Wednesday, April 9, 2014

The Book of Psalms by Linda Sweeney

We all have our favorite places to go and things to read.  I’m not sure why I love Psalms so much and consider it my favorite place in the Bible except maybe because it’s such a book of honesty!  David wrote the majority of the Psalms (Israel’s hymn book), and he’s definitely one of my favorite Bible characters.  He certainly wasn’t perfect, had no problem speaking his mind to God, and it always came back to a heart issue! 

I find so much hope in this book for whatever I’m going through.  Reading it always changes my countenance!  Even when my circumstances haven’t changed after prayer, I feel better when I’ve spent some time in this book.  It really is the book in my Bible that has the most “dog eared,” underlined, color coded and tear stained pages.  Sometimes I am led to cry out to God as David did because I am in such a hard and misunderstood place.  Other times I find myself singing out loud as I read the incredible praises David penned while worshipping his God.  Occasionally I realize I am telling God about my frustrations with people or circumstances (knowing He knows what I’m thinking before I speak).  One of my most favorite addresses to visit is Psalm 3:3 which says:  “But You, O Lord, are a shield about me, my glory, and the One who lifts my head.”  Sometimes I need a shield and sometimes I need my head to be lifted!   Maybe you do too.

I recommend that you go to the book of Psalms when you know you need “something,” but aren’t sure where to go…I believe you’ll find what you’re looking for in every chapter!

Psalms to Ponder
The Psalms were written by several different authors during a variety of situations, each highlighting a different aspect of God’s character. Read the following Psalms and note which facet of God’s character comes to mind for you.

Psalm 1
Psalm 8
Psalm 27
Psalm 34
Psalm 42
Psalm 71
Psalm 89
Psalm 96
Psalm 111
Psalm 145

Friday, March 14, 2014

Why?


WHY?

(The Book of Job)

We got the word last night that my friend Sylvia was gone. She had ridden her bike six miles that day, played games with a grandbaby, enjoyed her sister’s company, went into the house to make dinner and in a moment passed from life into death.  An ordinary day….a tragic ending. She was in good health, vivacious, loving, adored by her children and friends. And we can’t help but ask the question…why? 

The question was asked last week when once prosperous friends told us they had lost absolutely everything.  The question was asked as we watched a friend suffer from ongoing pain.  In fact at any given day at any given time, millions of people on this earth are asking the same question. We know in our very beings we were not made for death or intense suffering or loss.

I understand why the book of Job was the first book in the Bible to be written. It is because it is one of the first questions man asked right out of the Garden. And it is the first question God answers for us and if we take time to consider His answer it truly can give us the greatest comfort.

God’s answer in a nutshell is first in a question. “Who are you, Job?” and then God patiently helps Job see who he is NOT.  God continues and in line after line helps Job see Who God is. And there is where the comfort comes in.  Life is not a random series of unconnected events going nowhere. Behind every event is the unseen but deeply involved GOD and He is in control and He truly can be trusted.

As I look back over my life I can honestly say that after time has passed, I can see God’s hand of goodness as I have lost many loved ones to death, have endured physical suffering and encountered great financial loss. At the time there was fear and anxiety and sorrow and yes, even anger. Yet if I chose to lean, to trust, to rest in Him, He proved to be all I needed. Sometimes that came quickly and sometimes it was a slow process, but God gently drew me to Himself. And there was peace, and assurance and comfort. The Book of Job is there to help us, to show us the way through trials, through the story of one man’s life. And for Job I will ever be grateful!

Study Questions

Although it will take more than “15 minutes” to read through the 42 chapters in the Book of Job, it gives us a picture of suffering and a clear understanding that God is in control.

1.      Based on Job 1:1-5, how would you describe Job?

2.      Based on Job 1:6-22, why and how did Job suffer?

3.      After a long discourse about how righteous his life is, Job demands answers. Who does he demand an answer from? See Job 31:35

4.      Read Job 38 and 39. How would you answer the question that was asked in Job 40:2?

5.      What was Job’s answer? See Job 40:4, 5.

6.      What was the final outcome of Job’s life? See Job 42:10-17.

7.      What trial have you been through that caused you to question God?

8.      What did God reveal to you about himself through the trial?

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Purely Alluring


Our family (kids and grandkids- 13 in number) was enjoying a few days in the mountains, so of course the” girls” had to have a couple of hours shopping in the small village. My granddaughter,  Sydney, age fourteen, had been looking for a dress for her school’s spring dance and we found one in a small dress shop that we thought might fit the bill but we had no time for her to try it on.

The next day we returned to the village to enjoy lunch in a local restaurant. Afterwards we once again passed the dress shop and, we had the time, so Sydney went in and tried the dress on. There is a saying that the clothes make a man. Of course we know that isn’t always true but at that moment, when I saw her emerge from the dressing room, I was reminded once again that clothes indeed speak volumes. The message in that dress was simply beautiful and feminine and innocent and in it, she literally took my breath away!

