Saturday, January 21, 2017

The Man Who Comes After Me, & 6th Update on Kristen

"Yea, I hated all my labor which I had taken under the sun: because I should leave it unto the man that shall be after me. And who knows whether he shall be a wise man or a fool? yet shall he have rule over all my labor wherein I have labored, and wherein I have shewed myself wise under the sun. This is also vanity."
Ecclesiastes 2:18,19
(KJV)
Emphasis added.


This passage of Scripture has always really struck a chord with me.
It is profound to think that one day each and every one of us will leave this world,
and every, single thing we own will be left to someone else.
It is very sobering.

We struggle to gather.
We collect.
We amass as much as we possibly can.
We fill our homes with so much stuff.
Excess to the point of gluttony.
We push ourselves and spend precious time on keeping up with the world's demands,
losing out on what is most important, in the process.
We labor hard to maintain what we have accumulated,
and, then, one day we die and leave it "to the man that shall come after us",
and, who knows, whether he will be a wise man or a fool?

In our pursuit of living a simpler life, we are letting go of many things.
And, it is HARD.
Because we have worked through the superficial layers...
the attic's contents, some of which hadn't seen the light of day in right around 14 years,
the huge, oversized, packed nearly to the brim 2 car garage that was attached to our house,
the big stuff we knew we couldn't bring on our long-distance move,
the duplicate items in our home, kitchen stuff that we never used, and things that were just plain no longer relevant to our current lives.

But, now we have ventured into the deeper layers of minimizing,
where the stuff probably isn't worth a penny to anyone else, but seems invaluable to us.
Stuff like cards.
Letters.
Trinkets.
Joggers of memories.
Souvenirs.
You know what I mean.

This is not superficial stuff.
This isn't like us leaving behind the big, cumbersome, heavy leather couch for the people who bought our house.
It is not similar to Kevin leaving nearly all of his garage and yard stuff for the "man who came after us" and is now appointed steward over the two acres dear, sweet Zach spent his entire childhood playing and running through.
The things that inhabit this layer of minimizing do not weigh nearly as much as the refrigerator, stove, washer, or dryer we left in the house where we lived and made precious memories for so long.
This stuff doesn't weigh much, at all, per individual item.
But, this stuff is heavy.
Emotionally, it weighs a ton.

Every, single card I pick up and re-read...and some of these cards I have kept since I was a young girl, mind you...is saturated with emotions and feelings I haven't felt in years.
Every piece of paper feels like it weighs a thousand pounds.

I sat in the floor last night, as dear Kevin brought in yet another crate and set it in front of me.

He is the kindest man.
Honestly, I wish every one of you precious readers could know Kevin.
I don't know why on earth God, in His infinite love and wisdom, chose me to be the grateful soul who gets to walk through life holding his hand.
He is the wisest man I know or have ever personally met.
He is even-keeled to the core, not driven by emotion, but guided by the hand of the One Who is eternal truth.

He sat on the couch a few feet away from me, as I warily tore off the tape on the top of the crate and opened the lid to peek inside.
Whew!
THIS crate is the most emotionally-charged one yet.
At one point, I just almost put the things back in that I had taken out and closed the lid.
I had this huge temptation to leave it all in there forever and ever.
The emotional weight was just far too heavy.
I didn't feel like I could handle it a moment longer.

As I read through letters and cards, one by one, just to see if I felt like they should be kept a moment longer, I started crying.

"Don't cry" Kevin said in the gentlest of tones.

His tenderness always soothes me.
I could never, even if God gave us a million years together living as man and wife,
ever, ever thank Him enough for this dear, loving man.

This point of minimizing is where it gets hard toughest.
Man, alive, I just can't tell you how hard this is.

I am not a hoarder, in most ways.
But, when it comes to cards and letters people have given me,
little receipts that remind me of things Kevin, Zach, and I have done through the years,
scraps of paper that instantly take me back to another place and time and earlier section of life,
I must be the ultimate hoarder of all time.

I have papers that were written on years and years ago.
At 50 years old, I feel like I have already lived out several lifetimes,
and when I see these little scraps and fragments, they remind me of how I felt in each stage.
That young, insecure little girl with ponytails,
who loved her dolls, Pollyanna and Marcia and the Sunshine Family, who looked forward to the day she would grow up and marry and have her own little Sunshine Family, who moved every few months, was unsettled, worried, and scared, but abundantly loved by two parents who would have laid down their lives for her in a split second,
the awkward, self-conscious teenager,
who never did feel like she fit in...anywhere, changing schools often and at the most inopportune times, but ever-hopeful, and at the same time hopelessly romantic, always reading and dreaming of her very own Mr. Right,
(thank God, I found him, and he loves me just the way I am, emotional warts and all),
the enthusiastic, forward-looking young adult,
striking out and starting a career of her own, ever eager and excited for what good things life had in store,
the head-over-heels-in-love 20 year old,
who couldn't wait to pledge her heart and hand and truly belong to the mate of her soul, the man who swept her completely off her feet, and with whom she finally, at last, found the place she knew she really, truly, honest-to-goodness fit in,
the newly married wife,
eager to do everything right, anticipating with high hopes the next natural step in which her little girl dreams would become reality, and she would hold her own, real little doll baby,
the ever-maturing, infertile young woman,
who over a span of many years, daily struggled with feelings of inadequacy, failure, and pain, due to not being able to conceive,
the much wiser, more mature, ecstatic new Mommy, (God knew),
 whose whole world revolved around that long-anticipated-and-longed-for bundle of joy baby boy,
the to this day, everyday-and-eternally grateful wife and homeschool Mama,
who never could and still can't bear to part with one workbook this precious boy has ever written in from Kindergarten to NOW, who cherishes every, single second of life, who feels like the most blessed woman ever created by our loving and eternal God.

Through all of life's stages, up until now, I have kept and held on to little things that remind me of all of these moments that were spent living life.
And, as I pore back over them, opening crates and boxes of stuff packed away until a future time,
I find that that future time has come, and here I am.
It feels like peeling scabs off old wounds to even remotely think of getting rid of certain things...
like I would have pulled off the cover and let go of what protected that memory.
I just want to let those sleeping memories lie...
to leave them alone and not allow them to be awakened.
I find that I still do not want to let any of these things go...
because it feels like if I do, there are parts of me that will never remember them again.
As I look through every, single shred of paper I own, I am transported back to those everyday moments, and that shred of paper is the means of transport.
How can I let it go?
I don't want to lose the conduit.
I told you this is hard.
It is downright complicated.

Now, I realize there are some of you who will think I am crazy for agonizing over whether or not to let go of a golf scorecard from 1992, the motel receipt from our honeymoon in 1988, hair clippings from Zach's first haircut, or the birthday card Mom and Dad gave me in 1982.
Some of you have much more sense than I do and don't allow yourself to be overcome by sentiment, and you would never have kept most of this stuff in the first place.
Some of you possess a much stronger capacity to remember than I do,
and you wouldn't feel the need to hold on to things in order to be reminded.
If these were yours, some of you could take these boxes of what I consider precious and dear and dump them into trash bags, feeling nothing but relief.
My hat's off to you, friend.
How I wish I were blessed with your fortitude and wisdom!
If I knew then what I know now, perhaps I wouldn't have kept a lot of this, either.

