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Refuge & Fortress

The above picture was taken at Ft. Stevens along the Oregon coast. I love visiting old forts. You can feel history oozing out of each bunker as you wander through them. I can imagine the men monitoring the ocean before them looking for signs of the enemy as they are sheltered within the thick walls of these buildings.

These bunkers will eventually crumble and fall because they are made of perishable materials. The shelter the Lord provides is imperishable. It’ll never crumble with age nor be able to be penetrated by the enemy. I pray today that you will read through this chapter in Psalms and soak in the truth of what the bible says about God and His protection.

Please read Psalm 91.


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Raging Storm

Life can be hard and I know most of us are going through some difficult times. We are walking through some deep waters with high waves crashing all around us. It reminds me of this verse and the day I took this picture 10 years ago. My husband and I were on the Oregon coast celebrating our anniversary. On this day we stood on the beach and watched the storm roll in.

I think of Peter who boldly asked the Lord to allow him to walk on the water during a storm. While his eyes were focused on Jesus he stayed on top of the water. But when he took his eyes off Jesus he started to focus on the raging storm and began to sink. “But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, ‘Lord, save me.’” What did Jesus do? “Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him” (Matthew 14:30-31).

We may be on the brink of a storm as we watch the storm clouds roll in or we may be in the middle of one with the waves crashing around us. One thing is certain, no matter how much the waves are tossing us, the Lord is right next to us. He will immediately reach out His hand to you and hold you whenever you need Him. You just need to keep your eyes focused on Him.

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Bread Alone

“And he humbled you and let you hunger and fed you with manna, which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that he might make you know that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.” Deuteronomy 8:3

Whenever I come across this verse I think about how often I don’t live on the bread alone. The bread being the Word of God. I tend to sustain myself on not only God’s word but the words of others as I allow things to seep into my life. I’m a bit like the Israelites. I allow the Lord to guide me but often meander down different paths that aren’t good for me. In the case of the Israelites, their disobedience cost them the promised land. Their children were able to live in the land the Lord provided for them but the first generation wandered for 40 years until they were gone.

During their wanderings, the Lord provided them with food to sustain them. Food they didn’t have to work for other than to gather it up in the morning. This food was called Manna. Manna was a delicious white substance that resembled a seed of a plant of the eastern Mediterranean called coriander. It was very delicious and came at night appearing like dew in the morning. It sustained the Israelites until food was available.

While God provided them with manna in a supernatural way, we must rely on God for our spiritual feeding. Jesus did this while being tempted by Satan for 40 days. He fought back by quoting scripture, But he answered, ‘It is written,“‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God’” (Matthew 4:4).

My question to myself and you is this . . .  what are you feeding yourself with? Are you feeding yourself with the things of this world or from the things of God’s Word?

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Never Forget

“For the Lord your God is a merciful God. He will not leave you or destroy you or forget the covenant with your fathers that he swore to them.” Deuteronomy 4:31

I love this verse tucked away in this chapter because it think it embodies much of what our Lord is all about.

Our Lord God is a merciful God, “He saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit” (Titus 3:5). The definition of mercy is, “compassion or forgiveness shown toward someone whom it is within one’s power to punish or harm” (Dictionary.com).

Our Lord God will not leave us, “It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed” (Deuteronomy 31:8).

Our Lord God will not forget his covenant with us. A covenant is an agreement or contract between two parties. In biblical times it was referred to two parties being bound together in an oath that couldn’t be broken. When God sent His Son, Jesus, He established a new covenant with us. A new covenant of salvation, forgiveness of sin and fellowship with Him.

I pray today that you will know how much the Lord God loves you. How He will never leave you and cares so much about you that He made a way for you to have a personal relationship with Him. If you don’t know what I’m talking about please take the time to go to the “Want to Know Jesus?” in the upper right hand corner of this blog. Read through the scripture passages to see what God did through Jesus.

If you already know Jesus I pray that this verse in Deuteronomy will give you a renewed sense of what He did for you.

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We Cannot Do Life Alone

This morning as I was reading through Exodus 18 I was reminded how important it is to not do life alone.

Up until now Moses has been leading the people on his own. He was the only one who had direct access to God, he was a leader of a large nation as well as their judge. The task was wearing him down. His father-in-law suggests, Moses’ father-in-law said to him, ‘What you are doing is not good. You and the people with you will certainly wear yourselves out, for the thing is too heavy for you. You are not able to do it alone. Now obey my voice; I will give you advice, and God be with you! You shall represent the people before God and bring their cases to God, and you shall warn them about the statutes and the laws, and make them know the way in which they must walk and what they must do. Moreover, look for able men from all the people, men who fear God, who are trustworthy and hate a bribe, and place such men over the people as chiefs of thousands, of hundreds, of fifties, and of tens. And let them judge the people at all times. Every great matter they shall bring to you, but any small matter they shall decide themselves. So it will be easier for you, and they will bear the burden with you. If you do this, God will direct you, you will be able to endure, and all this people also will go to their place in peace'” (verses 17-23).

