I Am Thankful . . .

Yesterday, my cousin in West Virginia forwarded the following to me. Here’s a portion of that email, written by Larry Pratt, for your encouragement on this Thanksgiving Day.

__________________________

Several years ago a good friend of ours, Mary, shared this following
email. It was found on a relative who had passed on. He had it printed
on a card that he carried in his wallet.

His name was Jim. He is dead now, but his message lives on. I hope
you enjoy it.

I am thankful . . . . . .

. . . . for the mess to clean after a party because it means I have been
surrounded by friends.

. . . for the clothes that fit a little too snug because it means I have
enough to eat.

. . . for a lawn that needs mowing, windows that need cleaning, and
gutters that need fixing because it means I have a home.

. . . for all the complaining I hear about government because it means
we have freedom of speech.

. . . for the spot I find at the far end of the parking lot because it means
I am capable of walking.

. . .for my huge heating bill because it means I am warm.

. . . for the lady behind me in church who sings off key because it
means I can hear.

. . . for the piles of laundry and ironing because it means I have clothes
to wear.

. . . for weariness and aching at the end of the day because it means I
have been productive.

. . . for the alarm that goes off early in the morning because it means
that I am alive.

. . . for all the right and wrong in the world because it means I can tell
the difference.

_______________________________

May we, too, find our lives lived with an attitude of gratitude, a heart full of grace and words of continual praise to our God!

I will praise the name of God with a song, And will magnify Him with thanksgiving (Psalm 69:30).

Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth! Serve the Lord with gladness! Come into his presence with singing! Know that the Lord, he is God! It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name! For the Lord is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations (Psalm 100).

Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever (Psalm 107:1).

HAPPY, BLESSED, PRAISE-FILLED THANKSGIVING DAY!!!

Dale

Making Connections

Living the Christ-life is not a random adventure; it is not a relationship where you check the box and then go on each day as if God doesn’t exist.

Walking with Christ is a life of making connections throughout the day as the Holy Spirit guides our steps. Aware of God’s presence in your life, you look to see where He is working, teaching, and leading.

This is the abiding life. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing (John 15:4-5).

Let me explain. Yesterday morning, I went to bed and awoke with a heavy burden on my heart concerning the local church of which I am a pastor. My daily Bible reading included Ezra 1-2. There I was reminded of the faithfulness of God to fulfill His promise to Israel. He even used a worldly king to accomplish His plan as the captives returned from Babylon to Jerusalem to rebuild the Temple and the city. God was and is faithful to His covenant.

Interesting, . . . the faithfulness of God. Two days ago I recorded one of my weekly radio broadcasts, titled “Seeing the Faithfulness of God” from Lamentations 3:21-26. Then, as I read Ezra, the following was in the study notes from Warren Wiersbe. “Regardless of our circumstances, we can trust God to be faithful. Great Is Thy Faithfulness isn’t just a verse to quote or a song to sing. It’s a glorious truth to believe and to act upon, no matter how difficult the situation in might be.”

Then as I turned to read another part of my daily Bible plan, these words of Christ recorded in Luke 24:38-40 spoke to my heart. And he said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself. Touch me, and see. For a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.” And when he had said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. Oh, how troubled and doubtful I become when I do not keep my mind fixed on the faithfulness of God, For all the promises of God in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen, to the glory of God through us (2 Corinthians 1:20).

As I walked through my day, I continued to see the faithfulness of God through answered prayer, discipleship, a conversation with some folk on the mountain while hiking, His creation all around me, an encouraging word from a growing believer in Christ and the words of several songs sung while hiking back down the mountain.

The events of the day were random, but the connections were not. They were all a part of living life in Christ Who is our life (Colossians 3:4).

What connections will you see today on this journey with Christ?

From A Pastor’s Heart,

Dale

GOTCHA!!

