Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Christmas Carol Chronicles: Silent Night

photo courtesy of http://www.hdwallpapersinn.com
Father Josef Mohr of Oberndorf, Austria authored the final carol of my series on the story behind the carols. If we read all the verses, “Silent Night” shares the message of Luke 1. In my skit, “Stops and Strings” we learn the circumstances that surrounded the writing of this most beloved carol.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Christmas Carol Chronicles: O Holy Night

photo courtesy of www.sheetmusicdirect.us
The words for today's carol in my series, “Christmas Carol Chronicles”, resulted from a little priestly pressure on a not-so-faithful parishioner.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Christmas Carol Chronicles: The First Noel

What is your favorite Christmas carol? We all have a few. These seasonal songs transport us through time to Christmases past and offer us hope for the future with the Babe now King.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Christmas Carol Chronicles: The Little Drummer Boy

Image courtesy of wikimedia.org
The carol "The Little Drummer Boy" is believed to have been written by Katherine Kennecott Davis an American composer and teacher who studied folk music.

According to blogger and historical fiction writer, Heidi Chiavaroli, “Many of the folktales [Davis] learned of revolved around gifts given to the baby Jesus by the poor.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

New Traditions

Image courtesy of Bing.com

Thanksgiving 2013 brings a new experience for Dick and me. For the first time ever, we are not sharing our Thanksgiving meal with family.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

. . . a friend


The face of a friend brightens up when we meet.
The hand of a friend waves hello on the street.
The home of a friend is a welcoming place.
The smile of a friend will reflect on our face.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

What Does Your Cross Mean?

Photo courtesy of Morguefile.com
What is the “sign” that someone is a Christian? Is it a cross? A Bible?
Specific items are often associated with a particular group. Policemen carry badges; doctors sport stethoscopes; ministers wear clerical collars; baseball players never go anywhere without their caps.  Yet, donning a badge doesn’t make me a policeman anymore than slinging a stethoscope around my neck makes me a doctor.

So, is everyone wearing a cross a Christian? After all, lots of people wear them these days. Does owning a Bible mean we believe what is between its pages?

I recently read an article about a teenager who wore scrubs and a stethoscope, walked into several hospitals in Australia, and posed as a doctor in both the ER and in patient’s rooms. The authorities and the general public were outraged. And, rightly so. No one looks up to an impersonator.

In John 13:35 Jesus shares the true indication of a Christian.
“Your love for one another will prove
to the world that you are my disciples."

It’s not sterling silver crosses tacked on our ties or dangling from our bracelet that tells the world that we are Christians. It’s not a large-print, leather-bound, words-of-Jesus-in-red Bible that signifies our beliefs. It is our love for one another.

That simple online news article about the teen-aged imposter pricked my soul. What signal am I sending out by my words, my actions, my attitudes? Am I showing love for my fellow believers? What is really in my heart? Can the world tell that I follow Jesus?

“Whatever is in your heart determines what you say.
A good person produces good things
from the treasury of a good heart,
and an evil person produces evil things
from the treasury of an evil heart.
Matthew 12:34, 35                 

Blessings!
Pam

©2013 Pamela D. Williams

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Welcome to Trucksville!

Photo by Pam Williams
Our move is over! We are unpacked and settled! How did we accomplish it so quickly? We benefited from a TON of help from the great folks at Trucksville United Methodist Church!

A couple of years ago I wrote up guidelines for welcoming a new pastor. Our annual conference sent them out to all the UM churches which were going through a pastoral change. While welcoming a new pastor is exciting, it is also a bit unsettling, if the truth be known.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Revitalizing a Stale Spiritual Relationship

Photo by Pam Williams
Thirty-six years ago, when I asked Jesus to come into my life, what I really asked was to have a real, living relationship with Him. And He gave me that. He and I have spent a lot of time together since then and weathered a lot of ups and a few downs.

However, the last few years I have been feeling like that relationship has become stale and “put on”—not on Jesus’ part, but on my part. So, after reading a Proverbs 31 devotional suggesting we be really honest with God, I told Him how I was feeling. I was tired of putting on faith, tired of wondering deep inside if He really intervened in our lives, yet blithely telling others that He did. Yes, I still believed Jesus died on the cross for me, but I wondered if He was still working in my life (or anyone else’s) or if lately He had taken a hands-off approach?

