QUARTERLY JOURNAL
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Flip Flop & Bubble Wrap

“God…does great things which we cannot comprehend. For He says to the snow, ‘Fall on the Earth’.” -Job 37:5-6

At 63, I think that I am mature; but growing old does not necessarily make you mature. I know some 70 year olds who act like babies; and like a newborn babe, Baby Christians need constant care, and constant handling. They can’t be left alone. The crave attention. They cry out when they cannot express their need in any other way; and they don’t always know they need something. And newborn babes are satisfied with milk until they begin to grow, and mature. Baby Christians are not the same as newborn Christian, but rather those who have not grown spiritually.

Like a newborn babe, a Baby Christian needs lots of confirming emotions, and God often answers our immature and self-centered prayers, so that we know He exists; and because of our immaturity, He shows up in ways that you cannot miss him. He’s done so in my life so many times, especially in those times when I was getting to know Him. He already knew me, and what it would take to win me and cause me to grow. It was His doing. Not mine. I don’t often tell this story. It’s one of the secret things between me and God – but on one such occasion, He showed up in a miraculous way. It’s a true story, and when I think about it, it takes me back to the place and moment of Awe time when it happened.

My daughter was in her first year of college at Temple University. She was miles away from home. She had taken what she needed with her, but gradually some other needs came up, and this particular time she needed a pair of flip flops. So, I picked up a pair, and I was going to mail them to her from my office that day. But I needed some bubble wrap to pack them in the envelope that I was going to use to mail them. As I walked to my office, I was trying to figure out where I could get a piece of bubble wrap. I had the flip flops. I would get the envelope in the office, post it there and mail it, but I did not have the bubble wrap. It was then that He did it. Just about fifty feet from my car, on my next step, I looked down, and lying there was a piece of bubble wrap. I am not kidding. Who else could have done it? I had not spoken it. I had not even prayed about it, but God knew it, and used that occasion to make His Presence known to me. I realized then, and for a certainty knew that God is Real.

If He can rain down bread from Heaven, He can do anything. He chooses how and when to reveal Himself to those who belong to Him. And in those days in my life when I’m going through something, and I feel like He’s forgotten about me, I remember the bubble wrap. Growing up spiritually means knowing that God knows what we need, and He knows when, and how to provide it. Even when we don’t ask. He did it for me with Flip Flops & Bubble Wrap!

A mature Christian knows that God’s omnipresence and the manifestation of His presence are two different things: One is a fact; the other is often a feeling. A mature Christian knows that God is always present, and His presence is too profound to be measured by emotion. The real test of a mature Christian is – knowing that He is there – regardless of how we feel.

 

Submitted by Deaconess Irene Gardon



Worse & Worse

“…while evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived.” – 2 Timothy 3:13 ESV

Take note! It doesn’t get better. It does not get better unless we change. Have you ever had to be somewhere at a specific time and realized that you were driving in the wrong direction? If you keep driving in the wrong direction and don’t turn around you will drive further and further away from your intended destination and you chance of being on time for your appointment will get worse and worse. Have you ever had trouble with your health, i.e. diabetes, or high blood pressure? You and I both know that if you don’t stop eating foods with lots of sugar and salt your health will do nothing but get worse and worse.

What about attitude? Have you ever been in a bad mood, or had a day when you knew that your attitude was not good because of a particular circumstance or people that you don’t like? If we don’t change our attitudes about our circumstances or people we don’t like, then our attitudes just seem to get worse. Maybe this is why the Lord said, “But I say unto you which hear, Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you.” (Luke 6:27)

Maybe we are to love our enemies not only for their sake, but our own. If we don’t love our enemies, our attitudes toward those that we don’t like may get worse and worse.

We have to be careful about how we respond to people we don’t like, or those who may not like us, because if we don’t respond correctly, the according to Proverbs 14:3, the situation can get worse and worse. “Pride goeth before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fail.” The Lord told people in John 5:14 that if they didn’t change their ways their situations would only get worse [“Afterward Jesus findeth him in the temple, and said unto him, Behold, thou art made whole: sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto thee.”]

I don’t think that the Lord is just talking about the things we do, but also our thoughts and our deeds. Satan uses subtlety all the time to deceive us, and our bad attitudes just seem to get worse and worse. Psalms 38:5 says, “My wounds stink and are corrupt because of my foolishness.” It’s possible that the Psalmist is not necessarily talking about physical wounds but using an analogy to describe wicked behavior, disobedience or bad attitudes. Sometime people can smell us long before they see us. If we are too proud to clean up our bad attitudes, the Lord has a way that makes our worse and worse, better and better. He washes us with us Word, and cleanses us with His Blood.

 

Submitted By Deaconess Irene Gardon



Stop & Savor It!

“Thou Hast Known My Soul…” Psalm 31:7-8

I love many things. I love to shop. I love to eat. I love to sleep. Getting to bed early is a real priority, and I love my bed. I love to vacation in nice places. I love my family, especially my husband of 43 years, our children, Domino, our grandpup, and of course our grandchildren. I love my Pastor, and I love you Shiloh. I love long, cool summer nights, and baby-back ribs. And it goes without saying that I love the Lord. When I think about the things that I love, I think about the things that endear them to me. I love them all the same, but with different expressions, based on the relationship that I have with them. The things I love bring me great joy.

In my devotions and reading of the Psalms, I have had those moments when I have had to stop and savor how much Christ loves me. I look at all the things that I love, for whatever the reason, and sometimes find it difficult to fathom how much Christ loves me; that He gets joy in being with me; and I have to stop and savor it.

Truth is, I have done nothing to earn it – He loves me! With all that I have done to discredit myself with Him – He Loves Me! When I don’t make room for Him – He Loves Me! When I think more of my stuff than I do Him – He Loves Me!

The Lord opens the eyes of the blind. The Lord lifts up those who are bowed down; the Lord love righteousness” (Psalm 146:8), and He Loves Me.

“For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve and to give His life as a ransom for ME.” (Mark 10:45) Although deity in flesh, not once did Jesus take unfair advantage of finite men or women who spent time with Him. Although Himself omniscient, he gave others room to learn to express themselves – even when they were dead wrong, and he could have silenced them. Stop and savor it.

“Though we stumble, we shall not fall headlong, for the Lord holds us by the hand” (Psalm 37:24). And that includes me. “The Spirit helps us in our infirmities, for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words” (Romans 8:26-27). And that includes me.

When I think on these things, I have to stop and savor it – that the Eternal God who understands my heart knows what I need even when I cannot express it. That the God of Heaven gives me the faith to take the next step – when I don’t know what lies ahead. That He gives me the assurance that even when I stumble, He will break my fall. He’s done it again. How unfathomable is it that a Holy God loves me, and not just me – You Too! His Word is a constant reminder that there are many joys that still long to be mine. His Word speaks thousands of truths to us to set us free, like birds sitting on a wire, who sing and swing a while – and then fly away. If we don’t stop and savor it, we boast in nothing. If we don’t stop and savor it we won’t realize that with all our stuff, we are incomplete. With all the joys that I have in my life, the joy of the Lord is my strength; and it humbles me to know that He finds joy in me. It is in my real frailty, that I realize I truly have nothing without Him. I must stop and savor it, then I have to bow down.

 

Submitted By Deaconess Irene Gardon