Letters From Gladys

I’ve dreamed many dreams that never came true …

I’ve seen them vanish at dawn.

But enough of my dreams have come true,

thank God,

to make me want to dream on.

I’ve prayed many prayers when no answer came …

Though I waited patiently and long.

But answers have come to enough of  my prayers,

thank God,

to make me want to pray on.

I’ve trusted many a friend who failed me,

And left me to weep all alone,

But enough of my friends have been true blue,

thank God,

to make me want to trust on.

I’ve sown many seeds that fell by the way for the birds of the air to feed on.

But I’ve held enough golden sheaves in my hands,

thank God,

to make me want to sow on.

I’ve drunk the cup of disappointment and pain.

I’ve gone many days without song.

But I’ve sipped enough nectar from the roses of life,

thank God,

to make me want to live on.

(Author Unknown)

old letters in the vintage arrangement

In my mind, retirement always belonged to “those older people” who had passed their most useful days of ministry. We lovingly watched as others entered this stage of their lives, never really anticipating that one day, we too would belong to that group. This past fall, however, my husband and I retired from our pastorate, having completed 46 years of ministry in the Body of Christ, and the Foursquare Church in particular.

As retirees, the amount of concessions afforded us is amazing! Restaurants, parks and hotels give us discounts; magazines are published specifically for us, and the health field directs its attention to us in a constant barrage of new medical plans to supplement Medicare. We are forced to make new decisions concerning our lives and future. Change seems to be a constant for us, and it fills many of the prayers we pray.

Recently, in the apartment building where we live, the need to remain open to change even in the small details of life, was illustrated for me. It was a Monday morning and I had filled the washing machines in our community laundry, when a retired lady came in, looked at me with anger and said, “I have lived in this apartment building for twenty years, and I have always washed first thing on Monday mornings. You have ruined my day!” I returned to my apartment praying, “Oh Lord, keep me flexible. Don’t let me become rigid and unable to flow with life’s changes, small or large.”

In relating to the Church, we are happy to submit to the leadership of the younger generation, for this is right. But at the same time, we are still Salt and Light; Jesus made us that, and that we will be until He calls us “Home.” We thrill when a soul is born again. We rejoice in the victories of the Church, and we encourage the younger pastors who have taken our place to preach the Word, pressing toward the mark for the prize of the High Calling of God in Christ Jesus.

We also request your understanding. In your ministry to us, please don’t expect us to totally change, for there are some things that we do cherish. We are still moved by some of the old songs that have sustained us down through the years. We love to hear a preacher proclaim those proven truths of God’s Word and stir our hearts with eloquence and anointing. Most of all, we need your care and support as we face what might be the most challenging time of our lives.

The poem which I have included above must have been written by someone who has walked along the pathway of life some distance and learned from that walk the things that are truly important. I know they express my sentiments at this time in my life.

A Retired Shepherd,

           Gladys

(This article first appeared in the “Letters From Gladys” column in Foursquare Advance Magazine, 1989, and again on the LifewordsToday blog in February, 2016 – we are reposting it today because the message is timeless. We are happy to report she was vibrant in other forms of ministry for another 20 years until God called her Home in 2009.)

 

The Master Artist is Weaving a Beautiful Work

A friend and I were talking the other day about how we can always look back and see how God was working, but when we are in the midst of things we rarely see the tapestry he is weaving from our life events. And then, we started telling the stories until we were laughing at God’s creativity.

Connecting the dots is God’s specialty. He truly does want to work all things together for our good.

How many times have you looked back on a series of events and noticed that what you thought were random connections was actually a calculated step by step route to the end result? I do this often, and I am always amazed.

Try it sometime – start tracing a recent outcome backwards – you will see the finger of God drawing the lines between all the connections for as far as you can see. For example, this week I have the privilege of being the live backstage announcer for a very big conference here in California called The California Women’s Conference. I am overwhelmed to see my name on the speaker’s page for such a big event, because I know the likelihood of an opportunity like this coming to me is so very small. But I also know that none of this happened by chance.

When I trace backwards from this week’s event, it looks something like this:

Exciting 2 days and lots of work being the live announcer for the biggest conference for women business owners in California << Signed contract to be announcer for CWC  << Email sent just a month ago, with my proposal to be the announcer << Again, God told me to send an email to Michelle about this <<Let several months go by, decided I shouldn’t do it << pitched Michelle Patterson my offer to be the announcer, she immediately said yes << felt God whisper to me “tell her you will be the announcer for this conference ” << attended several events for Women Network << volunteered to be on Advisory Board for the conference << introduced to Michelle Patterson (CEO of Women Network) by friend Kristi << Kristi invited me to local Chamber of Commerce events << joined my Chamber of Commerce at the suggestion of new friend Kristi << met a new friend named Kristi at a market party for my Nerium business << became a Nerium brand partner and began attending events to learn more << researched this new idea of starting a business with Nerium << a friend suggested I’d like some of the products he is using & the company he is with << saw something from a new friend on Facebook that made me want to know more << joined a group called Dreamers and Builders & made new friends << answered a call to adventure by an author I follow and admire << Etc. Etc.