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Becoming a Star for Jesus

Image from Bing Images
NINE STEPS TO BECOMING A STAR

"Those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens,
and those who lead many to righteousness,
like the stars forever and ever."
Daniel 12:3

I want to be a star. Oh, not the TV or movie kind of Hollywood star. I want to be a shining star for Jesus, like Daniel described—one who leads many to righteousness.  In order to lead others to righteousness, we need to be living a righteous life ourselves.  What does a righteous life look like?

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Tips for Downsizing


TEN NINE TIPS FOR DOWNSIZING

As we have been preparing for our move, several people have asked me for tips on downsizing. Here is my quick list. As you can see, I have downsized it from ten to nine. (LOL!) These are the downsizing “rules of thumb” that have worked for us in our many moves.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Rest, Relax, Reconnect!

Morguefile.com
Vacation! What wonderful images that word evokes for me—laughing hilariously while playing games with family, walking along the shoreline with Dick, the sun warming our backs and the water lapping our toes, hiking and climbing through forests, trying to keep up with the grandkids. Good times, for sure!

Perhaps the even greater appeal of vacations is time to rest.

As a respite before we move, Dick and I are venturing to Pawleys Island, South Carolina this week. After the last few weeks of sorting, hauling, wrapping, and lugging, the house is pretty much packed up. So we are really looking forward to relaxing and recharging. We both need it. Moving creates stress, (no matter how happy we both are about it) and stress is exhausting (so if hefting loaded boxes around!).

Hebrews 4 talks about rest. Not the kind that restores us physically; the kind that restores us spiritually. Trying to please God with our good works and flimsy goodness is exhausting. (Been there; done that!) 

Thankfully, God has provided a way for us to rest from all those labors. When we place our trust in Jesus as the sacrifice that takes away all our sinfulness, we will truly find spiritual rest. We can rest in the knowledge that the “work” that was needed has been done—not by us, but by Jesus.

Have you found that needed spiritual rest? It’s available to all of us. Just tell God you are tired of lugging around your sins and shortcomings. You are exhausted from trying to be good enough. And simply trust in the finished work of Jesus. God will give you that rest we all need.

For we have heard the Good News, just as they did.
They heard the message, but it did them no good,
because when they heard it, they did not accept it with faith. 
We who believe, then, do receive that rest which God promised.
Hebrews 4:2-3

[My next post will be from the Southeastern U.S. We’ve heard winters can be a bit snowier and colder in Trucksville, PA, so we want to store up some sunshine and all that healthy vitamin D beforehand. I look forward to sharing some stories and pictures with you along the way.]

Blessings!
Pam

©2013 Pamela D. Williams

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

How Do You De-Stress?

Photo by Lewis Ronald on Wikimedia Commons
Both the good and the bad in our lives create stress. Graduations, weddings, and births fill our hearts to overflowing with joy and our lives with laughter, but they also drain us emotionally. Disagreements, conflicts, and grief not only sap our strength, they wear us down and leave us equally drained and vulnerable.

Where can we turn to recharge and renew our spirits?

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

I Surrender!

Hilo, Hawaii 2008 (Photo by Pam Williams)
Aren't these beautiful words of surrender to God? If you desire to fully experience God's love, simply and sincerely speak them in your heart. If you pray this prayer for the first time today, pleases email me so that I can rejoice with you!
Blessings!
Pam
"There is joy in the presence of God's angels
when even one sinner repents."
Luke 15:10

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

A Cord of Three Strands

Photo from Morguefile
"Though one may be overpowered,
two can defend themselves.
A cord of three strands is not quickly broken." 
Ecclesiastes 4:12

Within two months Dick will have performed four weddings! The stacks of gifts and cards will represent thousands of dollars spent to help the happy couple start their new life together.

However, Dick will have already shared with them the most priceless gift any couple could receive...

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Enthusiasm is Contagious!


Where do old airplanes go? According to the Air Mobility Command Museum in Dover, Delaware, the lucky ones come to them—the only museum dedicated to airlift and air refueling history. My husband Dick and I would have to agree!

