Have you ever heard the statement, "The battle is in the mind"? I have countless times. I've even ministered on the topic.
But have you ever asked yourself, "What battle?" The battle that goes on in our minds is the relentless siege by Satan upon our thought life that is intended to cause us first to think, and then to behave and speak contrary to the Word of God.
Have you ever been in a predicament and someone appeared from out of nowhere to help you? That's happened to me more than once.
Years ago I took a trip from Oklahoma to Michigan driving an old, worn-out car. During the middle of the night somewhere in Missouri my car broke down. Here I was, a female with no credit cards, no AAA, no cellular phone and very limited cash, stranded in the middle of the night on the highway. I prayed and asked the Lord to help me.
Almost immediately from out of nowhere a man in a pick up truck appeared, fixed my car and made sure that I made it safely on my way. Whether he was human or an angel, heaven only knows. But of one thing I'm certain, he was sent by the Lord to help me out of a potentially dangerous situation.
When my husband and I went out to dinner one night we were served by an extremely helpful waitress. This woman seemed to anticipate our every need; she even suggested an item that was not on the menu.
Throughout the evening, she served us with both joy and efficiency. She made our evening so pleasant that the next time we went to that restaurant, we requested her as our waitress. In a society in which mediocrity has become the standard, she distinguished herself by her excellence.
I have been a pastor for many years, and in my opinion, the hardest fact in the world to believe is that God really loves us. It is harder to believe that than to believe that there is a God or that Jesus died on the cross or even that He rose from the dead.
It's not difficult to believe that God will take care of you or that "in all things God works for the good of those who love Him" (Rom. 8:28, NIV), though we may not believe that they are for our good at the time. We can be detached from life sufficiently to look back and say yes. It all worked out.
My brother is a captain with Delta and currently he flies to Amsterdam several times a month. On the map, the route from Detroit to Amsterdam is a straight line. So to me, logically he should be able to get in the airplane, take off, set his heading and just drink coffee until he gets there.
But when I shared my logic with him, he laughed at me (something he spends way too much time doing). When I asked him what was funny, he said: "Things simply don't work that way. I spend most of my time making course corrections."
God wants you to know His purpose for your life. My entire life changed when I discovered this one truth: The destiny of my life is hinged upon understanding God's eternal purpose, which He unveiled to man through His sacrificial love.
I was not aware of this powerful truth, despite the fact that I had finished my graduate studies in theology, including rewriting the 500 cardinal doctrines of the church for my thesis. Through my studies, I had learned how to investigate the great truths of the Bible and thought I knew something about almost every doctrine. I prided myself on my attempts to be an exegetical theologian, pastoring and carefully teaching the Word in Bible colleges for 17 years.
When you picture a magnificent flying bird, it is usually not a chicken that comes to mind. I've never seen a chicken portrayed in flight-many eagles, but no chickens. We quote the Scripture from Isaiah 40:31 that talks about being borne up on the wings of eagles or with wings like eagles. There is a difference, however, between being on His wings and being under His wings.
This promise in Psalm 91 is not elaborating on the flying wing but on the sheltering wing. One indicates strength and accomplishment, while the other denotes protection and familiarity. When you imagine the warmth of a nest and the security of being under the wings of the nurturing love of a mother hen with chicks, it paints a vivid picture of the sheltering wing of God's protection that the psalmist refers to in this passage.
"What in the world is that?" exclaimed my husband, Terry, making a quick path out to the front porch.
We had just moved into a summer rental house across the street from a sleepy park. But from the sounds of it, the park was not so sleepy! The gazebo was filled with band members and a rather buxom woman was at the microphone. She was belting out patriotic songs in a high soprano voice.
"Who gives this woman to be wed to this man?"Even though I was expecting this question, hearing it asked by the minister (who is my other son-in-law, Evan) caused a bit of pause. Keep in mind that other than writing a bunch of checks, this was my only real part in the ceremony. I was being asked to give my daughter to the man standing beside Evan. Not to go on a date. Not for a weeklong vacation. But forever!
This beautiful bride-to-be, standing beside me and holding my hand was my daughter.
When she was born I cut the umbilical cord. My wife and I stood beside her hospital bed a
1 year of age as she fought an unexplainable blood infection. I taught her to ride a bike. To swim. To drive a car (hence much of my gray hair). Much of the money I have made in my life somehow poured through her hands.
I was recently scared—really, really scared. I saw something that so frightened me it threw me back and stopped me cold in my tracks. What I saw was ugly, threatening and dangerous. It was large, intimidating and daunting. What was it? Spots! I saw spots.
I have seen spots that freaked me out before—age spots … well just one, but it was there and its presence was horrifying. I have seen other spots too: sore spots, weak spots and soft spots. But none of these shook me like the spots I saw recently: blind spots.
I have reached the age at which it is hard to tell the difference between a Holy Ghost rush and a hot flash. It wouldn't be so bad if I hadn't come to rely on body temperature as a spiritual thermostat to tell me when the anointing had hit. But now I just have to move out in faith, trusting that God is the initiator even when I don't feel a thing—or when what I'm feeling could be the result of a hormone imbalance rather than the prompting of His Spirit!
