Monthly Archives: April 2013

Replacing Doubt with Faith

 

Cecil Square, Salisbury, Rhodesia

Cecil Square, Salisbury, Rhodesia

REPLACING DOUBT WITH FAITH 

I was a “late bloomer” when it came to learning to drive. We had been married for seven years and our children had already been born, when my hubby decided it was time I learnt to drive! We were living in Salisbury, (Rhodesia) at the time. He had tried repeatedly to teach me to drive but I was a “master” at giving him plausible reasons why a driving lesson was not convenient at that given moment! At the time we had an Datsun 1200, stick shift, car.  So, Glyn announced to me one sunny day that we were going for a drive. He would not tell me where; just that he had a surprise in store for me! I was mystified when I saw that he was heading into the city center and then we pulled up and parked at the Cecil Square Park in the center of the city. He got out of the car and walked over to a gentleman who was standing by a car parked in front of ours and they shook hands and then walked back our car. I did not recognize the man and was REALLY CURIOUS to know who he was! Well my curiosity was quickly dispelled when Glyn introduced the man to me as the owner of a Driving School and informed me that he had already paid for 6 weeks of diving lessons for me! I was blown away with this news. You see my husband knew me

1969 Datsun 1200

1969 Datsun 1200

well enough that if he told me that the lessons were already paid for I would not squander the money as I was rather frugal when it came to spending money! To make sure I did not back out, the gentleman took me for my first driving lesson then and there;  Glyn let the children play in the park while waiting for me to return. To say I was pretty mad at my husband would be an understatement of major proportions but actually his smart thinking was the best thing for me. Initially I was terrified as the instructor dropped right into the down-down traffic. On our return journey home I thoroughly “burnt” Glyn’s ears telling him in no uncertain terms that “his scheme” was doomed to failure as I DOUBTED seriously I could EVER master the art of driving a car with a stick shift! DOUBT was my enemy. I had a very patient instructor and with the passing of each lesson my  proclamation of failure began to fade;  my doubts began to be replaced by expectations of faith that I would pass my driving test; which I did at the close of my six weeks of lessons.

Why do we experience so much doubt in our daily lives?   One reason is that doubt satisfies our need for self-protection. We don’t like to be wrong, to get hurt, or to fail, so our subconscious reasoning says, “It’s easier not to trust, to lower my expectations so I won’t be disappointed.”

But we are disappointed, aren’t we?

Why……..Because we allowed doubt to rob us of reaching beyond our comfort zone.

Another reason is that doubting comes so easy. We don’t wake up in the morning and say to ourselves, “Today I’m going to doubt God.” No, doubt moves in silently and finds the vacuum we have created by our indecision; then it takes over when we don’t do the right things.

Doubters are easy to find. Sometimes the people around us dwell on all the obstacles and difficulties, opening the door to doubt. Once that stream starts flowing it is so easy to get carried along with it.

Doubting is contagious. Doubt is easier to catch than the common cold, and its carriers are words of the negative “naysayers” around us!

Take heed today my friends…….. The words we listen to will either build us up or tear us down. They will either increase our faith or decrease it.

For example… Doubt says; “What will I do?” Faith replies; “In God’s strength I can handle it.”

Doubt says;  “It’s awful what has happened to me” ! Faith replies; “It’s a learning experience.”

Doubt says; “I see no way out”! Faith replies;  “It’s not too big for God to handle.”

Words are powerful things. They determine our outlook and approach to life. So in order to replace   doubt with faith we must start eliminating negative attitudes from our life and replace them with uplifting and faith building attitudes!

How do we accomplish this? By continually persisting; (like my driving lessons); on those things which are good and true.

The Apostle Paul gives us an answer to this age old question of how we can turn our doubts into faith.

Listen to his words.

Philippians 4:8 (NKJV) Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy–meditate on these things.

 

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Saturating Salt

Matthew 5:13

Matthew 5:13

SATURATING SALT 

When early man discovered salt and its vast potential it revolutionized so many facets of life. Both the animal kingdom and humans need salt for survival.Wild animals will search for particular soils that are rich in salt which they will lick; farmers put salt licks out for their domestic animals to lick. Ancient mariners would preserve their stores of meat for the long voyages in kegs of briny liquid.

