This I Well Know!

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Milestones.  I’m not exactly sure why we mark them except that we seem to have this innate desire to keep track of events that we consider important.  I am no exception. I am our family’s self-proclaimed historian and an avid scrapbooker.  My husband and I recently marked a milestone that we are very thankful for – our 25th wedding anniversary!  Yay!  🥳💕

To mark the occasion and celebrate we spent a fun-filled week in Branson, Missouri with very dear and long-time friends.  It was a wonderful week!  Branson is not just for retirees.  There is something for people of all ages.  We shopped, saw a couple of shows, ate amazing food, and saw some awe-inspiring views.  We took a helicopter ride, rode on a riverboat, and thought about horseback riding 😉  Most importantly, we spent quality time together.  Some of my favorite memories from the trip were sitting on the deck of the condo we were in, watching the river go by and talking.  It was so peaceful!

Twenty-five years is a long time to spend with one person.  My history prior to meeting Rich would lead one to believe that I would never celebrate a 25th wedding anniversary (three failed marriages and many abusive relationships), but God is good!  He changed my path, changed my story, and here we are!  More in love than ever and still the best of friends!  I am convinced that there are two secrets to a happy and long-lasting marriage; friendship and Jesus. Rich and I were friends before we were anything else and Jesus is the foundation on which we’ve built our life together.

It hasn’t always been easy, by any means, but in comparison to what I experienced before Rich it has been bliss!  We’ve had a few rough patches, but our friendship and our faith have seen us through.  We have almost always been able to talk to each other and I have never forgotten why I fell in love with him in the first place. As for him, he gets more adoring with each passing year. He spoils me and truly makes me feel like I’m the most important human on this planet to him. I can’t really put into words all the ways in which he is perfect for me. I truly believe that God created Rich just for me.

As of today, we have made it twenty-five years and one week.  I don’t know whether the Lord will give us another twenty-five years or twenty-five days. Either way I look forward to every minute I get to share this life with my best friend and the love of my life!  I am a very blessed woman and this I well know!

😊💕

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Worth Having

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In my 20 plus years as a Christian I have heard sermon after sermon about the “free” gift of salvation, about how glorious life is after receiving Christ and having your sins washed away.  Well, I beg to differ.  I’m going to make a very bold statement that may upset a few people; salvation is not free.  There is a cost that a lot of preachers don’t want to tell you about because it doesn’t make Christianity sound so attractive, and they want you to want it.  And you can have it for the low price of the life that you’re used to living.  Yes, your life.

Most of us didn’t learn about this price until after we’d signed up.  Once you’re in, they tell you about the sacrifices you’re expected to make; giving up sin, dropping old emotional baggage, letting someone who knows you even better than you know yourself guide you through life, giving up control.  What?!

The “free” part comes when God takes that old life and gives you a new one that’s a hundred times better.  I’m not sure that math adds up, but I guess that’s why they call it grace.  I won’t kid you though, it’s not always easy.  We’re comfortable with our emotional baggage and dropping it can be difficult.  I know I attempted to pick mine back up several times.  And giving up control?  Don’t even get me started!   Then there’s the whole getting to know someone you can’t physically see, hear, or touch thing.  Talk about not easy!

Here’s the thing – Christ sacrificed His life to save us from the penalty of death for our sins, and make no mistake – we are ALL sinners.  When we choose to accept His gift of salvation we are choosing to make Him Lord of our lives; walk with Him, talk with Him, learn His ways and follow His example.  These things are not easy for finite, self-absorbed creatures like us.  He knows that and He loves us anyway.

Sometimes walking with Jesus feels like a big sacrifice.  It feels difficult and even confusing at times.  Bad things still happen to us and we still mess up big time. The difference is that we are still forgiven, AND we have a helper at our disposal – the Holy Spirit.  We can turn to Him at any time for comfort and advice.  This Christian life is not for the faint of heart.  It’s a wild ride!  It’s an ongoing process of one step forward, two steps back sometimes and other times it’s a glorious mountaintop experience.  It’s an adventure like no other!  We don’t receive Christ and immediately move into the castle.  We spend some time in the desert, just like Jesus did.

