The Waiting Game

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As I write this, I am in the middle of a rough month. Multiple friends and loved ones are facing deeply painful circumstances, and I am hurting with them. I’m praying for healing, wisdom, provision, direction… I’m also asking the Lord for encouragement, for them, primarily, but for myself as well. I don’t know yet how our Loving (but sometimes hard to understand) Lord is answering those prayers in the lives of my friends, but here are three ways he has encouraged me in just the last 24 hours.

A text: It read, “Thank you for praying for us. We will be fine!” That hurting friend’s proclamation of faith lifted my spirits.

A reunion: We went out for breakfast while out of town. The manager roamed among the tables, making sure her customers were satisfied. She paused at my table, and our eyes locked. We both froze for a moment, silent, thinking. Then we burst into hugs and tears, finally recognizing one another as dear friends who had lost touch for a decade. She gave Steve and me a brief recap of her life, ending with these words, “The last year was very difficult, but now I know why. It got me here (to a good place and a great job).”

A quote: I opened my web browser, and these words, saved in an old search, popped up, “Nothing touches the child of God without first passing through the will of God.” While I’ve been unable to find a reliable source for that quote, it’s very close to this one by Hannah Whitall Smith, “Not a trial comes except by His permission.” In other words, I believe, if we have heartache, our Lord has allowed that heartache. And if he has allowed it, surely he will see us through it.

And so, I have cried tears of both pain and of hope today. I’ve heard his still small voice say yet again, “Trust me.”

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While You Were Preaching…

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Pastor Appreciation Sunday comes every October, but pastors deserve our appreciation all the time. If you are a pastor, I respectfully request that you stop reading here and “tune in again next week”.

If you aren’t a pastor, but you have a pastor, let me suggest a way for you to

Focus on your pastor’s sermons.

Remember your pastor’s sermons.

Thank your pastor for all those sermons.

Begin this week to look for one key quote or statement in every sermon. Jot it down on a scrap of paper, a 3×5 card or a corner of your bulletin. Collect those quotes in a box or envelope for a year. (Or if you’re really organized, start a notebook.) After a year or so, compile those quotes into one document—typed, handwritten, book form, a couple of sheets… whatever your creative soul desires, and slip it under his door with a note of appreciation. Too daunting a task to tackle on your own? Consider doing it as a group project with several of your fellow parishioners. This is a great way to let your hard-working shepherd know that

While you were preaching, we were listening!

Here are a few excerpts from the first year that my church enjoyed the sermons of John Wayland:

  • Don’t trust in your talents, but trust in “Thus saith the Lord.”
  • Give your L.I.F.E* away…*Labor, Influence, Finances, Expertise
  • He did not save us just to give us a dwelling place in Heaven. He saved us to make a difference.
  • It’s all about God’s power and presence and purpose in our lives.
  • Walk with Christ in such a way that His love gushes out of you like floodwaters.
  • Enjoy the kindness of the King!
  • He never promised it would be easy, but he promised Himself.
  • Don’t stop telling the kids about Jesus. Don’t let them think that following Jesus is easy, safe and comfortable.
  • The problem starts when Man tries to do it his way.
  • Slow down enough to become aware of the presence of God.
  • In right relationship with the Lord, we never have to panic.
  • God will give you an assignment that’s impossible, so that you will have to depend on Him.
  • The Lord has empowered us to be patient with people.
  • Live as if He’s coming back today.

Thanks, John. Today is “Former Pastor Appreciation Day” for me!

Good Words

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Ahhh, Christmas morning! I hope you had as much fun as I did watching your loved ones open gifts (and perhaps opening a few surprises yourself). Tomorrow we’ll all start finding places for our new possessions and maybe write a few thank you notes. We’ll think about how wonderful it was to have extra time with family and friends, and about how much they mean to us. Let me challenge you to go one better, though. We express our love through gift giving at Christmas. Why not begin today, though, to give a gift every day? Give the gift of spoken love.

Don’t let a single day go by without letting someone hear those three important words, “I love you!” Then keep going from there. Tell your friends and family how glad you are to have them around. Affirm their God-given talents. “Encourage one another and build each other up” (1 Thessalonians 5:11).

My husband is a wise and wonderful man. Years ago, someone gave him a simple list entitled “Good Words.” He tacked it inside the closet door, using it to help him express love, appreciation and admiration to our kids. Here’s that list, reproduced for your perusal. While some of the phrases won’t apply to your kids or the other people God has put in your life, perhaps you’ll find a few usable nuggets.

Encouraging Words

·                    You’re so much fun to be with!

·                    You do a good job of handling your responsibilities!

·                    I like the way you… (keep your room neat, seem to call just when I need you, greet me with a smile…)

·                    You sure have a lot of energy!

·                    Your positive attitude is an inspiration to me!

·                    You ended up with the best of both your father and your mother!

·                    Good job!

·                    You bring me joy!

·                    I love how creative you are!

·                    You’re a good runner! (or painter, or singer, or listener…)

·                    I need your advice!

·                    God has great plans for your life!

 

On Easter morning, we will greet one another with those wonderful words, “Christ is risen!” Today, we celebrate far more than the birth of a baby. We rejoice in the risen Savior who came to die so that we could live forever. May we serve him with abundant joy long after the holidays are over.

Merry Christmas!