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Duty or Blessing?

As I lie in the darkness at bedtime, God often illuminates truths in my life. Tonight as I drew the flannel sheet up over my shoulders, I groaned as He reminded me that once again I hadn’t read my Bible yet. I sleepily fumbled for the light switch and pulled my Bible off the shelf.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Looking Forward

Oh no! I groaned as yet another window pane popped out, fell two stories to the ground, and splintered into a million pieces of ancient glass. I sat down on the floor and cradled my head in my hands. I just can’t do this.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Caught in a Whirlwind

Recently we learned that we will be moving in November. This news has plunged me full speed into a whirlwind of activity—sorting, planning, scheduling, cleaning, packing, and on and on.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

What's in Your Closet?

Where did all this stuff come from?” I mumble to myself.

In preparation for moving I have been going through our closets, sorting out “stuff”. It’s only been four years since we moved the last time, but somehow things pile up—faceless picture frames, ugly ties, no-longer-used suitcases, unwieldy lamps—my list could go on and on.


by Pinkpollyanna
Most of this stuff is relegated to the closet so that it is “out of sight, out of mind”. I’m not sure why we didn’t just discard it instead. Guess we didn’t want to deal with it at the time. Or perhaps it was a gift from someone and we wanted to avoid hurting their feelings by getting rid of it too soon. Or maybe we thought we would find it useful later on. Who knows?

The process reminds me of a Christian song from the 70’s by Mickey and Becky Moore called “Closet Spaces”.
I’m cleaning out all the closet spaces,
I’m dusting down the rooms,
Purifying my heart and soul
For the coming of the Bridegroom.
Don’t know when He’ll come,
It might be tomorrow.
Don’t know when He’ll come,
It might be today.
All I know is that I want to be ready,
I want to be ready
When He steps forth
To take His bride away.
Anyday, I know He’s coming.

Our spiritual closets are a lot like our physical closets. We hide our jealousy of another’s accomplishments; we temporarily shove aside anger over unmet expectations; we nurse hurts from misperceived slights; we harbor unwholesome thoughts about others. The list is long and highly personalized. And the longer these things remain in our spiritual closet the more sin-filled feelings they gather—like dust settling over unused items on a shelf.

God’s Word has much to say about cleaning out out spiritual closets:
  • Ezekial 31:18 “Rid yourselves of all the offenses you have committed, and get a new heart and a new spirit.”
  • Ephesians 4:31 “Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.”
  • James 1:21 “Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.”
  • 1 Peter 2:1 “Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind.”
Oy! That’s a daunting task--rather like organizing for a move! Thankfully, God’s Word also offers us encouraging news:
  • 1 John 1:9: “If we confess our sins, God is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”
  • Micah 7:18 “Who is a God like you, who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of his inheritance? You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy.”
  • Luke 18:27 “What is impossible with men is possible with God."
  • 2 Corinthians 5:17 “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come.”
What’s in your spiritual closet? Is it time for a “Fall” cleanup? Praise God for His amazing mercy and grace offered freely, just for believing.

Anybody have a spare trashbag?


©2013 Pamela D. Williams

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

The Cancer of Worry

Photo by Anita Patterson
Worry is like cancer. It eats away at vital parts of our being.

Cancer multiplies quickly—and so does worry. What starts as a single, fearful thought becomes a niggling concern.  The niggling concern goes round and round in our minds gathering other anxious thoughts.

Gradually the spinning fears form a vortex of worry that sucks all our thoughts into itself. By definition, a vortex is a region where the flow spins about an imaginary axis. How true of worry also—it seldom is based in reality; instead it stems from our imagination!

Left untreated, cancer spreads and invades other organs and systems in the body. The results of unchecked worry are paralyzing fear, insomnia, stomach distress, high blood pressure, and unproductivity.

The treatments for cancer all aim to eradicate cancer cells from the body:
Radical surgery to remove the source
Radiation to shrink and destroy tumors
Chemotherapy to kill and prevent and the reproduction of cancer cells

The “treatments” to deliver us from worry sound very similar:
Pray—pray so the God can remove the source of worry
Read God’s Word—to shrink the lies swirling through our minds and to flood our thoughts with truth
Talk with faith-filled friends—to stop the thoughts and prevent them from proliferating

Scripture has much to say about worry:

Psalm 37:8 Don't give in to worry or anger; it only leads to trouble.

