Do You Love Me, Father?

Do You love me, Father?
So much has happened…
It seems like trials come.
I fail so many times in life,
Regardless of what You’ve done

Do You love me, Father?
I see the wicked take control.
I know the time will come soon
When everything I say about You
Will probably be my doom

Do You love me, Father?
Those who have hurt me sore
Seem to get away with their sin.
They pretend to be one thing
Will they really win?

Do You love me, Father?
Why can’t I seem to do
The things I know I should?
Why do I hurt You, Lord
And do not the things I would?

Yes, You love me, Father.
I know the things I’m going through
Are to make me more like You.
I must suffer as a believer
Knowing You suffered for me, too.

Yes, You love me, Father.
Through these things I learn…
Faith, love, kindness, patience,
goodness, meekness, peace, and joy.
Yes, it makes so much more sense.

Yes, You love me, Father.
I thank You so much that You do.
I thank You for helping me grow
In so many different ways
You are making me to know…

YOU!

Violet Inez
September 26, 2017

Would That We Had Died in Egypt

“And the people of Israel said to them, ‘Would that we had died by the hand of the LORD in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the meat pots and ate bread to the full, for you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger’” (Exodus 16:3).

“Why is the LORD bringing us into this land, to fall by the sword? Our wives and our little ones will become a prey. Would it not be better for us to go back to Egypt?” (Numbers 14:3).

It’s interesting to me how much we tend to think we know better than God. “Oh, that we had died in Egypt instead of being brought into this wilderness to die?” (As if those were the only options.) “Back then we had food to eat and a roof over our heads.” (Forget that we were being controlled and beaten and treated cruelly and that God led us out in response to our cries for help.) I think the problem is that we try to figure God out when, in reality, God’s ways are not our ways. He is not obligated to tell us His plans. Our job is to trust Him.

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You may not realize it but grumbling is a sin. It is being ungrateful for what He has given you. It is easy to fall into this trap, but important that you do not.

I’ve walked with God long enough to know that His plans are good. He does not bring you through the wilderness to kill you. Everything that happens is for your good and His glory. If you keep moving forward and refrain from fainting, you will one day reach the Promised Land.

Don’t keep pining for the days when you had friends, “fun,” money, whatever. Those days weren’t as glorious as you may remember them to be. It’s walking with God that brings peace, joy, and contentment. If you are not experiencing that, there is something you still need to surrender. I implore you to do that today. Repent for your ingratitude and ask God to fill your heart with thanksgiving. He is truly faithful.

Tribute to a Godly Man

In 1995, Violet​ and I were preparing for life as missionaries overseas but living in a church system that was bound by legalism and very little love. There was little true love for the brethren, for the true church of the Lord outside of each local churches own doors, and even what often appeared as a true lack of love for the Lord Jesus Christ. Worship was perfunctory and traditions were the order of the day.

That year, having only heard of Shannon Hills Bible Chapel, I encouraged my brother, John, to visit. It was a sovereignly ordained plan as John never looked back. He would call us and tell us how wonderful the brothers and sisters were, how accepted he was for who he was, and most importantly, the wonder of the worship, especially around the Lord’s Table, which was celebrated every Sunday morning.

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We planned a trip back to Greensboro to visit the assembly, and oh, the refreshing of our souls that Sunday morning in May 1995. Walking with our boys into the room where the Remembrance Feast was preparing to start. The first person to greet us was actually an older man with a round smiling face and a firm handshake. It was a man we quickly grew to love and respect, a true brother in Christ by the name of Harvey Shelley. In his introduction, he simply welcomed us and with no pretentions asked us if we had a personal relationship with the Lord. Assuring Bro. Harvey that we did, he told us that we were more than welcome to not only attend but to partake of the bread and the wine when the elements were passed.

It was at Shannon Hills that we learned what it meant to truly love others. Our hearts were encouraged, and our lives were changed through the ministry of the word from each brother who brought the Word each week. Celebrating communion each week was the highlight of our week and is still remembered to this day with great fondness.

