Count It All Joy

This passage from James has never been one of my favorites.

“Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him. Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death. Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow. In the exercise of His will He brought us forth by the Word of Truth, so that we would be a kind of first fruits among His creatures.” – JAMES 1:2‭-‬3‭, ‬12‭-‬15‭, ‬17‭-‬18 NASB

I don’t want to hear that I can’t blame my sin on someone – or some thing – other than myself! Yet James said it clearly: “But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust.I can’t say “the devil made me do it”? I mean, he introduced sin into the world, right? He’s the reason Eve, and Adam, sinned! No, that is flawed. The devil – Satan, the Evil One – did bring in the idea of sin, but we are the ones who choose it over what we know is right. Here’s the thing. Even though we have free will and it is our choice to sin, the LORD in His wisdom gives us a way to circumvent our lack of judgement. Not our free will, but our lack of judgement, our lack of wisdom. The LORD never takes away our free will!

“But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.” – JAMES 1:5 NASB

I almost think that James should have written it this way: “But as we all lack wisdom, let us all ask of God ….”

LORD, I ask for Your wisdom, because I know first-hand how flawed my own thinking is, having experienced the consequences of it. I ask for the faith to not doubt You and to wholly submit myself to Your desires over mine. Amen.

(https://www.britannica.com/topic/The-Thinker-sculpture-by-Rodin)

He Is MORE Than Able!

Now to Him Who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His Power that is at work within us, to Him be Glory in the church and in CHRIST JESUS throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.” – Ephesians 3:20‭-‬21 NIV

I love these verses! We used to sing them to a simple melody in the little church we were a part of …. beautiful, and Absolute Truth.

You may have missed my blogs the past few days. I have been without my tablet/computer, and I was beginning to feel bereft! It wasn’t because it was lost or stolen or anything bad; I’ve been really busy and everything has taken a back seat to a rather momentous occasion. 😎 My sweet Mama (she’ll turn 92 in a couple of months!!) just moved back to Oklahoma after spending the past 36-37 years in Tucson, AZ to be closer to more of her kids. I had the privilege of going out to her home in Arizona for several weeks to pack her things in preparation for the move, and now we get to help her settle into her new place here. It’s been a real blessing to work with my sisters and my Mom as we see an apartment turn into a cozy home, with the bonus that she’s now 35 miles from me, rather than 1000! It’s much easier to visit now!

My prayer is that I will be able to move even closer, so that I am more readily available for her…. would you pray for me? My income is severely limited and I need two things: a part-time job close too her, and a small house (also closer) within my budget. On my own, looking at my finances, this is an insurmountable task – especially considering that I’ve spent the majority of the last 2 1/2 years looking for a position! – but then I remember Ephesians 3:20-21 and all of the crazy, overwhelming challenges I have been faced with in my life, and I know I have to turn it over to my LORD. These verses that Paul wrote resonate in my heart as well:

And my GOD will meet all your needs according to the riches of His GLORY in CHRIST JESUS. To our GOD and FATHER be Glory for ever and ever. Amen.” – Philippians 4:19‭-‬20 NIV

GOD Loves me, He will provide. Listen to the beautiful new hymn, Living Hope, sung by Phil Wickham:

How great the chasm that lay between us
How high the mountain I could not climb

JESUS CHRIST, my Living HOPE!

Amen!

The LORD Your GOD Is With You

Wherever I go, whatever I do, I am assured that even if I am physically alone, I will never be alone. Does that confuse you?

I just spent the past month with my Mom, helping her prepare for a big move: 1000 miles, downsizing to a smaller apartment, closer to more family, and a much smaller community with help available as needed. It’s a good thing, although difficult, and a new adventure. I’m excited, because she’ll be 30 miles from me instead of 1000. I’m sad, too, because my baby sister and her family are still 1000 miles away….. (sounds like a good excuse to go back to the desert southwest for a visit!) My Mom has an abiding faith in our LORD, and she has learned to be content wherever she is. I loved being able to spend the time with her, because it helped me to see her contentment in the situation, even though it is stressful and difficult. The verse for the day encourages me to be like her:

“This book of the law shall not depart out of your mouth; you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to act in accordance with all that is written in it. For then you shall make your way prosperous, and then you shall be successful. I hereby command you: Be strong and courageous; do not be frightened or dismayed, for the LORD your GOD is with you wherever you go.” – Joshua 1:8‭-‬9 NRSV

The word “prosperous” jumps out at me. Growing up in the home of a small town Baptist preacher, we were anything but prosperous buy the definition of the world. There were many occassions when food and clothes were lacking, yet we were always fed, clean, and clothed. In spite of the small paychecks, my parents were faithful with their tithe and offerings of time. My Dad made sure that Mom was provided for when he passed on, too. I know it was hard on them both, being the pastor and the pastor’s wife meant they gave up major chunks of their lives in serving the LORD, but I saw – and still see – the truth of this verse in them: “Be strong and courageous; do not be frightened or dismayed, for the LORD your GOD is with you wherever you go.No matter where you are, how you feel, whatever your circumstance, hold on to this. Never alone! Amen.

This is for you, Mom….

Mother’s Day has come and gone. I didn’t call my Mom. I did send a card, but it probably didn’t get there until Monday. I haven’t been to see her in a year. Just because she lives 1000 miles away is not really an excuse. Seriously. As the saying goes, ‘A day late and a dollar short’ …. story of my life. I may not call often, I certainly don’t write or email much, and I don’t make the trip out to Arizona with enough frequency. Quilty as charged; mea culpa.

I love my Mom. She’s my hero. I’ve talked about her before. She should have medals and trophies for the hardship and deprivation she has faced – and overcome – in her life. She is facing still more hardship in the physical and emotional, and she continues in her 90’s to carry on with courage. She is the Proverbs 31 woman (verses 10-31). Her tribe of 6 kids can never show sufficiently show her how much she means to us all. I’m just really impressed she didn’t kill* any of us when we were kids because of our attitudes and actions. (*Figuratively, of course!!) Actually, I can’t wait to see the crowns and accolades she’ll receive when she gets to heaven!

Mom didn’t only have to deal with 6 children, although that task alone scares the bejeebers out of me! She was a preacher’s wife, and not just any kind of preacher, but a Southern Baptist, super-strict, totally dedicated to his job kind of preacher. I loved my Dad (still do!), but the truth is that he was a hard taskmaster, and still demanded more from himself than from anyone around him. Mom was a full-time Mom, full-time wife, full-time helpmeet at the church and at home. I know there were times when she was exhausted both physically and emotionally, but I don’t ever remember her ever giving up. She has inspired and is admired by so many people, including me. My life has been full of poor, and definitely stupid, choices, and I hurt my Mom and my Dad. I have deeply disappointed them. Through it all, they continued to love me and to pray for me, even (maybe especially) when they didn’t like me. She has been steadfast in her love of the LORD, in her love for my Dad, and in her love for her children.

My Mom is my hero. I may not call or write or visit, but she is always in my heart and my mind. I love you, Mom.

(Photo from BayArt.org)