Ecclesiastes 11:10 Don't let anything worry you or cause you pain.

Daniel 10:19 He said, "God loves you, so don't let anything worry you or frighten you."

Matthew 6:34 So do not worry about tomorrow . . . There is no need to add to the troubles each day brings.

Philippians 4:6 Don't worry about anything, but in all your prayers ask God for what you need, always asking him with a thankful heart.

All of these scriptures are commands,--do not worry! So, UNlike cancer, worry is an act of disobedience--a sin. Praise God for 1 John 1:9:


If we confess our sins God is faithful and just and will forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

©2013 Pamela D. Williams

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Spiritual Self-editing

Photo by Girlfierce Photography
Do you dread self-editing? Does progress on your WIP grind to a halt at this phase of writing? In the online course I am currently enrolled in, we spent some time Wednesday discussing and practicing this essential skill. Since undertaking the task of self-editing can be overwhelming, our instructor, Eva Shaw recommended we break it down into smaller, more manageable parts. With each run through we look for specific problems. Check for repetitious words or phrases. Next, make sure we chose our words carefully. On the third run through ask, “Do my sentences spur interaction or would a question be more effective?” Then listen for a consistent tone throughout the piece. And lastly, run grammar and spell checks after final edits.

As I thought this lesson over, I realized that we can apply the same principle to our spiritual lives. Often it seems to us that doing what God requires is beyond us. Things like loving others, denying self, walking humbly with Him daily, choosing to do the right thing rather than the easy thing, showing mercy—are all tough tasks.

Eva’s advice to break down an overwhelming job into smaller more manageable parts could help us with these spiritual tasks also. Can I whisper a sentence prayer for the one who has unjustly criticized my husband? Could I turn off the re-runs on TV and open my Bible instead? Surely, reading 10 verses a day is possible, isn’t it? Can my husband and I find two minutes in the morning to share devotions together—perhaps taking turns reading from a devotional booklet while the other person finishes readying themselves for work? Would our children mind clasping hands for a moment of prayer before heading off to school?

Even tiny steps eventually make progress. What is ONE step can you take today?

Direct my footsteps according to your Word; let no sin rule over me.

Psalm 119:133




©2013 Pamela D. Williams


Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Reflections on Psalm 51

Photo by Daniel Y Go
Psalm 51 never fails to reflect the longing of my heart. Perhaps, in part, it is because this psalm was proclaimed in the liturgy we repeated every Sunday in the Lutheran church where I grew up. Its words were forever etched in my memory and now, as a believer, they are written on my heart.

As I read the words this morning two verses especially stood out:

You desire truth in the inward being;
therefore teach me wisdom in my secret heart.
Psalm 51:6

How often am I truly honest with myself? I convince myself that what I am doing, saying, or thinking is okay; it’s justified, and understandable. Yet, deep down, I know that I act from wrong motives, my words are a false cover up, and my thinking is entirely selfish. Why do I try to deceive myself and God? God knows the truth! It’s time I admitted those truths to myself.

Create in me a clean heart, O God,
and put a new and right spirit within me.
Psalm 51:10

I have prayed this verse over and over and over, and yet it never gets antiquated, irrelevant, or unnecessary. Every day I start out with the best of intentions; and every day sinful, selfish human nature shows itself.

Thankfully, our loving God provided a way for our hearts to be made clean:

For by the blood of Christ we are set free,
that is, our sins are forgiven.
How great is the grace of God!
Ephesians 1:6
For it is by God's grace that you have been saved through faith.
It is not the result of your own efforts,
but God's gift, so that no one can boast about it.
Ephesians 2:8-9

How has Psalm 51 spoken to you? Won’t you please leave a comment? I would love to hear your thoughts.



©2013 Pamela D. Williams
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Wednesday, July 17, 2013

God's Handiwork


Hapuna Beach Photo by Pam Williams

The turquoise water swells and spills its way to the shore in crystal clear waves edged with lacy white foam. Such tremendous power ebbs and flows, and yet, bathes me in peace.