Like Theodore Roosevelt once said, “Nothing worth having comes easy.”  A relationship with Jesus is worth having!  Eternity in heaven rather than hell is worth everything I’ve got to give!  Christ going to the cross for us wasn’t easy for Him. I guess He thinks that WE are worth having.

😊💕

The Measure of God’s Goodness

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My devotion this morning addressed the goodness of God.  It asked this question: “Do we believe God is good by what we see or do we believe God is good because of who He is?”  I decided to honestly ask myself that question and the answer surprised me a little.

I believe that the Bible is the infallible Word of God.  The Bible tells me in no uncertain terms that God is good.  “And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good except God alone.” -MARK‬ ‭10:18‬ ‭NASB‬. “For You are not a God who takes pleasure in wickedness; No evil dwells with You.” -PSALMS‬ ‭5:4‬ ‭NASB‬‬‬. In addition to these verses and more like them, I have my own proof.  Things God has done for me that I did not deserve – good things.  The greatest of which was to die for me and save me from the penalty of my own sin.  If He did nothing else for me my entire life, that alone would be enough to prove His goodness.  That was not all He did though.

In addition to healing me physically from an incurable disease God has given me countless blessings, been a comfort to me innumerable times, and healed me emotionally from a very hurtful and dysfunctional past.  God is good, I have no doubt, and yet . . . there are times when I don’t feel that He is being good to me.  There are times when I believe God’s goodness based on what I see.

I am a fickle and unfaithful human at my core. Somehow, in spite of my hard-knock life, I am spoiled.  Sometimes, when things don’t go my way, my initial reaction is that of a spoiled brat.  I get angry and pitch a fit.  I whine, complain, and cry out “Why?!”  This is a character flaw that I am not proud of and I end up being appalled with myself when it rears its ugly head, AND it’s the truth.  I KNOW that God is good.  I have personally experienced God’s goodness (by my definition of “good”).  What I forget is that He sees the beginning from the end and He knows what is best for me better than even I do.

When something happens to me that I perceive as “bad”, in truth, God is in control and He has a good reason for allowing it into my life.  He will work it out for good somehow, whether it’s for my good or someone else’s, because HE is good.  Yes, the world is full of evil and God could certainly get rid of it all in one fell swoop.  I often ask myself why He doesn’t.  I don’t really know the answer, but I DO know that He has a plan for this world and all of us in it.  I choose to trust His plan and after the whining and complaining, I usually come to my senses and do just that – trust what I know of Him. He IS good and He DOES good.

A Small, Still Knowing

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Dreams and visions I know not of.
I’ve heard no heavenly voice.
No flash of lightning nor thunder clap
Has led me to rejoice.

A small, still knowing deep inside
Is what leads me by and by.
It tells me “when” and “how” and “where”
And sometimes even “why”.

You don’t really hear it as much as feel it.
It’s knowing that you know.
There’s no confusion or nagging doubt.
In confidence you follow.

There may be fear or nervousness
From leaving your comfort zone,
But there’s really no choice for those who love Him
Once His will is known.

Dreams and visions I know not of.
I’ve heard no Heavenly voice.
Just a small, still knowing deep inside
That leads me to rejoice.

                                                                                © 2019, Brenda Lenz

He Can, but Will He?

I read this verse this morning, “Behold, I am the LORD, the God of all flesh; is anything too difficult for Me?” -Jeremiah‬ ‭32:27‬ ‭NASB‬‬. The answer, of course, is “No”. God can do ANYTHING except sin (and that subject is for another day). He can heal. He can intervene.  He can change our circumstances completely.  Although many people have often questioned His power and abilities, in my mind that’s never been the question.

Jehovah, the God of the Bible, is the creator of the universe.  “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters. Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light.” -Genesis‬ ‭1:1-3‬ ‭NASB. What could possibly be impossible for Him?!  He stopped the sun for Joshua:  “Then Joshua spoke to the LORD in the day when the LORD delivered up the Amorites before the sons of Israel, and he said in the sight of Israel, “O sun, stand still at Gibeon, And O moon in the valley of Aijalon.” So the sun stood still, and the moon stopped, Until the nation avenged themselves of their enemies. . . . . There was no day like that before it or after it, when the LORD listened to the voice of a man; for the LORD fought for Israel.”‭‭ -Joshua‬ ‭10:12-14‬ ‭NASB‬‬‬‬.   The Bible is full of accounts of His healing and intervening on behalf of mankind.  He CAN do anything.  The real question is, WILL He?