Everyday you will see something like this in the news media:

  • Latest News: Chicago Could Be Inundated by Lake Michigan (Weather Channel)
  • NASA Spots “Godzilla” in Space (Weather Channel)
  • Christmas 2021: Experts anticipate most expensive in decades as inflation, supply chain crisis lingers (Fox News)

Gotcha!! Fear-filled headlines draw you in. They capture your thinking and cause your mind to race and your heart to skip-a-beat! These well-placed, frequent headlines lead you to worry, be stressed, to try and control your future on the spot, and keep you attached to whatever news source has your attention. Fear sells; it makes millions at your expense both physically, spiritually and emotionally.

Would you sink your tap roots into the following eternal, life-changing truths? Would you meditate on these words from God Who has everything under His sovereign control? Would you dwell on divine viewpoint rather than human viewpoint?

Isaiah 41:10Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Proverbs 29:25 The fear of man lays a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is safe.

Philippians 4:4-8Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. 5 Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; 6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. 8 Finally, brothers, whatevr is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

John 14:27Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.

Psalm 56:3-4 When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I shall not be afraid. What can flesh do to me?

Psalm 34:4 I sought the Lord, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears.

2 Timothy 1:7For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.

I have given you seven scripture passages. Take a one passage a day for the next week. Please think the truth; meditate on the truth; memorize the truth; share the truth with someone. God never intended for us to live in the land of fear but the land of faith (Hebrews 11:6).

Has fear “gotcha” or is the truth continually setting you free (John 8:31-32)?

No Rush!

This past Labor Day weekend was an extremely special family vacation with my wife, our two daughters and their husbands, and our two grandsons! So much could be said about our four days together; so many grace blessings!!! So many memories made!!

One sweet joy was the “bookends” of our family get together. And “What was that?” you ask. Well, it was the trip to and from our family vacation destination. Denise and I have been referring to our marriage for a long while now as “Taking the Scenic Route.” And, that’s what we did all along the way, both in and out of the car.

Our journey to Sevierville, TN, included the country backroads near us all the way to Bulls Gap, TN. There we stopped at one of our favorite places, Yoder’s Country Market. They flat know how to build a sandwich; it’s a two-hander, for sure!! Denise and I always share one, and it’s plenty! This time it was Cajun turkey, provolone cheese, lettuce, tomato, mayo, banana peppers, pickles, and I don’t remember what else, piled high on sour dough bread! We added some pretzels and a drink and then found a place at the table under the gazebo. The view is total country, rolling hills and mountains in the distance.

Not the sandwich described above, but you get the point. This is a Yoder’s sandwich.

Doing my best to stay off the interstate, we traveled I-81 for twelves miles and then gladly exited off through White Pine, to Dandridge, across Cherokee Lake, to Chestnut Hill to Sevierville, all on back roads taking the scenic route. No rush. Just enjoying each other’s company and the views!

Monday afternoon when we departed, we never hit the interstate at all. Our journey from Sevierville took us to Newport, with a jaunt down a side road at the foot of the Smokey Mountains through some beautiful, lush cow pastures and farmland and by an old mill, as well as a beautiful old white church on the hill. From Newport, we travelled to Greeneville, TN, accompanied with more mountain views, the Nolichucky River and a stop for CFA. We sat in the car with the windows down enjoying the food and the quiet. The final leg of the trip took us over Greene and Washington County backroad farmlands to home. No rush. Just enjoying each other’s company and the views!

Why do I share this? Because in the day in which we live, too many marriages are always in a rush! Time is not taken to just enjoy the journey; it’s all about getting to the destination!

Get off the interstate in your marriage. Slow down; soak up the moment. Don’t take your spouse for granted. And if you have children still at home, remember, you are constantly teaching them about marriage by your example. They will also feel secure at home when they know mom and dad really love one another!

God has blessed us with the ability to see, to speak His praises, and to savor all His creation!! How about taking the scenic route. No rush. Just enjoying each other’s company and the views . . . and for me, especially that beautiful view to my right!!

Hints: 1) Plan to take one route to your destination and a different one on the way back home. 2) The date/vacation/drive to the store, etc. begins when you pull out of the driveway and ends when you drive back into your garage.