I love the soft, white sand beneath my feet and the comforting warmth of the sun on my shoulders. A gentle breeze cools my face and plays with the fine tendrils of hair that have escaped my pony tail, tickling my neck.

White puffy clouds in the distance hold no threat. Even rain showers are pleasant—warm drops that are here one moment and gone the next, lasting only long enough to water thirsty flowers.

In the midst of the busyness of life it is good to find a few moments to let God’s beautiful creation minister to our stressed out souls.  I breathe in serenity with the sea-scented air. Tilting my face upward, I whisper my heartfelt thanks to Jesus for this awesome reflection of His power over all circumstances.

How has God's handiwork ministered to you this Summer?


“The LORD reigns, he is robed in majesty; the LORD is robed in majesty and is armed with strength. The world is firmly established; it cannot be moved. Your throne was established long ago; you are from all eternity. The seas have lifted up, O LORD, the seas have lifted up their voice; the seas have lifted up their pounding waves. Mightier than the thunder of the great waters, mightier than the breakers of the sea-- the LORD on high is mighty.” Psalm 93:1-4


©2013 Pamela D. Williams

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Our Spiritual Toolbox

Photo By Erik Strandberg via Wikimedia Commons
My husband always says if a person has the right tools, they can do any project well. As Christians, we have several tools in our spiritual toolbox:

 The Bible—Basic to all projects are the instructions. The Bible is our manual for living the Christian life. All that we need to know as Christians is found in this one book.


All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching the truth, rebuking error, correcting faults, and giving instruction for right living, so that the person who serves God may be fully qualified and equipped to do every kind of good deed.

2 Timothy 3:16-17


 Prayer—Power tools must connect to a power source. Prayer is our connection to our spiritual power source—the Holy Spirit of God.


Do all this in prayer, asking for God's help.
Pray on every occasion, as the Spirit leads.

Ephesians 6:18


 Fellow Christians—Each tool in a toolbox wields a special purpose. In the same manner, each of us has God-given skills and purposes. We need one another’s spiritual gifts in order to fulfill God’s purposes for the church and for our lives.


In the same way, though we are many, we are one body in union with Christ, and we are all joined to each other as different parts of one body. So we are to use our different gifts in accordance with the grace that God has given us.

Romans 12:5-6



What’s in your spiritual toolbox?

NOTE: Due to problems with footer comments, I have switched to an email comment form.
©2013 Pamela D. Williams

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Be Yourself

What’s your niche? You know, the spot that, like a piece fits in a puzzle, just seems made for you? Where you can be yourself? That distinct place where your gifts and graces meet a need? Where you come together with kindred spirits and feel at home?

Over the years I have discovered that my niche changes with the seasons of my life, as well as with my situation. My niche when my children were toddlers differed from my niche once Dick and I were empty-nesters. My niche in larger, urban churches varied greatly from my niche in our smaller, rural churches.

Right now I am in process—trying to find my new niche. I’m turning my puzzle piece around and trying it in different places.

Part of the reason I am searching for my new niche is because we moved about a year ago. My husband has been a United Methodist pastor since 1976, and moving is part of our itinerant system. Each time, for me, that means discovering my new niche, figuring out, What is God calling me to do here? How does He want me to use my skill set in this place?

The opportunities always vary, so, when I hear we are moving, I look forward to seeing where God will lead me. However, the process seems to take longer as I get older. My priorities, abilities, and patience have changed, (along with my slowly fading eye sight, hearing, and flexibility.) Things I used to love doing (like teaching teens) just don’t spark the same enthusiasm.

I also find that I can’t do some things as well or as quickly—which catches me off guard. It’s kind of like watching a kid turn a cartwheel and thinking “I can do that”. However, if I try it, I land on my butt and my body protests for days afterward.

Things have changed; I have changed. So where IS my niche now? How do I find it?

As I prayed about this, God led me to three Scriptures and three questions:

“Wherever your treasure is,
there the desires  of your heart will also be.”
(Matthew 6:21)
What do I treasure these days?

““Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past.
See, I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness
and streams in the wasteland.”
(Isaiah 43:18-19)
Where do I see God at work right here, right now?