Years ago my husband coined an expression that has stuck with me as I clothed my daughters when they were young and also now look for clothes for myself. It is “purely alluring” and it seems to fit perfectly with God’s idea of His well dressed daughters.  Purity speaks of wearing nothing that would be a stumbling block to others.  It is part of the sign that says my body is sacred, a temple of God, a daughter of the King.  But then the way we dress should be attractive, alluring to others, in fact it appears that the Proverbs 31 woman dressed beautifully.  Alluring  says that we wear nothing that is offensive and yet because of what we wear,  people will be initially drawn to us. Attractive dress does…well…attract.

Sydney’s dress was once again a good reminder for me.  Beauty and modesty go hand in hand and complement one another.  I have several more granddaughters and many more proms and special occasions where beautiful dresses will be chosen.  I am looking forward to each one of them “taking my breath away” by being purely alluring!

Psalm 45:13

The King’s daughter is all glorious within;

Her clothing is interwoven with gold.

Monday, January 6, 2014

2013 Year in Review


As I have been looking back over 2013 I am AMAZED at what God has allowed us to accomplish as we have worked together for His glory.  Below are those things that I have come up with but I bet you can add to the list!

·        We filmed 24 introduction/comedy segments at Anita Renfro’s home.

 
·        We taught Be Amazing to about 300 ladies at a retreat held at Calloway Garden.

 
·        Ms. Miller worked with us for four months to administer our database.

 
·        We filmed twenty-four testimonies for Be Amazing.

 
·        We filmed 24 segments of Be Amazing in four days at Buchholz’s home.

 
·        We completed the translation of all eleven of The Amazing Collection workbooks into Chinese.

 
·        The Spanish edition of The Pentateuch was printed and shipped to warehouse.

   
·        We filmed several skits for the temperaments.

 
·        The Be Amazing Workbook was completed and 2500 copies printed.

 
·        Hired Traci Martin to handle the social media and technology development as well as addressing all web and technology issues.

 
·        The Pentateuch was completed in the French language.

 
·        CNLTV in Russian picked up the Be Amazing Study for broadcasting. They will translate all DVDs into both the Russian and Ukraine language.

 
·        The barn was completed giving us more than 400 square feet of usable heated storage space.

 
·        We have boxed, packed, shipped, assembled and shrink-wrapped:

               5706 DVDs
               24,006 workbooks
               39 CDs

·        Greatly upgraded the fulfillment center with new packing tables.

 
·        Upgraded telephone system from one handset to five handsets.

 
And through it all, I think we have brought glory to God and have aided thousands in better understanding the Word of God and now also their roles as Christian women.

 
All I can say to you all is “Well done good and faithful servant.”

I appreciate you more than words can say.

 

Love and hugs

Pat

 

 

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

A God-Fashioned Barn Raisin'


A God-Fashioned Barn Raisin'

The call came from Rosemary our warehouse manager. “We have no more room in the warehouse!” This was not good news as we were expecting a large shipment of workbooks and DVDs for our new Bible Study, “Be Amazing!” At that point I had no idea what we would do but as always God had gone before us and He had a plan.

The following weekend, I was at a large home improvement store with my Beloved and there in the parking lot was a series of “barns” in different sizes. A sign nailed to the side of the largest structure announced “Barn Sale”. So of course I was intrigued and after we had spent some time looking at all of them I was convinced this was what Big Dream needed to fix the storage problem.

Later that evening, Beloved and I discussed the situation and we decided the price was right and so we ordered one of the larger ones to be delivered and built on our property within the following month.  But during that month other expenses emerged. We would need a permit from the city. We would need architectural drawings (who knew!) in order to get the permit. We would need cement posts drilled into the ground and a cement block “foundation”. Before we knew it an additional $1500 had been added to the mix. It was now veering out of our price range.

The following week my car was totaled. No one was hurt but all thoughts of a barn evaporated now that we needed to buy a car. So Beloved called the store and canceled the order. And then what can only be called a “God-incident” occurred.  The store called back and said they would pay for the permit and drawings and foundation. Now this is unheard of and so usual we thought God might be up to something. And He was…far more that we could have ever dreamed. That afternoon, one of our ministry donors called. “I have been praying for the ministry and felt like the Lord was telling me that you have a financial need! I would like to help!” 

