“For nothing will be impossible with God.”

It is well with my soul. Have you ever listened, really listened, to the words of that hymn? If you can, read the story behind the words Horatio Spafford penned in 1873. In tragedy, he found that “Peace that passes all understanding” (Philippians 4:7). These are the original lyrics, as noted on Wikipedia:

When peace like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to knowa
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

Refrain:
It is well, (it is well),
With my soul, (with my soul)
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
Let this blest assurance control,
That Christ has regarded my helpless estate,
And hath shed His own blood for my soul.

My sin, oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!
My sin, not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!

For me, be it Christ, be it Christ hence to live:
If Jordan above me shall roll,
No pang shall be mine, for in death as in life,
Thou wilt whisper Thy peace to my soul.

But Lord, ’tis for Thee, for Thy coming we wait,
The sky, not the grave, is our goal;
Oh, trump of the angel! Oh, voice of the Lord!
Blessed hope, blessed rest of my soul.

And Lord, haste the day when the faith shall be sight,
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,
A song in the night, oh my soul! b

[a “know” (at the end of the third line) was changed to “say”.
b “A song in the night, oh my soul” (last line)
was changed to “Even so, it is well with my soul”.]

How many of us can say the same as Spafford? Can we lean on our LORD the way Spafford leaned on Him, and go on from tragedy – in peace! – and do the work GOD calls us to? I find it to be a hard task to let go of hurt and resentment, and yes, jealousy, because I compare my life and my hardships to others….. Oh, but that is just looking at the outsides of their lives! Do we really know what those we are looking at with their ‘better’ lives have gone through? Do we know their hardships and their tragedies? No! Even knowing someone well and having a closeup view of their lives doesn’t allow us to understand and to know what they have gone through. As humans, I think we tend to look at others through somewhat rosy glasses, and judge them for having what we think we want/deserve. Perhaps that’s why JESUS said in Matthew 7 not to judge others. For myself, on my own, I find it impossible to have peace and contentment. It is only when I can release the hurt and negativity to my LORD, and lean entirely on Him that I find peace, and then it is truly well with my soul.

Like everything else in life, attaining true Peace – through JESUS CHRIST – is a choice. Like Mary, listen to the words of the angel Gabriel:

“For nothing will be impossible with God.”

And let my answer be as Mary’s: “I am the LORD’s slave. May it be done to me according to your word.” – Luke 1:37‭-‬38 HCSB

Amen.

From the Library of Congress.

LET FREEDOM RING!

“For the Spirit GOD gave us does not make us timid, but gives us Power, Love and self-Discipline. So do not be ashamed of the testimony about our LORD or of me His prisoner. Rather, join with me in suffering for the Gospel, by the Power of GOD. He has saved us and called us to a Holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of His Own Purpose and grace. This Grace was given us in CHRIST JESUS before the beginning of time, but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our SAVIOR, CHRIST JESUS, Who has destroyed death and has brought LIFE and Immortality to light through the Gospel.” – 2 Timothy 1:7‭-‬10 NIV

Okay, you are probably asking what in the world does this scripture have to do with our celebrating the freedom of our country today? Without the Freedom of our LORD, there is no other freedom. We are Blessed to live in this great country (yes, great, despite all of her problems) where we can believe and worship and give testimony to our beliefs without fear of government retaliation. It is nearly impossible to do this in many countries around the world. It is unfortunate, though, that even in the U.S.A. many followers of CHRIST are singled out and persecuted, while any and every other belief system is tolerated, and encouraged. Our soldiers and sailors, fly-boys and marines and other maritime services have given life and limb to ensure our freedoms….. yet so many citizens spit on them and ridicule and revile them for that service.

Today, I celebrate my freedom as a citizen of this great nation, and I celebrate my freedom from death through JESUS CHRIST. Both of these freedoms came with tremendous sacrifice! Not my sacrifice, but the unbelievable and incomprehensible sacrifices of our country’s men and women, and most importantly, the sacrifice of my LORD and SAVIOUR, JESUS CHRIST. Grace and Mercy abounds, Amen!

“If My people, who are called by MY Name, will humble themselves and pray and seek My Face and turn from their wicked ways, then I WILL Hear from heaven, and I WILL forgive their sin and WILL heal their land.” – 2 Chronicles 7:14 NIV

Time to hit our knees, people!!

Morning Has Broken….

…. to a misty, watery sunlight with intermittent rain showers. The mockingbird on the neighbor’s roof is amplified and sounds like it is broadcasting to the world. It rained a bit last night; just enough to get the ground wet and cool us off to a more spring-like temperature. It’s the kind of morning that makes me wish for a screened sleeping porch, so we could just laze and enjoy. Indoors, work beckons, but for now, I am resisting. The pups are finally okay with coming outside after the thundering of last nights storm.