Oh, sure, there are painful parts of my life that I have spent years trying to forget ever happened,
that I would never, in a million years, want to revisit or find a slip of paper that conjures memories of.
Every now and then, I am finding something that jogs those recollections,
and, yes, I am letting those things go.
But, it is the slips of paper, ticket stubs, cards, mementos, Zach's artwork, school workbooks,
and a million other things that stir up happy memories that I am just really, really struggling with deciding whether to let go of or keep.

I can see why God allowed our current situation of life.
It is giving me wonderful time and space, to not feel pressured into doing this quickly.
I need that.
I am trying hard and diligently keeping on these projects, but I don't feel that I have to hurry up and get them done tomorrow.

Even though we had downsized MAJORLY...I mean I just cannot even convey to you how much we had let go of before we made this long-distance move, we still ended up leaving the home we sold with....are you ready for this?
No less than 141 boxes.
YES.
I said 141.
I kept a very organized list of what was generally in each box and numbered them,
so we would know what was in them before pulling them out of storage.
The number "141" does not include the cedar hope chest I have had since I was 16 that is crammed full, the old, black trunk that is filled to capacity, many, many crates, and other such things.
You get the picture.

If you saw what we still have, you would wonder how on earth I could be telling you that we have overwhelmingly minimized our lives and belongings and that we have been on an intensely intentional journey to simplify for the last two years.

But, here we are.
SO much progress behind us.
SO much that still needs to be done.

One thing God has clearly made evident to me is that we need to condense down to what will comfortably and unclutteredly (is that even a word?) fit into our current, small living space.
God is being extremely reasonable with us.
He knows all about my hyper-emotional, super-sentimental nature.
After all, He created me.
Jesus knows I SO want to follow Him.
To be like Him.
To let go of the weight and sin that so easily trips me up and pens me in.
To live this life unencumbered, free, and ready to do what He wants me to do,
without excuse or obligation.
To be more eternity-focused and less adoring of what is temporal.

I never saw these "things" as idols before, but I declare, that is what some of this is starting to feel like.
Anything can become an idol.
If holding onto something means more to us than minding God,
then that thing comes between us and God, and we are giving it priority.
Couldn't, shouldn't that thing be classified as an idol?

I am not saying God is requiring me to let go of every, single thing that I hold dear.
Not at all.
What I am saying is that He absolutely wants us to continue to downsize and declutter and let go of what ties us down and causes us to spend extra money in order to keep.

Every month, I go online and pay an extra, excess monthly bill for storage rent,
because all of our stuff will not fit into our small, condensed living space.

Slowly, we are working through it all.
Painfully, I am turning loose of what I didn't even realize have become idols.
I've written about the type of looking back that is not healthy
and the healthy type of looking back to see how far we've come.

Some of these reminders I am coming across are really unhealthy and bringing me down.
I am finding it is getting easier to let them go.
Things are not like they were then.
Life is different.
We have moved forward.
The old is past, the new has come.
Dragging certain things into the new that God has brought us to is really not conducive to peace.
And peace is our word for this year.

Peace comes after firm decisions are made.
The time spent in the valley of decision is agonizing.
God is helping me.
Color is coming back into my knuckles, as I am starting to release the need to retain what God says is no longer necessary.
I'm glad He is patient and long-suffering.
I don't know what I would do if He were rushing me right now.
He knows how much we can take, and He is ever kind and merciful to our needs.

One day, I will have passed off the scene of life, and, like Solomon, there is a "man who is coming after me."
Dear Zach already shows wisdom beyond his years, and I truly know with all my heart he will be a wise steward.
But, I do not want to leave a heavier burden than is necessary for him to have to deal with disposing of in the aftermath of my parting.
I want to leave him with a healthy amount of reminders of who I was, who his ancestors were, and where he came from.
But, to laden him with things that he won't even recognize or understand the reason they were held onto is just selfish of me.
I don't want to make things any harder on him than they have to be.
Mom and Dad had very little when they died, and, I tell you, it was a blessing.

All of this stuff...these mementos so cherished and precious to my heart,
will one day pass away.
They are not living things.
They hold no eternal value.
What will matter is the living legacy I leave behind...
the memories of how I lived life day to day.

As Mom so often reminded me,
"Only one life, 'twill soon be past; only what's done for Christ will last."

God, help me to live my life with the truth of this continually in view.

********************************************

Please continue to pray for my dear niece, Kristen.
She is not doing well.
She saw the hematologist, and he is working hard to try to find a solution.
She needs medication that, due to being pregnant, she cannot have without endangering the life and well being of her unborn baby.
Her condition has actually worsened, and we are pleading with God for the miracle she and her precious baby boy so desperately need.
PLEASE do keep praying, dear friends.
Whether or not the hematologist finds the answer to Kristen's health problems,
GOD is the ultimate Healer, and He doesn't need medicine or any help in performing the healing Kristen needs.
Our eyes are upon HIM.
Your continued prayers are SO appreciated!!

*****************************************************

And, now for something FUN!
I am slowly adding more things to our FREE STUFF Page!
I wish I could put more on there, but so many of the items we are letting go of are heavy, awkward-sized, and difficult to mail.
So, most of it is either going to our local thrift store or a nearby consignment shop.
I am coming across some smaller things that can be mailed, and those are the little things I would love to pass along to some of you!
So, feel free to click over here from time to time, and see if there is anything that catches your eye.
There is never a charge to you for anything, not even postage.
Just let us know what you would like to give a new home,
email us by clicking here, then click where it says "email" under "Contact Me",
and, Lord willing, once you make your request known, we will get it on its way to you!!

*****************************************************

God bless you all!

Sunday, January 15, 2017

The Inner Views of Victor S E Moubarak

"Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do."
I Thessalonians 5:11
(KJV)

It never ceases to amaze me how God places people in our lives, just when we need them most.
I can't remember exactly when the Lord orchestrated the crossing of paths between Homespun Devotions and the kind gentleman who is being interviewed today, but I am eternally grateful to Him for allowing it to be.
What I do remember is a particularly difficult trial my family and I went through last summer
and how, through our correspondence and his blog posts, he encouraged us and helped me to put things into perspective.
The wisdom he has imparted on more than one occasion has proven invaluable to me.
God's power to connect His people is unlimited.
It crosses denominational lines, spans oceans, and is unhindered by the divides and miles in between.
I often think of the account of Peter and Cornelius in the 10th chapter of Acts.
They lived in different areas, geographically, and their backgrounds were worlds apart.
Yet, God, in His infinite wisdom, deemed that a connection would be beneficial, and He prepared both of their hearts ahead of time for the intersection that changed both of their lives forever.
I am so pleased to share this interview with you today.
It is extremely edifying and full of spiritual depths, and has a little humor thrown in, too!
I know you will be blessed, encouraged, and challenged to draw closer to God as you read the inner views of this very wise man.


The
of
Christian Author, Family Man, Ordinary Person,
Victor S E Moubarak.


Cheryl: Please tell us a little about yourself.

