NEED JESUS IN YOUR BOAT?

Maybe you’ve heard the old idiom “I’m up a creek without a paddle!” exclaimed by someone who is in an awkward position with no way out. Or maybe you have even said “that doesn’t float my boat.”  Around here, at the retirement community, we often say to one another after hearing a familiar scenario, “we’re all in the same boat!!!”

danbachman-up-a-creek-without-a-paddle

Well…….Jesus’ disciples had such a situation in a fishing boat on the Sea of Galilee (which is actually an inland lake……but storms can come up quickly from the coast through a break in the mountains named The Horns of Hattin).

Mark 4:35-41 NIV  “That day (after teaching a throng of people by the lake) Jesus said to His disciples ‘Let us go over to the other side.’  Leaving the crowd behind, they took Him along, just as He was, in the boat.  There were also other boats with Him.  A furious squall came up and the waves broke over the boat so that it was nearly swamped. Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion, The disciples woke Him and said to Him, ‘Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?’  He got up and rebuked the wind and said to the waves, ‘Quiet! Be still !’  Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.  He said to His disciples, ‘Why are you so afraid?  Do you still have no faith?’  They were terrified and asked each other, ‘Who is this?  Even the wind and the waves obey Him!’ “

Are you troubled today with the storms of life?  Do you feel as though your boat is swamped and you’re sinking with no help in sight?

Believe me…..you are not alone.  JESUS IS IN YOUR BOAT!!!

Jesus speaks PEACE to those storms.  Ask Him…….trust Him.

The Heritage Singers have recorded a song entitled PEACESPEAKER that will give you encouragement.  Look it up on YouTube…..it will bless you!

VALLEY THOUGHTS

Where I am now living there aren’t any geographical mountains….so there aren’t any valleys. It’s flat in Florida! Most of my life has been spent in places where I could at least see the mountains in the distance. I love the geographical mountains and valleys.

Some valleys are beautiful and lush with greenery due to the water run off from the surrounding mountains……but when the sun is low it casts long shadows and darkness comes sooner than on the mountain top.

One of my favorite old songs to sing is  “Peace In The Valley.” Everyone seems to identify with the Hope we have for the future when Jesus comes back to earth to set up His Kingdom. “What A Day That Will Be”…….so many songs we hear and sing give us encouragement that everything will be perfect “In The Sweet By and By”!!!

But what about peace right now…in our hearts, minds, thoughts, homes, neighborhoods……in our world?

In the 23rd Psalm, David says…”yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow….”  But, is there peace in the valley of our lives…..where those dark shadows hide our clear sight? We want to live on the mountain top all the time…but that’s not reality.

When we find ourselves in the valley there are many thoughts that trouble us. We want security, right? I know I have questions about tomorrow…..how about you?

We want to control our own lives, but we know we are subject to many circumstances we cannot control. We look back through the years and think about the rewards we worked for but somehow never realized. There were times we wanted revenge for being mistreated or left out. Some of you have felt abandoned, isolated, forgotten, or criticized, maybe by your own family.

Have you found yourself wandering in a dark valley of rejection or hurt today? Or in a valley of pain and poor health, or financial devastation? That “valley of the shadow of death” could be physical, mental, or spiritual.

Be encouraged today that it is possible for you to live on the mountain…..but you must be determined to climb out of the valley by reading God’s Word, memorizing some verses, praising and praying to God, asking for help, filling your mind with praise songs and hymns. Yes, it takes some work and determination…..just like a mountain climber in the physical world!!!

This poem written by Annie Johnson Flint speaks to reality..

God has not promised skies always blue, flower-strewn  pathways all our lives through. God has not promised sun without rain, joy without sorrow, peace without pain.

But God has promised strength for the day, rest for the labor, light for the way. Grace for the trials, help from above, unfailing sympathy, undying love.

CAN YOU HEAR ME NOW?

Remember that TV ad a few years ago when the person would move different places trying to get reception on his cell phone?