The one thing I love about this passage is the reminder to support each other. Galatians 6:2 says, “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.”

I was humbled by all the support my family received while I was going through treatment. I dislike being a burden to anyone but when I got too sick to handle life I had to allow others to help us. Some of us are great at being independent and not thinking we need help. Others of us know we need help but don’t want to be a burden to anyone. The truth of the matter is we all need support and can be a source of support.

I encourage you this week to keep your eyes open for ways of supporting each other. If you are in need of support I also encourage you to allow others to come alongside you. Remember that God has told us to “Bear one another’s burdens.”

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The Lord Knows Us

“But Moses said to the Lord, ‘Oh, my Lord, I am not eloquent, either in the past or since you have spoken to your servant, but I am slow of speech and of tongue.’ Then the Lord said to him, ‘Who has made man’s mouth? Who makes him mute, or deaf, or seeing, or blind? Is it not I, the Lord?'” Exodus 4:10-11

I love Moses because I can truly relate to his reluctance to become the spokesperson for his nation. I’ve been drawn to leadership since my 30’s but I’m not very good about being an up front leader. I know some of my gifts are being a servant and encourager. Both, of which, I know are still part of leadership. But put me in front of people and I my tongue gets tied and my palms sweat.

When I felt the strong sense that I needed to start a cancer support group I just about died with fear and anxiety. There was no way the Lord could be asking this of me. In fact, I ignored the promptings because I knew I couldn’t fulfill the role it would require of me. I seriously was like Moses telling the Lord the exact same thing in the above passage.

Months went by with this idea pulling at me until 5 of my friends were diagnosed with cancer. Long story short (because you’ve all read about it if you are Stillness blog reader) I did take up the calling and start the group. It hasn’t been easy and I’m still not a good facilitator but the Lord does provide me support I need with my weaker gifts. Moses, on the other hand, went on to become one amazing godly leader. He helped free his nation from Egyptian rule and led them to the promised land.

I love God’s replay to Moses, Who has made man’s mouth? Who makes him mute, or deaf, or seeing, or blind? Is it not I, the Lord?” I wrote next to this verse, “The Lord made and knows us. How can I doubt Him to know what I’m capable of?”

God knew Moses could lead His people because God gave him the ability to do so. Moses grew into his leadership role and learned valuable leadership skills along the way. He wasn’t perfect and did make mistakes. One mistake robbed him of setting foot in the promised land. I pray today if you are feeling called to leadership that you will remember God’s words in verse 11. He made you and knows what you can do for His kingdom. Not only that, He will equip you to do the task He’s call you to do. Look at Moses, since he couldn’t speak very well God made his brother, Aaron, his spokesperson. Moses wasn’t the great leader he became that first day he stood before Pharaoh. God grew him to become a great leader and He can do the same for you and me.

May we be like Isaiah who said, “Here I am! Send me,” when God asked, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” (Isaiah 6:8)

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Making Changes

“He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” Psalm 147:3

I normally don’t talk about current events. It isn’t that I’m not informed I just refuse to discuss my thoughts on certain events on social media. I find that no matter what you say it only sirs things up negatively. Good intentions can even be seen as a jab from the opposite camp. Most posts are filled with misleading information that is only intended to stir the pot further. Today I’m going to go against my conviction not to speak out because of what I read this morning about the tragic event in Florida.

I did come across something on Facebook that made me pause and ponder over. I can’t tell where this came from other than from what the Facebook source says – a teacher named Marcey Raymond Kusper,

“In class today, the topic of school protests to honor the 17 victims of the Florida shooting came up. One of my students said, “I think it’s stupid. How about you make friends with 17 kids you normally wouldn’t instead of walking out of school.” What great conversation came out of it. Smile at 17 people you normally wouldn’t smile at, say a kind word to 17 people who might not have someone to speak to, open up your heart to 17 people who might be hurting, offer friendship to 17 people who might have had none. Now that could change the climate of the school. 17 reasons for change… 17 reasons to make a difference. What’s your 17?? I like that slogan. Today warmed my heart to be a teacher.”

None of us can control someone who is bent on following through some act of violence. A part of me truly thinks jumping into the political pro vs anti gun issue will not change a single thing. A person bent on killing will find other ways to fulfill their desire to kill. But what we can do is make a difference in someone’s life. Will it stop violence? Maybe maybe not. But it may change someone’s life. We all know what a person looks like when they are hurting. If you truly open your eyes you can see the pain in someone else who just needs a warm smile, a big hug, a good listener or someone to call a friend. It starts with us.

I’d like to take up this challenge. I may not touch 17 lives but I’d like to touch at least one life this week. Maybe the person we touch this week may be the person who needs to hear that the Lord does heal the brokenhearted and will bind up their wounds.