Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Offering Hope

“I feel God wants us to offer a service of hope for those with cancer,” Madelyn, my husband’s administrative assistant told him. A survivor of cancer herself, she knew firsthand the roller coaster of emotions such a diagnosis evokes.

Madelyn contacted several of us who have journeyed that bumpy path asking us simply to share what brought us hope along the way. The evening of the service, everyone present felt the mood lighten as witness after witness gave testimony of God’s sustaining power in their lives.

Pat shared her thanks for the many people who reached out to her and her husband during her time of treatment, bringing meals, sending cards, praying, and offering a listening ear. Jill told of her experience during an MRI where she felt God’s physical presence warm and reassure her that He was walking with her. Joey explained how a human “error” led to discovering his cancer. He and his wife then sang a song of determination God gave Joey immediately after his diagnosis. Jim gave us a glimpse into the caregiver’s side of cancer and the encouragement he and Madelyn found by reading the Bible and praying together.

I was asked to tell my story, also. In May of 2015, Dr. Blaum told me a biopsy had revealed cancer. I was totally caught off guard. Then, I was angry—not at the doctor, not at myself, not even at God. I was angry at the cancer for invading my body. And I was determined to do whatever it took to get rid of it—including radical surgery and chemotherapy.

I can’t say I was afraid. God had brought Dick and me through too many things in the past not to trust Him with this challenge. I understood Paul’s words in 2 Timothy 1:12, “I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day.” I knew God would see us through. Our hope for the future remained in Jesus—throughout my surgery, chemotherapy, and recovery.

Many people, including my followers here at 2 Encourage, prayed with me during those exhausting six months. I couldn’t have put one foot in front of the other without those prayers, for many days I was just too tired, physically and mentally, to even pray.

In Jeremiah 29:11 God says, “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.” Although I was caught off guard by my diagnosis, God was not. He knew. So, my future—my hope—rested in Him.

The “Service of Hope” Madelyn felt nudged to organize affirmed what David wrote in Psalm 34;

I will extol the Lord at all times; His praise will always be on my lips.
I will glory in the Lord; Let the afflicted hear and rejoice.
Glorify the Lord with me; Let us exalt his name together.

When we praise and thank God, we magnify Him—make Him easier to see—offering others hope. My prayer is that if you are currently traversing cancer’s steep, rocky path, that you will find hope by trusting in God’s loving kindness. If you know someone in the midst of such a journey—someone in need of hope—call, visit, send a card, share a scripture, bring a meal, and most of all, offer a prayer.

Be encouraged!

©2017 Pamela D. Williams

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Dusting for Fingerprints

I couldn’t believe it. There was a flesh-and-blood policeman with an actual fingerprint kit dusting the handle on the door of the carwash bay behind my house. Someone must have broken in and stolen the quarters from the coin-operated machines.

I love crime shows and had watched lots of actors “dust for prints”, but had never seen it happen in real life. I admit, I was excited to be witnessing it firsthand. More importantly, the results would help the police pinpoint who was involved in the crime.

Consisting of friction ridge skin on the tips of the fingers, fingerprints are detailed, unique, difficult to alter, and durable over the life of an individual, making them suitable as long-term identity markers. Fingerprints are often not visible without some type of development that makes the latent fingerprint stand out against the background so the print can be collected and/or photographed. They can then be presented as irrefutable evidence in court.

Christian writer and speaker Sharon Jaynes challenges us to “Dust for God’s fingerprints on the pages of your everyday life.” Have you ever searched for God’s fingerprints? His Word says God is always with us (Hebrews 13:5), but sometimes, like latent fingerprints, I find it difficult to see Him. What can I “dust” my life with to make His touch visible?

Sharon suggests we follow 1 Thessalonians 5:18, “In everything give thanks.” Gratitude can change the lens through which we see our circumstances. Giving thanks changes our perspective by accumulating evidence of God’s presence in plain old everyday life.

Looking back over our lives is another way for us to dust for God’s fingerprints. It is by seeing God’s fingerprints in His past work in our lives that we gain courage to place our present and future in His hands. Remember the poem, “Footprints in the Sand”? It tells how God revealed His presence to the author as he/she reminisced about life.

Sometimes talking with others can serve as the brush that sprinkles and swirls the fingerprint powder around in our lives. Blinded by circumstances or emotions, we need other Christians to bring to light the evidence of God’s fingerprints.

Whether obvious or obscure, God’s hand IS on our lives. What techniques have you found that help you see God’s fingerprints more clearly?

Be encouraged!

©2017 Pamela D. Williams

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Turning the World Upside Down

“Mom isn’t doing well. I know it’s late, but could you come?”