Is it His will to change these circumstances at this time?  Is it His will to heal this person at this time?  And HOW will He do these things?  I ask that question as well and I can count on Him not doing it the way I expect a good portion of the time. If I have any doubts about God, this is where they lie.  More often than not, I doubt that He will do anything dramatic or that what He does will even be visible to me.  I have seen God do many dramatic things in my 23-years of walking with Him, so why do I doubt?  I guess because there have been plenty of times when I didn’t see what He was doing.  I didn’t see and I didn’t understand.

A funny thing about being a child of God is that in some way it’s like being anyone’s child – we don’t HAVE to understand.  We don’t have to KNOW everything our parent is doing and we don’t have to UNDERSTAND everything either.  Our job is to obey and if they’re a good parent, we trust them.  God is a good parent.  I can trust Him.  I can trust that while a particular thing that I want (or think I need) at a particular time that I want it may not be His will . . . He absolutely CAN accomplish it.

So, the question is not “Can He?”, but rather “Is it His will?  WILL He?  I don’t always know and here enters faith.  Faith that He is in control – “I know that You can do all things, And that no purpose of Yours can be thwarted.” -Job‬ ‭42:2‬ ‭NASB‬‬. “Your regulations remain true to this day, for everything serves Your plans.” -Psalms‬ ‭119:91‬ ‭NLT‬‬  Faith that He wants good for me – “For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.” -Jeremiah‬ ‭29:11‬ ‭NASB‬‬.  And faith that in the end, HIS plans will all work out – “Furthermore, because we are united with Christ, we have received an inheritance from God, for He chose us in advance, and He makes everything work out according to His plan.” -Ephesians‬ ‭1:11‬ ‭NLT‬‬.   Amen!  He can and He will, according to His plans and purposes, not mine.

😊👍🏻

On the Potter’s Wheel

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One of the hardest things for people to come to terms with regarding God is how a loving God can allow such bad things to happen in the world He created.  It’s a very difficult thing to reconcile.  Even I, as a firm believer in Jesus Christ and His love, struggle with that sometimes.  Especially lately, since being diagnosed with Cervical Dystonia. You see, even His children are not exempt from the effects of sin in the world. 

At first I thought I might face some judgement from others as a Christian walking around with a brace around my neck.  After all, aren’t Christians supposed to be under God’s protection and happy all the time?  Bad things don’t happen to true Christians, right?  Wrong!  All you have to do is read the accounts of the Apostle Paul in the Bible to know better than that.  My dad and I were having a conversation one day many years ago and he said to me, “Since becoming a Christian, only good things have happened to you.”  I was a little taken aback by his statement, then realized that the only reason he could say that was because he didn’t see all the “bad” stuff.  He lived 1700 miles away in another state for most of my adult life and we weren’t terribly close, so I didn’t confide in him. Still, after thinking about it for awhile I came to the conclusion that even the “bad” things weren’t all that bad and they always worked out.

God is the Creator of the universe and at the end of the day, He can do as He pleases.  He created us.  When was the last time that something you created was able to tell you what to do with it?  The great thing is that God loves us and when we choose to love Him back and obey Him, He works in our lives.  He has a plan for dealing with all the sin in the world and that plan will be worked out in His timing.  In the meantime, we live in a place where men are allowed to make evil choices.  A place where there is disease, drought, famine, harsh weather, pain, sorrow, fear, doubt – all the result of sin entering the world when the first humans first disobeyed God.  

Also, in the meantime, God provided a way for us to navigate and even flourish in this sinful world through Jesus Christ.  “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. . . . He who believes in Him is not judged; . . . “ John‬ ‭3:16, 18a‬ ‭NASB‬. He has made certain promises to those whom He has given the right to become children of God‬.  One of those promises is to work things out in our lives.  Even the bad things. “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” -Romans‬ ‭8:28‬ ‭NASB‬‬. If I have learned anything about God in the 23 years that I have been walking with Him on this journey it’s that He is faithful to His promises.