Honestly, I can go even further back in this sequence to why I joined Facebook in the first place, and on and on. My huge opportunity to be the announcer at such a big event was not randomly generated. It was woven by God through connections I’ve made in the past several years. In the midst of that was his voice prompting me when to take action. In the future I will look back at other events and be able to trace them back to this very week and the people I will meet as a result of attending and announcing for this conference.

NONE of it is random, although it ALWAYS seems that way at the time. When I look at the hand of God and what He is bringing into my life, I can do this exercise over and over again – always with the same outcome: the realization that GOD IS WORKING ALL THINGS TOGETHER FOR MY GOOD.

It’s an exercise in remembering the faithfulness of God.

Even when all the events in a sequence are not happy ones. Yes, even then. Perhaps especially then.

Even when we interrupt the artists hands and try to do it ourselves. Yes, even then. When we are ready to give the tools back to Him, God gently corrects our messy mistakes, although he doesn’t cover them up. They become part of the fabric of our lives. He weaves his colorful threads in between those places to make it beautiful again.

Take some time this week to draft a list of connected events & people you’ve met and I’m sure you’ll be overcome with the same awe and wonder.

It’s a beautiful, beautiful tapestry He is weaving of your life. I hope you will be able to step back from time to time and see it coming together.

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)

Slow to Anger

“STOP THAT! STOP BEING SO BAD!” she said as she smacked her child’s hand and grabbed him, continuing to pull him through the store aisle. He had been trying to grab a box of cereal from the shelf, like ALL kids do!

I must have seen that 5 times in my short grocery trip. Not one time did she stop what she was doing, look him in the eye and explain to him how she expected him to behave.

What a contrast with another Mom whose little girl did the exact same thing. The little girl grabbed something off the shelf, and with great poise and patience, her Mom put the package back on the shelf and stopped her cart. She knelt down and looked in her child’s eyes and said, “I know it’s so exciting to see things you like and it is tempting to grab them! But, when we shop I need you to keep your hands to yourself and be a good girl. Mommy loves you!” She ended with a hug and then they continued on her way.

That little girl held her head up high. She had been very gently reprimanded and she knew how much her Mommy loved her. By contrast the little boy who had been smacked and dragged through the store continued to grab things and never behaved properly. He pointed his eyes toward the floor and walked with a posture of anger and defeat.

Thankfully our God is like that second Mom! He is slow to anger and quick to forgive. He loves us and carefully and lovingly corrects us. He is patient and makes sure we know how much he cares for us. Imagine what life would be like if He were like that first Mom!

He wants us to be slow to anger and take time to process our circumstances before we act. I used to be much more of a “reactor” than a patient processor. With some time, usually the issue becomes much more manageable and seems less dramatic.

GraceYes, I am still perfecting this skill. The better I get at it, the less reparations I have to make in my relationships and the less stress I have to manage within myself. It is fabulous!

Let us all remember the great patience and love our Heavenly Father has for each and every one of us despite our glaring imperfections! And, let us pass this same grace on to others.

“The LORD is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love.” Psalm 103:8 NIV

“For You, Lord, are good, and ready to forgive, And abundant in lovingkindness to all who call upon You.” Psalm 86:5 NASB

GOD OF OUR FATHERS

“In You our ancestors put their trust; they trusted You and You delivered them.”  Psalm 22:4

We are in the week before our 4th of July celebrations…..more correctly known as Independence Day. Our forefathers fought against Great Britain who owned the colonies here. We wanted to be independent of another country and make our own laws and Constitution for every citizen to follow. (Interesting that now Great Britain is our closest ally).

Our forefathers were God-fearing men who read the Bible and prayed to the only One True God. Since 1776, as a Nation we have strayed away from God’s laws and have been swayed by foreign philosophies.

Let us remember to pray for our Country and leaders, and that God will give each one of us wisdom as we vote in our local and National elections.

In the hymn book there is a song entitled “God of Our Fathers” written by Daniel C. Roberts in 1876. (Evidently at our 100th birthday Mr. Roberts was already concerned about the turning away from the original hope of the Founding Fathers!)