I wonder if God thinks that about us sometimes!

How do YOU hear from God?

Maybe you feel God really doesn’t talk to you……”He doesn’t care about me….He has only the major stuff in the world to concern Himself with.”

Well……do YOU talk to Him?

Our Father God is all knowing, all seeing, and He is everywhere!   He will listen to you as you speak to Him through His Son Jesus.

“For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus…..”  I Timothy 2:5

So, to have a relationship with your Creator you must talk to Him….then LISTEN.

The listening part is the most difficult for all of us humans.  I say “Dear God, give me a written sign, in English please!!!”

If you need an answer from God my advise is to seek out the answer in the Bible, meditate on it, pray about it, ask for wisdom, and a peace will come into your inner-most being with the answer.  Sometimes the answer is not what we want to hear.

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.”  Romans 8:28

What I’ve noticed as I get older is that looking back on events in my life I can truly say….”Oh!  That’s why that worked out that way!  I see it all clearly now.”

Sometimes it’s a process (one of my least favorite words!) that doesn’t happen quickly.   And wrong choices I’ve made and repented for, God, in love, has turned it around for my good.!!!

Beloved, TRUST GOD.  He sees, He hears, He answers the best way for each one of us in His time.

LISTEN…….HE IS SPEAKING TO YOU.

CAN YOU HEAR HIM NOW???

Ear

Sitting with God in the Silence

It’s been a silent week.

Not in the sense that I haven’t interacted with people or done work or spent time with friends. It’s more like I know God’s there, but he’s not speaking. And that’s OK. We are sitting in the silence together.

Last Sunday, as we were celebrating Christ’s resurrection, he chose to take a precious little life from this earth to be with him in Glory. Tori was the 19 month old daughter of some friends, and I was just one of thousands who had fallen in love with her. Before she was even born and her mama would share the ultrasound photos, we were oohing and aahing over her beauty. When she was born, we oohed and aahed some more over her stunning eyes and rosebud mouth. Ever the photographer, her mama would grace the internet with her precious image so that much more than just family could gaze upon her beauty. Even before that awful genetic disorder reared its ugly head, Tori’s tribe was gathering.

Tori Photo by Lesa Brackbill

Tori
Photo by Lesa Brackbill

Then, just when Tori should have been learning to roll over and pull herself up to the cheers of her many admirers, her responsive little face stopped responding. The smile had gone. Her cooing had stopped. Her big beautiful eyes remained, but her once animated expression was fading. Within a matter of days her parents learned their precious daughter was dying.

Over the next year, I witnessed the most awful, terrible, beautiful thing. As her health began to deteriorate, Tori’s parents were not bitter. They were not angry. They were filled with grace and trust in a God who had let them down. Yes, they must have had overwhelming sad moments. They are human, after all. But we watched as they now embarked on a journey of grace, filled with happy times and even joy.

Where does this come from?

When God doesn’t obey our commands (i.e. prayer requests), what are we left with? We are left with the silence. But in the silence, he is still there.

In the silence, God is still there. He is.

Tori is healed and whole now and most likely sitting on Jesus’ lap, telling all the other kids about how she did more things on her bucket list before she was two years old than most people do in a lifetime.

We are left with the silence. When I say, “but God, what about that dream you gave me that Tori was healed?”

Silence.

When I look at my sweet grandson who came into the world just a month after Tori did, I see a whole, healthy child and ask, “why them, God? How did you see fit to spare our family this heartache?”

Silence.

But somehow, the silence is filled with peace. The kind of peace we will never understand. In those moments, God is silent. But he is present.

He sits with us in the silence.

And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:7

I had the honor of meeting Tori in person, when she was with her sweet mama, Lesa, to fulfill her bucket list item of visiting her mom's Alma Mater (Azusa Pacific University)

I had the honor of meeting Tori in person, when she was with her sweet mama, Lesa, to fulfill her bucket list item of visiting her mom’s Alma Mater (Azusa Pacific University)

Holding sweet Tori's hand while she slept.