A few years ago, a lightning strike and the gigantic corresponding clap of thunder right next to us made it feel as though the house jumped in surprise. It blew out the power, and a small ball of fire burst out of the fireplace. Since then, the little one hides whenever there is thunder, even when it is barely discernable to me. He refuses to go outside, preferring to cower under something inside ….. which leads to another problem. Little dogs, no matter the pedigree or background, have to go out more frequently than the bigger ones. Consequently, I got up this morning to several puddles on my newly cleaned kitchen floor. 🤔 Just like having a 2 year old without a diaper ….. Good thing they are so (stinkin’) cute. 😜

As pleasant as my morning is (except the pee-puddles!), there are hundreds of thousands who wake to a really broken morning. A home missing a parent – or both parents. Dealing with a recent loss of a loved one, especially losing a child. Homeless, hungry. Forsaken by a spouse, or worse, beaten and abused. Devastation from wildfires or floods or volcanos. Hopeless, desperate, depressed. I’ve known some of these, and I am grateful for my home and my place in this world. I count myself among the blessed because I have friends and family who care.

Most of all, I am Blessed because I know JESUS. He is the Morning Star, the Hope that gets me up in the morning. I’ve tried life without Him, and it can be passable, but it is lacking. How did I make it without the Hope, the Grace, and above all, the Mercy of my LORD? How? I’d have to say, very poorly. Because of Him, I have the pedigree of a princess. From commoner to royalty, I have been lifted up into the bloodline of the KING of kings, LORD of Lords, Creator and Ruler of the universe. What bloodline or pedigree can compare to that?

One day

Have you heard Jeremy Camp sing “There Will Be A Day”? It begins like this:

I try to hold on to this world with everything I have
But I feel the weight of what it brings, and the hurt that tries to grab
The many trials that seem to never end…..”

There are days when my head and body ache, and my eyes are gritty like they are full of sand. I’m tired. My mind wants to shut down and sleep, but instead of rest, the instant my head hits the pillow my brain is caught up in a maelstrom and swirls around in an avalanche of random thoughts. I want to get up and go and do things, but the wind sucks away all of my strength. My spirit is willing but my flesh is weak. My desire is to fight, but life weighs so heavily on me.

“Fight the good fight for the True Faith. Hold tightly to the Eternal Life to which GOD has called you, which you have declared so well before many witnesses.” – 1 Timothy 6:12 NLT

Am I alone in feeling this way?

All I have to do is open a social media site, or turn on the TV or radio, or pick up a paper to see the misery and anguish that permeates society. We are surrounded by complaining, grasping, whiny people, who often drown out the muffled cries of the ones dealing with real suffering and tragedy. No, I don’t count myself as someone who has real cause to cry. Most of my issues, physical and emotional, can be attributed to decisions I’ve made without waiting for GOD’s answer.

The song goes on to say But I hold on to this HOPE and the Promise that He brings
That there will be a place with no more suffering…”

I pray that when things, when life, looks and feels hopeless, you will raise your eyes and look to JESUS. He walks beside us, and He will carry us when we need it. He will take our burdens if we’ll just let go of them – picture this: your hand is gripping the handle of your baggage, then loosen your fingers and move your hand away from it…. Flex your fingers. It feels so good, not having to lug that heavy load!

I long for the day when JESUS returns and the enemy is conquered, because then we will have a new heaven and a new earth; a place where GOD Himself willwipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” – Revelations 21:4 ESV

Conclusion? Life sucks sometimes. I can blame others, I can claim victim status and vie for sympathy, or I can lay myself and my burdens at the foot of the cross of JESUS, and carry on with His help. What will it be for you? What a friend we have in JESUS! Amen!

My Happy Place

The ocean calls to me with the rhythm of the tides as they ebb and flow. It’s something inexplicable; a feeling deep in my being. The sound of the surf breaking, the distinct smell of saltwater, the wind blowing in from the water, the incessant sound of seagulls….. it all serves to ground me; it’s my Happy Place. I’ve heard many people express their dislike of the sea, saying that it’s humid, noisy, dirty. Oh, the sea can be those things, but it is so much more. There’s a primal quality with the tides; a siren song as they call to our innermost beings. I’ve read that the sea is a harsh mistress, and I can understand that, but it can be a gentle lover, too, caressing and soothing. When I am at the ocean, and I experience the tide continuing it’s course, inexorably constant, the outgoing tide washes away my stress and worries while the incoming tide brings peace and contentment.

The tide is an apt analogy for how GOD works. When we accept Him, He washes us and caresses us with the gentlest tides. He washes away my cares when I rest in Him, while bringing serenity and peace into my life. The enemy throws storms at us, sending huge tides and monstrous waves at us, trying to wash us away – our LORD is our Anchor in the riptides and the maelstroms of life; without Him, we become like the wrecks at the bottom of the sea. Jesus said,

“I tell you the Truth, those who listen to My Message and believe in GOD who sent Me have Eternal Life. They will never be condemned for their sins, but they have already passed from death into life.” – John 5:24 NLT

“This Hope is a strong and trustworthy Anchor for our souls. It leads us through the curtain into GOD’s Inner Sanctuary.” – Hebrews 6:19 NLT

GOD Blesses Those….