Later that year, in November, my brother, John, had a massive heart attack at 22 years of age and went to be with the Lord. Through that difficult time, the Shelley family was a great encouragement to us. I remember one Sunday being overcome with grief and we had to leave as we did not want to disturb the others who were worshipping. For whatever reason, Bro. Harvey was walking through the hall back to the meeting room. I could not bring myself to speak and he simply wrapped his arms around us and let us know that they would be praying for us and to know again that we were loved by the Shannon Hills family.

We moved the next year, but have had several opportunities to go back and visit North Carolina. Without a doubt, each visit required us to go and worship with our Shannon Hills family. Every visit included opportunities to speak with those we loved and cherished. Shannon Hills has always sought to encourage us through the passing years and the staples of that encouragement were the elders, including Harvey Shelley. Each time we returned, it was as if we had never left.

This last week, we saw the news that Bro. Harvey went to be with the Lord that he loved. He had served as an elder at Shannon Hills for over 50 years. Yesterday, on Sunday after the worship services had concluded, a memorial service was held for a man who will be greatly missed. His smile, his graciousness, his willingness to just listen when you needed an ear to hear you, a warm friendly hug, his words spoken at the Communion Table, and much more will long be remembered.

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Yesterday morning, with no knowledge of what had happened, one of the music selections at our little mission included what is one of my two favorite hymns, “How Great Thou Art.” My heart was stirred again as I remembered all the Lord had done for us and included a prayer in my heart for the Shelley family that they would be encouraged in the Lord.

Last evening, I saw an obituary page had been posted for Bro. Harvey. I clicked on the link and the music for “How Great Thou Art” came flooding out the speakers of my computer. It has been a blessing reading the tributes to a man who loved the Lord so much.

Today is Monday and many have the “Monday blues.” I go to work today celebrating that my brother and friend no longer has to worry about Mondays or any other day of the week. The Remembrance Feast that he loved so much to remember our risen Lord at is now the entire focus of Bro. Harvey’s attention. My brother no longer worries about sin or any distractions from the Lord of glory.

Though we are many miles away, our hearts, thoughts, and prayers are with the Shelley family as well as the Shannon Hills family. May the Lord grant them peace in their hearts. We do not grieve as those who have no hope for we will see him again.

Peace That Passes All Understanding

As we grow older, life does not get any easier. Not only do we find ourselves concerned about the regular cares of the world, but now we have children and grandchildren that must be taken into account. In the midst of a world that is rocked with scandal, pain, wars, and turmoil, it is so easy to find ourselves distracted and overwhelmed by the world. It seems that our little lives can also be torn apart with strife in our families. These times simply show that we are fallen creatures of clay who have been saved by grace.

Our desires should not be for this world but to realize we are just passing through. Soon enough will come a day where like Christian in Pilgrim’s Progress, we will dip our feet in the waters of death as we prepare to go to the other side where we will be forever with our Lord and those saints who have gone before. What a glorious day that will be.

Although the pain in our hearts is very real, there are many who have suffered much more than most of us will ever experience. Such a person was Horatio Spafford, who wrote the words to a well-loved hymn called, “It is Well With My Soul.” This man suffered greatly with the loss of four children at once through the sinking of a ship that was enroute across the Atlantic Ocean. This beautiful hymn was written by Spafford as he journeyed to meet his wife in Europe on the next ship. Crossing over the spot where the ship entombing his daughters was, Spafford, with the strength of the Lord, wrote with full assurance in the God of his salvation that “It was well with his soul.”

No matter what struggles or pain you and I may endure today, there will always be a peace that passes all understanding. Only those who rejoice in Jesus Christ and know Him as personal Savior can reiterate with Paul that there is nothing in life or death that can separate us from the love of God.

Family and friends may forsake us and foes may assail us, but His love will endure forever. I am thankful that today I can ask with the Psalmist in 116:15, “What shall I render to the LORD for all His benefits towards me? I will take the cup of salvation and call upon the name of the LORD.”

For those who remain friends, you are a blessing and an encouragement. May you be encouraged with the words of these two hymns today.

 

Dealing With Relational Stress

If you have lived for any amount of time, you have probably been through a breakup of some kind. Whether it was a spouse, a close friend, a boyfriend or girlfriend that you thought was “the one,” people have a way of distancing or, worse, actually turning on you. For myself, I can handle a lot but, when a person I thought loved me moves on, I do not handle that well.