“There are different abilities to perform service,
but the same God gives ability to all
for their particular service.”
(1 Corinthians 12:6)
What do I do well, that God wants me to use in this place, at this time?

As I prayerfully answer these questions in light of Scripture, I believe God will meld them together to reveal my niche, to show me where I fit in His big puzzle. After all, Philippians 2:13 promises, “It is God who is working in you, enabling you both to desire and to work out His good purpose.”

Your prayers are always appreciated!


How do you find your niche when things change? Do you find it hard to be yourself?

God has made us what we are . . . Ephesians 2:10
Before you were born, [God] chose you for a special work.  Jeremiah 1:5

©2013 Pamela D. Williams

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Shining Stars

Linking up with TGIF @ Bible Love Notes!

"You must shine among them like stars lighting up the sky,
as you offer them the message of life.”
Philippians. 2: 15b-16a (TEV)

It was one of those clear, crisp nights, when the sky is inky black and the stars are beautiful, bright pinpoints of light.  Spellbound by their clarity and beauty in the vast darkness of the night, deep appreciation welled up inside me and I thanked the Lord for His awesome handiwork.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Crowding out Jesus

By sioda on MorgueFile
Even when Jesus was “just passing through” crowds gathered, because his reputation went before him.  People heard about his teachings and his healings and other miracles and wanted to see for themselves.

In Luke 19:1-10 we learn that Zacchaeus was a “chief tax collector”, a motley lot known for their dishonesty, extortion, and violence. When he was told Jesus was coming, he ran outside to catch a glimpse of the man he had heard so much about.

However, Zacchaeus discovered a throng of others ahead of him. Crowds were an unfriendly place for tax collectors; people often pushed and shoved and poked these unpopular folks as they passed through.  Though Zacchaeus tried, he was too short and couldn’t see Jesus.

Sometimes we can’t see Jesus either—not because of a physical crowd of people blocking our way, but because something within us or around us keeps us from getting close to Him.

Many things can separate us from Jesus:

  • pride
  • friendships or other relationships
  • our need to be in control
  • possessions
  • sins we are still holding onto or have committed in the past
  • wrong priorities, wanting other things more than a relationship with Christ
  • lack of commitment
  • indifference
  • unforgiveness on our part
  • fear
  • pre-conceived ideas

Zacchaeus skirted the crowd, ran ahead, and climbed a tree so he could see—not a very dignified picture for a tax collector accustomed to having servants, nice possessions, and getting what he wanted. However, Zacchaeus did what he had to do in order to see Jesus.

Why was seeing Jesus so important to Zacchaeus? After all, he was rich. He had a job and a home.  But he obviously felt drawn to Jesus.  He must have still had some unfulfilled need that he felt Jesus could satisfy.

Jesus knew what was in Zacchaeus heart.  We don’t hear of Zacchaeus praying a certain prayer, but for a tax collector to offer to give away half his belongings reflected a changed heart.

Zacchaeus’ story raises a few thought-provoking questions:

  1. What keeps me from connecting with Jesus?
  2. How important is it to me to stay connected?
  3. Does my life reflect a changed heart?
  4. What is God calling me to give up for Him?

©2013 Pamela D. Williams

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Transformed by Scripture

Photo my Mimicry on Morguefile
“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness.”
2 Timothy 3:16 (NIV)

