Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Sharing the Reality

photo by Pam Williams

Any of you who have read the story of my faith beginnings know that for 20 some years of my life I went to church, but my faith was rather like a museum piece—nice to have and admire, but not really relevant. Then Dick and I met a couple, Bill and Peggy Williams, who introduced us to the living reality of daily life with Jesus as Savior, Lord, and Friend. That reality has changed our lives on every level, forever!

Ever since that day, my deepest desire has been to share that reality with others—family, friends, co-workers, fellow church-goers, and readers—to let them know Jesus is real; He cares; He is constantly with us; He intervenes for us.

Helping others to realize these truths isn’t easy. Consistently treating others as Jesus would have me treat them is challenging. Speaking of my faith without sounding “preachy” or pious tests my communication skills.

The desire to open the eyes, the ears, the hearts, the souls, the minds of others persists, though. So I am constantly on the lookout for better ways to communicate the message of salvation through trust in Jesus and the difference He can make in a person’s day-to-day existence.

SacredSpace.ie recently shared these encouraging words about passing along the message of faith in Jesus: “I am not called to live this [faith] alone, but with others, in the community we call the Church. I talk with Jesus on my membership in the Church, and ask him to help me be a living stone in this his house.”

Others have been a living stone for me by expressing God’s love and their love for me in encouraging cards and texts. Bill and Peggy shared the reality of Jesus just by living in constant communication with Jesus. Others have shown me acts of kindness in the name of Jesus, like bringing meals when we were packing or unpacking from a move, taking care of our daughter when Dick and I were at the hospital with our son, and bringing me small gifts each time I endured a chemotherapy treatment.

I, too, want to be a “living stone”, not a museum relic. Proverbs 27:17 says we learn from one another. What have you found that helps you introduce others to Jesus? How have others communicated a living faith to you? I would love to read your experiences in the comments.

I pray that Christ will make his home in your hearts through faith.
I pray that you may have your roots and foundation in love,
so that you, together with all God's people,
may have the power to understand
how broad and long, how high and deep, is Christ's love.
Ephesians 3:17-18

Blessings!
Pam

©2016 Pamela D. Williams

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Send in Reinforcements


I thought I had gotten past the bug phobia. I don't mind big bugs. It's the teeny tiny hard-to-see ones (like fleas, ticks, lice, mites) that send ripples of terror through my heart and mind. I know. It sounds ridiculous, but it's true. This week proved that Satan can still use these small things to put me into a tizzy, literally freezing me in my tracks with fear. Fear is one of his favorite tactics.

I had a run-in with a bunch of deer ticks last week. Now these critters are minuscule—barely the size of a pin point! Our area is polluted with them. I ended up with more than a few tick bites from hauling old cardboard from where it was stacked against a stone wall. Let’s just say I was a bit paranoid after that!

So when our cat Watson bolted out the door after a stray cat in the yard last night and ran full blast into the tall weeds and brush surrounding the back of our house, I came to a screeching (literally) halt at the edge of the woods. I could not set foot in that overgrown jungle where ticks thrive.

When we found him three hours later he was polluted with, you guessed it, deer ticks. Thankfully he likes to be vacuumed. We ran the cleaner over him thoroughly and then combed through his hair with a flea comb. The whole time I was in a state of near panic. I was not very patient with Watson and even yelled at Dick. Total meltdown. It was not a pretty picture.

How could I let fear take over like that? God’s Word says God doesn’t give us a spirit of fear, but of power, love, and a sound mind. (2 Timothy 1:7) Satan had the upper hand and I definitely was not experiencing a “sound mind”.

What I need when I am overcome by paralyzing fear, is someone to talk me down from the precipice, to restore my perspective, and reassure me that God is ultimately in control. I am so very thankful for a loving, indulgent, supportive husband who puts up with my craziness during these times.

In truth though, I need to turn, not to Dick, but to Jesus, even before those fear-filled situations occur. God’s Word can speak peace to my anxious mind, help me see the situation against the backdrop of all of life (not just that terrifying moment), and can give me example after example of God’s control in the lives of His followers.

In a post on her blog Debbie McDaniel shares 33 verses on fear that are really helpful to read often, commit to memory, and draw on in times when extreme anxiety slams into us out of nowhere. I am going to “bookmark” that page and work on reinforcing my armaments against future unreasonable fear.

Does fear and anxiety ever grab you by the throat? Are there other areas of your life where you need reinforcements against the burning arrows of the Enemy? Studying Scripture on that topic NOW can prove invaluable next time your nemesis lurks around the corner.

Blessings!
Pam

©2016 Pamela D. Williams

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

When the Answer is "No"

Photo by Pam Williams

Watson wants out—desperately! He dashes to the door every time he thinks we are headed in that direction. He shoots out while the garage door is going up. He meows, “Ow-ut” over and over and over. He is relentless.

He has tried every look imaginable to make me give in—the sorrowful, the scowling, the excited.

Watson doesn’t know what I know. It is dangerous for him to be out. The parking lot of a nursery school borders two sides of our property. Cars come and go with the zip, zip of parents in a hurry. No one is watching for a cat to dart out into their path.

I also refuse to give in to Watson because our neighborhood is populated with a colony of feral cats who roam through our yard and the nearby woods at all hours of the day and night. Some posture and spray, just looking for a fight. Others have sore eyes, torn ears, and walk with a limp, like the one in my picture. As far as I know, none are vaccinated.

In addition to the feral cats, there are plenty of wild animals to threaten Watson’s well-being—bears, foxes, groundhogs, and opossum to name a few. Even squirrels can inflict a lot of damage when cornered.

It would be negligent and foolhardy for me to give in to what Watson wants—no matter how often he asks or how pitiful he looks. He has no idea of the dangers out there. He gets angry with me and pouts, stalks off, swipes a paw at me as I walk by, or schemes ways to get around me.

When God tells us “No” in answer to our prayers, we often react like Watson. We try to finagle a way to get what we want on our own. Or we mistakenly assume He doesn’t care and walk away from Him, interpreting His “No” as no response at all. Or we doggedly pester Him for what WE think is best, instead of seeking guidance. In the process we grow angry and impatient and it shows in our relationship with God and others.

The truth is, we don’t know what God knows. He can see hidden dangers; He knows the temptations that lurk beneath the surface, and He knows our weaknesses. He understands consequences that we never thought about, the spiritual detriment a “Yes” would cause. Often His “No” is a prelude to something far better that He has planned.

So next time we get to feeling like Watson when I won’t let him out, let’s trust God’s “No”, even when we don't understand.

For I know the plans I have for you,”
declares the Lord,
“plans to prosper you and not to harm you,
plans to give you hope and a future.
 Jeremiah 29:11

Blessings!
Pam

©2016 Pamela D. Williams

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

42nd Anniversary!

Today we celebrate 42 years of happily-ever-after. Ours truly is a fairy tale romance that has blossomed into a satisfying, nurturing relationship, bringing us both more joy than we can hold. We would like to pass along a few of the truths that we have learned that we feel have attributed to our lasting marriage. Our prayer is that other couples might find them useful.

Invite Christ into your relationship. Ecclesiastes 4:12 says, “A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” When Christ, your spouse, and you form a bond, your marriage builds from a strong foundation. As each of you grow closer to Jesus, you will also grow closer to one another.

Reject in-law interference. Genesis 2:24 points out that when a person marries, they leave father and mother and are united with their spouse. When we marry we form a new family and our commitment is now to that union. This is not to say don’t ever take your parents advice. We are talking about unwanted, unsolicited, unhealthy intrusion, meddling, and prying on the part of the parents.

Live within your means. In Romans 13:8 God advises us to “owe nothing to anyone--except for your obligation to love one another.” Poorly managed finances cause incredible stress on a marriage. While most everyone will have to pay on time for a house or education, other debt can be minimalized by saving before spending. You may find in the process that you didn’t really need that item.

Put your spouse ahead of yourself. “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves.” (Philippians 2:3) The world urges us to look out for ourselves first; God says think of others first.

Encourage and support your spouse. 1 Thessalonians 5:11 directs us to “Encourage one another and help one another.” We all need this on every level—in our jobs, in our Christian walk, in our parenting journey. Everyone benefits from a few words of encouragement.

Express love. Don’t assume that your spouse knows you love him/her. Say it. Do it. Show it. “Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other.” (Romans 12:10)

Communicate. James 1:19 says, “Everyone must be quick to listen, but slow to speak and slow to become angry.” We can be so quick to criticize. Not only will many arguments and harsh words be avoided if we take this verse to heart, but our ability to express ourselves will be greatly enhanced.

May your marriages be built on Christ and your lives entwined with His in a cord that cannot be broken.

Blessings!
Pam and Dick Williams
©2016 Pamela D. Williams

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Mysterious Disproportion


Five loaves of bread and two fish are definitely not enough to feed 5000 people. By no stretch of the imagination could that measly amount of food satisfy the hunger of such a crowd. And yet, John 6 relates how Jesus did just that.

Jesus took what one little boy brought along for lunch and multiplied it to feed the masses. And it wasn’t just a little communion-wafer-sized portion for each person either. They ate till they were full. No one left hungry. In fact, there were even leftovers!

Jesus does the same for us today. No matter how little what we have to offer may seem, in the hands of Jesus it is more than enough.

Unfortunately, I find it hard to convince myself of that truth.

Many times I draw back from volunteering because I think I am inadequate to the task. I think someone else could do the job better, or knows more than I do about the matter at hand.

Recently on SacredSpace.ie I read this comment: There is a mysterious disproportion between what I give and what the Lord makes of it.”

If Jesus nudges me to do or speak up, He will take what I give and make it enough. He will multiply my offering till it is what is needed. I don’t know how He does it, but He does. I don’t have to understand the how. All that is required of me is a willingness to generously share what I have.

And we have sooooo much to give. Our lives overflow with blessings. When we live out an attitude of generosity, not just with our money or things, Jesus can use us to accomplish His purposes.

We all have something to offer—time, talent, knowledge, wisdom, expertise, kindness, encouragement, and so much more. The excitement starts when we see just what Jesus will do with it!

What is He asking you to give?

Blessings!
Pam

 ©2016 Pamela D. Williams