Burdened, Not Amused

The longer I strolled through the amusement park, the more burdened and sad I became. Everywhere I turned, people were trying to fit in, wanting to be accepted, living a lifestyle of sin, provoking their children to anger, flaunting their assumed freedom, living for the moment, trying to buy happiness, bowing down to the idols of their heart, motivated as described in Jeremiah 17:9

Then, the next morning while reading Ephesians 4:17-19, my mind was transported back to the day before and those dear soul’s greatest need . . . the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ!

Why? Because they are living in the futility of their mind, having their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart; who, being past feeling, have given themselves over to lewdness, to work all uncleanness with greediness (4:17b-19).

If it were not for the grace of God, Ephesians 4:17-19 would describe me. But, how marvelous is the mercy and grace of God that has transferred me from darkness to light! As an old song written by Rusty Goodman says,

Had it not been for a place called Mount Calvary,
Had it not been for the old rugged cross,
Had it not been for a man called Jesus,
Then forever my soul would be lost,

The change this world needs can only be found in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ!! But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast (Ephesians 2:4-9).

Protesting on the street corner, shaking your head in disgust, or responding in anger or arguing will not change sinful hearts. These dear souls, just like you did, need someone to love them enough for God’s glory to share the love of God through the cross work and resurrection of Jesus Christ that can radically change their life for eternity. Real life and adventure is only found in following Jesus Christ!

If you are searching today, my friend, read these scripture verses again and again until your eyes are opened to see your condition before God. Watch the video “How can I go to Heaven?” at the top of the sidebar.

I share this because I care for you. No critical judgment toward you. Jesus is the only way, the truth and the life (John 14:6) Everyone must go by the way of the cross or forever be lost, . . . and Jesus Christ did all that was necessary for you to have a life worth living here and for all eternity!

Warped Living (2)

What in the world is that? Well, Isaiah 47:10 gives us a good picture:

For you have trusted in your wickedness;
You have said, ‘No one sees me’;
Your wisdom and your knowledge have warped you;
And you have said in your heart,
‘I am, and there is no one else besides me.’

As we saw in last week’s post, warped living is characterized five ways in this passage:

  1. Trusting in your own wickedness.
  2. Thinking that no one sees your sin.
  3. Listening to yourself and to others who agree with you, then applying what you have come to believe and what your peers are saying.
  4. Following your heart.
  5. Controlling your life as if God didn’t exist.

So, what are the manifestations of a warped life? (Connect with the five characteristics above.)

  1. Living in the destructive unbelief of worry, anxiety, fear, dread and making excuses. Tim Keller said, “Worry is a frustrated aspiration to omniscience. Worry is saying “I know and I’m concerned God won’t get it right.” Hebrews 11:6, But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.
  2. Disregarding the holy, omnipresent, omniscient eye of God who sees your cheating, your speeding, your porn, your over-eating, your laziness, your refusal to own your sin and then repent of it because you like it too much! Proverbs 15:3, The eyes of the Lord are in every place, keeping watch on the evil and the good. (By the way, your children are watching, too!)
  3. Placing the human wisdom of man that imprisons us above the truth of God’s Word that sets us free. Example—When someone shares a troubling Facebook post about a death or illness, note all the humanistic statements.
  4. To follow your heart is make how you feel about something, what you really want, what will make you happy, to be the litmus test for your life’s decisions. Jeremiah 17:9 reminds us, The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it? Proverbs 3:5-7 says, Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord, and turn away from evil. Psalm 37:4 is crucial in this regard, Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.
  5. This is living with your mate before marriage; sex outside of marriage; making choices that do not match with the Word of God; no time for prayer; etc.

Living a warped life is to be deluded and led astray from God and His Word. Whatever choices you are making that are currently leading you away from God, please reject them, repent of them, and replace them with that which does not take the place of God. Please meditate on the following:

Fools mock at sin,
But among the upright there is favor
.

10 The heart knows its own bitterness,
And a stranger does not share its joy.

11 The house of the wicked will be overthrown,
But the tent of the upright will flourish.

1There is a way that seems right to a man,
But its end is the way of death.
(Proverbs 14:9-12)

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)

(Picture – The Crooked House, Sopot, Poland, eurolink.co)

Warped Living

Sitting in my study chair reading Isaiah 47, the following arrested my attention.