This season has brought other physical changes, too—a tiredness I can't seem to shake, wrinkles, sagging skin, body parts that don't want to get in shape no matter how much I do to encourage the process. Perhaps worst of all is the lack of desire to extend myself beyond the minimum requirements for sustaining life. If an activity isn't going to satisfy a crucial need, it isn't worth the effort.
Pointedly, persistently and passionately, in both Old and New Testaments, the Bible calls us to humility.
In Deuteronomy 8, Moses told the Israelites three times that God tested them in the wilderness for the express purpose of humbling them: "The Lord thy God led thee these forty years in the wilderness, to humble thee...and he humbled thee...that he might humble thee" (Deut. 8:2-3, 16, KJV, emphasis added). By inspiration the apostle Paul added that their trials were recorded as examples to us in this Christian era: "Now all these things happened unto them for examples: and they are written for our admonition" (1 Cor. 10:11). In his epistle, therefore, James exhorts Christians everywhere, "Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord" (James 4:10). Peter orders the same in his general epistle, "humble yourselves...under the mighty hand of God" (1 Pet. 5:6).
There probably isn't a mother alive who doesn't love McDonald's. Not for the cuisine, mind you, but for the convenience. Due to today's busy lifestyles, many moms frequently take advantage of this fast-food phenomenon.
At one time I was among the millions who do, and I have to admit, my kids loved it, too. It was amazing how my tots could spot those golden arches from their backseat vantage point! They would squeal with delight at the prospect of "driving through."
The real thrill came, however, when we actually pulled in, parked and went inside.
After Mother went home to be with the Lord, the family held an estate sale of her possessions that had been sitting in boxes for years.
As I rummaged through the boxes of elegant china, laces and linens, one box in particular caught my eye. This one smelled musty, and a piece of straw was poking through the top. I pried it open with scissors and began to sneeze.
I heard of a guy who couldn't speak English. He was terrified of trying because he did not want to fail. So he found an English teacher and asked him to teach him how to order a meal in a restaurant in perfect English. The teacher taught him how to say four words: hamburger, french fries, Coke.
Every day after that, the man went to order his hamburger, french fries and Coke. Soon he grew tired of eating the same things every day. So he asked the English teacher to teach him how to order something else to eat. The teacher taught him to say eggs, toast and juice.
The presence of Jesus is all you need. It is exciting to enjoy His presence daily in everything you do. The Bible records the story of a group of friends who broke through the rooftop of a house, so they could bypass the crowds blocking their way to Jesus, and bring their paralytic friend before Jesus to be healed.
I love that "whatever it takes" spirit to be in the presence of Jesus. But you know what? Today we don't have to climb mountains, swim vast oceans or even break through rooftops to be in His presence. Right where you are, Jesus, your Immanuel, is with you!
Empty is not fun. No one likes the thought of an empty glass, an empty gas tank and least of all, an empty bank account. When considered in those terms, empty is just plain undesirable. But what would happen if we could begin to think of empty as opportunity? What if, every time we saw barren, we could imagine bounty?
The idea of seeing what could be instead of what is, would not be, however, an earthly exercise in wishful thinking, merely an act of human intellect. Instead it would be a spiritual application of a powerful biblical principle, which simply teaches; "We [the righteous] live by faith, not by sight" (2 Cor. 5:7, NKJV). In other words, we are to live in expectancy, standing on what we know and believe to be true and not living in despair, troubled by what we see with our natural eyes.
When I was a kid I had one particular "goin' to church" dress that made me cringe. I was 11 at the time and the dress—the height of fashion for the late '50s—was crinkly pink organdy, complete with a wide-swinging under-hoop. If I became too animated while wearing it, I lost my balance! Even worse, my two younger sisters, Carolyn and Diana, each had a matching crinkly-hooped dress. As you can imagine, trying to sit together on the front-row pew during a church service presented a problem.
In the spring of 1980, a series of earthquakes and small eruptions drew the attention of people living in the Pacific Northwest. Scientists and sightseers were drawn to Mount St. Helens. Steam vents, tremors and hot spots appeared almost daily.
Then on May 18, a 5.1-magitude earthquake shook the mountain. For a few seconds the north flank seemed to ripple, then broke loose and began sliding downhill as a massive avalanche. Eruption plumes shot up as quickly as 600 miles an hour. The blast traveled as a hot, churning mass of gas, rock, ash and ice. More than 50 people were killed or reported missing after the blast, and the eruption devastated 235 square miles.
As a Christian counselor I have listened to many married couples express feelings of frustration and hurt because of their inability to effectively communicate with one another. Studies prove that communication breakdown is a major source of conflict, one that can eventually lead to other problems in the marriage, such as a lack of intimacy and divorce. Statistics prove the truth of what the Bible says in Proverbs 18:21: "The tongue has the power of life and death" (NIV).
However, there is a remedy. Many of the struggles married couples face, in fact, can be avoided with the use of some simple communication tools. Learning to use these tools to express ourselves in more effective ways fosters better understanding, which results in greater emotional intimacy.