Isn’t that what we all want as followers of Jesus—to not just read God’s Word, but to be transformed by it? John Wesley, in his 1765 Preface to Explanatory Notes upon the Old Testament*, penned sound advice on how to approach Scripture: 
  1. To correctly interpret God’s Word we need God’s Spirit. (2 Peter 1:20-21). Wesley recommends that before we open our Bibles, we seek the Holy Spirit’s help to understand what we are reading, and conclude our time in God’s Word by asking Him to engrave God’s truths on our lives.
  2. Just as we need food every day, we need God’s Word daily. Reiterating God’s instructions in Joshua 1:8, Wesley suggests we read Scripture both in the morning and in the evening, choosing passages from both the Old and the New Testaments.
  3. Wesley encourages us to note the basic threads of our faith in the passages we read. We will see how God purposefully wove together His message from Genesis to Revelation. (John 5:39) As we read, we can keep these questions in mind:
    1. Which verses help me see my sinful nature?
    2. How does this scripture dovetail with Jesus’ sacrifice for my salvation?
    3. What aspects are mentioned of the new life Jesus offers me?
    4. How am I challenged to holier living?
  4. Wesley advocates meditating on truths we find in the Bible, allowing God’s living, active Word to judge the thoughts and attitudes of our hearts. (Hebrews 4:12) The all-exposing beam of Scripture will prompt both praise and repentance.
  5. Lastly, the Word of God is a lamp to guide us in our daily living. (Psalms 119:107) Wesley admonishes us to prayerfully search the Scriptures with the intention of learning God’s will for our lives, and then determine to follow it.

 As we respond to the Spirit’s gentle (and sometimes not so gentle) nudges, the Bible will become a powerful tool God uses to remold, refine, and redirect us.


 ©2013 Pamela D. Williams

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Training for a Race

Photo from Morguefile

I do all this for the sake of the gospel that I may share in its blessings.
Do you not know that in a race all the runners run,
but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.
Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training.
They do it to get a crown that will not last;
but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.
Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly;
I do not fight like a man beating the air.
No, I beat my body and make it my slave
so that after I have preached to others,
I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.
1 Corinthians 9:23-27

Yesterday, as my husband and I attempted to pull out from our driveway, a group of runners suddenly crested the little hill that comes up from the YMCA. We waited patiently while nearly a hundred people jogged, ran, plodded, and puffed by our house. We have no idea how long the run was or what cause it supported. It was very obvious though that some were giving it their heart and soul while others were merely tagging along for moral support. A few runners were barely winded and a couple of them looked as though they were praying “Just let me survive!”

Paul compares the Christian life to a race. In a race are athletes who have spent much time, even most of their life, training for the race.  The goal of each one is to win and receive the prize.  They would not go into the race expecting to win if they hadn’t trained for it.

As Christians we are running in the race of obedience to Christ. Our goal is to please Him and spend eternity with Him.  We must train daily for the race. But how do we train for the spiritual race of our lives?

Reading God’s Word, talking with Him, trusting in Him, surrendering our wants and desires to Him, and obeying His commands all exercise our faith. Studying alongside other Christians and sharing our beliefs with those who ask also tune up our spiritual muscles.

In this race we will fail many times.  It will not be easy.  But we must keep on, like a runner who trips and falls but picks himself up and continues to run.  We must keep the goal in mind—the goal of living a life that pleases God.



 © 2013 Pamela D. Williams

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

A Tribute to Courage Under Fire

Photo courtesy of Mission Park San Antonio

My dear friend Frank heroically battled an unusually treatment-resistant strain of multiple myeloma (MM) for two years. He left no stone unturned, courageously enduring multiple proven and experimental chemotherapy treatments as well as two stem cell transplants. Believers from around the globe prayed fervently. Frank was determined and resolute about beating this cancer.

Despite every effort, nothing kicked the disease into remission for very long. Finally, the MM raged out of control. When just drawing breath required Herculean effort and a massive infection had developed, Frank, ever the Colonel, took control. Avoiding a rout, he implemented strategic surrender and made the decision to stop all treatment. No more! Enough.

As I prayed for Frank that day, Luke 4:18-19 kept scrolling through my mind:

"[The Lord] has sent me
to proclaim liberty to the captives
and recovery of sight to the blind,
to set free the oppressed
and announce that the time has come
when the Lord will save his people."
Luke 4:18-19

Twenty four hours later Frank soared from this earthly life, no longer held captive, no longer oppressed by multiple myeloma. The strong, take-charge, infinitely caring USAF pilot, Colonel Frank Andreus is now striding alongside Jesus and joins Paul in saying,

“I have fought the good fight,
I have finished the race,
I have kept the faith.”
2 Timothy 4:7

I thank God for Frank’s shining example of courage under fire, determination despite the odds, and victory through faith. I will miss you, my friend.

Please keep Frank’s wife, Cheryl, and their grown children, Eric and Jen and their families, in your prayers.


love,
Pam