God of our fathers, whose almighty hand leads forth in beauty all the starry band. Of shining worlds in splendor through the skies, our grateful songs before Thy Throne arise.

Thy love divine hath led us in the past; in this free land by Thee our lot is cast;  Be Thou our Ruler, Guardian, Guide and Stay, Thy Word our law, Thy paths our chosen way.

From war’s alarms, from deadly pestilence, be Thy strong arm our ever sure defense; Thy true religion in our hearts increase, Thy bounteous goodness nourish us in peace.

Refresh Thy people on their toilsome way; lead us from night to never ending day;  Fill all our hearts with love and grace divine; and glory, laud, and praise be ever Thine.”

To that I say, AMEN !

America…..don’t let go of God’s hand.

flag

I CAN, I WILL!!!

As I was pondering what to write this week, I came across something I wrote many years ago and stuck in my Bible. I have been struggling a bit with some self-doubt, discouragement and disappointment lately, and this was PERFECT for my spirit at this time – I love it when stuff like that happens. I hope it encourages you today…

“Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. All of us who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you. Only let us live up to what we have already attained.” Philippians 3:12-16 NIV

“For I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.
I CAN DO EVERYTHING THROUGH HIM WHO GIVES ME STRENGTH.
Philippians 4:11-13

  • GIVE EVERYTHING TO THE LORD every morning and ask for help with choices and completing the tasks assigned
  • DO NOT SHORT-CHANGE YOURSELF. Taking shortcuts will only hurt you in the long run. Do the little things consistently daily to build your foundation for the future.
  • PUSH YOURSELF EVERY DAY. Challenge yourself to work harder and smarter each day. Some days are better than others – do your best for each given day.
  • GIVE YOURSELF GRACE from time to time, but not so much that you allow it to keep you from reaching your goals and pushing yourself further every day.

YOU CAN DO IT!
YOU WILL DO IT!
YOU WILL CONTINUE TO DO IT!

You are amazing, beautiful and worthy of improving your lifestyle in order to improve yourself, help others and make yourself ready for what the Lord has for you to do!

ONE DAY AT A TIME. THIS DAY I WILL WORK AS HARD AS I POSSIBLY CAN WITH A GOOD ATTITUDE AND CONFIDENCE!

KEEP THE MAIN THING…THE MAIN THING!

We all come from different backgrounds.  We are a diverse generation with differences in social, cultural, economic, political and religious thoughts.  Our world has become smaller in that we are able to see and try to understand the ways of the many people groups.

The difference for those of us who believe in the One True God is that we know there is only one way to Him and that is through His Son Jesus Christ.   Many arguments begin at the mention of that truth because the influence of many world religions have caused us to wonder….are there other ways to redemption and everlasting life?  To convince another person of the only way truth is difficult……because the Holy Spirit has to do the work in each individual heart.

My point today is, that you and I as believers in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ for the redemption of our sins should not get into arguments.  What we must do is live the life as a witness to the life-changing power of Jesus.  To be ready at any time to show and speak (if that is what the Holy Spirit is prompting you to do) to someone about how they, too, can have salvation through Jesus the Savior.

Colossians 4:3-6 “…..pray for us too, that God may open the door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ,……..pray that I may proclaim this clearly, as I should.  Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders, make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.”

As you all probably know US Supreme Court Justice Scalia passed away suddenly a couple weeks ago, and now we wait to see who will be appointed to take his place.  It is a big deal because he was a conservative vote.  (Pray that the new appointee is a person who seeks God’s wisdom and stands for morality and ethical Biblical principles.)

What impressed me most about Judge Scalias’ funeral is what his son, as the officiating Catholic Priest said……..”We are gathered here because of one man.  A man known personally by many of us, known only by reputation to even more.  A man loved by many, scorned by others.  A man known for great controversy and for great compassion.  That man, of course, is Jesus of Nazareth.  It is He whom we proclaim!”

How’s that for KEEPING THE MAIN THING……THE MAIN THING?  What a witness to thousands of people.  That is an example of how to be ready in any circumstance to make the most of every opportunity!

DSC_0434a

God bless you today as you strive to be like Jesus, and to be His witness in every area of your life. Not easy, but doable if you continue to learn about Him and submit your life to Him. We are all on this journey…..we support and pray for one another.  I am not perfect….but at my age, and for the past 69 years (I was 4 when my Mother led me to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ) He’s still workin’ on me!!!!!

Give With No Expecation

This is sometimes a difficult one for me….if you are honest, it is for you too. 