I don’t always see the results of God’s work in my life right away and sometimes I do.  Sometimes I may not see it at all because it was for someone else’s benefit.  And sometimes the work God is doing is painful and difficult, BUT He walks through it with me and provides peace and comfort.  I don’t pretend to know or understand all the ways in which God works. That is impossible for any of us.  “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” declares the LORD.” –Isaiah‬ ‭55:8‬ ‭NASB‬‬. I have had enough evidence in my life, however, to know that He is working things out for good.  Whether it’s for my good, someone else’s good, or for the good of the kingdom of heaven is solely up to Him and I’m good with that.  I trust Him.  I don’t always LIKE the way He does things and I don’t have to.  Our children don’t always like the way WE do things and they don’t have to either.  A parent’s job is not to make their children happy, but to help them grow into the people God created them to be.

I want to be all that God created me to be.  Jesus owes me nothing, yet He gave His life so that I and all who trust in Him would be saved from God’s judgement and wrath – that dealing with sin I mentioned earlier.  If He never did another thing for me, what He did on the cross was above and beyond anything I could ever imagine that I was entitled to.  But He continues to do things for me.  He continues to bless me and work my life out for good.  He is with me always and He will finish the good work He started in me.  One day I will be all that He created me to be. Until that day, I pray that I would always be willing to climb up on the Potter’s wheel and let Him mold and shape me, whatever that means.  I want to be a pliable lump of clay.  In the Master’s hands I am confident that a beautiful work of art will be the end result.

😊🏺

The Dark Side Has Cookies

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“Let Jesus comfort you in your pain. When we suffer, yet show joy, we glorify God because we can’t do this on our own. This is the work of the Holy Spirit in us. God wants you living in freedom and joy now regardless of what you’re going through. If you focus all your time on what isn’t, you will lose focus on what is.” -Just Jesus Devotional

This was part of my devotional commentary this morning and it really spoke to me.  Living with Cervical Dystonia is a painful and frustrating experience.  It could be a very dark place if I only focused on what I can’t do anymore or just the pain and frustration.  I am a melancholy personality and it wouldn’t be that hard for me, but even I can’t stand the thought of such a negative life.  How sad and wasteful!

Every life that God creates has value.  Regardless of what society says about our worth; whether we’re pretty enough, rich enough, productive enough.  God says we are enough and we all have a purpose here.  Not only that, but there is beauty all around us to bring us joy.  Sunshine, blue skies, sunsets, bird song, the sound of rain, cool breezes, the scent of flowers.  There’s something for all the senses.  If we can’t see it, we can hear it, if we can’t hear it, we can smell it or feel it.    Focus on what IS – find your purpose and find a way to bring beauty into your life.

There is always a way.  Sometimes it takes a lot of thought and determination to find it, but I believe there is always a way to find good in a seemingly bad situation.  For me, Jesus is my comfort and He reminds me of the good in my life when I am tempted to the dark side.  On those days when I start to focus on what isn’t He reminds me of what is; He loves me no matter what, I have a husband who is my best friend and supports me unconditionally, my life has purpose, I have people who love and depend on me to stay positive (little and very important eyes are watching me).  And there are so many things I am still capable of doing and doing well.  I am grateful and thankful for all of my blessings and most of all that I don’t have to do this alone.

Jesus has physically healed me in the past.  In 2005 He healed me of Fibromyalgia.  You can read about it here if you’d like.  So, I KNOW He can.  Whether He wills it for right now remains to be seen, but whether He heals my physical body or not, He has healed my soul for all eternity and that is even more important.  I WANT to live life now in the freedom and joy that is mine in Jesus Christ.  That is a choice I get to make every day – joy or despair.  For the glory of God, the good of myself and my family, joy is my choice. It’s not always easy and, like I said, some days the dark side beckons hard.  They have cookies, after all.  😂(that’s sort of an inside Star Wars joke.  I couldn’t resist).  See!  Joy everywhere!  Even with cookies though, it’s not worth the negativity and I always have help resisting, praise Jesus!  Whenever I call, He’ll pull me back.

🍪😡🙏🏻😃