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

Monday, August 29, 2011

Catch the Vision

“I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” Philippians 1:3-6.

The building wasn’t even a church. An old gray metal building in need of a coat of paint stood on one of the busiest streets in the city. Inside it was old carpet, walls patched with paint of varying shades of grayish white and not enough fluorescent tubes for good light. One hallway led in and out of the gym, converted on Sunday’s to an auditorium.
The pastor, a man we had known many years before, came forward and greeted us warmly. Our preteen children saw a familiar face or two among the 80 or 90 people present. Everyone was friendly.
When the youth pastor announced “Mud Olympics” for the following week, our kids begged to attend and we readily agreed. The competition stretched into two weeks and by then there was a guest speaker we wanted to hear. We liked the pastor. He was and sincere. Love and warmth flowed from him.
We stayed, dealing with crowding as it grew. We put up with no kitchen facilities, the youth in a room fondly referred to as “the stinky clothes room” where the YWCA, from whom we rented our small space, stored donations.
Everyone came and went through one crowded hallway. Chairs were set up before the service and taken down after. There was no stage. A keyboard, guitar and tambourine served as a praise band.
Gradually we were able to buy the building and move walls around. There was never enough room and always a lot of work, but there was love. Visitors noted the warmth and joy of the congregation. Missions were important, though we had little to spare.
The key to making things work? God was present in the hearts and lives of the people. That ugly gray building was filled to overflowing with love.
Now on some of the most desired land in the city, that old building still stands, attractively painted with signs facing the busy street. Next to it is a fine new building with a state of the art auditorium.
Where has God called you to serve Him? Is it a mega-church or simply a small congregation hoping to grow?
Catch the vision. Make a difference. Allow God to carry the good work He has begun in you through to completion in the place He has called you to serve.

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

Monday, August 22, 2011

Yet I Will Rejoice

“Yet I will wait patiently…though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior.” Habakkuk 3:16b-18

I tend to be a worrier. I also tend to be a perfectionist. Together they can be a very bad combination.
          I like things to be the way I want, when I want and if circumstances don’t cooperate then I get down and cry a lot. Almost any given situation can be the end of the world to me. I can accept that God allows things for His purposes. However, I don’t do very well with accepting His timing for resolving the situation.
          A friend once said there was a crisis in my life every week, or sometimes every day of the week. It’s not supposed to be like that for the Christian. If I leave my prayer time and don’t feel at peace I have not left my burdens at the feet of Jesus. I tend to talk to Him a while, pick up my burdens and walk away with them. If I truly trust Him to take care of them I will be able to walk away at peace.
          I have a hand-painted clock which has hung in my kitchen for thirty-five years. It says, “God’s Timing is Perfect.” I wonder how many times I have looked at it and read those words and never let them sink in.
          Joseph was seventeen years old when he was sold into slavery in Egypt. According to the notes in the margin of my Bible, it was about twenty-three years before his father and brothers moved to Egypt with their families. Twenty-three years that he waited and all the while his father thought he was dead. The woman in John 8 had been “subject to bleeding for twelve years.” Both are very long times to wait for a prayer to be answered.
          Habakkuk talks about a time when nothing was going right, yet he said he would wait patiently; he would rejoice in the Lord and be joyful. His words are worth learning from.
           What prayer are you waiting to have answered and despairing over? Do you leave your prayer time and still feel anxious?
           Choose today to leave the burden at Jesus’ feet when you leave your time of prayer. Choose to trust not only that He will do it, but that He will do it at the right time. Choose to go on your way rejoicing.

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

Monday, August 15, 2011

God Remembered

“And Noah did all that the Lord commanded him…And Noah and his sons and his wife and his sons’ wives entered the ark to escape the waters of the flood…Then the Lord shut him in…But God remembered Noah…” Genesis 7:5, 7, 16 & 8:1

          My husband was without a job. I needed major surgery. Our three-year-old daughter needed surgery. It was a time of uncertainty.
          We were following the Lord, serving Him and giving faithfully, but times of trouble still came. I remember so clearly when my husband walked through the door with a box of his things at lunchtime and said he was going back to clean out his office. His boss had told him he was no longer needed. We had two small children and we weren’t certain what we were going to do.
          We were blessed that my husband had been meticulous about saving, but we didn’t know how long the money would have to last. Having big medical bills on top of the usual expenses didn’t help any.
          A favorite Bible study leader of mine calls times like this “Noah’s Ark experiences.” Yes, Noah and his family were all safe within the ark while “all the springs of the great deep burst forth, and the floodgates of the heavens opened…” The waters raged without and rose above the mountain tops and it was probably not exactly smooth sailing. It must have been downright frightening at times.
Sometimes we are allowed to go through rough storms in life and there is nothing to do but ride it out trusting in the promises of God.
          I am certain a part of the comfort Noah’s family had was remembering God, Himself, had shut the door. They knew He had put them into the ark and trusted He would save them. They really didn’t have much choice.
Sometimes we do have the choice of whether or not to trust God to bring us safely through our storms. We can get ourselves in real messes when we decide to go it on our own.
          We have to learn that when God shuts the door, He isn’t shutting us in and Himself out. He is in there with us. After several months God brought us out of our storm and provided everything we needed in the midst of it.
          What storm are you facing?
This world is full of uncertainties, but we can be certain God is with us. He will remember us. Whatever your situation, choose to believe God is right there with you and will bring you through safely.

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

Monday, August 8, 2011

Straight Pathways

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:5-6

I was on the waiting list. This wasn’t supposed to happen. God had directed me to a career in nursing and now everything seemed to be placed on hold.
My parents were behind me willing to do whatever it took for me to realize my calling. It wouldn’t be easy with three younger siblings. We weren’t wealthy, though we were certainly comfortable. After a summer vacation punctuated with college visits, I was accepted to Montana State University, three states away from my home.
Aside from my family, I didn’t want to leave my best friends behind. I had become very involved in a campus ministry. I wanted to remain at home for college.
As my friends readied to begin school the very next day, I prepared myself to accept that my prayers had been answered with a no. I answered the phone and was surprised to hear the caller identify herself as an instructor from the College of Nursing in my hometown. Someone had dropped out. There was a place for me if I still wanted it.
I didn’t hesitate. My immediate answer was a yes. It might have been at the last minute, but the Lord had given me the answer I prayed for.
That experience made me realize that God doesn’t work on my timetable. He isn’t subject to the schedules we set in place. His timing is His own, designed to accomplish His purposes.
I look at things differently now, with more hope, knowing I may not understand, but in the end, He will do things in the absolute best way for me. He opens doors where He wants me to go and closes them when He wants me to stay away from something. That summer had a profound impact on my life.
What situation in your life seems to be on hold and you have no idea where God is leading? What seems hopeless in your life right now—you can’t see where God is leading, but you are apprehensive about where the future is going to lead.
Choose today to entrust the circumstances of your life to Him, trusting Him with all your heart for what He is going to do. Acknowledge that He knows what you need more than you do, and He will make your path straight before you.

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

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

The Sound of Silence

 “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” 2 Corinthians 12:9a

I tried to speak and no sound came out. I could not even whisper. I couldn’t even call my husband.
          I went to doctors and they found nothing. They did a laryngoscopy and found nothing. The doctor called and told me to force myself to talk normally and get over it! How’s that for encouragement and professional advice? I was losing hope.
          The months dragged on. My notepad accompanied me wherever I went—including to the bank. My kids were away at school, so I learned to text message. E-mail was the preferred method of communication. For four and a half months I was trapped in a silent world with no hope of finding my way out.
          I had a Bible study to lead, a busy life to keep up with. Every woman in the Bible study had a chance to try leading. I sat silently with my notepad and wrote notes if necessary. Several discovered they could do something they never thought they could. The study went on as we learned a new way to be a vessel used by God, emptied of ourselves.
          My inner spiritual life soared. God frequently gives us object lessons to drive home the point He is trying to teach us. Lesson number one in relation to the Bible study—it’s not about me! At home—patience is a virtue. Over all—trust in the Lord and lean not on my own understanding.
          Eventually God led me to a speech pathologist at our local university hospital. Her laryngoscopy enabled her to see what no one else had—a condition which could be successfully treated with therapy. She thought twelve weeks—I spoke the first time. God will not let us suffer one moment longer than is necessary for teaching us the lesson He wants us to learn.
          What situation in your life seems hopeless? What frightens you? Everything God allows in our lives is something to be used for our benefit and His glory.    Whatever seems to be a roadblock in your life is the thing you need to give to God. Find it, give it to Him, and see what He will do.

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