"My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness..." 2 Corinthians 12:9b

Monday, May 30, 2011

Let Them See Your Faith

“Live such good lives among the pagans that…they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.”  1 Peter 2:12

Nothing ever prepares you for a death. A young man who used to spend a lot of time around our house was the victim of an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) in Iraq. A friend of our son’s from college, Anthony was often included in our Sunday family dinners. He used to bring over his shirts and ask if he could iron them. We hadn’t seen him in a couple of years since he went into the army and now he was dead at twenty-five years old.
My son talked to him about the Lord; he had even attended church with our family. He had made some mistakes and said more than once that he needed to straighten out his life.
            When was the last time you came face to face with the fact that as a Christian your life is always on display? The old adage that you may be the only Bible that someone reads is all too true. Those times that Anthony was with our family we just talked about things the way we do on a daily basis, prayer and the Lord are a routine part of our daily conversation. He came from a broken home, and we talked like we do to our own children, hoping to make an impression.
            When we received word of his death, my first thought was the hope that being in such a place of physical danger caused him to think back on his times in our church and with our family and accept the Lord. For now we have to trust to God that he had every opportunity.
            I have been in the position of wishing I had done more—wishing I had just one more chance. I don’t like to be there. Have you had the experience of letting an opportunity to witness for the Lord pass you by, only to find out you will never have another? If you learn nothing else, learn from Anthony’s death to always live before others in such a way that they see Jesus in you.
            Make the resolve that you will love everyone who comes into your path and do all that you can to show them Jesus. The choice is theirs, but the responsibility is yours.

Copyright by Norma Gail Thurston Holtman. Do not use without written permission of the author.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

He Knows the Way I Take

“But He knows the way that I take; when He has tested me, I will come forth as gold.”
Job 23:10
Five years of wanting a baby, four years of testing and treatments and still no baby. My questions to God and the desire for a child grew stronger all the time. No matter what the doctor did, I was not going to have children and so we began adoption proceedings.

One of my dearest friends called me, struggling with the timing of her pregnancy. I know the answer I gave came from the Holy Spirit and not myself. “God could easily have given me the baby. He wants you to be pregnant as much as He wants me not to.”

When her baby was born, they recognized him as the gift God intended. Nineteen months after beginning the adoption process, I went shopping for a baby gift for yet another friend. I had prayed to have one baby before she had two. Later, I realized that our son is three days older than her daughter, though we didn’t get him until he was three weeks old.

The light on the answering machine was flashing when I returned from shopping and I called my husband. “Honey,” he said, “the agency called. You’re going to be a mother tomorrow!”

Less than twenty-four hours later we stood in the tiny chapel at the agency as they laid a beautiful baby boy in my arms. In that instant I knew that we waited because our baby hadn’t been born yet. This was the answer to our prayers—the child intended by God from the beginning of time to be ours.

We learned many valuable lessons; God’s comfort is always there and once we have received it, we are to comfort others. God’s timing perfectly teaches what He wants us to learn. His ways are far above anything we can understand, but they are always for our benefit and His glory.

God knows the way He causes us to take may not be of our choosing, but we become more like Him as we follow it. He knows that the road is often painful, but the testing purifies us just as fire brings the impurities out of gold and makes it shine.

Copyright by Norma Gail Thurston Holtman. Do not use without written permission of the author.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

He Does All Things Well

“He has done everything well…” Mark 7:37

The time following her diagnosis was like a roller coaster moving inevitably toward a dreaded ending. As Christians we must remember that God uses even the worst to mature and perfect those who love Him.
The most difficult things reveal that nothing God allows is ultimately harmful or bad, though it may seem so at the time. We must meet hardships in the faith that He will bring good out of our trials. We walk by faith and not by sight. But it is not only for this life. Our hope is eternal and so we must trust Him and journey on through the storms that come our way.
My dear friend taught me how to live as she faced her death—the lessons of a life well-lived—the victorious life of a believer in Jesus Christ can teach us how to live day-to-day. So here is what I learned:

·         Our chief aim in life, no matter what our circumstances, should be to know God and glorify Him—the better we do the first, the better able we are to do the second.
·         Adversity will come, but God’s sovereign will triumphs when we are obedient to Him.
·         There is always hope. Jesus will either make things right immediately, be with us through the storms, or bring the ultimate blessing by taking us to be with Him. If we remain in Him, we win.
·         We must face trials “in Christ alone.” The only way to do that is to already be in close relationship with Christ on a daily basis through His word and prayer. You cannot draw strength from what you do not have.
·         “Why?” should always lead us to God, not despair. It is a dead end question.
·         We must live our lives in such a way that we are remembered for our love of God and service to Him—nothing else lasts.

Jesus—not my feelings, desires, other people, or the Enemy—but Jesus, alone, is in control. Face life with an attitude of victory!

Copyright by Norma Gail Thurston Holtman. Do not use without written permission of the author.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Gifts That Last

“Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!”
Matthew 9:7-11

My father wasn’t a rich man. He worked hard at his insurance business, gaining the respect even of his competitors. Every one considered him their best friend. He had a wonderful marriage and a loving family. We had everything we needed and most things that we wanted. But I remember a time when I was disappointed that what I got wasn’t what I expected.

One summer I had choice; Camp or a bicycle. But Camp only lasted a week; a new bike would last a long time, so I chose the bike. I had a vision of something shiny and blue with chrome fenders.

We all went out to the front yard, and there stood the ugliest bike I had ever seen. He had found what was affordable with three daughters to provide for. He had some shiny chrome fenders he planned to replace the rusty and dented ones with, and he bought blue paint.

My reaction was typical for my age—angry and sad. Looking back, he was so understanding. He knew it was not what I wanted. He patiently told me that he would make it beautiful. I was doubtful and just wanted it put in the garage before any of my friends saw it. 

My father worked so hard sanding old paint and rust off. By the time the new fenders were on, with new paint and a nice basket for my school books, it really looked pretty good. Kids being kids, no one looked close enough to be able to tell it wasn’t new, they just thought it was cool that I could now ride my bike to school.

Just like my dad, my heavenly Father wants to give me the best He can give. Sometimes though, His best and mine aren’t the same. He is not just giving gifts, He is raising His child, and lessons have to be taught. Some of the most important things in my life didn’t come the way I expected that they would.

In these tough economic times many of us, want things we just can’t afford. But we have to keep in mind, that just like my dad, God doesn’t always give us exactly what we want, but He does give His children exactly what they need. It may not be packaged like we imagine, but in God’s economy, it will be His best—and exactly what we need.

Copyright by Norma Gail Thurston Holtman. Do not use without written permission of the author.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

My Refuge

I have asked the Lord many evenings
Why my days seemed filled with pain,
I have begged and pleaded with tears on my face,
And over the years His answer came:

“I have another path for you
Than some of my children trod;
It won’t be easy, you’ll not always see,
But you will learn to know your God.

“I may lead you through the desert
On a road of shifting sands;
But there’s joy at the end of the journey
If you never let go of My hands.

“Sometimes the way may be rocky,
It will bruise and scrape and shred,
You’ll feel that you can’t take another step,
But My strong shoulder will cradle your head.

“There are dark caves and many shadows,
But in My presence you will always be,
For the only way through the darkness
Is to take strong hold of Me.

“Yes, my child, other’s paths may seem easy,
It may appear that I shield their pain;
But there’s no greater joy in the sunshine
Unless you’ve first been through the rain.

“Your Savior was made perfect through suffering,
He had a heavy Cross to bear;
I won’t allow pain and struggle
Without the promise that His glory you’ll share.”

So if it seems you’re walking in darkness,
When the enemy is seeming to win;
Take your refuge in the arms of Jesus,
Heavenly Savior, and earthly Friend.

Copyright by Norma Gail Thurston Holtman. Do not use without written permission of the author.