In Rhodesia we made a form of “beef jerky” that we called “biltong”.  We would cut strips of meat (venison was the best), marinate it with select spices vinegar, salt and course pepper then hang the strips to air dry. They were not smoked like beef jerky is; but simply dried by air. Strips of biltong were a great source of protein for long journeys in the bush where there were no convenience markets, as we have in this modern world.  A bag of biltong was a vital addition to the food packed for anyone taking a journey in Rhodesia. It did not need refrigeration due to its salty preservative component, so was ideal for long trips. You see, “SALT” is a substance that acts upon its environment to change it; SALT is not INERT, which by contrast, is a sluggish substance devoid of active properties. In other words, an “inert” object just sits there and has no effect or influence on its environment.

The Bible speaks in several references to the power of salt; Jesus also spoke of its potential:

Matthew 5:13 (NKJV) “You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men.”

If we are “THE SALT OF THE EARTH“, as Jesus said; how are we to be characterized?

First salt is small and easily overlooked.

During a dining experience, food is the focus of the meal, rather than the salt. While salt enhances the food’s flavor, it goes quite unnoticed.

Similarly, the child of God receives little recognition in a world whose values lie in the opposite direction.  Does this mean we who are the “salt of the earth” change our Godly values to become like the world to curry its favor? Absolutely not………. compromise should not even be an option in the thinking of a child of God!

Secondly salt can have a powerful influence on changing its environment. Salt, when rightly applied to food can transform it from unappealing blandness into a delectable gourmet experience.

So too my dear friends, Christians, by virtue of their presence, CAN and SHOULD permanently change their world.

Thirdly salt is associated with purity. A product of the sun and sea, salt’s glistening whiteness suggests the quality of purity.

Thus children of God, if they are to be the “salt of the earth,” must exemplify a standard of absolute purity in thought, conduct, speech and moral choices.

Fourthly salt is a preservative. Man has used salt in many food products to act as a preservative to enable them to last longer and still be safe for consumption.

So too, in today’s morale decline, the process of putrefaction in society can be inhibited by the presence of Christ’s followers and in some cases can be reversed. The presence of Godly men and woman in society staves off the downward slippery slope on which this present world is hurtling.

Finally salt has the potential of losing its flavor or usefulness.

When Christians dilute or compromise their faith in God, like salt, they become INERT; their influence will be of little consequence, except “… to be thrown out and trampled by men.”

THE PRESENCE OF THE CHILDREN OF GOD MAKES A DIFFERENCE IN STAUNCHING THE EVIL IN THIS WORLD!  We are the Church triumphant…………………..let us never lose sight of this truth! 

Bill & Gloria Gaither have recorded a song that is a fitting conclusion to this Nugget.

THE CHURCH TRIUMPHANT

This ship’s been through battles before

Storms and tempests and rocks on the shore

Tho’ the hull may be battered,

Inside it’s safe and dry

It will carry its cargo to the port in the sky.

Chorus:

Let the Church be the Church, let the people rejoice.

Oh, we’ve settled the question,

We’ve made our choice.

Let the anthems ring out, Songs of victory swell

For the Church triumphant is alive and well.

Is alive, is alive, is alive. For the Church triumphant is alive and well.

 

Fearless Fight

Proverbs 14:26

Proverbs 14:26

FEARLESS FIGHT

We don’t generally think of the word “fight” in the same sentence as the word “good”!