Victor: First of all, let me thank you, Cheryl, for this opportunity to be interviewed on your website and to get to know your readers.


I would like to make clear that I am not a priest, pastor, vicar or church minister. I am just an ordinary family man trying to do his best for his family and dog who does not seem to understand me. Whenever I point and say “Get in bed!” he looks at my finger and asks “Who is Ted?”

I was brought up a Christian by loving parents who sacrificed a lot in life for me and my siblings. A debt we can never ever repay.

In my spare time I write Christian and humorous books some of which can be obtained FREE from www.holyvisions.co.uk


Cheryl: Victor, it is truly an honor to interview you and delve into the wealth of your wisdom.  Thank you ever so much for being here and for taking part in Inner Views.  Please tell us about your blog, "Time For Reflections". When did you begin blogging? What inspired you to start a blog? How has blogging enriched your life?

Victor: My Blog started in early 2009. It was after publishing my first book “VISIONS”. I was advised that it is pointless having a book if no one knows about it. A Blog would be a first step towards publicizing it.


At first, the Blog consisted of Christian articles and comments. But then, in time, I started writing short stories about a fictitious priest, (Father Ignatius), a character from my book “VISIONS”. Pretty soon I had published over 250 short stories, always with a Christian context, featuring Father Ignatius. 

I have also included in my Blog, from time to time, humorous articles commenting on life in general and how it affects us all. I consider these humorous articles very important. Let me explain.

Monthly statistics show that about 80% of visitors to my Blog are first time visitors. This is good, I believe, because it shows I am casting my net ever wider. Most of these new visitors come to my Blog to read the humorous articles. Now imagine, if only one person ventures to read my Christian articles also, and in so doing, gets to know and experience the love of God for the first time; then it has all been worthwhile.

Of course, I am also very grateful to my regular loyal visitors, like you Cheryl, who support me and encourage me to keep on writing. When they leave a comment I make a point of visiting their Blog; and I also pray for them. I must admit, the list of people I’m praying for is getting ever bigger and I’m getting sore being always on my knees. 

That said; I would like to see many of your readers, Cheryl, visit me at http://timeforreflections.blogspot.com and join our Christian family on the Internet.


Cheryl: We would love to hear about the books you have written.

Victor: Let me start by saying that about 2000 years ago something very immense and important happened to this world. God, our Creator and the Creator of the Universe, revealed Himself to humanity. For a limited period of about 30 years we saw Jesus, the only Son of God, spoke to Him, listened to Him and witnessed His many miracles. The most significant events of this period are Christ’s death for us and His Resurrection; and indeed sending us His Holy Spirit. They are the basis of Christianity.


But over the years this message, this truth, seems to have been diluted and forgotten by many. I have often wondered what do people in general, and Christians in particular, actually believe. I asked myself, what if Jesus appeared to us today, right now, as a human again. What would we make of it?


That’s the main theme of my first book “VISIONS”. It tells the story of three children who see a vision of Christ in the park on their way to church. They tell their priest, (Father Ignatius), about it. News soon spreads throughout town and people react to it differently. Some readily believe. Others react differently, violently even, towards the children and their families. The priest has a crisis of Faith, not knowing what to believe. The Church tries to hush the whole story fearing bad publicity. Meanwhile, Jesus appears again and again.

The story is set in an un-named northern English town in the late 1950s or there about. I have deliberately kept the location and time period vague to point out that it could have happened anywhere and at any time. If Christ appeared to you right now, would you recognize Him?

Following, “VISIONS”, I wrote several short stories featuring Father Ignatius. These cover various subjects regarding Christian beliefs and every day to day situations that could happen to all of us – love, marriage, divorce, parenting, hurt, betrayals, forgiveness and so on.

These stories have been compiled into various books available either FREE from www.holyvisions.co.uk or at a small charge to cover costs in paperback or KINDLE format from AMAZON. Click HERE.

The intention is not to make money, but to make available Christian based fiction to a wider audience.


I have also written two other novels featuring Father Ignatius. “THE PRIEST AND PROSTITUTE” is a murder mystery story about Father Ignatius being accused of murder with all the evidence pointing towards him whilst he tries in vain to plead his innocence. This is the time when he finds out who his friends really are. A time of struggle to maintain one’s Faith when it seems that even God has abandoned you.


“TO LOVE A PRIEST” is also a fictional love story featuring Father Ignatius and dealing with the delicate subject of celibacy and chastity amongst the clergy.

I have also written several other books dealing with Christian reflections and prayers. The two latest are entitled “REFLECTIONS FOR THE SOUL” and “MORE REFLECTIONS FOR THE SOUL”


Finally, I’d like to mention my humorous books covering a variety of subjects which, as mentioned before, serve to draw new readers to my Christian books.


Cheryl: What is the earliest recollection you have of God and His presence in your life?

Victor: I remember it as clearly as if it were yesterday.
As I said earlier, I have been brought up a Christian by my parents. I was about 7 or 8 years old, the family was going through a traumatic period in our lives. I was on the school bus on my way to my Christian school, and suddenly it all clicked into place. Like a light bulb switching on in my head. I just knew that God does indeed exist. All I had been told by my parents and at school and church made sense. Somehow, I can’t explain it, I was certain that there was and there is a God. There was no looking back after that.

Cheryl: Who do you credit as being your most influential Godly mentor? Why? Can you share some of the ways they have prompted you to draw closer to God?

Victor: I suppose my parents, first of all. By their example as well as their teachings. By their great generosity and kindness towards the poor and the down-and-outs. Something I have never been able to match.

Let me tell you a story. As a young boy I had an autograph book where I got friends and teachers to write something for me. I asked my father to write something and he wrote: “Keep your mind set on the things that are in Heaven, not things here on earth!” As a child, this did not make much sense and I ignored it. It was not until years after he died that I realized he was quoting Colossians 3. 


Also, over the years I have got to know a number of good priests. Two that stand out are Father A and Father F. They truly represent what it is to be God’s messenger and representative on earth. By their generosity in raising great funds for the poor and by their giving of their time to many people in need of comfort, forgiveness, and advice, they have inspired me to go on and try, as best I can, to emulate them.


Cheryl: What are three of your favorite parts of Scripture? How have these particular passages ministered to you and helped you?

Victor: "Do not be afraid, for I have redeemed you. I have called you by your name; you are Mine." ISAIAH 43:1-5

Well, this speaks for itself. Whenever I go through difficult times in my life, (quite often it seems), I remember to take courage and as far as I can, shake away any fears. The next passage also gives me encouragement when I'm feeling low and things go wrong.

"The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want." PSALM 23.

If you read the whole Psalm slowly, taking in every word, I hope you too will feel God's calming love and care in your life at times of troubles.

"I believe Lord; help my unbelief." MARK 9:24

If I'm honest, my Faith often falters and stumbles when things get difficult. And this passage reminds me that I'm not alone in feeling this way.


"And I will be with you always, to the end of time." MATTHEW 28:20

This promise from Our Lord certainly keeps me going and reminds me that Jesus is here with us right now; only a prayer away.

Hey wait ... that's not three ... that's four. Poor mathematical education I guess.