For you have trusted in your wickedness;
You have said, ‘No one sees me’;
Your wisdom and your knowledge have warped you;
And you have said in your heart,
‘I am, and there is no one else besides me.’

God, speaking through the prophet Isaiah, is describing the fall of the Babylonian empire due to her (47:1-3) pride and wickedness. In doing so, He uses this descriptive phrase: Your wisdom and your knowledge have warped you.

To be warped is to be led astray; to be deluded; to be perverted. How does this happen in an individual’s life, especially a believer’s life?

You are warped when . . .

1. You trust in your wickedness. In other words, you live in the land of your own human viewpoint rather than absolute truth, divine viewpoint. A slow, meditative walk through Proverbs 10 will describe the difference between wicked (human, selfish) and righteous (divine, godly) living.

2. You say, No one sees me. How easy it is to think that you sin alone; no one sees you. Then as you continue to accept your sin, to justify your choices, and brush over the wickedness, even calling it acceptable names, you have already gone far down the road of believing that anyone sees. I assure you, God does, your friends do, and if you are a parent, your children do. Warning: more is caught than taught.

3. You listen to yourself and to others who agree with you, then you apply what you have come to believe and what your peers are saying . . . Your wisdom and knowledge have warped you. There was a day in your life when you knew what God said was right or wrong, but over time, you have come to accept and gloss over sin.

4. You follow your heart . . . and you have said in your heart. The warning of Jeremiah 17:5-10 should get everyone’s attention, especially verse 9.

Thus says the Lord: “Cursed is the man who trusts in man And makes flesh his strength, Whose heart departs from the Lord. 6 For he shall be like a shrub in the desert, And shall not see when good comes, But shall inhabit the parched places in the wilderness, In a salt land which is not inhabited. 7 “Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, And whose hope is the Lord. 8 For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters, Which spreads out its roots by the river, And will not fear when heat comes; But its leaf will be green, And will not be anxious in the year of drought, Nor will cease from yielding fruit. 9 “The heart is deceitful above all things, And desperately wicked; Who can know it? 10 I, the Lord, search the heart, I test the mind, Even to give every man according to his ways, According to the fruit of his doings.

5. You control your life as if God did not exist . . .I am, and there is no one else beside me. Peruse through Isaiah 45, and you will see that only God alone has the right to say, I am the LORD, and there is no other; there is no God besides Me (45:5). When we live by our own expectations, our own desires, our own thoughts, for our own happiness, and leave God out of the picture, we are living a warped life.

What are the manifestations of warped living? That will be the topic of our next post. In the meantime, read Isaiah 45-47, and the words above. Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you where you are living a warped life. He will guide you and show you the Truth. As He does, confess your sin, repent and follow God and His Word.

I, the LORD, speak righteousness, I declare things that are right (45:19) . . . not warped.

(Photo by Nicholas Kennedy Sitton)

Tramily

One of the many things that’s really cool about hiking the AT is the “tramily.” This is a shortened form for “trail family.” Generally referred to as the group of people in which you spend a significant amount of time hiking a trail with, typically also lodging in town with whether at a hostel, hotel room, or otherwise (The Trek).

Back in May while hiking north to south near Pearisburg, VA, Rick and I passed many thru-hikers, some of which I follow on Instagram. Most of the hikers were friendly, some even stopping to chat. I’m certain that these conversations were aided much by my trail companion’s antique backpack. (I’ve almost decided to change his trail name from Good News to Antique Pack!)

Folks from all over the country. People you have never met before in your life. They speak, share stories, camp out, eat together, ride in the back of a pickup truck into town, etc. What brings them all together? Well, it’s obvious! The trail, and in this instance, the Appalachian Trail, the AT!

This one trail, whether being hiked south to north, north to south, flip-flopped or sectioned hiked, brings together the tramily. The trail is the point of connection.