I grew up being the “middle child” and had my fair share of “fights”…….some bad and some good, depending on who was on the receiving end!  I had an older brother and older sister and then there was a gap of seven years and my younger brother was born and then five years later my baby sister arrived. Each one of us siblings had unique and different personalities.  My mother used to say that I was the “feistiest” of the bunch – she blamed it on my flaming red hair! I had a tenacious appetite for exploring every corner of my world, with no thought of whether the situation I was walking into had the potential to be dangerous. Considering we were living in the bush of Africa, this could be a recipe resulting in some very interesting experiences for all involved!  One hot day at Gobatema Mission, my mother became concerned that she had not seen me or heard my voice for a while. She knew I was outside on some “imagined wild adventure”. She decided to check on what her fearless four-year old “trouble maker” was up to.  Rounding the corner of one of the Mission houses, she observed me squatting down staring intently in a hole or tunnel in the ground.  Before her mesmerized eyes she watched me poke a stick into the hole and then totally without fear, watch a snake rear up out of the hole and try and strike its tormentor!  Mom froze in horror when she recognized the snake as a venomous cobra. She had a dilemma on her hands – if she startled me; (I was totally oblivious of her presence); I could well end up moving within striking distance of the snake instead of away from it. She knew me well enough that put to the test, I was not one to back down in a fight, so commanding me to stop would probably not get the results she wanted! Being the wise mother that she was, her recourse to deal with the situation was to gently call my name and tell me she needed me to slowly come over to where she was standing! Curiosity on my part won the “stand-off” that I was thoroughly enjoying and much to my mother’s intense relief I obeyed her request! You see in my young mind, I erroneously thought that I was “fighting a good fight” when actually I was playing with a deadly enemy.

The Apostle Paul speaks of fighting the “good fight” in 1 Timothy 6:12 “Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses.”

Some people are gentle by nature. They avoid conflict of any sort. They are the peacemakers who will always find a way around controversy. Timothy was one of those people. He was so mild natured that Paul feared he would compromise his faith rather than fight for it. Paul urged him to fight the good fight, even when it was not easy. When others belittled Timothy or challenged his faith, Paul encouraged him to be strong and FIGHT.

Unfortunately the highway of life is littered with many individuals who “gave in” rather than holding on to their faith, when things got tough.

They began their Christian life enthusiastically; perhaps they were even leaders in their church. Then, along the way, things got tough.

People disappointed them.

Their prayers weren’t answered in the way they’d hoped, so their faith was shaken.

Maybe they were criticized and ridiculed for following Christ.

Finally, they became disillusioned and turned away from their faith in the Lord.

Paul was not about to stand by and let this happen to his young friend. Knowing Timothy’s gentle nature, Paul gave him a spiritual pep talk. He urged him to take hold of God’s calling and to hold on to it for all he was worth. When Satan sought to prevent him from serving God, Timothy was to resist him. When circumstances seemed to go against him, he was to stand firm. When people tried to derail his ministry, he was to stay focused. Paul was not telling Timothy to be disagreeable or argumentative. He was encouraging Timothy to simply protect his faith, even if it meant standing up to those who intimidated him.

The Christian life is not for the fainthearted, especially in today’s world. There will be lots of resistance out there to anyone who follows the pure teachings in God’s Word!

Notice I used the phrase “pure teachings”; our generation is overflowing with preachers and doctrines of every variety that the wicked heart of man can devise! That’s why it’s important for each of us to search the scriptures FOR OURSELVES and only trust in the “pure teachings” in the Word, even though it might not be considered the “popular trend” in this modern age!!

These are dark, violent days that we all are facing. Natural disasters are happening with frequency causing massive loss of life, violent acts are on the rise, heinous acts of terror rock our communities and the moral compass of this generation has gone askew; as the scripture tells us….. “men’s hearts are failing them for fear”.

We must be prepared to stand against any force that tries to dissuade us from following Christ!

Paul gives sound advice how we are to protect our faith during these last days:

RESIST EVIL.

STAND FIRM IN FACE OF TOUGH CIRCUMSTANCES.

STAY FOCUSED ON THE LORD.

DON’T BE INTIMIDATED BY THOSE WHO WOULD PERSECUTE YOU.

TAKE HOLD OF ETERNAL LIFE.

Take courage my friends and do not become weary in well doing!