And because of a faithful friend of the ministry and a faithful God who provides abundantly more than we could ever hope or think we now have a barn. The last nail will go in this afternoon and it is perfect! In His great kindness He has once again met all of our needs!  To Him be the glory!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

One Road Trip Never to be Forgotten


Undone

We were heading back from Ludington, Michigan last month and traveling along a fairly deserted four lane highway divided by a large medium.  A pickup truck pulling a large camper-trailer was in front of us.  As Beloved began to pull up along the left-hand side of the camper in order to pass, the camper began to sway a little bit. Beloved quickly slowed down leaving space between the two vehicles as we watched the camper sway more and more.  And then in a split-second, the camper pulled the truck off the road and both violently flipped over and over as if they were just plastic toys.  The camper blew apart coming totally undone, clothes, flooring, aluminum, sink, table, and bedding  flying in every direction as if a bomb had just exploded inside of it.  The truck finally came to a stop on the other side of the medium and the sight was terrifying.  The top of the truck was squashed in and the sides and front were bashed.  Smoke rose from the front hood and out of the driver’s side broken window hung a bloody arm. From a small opening a head protruded, soaked in blood. Nothing moved. Beloved bolted from the car and I grabbed the cell phone and dialed 911.  I quickly left instructions… “send fire trucks, ambulances, police and jaws of life as soon as you can get here.”

As I was leaping out of the car I heard a scream that did not stop. Running across the medium from our side of the road was a hysterical woman. Beloved grabbed her and held on as she continued screaming and crying, garbled words that began to paint a picture. Her husband was in the truck. She had been in the car just ahead of him.

By now a couple of other cars had stopped and we saw that the man in the truck was able to talk a little. A fire extinguisher was retrieved from one of the cars. Someone found a piece of aluminum from the camper and held it up to shield sun from the trapped man. And I just hung on to the sobbing and terrified woman.

As from instinct I began to pray with all of my heart, soul and mind. “Save him! Save him!” were all the words that came forth.  At that time another car stopped and a young woman came running to the scene. “I am a doctor,” she said. And then a man came by my side and quietly asked if we could pray. We held hands, my other arm securely around the crying woman, and we prayed together. We asked the Lord to rescue the man and save him from injury. We asked that the lady would be comforted. We asked that the rescue crew would arrive soon. And then he walked away

The entire rescue crew had arrived within twenty-five minutes, the jaws-of-life being the last and most critical to get to the scene.  The team of ten first responders worked for at least twenty-five minutes trying to free the entrapped man.  Finally the door was cut off and the roof disengaged. Ten arms carefully pulled him from the wreckage and loaded him into the awaiting ambulance.  The woman went with one of the policemen and we continued our travels, shaken and yet thankful for all of the people who had been there to help. We continued to pray throughout the day for the family not knowing for sure if the man had survived or not.

The next morning I called the Shelby Sheriff’s department and inquired about the man.  “Oh he is just fine!”, the officer said, “They are all just fine!”

I wish I had the eyes of Elisha who could see the armies of heaven gathered around.  I would like to see what was REALLY going on during that whole time, I mean what was going on in heaven, and what were the spiritual forces taking place on earth. How did a man survive such a horrific ordeal with no permanent damage? Was it just blind luck or were there angels protecting him for some reason?  And what part does prayer play in such a case, any part or perhaps all parts? Were we there for such a time as this? I do not know the answer to these questions, but I do ponder.  And yet in it all we both feel like we witnessed a miracle and are more grateful than words can say for the power of God to save a man.

2 Kings 6: 17

Then Elisha prayed, “O Lord I pray open his eyes that he might see. And the Lord opened the servants eyes and he saw and behold the mountain was full of horses and the chariots of fire all around.”

 

 

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Big Love


Big Love

Lily, my eleven year old granddaughter, sent me a text message last night. It included a piece of art she had created. It was lovely and so for the next five minutes, we texted back and forth. The conversation went like this:

Lily: Hi Mimi, this is Lily I made this (picture was included)

Me: How did you do this?  It is beautiful!

Lily: There is an app were you take a picture and you get to write on it and put stuff all over it.

Me: WOW! You are Princess Lily, the creative royalty!

Lily: Thanks QM (Queen Mother) you are amazing!

Me: I love you more bunches than you can imagine.

Lily: I love u too QM!

Me: But I love you more….always!

Lily: And I know you do!

Me: Good night Sweet Girl

Lily: Good night QM!

Did you notice those words “And I know you do!” When I read those I was simply over come with her absolute assurance of it all.  SHE KNOWS her QM loves her. And she KNOWs her QM loves her better than she could ever love me. She is absolutely confident in that love and she knows it will be there for always.

I am reading John Piper’s wonderful book “What Jesus Demands of the World”.  Jesus really does command us to abide in His love.  It has a staying power, that we are to stay, continue in, be in the love of Christ.  It is a radical idea for an adult although I do believe children grasp it better than we older ones do.  Of course one of the reasons He calls us to such a dramatic, life changing command is so that His love will pour though us not only back to Him but on to others. And in so many ways all throughout Scripture He is saying “I love you better.” Nothing proves this more than the cross, nothing. And yet as I truly delight in the fact that Lily knows I love her best,  I so often find God calling me to understand that He really DOES love me best, far more than I could ever love Him or anyone else. Paul says it well:

“Who can separate us from the love of Christ? … For I am convinced  that neither death, nor life, nor angels,  nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus.”  Romans 8: 35, 38-9