Holding sweet Tori’s hand while she slept.

Tori’s story is far from over. Her parents are committed to keeping her memory alive and raising awareness for newborn screening for Krabbe disease. Follow their journey at thebrackbills.com

As Your Day, So Shall Your Strength Be

Some days are easier than others.

Some days you feel great, the sun is shining, everyone seems to smile at you, you get paid, no bills come in the mail, you get your workout in, make a delicious dinner, and everyone does their “homework” and gets to bed. Nothing major happens.

Some days a huge, unexpected wrench is thrown into the mix, and your life story takes a turn. This happens to all of us – it is to be human. We receive a bit of bad news, or we have to deliver difficult news to another. Our schedule gets thrown off, we may exist in a state of shock for a day, or more, depending on the severity.

Some days come with an event or moment that has been planned and anticipated. There may be a huge buildup, and much preparation, sweat and tears put in to that day. These days are planned, but any number of variables may occur once the time comes. This still causes stress and requires poise and strength.

Such is life. We bring some of our “storms” upon ourselves…. and others just come because we live in an imperfect world.

Fortunately for us, God promises, even with the self-imposed circumstances, that He will never leave nor forsake us. Whether we are suffering through the consequences of our own actions, the natural valleys of life, or difficulties other people have imposed upon us, GOD WILL NEVER FAIL US.

Part of His promise is that we will have the strength we need for whatever we must face.

“May your bolts be made of iron and bronze, and may your strength be sufficient for each day you live.” (ISV)

“On the day I called, You answered me; You made me bold with strength in my soul.” (NASB)

My dear Grandmother was born on January 15, 1919 and Martin Luther King, Jr. was born on January 15, 1929 just ten years later. These are two of the people I have most admired, and their words of wisdom have always topped my list of words to live by. We all just celebrated Mr. King’s life and contribution to our world this week. Imagine the days he faced, and the strength he needed to be so courageous and change the world. God gave him the strength he needed for each day. What an example of power and light even amidst great struggle.

I’ll conclude with a few words from a sermon titled “Weariness” that my Grandmother Gladys Johnson preached in the late 1980s:

“As your day, so shall your strength be. You may find peace in the Lord even amidst the bad day. He only gives us what we can bear. We can have joyful days regardless of circumstance. Use the Lord’s instruction and resources to have peace, strength and victory.”

Me with my Grandma on her 90th

Me with my Grandma on her 90th

Amen. And so, as you face what each day brings, may you always turn to Him, hold your head high, and draw on the strength that He gives to conquer what comes your way.

Love And Thanksgiving

Citizens of the United States are running around today, the day before Thanksgiving, to be sure they have everything they “need” for family and friends to enjoy food and fellowship tomorrow. What a wonderful time of year to pause and give thanks for everyone and everything in our lives.

But, with all that is going on in the world, I can’t help but think of the millions of people who have so little to be thankful for on this day. War. Famine. Disasters. Terror.

The fact that I have time to post this, and you have time to read it means that we are in a position of peace and wealth compared to most. Have we become so wound up in our own little world that we think that we are the only ones who deserve this kind of life?

We complain so much, and point our finger at others. We want to shut people out due to their color, creed or station in life. We may pretend as though we are “welcoming” to all, but as a collective society, ARE WE REALLY?

This post comes on the heels of my Aunt Tami’s wonderful post last week. I have struggled to come up with a post for this week because I have been so disgusted in general with humanity, the “Christians” chief among them.

So, at this time of joy and jubilee (and, I am not saying there is anything wrong with this – we have MUCH to be joyful about!) – I am sure it is a bit dark for me to post this…but do try to walk a mile in the shoes of a terrified refugee. Imagine fearing for your life, and trying to protect your family. Imagine having to flee. Imagine seeing blood and death, and hearing crying and screaming. Imagine just wanting some peace, and then being turned away by people who say they represent a loving, caring God. Imagine feeling as if no one wants you and somehow you are worth less than others.