 

Immersed in His Provision

Balancing Rocks, Rhodesia (Zimbabwe)

Balancing Rocks, Rhodesia (Zimbabwe)

IMMERSED IN HIS PROVISION 

Having lived through a horrific terrorist war while we were missionaries in Rhodesia (Zimbabwe), the pictures of the carnage at the Boston Marathon were all too familiar and brought back a flood of memories that will be forever seared into my memory.  Sadness overwhelmed me for the individuals whose lives would forever be changed as a result of the bombings. I could not staunch the flow of memories flooding my emotions of the countless days, months and years that we dealt with these very same experiences; first hand in Rhodesia.  At times like these I have found solace in turning to God’s Word for strength and then recording the emotions pouring into my heart, in light of the promises I found in the scripture.

I sat in the silence of the hour, musing over these very tangible memories filled with pain, heart-

God's protection typified in this picture.

God’s protection typified in this picture.

ache and often terror that refused to be silenced. My first thought was: “How could this be happening to us again?”  I reached for one of my old devotional journals and began to read my notes that I had written those many years ago when each day was fraught with danger, uncertainty of life and untimely deaths of those close to us. The words I wrote back then are so very applicable to the events unfolding in our world today; I would like to share them with you that you may draw courage and strength as I did then and continue to draw strength now.

My meditation was drawn from:

Deuteronomy 33:25 (NKJV) “Your sandals shall be iron and bronze; As your days, so shall your strength be.”

These are the words I penned as I meditated on this verse of scripture those many years ago:

“When our days are overshadowed by Divine protection; when we receive provision and courage from His Hand; we are surrounded by a glorious peace which glows in a brilliant contrast to the ugliness of the circumstances swirling around us! We as believers are pilgrims traveling through a dreary, harsh, unforgiving wilderness; our days require great strength to endure; energy and patience to not become weary and discouraged.  We are not left alone; God has promised to supply whatever grace we need for each circumstance that we walk through. No matter what we have to face, there will ALWAYS be a sufficiency of strength and provision to meet our hour of trial.

I notice that two little words change the whole meaning of the verse in Deuteronomy 33:25. The two words “AS” and “SO” have a powerful impact on the outcome of our circumstances. Let me phrase it this way; ‘AS our day, no matter how it turns out, SO shall be the supply of sufficiency of God’s grace for us to tap into.’  I notice that this promise does not pledge that we shall be absolved from EXPERIENCING the heat of our fiery trials BUT God promises to supply us with the grace and strength EQUAL TO AND EXCEEDING the adverse circumstances that threaten to overwhelm us.

God’s strength will be our portion when the tempest of life rages and threatens to overwhelm us.

God’s strength will be our portion when we grapple with the enemy of our soul.

God’s strength will be our portion when we walk through the valley of the shadow of death.

Casting our care on Him

Casting our care on Him

Take courage weary sojourner; we may not know what the next hour, day or week will bring  BUT GOD KNOWS and He has promised His Divine presence and grace to walk each wavering step with us!

What comfort is ours; what sustaining assurance we have in these seasons of fear, violence and uncertainty; for our God walks these dark days with us and WILL bring us through victorious!”

 

Laughter the Best Medicine

African heart

African heart

LAUGHTER THE BEST MEDICINE 

Life on our remote Gobatema Mission in Rhodesia, Africa back in the 1930’s and 1940’s was tough even at the best of times. Living conditions were primitive; comforts of civilized life were unheard of; isolation could be intense especially during times of emergency as there was no communication to the “outside world”; even mail from family and friends was only received about once a month when a bone rattling trip over a bush track was necessary because supplies were low.

As a missionary family it would have been so easy to complain about the impoverished life we found ourselves in but my parents led us children by their own example to CHOOSE to be content and find joy in each new day.  Laughter was very much part of our lives; keeping a good sense of humor even under difficult circumstances would turn a bad situation into a stepping stone to a solution.

Dad - Willard Wilson @ Gobatema Mission, 1940

Dad – Willard Wilson @ Gobatema Mission, 1940

One keen memory I have of my early years as a child was my parent’s ability to laugh at the many wild and unusual situations they frequently found themselves in My Dad enjoyed having fun whenever an opportunity presented itself.