It’s been a long time since my husband has had a phone call like that in the middle of the night. When we first started out in ministry, it wasn’t uncommon to be called by a parishioner to come to the house, the hospital, or the nursing home—no matter what time of day or night it happened to be. People wanted the connection to God that a pastor represented. The spiritual health of their loved one mattered—whether they were in church last week, hadn’t been there in forty years, or had never attended at all. Deep down, people believed in the here-after and that God held everyone’s eternity in His hands.

It is rare now for Dick to receive such a call. Why? What has changed?

Is it that we don’t want to inconvenience pastors by asking them to give up their sleep, interrupt their meal, impose on their time? Probably. But, doesn’t that indicate that we think a person’s spiritual wellbeing isn’t important enough to inconvenience someone else for? Could it hint that we aren’t completely convinced that eternity exists? Digging deeper, does it reveal that we lack belief in God at all?

If so, it gives us a glimpse into why the world is in such a state of utter selfishness and hatred—why, every day, we hear anew of mass shootings, human and animal cruelty, provoked and unprovoked attacks. If we believe this life is all there is, that there is no afterlife beyond what we know today, and ultimately that there is no One to whom we must answer, then it isn’t any wonder that our only care and concern is for ourselves.

Living as though our earthly life is the beginning and end of all existence, is not a new problem. Job spoke of it. (Job 19:25) Paul dealt with it. (1 Corinthians 15) Peter addressed it. (1 Peter 4:7-11) Overall, the Bible shares nearly 300 verses that use the word eternal or refer to eternity directly or indirectly. That’s a lot of references for a subject that some consider hooey.

However, the bedrock of belief in eternity is belief in God. Scripture clearly reveals the existence of God—His name is mentioned in over 4000 verses! Paul explained God’s existence in Romans 1:19-21. David declared it in Psalm 19:1-4. John confirmed it in John 14:17.

Many of us have heard of Lee Strobel, the former atheist and investigative journalist who turned Christian. His numerous books share the evidence that supports the truth and claims of Christianity, including the reality that God exists and is still at work. Likewise, Marilyn Adamson, a former atheist, gives solid evidence of God’s existence in her article “Is there a God?” at

What can we do about the dreadful state of the world today? We can live as God-believers—reacting to life’s challenges in ways that reflect our trust in God, speaking our faith aloud, helping seekers understand our beliefs, and treating others as Jesus taught us to—in the hopes that one person may find out for themselves that God is real. And that can turn the world upside down.

“They dragged Jason and certain other believers before the rulers of the city, crying, "These people have turned the world upside down! (Acts 17:6)

Be encouraged!

©2017 Pamela D. Williams

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Cracks and Crevices

I recently bought a used car from a fellow who had it listed on Facebook Marketplace. It really was a great buy and the seller was an honest, forthright person asking a very fair price. There was just one little problem.

While we were sitting in the notary’s office, he excused himself saying, “I need to step outside for a moment to take my medication.”

I thought it was a little odd but figured maybe he was diabetic and didn’t want an audience when he gave himself a shot. Then I heard my husband and the notary chuckling. When I turned to Dick he said, “He went out to smoke a cigarette.”

Uh-oh. When we test drove the vehicle, I hadn’t picked up on the smell of smoke. The only odor I had noticed was that of Armor All. Oh well, I thought to myself, a good cleaning will take care of any lingering smoke residue.

Little did I know how many cracks and crevices there are in a car—hard-to-get-to places where ash and its accompanying odor can hide! Three times I went over the car, inside and out, before I felt like I had wiped, scrubbed, and vacuumed all the tiny particles. And then that evening I accidentally dropped a slip of paper between the seat and the door. I grabbed my trusty iPhone, tapped on the flashlight, and shined it down in the crevice. Under the lever to adjust the seat, a layer of ash mocked me: You thought you had rid this car of me, but there are still areas where I can hide!

As I thought about the smoke’s pervasiveness, I realized how similar it is to sin. When I trusted in Jesus’ death on the cross for forgiveness from my sins, I wanted to leave all those old sinful ways behind. But nearly 40 years later, I am still discovering hidden pockets of the old me that need the light of Jesus to roust them out.

Grumbling, criticizing, gossiping, doubting, and wanting MY WAY crop up more often than I care to admit. Just when I think I have my act together, God shines His Word on my soul and reveals veiled areas that continue to need His cleansing power.

And I am thankful.

*Thankful that God doesn’t allow us to go on thinking sin is okay. Instead, God corrects those He loves. (Proverbs 3:12)
*Thankful for God’s promise that if we confess our sins He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9)
*Thankful that God gives us victory over sin through our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Corinthians 15:57)
*Thankful that there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. (Romans 8:1)

Sure, my new-to-me car needed a thorough detailing, but I’m thinking a spiritual detailing is in order for me, too.

Thank You, Lord, for making sure that sin doesn’t go unnoticed in the cracks and crevices of my soul but instead You shine Your light and put Your power to work cleansing and forgiving my sin. Amen.

Be encouraged!

©2017 Pamela D. Williams