Cheryl: How do you maintain closeness with God in your daily life? What are some of the things you do, on a regular basis, to keep your relationship with Him current and thriving?

Victor: Through prayer. It does not have to be long prayers reciting things over and over again, like the Rosary, or various Saints’ prayers and so on. I don’t believe in giving God a headache.

I prefer shorter, intimate, one-to-one conversation type prayers at any time. For example saying thank you first thing in the morning for having woken up once again. Praying for my family and their well-being. Or, for instance, when I meet someone and we are discussing their problems, I find myself praying silently for that person whilst listening, and asking God to help them. Or praying for visitors to my Blog … I am actually praying for you right now!

Of course, I attend church regularly. But God is not only in church; He is everywhere. Just a prayer away.

Cheryl: What is your favorite place to write? Describe the setting you most prefer to be in while writing.

Victor: Well, it has to be in my study because that’s where my computer is. It is quiet there and I am not disturbed. It is also a good place for prayer or Bible reading.

But ideas for stories, articles, funny anecdotes and so on occur at any time. It could be whilst I’m driving, on a bus, train or whenever and wherever.

I find this difficult because I have no way of recording what is on my mind. Sometimes the stories come to mind not in picture form, but literally in words. I can see in my head the actual words I have to write, the sentence formation and particular adjectives or adverbs I have to use. And I have nowhere to record these quickly before I forget them. I have tried carrying a tablet with me, and a voice recorder, but I am not very good with technology and this has not been convenient. I sometimes scribble something on a piece of paper and write it down more fully afterwards. But you can’t always do that, not when driving for instance, or taking the dog for a walk.

Often ideas and scripts come to mind so quickly that some are, sadly, forgotten and lost for ever. I have always been able to write. It’s like a non-stop fountain gushing words all the time. When I was younger I wrote several comedy scripts which a group of us put together on stage to raise money for charity.

Cheryl: Your writing is multi-faceted...humor, deep spirituality, contemplative. What and/or who most inspires you in each genre?

Victor: I seem to have always had a sense of humour. The Groucho Marx and Bob Hope type of humor I suppose.

I tend to see the funny side in most situations. People tend to take things too seriously and often arguments start and people take entrenched positions to defend their corner because they can’t see beyond the argument itself. Life is too short to be spent arguing.

Somehow, I often found myself stepping back from a situation and seeing the funny side of the argument or dispute. This has helped me often at work when having to resolve conflicts in managerial situations.

My humorous writing is an extension to that. I hope that my funny stories, not only amuse readers but somehow gets people to lighten up and not take themselves too seriously.

My contemplative spiritual writing is, I suppose, an expression of my Faith. I believe Christianity is a way of life. Not a badge we wear on our lapel, or a passport which requires the correct pre-requisite number of ticks, and guarantees us an entry to Heaven. It is pointless saying we are Christian if we don’t live Christian.

Cheryl: Some of my favorite blog posts of yours have had to do with forgiveness. I have drawn much wisdom from your sharing of your own experiences with forgiving others. Will you kindly share with us some of the things you have learned about what it means to forgive?

Victor: Thank you, Cheryl, for your kind words about my writing.

I believe that the world will never have peace until it learns to forgive. Whether we forgive on a national scale or we start, step by step, on a personal level. We have all been hurt in life at one time or another, some more than others. Unless we can truly forgive, then there’s no real hope for us or for the world.


When Christ taught us to pray, the only condition he attached to our requests to God relates to forgiveness. He said forgive us as we forgive others.

But what if we were actually forgiven as we forgave others? I guess there will be many people who will not be forgiven at all when they meet God face to face. Let’s think about that for a moment.


We say we have forgiven. But many continue to harbour ill-will and bad feelings in their hearts towards those who have hurt them. Is that true forgiveness?

Let’s consider what true forgiveness is. It is when we really have no ill-feelings, thoughts of revenge, or retributions towards the person who has hurt us. They may have asked for forgiveness; and we have told them honestly they are forgiven. Or they may not have asked for forgiveness, and they do not either seek it; nor care whether we give it. Either way, in our heart, we must truly forgive them and bear no ill-will whatsoever towards them. And here is the difficult bit – we must prove it to God when He asks us.

Now I am not saying that we forget the hurt done to us. That is impossible. The greater the hurt the more it is imprinted on our memory for ever.

Sure, I have been hurt in life. I have daily reminders of the great hurt done to me. I cannot help that. Sometimes, my hurt turns to resentment and ill-feelings. That is only natural. The trick is, and what we are required to do, is to control that hurt and turn it to positive action.

Let every reminder of the hurt done to us be another opportunity to truly forgive that person once again.

The best way to do this is to pray for that person. You cannot possibly hate a person you pray for. Tell God how you feel about that person and the hurt done to you. Tell God that you have tried to forgive as best you can and that now you hand over that person to God. Pray that that person gets to know and love God, and that one day, hopefully, you will meet that person again in Heaven. Wouldn’t that be wonderful? You and that person united again in love and forgiveness?

When Christ sees the scars in His hands, feet and side He remembers again the hurt done to Him; and He forgives once more.

Cheryl: As times become increasingly evil and the hostility towards God and His Word intensifies, what are some of the things you do, on a personal level, to make a positive difference?

Victor: It is true that the world is becoming more secular and ever increasing numbers do not believe in God at all. And indeed, the devil is having a good time.

But let us remember that the devil is allowed free movement to spread his evil within strict limitations placed by God. God is still in control no matter how bad the world is and how hostile it is towards Him.

God can take our anger and hostility. After all, He took it when hanging on the Cross, did He not?

What do I do on a personal level? Most of all I pray. I pray in the full knowledge that God is in control and, just as important, I praise Him. I praise Him not because things are going bad all over the world, but because He is still in control. Praise is an affirmation of His omnipotence and power over the whole universe.

I have often seen it, that when things are bad in our lives, really bad, and we praise God, it somehow opens a channel where He uses the bad situation to work things right for us, or for those affected by the situation. It is as if a bad situation is an opportunity for God to show His power and His love for us all.

Cheryl: If you could go back and re-live any portion of your life, thus far, what would it be? What are your favorite memories of that span of time?

Victor: Oh … there have been so many good times in my life. It is so difficult to pick a particular period.

I had a wonderful childhood. Even though I have always been a very serious thinker, even as a child; I still had that sense of fun, and the joy of laughter.

Also, there were many other happy periods in my growing up years as a teenager, and in my adulthood, I’d like to re-live. Too many wonderful periods I’d wish to re-visit if I had a time machine. To meet old friends again and re-share happy times together.

It really would be difficult, Cheryl, to pin point a particular period of my life which was better than any of the others – although I’ll admit the Jurassic Period was great fun. The dinosaur steaks were huge and tasted wonderful, I tell you.

Cheryl: Oh, Victor!  Leave it to you to make us laugh in the midst of such serious dialog!  Now, back to seriousness, describe one of the darkest times of your life. How did your faith in God sustain you and help you through?

Victor: There have been many bad times in my life. Some too painful for me, and my family, to re-visit here. But one thing I’ve learnt. Through my darkest hours, God was always by my side. Even though I probably did not realize it at the time.

