A Matter of Perspective

Keep me as the apple of the eye, hide me under the shadow of thy wings. (Psalm 17:8) ~ Be merciful unto me, O God, be merciful unto me: for my soul trusteth in thee: yea, in the shadow of thy wings will I make my refuge, until these calamities be overpast. I will cry unto God most high; unto God that performeth all things for me. He shall send from heaven, and save me from the reproach of him that would swallow me up. Selah. God shall send forth his mercy and his truth. (Psalm 57:1-3)

All of us have seen a situation on TV or in a movie where one character can see something ahead that another character cannot. Usually the character who can’t see the danger gets upset with the one who can because they don’t understand their actions or why they might have said what they did. When we as viewers also have the perspective of seeing what’s going on, we want to tell the character who is unaware yet, “Just wait, buddy; don’t get upset at him. You can’t see what he sees.”

Very often that is exactly the situation we find ourselves in when things happen in our life that frustrate us or we don’t understand. Sometimes things don’t make sense to us and we wonder, “Lord, what are You doing? Why is this happening?” We may know intellectually that God knows everything and He knows what’s best for us, but the day-to-day application is sometimes difficult for our frail nature. My dad summed it up so well one time when he said it’s almost as if when we go to bed at night all of the lessons of faith we learned during the day are somehow “reset” during the night and we have to start all over the next day. Hopefully we don’t quite lose everything we learned. 🙂 But often it is true that we forget too easily what God has taught us. We seem to think that even though He has proven to be faithful as He said He would be, this new trial is a little worse; more challenging.

When it seems as if God has allowed us to be knocked down by circumstances, we must trust His plan. He knows the end from the beginning. He has unlimited sight into our future. So why are we fretful when our sight is limited to right-here-and-now? We can’t even see one minute into the future. Jeremiah 32:17 says, “Ah Lord God! behold, thou hast made the heaven and the earth by thy great power and stretched out arm, and there is nothing too hard for thee.”

No matter what we face, we can have full confidence in the love of our Savior. We can have complete peace in the all-knowing, all-wise God Who created everything and Who cares about every detail of our life. Everything He does is for our good and for His glory. That is the perspective we can rest in!

*modified from an 8-27-12 Facebook post

Thankful For the Ditch

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts. ~ Isaiah 55:8-9

My son, Jonathan, was visiting a friend in the Charlotte, NC, area on a Saturday evening in March 2014, having driven from Knoxville, TN, where we live, and planning to return home the next afternoon. As he was leaving and backing out of the driveway later that night, his car went into a shallow drainage ditch. The house is in rural setting with no street lights, and it was an unfamiliar setting to Jonathan. He was able to drive out of the ditch okay but found out later that he had bent an axle on his car. His first thought was how thankful he was that his recent plan to buy a newer car had not worked out.

Jonathan called someone in Monroe, NC, who he knew would be able to help with car repairs, and the Lord allowed him to drive there safely on Sunday; approximately an hour from the hotel he stayed at Saturday night. He was able to do some work that provided much-needed help and income for the repair bill. The repairs kept him in North Carolina two extra days. It turned out that not only was the axle bent, but because his car was older, the bearings were bad and there was a slight oil leak. The leak he knew about; the bearings he didn’t. Had those bearings “given way” on his trip back through the mountains, it would have been more costly, much more inconvenient, and perhaps a dangerous situation. It seems that God used that small ditch to delay the return to Tennessee for several reasons.

Being thankful for “the ditch” that comes along every now and then in our lives is not easy. Our human nature most often whines and gripes and focuses on “the bent axle” or the change to our plans rather than on the safety God provided. We forget to be thankful for the opportunity to earn income for the repair bill. We forget to look for what it is God wants to teach us in that moment.

This mama is very humbled and thankful still as I write and reflect on this memory for a vivid, loving reminder from my Heavenly Father that He DOES love me; He has NOT left me to figure things out on my own; and His plan is FAR greater than my finite mind can even begin to comprehend. My emotions, fears, and confusion at times are results of my own weakness and lack of faith. I am so thankful for a merciful, loving Savior Who knows the fallibility and limitations of our human nature and loves us still! Lord, please help me always to remember to praise You for “the ditch!”

*modified from a 3-25-14 Facebook post

A New Journey

What Comes Next?

After nearly a year I have found my writer’s voice again. I have thought and prayed for something to share, something to say that would be of value and not merely taking up space or wasting a few moments of a reader’s time. The most meaningful communication, whether written or spoken, must come from a heart inspired, perhaps intrigued, by something so important to share that it cannot be kept silent. I want to develop this blog and have it grow into something worthwhile that will draw readers back again and again for encouragement, for help, even for a needed laugh perhaps. The Lord has put something before me that may very well be the inspiration I have prayed for. It’s not something I would have expected, but that’s very often how He works in our lives when we wait on Him for direction.