Just yesterday I was about to pull out of a parking lot. A guy was walking down the sidewalk and getting close to where I was waiting to pull my car onto the road. He was young, and seemed in a hurry, so I backed up a few feet to let him cross…smiling at him. I had had plenty of time to safely pull out before he got close, but I thought I’d be nice. This wasn’t a pedestrian right-of-way situation.

He crossed without so much as a nod. In fact, he seemed to cast a devious glance of entitlement as he sauntered slowly by… 

That rush of anger welled up inside me. Immediately I thought, what an ingrate! I didn’t have to do that… I was patient and kind, and he didn’t even thank me for it! 

OOPS. Was I? Really? Maybe not so much. 

I had to repent, and then have a little talk with myself. I went into that act thinking I’d just do it because it was nice. But, I came out of it having expected something in return.  

We are to be charitable, and selfless, even with our enemies. Altruism is however, many times, something we do for ourselves to “feel good” as much as it is due our desire to be kind and to help others.  

I was reminded of Jesus’ words in Luke 6 when he said, 

32 “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. 33 And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that. 34 And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, expecting to be repaid in full. 35 But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. 36 Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.” 

Remember also that Christ willingly gave His life for us, with no guarantee of our acceptance or appreciation. He did it out of pure love. End of story.

We all encounter circumstances every day that range as small as the example I gave, to challenges of deep sacrifice.  

What will I do the next time I have the chance to give with no expectation? Will it come from the right place in my heart? I sure hope and pray so. As humans, our work on ourselves with God’s assistance is never-ending! Let us examine always our motives.

God knows our hearts, and he is merciful and giving. Let us follow in His way.

gift

There’s Still Grace

Grace

There’s Still Grace

When I fall so far I can’t get up,

He comes along as I lift my cup

He forgives and fills me

There’s still Grace.

You can’t fall so low but what He’s there,

If you will let Him, He’ll answer your prayer.

Your own failures don’t limit Him.

There’s still Grace!

Grace that will lift you out of your sins.

Grace that will give you His Peace within.

Because of His cross and the Price He paid,

There’s still God’s Grace.

This isn’t good…I know it. Just doodling around one day, and thankful that for all of us, He has unlimited Grace.

(Note from Tami: Oh, mama! We think this is just beautiful & we are so happy you showed us the way of grace and love with how you lived your life.)

There’s Still Grace was written 4/4/2005, when Gladys was age 86.

DO-OVER!

How many kids have you heard shout this out while playing? How many times did YOU say that as a kid? 

Like when you were having a contest, and you messed something up and knew you were going to lose, so you shouted out, “DO-OVER!”  

This way you had the chance to re-do what you just did wrong. This way you still had a chance to win.  

We all want to win all the time, don’t we? But, the truth is we are human, and we fail at various things on a daily basis.  

Unfortunately in adult life, we don’t always have the opportunity for a do-over. For example, if we make a huge mistake at work, we are not likely to get the chance to do it again and do it better. Hopefully we will have the chance to fix it and keep our job, but we can never erase what has been done. That slate can’t be cleaned. We may be forgiven, but many times our mistakes are not forgotten.  

This is not true with God. 

Can you believe HIS MERCIES ARE NEW EVERY MORNING? This is amazing to me. I am still trying to wrap my head around the concept. EVERY day I get to wake up with a clean slate. 

I get a chance to DO-OVER. 

EVERY DAY. 

I used to fall into such a state of self-loathing and depression when I would make a mistake. I would wallow in the wake of whatever I had done, and it would take me days, weeks, or maybe even months to get back up and start again, depending on what the mistake was. FINALLY, I am learning that I do not have to do this. God offers me forgiveness when I ask, and He promises that I will have the chance to try again. Every day.  

WOO HOO! This is GREAT NEWS! For, “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) 

How tremendous that when the sun rises every day and our eyelids pop open – we get a whole new start!

Photo by Kristin Coke - Myrtle Beach, SC

Photo by Kristin Coke – Myrtle Beach, SC

 SO…keep on keeping on. Never quit or give up. 

God will NEVER give up on you!

“The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning.” Lamentations 3:22 – 24 (NLT)

 

I’m Offended. You’re Offended. Let’s All Be Offended Together!

I'm offended

Everyone’s offended. All. The. Time.

It seems that way, doesn’t it?

Sometimes, there’s a great reason. A true offense has taken place that must be faced head on and reconciled.

Sometimes. But most times it feels like our politics, religion and choice of coffee have to match each other, or we take offense.