Cheryl: If you were seated across the table from someone who is void of hope, who is considering opening their heart to God, and who is willing to listen to anything you would like to tell them, what would you say?

Victor: You really are good, Cheryl, with your perceptive questions.

The darkest times in life are when there is no hope. Without hope people lose the very ability to exist. If I were to be with someone with no hope I would definitely not preach to him.

When someone is starving he needs food, not platitudes about God’s love for him. And obviously, someone with no hope is starving for his very existence.

What I would do first in this situation is silently pray for him, without his knowledge, I would ask God to visit this situation and to help this individual, as well as help me in what I have to say and do.

I would listen to his problem, and where I am able, offer some glimmer of hope, some encouragement, a reason to look forwards to a better outcome, a practical solution, if there is one. Of course, each situation is different. But one thing is for sure; if God were to put me in that situation where someone has no hope then it is because He wants me to help that person; and this being the case, He will give me the right words to say and tell me what to do.

Cheryl: Out of all of the things God has asked you to do, what has been the most challenging?

Victor: I think two things come to mind.

Keeping the Faith and not despairing has been a challenge throughout my life, especially when things go wrong, very wrong.

I often think of St Peter. Here is a man who has witnessed Christ’s many miracles, heard Him preach and teach, and lived with Him and the disciples. Yet, his Faith faltered many times. When he feared stepping off the boat and nearly drowned, (Matthew 14:29); when he did not believe that Christ would be Crucified, (Matthew 16:21); when he did not understand why Jesus was washing the disciples’ feet, (John 13:5); and indeed when he denied three times knowing Jesus, (Matthew 26:69). Yet, despite his many failings and weakness of Faith, Christ forgave him and he went on to better things.

This gives me comfort that there is still hope when my Faith fails me.

The second challenge, in an ever increasing secular world, is the ability to stand up and proclaim Jesus and God’s Word.

I remember years ago, as a young man, when I worked for a big multi-national organization in London, I used to visit the many churches around the City during my lunchtime. One day, a colleague and I went to St Paul’s Cathedral, not far from our offices. As we entered the magnificent building he waved his hands in the air and in a dismissive tone he said, “Tell me Vic. Do you believe in all that?”

As a non-believer, he expected me to agree with him and joke about Christianity and religion.
I replied, “As a matter of fact, yes I do!”

Our relationship changed from there on, and I suppose I got the reputation at work of being a Christian.

I suspect that’s what keeps me writing Christian books and maintaining my Christian Blog.

Cheryl: If you had the opportunity to meet with Jesus on earth, face-to-face, what is the one thing you would most like to ask Him?

Victor: My word, you really are good with your questions, Cheryl. I would hate being a politician facing you on radio or TV.

If I were to meet Jesus, after falling off my chair with fright, I would first thank Him for what He has done for me. I would then ask Him how come He has been so patient with me over the years. If I were Jesus, I would have given up on someone like me a long time ago. Thank God that I am not Jesus!

Cheryl: Who is the wisest person you personally know or have known? What quality(ies) about this person do you most admire? 

Victor: With wisdom comes courage. Courage to do the things that might be difficult at the time but they are the right things, the wise things, to do in the long run. Not necessarily for self, but for the good of others.

This being said, I believe my parents were very wise and courageous in their life choices, under extremely difficult and dangerous situations, for the benefit of their children.

I have also already mentioned Father A and Father F whose wisdom and piety and generosity have been an example to many.

Cheryl: How can we pray for you?

Victor: I should be grateful for prayers that God continues to be by my side as He has been all along up to now; and for my private intentions.

Cheryl: Thank you again, Victor, so very much for sharing your heart with us.  You are such a blessing to my family and me!  May God bless you abundantly, in return.

Victor: Thank you and your readers for the opportunity to make new friends. God bless.


If video doesn't load, click here.

Victor, I am most grateful and humbled by all of your kind words.
They truly meant so much to me.
Please keep Victor and his family in your prayers, dear friends.
God knows the burdens upon his heart, and He is able to do exceeding abundantly above all we can ask or think.  (Ephesians 3:20)
I hope you will take the time to drop by and visit Victor often at his blog.

Thank you ever so much for reading, and God bless you all!

To read previous
click the links below.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Our Word for 2017, 5th Update on Kristen, & Giveaway Winner Announcement!!

"Peace I leave with you, My peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. 
Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid."
John 14:27
(KJV)

The word didn't come like a lightning bolt, but rather gently, subtly, born from a petition in a prayer.
As Kevin worked, he listened, as Zach and I prayed upstairs.
When we finished, he called up to me,
"The Lord gave me our word for this year.
I was already thinking of it, and then you said it in your prayer.
Do you know what it is?"

I knew we had been thinking about the word, "content", but, it alone, just didn't seem to fit just right.
Kevin had jotted down some other words God has been bringing to him, 
and the words that have steadily come to me are, "ask" and "expect" and words like that,
as my faith has been so inspired, of late.

I tried to think back over the earnest prayer I had just finished praying...
so many words, so many requests that were laying heavy on my heart.
Which word was it that I had just mentioned in my prayer that God had allowed to resonate with Kevin enough to show him that it was to be our word for this new year of 2017?

"Was it restoration?" I called down to him.
That was a word I could remember using in my prayer, as I had thought back over 2016 and how hard it was for us, both physically and emotionally.
YES, we need restored, in so many ways.
But, I remembered that God gave us that word in 2014, so I was sort of hoping the one for this year would be different.

"No, it wasn't restoration.
It was another word you mentioned while you were praying", 
Kevin replied.

I finally gave up, since I couldn't figure it out.

"It was peace."
Kevin called to me.

Ahhhh....YES, please!!
It is peace.
All 3 of us knew instantly.
It fits.


"Is there an acronym that you feel like God wants us to attach to it?" I directed my question to both Kevin and Zach.

The acronym rolled off Zach's tongue, effortlessly and instantly.

P   - prayer
E  - endure
A       - ask
- content
E  - expect

So, there, we have it!
God has a way of taking words He is laying on the 3 of our hearts,
then combining them into our one word as an acronym.
P.E.A.C.E.
It is the cry of my heart.
The desire of my soul.
I am so longing for it.

Soldiers far more advanced, stalwart, and seasoned than I even need a reprieve of peace sometimes...
a chance to regroup, reload, relax, replenish, refresh, recuperate, and rejuvenate.

The dear Holy Spirit keeps bringing these verses to my mind,
"And the land had rest forty years."
Judges 5:31

"And the land had rest from war."
Joshua 14:15b

"And the land rested from war."
Joshua 11:23
(Emphasis added)

While I realize that true peace is not always the absence of war,
but a calm inward trust in the midst of the battle,
I find myself weary and in need of our dear Lord to bring about a calming of circumstances.

Have you ever felt that way?
Have you ever just felt like screaming, "Enough is enough" and begging God for peace?

 After such intense battles over the course of the past few years,
I am believing God for a season of our "land resting from war".

Life is full of trials.
I realize this and would be foolish to think otherwise.
While my heart cries out for a time of peace, He is in control,
and whether or not He chooses to order a season of serenity, He is, and He always will be, 
 the Source of our peace.
He is the Prince of Peace.  (Isaiah 9:6)

Jesus said this in John 16:33,
"These things I have spoken unto you, that in Me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world."

We live in a world where tribulation is inevitable,
but Jesus overcame, and so can we...through following Him and the path He walked while on earth.

I have found, that, at least some of the disturbance of peace in this life, can be self-inflicted.
We take on too much.
We have too much excess in our homes and in our lives.
We spend too much energy striving for the things money can buy.
We continually want more.

Jesus lived a life that was 100% eternity-focused.
His life was unencumbered by the things that are temporary.
He was always available to go and do His Father's will.
You never read where He ever, one time, had to tell someone who needed Him that He was too busy
to come to their aid.
He never put what is earthly ahead of what is Heavenly.
He was the most selfless Man who ever walked the earth.
He owned little to no physical possessions, so He was free from having to take care of them.
He was born in a borrowed space.
His first bed was a borrowed manger.
Later in life, He had no where to lay His head.  (Matthew 8:20)
After His horrific, agonizing death on the cross,
He was buried in a borrowed tomb.
He didn't need it for long.
Jesus lived His whole life completely unattached to this world.
He made the most of every moment He had to spend here,
and He never allowed this life to come before His Father's will.
He knew His time here would be short.

The longer I live, and the older I get, the more I realize how short mine will be, too.
Losing both of my parents drove that truth home with unsurpassed clarity and vividness.

Life is way too short to live it in an uproar.
To a degree, peace is something that has to be pursued.
A lot of it has to do with the choices we, ourselves, make.

"Depart from evil, and do good; seek peace, and pursue it."
Psalm 34:14

To achieve peace, we must be willing to let go of the things that disturb it.

If you have been reading here for very long, you know that, over the course of the past year or so,
we have really been pursuing a simpler, more minimal life.
The surprising result that has arisen amidst the progress we have made is that
our lives have become, and are steadily becoming, increasingly peaceful.

We are continuing to let go...not only of stuff, but of circumstances and encumbrances that vex us.

We have made up our minds to "seek peace, and pursue it."

Turmoil, chaos, and discord are things that, more often than you might believe, can be avoided.

Romans 12:18 says,
"If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men."
Sometimes that means the necessity of placing distance between yourself and those with whom you cannot agree in order to maintain your own peace of mind.
To continue to engage in conflict is truly the polar opposite of "seeking and pursuing peace".

While we must forgive the ones who hurt us and have caused grief for us,
God does not expect us to perpetuate the enablement of such.

We cannot change other people. 
We cannot make them see our point of view.
While we must love them and keep a tender heart towards them, there are people in this life with whom we will never be able to agree.

Sometimes, we just have to let it go, dear friends.
Forgiveness, from the heart, brings a deep sense of peace.
Forgiveness is liberating.
Forgiveness does not mean we have to go back for more.
While we must let it go and love from the heart and pray earnestly for only blessings to come to those with whom we cannot agree, we must follow the path of peace and do our utmost to avoid future conflicts that cause such pain of heart, anguished distress and vexation of spirit, and spiritual battles for us.

If you know me at all, you will know that I do not like conflict with others.
In fact, I honestly cannot stand it.
I just can't do it.
So much of my growing up years were spent caught in the crossfire of church conflicts,
my parents and I being spiritually battered, bruised, and abused and kept in a state of continual turmoil, in the process.
Dear Mom and Dad lived their entire lives trying to fit in to manmade molds in which God never intended them to conform.
It pains me to know this and to realize how much misery it caused them through the years.

I am so thankful to be free.
To have found peace.
God is continuing to break bondage chains...
to remove what is binding from our lives...
to pare off the things that rob serenity.
And, in this process, He continues to show us that some of this is up to us.

You may want to read THIS POST.

We have to be willing to let go of what does not "make for peace".

"Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another."
Romans 14:19

If you see that, after many, many attempts, it is virtually impossible to agree with someone else,
that the continuation of a relationship only adds heaped vexation of spirit,
and that the total opposite of spiritual edification is taking place no matter how hard you try to force it to happen,
it is time to let go.

There are many things, situations, and circumstances in this life that hold the potential to take away our peace.

What is stealing your peace, dear friend?
Is it the excess belongings that keep your nose to the grindstone, not allowing for time for who and what matters most in your life?
Perhaps, it is time to downsize and release the things you cannot afford.
Maybe it is a job that consumes, a relationship that vexes, or a ministry you fell into by default, but do not feel called by God to continue to pursue.
Only you and God can identity the exact thief of your peace.
It can be different for all of us.

My prayer for you is this..
that, in the midst of your battles, you find the Philippians 4:7 kind of peace.

"And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus."

I love the old hymn, "What a Friend We Have In Jesus", written by Joseph M. Scriven...
especially the lines,
"Oh, what peace we often forfeit, oh, what needless pain we bear,
All because we do not carry, everything to God in prayer."



If video doesn't load, click here.

And, here is a video that explains the story behind this beautiful song.
It is worth your time to watch.



If video doesn't load, click here.

P.E.A.C.E.
It is so worth whatever it costs to bring it about.
It is our word, our focus, the desire of our hearts for this fresh, new year.
I pray you find it, too.

We have been enjoying the thrills of a gentle snow...oh, it is SO beautiful!


Can I just tell you how wonderful it is to finally live in a place again where it snows!


Oh, Zach was SO excited last night, as the big snowflakes began to fall!
We made several little snowmen on the railing outside our front door.


Aren't they cute?


Today, we took a drive through the country and took in the sights of sunlight glistening on snow-covered fields and bare tree limbs clothed in pure white.
Oh, it was glorious to see the mighty handiwork of God!

Kevin said these are the biggest snowflakes he has ever seen!
Some were bigger than quarters.
Last night, I remarked that there is nothing as peaceful as a gentle, quietly-falling snow.
It falls, like a silent prayer, and there is just something so soothing about it.

Sort of like our word for this year.
Calming.
Tranquil.
Serene.
PEACE.

Thank you, Lord!

"Now the Lord of peace Himself give you peace always by all means. The Lord be with you all."
2 Thessalonians 3:16

"Finally, brethren, farewell. Be perfect, be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace; and the God of love and peace shall be with you."
2 Corinthians 13:11

"And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace."
James 3:18

UPDATE ON KRISTEN

We so appreciate your continued prayers for my dear niece, Kristen and her unborn baby boy.
There has been no change, and she still surely needs your continued prayers.
She is having a lot of chest pain, difficulty breathing, and pain behind her lung.
We are very concerned, and it seems that we have a constant battle with fear, but we are continuing to "speak faith" and believe our dear and awesome God to heal her and bring her through this with no further complications.
Thank you ever so much for your support, kind words, and most of all, your prayers, dear friends.
It means SO much to all of us.

NOW, FOR THAT GIVEAWAY!!
A BIG thank you to all who entered to win this wonderful book.


There were 26 commenters who entered.
I wish I could send ALL 26 of you this life-changing, amazing book!!!
It has blessed me so much over the years!
We put all 26 names in a bowl,
Kevin shuffled the names around,
the three of us prayed over the bowl of names and asked God to have His way,
and Zach picked a name.
And, the winner is...
Valerie Sisco!!!!
She is just a sweetheart and blogs at "Grace With Silk.
I hope you will stop over and visit her and consider subscribing to her beautiful blog!!
Congratulations, Valerie!!
Please email me privately with your mailing information,
and, Lord willing, we will get your book in the mail to you real soon!!

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Speak Faith, & A Giveaway!!

"Death and life are in the power of the tongue..."
Proverbs 18:21
(KJV)

Photo taken by my sweet husband, Kevin, in Unicoi, Tennessee

Following the fresh and bountiful outpouring of new faith inspiration God has been flooding my soul with lately, has come a series of severe tests.
Isn't that the way it always works?
What's that old saying about "reach a new level, face a new devil"?
The Apostle Paul said we are not ignorant of his devices.  (2 Corinthians 2:11)
While I realize I am nothing at all without Jesus, and I need Him desperately and always will,
I am finally learning.
It might take me longer than it takes others, but I am catching on.
The longer I serve Him and the more battle-scarred I become,
the more I am wising up to satan's schemes and how he operates.
I sort of knew it was coming, and I even heard satan's menacing threats reminding me of past times he has severely attacked after God allowed me to gain new ground and infused my soul with new depths of faith.
It reminds me of Zechariah 3:1.

"And he shewed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the LORD, and Satan standing at his right hand to resist him."

Each and every time GOD is working in our lives,
each time He is infusing our souls with His goodness,
we can be sure and certain satan is standing close by to resist everything God is doing in our lives.
It never fails.
Satan does not like faith.
He does all he can to destroy it, to hinder it, and to squelch it.

From past experience, I knew this new, untested faith for 2017 was going to be put to the test,
so I've been bracing myself.
After all, what good is something that can't stand the test?
And, how do you know something will work and stand the test if it is never proven?

As you know, my precious niece, Kristen, who is expecting a baby boy,
has a blood clot in her lung.
Along with this situation, we have been called upon to walk through several other fiery trials, of late.

At one point, I was on my knees, and I just felt so helpless.
So dependent.
So inadequate and incapable of doing one, single thing to change any of this.

As I thought of my niece and what she is going through, and the other problems overwhelmed me,
 I prayed,
"Lord, what can I do?"
His sweet, gentle, still, small voice whispered,
"ASK"....just like He has been inspiring me in the past few posts here.

So, I did.
I asked for the exact outcome that I desire in Kristen's situation.
I asked for healing for her.
For the blood clot to dissolve.
For her to be okay, for her to live to raise her dear son, and to be blessed to live a long, healthy life on this earth.
For her precious, unborn baby to be protected.
For God to allow him to thrive in spite of all of this distress and be born full-term and healthy.
For my dear sister, (Kristen's mother), to have strength and peace and assurance that all will be okay.
For the baby's father, Mike, to be comforted in his worry and fear.
That God will wrap all of them in His tender, loving care, and just show Him His love through all of this.
And, I poured out my other requests to God and begged for His mercy in all situations.

And, even though I feel much anxiety, and fear is ever near and hovering,
God is reminding me of the significance of the words that come out of my mouth.
More and more, I am aware of how hard it is to tame a tongue and not allow myself to speak those fears into existence.

"Behold, we put bits in the horses' mouths, that they may obey us; and we turn about their whole body. Behold also the ships, which though they be so great, and are driven of fierce winds, yet are they turned about with a very small helm, whithersoever the governor listeth. Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things. Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth! And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell. For every kind of beasts, and of birds, and of serpents, and of things in the sea, is tamed, and hath been tamed of mankind: But the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. Therewith bless we God, even the Father; and therewith curse we men, which are made after the similitude of God. Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be."
James 3:3-10
(Emphasis added.)

I will never forget the day that I made a discovery about the importance of our words that ended up, quite literally, changing the rest of my life.
It made me so much more aware of what I speak into existence and the enormity of power in words.
I can't recall the exact date it happened, but I do remember details that enable me to narrow down at least the general time frame it occurred.
Zach was still little enough to ride in a shopping cart, so I am thinking he must have been around four or five years old.
I can still remember the peace it gave me to know that he was still small enough to contain close to me and within my sight at all times while shopping.
Are there any other mothers who looked ahead with dread to the day their child could no longer fit inside a shopping cart?
On this particular day, I was battling a very worrisome physical affliction,
and the giant of fear was looming over me like a menacing monster.
Day after day, I would pray and plead with God to heal me and spare my life and allow Kevin and me to live and have the health to raise the dear boy riding happily in the cart in front of me.
This is a prayer I still continue to pray, to this day, and I cannot ever give God enough praise for answering it thus far.
Seeing what He has already done, fills me with fresh faith that He will continue to do the same.
I distinctly remember praying, under my breath, as I made my way through the store,
and I can tell you pretty close to the exact words I prayed.

It went something like this.
"Lord, PLEASE give me something...anything...to assure me that my prayers will be answered.
I need a sign, Lord.
I need to know that I am going to be okay.
That this sickness is 'not unto death'.
Please give me something to hold on to.
In Jesus' name, Amen."

Zach and I were shopping in a Goodwill store as I prayed that prayer.
I could take you to the exact one, in particular, and, as I quietly whispered those words to God, a Goodwill employee brought out a fresh cart of items that had just been donated and processed in the back room of the store.
All of you seasoned Goodwill shoppers will know, that throughout the day, employees routinely bring out one of these prized carts of unexplored goodies, and each time they do this, they ring a loud bell to announce the ushering in of the brand new treasure trove.
What follows the ringing of the bell sometimes resembles a madhouse, as the over-eager-to-find-a-bargain shoppers, with one accord, make a beeline, in a sometimes-not-so-polite unison, to the back of the store where the wealth of new and undiscovered gems are assembled and waiting to be picked over for the very first time.
To win the sprint and be bestowed with the honor of handling the what-used-to-be-another-man's-trash-now-suddenly-turned-most-sought-after-treasures is the goal and delight of every accomplished Goodwill, discount-loving shopper.
I remember that, on this particular thrifting expedition, Zach and I just happened to be very near the back when the familiar toll of the bell rang out and the legendary cart made its way through the swinging doors. 
Lo, and behold, as the dear Lord's providence provided, the cart landed just a few feet away from us!
I remember how excited I was to know that, if I didn't dilly dally, I would be, at the very least, the 2nd or 3rd person whose hands would have access to the hot off the press, potential charmers.
As I dashed forward, I had no idea that this was no ordinary thrift store treasure hunt, but, in reality, that particular highly-sought-after Goodwill cart held the exact answer to my prayers...namely,
"the sign" I had only moments before begged God for during that whispered, heart-wrenched prayer.
I reached the cart, and my eyes were immediately drawn to its gold-edged pages.
It instantly attracted me, because, at first, I thought the book lying there was a Bible.
It looked just like one.
I picked it up, and on the cover, it read, "God's Creative Power ~ The Gift Collection".
Hmm...what was this?
I opened it up, and, oh, my, I was drawn in from minute one of the first chapter...
"God's Creative Power Will Work For You
The Great Confession
Christianity is called the great confession, but most Christians who are defeated in life are defeated because they believe and confess the wrong things.  They have spoken the words of the enemy.  And those words hold them in bondage.  Proverbs 6:1-2 says, '...Thou art snared with the words of thy mouth.'  Faith-filled words will put you over.  Fear-filled words will defeat you.  Words are the most powerful thing in the universe."