There are probably not many people who by now have not heard about Plexus, “the pink drink.” As with so many other things, there are people on both sides of this, either believing it’s the new cure-all or believing that it’s merely the new kid in town and will run its course. One thing that naysayers have to admit, if they’re going to be honest, many people have had their health and their life turned around by this “pink drink.” Anyone who knows me well would agree that I resist the “herd mentality,” as I refer to it. That is, any idea that suddenly seems to have everybody’s attention and focus, I tend to purposely avoid. When I started seeing posts about Plexus and the amazing things about it, I skimmed over the articles and the “before” and “after” pictures, the testimonials, etc. and figured, “Okay, here’s another MLM (multi-level marketing product or service) that people will spend lots of money and energy on, and very few will really succeed with it.” The requests I received from different friends to ask them for more information, I politely brushed off. I didn’t think I could afford it anyway, even if I was interested.

It’s somewhat amusing how so often we don’t recognize something right in front of us until God takes everything else away but the thing He wants us to see. One of the people who talked to me about Plexus, Jill, who happens to be my brother’s sister-in-law, is a home school mother of 13 children. Her husband is in full-time ministry. It amazed me that she would have time for something like this or could afford to do it. She has never been pushy about it and never asked me to make a decision one way or the other. She has simply sent notes of encouragement and said that it might be something I would want to consider at some point. When I finally agreed to commit to trying it for at least three months, because I had prayed about it and felt led to do so, I told her that weight loss is one reason, but the increasing, chronic pain I have is a bigger reason. Lower back pain from spinal stenosis and degenerative scoliosis, both stemming at least in part from a congenital left hip deformity, have gotten worse for me, even to the point now of being a contributing factor for a sudden change in job status. Ouch! I knew I had to do something to find a way to deal with debilitating pain. I don’t believe it’s a coincidence that my decision to commit to this new journey and a change in job status have occurred at the same time. I could have changed my mind and told Jill that I really can’t afford it now, not having any idea when I might have a regular income again. But I made a commitment, and I had peace that I should keep my word.

As Jill was encouraging ladies on her team yesterday to work towards the goal of four reach-outs (talking to people about Plexus), I commented that I wanted to wait until I had received my ambassador packet and my first shipment of products. It arrived today; a day early, according to the tracking information. I also said that I wanted to wait until I had started to see some results for myself. She agreed that’s a wise approach. However, today as I was out running an errand and driving home, I began to think about the timing of all this; my job situation, my commitment to start this journey towards better health. I thought, “Why am I waiting to say anything? I have what I need already to share this. I have several testimonies of friends, and I have hope.”

People who have been blessed by Plexus will tell you it’s about so much more than weight loss. They have lost inches, had a decrease in chronic pain and other chronic ailments; in some cases they have been able to decrease their dosage of long-term meds (with the approval of their doctor); they have regained an energy level they thought was long gone; and some have been able to replace or increase their income just by sharing what these products have done for them.

This won’t be a quick fix; it will take work and discipline. There may be unpleasant effects as toxins are removed from my body. But I have hope that soon I will be healthier; hope that chronic inflammation and pain will decrease; hope that God led me to make this commitment for a reason. I love to encourage people and to help put a smile on their face if I can. I’m looking forward to this new journey and to all the blessings that will come from helping other people in their journey to better health.

Hope deferred maketh the heart sick: but when the desire cometh, it is a tree of life. ~ Proverbs 13:12

To be continued … 😊

https://Plexusworldwide.com/DeLaineDickau

God Is Enough

“Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan came also among them. And the Lord said unto Satan, Whence comest thou? Then Satan answered the Lord, and said, From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it. And the Lord said unto Satan, Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth [to shun or avoid] evil? Then Satan answered the Lord, and said, Doth Job fear God for nought? Hast not thou made an hedge about him, and about his house, and about all that he hath on every side? Thou hast blessed the work of his hands, and his substance is increased in the land. But put forth thine hand now, and touch all that he hath, and he will curse thee to thy face.” (Job 1:6-11)

As many times as I have read these verses, I still wonder every time if Satan goes before God to accuse us by name as he did with Job. We know from Revelation 12:10 that he is “…the accuser of our brethren…, which accused them before our God day and night.” Let that sink in for a moment. I have to ask myself, am I living in such a way that Satan would bother mentioning my name? He brought up Job’s name to God with the accusation that Job’s worship and devotion were only because of the great wealth God had blessed him with. If you’re familiar with the story, you know that God allowed Satan to afflict Job, allowed him to take away everything but his life.