“GOD Blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation. Afterward they will receive the Crown of Life that GOD has promised to those who love Him.” – James 1:12 NLT

I don’t like this verse. “Patiently endure….” GOD knows I want His Blessings, and I know that He hears my prayers for deliverance from the physical and financial issues I face. He also knows I have ZERO patience! I get really angry at the LORD when He doesn’t give me the answer I want, and when He makes me wait for His answer, well, let’s just say that I’m not always very gracious about it. In spite of the countless Blessings He has bestowed upon me, I want more Blessings and fewer tests and temptations! As a former pastor would put it to me : “And how’s that working out for you?” Not so great, if I’m honest with myself and don’t sink into denial. Ever since our ancestors were booted out of the Garden because of their original and extraordinary poor choice to ignore the one rule the LORD gave them, all of humanity has followed their lead, heaping bad decision upon bad decision, ad infinitum! Due to that one incredibly bad decision, we live in a society and a world that is full of trials and temptations. (Thank you, Satan, and Adam and Eve for listening to you …… and yes, that is sarcasm ….. )

Despite the history of bad decisions and the onus of sin that is upon us, the Creator GOD has given us the solution to our sinful humanity in the form of JESUS. He took on Himself a human form so that He could become the ultimate sacrifice; to be tortured and to die in order to cover our sins with His blood, and then to conquer death When He rose from the grave! He did this so that we could be freed from the endless cycle of sin and death that was bestowed on us by the enemy. As long as our earthly bodies live; until JESUS returns, we still have to dwell in this corrupt and imperfect body and earth.

How much longer, LORD?

Because I know the Truth, and because I have surrendered my life to Him, I know I’m free from death and hell ….. but how much longer before Isaiah’s propecy is realized? I’m ready, are you?

“Sing for JOY, O heavens! REJOICE, O earth! Burst into song, O mountains! For the LORD has comforted His people and will have compassion on them in their suffering.” – Isaiah 49:13 NLT

To My Dad

“The LORD is my Shepherd; I have all that I need. He lets me rest in green meadows; He leads me beside peaceful streams. He renews my strength. He guides me along right paths, bringing honor to His Name. Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for YOU are close beside me. Your Rod and Your Staff protect and comfort me. You prepare a feast for me in the presence of my enemies. You honor me by anointing my head with oil. My cup overflows with blessings. Surely Your Goodness and Unfailing LOVE will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will live in the house of the LORD forever.” – Psalms 23:1‭-‬6 NLT

My Mom gave me the ultimate compliment. She said I sound like (write like) my Dad. I am so unworthy of that statement! My Dad was one of the strongest Christians I have ever known, and he and my Mom are forever my heroes. Through adversity that would have felled a lesser man, he persisted in preaching the Gospel and telling everyone he came in contact with about his Saviour, JESUS. He wasn’t afraid to talk about our LORD, and he delivered many scathing sermons – not always in the pulpit, either. I have been the direct recipient of a few of those sermons, and I can say without any hesitation that he went straight to the point (or you could say, the jugular) so that there was no chance of misunderstanding. He believed so strongly in spreading GOD’s Love that he walked away from a lucrative family business, and alienated his own Dad in the process. He was an incredible teacher, making a tremendous effort to ensure that everyone, without regard to age, education, or station understood what JESUS and the scriptures meant.

Was he perfect? Oh no, far from it. He was often an absent parent, because he would be at someone’s house or hospital room, ministering to their needs. He didn’t made a decent wage for most of our childhoods, but we somehow always had food and a roof over our heads (GOD provides, always!). He let my Mom juggle housework and 6 kids and school and shopping and church-work, because he was gone so much. He could be rigid in his ways, and we (all) butted heads over things. I never doubted that he loved us or Mom, but it was evident he loved his LORD even more, and he made sure that we all knew about JESUS and Salvation. I would’t trade the way I was raised, although I would have given quite a lot if he would have gotten me the pony I wanted 😎 …..

He ensured that all 6 of his children understood what it meant to partake of the Living Water of JESUS CHRIST, and he had the privilege to lead us to the LORD. He mellowed quite a bit as he got older, but his focus stayed on his LORD. Although most of us rebeled and strayed from what we knew what was the Truth (thus leading to those scathing sermons….. ), most of us have returned to the LORD as we have matured. My parents lived this proverb:

“Train a child in the way he should go. When he is old, he will not turn away from it.” – Proverbs 22:6 NIRV

We may turn away from GOD, but when we have a strong Foundation, one reinforced by JESUS, we will eventually return to the Living Water. Even though my Dad has been with his JESUS for a number of years, the legacy of his life lives on in countless souls who found Salvation in JESUS and partook of the Living Water of His Salvation. There will be a tremendous celebration in heaven when we all get there! Will you partake of the Living Water of GOD and join us?

Listen to Mercy Me sing ‘Greater’ …..