Such was the setting for this account. Dad, an African Pastor, Paulas Llongwe, and of-course me, his little shadow; made the trek to the town of Gwanda to pick up supplies for the Mission school and missionary families. We left just as the dawn was breaking; providing there were no unexpected delays or break-downs, we would return late in the afternoon at setting sun. All went well, supplies, mail, medicine for giving first aid was replenished and soon we were bouncing our way back to the Mission compound.  We crossed the dry Tuli riverbed without incident and soon were grinding up the steep bush path that would take us to the Mission.  It was the dry season; the burning sun had seared the scrub bush until everything was parched and dusty.  As Dad negotiated the old truck around a large boulder, an amazing sight awaited our eyes; there stretched across the bush track was a huge snake.  It looked to be over five feet in length and it did not take long for Dad to recognize it as a cobra. Our mission compound was built high on a rocky hill, so snakes of every size and species abounded and constant care had to be taken both inside and outside as many were deadly and one never knew where you would stumble on a hiding snake.

Cobra on track near Gobatema Mission

Cobra on track near Gobatema Mission

 

Dad jammed on the brakes; instantly the snake was on the move. It slithered off the trail into some dry scrub grass and then disappeared under a clump of brush except for about a foot of its tail. Dad sat and contemplated the situation for a few minutes. He had his rifle with him but nothing was to be gained by shooting a snake in the tail! Then he had a flash of brilliance! He always carried a hatchet behind the seat of the truck to use to clear undergrowth or to cut wood for a camp-fire.  Dad turned to Paulas and explained his “plan”. He suggested that Paulas get out and grab the snake by the tail pulling it from its hiding place as fast as possible and Dad would stand in front of the truck with the hatchet in hand and as soon as the snake’s head was level with his feet he would chop it off. Sounds like a pretty plausible plan wouldn’t you say? Well Paulas wanted no part of this brilliant suggestion – there was no way he was going to grab onto the tail of a venomous cobra! So they agreed that he would stand ready with the hatchet while Dad pulled the cobra out from under the tangled brush. One thing that Dad had not considered was the snake’s cooperation or lack of it, in this scheme! He grabbed the tail, pulling as hard as he could; to his consternation nothing happened! This cobra had other plans and it did not involve getting its head chopped off! Determined to win this tug of war Dad began to gain traction and slowly but surely he pulled the snake until he had it trailing behind him while he ran in the direction of where Paulas was standing! As soon as he estimated the head was at the point of no return he dropped the tail and kept running, trusting that Paulus would succeed in his side of the bargain! The exercise was a success and soon the two men stood viewing the size and length of the snake that they had just had a tug of war with.

Dad grabbed an empty grain sack and dropped the now harmless snake into it. Tossed it in the back of the truck and headed for the Mission compound. When they arrived Dad noticed that

Mom - Florence Wilson @ Gobatema Mission

Mom – Florence Wilson @ Gobatema Mission

Mom was sitting with a group of village women in the shade of a thorn tree teaching a sewing class.

Another “brilliant” plan began to form in his head!

Grabbing a rope from the back of the truck he quickly tied it to the tail of the snake, whispered to Paulus and me, to watch the fun and then pulling the snake behind him, he took off running straight towards the unsuspecting women yelling at the top of his lungs…….”Nyoka, nyoka” (snake, snake). In a flash women were screaming and scrambling to escape in every direction possible, with the exception of Mom! She knew her husband only too well – he had seized an opportunity for some comic relief that would not be quickly forgotten.  Much laughter ensued once the women realized that the snake was dead and Dad was just having a bit of fun at their expense!!

The Word of God encourages us to CHOOSE to cultivate a joyful attitude in life:

Proverbs 17:22 (NKJV) “A merry heart does good, like medicine, But a broken spirit dries the bones”.

Let us find joy, no matter how insignificant it might seem in our day today; I assure you we will never regret developing the healthful habit of laughter!

TWO LIFE GUARDS

Thy Rod & Thy Staff Psalm 23:4

Thy Rod & Thy Staff Psalm 23:4

TWO LIFE GUARDS

“Thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.” (Psa. 23:4.)

God’s rod speaks of instruction.

