior” years. Learning to trust Him in your own “whys” at whatever point you are in, will hold you in good stead as you grow older. Learning to love those around you, no matter what state they are in, will also be a blessing in your older years. It was hard to watch people around me treat my wonderful husband with disrespect because he was walking slow, or acting a “bit different”, but I learned from it. Every person has a story, don’t judge.

I’ve learned that, as we do trust Him, life can be good, even though it is different. I love my life, but still carry a sadness Darryl isn’t here to enjoy it with me. I am mostly healthy, I have great friends, a good church and God assignments that bring me joy and blessing. They are different than before, but that is ok. Keep walking my “senior” friends. Do not get discouraged. Do not quit. Do not think your influence for His kingdom’s sake is over. It is not. Prayer, praise and purpose are still ours–no matter what our numbers are bodies tell us! We choose to trust: I will be your God throughout your lifetime–until your hair is white with age. I made you, and I will care for you. I will carry you along and save you. Isaiah 46:4 NLT What a wonderful promise.

Yes, it seems like some of our trials and tests seem to get harder as we age, but if we apply the lessons learned, we will pass them well. Open your eyes to God’s goodness. Sometimes loneliness is hard at our age–look out, find another lonely friend and do life together. Ask God for wisdom on how to turn every negative into a positive. He is still a very present time in every trouble.

Father, I thank you for loving us in every season of life. I thank you we can trust you, no matter what happens. I ask that you encourage the lonely, the ill and the struggling today–no matter their age. You are a good God, doing good things and we will not believe anything less, In Jesus’ Name, amen.

Faith and Finishing

It is finished. John 19:30 NLT

Finishing. It is a good feeling. Last fall I finished all the editing, the designing, (with uncertainty) and declared my book, Faith Encounters, was done. It felt both amazing and scary. I no longer had the weight of working to complete it—it was now in the hands of the publisher. This past weekend, I held my first book signing. It was amazing. People actually came! They were excited for me. It was a joy to pray for some, even amid the book signing. We held it at our local Christian Bookstore. It blessed them, because it drew new customers to their store. Because of mailing issues, I actually ran out of the books I had to sign. I don’t expect it to be a best seller, but I believe it is a blessing.

It was great that people came and bought it, but it is even better to hear from those that have actually read it! This is the part that really touches my heart. One person who has read it, wrote on Facebook: Today, Martha Rodman is having a book signing event at His Place Christian Book and Gifts! Her new devotional has been so encouraging to me. It’s not a “cookie and tea” devotional that seems so repetitive on today’s market. Ya know, the one with fluffy words and a Bible verse at the end that kind of goes with the content. This one is different! It’s collective wisdom that’s shared with a refreshing level of transparency and relevance. It’s the kind of book that really makes you feel seen and motivated to press forward. (Thank you Selena-rae Chavez-Snyder) Reading her so kind words made me feel seen and heard. It was worth the press of finishing it, to know that it encourages people to move forward. Hers isn’t the only encouraging word I have had, and for that I am humbled and grateful.

For a time, I was content to be in the middle—to be “writing a book”. It made me feel good to be in the process. However, there came a time where that in-between time felt stale, old and unproductive. I actually had to finish it to accomplish the purpose. My daughter, Elizabeth, really helped me to understand the need to finish it. All my hard work and the work of others (editing and encouraging) would profit no one if I didn’t finish my course (and the book!). Often time, we need others to help us finish. I know I did with this project. But sometimes it is just you and Jesus, and when that happens, it has to be enough. When I needed help, God provided help and wisdom. He will with your assignments too—if you ask Him.

I wonder how Jesus felt when he uttered those words from the cross, then bowed his head and died. Jesus had ministered for three plus years. But His work would not have accomplished the goal if He had not gone to the cross. He could not have brought about the reconciliation between God and man if He had not finished His course. I want to encourage each of us to start “finishing” things God has called us to. Maybe it is not as concrete as writing and publishing a book, but take those God assignments and do them. Some things that need finishing are our thoughts. We get an inspiration to reach out to someone, but it stays just there…as an inspiration. I want to encourage you to write that letter, call that person, send that text—whatever, He has been putting on your heart, it’s time to do it. Finish that thought through action. See a vision for a new ministry? A business? A book? Blog or podcast? Follow through. Figure out your next step, gather your team and decide to finish.

To be honest, I am not sure what to do next…people have asked me if there will be a Volume 2. I am still praying about that—but I know there will come a time that the “prayer” season will be over and I will need to start whatever He says, and get to the finish line. If it was important enough for the Lord to put something on your heart to do, then it is important not only for yourself, but for others that you finish it. Don’t let fear, insecurity, or even pride prevent you from your finish line. Keep going, my friends.

One day, all our races will be done. We don’t know when, but let’s do our best with the power of the Holy Spirit, while we can.

Father, I ask you to help us finish our race. If it is important enough for you to ask us, help us make it important enough to finish. Some of us are good starters, but we struggle to finish. Help us, by your grace, mercy and wisdom, to choose to keep going, despite any obstacles. We choose to trust you, dear Lord. In Jesus’ Name, amen.

If you are interested in purchasing my book, it’s available on Amazon; both Kindle and print versions.