I cannot deal with this. Literally. Can NOT. I shake my head when people comment about this or that terrible difference in someone else. I shudder at comments on social media by those who act like it’s perfectly okay to tell someone what they’ve said on their personal account is wrong. Their personal account. Personal, as in, it belongs to them. “I know this is YOUR Facebook post and all, but what you’ve said here is stupid and it really offends me, and I think you should not think this way or be this way or have this opinion because it’s stupid and you’re stupid. But hey, we can still be friends, right?”

Don’t believe me? Just tonight this popped up as I scrolled through Facebook:

“My friends,
I can see the things you like or comment on.
When I see you liking racist posts, gun nut posts, anti-LGBT posts, sexist posts, pro-right wing religious impingement, I will unfriend you.
No discussion, no bickering. Done. Simple.
I have zero tolerance for bigotry and
uneducated, fear based views.
I wish you all a beautiful evening.”

Ouch. I’m guessing we won’t be “friends” for long. Who could possibly live up to not offending this person?

The more I see people being offended at every little thing, or giving me the cold shoulder because I said something the wrong way, the more I worry about the future of our culture. Sadly, we Christians are not immune to this. As Christians, we are to bring light to the world. But how can we, if all we ever do is complain that everyone else is doing it wrong?

The world will be offended by us. That’s just the way things are. But we are called to more.  

The way I see it, offense is the enemy’s trick to render us ineffective in business and in ministry. In life, really.

When we hang on to all those times someone has hurt us, intentionally or not, we are trapped in a dark den of feeling sorry for ourselves, unable to release love into the world. And that, my friend, will be the beginning of the darkest days our planet will ever see.

“And then many will be offended, and will betray one another, and will hate one another.”   Matthew 24:10

Let me be blunt: being offended is a daily happening.  Staying offended is a choice, and a dangerous choice.

In his book, The Bait of Satan, John Bevere points out, “Anyone who has trapped animals knows a trap needs one of two things to be successful. It must be hidden, in the hope that an animal will stumble upon it, and it must be baited to lure the animal into the trap’s deadly jaws.” He goes on to say, “One of (Satan’s) most deceptive and insidious kinds of bait is something every Christian has encountered – offense. Actually, offense itself is not deadly – if it stays in the trap. But if we pick it up and consume it and feed on it in our hearts, then we have become offended. Offended people produce much fruit, such as hurt, anger, outrage, jealousy, resentment, strife, bitterness, hatred and envy.” I would even add depression to this list.

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance; against such there is no law.”   Galations 5:22-23

My mother, Gladys, was all kinds of awesome. I learned first hand from watching her how to be unoffendable. We had a family friend who was a gruff and grumpy old guy, who filled the air with swear words and cigarette smoke whenever we were with him. Although it may have made her cringe inside and she could’ve said, “not in front of my daughter, please…” or berated him about how he wasn’t behaving the way a former Bible college student should, she never said a word. She just loved him. Consequently, she was the only preacher he ever darkened the doors of a church to hear.

I watched her befriend the local teenagers in the 1970’s and instead of condemning them for their pothead behavior or the way they dressed, she created a coffee house called The Turning Point – a place for them to hang out on the weekends and hear some music, and just maybe learn something about love and Jesus while they were there. While other preachers of the day were busy being offended by these kids and condemning them to hell, my mom was planting seeds of love into their lives.

“Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather resolve this, not to put a stumbling block or a cause to fall in our brother’s way.”  Romans 14:13

Let me be clear: I am not some superhuman who doesn’t feel the sting when a friend neglects to invite me to a fun event, or when I am brushed off as not being important when I feel like I have some really great news to share. When I see blatant blasphemy in socialmedialand I know it must hurt God’s heart even more than it hurts mine. Ouch. But I truly have learned and chosen that the best way to deal with offenses of all kinds is to let them go. I still need lots of work on this, but fortunately today’s culture of offense gives me plenty of practice!

When our outward appearance belies the torment inside, it’s a good time to seek out some healing for the wound hanging onto an offense can cause. An offense that is coddled starts like a little scratch that gets infected and is allowed to grow. Soon, that scratch becomes a festering wound, taking up all your time and energy to try and fix it, but now it’s gotten out of control, and may even land you in the hospital; far greater consequences can occur, even to the point of losing a limb or death. (Truth. Believe me, my best friend is an ER nurse and I’ve heard all the stories…) So, just as you wouldn’t want to hold on to an infected wound, don’t hold on to that little scratch of a hurt feeling. It will grow into a festering wound.

Grace is the salve that heals the wound. Let’s spread a little more of it around, shall we? GRACE.

 

From Tami: I have learned that holding on to an offense can wound us deep in our soul and keep us from doing the work God has set aside for us to do. If you’d like to dive deeper into this concept of becoming unoffendable, I invite you to check out these resources: