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

Monday, June 27, 2011

Fire Insurance

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy…store up for yourselves treasures in heaven…for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
Matthew 6:19-21

Flames shot into the night. I stood on my back patio watching as a fast-moving forest fire consumed forest and homes sixty miles to the north.  That particular fire didn’t threaten us, but we had been under a red alert all summer.
The next morning a fog of smoke enveloped our mountain home, blown from the fire up north. Our turn could come any time.
            I read instructions on preparing to evacuate in case of a forest fire. I sent photograph albums to my husband’s office. I began photographing every room in our home, furniture, closets and drawers. I came to the grandfather clock built by my husband’s father. There was no way to save something so large. My treasured library was not high on the priority list. My three thousand year old Indian bowl had remained unbroken, would it fall prey to a fire instead? Even things I would take with me wouldn’t matter if it happened when I was away from home. The people up north had already been through a fire eleven years ago, now they faced it again. I wondered what they were feeling.
            How much value was I putting on things? If a fire occurred near our home the only thing that really mattered was if we escaped safely. My family all knew Jesus as their Savior—we were safe in the only way that really matters.
            I would miss all of my belongings, but none of those things had anything to do with eternity. Most could easily be replaced. But fire insurance can’t bestow eternal life.
            Jesus said that the things we treasure the most should be in heaven where they cannot be destroyed. I continued cataloging things for insurance purposes, but a change of heart was taking place. I was learning to let go.
            What do you value most highly? How certain are you that your loved ones are prepared for eternity if catastrophe should happen?
            Don’t let another day go by without seeing that you have done all you can to ensure eternal security for yourself and those you love. Get your priorities in the order Jesus would want them, today.

Copyright by Norma Gail Thurston Holtman & 2MefromHim.blogspot.com. All Rights Reserved. Do not use without express written permission of the author.

Monday, June 20, 2011

His Children Will Be Blessed

“Blessed is the man who fears the Lord…His children…will be blessed.”
Psalm 112:1-2

              I was still in shock—numb and cold, with a chill that neither blankets nor my husband’s arms could warm. My father was dead, struck by lightning while fly fishing with a friend. Now there was a funeral to plan. What do you say about someone you love? How do you condense all the feelings of all the years into a few paragraphs?
              When I gave up on sleep, I got out my Bible and turned to Psalms—always a safe place to go when you’re hurting. I just started reading, for over two hours. Then something grabbed my attention. There were words that described my father to a tee, words that said all of the things I wanted to say and couldn’t. He had been a powerful Christian, a Marine and a well-respected businessman.
              I read on and on, feeling as if I was hearing someone describe my dad; a soothing warmth began to creep over me. That man, God’s man, was the way I wanted to remember him: God-fearing, righteous, upright, gracious, compassionate, generous, just, fearless, steadfast, and honorable and his children were blessed.
              Later, I began to wonder, what kinds of things someone would say about me at the end of my life. That’s something I’ll never know. There are things that I saw in that scripture that made me want to be like my dad more than ever. I have aspects of his personality, but not all.
              As I read it again other things began to stand out to me, things that I could work toward, things that I could pray for God to instill in me. I began to see that what my dad had done were all things that I could do too: take delight in God’s commands, fear God—but like I felt for my daddy, respect and honor because of whom he was.
              God is deserving of my respect and honor. I never wanted to do anything that would dishonor my father. Neither do I want to do anything that will dishonor my heavenly Father. The words of this scripture are a lesson for my daily life.
              Maybe you weren’t blessed with an earthly father that honored God. But you have a heavenly Father that loves you more than any earthly Father ever could. He loves you and wants to bless you.

Copyright by Norma Gail Thurston Holtman & 2MefromHim.blogspot.com. All Rights Reserved. Do not use without express written permission of the author.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

My Two Fathers - In honor of my father, Lyle E. Thurston

 “He fills His hands with lightning and commands it to strike its mark.”  Job 36:32

When I was very little and afraid of the storm,
My father would hold me, so I felt safe and warm.
Silly songs, funny stories, and wild games we would play—
The fun and his love chased the bad things away.
The lightning and thunder were never so bad
When I was held safe in the arms of my dad.

As I grew older and the problems grew more large,
The gentle, patients answers still came straight from his heart.
There was no more important thing he ever had to do
Than take time to show— the important thing was you.
He never gave anyone less than his best,
No matter what the need was, his commitment stood the test.

When lightning struck our house one night,
Shattering the darkness with its brilliant light—
Hobbling on crutches from a broken leg,
He soon had us laughing from the jokes that he made.
Once certain that all would soon be well—
He soon had another great story to tell.

Many things set my father apart,
Not the least of which was his great, loving heart.
People who came to my father in need
Always left knowing they had a friend indeed.
He did much to further the Father’s plan
By the generosity of his giant hands.

My father rose each morning to meet with his Lord.
He loved Him and served Him and cherished His word.
He was a man of great strength—yet gentle and kind
Because he loved the Lord Jesus with heart, soul, and mind.
He would say that if anything set him apart,
It was the presence of the Savior, who lived in his heart.

Then the lightning once again appeared,
Something all in the family but my father feared.
He, rather than seeing something to fear—
Said it showed the protection of God very clear.
For all in the house were both safe and sound
And only slight damage to the house was found.

As the years passed by, the family grew,
The son-in-laws came, and the grandchildren, too.
Each one he loved in a unique special way,
And faithfully, for each one, he daily would pray—
Upon our family, God’s blessings were poured,
Because each day my father spent time with his Lord.

It could have been just a regular day,
But our heavenly Father didn’t see it that way.
A man going fishing—just and ordinary man—
But our heavenly Father had another plan.
Ordinary things, when you live for the Lord,
Can often have bearing on eternal reward.

Once more, God’s lightning entered our lives,
And on fiery wings, bore my father home, through the skies.
The look on his face showed amazement, they said,
And confirmed for us all that he was not really dead.
He had gotten his first glimpse of his heavenly home,
And he knew that our Lord would not leave us alone.

The lessons that he taught us through the life that he lived;
And the Lord that he gave all the love he could give;
Are still here inside us—though he’s gone from our sight
Across that wide river— the River of Life.
He’s sitting there watching—he knows we will come;
And from his side, it really won’t be very long.

If we could just see—each event in our lives—
Is meant just to show us, God is loving and wise.
The traits that I loved in my father, you see,
Are all of the things God will be—just for me.
And so when I long for Daddy’s face—just to see,
I’ll look up to heaven—where two fathers wait for me.

Written June 14, 1996.  In loving memory of my daddy, Lyle E. Thurston, who died when he was struck by lightning while fly-fishing on the San Juan River, in the “Quality Waters” below Navajo Dam near Farmington, New Mexico on September 29, 1995.

Ó Copyright by Norma Gail Thurston Holtman. All Rights Reserved. Do not use without express written permission of the author.

Monday, June 13, 2011

His Power Through My Weakness

’My power works best in weakness.’ So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me.” 2 Corinthians 12:9b NLT

No matter how I tried to speak, no sound came out! Something was terribly wrong. I had been fine the night before, but when I sat on the edge of the bed and tried to read my morning devotional out loud no sound came out! I showered, dressed and drove the few blocks to my sister’s house. She read my note and called my husband to tell him the problem, then called the doctor for me.
So began a bizarre four and a half month saga of frustration and doctors. I began to wonder if the Lord was going to leave me silent forever.
Life had to go on. I still had groceries to buy, banking to do—imagine walking up to the bank teller with a note! I became afraid in parking lots, afraid to walk in the park without my neighbor, but God had allowed this to happen and surely He would be my protector. I got a whistle for my keychain.
I had a Bible study to lead and no co-leader. I saw women blossom as they took their turn leading our small group in a safe, loving setting. I sat beside them to keep the time and write notes of encouragement and instruction. God was leading through a silent woman and we were blessed.
Four and one half months after waking to my silent world I visited a Speech Pathologist—my precious sister by my side. She assured me that my problem, though not common, was well-known to them and very curable. She estimated twelve sessions—it took four. God restored my voice, but I was not the same person.
Those months when I could not speak were so rich and full of God’s goodness! With no phone ringing and me in control of when I answered e-mails and text messages, I had fewer interruptions and I heard God so clearly! I journaled my experiences and feelings; it is a time I will never forget.
What keeps you from listening to God? Try ignoring that cell phone, leave the e-mails unanswered for a day. Spend some extra time with Him. Ask God what He wants to say to you, and get quiet enough to hear Him speak. You will never be the same.

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

Monday, June 6, 2011

Jesus Understands

“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin." Hebrews 4:15

The message on my answering machine sent a chill through my entire body. Something was terribly wrong. As I returned the call and got the details I felt numb, numb with unbelievable sadness, numb with unbelievable pain. It could not be true that someone I loved had strayed so far away from the Lord.
I had a feeling a few weeks before that I should call that person. I put it on the back burner. I wasn’t feeling well, my kids were involved in so many activities—I would call when I had the chance. I let the busyness of life keep me from obeying the prompting of God that a friend needed help.
When I finally called, she said, “Don’t talk about the Bible to me. I know it just as well as you do. You don’t understand.”
The pain and sadness still remain. We never get over one of our Christian brothers or sisters deliberately setting their relationship with the Lord aside to pursue a sinful lifestyle.
We have all known Christians that have strayed away from their first love of the Lord. Maybe you have fallen into some form of sin—let your relationship with the Lord fall by the wayside.
I was wrong for not following up on that urging of the Holy Spirit to call my friend. I too have sometimes given in to temptation. But I can be forgiven. You can be forgiven—whatever you have done.
We have a Savior, a great high priest, who was human just as we are. Jesus was tempted with everything we face—but He did not sin. The Spirit of God in Him enabled Him to say no to the temptation. He showed us how to rely on the power of the Holy Spirit within us when we are tempted.
            What tempts you? Have you already given in and feel that separation between you and the Lord?
Will you go right now to a place where you can get on your knees and ask for God’s help to avoid the temptation? Where you can ask His forgiveness for giving in?
Begin to live today in the light and freedom of His gracious forgiveness. He still loves you. He understands.

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