Life is rarely easy or fair, and it’s likely that every person is going through some kind of trial at any given time. Trials are to strengthen us, to prune away what isn’t pleasing to the Lord in our life, to show us “what we’re made of,” either that we’re stronger than we realize in some ways or that we’re not as fully surrendered in other ways as we might think we are. God doesn’t have to prove anything at all to Satan, but Satan basically told God that Job only worshiped Him because he had been blessed with so much. God already knew Job would pass the test, but Satan didn’t. So not only did it foil Satan’s theory, but it proved to Job that God was – IS – still worthy of his praise and devotion, without material things, even without his children and his health. That is encouraging to me: to think that God is “counting on me,” in a sense, to prove to Satan that my Heavenly Father IS worthy of my praise, my thankfulness, my loyalty and devotion, no matter what! I pray that I’ll be worthy of having my name mentioned before the Lord as one He can depend on to be put to the test.

For all things are for your sakes, that the abundant grace might through the thanksgiving of many redound [contribute greatly to] to the glory of God.  For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.” (II Corinthians 4:15-18)

The Most Important Gift of All

Soon after the excitement and goodwill of Christmas have passed, many people may still be thinking about the gifts they received, the time spent with family and friends, and the “warm, fuzzy feeling” that surrounds the holidays.  All too soon after the decorations have been put away, the regular work schedule has resumed, and children are back in school, life returns to the usual routine.  There is one gift that should never lose the ability to keep us in awe of its effect on our lives, and that, of course, is the gift of eternal life.  

I never want to assume that everyone who claims to be a Christian has truly been saved and transformed in their spirit by the power of the Gospel.  Some people have been “raised in church” and say they’re a Christian because they know all the Bible stories, or because they were baptized, or perhaps they even know what the Bible teaches about salvation.  As good as all of these things may be, they still do not make a person a Christian.  There must be a time in a person’s life when he truly and honestly confronts his own need for salvation because he knows he is a sinner and believes that there is absolutely nothing he can ever do in and of himself to obtain forgiveness and eternal life.  Most religions teach that good works are the way to earn a place in Heaven.  If that were true, then Jesus Christ would never have needed to come to Earth and die on the cross as the final, perfect payment for sin.

Titus 3:5 – Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost.  

Ephesians 2:8, 9 – For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. 

Consider what the Bible says about us, as sinful human beings:

Romans 3:10 – As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one.  

Romans 3:23 – For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God. 

Romans 5:12 – Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned.  

Wow!  What a depressing state to be in IF it was left at that.  Thankfully that is not the case.  God made provision for our sin to be paid for!

Romans 5:8, 9 – But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.  Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.  

Romans 6:23 – For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.  

I Peter 1:18, 19 – Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.  

One perfect Lamb was the final payment for our sin!  This is not something that has to ever be repeated, week after week or through any religious ritual.

Hebrews9:12 – Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us.  

Hebrews 10:10-14 – By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.  And every priest standeth daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins:  But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God;  From henceforth expecting till his enemies be made his footstool.  For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified.  

Romans 10:9-10, 13That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.  For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.  For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.

I John 5:13 – These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God. 

It’s that simple, yet so profound.  Please don’t let another day go by without knowing for sure that you have accepted the most important gift you will ever receive!

The Sacrifice of Thanksgiving

Colorful leaves.  Cooler temperatures.  Earlier sunset.  Fields of bright orange pumpkins.  Fall is well underway in the Northern Hemisphere, and for those of us who live in the States, we are anticipating another Thanksgiving.  Many people begin posting online things that they are most thankful for, and it’s a blessing to read those heartfelt sentiments.

By nature it’s fairly easy to be thankful when everything is going our way and the sun is shining.  But what about when nothing seems to be going right and the sun is not shining?  Has God suddenly withdrawn His blessings from us in those times?  Of course not.  Too often, though, our actions and our thoughts convey that we believe He has.

Recently I had a day when it felt like things were falling apart and my attempts to be cheerful sounded hollow.  I was asking the Lord to please help me to trust Him and to have a better attitude, and I Thessalonians 5:18 came to mind: “In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.”   As I quoted the verse in my mind, the Holy Spirit impressed on me the thought that God hasn’t asked us to be thankful for everything but to be thankful in every thing.  There’s a difference.  I hadn’t ever seen it that way before, and it was encouraging.  In a way it felt like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders.