WHAT IF IT WERE ME? WHAT IF IT WERE YOU? No one chooses to whom or where he/she is born. We are all human. WE ARE CREATED EQUAL. We all have the same basic human needs, desires and feelings.

Let us open our hearts and arms. Let us show love to others. Let us let God do the judging. LET US NOT LET FEAR outweigh LOVE.

Today I received a beautiful picture from the Arms of Love Children’s Home in Andhra Pradesh, India – which is the orphanage that I started 13 years ago through AndyBooks Outreach. (visit andybooksoutreach.org for more info). Here you see 12 beautiful young children who had no hope. Abandoned. Starving. Lost.

We took them in, and they are thriving, despite the hand they have been dealt in life. It’s a beautiful thing.

Arms of Love 2If we all take time to be kind and loving to one person at a time, the ripple effect will spread. It starts with each one of us. Let us be the good Samaritan. Let us not pass one in trouble on the road because we are too fearful, or in too much of a hurry to tend to ourselves.

Let Thanksgiving Day be just a starting point for each day moving forward: to love, to show compassion, to be grateful by sharing what we have with others. Let us not tire until EVERYONE has the opportunity to live a life of peace and gratitude.

TO ALL, A HAPPY THANKSGIVING.

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.

MEDITATION

What does it mean to meditate?

As usual, Satan has taken an instruction from God to meditate on His Word and twisted it into a lie.  Meditation is a word we see in every magazine, but the use of it is misinterpreted.  It’s not sitting in a certain yoga position and chanting a “mantra.”

Actually, the word meditate translated in our Bible means to read the scriptures, center your thoughts on a verse or passage, read it again, memorize it, read it again, think on that scripture and how it will change your life for good, then take it in, apply it to your life and do it.  Let it bring life to your body, mind, and spirit.

Those of you who have been around cows will see that mind picture clearly!  There are many animals in God’s creation that “chew the cud,” but most familiar to us is the cow.  She takes in nourishment, but because she has four stomachs as she chews and swallows that bit of grass it is not assimilated into the health of her body yet, until she chews, swallows, burps up, chews it again, etc.  That chewing process takes time to get that nourishment to where it will do her body the most good.  And, you have no doubt seen a cow lying down in a field at complete rest, chewing, chewing and chewing, not concerned about anything going on around her……she is meditating!

Cow-Chewing-its-Cud

What a picture of complete rest and peace!

Oh that we would take the time to meditate on God’s Word, not just read a passage, but to slow down and think on these things, and ask the Holy Spirit to teach us, and then apply it to our lives. Search the scriptures; they are the unsearchable riches of Christ. (Ephesians 3:8)  You will find new treasures in His Word every time you read it.  That’s why this book, the Bible, is the Living Word……it never changes and it never gets old!

Christians around the world are being persecuted and killed because of their faith in Jesus Christ, and they long for the written Word in their own language.  They will give their lives for the right to keep their tattered and torn Bible!!!

Meditate on God’s Word…..make time for it.  Just take one verse, memorize it, speak it, take it into your heart and mind until it becomes life and nourishment to you for your daily living.

Psalm 119:15-16  “I will meditate on Your precepts, and contemplate Your ways.  I will delight myself in Your statutes; I will not forget Your Word.” (KJV)

Psalm 1:2  “His delight is in the law of the LORD, and in His law he meditates day and night.”

Psalm 19:14  “May the Words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in Your sight, O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.” (NIV)

SO….CHEW, CHEW, CHEW ON GOD’S WORD!!!

Eyes of a Child

Adults can be such a drag.
Worrying about this and that. Pre-judging situations and other people.

There is a reason Scripture says, “a child shall lead them.”

Children have no filter. They do not pre-judge. They do not see color, station, or religion. If you will smile and look them in the eye, respect them, and play with them – YOU’RE IN.

End of story.