There is another family that is, without reservation, the greatest family on the planet, and that is the redeemed, adopted, justified family of God (Romans 3:21-26; 5:1-5; Ephesians 2:1-22). We come from all walks of life, backgrounds, cultures, circumstances, nationalities, ethnicities, etc., yet we are bound eternally by the person of the Lord Jesus Christ. He, and only He, is the point of connection.

Here’s what the Word of God, absolute truth, has to say about his eternal family:

And you were dead in the trespasses and sins 2 in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— 3 among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. 4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— 6 and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

One in Christ
11 Therefore remember that at one time you Gentiles in the flesh, called “the uncircumcision” by what is called the circumcision, which is made in the flesh by hands— 12 remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. 14 For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility 15 by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, 16 and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility. 17 And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near. 18 For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. 19 So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, 21 in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. 22 In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit. (Ephesians 2:1-22)

Are you a member of God’s family? If not, please read and meditate on the passage above. Surrender to Christ. Call out to Him to save you, and He will (Romans 10:9-13).

For further understanding, please take time to view the following video:

Oh, that all the Tramily would become one in God’s family through Jesus Christ alone for all eternity, and . . . you, too, my friend. Just as the trail is the point of connection, Christ is the only eternal point of connection.

She Said, “YES!!”

Pin on wedding

There they were! All decked out in patriotic, July 4th, attire! Both were beaming from ear-to-ear! To them, these fireworks were much better than produced by cities and towns across the USA. “She said, ‘Yes!'” Boom, baby!!!!

This was the second marriage engagement that I had read about on Facebook in recent days. Having just celebrated 40 years of marriage to my sweetheart, my heart is overflowing for both couples!

They are excited now! Smiling now! Terms of endearment are being spoken with such joy and anticipation, now!

And, I can just hear some ol’ crusty-hearted, macho husband say, “Well, you just wait until the honeymoon’s over!” And with that he offers more proud words of negativity from a selfish, humanistic, victim viewpoint.

Friends, marriage is hard, daily work, but the blessings are innumerable. Since God created marriage, don’t you think He has the right ingredients and the grace needed for marriage to succeed? Why, He’s even given us a manual to follow beginning with His instructions in Genesis 2.

The human heart corrupted by sin is what creates issues in marriage. Just as the gospel is the answer for our sinful condition, it is the answer for our marriages. Just as we are to walk in newness of life everyday with Christ (Romans 6), marriage can remain “new,” “fresh” everyday as well.

How can that happen? Let me offer five things to help you, even after 40 years, keep your marriage FRESH:

Forgiveness

Colossians 3:13 – Bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. This passage wraps it up. I must forgive my spouse, no matter the offense, because the Lord has forgiven me of all my sins past, present, and future. And by the way, He will never bring it up to us again (Psalm 103:12; Isaiah 43:25; Romans 8:1; Hebrews 10:14–18). Swift forgiveness always keeps your marriage fresh!

Relationship

Mark 10:7-9 Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate. Scripture seems to always simply things. Since you and your spouse are one, then work everyday on your relationship. Your spouse is you. In particular husbands, you are incomplete without your wife (Genesis 2:18). So, live out an Ephesians 5:18-33 relationship!!

Author Gary Thomas offers these practical tips (God’s Design for Marriage):

  • Focus on your spouse’s strengths rather than their weaknesses.
  • Encourage rather than criticize.
  • Pray for your spouse instead of gossiping about them.
  • Learn and live what Christ teaches about relating to and loving others.

Enthusiasm

Proverbs 5:18, Let your fountain be blessed, and rejoice in the wife of your youth. Ecclesiastes 9:9a says, Enjoy life with your wife, whom you love. How easy it is to let work, children, goals, dreams, recreation, hardship, etc., cause marriage to be a drag, a drudgery, a daily disappointment rather than a joy, a blessing, an enjoyment. How easy it is to focus on what pulls you down and the flaws of your partner rather than all the blessings. Focus on what is praiseworthy (Philippians 4:8) about your spouse and be enthusiastic about those things!