Ecclesiastes 3:1 says, “For everything there is a season” and, unfortunately, this includes relationships. I do not like change, and this especially includes a change in relationship, but God allows things for a reason. Sometimes people are only in your life temporarily for a specific purpose. As much as I do not like that season to end, it makes me appreciate that much more those who are always there. I am very blessed with true friends, and I thank God for them.

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I think the hardest part is usually being able to handle relational stress emotionally. I know this is hard for me. You have to be there for your family and the remaining friends in your life, yet your heart aches for the friend that you lost. As hard as it may be, I’ve found that if you take time to thank God for the people who love you, it will give you perspective and reduce your heartache, if even a little.

For women, it is also important to remember that, although PMS is a real thing, we do not have a license to take our anger and frustration out on others. Sometimes things must be said, but there is a Godly way to say it. Until you have found that way, it is better to not say anything. The anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God (James 1:20).

If you have something against another, go talk to that person but go with a heart to hear. There is a good chance that it was just a misunderstanding or that you are being hypersensitive and it will blow over.

If you suspect that someone is holding things against you or that your relationship is changing with someone, you should ask him or her if there is a problem. If they say nothing or they don’t want to talk about it, you are going to have to let it go and trust God to heal your heart.

Regardless of your situation, the answer is to draw near to God. He is the only one who can truly comfort your heart and bring peace and joy to your soul. Others may try but God created humans to do only so well in that department. Mostly, He desires His children to rely on Him.

Remember too that this too shall pass. It may feel like the end of the world now but it’s not. God will accomplish His purposes. You will be able to move on. And one day, everything that you don’t understand now will be made clear. Just trust Him. Lean on Him. He is near and will continue to be near, even when others fail.

Jesus is Ever Near

The last few weeks, I have been in California, and I have a little over a week until I return home. Although I travel a lot and usually plan a couple week’s vacation here and there, I became homesick this past week. I am thanking God for allowing me to be here and spend some time with friends but I also really miss my family. I didn’t realize I could still experience that feeling at my age. Then again, maybe no one is too old to love their family.

This morning, as I was praying, I thanked God that He is with me no matter where I am at. My earthly family may not be able to be with me every moment of every day but my Heavenly Father is, and I am so grateful. He is the One who gets me through the lonely times of life. No matter how much they try, friends and family can’t fill the void that only God can fill. He provides peace and joy in the midst of homesickness because I know I am where He wants me for now. When it is time for me to go home, I will be equally grateful because I have had a nice break and hopefully encouraged some people along the way.

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Maybe because of my homesickness, God has been so good to especially draw near to me. This morning, as I was praying about what to write, my mind was going in several directions, which I love because it means that God is speaking. If He is speaking to me, I am more confident that He will use my words to speak to you. He is great like that!

The song that is going through my head as I write this is:

Days are filled with sorrow and care
Hearts are lonely and drear
Burdens are lifted at Calvary
Jesus is very near

Dwell on that today and let Jesus comfort your heart. He is there if you’ll reach out to Him.

Fruit of the Spirit 3: Peace

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid” (John 14:27).

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Ultimate peace: fearing nothing. I doubt very many of us could say there is nothing that we fear but the truth is, for those who know the Lord, we never have a genuine reason to be afraid. Philippians 4:6-7 tells us, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” That is the key: present your requests with thanksgiving, and trust God to take care of the situation. Once you hand it to Him, truly release it. He will carry your burden so that you don’t have to.

Like love and joy, peace is something others notice. In this world of constant change and turmoil, peace is a rare commodity but one that many would like to possess. You have the ability to do so.

I realize if you have walked in fear a long time, this may be difficult for you, but I encourage you to consciously work to get there. Start by thanking God that He is in control of a situation, even if you have no idea what in the world He’s doing. Thank Him for His love and His care. Ask Him to remove all fear and wariness from you and replace it with His peace. Do this as long as it takes until you know beyond a shadow of a doubt that He is listening and has only good in store for you. His definition of “good” may be different than yours but it will be good in the end.

peace1Be encouraged, dear Brothers and Sisters. This world is not our final Home. One day all the things that trouble us here will be gone forever. I am looking forward to that day but, for now, let’s do our best to walk in the Spirit so that we do not fulfill the lusts of the flesh.