This indicates that we learn our prejudices. Whatever “group” we are in dictates to us how we should feel about this or that.

Have you ever watched a child see someone who looks different for the first time? They study them with wide eyes. They are amused. Captured. They take it all in and then judge only based on the interaction that ensues.

And so should we be as adults. But, generally, we are not. We have learned to judge. We have learned to weigh all the stats to decide whether or not we should give each person the “time of day.”

This is not correct.

I was hanging out with my 4-year-old friend Walker, and he stopped our pool play to say he needed to thank God for some things.

Okay, I said. Go for it.

He said, “THANK YOU GOD FOR EVERYTHING (waving his hands in the air)!
Thank you for letting us wake up today!
Thank you for my Mommy, My Daddy, my Sissy, My Mimi, My PawPaw, the water, the trees, our car, the animals, our water guns.
Thank you God for EVERY PERSON in the world!” IMG_6731a

The point is – the little ones are all out. They just say what they think. We are born to appreciate life and love. We learn to hate. We may be born into sin, but the hate part comes from observation.

Let us be aware of this. Let us realize that the little ones are watching. Let us treat all others with dignity and respect, regardless of how “different” they may appear. Let us speak kindly. Both to others, and about them.

As the old saying goes, “if you don’t have something nice to say, say nothing at all.”

A child shall lead them. Christ Himself said we must be “reborn” to be saved. I think this partly means we have to erase all mis- and pre-conceptions. Start over. Be new. Give everyone the same chance. How hard this is when it seems we spend all our lives being taught that somehow we are better than everyone else.

Isaiah 11:6 “In that day the wolf and the lamb will live together; the leopard will lie down with the baby goat. The calf and the yearling will be safe with the lion, and a little child will lead them all.” (NLT)

There will one day be true peace on earth. Born enemies will live together in harmony.

We can choose to live this way now, even though most of the world does not. If we are truly changed by the love of God, we will truly love others. This is our charge in this life – to love others – without exception.

Romans 13:8 “Owe nothing to anyone–except for your obligation to love one another. If you love your neighbor, you will fulfill the requirements of God’s law.”

As Walker said – THANK YOU GOD FOR EVERY PERSON IN THE WORLD! And may we properly treat all we meet!

In Times Like These

Many of you are too young to remember a radio personality by the name of Paul Harvey who’s famous line was, “Now you know the rest of the story.” He was known for his thoughtful quotes. He said, “In times like these it is good to remember that there have always been times like these.”

As we hear and read the news today we learn of so much strife, hating and killing, wars and rumors of wars, earthquakes, drought, famine, et cetera. It all can make you feel vulnerable to a personal tragedy at any time. The Bible also says that men’s hearts will fail them because of fear.

But wait, you say……these things have been going on in our world since creation.  It is only that we are more aware of  these happenings around the world because of our high technical media.  True….but we must not get apathetic in our understanding of the end times as prophesied in the Old and New Testaments.

I know….this is a really heavy subject, but I must write what the Lord has put on my heart to share with you today.

Jesus instructed his disciples with these words in Matthew 24 and Mark 13.

“Watch out that no one deceives you. For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many. You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but then the end will come.  Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of birth pains.”

Wow…I need to pay attention, and stay in God’s Word.

I need to keep the main thing, the main thing.

I need to be strong in my belief that Jesus is the Christ the Savior of my soul…..the soon coming King.

I need to share His love with everyone I meet and claim their soul for salvation.

Yes…life goes on and we continue with what is set before us in our daily work and ministry.   Jesus also said “Occupy until I come.” That is what I will do with God’s help…how about you?

I am reminded of a song from the 60’s….

“In times like these, you need a Savior.
In times like these, you need an anchor.
Be very sure, be very sure….
your anchor holds, and grips the Solid Rock. 

This Rock is Jesus, yes He’s The One.
The Rock is Jesus, the Only One.
Be very sure, be very sure…
your anchor holds, and grips the Solid Rock.”

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