Smooches

Song of Solomon 1:2, Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth! Smooche used as a verb means to “kiss or a spell of amorous kissing and cuddling.” Now that you are married, it is legal! So have at it! Don’t settle for quick pecks as you pass one another. Cuddle. Hold each other in a warm embrace. Look endearing into each other’s eyes. Enjoy amorously the passion of God’s grace gift!! If you don’t know the meaning of “amorous,” look it up!!!!

Huddle

Song of Solomon 1:15, Behold, you are beautiful, my love; behold, you are beautiful; your eyes are doves. Most often associated with football, a huddle is when the offensive team gathers to strategize the next play from scrimmage. Today, football teams are going more with the no-huddle offense. Couples need to communicate their thoughts, feelings, dreams, desires, hurts, blessings, sorrows, joys, love language, fears, etc., with one another. Note the intense communication between Solomon and his bride (Song of Solomon 1:9-17). Quite frankly, marriages should stay away from the use of the no-huddle. So huddle up this evening and share your heart in love! (Ephesians 4:29-32)

“She said, ‘Yes!'” Boom, baby!!!! Keep it FRESH!!!







Blessed Quietness

Noise is everywhere! Music blaring over the speaker system in the clothing stores, loud diesel pickup trucks billowing their smoke as they scream by your house, parents hollering threats at their children as they make their way through Wal-Mart, phone notifications and text messages keeping us on edge, etc.

Sadly, too many of us do not know how to be still or even how to deal with “awkward” quiet. For far too many, our lives are characterized by rush, running, and racket.

While being on sabbatical this month, one of the blessings that has come our way has been times of quiet and stillness. They have come to us seated by the lake at Watauga Point for the afternoon, enjoying the gardens outside Boone Tavern Inn after breakfast, outdoor supper by a quiet brook at Pottery Barn Cafe & Grille, on our back porch, in our family room, and on the deck and the upstairs window seat of a friend’s lake cottage to name a few.

Blessed Quietness, a hymn from yesteryear, speaks to that which alludes so many. How can you know and experience that blessed quietness?

The fourth stanza says, “What a wonderful salvation, where we always see God’s face! What a perfect habitation, what a quiet resting place!” First of all, you must have the chaos in your sinful heart and soul quieted by the resting work of God’s salvation through Jesus Christ alone. On the cross when Jesus was crucified, He declared, It is finished, and He bowed His and gave up His spirit (John 19:30). The work of salvation was complete (Isaiah 53:4-6; Ephesians 2:8-9). The greatest rest for man comes with the complete assurance of full salvation through the complete work of Jesus Christ. Take time to read the following: John 1:12; 3:16, 36; 5:24; 10:28; 17:3; 1 John 5:11-13.

Second, meditate and operate in life through the familiar words of Psalm 23: The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me (1-4).

In Hebrew, the words for ‘still waters’ in Psalm 23:2b are “Mai Menochot”, meaning literally, “restful waters”. Our Shepherd wants to lead us to a place of rest, a place of trust, a place of confidence, a place where you rely on Him and focus on Him without anything that will distract you. He wants to take the “heavy load” from your life and replace it with His everlasting peace and rest. (Moran, Hope4Israel.org)

Begin each day with quiet in the presence of your Shepherd. Bathe your soul in the Word of God and prayer. Rest in Him as you read. When you pray, talk out loud to God, but then stop and listen to Him speak quietly to you. Be still and know that He is God (Psalm 42:1; Philippians 4:6-8).

Men, you take the lead. Discipline yourself to have times of uninterrupted quiet with the Lord. Designate a place at home, in the woods, on a walk, or by a creek where you can read the Word and commune with the Lord. Here’s a helpful resource.

Husbands, make sure your wife has times of solitude. She is your first ministry.

Dads, teach your children how to be still before the Lord even when they are young.

We will always have noise around us, but don’t let it rob you of the stillness of salvation and your relationship with The Shepherd, the Lord Jesus Christ. Exchange the rush, running and racket for blessed quietness.

Blessed quietness, holy quietness,
what assurance in my soul!
On the stormy sea He speaks peace to me,
how the billows cease to roll
!