God’s staff speaks of provision and help.

Yet both bring comfort!

Is this a contradiction in terms? ABSOLUTELY NOT!  We need both of these provisions in our walk with God.

CONSIDER HIS STAFF:  During the terrorist’s war in Rhodesia, when the season of discouragement and impending danger was upon us, the verse, “He shall not be afraid of evil tidings; his heart is fixed, trusting in the Lord,” (Psalm112:5), was our STAFF of help to lean on during many dark days.

Joy comes in the Morning -Psalm 30:5

Joy comes in the Morning -Psalm 30:5

When death snatched our newborn son, Gary Anthony away and left us reeling with broken hearts, we leaned hard on His STAFF of promise; “weeping may endure for the night, but joy cometh in the morning.” (Psalm 30:5)

When breast cancer struck and I did not know what my future held, I took with me this STAFF that God gave me; “I shall not die, but live, and declare the works of the LORD.”  (Psa. 118:17)

In times of doubt, when human judgment seems to fail me, I have found it easy to go forward with this STAFF; “In quietness and confidence shall be your strength.” (Isaiah 30:15)

In emergencies, when there seemed to be no adequate time for deliberation or for action, I have found that this STAFF has never failed me, “He that believeth shall not make haste.” (Isaiah 28:16) His staff provided the answers I needed for those times of intense stress.

CONSIDER HIS ROD: It is very true that God’s rod is LIKE the schoolmaster’s pointer to the child, pointing out the letter, which needs to be learnt.  His rod, points out many lessons which we would never have learned on our own. Lessons taught from His rod in my life have not always been easy to endure but when I have submitted to His instruction I have grown stronger in my walk!

God always sends His rod with His staff.

Today we can be sure that if God sends us on stony paths He will provide us with these two provisions we need for the journey ahead!   Take heart! God will never send us out on any journey for which He does not first equip us!

Reach out………………grasp ………… hold strongly onto God’s rod and His staff for whatever you are facing today! 

GOD IS ABLE

Romans 4:21

Romans 4:21

GOD IS ABLE

“Being fully convinced that what He had promised He was ALSO ABLE to perform.” Rom 4:21 NKJV

In yesterday’s Nugget I challenged my readers to hear God’s Voice above the roar of the storm. I want to pick up on this theme and consider for a few minutes the liberating truth that God IS ABLE to fulfill His promises that we hear when we listen for His voice.

The reason many don’t turn to God more often in times of trouble is because at some basic and unconscious level they are not “fully convinced” He is able and willing to move on their behalf.  The human psyche tends to cling to things they can “see” and “feel” far quicker, than declaring trust by faith in a physically “unseen” God!  Being able to admit this fact is truly humbling; it’s also the point at which the individual can begin to deal with their lack of faith in God!

Why do the heathen nations create “gods” from stone, wood or even an animal they regard as sacred? They do this because they want a “god” in a tangible form, so they create man-made idols to worship.

My friends let me encourage both, you and me with this thought…………….

Nothing in our life will change until we truthfully and transparently open our heart to the Lord and say, “Lord, help me. I say things with my lips that I don’t follow through in my behavior.” Once we make this statement of faith; then we need to put our words into actions by immersing our spirits in His Word and rediscovering that “God is able.”

YES, GOD IS ABLE – weary friend……………. run with this truth until it is firmly fixed in your “warp and weave”!

REMEMBER, CONSIDER, BELIEVE………………….

He is able to provide for you when you’re in the wilderness.

He is able to defeat the giants that stand in your way.

He is able to go through fiery trials with you and bring you out unharmed.

He is able to promote you when you’ve been overlooked or opposed.

STAND, with unwavering faith on this promise to you………… “Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us” (Eph 3:20 NKJV).

Whatever it takes to OWN these words, “God is able,” DO IT; SPEAK IT; STAND ON THESE WORDS WITH CONFIDENCE!

Rejoice in His provision today………………….not only is He Able but He is willing to come to your aid!

Nothing is too difficult for Him. God is waiting for His children to recognize THIS truth and come to Him in faith asking for His help.