I remember reading those words for the very first time and how convicted I was, as I realized the error of my ways.
I was so filled with fear, and I was bringing those fears to life by voicing them,
not infrequently, but often.

Of course, I held on to that dear, little book with the gold-edged pages,
and I have kept it close to me ever since.
It is right now, here on the table beside me.

Reading it has absolutely changed my outlook on words.
I highly recommend it.
You can purchase it by clicking HERE, OR how about reading to the end of this very wordy post?
You will find out about a way to enter to WIN YOUR VERY OWN COPY OF THE BOOK!!

Chapter 4 called, "God's Medicine" is my favorite chapter, and I often speak the suggested Scriptures aloud, when in the midst of illness and/or suffering.

The whole book has to do with our words...what we confess, and the long-reaching impact of what we speak into existence.

Jesus said,
"For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned."
Matthew 12:37

Tonight, in the midst of such trials, I am trying to be conscious of the power of the words I say.

Their potential is profound...either for good or for bad.
My words can either speak life or they can speak death.
They can encourage, or they can inject hopelessness.
They can depress, or they can uplift.
They absolutely hold sway over the ones in my inner circle whom I influence most.
They can bless, or they can curse.
They can wound, or they can heal.
They can bring peace, or they can stir up strife.

Dear Lord, help me!

No matter how concerned I feel inside,
regardless how much fear hearing the words of others ignites in me,
I want to SPEAK FAITH, in response.

Because GOD is still GOD, no matter what.
He is God, and He will always be God.
He will never lose control.
And though it takes a continual, concentrated effort to keep them there, my eyes are upon HIM,
and what HE can do.
Faith in Him and His power is what I want to give life to and to speak into existence.

God can do anything, my friends.
There is NOTHING too hard for Him.

So often, I think of Romans 4:17.
Speaking of Abraham and what God did for him, it says this,
"(As it is written, I have made thee a father of many nations,) before Him whom he believed, even God, who quickeneth the dead, and calleth those things which be not as though they were."

Did you catch that?
God, OUR GOD, calls "those things which be not as though they were".

We hear doctor's diagnoses.
We hear "Job's comforters" telling us our situation is impossible.
We hear satan's continual, never-ending. long procession of lies, one right after the other.
We feel pain.
We feel anxiety well up, as we imagine the worst.
We feel like we are being punished.
We feel abandoned by God.
We see sickness.
We see death.
We see no hope, no change, no way things are ever going to be different for us.
We see failure, past sins, our own issues and hang-ups.

What we have to remember is this,
we do not walk by sight.
We walk by faith, remember? (2 Corinthians 5:7)

We absolutely cannot go by what we feel, hear, and see.
We have to will ourselves to look above all of that.
Because God is BIGGER, and God "calleth those things which be not as though they were."

God sees our sickness, and He calls us well.
God sees terror, and He speaks peace.
God sees the threat of death, and He tells satan to back off.

"And he shewed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the LORD, and Satan standing at his right hand to resist him.
And the LORD said unto Satan, The LORD rebuke thee, O Satan; even the LORD that hath chosen Jerusalem rebuke thee..."
Zechariah 3:1,2

Praise GOD forevermore!

"When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the LORD shall lift up a standard against him."
Isaiah 59:19

God created this world out of nothing.
He is the only One Who can create.

Create - to form out of nothing

"Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear."
Hebrews 11:3

"...that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water..."
2 Peter 3:5

God doesn't need something to create.
God starts with nothing.
Then God speaks, and everything changes.

God speaks, and the thing He speaks comes into existence.

Jesus spoke, "Lazarus, come forth", and the man who had been dead for FOUR DAYS
instantly came to life and walked out of that tomb alive!  (John 11:43)

Jesus spoke to the Nain widow's dead son who was being carried by in a burial procession,
and the dead man sat up and began to talk!  (Luke 7:11-15)

To a dead girl, Jesus spoke, "Damsel, I say unto thee, arise!", and immediately she stood up and walked!  (Mark 5:35-42)

To the man who was lame from birth and begged daily at the gate called Beautiful,
Peter spoke,
"In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk.  And he took him by the right hand, and lifted him up: and immediately his feet and ancle bones received strength. And he leaping up stood, and walked, and entered with them into the temple, walking, and leaping, and praising God."
(Acts 3:1-8)

A disciple of Jesus named Dorcas (Tabitha) died, and her friends sent for Peter.
When he arrived, he went into her room, he prayed, then Peter spoke to her and said,
"Tabitha arise!", and she opened her eyes and sat up! (Acts 9:36-40)

When Paul was preaching in Lystra, he saw an impotent man in the crowd, who had been a cripple from his mother's womb and had never walked.
Paul perceived that the man had faith to be healed, and Paul spoke with a loud voice,
"Stand upright on thy feet.  And he leaped and walked."
(Acts 14:8-10)

Words spoken in faith will absolutely change the course of events, my friends.
Words are powerful.

"Death and life are in the power of the tongue..."
Proverbs 18:21

How many of us truly believe that God can still heal?
If we believe, why do we continue to give voice to and speak doubt and unbelief?
Why do our words belie our hearts?
If we believe, why don't we start speaking faith?

God is still on the throne.
He is still the same.

"Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever."
Hebrews 13:8

"Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do, he will do also; and greater works than these he will do; because I go to the Father."
John 14:12

I do not know what you are going through, but I want to encourage you to SPEAK FAITH.
Speak THE WORD OF GOD.
Speak what you know God can do.
Give audible voice to His power.
Magnify Him through your words.

I SO want you to have a copy of the book I talked about above.
It has changed my life, and I want it to change yours.
SO, I am going to order a brand new one and have it shipped to one of you!

There is just one "catch".
In order to enter this giveaway, I want to hear you testify!
I would like for you to leave a comment below, but not just any comment.
I would love for you to just share something amazing that GOD has done for you on a personal level,
because we overcome by the blood of the Lamb and the word of our testimony.
(Revelation 12:11)
And when we share what He has done for us with others, it increases their faith.
It encourages them to trust God, and to step out and speak faith into their own situations.

So, tell us what God has done for you, and you will automatically be entered to win this amazing book!!

The giveaway will end Saturday, January 14th at 12:00 am.
The winner will be chosen by this oh-so-sophisticated method:
We will number the commenters, in order, put the numbers in a container, and Zach will randomly pick one!
We are going to open this giveaway to EVERYONE!!
That includes our friends in other countries!
So, please enter, and share your testimony with us!
To God be ALL glory!
To Him it is due!
And, please, dear friends, keep Kristen and her baby in your continued prayers.
She is suffering from pain in her back behind her lung, and she is still having trouble breathing.
We appreciate it so much more than we could ever say!
God bless you!