I decided to study this a little further and found seven places (there may be more) where the phrase, “the sacrifice of thanksgiving” is found: Leviticus 7:12-13 (twice in these verses); Leviticus 22:29; Psalm 107:22; Psalm 116:17; Amos 4:5; Jonah 2:9.  What does that mean?  One definition of the word sacrifice is: the surrender or destruction of something prized or desirable for the sake of something considered as having a higher or more pressing claim.  Ahh…..exactly!  The Lord Jesus Christ surely has a “higher or more pressing claim” on the lives of every one of us because He shed His blood on the cross of Calvary to pay for our sin.  By nature, we are selfish, prideful creatures, and our self will and ego cause us many problems.  When things in our life are not going the way we think they should, that pride and selfishness quickly surface.

A sacrifice of thanksgiving, then, is when we surrender our will to God’s, making a conscious choice to be thankful and to praise Him regardless of our current circumstances.  It doesn’t happen easily or automatically.  It takes discipline and a decision on our part that having the right attitude is more important than our own desires.  It really is a liberating concept, in a sense.  God has not asked us to be thankful for the trials and heartaches of life, but rather to be willing to be thankful in those things.  In the midst of our tears, heartache and frustration, being thankful for who He is and for what He has done for us glorifies Him.  When our attitude is right, suddenly the circumstances we’re facing seem a bit less daunting and overwhelming.  The bills will probably still be there; the sickness may not be cured right away or at all; the family issues may not be resolved quickly; but our spirit is strengthened when we keep God in the place where He belongs as our focus.

I pray that this will be an encouragement to many and that you and your family will have a blessed Thanksgiving!

Compassion Without Compromise

“That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of  Christ is at hand.  Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition: Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.”    II Thessalonians 2:2-4

We are definitely in a time when living a life pleasing to God in every way is not “popular,” even among other believers.  There is no one who is perfect or has “arrived,” but it seems that more and more when a person is striving to do what’s right, according to the standards set forth in God’s Word, he or she is looked at as being, “holier than thou, an unloving, judgmental person,” and often they are ostracized for it.

Many Christians are afraid to be specific about certain standards for fear of offending someone or crossing the line into the “gray” areas.  Yes, certain things are very touchy subjects, and it does take a great deal of prayer and discernment to be  compassionate without compromise.  The Lord dealt with me about this a few years ago over several months in my personal devotions.  It is very true that we need to show love and compassion to people; however, it is also true that to say nothing or to applaud them in a sinful situation is very unloving.  By doing so you are encouraging them to continue down a path that will bring heartache, and your approval adds to their belief that they are okay; that God must be blessing them because everything is going fine and life is grand.

Too often we confuse God’s blessing with His mercy.  Yes, God’s mercy is absolutely a blessing!!  But just because life may be going well does not mean a person has God’s blessing on them.  ” Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.”   (Isaiah 55:7)  The mercy follows a forsaking of sin; God cannot and will not bless sin.  To do so would make Him a liar and would make His Word a lie, and we definitely know that He is holy and just!  “God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good?”  (Numbers 23:19)  The devil is the liar, and he wants to keep people enslaved in their sin.

As we come up against situations that are “delicate” and need to be handled with wisdom and much prayer, we must remember that God is merciful, He is ready to forgive, and yes, we need to show His love and compassion to others.  But we must do so in a way that will not offend the holiness of God or give occasion to the world to mock God’s Word.  We must have courage to take a stand, even if we end up alone.  My heroes in the Bible are Joseph, Daniel and his three friends, and Noah (before the flood when he and his family were literally the only ones on earth who believed God).

I am so thankful for Christian friends who are also willing to take a stand, however unpopular it might be, and who have a priority to please God first and foremost!  I have two precious examples in my parents, and I’m blessed to have been raised in their home.  They would be the first to say that they’re not perfect, but they strive to please God and have a proper fear of God, and they instilled that in me and my brother.  I have not always done right, and I have let my parents down many times, but they have prayed for me and lovingly rebuked me and kept their love for the Lord and His Word above their love for me.  God, in His mercy, has kept His hand on me and on my children to bring us to where we are today.  This is why I am so fervent in what I believe; because of what God has taught me.  I have much to thank Him for!!

“Lord, help us to please You in all that we do; to be what we say we are, and not double minded.  (“A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.”  James 1:8)  When our flesh wants its way and our heart deceives us, please bring conviction to us immediately so that we can repent and be cleansed by You so that we will not hinder your Holy Spirit from working in our life, our home, our church, and any other circle of influence in which You place us.  Help us to show mercy and compassion to others as You have shown to us, but without compromising what You have set forth in Your Word.”

 

 

*written 7-14-11 as a Facebook post